Christmas 2015 in the Midlands of England

My best friend moved to the Midlands of England 3 years ago.  For at least a dozen years before her move, I spent every Christmas with her!  I really missed that and I decided to spend Christmas with her in December 2015.   I completely lucked out with the amazing weather they had in the Midlands and had an absolutely wonderful Christmas with my good friends in the lovely English countryside.

Here are a few highlights of my trip.

One of my favourite things about shopping in small town England is the difference in advertisements from my home in Manitoba to Oundle.  Just walking into The Co-operative grocery store, I was greeted by a display rack of Crumpets.  I love crumpets!   And, obviously, so does Sylvester Stallone!After a typical grocery shop – we went to the Thursday market.  Yes – it was December 17th and yes – the market was outdoors!  The weather was a balmy 14 degrees.  The fresh veggies were gorgeous!

My friend Inge, is a gourmet home-cook and she uses fresh ingredients from the weekly market in all her cooking.  I enjoy every meal she cooked!

One of the highlights of my trip to England is visiting Cambridge.  We drove to Cambridge on a beautiful, sunny day a bit later in the after to capture the lovely late day lighting.  The day started with a lovely pub lunch at The Eagle.  Then we just wandered around.

As a photographer, my mind sees scenes in a dreamy, sometimes surreal way and I often am quite disappointed with my camera captures!  But on this trip, I was inspired by Inge’s lovely ‘paintings’ and she taught me some of her techniques (along with a few Photoshop plug-ins).  When I looked at the original camera images and what I ended up with – I was so pleased as that is how I saw these scenes in my mind.   Here is an example of a street scene.  We walked up Green Street and I loved the very warm stones and the narrow street with many of the shops displaying outdoors on the sidewalks.  This is a ‘before’ and ‘after’.  I love the ‘after’!

One thing I loved about being there in December, were the bare trees.  They are so interesting when not hiding behind lush leaves!  The sun was going down and I saw the tops of the buildings with the warm sun and I knew I wanted to play with this image.  Here is another ‘after’ and ‘before’.

My favourite place in all of Cambridge that I’ve explored is Clare College.  This is the college Michael (Inge’s husband) attended.   Clare College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. The college was founded in 1326 as University Hall, making it the second-oldest surviving college of the University after Peterhouse. It was refounded in 1338 as Clare Hall by an endowment from Elizabeth de Clare. Clare is famous for its chapel choir and for its gardens on “the Backs” (the back of the colleges that overlook the River Cam).

I love standing on Clare Bridge watching the punts slowly meander down the River Cam.  This first photo is of a punt hugging the side of the brick wall.  A few times I saw the Punter actually seemingly balancing himself on the wall.

But this next image is the view I love the most.  The punt seems to glide along without leaving much of a wake.  It is a leisurely trip along a beautiful river.   I tried a few styles of painting on this image, but felt the Georgia O’Keeffe style suited it best and really evoked the emotion in the scene I saw.

By this time the sun was setting quickly and we decided to go to the ‘Backs’.  The Backs is a picturesque area to the east of Queen’s Road in the city of Cambridge, England, where several colleges of the University of Cambridge back on to the River Cam, their grounds covering both banks of the river. The name “the Backs” refers to the backs of the colleges. The area, from Magdalene Street bridge in the north to Silver Street bridge in the south, consists of the rear grounds of the following colleges (north to south).  I saw the amazing (almost full move) over King’s College and took a whole series of photos.  Because it was quite dark at this point and I couldn’t see detail in the buildings, I decided to create a Van Gogh style painting.  Really love this view!

I love Cambridge and King’s College.  Too bad we didn’t get a chance to attend Evensong at Kings on this trip.  But, I will be going back again!

Because this post is quite long, I will do another post in a few days.