Set in the Sussex countryside is an outpost of Kew gardens, an area of outstanding beauty covering 500 acres of gardens, meadows, botanical collections and the home of the Millennium Seed Bank.

I set off from London at lunchtime and on arrival soon realised that I would only be able to see a very small section of the gardens so concentrated on the area around the  Mansion including the pond and walled gardens. The place is so beautiful and has wetted my appetite for future visits.

Graffiti Art In Camden

In the past couple of months I have been out and about around London photographing art and sculpture in the open and am going to devote the next couple of blogs to those walks.

Camden is well known  for its graffiti art, so I took the bus to Mornington Crescent and walked up from there, darting in and out of side roads when I spotted some interesting work. I used and excellent old blog as a guide :  London Calling Blog : A Street Art Guide to Camden. Many of the art works listed in the guide have  faded since it was written but many more new ones have appeared.

 I just followed the road  along, up the hill and  through Camden Town, keeping a keen lookout for images on the side streets.   As you can see from the selection below, there were plenty of  great examples to photograph. 

A visitor to London who wanted to move out a little from the centre would enjoy the short trip to Camden Town for this free art show.





Out And About At Morden Hall Park

Flicking through the National Trust Handbook, I lighted on Morden Hall Park. It appealed to me because it is close to the Northern line and more importantly, the information supplied led me to believe that there would be photo opportunities.

The park is owned  by the National Trust but is free to the public. It  covers an area of 125 acres with the River Wandle meandering through it and dates back to the 1770s. Morden Hall house is not open to the public but used as a wedding venue. A hundred years later, the Garth family sold it to a tobacco merchant named Hatfeild who built two snuff mills when snuff was a fashionable commodity. He used the River Wandle to drive the waterwheels that powered the pestle and mortar machinery that ground the tobacco to snuff.

Waterwheel on the Wandle river
An example of pestle and mortar machinery for grinding tobacco leaves

I decided to follow the National Trust’s walking trail and capture my images along the way. The trail is easy to access on their Morden Hall site and gives detailed guidance plus a map. 

I wandered past the rose gardens and lawns with people lazing on the grass and families playing ball in the August sunshine, over bridges and into quieter areas where children fished with nets and jam jars, reminding me of childhood days.


As I carried on along the path into the arboretum, with the river winding on my right, I passed and island with statues of Neptune and Venus.

Statue of Venus on an island in the River Wandle
Venus on the island in the River Wandle

Although the park was busy near the entrance, this part of the walk was quiet and shaded and led onto an avenue of lime and chestnut trees.


From here on the park became  beautifully preserved meadowland with open fields and wildflowers


The path then took a circular route and crossed the river again . I took this shot from one of the many bridges.

_DSC8540Further along, I passed a well attended children’s adventure park  and entered the Wetlands area with a newly established boardwalk. It was lush with vegetation.



On my route back to the entrance I spotted this old disused bridge, well hidden in the foliage._DSC8570

Beside the old Snuff Mill stood Mill Cottage and I took this last shot.


Following the trail was a great way to see the park and provided me with ample photos for my  album. It is also a delightful place for a walk and an excellent trip for families with young children.



A Visit To Fenton House

Friday was a glorious sunny day, unusually hot day for late August, and I felt the need to get out and about with my camera.  As a landscape photographer, I am always looking for inspiration for projects and to this end, I decided to visit the local National Trust properties and Fenton House is my first in London.

Fenton House, built in 1693 as a merchant’s home, is easy to get to, just up the hill from Hampstead Tube Station. I read that it has a panoramic view over London from the attic balcony, but unfortunately that was not on offer at the time of my visit, so I concentrated on viewing the wide selection of musical instruments, pottery and incredible tapestries on display. I will make another visit to take a picture from the balcony.

One of the many harpsichords was being played as I wandered around, which leant atmosphere to my visit, but I was particularly drawn to the beauty of the harps on display.


The last owner of the house, Lady Katherine Binning, bought it  in 1936 and filled it with her highly decorative collections of 18th century porcelain. These are displayed in an extensive range of cabinets  but this lone piece on a shelf caught my eye.


I spent considerable time looking at the tapestry pictures and hangings, and imagining the hours and concentration that went in to producing such fine beautiful work. The one above the bed was my favourite.


The gardens looked beautiful in the sun, they are laid out in different sections, with croquet and games on the lawn for adults and children to play. The flower beds were impressive and gardens enthusiasts would enjoy an afternoon here.



In one section of the gardens is a 300 year old orchard and each September an Apple Weekend is held here when visitors can taste a variety of old English apples and drink cider, juice and teas made from the fruit grown in the orchard.


Leaving the garden, I looked back and my eye caught a lone statue of a shepherd, cast in lead by John Cheere in 1735, which stood out against the  dark background of the hedge at the end of the lawn.


I feel that this project on National Trust properties will prove to be both enjoyable and provide  a good source of  photographs.

A Holiday In Portifino

After my exhausting photo tour of Iceland, I needed a relaxing holiday and where better that the beautiful Italian Riveria. I had visited Portifino many years ago and always planned to return to the picturesque little resort, made famous in the ’50s and ’60s by the numerous celebrities who stayed there.
Since my previous visit the walks around the area, to Paraggi, Santa Margherita and Rapallo are laid out with a red ‘carpet’ covering the path.  The route starts near the harbour and leads first to the church and outwards from there.
The Church of San Martino is worth a visit, with its ornate altar, stained glass windows and ceiling paintings.

Church of San Giorgio

Towering above the port is Castle Brown, a steep walk up from the harbour. It was built in the 16th century and purchased  in 1867 by then English consul  in Genoa , Montague Yeats Brown, hence the name Castle Brown.
Views from the castle are spectacular. The following shots were taken from the ramparts. 


My visit coincided with the Italian mid-August public holiday of Ferragosto, a time when many Italians are enjoying their summer break, as I found on my visit to San Fruttuoso.
This is a tiny harbour, only accessible by sea or on foot, with a small pebble beach. I took the ferry and was amazed at the number of people waiting to get on board when we docked. It is a very pretty spot, best viewed early before the crowds arrive and certainly not on a public holiday.


Swimmers at San Fruttuoso

San Fruttuoso
From the ferry back to Portifino, I took the following shot of the lighthouse. I had walked there  to take  a picture, when I visited Castle Brown, but thought the view from the sea was more interesting.
As part of the Ferragosto celebrations, the hotel, put on an entertaining  display of synchronised swimming.
synchronized swimming
On my walk to Paraggi, along the red route, I stopped to view the swimmers in the clear waters of the Mediterranean.
The coastline near to Portofino
Super yachts frequent the seas around this area and often dock in or close to the harbour at Portifino. There are a number of  shops and restaurants  that attract the high end customer.
On my last evening, looking down over the harbour after sunset, the blue of the sky and the sea seemed to merge and I took my last photo of the trip.
Portifino just after sunset
Portifino offers plenty of opportunities for landscape photography and I have only included a selection so that you can see what a beautiful place it is for a short holiday.

A Photographic Tour, Day 9

This is my final day of this tour, which took me back towards Keflavik airport. The Hotel Berg is my base for tonight. It is situated on a picturesque marina about three miles from the airport and has been completely refurbished since I was here last September. They provide a transfer service to get me to the airport on time tomorrow.

We set off from Hrifunes guesthouse and headed up into the Highlands, taking a route to the east of the big Katla glacier. The road took us along the side and back of the volcano, heading west to the coast and then north, bypassing Reykjavík.

When we reached the Highlands, the area was covered in fast moving fog and I waited a little while for it to clear before taking this picture of the valley with its vibrant yellow moss.


We drove on across an area that is usually a river bed, caused by glacial water from the Katla glacier. The patterns in the mud appealed and I took this picture and also the next one, which is a close up of the mud.


mud pattern

The Katla glacier dominates this area and I took the next shot with it in the distance. The purple flower Artic River Beauty,  in the foreground, is the first I have seen since day 5 when I travelled down from Lake Myvatn. 


The road was practically non-existent in places, with numerous river crossings. I took the next shot of our vehicle to illustrate what it was like.


We walked down to the edge of Markafljotsgljufur,a very deep canyon to take this shot of the colours running down one side of it.


Our route then took us along a  road  past Einhyrningur mountain,  otherwise called Horn mountain.


We stopped in Troll Valley for lunch and disturbed some sheep who were grazing up in this lonely, but beautiful area.


I couldn’t finish a day without a shot of a waterfall. Gluggafoss is just before we hit the coast and was busy with tourists so I had to wait a while to get a tourist free shot.


The tour is now over and has been amazing, due to Haukur’s extensive knowledge of beautiful  out of the way places. I loved every exhausting minute of it.

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 8

Today we visited Langisjór lake  and its national park in the Highlands. The lake is around 20 km in length and up to 2 km wide. This area is directly opposite where we detoured to on day 5 but travel across the area is no longer possible because there is now a large river in between, caused by an eruption .

We set off very early in order to get to the lake when the sun was high and the water fairly still, with reflections. The clouds and wind usually pick up later in the morning.

I took a number of shots of the lake from various angles, including a hike up to get a panoramic view of the river and national park. The light was perfect and produced vibrant colours and shadows on the landscape, making the early rise very worthwhile.



_DSC7968  _DSC8024-HDR

Just before midday we left the national park and headed off
off route, along a dirt track, to an area known as Kvislalon. The landscape here was completely different from the vibrant colours around the lake. This area is rarely visited, except for fishermen who use  the few small cabins that we came across.
I have chosen pictures to illustrate the effect of volcanic activity in the area.
Haukur had seen Faxatun lake from the air but had never been there so we persevered along the track and even had to drive along a river bed to reach it. We were surprised to meet a lone hiker in this remote and inaccessible area. The only people who visit this area are fishermen.
After a long bumpy ride we got back on the dirt road that leads down from the national park and I took this last picture on the way.
This is a great area for photographers to visit

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 7

Today we went to see the glacier lagoon and after the poor weather of yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise to have a sunny and warm day. Our route took us about 150 Kilometres along Highway 1 and early into the journey we walked up to  an impressive gorge, Fjadrarglijifur, made popular by Justin Beeber, who used it in a video.

_DSC7843Further along I took this shot of these rapids with the Mountain named Sida in the background._DSC7855

The Oraefajokull glacier was on our route and I took two pictures there, one in front of the glacier and then spotted a reflection in a pond.


_DSC7887From there we proceeded on to the Glacier Lake where I spent some time photographing the blue icebergs that float there._DSC7907

By the sea, on the shore of the lagoon, I spotted this lone iceberg._DSC7952I am having an early night because we plan to leave soon after dawn tomorrow.