24 October 2013



I took my new camera to France where I hoped to have the time to get to grips with it.  When we went to Ken and Walt’s I took it with me and they gave me a few tips on how to get started.

We went for a lovely long walk along the banks of the river Cher where I took quite a few pictures.  As you can see, it was a very grey afternoon, not ideal for taking pictures at all.


I photographed anything and everything, using different settings, just to see what would happen.  I liked this old cart which just happened to be lying around in someone’s barn.


I liked this picture of something in the foreground in focus, background blurred.  Clever stuff.  Well it would be if I could remember how I did it.


At one point in the walk we were on literally a carpet of chestnuts.  There were chestnut trees both sides of the path and no way of walking without stepping on them.


One of the things that always takes me by surprise is the abundance of home grown produce in the Loire.  Where I live in Derbyshire very few people have apple trees or large vegetable plots, because land is expensive and houses are built on small pieces of land.  Nick and I are luckier than many as our house was built in the 1950’s so it has a decent sized garden.  Even so we have limited space to grow anything, but houses built in the last few years have tiny gardens which are purely recreational.  A lot of people who do have gardens have turned them into patios for eating out, or car parking space, as many older houses were built before most people owned a car so there was nowhere to put one.

When I was a child everyone had a garden and grew vegetables.  Very few people owned a car.  When they did get a car they parked it on the road.  Gardens were for growing your food, not sitting out and barbecuing, and most people grew much more than they bought, even in winter.  Nowadays most of the fruit and vegetables we eat come from a supermarket.

There has been much in the media lately of the food waste issue.  As a nation we throw away a huge amount of unused food each year and indeed Nick and I have been guilty of that too.  If you buy a lettuce it’s hard to use all of it but I haven’t bought a lettuce for several months, just plucking a few leaves off the plants in the greenhouse as required.  Once I started working part-time we got better at not wasting food and now I am retired we do better still.  And I feel much more motivated not to waste stuff if I have grown it myself – all that effort just to chuck it in the bin ??!!  No way !!  I didn’t feel the same about stuff I bought from the supermarket, even though a lot of effort went into earning the money to buy it.

The supermarkets are beginning to highlight the food waste problem, which seems odd to me as they have a vested interest in selling us more than we need because they make more profit that way.  Supermarkets are however trying to dig themselves out of the hole they have dug in previous decades when they were found out to be the bad guys in so many ways where food production, marketing and supply is concerned.  Such as the “horse meat scandal” a few months ago.  Since then the supermarkets have been frantically trying to restore public confidence and convince us they retail food responsibly, but there’s always a new food scandal around the corner.

Anyway, one of the things that very much attracts us to our part of rural France is that people grow an awful lot of their own stuff and the growing season is longer than in the UK.  Which brings me to Ken and Walt’s apples.  They have several varieties of apple tree in their garden including one which was absolutely loaded with beautiful Bramleys.  Walt gave me a large bag to bring away, which I have been making good use of, eating some in pies and crumbles and freezing the rest for future enjoyment.  Delicious !!


Naturally while we were at their house we enjoyed a glass of local wine, in this case a Vouvray.  The more eagle-eyed may spot a clue as to what we had for lunch !!


And last but not least, a picture of their gorgeous dog, Callie the collie.  She’s very photogenic.  And easier to photograph than Lulu, who barely sits still for long enough to get the camera out.  I suspect Callie is very used to having her photo taken !!

Anyone interested in the food waste issue might be interested in seeing Phil’s post in his excellent food blog, Mug of Strong Tea.


  1. Not Quite Nigella's post from last year is very enlightening about the nitty gritty of supermarket waste. I think there is a food bank scheme in the UK that works similarly, with volunteers who go to farms and glean.

    1. It's an interesting post Susan, and the same goes on in the UK.
      Whilst the supermarkets are busy trying to show us how to throw out less food it smoke screens the fact that vast quantities are wasted because of their marketing policies. The farmers grow it but throw it away, or dig it back into the ground, because it doesn't fit with the supermarket standards, even though it is perfectly edible and delicious.
      I often buy Sainsbury's Basics veg packs, which are labelled as precisely that, not evenly sized but perfectly edible

  2. Jerry grew up in a part of the country (and within a family) that relied on home-grown produce that was then "canned" to carry them through winter. Our terrace is not conducive to that, but we are going to plant an herb garden.

    Your photos are inspiring me to consider getting a better camera (and maybe even learning how to use it). Walt and Ken create amazing images; great mentors!

  3. "Gardens were for growing your food, not sitting out and barbecuing,"
    the famous Walled Allotments in Warwick, created for the Town Houses nearby...
    had two areas... a growing area...
    and one with lawn, fruit trees and bushes and a two level shed-cum-tea lounge.
    Now, I think they had it right!! [Like the Dutch and Belgians!!]
    Our allotments were dedicated as Allotment & Leisure Gardens...
    but try creating a sitting area...
    or having a barbie...
    used to meet with the greatest disapproval!!
    A friend who was entertaining her nieces on her plot by burning up some rubbish...
    was told off for having a barbecue....
    they were just toasting marshmallows in the bonfire flames!
    Far too frivolous!!
    Those were the days when we were regarded as excentric for creating beds to grow veg....
    they "should have been in straight rows across the plot"!!

    Your shallow depth of field [the in-focus subject / out of focus background] was created by the poor light...
    to repeat it, select an open aperture f5 or less... and increase the shutter speed to cope with the light.
    With a stationary subject, you can experiment... an old branch and a bottle as the subject...
    or one of your bakes...
    and a picture about a couple of feet back [or a recipe book]....
    and click away... keeping, for the moment, a written record of what you did.

    And don't be afraid to chop your pictures about in the computer...
    that first one, for instance, cut the bottom off until you touch the tips of the reflected Poplars on the right.
    And chop off the right side of the picture by the same amount...
    [the point where the darker grey cloud suddenly goes up to the top right corner]...
    and the clouds and trees seem to leap forward.

    And Pizzas!!!!
    I like the little coloured peg on the glass stem... clever idea!!

  4. A great start, Jean.
    I was a bit annoyed when Tesco were going on about food waste. Their ( and other supermarkets) marketing policy has a lot to answer for. I can't help but think this has come out now to mask their fall in profitability. We waste too much food even though I try to use up leftover bits in soups and casseroles. We waste less now mainly because I buy less than I used to.
    I've started to use Aldi more as I have the time to go out of my way to get to one. Less choice but not bad quality overall and mostly much cheaper that other supermarkets.

  5. You have done well with the camera. There is so much to understand on a camera of this type. It is still way beyond me! Have a good weekend. Diane

  6. We don't have food waste because what we don't eat the dogs, chickens or pigs will. But one thing I have noticed recently is that we are not filling our dustbin as often, with one bag being put out every two weeks instead of a bulging one each week. Nice to know that we are not as wasteful in regards to buying things which are wrapped up in packaging!

  7. I still remember the box of peaches relegated by my local Co--op store in Leeds to the cut-price shelf because they were at their sell-by date. If I hadn;t bought them, they would have been on the skip by the evening, They were perfect. Much better to buy them loose at the market, where you can ask for as many or as few as you want! Especially from Le Petit Verger at Chaumussay - lovely fresh stuff.

  8. We took the very same photo of the river! It was a wonderful walk, even if the weather wasn't super. Great photos... and I recognize all of them! By the way, you don't need to keep notes of your photo settings. The computer remembers all that stuff. If you take several shots of the same thing with different settings, those settings are recorded automatically. In Windows, I access them by right-clicking on the image and selecting "properties."

    1. Walt,
      yes I know that the eXif information is available...
      but for a beginner, it is often easier to refer to a small notebook.
      I no longer use a notebook...
      unless I am trying something new.

      Additionally, all those eXifs need to be accessed individually....
      and are not visible on the same page...
      as well as not telling you phizzically what you did to the camera...
      an eXif reading of 237/80,000s of a second is meaningless...
      it may be the accurate fraction, but you need a calculator to see what the nearest exposure speed actually is!!!

  9. Your new camera is going to give you some very special photos for your blog, Jean. I particularly like the atmospheric one of the river.

    As for food waste, DH and I have got food use down to a fine art and waste virtually nothing, even though we buy all our food. One essential is a really good, big fridge-freezer. Ours is a Samsung American version which is fantastic at keep fruit and veg fresh and gives us plenty of space to store the soup and things we make with any excess.