So another early start to travel to deepest Kent to peer at flowers through a macro lens. This is my fourth Robert Canisbay workshop, and I have another booked next month. I was determined to be completely prepared for the sunrise start and collect tripod, filters, quick release plate (tripod would be pretty useless without that) and other sundry photographic accoutrements the night before. I transferred the essentials from my handbag to my camera bag and made sure damp grass and muddy paths were accommodated with a small groundsheet and my new pink kneelers. In the morning I was rewarding myself for the preparation and was dressed and ready in no time, just needed to add my hiking boots. I'm not a fan of sensible shoes, too many years in high heels have compressed my calf muscles and they don't enjoy flat shoes. But I know a muddy wood is not the best place for spiky heels so to further my photographic experience I'd furnished myself with two pairs of hiking boots, one black pair and one pink. But neither pair were where I'd expected and this threw me, the only thing I didn't prepare. Eventually I found one black one lurking behind some bags I'd been filling for the charity shop and the other in an entirely different room. The pink ones are still hiding somewhere. I was very thankful I hadn't only found one black and one pink one, that might have raised a few eyebrows. Suitably clad (well, relatively!) I headed for the bus to get to the station.
Pluckley station is very cute, it's won awards for appearance several years running and their are neat stacks of books that you can buy for charity to amuse you on your journey. You can help yourself to a hot drink in aid of charity too. I had arrived early (a very rare occurance) and after securing a taxi for the final leg of the trip I could admire the station whilst waiting for PD to arrive on the next train from London.
Soon we were perched on log benches around a fire on the middle of a private wood. The itinary for today was plenty of flower photography but also a smidge of bushcraft. We had Phil, the resident Bear Grylls explaining about this tranquil wood and how we'd be collecting kindling and wood to build the fire over which to cook our lunch. We were planning our day of shooting and capturing but our lunch had already been foraged from Sainsbury's. No wrestling wild animals today, just wood anemones.
Wood anemones were definitely my quarry, the bluebells are beautiful but they are rather...well...blue! Robert can somehow get bluebells to be imbued with a pinky glow from the setting sun but these ones looked very blue. So initially it was all about the wood anemones and trying to grasp that fragile silvery petals in the diffused sunlight.
After a busy morning, in my case, mainly lying face down poking my lens and closeup filters into a patch of flowers, we stopped for lunch. I was pleased with my Plamp which did a fine job coralling the specimens I wanted to shoot or curtailing the ones I didn't. We gathered the required firewood and Phil taught us how to start a fire without matches. We could all have a go ourselves but with long hair and an unruly scarf I figured I was tad too flammable to play around with sparks! We tucked into a tasty al fresco lunch, appetites boosted by the morning's photographic exertions.
After wiping away the crumbs after a slice of the finest lemon tart we headed off to explore another part of this ancient woodland. Here I was rather taken by bluebells framed by the trunks of trees, I want to say willow but I could be very wrong. Nestling amongst all the blue was a yellow flower, I'm ashamed to say I don't know what but it added a welcome burst of Spring yellow.
With SD cards filled and new friends made we leave the perfect serenity of Pluckley and head back to the big smoke. I've since discovered Pluckley is haunted, but we weren't disturbed by things that go bump in the wood, fortunately. Another fabulous workshop and huge thanks to Rob and Phil for making it another memorable day.