Plate to Page 2012 Somerset

Plate to Page Writing and Photograpy Workshop

Meare Court Farm, Somerset UK

 Three days in Somerset with the Plate to Page team and participants, left me brimming with renewed inspiration, knowledge, resources and friendships. The workshop, run by Meeta, Ilva, Jamie & Jeanne provided a wealth of information. To learn from women,who not only continually strive to master their crafts, but have also chosen to teach, share and mentor, was a gift… not to mention a lot of fun!

An idyllic setting, located just outside of Taunton in Somerset, provided an inspiring undertone for writing and photography.  A large stone house accommodated fourteen lovely women and one brave man! Sharing rooms and bathrooms evoked an immediate feeling of community. After one first quiet meal, the ice broke and friendships quickly ensued.

The surroundings, smelling of sweet grass and farm animals… in a good way… was lovely to wake up to each morning.

And each morning started with a hearty breakfast of organic meusli’s, breads, crumpets, jams yogurts, meats,cheeses, coffee and tea.

Long days of acquiring new skills and reinforcing the old ones ended with a fantastic home cooked meal. Check out this beautiful leg of lamb from

Donald Russel meats. Cooked by Haley, at The Delectable Diary

And this Eton mess with raspberries… you will be seeing this again from me. Apologies for the messy bowl. There was no spot removing here. I’ve linked you to Nigella Lawson’s version for now.

The writing sessions, led by Jamie and Jeanne focused on various prompts to unlock our creativity. Emphasis was placed on the need to capture all the senses and encompass different points of view. We worked on catchy titles, opening lines, 30 word bylines and longer pieces to hook the reader of both blogs and magazines. Despite having taken writing classes in the past, I found both the new information and the review of what I had previously learned, worthwhile. My writing skills are themselves a WIP.

Meeta and Ilva headed up the visuals. I left the workshop armed with new photography skills that will require active practice and refining.  I was pretty chuffed to shoot for the first time in manual and raw. Here’s a couple unedited afternoon shots. We walked, talked, and breathed our camera manuals. We learned about ISO’s, f-stops and aperture. These words are like a foreign language to me…we are slowly becoming friends but I’m required to review their meaning each time until we are life long companions. Yeah, I know…. get your sunglasses.

We learned and experimented with new tricks and techniques to manipulate light and direct the eye of the beholder to the desired focal point. We spent time with styling props and set ups.

More practice with my Nikon D80

  Again, unedited… Trying to work on understanding settings and getting a good picture from the get go.

A day off the property took us to the family owned Brown and Forrest Smokery, where we sampled delectable smoked fish and meats and enjoyed a tour from the very passionate owner. His desire to prioritize the flavor of his high quality, raw products, whilst keeping the smokey flavor in the background, is seriously working.

You might have noticed with all these collages, I’m working out of the print to jpeg mode in Adobe Lightroom (or not… I honestly would not have had a clue before last weekend). We spent a session redefining our software skills in LR and in Adobe Photoshop. I’m also working with Photoshop Elements, a cheaper, abbreviated version of PS, after years of having a FULL version whose FULL potential I never FULLY tapped. At a point of needing to repurchase photoshop, personally, I couldn’t validate the cost….. yet. I’m only using LR in this post.

Our tour was followed by lunch at the Canal Inn…”the pub that thinks it’s a restaurant”

Classic pub cuisine has evoloved in recent years. Hence the term gastro-pub. My meal screamed local quality and taste. We were a ravenous bunch with our cameras and appetites. Like little ants infiltrating every crevice. Curious. Hungry.

We worked on taking photos in restaurants with low or various lighting… ambient light was it called?

Fresh green asparagus, poached duck egg, grain mustard spiked hollandaise; Filets of Sea Bass, chunky potatoes, light cream sauce, wilted spinach; Fresh berry tart, clotted cream, pate sucré, berry coulis.

A lot of information and knowledge transpired but we still managed to eat, drink and make merriment.

Now it’s time for me to digest… and get to work!

Check out these links for more  Somerset workshop love and reviews:

Plate to Page

Life’s A Feast

Bread and Milk and Blackberries

Schöner Tag noch

What’s for Lunch Honey

Lucullian Delights

Cook like Mom

Late Bloomers

Thanks again to everyone for a stupendous weekend. And thanks to Chloe and O for all your support :-)

Tschüss for now,

34 responses

    • A really lovely weekend of learning and connecting.
      I’m enjoying watching my own evolution. If you go back to ‘It’s So Fall in Hamburg’ you’ll cringe. I can’t believe I’m even telling you that. I’m happy with my progress from then till now and excited to keep moving forward.

  1. Such a beautiful location, your shots evoke a true inspirational and learning environment. Thanks for sharing what it would be like to attend such a weekend. I’ve always wondered…
    I think the adobe software’s newest version is a lot cheaper. like under 100? Not sure, but thought I heard something like that… worth looking into maybe. Love the shot of the pink sweatered woman and the rosemary box… it really draws you in. Look forward to your Eton mess.

    • I’m so glad I went… even after my Paris-Bristol flight was cancelled and I spent the night in a crappy Paris airport hotel with incredible bread and croissants. My first time in that area of England and I’m penciling in a road trip in the next few years.
      The weekend was packed with info from all sides. Being a small group allowed for loads of questions, exchanges and hands on. It would be fun to check out a blog conference if one happened to be conveniently located near wherever I happen to be. I imagine it would be a little overwhelming. All that tweeting and FB’ing… and good old fashion talking :-)

      I did get the low-fat version of Photoshop- photoshop elements. Pretty watered down but I think absolutely fine for my needs at this point. It’s been fun tapping into what Lightroom can do- and I know I’m still scratching the surface.
      I could eat Eton Mess everyday.

  2. What a great opportunity in a great location! So jealous. You have the exact camera I am interested in getting for my future transition from a point and shoot to a digital SLR. I have read many great reviews about it. I tried bidding on one a few weeks ago but lost! One of these days…

    • Hi Bliss- I’ve had the camera several years now and it’s the first time I’m truly getting to know it. I had tried reading the manual in the past but it never sunk in.
      I’ll have some fun with it now!

    • Thanks- it wasn’t easy for me putting them together- I’m trying to figure out this diptych process and I’m not quite there yet. I like the photos put together but miss the grandeur of single large photos.

  3. Sounds like you had a marvellous time and a great experience. And, boy, do I envy you, I’m really jealous. Looking very much forward to your future posts, though, with all your new learnings and knowledge applied ;-)

  4. What a trip .. and experience – all the country air and food plus in great company. Love the layout of your photos and then I remembered that Photoscape has that function too – and it will save space on the posts. So I played around last night after seen your post. Welcome home !!!

    • It was a lot of fun going through the photos. I honestly wish I had more with intention- I was so consumed with the information and people, I lapsed in thinking about taking pictures with posts in mind. Kind of funny since that’s what we were there doing!

  5. Wendy, what a wonderful post! You captured every emotion, every activity and every angle of the weekend. You are not only an incredibly talented and fun person, but a truly inspiring one as well. I am more than thrilled that you attended and I got to know you. Thanks for sharing the memories…. xo

  6. The pleasure was truly mine Jamie. And thank you for your kind words- I’m grinning as I read. You four have put together a really special offering and I will be anxious to sign up for Part II in the not to distant future.
    I look forward to diving into your writing more and hope to see our paths cross on and off the web. Our shared geographical upbringing was a bonus. x

  7. A great post Wendy, it sounds like you packed so much into a weekend, lots of tips and ideas that you can work on from home. Your post has reminded me I really should explore RAW and other options for presenting my photos – like LightRoom.

    • Thanks Claire.
      I’m still not sure about the raw for my needs as the files are really big and until I know what I can actually do with them… probably not necessary. But at least it’s just not all one big scary unknown. I just need to keep practicing and I’ve a feeling my photos might get worse before they get better.
      And glad you liked that lettuce in the gutter link. Isn’t it annoying when you can’t trace back to something you loved. I’ve got layers of sticky notes all over.

  8. Pingback: A Hands On, Mouth Full And Brain Spinning Kind of Experience | Late Bloomers

  9. Oh Wendy – you have truly captured the spirit of the weekend! I love how you describe the sharing of rooms and bathrooms fostering community and friendship – it was the look we were going for ;) I really enjoyed seeing the weekend through your eyes, and truly do appreciate your kind words on the writing component of the course – and the entire weekend. Stay tuned for P2P2! I really hope that we stay in touch (and maybe one day meet up across the pond, of we get our timings right??). Sending you hugs from London! (PS – pretty please would you e-mail me those photos at the top of the four of us in high res? I love them!

    • You are so welcome. It was such a great weekend. And I’m loving the looking of ‘P2P2′ in and of itself.
      We would love to get to London for a weekend this fall. My 14 yr old LOVEs Camden Town of course. We will stay in touch. Fo sure! Those photos will be sent before I lay my head on the pillow tonight. promise.

    • Trust me the feeling is mutual. Between your recipes and photos I’m like what the hell do we have in store after 12 months pastry school… BLOW OUT! can’t wait.
      You’d love a weekend like this…. but I think you’ve got a pretty damn good handle already.

  10. Pingback: Eton Mess – Raspberries, cream and a personal challenge « Strudel & Cream

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