Thursday Thoughts from a Surrey Family Photographer

Wiltshire horn ram by family photographer Amanda Darling

Hi friends,

So it's 2018, the children went back to school on Tuesday and I ventured into the office for the first time this year. It took a while to reach the desk as I had to do a major tidy up- it was the place where we put everything we didn't want to see over the holidays!  Now at least I can use the keyboard, even if the room isn't looking like a spread from House Beautiful. But I have plans to be tidier this year.....

I did my last photography shoot in the week before Christmas.  Then treated myself to stepping away from the everyday tasks to invest in learning and planning for 2018.  This included 2 workshops and a planning away day- and it was fantastic.  As my photography business has grown I have needed to upgrade and streamline systems.   This will allow more time to shoot more family photography sessions, while serving my clients even better.  Exciting things on the way for 2018- watch this space.

So what's new on the farm, since the last update?

(You can see some other posts about the farm here)

  • We're expecting the pitter patter of little hoofs again this Easter as lambing starts.
  • We had spectacular success with selling our beautiful pedigree rams to flocks far and wide this season.  (When I say 'our' I mean Eamonn's as he does all the work!)
  • Last year we began clearing out some of the old woodland, to provide better conditions for the beautiful native trees to flourish along with the wildlife, and it's starting to look wonderful.  It means there is access to previously impenetrable areas- and as a bonus, more lovely areas to photograph in.
  • The recent rain has refilled the ponds, ready for spring and frogspawn.
  • Inside, there is finally a new family bathroom (we've only lived here for 6 years!).  And we found that the Georgian part of the roof was built using a beautiful oak branch complete with bark. We need the Time Team to come to the farm - I bet we'd find some really interesting history here!Sheep grazing on Noke Farm, SurreySo, till next time, enjoy your weekend...




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

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.


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Monday Musings- a weekend on the farm


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!

Gloriously muddy Children’s Photography in Surrey


I love this country’s weather- the sunshine, rain, mist and fog…. its changeability and unpredictability. And with rain comes puddles- every child’s favourite and every grown up with a little kid inside them too! From a photography point of view, the light after heavy rain can be clear and sharp, with foliage a bright shiny green, and if the ground is warm, within minutes you can get a light ethereal mist- both give wonderfully atmospheric images.

So for my children’s photography session with Ellie and Ollie we had excited children and beautiful light.

They splashed, laughed and gave me everything, resulting in photographs that capture their fun, energy and mischievousness.

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We had a clothes change towards the end of the session and captured a more relaxed and reflective pair. And who doesn’t love a pretty floaty dress with a pair of wellies? By this time the fine mist had risen, which perfectly matched the clothes and the mood, giving a much softer look.

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Ellie and Ollie you are fantastic!

Tuesday Talk


Dear Friends,

Well yesterday was a bank holiday, so Monday musings has morphed into Tuesday talk. Here’s hoping you all had a fantastic three day break- whilst it was showery, it was warm and bright for large parts of the weekend and you can definitely feel spring has sprung. So here’s what’s new at Noke Farm:

  • The Bluebells! Earlier this year and absolutely glorious. Our woods are full of them.
  • We had a family golf lesson on Saturday, what a laugh. I could be hooked.
  • I photographed a really lovely family for the FOURTH time this weekend. I fall a little bit in love with every family I photograph and honestly I feel they are part of my family now, it’s been a real honour to watch their children growing up.
  • I had chocolate this weekend for the first time in 4 weeks of eating super healthily. They tell you that the sweet and sugary things you used to love, taste horrible when your taste buds recalibrate to healthy foods. They lied.
  • The best smell in the universe: freshly mown grass on a warm evening- hello spring!

With 2 sessions planned this week, I am excited.  This is lucky as I have lots of post- production to do, a bag to check and pack and an office that looks like a tornado has passed through.  Better get cracking.....

Have a wonderful week!

Photobombing Sheep!

I thought I would share two photographs from this weekend's shoot, with a twist!  You may remember our lamb 'Baby', who was a very small triplet that we bottle fed when he was born, and who thinks he's human- well he's growing up fast!  But he still doesn't realise he's a sheep and should stay with the flock.  He's very nosey and always likes to see what's going on.  This weekend I was photographing lovely little Ava and her family, and as I bent down to pick up my camera, Baby came to visit!  Ava loved him, and he loved her.  You'll see more from this shoot soon, so watch this space.


The second image, below, is Eamonn with his baby- Baby!  Don't they make a lovely pair?  Happy Father's day to all dads everywhere, and Happy Father's day to my lovely husband- all your flocks love you!


Lambing season on the farm- our beautiful Wiltshire Horns

My husband Eamonn is always glued to lambing live on TV and he's an avid you tube watcher too, even though we have our own sheep.  When I asked him why, he gave me two very powerful reasons which we could all apply to the things we do: Firstly he always learns something when he watches, either a tip or technique that saves time or saves a lamb, or he could learn what not to do!  He says it's quicker to learn from others' mistakes as you save time by avoiding them- wise words!  The other reason he watches is because he is completely passionate about his flock and the farming life.  He grew up watching animals being born and looking after them on his parents' farm, and now on his own farm, the joy he gets from his animals seems even stronger.  It's like living Countryfile here!

So every year, for a few weeks, lambing live is lived out day and night in a field and barn behind our house.

This year we were very specific about our lambing season as last year we were lambing all over the Easter holidays and we didn't get a day's break, because the welfare of the lambs is the most important thing and you need to be nearby.  So we put the rams with the ewes later last autumn, and as a result we were able to catch a quick week away as we timed lambing to start at the end of the school holidays- result!

As well as being very beautiful sheep, Wiltshire Horns are an old, traditional breed and are very hardy and self-sufficient.  Unlike many modern breeds, they are very self sufficient and independent when giving birth and we had no complications at all this year again.  They are happy to give birth in the field, and make excellent mothers.  We only take them into the barn for a day or so after they have given birth to feed up the ewe and give her a chance to focus on her young, and protect them from foxes.  Most of them have twins, and this year one also had triplets.

Seeing new born lambs is definitely nourishing for the soul, and to see them playing with each other, curling up to sleep together, and jumping around is quite beautiful.

Enjoy some photos of this year's lambs.

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These lambs are minutes old.  The girl at the top is born with horn bases, the boy above has horns already, which will grow very fast.

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The lamb in both these images is the third triplet whom the kids christened Baby.  He was smaller than his big sisters and wasn't getting the milk he needed to thrive, so we have been bottle feeding him.  He thinks he's a human at the moment as he spends so much time with us, following us around like a little puppy.  He's adorable.

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When the lambs feed, their tails waggle very fast- like catkins in the wind!

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The mums and lambs live a very relaxed life: lying in the sun, moving to the shade when they get too hot, eating and snoozing all day and looking very lovely indeed.

January on the Farm in Photos

So many people ask us what's happening here on the farm throughout the year, that I thought a monthly round up would be a good idea, and where better to start than January?  It's a quiet month, when we concentrate on getting ready for spring and lambing.  Our Rams are back together away from the ewes, the chickens' egg production starts to increase as the days lengthen and the bees stay in their hives unless it really warms up.  This year we have had perfect January weather: sunny, cold and a few days of snow.  The snow lasted long enough to look beautiful and build snowmen, but melted after a few days so we could all carry on as normal.

Whilst I usually photograph children, I thought it would be fun to photograph the animals instead so you could see January in photos: enjoy....

One of our beautiful rams in the snow
One of our beautiful rams in the snow
These two are our Wiltshire Horn rams, their horns are amazing
These two are our Wiltshire Horn rams, their horns are amazing
This handsome fellow is called, rather originally, Whitey and he definitely has a spring in his step now the days are beginning to lengthen
This handsome fellow is called, rather originally, Whitey and he definitely has a spring in his step now the days are beginning to lengthen
This is our stable cat- mice beware!
This is our stable cat- mice beware!
You get gorgeous days for photography in January too!
You get gorgeous days for photography in January too!

It will be fun to see how much changes through the year!  Hope you enjoyed my little tour.