Little Egret

Little egret, by Heather Bennett

The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult and sometimes sad for many people, but I hope you’ve found some things to be thankful for amid the challenges.

My artist husband Raul and I have discovered a positive side to lockdown. For me, one of the most important things has been that old phrase, ‘time to stand and stare’, because I’ve had more time and space to be creative.

Photography and birdwatching

As a photographer, I’ve been combining my two passions: using my camera and feeding the birds in our garden.

We always take part in the RSPCA’s Big Garden Birdwatch, and this year has been even more rewarding than usual. That’s because we’ve had time to feed the birds consistently, which means many more have become regular visitors to our garden in Solva, Pembrokeshire.

I’ve produced some new greeting cards that feature my bird photography. I’ve also learned a lot about our feathered friends by reading the second-hand bird books I can’t resist buying from charity shops.

Have you noticed birds and other wildlife more than usual?

Blue Tit

Blue tit, by Heather Bennett

Greeting cards

Greeting cards featuring Heather’s photographs

The first sign of spring, by Heather Bennett

The first sign of spring, by Heather Bennett

Boat rudder detail, by Heather Bennett

Boat rudder detail, by Heather Bennett

Flowers and gardening

I’ve discovered a new appreciation for the flowers in our garden, too. And we’ve also been busy building raised beds and a greenhouse, prompted by our desire to cut down on food miles and help combat global warming. We now eagerly await our summer and autumn harvests.

The simple joys of a daily walk

A walk every day means time to really see what’s going on in our immediate area and to appreciate how lucky we are to live on the Pembrokeshire coast.

I pay attention to the details that I may not have noticed before. I’m especially intrigued by the texture of the underside of boats resting on the quay. I find the colours and the shapes, together with the sunlight on the water in the harbour, absolutely beautiful.

What have you seen and heard on your walks?

Gallery spring clean

Our gallery in Solva – Raul Speek Gallery – has been closed because of the lockdown, but we’re now preparing to reopen our doors on Friday 14 May.

In the meantime, we’ve had the chance to go through old photographs and paintings, and to decide whether to revive them or have a little clear out.

I’ve been writing my novel, Chapel Cat, and putting together my next photo book. And I’ve been going through old negatives and finding out how to change them to a digital format, so I can use them in the book.

Online learning and events

Skype and Zoom have helped me to stay in contact with my friends. Zoom has also enabled me to attend a PermaJet workshop on slow exposure, as well as a Royal Photographic Society workshop.

I’ve taken creative writing workshops with Age Cymru and Solva Care, which have helped to enrich my life over the last few months. I’ve also been able to ‘virtually’ attend various festivals that I wouldn’t normally be able to go to because of their distance from South West Wales. These include the Edinburgh Festival, Granite Noir, and Bloody Scotland.

Raul Speek Gallery at the Old Chapel in Solva, Pembrokeshire

Raul Speek Gallery at the Old Chapel in Solva, Pembrokeshire

Benedict the cat, by Heather Bennett

Benedict the cat, by Heather Bennett

The positives of tech – and time

I’ve discovered a new-found appreciation for my mobile phone. It’s come in handy for taking quick images while I’m out on my walks and it’s also been useful for making short videos. Plus, my mobile phone has allowed me to continue to work with my psychotherapy clients.

There’s been time, too, to stop for a cup of tea or coffee with Raul and our cats, and to simply enjoy being alive.

That puts everything into perspective.

Being thankful

There’s a lot to be thankful for, and because of the vaccinations (thank you, NHS) we’ll all hopefully be able to get together soon ‘in real life’ and share what we’ve been up to.

Stay safe!

Online shop

If you’re looking for a special photograph to brighten up a bare wall in your home or to give as a gift, you’ll be pleased to know my images are available to buy online.

Browse my website and you’ll find a variety of fine art, nature, and travel photographs, as well as greeting cards, books and booklets. For Easter gifts, please order by March 25.

To find out more, call me on 01437 721907 or email heather@heatherbennett.co.uk

St Non’s Chapel, near St Davids, by Heather Bennett

St Non’s Chapel, near St Davids, by Heather Bennett