Thursday, November 30, 2006

Belvoir Castle - Eastwood Photographic

Just a short blog to establish a date-line. It's past 11pm and we have had a busy day, which I will tell you more about later. It was, as I announced yesterday, National Trust Mansfield's Xmas trip. This year to Belvoir. We had a great time even though it was windy and bitterly cold on top of that hill. But a Piper to greet us and then inside to log-fires took the edge off it. There is some peculiar quality to the heat from an open-fire, particularly log-burning, that central heating can never quite match. These fires were so effective you didn't suffer from the warm-front, cold-back syndrome. And you don't get a magic smell from radiators.

It was lovely to see our chums and Jean had, yet again, organised things so well. It was a 51seater coach and we had 50 people and even Jean couldn't be expected to produce her customary hot sunny day in November. We chatted to lots of people and towards the end of the visit, Sue and Gordon joined us at a table in the restaurant, which was nice.

Just a tip! If you receive conflicting invites to a Xmas meal from two Duchesses - Rutland at Belvoir and Devonshire at Chatsworth - go for the Chatsworth one 'cos the turkey is nicer. The Belvoir turkey had that unmistable twang of being sliced and then reheated and the tinned broad-beans that accompanied it were abit bullet-like. And at £10.85 a throw !!

The Art Gallery alone though made the whole visit worthwhile. There is a magnificent portrait of Henry V111 by Holbein. Apparently the RA support the claim and it certainly looked kosher, even though the background was abit same-y. The intricacy of the brushwork shouted 'Holbein' but, strangely enough, it hadn't been loaned to the current Holbein Exhibition. The attendant wasn't sure why, and it didn't look fragile or anything. I shall try to publish my photo of it tomorrow. It needs a little work because, try as I might, I couldn't find a position where the overframe illumination didn't cause glare. There was also a quite beautiful Laura Knight portrait hung right up in the top left hand corner of a wall. Y muchly impressed the attendant by saying "Ooo, there's a Dame Laura Knight".

Our visit coincided with the visit of a load of school-kids and our first thought was "Oh dear!" Then we quickly changed our minds when we discovered that they had come to sing Xmas songs from one of the galleries. Looking beautiful in their school uniform of maroon tops, white shirts and grey skirts/trousers, and they sounded incredible. Standing there listening, and warmed by a log-fire with that hot-pine aroma I thought "I shall never think curmudgeonly thoughts ever again."

The journey back was uneventful, with a lovely dramatic sunset and Y's raffle was, yet again, a great success. She had the bright idea of selling the tickets on the outward journey (which enabled us, with Connie's help to fold all the tickets at leisure) and then it was drawn just before we set off to come home. She made a few pence short of £40 which, with Gordon being there, she was able to hand straight over. Y is brilliant at selling raffle-tickets. She once managed in a pub, to sell a £1's worth to a bloke who was nothing at all to do with our party (not on purpose!). When she went over and offered him his money back he declined saying "Well, it's a good cause". People brought some super stuff for future raffles, because the Xmas Social is in the 'offing' and that is very resource-hungry.

We reached home around 5.15pm which gave us plenty of time for a pot of tea, and Y made me a super cheese & lettuce sandwich (a favourite) before I set off for the Camera Club. It was very interesting again. A beginner's competition, judged by Rob Palmer whose comments were very astute. Rob and I have been friends for many years. He took me off-guard slightly by publicly seeking my opinion on one aspect of one of the pictures. He obviously didn't mean to embarrass me but I could almost hear the accumulated thought "Who is this guy?" because, of course, it is only my fourth time back in fifteen years.

Further pictures next Blog...........................

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

1st RAW Experiment - Holbein to Hockney

First experiments with RAW files this morning. I read the blurb for Picasa 2 and it does say one can open them to work on. And it seems one can. But to do anything other than a simple crop there seems a reluctance to allow one to open the image in PhotoShop. For instance, in Picture 1 (from the opposite kerb looking up towards Hill Top) there was some annoying and unsightly foliage which had to go. I managed to clone it out but I can't remember how. Then one has to 'save as JPEG'. But a lot of detail and subtlety is retained.

Picture 2 is from almost the same spot but looking at the trees rather than between them. One of the problems with RAW is that it produces very large files, because none of the information that the camera has seen is edited, as in JPEG. Both of these are 2mb+ and they took a long time to upload. For Blog purposes it isn't an experiment I shall repeat. A4 prints maybe, but certainly not for web-use. I hope they don't cause similar problems at your end.

Enough of that. Wednesday of course, is our Holbein to Hockney day. We set off early because I needed Maplins for an jack-to-socket earphones extension and I also wanted to replace my single ear-piece which I sometimes use in bed. Lying on it with it still in my ear has wrecked the existing one.

Maplins had both, and I also noticed that they have weather-stations with a clock which receive a signal from Rugby and are obviously always bang-on. I have really missed my old one, which I also managed to wreck by pressing too many buttons at once. So, a potential crimble-prezzie there I thought. Y nipped in the next door Aldi for milk and bits and pronounced it a lovely store. Wide aisles and very clean and well cared for.

Y needed to go to Bromley House Library and Waterstones so we agreed to meet at the Mechanics. I drove straight round and as there was some lovely light I took a couple of pictures which I will probably use tomorrow. I particularly wanted a well-lit shot of the old Victoria Station clock-tower which unfortunately now has an awful mutli-storey set of flats behind it. However, now I am getting more nimble with PhotoShop I might actually er..............................

The class was great. We polished off Sickert, moved onto Steer and then to the First World War and the war-artists. Smartly through Vorticism to Dame Laura Knight, Gwen and Augustus John and one of our members kindly drew averyone's attention to an exhibition including the above, at the Djanogly Art Gallery in the University Campus. We shall certainly visit that. Another day-out to look forward to. Speaking of which - tomorrow is National Trust Mansfield's annual Xmas trip. This year to Belvoir Castle - setting off from Walkden Street at 10am. It will be lovely to see everyone and have our customary good time and a laugh.

Tell you all about it tomorrow..................

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Proper Rest Day - Sunny afternoon

It was Helen's birthday yesterday and I rang her quite early because I know they are usually up. But I got the answerphone and felt, guiltily, that I must have woken them. But Helen rang later in the morning and reassured me. The girls and Helen and David had all been together in the big bed opening cards and presents. Lovely.

Neither of the pictures today are mine. They are both from Jill's knitting Blog 'Yarnstorm' in which there are regularly some cracking images. I think the author's name is Jane and I came to that conclusion from a picture therein of a birthday cake. It doesn't seem to be a Blog because I couldn't find an easy access to the author's profile. Maybe it's there somewhere. Next time I look I will search more thoroughly.

Picture 1 is of a Maple in her garden, with back light from the Sun and it makes for a lovely picture.

Picture 2 is of some new fabrics for a quilt in progress. And again, as she has arranged them, they make a striking image.

Before leaving Jill queries, I want to deal with the multi-vegetable point. The tomatoes, courgettes, and steak were grilled. We are lucky with our grill because it is an eye-level job and the door opens down to a flat surface. I stuck them all under the grill at the same time and the steaks were done first so I just took them off and popped them on a plate on the flat door - which keeps things warm enough. Another invaluable utensil is a large stainless steel Prestige steamer. I know from experience that the potatoes and carrots would take half an hour and after 15minutes I dropped the brussells in. But that also, if things yield to a skewer, it can be turned down to 1, which keeps things hot without continuing to cook them. The only oventop use was the mushrooms, which I sizzle in butter first, then put in the saucepan say half a pint of water and they simmer for 10 minutes. Then I turn the gas off and only light it again when I make the gravy. Granules - unashamedly! Plates - 1min 30sec in microwave gets them nicely warm but handleable.

But the real key is that I don't do multi-tasking. If I'm in the kitchen, that is all I do. As Bungus memorably said "One thing at a time, preferably less !". Y points out that ladies Do do multi-tasking and while cooking would strip the beds, fill the washing machine, nip round and post letters, water the houseplants et al. What inferior creatures we men are?

Before leaving the Hopi woman, she did tell me something interesting. My right ear canal is narrower than the left, which no doubt explains why the right is always the first one to silt up.

Neither of us slept well. Must have been all the excitement - ha ha! We were awake at 3am and I heard Y go into the kitchen. She had made tea - but a teabag in a mug - no pot-full. I was quite disappointed. We both still arose at more or less the normal time though, because it is a Karen day. I watched the David Starkey recording in his Monarchy series, and thought it v.good. He seems to annoy many people but he knows his stuff, states his views clearly. And, as I've previously commented we are both suckers for a 'lecture with pictures'.

I have been 'computer-messing' because 2 programmes came with the Nikon and although some of it replicates programmes I aready have, I really want to see if there is aything therein about processing RAW files. Won't bore you etc........

p.s. This morning I left a 'comment' on my own Blog, to check out the 'word verification' problem. The thing seemed to work OK, but 2 points - 1. You have got to make sure that there is a 'dot' in one of the little grey circles - and 2. I noticed that, having entered the 'comment' and the 'word verification' a small yellowish box opens at the top, warning you that although the comment has been saved, it might be some time before it actually appears in the blog, or words to that effect. So, patience is a virtue etc...........

Lets hope we have a better night.....................

Monday, November 27, 2006

Short Hopi Blog - Tired Out

A very short blog today, even though I have so much to tell you. My Hopi Candles worked brilliantly in one ear but the wax in the other is so compacted that I still need to soften it with Olive Oil. At no stage has anyone told me that the oil needs to be hot, or at least the hot side of tepid. The practitioner told me to heat the bottle in hot water before using it.

She got loads of brown gunge out of one ear and hardly anything out of the bad one. Never mind, one ear is better than none. It was a lengthy procedure and it has tired me out.

The picture is of our happy sparrows who live just to the left of the patio-doors. Half the family seem to favour the winter-flowering jasmine and the other half prefer the honeysuckle. As both shrubs are extensive and intertwined at the join, the sparrows have a great time socialising and they love it when the sun comes out. As you can see, the one on the left of the picture is staring me straight in the eye as I took the photograph, but as I am safely behind glass he isn't worried at all.

More tomorrow............................

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Still Deaf - Kitchen Morning - Culture Show

Still very deaf and I mentioned it to Tracy when she rang. One of her friends had a similar problem and speaks very highly of Hopi Ear Candle treatment. A good practitioner would do the job at once rather than these weeks of delay while one squirts olive-oil in to soften the wax. The Nottingham Alternative Health Centre on Mansfield Road has a good reputation apparently and I intend to ring first thing in the morning. After my blood-test of course! Googling revealed much of interest. Not least the connection with the Hopi native-american tribe. And, as everyone knows, they could hear the Cavalry 10 miles away by listening to the ground !! I'll settle for being able to hear the telly 6' away.

Picture 1 is nothing at all to do with ear-wax. I had a 'happy' in the kitchen this morning. Leek & Potato Soup which, for no good reason that I can recall, appears in my personal recipe-book under P for Potato & Leek soup. Anyway I know where it is. The recipe is identical for Vichyssoise, which is only cold Leek & Potato - but sounds more posh. As you will see I had to rely on dried herbs because my fresh ones have finished. Except for indestructible rosemary, sage, and window-sill basil. After the soup I cooked sirloin-steak, sauté potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, brussells, and grilled tomatoes and courgettes. Looked a treat but some of the potatoes could have done with another 5 mins. For pudding we had a mandarin orange flan which Y made yesterday, with a gelatin glaze which had soaked into the sponge. Apparently it shouldn't have done that - but in fact made it more delicious. We resisted the cream. Boo Hoo!

This afternoon we watched our recording of the Culture Show and wished we hadn't bothered putting a tape in. For our taste, it was rubbish. Alastair the Art Man was missing, as was the Architecture chap and the charming black girl whose name always reminds me of Sanyo, and is such a good interviewer. Frank Kermode prattled on endlessly about horror-films, which as a genre, we both abhor. And I thought the interview with Emma Thompson would be good, but it was boooooring!

The last picture is an 'unphotoshopped' of our Ballerina rose. All I've done is 'crop' to the picture shown. The blacked-out background is a natural result of afterdark photography using the normal inbuilt flash.

I spoke to David this morning and all is well at Long Eaton. Helen seems to have recovered from her flu-ey symptoms and Sky and Brooke are OK. David has a busy week because they are being Ofsted-ed. I guess he will be glad when it's over. A charming London story. 4yr old grand-daughter was invited to the birthday party of a 4yr old boy, with whom she is in love. When asked if she had sat by him at the party she said "I wasn't fast enough".

Jill has taken on-board Bob's 'comments' tip, about preparing in Word, then pasting it in. And David also thinks it is a brainwave. I really value the 'comments' input because they add so much. Exchanged e-mails with Ray who seems to be more-or-less recovered from his pheasant-poisoning ! But busy nevertheless.

Catch you tomorrow.......................

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wet Dawn - Deafness - Evening Sky

It rained at dawn, thereby shooting one of my pet theories down in flames. Well not really because I don't argue that it never rains at dawn, just that it seldom does. So this picture over the football field was at maybe 3.30pm. I don't need to tell you it's the football field today, because the goalposts being up gives you a clue.

The wax in my ears is much, much worse. Although I've softened it with olive-oil and tried the proprietary stuff Otex for several weeks, I'm not having much luck. The practice nurse syringed some out last week but I not due to return till 5th December by which time Y will have thrown something at me. I simply can't hear - I can't hear the microwave ding - I couldn't hear the mince sizzle as I browned it for a spagbol. I can't hear the toilet flush and the TV and Radio are completely beyond me. Philip Larkin once wrote to Barbara Pym to tell her that his hearing-aid had broken but he was going to leave it a fortnight before getting it repaired. Not that I have a hearing-aid but I don't share his view at all. I really need to hear. Even though I'm a keyboard thumper, I can't hear the keyclicks and I'm making many more than my customary number of mistakes. Ho hum! as Ray would say. The spagbol wasn't up to standard. I bought the mince from a Mansfield butcher because I was there and thought it would save a trip up the road to Redgates. Not a good idea at all. It was edible but not delicious.

Picture 2 is the evening sky at the rear of the bungalow and I think, had I waited a few more minutes, it would have 'reddened' more. Bit I needed to get on with my Blog. And there will be other red skies, won't there.

Simon Sharma on Van Gogh was very good last night. But we both wish he wouldn't show a detail from a painting, without showing the whole picture. For instance, he insisted on showing a rectangle the size of a playing card from the Sunflowers without once showing it in full. One very interesting bit which we didn't know anything about was how he used to illustrate his letters with sketches, particularly to Theo. The sketches were obviously the work of genius and Theo's continued loyal support was understandable. If anyone would like to look at them please click here. Although he was only active for 10 years he produced an incredible volume of work.

Helpful tip from Bob (via e-mail) which might help Jill with her 'comments' posting. He always prepares his stuff in 'Word' and then copy/pastes it into the 'comments' box. It matters not if he then has a problem with the 'word verification' function - he simply repeats the 'paste' bit.

Y has done tea. So I'm off......................

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wet Rest Day - Shopping - Tidying

Although there is a slight risk of the 'reds' causing Bungus to have a spasm, I wanted to share the picture. The plant is Cotoneaster horizontalis and the bit shown is about a tenth of the whole, on the A610 Kimberley ByPass. It has gone completely 'feral' and I've never seen such a bed of it. Must be global-warming !

The gremlins have been at work again. Yesterday Y bought me 2 replacement pyjama-cords from the old-fashioned haberdashers in Eastwood, having been unable to track any down in Nottingham. My view is that, if Marks & Spencers and John Lewis sell pyjamas with cords, they have a moral responsibilty to sell spares for them. But they obviously don't agree. When we got home we couldn't find them anywhere. I found them this morning; the OAG had put them in my camera-bag ! There must have been a logic.

Picture 2 is simply to show the helpful effects of Billy on my room. It isn't my intention to start to publish bedroom scenes so you can all relax. If some of the books look a little beat-up it is because they are. For instance I still use my Aunty Tot's 'Concise Oxford' circa 1922 - it seems quite the equal of the 2006 edition, and it's surprising how little has changed . Most of the definitions are word-for-word the same as our more current household one. We are well-blessed with dictionaries because as one of my retirement gifts I asked for the Times Atlas and The Shorter Oxford as an alternative to the customary whisky decanter and glasses. I still have, and use, my original Penguin Quotations Dictionary which is now heavily annotated and held together with an elastic band. It cost me 10s 6d, a considerable sum in those days.

The Camera Club was good again and there were many echos of support for my idea of an 'un-photoshopped society'. Everyone agreed with my point that in 200 years historians won't have a clue as to what we looked like, how we lived, or even how our landscapes and skies appeared to us. I accept the point that it has always gone on, in one form or another. But we have some place-mats with Nottingham scenes that really do show what the place was like.

A relief to have Jill back. And I'm glad she hadn't a cold or anything. Bungus has pointed out the difficulty with the 'word verification' function in the 'comment' system. But, of course, I don't leave comments on my own Blog. I suppose, having thought about it, it would make sense to 'comment' on a 'comment' rather than use the following days blog for any reply I may care to make.

p.s. to Ikea trip. I was charmed to be told that the paper-napkins were now on Condiment Island. It sounds like a nice place where I wouldn't mind living!!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

BJ Day - Ikea bookcase - EPS night

I am not the world's tidiest man, nor the most untidy. In the field-events I guess I'm a middle-distance runner.

Picture 1, taken while sitting on my bed, shows the mess I have got into with reference books and stuff that I need frequently. I realised that a solution was necessary. Hence the trip to Ikea and the purchase of a new bookshelf. Inevitably it came as a flat-pack and it has taken me most of the day to construct. Also inevitably, when I had proudly finished it, I realised that the crucial bottom shelf was in the wrong way and showing its rough fibre-board edge to the world instead of its veneered face. The whole thing had to be deconstructed and then put back together again. The cardboard box said the whole item was called Billy. It's quite nice having furniture one can be on first-name terms with.

Picture 2 is the completed job and I put a book in it to show scale. The position shown is not where it is going to live, but I constructed the thing on the big-room floor because there is plenty of space. Of course I had 4 nails left over - always a worry. I hope I don't discover where the designer intended them to go in the middle of the night when reaching for a book.

So the disarray depicted in Picture 1 will soon be a thing of the past. Maybe !

A further slight holdup was caused by a spontaneous visit by Brian who needed someone to talk to. He has had to put his Mum in a Home and clear her house and deal with unhelpful and incompetent officialdom. He was welcome. He helped me so much computerwise in my early days that I certainly owe him one, or two. We talked cameras and computers a bit which gave his brain something different to chew on. Elderly parents are a problem that comes to us all, and I suppose it will come to our kids eventually.

The Amazon books have arrived. It's a brilliant system - it seems about 10 minutes since we ordered them. Also, Alex called and all the 'rear of the garage' problems which have been worrying Y are no problem to Alex. He can deal with the fence, the conifers, the tatty rear window, the junk etc., and he says he won't need a skip. A couple of trips with his trusty trailer.

Next job is to put a tape in for Strictlt..... then collect Y from the tram. We've decided on Moor Bridge instead of Phoenix Park in the hope that the road-traffic will be less congested. Then Camera Club. Not had a comment from Jill for some days and I hope she hasn't got this wretched cough/cold/flu that is prevalent. Maybe she's nipped off to the Carribean or somewhere.

More tomorrow.....................

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ikea - Toys R Us - The Mechanics

A snap off Saturday night's 'telly' and undoctored, for the record. I could 'photoshop' away the line across the middle, but, in my opinion, it conveys verisimilitude ! Lovely word 'innit?

Brucy still doing his stuff at 'god only knows what age' and his early background in vaudeville and the halls, equip him more than most to compére a live show. There have been a few 'incidents' which would have floored a less nippy entertainer. Occasionally he does a few 'steps' and he is still a pretty smooth mover. The dancers are Matt, a top rugby player, and Lilia, a dance professional. And I think they are going to win. Y favours Mark Ramprekash and Karen. They are strong contenders, but so are Louisa and Carol Smilie. It's almost too exciting for me.

Picture 2 is of Y's birthday flowers, which I needed to capture before they went 'to spend more time with their family'. In fact the cyclamen from Martin and Rachel is just now beginning to look a little tired, but the others, particularly Sharon's chrysanths in a pot, and David and Helens bunch are still going strong, and they arrived on 27th October !!. Mind - they've had TLC.

I could photoshop the rather distracting 'garden through the window' but again - it IS a record shot and for all the reasons discussed yesterday I have decided not to.

First job this morning was Ikea for a small bookcase for my room. I am acquiring all sorts of books again and window-sills in the winter aren't a good idea. We purposely arrived before 11am so we could take advantage of the 'brunch'. Bacon, sausage, beans, hash-browns, egg, and a grilled tomato. Wait for it ! 95p ! And as much coffee as you can drink. One mug each in our case - and good quality too.

Then to Toys R Us, on Queen's Drive, which we navigated to without a single hitch. I don't know how to do that stupid reversed 'R' so you must forgive me. Y wanted a toy cot for Millicent. Simple you would think. Not so- they didn't have such a thing. Anyway, after mobile-consultation with Lisa, Millicent is going to have a cradle (which Lisa is going to organise).

After that we headed for The New Mechanics and went Mansfield Road way, because while I was sitting in the car waiting for Y and the cot, I heard a Radio Nottingham 'traffic flash' announcing the the top of Parliament Street was closed. These BBC services can be so valuable.

Then our Class, which was excellent again. We've reached John Singer Sargent, Whistler, Lord Leighton, Alma Taddema et al and then a rather poor, under-exposed slide of Lady Agnew (JSS) which we had been fortunate enough to see in Edinburgh. It is maybe our favourite portrait, of its type. 'In the flesh' the painting is unbelievably lustrous and beautiful. We could happily live with it on the wall.

Then Morrisons filling-station for some milk and home to pots of tea and e-mails and the Blog.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Colliers Wood - Bright idea

As I was due to meet Bob in Mansfield Y decided to have a morning in Nottingham to carry on with Xmas shopping and to take her books back to Bromley House.

One day I'll do a photo of Bromley House interior because it is well worth it. An 18th century gem and we have been library members for well, not quite since it opened. When we joined the membership was strictly controlled to under 400 and one had to have references AND then wait for someone to leave or die. Even though it isn't so strict now it is still a super place and very photogenic. There is an open ironwork spiral staircase inside the main room, and they still enter one's books in an old-fashioned ledger. Also there is a beautiful reading room overlooking the square.

Y managed to 'cop-hold-of'' both The Spectator and Private Eye to read while she had her coffee. After dropping her at Phoenix Park I came back via Colliers Wood and photographed Picture 1, which needs no description. I misinformed you earlier about the opening date, which was in fact 1998 - It just didn't seem that long.

I had promised Bob a basil plant and, as he was on the 'bus, it's transportation presented a minor problem - to stop it dripping everywhere, to stop it tipping over and losing its compost and damaging the plant. When I got home and before setting off for Mansfield I spotted in the kitchen an empty 4 pint milk container. Bright idea 6,321 hit me. Cut the container roughly in the middle and round 3 sides and then the 4th side will act as a hinge ! Pop the plant in, and then close the lid and secure it temporarily with sticky tape.

Its reference no. is based on the calculation that I have had two bright ideas a week for the past 55 years - at least. Although not a work of art, the picture is a record shot. Bob and I discussed these over lunch and I advanced the notion that, for the benefit of future historians, there ought to be some way of distinguishing between photos. that are 'as is' - and those that have been extensively doctored. Because in a couple of hundred years, people won't have a clue as to how the 21st century actually looked. Bob astutely made the point that it has always gone on, even in portrait painting. Henry V111 sent Holbein to bring him back an image of Anne of Cleves. He received a flattering picture of the lady, who he subsequently described as that Flanders Mare - and we know how it finished up. Poor Holbein, he needed to please both 'sitter' and King, and it didn't work out too well. But the plant-transporter worked faultlessly!!

Good night on the telly. Strictly Come..... followed by Tim Marlowe..... followed by Heston Blumenthal.

Must go. Going to cook bacon sandwiches !!

Catch you tomorrow .......................

Monday, November 20, 2006

Well earned Rest Day - No frost - less windy

Before finally leaving Bestwood Pumping Station this much 'photoshopped' picture of the fire-escape might be of interest. It has a new sky, brighter bits and a very tight crop.

If I was doing it for someone else, I would be much more careful and get rid of the fringing round the uppper-foliage etc., but to me, it is a fun image and should not be taken too seriously. The joys of experimentation!

Bungus's list of the party topics covered was so accurate I wondered if, last time he came, he had planted a bug ? The only ones he missed were Iraq and Afghanistan.

And while we are on the subject of David's list, the prospect of even one cigarette a day appals me now. As the saying goes "there's none so prudish as a reformed prostitute". Although it is 14years since I stopped, I attribute my persistent catarhh to the nearly 50 years prior to that when I smoked so much. When I did my National-Service in Germany in the early 1950s we were given a free allocation of 200 cigarettes a week! I no longer smoke in dreams - a condition which persisted until a few years ago.

Talking of dreams - I share with my father, and my boys, the blessing/curse of being 'lucid dreamers'. Briefly, it means that one has a vivid recall of dreams, coupled with the ability to recount them. Last night I had a weird dream that Police Inspectors were responsible for policing a sort of 'national seed bank' and we all had to queue in front of this panel of 3 colleague Police Inspectors in uniform who allocated, and then recorded in big old fashioned ledgers, which seeds we were each responsible for. Then we had to apportion allotment plots. It all became complicated when people started bringing in living-plants in plant-pots which no-one knew what to do with. I guess it was some sort of worry-dream but there was nothing in it to upset me. I've also discovered over the years that, if I surface during a dream, going back to sleep on the same side continues the dream. But if I turn over, it changes the plot-line. Worth knowing if things are not going too well !

Picture 2 is a Planet Earth lift and the author is attributed at the bottom.

I would be disappointed to discover that the solitary tree in the canopy, almost centre-frame had been 'photoshopped'. But, now I know how easy it is to do I am becoming suspicious and cynical.

Before I leave today's news uncommented on - am I alone at not finding the story of the poisoning of the Russian Spy who defected, either surprising or alarming ? No security-service anywhere in the world, takes kindly to brethren who treasonably abandon ship. One wouldn't be happy to offer much life-insurance to a Mossad operative who decamped with secrets for instance. But in their case they would be unlikely to do such a botched job and we would never know.

Catch you tomorrow................

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Celebrations over - frosty morning - ducks

I think it's safe to say that the heat-wave may be over. Loverly frosty morning which we were both up for, even though we didn't get to bed till almost 2am. The 'neighbours' was a great success ; M & S did us proud and I didn't claim credit for the very popular filo-parcels, except for the unusual skill of putting them in the oven for 10 minutes. Most of the food went apart from the celery sticks which I should have known wouldn't - like the french bread - there is always some left. Y had put some Xmas cake, Mince Pies, and little Ikea Marzipan cakes on a small side-table, covered by a cloth. The cloth remained in place until we discovered it when clearing up. But people survived. We had the customary "people bringing one thing and then drinking something different syndrome". I always wonder if it's because they think the stuff is to awful to actually drink. It will doubtless finish up in a National Trust raffle.

Everybody had a good time though, and Y rated it a great success, which is what matters. Wide ranging discussions took place and simple solutions to the world's problems were readily offered. Mostly from the far-right and I won't offend the sensitivities of readers by 'blogging' them. When everyone had gone home we had a blitz, stacked the dish-washer, picked up food scraps etc.; it's always been our practice because the experience of getting up to it is worse than tackling it, even if you are tired.

Picture 2 is another duck-shot. It dates from Thursday when I dropped Y at the tram and came home via Collier's Wood. It' a great idea, on a hillside and at the bottom is this small lake. All together it's maybe 10 acres and has only been planted 3/4yrs, with a wide range of trees and wild plants. It is attractive now and is visited by an interesting selection of wild-life. In 50/100 years it will be terrific.

It's a good place for pictures and there are plenty of places to sit. I under-exposed this shot by half a stop, so as prevent the swans plumage from being burnt out. The adjacent modern industrial site doesn't contribute much - but you aren't forced to look at it.

Had a nice chat to David this morning and he seems to have faired better than most after the white-water rafting. He wasn't actually sick but just suffered some indigestion type symptoms. Apart from Y, everyone else was actually sick, in some cases requiring time off work. So Y seems to survived best, bless her! David and I talked about health-food, dietary advice and alternative remedies. My view is that allergy experts always recommend a wheat-free/dairy produce-free diet whatever the ailment. (however, if it works - who am I etc.?) He said that he thought there should be a list of recommendations for each day and, from his observations of the literature, suggests - half an aspirin, one cigarette, and one glass of red wine. Readers are invited to add or subtract from the list.

We watched our recording of The Culture Show and it was nice to have Verity Sharpe back. 'Casino Royale' seems a must for us and Mark Kermode gave it an excellent intro. The new Jude Law film he was lukewarm about. Although I didn't like the look of it, Y said it sounded promising. But it's only 'cos she's a Jude Law fan. Even at 70 - as I can now keep reminding her.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Party Day - Some Ducks

The last Bridge & Tram shot. Well, for while anyway.

If I could manage to catch a tram, a train, the bridge and a Skoda Octavia going across the crossing.........

Not possible really because the lights would be against it. Sensibly enough. I mention the Skoda Octavia because I've just seen their latest top-of-the-range model in what looked suspiciously like British Racing Green. Wow ! I've seen worse looking Bentleys, and lots of worse looking BMWs over the years. Shows you what the link with Volkswagen and top designers has achieved.

Picture 2 is a duck-shot for my bird-lover readers. Amusing story the other day - 'twitchers' had descended on a remote location to see a red-rumped something or other and as soon as their gadgets and things were focussed, a sparrow-hawk stooped and ate it. Nature still has a sense of humour.

We have finished most of the preparations for this evening's thrash. All we needed to shop for this morning was fresh french-bread, a few nuts and cream for the cheese-cake. I know, I know ........ And some Somerset Brie which we actually prefer to the French version - better flavour and goes runny quicker. I went for an afternoon nap and when I got up Y had arranged the furniture in a most satisfactory manner. So, a few things to pop in the oven, a few things to slice and lay out and we can watch Strictly Come Dancing. Saturday evening is the big day and one reader asked if it's on every night? There is a half-hour show each evening - a sort of update - presented by the delightful Claudia Winkelman. Y says she wears lovely shoes. But I like her hair. Not over lacquered (like so many) and it swishes about when she moves her head. I am becoming a stupid old man aren't I ? But at least Y says I'm not 'leery' which is praise indeed.

Y consulted her journal to see when we lasted hosted 'the neighbours' and it was around this time 2 years ago and they stayed till 2.30am. Ah well......... I seem to remember that Peter & Sheila did the last one. (it was very touching that when we took the house off the market, Sheila was delighted and said she had got us for another few months at least). Bill & Maureen customarily do New Year's Eve, but we've been committed to Tracy's. However, TJ has decided not to do it this year, so we will be able to go 3 houses up the road.

Catch you tomorrow..................

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lovely dawn - followed by wet and windy day

As promised. Picture 1 is of my favourite bridge. At Basford Crossing, and I've snuck in a tram-shot. I was just sorry that 'a train at the same time' eluded me. The lemony green of a Midland Mainline bone-shaker travelling in the opposite direction, would have been too much. The bridge has always looked to me like a toy which would grace a train set.

Although we both slept well, we were up before dawn and watched a super sunrise. It bore out my theory that it seldom rains at the precise moment of dawn, because 10 minutes after the sun rose, the skies opened and it started chucking it down, which is how it has remained for the rest of the day. My theory was based on observation from early days on the beat. Probably some meteorologist could prove me wrong!

That 'a part can speak for the whole' is often true, and I have included Picture 2 in line with that assumption. It allows the intricacy of the bridge to be seen in better detail and saves Bungus from being hit between the eyes with too much red. As always, the diagonals appeal. There must be a art-term for that; like the golden-section. A subject for me to research in a spare moment (when ?) -but if a reader knows the answer, please share it.

The Camera club yesterday evening was fine. The theme was to present one's pictures which had been taken within 3 miles of Eastwood. Either prints, or on CD, and I chose the latter, showing 10 and I'm pleased to report they were well received. The 'reflections in the car-roof' elicited special praise. A member, Jason, who works in Photography and Digital Imaging, is going to begin tutorials on PhotoShop in the new year. I am certainly going to enrol because I have such a lot to learn.

A busy day today. We went to M & S around 11.45am and my previous observation that, at that time there were disabled spaces on St. Peter's Gate, proved sound. We managed to park very near and had great fun catering for tomorrow. There is no doubt that, of one is willing to throw money at it. it is easy to do a party these days. Nothing needs anything more demanding than 10 minutes in the oven . The stuff looks so delightful we are both really looking forward.

Then we went up to the 'cheese-cake shop' on Mapperley top and did well there. We know from Tracy's how delicious the cheese-cakes are and we bought a whole fruity one (for the price of a half) because the girl didn't want to cut it. And half a Jamaican chocolate job. With both it's difficult to restrain oneself to a single slice. Well perhaps a slice of each 'eh ?

Going to finish there. 'Cos it's Strictly Come Dancing soon...............

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Amazing Pictures - Not mine

Both of these incredible pictures were sent me by Brian. In Picture 1 the black 'camels' are in fact the shadows. The actual camels are the white bits. You certainly have to look twice.

In enlargement the attribution to the author, and the explanation, are clear to read - so I won't repeat them here.

I wonder if he knew what he had got till he looked at a screen?

Picture 2 is even more amazing. It was taken from Columbia and shows Britain, some Europe and some West Africa still in the sunshine, while dusk and night have fallen to the east. Greenland is totally frozen.

Bet tens the camera was a Hasselblad ! There are two unclaimed ones on the moon, if anyone fancies the trip.

I realise it is a costly business but this sort of thing goes along way to convince me that space-exploration is the right thing. Mankind (and that includes both men and women) has got to keep endlessly pushing at the boundaries. Otherwise, as has been said many times before. we would still be living in caves.

Successful day so far. Done lots of little jobs. Potted on my Basil seedlings, got rid of some carpet stains prior to the neighbours on Saturday. Went to Basford and got some railway-bridge shots. Prolly publish the best tomorrow. Had my 'roes on toast' - best eaten when Y is out because the smell 'turns her stomach'. Not bad now though, with the Lakeland fish-smell candle.

Going along with 'what is the world coming to?' The current 'elf & safety' regs are apparently completely OTT. A friend of Bungus's brought him a brace of pheasants. According to Defra he should have delivered them in a refrigerated van ! And anyone who read yesterday's press would be amazed to learn that a young couple were rejected as foster parents because the bloke referred to East European Immigrants as 'white foreigners'.

A while back, following Jill having a woodpecker on her lawn and a visit from a goldcrest, I joked that, if she left the remains of a roast out she would probably attract a vulture. Today's Telegraph carries a picture of one in Richmond Park ! So, hang on Jill - he will be with you shortly.

You may notice some slight changes to the Blog today because I have tweaked my Template. The font is now Verdana and slightly larger (mainly so I can read it easier). I've tried to put a double space between the day's title and the top line, because it has annoyed me by being all scrunched up. The left hand column should be easier to navigate. And the current month's blogs are now listed there by title.

Tell you about the camera-club tomorrow.......................

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Art History Day - Autumn Colours

Joan yesterday expressed her intention of making pumpkin soup. I gave her my customary advice on the subject:- Make it carefully with good ingredients, from a reliable recipe - then throw it away. Don't even bother tasting it because it's bland and awful.

Great day today. Steady start - few bits in Eastwood and then to The Mechanics for lunch. The restaurant was not too busy - then our class. Excellent today. We both learned a lot. Picture 1 is very well known. Millais' Ophelia" for whom the model was Lizzie Siddal. Poor girl had to lie in a bath for hours at a time. Lizzie was very popluar in PRB circles and no mean artist herself. But it ended in tragedy because she committed suicide with an overdose of laudanum. We had to zoom through to get as far as their acceptance and Ruskin. By now we have reached the mid 19th century and photography is beginning to be important.

In one painting 'Autumn Leaves' there is a girl with a half eaten apple. Y knew all about the symbolism because many years ago she had to do an essay on that precise subject as part of her University course, but she modestly kept 'shtum' while others had a crack at it. All the symbolism in PRB paintings could be read by the Victorians like we read a longhand note. Next week we move onto Whistler.

When we left we went straight to Morrisons and did some shopping for general use and Saturday in particular. We want to spread the load. Most of the nibbles and stuff we plan to buy ready-made from Marks & Spencer. The days when we woud tackle complicated horses 'ooves and canapés and big roast joints have long since past.

I took Picture 2 in the dark when we returned home at around 4.30pm. And it is going to get darker, earlier, till 21st December 'innit? Chris's dictum of 20mins a week does seem to be true.

The subject is the smoke-tree (cotinus) and still in leaf. The blacking-out-the-background effect, that the flash confers, appeals to me and I intend to use it more during the winter. We have plenty of holly, covered with berries (on one tree, nothing on the other) that is crying out for this treatment. I shall be interested to see how the camera handles the reds.

These reds, on the smoke-tree, seem sufficiently muted, and should not give Bungus a head-ache. Only joking. It's just a relief that the Nikon will actually produce reds - the Casio hated them.

Burton Joyce day for Y tomorrow, and I have loads of little jobs outstanding. The basil seedlings desperately need potting on. They seemed to start off 'leggy' and they are even 'leggier' now. Nipping the tops out seems the only solution, unless I can find some 3" pots that are 9" deep - ha ha! Then, after I've collected Y from the tram, it's Camera Club night.

Just watched Strictly Come Dancing, and Y started to watch the football. It didn't hold her interest though, so she has gone back to her book.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lunch at Joan's - Still wet & windy

These freesias and roses were a birthday present for Y and I hoped that the muted creams, blues and greens, against our gently coloured wallpaper might be sufficiently subtle not to offend Bungus's over-stimulated sensibilities.

Perhaps the bamboo stand is a little vivid!

Thank you Jill for joining the 'bright & colourful' team. As you say, "What would be the point of autumn colours in sepia?"

Photo 2 is Andy's brilliant pen and ink drawing, and he couldn't have given Y a present she would value more. The likenesses of all three are quite remarkable. And me in the bottom right corner, looking rather like a burglar who has misplaced his 'bag marked swag'.

He has perceptively summarised Y's interests. Egypt, taking Ruby and Elli to the Park, The Crossword, Books and The Telegraph (I love the front page story about white-water Gran) and, on the sports page Chelsea winning the Cup (his interest not Y's but an artist is entitled I think?). The white-water rafting, Sudoku, and the Garden.

We had lunch at Joan's which was nicer than going to The TreeTops. She had done grilled-pepper soup and rolls, followed by Cheese & Ham cobs. The soup was great, full of flavour and good hefty bowls full. Loads of coffee. Opposite to Joan's lived an elderly Polish lady. She has recently died and her house has been cleared. While we were there, a lorry arrived to remove the skip, full of possessions which no-one wants. So So sad - but I suppose it comes to us all. She was a charming woman. Although her English was typical 'polish-english' (i.e. almost indecipherable) she was fiendly and eager to say hello.

I'm relieved that the Blog doesn't seem to have altered much and I guess the glitch with word-verification will sort itself.

Our Art History class moves onto The PreRaphaelites tomorrow. Love 'em or hate 'em. Y loves them but I've never been so sure. Individual paintings I like a lot and they were certainly a talented grouping. But they all seemed to have difficulty with women's hair. You could identify a PRB painting at 50 paces just by looking at the ladies' hair. No doubt we shall all be better informed by tomorrow afternooon when our tutor has enlightened us. I like Rosetti, and his poetry, although I prefer his sister's. I once won brownie points in a Police College Quiz team by knowing what PRB stood for.

Watch this space tomorrow, for full-colour reproduction..........

Monday, November 13, 2006

WWW. (Wet, Windy and Warm) Rest Day

Well - you know my sky-addiction. Nearly as addictive as tram-shots ! Anyway - lovely sunrise this morning and it seemed right to share it. If enlargement reveals any strange blemishes it is because I set my tripod in the big room and worked through the glass, which isn't particularly clean. Outside wasn't very attractive due to the wind.

No urgency about much today. What seems now to be my statutory blood-test this morning and then several hours work on recent photographs. Y needed some prints for her journal and to send to people and I attempted a panorama of all the cards but not a great success. Camera too near to the subjects I think and, after endless messing-about, it ended up on the cutting-room floor.

I did a chicken-casserole for lunch, with celery, red pepper, onion (odds & ends really) and potatoes, brussels and carrot. That was OK - but we had Xmas pudding with custard for pudding and it was awful. Morrison's own and devoid of cooking instructions. I looked under the label etc. but nothing, so I microwaved them for 3 minutes and they were like cannon-balls. Y was supportive enough to say that the custard was nice.

Picture 2 is the ever-photogenic pavillion over the lake at Clumber. The reds of the lakeside trees were attractive even though the light was failing and it had gone dull by the time we reached them.

Y had made me a delicious cheese & lettuce sandwich for tea which I ate while we watched Strictly Come Dancing. Thank goodness Claudia has abandoned the 'tarty' lipstick. She interviewed Ray & Camilla who took their surprise ejection on Saturday very well. Although obviously shocked, they both seem nice people, and their dance was much better than Peter & Erin's who were shocked to be still IN. No doubt his football-fans ringing in did the trick.

At 9pm it's Spooks, which clashes with Monarchy, a further episode of the David Starkey series. We'll no doubt record Monarchy then we can zoom through the adverts.

We watched Helen's 'white-water' CD again. It really is good.

Bit short today. But it is a Rest Day...............................

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lakeside Restaurant - Debra's visit

The picture-handling in Blogger Beta is much improved. Thank goodness, because the old version seemed designed to cause the more sensitive among us to have nervous-breakdowns.

Picture 1 is the side entrance to The Lakeside Restaurant from one of the car-parks. 'Lakeside' is perhaps a little ambitious; 'Poolside' would be more accurate. Nevertheless, a beautiful Grade 2 listed building, tastefully converted to its present use. I make no apology for leaving in the red life-belt at the bottom of the golden-section - or the 'rule of thirds' as it is called by those who don't really understand the principle and it's history. Constable, among others was keen to have a flash of red somewhere in each painting. And, as Bungus hinted in a 'comment', if it's good enough for the Constable, it's good enough for the Inspector.

Picture 2 (the original building) hangs inside the main downstairs restaurant and bar, which housed the main pump. Magnificent room - with high ceilings and super windows. As with many high-class eateries there is plenty of space between the tables and the chairs are comfortable. Several tables had been lined up together for our large party but it didn't interfere with other diners at all. Overlooking us was a gallery room which fascinated the children because they could rush up an attractive staircase to reach it and then look through the railings and wave. We were proud of them - they were lively but well-behaved. The food matched the surroundings. Great! I won't list what everyone had, suffice it to say that it was all excellent. The sweets menu contained cheese & biscuits - always a good sign these days. As most people know - I am often disappointed by the eating-out experience because the quality is so dodgy. But not here. Thoroughly recommended. We returned to TJ's but I bailed out at 5.30pm ish - tired out.

Just before I set off for Sherwood to collect Y, who had a sleep over, David rang to say they would like to come over to Brinsley to wish Y a happy birthday - because today is the actual day. I all worked out great because they decided to meet up at Tracy's so Brooke and Ruby and Elli had a good few games after Ruby and Elli and Grandma returned from the park. What a demanding weekend, in fact fortnight-plus. Y has had a super time and feels it has been a series of 'occasions to cherish' - which is exactly how I felt about my 70th.

When Debra & Andy and David & Helen left Tracy insisted on rustling up a delicious lunch - leek & potato soup, hot rolls and smoked salmon on tiny brown toasts to follow. The we decided to nip over to Clumber Park for the autumn tints and we walked from the car-park to the lake, and enjoyed the fresh air. Then, unbelievably for us, we managed to emerge from the park by the same entrance we went in at.

On unpacking at home Y found that she had 27 cards and a delightful suprise - David and Helen had burnt a CD of the 'rafting' pictures and it had music, and the swishest transitions from frame to frame. I've got to persuade Helen to show me how to do it. And they had printed some of the rafting pictures to fit the CD box. Great !

Stopping now because we want to watch our recording of last night's Strictly come Dancing and it's Planet Earth at 9pm.....................

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Y's Birthday Lunch - Blogger beta

Picture 1 is the Liquidamber again, at night and including the moon. It looked so much bigger than that - but that's cameras innit?

This is my first day on the new Blogger beta. And everything seems OK so far. Being awake quite early, I decided to tackle the migration and here's hoping that things go smoothly. The finished result, for you 'dear readers', shouldn't change, at least I hope not.

There are substantial differences at this end, which I won't bore you with a full list of. But the pictures download quicker which is good. Apparently one can tag and label 'posts' to make things easier to find retrospectively, but I haven't investigated that facility yet

Picture 2 is the Railway Bridge at Basford which I mentioned. The light was in the wrong place for a proper 'study' so this snap is through the tram window. I promise a better picture in due course.

For years it had looked increasingly distressed and I was so relieved when a decision was made to 'renovate rather than demolish'. My knowledge of railway architecture is zilch but I've always thought it attractive and have looked forward to seeing it each time my journey has taken me past it, under it, or over it.

Y's birthday lunch at The Lakeside Restaurant (nee Bestwood Pumping Station) was excellent. The menu was good, the food was good, the waiters were good, and the children were good. No tears. Not even any pouting. Pictures will follow tomorrow. After the meal we adjourned to TJ's for a typical family thrash. Lots of running around, cake candles re-lit 3 times so pictures could captured, with lusty renditions of 'happy birthday' each time. Tracy had arranaged for the cake to be iced with one of the rafting pictures. She thinks of everything !

Andy had drawn an incredibly good picture of Yvonne with Ruby and Elli, and included her multifarious interests, from Egypt to Sudoku. David and John's present was an electronic sudoku which, it says on the box, will produce a million unique puzzles. That should keep her occupied on a few railway journeys! My present, until we get to the Rhine Cruise next year, was a pink sapphire ring which she really wanted. We picked it together. And it blends in beautifully with her new nails. A picture will follow.

Ta Ta for today because I fancy watching The Culture Show...............


Friday, November 10, 2006

Debra and family arrive - for Big Day

I shall no doubt return later in the day with more to say but, as usual, it seems to be better to open the blog quite early and secure at least one picture.

This letter, in today's Telegraph, supports my Global-Warming-Denial position. Some will dismiss it as 'a romantic poet playing fast and loose with the facts' but to me at least, it has a hefty dollop of 'ring of truth' about it.

I am using ‘Blogger for Word’ for the first time. In theory it allows one to compose some Blog ‘post’ while offline, save it as a draft and then subsequently publish it to the Blog when online again. My reason for doing this now rather than wait until I get home is that I have some time to kill.

We came over to Tracy’s around 3.45pm as Y has an appointment to have her nails done at TJ’s Chinese establishment. She went in the garden this morning, cutting back, and she won’t want to do that with new nails. The state of the rear garden quite upset her and she has rung Alex to come and clear away lots of rubbish. Although the absence of the caravan has left a large space, it looks very untidy and the trees, fence and hedge need attention. Debra is expected to arrive around 4pm. Therefore I have been left in charge, with a list of TBD for food, where the Lager is etc., Quite home from home – but everybody knows I love kitchen-duty so it’s no imposition. It will be lovely to see them all and I and thank Ruby for the super framed picture she did for my birthday.

A slight problem with this programme is that I haven’t discovered how to insert pictures, if indeed it is possible. If not, it isn’t really a serious setback to pop in a picture later in the day. Another slight annoyance is it’s habit of underlining sentences with a wobbly green line where it disagrees with my grammar. Damned impertinence I call it! It puts red lines under words which it doesn’t understand – like Blog – where it suggest blob, blow, bow, or bob. If, in 2003, Microsoft had never heard of Blogs, that seems to be their problem not mine. There must be a way of switching off this facility. Just a matter of finding it.

Anyway. Here are 'the nails'. And they do look rather good. Like the white-water thing Y has fancied 'false nails' for ages and Tracy discovered this chinese-place where they do them. Only the boss speaks English but Y reports excellent care and apparently it is quite a complicated procedure. By the time they arrived back Debra and family had arrived and Andy cooked a meal which Tracy had planned and catered for. Like me he loves his cooking, finding it a relaxation and fun. He did toad-in-the-hole with roast potatoes, green beans and peas and some lovely onion gravy. Ruby and Elli were great and I was on story-reading duty which I like doing. I try to do all the appropriate voices and they always seem to go-down well.

We left quite early, maybe 8pm-ish and arrived home in plenty of time to watch Simon Scharma on the subject of David's 'Death of Marat' in particular and The French Revolution' in general. To be fair, he did it very well. He has been getting a lot of criticism (most of it well-placed) for this series. The incessant and intrusive background music, for instance, gets up my nose.

When we got home there was a very welcome message on the answerphone from Debra to say that they had succeeded in making the Kodak camera start breathing. It was my present to her and when we left it resolutely refused to start. No doubt I shall hear all about it tomorrow.

I note from the 'comments' that Jill had seen the Telegraph letter and I'm pleased that she also, has grave doubts about Global Warming.

The big birthday meal at the Lakeside Restaurant tomorrow. So byeee for now........

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Spiders and Emett's Clock

I think the first Picture can safely be called 'Spider 5 - Flies 0' and must count as a home win. Not a good photograph, but it was through glass which wasn't as crystal.

It saddened me that I couldn't actually see the spider anywhere on his/her web. Maybe a very small spider. Having now looked at the image full-size I am wondering if that creature which I had counted as fly 5 (in the top left hand corner) is in fact the spider?

But I had to stand on my bedroom footstool to get high enough and didn't feel very secure. I thought - "If I fall off, Y will be full of uncritical sympathy". So I got down.

Instead of just dropping Y at the tram this morning I accompanied her as far as Theatre Square because I had urgent shopping I needed. The tram was incredibly busy and we were both annoyed at a young mum with a 4yr old boy, who she insisted should travel free. Then she let him occupy a seat, even though there were many standing ladies, some elderly. The conductor couldn't do much because the crush was so solid no-one could move short of getting off. A case for Jill's knitting lady with the scissors. She could have given him a quick jab in the bum (the 4yr old not the conductor). As usual I thoroughly enjoyed my morning. Coffee and Toasted Tea Cake at Capocci's, mooch round Victoria Centre, and although I managed to avoid Waterstones, W.H.Smith's captured my attention and I found a book I couldn't manage without. Inevitable I suppose.

Had a sitdown and did abit of people-watching and I just happened to be passing our famous Roland Emett Clock at 10.55am. So I waited, expecting it to do something interesting at 11am. But all it did was chime eleven chimes. Nothing popped out, lit up, whirled round. You can see how it fascinated the crowd sitting round !!

Nice tram ride back to Phoenix Park. A bit of Morrison's then home.

This afternoon the burglar-alarm man came and he told me all about the business he had built up and then sold. He only really does old customers/friends now and we apparently qualify. He is really nice. Some time ago he set me up with Microsoft Autoroute which of course I lost in the 'crash' and don't feel inclined to reinstall due to the availabilty of such good freebies like Google Maps, MultiMaps etc. But it's the thought that counts.

On the tram ride we passed the beautifully restored Railway Bridge at Basford. It was my intention to break my journey to take a picture but the sun was completely on the wrong side. I grabbed a little of it through the tram window, which I may Blog tomorrow but it really deserves a more studied approach, and from the other side. The Bridge has been a favourite landmark of mine for so many years and I was delighted when they decided to restore it instead of demolish it.

A shortish Blog this evening because I've got jobs to do. Make myself abit of tea. Set the video for Strictly Come Dancing and I hope Claudia isn't wearing that ghastly lipstick again. It just didn't suit her - made her look like a right slapper !

Then collect Y from the tram. Then Eastwood Photographic Society, to give it it's full title


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In anticipation of Constable and Turner

In anticipation of our class this morning I unearthed this photograph of Willy Lott's Cottage. Yvonne said the photo. was better than the actual experience because one cannot actually visit it anymore, as it is used for training purposes. The accompanying 'visitors' centre' one is allowed to visit 'cos they are selling things !

Having manoeuvered ourselves onto a bridge overlooking that bit of The Stour, I was able to have roughly the same line of sight as Constable had. That was fun. Maybe we were a tad to the right of his viewpoint. We stood some five minutes anticipating the arrival of a Hay Wain but no luck, the weather wasn't good enough. I've also noticed by comparing painting and photo. that in the interim, a small building has been demolished, between the side of the house and the river.

Our arrival at the Mechanics was either 5 minutes too late, or half an hour early, because an enormous queue greeted us. Not to worry. We ate OK and our class was 'not bad' this week. The desks are in a rectangle round a projector and we sit at the side, at right angles to the screen and the bloke to my left won't decide whether he wants to lean forward or back, with the result that I can't see, and keep moving position which means that Y can't see, and the bloke next to her etc., etc.,. I mentioned it politely but to no avail. And Y reported the distinct niff of BO from somewhere. Not me - honest !! Also our tutor tried to cover Constable, Turner and Joseph Wright of Derby in under 2 hours - including taking the register and a tea break! Even at a gallop the race-course was too severe.

Picture 2 is, of course, The Hay Wain. Known commonly as one of Constable's sixfooters, because there is a series of Stour paintings. It is probably one of the best known paintings in the country. Appearing all over the place as prints, table-mats, postcards etc. But to actually see it 'in the flesh' is quite an experience. It doesn't have the 'polished' appearance of the work of earlier artists and the brush strokes, and gobbets of paint as deep as one's knuckle, are remarkable. In this country Constable wasn't held in high regard and had difficulty selling his stuff. But the painitng was exhibited in The Salon in Paris and they thought it was great. Both he and Turner had a great influence on Manet and the Impressionists who were to come.

David's blog-comment of yesterday about the source of 'vested-interests' and 'bobby Dazzler' were good fun and I e-mailed him the results of my research. Click here for vested and here for bobby dazzler.

Tea-time. Might return. Might not ................................

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Outside by Flash

As you will see from Picture 1 the Coal Tits are proving elusive. They were there again this morning but as soon as I appeared at the window - off !

Their cousins are made of sterner stuff. I hesitate to say that I have Great Tits because Steven will ROFL, such is the puerile humour of the young, but we have - in abundance.

And I think that inadvertently I bought thistle-seed instead of niger-seed for the feeder just out of shot, and we haven't seen a Goldfinch for ages. Perhaps it isn't their time of year.

Nice e-mail from Pete congratulating Y on her rafting-adventure. Praise indeed from an Isle of Man Lifeboat man !! He says he is now too old for the Inshore Lifeboat (similar sort of raft) but that he is still allowed on the AWB. He would have left a comment but couldn't find the button. If you read this Pete, you have to click the 'comments' at the very bottom of the Blog; there is a picture of a pencil at the side, and the dialogue box should open upper left. On my page the comments icon is in orange.

Last night I wondered what autumn colours would look like at night, and illuminated by flash? This is one result. The 'posh' Japanese Rowan. The native Rowan surrendered weeks ago.

Next time I would use aperture-priority and use maybe f8 because, letting the camera make the decision, it opened it right up to f3.8 for a lowlight situation. Hence the small depth of field and only a small area in sharp focus. God - I can be boring !

We've had a lovely day so far. Ikea for coffee, mooch round, bought bits (inevitably) Xmas presents, a deep frying pan for Andy, with a glass lid, because we have been so satisfied with ours, then lunch in their restaurant. We both had the Salmon Rosti and swedish mixed veg. followed by rich cakes for pudding, and more coffee. All delicious and under a tenner for the lot. Nice touch is that one can go back for as many mugs of coffee as desired. We both only wanted one so it was lost on us. Good business though !

Then a quick Lidl for essentials and home. Blogging - Pot of tea - and I'm going to have a look at freewebs which Pete uses. I feel I must set up an alternative to Blogger.

I nearly forgot. Mansfield National Trust this evening. The lecture is 'Mansfield before The Four Seasons'. The Four Seasons is Mansfield's Shopping Centre and it should be interesting. We hope there will be lots of pictures.

And then tomorrow, to Nottingham for our 'Holbein to Hockney' class. We want to go into Derbyshire before all the autumn leaves fall off, probably Derwent Water. But it is a matter of fitting it into our busy schedule. Thie retirement business is worse than work.............. And we love every minute of it.....................

Monday, November 06, 2006

More WhiteWater Rafting

This 1st photograph is one of Sky's, on the old Casio. Didn't she do well. Unfortunately Joan's Chris is missing and you can only glimpse Steven behind his Mum but at least everyone's faces capture the happy mood of the occasion. Admittedly this was before rather than after. But all agreed that it was great even if really scary. Tracy, I am sure, summed up the feelings by saying that, if she'd known how it was going to be she wouldn't have done it - but that, having done it she was thrilled that she had.

I was amazed that they did 4 runs - I thought that after 2 they would call it a day especially with having to carry the raft back to the start on each occasion. I guess there was much merit in having plenty of fit young people on board. David's recovering clavicle stood up to the strain and of course, with his boats and windsurf board et al he doesn't mind being dunked in the water. Everyone swallowed lots though and they were warned of the extremely rare risk of Weill's disease which is normally carried in rat's urine. Charming!

Picture 2 was while they were in a quiet side bit, of which there were several. They were used for interim instructions and to get into the right place to manoeuvre to catch the 'eddies'. It is included because of smiling faces. At least, of those not looking the other way.

Chris looks a little severe - maybe he had an inkling of what was about to happen when the capsize tipped everyone out and he couldn't get back onto the overturned raft.

The last picture is an action-shot and shows what the exciting bits were like. Those dangling poles were a damned nuisance. They are to do with the canoeists who also use the course for their slaloms and things. I suppose canoeists have rights too! Again, happy faces predominate.

The Nikon performed brilliantly. One can set the focus area to a sort of wide letterbox and the camera actually follows things moving across it and keeps them sharp. The 'continuous shoot' facility was very handy for this sort of job and I shot maybe 6 frames in a couple of seconds. The idea is that one of them will be OK and you delete the others. Another of the many virtues of digital.

As Jill presciently asks - "What will she do for her eightieth - Hang-gliding?" Sharon's Chris who got bitterly cold, said he would settle for hot-air ballooning - in Kenya!

After my statutory blood-test, the morning was spent loading virtually all the pictures onto Picasa Web-Albums and e-mailing them to participants. Then I printed some for Y to send to her non-internet people. And, as belt & braces, I burnt them onto a CD.

I've also been investigating alternatives to for my Blog because, apart from things being in a mess, they are pushing hard for people to migrate to Blogger beta. But, according to the forums, it's hard to keep your existing template. One guy reported that he lost his entire previous 'blog posts'. If that happened to me I think I would have to be hospitalized.

Catch you tomorrow..............