Devil’s Dyke

Steep hill

On the weekend, The Actress and I went for a walk at Devil’s Dyke, just outside Brighton. It was a 15-minute ride on the happy bus to get to the lush countryside. Devil’s Dyke is a deep, steep, mile-long valley. The legend goes that that the Devil, in a mood, dug a big groove in the earth to drown the local parishioners. The scientific explanation starts from the Ice Age and is a much less exciting story, albeit more informative.

We chose the Histories and Mysteries walk from the National Trust site, which was a moderate figure-of-8 amble up and down the valley, with a few interesting stops. It starts and ends at the pub, and there is a tea room in the middle, which was a thumbs up for both of us. I should add that The Actress is a much hardier walker than I am, and would probably have favoured a circuit five times as long. She was humouring my Saturday afternoon out in the fresh air.

~ Spotted Cow

Devil's Dyke valley

Woman & her dog in the valley

One of the views from the top

The Enchanted Forest

Walls in the forest

We walked the Valle delle Ferriere route when we walked from Amalfi up to Ravello. The way winds through some lush forests, with rivers and waterfalls, and old paper mills and ironworks (hence its name). It was lovely and peaceful, and a refreshing difference to the cliffs and sea that tourists mostly associate with the Amalfi Coast. It rained for some of that day but we had wet weather gear, and instead of getting us down, it added to the enchantment of the forest.

~ Spotted Cow


Old paper mill


When the mist lifts …

Town nestled under the clouds

The weather was variable in the first few days that I was on the Amalfi Coast, and there were times when we were completely enveloped in mist. It was a walking holiday, and we walked regardless of the weather. We would arrive at a peak and the tour leader kept saying to us, his expectant troops, “the view is stunning, I assure you !” But all we saw was white cloud.

However, the few times when the opaque white fog did lift, it was usually a most spectacular sight.

~ Spotted Cow

Walkers in the mist

Heavy white fog



7 Day Nature Challenge. Day 3

There’s nothing I like better than cutting herbs from the garden (read planters) and cooking with them. They smell lovely in the heat of the sun. And rosemary is hardy, which is great for a pretty useless gardener like me.

The lovely Joanne from Coffee Fuels My Photography invited me to do the 7 Day Nature Challenge. Normally, I’d nominate someone in turn, but I’m on holiday away from London and might not be able to keep up with comments and all that. So, I invite anyone who is keen to take part too.

~ Spotted Cow

Leaf patterns


It is said that a good photographer can take a picture of an everyday object and make it look interesting. Well, I haven’t got to that stage yet, although I am positively surprised at some of the images that I snap somewhat randomly. Like this one, standing outside a Bali hotel, waiting for a taxi.

My intention was to get a picture of the waxy leaves overlaid, one over the other. When I looked at the image on a bigger screen later, I was pleasantly surprised to see the green patterns, shading and veins that I had also captured. It made me think that I should make a mini project of photographing random everyday things.

Spring green

~ Spotted Cow

Spring sprouts forth

Onion flowers

I’m a novice at gardening and acquired some planters with herbs and grasses last year. Low maintenance gardening for a non-gardener. Difficult to get it wrong, I was told. Well, the planters look a tad spartan after the winter months. However, my green-fingered friends tell me that everything will sprout forth in abundance in spring and I will be surprised at the lush-ness. So, I am looking forward with great anticipation!

Spring Green

~ Spotted Cow

Curtain of green

Hanging branches and leaves

In anticipation of the spring equinox on 19 March, I’ll be posting a series of images along a “spring green” theme over the next week. I haven’t set the bar very high, so it should be achievable. Do join in if you fancy it.

I snapped this picture on a walk in the Carpathian mountains in Romania. It was hot and I was ahead of the group, and so I took shade under a tree. The curtain of hanging branches in front of me made a lovely pattern … and I took a picture while I waited for the others to catch up.

~ Spotted Cow

Belle Tout lighthouse

Belle Tout lighthouse on the cliff's edge

If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a lighthouse, the Belle Tout Lighthouse at Beachy Head is only an hour & a half train ride to Eastbourne from London. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1902 because it wasn’t visible on foggy nights and it now runs as a b&b. In fact, it was moved back from the cliff edge in 1999 and the rails are in place if it has to be moved further back one more time.

There are spectacular 360° views from the communal top floor. Out to the east, is the working Beachy Head lighthouse down at sea level. And over to the west are the Seven Sisters cliffs – we walked 4 of the 7 before the ups & downs got the better of us, plus we had to walk back !

It was an amazing pre-Christmas weekend and we felt very special staying in the lighthouse. Didn’t everyone want to live in a lighthouse when they were children?

~ Spotted Cow

View east to Beachy Head lighthouse

View west to the Seven Sisters

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now

View of Seven Sisters from the beach

Now. The view of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs from the beach at Birling Gap on the East Sussex coast. I went down there for a long weekend getaway before Christmas.

The cliffs erode about 0.3 to 0.7 metres every year – that’s one to two ruler lengths – which means that houses have had to be demolished or buildings have had to be moved back from the cliffs edge over the years.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now

~ Spotted Cow

Getting a better view of the Seven Sisters

Birling Gap

Basil flowers

Pink basil flowers

Yes, I’m still in the garden. It’s that thing called a summer cold which dragged me down for 2 weeks (!) and the only place I have enough energy to get out to is the herb garden. I know that I’m supposed to pick the flower heads off the basil because it makes the leaves taste bitter. But I’ve failed in this regard and photographing them seemed less labourious. It’s less exciting without the bee, but far more delicate.

~ Spotted Cow

Bee’s knees

Bee on basil flower

I was using the macro lens in the garden (again), set on manual, aiming to get a precise focus on whatever it was. Ahh, a bee landed on the basil flower. Perfect. When I sat down to edit the images, I realised the level of detail I had on the bee … because of course, I was standing at a respectful distance. Seeing the bee’s eye, its bee’s knees and all its limbs in high definition gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies. Grimace.

Click to see the photo at large and tell me if you feel the same.

~ Spotted Cow

Snap Chat. Macro lens

Succulent with pink flowers

I love taking pictures of nature with a macro lens because you can get really close-up and detailed. The thing to remember is that you have to be very precise with your point of focus if there are varying depths of field in the composition. And then, I guarantee that you’ll be amazed at the sharpness. The best thing to do is experiment with shifting the point of focus and you’ll get a variety of results, at least one of which you will be extremely pleased with.

Contrast this with the rainy day pictures I took in my folks’ Sydney garden. I had forgotten to bring the macro lens on the trip and my standard travel zoom lens couldn’t achieve the same life-size magnification.

~ Spotted Cow

Succulent Hydrangea IMGP8033