Friday 17th August ~ Tales from the Homestead

It’s ruddy cold here today, windy, cloudy and showery. The heatwave is a long distant memory because August has been mostly naff.  I woke up this morning to discover a big bruise on the right side of my nose, just above the nostril. I’m not sure if this is one of those getting old things or Phil has punched me in the night and I slept through it. I tried to take a photo of it, but it’s too hard to do a nose selfie and I’ve given up.

Last weekend I had the kids for an afternoon and a sleepover.  Phil was at work until 9pm so I picked them up and took them down to the beach in spite of it being none too warm. They didn’t seem to care and had a great time digging a hole (not sure why) and running in and out of the sea.

The Hole Digger Duo
going in..
coming out

We saw one of the big ferries leaving the mouth of the Tyne

bye bye

and went passed the weebles on our way back to the car


Before we went home I took them to MacDonalds for their tea (I know, I know, bad Nanny) and when we got home from there found I’d driven home having forgotten where I’d put my purse,


I could not believe I’d a) done that and b) not seen them for the whole journey home!! What a numpty and I ‘m so lucky not to lose the purse.

We’ve had a couple of nice sunsets this month though I only caught one

in the pink

and in the odd sunny spell, I’ve caught a couple of butterflies, though most have been Cabbage Whites, only seen one Peacock and no Red Admirals, which the Buddleia used to get a lot of in past years.

cabbage white

Regular readers will remember back in spring we had a couple of little mice visiting the Happy Eater tree and munching on the bird food, they disappeared after a while, I am hoping to pastures new and that they were not dinner for the local pussycats.  Lately, we have seen one scampering about the back garden.  Because of his incredible agility, we have named him Tom Cruise, and whenever we see him we hum the Mission Impossible theme tune 🙂

Here he is, having leaped up onto a garden chair, then onto the armrest and run along to the end, then leaped again to get onto the garden table where I’d put out some bird food for Woody the pigeon.

Tom Cruise ~ Living the dream 🙂 

he’s faster than a speeding bullet, and can jump like you wouldn’t believe! I’m going to have to try and video his antics.

Sophie has been away for a couple of weekends, and I’m away next weekend, so no Toglateering Outings have been accomplished, it’ll be nearly Autumn by the time we get together again, but I’ve plenty of fodder for the Universe blog to keep me going.

Phil’s on night shift for the weekend starting tonight, so I’ll be in charge of the remote control, 🙂 and while he’s sleeping I’ll be in my shed continuing with the epic mosaic I’m making.  I started it back in January but haven’t really rushed getting it done, now the end is in sight I’m picking up the pace, as I’ve got ideas now for other projects.

About 4 weeks ago I gave up alcohol on weeknights and find I’ve lost 8lb which is a bonus. Just goes to show how many calories those bottles of wine contain! Of course, weekends are exempt from my abstinence and I’ve got a nice bottle of Cava waiting for me in the fridge which I’ll enjoy a couple of glasses of while I do the ironing and watch a movie. I’m living the dream too!

Happy Weekend peeps, stay tooned over on the Universe blog as there’ll be part 2 of Seaham coming up at some point.





Friday June 1st 2018

I’ve been neglecting this blog a fair bit this year.  When I started out on the Universe blog I used to intersperse Fraggle Reports on places I’d been to visit, with miscellaneous doings in ordinary life. That blog has evolved into just being about the history and photographs of places, and it seemed a good idea to have a different space for the miscellaneous, and it was so for a while, but I seem to have tailed off with it in the past few months.

It’s June 1st today and I’ve decided to resurrect the miscellaneous and give a little more love to this other place.

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Yesterday the North East weather channels were predicting dire weather for today, heavy rain, thunderstorms, damage to property and possible death in our region.  It seemed a fair bet as the nether regions of the UK had gone through the same in the past few days, it was coming to get us.  Well it’s 4pm now and not a drop has happened as yet, instead it’s been oppressively hot and doing anything physical leaves you drained within 10 minutes.  I re-checked the forecast and it’s completely changed, and now we are due to be mostly dry with clear spells, but also areas of low cloud, mist and fog. There may be the odd shower too. Weather forecasting, I know it’s not an exact science (why not though with all those satellites and algorithms??) but really I don’t know why I bother looking.

Phil took upon himself to trim the Eucalyptus tree in spite of the heat. I’ve had this tree for more years than I can remember, bought and planted in my garden in Hemel Hempstead, nearly destroyed by the neighbours devil-child, put in a pot and moved up to my first flat in South Shields, put in the back garden of Phil’s house, then transplanted into the front. Through it all it’s coped with the digging up and the digging in, change in climate, and severe pruning by Phil.

Those of you who’ve been with me through last year will remember after our visit to Eddy in Poland, I got all fired up for self sufficiency and started growing a herd of cauliflower, potatoes and broccoli. That went tits up when all the veg got eaten at the roots by horrible white maggoty bugs and I am still traumatised by the whole experience. This year I decided to grow flowers, and have spent the past couple of weekends in the garden centres. Then spent a few hours planting everything in pots and containers.

I know they still get bugs but I’ve got a spray and I’m religiously using it! At least all the herbs have survived and regrown this year, and my chives have produced flowers, which the bees are loving.

Apart from having a pretty garden I wanted lots of flowers for my macro photography, and if I don’t manage to murder them all there should be plenty to be arty farty and play textures with.

Phil had given me his old hi-fi rack for mosaicing, but instead I’ve varnished it (with added sparkly bits) and use it as a garden feature

Of course I have solar lights all over the place and it’s particularly pretty  at night when they all come on.

My good friend Beetleypete often writes of nostalgia, and I always tell him, not for me- I’m a future kind of gal, but I heard this lovely song on the radio today, and thought of Pete. But it works for anyone, even futurists 🙂


all photo’s ©️cjhyslop June 2018

click through photo’s for embiggened versions, they look better 🙂 





Film Friday

I’ve got a couple more rolls back from the developers, this time both films shot on the Riva Mini.  I used Kodak Max 400 and Fujifilm Super Extra 400 and have to say the fuji came out much better. Not sure why but the pictures from Kodak max came out very grainy- I could excuse it due to overcast weather, but a couple I took in sunny conditions were nearly as bad.  The Fujifilm was used on a sunny day and came out lovely.

But first, the grainy ones, and again at the WW1 bash at Beamish (digital shots HERE)




My cherry blossom tree..



even though it’s grainy, I do like the colour tones, especially on a blue-sky day.

Had another trip into Newcastle and took a couple there


and on the way home one Phil walking up the road that runs through the village we live in.


I am liking film more and more, there’s such a retro feel to the results, and I don’t have to do anything in Lightroom or Potatoshop so it frees up a lot of time for me to do my mosaics!




Film Friday

Still the same Fuji roll of film in the Riva AF35ex, these are all from a day out in the Toon with Phil

lunch time


Fake beach huts


The Entertainers


Chris Hemsworth ~ Boss!


Begone thou damnable pigeon afore I remove thy head!

as always the pictures are clickable for an embiggened experience 😀



Film Friday

It’s been a long while since Film Friday made an appearance, but it’s back to being a regular thing now.  My Rollei has been at the menders for some time now, and finally they gave up trying to find the part necessary to fix it, and by passed the problem.  What had happened was the focusing knob gave up working, and it’s apparent that the lugs on it’s gear wheel have sheered off. This I think was my own fault, but no use crying over spilt milk.  The mender has done a work around for me so I can still use the camera by moving the lens in and out itself, that’ll take a bit of getting used to. In the meantime I have been shooting 35mm film on 2 Minolta compacts.   I had been wanting to purchase a Minolta Riva mini for some time, by all accounts it’s a bit special and is a close cousin of the Leica mini, made to the same specs.  I found one on eBay for £20 and sent off for it. But when it arrived it actually was a Minolta Riva AF35 EX, and not so special at all.  I double checked the listing and sure enough, it was my error.  Never mind, I put a fuji colour film in it and took it out and about with me. Then I found the Riva mini by accident one day in an Etsy shop, so I sent off for that, a bit more expensive as they are quite rare. When it arrived a put an Illford B&W film in and took that out and about too.  I’ve just had the 2 rolls developed, and you can tell the difference in the quality of the lens of the river mini.  The AF35 pictures all have blurry edges whereas the Riva mini is sharp throughout. I like the blurry edges though so it’s a win win for me.

Here are a few from when we had snow, the colour shots are on Fujifilm Superia Extra 400, and the B&W are on Ilford HP5 plus 400.








Dog Running Free


The Hood





Film Friday~ Lomography

It’s been a while since I’ve done any film posts. My rollei is in at the camera repair shop, and am awaiting news on whether it can be repaired or not, but I’ve been shooting 35mm film on my little Minolta Riva & Minolta 35 compacts,  when I’ve finished the rolls I’ll get them developed and see what happened!  I had more or less given up on instant with my polaroid cameras as The Impossible Project, the Dutch company which revamped the polaroid instant film has now acquired Polaroid’s brand and intellectual property and consequently the price if a pack of film has gone beyond what I’m willing to pay.   I had had a look at the Fuji Instax cameras, as the fuji Instax film sounds good, 10 in a pack instead of 8, and a fair bit cheaper than polaroid and the film develops quickly without shielding or waiting 5 or more minutes.  But in checking it out on amazon the cameras looked really naff, and the size of a shot was compared to the sized of a credit card, so I decided not to get involved.  But then somewhere along the line I read about the Lomo’ instant wide, and on further investigation learned that this camera used a wide version of fuji instax film, had extra lenses~ a close up and an extra wide,  and a doohickey that enables you to do double exposures.  So I succumbed, and spent my pennies on one.

It’s a bit of a big beast, rather unwieldy, with a bonkers viewfinder that doesn’t bear much relation to what turns up on your photo, so have burned a couple of film packs getting used to it, but I am having fun with it. As well as lens attachments there are a couple of controls on the back to play with, a + & – exposure button, a MX button for the double exposure thing, and a flash you can keep on or turn off. You can also use it in bulb mode, for long exposures and light painting, or choose a 1/30 shutter speed but not sure why you would. And the lens cap doubles as a remote control which is fab!

The main lens is a 90mm f/8 (equiv: 35mm) and the focus ring goes from 0.6m /1-2m /infinity

I like the warm tones of the film.

I attached the doohickey – actually called a ‘splitzer’ , and had a go at a double exposure

need a bit more practice at lining things up, and getting the focus distancing right.

I also cocked it up the first time I used it but ended up with this Ghost of Phil shot!

But best of all is the close up lens, which none of the polaroids can really do, with this lens you have only to be 4 inches away from your subject, and I think this is where I’m going to have most fun with it.


Film Friday is back! 🙂


Friday Fraggle

This week I participated in a photography course that one of my blogging photographer guru’s, Michelle, gave out. The premise being to take a photo of yourself each day following a prompt that would be emailed to you. Michelle explains that this is not the ‘selfie-stick’ images she wanted us to do, nor fine art self portraiture, but to turn the camera on oneself with intention. “My hope is that each of us will make time over the next few days to consider how we’re feeling, to note what we’re doing (or maybe not doing), to consider the way our outside and our inside play off one another.”  

Now you guys who are regulars know I’ve done tongue-in-cheek selfies, and the odd post where a shot of Phil and I are together in some foreign land over on the universe blog, but mostly I’m shooting places I go and things I see in my life.  (Lots of birds 😀 ). This was a different exercise, and I quite enjoyed working out what each prompt meant to me, and how to photograph it and include myself within the image. It wasn’t necessary to bang your whole body in, just parts of you were sufficient.  So this is how it went for me…

Day 1~


the quality or state of being warm in temperature
the quality or state of being kind or friendly

What does the word (the idea) of warmth conjure for you? How does it feel? Does your mind immediately go to temperature, or does it go to temperament?

I wished we had a log fire in our house, but it is a modern house and whilst the radiators do a cracking job of keeping it at a comfortable temperature, they are not too photogenic so I decided a lovely candlelit bath would portray warmth for me. I covered my lampshade in a pink vest, 😀  set up candles around the edge of the bath, got in, and tried not to drop the camera whilst I took the picture. Eventually I found I’d taken one I like. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I had a bath, I’m more a shower kind of person, but doing this shot has me wanting to do it again, without the camera, it was so lovely to be in warm perfumed bubbly water, it would be fab to wallow and enjoy it.

Day 2~


the quality or state of being physically strong
the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.

Be bold in claiming your strength. If needed, be gentle in the recognition that today might be a hard day…but hold the idea (for yourself) that strength assuredly lies within. Show us (remind yourself of) your strength.

I have a rowing machine I bought because I’m getting older, and I wanted to keep fit, and strong. I liked the rhythmical rowing action, had my headphones and music on. But the seat broke a while back, so I haven’t been using it. I sat in it anyway to get the shot and now I’ve asked Phil to fix it so I can start again.

Day 3~


the quality or state of being calm or without noise

making very little noise
marked by little or no motion or activity

to make (someone or something) quieter, calmer, or less intense

in a quiet manner

What does quiet sound like? How does it feel? Are you comfortable with quiet, or does it make you anxious? Is life quiet today? Are you quiet? Or is it a bit too loud?

Hah! I thought when I read this, my life is never quiet. At work there are machines, TV, and people. At home Phil has his rock music on most of the time. I used to go and sit by the sea to find moments to myself, but the North Sea is crashy, and the seagulls piercing cries don’t make it a quiet place. And then I remembered my shed, which I’ve neglected since December, where I do my mosaics, and there is only the sound of distant traffic, or tweeting sparrows and blackbirds and I get lost in cutting tiles and sticking them down. So I returned to my shed for this picture, and got all fired up again to get back to it.

Day 4 ~


a state in which opposing forces or actions are balanced so that one is not stronger or greater than the other
a state of emotional balance or calmness

What does a sense of evenness (a sense of equilibrium) feel like to you? Do you have tools and practices that help you feel this way? When you begin to teeter (because we all teeter from time to time), how do you return center? Does the evenness rest in your eyes? Does it make home in your heart?

This was the easiest to do, because I know I will never feel emotionally balanced.  My son and grandson live so far away, and I can’t see them very often, my heart is always aware of missing them, even when I’m fine and happy with life. I cried when doing this shot.

Day 5~


a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way
an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

done as part of a ceremony or ritual
always done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

What are the rituals and routines to which you turn frequently? Do they soothe you, motivate you, inspire you? Is the time of day important? Or a particular taste? Or a color?

This one really stumped me! Rituals?? Apart from getting up in the morning, having a wash, getting dressed, having breakfast I have no rituals. I could have used any of those, but they don’t mean anything to me, they don’t motivate, inspire, or soothe. They just are. So I contrived (again) a ritual I don’t have, of cleaning all my lenses for my camera.  I’m going out to photograph stuff with Sophie on Sunday, and I thought it was time to clean all my lenses in preparation. It wasn’t a ritual, but it will be now. It was so satisfying to make everything clean and shiny, and to know I won’t have to use the spot healer in photoshop to get rid of dirt spots on my lens!

So that was the 5 day challenge.  I felt I was a fake, apart from the equilibrium shot, nothing seemed to come from the heart, my photo’s all seemed so contrived, like trying to pass an exam. That’s given me heaps to think about regarding myself, and my photography.


Friday Feathers

It’s been a quiet day at Fraggle Manor, waiting to go and fetch Phil home from the hospital.  The Doc wanted to keep him in another night as his infection is still rampant and give him more IV antibiotics, but he couldn’t cope with it. He had very little sleep, not surprising when someones taking your blood pressure every hour! so came home with tablets to take instead, and with a promise he’d go back in if he got worse, and we go back on Sunday for more blood tests.  That took all day to sort out, a 4 hour wait for the tablets to be delivered to the ward and ended up with him having to go to the pharmacy as they were just about to close and they still hadn’t arrived! So I’ve been doing a bit of housework and washing, and dripping about waiting and taking pictures of the Happy Eater clients, and mundane things.

Great Tit
Blue Tit
Do you know these life forms?
Medicine for the soul
waiting for Phil




End of year Photography review.

I like looking back over the year, and reliving  the places and events I got to see, my travels and my outings with Sophie.  This is the first year I’ve had 2 blogs on the go, so am picking my favourites from across both blogs and posting on both. I am multidimensional!

Back in January I decided to embark on a walking project to do 1000 miles over the year, and do a 365 photography project.  This was a complete debacle as 9 days into it I got really ill with the flu, and it took me a month to fully recover by which time the impetus for both projects had disappeared.  Frego accompanied me on the walks I did do and we got some nice pictures around the area I live in spite of the freezing weather.


February was the first opportunity to go on a photography trip with Sophie, and we went off to shoot the bridges of Newcastle, a sunny day but cold. We also visited the quayside market which was full of interesting arts and crafts, and yummy food.

Phil had a joint birthday party with 3 of his colleagues from work, and though his is the last one in March, the party was organised for the end of February. Family and friends of all the birthday people attended, some in fancy dress, and a good time was had by all.

March came in with Phil’s Birthday on the 2nd and we celebrated in our usual fashion.

Phil also started work on getting my shed ready for habitation, but also a sad time as our cat Skye, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour, declined in health, and finally at the end of the month had to have that last trip to the vets. Our hearts are still not mended.

April was a busy month,  I went with Phil to the model show at Darlington, then the following weekend an outing with Sophie to the food festival at Bishop Auckland. They had opened up the castle for the day and so we took the opportunity to visit.

then at the end of the month, off to Poland to meet Eddy, Gosia and Malina.  What a fab long weekend! Days out with Eddy and his lovely family, delicious home cooked food from Gosia, just great company and good fun. Can’t wait to go back and see the new arrival!

Another busy month in May. Sophie and I went to another food festival, this time in South Shields.

Phil’s daughter Shelley had bought a nights stay (with evening meal!) in  lovely Dunsley Hall near Whitby in Yorkshire for Phil’s Birthday present, and after we got there, we went off to visit the abbey in the late afternoon.

Phil’s son Carl had got him a day out in a tank so we did that too!

In June Sophie and I had a great day out visiting Tees cottage pumping station in the morning and Hardwick Park in the afternoon.

Phil and I had a day out at The Hoppings Fair in Newcastle, on the hottest day of the year, there were fairground rides, army displays, police dog displays all in 32deg C which we are not used to at all! Of course I got sunstroke 🙄 but for a colour~junkie like me it was worth it!

July wasn’t as hot, thankfully and Sophie arranged us a trip on the River Tyne. Lots of riverside industry to see from a different perspective out on the water, and many bridges to sail under.

We also managed a trip out to Teesmouth nature reserve which is a mix of coastline, meadows and industrial complex.

Also in July I went down south to dogsit for my son, and had a couple of days out photographing with my pal Helen. We visited The Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth, beautifully landscaped gardens with follies and quirky buildings to come across. And peacocks!

She also took me to Jordans Mill which has a smallish garden but is great for macro photography. Although it was raining we walked a fair way up the river Ivel too so got some mileage done.

Sophie was away a fair bit in August but we did manage a day out first to Cresswell Hall ruins, and then on to Druridge Bay where they had a vintage rally going on.

Another busy month in September, Sophie and I visited Pow Hill Nature reserve which is the current Fraggle report over on the Universe Blog 

and Northumberland Zoo was a great fun day out.

We also visited Bolam Lake just as Autumn was beginning to take hold, and the 1000 yr old St.Andrews Church nearby.

I also went to a work conference with my boss and friend Brenda, stayed in a posh hotel and had fun meeting people I hadn’t seen in ages. They put on a swish dinner in the evening and the guest speaker was Ben Cohen, formally a rugby player, then on Strictly Come Dancing, and now runs his own charity which he gave a talk on. So I did my first ‘celebrity’ shot ever! He is quite buff in the flesh!

In October Phil and I did a mini tour through Belgium and Holland, visiting loads of WW2 sites and museums, what a great holiday! We ended up in Veldhoeven for a big model show where Phil was judging.  Hard to choose a favourite as everywhere we visited had some great photo ops, but am going with this shot taken outside the Arnhem museum, of an old chaps hand feeding the deers so I could get a good shot of them. Nothing beats the kindness of strangers when in different lands I think. That touched my heart.

Of course it was Halloween at the end of the month and I did the usual thing of swapping treats for a photo when they knocked on the door.

November saw Sophie and I off to Jarrow Hall and the Bede Museum. They have an outdoor medieval village and Sophie tried her hand at grinding flour for bread.

We also did a long walk around the Rising Sun nature reserve, but man was it windy and cold!

I did a B&W project  for 30 days too.


December has been switching between very cold and very mild, and Sophie and I went off to an open day at the 17th century Guild Hall in Newcastle, afterwards we watched the sunset over the Bridges and got some lush photo’s of it.

We also went to the Camel Parade in South Shields, and as well as camels they had drummers and light walkers on stilts followed by a firework display.

Frego came round to do a fashion shoot with the Orientals.

and we had a Christmas party with our family.

So that’s the end of the year just about.  Not a bad one, except for Skye.

Thanks to all who follow this blog, and also to the Fraggles Universe followers ~  you all make blogging a fun thing to do 🙂 so Happy 2018 to all 🥂🍻

And stay tooned!