Shad does the Bognor Prom 10k Road Race

Almost two-thousand runners gathered together on Bognor Regis seafront to push their personal boundaries by running 10 kilometres in the beautiful Sussex sunshine.  John and I decided to show our support by joining them.  Not for the run of course.  I would if I could, but I have an old hip injury from the great ping-pong ball chase of 2011 when I ran too fast across the lounge and reached high velocity, resulting in a spectacular slide through the kitchen and crashing into the litter bag.  Since then I’ve left the running to the experts.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with my generous waist circumference or love of chicken nibbles!

More Photo’s here – Bognor Regis 10K

 

The road race has been staged every year since 1995 and attracts serious runners as well as individuals and families who want to have a good time, raise money for charity and fulfil personal achievements.  The runners jogged and sprinted from West Park in Aldwick to Butlins and back, passing the sun-bathers on the shingle slopes and the jet-skiers propelling their noisy engines into the waves.  I had to take my hat off to the this chap who looked to be well into his seventies dressed as a can of beer collecting money for the Rotary Club of Bognor Hotham who organised this event as part of their community service and fund-raising programme.  He puffed his way past, lifting each leg just an inch or two off the ground, pushing himself forward with an exhausted smile on his face, while some kind passer-by tapped him reassuringly on the shoulder.  Then he stopped to give me a stroke which felt a little sweaty but I appreciated the gesture and responded with a chirpy chirrup to cheer him on.

 Bognor Regis 10K

As some of the runners passed the finish line, John and I decided to enjoy an ice-cream along the esplanade and watch the band playing heartening music in the bandstand.  I took a lick of the creamy treat John had bought and contemplated those crazy days when I was a kitten chasing ping-pong balls around the house, leaping up the windows to catch a fly or climbing the bed-post to walk across the beams up by the ceiling.  I took risks back then that I wouldn’t take now, but I didn’t have the wisdom to choose the right ventures.  Now I have the understanding I need to know what’s worth pursuing but I don’t have the fearlessness to pursue them.  Funny how life goes!  But perhaps I don’t need fearlessness, just the energy and courage to fight for what I think is right.  Today it’ll be encouraging an old man to finish a race, tomorrow it’ll be rescuing a worm from drowning in the pond, the day after that, who knows what opportunities for kindness the universe will bring my way.

Bognor Regis 10K

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Shad does Worthing Pier

You can’t beat a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast followed by a stroll along the seafront to brush off the cobwebs and clear your head.  Whether you’re a muesli fan, an egg and bacon fiend, a baked bean or sardines on toast aficionado, or a continental fruitcake, a full tummy is essential in my book before heading out into the early morning sunshine for a good sniff of salty sea air.  John and I took the car to Worthing this particular morning for a wander along the promenade and managed to find some free parking which always puts John in a jolly mood.  When we got out of the car we realised why the parking spot was free, because the pier looked quite small in the distance to me.  But John said it was a stone’s throw and we decided that the walk would do us both good.

 

The wide promenade and long shingle beach met the wet sand being exposed by the water as the tide made its way out and I had a feeling of being free with a sense of appreciation as I thought about the many animals across the world that don’t have the luxury of freedom.  Looking out to the horizon across the expanse of silvery water, I wondered what the ships in the distance were doing, may be fishing or carrying cargo or people from one place to another.  You wouldn’t catch me on a boat because I have a delicate stomach and certainly wouldn’t welcome the endless bobbing up and down.  Talking of bobbing up and down, there were quite a few joggers out in their Lycra shorts and fancy trainers and they all smiled at me as they pounded past, panting and glistening in the warm glow of the sun.

 

As we headed towards the pier, we stopped to read about its history and discovered that it was opened in 1862 and, having been through a fire, a war and extensive renovation, it is a Grade II listed building.  The first moving picture show in Worthing was seen on the pier in around 1896 and there used to be a steam ship in operation between Worthing Pier and Brighton, a few miles to the East.  The front of the pier is currently home to the Pavilion Theatre and we saw posters advertising films and shows including old Greg Wallace hosting a dessert cooking session where he presumably makes puddings and everyone tucks in.  Sounds yummy!

 

Without the crowds and tourists that no doubt visit during the day, I could hear John’s footsteps on the wooden boards and the squawks of the gulls flying overhead as we made our way to the sea end of the pier which boasts an Art Deco style tearoom.  It was too early for the tearoom to be open but try telling that to the crows and pigeons sitting on the roof waiting for titbits.  There were several guys passing the time fishing, their rods all pointed outwards in an array of lines as they waited patiently for an unsuspecting fish to take the bait.  I tiptoed bravely towards the railing to get a better look and felt a bit woozy at the sight of the dark water sploshing around underneath us.  Then I suddenly spotted 4 pretty little plovers strutting along the beams and pecking at the barnacles.  I stayed perfectly still so John could take a few pictures and then I meowed ‘hello’ because I’m a polite boy but they ignored me and eventually hopped off.  Charming!

 

John and I turned around and headed back to the car which seemed further away than we thought.  As we strolled back, the wind was behind us and there were more people this time on bicycles or walking their dogs.  I was so tired that John agreed to carry me back after picking up a couple of odd-shaped sea shells for me to take home and sniff as a reminder of our early morning trip to the seaside.

Shad takes a walk around the garden

I’ve got ‘the wild’ right on my doorstep in the form of a rather overgrown back garden.  John says he’s let it get back to nature, but I suspect this noble sentiment is an excuse for not mowing the lawn!  Nevertheless, we both enjoy looking at the garden and all the treasures it holds which is why I like to take a stroll around it from time to time, admiring Mother Nature while I think about my work.  In the 2 ½ years that John and I have been running Shadow Photography, I’ve been involved with happy couples planning their wedding day, excited exhausted mothers eager to have pictures of their young baby for the mantelpiece, highly strung horses next to shiny horse boxes and wily creatures who shy away from the camera. You can find stories about my experiences and examples of the colourful and dynamic images I have produced during my work if you look back at https://shadthecat.wordpress.com/.

 

Weddings are great because people are always happy and the atmosphere is one of romance and optimism.  A bit like the mood created by these adorable garden birds who decided to have a splash together in the bath while I was crouching under the shrubbery with my camera.  Some of the birds in the garden (like the sparrows, blue tits and great tits featured in the photos) are so small I’m amazed they don’t get blown away by the wind.  Don’t worry, I’m not tempted to chase them, I’m far too busy analysing the light and shade in the frame, judging depth of field and generally perfecting my photography skills to be dashing around after my feathered friends.  I was really lucky to catch a glimpse of a green woodpecker as you can see from the picture and I would have taken more shots only this worker bee kept buzzing around the flowers right next to me and it really put me off!

 

I like to take pictures of the flowers because I can play with the focus and emphasise the colour to create some striking shots, like these views of the cherry blossom and bluebell-type plants in the garden.  I have produced a number of beautiful prints from these shots as well as more abstract images from the magnificent architecture that lies at the heart of history in this country.   They make a lovely gift to yourself or someone you care about so if you’re tempted, check out http://www.shadow-photography.com/.  On the website you’ll also discover the portfolio of work that John and I have developed over the last couple of years which gives you a flavour of our style.  Please remember us if you want a professional portrait at a preferential rate, or if you have a friend who plays in a band or a family member getting married and you want to capture the fun on film.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to share my thoughts and snapshots with you in this blog while I beaver away at building the business.  Shadow Photography is there for all your photographic needs and John and I only require a cup of coffee and a saucer of cat milk to keep us happy and working hard!

 

Shad Interviews John

I recently decided it was time to put Mr John Jefferies on the couch, under the spotlight, if you like.  Let’s find out a bit more about the mastermind behind Shadow Photography, and ask John a few questions too!

 

  1. What’s it like to live with a cat like me?

Its challenging, but they say creative types can be eccentric and you certainly have your idiosyncrasies!!

A little cheeky, but I can’t deny it!!

  1. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Two brothers, both younger than me

                Colin is a lead singer in a band called the Saga Louts

                Paul is married and emigrated to Perth in Australia

 

  1. Have you always been a photographer?

I’ve always enjoyed photography and have owned a camera since my first home-made pin-hole camera at the age of 10.  Over the years it has been a hobby and my main job involved working in the airline industry.  However, in recent years photography has become a real passion and is now my second job.

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  1. What’s your favourite thing to photograph?

I wouldn’t say I have a favourite subject to shoot, however I enjoy wildlife and the challenge that taking pictures of animals brings.  They don’t pose for you and they always look away at the wrong moment, but with patience and a bit of luck, the results can be very rewarding.  I also love to work with people, watching them enjoy each other’s company and knowing that the special moments they share can be captured on film to be remembered forever.

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to relax?

I love sitting on a beach watching the sunset, listening to the calm sway of the waves and breathing the salty air, enjoying the peace and quiet.

  1. Which picture are you most proud of?

Good question.  I have many big cat pictures that I love and some lovely landscapes hanging in my wall-gallery.  I think my proudest moment is my first wedding as the primary shooter where I had all the responsibility of getting the wedding photos and albums together and seeing the smile on the bride’s face when she saw the finished product.

Oh so nothing with me in it then?!

  1. Are you inspired by any other photographers or famous icons?

There are a quite few photographers from history like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson that I admire.  I have also learned a great deal from more modern photographers like Ted Forbes and Zack Arias. In terms of artists, I enjoy the work of Monet and De Vinci.  I also have the greatest respect for humanitarians like Paul Newman, the Hollywood actor who donated millions of dollars in profits to charities all over the world.

I never knew you had such a philosophical side.  It appears there’s more to you than meets the eye.

  1. What music do you like?

Rock and heavy metal are my favourite genres but I listen to anything from classical to country.  I’ve driven passengers in my car crazy crooning to the likes of Singing Doll and Yellow Submarine, as well as the deep notes of M People and Seal.  My music tastes have been described as eclectic.

John seriously, that Dolly Parton album I had to endure the other day was taking the biscuit.

  1. What’s your favourite big cat and why?

The tiger – power, agility and beauty, all in one cat

Stick a few orange stripes on me and we’d be identical!

10. Why do you like trains so much?

As a kid I loved to travel on trains and collect their numbers (and no I did not wear an anorak!).  There’s something magnificent about a steam engine though, it’s might and the way the moving parts work in synergy have always fascinated me.

I just enjoy the chuffing.

11. What 3 words would you use to describe me?

Charismatic / playful / lovable

That’s very kind.  I’d describe you as determined, compassionate and honourable.  Bet that surprised you!

12. What is the most challenging aspect of being official photographer at weddings?

Time management, making sure you get that shot but not holding up the proceedings, and being in the right place at the right time

13. Next time you have crispy duck pancakes, can you please leave a bit more for me?

Of course, I know how you like it.

Shad’s adventure at sea

With the wind in my fur and the rhythmic splashing of the water hitting the sides of the boat, I felt like nothing else mattered except the wild spirit of the open seas and the marine-life that lived within it.  I couldn’t believe that an ordinary black moggy like me was about to head out to sea and witness nature, in its own environment, and on water too.  How brave am I?!

Lundy Island

I was sitting in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat with orange sides and wooden benches to seat 12 people, courtesy of a great bunch of guys at Bristol Channel Charters in Ilfracombe, Devon.  As we chuntered out of the harbour to the wide-open sea, John held on to me and the skipper pulled back the throttle, much to the delight of the passengers who whooped and cheered as we zoomed along at 20 knots  towards Lundy Island.  John shouted “I feel the need”, and someone else cried, “The need for speed”.  (Famous quote from an iconic Tom Cruise movie made in 1986 for those of you too young to remember).

 

The shimmering sapphire sea twinkled all around and there was not a cloud in the pale blue sky as the shoreline disappeared behind us and an outline of the island emerged in the distance.  Suddenly the engines stopped which could only mean one thing – something interesting had been spotted.  We floated for a couple of minutes before the crew pointed to one of the best sights I’ve ever seen, dolphins hopping in and out of the water.  What a privilege to see these magnificent, inquisitive creatures playing and interacting with us, so friendly and trusting.  The boat engines started again and as we moved slowly towards them, they swam alongside us, weaving back and forth across the bow, leaping and diving.  This is known as porpoising – spectacular jumps alternated with swimming just under the surface of the water in a high-speed surface piercing motion.

 

We continued our journey towards the island which is only a mile across by 2 or 3 miles long and surrounded by high jagged rocky ridges.  According to the crew, there is a population of around 25 on the island, as well as a few thrill-seeking visitors that come to climb the sheer cliffs.  We took a tour of the island and as we cruised past the west side, the skipper said that there was nothing but ocean between us and America.  It brought to mind images of the first settlers that sailed across the Atlantic, possibly wondering they might fall of the edge of the world!  The seals favoured the eastern and southern aspects of the island which were dotted with rocky pillars and ledges perfect for the seals to bask in the sun, much like this seal splayed on its side like a mermaid.   Some of the seals were so well camouflaged that it was hard to spot them until they moved.  They were quite curious but kept their distance, poking their marbled grey labrador-like heads up out of the water to watch us, like some kind of sea-faring meerkats!

 

A friend of mine told me that his elderly owner went to Lundy Island way back in the 1940’s and saw a rich variety of bird-life there.  Unfortunately many of these birds have disappeared, but we were lucky enough to spot a handful of puffins in the water sporting their distinctive orange beaks.  There were also razorbills,oyster-catchers and guillemots, as well as kittiwakes, a small silvery gull with black wing tips and a yellow beak.

 

As we began the 12 mile or so boat trip back inland, I wondered how these animals survive in the wild and couldn’t help but admire their tenacity and resolve.  It makes me think how lucky I am to get my dinner out of a packet from the supermarket while nature’s wild inhabitants work so hard to be self-sufficient and make the most of the limited resources their environment provides.  But despite all the effort of surviving in the face of dangers such as predators or human threats, those dolphins had the time and the inclination to play with us and show us their beauty and agility.  I was most definitely impressed.