Snow in Eastbourne!

I have upgraded my little Fuji Finepix 5 mega pixl camera for a Canon 450D EOS.  I have always wanted a camera like this as I have a 35mm Canon EOS and I can use the two lenses from that on the new camera.  It is one of my Christmas presents to myself. 🙂  The whole kit with extras cost me only a little bit more than my 35mm over 15 years ago!  I got a deal.  My son gave me a lesson on how to use it.  He is excellent at explaining how to use the camera and it’s functions.  I asked him if I should take a photography course and he told me ‘no’ as he could teach me.  ‘Anything you want to know Mum, just ask me’, he said.  I guess all the money spent on his education was worth it!  (He has a degree in Media, Film and Photography) I only wish that I had as good retention as he does, as I only managed to retain about half of what he told me.  Maybe I will join a photography club.  A lot can be learned from one’s peers.  As can be imagined, I have been itching to try out my new toy and I got the chance this morning.

It snowed last night!  It was still snowing at 6:30 this morning!  Too dark and snowy to take photos.  I got up anyway, made coffee, threw on some warm clothes, and gave the cat his morning lovin.  Then I drove off to the beach.  I got there about 7:30 to catch the morning light.  Fortunately the roads were clear.  They were prepared for the snow it seems, unlike other areas in the UK.

The photos on this page are totally un-retouched as I just wanted to get them here as quickly as possible.  I tried different settings and lenses as the light was changing.    The light was amazing and it was very cold.  I haven’t been up to the beach that early in the morning, but it was worth it just to see the waves rolling in while the tide was out.  The contrast of a dark sky in the background over the sea, the light on the water, the brown shingle and white snow was breathtaking.  I know that I may not have totally captured it, but I did my best and you should get an idea of what it was like.  I hope you enjoy them.

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Snow today, gone tomorrow.

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It is Thursday and I have been watching the rain wash away all of the snow we were blessed with on Monday.  I say blessed because the snow usually doesn’t last for more than a few hours in London, which is usually a good thing because the UK doesn’t really know how to cope with the snow.  Trust me, I know what I am talking about.  I have lived here for over 20 years.  They have issues when leaves fall on the train tracks.  I am not kidding.

This blessed snow made everything beautiful for three days and caused a huge amount of havoc.  People do not shovel the pavement outside the front of their houses as they do in the States.  They are not obliged to.  I don’t even know if town people own shovels.  It was better to walk on the road and risk getting run over than walking on the icy sidewalk.  The snow was so wonderful that when you walked on it, it got packed down and then turned to ice.  Perfect for skiing, but rubbish for walking.

As you can see from the photos in my previous post, we had a huge amount of snow that turned everything into a winter wonderland.  Schools were closed, the buses weren’t running, and a lot of people didn’t go to work.  I think my whole town was in Richmond Park on Monday.  My son went to work.  He works in the local supermarket and was asked to come in as there were people unable to come to work because of the weather.  We live a couple of blocks from the supermarket so it wasn’t a problem.  When he came home it was dark and we took a walk up into the park before dinner.  Because everything was white and it was a clear night, it was quite easy to see in the dark.  It was surreal.  When we went through the pedestrian gate, I could already see the devastation created by people having trampled through the snow.  Looking out into the field, I could see massive snowballs dotted around along with other various snow sculptures.  The igloo that was being built earlier in the day was complete.   Although my son is 19, he regressed into a little kid and ran around in the snow and we even threw snowballs at each other.  I am not talking about little snowballs that fall apart in the air when you throw them, but softball sized ones packed hard.  Decent snowballs.  It was fun.

It was sunny on Tuesday and I could see that some of the snow had already started to melt.  I thought I would go into the park and take some pictures before the snow disappeared and while the sun was shining.

When I got up to the park gates they were still closed to cars.  I later discovered that it was possible to drive through the park between Richmond and Kingston gates.  It made sense as Pembroke Lodge is that way and they were able to serve lunch and hot and cold drinks as a lot of people brought their children to go sledding down the big hill.

I was a bit dismayed to see all of the snow trampled down.  There was barely a patch of pristine snow left.  I was grateful that I had gone out the day before when it was still fresh.  Almost all of the trees were bare of snow too.  Although the park still looked beautiful, I was a little bit sad to see the snow melting away.

I sort of retraced my steps from the day before and when I had my walk in the week before the snowfall.  I came across a gentleman with his cross country skis coming down the hill.  He looked like he was having a great time.

I ended up at Pembroke Lodge to have some lunch.  It was reminiscent of being at a ski resort with everyone sitting outside with their ski gear on, sunglasses and the kid’s sleds.  They were doing a roaring business since the road was open to cars on that side of the park.

From Pembroke Lodge, I crossed the road and carried on towards the right of Sidmouth Wood where I met a gentleman carrying a tripod with the largest camera and lens I had ever seen.  It put my little Fuji Finepix slimline camera to shame.  I asked him if he was a professional photographer, but he told me ‘no’.  Turned out that he was just a photography geek and he had been taking photos of the deer.

I carried on walking through a part of Queen Elizabeth’s Plantation where I came across a bunch of oak trees that looked as if they were dead, but still alive.  They had holes in them that I could fit inside.  I found it incredible that these trees were still living in spite of having had their insides devoured by animals and insects.

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I walked along to Leg of Mutton Pond (really) which had been frozen over.  You can usually find tadpoles here in the summer.  There were some Red deer relaxing and chewing their cud on the other side of the pond, but I left them alone to walk over to the Pen Ponds to take some photos of the birds.

As I walked over to the smaller pond I could see that there were some ducks and swans on the ice.  The light was changing and made everything look really sharp and fresh.  There was another gentleman there with the same idea and also with a very serious camera.  He smiled when I showed him mine, camera that is.  It turned out that he was a professional photographer and was just taking photos for fun.  We had a lovely conversation about blogs and photography.  I just wished he was a little bit younger and single.  We waited for the light to brighten up but that never happened, and as it was getting cold we decided to go our separate ways.

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While I was walking home, the light changed.  Nature never does what you want it too.  I smiled.

If you want to see my photos, you can see them here.   They are best viewed as a slideshow.  I hope you like them.

Here is a map of Richmond Park.

Snow in Richmond Park

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It stopped snowing about 9:30am so I went up to Richmond Park to take some photos.  It turns out that all of East Sheen was there as well!  There were parents with their children, older school kids, and people with their dogs.  Anyone and everyone seemed to be in the park.  There were people building snowmen and igloos.  There were people having real snowball fights, not the virtual ones on Facebook. Give me a real snowball fight any day.

The park was one glorious winter wonderland and everyone there was having a great time.  I wandered away from the crowd (it was very noisy) to take some pictures.  I saw a little Robin, but I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo, ditto with the parrots and the crows.  I focused on the trees and the deer.  I am better with stationary objects.

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I made a Snow Angel.  How could I not?  It was easier making it than getting up!  I’m not sure that it was such a good move though as I was wearing jeans and they got a little bit wet.  I was a bit worried that I might get frostbite on my butt as it started snowing again and becoming colder.

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Here is a video of the trees.  It isn’t very good as I am still getting used to certain features on my camera, but you can certainly hear the birds and get a good idea of how beautiful the trees were in the woods.

I had a lovely walk in the snow.  I could hear the crunching sound of every footstep I took.  I could taste the snowflakes falling from the sky.  Yes, I actually stood out in an open field with my head tilted back and my tongue sticking out so I could taste the snowflakes.  I could feel the cold wind on my face and the icy hardness of the snowball I created.  I could see the beauty created by nature, with my naked eye and enhanced with my tinted glasses that cut the glare (my driving glasses for grey, rainy days and better than drugs).

Here are the photos I took today.  While editing, I couldn’t decide which I preferred.  All of my photos came out with a blue tint and I wouldn’t mind some bright spark telling me why that happened even though it was a grey day.  Then I couldn’t decide if I liked the AutoContrast or Feeling Lucky editing feature on Picasa.  So I uploaded all three!  The trees are my favourite.  If you view the photos as a slideshow, you will be able to see the image subtly change.

It is amazing how a bit of snow can transform our environment.  My garden hasn’t looked this good for months.  Welcome to my winter white world.  They don’t call it pure as the driven snow for nothing.  I think everyone should take the day off from work and play in the snow!