Sunday, May 29, 2016

My New Domain

Hello :)

As mentioned before here, change has come to the Yellow House. From now on you will be able to find me at , so please update any bookmarks or links that you have to my blog.

I'm excited to be embarking upon a new era for the Yellow House, so I hope that you'll continue to visit me here as I go forward.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another View Just Above The Rock

I thought that I'd share another photo today. This one was also taken on Good Friday. I took quite a few pics that day :) I realized after posting the photo yesterday that the rock was right below the frame of today's photo.

The tiny black flecks above the trees are birds. They were having a good time that day and so was I!

Happy weekend wherever you are!

Mars at Opposition This Weekend

I'm a bit of a stargazer, so I love taking a look at the heavens on the nights when we have a clear view here in the UK. I've been like this since I was a little girl. I've always been intrigued by the beauty and the majesty of the night sky. When I look up I feel small next the the vastness, but I also feel something great within because I know that the corner of the night sky that I can see is a part of something greater.

I get extra excited when there are events happening in the night sky and this weekend, in the early morning hours of Sunday, May 22nd, the planet Mars reaches opposition in the constellation Scorpius. This is a great time for osbservation. The magnificent red planet will be visible on the southern horizon. It'll reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight BST, but it'll be visible for much of the night. I don't know how clear the view will be here on Sunday morning, but I'm going to give it a go and see what I can see.

Ian Savage, Head of the Jessops Training Academy has said, “For those wanting to get a clearer view, this is the ideal occasion to look up into the sky and delve into the curiosity of our universe. With the right kit, you’ll be amazed at what you can see.”

I'm always interested in learning more about the night sky and I'm increasingly interested in learning what I can about capturing what I see on camera.

Here are some tips for capturing Mars from the Jessops Training Academy:

  • Mars will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight in the UK. However, make sure you are positioned somewhere where the air is clear to ensure better visibility. Travelling out to a country location will be of a huge benefit as you’ll have less light pollution ruining your view.

  • Once night falls, give your eyes a chance to adjust to the darkened environment. It takes around an hour for your eyes to get adjusted to seeing in the dark, and letting them adjust will give you the best views through the telescope.

  • Shooting Mars will be different to capturing a regular night sky. First of all, you’ll want to use a longer lens. As you’re capturing a specific part of the night sky, not the whole thing, this will allow you to hone in on the planet. A lens with a minimum focal length of at least 200mm is ideal, if not then a decent optical zoom will suffice.

  • Lens-wise you want to follow two simple rules – wide angle and fast aperture. A wide angle will allow you to capture an expansive view of the sky, while a fast maximum aperture will allow your camera to gather in as much light as possible. You can think of a telescope as a funnel to collect lots of light and concentrate it into a tiny beam that will fit inside your eye, this means you will be able to see objects fainter than your eye alone can detect.

  • Deciding which telescope to choose amongst the multitude of different options is a challenge even for the experienced observer. For the newcomer, there are some great, affordable options such as the Skywatcher Capricorn 70 TQ1 Telescope. The 900mm focal length on this telescope, combined with the sub-£100 price makes it a good choice for starter users to get their bearings. It also comes equipped with an equatorial mount, a feature you’ll see on all high-end telescopes that allows it to track objects as they traverse the night sky.

  • If you find that you are getting an obscured view through the telescope you might want to check the collimation – or alignment – of the optics. Reflecting telescopes are the most susceptible to this so you will need to refer to the instruction manual for details of how to collimate your particular telescope.

  • Once you start to spend a little more money you start to see the real jump in quality. Celestron’s computerised telescope is a more serious tool, with which you’ll be able to glimpse the rings of Saturn or the surface of Jupiter. Take it somewhere darker and you’ll be able to see distant galaxies, and its database of celestial objects will make this easy for you. It’s an incredibly lightweight and transportable piece of kit.

  • If you’re really committed to night photography and think it’s going to heavily contribute to your portfolio then you may want to look at a camera that specialises in low light. Investigate mirrorless systems as there are some great, low-light mirrorless cameras out there that are multi-purpose, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. 
These are great tips! I'll be referring back to these as I step further into photographing the night sky. Hopefully one day I'll be able to share something wonderful here. Until then I'll be out there this weekend hoping to get a glimpse of beautiful Mars. Happy Weekend!

*Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way. I just thought that I'd share these tips.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Simple and Random Rocks

Hello :)

I was scrolling through my photos earlier and had fun looking at what's there. I've been lucky enough to capture some beautiful bits of scenery here and there, but sometimes I've taken random pics just because. I love being out in nature so much, so when I'm out walking around the Wiltshire countryside pretty much everything that I see is fair game :)

Here's a perfect example above of my anything goes mentality...I took a picture of a rock! Hey, who knows what was going through my mind, but in the end it gives me a chuckle so it did its job even though it's simply a picture of a rock. I remember this day...Good Friday...and I remember how gloriously beautiful the day was. This simple, random photo takes me back and it brings to mind the joy that I felt on that day, so random is good :)

Just thought I'd share ;-)

Have a great day wherever you are!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Lines of Trees and Mondays

Happy Monday! :)

I know that sometimes we cringe when we hear this greeting because Mondays can be rough sometimes. But, sometimes Mondays can be great! Everyone has their feelings about this day. I have had my share of bad Mondays, but I've also had rough Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, etc. These days I just think of Monday as a new beginning. It's a new week and a new day and you get another chance at things, so I'm good with that. It's great to be alive :)

Anyway, I thought that I'd just share a photo today to get the week off to its start here at the Yellow House. I took this photo back on Good Friday when hubby and I took a walk that morning. It was a cold, but gorgeous morning. Here's the other photo that I shared from that day. The other one was more picturesque, but I like this one too. I have a thing for trees and especially lines of trees :) These trees are along a fence and are sort of a dividing line between the fields.

At that point when I took the photo, there weren't any leaves on the trees because it's been so cold here in England. We finally had some beautiful warm weather here over the weekend though and I wondered if the leaves had finally shown up on those trees. Everything seemed to come to life this weekend so I hope that the trees are finally cloaked in green.

I think that we'll just have to take another trip out there to check things out again, now that it's not as cold as it was on Good Friday. I look forward to it. I'll have to snap a few photos again and share them here.

Have a great week wherever you are!

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Monty Don Mocktail

I love gardening! My upbringing was filled with various gardening experiences and those memories are some of my best ones that I carry with me. My mother loved flowers of every description and she had an amazing green thumb. She could grow a full-fledged, thriving plant from a small cutting in seemingly no time. She also liked growing vegetables. My father was also a gardening enthusiast. He grew large patches full of numerous varieties of vegetables. He grew them out of necessity in order to have fresh food for us, but he also seemed to enjoy being outside in the fresh air tending his plants. Some of my earliest memories are of me following behind him and dropping seeds into the holes that he dug into the earth. So I came by my love of gardening honestly by watching my parents' great example. It was a great way to grow up!

Since I've been living in England, I've continued my love of gardening and I happily tend my plants. I really enjoy watching gardening programmes too. My absolute favourite is Gardeners' World which gives great advice about gardening. The main presenter of the show is Monty Don. He is very knowledgeable and he's fun to watch as you get to see his passion about gardening. One of my highlights of the year is watching the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on television and Monty and his fellow hosts are often there doing their thing. The displays at the flower show are out of this world!

The arrival of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show turns my mind to thoughts of spring and summer and warmer temperatures. It's the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing drink as you sit outside and take in all of the natural beauty. The lovely people at Qcumber water have come up with the perfect mocktail that goes well with the season and it gives a wonderful nod to everyone's favourite gardening guru...Monty Don!

Qcumber is a unique blend of natural cucumber and gently sparkling spring water… perfect on its own or great as a mixer with Gin, Vodka or Pimms. As one of the lowest calorie soft drinks on the market with half the sugar of other leading brands, Qcumber combines pure cucumber essence with Welsh sparkling water for a low calorie drink that’s packed with vitamins and minerals. I really love the taste of Qcumber water. It's so refreshing!

Without further ado, here's the recipe for the fabulous Monty Don Mocktail:

The Monty Don

 50ml Strawberry Coulis
 1 tsp of Womersley Strawberry & mint vinegar
 25ml sugar syrup
 6 large mint leaves
 100ml of Qcumber mint water

Gently jostle your mint leaves in a tumbler glass, then drizzle the strawberry coulis, vinegar and sugar syrup over crushed ice.

Stir and serve under a clear blue sky. 

It's alcohol-free so it's a great drink for designated drivers or those who love a good mocktail!

Now I have the perfect drink for those laid-back summer evenings and I also get the chance to celebrate my favourite gardening guru! Sounds good to me! I hope you'll give the Monty Don mocktail a try :)

*Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of Qcumber water for review. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book Spotlight: Rings of Significance

Memories are powerful. There are some that stay with us, that resurface every once in a while and then there are others that are tucked away in the recesses of our minds. Our memories can be awakened in many ways. Songs, places, smells or objects can all stir thoughts of a time gone by.

In the new book, Rings of Significance by Susan E. Jones, memories come back to the surface for the protagonist, April Lloyd, in the form of a ring that she rediscovers on the beach. This long-lost ring rekindles some old memories that inspire her to revisit parts of her past.

April has started a new chapter of her life in lovely Cornwall. She is all set to enjoy carefree, quiet days in her new surroundings when she happens to find the ring from her past on a local beach while she is taking a walk. She is astonished to find the ring after so much time has passed. Her stored away memories begin to resurface and she starts to think of her youth and the people that were a great part of that time in her life.

She travels from England to India and Italy and reconnects with the men that she knew during her earlier life. The revelations that she experiences in revisiting these relationships makes for an intriguing novel. It's very interesting to follow April on her journey and to see how memories from the past really play out in the present.

I found Rings of Significance to be an absorbing read. The story unfolds in such a real life fashion. Many of us have wondered from time to time about those that we've lost touch with in life. We may wonder if we were to ever reconnect to past acquaintances, would we still have anything in common or anything to say to each other. The author Susan E. Jones does an excellent job of taking us along with April to find out how the ring made its way back to her. I really enjoyed this novel.

Rings of Significance is available here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.