Monday Musings

A branch laden with crab apples
The tree is laden with crab apples- gorgeous autumn colour

Happy Monday everyone!

It's now well and truly autumn here on the farm- the leaves are falling, and we've been tidying up for the winter.  Our sheep are in wonderful condition with all the lush grass and sunshine , and our rams are being loaned to other flocks to strengthen bloodlines.  We've had pears and a super crop of figs.  The bees haven't had a very productive year as the spring flowers were late and it was very wet when they should have been building their supplies, so we've left all the honey to the bees to strengthen them this winter.  I love this season, with its chilly nights and lovely sunny days, and so far this autumn it's been perfect.

So what's new this week?

  • 'Adulting' is a new word this week- it describes a teenager acting grown up.  So now you know.
  • We went to see the Peking Opera on Saturday night and it was fabulous-  stunning costumes, breathtaking acrobatics and  sword fights, gorgeous scenery and a wonderful love story.  Perfect for all ages, and there were subtitles!  It's fun to do something completely different.
  • As the days draw in, it's time to start thinking stews and hotpots.  In my search for the perfect vegetarian chilli, I tried a new recipe this weekend.  Just the right amount of spice and definitely 8 out of 10.  Yum
  • I received a really special homemade gift from my 12 year old yesterday.  It was a 'pick me up tray'  with essential oils, tissues, scented candles and pretty flowers for my hair that she had put together herself. #precious moments
  • Looking forward to half term next week.  Nothing planned yet.  Maybe just sleep in everyday.

Fingers crossed for more sunshine and perfect walking conditions....don't forget to take your camera!

Have a lovely week x


Quent 10- Celebrating Quentin with his lovely family and friends in Chorleywood

I can't wait to share this post with you, not only because I love the photos but because it's about a very special event- and we all like something extra special, don't we?

A couple of months ago we received an invitation to a party to celebrate our friend Quent's 10 year anniversary for living life to the full.  This is totally contrary to the 10 month forecast he had when he was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 2006.  You can read the full story here.  It is not an exaggeration to say that Quentin and his wife Helen are the 2 most life affirming people we have the pleasure to know.  You cannot help but be drawn into their incredible warmth and wonderful outlook on life.

Not only are they busy living life but they're busy giving back too-  this party was also to raise money for the incredible research work that Quent's doctor does to help those who are diagnosed with this horrible disease.  So on Saturday 300 or so friends and family made their way to a campsite in Chorleywood for Quent 10 (or as someone suggested- QuentFest!).

All this wonderful weather we have had lately was interrupted on Saturday by some very heavy rain in the morning, but when we arrived early in the afternoon the sun had broken through and gave us a couple of hours of beautiful warm sunshine. This was perfect for pitching tents, drinking tea and eating cake in preparation for the evening's big party.

The whole atmosphere was fabulous- children running around enjoying the campfire, coconut shy, and swinging on ropes.  There were smiles and hugs everywhere, music in the marquee and a fantastic team of friends who served tea, manned the beer stall and set up the tents, lighting and sound.  And of course Quent and Helen themselves who did everything, answered every question and still managed to greet and say thank you to everyone of their friends who came.

Enjoy a few images from Saturday and  join me in saying congratulations to Quent and thank you for the inspirational Quentin and Helen.

Setting up Quent 10  by Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling Photography
A team of friends made this whole celebration possible
Surrey Family Photographer
The man himself- Quent greeting guests
Surrey Family Photographer captures love and friendship at Quent 10
The first stop was the tea tent and a hug
Boy and dog by Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling
Everyone made friends
Pitching tents in the woods by Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling
Tents were put up in woodland clearings all around the site
Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling Photography
The band warming up in the marquee
Surrey Family Photographer
It was idyllic with the sun and campfire smoke filtering through the trees
Surrey Family Photographer
The tea tent was better than the Great British Bakeoff thanks to friends
coconut shy
A coconut shy provided hours of fun for those determined to get one...
Sunny camping
Beautiful sunshine added to the celebrations
Portraits by Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling Photography
Quentin and Helen enjoy 5 seconds of peace before they were off again

So a totally wonderful event for a very special person. Here's to the next 10, and to QuentFest 2017!

 

 


Family Photographer Surrey -A sunshine filled photo session in Chipstead

I am so excited to share this beautiful family photography shoot with Naimh and her family.  They came here to the farm earlier this summer.  It was early evening as you can see from the beautiful golden glow- the golden hour.  And we took full advantage of the colourful woods and fields around us here.  Naimh was just finishing year 6 when I photographed this family session and it was the perfect time to capture her before she starts that big transition to senior school. (Note to parents- the difference between your child on the first day of Year 7 and the last day of year 7 is extraordinary!).

There were some really lovely moments during this shoot- my favourite is when her mum started telling Naimh all the special things she loved about her.  Not a dry eye anywhere!

Naimh was totally chilled throughout and you can see from the smiles and laughter that they were all so relaxed and had a great time.

I hope with all my heart that in many years time, Naimh will look at these photos and relive those magical moments, enjoying those wonderful words and the incredible bond that she clearly she feels with her parents.

Enjoy....

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Our summer holiday to New England

Surrey Family Photographer holiday in New England

One of the things I really love is seeing people’s holiday photographs. A number of the blogs I enjoy reading have posted their holiday images and I love it. Maybe it’s the snapshot into their lives or maybe it’s the chance to see places I have never been to.

So in the spirit of reciprocity, here are a few of our holiday snaps from our recent adventures to New England.

This is our third family summer trip to this part of the world, and each time we go we try and see different places. So we based ourselves just north of Boston and then moved upto New Hampshire for a few days and then further south down to Cape Cod.

The Boston area is HOT in the summer and the humidity can be overpowering, but this is balanced by gorgeous sea breezes, cool forested towns and villages and wonderful beaches. Compared to the busy area we live in here in the South East, New England is sparsely populated with fabulous outdoor facilities and picture postcard architecture and beaches.

People always ask me what camera I take on holiday.  I take 2.

The first is a very old Nikon D80, which I used when I did my photography degree, that I bought in 2007.  It has a basic zoom lens on it.  As we go to the beach and do lots of active things, I don't want to be worrying about damaging expensive kit, so whilst I love this camera, I'm not concerned if it gets broken or gets sand in the body.  However, this time I left it in my luggage most of the time because I want to enjoy my holiday not lug a heavy camera around.

The other camera I take is my iPhone, and I'm using this more and more to snap on the go photos.  In fact most of the images below are from my iPhone.

So enjoy our family photographs…

Family Photographer Surrey Amanda Darling Holiday blog

The coast along the North Shore is fantastic- and we spent plenty of time enjoying the beaches around Gloucester and Plum Island.

Amanda Darling Family Photographer SurreyThe sand was so hot that it was difficult to walk on, but the water was cold.  Enjoy the expression!

Family Photographer Surrey Amanda Darling blogWe went  kayaking down the river at Essex and across to Crane Beach.  As the tide was high we were able to weave in and out of the grassy banks through little rivulets to the sea.  How beautiful is this?  Luckily it was a beautiful warm (rather than hot) day and the water was very warm too.

amanda-darling-photography-capitol-building-providence-riWe went to a Lindsey Sterling concert in Providence Rhode Island.  Here is the Capitol Building in Providence. This was my first trip to RI and marked my 11th State.  I hope to do all of them at some stage.

amanda-darling-mountain-grand-view-resort-nh amanda-darling-4We booked a few days in New Hampshire.  This State is all about big skies and outdoor sports.  We went riding and river floating.

Our hotel was straight out of a storybook and the views were sensational.

amanda-darling-2                             There were mountains, waterfalls and forest all around.  You could travel all day and not see anyone else if you kept off the beaten track.

amanda-darling-3                                                      This is a motorway.  For someone who lives near the M25, this is an amazing sight! Where's the traffic?????

amanda-darling-photography-mountain-views-nh

      The views go on for ever.

amanda-darling-photography-rockport-ma-2 This charming town is called Rockport and it weaves right out into the sea.  It's pleasantly touristy and if you walk to the end of the road,

you are rewarded with a classic New England sea view....amanda-darling-photography-rockport-ma-lighthouse                        ......a lighthouseamanda-darling-photography-rockport-ma-sea-views amanda-darling-photography-rockport-ma-canoes amanda-darling-photography-regatta-rockport-ma amanda-darling-photography-rockport-houses

Then it was down to Cape Cod.  Here's a very pretty church in Hyannis.amanda-darling-photography-hyannisport-cape-cod

It's been wonderful reliving the holidays!  Seems a long time ago now. Another time I'll fill you in on why we were in Hyannis.

In the meantime have a lovely week.


Family photography with twin girls-Doubly delightful!

I am so excited to share this gorgeous family photography session with you today.  This is only the third time I have ever photographed twins, and I want to photograph more!

As a family photographer it is wonderful to be able to stand back and capture the connection between each member of the family. There is an added dimension with twins because they are separate and together at the same time.  These girls ran and played together so beautifully and were funny, feisty and thoughtful. We ended up with beautiful images that show so many sides of their personalities.

During the shoot, I made sure to get some lovely photographs of Emma and Mark together too- often parents realise that they haven't had 'proper' photographs of themselves together since their wedding!  This is a perfect chance to capture some relaxed and happy portraits together.

We photographed the session late in the afternoon and the weather and light was beautiful.  As we walked through the woods and fields, the rabbits scattered and scampered away much to the joy of the girls.  Then we came across a whole field full of beautiful buttercups, and the girls had fun gathering armfuls, seeing who could collect the most.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs from this lovely family as much as I enjoyed photographing them.

 

Twin girls climing a gate by Surrey photographer amanda darling photograhy Amanda Darling Photography lifestyle woodland family session Amanda Darling Photography Surrey twins photographer Amanda Darling Photography Surrey photographer Family photography Mother and daughter by Surrey family photographer Amanda Darling Dad and twin daughterd lifesyle family photgrapher Amanda Darling

Twin girls waering blues by Surrey lifestyle photographer Amanda Darling Realxed Family photograpy with laughing twin girls by Surrey family photographer Amanda Darling Twin girls with buttercups by lifestyle family photographer Amanda Darling Family walking through a field of buttercups ny Surrey family photographer Amanda Darling Relaxed Parents walking through field of buttercups by Amanda Darling photography relaxed photograph of dad and twin daughter by Surrey family photographer Amanda Darling Classic relaxed family photography by Surrey family photographer Amanda Darling


Monday Musings- Start like you mean to go on

Surrey Family Photographer Amanda Darling's high ropes photpHappy Monday Friends!

So we are recovering from the mother of all busy weekends- and there was no alcohol involved!  I had no family photography sessions this weekend, so I took lots of fun photos at Rowena's birthday party instead.

In 60 hours, we managed to cram in hosting a survival evening for the guides at the farm, 2 birthday parties, a sleepover, helping at a tea party for 40 delightful senior citizens and a full day rehearsal for the school play.

Reading that back makes me wonder how we did it!

As ever, lessons learned and points of note:

  • Is it just me or did we go to sleep last night in June and wake up in November?
  • Dear Miss Hunter-Blair, Rowena worked very hard on her maths probability boardgame this weekend, but she is very tired and I am sorry if she falls asleep in class.
  • Why is it always so difficult to get plain black leggings for play performances in summer? Don't the clothing shops realise that there are hundreds of desperate mums hunting the rails for winter leggings in the middle of summer?
  • Why do I always leave the search for black leggings till the last minute?
  • No matter how tired you are at 6.30am on a Monday, if you play Smells like Teen Spirit very very loudly and jump around the kitchen like you're 17 again singing at the top of your voice, you will be unstopable afterwards. Start Monday like you mean to go on.

Now that have shared my foolproof get up and go formula and I am completely awake, I have a gorgeous family photography session with delightful twin girls to share with you on Wednesday. I can't wait!

Have a wonderful week everyone.....


A newborn baby photography session in Ewell- welcoming Edward

Three and a half years ago, I photographed Marcus at 5 weeks old.  And here I am nearly 3 years later absolutely thrilled to do the same for his brother Edward.  I went to their home in Ewell and Lola and Michael spent a happy 2 hours cuddling and  focussing on their beautiful children.  Marcus was completely unfazed and played happily with his toys.  The result was photographs of relaxed and happy family times enjoying this wonderful new chapter of their family.

When it comes to baby photography I make sure the session is completely relaxed and we go at the baby's pace, allowing time for feeds and naps.  I love to capture the images that I as a parent would treasure.  This means I look for images that show the deep and incredibly close and protective love that parents wrap their newborns in.  It's really important for parents to be able to look back on that special time and see the connection and moments with their children.  As newborns are often the most photographed by the family, I make sure that I focus on the parents with the child, as they are often the ones taking lots of pictures on their phones but are rarely in the shots themselves.  I imagine that when the babies themselves are grown and have their children and grandchildren they will treasure the chance to see how they are loved and feel that connection.

I hope you enjoy some of the images from this lovely family photography session.  Welcome Edward!

Amanda-Daling-Photography-newborn-family-photographer-ewell

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Monday Musings- half term in the Isle of Wight

Amanda-Darling-Photography-Family-Photographer-SurreyHappy Monday friends,

Half term arrived with a tidal wave of relief and loud joy- no more exams!  We had a couple of days of luxuriously long lie-ins, leisurely lunches, and lovely walks.

Then we all packed up and went to the Isle of Wight for a few days. I have never been before- the only one of us that hadn't- and was very excited. We had good weather and really enjoyed ourselves.

Some highlights from our trip:

  • A couple of years ago I decided that a holiday is only a holiday if it involves absolutely no cooking whatsoever, and I am glad to say that last week was a fantastic holiday!
  • The Isle of Wight has so much to do that we ran out of time, and will have to go back
  • Catching a ferry is fun when it's only for a 45 minute crossing
  • The island has some stunning scenery- cliffs, rolling hills and valleys, pretty sailing towns, ornate Victorian Villas and really beautiful beaches
  • If you love fossil hunting then head to the Isle of Wight -it is a fossil hunter's paradise

All in all a perfect place for a staycation. Hope you like the view from our balcony, above.

Have a lovely week everyone!


Thursday thoughts- exams!

Happy Thursday Friends,

Things have moved around this week because I have been shooting and editing. I did an exciting photography session on Monday which I shall blog in a few weeks, it was something completely different and will be revealed when it’s ready. The time just flew. Such perfect weather this week too- feels like a holiday when we can eat outside and bask in the warmth. Who needs to go away when we have everything here?

Along with many of you, exam week is upon us and I am supplying treats and cuddles on demand.

So as ever, what’s happening here:

  • Apparently maths was the hardest exam ever and needed a whole chocolate bar to guarantee recovery
  • Did you know that exam revision can be done on Instagram? Me neither!
  • Sourdough bread is completely delicious. It barely gets unpacked from the shopping bag before it disappears
  • I’ll be able to take down all the post it notes of revision words littered around the house. These are used to associate information with a mental map of the house. Then it can be retrieved by ‘walking through the house’ during an exam. Sounds like something out of Sherlock!
  • I think we’ll be having a curry on Friday to celebrate the end of exams. Yum.

A rather foody entry today- and not a vegetable in sight.

Have a wonderful week everyone....


Monday Musings- a weekend on the farm

aMANDA-dARLING-pHOTOGRAPHY-sURREYHappy Monday friends!

I hope you are loving this wonderful weather. We had every set of French windows open yesterday and it was magical. The bees buzzed gently, hardly a sigh of a breeze and the smell of freshly cut grass in the sunshine- heaven.

We had no plans at all, which was a lovely change and so instead we caught up with all the jobs that have been hanging around. Eamonn topped the weeds on the fields and I blitzed the garden. The garden and fields looked immaculate and I also know that tomorrow nature will fight back and it will look like we haven’t touched it for weeks! Thank goodness I like the natural look…..Amada-Darling_photography-Surrey

  • The 2 lambs we have been hand rearing in our garden (Daisy and Aiofe) are now big enough to go out into the flock. They were relocated from their 5 star garden shed accommodation with ensuite garden to freshly topped fields. They complained loudly to the management at first, but soon settled in with their new friends.
  • Never let chickens roam around a garden with newly seeded flower beds.
  • A firepit piled high with glowing logs on a cool evening is a wonderful end to a beautiful day.

Now that summer’s really on its way, let’s enjoy every drop of sunshine.

Have a wonderful week everyone!