Perspective

This is unusual for me; I am aware. I don’t usually post more than once a week, but having recently being granted copious amounts of time I needed an outlet to process my thoughts.

This week I have hit the proverbial wall, my anxiety is at a high and I can feel the low ebb of depression creeping in. No amount of routine or activity can shift it.

I’ve reached out to others and am very supported emotionally, there is no issue there. Its the guilt of feeling so low when all I have been asked to do is to stay home.

I don’t live in a war torn country and regardless of the panic buying I am not without food, I have help if needed to get supplies or to bend an ear but I still cannot shake my low mood.

I know I am not alone in these low feelings to varying degrees. The feeling of being stuck for an uncertain amount of time is daunting. Not being able to see family or friends is heartbreaking.

I am persistently trying to keep perspective with the current situation, thinking of the bigger picture as to why we have all been asked to do this.

The problem with anxiety/depression is how insidious it is. For myself, I know I have it easy compared to others, to which I beat myself up for feeling so bad. Guilt overrides rational thoughts.

You should never compare your own mental health to others, I’ve said it numerous times to others, but when it comes to heeding my own advice it falls on deaf ears. I repeat to myself that I am not weak for being like this, and I hope one day I will believe it.

I continue to try to keep to a loose routine in the week and there have been a few fleeting positives that have kept my thoughts buoyant.

I’ve regained a passion for baking, from starting a sourdough starter to using leftover bread for bread pudding. It might be a small action but its something I find achievable when I cannot concentrate on reading or television shows.

I am desperately missing photography and as I have mentioned previously I am not close enough to any proper green space to recuperate.

I have installed a new bird feeder to the garden and in the coming days I really hope it attracts birds into the garden. Something which to others may seem mundane fills me with some hope of getting my nature fix.

I am really trying hard to stay afloat and keep my head, the thought of reaching new lows to be honest, scares me. I will continue to communicate my feelings as much as I am able to.

If you suffer with the same afflictions and you haven’t opened up to anyone, please do, knowing I am not alone does help ease some of the burden. If you feel like you cannot do that, phone a helpline e.g. the Samaritans, write your feelings down; don’t hold them in.

From experience having support to give you a leg up out of the depths of poor mental health can be a life saver. I don’t say that lightly, its not a magic fix but it can be the difference to having the weight of the world on your shoulders to sharing the load so its more manageable.

I apologise for the lack of photography with this post. I shall look to remedy this for the next post.

Take care. Rucoby.

Strange Times

I have to admit I have purposely been avoiding mentioning the current situation that we are facing in the UK at present. There are already so many voices on this subject and in truth I don’t feel qualified enough to give any real opinions on the matter.

These are strange and uncertain times that we are living through, schools have been shut, people are panic buying (without the real need to) and if you speak to anyone it is in the forefront of their minds.

Each passing day there is an unease as to what measures will be brought in next. How long will the isolating have to go on for? Will we be in full lock down soon?

I am at present following the current Government advice and isolating. I am trying to stay positive, the old adage of trying to make the best of a bad situation. Although I have to admit I am daunted by the thought of having to stay home.

I have spoken in the past about how soothing nature is for me and my recovery, but this isn’t just about me. Its about protecting those who are most vulnerable.

Plus the more that people take heed to the advice and do their part then hopefully the shorter this will continue for.

There are rays of hope throughout this whole scenario, I have seen Facebook groups set up with the aim to deliver supplies and ensure that those in need aren’t left without, many creators on the web have set up live shows to keep people entertained and keep spirits high. The blitz spirit lives on, even if we are not physically able to come together.

I look forward to when some sort of normality is resumed, I will definitely appreciate getting out and about with the camera a lot more.

My hopes throughout isolation is to try to be creative in other ways; practice drawing, learn new editing skills, read more etc.. I am looking at this as a time to reset not as wasted time (trying to negate the negativity I could feel)

I wish I had some pictures to add to this post but as I mentioned in my last post my laptop is currently out of action (I will admit, I spilled coffee over it and at present it is dead). I am not sure when this will be remedied but I will continue to write each week. I hope you still enjoy what I create and I wish you all a good week.

Love at first sightings.

https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/

https://www.redditchbc.gov.uk/things-to-do/parks-and-outdoors/arrow-valley-country-park.aspx

I love watching wildlife, whether it be blue tits visiting the feeders or bees pollinating flowers, I take great enjoyment and relaxation from it all. I may not have been a serious “watcher” until this blog but I have always appreciated the experiences I have had. This can mean my knowledge is sometimes lacking e.g. identification but part of the fun is learning new things.

I have a bucket list of the British wildlife that I would love to see and hopefully photograph; Otters, foxes, badgers, red squirrel, kingfishers, herons, adders, voles, harvest mice….etc. I could carry on naming copious amounts of wildlife but I’m sure you get the idea.

I was lucky enough to briefly see a wild otter at Croome, which took one off my list, fingers crossed I can get a shot of them next time! I didn’t really have a plan for the next animal I would be aiming to hopefully see.

That is, until one Instagram post from WWT Slimbridge peaked my interest. Kingfisher breeding season had begun. That was it, my mind was set.

I always enjoy visiting Slimbridge, over the years I have lost count of the amount of times I have visited. It was just the excuse I needed to make my first visit of the year.

Setting off early, I was very excited at the thought of potentially seeing a wild kingfisher in the flesh. Like the otter it is an animal I have seen in print but never with my own eyes.

As soon as I entered Slimbridge I headed straight to the kingfisher hide. Immediately, directly in front of the hide, across a pond there was the most striking blue and orange little bird. I was not expecting to see them so quickly. I was enchanted.

If you are to visit Slimbridge in hopes of catching a glimpse of them yourself, be mindful that the hide windows are currently screwed shut as not to disturb the breeding pairs. A volunteer had informed me this was due to people previously scaring the kingfishers, who in turn then abandoned the nest site.

I took a few shots through the window, but mostly I was happy to just sit and watch. I was lucky to see a male and female kingfisher who kindly demonstrated what the breeding season was. They stayed for about 40 mins before moving on.

I lingered a little longer with hopes they would return to which they did not. I did, however, manage to see a field vole emerge from their hole near the hide and grab a quick shot. Eventually I decided to visit the other hides dotted around the site.

One of these is named the Willow hide, which is placed in front of feeders. There were the usual tits, sparrows and pigeons who were making the most of the provided fayre.

At the time of visiting this particular hide, the volunteer I had previously mentioned was present and very kindly pointed my gaze past the feeders and towards a clearing in some thicket, a bird I had never seen before appeared. A water Rail I was informed.

Moving on to another hide more firsts; a curlew and a lapwing. You may be wondering “if you had visited Slimbridge so many times in the past, then why haven’t you seen these all before?” The answer is simple I have never took the time to utilise the hides properly.

I look forward to future visits where I can again make the most of the hides and try and spot more new (to me) wildlife.

The following day on a whim I took a trip to Redditch to visit Arrow Valley Country Park. The skies were mostly clear and bright, it would of been a shame to waste it indoors.

The park is beautiful with a huge lake and I can see myself revisiting regularly. I could of happily sat on the side of the lake and shot away all day. There is a great diversity on the lake, from the usual swans and ducks to canada geese, cormorants and grebe.

One of the highlights from that day was seeing a Heron on their nest. I have seen Herons in the wild before but always as a singularity never as a pair and never on a nest. I was ecstatic to find that the pictures I had taken were clear.

As you may imagine, this weekend has filled me with no end of joy, it has provided me with a boost in motivation to seek out other locations where I can observe more wildlife; either to make new discoveries or to just enjoy old favourites.

I hope you enjoy this weeks images, and I wish you a great week until next time.

Always Ready For The Fall.

What goes up must come down.

For the past couple of weeks my mental health has been in quite a positive state, I’ve been feeling confident with my photography, putting effort into improving my editing and outside of photography my mood has been buoyant and bright.

Then comes the fall, I am always grateful for the times when my mental health is secondary to everything else, I always try to make the most of these periods because I am aware that it might not last.

I know this could be construed as a counter productive way to think, but being aware of when my mental health is starting to flag can really help deter a full breakdown.

It’s so frustrating knowing that just over a week ago I was feeling proud of what I had been producing; to then have this week doubting everything I have ever done in photography.

Self doubt has always been a common thread in these blog posts and it isn’t an exclusive feeling to my photography.

I doubt myself all the time, I constantly worry about silly things e.g. my instagram profile picture gets changed regularly because I worry how people perceive my face. It’s not something I do to others and I don’t understand why I think others would do that to me. There isn’t any rationality to an anxious mind.

I am taking steps for self care, currently I am able to look for small positives from each day and hopefully this low ebb will just be a blip.

Getting outdoors is so important for my recovery, so at the weekend I made a real effort to get out. The Japanese have a practise called shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) taking the time to appreciate nature is a recommended therapy in Japan to help improve health, I have to agree. I always feel better when I’ve been on one of my walks, even if it’s only a slight improvement it’s better than none.

First stop was Crickley Hill country park, offering stunning views over Gloucestershire. The weather was clear, with stunning blue skies (that reminded me of the old screen picture from Microsoft XP). The only downside was the wind, at times it was so strong it took my breath away.

On the way home, took a slight detour to shoot Dunstall Castle, Earls Croome, Worcestershire. This folly has been a location I have been past many times, I had never thought to shoot it before.

The following day with no other plans, which is unusual for a sunday, off I went to Trimpley reservoir. Its strange finding local destinations from web searches, as I feel bad for not knowing about them sooner.

The Severn Valley railway runs past this location and I managed to capture one of the trains that pass through, along with one of the many boats that were on the water that day. I really felt for those who were sailing as the weather was very eclectic, sunny one moment to hailing the next.

Unlike last week, the shots I have provided on this post I don’t feel so positive about (at the moment anyway), I am hoping that in the coming days/weeks I can return to these and feel different about them.

I hope you enjoy what I have shared, and i’m wishing for a more uplifting post next week.