Monthly Archives: July 2015

Meet Tam

I love this picture of Tam, the young collie which I took yesterday.   It was amazingly hard to get him to look at the camera.  Fiona was standing behind me with treats, but Tam seemed a bit bashful.   In the end I did get quite a good set of pictures, but still not one with him looking right at me.   Now there’s a challenge for the future.

I seem to have been posting pictures of dogs for the past few days.   I will need to extend my horizons and try other subjects soon!

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Up close and personal

The famous war photographer Robert Capa once said, If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.   Taking him at his word, I tried to get quite close to the jump as Poppy came towards me out of the tunnel.  I wondered if she would go round the jump to avoid me, but no…she came right at me, completely unfazed.

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Meeting Dako

Dako is a delightful little dog.  I met him while I was at the Fun Agility Show last weekend at Aden Country Park.  He is not competing, yet, but I am sure that before long he will be one of the dogs which Sandra , his owner, runs in Agility competitions.

Sandra saw me with my camera and asked me to take his picture.   He has an endearing way of cocking his head to the side….and oh these big black bat ears!

I wonder what he thinks of Scotland?   He is a rescue dog from Croatia.

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Charlie is my darling

Denise and her little Jack Russell Terrier have a great relationship, but that doesn’t mean they don’t shout at one another occasionally.   Charlie is a champion agility dog, but he and Denise will have the odd argument.

I love this picture of Charlie shouting the odds while Denise gives him encouragement to start his agility course!

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Strutting her stuff.

Well, Poppy had her first agility competition at the weekend at Aden Country Park. She clearly enjoyed the jumps and the other equipment – but she also enjoyed running away from Mary who was handling her in the ring, to investigate all the exciting dogs and people who were there.

She was a great hit, and lots of folk commented on her speed. The verdict – she will make a great agility dog. Back to training now with Jaqui

Mary had to run fast to keep up with little Poppy as she strutted her stuff on the dog walk while an appreciative audience watched on from the back.

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Pin-up Girl

Over the past few years I have been taking quite a lot of pictures at dog agility events.  The owners seem to love to have pictures of their dogs in action.   I was out with my camera at Aden Country Park, near Mintlaw at the weekend for a Fun Agility show.   The weather was great, the atmosphere relaxed and friendly and the dogs had a whale of a time.

One of my favourite dogs to photograph in action is Amber, the golden retriever.  She clearly thoroughly enjoys herself.  I have lots of pictures of her at different events, giving her all.   She always seems to have a smile on her face.   Black dogs are a nightmare to photograph – it is difficult to see their facial expression, but Amber is my pin-up girl.

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At the top of her voice

We were delighted to have an invitation to the ACE Agility Barbecue on Thursday night.   This was the third attempt to hold the event;  a long period of rainy weather had seen it postponed twice, but Thursday was a beautiful night in a secluded little field in Maryculter,  just outside Aberdeen.

This was where Lily had her very first taste of agility when she was just a young dog, and she had a go at the course set out, managing a clear round!   Poppy had a go too and thoroughly enjoyed herself, though was quite easily distracted wandering off to investigate all interesting people and dogs about.

I took lots of photographs, pushing my camera to its limits as the light disappeared,   The picture I have chosen of that event is of this lovely dog who barks her way round the course.  Here she is at the top of the A Frame, making like a mountain wolf.   It’s a shame it is not quite as sharp as I would have liked.

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Meltdown

The sun was hot on my back as I sat in the garden watching the grandchildren play.  There on the table in front of me was a piece of Toblerone.   It was tempting, despite the fact that there were a few child-sized teeth marks in the peaks of the chocolate mountains.   I reached out my hand and discovered it was not just my back that was soaking up the sun….the Toblerone had gone soft – complete meltdown!

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At a “Druid’s Temple”

It was a lovely afternoon in Strichen Community Park.  Mary and I took the dogs for a walk and made our way up to the Strichen Stone Circle.  There was a gentle breeze blowing and we had a clear view all round from the little hill on which the circle stands.

That evening I did a little research on the circle and discovered that James Boswell and Dr Johnston  visited here in the 1770s and referred to it as a “Druid’s Temple”.  Boswell noted that only the recumbent stone with its two flankers were then visible.  Over the years the circle has had a checkered history:  once cleared away, now thankfully restored.

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From James Boswell’s ‘The Life of Samuel Johnson’ (1832) refering to their visit in the 1770s:

We set out at about nine. Dr. Johnson was curious to see one of those structures, which northern antiquarians call a Druid’s temple. I had a recollection of one at Strichen, which I had seen fifteen years ago; so we went four miles out of our road, after passing Old Deer, and went thither. Mr. Fraser, the proprietor, was at home, and showed it to us. But I had augmented it in my mind; for all that remains is two stones set up on end, with a long one laid upon them, as was usual, and one stone at a little distance from them. That stone was the capital one of the circle which surrounded what now remains.

Purple and white

it’s the foxglove season just now.  All over the countryside the foxgloves as blooming at the sides of roads.  There were lots of them beside the track through Drinnie’s Wood the other day when I went for a walk with the dogs.   There seem to be a lot of white foxgloves about these says.  I am trying to think back to my youth and I am sure that a white digitalis was a rarity.

Today’s picture shows the forest road winding up the hill towards the Observatory tower and you can see just a few of the purple and white foxgloves.

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Guarding the house

Poppy and Lily take their work of guarding our house very seriously.  Every morning they wait impatiently for the sound of the post van arriving in our street, then charge to the conservatory to bark as loudly as they can, trying to chase the postie away.

The conservatory is their favourite spot, it gives them a view all over the garden and they can respond to the barked greetings of Pam, our neighbour’s dog and any other sound which catches their attention.

This summer the tomato plants give some camouflage as they stand guard.  I just missed the photo I wanted.  They were both in line with their front paws on the windowsill, but by the time I had grabbed my phone Lily and retreated a bit….still It’s a nice photo of our guard dogs.

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Up for sale

Lily, Poppy and I had had a most enjoyable walk in Drinnie’s Wood near Fetterangus in Aberdeenshire.  The foxgloves, both purple and white were in full bloom beside the forest roads and I even managed to photograph a bumble bee as it rested on a bent-over thistle.

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On our way home, I noticed a church building up on a hill. I had never noticed it before so I went to investigate.  This was Pitfour Chapel, build by the Ferguson Family who at one time owned the nearby Pitfour Estate.  It was their private place of worship.   Over the years, as I later discovered, it had fallen into ruins, but it has now been renovated and converted into a modern open plan house, and if you have in excess of half a million pounds to spend,  it could be yours.

I am not entirely happy with this photograph since the daisies which I spotted in the foreground  are not quite in focus.   I will have to wait for another fine day and try again.

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Concentration

It takes a lot of concentration for a dog to go round an agility course.  Poppy is still quite new to this but clearly loves it and wants to please.   She has to concentrate when going over the seesaw, waiting for the tipping point.   This was the first day when she managed to do it on her own without her handler helping the seesaw to come down so that it did not bang and scare her.

I love this picture – it shows her concentration as she is running along the seesaw, waiting for it to tilt….

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Reflections

I took a little walk round the harbour at Fraserburgh the other day.  I was heading to a garage to pick up my car and the rain which had poured down during my drive from Hatton had gone off.  The Fraserburgh  roads were dry but there were still plenty rain clouds in the sky.

The big modern fishing boats were moored in another part of the harbour but it was this one  which caught my eye, reflected in the dark still water of the harbour.   It took me right back to Buckie where we lived in the i970s and a walk round Cluny Harbour there was a regular occurrence with the children.

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A secret place

I have just been listening to an item on the radio news about the dangers of giant hogweed.  I remember a number of years ago this was in the news with children being burned by the sap.  Councils took action and the offending plants were sprayed.  We were all warned to stay well away.  I have been noticing this year that this dramatic looking plant has been making a reappearance.  I see it marching along riverbanks, all over the country.

I have delved back into my photographs and found this picture which I took beside the River Brent in London in June this year.   As I walked width the dogs I noticed the little gate leading to a houseboat.  It was a mysterious looking place hidden away in the undergrowth, with “private keep out” signs about – and a giant hogweed looming over.    It look mysterious, secret, threatening — just the sort of place you could imagine something sinister happening……

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On the beach

It was a somewhat overcast day as I walked along the path at the top of the sea wall at Buhanhaven in Peterhead.   The tide was well out and the rocks, sands, seaweed and pools of water gave the beach a lovely texture.

I have put four of the pictures I took that afternoon on my Flickr page.  The one I have selected for today’s Blog is of three children crossing a pool of water on the beach.   The sharp-eyed will notice the St Fergus Gas Plant in the distance peeping over the headland;  and the very sharp-eyed will see the lighthouse at Rattray Head, built on its little granite platform – though you may have to look at the bigger version of the picture on the Flickr page to be able to see it!

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Just follow me!

The last few springs on the trampoline took quite a bit of fitting. but when it was finished the children loved it, and what surprised me was that Poppy loved it too.  She jumped up and seemed quite at home following the children as they bounced around.

It looks like Lochlann is saying to her,  “Just follow me!”

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Racing across the road

I noticed a little snail crossing the road when I was out with the dogs this morning.   I did not pay it much attention, but Lily and Poppy gave it a passing sniff.  On our way back  I saw  it was still there, making progress, having raced six inches across the road in the time it has taken us to go for our walk .   It was clearly posing, so I got down on my knees and took an action shot.

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At the Circus

It is always fun to take the grandchildren to Zippos Circus on their annual visit to Peterhead.  Three sets of excited eyes watch every move in the ring; hands clap along to the music; voices are raised in cheers at the antics of clowns, acrobats or the dare-devil motorcyclists racing round the Globe of Terror.

In a quieter moment,  Maisie enthusiastically munches away at a box of popcorn which seems as big as she is, but the eyes are missing nothing.

To capture this picture I pushed the cameras settings as far as they would go and relied on what light from the ring managed to reach our seats.  it is amazing what modern cameras will do!

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The road to Hatton

I have been experimenting these past few days with taking panorama photographs.  This was my first attempt, really just to try out the technique.   I was out walking the dogs and with very little care took three pictures of the view over the field towards Hatton.   When the three pictures were put together on the computer I realised that this was quite a pleasing picture, with the road leading downhill and the Water of Cruden flowing along the side of the field where I often walk the dogs.  But it was too wet this morning, and the grass too long at this time of year for little dogs – hence the walk up this little road past the recycling centre towards the sewage works.  (Too much information?)   But as I wrote yesterday, you only see what is in front of the camera, not what is behind!

I have another confession to make about this picture – there was a crooked telephone pole at the side of the road which spoiled the picture.  It has now magically disappeared.  Thank you Photoshop!

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