Swan lake

Almost everyone on my forum seems to have been out and about capturing the wonderful colours of autumn. It’s my favourite time of year and I have been desperate to follow suit, but the zoo takes up most of our free time and what was left has been marred by gales and heavy rain. Even so, a lot of trees have retained their leaves and they are now resplendent in shades of bronze, yellow and gold. I tried very hard at the weekend, but we needed to deliver some unwanted items to a pet courier. They are the people who brought our dear little Bubu over from Romania almost a year ago. The vans would otherwise go back empty, so they accept donations and we made the three-hour round trip with a cage, cat bed, litter tray, duvet, scratching post and a bag of toys. The kitten kept helping himself to the latter while I was sorting and packing. I’m sure at least one multi-coloured ball has been hidden under the furniture somewhere, but never mind. As we drove back, the weather looked almost perfect for what I had in mind, but the sun sets so much earlier now and I could only gaze at my chosen location as we drove past on the A21 at dusk. It was already too late and the forecast was predicting yet more wind and rain.

Yesterday was my non-working day, but I was having my hair cut and wouldn’t be finished until mid-afternoon. Just in case, I emptied the memory card, charged the battery and sorted out a few bits and bobs, including a torch. I knew exactly what I wanted and that was a clear blue sky, no wind and I wouldn’t be leaving until after sunset. The torch would be essential.

By the time I left my hairdresser, the clouds had disappeared, although it was still a bit blustery. Deciding this was my last chance, I rushed home, grabbed my things and headed out for the country park. I was nearly half way there when I remembered the torch was still sitting by the kitchen sink, waiting to be cleaned. It is also used to see to the animals outside and George llama must have spat over it at some point. Running late by now, I got back home, wiped the torch as best I could and set out again. I really hate rushing around and setting up at the last minute, but in my experience, fate seems to reward me for perseverance. If I make the effort to turn up, then there is usually something nice in store… and so it was yesterday afternoon.

I parked the car and made the long trek to the other side of the lake. I had spotted a small island many years ago and wondered if it would make a suitable subject. I almost didn’t make it though. The paths were much worse than expected and were covered in mud. The first puddle could be avoided by creeping carefully round the side. The next was worse and I started regretting not bringing my wellingtons. After that I had no choice but to press on through endless mud. Cold, wet and very slippery – it was a miracle I didn’t fall over.

I finally reached my destination after pushing through a barrier of stinging nettles. This part of the park was only accessible by the most determined fisherman and it looked as though no-one had been here for a very long time. Right at the edge of the water and in front of the little island was a small clearing with just enough space to set up the tripod. The sun had already disappeared behind the woods, but the last rays of light were touching the tops of the trees in front of me. A flock of geese flew over, followed by a few ducks and I could see a large group of swans around the corner.

It wasn’t the most photogenic of islands, but I made the most of it until the sun had set. The exposures were now long enough to blur the faint ripples on the water – the wind had mysteriously vanished. Just as everything came together, a pair of swans appeared from behind the island, leaving very visible ripples in their wake. I called out to them jokingly that they were messing up my photograph and then I decided to take their picture instead. This is the image, with the swans still visible in the fading light and the colour still strong around the horizon. My boots are quite possibly beyond repair, but I think it was well worth it.

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