Monday, August 30, 2010



The Saturday before last we had a great day at the wedding of two friends.  It was a day full of happiness, even more than that, a day of deep Joy.

There is something very special about witnessing the marriage of two people who openly acknowledge their belief and trust in God.  Yes they love each other more than they at one time would have thought it possible to love another person and yet - their love for God is even greater.  God is love, He is the source of that powerful emotion and attribute, and no one has greater love than He for us.

A marriage then may be a reflection of this Divine love, a glimpse behind the curtain of eternity.

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"

(1 Corinthians 2:9)

All that the husband and wife see in each other that is beautiful and precious and lovely are marks of the Creator's hand.  These qualities enable a couple over time draw closer to each other in love and, if they have their eyes open, closer to God also...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Blacksmith


Not since I had seen a horse being fitted with new 'shoes' as a boy had I seen a Blacksmith at work.  The opportunity came unexpectedly upon a family outing to the Traditional Farm at Muckross House.  Watching this man it was easy to see that he had great skill as he hammered away at a rod of hot iron, making a pair of tongs designed to lead a bull with (the pincers of the tongs are inserted into the bulls nose - the joys of being a farmer!)

Blacksmith 2

It was a challenge to photograph.  I had Ilford Delta 100 loaded into the Nikon F100.  Fortunately I had a 'fast' 50mm f1.8, but it was still very dark.  I decided to spot meter off the red-hot section of the tongs, which gave me a shutter speed of about 1 1/2  seconds at f1.8.  Of course this meant that the picture would never be sharp so I hoped instead to catch some of the movement of the Blacksmiths arm as he brought down the hammer and some of the sparks that flew off the metal.  It didn't turn out quite as I had hoped but not as bad as I had feared either - so we'll call it a draw!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"My lovely horse..."


We came across these friendly fella's on a walk near Courtmacsherry.  On looking at the picture now I can't help but laugh as I remember the Father Ted episode "A song for Europe", with the "My Lovely Horse" music video.  They don't make 'em like that any more.  Ha Ha LOL !
My lovely horse, running through the fields.
Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?
I want to shower you with sugar lumps and ride you over fences.
Polish your hooves every single day, and bring you to the horse dentist....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Templebryan Stone Circle

Templebryan Stone Circle, Clonakilty

Who knows what went on here?  Was it for worship of the Sun or Moon, sacrifices or perhaps some kind of observatory?  This is no Stonehenge but impressive enough in its own way.  I first came across this stone circle earlier in the Summer when I was driving through Shannonvale.  I noticed the stones poking above the hedgerow and decided to stop and have a look.  A few days ago I passed again.  With the Sun high and bright in the sky, the light was not the best for a photograph (too much shadow and contrast), but then maybe the Sun is what these stones were put here for in the first place.

Since I wrote the above paragraph, I managed to find a link to this place.  The small stone you can just about see in the centre is made of quartz and is called the "Sun Stone".  In Irish this is "Cloich Griene" which became the "Clon" in Clonakilty (the second part of the name has something to do with woodland so the name Clonakilty means "stone in the trees" or something.  Note - If you know any Irish please feel free to correct!  I see from the link above that there is a nearby early Christian site with an Ogham stone. I look forward to going to have a look at this sometime - the transformation of these ancient people from worshipping the Sun to worshipping the Son is something I'd love to know more about...

Friday, August 13, 2010

I got to drive a classic car...


... Well sort of.  There was nobody around to hear my pretend engine noises and tyre squeals as I took the Ford Model T for a spin.  I pass this fantastic sculpture several times a week; often there are tourists sitting in and on it having their pictures taken and so I thought that I would stop (when things were quiet) and have a go...


This wonderful piece of work was the Millennium project of Ballinascarthy Community Council.  The plaque reads:

"You can have it any colour as long as its black"

These were the immortal words uttered by one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, HENRY FORD. 

Henry's family were residents in this very village prior to having emmigrated to the United States.  The Ford legacy can still be seen around us today having never hesitated since revolutionising the motor industry in 1908 through the development of the worlds first mass produced automobile - The "Model T".  This car became a car for the people and by 1927 over 15 million had been built.  Truly this car and its inventor were catalysts of the modern motor industry and by the time of his death in 1947 Henry had 
"Put the World on Wheels"


So if you are ever heading into West Cork along the N71, don't forget to stop in Ballinascarthy and take the  Model T for a test drive :~)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Common Darter

Common Darter Dragonfly

Dragonflies are wonderful insects to watch and for me at least very difficult to photograph.  I don't have a macro (close up) lens so it means I have to get as close as I can.  Unfortunately my attempts to get a picture of this fella (a Common Darter), were a bit like the fisherman and 'the one that got away'.  From a distance I managed to get the picture above (which I have magnified to make it look bigger but at the expense of detail) and then I carefully edged forward until I got really close.  It would have been a good picture.  I pressed the shutter release only for the memory card in the camera to stop working!  As I looked at the error message in the viewfinder blinking 'CHR' the Dragonfly saw his chance of escape and darted off.  Humph.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?


My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Great Langdale B&W

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;


indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

Old Barn

The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;


the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

Great Grey Owl

The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

Near Chapel Stile

the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Great Langdale Campsite

(All photos taken on our recent holiday - all in the Great Langdale Valley, Cumbria, except for the Great Grey Owl, taken at Rays Farm in Shropshire).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Big Mamma!

Big Mamma!

A recent trip to Kennedy's farm in Co. Kerry proved to be a wonderful day out, (once we had come to terms with the entrance fee).

The pigs were amongst my favourite animals there; there were half a dozen or more piglets running around and then there was the mother pig, who was rather grumpy - I can understand why they are called Sows!  Though grumpy, she mattered an awful lot to the little piglet shown in the picture above, he followed her around, when she lay down, so did he, when she got up to rummage for more food, he did the same.  Sometimes though he got too close and was then chased to the other side of the sty.  Perhaps not the most doting mother, but to this piglet she was his world.

Of course this got me thinking about motherhood.  Not that as a man, a son and a father myself I would have the slightest clue, but not having a clue about something has never stopped me writing about it before!  I look at our own children and see, that for them, mummy is their world.  Whenever they need something, whether it be food, drink, a plaster or comforting, daddy will do, but really mummy is the number one choice.  Why?  Because she is mummy and because she has all the God-given qualities necessary for this important role.  There is a very special bond between mother and child that, even as the years go by and mothers become grandmothers never goes away.  I still have a close bond with my mother, even though we do not get to see each other (other than on Skype) very often.  There is something very special (and of God) in all of this, a bond that transcends time and distance.

I can't help but think of Mary's relationship with the Lord Jesus, but I simply am not able to fathom how despairingly, darkly, impossibly difficult it must have been for her to see her son being crucified.  I think of Jesus' words to her, recorded in John 19:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
In a significant sense, Mary was no longer Jesus' mother, but in a way beyond our understanding they would be together in eternity (along with all believers).  In the meantime, Jesus gave her another son, the apostle John, in order that they might look after each other.  How amazing it is that the Lord was able to think of his mother in this way even whilst he was suffering the way he was.  She must have been quite a mother and he quite a son.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rock and Water

I've been reading "Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography" by Brenda Tharp, which I can highly recommend.  One of the challenges she lays down at the start of the book is to ask yourself what you are trying to say when taking a photograph.  Does the picture have meaning?  What emotions does it evoke in the viewer?  What do they take away with them from the picture?  And so on.  For someone like me who tends to snap away without giving the pictures much thought until afterwards, this has been an exciting challenge, but one that I find difficult to achieve.  I see something that I like and I take a picture of it, but it is good to think about what I am trying to say even if it is mostly (for me at least) a subliminal process.


Ok, lets try it out on this picture.  It's a stream in the Great Langdale Valley (in Cumbria), taken a couple of weeks ago.  Now if I'm honest, when I look, I just see water rushing though rock (I used a slow shutter speed of 1/6 sec to emphasise the movement of the water).  To go beyond that description takes a little more effort on my part; I see hard solid granite, that is permanent, changing little over thousands of years.  I remember it being warm from the sun and like heavy-duty sandpaper to the touch.  That rock isn't going anywhere.  In contrast the water is anything but solid, anything but permanent, it is very cold, having come from further up the mountain.  It is constantly changing, in a hurry and always different in shape and depth and speed.

The rock and the water could hardly be more different.  As I force myself to think further, I think of a similarlity between God and people.  God is the rock, permanent, eternal, solid, strong, unchanging.  We on the other hand are fluid and fragile, passing through time in the blinking of an eye.  The rock guides the flow of the water, (hmm maybe that is like God and us).  One way the water differes from us and God though is that it (albeit very gradually) shapes and smoothes the rock.  We cannot change God in any way, but then we don't need to, it is rather us who need His help to change...  OK, that'll do for now :-)