Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Long-tailed tit - Venice - Lidl

Not a good photo. Taken through glass, and no time to fiddle or change to a longer lens. But success at last I think. Surely this must be a Long-tailed tit. My Collins Gem Bird book shows a picture with a promising likeness but views from the more learned in these matters, would be appreciated.

It is not my opinion that they are becoming less stand-offish, merely that this morning I was quicker.

A wren is the next project. But, as they seem to be ground-level feeders I shall need to work out a strategy. Oh what exciting lives we elders lead ! Hands-up those who an remember them on the backs of farthings?

Picture 2 is a hang-over from yesterday and is the lovely spiral staircase at Bromley House. From the top! It took me about five minutes but, as there is an alternative route, I wasn't self-conscious about holding people up. It wasn't busy anyway. Sometime ago I published a photo (not mine) which showed the spiral staircase from the reception area.

It is a particularly fine spiral staircase and they always have a strange fascination for me. Do I hear a pedant rushing forward to say how unlikely it is that spiral staircases have any feelings at all for me, one way or another. But I understand that the possessive nature of the word can now be 'either way'.

My hour and a half there was well spent - I could have done with 2 and a half. They made a big point later of telling Y how pleased they had been to see me. I made enough notes to produce a couple of paragraphs for The Camera Club newsletter, on the subject of early photography and camera usage circa. 1900. Mike who runs the newsletter says how pleased he is to receive 'copy' as he finds it difficult to fill all by himself.

The New Mechanics was our venue for lunch, prior to our Venice Class. The lunch was adequate only because we each decided on an alternative to "Sausage, Egg and Chip" and it proved an unwise decision. So it's back to what we know next week. The class was fine but covered artists and a period which neither of us are keen on. Next week Titian and then into Architecture, Poetry, Theatre and Music. It isn't a lengthy course, but it should be fun from now on because we remain staunch fans of the tutor. Our class mates are OK, without the usual WEA show-offs and chatter-boxes. Even though we saw one lady, who we had thought terribly well-informed, reading the answers to the tutor's questions from a book.

After Venice we called in at Lidl on Mansfield Road and did the shopping. Wow.

Madeline sent me another Acronis tutorial which has pictures! Always a good thing, particularly for those of us who have never really grown out of Rupert Bear. There's a question about Acronis I'm keen to know the answer to, and sometime tomorrow I'll probably go on WUforums and ask. "Say I create a true-image of my computer, programmes and all, when I am 10 days into a 30 day free trial of some programme. When my 30 day free trial has finished can I boot up my computer with the Acronis back-up disc and still have only used 10 days of my free trial?" Not that I would dream of doing something so sneaky.

Catch you tomorrow. Another busy day.......

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trip to Bromley House - 7C - Slight Breeze

Impulse decision to go down Nottingham and visit Bromley House. ( See Picture 1). If you didn't know where to look you would walk straight past it! We subscribers aim to preserve that facet. The image has been photoshopped, but solely to deal with 'converging verticals' . So that doesn't count as 'interference' in my book.

We are down town tomorrow because it is our Venice course at WEA. But Y needed to book her train-ticket and with her senior-citizens rail card good concessions are available if booked a week+ in advance.

Good job she went because the Friday when she wanted to travel was booked up with students or something and it would have cost her over £20. And she usually travels for a tenner, so she is going on the Saturday instead.

I wanted to visit our Library to sort out with the Librarian about Brian's 'Goose Fair in Market Square' pictures. She was extremely grateful for the prints he had done. They really are amazing and he has some framed in his shop. As I have previously mentioned the photographer's viewpoint was from Bromley House or extremely close and they are tack-sharp front to rear and there is no blurring due to movement. So, old-timer shutter speeds was my research project for the morning. And I was lucky. In the card-index (don't even dare mention computer) I found a book entitled 'The Complete Photographer' published 1906. It was found for me in less than a minute and, of course, I discovered that shutter-speeds as such hadn't been invented yet. There were primitive shutters but how long the lens was open was entirely down to the skill and judgement of the photographer. I also discovered that Alfred Barber was the first professional photographer in Nottingham and opened his studio in the attic of Bromley House in 1841. For the privilege he had was required to pay £1,200 for a 'license'. I shudder to think what that would be in today's money. There is evidence though, that he, together with early photographers in other cities were prosecuted for operating without a licence. Lots of other interesting facts, which I shall 'trot out' in due course.

Picture 2 is, I think, my favouritest reading stand of all. I opened the book before taking the picture because without it, it looked a little 'blind'.

The Librarian was happy for me to snap away, and also to photograph archive papers, provided they were not going to be used for commercial purposes. If my Blog becomes a 'bestseller' I shall need to renegotiate my position. And I was ultra-careful to wait so that I didn't annoy fellow subscribers.

It was very nice that my 'grizzle' about Acronis True Image was heard in deepest Wales and Madeleine very kindly sent me two relevant tutorials which I confess I haven't yet read. But it is reassuring to know that they are there. We 'elders' as they call them in USA, need a day length of at least 26hours. Or are 'elders' something to do with religion?

Thanks bungus for Colemans Starch, Reckits, and Zebo et al. but I think the contributor was talking about adverts on Radio Luxemburg, and I don't think they were.

....Absolutely sure I've forgotten something this evening..............

Monday, January 29, 2007

8C - Birds - Vichysoise - Computer

I thought you all deserved a rest from our holiday-snaps. They have a reputation (well deserved) for being boring. There was a lovely cartoon some time ago of two cavemen in the Altimira caves. One was pointing to a piece of a cave-painting and saying "This is me and Ernie hunting bison". The other caveman looks suitably disinterested.

Managed a better goldfinch picture this morning. Also, a wren put in an appearance and the long-tailed tits who are so camera-shy I despair of 'snapping' them. The great-tits are the opposite and I think now I could walk up to them to do a close-up and they would just glare at me.

Although Google tells me it is 8C on the 'Air Ministry Roof' in Nottingham there has been a strong wind so, with wind-chill it feels much colder. If the reference is lost on younger readers, I should explain. Way-back-When on the BBC Home Service (before Radio 4) they used to publish a national weather-forecast and say "The temperature on The Air Ministry Roof is.....". It is said that one can always recognise a Radio 4 listener by the large amount of disconnected information he/she possesses. A gem this morning was that the hollow space in the top of a house-brick is called a 'frog'. I didn't know that !!

A chap on one of my forums was discussing some matter and said he remembered "Horace Bachelor" who used to feature in a Radio Luxemburg advert. I reminded him of the "H.Samuel Everite Watch" and he came back with "The Ovalatinies". We stopped there because we were way off 'thread' and moderators are (quite properly) keen on these things.

Talking of computer matters I have installed Acronis True Image which I bought from Serif for £7. Sometime ago Ray said it was a good thing to have. But now I've got it, I don't know what to do with it, as it arrived as a disc-in-an-envelope. No manual or anything. I shall work it out though.

This morning I made Leek and Potato soup (large amount thereof) and used some fresh rosemary and thyme which I 'shredded' with this open herb-mill which has been in the family since my childhood. It has survived because it is so efficient. It works better than a Moulinex or any of the other methods I've tried. The other simple solution is to use a sharp knife on the chopping board, holding the herbs together with your fingers. My warfarin dosage makes this latter method too risky for me at the moment. The little machine shown is called a 'Tala' and was 'Made in England'. No criticism of Moulinex intended because I am a fan.

It's a Karen day tomorrow so we are planning on going out while she has a blitz. We've both got things to do in Eastwood and may venture down Nottingham. Depends on the weather.

See ya' all.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rest Day - approx - Messing About

It was very rewarding to receive such encouraging comments about yesterday's pictures. The 'tonal recessions, front to rear' were serendipitous but I must admit that I had spotted their potential before clicking. They were definitely not 'photoshopped' - what an idea! Hmmmm.

Today's first picture which looks, in my opinion, even more 'painterly' than yesterday's, is similarly free from any more intervention than - 'cropping and straightening' - necessary because I was leaning on a rail-post due to the high wind and my well-established unsteadiness on mi' feet. Result - skewed horizon - which always ruins a picture.

To answer Jill's query. We didn't spot a statue to either Alice-in-Wonderland or Lewis Carroll but apparently the town is proud of the connection. Y says she wouldn't really be looking because she has always thought Alice to be weird, and Lewis Carroll a pervert. And I don't disagree strongly.

My few words yesterday about Radiogandy being back 'on air', and the generators starting first swing was a reference back to RAF days in Germany. As an SAC I was, towards the end of my National Service, in charge of a shift of 6 men running what was called a Type 18 mobile radar-station. The first job on 'mornings' was to get the generators running. They were Perkins Diesels, and in cold weather particularly were a sod to start. I'm sure these days they have electrically powered starter motors. But then it was swing the b***** handle until the thing fired. Or, not unusually, back-fired and nearly broke your wrist.

Picture 2 shows the type of thing. Although, being RAF rather than common Army, ours were blue-grey and not khaki. The radar was called ANTPS 1d and I guess now will be off the secret list (after 54yrs) I hope so anyway, I don't want to be shot! The letters stood for American Naval Transmitted Pulse Search type 1d.

I collected Y from TJ's around noon and we did essential shopping at Bulwell Morrissons and had a light lunch followed by left-over cheese-cake. This afternoon I made a spag-bol for evening meal after which we had left-over strawberries and yoghourt. Y has made an orange-flan which sits in the fridge looking inviting. But it will come into play tomorrow.

Had a nice chat to David this morning. He had e-mailed me a turn-of-the-century photograph of Long Eaton which shows their house very clearly. Great fun!

Further holiday notes - All the assorted ring-tones people have on their mobile phones are sometimes quite odd. You don't know if the speakers on an MP3 have activated or that you can suddenly hear someone's car radio. My solution to mine is quite simple - I've got a ring-tone which sounds like a phone ringing! Quirky eh? Also, I acquired a fridge-magnet for Y. The picture is a half-submerged polar-bear and the words say "I don't do mornings."

.Catch you tomorrow......

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Llandudno Holiday

Lovely time and we enjoyed ourselves and the break, which we needed. In Tenby/Criccieth /Llandudno terms, I guess Llandudo would be number three, but still a great place. The journeys in both directions were good fun because of the snow covered hills and the hotel was excellent for food. Our sea-view room was well worth the 'couple of bob' extra and the lift was around 4yards from our door. On the Thursday we got as far as the Pier and just a little way up Great Orme which is where Picture 1 was taken from. I particularly liked the smoke leading the eye up to the sunlit snow on the peak and also the three little clouds which seem to crown three separate mountain tops.

Picture 2 was taken by Y on the Casio, when we went to Llangollen via Horseshoe Pass and it beautifully demonstrates the sun on the roadside snow.

I love my Nikon dearly, but when you see a picture like this, you realise what a cracking little camera the Casio still is. Mind you, it is all down to the photographer. Y insists she only ever points & shoots but....... I know I am a sucker for strong diagonals and I love the way there is just enough road to lead your eye up the picture and start you off round the bend.

Both pictures will reveal more if clicked on and looked at abit bigger.

A fairly short blog today because I have lots of messing-about to do. Pictures to sort, e-mails to answer, news to be caught up on . We went over to TJ's this morning because a niece is over, with young children, and they are all going over to Burton Joyce for tea - so I bailed out at a suitable juncture and left Y to hold the fort and have a sleep-over.

Nice to be 'broadcasting' again - the generators started at first swing and the aerials had survived the high winds. Alex has semi-fixed the fence while we have been away, to a respectable state to satisfy neighbours. And he aims to fix it properly during this coming week.

Y's MP3 was a great success while we were away. Out of at least a dozen CDs the only failure, which never shows up in the randomised selection, is Don Williams. But I shall fix it.!!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

7C - Gales subsided - Quiet Sunday

There has been an exhibition in Frankfurt entitled "Picasso and The Theatre" . This is a watercolour, indian ink, and pencil sketch for a stage set. Next time I hear some philistine say "Picasso couldn't draw", or "my 5yr old could do better", I shall give him a slap. If it's a woman (I was going to say 'lady' but couldn't) I shall content myself with foul-mouthed profanities. I'd never seen this before - just wish Y and I could have seen the whole exhibition.

Picture 2 isn't by me either. And I can't attribute it because the author's name wasn't published in the book about Nottingham Architecture that I 'borrowed' it from. It is 'blogged' because of my rabbiting-on about Bromley House and this photograph includes our beautiful, Georgian spiral -staircase. The table on a diagonal leading your eye to the staircase is very strong.

It is my intention to cope with the Bromley House stairs and visit more often. There has been a gap in my life and now that the Council has improved the blue-badge parking so much, just across the road, I really have no excuse. So you may well be subjected to even more pictures. It was a toss-up what pictures to use today. We have a daffodil in bloom demanding page space but I had to say "No".

To return to more current matters. Fancy Jill having such a big tree blown over the drive. Y had seen a picture of a big tree blown over in Chiswick in the Daily Mail (which I tried to read once and couldn't face again) and we hoped it was'nt near Jill. Pleased the damage was slight however, and that it missed the cars and more importantly that it missed Jill and Ro.

Rob and Elaine's visit was a great success and Rob and I managed to restrain ourselves to a mere few minutes on the subject of photography. He thinks I should do my ARPS and I know he should do his FRPS. For several years I've had an idea of a theme for my ARPS, and Rob thought it was great. But, having thought about it overnight, I don't think I still have the vigour to do it. And if Rob would like the idea for his FRPS I shall wish him well with it and go to the necessary adjudication to see him receive his Fellowship. I'm not going to publish the 'idea' because I don't want some unknown blog-reading-photography-person to abscond with it. We were actually complimented by Y on restricting our discussions ! Apparently I called 'Rob' 'Bob' a couple of times, f0r which shall apologise. I can only plead 'failing faculties'.

The long-tailed tits were back this morning but as furtive as ever and by the time I had a camera they had long gone. Had a nice chat to David and he told me that Sky had really liked receiving her notelet in long-hand (about the book-chair) and had had no difficulty at all in reading it. Y and I had more or less decided not to send postcards from Llandudno - but I think I shall, even if just to the little ones.

...Y's MP3 has around 10 hours of music thereon and we've set it to 'random' so she now has opera, followed by Abba, followed by Johnny Mathis, followed by Willie Nelson etc............

Saturday, January 20, 2007

8C - Gales - Birds

Picture 1 was taken yesterday when I took Y to have her nails 'serviced' Let me point out that she doesn't need to go to a Power Tools Shop, the chinese hand-care salon is on the opposite side of the road. This shop-front, the brilliant light, and the garish colours appealed to me. I suppose I ought to be on 'Big Brother'. Seeing extracts on the news, due to the allegations of racism and Jade's eviction, was my first experience of it. Really! Is it always so awful and the people so crass and stupid? My job took me into several houses where you wiped your feet on emerging, not before entering - but most of those were upper-range in terms of intellect and politeness by comparison. And according to the Telegraph, Jade is a £millionaire twice over from her previous performances. The extent of the news-coverage also surprised me! One can only assume that there is little of importance happening in the world at the moment.

Picture 2 is to show that our two goldfinches are back. I apologise for the poor quality of the photograph but it was through the closed kitchen window and has been heavily cropped.

Also, I was excited enough to cause camera-shake. Actually "two goldfinch" sounds more correct than "two goldfinches". Opinions would be welcome - particularly from those with 'O' level English Grammar as opposed to English Literature. One never forgets the content of good 'ol English Lit. though. We did Henry V, Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man, and Paradise Lost.

Our teacher was Miss Furnace who seemed positively ancient - I guess she would be in her thirties. She was an excellent teacher and left me with a deep love of both the English Language and all literature, not just English.

Won't bore you with food today (thank god for that says Tracy) except that I marinaded the chicken for a couple of hours in Teriyaki. It does add a certain exotic flavour of the East.

My hope of 2 days ago that the gales wouldn't result in an loss of life wasn't met and altogether 11 people died. Some under the most tragic circumstances - a lady was walking along a pavement when a large wall blew over and crushed her, for instance.

I've been researching Llandudo, our hotel, the views, things to do and the weather which sounds OK not good the day we travel, but the next day is forecast to be sunny. It isn't my intention to go into detail because one is never sure of a blog's readership. But my loyal readers should not expect the usual daily bulletins. And staff and neighbours will be popping into the station on a regular basis. And we recently had the burglar-alarm serviced.

....Visitors this evening. Looking forward. Y loves a bit of 'social'.

Friday, January 19, 2007

11C - Camera Club - Nails' Service

I know you have all seen this staircase before, in yesterday's blog but I have cropped to this bit for a purpose. The whole thing has been brightened and contrast-added in PhotoShop in order to draw attention to the double line of metal studs across the front edge of each stair. Perhaps some potential 'historic house correspondent' could enlighten us about them. The building dates from 1752 and the library opened in 1820. The stairs are original and would be 'commercial premises' stairs rather than 'stately home'. The very top floor was later used as a photographer's studio ( the original roof light remains, which admitted the then essential north-light for portraits). North-light is not to be sniffed at even in 2007 for natural looking portraits !

Talking of 'portraits' neither of my pictures was successful at the camera club last night and I think I have to accept that I don't see 'eye-to-eye' with camera club judges. My portrait was criticised because 'she didn't look very cheerful' and 'she wasn't looking at the camera'. I didn't realise that either of those was a pre-requisite ! Royal Photographic Society judges I am OK with and I suppose I should be happy with that. Nevertheless, a fun night and I enjoyed the chat and the camaraderie.

This morning I really was Mr. Man. When Y went to use the washer she found under the sink awash with water. Big G lay down on the floor and sluthered under the sink and found the fractured flexible inlet pipe.

Then it was simply a matter of:- turn off stopcock >unscrew pipe>pull out washing machine> unscrew other end>trip to B&Q>purchase replacement>return home> floor again> screw in both ends>push washing-machine back into place>turn water back on. And, Geronimo!

After a sandwich we nipped down Nottingham again and delivered the black & whites of 1902 Goose Fair and my current view of the square, to Bromley House. Brian had printed them A4 and they look great. Brommers were 'effusive' , was the word Y used. I chickened out of the stairs today and Y nipped in for me.

Then it was Y's 'nails service' at the chinese place. Great fun again with the translation approximations. Until Bungus mentioned the words 'chinese whispers' I hadn't thought of it. But it is that, precisely. And the nails look great and just like 'very nice natural ones'. As Y astutely points out, if someone says 'what lovely nails' it is code for 'are they artificial?'.

While waiting, I emerged from the car long enough to 'snap' this grating around a nearby tree! The pattern appealed to me. Fish, chips, and peas in a bit. And Rob is popping in for an hour tomorrow evening. It is several years since we have seen him, except for a few minutes at the camera club some weeks ago and it will be nice to catch up on his news.

....I've loaded about 10CDs onto Y's new MP3, but although I know they are there, we haven't actually taken the device for a test-drive yet.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Very stormy - Burton Joyce - Camera Club

Picture 1 is the beginning of the stairs at Bromley House and you can probably understand my reluctance when I amd no too good. But as I said yesterday, there is now a good quality chair, with arms, half way up and just out of view round corner 2.

Having to take the ascent steadily though, isn't without compensation because of the beauty of the staircase, which can be savoured. It is original, from 1812 and the risers of each stair are not carpetted but studded.

Some years ago each member was invited to fund the renovation of a baluster.

We always joke that ours is second from the top (please see Picture 2). I thought of highlighting it in PhotoShop but decided against it. The weather is worryingly bad and in some parts there are gusts of 90mph. It must be 70+mph here because fences are down. Part of the trellis in the rear garden, and the fence at the bottom of the garden, which unfortunately is ours and not the neighbour's. The M1 is closed between Nottingham and Sheffield because of blown-over lorries. Lets just hope there isn't loss of life. A bit of damage is inconsequential. I hope the roof doesn't go though!

After taking Y to Burton Joyce my day has consisted of some computer problems. I decided that the weather just was too bad for her to tram and bus it. Firefox had developed the annoying habit of opening in an e-mail page where I had discarded the letter - but the heading was reluctant to leave. Sorted in the end and I won't bore you with the details. Likewise with Photoshop's refusal to allow me to 'open with' by right-clicking a picture. One of Amateur Photographer forum's old-hands pointed me in the right directions with that one. I don't know how I would cope without the help from people on forums. And it is nice nowadays, occasionally to be able to help someone who is trying to deal with a problem that I was helped to solve a year ago. The degree of mutual support in computer matters is noteworthy!

Then I printed my pictures for this evening's monthly competition at the Camera Club. One 'portrait' (and I'm not very good with people pictures) and one 'open' (for which I have done yet another misty sunrise). At least I've printed them and done the mounts myself, and I'm pleased with them. I'll tell you tomorrow how I got on.

I've just rung Alex and he will come and look at the fences one day next week. No point in him coming to fix them before some settled weather, without gales, arrives. He says the wind is also very bad at Ollerton.

Derek has just been round and he says it is reputedly going to abate at 9pm. Can't wait.

...catch you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

9C - Brommers - Serenissima !

This is a shot of the interior of Bromley House Subscription Library, our private club in the centre of town. And alhough I haven't been for some years (stairs problem) I was made so welcome and taken through into the office to meet the new librarian.

When I joined 20+ years ago the membership was restricted to 380 and you had to wait for someone to leave or die. The latter was the most likely. Then you had to provide 2 references, 1 from an existing member, and if you were approved you were allowed to buy ONE share in the library, for £30 and then you were in! We've loved it ever since. And I coped with the stairs, albeit slowly, and thoughtfully a large comfy chair has been sited halfway up. All the windows at the top of the picture overlook the Market Square and I wanted a picture for Brian. When I saw his prints from the glass negatives, circa the turn of the century (the last one that is, not the one we have just traversed) they looked as if the photographer had been either in Bromley House itself, or very close. When we meet tomorrow we shall be able to see. I'll warn you in advance "they are better photographs than mine!" It will be interesting to have a close look at roof lines, and the older buildings, to see what has survived.

The picture has been converted to black & white for ease of comparison.

Obviously the Council House is a different one but if you imagine the current one without the tower and dome, it occupies roughly the same sort of space.

There just isn't enough hours in the day is there? While I was messing-about at Brommers Y went to Lakeland to get Sky a book-chair. Unfortunately they were a Xmas item and had sold out almost immediately. The assistant helpfully checked on the net and found two in their Chester store. Y said she would have both of them, but a telephone call to that branch revealed they had just sold them! The assistant said to try again, perhaps in Setember. I decided to drop Sky a note to explain, because I don't want to be 'a grandad who doesn't keep promises' and checked first with Helen if Sky can cope with joined up writing? She is only just 8 and a month after all, but her mum said she was v.good with joined-up but preferred it upright rather than sloping.

After Bromley House it was round the corner to The New Mechanics for lunch, followed by our new WEA class about Venice. Same tutor as 'Holbein to Hockney' and within 20 minutes we were captivated. Especially when he said it was a breeze to fly from East Midlands and accommodation was cheap. He plans to cover the architecture, music and theatre as well as the Art. I know abit about the art but zilch about the rest. He started with a tour of Venice, courtesy of Canaletto. And sitting in my new position, facing the screen, I have been promoted to forward/back - button-operator on the projector A new career is opening out before me. I knew 2007 would be the year. A wise decision to get there early because we got just the seats we wanted.

The home via Morrisons for fresh bread. The sourdough bloomer is a joy. I know how to bake sourdough bread, but life is too short. A welcome sit-down when we got home and then loads of cups of tea and Y made me a superdooper sandwich with the bread and some haslet, with a salad garnish.

...Didn't manage to load Y's MP3 but I will tomorrow or Friday. See ya.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Visit Joan - MP3 - Griddled Chicken

Two pictures from our flying visit of yesterday.

Picture 1 is Cineworld (a haunt of ours) which is where the Forman building used to be. The Forman building housed The Evening Post and was beautiful stone which unfortunately had to be demolished to allow this complex. To be fair, as modern buildings often are, this looks attractive to us and certainly doesn't disgrace the town. When it is all lit up at night it looks good.

The building the black car is driving round is The Theatre Royal and The Royal Concert Hall is further round the corner on the same side. This is where the tram is so handy for us. The theatre-square stop is about 70 yards off picture left and we can do 'play', concert' or 'pictures' without having to park a car or walk more than a few yards.

Picture 2 is 'The Bell' just off Old Market Square and some readers may recall a mention, after we had the National Trust talk abouty The Castle. The pub is alleged to be older than 'The Trip to Jerusalem' which has always claimed the 'oldest Inn in the country' title. The Bell has always been a good pub, with good beer and good food, and live jazz at the weekends.

A few yards up to the right is Bromley House Subscription Library which we both love and where Y gets books. The stairs are an off-put for me. Lovely stairs though, recently restored and to which we donated the price of a baluster. Just the one!

This morning we decided we must go sick-visiting because Joan is really suffering. She has had this cold for about 3 weeks and she can't move it off her chest. Rambling on Hadrian's Wall and sleeping in a rambler's bunk-house in January perhaps wasn't such a good idea. And poor Jill still suffering, condition untouched by Buttercup Syrup. By the way, our anonymous 'commenter' who advised Jill about the ceefax route to subtitles was in fact none other than our own Bungus who had forgotten to sign-off properly. And we thought we had acquired a new, intelligent, reader!

This afternoon was spent downloading some of Y's favourite CD's onto the computer, for onward transmission to her new MP3 player, which we would like to have up-and-running for our N.Wales holiday, which we are looking forward to excitedly (that may well be a 'split-infinitive' but I've forgotten what they look like).

Dame Helen Mirren did very well in the BAFTAs and won two golden globes. Strangely enough both were 'Queen roles'. The TV drama Elizabeth 1 and Elizabeth 2 in the film. Both thoroughly well deserved.

Evening meal I did griddled chicken (we like the tram-lines on the the pieces), mashed potatoes, griddled courgettes, carrots and brussels. The brussels seem excellent this year, and we lke to eat seasonal food whenever although it isn't an item of faith.

.... Y will have her MP3 player on stream by tomorrow. Which is bytheway, the first day of our WEA -Venice course at the New Mechanics. Must get there early to 'cogs' the best seats.

Monday, January 15, 2007

95% - Nottingham Trip - 9°C

The Matt cartoon is a couple of days old but I wanted to put it in. Super joke ! If this relentless pressure about global-warming continues we shall all soon feel guilty just sitting in our cars let alone drive a 4 x 4. They are too high up for me anyway, without running boards.

I am 95% recovered and my walking was so much better again this morning. Like the reverse of the "calm before the storm". The words "mountain goat" don't quite sum up the situation but I was so sprightly this morning we decided on a lightning trip down to our fair city. I'm not even in my 'gunslinger stance" which usually follows a bad attack.

Y wanted to take books back to Bromley House and I wanted Jessops or some camera shop, to buy a polariser filter. Jessops had one to fit my camera, a pro-version of the necessary bit of glass and I thought "Oh good" and went to get out my credit card. £161.99p they wanted, so I quickly pushed my credit card back into its slot in my wallet. I've seen them on the 'net' for £17.50p which I think is more than enough. The other camera shop Jacobs had the cheapest version; they didn't have one at all.

We met up at St Peter's Church Hall, so that I could have a doorstop sandwich while Y settled for a cheese scone. Both were lovely. The place was very busy again and quite full circa 12.30-ish. But it is full of nice inoffensive people like us i.e. old and middle class.

I was pleased to see the tree, see Picture 2, in the churchyard with strong healthy buds which was a promising harbinger of spring.

My Dad used to say he had found that, if he lived to see the Spring he was alright for the rest of the year. Strange, but I knew where he was coming from.

Didn't go by tram this morning because the City Council has massively improved town-centre parking for blue-badge holders. We parked on Angel Row but there was plenty of space on St. Peter's Gate itself. There are other pictures with which I shall regale you over the next couple of days. Re Jill's query about the definitive difference between a 'stew' and a 'casserole', I honestly dont think that, in England at least, there is one. I suspect people think that casserole sounds posh and stew sounds common. I think I shall call such a dish a 'stew' if we are eating it and a 'casserole' if we have guests.

As regular readers will notice, we had a 'comment' from 'annonymous' yesterday. Whoever he/she is made the good contribution for Jill's benefit as to how to get subtitles for TV shows. She probably knows anyway but "Thanks" and please in future, don't be coy about your identity. You are obviously not a 'spammer' so welcome aboard.

.....Depending how I get on at the Hospital, 4.15pm appointment, I will be back later, or tomorrow.

p.s. 10pm. All clear from the Urology department and Mr. Mann (what a lovely name) doesn't need to see me again. At least one bit of me is working OK then.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Continued improvement - Casserole again

Y saw some long-tailed tits on the cherry blossom tree yesterday and this morning they paid a quick call to the bird feeders. But, by the time I had a camera they had gone. Not to return.

But I like this blackbird actually in the act of eating an ornamental rowan berry. I'm very pleased for their sakes that the berries stayed on in all that wind. The sight reminded me of a line from Wallace Stevens -

"Among seven snowy mountains the only thing that moved was the eye of a blackbird...."

I have no doubt misquoted him badly, but that was the gist. We had the beef stew again today and as so often, it tasted even better second day. As I had the 'makings' I did a tray of baked veg. again and, as per Delia added what we had. Some Charlotte potatoes, mushrooms, and peppers, to go with the celeriac, shallots, and butternut squash.

Had a lovely find whilst out surfing this morning, early on while the waves were high. It is a daily Art newspaper, and full of all sorts of goodies. Macafee siteadvisor pronounces it as safe. please click . I've already forwarded it to Bungus because I think he might like it. But, if anyone else likes it too, please feel free to forward it on. Increased readership will always please the authors.

This afternoon Y spotted this lovely programme on BBC 1 "Rolf on Art" and it charted his career all the way from childhood and by the time he was 8 you could see his talent. At 15 he had a self-portrait accepted in one of Autralia's major galleries. His thumbnail pen and ink sketches of teachers and fellow pupils were so good. Interviews with his family and friends and when he was living in Earls Court were first rate.

There was nice coverage of his early TV shows in UK and great clips of the enormous paintings he used to do, with a 4" decorating brush in about 10 minutes. And, of course, his hit songs "tie my kangaroo down sport" and "did you think I would leave you dying".

He is 76 now, and came across as so lively, still very talented and keen on his art - and such a thoroughly great bloke. I hope it is repeated, for the benefit of anyone who missed it - and anyway, I would like to watch it again.

Had a nice chat to David and I'm so pleased to hear that Helen has had a better two days. As we were talking a was looking out at a nice sunnt morning and thinking David and Helen will soon be planning their caravan trips. And I had no sooner thought it than David said it. All the good places get booked up very early but I'm sure they will find somewhere that is up to the mark.

I have to go to the Hospital tomorrow for a very minor procedure and I've told Y she needn't bother to come with me, so we aren't quite sure what the day will hold.

.....Bye for now.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Much recovered - tablets, hot-pad, rest

Pleased to be able to report improvement. Loads of tablets, hot-pad, changing between 'standing up' - 'sitting-down' - 'lying-down' - standing up' again, about every ten minutes. Or thats how it seemed yesterday. Plus, of course, lots of TLC from Y, and the occasional "Poor darling" and I feel OK.

I was allowed my statutory 'playtime' in the kitchen this morning and decided on beef-casserole, or stew as we used to call it. A lb and a half of excellent shin from Peter (little more than 2 level tbspn of trimmed off waste) plenty winter veg. and it turned out first rate.

Had a nice chat to Steve and he acknowledges he owes me a £1 bet, over who was the author of some software. But I shan't take his £1 because I was 100% certain of the answer. It has been a life-rule only to take winnings when there was some doubt about the issue. If you absolutely KNOW you are right, it seems too much like theft to accept somebody's money.

Picture 2 is included because I did it for a photographic forum, where there had been discussion about a very expensive Nikon lens with which it is possible to selectively focus and blur the rest.

Henry's portrait was published to demonstrate how easy it is to achieve a similar result in Picasa, with just a couple of clicks. Didn't go down too well and it was pointed out that the actual lens had other facets too. I replied that at my age I was into cheap (if slipshod) solutions.

Bob rang to see how I was, which was very thoughtful of him.

"Watchman, how goes the night?" -

(Shakespeare) but I'm not sure which play. You can look it up yourselves.

We also had a call from Tim Drapers who are taking us to Llandudno to say we would be picked up at 8.50am. Lovely time of the day and we shan't get the feeling we are setting off in the middle of the night. It will be well light. And isn't it great that it is now noticeably lighter? It gets to 4.30pm before dusk falls.

Nice sandwich again to look forward to, but I don't think there is a 6pm news on BBC1 on a Saturday to go with it. There is aways BBC 24 though, which we quite like. By the way, I had a good letter from the BBC dealing with my complaint about the 'execution' and they made excellent points. I was also referred to BBC 24 editor's blog, in which he had discussed the pros & cons in some depth and explained his thought-processes. Everybody is at it ! David tells me that a whole quarter of people who use the internet now run blogs ! I somehow sensed this would happen and am pleased that I was an early starter.

.... This is me tomorrow. Well - perhaps the day after...............

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rest Day (enforced) - Suffering

I won't dwell on it but I'm not 100% today. Can't walk for fear of falling over - ankles like the bottoms of pit-props - painful and I daren't risk more Dihydrocodeine. Ho Hum as Ray says.

Basically in good spirits though and glad I've got my 'lappy' which fits in with where I want to be, rather than me with it.

All my Royal Photographic Society stuff arrived this morning, addressed to 'me' LRPS. What a lovely present from Y. The magazines are beautiful, classily designed and presented and so sniff-worthy! Y says she wants to renew it for me each year, which will be a super annual prezzie.

There are several events I intend to go to. One in February is close by at Ravenshead, so I've promptly booked, and the buffet-lunch.

Anyway, first things first, no new pictures for today so I've used two from my archives. Picture 1 was an unbelievably photo-genic door in a very old Chapel on Caldey Island. I nearly missed it because there were steps down, but Y said I should make the effort, and I'm glad I did. Most of the dramatic colour effects were due to the in-camera flash on the old Casio. We would love to have known more about the wall-markings but there wasn't anyone to ask.

Picture 2 was from the Criccieth holiday. It's the beach on the far-side of the Castle in the late-evening sun.

Not much wrong with the old Casio in my opinion and I'm so glad I didn't rush into disposing of it when the Nikon arrived. There is still a strong case for the shirt-pocket camera! It is nice to be lucky enough to have both.

Before I leave matters photographic, last night's camera club event is worth a mention. The lecturer was a slide-photographer from the Bakewell Club and was, in my opinion, excellent. It was interesting to see that some of his slides from the 1950s had 'travelled well' while some had deteriorated. His Kodak slide-film seemed to have fared best. The quality of his work was good and he was not obsessed with photoshopped skies etc.

We had fish, chips, and peas for lunch. Traditional Friday. And I made it into the kitchen in the face of Y's protests. I parked myself on the high stool and enjoyed doing it. Y is shortly going to make a sandwich for tea, which we will enjoy during the 6pm TV News - So we can see what crisis the government has lurched into today.

Nice e-mail from Madeline which I shall reply to promptly. But she sounds OK anyway and 'the station' sends its best wishes to Jill with the hope that she is continuing to improve. It was a relief to know that Buttercup Syrup has reached Chiswick. And I know the book she mentioned as being by Deric. If it is the right one, I think is second name is Longden.

John rang to say that the 'missing' Xmas card and cheque had finally turned up. A relief to know that even though we had stopped the original one and sent him another.

This is me mentally, but my legs won't follow....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Burton Joyce Day - Camera Club

I suppose 1 aconite and 1 snowdrop is at least a start. But certainly not early. Last year the first few made an appearance on January 7th.

And in the circular bed around a tree, where there are usually lots, none have showed up yet. Not to worry. They will.

Not sure whether or not we shall go to see them at Hodsock Priory this year. They seem to have made it very expensive and, being cynical, once you have seen a load of snowdrops together ............ It's best when you chance on some unexpectedly. As Emerson said "If you go outside to look at the moon, it becomes tinsel......"

Picture 2 is a carry over from yesterday's baked vegetable photographs. Celeriac must be one of the world's ugliest vegetables. But, then again, when you study it closely it becomes beautiful. Like a weird landscape.

Many of our older readers will remember the actress Jill Bennet, superficially ugly but, when you had seen her enough, she became quite beautiful. Not that I am comparing Jill in anyway with a celeriac top. I don't want one of her erstwhile fans coming round with a shotgun.

Nice to have our own Jill back, albeit still suffering. Y swears by Buttercup Syrup for coughs. Don't know if its virtues have reached as far down south as Chiswick though.

This morning, as I was taking Y to Phoenix Park tram the rain was torrential, and I was so pleased with my new wiper-blades. Steve at the garage had thoughfully put the front one which was still OK, on the rear window, because it was longer than the existing one. It now clears an additional 2 inches of surface which provides a much better view. Everything was better, the steering, the brakes (particularly the handbrake) and the 'clutch'. I kow it's an automatic but the take-up is much smoother. Brinsley Garages aren't cheap, but they do an excellent job.

The Home Office are still in a mess with the people convicted of serious offences abroad. According to The Telegraph, the junior minister who yesterday on TV disclaimed all knowledge, was written to about the problem by ACPO a month ago, and she replied to their letter.

Iraq is in a mess and Bush is to send more troops, as if ........... I don't often quote from the Bible but Hosea v111.7 strikes a chord:-

"For they have sown the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind"

Enough soapbox for today. .. .... Sleep tight !

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baked Winter Veg - Car Service - Windy 8C

Decided on Pork Chops today, with Baked winter veg (a la Delia) Green beans, a little stuffing for me, and apple sauce for Y. The ingredients were sweet-potato, butternut squash, carrots, celariac, and swede (or turnip as we Derbyshire lads always called it).

And French Shallots (eschalon) which I originally left off my chopping-board picture. So, with the magic of PhotoShop and the reference-book on my book-chair, I have inserted them middle-top. This sort of tinkering, i.e. for a specific purpose, seems entirely legitimate. It is completely different from putting two people who've never even visited the USA, in front of the White House for an alleged holiday photo. Or substituting a pretty sky for a drab one and pretending that's how it was.

Picture 2 is how the veg. looked before going in the oven and, as I was riding the PS sleigh, I inserted one of the finished meals.

The Delia recipe is (as always) very forgiving. For instance at the end of her list of ingredients she says "use whatever you've got" Part of the process is to put the veg. in a plastic bag with olive-oil and herbs, to give them a good shake. And, if you are entertaining you can do that bit up to 2 days before, which is very handy.

Good old Delia! say we aged Jamie Olivers. I took to her many years ago when she was a mere 'slip of a girl'. She was on the telly doing a dish which needed grated cheese. She grated the cheese into a bowl ad then put her hand up the inside of the grater to get out the remaining few flakes. "A real cook" I thought and "A girl after my own heart".

Santa brought me a posh kitchen timer, a Salter which you can set for up to 90 minutes. The 1hr max on the old one used to annoy me, plus its feeble little squeek when it went off. But today I was glad I hadn't thrown the old one away, for differential timing. It's good to have 'two-timers' - so long as no-one accuses me of being one.

The weather is supposed to be unseasonally mild but the wind-chill actor is making it really cold. Y braved it and went out in the garden cutting back, because the council are still collecting garden rubbish. Y's sensible theory is that, while they are collecting it, she might as well fill the appropriate bin. Broxtowe Council are quite exceptionally good and deserve praise rather than the brickbats councils usually attract.

The car went in for service and needed wiper-blades, spark plugs, and a newe tyre which had an unfixable nail embedded in it. They delivered it back home for me and I could tell, just by backing down the drive and into the garage how much better it is for the attention.

Just before I leave you I ust comment on a yesterday's 'comment'. How could anyone dislike Rolf Harris? He has always been a great entertainer and, in my view, a talented artist. Y and I both rated his portrait of The Queen as so much warmer and telling than most of such.

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