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The magic of bluebells: exploring Arlington Bluebell Walk

The Magic of Bluebells: Exploring Arlington Bluebell Walk1.jpg

It's become an annual tradition to visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk in East Sussex in late April / early May - springtime would not be the same without it. Luckily for me, it's only a short drive away - but I think it's well worth a longer trek. It has the most beautiful and concentrated display of bluebells I've ever seen, and most of them can be viewed from wide accessible paths. There is a small entrance fee (£6 in 2017) which goes to a group of local charities - and it's worth every penny! 

There are 7 different walks you can take through beautiful woodland and farmland with lots of different vistas. My favourite is the short loop through Beatons Wood where most of the bluebells can be found (this is accessible to wheelchair users). There are some ponds (great for reflections) and lots of tree stumps and of course endless trees to provide interesting focal points for your photographs. Plus there are lots of seats scattered throughout the woodland for when your feet get too weary. The birdsong is so beautiful!

As you would expect, the bluebell walk gets very popular and busy at peak season with families and photographers alike. You can track the progress of the bluebells on the Arlington Bluebell Walk website, which is so helpful for planning your visit. The white wood anenomes appear first, followed by the bluebells - I love to try and capture a mix of both. It's definitely worth getting there as early as you can to beat the crowds, although there is so much space, it's very easy to wander away and find some peace and quiet.

The bluebell woods make the perfect backdrop for some portrait photography. We had some fun trying to get our little dog Misty to pose for the camera. With the help of some treats, we sort of managed it!

I've experimented with lots of different lenses over the years, but have settled on my 85mm f1.8 prime lens as my favourite lens to capture the magic of bluebells (paired with a full frame DSLR, the Canon 6D). I'm not one for wide angle shots, with lots of detail and everything in focus. Instead, I prefer to blur out the foreground and part of the background to try and capture the great swathes of purple and provide a dreamy, gentle feeling. It's not the best lens - and tends to be very soft when you are shooting with it wide open (a small number aperture), so most of these shots were taken somewhere around the f2.2 mark. They're not as sharp as I would like, so I will continue experimenting....

To get the blurry soft foreground, I crouched down low so that I had several rows of bluebells in front of me, and then focussed on a point roughly in the middle of the scene, using an aperture around f1.8-2.2 to create a shallow depth of field. This meant that the bluebells directly in front of me would be out of focus, as would the trees in the very far background, but the section in the middle that I focussed on, would be nice and sharp, drawing the eye there.

If you'd like to understand more about aperture and shallow depth of field, you might want to look at my post on How to get background blur in your photographs.

If you'd like to see more photos, I've collected my images from the last 3 years into an album on Flickr: Arlington Bluebell Walk - or you can click through the embedded slideshow below.

Arlington Bluebell Walk, East Sussex

I hope you enjoyed a wander through the Arlington Bluebell Walk. Do let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.


Exploring our new coastline

Well, helloooooooo there folks! I'm sorry it's been so long. We've been rather busy sorting, fixing and nesting after the big move.... It's all been pretty exhausting, but oh so worth it! I won't bore you with our many plumbing woes, but thought I'd share some pictures from our adventures from the last couple of months. We haven't managed to get out as often as we'd like, but there's plenty of time for all that :) Our new coastline really is pretty stunning. I hope to share a few pics of our interiors too, just as soon as we are a bit more sorted.

First up is a little montage of iPhone snaps from Brighton, Eastbourne and our home town, Seaford. Absolutely loving all that fresh sea air and the beautiful sunsets.

Next up are a few shots from the lovely Pevensey Bay - our nearest beach with a bit of sand and lots of lovely space. So many dog walkers out and about - we are definitely living in dog territory - I've barely seen any cats! Just as well, as we are hoping that a furry friend may join our family soonish.

Then we have the absolutely stunning Birling Gap on a perfect sunny Sunday at the beginning of February. This place really takes my breath away. The scale of the beautiful towering white cliffs and the pounding waves...it's all very humbling.

I was in heaven staring at the mesmerising waves and clambering over the beautiful white stones. In fact, I don't think I've been more excited since we got here!

Of course, it's not just all stunning cliffs and crashing waves - the rolling South Downs are pretty spectacular too - just look at those beautiful green undulations. There really is so much to explore. We also wandered up the cliff path to see the mighty Beachy Head - it really is such a beautiful spot, and somewhere I know we are going to visit often.

I hope you're not too bored yet, as I'd love to introduce you to the most beautiful Camber Sands as well. A bit of a journey for us, but so worth it to see those beautiful sand dunes and all that stunning S-P-A-C-E. It really reminded me of Saunton Sands in Devon. We totally lucked out with the weather and were basking in beautiful sunshine - there really is nothing finer in February!

It was so lovely to see so many people out and about enjoying the sunshine - there were horse riders galloping along making the most of the space, dog walkers aplenty and families playing in the sand. I could *almost* believe it was summer! I'm definitely ready for more sunshine!

So we really are some of the luckiest people around to have all these beautiful spaces within easy reach. I'm looking forward to plenty more exploring - we still need to go west! Z x

Exploring East & South Devon

A few weeks ago we made it our mission to get to know East and South Devon. Although we have been to Devon lots of times before, most of it has been spent in the North. So this time we based ourselves in Sidmouth and set out to explore...

Day one

saw a visit to Dawlish and Dawlish Warren (photos above and below). It was a glorious sunny Sunday, so the beach was pretty packed. We headed inland a little to explore the nature reserve and found lots of peace and quiet and so many beautiful things to feast our eyes upon, including a heron and lots of Evening Primroses and other pretty flowers and sea grasses - I just love the sand dunes. There were some very colourful beach huts too :)

We also wandered along the coast for a while, following the rail track, which runs right next to the sea. It was washed away in the storms earlier this year and only reopened in April. Quite an extraordinary sight!

Day two

saw us heading South, to the beautiful Slapton, where the lush green countryside literally meets the sea. We had a very interesting journey - a "sat nav special" which took us down the narrowest, windiest lanes you can imagine! There was lots of holding of breath - but we did get to see some absolutely beautiful countryside :) The shingle beach is pretty special and the waves were crystal clear - a perfect spot for our picnic. We saw quite a few people fishing from the beach too, and met some friendly dogs - always a bonus :)

From Slapton we drove a very scenic (and less hairy!) route through pretty Kingsbridge, passing so many beautiful thatched cottages, on to Hope Cove and then Bigbury. Thoroughly lovely! And helped by the fact it was a beautiful summer's day :)

Day three was spent in the most delectable Beer and Lyme Regis - and has a blog post of its very own, as I took so many pictures :)

Day four (are you exhausted yet? I told you we packed it in!!) saw us exploring Totnes and then on to the beautiful space and greenery of Dartmoor. We spent some time in the fabulous sauna that is the Buckfastleigh butterfly and otter centre. Quite magical to experience the most beautiful and iridescent butterflies flitting around you (it's a walk-through greenhouse type affair), but my goodness it's hot! I think a bikini would have been more appropriate :) Hard work too to capture those butterflies - they don't sit still for long!

Afterwards we drove a long rambling route through Dartmoor, stopping whenever we felt like it. I've never seen so much diversity or space. I definitely got my green fix that day!

Day five

saw us exploring Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Honiton. The glorious weather had finally broken, so we experienced Budleigh Salterton under grey stormy skies. It was soooo beautiful nonetheless! I fell in love with the pebbles :) It felt a bit wild (maybe that was the weather) and I just loved the weathered beach huts and flowers growing on the beach. There were some very interesting antique/vintage shops in the little town too, but sadly no time to explore them - I'll just have to go back! We just made it to our car before the heavens opened, so I only have piccies of Budleigh Salterton I'm afraid.

Day six, our last day, was spent in Exeter. It's a fantastic city, very green and clean - but no pictures as I didn't take my camera (thank god I hear you cry!). Apologies for this very picture-heavy post - it was all so very photogenic, I wanted to share :) If you haven't seen enough photos (!) you can see the complete set on Flickr :)