First Full Moon 2017

January 12th 2017 saw the first full moon of the year, the Full Wolf Moon. Photo of full moon

I took my usual blurry images of it as clouds scudded across the night sky.Photo of moon with halo

These high cirrus clouds on a cold night form ice crystals, these refract and relect the sunlight bouncing off the moon. It is these that form the halos that you can see in these photos.Photo of moon with halo

And of course the moon always looks good and spooky when viewed through bare branches blowing in the breeze.Photo of Moon behind trees

Frozen Bubbles

I have always loved blowing bubbles. I had a great excuse to continue buying bubble blowing kits for kids, as my rat pals liked to play with them. Well here’s another great excuse; frozen bubble photography.Photo of frozen bubble

I took advantage of another frosty night and blew a couple of bubbles onto the the frozen lawn. The bubble freezes and pretty patterns are created. It seems as if the best results require temperatures of around -15 Celsius. It was probably around -2 C here. Most people in the UK will get very few chances to practice this technique.Photo of frozen bubble

I played around with red and white torchlight. Then I got very cold and came indoors and played around with photographic software filters.

Later on the sun rose and the bubble was still there!Photo of frozen bubble

Night fell and the bubble, looking rather tatty but with extra frosting, was still in existence.Photo of frozen bubble

If you want to try this yourself there is a recipe for bubble mix using water, washing-up liquid and glycerine here. If you want to see the stunningly beautiful results of a professional take a look at this gallery of frozen bubbles here, and there is an interview with the photographer here.

December Gallery Added

Well I did it. I have completed my personal photographic record of 2016 and added the December gallery to my page 366 Days- 2016 in Photographs.Photo of rime frosted seed head

Typically I chose a year when, for various reasons, I barely set foot out of my own garden. However, putting on my rose tinted specs, it might be interesting to see how the same old scenes changed throughout the year; no doubt the subject of some forthcoming blog posts. I had hoped that this project would improve my photography, but I haven’t really had the time to put the effort into it. It has perhaps changed my mindset so that I now look for a picture, even in everyday mundane things.Photo of sunrise

This year I shall now only do a blog post if I have a photo or some information that I feel is worth sharing. I hope it won’t be too infrequent! I would like to thank you all for being so kind and supportive of my efforts. I look forward to your blog posts in 2017.Photo of happy new year written in sparklers

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year, Gott Nyttar, с новым годом, Prosit Neujahr, Bonne Annee, Feliz Ano Nuevo, Gelukkige Nuwe Jaar, Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, Khushi Nayam Varsa, Xin Nian Kuaile, Nav Varsh Ki Subhkamna, Aremahite Omedieto Gozaimasu. I wish you all the very best in 2017.Photo of happy new year written in sparklers

Yes, I have been playing with sparklers again 🙂

Rime Frost

We had another night of freezing fog. The fog was still pretty dense by the morning. Bulmer’s woodpecker was well lit though.Photo of Bulmer's woodpecker in fog

The happy thing about a foggy night when it is very cold is that rime frost is created. The water droplets in fog are very much smaller than rain droplets. When these tiny droplets hit an object that is below freezing, such as a branch of a tree, these droplets release their heat very rapidly. This results in them freezing at high speed and pretty much maintaining their form. These frozen droplets build up on top of each other with air gaps between, this makes them appear white. And so rime frost is formed creating a very pleasing effect upon objects.Photo of Frosty trees in the fog

The effect is similar to hoar frost; this is formed when the air is humid, but it is a clear freezing night. Glaze frost is created when rain droplets freeze onto objects, being larger they spread before freezing and so form a clear “glaze”. Enough of the science, let’s enjoy the pretty pictures. First of all, some rose hips in the hedgerow.Photo of rime frost on rose hips

A rime frosted seed head.Photo of rime frosted seed head

The frozen field.

Some frosty trees.

Some more frosty trees as the sun starts to burn off the fog.

Frosty Mornings

After some unseasonably mild weather, we have had a couple of frosty mornings. This always makes the garden look prettier.

It does seem that my poor apple tree has a case of coral spot. This is a fungal infection caused by the pathogen, Nectria cinnabarina. Apparently it is a sign that the poor tree is already ailing. I fear that neglect followed by amateur pruning has brought it to this sorry state.Photo of frosty apple branch with coral spot

Last night the frost rime was even thicker. The cobweb draped frosty seed head of the golden rod looked like something Miss Haversham might have in a vase.Photo of frosty golden rod seed head

The fallen leaves looked like the Ghosts of Autumn Past.Photo of frosty fallen leaves

The holly and laurel berries were given a wintry sugar frosting.

Who doesn’t love a frosty log covered with ivy?Photo of frosty log with ivy

The rose hips were looking good too.Photo of frosty rose hips

The orb weaving spiders always give good value in a frost, or a dewy morning.

This is what freezing fog looks like in the camera’s flash, similar to a car’s headlights, which is why you must drive so very carefully in it.Photo of freezing fog in flash

Running out of Festive Cheer

I noticed in my local Tesco Express that the self-service tills no longer make their Christmas jingly noises. Also, these Christmas Malteser reindeer chocolates were being sold for half price (I only bought one for the purposes of this blog post, honest). No doubt this is to make room for their “Malteaster Bunnies”.Photo of Malteser Reindeer

The shops have been hyping Christmas since at least October, yet the minute Boxing Day is over it is all packed away. People; the Twelve Days of Christmas commence on Christmas Day. The original Pagan Yule festival was twelve days of feasting between 20th and 31st December, and the Christian celebration is supposed to last until Epiphany on the 6th January. We have put all of this effort into preparing for Christmas, let us make the most of it before we start clearing up the tinsel and buying our Easter eggs.

Merry Christmas 2016

I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas; Frohe Weihnachten; Joyeux Noel; Kreesmasko Shubhkaamnaa; ‘S Rozhdestvom Khristovym; God Jul; Feliz Navidad; Meri Kurisumasu; Sheng dan Kuai Le; Shubh Krismas; Geseende Kersfees.

Here is my tree being decorated, first of all the lights.Photo of Christmas tree lightsThen the tinsel, you can never have too much tinsel.Photo of tree with tinsel

A few baubles.Photo of tree with baubles

A few more baubles.Photo of tree with more baubles

The star to top it off.Photo of tree with star

Some Christmas tree decoration close ups.

I made a gif of my Christmas tree being decorated, I hope it shows up okay for you all. I know it isn’t exactly thrilling, but I have never put an animated gif on my blog before. It is Christmas, be kind! 🙂

gif of Christmas tree being decorated

Christmas Eve Dawn

We had a beautiful start to Christmas Eve with this gorgeous sunrise. The carpark of my local Tesco Express might not be the most glamorous place to view it, but we take what we can.Photo of sunrise

Here is another view of it.Photo of sunrise

It was more impressive than the sunset from a couple of evenings ago. Can you spot the sun skulking away?Photo of dismal sunset

Happy Christmas Eve folks.

#CharityChristmas5 No.5

The fifth and final #CharityChristmas5 is here. There is so much need in the World and so many good people doing their best to meet it, it has been really hard to choose just five. However, dire financial circumstances limit one’s generosity, so the selection has been rather personal. The fifth charity is St Michael’s Hospice in Herefordshire, who provide palliative care. You can follow them on Twitter @StMichaelsHosp Photo of Christmas bauble

There are many of you out there volunteering, fundraising and donating every day of the year, to no fanfare. We know you are out there and we are grateful – thank you.

Winter is Here

Wednesday 21st December 2016 is the start of astronomical winter. It is also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night. For northern European Pagans it marked the start of Yule, a 12 day festival.Photo of sparrow in bare branches

A Christmas carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter”  was originally written by Christina Rossetti in the 19th century as a poem. Here are the first and last verses:

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone:
Snow had fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago.

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give him –
Give my heart.

#CharityChristmas5 No. 4

The fourth charity is a little different to the others. Larger and more international, it is Animals Asia. It was founded in 1998 by Jill Robinson and campaigns to end bear bile farming. They have sanctuaries where bears rescued from this vile practice can live out their lives happily.

Illustration of Moon Bear

Richard Lydekker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Asian countries, particularly China have a poor reputation for animal welfare; from the unspeakable horrors of the Yulin dog meat festival, to the pointless hunting to extinction of endangered animals for worthless folk medicine. However, there are many activists from these countries working hard to change attitudes and practices and Animals Asia supports them with their cat and dog welfare and captive animal welfare campaigns.

Photo of moon bear eating jam

Photo of rescued moon bear enjoying some strawberry jam – image courtesy of Animals Asia Foundation

Your £5.00 will purchase a jar of strawberry jam for the rescued bears, more expensive gifts are available from their site here. Of course in previous years it used to a pot of honey and I was going to say, “What Winnie The Pooh fan could resist buying a bear a pot of honey for Christmas”, so they have kind of ruined that for me. However, I cannot hold a grudge against people who do such good work, so a pot of strawberry jam it is!