The Watcher Watched


After a leisurely breakfast we left Aaron, his nephew Rory, and Robin working on the fencing while Jackie drove the two of us, Jessie, and Guru to Ferndene Farm Shop for our friends to shop for their return.


This was such a hot, heavy, and overcast day that the Ferndene pigs had even less energy than we did.

Pig 1

One managed to snuffle around in a hole;

Pig 2

another was spark out.

The Homestead

Across the road, the thatching of The Homestead is complete.

Yachts on The Solent 1

After this we drove on to the cliff top overlooking The Solent, where a number of yachts sailed in the hazy sunlight. We were able to point out The Needles and their lighthouse.

Group on beach 1

The beach was quite populated.

Groups on beach

One group walked past beach huts, one of which was clearly in use,

Group on beach 2

and settled down near the water’s edge.

Watcher among beach huts

Meanwhile, a gentleman emerged from the hut and raised his binoculars. The watcher was watched.

The above photographs were all taken with the Canon SX700 HS, because I hadn’t anticipated needing the zoom lens, and hadn’t tried out the fixed one.

Back home we continued a very enjoyable weekend over lunch, before Jessie and Guru returned to North London.

Later, I tried out the 55mm lens on the EOS D5 Mk ii.

Chimney pot planter

Every time I pass this chimney pot planted with lobelia shoulders and cosmos crown, I have a sense of being stalked.

Clematis Ville de Lyon

After vigorous bondage from The Head Gardener, the clematis Ville de Lyon now stretches across the side wall of No. 5 Downton Lane along our Back Drive,

Clematis Marie Boisselot

and outside the kitchen window, Marie Boisselot is having a second flush.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on her superlative chicken jalfrezi, boiled rice, and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.


  1. That chimney pot is one of my favourite things in your garden – as is the stalker! Your reference to Jackie’s garden S&M proclivities caused me a loud chuckle this morning Derrick! And the watcher …. mmmmmm, I suddenly realise this post is a little on the Grey side! 🙂

    1. What goes on in those little huts, I wonder? I thought the post was more like an MI5 caper what with all those watchers watching and all.

  2. Oh, I like that 55mm lens! Is it a fixed focus? Nice bokeh! And those pigs are so ugly/cute. They went past ugly and became adorable somehow. I love them. Makes me miss Hamilton…

    By the way, I switched over to a self hosted site and I lost all my WordPress subscribers! I can’t recall if you were subscribed to Mind Your Dirt or not, but if you were, kindly re-subscribe so I’m not so lonely anymore 🙁

      1. Cheers Derrick! I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got my first prime lens. Even though I have my degree in photography and have been shooting for decades. But now I’m in love!

  3. That feature that focus on the foreground and blurring the background is one that I missed when I had to let go of the SLR. I like the yachting one; the old camera is still taking good photos 🙂

    1. Now look here you lot! It is just that there was only one place to put the cane and the clematis wanted to go the other way, I had no option but to get vigorous with the bondage! Behave— shame on you all! (tee hee)

  4. Stalking, bondage, and voyeurism–oh my!
    The sleeping pig looks very content.
    The photo of the yachts has such an interesting quality. Sort of dreamy.

  5. The chimney pot shot is gorgeous, Derrick. I love the hazy look of the yacht shot. It’s a true representation of the dog days of summer her in the south. As are the pigs. 🙂

    1. Jill, you were asking about thatched roofs in a previous post. I was going to suggest to Derrick that he record the process of this cottage being re-roofed, as it had various interesting stages (including one we saw, looking like a punk/Mohican-style haircut!). I’m amazed that the colouring shown here is the “weathered” effect I mentioned, which usually takes about a year to work through, but in this case seems to have appeared in a month or two. Perhaps my recall of the length of time the work has been underway is skewed by the infrequency of our visits to Ferndene, and a more regular customer (e.g. one writes this blog) will correct me?

      1. Actually, Paul, it is The Head Gardener who makes most of the Ferndene trips. That was a good idea, though. I’ll watch out for another opportunity

  6. I hope we’re not being invited to trawl through weeks of previous posts looking for secreted 50 Shades references!

  7. I do like the yacht shot. Just beautiful. Looks like good weather too. I love the bathing boxes. We have very colourful ones down at our local Brighton Beach near Melbourne.

    The last 3 shots look lovely. I assume all 3 were made with the 55mm lens.

    That 55mm lens certainly takes a lovely shot. May I ask what Aperture it is? Is it the f1.2 ? If so, that would explain the lovely background blur. If you put the dial on Aperture Priority and turn the Aperture up to f10 or even f16 all the scene will be in focus (if you wanted). At the same time, if you turn the ISO to Auto, the camera will do all the rest of the work/calculation for you i.e. work out your Camera’s shutter speed automatically (on Aperture Priority). Most people shoot in Aperture Priority.

    I always had a really hard time trying to gauge what ISO, aperture and shutter speed worked for each scene/subject, but it is worth learning and can make a much better image than using full Autofocus all the time (in the beginning of your DSLR ownership). Even though I’ve got a couple of good books on ‘exposure’, my poor memory meant I never really remembered what I read the night before, so my own knowledge is more about trial and error outdoors.

    When I first bought a DSLR, I picked a flower, put it in a jar/vase on my desk and took lots of photos with different camera settings using the 50mm f1.4 lens. At the time I didn’t understand the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter speed and Aperture) at all. Then I was able to compare them and see what effect/light different settings made. I found that exercise really useful in understanding how to make good flower close-ups. But first, I learned how to switch from 9 focal points to one and put that one focal point on the flower spot I wanted in sharp focus. Sometimes I wanted the stamens in focus. Sometimes the tip of the petal in the foreground. Or in your previous post, you must have had one focal point on the fly (to get it in such sharp focus).

    1. Many thanks, Vicki. I’ll read this again when I’m more awake. 🙂 The last 3 were with 50 mm lens f1.4. The focal points description is fascinating. That means the fly was pure luck.

      1. Here’s an old post on my old blog Victoria A Photography that shows where I have changed the 9 focal points to a single one and used various single points to make certain roses, or parts of rose petals, in sharp focus. In the first image (in the linked post below) I used the left hand focal point to put the apricot rose in the left side of the frame/image in focus, because I wanted the right hand side of the bush to blur, or fade into the background.

        This blog ran out of room twice and after buying extra space for $99 (twice) I decided to just start a new blog ‘Living in Nature’.

        If you type ‘daisy’ into the search box on the right hand side of this blog, it will come up with a particular daisy image where I made the bottom petal of the daisy in sharp focus in the uploaded image…….I think. In fact if you do a search with the word ‘macro’ you might find some more good examples.

  8. Derrick,
    I just had a look at reviews of your new Canon EOS 5D Mark II online. Looked both complicated (to me) and yet, familiar.

    Turns out it was the camera that I first considered buying when moving to a DSLR in Dec 2010, but instead of spending $$$$$ buying it (and lenses), I bought David Buschi’s CANON EOD 5D Mark II Digital SLR Photography book from US Amazon for about $18.95 to get a better idea of the settings and menus. This book is about 1″ thick and 452 pages. When I opened it, I found I was allergic to the printing ink and had trouble breathing 🙂 but I managed to read enough to know the camera was far too complicated for a beginner like me (at that time).

    But it’s definitely a great book for this camera.

    After hours of chat with my favourite Camera Store salesman in the city centre, he talked me into starting off with an inexpensive Canon EOS 500D at about Aust $817. Best thing I ever bought. It was the lightest DSLR on the market at the time (have bad lumbar back pain) and perfectly fitted my hand and was incredibly simple to use. A year or so later, I bought the Canon EOS 600D body at a sale for Aust $499 so I didn’t have to change lenses down the beach where sand could get in. I took 2 camera bodies with a lens on each everywhere, so both were instantly ready to use outdoors. The EOS 600D was the last of the dial settings in the EOS range and came out in 2011.

    From then on the settings were on an LCD screen (from memory). I prefer dials to LCD screens which I find hard to read with my distance glasses.

    The book is probably too expensive to post to you as it is heavy, so ask away if you have any immediate question and I might be able to look up the book and answer them. Drop me an email at and if I can, I may be able to offer suggestions to your questions (or maybe not 🙂 ). I can even scan the appropriate page and email it you as you gradually work your way through learning to use your new camera. Otherwise, you might like to check out how much this book cost in the UK and buy it yourself. It will be worth the money.

    There are 2 ISBN numbers on this inside cover so don’t know what this means
    ISBN-13: 979-1-4343-5433-0
    ISBN-10: 1-4354-5433-2

    Of course now, after 5 years of using a DSLR, I understand a bit more of what David D Busch was talking about in the book. Back in Dec 2010 it was all a foreign language and I’m hopeless at foreign languages.

  9. That chimney pot shot is fantastic. Absolutely love the burst of colours. The last one too is unique. Funny the watcher being watched 🙂

  10. What worries me about this post and all the comments is that I don’t know what any of the references meant and further more, I don’t even know what chicken jalfrezi and parathas are. I did get the boiled rice though. That is what is worrying me.
    I am going to read everything about the lens settings again and I’ll see if I can get that.

    1. Thank you, Ginene. I’ve got to get my head aroud all the technical stuff, too. Chicken jalfrezi is a method of cooking curry which can be anything from mild to hot. Parathas are Indian breads. They are fairly flat and fried in oil. Very tasty. 🙂

  11. The Solent photograph with gray clouds, cobalt blue water and a seriously, beautiful horizon has a real “moody” feel to it, Derrick. I liked the flowers as brightly lit when taken. A brilliant way to portray the flowers against the background blue of the corner of the house.

  12. Beautiful pictures Derrick and great story line to go with them.
    Like the size of those pigs.
    The thatched houses reminds me so much of the story’s I read of early England back in the 1800s.

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