Monday, 20 November 2017

Who doesn't love Autumn?

Surely even the most resolute townie can't look at the warm spectrum of colours in the UK's woods, hedgerows, parks and gardens at this time of year and not be moved, somewhere deep inside, to smile.

Is there any better type of day to explore the British countryside than a bright, crisp, autumn day where the chill of winter round the corner is tangible, but the memory of summers warmth on your back has yet to fade?

The vibrance of summer is gradually consumed by the slow-starting, but all encompassing fire of autumn until the trees and woods blaze into colour fore one last unified hurrah before dying with dignity, awaiting their phoenix like rebirth a few months ahead in spring. 

Even the difficult to love features of the countryside demonstrate a softer side, and become a little more lovable. Non-native, straight-lined, opinion-dividing blocks of commercial conifer forestry can look easier on the eye at this time of year. It depends on whether they contain some Larch, a conflicted species whose needles turn yellow-orange and fall, more like a deciduous species. Large, sprawling beds of bracken, the bane of upland land owners and managers turn a mottled, rusty brown which adds a subtle undertone to the last vestiges of the purple heather on the high moorlands.

I've been particularly lucky this year to have many opportunities to be out soaking in the autumn colours: all round the Peak District 'in the line of duty' for work, down in Riddy Wood on the handful of occasions I've been able to get there so far this season, and as a family we've taken the chance to get out and about.  We put in some effort and made quite a few opportunities - its not like they're difficult to find if you look for them - even your local canal towpath, city park or country lane holds coloured treasures not present at any other time of year.

Of course you can head further afield to make the most of it, and a few weeks ago we visited the Forest of Dean for the first time. It was fortuitous timing as much as anything that took us there at this time of years, and the good fortune favoured us again as we had a beautiful day to enjoy while we were there. The golden autumn colours were positively glowing, and we followed our children and their cousins (who we were visiting with) round the muddy paths, splashing in puddles, being fascinated by deer slots and wild boar rooting, and calling out the mushrooms which were making the most of the warm, humid woods and adding to the kaleidoscope of colour and texture on the woodland floor. It was great!

Did I mention that Autumn is my favourite season? I hope you're enjoying it as much as me! 


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Finally made it to the Forest of Dean

We all have places we've wanted to visit or activities we've wanted to do 'forever'. Some of those wishes are realistic and others less so. For example, I'd love to go to New Zealand - and one day I might, but it won't be just yet. On the other hand, I've wanted to go to the Forest of Dean for a long time, and that is readily achievable, but I just haven't made the time or prioritised it over other opportunities.

But recently one of my brothers moved to Gloucestershire, right on the edge of the Forest of Dean. Last weekend we went to visit him and his family to get to see their new home and neighbourhood. It would have been a shame to miss out on a joint family walk, especially with the autumn colours at their best and the beautiful weather we had during our short stay.

One of the reasons I'd wanted to visit the Forest of Dean are the now infamous wild boar. I knew the boar themselves were likely to be illusive and didn't really hold out that much hope that we'd see one. But the evidence of their presence was certainly more conspicuous! The boars rooting around had turned the road verges over as effectively as the most diligent gardener. And then out of the blue and on route to our selected walking spot, there one was! As bold as brass rooting away right next to a public car park and attracting quite the crowd (including us). Having never seen a boar in England before it was quite the treat and the children enjoyed seeing the 'hairy piggy' too.

It had rained heavily overnight and the paths we walked were suitably muddy - muddy paths are always a bonus when you're walking with children. Even when, like our little lad, you often fall over in it. He spent a noticeable portion of our outing on his backside or face in the mud. We spent a happy couple of hours splashing in puddles, enjoying the autumn colours and foraging mushrooms for a late lunch (my brother is something of an expert so I feel comfortable picking them with him) before retracing our steps back to the car and heading home for a late lunch, bonfire and fireworks. Happy days!

The weather for our drive home through the midlands was as beautiful as the scenery and I was reminded yet again just what a beautiful country England is and how much we take our natural world for granted! We will continue to get our outdoors time as a family regardless of the cold and the mud as we get into Autumn and Winter.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Back when I revised my blog I mentioned I was working on similar updates to the 'Wild Guy' website.

It's taken me a while, life has other demands after all. Website building can't win every battle for time; especially as it's not exactly my favourite thing to do. But I have reached a point where I am happy for the world to see it. There are bits still in progress, and hopefully the fact that I have taken the plunge and published it anyway will motivate me to finish those a bit faster than I might have done otherwise.

Please take a minute to have a look and let me know what you think of it - good or bad. There is a link at the top of the page.

Much like the changes to this blog, the updates to the website focus on the fact that I don't really see myself as 'Wild Guy Photography' going forwards. I still very much enjoy photography and it will remain a significant component of what I do, but... while this may be a sweeping generalisation I think of 'A Photographer' as someone whose primary goal in any endeavour is a photograph. Someone to whom going places or doing things is just a means to an end, and that end is to get a better photograph than the next guy (or girl) with a camera.

I'd rather go places and do things for the sake of going there or doing it. And if I come away with a half decent photo, great. And if I come away with less good ones because the light or the weather was rubbish, then it is a real representation of my experiences and it will tell a story. I think that is what I am more interested in being than a photographer, a story teller, a experience sharer.

So the website reflects that - it focuses on those things which I enjoy, which interest me and what I am fascinated by and drawn to. And I will take photo's of those things and write about those things and hopefully show some of you why I find them so fascinating or awe inspiring along the way. And that explains the rename, both of this blog and the website: 'Tales of a Wild Guy'.

Thanks for taking a look, and please do let me know what you think of the changes.