Friday, May 23, 2008

The Photoshoot!!

For days I had been anxiously watching the weather forecast. Sunny or raining? Raining or sunny? What would it be? Fortunately the day designated for the Coombe Leigh DevonBear photoshoot dawned fine and reasonably sunny, although there was a cool breeze. Never mind - we were on!!

Jack, our photographer arrived with his assistant/girlfriend Jen and began to set up the scenes. It was all very exciting and I was amazed at the amount of preparation that goes into what seems - when you see it - to be a very simple shot. Here are Jack and Elona (a victim - sorry friend) who agreed to model for me - setting up the picnic shot.

Meanwhile Amy and Ben appointed themselves as doorkeepers, anxiously watching to see who went in and out, and that no bones, stuffed toys or other canine treasures were being removed from the premises. Ben at least though, had other plans ....

When he saw Elona in the hammock, he felt that modelling was clearly a very simple task and one that could easily be undertaken by an enthusiastic young newfie.

Sadly both he and Amy had to be forcibly removed from the garden when Julie and Elona shot the picnic scene as neither dog would believe that the bags and flasks were actually empty. They were both convinced that cake would somehow miraculously appear - or even better - ham sandwiches!!

Soon it was lunchtime, and Ben took the opportunity to have a quiet word with Jack. Some sort of agreement must have been reached as the following photos appeared in the final batch I received ..

Seems like I don't even have control over my own photoshoot these days!! Trust Ben to have the last word. Seriously though, I'm so pleased with the photos, they really show off the DevonBear products to the best advantage. And all that energetic gardening paid off too, although some of that could be down to Jack's photographic expertise.

Now we're off to the Craft Fairs. Saltram House next weekend and Exeter a couple of weeks later. Still loads to do and not enough hours in the day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great excitement at Coombe Leigh

We are all very excited here at Coombe Leigh. We are going to have a photoshoot here at the house with a proper professional photographer. (Not just me with my little digital camera!). Jack is coming to take some lifestyle shots for DevonBears publicity so we are all running around trying to make everywhere look beautiful.

Of course Amy feels she is already beautiful and when the words "camera" and "photograph" were mentioned she immediately started posing madly. She was made worse by the coincidental visit of Kelly, our lovely grooming lady, who came to give her and Ben their regular beauty session. Here's Kelly hard at work ..

Amy feels that she should be the centre of attention, so keeps edging closer and closer to Kelly ..

Meanwhile Ben is surreptiously chewing through the lead Kelly has used to attach him to the railings!

Afterwards they were quite worn out. I didn't have the heart to tell them that we weren't actually planning to include them in the photographs. I expect Amy at least will manage to push her way into one or two of the pictures ... and where she leads Ben usually follows!

As you can see, the grass has been cut ready for the shoot, and look at that lovely edging - shame it's not straight!! Never mind, perhaps wonky will become the new trendy after our uber-cool photographs demonstrate this new look?! (That's the studio/workroom on the left in this picture and the handrail leads to the steps to the courtyard. Our house is built into the side of a hill, so the garden is actually above the house).

While all this activity was taking place, I was in the gazebo painting - Christmas cards!! Surreal or what? But my summer's going to be so busy I thought it was best to start early rather than risk running out of time as they'll need to be at the printers by the end of August.

Here's the first (still rather rough) version of card one for the set of dog cards. More will follow..

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An afternoon in the garden

This last week has been so warm and sunny that we've spent almost all our time outside. This afternoon I took my paints into the gazebo and completed the picture above which I think will make a great postcard, and possibly a patch for a canvas bag. I'm off to a number of craft fairs over the summer months, so I need some images that will appeal to visitors to the area, and hopefully this will be popular.

Of course Ben has been very bored by all the painting and gardening - here he has collapsed in a stupor of boredom. But I told him the beach wouldn't be nearly so much fun if he spent all his time there. I don't think he believed me though. So he decided if he couldn't be digging in sand, then he'd dig up the borders instead. Check out the muddy nose below!!

I was given a couple of tomato plants by Nick from next door, and I've planted them in an old wooden apple crate. It's hard to believe that one day they'll reach nearly to the top of the canes and that I'll be picking my own salads before long. I'm also planning to put in some aubergine and pepper plants, it'll be very Mediterranean in my courtyard!

The lanes here are at their best now I think. They're smothered with bluebells and pink campion, with cow parsley frothing in wild abandon. Some of the wider and sunnier verges are even studded with wild orchids. I have been told that they're a very common kind, but then that doesn't make them any less attractive. I often think that the summer visitors miss our countryside at its best, since by late July and August the wild flowers are mostly over and everywhere is beginning to look tired and dusty. At this time of year I often think of the poem "Lanes in Summer" by Malcolm Hemphrey which I learned as a child...

I love the little winding lanes,

In the sweet days when summer reigns;

The eglantine and hawkweed's plume;

The dog-rose and the bramble bloom,

Like stars from heaven gone astray;

The fragrant scent of new-mown hay;

The poppies in the green-aisled wheat;

The bees that find the clover sweet;

The last song of the wren and thrush

Breaking through the drowsy hush -

If kindly peace be anywhere

'Tis surely there, 'tis surely there.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The boy did it!!

Last weekend Ben did something very useful for once. He would probably argue that he is extremely useful around the home - digging holes in the garden for me to put in new plants, making skid marks on the lawn to break up that oh-so boring expanse of green, patiently transporting sand home from the beach in his coat so that our hall resembles the beach - after all that's his favourite place - so let's have it at home too he thinks. Now, he may regard these activities as useful and constructive but in general I disagree.

However ... he has finally done something really good. He participated in the Start Circle of Friends (SCOF) sponsored dog walk to raise money for patient transport services. We are very rural here and many elderly people live a long way from medical services with no transport to get them there. The SCOF volunteers transport these folk to and from their appointments. They give of their time for free, but of course petrol is increasingly expensive and has to be paid for - hence the sponsored walk.

We collected loads of sponsorship money with the slogan "Sponsor or be slobbered!" This worked extremely well and Ben's form was soon overflowing with names and promises of support. Now all he had to do was complete the walk. There was a choice of 2 or 5 miles. Naturally we went for the 2 mile walk.

This is not because we are lazy, but because even though Ben's very big, he is still a baby really at only 12 months old. It's only recently that I've been able to do much walking with him at all as you have to be really careful of Newfie puppies' joints while they're growing so fast. It was a hot day too - so 2 miles it was. AND HE DID IT!! Here is his certificate ...

He was sooo tired at the end, bless him. Cream teas, bowls of water and a variety of dog biscuits were provided for the walkers back at the village hall. Then when we arrived home - he flopped on the cool slates of the rear courtyard. Amy fussed around him for a while (she of course had remained at home on guard - no, not the house - the beautiful juicy bone I gave her to make up for staying behind) then, confident he was OK really, went back to her bone.

And Ben slept for at least 2 hours. Then he was ready for tea!
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