‘If you’re looking for seals you’re in the wrong place!’
This was the sign that somebody had conveniently placed in a small cul-de-sac car park on the East Coast of England. This particular car park was a ‘seal hunter’s’ satnav trap. And we’d been caught.
We backed back out and fed in the new postcode from the notice board in to the satnav and trusting blindly to technology and a metal thing orbiting the world set off again. We’d left disastrously late in the day and were looking at less than an hour’s daylight to get some shots of the seals at Donna Nook on the Lincolnshire coast.
Here’s that hour in words and pictures:
We arrived, we parked, we unloaded and we strolled the 50 meters on to the ‘beach’ to join a small throng viewing the seals and their pups.
The first thing that confronted us was a wood and wire fence separating us from the seals that lay on a strip of dirty grey beach separated by grassy sand dunes. The whole area looked like an explosion in a seal factory – seals lying everywhere in every direction either asleep of contemplating sleep.
Why sleep on the sand or the grassy sand dunes when you can half submerge your head in a puddle of sea water!
The seals had started pupping earlier in the month and the pup/mum combos littered the expanse of mud and sea water.
We hadn’t known what to expect but we didn’t expect this. TV has obviously distorted our view and we were thinking of golden sandy beaches and fluffy white pups.
The backdrop to our view was the busy shipping lane…
… and just off the coast a rather large tanker was being pulled out to sea by a tug.
Half an hour after we arrived it started to rain. It seemed only to bother the human spectators.
Dreaming of fish?
Dreaming of mum’s milk?
The rain set in for the next half hour and the light was fading in to evening.
We took shelter in a tin hut at the end of the viewing promenade. We chatted to some other visitors hiding from the rain in there who echoed our thoughts about Donna Nook; ‘they’d not known what to expect but they hadn’t expected this!’
The seals didn’t care what we’d expected.
A grey seal checking that nothing unexpected was expected of him.
We expected the seal pups to be cute and this little guy obliged. :)
Finally we had to make a run for the car park in the rain as the light was fading from the day.
This little fellow, born that day and yet to rub off the evidence, watched us as we fled, wondering what all the fuss was about.
From the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website: ‘For much of the year grey seals at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trusts’ Donna Nook National Nature Reserve are at sea or hauled out on distant sandbanks. Every November and December, the seals give birth to their pups near the sand dunes: a wildlife spectacle which attracts visitors from across the UK.’
So go see for yourselves and see what you think. :)
Me, at Wembley Stadium, photographing the England vs Germany game? What were they thinking?
Probably thinking they wanted lampooning in some Blog or other. But seriously folks, seriously excited about getting my ‘press pass’ for the game at Wembley on the 23rd of November.
Of course our fantastic Notts County two-some; Carly ‘safe hands’ Telford and Jess ‘happy dance’ Clarke are both in the squad so I’m hoping they’ll both get on the pitch so I can get pics of them in their England strip.
Carly ‘safe hands’ Telford does her thing…..
… and Jess ‘happy dance’ Clarke does hers.
Mark Sampson’s side will take on the two-time world champions on Sunday 23 November (3pm KO). He is reported to have commented thusly: “I know The FA is working very hard to support the match and get as many supporters to the game as possible, and I really hope the whole of the football community comes out in force to support the team.”
The ‘historic’ match marks the first time that the England Women’s team have played at the new Wembley and will form part of the team’s preparations for next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
So get yourselves down to Wembley Stadium a week on Sunday and support our girls and women’s football. And of course if you’re a County fan attending the game, please give me a shout so I can get a snap of you. :)
Tickets can be purchased via TheFA.com/Tickets
and are priced at £15 for adults and £1 for children
The British Rowing Senior Championships were held at Nottingham Water Sports Centre at the weekend. It saw international oarsmen representing their clubs at a national regatta. It’s an exhausting mix of new talent and top rowers racing for their clubs. The Senior Championships, now a major focus of the GB regatta calendar, gives competitors, coaches and spectators an event they can really enjoy.
Here’s the weekend in words and pictures:
Early start on Saturday morning and the weather was overcast, blustery but warm.
The crews were out to warm up and stretch…
… boats were prepped and nuts were tightened…
.. and the crews hit the water for two days of exciting racing – against the clock and against each other.
Saturday morning’s time trails determined places for the semi-finals.
Hands were shook and backs were patted as the day’s trials separated the chaff from the wheat.
Until the semi’s progressed to the finals and the first day’s medal places were awarded.
Everybody was happy….
… some more than others….
…. even Gino had a smile (well almost)
And Heroes were born!
Sunday the weather took a turn for the worst with the wind quickening and gaining strength as the day went on…
The choppy water made everything soggy….
… giving competitors pause for thought…
.. but it didn’t dampen the spirit..
… just the occasional rower as they tipped the boats…
… and were rewarded with a refreshing shower.
But eventually as the morning turned to afternoon and the wind turned to gales the official had no choice but to cancelled the rest of the day’s competition and award places based on the morning’s time trials…
Not the most satisfying way to end the regatta …
.. but probably the fairest and safest way…
Crews raced off to get packed up for the trip home…
.. and the organised chaos began…
…. as derigging and the big clear up started.The wind had got the better of everybody…
.. it must have been something we’d eaten…
The awards ceremony took place in front of the main building at the finish line…
And just when I thought it was all over I found one of the clubs in the warm-up tent with 15 or so of their team on the concept II rowers. …
… slugging it out, and encouraged by coaches and coxswains, to see who could be the fastest rower without actually going anywhere!
And finally finally I’d like to thank British Rowing for their hospitality and friendliness during the two days. :)
(C) Drew Smith Photography.
With the FA Women’s Super League going down to the very last game of the season Notts County Ladies held title winning wannabees, Birmingham City, to a 2-2 draw yesterday. Handing Liverpool the title for the second year running.
Here’s the game in words and pictures:
Lets start with the fans. Last game of the season and the usual suspects were there needing no encouragement to pose of the camera. The tight Solihull ground was tightly packed and created a great atmosphere.
The Birmingham fans were flying the flag and hoping for a win to give them the Title. Yeah…. sorry guys! :)
The Blues fans came to cheer on their side and lift the trophy…
… a giant silver chess piece made of plastic.
See, a good photographer would have got a reflection of the Birmingham Manager in the trophy looking all expectant and nervous like.
The media looked confused; “So wait, this lot, Chelsea AND Liverpool could all win it?”
The camera man patiently explains the permutations to ‘Mr Scarf’.
Monsters Inc – Who is this guy? What does he have to do with this game? And will the poor little girl have nightmares?
Aww, they have matching T Shirts.
Then this guy turned up! ‘Zappygo’ dog? What the feck is he all about? He must be the Birmingham mascot, right?
I asked ZappyGo dog and Monsters Inc if they’d fight to see who was best but they both declined. Poor show.
The team’s came out for the warm-up; it started badly with Rachel Corsie being sidelined almost immediately suffering with ‘bad hair day’. She washed it last night and couldn’t do a thing with it.
Wash and Go warm-up.
Aileen Whelan challenged the BT Sports cameraman to a race. Which she narrowly won.
The cameraman was wearing comedy glasses which hampered his attempt to beat Aileen in a foot race.
Laura-Jayne O’Neil gets help from Krista van Alten, the County physio, to remove her boot.
There must be an easier way!
Manager Passmoor’s pre-game team talk didn’t inspire.
Then the teams came (back) out. The announcer had trouble with the tannoy; failing to understand that when he shouted the system cut out to protect the speakers. This caused much amusement, especially as he was asking the crowd to ‘make some……. (noise)’.
Skipper Bradley is hero-worshipped (see bottom left of pic).
Auntie Aileen kidnaps a small child at random.
I think she’d getting broody. :)
Anyhoo… on with the game. I’d only just got all my kit sorted out and boiled the kettle behind the goal County were attacking, when just three minutes in Aileen Whelan won a corner for Notts. Katie Hoyle clipped the ball into the box and Aileen Whelan, in a repeat of last week, thundered the ball past Blues keeper Becky Spencer with her head.
Whelan wins the corner and heads in the corner but loses points for not also taking the corner. The girl was everywhere.
1-0 Notts. Birmingham look on distraught.
Whelan wheels away to celebrate the Pies opener. Jess Clarke just makes sure she can’t poach a rebound…..
…. before joining in the celebrations herself. In the absence of information pertaining to the origins of this ‘happy dance’ we’ll have to settle for ‘howling at the moon’.
The Blues responded with determination. Battles were fought all over the park.
The large crowd filled the small ground creating a wonderful atmosphere.
Then to Birmingham’s dismay Notts County doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Desiree Scott’s cross was met by Laura-Jayne O’Neill whose header back across goal fell to Whelan looking for her second goal, but she failed to connect properly and the ball popped up in front of Fiona O’Sullivan……
… who trapped it neatly between her thighs….
… then prodded it into the back of the net with aplomb.
O’Sullivan is hugged by Clarke. Potter’s clenched fists speak volumes. Birmingham had to win to stand a chance of clinching the title ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool and this was not the start they’d expected.
But with 10 minutes to half time the wheels on County’s charge for 4 wins from 4 came off. Karen carney had been the usual ‘pain in Notts’ side’ and it was her mazey run that indirectly led to the Blues equaliser…
Rachel Corsie stopped Carney’s thrust through the County defense but the ball back to keeper Telford somehow didn’t get there and Blues’ Melissa Lawley stole in and played in team mate Kirsty Linnett, who needed two attempts to beat Amy Turner’s dogged defense on the line, to finally side-foot the ball into an empty net.
Birmingham score to pull back to 1-2 down.
With only 3 minutes left to half time the other wheel fell off the Pies barrow (can you have more than 1 wheel on a wheelbarrow?).
A scramble in the box resulted in the referee awarding a penalty. I didn’t see an infringement but strangely all of the Birmingham players, staff and supporters did. Hmmm, suspicious.
Karen Carney, 10, stepped up to take the spot kick and side-footed the ball with much gusto to Telford’s right…….
…. Telford went the right way and pulled off a fantastic save! The ball actually rebounded back out to Carney who, with the goal wide-open managed to have her shot saved a second time by Telford who pulled off an even better save. You’ll note there’s no picture of that save as I was too busy punching the air after the initial save. Bad photographer.
The teams went in for half time with the score-line 2-1 in Notts favour. Elsewhere Chelsea were being beaten by Manchester City and Liverpool were ahead in their game.
The second half resumed and once again almost before we’d taken our seats and let the kettle boil, Birmingham equalised.
With just 3 minutes played Birmingham’s Hannah Keryakoplis picked up a fortunate deflection close in and slotted the ball past Carly Telford in the Notts’ goal to make it 2-2.
Birmingham equalise. Corsie is remiss in not returning the ball to the opposition quickly enough to assist them in their attempt to win the league, and a scuffle breaks out. The referee got involved too and remarkably failed to give anybody a yellow card – something he’d seemed unable to stop himself from doing all day.
Hannah Keryakoplis is gleeful at scoring and that look tells you she thinks a 3rd goal is imminent.
The game quickened after this goal. ‘Quickened’ is a euphemism for ‘became dirtier’ with some hard tackling accompanied by more yellow cards awarded by the ref.
O’Sullivan is flattened and needed attention.
Jess Clarke in the thick of it as ever.
Desiree (allergic to losing) Scott didn’t give an inch.
Telford’s goal came under constant pressure as Birmingham pushed for the winner.
Katie Hoyle was resolute! I’ve come to realise this season that Katie approaches every game as if it were a battle for territorial supremacy and dominance over her opposite number… and the ball. Grrr!
Birmingham leaped, and ran and hustled ….
… and threw the kitchen sink at Notts…
.. but the last few grains of sand slipped through the title chase hour glass of destiny….. and the ref blew for full time with the score line at 2-2.
Carney knows it’s all over and looks as if she knows who’s to blame.
Birmingham had failed in their attempt to beat Notts and lift the trophy.
Players were consoled in the full glare of the TV cameras….
… and sportsman-like standards were upheld.
It was the finish of the FA WSL season and Notts had risen above much adversity to climb the table and finish on a 4 game unbeaten run claiming 10 points from 12.
Many friendships have been forged this season. County have a tremendous squad of players and back room staff. Here’s hoping that they’ll all be returning for the 2014/2015 season at Meadow lane.
From my own point of view I’m been very proud to have been involved this season. The standard of football has been incredibly high, the atmosphere full of energy and excitement with the general conduct of the players and spectators exemplary. The biggest compliment I can pay the team and the league is that if I wasn’t pitch-side photographing the game I’d be buying a ticket to watch it. :)
(c) Drew Smith Photography
The National Water Sports Centre hosted the Nottingham leg of the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 event today. There was an ‘extreme’ class, an ‘average Joe’ class and also a ‘Super Hero’ class. Oh, and as usual, a ‘whacky people’ class:
Here’s the event in words and pictures:
What the T Shirt says.
The event is fundamentally a 10km obstacle course traversing up hill, down hill, through water and over and under various torturous obstacles.
For example this is the ‘Mangle’ (ask yer mum) constructed from old car tyres. It was great fun as long as you were only watching….
…. see, great fun!
And there were nets to scramble under….
.. with added mud of course.
And if you were lucky benevolent competitors held the net up at the start and finish….
… for example. Always amazes me how some people have that knack of staying clean and looking beautiful during these things.
Part of the course featured a water slide….
… constructed from pool liner with water sprinklers at the top, terminating in one of the many small lakes on the site. So a 30 meter slide into a freezing cold lake. As you can imagine it solicited some interesting facial expressions:
From abject terror…..
….. excitement (crazy person) …..
… mild bewilderment (this was the winner of the ‘Whacky Person’ class – I’m pretty sure this guy is supposed to be a ‘Minion’) …
… general ‘uncertainty principle’ (Top Beard competition was won by this chap)…
… to finally a mix of terror and excitement! Best possible combo.
Having almost completed the 10km slog contestants had to run down a lake-side bank, leap onto and across two floating inflatable pontoons….
… and from that precarious perch out onto a line of rubber rings….
… after a while it became apparent that the rubber rings were optional and swimming was employed. Either that or this bloke is just cheating!
This section ended with survivalists having to haul themselves up out of the lake and onto a wooden jetty…
… a very old wobbly wooden jetty….
.. which was tres slippery…
… and a cruel exit when everybody was pretty much exhausted.
Thighs were burning….
… feet were aching….
… buttocks had been clenched….
… and resolve had been set for the next section just 5 meters further on and back in the lake.
What fun! Competitors had to fling themselves back in the lake and then climb up a 6 meter floating inflatable climbing wall!
This was a very big ‘ask’! Most didn’t conquer the climb and having fallen off several times opted for swimming around it. …
… it was tough….
… but a few scaled it with aplomb.
And even had time for a cheeky grin…
.. or two!
…… Controversy. The Super Hero class came into disrepute:
Captain America (pictured here standing heroically) had his shield stolen and was not best pleased.
But the real shocker was the disgraceful encounter between Gotham’s Dark Knight; Batman and the Amazing Spiderman!
Whilst Batman was waiting patiently at the top of the water slide for his go, Spiderman appeared to push in front of the caped crusader …
(Batman waits patiently for his turn.)
….. at which point Batman cut back in front of Spiderman – a scuffle ensued and Batman lost his footing and unintentionally slid half way down the slide, twisting his ankle in the process.
(HOLY SPRAINED ANKLE Robin – they’ll be no crime fighting in Gotham City tonight, citizens!)
Batman complained and pointed out the web slinging culprit to a steward:
The steward tries to calm the caped crusader down.
After several minutes Spiderman did the decent thing and declined his go on the slide and came over to apologise:
(Spidey says ‘sorry’ but batman is having none of it and foolishly unmasks himself!)
The crime-fighting super hero’s race was run…
.. and he was carted off to be taken to the St John’s ambulance tent, explaining to the driver that it wasn’t ‘his fault’. He was later seen hobbling around the car park looking for the Bat Mobile.
So, an eventful day came to an eventful end….
… and I think this last image really says it all. :)
For those of a photographic bent; all the images were shot today with a Canon 400mm IS f2.8.
(C) Drew Smith Photography.
The Osberton International Horse Trials bookends our eventing calendar by opening the season for us in February and closing it in October.
This weekend is a CCI 1 & 2 star event which tends to attract some big names in Eventing. Attending this weekend are; rising star Emily King (Mary’s daughter), William Fox-Pitt, Oliver Townend, Jock Pagett, Caroline Powell, Pippa Funnell and Piggy French.
Here the Saturday Cross County phase in words and pictures:
The weather forecast for yesterday was for rain, followed by more rain with a possibility of clearing skies in the late afternoon. So we had a few showers for a couple of hours followed by glorious sunshine all afternoon.
Lots of prep goes into these gatherings and the love for the horse from the rider is always evident.
There was some Dressage going off at the start of the day. For the uninitiated Dressage is what you are forced to watch when you’ve been evil in a former life.
As my wife said yesterday ‘making an eventing horse do dressage when it knows the Cross Country is next is like making a child do a spelling test before getting out of the car to go to Disney World’. :)
Caroline Powell and Emily King share a joke before setting off.
Caroline and Emily – the current Queen bee talks with the King in waiting.
Brollies up for a downpour. But it didn’t last.
Full on concentration jumping out of the first water hazard.
The supremely serene Emily King takes the course in her stride – cool as a cucumber on the first of her 3 rides.
There was a lovely combination of fences called the ‘witches Broomsticks’…..
… I can’t think why they call them that.
And here’s Harry Meade back from breaking both of his elbows in a fall last year….
… each landing was still a bit tentative.
Mr Fox-Pitt warms up.
There is one particular jump on the course called the Leaf Pit which features a drop off a bank of some 2 meters (that’s about 6 feet in old money) and is quite fearsome. What follows are the various facial expressions (the rider’s not the horse’s) that express various levels of concern whilst jumping it.
Emily King demonstrates the ‘what’s all the fuss about’ facial expression.
This is the ‘Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down….’ approach to the fence.
This the ‘Yikes – I looked down!’ approach.
This is definitely the ‘Oh SH*T!’ method……
… not to be confused with the ‘CrapCrapCrap!’ approach demonstrated by Pippa Funell – even the horse has it’s eyes closed.
.. just shear terror. Probably, at this point, tinged with great relief at feeling solid ground again.
It was a great fun day again and we finished the visit to Osberton with the traditional 5pm oven baked pizza sitting out by one of the two show jumping rings.
TTime for a rest.