MOTHER NATURE: Nature photo blog marks 5th anniversary


Mother Nature, the nature and photographic diary blog of Croydon-based blogging enthusiast Alex Smithson, has marked five years of being online this past week.

Alex has been a long term friend and supporter of HEM News Agency for the past four years, from when it was called the Half-Eaten Mind Blog. Based in the suburban town of Croydon, just south of London, Alex first started working on Mother Nature (under its former simpler title, ‘Photography – Nature’) on the 6th of June, 2013 when he uploaded a number of photography projects taken with a Samsung ST200F camera he carried around with him.


Alex began to use the new blog to explore his passions of gaming, technology and nature photography and show his imagery to a steadily growing audience.

Five years on, Mother Nature has gone from strength to strength, chronicling Alex’s pictorial journey around his hometown, his commencement of an A-Level photography course at a local college and even him getting to grips with the graphic design software, GIMP.

While the design and look of Alex’s blog has shifted much over the years, he still uses Mother Nature as a creative venue for his photos of colourful flowers and wildlife. For Alex, photography is a stimulating vocation that has motivated him in the hard work of maintaining his website and keeping the interest flowing.

In addition to his photography and writing work, Alex Smithson has also taken on the mantle of mental health advocate, publicising various issues and neurological conditions,  such as autism, mental health stigma and the impact of social media on youngsters’ minds. The blogger had lent his support to various mental health charities like Depression Alliance, the Samaritans, Mind and others. His advocacy for mental health and neuro-diversity has already won him praise from actor Oli Regan, who collaborated with Alex on one of his articles. Alex plans to further his campaigning for mental health issues through the medium of photography as part of his blog’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

Mother Nature


“Celebrating 5 Years of Mother Nature!” – Alex Smithson, Mother Nature (6 June 2018)

“Mental Health Organisations” – Alex Smithson, Mother Nature


Alex Smithson/Mother Nature.


THE CREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD: Spanish souvenir from Sally’s Smorgasbord

In both my family and on this blog, I value creativity. Creativity is that very thing that makes the world a more beautiful place, from the goofy cartoon characters on your breakfast cereal box to the interiors of the tombs and pyramids of ancient Egypt. Since from thousands of years before humans were inventors, they were artists.

Creativity is that joyous segment of the human spirit because it is so diverse and democratic. Regardless of your means or talents, you can let the ‘creative juices’ flow as they say. Being creative is a skills that nearly anyone can tap into. You just need to discover it and let it sing. For me, being a journalist and a blogger is about telling a story, and it is my creativity that helps mould and flavour that story, especially when it is a personal article. Whether it is a witty play on words (like the title of this article) or creating a graphic image for the blog, the Half-Eaten Mind has been a perfect vehicle for my creativity.

In recognition of that creativity, a very good and supportive blogging friend, Sally from “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life“, has kindly awarded me the Creative Blogger Award for services to creative blogging. If you are not familiar with the work of Sally, then believe me, you are missing out. She is a blogger and author who lives in the mountains of Spain. She has worked in administration, hospitality and dentistry nursing and has led a very eclectic life, moving between various countries in her youth. Her creative career has also been diverse, with short stories and poems a specialty since her childhood, as well as writing newspaper columns in both the UK and in her current hometown near Madrid, Spain. She has also penned books and being recently involved in TV and online video work as well as blogging on Smorgasbord.

(c) MAKE ME UP MARIE via S. Cronin.
(c) S. Cronin
(c) S. Cronin

Just like the Scandinavian dish the blog is named for, Sally writes a bit about everything. Her blog runs the gamut from short stories and humorous scribblings to factual information on medical issues from brain health to the endocrine system. There is a lot of interesting stuff there and you are highly recommended to pay a visit.

If you happen to not accept awards or do not have the time, please instead accept this virtual bottle of that all-time awesome and indigenous Mauritian soft drink Eski and some nice snacks too. It’s not quite the Smorgasbord 2015 Rioja that Sally is offering but at least you can boast you ate some food from paradise!!

(c) melane_wong via

Here are the guidelines for this award.

  1. Contact all of your nominees and notify them of their award. You can pick as many blogs as you like, but five is the minimum.
  2. Give a shout-out to the blogger that nominated you and post a link to their website.
  3. Share five random facts about yourself.
  4. Display the Creative Blogger Award image above your post.
  5. Pass along these rules to the nominees.

Here are the lucky nominees with an excerpt taken from their intros so you can get a flavour of their creativity and check out their blogs. All richly deserved of this fine award….!


Cred in autocunoastere, in iubire, bunatate, in eficienta muncii facuta din suflet. Mai cred in Dumnezeu, in creativitate si vocea inimii, sunt sociabila, rabdatoare, egoista, gandire unica, calma, romantica si Directa. Datorita faptului ca sunt Directa, asta deranjeaza pe foarte multa lume si…ajung sa ma inteleg doar eu pe mine. In rest sunt o persoana obisnuita ce plang…rad…sunt serioasa, independenta de situatie. Oricum Sunt Eu! “De ce ii este omului de astazi foame? De iubire si de sens” spunea Nicolae Steinhardt in Jurnalul Fericirii. Va multumesc pentru ca ati ales sa va petreceti o parte din timp pe blogul meu. Va astept in continuare cu drag… (I believe in self-awareness, in love, kindness, making the soul work efficiently. Believe in God, the creativity and the voice of the heart, being sociable, patient, selfish, thinking, calm, romantic and having direction…. Anyway I Am! “The man she is hungry today? The love and respect, “said Nicolae Steinhardt in the Journal of Happiness. Thank you for choosing to spend some time on my blog. We expect to continue the journey…)

Wendy Lee  –

In order to make the blog more interesting, we will include poems, meanings and origins of phrases, inspiring quotes and other interesting facts which are closely related to the designs of our jewelry pieces.

So, who says “Beauty is only skin deep”?

Ann V. Friend  –

This blog is a place for anyone who wants to know more about the Word of God, developing a deeper and personal relationship with Jesus Christ or get encouragement.

I write from the spiritual fruit within me–love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. I give glory to God when I can share my ebbs and flows, and stumbling experiences by walking through with faith and trust in Him. Praise The Lord for His mercy and His grace. (smile)

This is a place, you can always come for something positive and uplifting! We’ll leave the lights on for you! There is no judging here. It’s about being able to get encouragement or a good scripture to apply to a particular challenge in life and see things from a different perspective.


Ken Dowell  –

Off the leash is one way to interpret retirement.

Some of what I learned during a long career in the media and public relations services business is reflected in the Digital Deception series of posts and in the occasional rants about publishing, online audiences and digital marketing.

I wrote the Growing Up in the 50’s stories from the unique perspective of someone who was born just hours before the start of that decade. I am thus well positioned to describe the phobias, prejudices, politics and lifestyle of those times as seen through the eyes of a child.

Anastasia Beaverhausen  –

Welcome to my blog!  I’m SO glad you’re here!  Let’s get straight to the point of this blog, shall we?—To not waste our short precious lives on earth like I see SO many people do day after day.  It drives me NUTS!  Why do we do that to ourselves when there’s so many things to do, see, talk about, learn, and love in this world to make ourselves better and happier as people?

When I’m 357 years old, I want to be able to say I had a great time while I was here the best that I could do for me—whatever it is that makes me laugh, smile, happy, smarter, better, etc.  And I, obviously, want you to do the same for yourselves.  Lovin’ life, baby!  That’s how we roll.

I started ‘Loving Food, Fashion, & Life’ as a hobby one day during my yearly 6-week vacation from work (yeah, that’s right). I had always wanted to do a blog and now was my opportunity. I started at zero—as someone who didn’t know the first thing about blogging—so I did weeks of research on the subject. It was a LOT of work and VERY time-consuming, but I absolutely LOVED every minute of it!

The Drunken Cyclist  –

I have been a wine lover for some time now, but I try not to take it all that seriously.  I am also a Cat 3 cyclist, a husband, and a father of two great (most of the time) boys.  I love to combine all my passions when I vacation, especially when I am going to my in-laws.  Since they live close to Napa and Sonoma I can go there and get loaded as well as ride my bike in glorious California.

Carol A. Hand  –

Welcome to Voices from the Margins. I’m Carol Hand, an enrolled member of the Sokaogon Ojibwe Community, one of the 6 bands of Ojibwe people located in what is now the state of Wisconsin. During my early childhood, I spent my school years in New Jersey where I was born, and my summers with relatives on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin. My bi-cultural heritage has had a profound influence on my life.

Teagan Geneviene  –

Welcome! Here’s some information about my novels and works in progress. I hope you enjoy your visit.

Atonement, Tennessee is now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook versions. It is an urban fantasy with a mystery on the side. The story pulls in characters loosely inspired by the ancient Celtic myth of Gwydion fab Don. It also features an ensemble of memorable southern personalities. I did a post sharing my thoughts about releasing the book.

Five Facts About Me

1. My maternal grandmother, mother and one of my sisters were/are either chefs or very accomplished cooks. I can just about avoid burning things when I make spaghetti Bolognese.

2. I’ve written theatre reviews for two local newspapers here in Newham, east London, as well as reviews for a listings and cultural magazine in Battersea, also in London. I still have the work stashed away in my portfolio folder.

3. I am currently working on the written material for an investment platform’s website. My friend and work colleague is setting up his advisory and consulting firm that will operate between London, Paris and west Africa, principally the Ivory Coast.

4. I can play the tabla, a type of drum from India, reasonably well.

5. Just like the person who nominated me, I also have feet bigger than the average. My ones are billed at UK size 14, and my Mum used to refer them as ‘kippers’ because they were big and flat like the salted fish fillets.

Many, many thanks to Sally for nominating me and please do visit the nominees I have selected, follow them and say hello there! 🙂

“The Creative Blogger Award – So many great blogs so little space!” – Sally Cronin, Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life (26 March 2015)
“About Me” – Sally Cronin, Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life
Google Translate, Google Inc.
“♫°✿Blog Cu Motiv!♪☀♫” – Ileana, Alaturi de Tine
“ABOUT CLOUDS N CUPS” – Wendy Lee, Clouds N Cups
“About this blog” – Ann V. Friend, Ann – A Friend of Jesus 2013
“What is This and Who Wrote It?” – Ken Dowell, off the leash
“About” – The Drunken Cyclist
“A Little About Me” – Carol Hand, Voices from the Margins
“About Teagan’s Books” – Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, Teagan’s Books
“Pearona | Search Instagram | – Instagram Online Viewer” –
“”The Creative Blogger Award – So many great blogs so little space!” – Sally Cronin, Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life (26 March 2015)
“HalfEatenMind Blog” – The Half-Eaten Mind, Facebook/Facebook Inc.

IN MEMORIAM: To dearest Ajaybhai – my blogging angel

(c) Ajay Mody {Ajaytao}

It is with heavy heart and deep sadness that we mourn the passing away of Ajay Mody, also known as Ajaytao, blogger of “Ajaytao2010” and the “Ajaytao Botanical Photography” blogs. He left this world on the 10th August 2014 after a short illness at his home in Mumbai, India.

Ajay was an incredible blogger,  a great friend and a proud Mumbaikar. I was humbled, yet reassured, by his kind and spiritual take on life. His imagery was moving and beautiful. He loved nature, loved children and loved life. He has been a great blogger and a firmly loyal friend to many of us.

United by a common knowledge of Gujarati language and our love for blogging, I first encountered Ajay in April 2013 after I stumbled across his blog, possibly after he had visited one of my articles and liked them. The simple imagery of flowers, exotic birds and the kindly smile of a young neighbour on her favourite tricycle that was the highlight of Ajaytao 2010 in those early days of our friendship soon warmed my heart to what I appreciated as a kind and gentle soul. I related to Ajay as a fellow introvert and a keen photographer, and soon developed a respect for him as an elder brother. It was no surprise that I took to calling him “Ajaybhai” – literally “Brother Ajay”. In our first conversation, responding to comments left by him on my blog’s information page, he complimented my rather derisory attempt at speaking Gujarati, and always addressed me too as his brother and friend.

Apart from his sheer talent as a blogger, Ajay also struck me with his generosity and support for the Half-Eaten Mind as we marked our second year of operations. He often sent various blogging awards my way, and indeed probably a third of the awards we picked up were thanks to my new and illustrious elder brother in the blogosphere. His comments were sweet and reassuring, but he did not hold back from telling me I made a mistake if I did. But this was rare, and never in a harsh voice, but merely to guide and notify. I looked up to him, the way he blended powerful imagery with quotes from the famous and the historical, and was slightly jealous, in an admirable way, of the many hundreds of followers he had acquired. Ajay was someone I looked up to and aspired to be like.

Ajay made many friends and supporters during his few years blogging. He was probably one of the most enthusiastic and patient bloggers I have met in my more than two years at WordPress. Yet he was never an overly proud man. Obviously brimming with a talent and wit that was apparent as soon as you visited his site, Ajay always expressed himself boldly but in another way, was quite understating in the skills and mastery of language and visual that he had. Many of his images were profound and detailed, yet were calming. Glimpses into the beauty of nature. Ajay must have made quite an impact on behalf of the world battle to safeguard the environment beyond his laptop and camera.

The last time I wrote to Ajay was a day before his passing, when he posted an article on his worsening health. I knew that Ajay was advanced in his years and had a heavy blogging schedule, yet always kept things going on Ajaytao2010. Only a few weeks previously, he had started two more blogs and was branching out into one of them, which was a homage, an online gallery of his invitingly vivid photography of plants. Botany was one of Ajay’s pet loves, and one which he could happily wipe Magnus Magnusson over the studio floor with had he ever appeared on Mastermind. Unfortunately old age did take its toll on my good friend and he was confined to home due to a cardiac issue. Though his heart troubled him, he made happiness blossom in all our hearts.  His dedication to blogging was so strong, that even though the doctor handling his condition advised him against using the computer, Ajaybhai still wanted to give it his all to the thousands of fellow bloggers lovingly following his every post. I told Ajay, in that friendly jokey joshing way that we Mauritians always do, that his doctor must have surely made a mistake and that he should get a second opinion. I wished him a speedy recovery and glowing health…as you do. 

I am still reeling from the shock as I type this. I am tearing up but trying to keep a brave face. I was not even aware of Ajay’s departure from this world until I visited another blogging friend, Serena, and saw on her site her own dedication to this shining bright light of the blogging world.

I can understand that he passed away from a heart attack brought on by the protracted illness on that Sunday morning with his friends and brother passing on the sad news to those who had called Ajay’s home in Mumbai to check up on him.

Dearest Ajaybhai. Thank you for supporting me and inspiring me to reach new heights and for your steadfast support for my little east London blog. Your kindness and motivation, direct or indirect, was one of the reasons that I knew blogging would always be a part of my life. You were always a bright star illuminating the community and though the light here on earth has been extinguished, I know that now you are brightening up the heavens. May God/Bhagavan give you eternal Moksha and liberate your soul from all suffering and I offer my deepest condolences to all of your family and friends in this saddest of times.

Goodbye, Ajaybhai, my friend. May the heavenly flowers fill your heart with joy as much as the ones on Earth did.

II राम राम II

Ajay, Twitter
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