Apr 062011
 

Pic courtesy of the Eden Project

Note to self:  do not not take part in any more activities that involve heights. I have vertigo, which seems to be getting worse with my advancing years. I came a cropper at Kew recently when I found myself staggering like a drunkard along the Treetop Walkway within seconds of setting foot on it. The only way I could get to the end was to cling to the handrail and edge my way along, whimpering quietly as men, women and children sauntered past.

So I should have had the sense to say ‘yes’ three times over when a nice man with a clipboard at the foot of the Eden Project’s Rainforest Lookout asked if I have angina, am pregnant or taking any medication. And I should definitely have turned back when a nice lady smiled encouragingly and said casually: ‘there will be some movement’. But on I went, encouraged by the group I was with and the prospect of the view from the top.

‘There will be some movement’ turned out to be an understatement (the steps are suspended from the roof and wobble quite a bit) and almost immediately I found myself inhabited by the spirit of I’m a Celebrity’s Gillian McKeith. My legs started jerking beneath me (not helpful when trying to walk up nine flights of steps) and once again I had to cling pathetically to the handrail, trying not to look down, while everyone else scampered upwards like mountain goats. If feigning a faint would have been any way useful at that point I might have been tempted to try it.

I can’t tell you what the view is like from the top because I couldn’t look at it. By that point I was sweating profusely in the 100 degree heat, my stomach was doing somersaults and I had developed some rather alarming ‘jazz hands’. But I’m told it’s spectacular.

Jan 282011
 

Kew Gardens

On this bone-chillingly cold day I went to Kew Gardens with the photographer Paul Debois. He’d kindly agreed to give me some expert tuition on how to use my camera so that I can take better pictures for this blog. Poor Paul probably wasn’t banking on getting hypothermia or on giving rudimentary instructions (‘use both hands!!’) with alarming regularity but he put a brave face on it and gave me lots of great advice. I learnt loads, including:

1) Use both hands when taking a pic (duh)

2) MOVE AROUND a lot to find the right angle

3) Shooting from a low angle is often best

4) Tilt the camera up (sky is more interesting than paving)

5) Don’t be afraid of the manual settings

6) You have to make the camera see what the eye sees

7) A homemade reflector (cardboard covered with tin foil) can work wonders

8) My camera has its limitations – I’m never going to take shots with a lovely blurry background

9) I wish I had a better camera.

Here are some of the shots we took. Paul runs occasional garden photography workshops with Jason Ingram for the Royal Photographic Society – the next one is on 4 and 5 June.