Happy New Year


Hello to all my friends out there and a Happy New Year to you all.

After about 5 years I am still trying to learn how to effectively use WordPress, but I soldier on with the hope that maybe this year I’ll get a little better at blogging, goodness know I have made enough promised false starts in the past!

As some will know I kinda….lost my photography Mojo, something I have loved for over 40 years however, all is not lost I still intend to vista my wildlife patches, but maybe not as often as I used to.

Having said that I am enjoying my new ‘Apprenticeship’, that of Jewellery maker/Silversmith/Goldsmith. It all started when my wife asked me to help with a beading project she was doing and needed something soldering, before I could turn around I had a Jewellery workshop! 🙂  I think one of the catalysts to my new passion was finding the Jewellery learning site called At The Bench.  At the Bench is an online learning site where members have access to hundreds of films expertly presented by a professional working jeweller Andrew Berry. If you want to learn more about making and repairing and designing jewellery I can highly recommend him. There is a link at the bottom of the page.

I think it is safe to say that it is a steep learning curve, that is if you want to design and manufacture pieces that are worthy to be advertised and sold as pieces of jewellery, and not scraps of stuff stuck together, which all your family say “Oh!…you are so clever…that is a beautiful…what?…a Pendant?…Brooch?” 🙂 Which is just one of the reasons I have made a number of very nice and talented friends, most of which have been making jewellery for a number of years from 3 to 30. By showing them what I have made and then listening to their comments and inspecting and watching how they do the same thing, it has made my learning a lot easier than it would have been.  Please forgive me if I am repeating myself here and there, but as I said earlier I am trying to become a better blogger!

My latest attempt was to make a ring from sterling silver with a silver Gallery Basket setting (I hope I got that right). It took me for what seemed a long time, but in my defence  I did keep swapping over to other little projects, which I like to do. I have noticed that if I stay with the same piece I’m making for too long, I have a tendency to become impatient and want to hurry to finish the piece. This is where I start to make mistakes and get sloppy. If I have learnt one thing from Andrew Berry it’s to start as you mean to finish, thats with accuracy and diligence, if you cut corners at the beginning of the project there is no correcting it at the end. Well not when you are a learner anyway, thats for sure.

So this is the piece. I should say that there is no way this ring would be for sale because it is not good enough, but at least it will be a record (hopefully) to show how my pieces are improving over time.

 

If it ain’t Broke?


Firstly an apology to all my faithful blogging friends, an apology for being so delinquent is blogging! I promise I will do better in the coming year (please God)!

Some of you may remember that when I was working as a Management & Training Consultant I was always preaching about how change for the better is always good for business. And one of the books I remember reading was entitled ‘If it ain’t broke, break it’. Which basically meant that one shouldn’t take for granted that because things are going swimmingly at the moment, it doesn’t mean they will be the same this time (say) next year.  And, that we should always be prepared to re-visit our business plan and our marketing plan, and review all the major areas of the business such as:

  • Financial control
  • Overheads
  • Suppliers
  • Sales targets (must be S.M.A.R.T)
  • Customer service & management

So, being one who does practice what he preaches I looked inward and wasn’t very happy with what I saw. The competition in my chosen field of Wildlife Photography was such – due to the technological advancement of digital cameras – that every body and his dog was becoming a wildlife and nature photographer. All this was doing to me was creating stress which I did not want, and I had stopped enjoying going out with may camera and seeking special shots.  So I took the big step and decided to CHANGE.

The change I made was to do something I had thought about for about 12 months. And that was to learn to become a working metalsmith, a Jeweller, someone who can design pieces and the make them at a standard that would be acceptable within the industry. There is of course a Bona Fide entrance to the craft which requires something like a 5 year apprenticeship, but obviously being too old for this I started to investigate other ways of learning.

I was very lucky because I actually found a working Jeweller who actually taught the craft and was living and working in Wales, not more than 20 miles from where I live. His name is Andrew Berry and his boutique working jewellery store is in the beautiful Welsh valley town of Ystrad Mynach. Check out Andrew Berry.  If any of you are interested in learning a little more about the learning process, let me know and I will give the link to Andrew’s teaching site.

So, there we are a major change and I have found a new passion. I have partially converted my old photographic studio into a proper workshop/studio. There is a lot more to do to get it right, but it’s working and, I have actually started making sales! Only small ones, but enough to give me confidence in my work and confirmation that I must be doing something right!

Solid silver snake ring.
Solid silver snake ring.
Brass teardrop pendant
Brass teardrop pendant
Sterling silver ring with 9ct gold band.
Sterling silver ring with 9ct gold band.
Silver Plate Spoon Ring

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Silver Pendant
A Solid silver witches heart pendant

Changing for the better?


As my faithful followers will see Change is afoot!

Never be afraid of change, always be prepared to review where you are now opposed to where you would like to be, and be prepared to change for the better.

Please be patient and I promise all will be explained.

You wanna take my photo? Go on then...how's this?
You wanna take my photo? Go on then…how’s this?

 

TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING


As many of my blogging friends will know, I have been an avid wildlife photographer for many years. In fact I have negatives going back to the early 1960s. I have always had an interest in photography and it has stayed with me for more than 40 years. A passion? I’m not sure. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t know what a passion is anymore. Anthony Robbins the world famous NLP and ‘self help’ practitioner defines passion as ‘something that keeps you up until late at night and gets you up early in the morning.’ And that certainly used to be the case with me, but not anymore.

In many ways I have been very lucky in my life, I have nearly always done a job that I loved, and in many cases paid me a lot of money. And when I was dishing out words of wisdom to classrooms of managers who would listen, I can distinctly remember saying how important it was to be passionate about the business they were entering into. and I suppose this is still true to the younger and more energetic, hungry entrepreneurs. But as I get older and, I’m ashamed to say more cynical, I find my passions can wane into relative insignificance when confronted with life’s ‘more important ‘ things. Like for example:-

Friends dying on a monthly basis, every month on the social media I read about another dear friend who I remembered as being passionate about life passing over.

Or, thinking about the health and welfare of ones partner, who hasn’t been as lucky as you and has been struck down with an illness that means they now rely on you for basically everything.

I could go on, but I know that you have the message by now. So, my question to you is this. How can something that you had decided was going to be your life, then ‘say’ 30 years later, not be the first thing you think of when you wake in the morning.

I apologise if this blog is on the dark side, but in the words of the great Sir Winston Churchill ‘I have a touch of the black dog about me today.’ I know the reason, or at least one of the reasons, I have had a tooth abcess for over a week and it was so bad I actually didn’t get out of my bed for two days! That has to be an age thing surely? I have had tooth abcesses before and they have been very painful, but they have never kept me in bed.

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?


It’s true what they say that when you retire there is just not enough hours in the day to do all you would like to do! And that dear friends is my excuse for not writing my Blog since January (I think).

I have hardly got out with my camera, I managed a couple of hours at my local Peregrine spot, but even they decided that courtship behind closed nests was more important than posing for me. 😦

I have had some minor success on eBay selling some bits and pieces of photography gear that I no longer use. I passed a new rule recently, that I was not allowed to spend any money on hobbies/equipment, without first generating the income from the Hobby. So either selling some pics or some gear! Fortunately, I have had a bit of both, some pics through Alamy and the said eBay. Unfortunately, I have almost spent it all on shopping on….you guessed it…eBay!  Well….you have to spend it while you have it and the item you want is available…don’t you?

Visiting Hedgehog
Visiting Hedgehog

I was so pleased to see the Hedgehog as they have been declining in such drastic numbers recently. I find it quite difficult with such a small modern garden, to keep it tidy so as not to be an eyesore for the neighbours and at the same time be a wildlife friendly habitat.

I was also surprised to see a very small long-tailed field mouse in the garden. I noticed where he was hanging about and made a point of ensuring there was always some food there for him/her. I had to get out into the garden at about 3.00am to see him but he became almost friendly, and stopped diving for cover whenever I showed up, after a while, realising he wasn’t going to get hurt by me. However, my Rosie did find a local black & white cat hiding out very near where said mouse ate. That was about two weeks ago, and I haven’t seen the mouse since, but I am still putting food out for it, and the food is not there in the morning, so I am hoping that he is still safe in his underground home.  I do have a couple of pics of the little feller as soon as they are processed  I will post them.

Warm wishes to all my friends.

George Mutch sentenced to four months in prison


This maybe a first for a Gamekeeper being jailed for killing wildlife. If so, let’s hope it’s not the last.

Raptor Persecution UK

George MutchBreaking news…..

Scottish gamekeeper George Mutch, convicted in December for trapping a goshawk and then battering it to death (and a few other things – see here) on the Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire, has been sentenced to four months in prison for his crimes.

He was led away from the court in handcuffs and is currently en-route to a prison cell.

What an unbelievably brilliant outcome – we never thought we’d see the day. Mutch is the first gamekeeper ever to be jailed in the UK for killing raptors.

Huge congratulations to the RSPB Investigations Team, SSPCA, Police Scotland and the Crown Office, and kudos (and thanks) to Sheriff Noel McPartlin for handing out this sentence. An acknowledgement also to former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, who pushed hard for the admissibility of video evidence. Had he not done so, this case would probably not have made it to court.

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Some Nice Pics to Relax to


I haven’t been around much lately, mainly due to family commitments plus, I have been asked to participate in writing a book and supplying photos for same.  The book is all about a specific area of the Music Industry, which many of you will know was my previous life. So researching that has taken some time, I will post here when it’s all finished and published.

More recently, I have been accepted as a Trustee of Gwent Wildlife Trust. This is something very close to my heart and I hope that I shall be able to contribute some value to this wonderful organisation.  Watch this space I guess.

Here is a video that a friend sent me and i though it would be nice to share. Hope you enjoy.

GWCT takes aim at Scottish pine martens


I wonder what the world is coming to. Read this please. And furthermore, why are the RSPB opting out of the discussion? I don’t pay my dues to them to have them opt out! They are supposed to be representing me in all things Wildlife.

Raptor Persecution UK

Pine Marten Gary FaulknerThe GWCT are at it again. First they wanted buzzards and sparrowhawks added to the Scottish General Licences to allow the legal killing of these protected species in order to protect non-native gamebirds bred and released in their millions for leisure shooting. Then they went for the legal ‘removal’ of hen harriers from English grouse moors to protect artificially-high stocks of red grouse for leisure shooting. Now their plan to ‘remove’ pine martens from several Scottish forests, under the guise of a ‘research trial’, has been leaked.

Their ‘plan’ is to ‘remove’ 120 pine martens (a highly protected species that is recovering from persecution) from four forests in Strathspey, including inside the Cairngorms National Park, over a six-year period to see whether their ‘removal’ has any affect on the breeding success of Capercaillie. The plan suggests that the martens could be killed but a ‘translocation’ to other areas would be…

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PLAYING IN THE GARDEN


Rather than throw the honey jar away while there was still some in the bottom, I decided to leave the lid off and place it on it’s side on the Bar-B-Que. In truth I was hoping that it may attract some late night -flying moths.  However, after checking it at night for a couple of nights and finding nothing, I gave up the idea, but left the jar.

A day or two later the rain had stooped and the sun was briefly shining. I took a stroll down to the Bar-B-Que and was absolutely amazed at the number of Honey Bees and a couple of Wasps all guzzling as much as they could of the (now solidified) honey.  By the time I got there there were two dead Honey Bees and two live wasps amongst the tightly packed in ‘gang’! I watched it quite closely for a while and was surprised to see that both the bees and the wasps all ignored each other.

Honey Bees in Jar Honey Bees in Jar

 

The last remaining Wasp
The last remaining Wasp

 

 

Stody Estate mass poisoner gets…..10 week suspended sentence


Many of my readers will no doubt recall the case of Mass Poisoner Gamekeeper Alan Lambert. This opting by ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland’ blog will surprise many. A totally unbelievable outcome to the case, presided over by district judge peter Veits.

Raptor Persecution UK

allen-lambert-stody-estateGamekeeper Allen Lambert, convicted of mass raptor poisoning at Stody Estate, Norfolk, has been given a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and dead buzzards (suspended for one year) and has been ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

This sentence will infuriate many. Lambert’s crimes contributed to one of the worst incidents of mass raptor poisoning in the UK. Although it’s not the worst incident, it’s right up there near the top of the list and is certainly the worst mass poisoning of raptors uncovered in England.

District Judge Peter Veits said Lambert’s crimes ‘had crossed the custody threshold’ but his sentence would be suspended. Why? Sentencing is supposed to serve two purposes. It’s supposed to be a deterrent, not only to the convicted criminal, but also to others…

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