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Here on this site:
Growing flowers and vegetables - keeps me close to the earth
Do feel free to mail me and let me have your comments!
|One of my Bergenias
I've always loved growing plants, ever since I grew Hyacinths in glass bowls and one or two other favourite plants as a boy, and of course flowers make lovely photographic subjects. I used to enjoy gardening in Horsham and have been a member of the Royal Horticultural Society for a number of years now.
Today I have quite a generously sized garden to look after; though it had all been allowed to get very out of control when mum was in her final decade, we started sorting it out before dad died and now I'm unequivocally its head gardener. Thankfully, I get modest assistance from a combination of family and paid helpers, but I do essentially all the new planting and looking after the flower beds and shrubbery myself. I've created two new borders since I took charge so there's more space to grow my favourite flowers and provide plenty of food sources for the bees.
We also have two apple trees, a plum tree, a miniature pear tree, and two good patches of blackberries - it's particularly nice when the latter come into fruit! There is a small vegetable plot on which I grow a few potatoes, sugar snap peas and other favourites - unfortunately I have neither the time nor space for more at the moment.
So I've included
a page about the joys I get from gardening, including with a feature about my favourite
flowers - Primulas,
a photo shoot from the
RHS Garden at Wisley, and
pages of photos from my own garden in
There are also many more recent garden photos on my
|A male White-tailed Bumblebee
We had to get a new central heating boiler at the beginning of 2013. Part of the installation work included closing off the inside of a ventilation floe into the kitchen from an outside air brick. Shortly afterwards, we had a bumblebee nest in this now closed off passageway - probably in the adjacent wall cavity which had been filled with insulation a number of years previously. Since then, bumblebees have nested here every year since.
I'd always had an affinity for bees - dad and I actually kept a couple of hives when I was in my teens, till I went up to university, after doing a beekeeping course at Pershore Horticultural College. Though I doubt I'd do it again, it was great fun at the time and we harvested plenty of honey. But when the bumblebees moved in here, it rekindled my interest. So I read a few books about them and set about learning how to distinguish the various different British species. In spring 2015 I joined the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, knowing that Bumblebees have been in decline over recent decades due to a number of causes.
So I've now added a page here about
with some basic information and a few photos I've taken of the different types I've seen here in my garden and nearby.
|The former Newton Abbot North down homes
Though I've happily remained free of the urge to don an anorak and go standing on station platforms writing down loco numbers, I've always loved trains. My grandfather had been stationmaster at Malvern Wells on the old GWR and in my younger days I used to love listening to all he told me about how things were done on the railways. But it was signalling that really caught my interest, particularly older semaphore signals like the one depicted here. Apart from providing a welcome splash of colour and ideal targets for my camera, I had a natural interest in their engineering principles.
In my teens, twenties and thirties I travelled around quite a bit taking photos, though what I could do then was limited by the money I had available and camera/film technologies. Taking signalling photos was a regular pastime until the early 1990s, by when I felt I'd captured a good collection of photos and many of the best signals I'd known had been replaced. I was also mainly using print film for other photography by then, and wasn't keen on mixing formats. But since digital technology solved this 'format problem' for me, I've got right back into signal photography with a vengeance! I had expected most semaphore signals would be gone by now, but many more than I anticipated still survive, and I'm now taking the chance to photograph more of these while I still can.
If you're interested you will also find
John Hinson's Home
Signal page a tour de force on the subject (and John
has very decent taste in music too!)
John also runs the
Signal Box Forum, a lively web forum for
Since buying my digital SLR I have started taking signalling photos
again, and have a good number of pages with recent photos of signals and track layouts,
including the superb semaphore collections at
for more information and a list of all the photo pages.
|Drugstore at Brighton
Photography was a well-established hobby of mine when one day while watching Drugstore play an al fresco gig in Brighton I took out my camera and shot my first gig photos (left). Shortly afterwards I made contact with several other online Drugstore fans and it wasn't long before I was sitting down at a scanner. Everyone seemed pleased with the results so I started to do this more often, putting the results on my website so fellow fans could enjoy them as well as providing extra visibility and publicity for the bands involved. As time went on, bands like Spiralize (Lizzie Pearman, below left) began inviting me to photograph their gigs and before long I ended up with a free trip to Glasters for my efforts!
The railway signalling subject I cut my 'photographic teeth' on demands a rather different approach from photographing other subjects but was a great way of learning the technical basics of photo taking and has set me up superbly for the other things I now do.
I got a camcorder (of my own choosing) for Xmas after having had the idea
of making some films of railway signals in action and showing how trains are actually
signalled. I've now put clips taken at
I'm a long-standing fan of good music, mainly enjoying classic/progressive/indie/folk rock but sometimes venturing into genres ranging through psychedelics to some of the more 'left-field' artists within contemporary genres such as tribal, trance, and occasionally ambient/techno or house. I don't spend quite so much time following bands these days – with all my other hobbies plus the day job, the time I have is not infinite – but when I do go to gigs I often take the camera along. A good proportion of this site is still devoted to the bands who have given me so much pleasure and solace over the years.
In the days before "Web 2.0", I began to run official websites for my favourite underground bands, and I still maintain these for Thames Valley band Irony (though no longer the official site), former Malvern tribal band Spiralize, and celtic/world dance band Headhunters. With the emergence of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, the need to do this is less pressing, but I still maintain index pages, with short resumés and links to relevant websites and other resources, for Welsh progressive/celtic band Karnataka, the Strawbs, young talented Brazilians Ashtar, and Drugstore. I also keep a list of other top favourites on my Bands page.
In the early days of the Internet I also started running email/web chat groups, initially for Drugstore fans. It was a great experience being in the vangaurd and one of the first to experience the way these forums spontaneously generate social communities by enabling people with similar tastes to meet up in person at gigs after first communicating electronically. I remain a co-moderator of Strawbs' chat group Witchwood - still one of the truly great electronic communities.
Once I had cut my teeth as a gig photographer,
I spent quite a lot of time following bands
and taking photos for this site. Back then the free publicity it gave bands
was even more important than today. There is a list of all the photo
pages I've done on my
|Ashtar vocalist Fernanda Mesquita
I've looked at various aspects of life philosophy over the years, including eastern and non-mainstream western religions, left-of-centre politics, modern discoveries about the human mind and what really are the things that make us tick, and sciences like cosmology and fundamental physics. In doing so I've read a number of good books down the years so I've put up a page with some details of a few books that have particularly influenced my own thinking. I've tried to write a brief synopsis of each so you can get an idea of what each book is really about.
I have finally started a Musings section on
this site where I will share my thoughts on various, wide-ranging topics.
I have started with an article on a very down-to-earth topic, namely
some Web design principles that I
hope other webmasters will find useful.
(This is not a technical article, it's about how
what facilties a site should have and how these should be made easy and convenient for its users.)
I hope to add more articles in future, as my
limited time permits.
|Lizzie Pearman, of former Malvern band Spiralize
I live in Malvern (Worcestershire, UK), where I grew up, having returned after over 30 years living in London and then Horsham. It's great to be back, though even while away I always loved coming back here, so had already included a page about Malvern on this site some years ago.
I am now a member of the
Friends of Malvern's Railway
Malvern Civic Society,
who care about Malvern's railway infrastructure, particularly the buildings and structures,
and work with the rail companies and local councils to promote good maintenance and restoration
in keeping with the town's heritage.
|Fernanda at Bilston Robin 2
|17 April 2017
Strawbs Bilston photos added.
Craig/Willoughby Winchcombe photos added.
More added to Malvern page.
|27 February 2017
Karnataka Bilston photos added.
|1 October 2016
More Malvern Wells signal photos added.
More Cambrian signal photos added.
|2 May 2016
Strawbs Bilston photos added.
|7 February 2016
Irony Yeah, but... CDBaby download details added.
Minor updates to Music links page.
|15 November 2015
More book reviews added to Library page.
CSS tweaked to improve consistency of appearance between browsers.
|Isabel Monteiro, Drugstore