Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wind in the Willows - Y returns - 5C

A busy busy day. Sky's little Practica camera arrived this morning which worked out well because I had been invited over to Long Eaton for coffee so I was able to deliver it. She's thrilled to bits!

First I popped into their Tesco and it is incredibly large ! I was looking for the French 'style' coffee beans they used to have, but no luck. Maybe they have discontinued them.

As Brooke's 'book-chair' hadn't arrived unfortunately, I took her the 1000 best children's poetry book and a leather bookmark both of which she was happy with. She reads so well for a 6yr old and had no trouble just reading me one of the poems. Sky is now in the Chess Megafinal, Trent Division. I told them that David beat me at chess when he was 8, and I didn't 'let' him win either. So it's maybe not surprising he finished up with a Maths degree. I'm better with humanities 'hot air'.

Picture 1 is some willows in Long Eaton and I wanted to capture the 'Wind in the Willows' effect of some slight movement in the lower foliage. I took some on my Nikon, with very careful attention to aperture, shutter-speed etc., and some on my trusty old Casio compact. Any yes, you've guessed - the pick of the bunch was this one, on the Casio.

David and family set off tomorrow morning for a caravan week at a site they know and is handy for Iron Bridge, BlistHills et al and I have been promised pictures from the Practica when they return.

Picture 2 is another from my RAF Cosford portfolio (how pretentious can you get RG?) and shows the ill-fated TSR2 which was another brilliant aircraft the Government pulled the plug on. To the left of the shot is a Meteor where they experimented with a pilot lying prone in the upper bulge at the front. Apparently it was so unpopular with the pilots they ditched the idea.

I take Pete's point about un-interfered-with photography and in the main I agree, hence my recent article in Amateur Potographer. Especially if you are presenting a picture as ' as it was'. But I think there is a place for judicious manipulation and improvement. Bungus is right to point to our cherished Picasa a link to which is duly presented. Have a look at it Pete, or anyone else for that matter. It is a straightforward programme, one of the best from Google's stable and of course, completely free.

The moon is 97% gibbous tonight, so tomorrow I guess will be a full moon. The March/April full moon must have a name surely. It obviously isn't a Harvest Moon, is it perhaps a Poachers Moon. Somebody must know. I collected Y from the Tram and it's nice to have her home. after our meal we watched the Culture Show which was interesting. But we are both tired tired tired. So kip calls !

n.b Just a reminder - to see a picture full screen size just left-click on it.

Catch you all tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2007

RAF Cosford - A Few More Shots - Rest Day

Picture 1 is yesterday's Dakota in situ in its Hangar. I hope everyone agrees that she deserved to be liberated from this cluttered environment and put back into a sky. I know 'anthropromorphism' is giving animals human characteristics. What is the equivalent for inanimate objects please?

Last night at the Camera Club I sought Mike's advice as to how I could give the propellers some 'motion blur' to add realism. He told me, I wrote it down and have spent some time this afternoon trying to do it. Failed so far I'm afraid - but watch this space!

Thanks you all for your kind and encouraging 'comments' and I hope Anon 1's husband enjoys these further pictures. Picture 2 is a photograph of some of my photos from 1953/4 and are all from Germany and either RAF Sylt, RAF Schleswig-Holstein or RAF Querum. Unfortunately I hadn't written on the back and we didn't have EXIFdata in those days. I think that, in order, they are Mosquito, Tempest, Anson, Hunter. Vampire and Meteor. Tim's eyesight was good enough to read the number on the Mosquito's fuselage, near the tailplane. But unfortunately it wasn't the Mosquito in the museum. It did at least prove they were flying well after the 1949 claimed and were used as drogue-aircraft i.e. they towed a target for the squadron-pilots to practice their markmanship on.

I remember one priceless incident when a young Hunter pilot couldn't see the Mosquito and drogue, despite being given precise 'angels'. Panic stricken voice and the co-ordinates were repeated for him.

Eventually the Mosquito pilot, a WorldWar 2 Flight Sergeant came on - "Tell him to look at 11 o'clock and about 100 feet down".

They don't have those sort of problems these days I guess. But no doubt they have a brand new crop of their own. They probably call them 'issues' now. I have clocked David's wish to fly a Dakota and if the chance ever arises I shall do my best to organise it.

I've treated myself to another Rest Day today - not really worth venturing out 'cos its been cloudy and coldish. Y returns tomorrow which will be nice and I must put a reminder on my mobile about the Culture Show, which Bungus kindly drew to my attention as they are to cover Yorkshire Sculpture Park - one of my favourite places.

Tim thinks that my idea of photographing Eastwood tradesmen and shopkeepers outside their shops is something the Club could tackle as a joint veture, and prolly get a grant towards. It would after all be important historically. If I've mentioned it before I apologise but we discussed it in the Car on Wednesday. At my age I lack the necessary oomph to tackle it myself. Which brings me to:-

"Whether zeal or moderation be the point we aim at:
let us keep the fire out of one and frost out of the other"

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

That's it for today. Sleep well.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

RAF Cosford - Camera Club - Colder (7C)

Two more images from the Aviation Museum.

Although in my opinion the exhibits were overcrowded this new hangar is very striking architecturally. I have tried a version of this in black & white as it is mostly shapes and textures. But I didn't like it and think the mini touches of colour contribute to the whole. So, as is the case with our cherished Picasa, one click and it was back.

(Just glanced out of the window to my right and there was a wren. By the time I had picked up my camera from my table and taken the lens-cap off she was gone. Talk about shy!)

Picture 2 is a Dakota. Dating from the 1930s they have been one of the most succssful aircraft ever. The Dakota DC-4 was the real work-horse and is still being flown commercially in some remote parts of the world.

This particular one was not actually flying; it was hanging from the roof inside the above hangar in extremely cramped conditions. So, unashamedly, I have photoshopped her out into a sky where she belongs. Consider it not an act of forgery, but more a mark of appreciation.

Apart from my usual messing about today I have spent quite a while lying down because I'm afraid I did try to walk too far yesterday, with the inevitable result. And my ankles are hanging over my shoes again. It would not be accurate to liken them to army gaiters because they aren't that smart. Hey nonny no! Whatever, I shall go to my Camera Club this evening because it will be good to chew over yesterday's visit. And there is a very good exhibition due to be shown. On screen rather than prints so I shan't need me binoculars. Nice to get an singing & dancing e-mail Easter Card from Ray which prompted me to send some of my own. With one's annual sub to Jackie Lawson there is no limit to how many one is entitled to send. And they are fun. The little children like them because there are things to click.

On one of my 'lie-downs' I dropped off, as you do, and when I woke my radio was on Oneword and somebody was reading. I thought wow! this is well written. Not surprising really. It was part of James Joyce's 'Dublinners' being read by Jim Norton. Must remember to try and catch the remaining instalments.

Anon 1 has left a comment on yesterday's and I think I had already guessed that she was she. A certain gentleness of expression denied to us rougher boots. If I had accidentally used the male gender in her respect I apologise. And 'Yes' OAGs are 'old-age gremlins.. I suppose it is somewhat of a misnomer because they are obviously young, fit, and vigorous.

The google homepage add-ons are fun but I had a strange experience. One of mine was a 'blog search' slot which also used Yahoo blog search in addition to google. Well - 2 days ago it simply vanished only to be replaced by a 'quotes' slot. I've checked the 'add stuff' pages to no avail. Doesn't matter a lot because I have simply added 'blog search' as one of my semi-permanent tabs on Firefox.

Bit of tea and then get ready for camera club. Catch you later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Super Day at RAF Cosford - Weather Great

Smashing day at Cosford but I'll come to that later.

Firstly the Moon phases. It's good that Anon 1 has adopted the add-on for his home-page. Now Google has gone into the idea in a big way there are pages and pages of potential add-ons. Ranging from Buddhist quotes to the News Headlines from Al Jazeera. I haven't succeeded in reaching the end of the add-ons yet so I don't know what else that I might like is lurking there.

I didn't sleep well last night; perhaps too excited about the outing today but around 3am the moon hove into view through my bedroom window. Tripod up, longest zoom onto Nikon, and click, click, click till an image which pleased me appeared. The rest were promptly deleted - Ah the advantages of digital. Not as sharp as I would like but it gives the picture.

Today it is supposed to be 79% and still a 'waxing Gibbous'. Mine certainly fits the description but I'm not too sure about the percentage. I hope not to repeat the exercise tonight !

The Aviation Museum day was a great success. Tim knew the way there and navigated us unerringly to our destination which we reached without major hold-ups. We saw the Roy car and thought they had seen us but apparently not - even when we followed them into a pub car-park and out the other side, when they got lost. Like yesterday it was very misty when we set off but you could see a pale old sun up there just waiting to burn all the mist away.

The temperature reached around 15C and provided another glorious Spring Day. The Museum was very interesting and one hangar was devoted to a 'Cold War' exhibition. I had taken along a box of some of my photographs from my national-service in the RAF in Germany 1953/4 and didn't realise what I had got. Mosquitos and Hurricanes still flying etc., and it said much for the archival quality of my printing in those days because they have for the most part remained sharp and contrasty. Picture 2 shows some of our group having a look at one of the outdoor exhibits on the way into our first hangar.

If I have a criticism it is that the curator has tried to exhibit too much in the indoor spaces. It needs editing by at least a third to give the remaining exhibits a better chance of being seen properly and appreciated. At the moment it looks as if everything they've got has had to be crammed in somewhere. But a throughly enjoyable day. And at least in the company of fellow photographers people can rabbit on interminably about matters photographic without being boring. Well most of the time anyway !

The journey back involved slightly more hold-ups because there had been an accident earlier in the day on the slip road leading to the A50 and it was closed. We needed divert around Derby which is notorious for bottlenecks at peak periods and we hit one. Still didn't take us long to get home though. Tim and John were excellent company in the car and I had taken the precaution of adding them to my Car Insurance for the day as a hedge against me having leg/back problems and being uncomfortable about driving. In the event I hardly suffered at all until right at the end when anther 20 miles would have done for me. But judicious doses of DiHydrocodeine at strategic intervals did the trick. As usual. But knowing that a back-up driver was properly covered gave me peace of mind.

I'm going to stop there and sort myself out. The OAGs struck again when I returned home. I decided to make a pot of tea and having put 2 teabags in the pot, I boiled the water and poured it in. Only to find that while my back was turned the OAGs had removed the teabags, with the result that, when I came to pour myself a mugfull I found that I had brewed a pot full of clear water. They really are incorrigible !

Catch you all tomorrow. Sleep tight. John was 48 today and I did remember to ring him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dull Start - Then Gorgeous - 12C

I've decided to love The Old Market Square after all. Although now I suppose we should call it The New Market Square. Or even its other name Slab Square because it now really is a slab square and great with it. A veritable 'plaza' or even a 'piazza'. Although it doesn't quite match Tiananman Square for size, neither does it have the unfortunate connotations.

It is now almost 100% open; good job seeing that they have had the opening ceremony, at least one of them, but there remain a few barriers still up. The odd water feature not fully working etc. but at least people can now use it again and, when one can appreciate it in its entirety, it is really really good. It will be great for publc events. If you can see in the background on the Council House Steps today was a Brass Band and jolly good they were too.

I happened to be there because I decided to drop Y of at the Station; she is Palmers Green bound again, and I 'needed' some filters for my lenses. 'Needed' is in quotes for obvious reasons. Tomorrow is my camera club jaunt to The Royal Airforce Aviation Museum at RAF Cosford so I want to be prepared. Really looking forward and I only hope the weather is like today. David once told me that if asked what the weather will be like tomorrow you answer "Much the same as today" you are right 2 times out of three which bears good comparison to the official weather-forecasts. Must'nt be too critical though because I reckon they have improved muchly over the last few years.

This is the band in full swing and taken on my 50mm lens. It's quite like old-fashioned photograhy i.e. zoom-in means walk a bit closer zoom-out involves walking a few paces further away. Easy.

I got my filters anyway. More expensive than I had hoped but there-you-go etc..

There were two lovely pretty girls in their band uniforms circulating among the crowd selling CDs. I asked their permission to take a photograph and they were delighted! I will publish it eventually but I'm in the process of tracking the band down so I can send them a copy first.

Re yesterday's 'comments', and 'Yes' to Anon 1. Part of the fun in finding books is the browsing charity shops and second-hand book and remaindered book shops. And if possible I like a slightly-foxed and well thumbed copy. It's comforting to know that a book has been well used. My first book of quotations was a Penguin edition and cost me 10/6d. It is so well used and annotated it has fallen apart and needs holding together with a stout rubber-band. But please no-one think of buying me a replacement. Also I still use my Aunty Tot's 1922 edition of The Concise Oxford - and it is just as good as the current version.

One of my new Google Homepage add-ons is this 'phases of the moon' slot.

It might not appeal to some, almost certainly not, - but I like it. Sort of half knowing what a Gibbous Moon looked like I'm looking forwad to finding out what the other phases are called. Wow ! Waxing Gibbous 66% of Full.

You learn something every day. Or should do! This quote appeals :- "Life is hard. It’s even harder if you’re stupid". Anonymous. Not, I hasten to add, our own Anonymous 1.

Don't know when, or even if, my blog will appear tomorrow. It depends what time we return from RAF Cosford and whatever time that is I shall be 'tatered'.

Bit of tea, and then Telegraph, Crossword, Radio and Magazines...............

Monday, March 26, 2007

Beautiful Spring Day -15C - Arnold

After a hazy start the day became quite beautiful. Spring sunshine and warm if you were in it but cool in the shade.

We decided on a surprise attack on Arnold Sainsburys, not that we needed much but we bought some barbequed chicken thighs to go with a salad. Wilcos was raided for a new breadbin and a nice stainless steel one appealed to us both.

Inevitably the charity shops and the book shop and W H Smiths came into our range of fire. Y bought 2 pairs of shoes in Clarkes and they are both her sort of shoe; one pair with slightly higher heels than she usually wears. Sainsburys was busy but most pleasant and I guess it does actually have the edge on Morrisons. I couldn't resist a slightly foxed edition of Palgrave's Golden Treasury for a nominal sum. My original copy went AWOL years ago. Although first published in 1907 this edition was re-issued in 2002 after the selection had been updated.

What I'm desperate to find is Wallace Steven's 'Collected Poems' which I outed in a daft clear out when I was sure I would never read poetry again. Fortunately Y was wiser and retrieved much of my collection, but not that. It contains that wonderful mystical poem -"The Man with the Blue Guitar" - which begins:-
"The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
And then the plot thickens...........

Picture 2 is a spooky rendering of one of Y's stargazer lilies, the smell of which is still dominating that part of the bungalow. It's an aroma which you either like or hate, like marmite, and most people don't seem to like it at all.

I've ordered Sky her little Practica 4mp Camera. She loves taking pictures and is quite good at it. As she is with most things. She's reached the local final of a chess tournament and if she gets through will eventually have to play at Manchester University. Brooke is still wading through books at an amazing rate. Helen says she can read ten a night and isn't likely to stop beforehand. So as a present for her, to match Sky's Camera I've ordered another book-chair.

I'm sorry there's a sparrow shortage in Anon 1's garden. There is an article in this morning's Telegraph about the changes in the garden-bird population. An explanation given is that with the mild winters of late and the early springs there has been plenty of food out in the country side. Hmmm! Could be I suppose but it sounds a bit glib to me.

Off for my tea now. Have a nice evening.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A little Sun - 12C - Busy morning

As I've gone-on about our absent goldfinches and their eventual return I thought a picture of them might be of interest. As you can see, this morning they didn't let the greenfinch bully them and he/she is waiting patiently even though with his back turned. How rude !

As I was also preparing lunch at the time this seems like evidence that I have begun multi-tasking like ladies do. Do you think I'm 'on the turn'?

TJ arrived promptly, as she always does but it's a good job she was reminded about the clocks going forward because she had forgotten. I cooked her favourite things - lamb chops, mashed potato (with swede and plenty butter), carrots, and purple sprouting broccoli. Onion sauce of course. As an experiment, as I was grilling the chops, I popped some halved-parsnips under the grill at the same time. They were fine but I should have gone to the trouble of taking out the central core because the end result was a little on the chewy side - al denté - TJ supportively said. Then we just went straight to a cheese board and coffee. Couldn't get any Somerset Brie and had to settle for Channel Islands Brie. It was fine but lacked the 'edge'.

Picture 2 is two sparrows from our colony. They look very much like mother & daughter but who knows. The bird bath is about 10 feet from were they live. David and Helen bought it for us as a present and it has given us so much pleasure, let alone the birds. There is lots of activity in there, sparrows, blackbirds, starlings etc., but I've never seen the robins having a bath. Perhaps they bathe at night when no-one's around, they are certainly up early and late enough.

I can't remember if I've mentioned the new 'themes' for my Google Homepage. One can select from several, bus stop, street scene, etc., and I've settled for the 'beach'. The really clever bit is that during the day the sun progresses across the sky from sunrise to sunset. After you've entered a location of course. It's great fun and Google must have a well established 'blue sky thinking' department because so often they are ahead of the opposition.

Picture 3 is a ScreenPrint of my Google Homepage.

I think the sun is in roughly the correct position for 4.50pm and it has the additional advantage of preventing one's homepage from looking bland and boring. I concede that one doesn't spend all that much time there, like the desktop picture, but it's nice to have something attractive to look at. The picture seems a little blurry, but it will convey the idea.

Had a good chat to David this morning and all seems well at Long Eaton. While Y is away I plan to nip over again. This time she isn't away at the weekend but mid-week so I'll probably go over and have a cup of tea around tea-time.

I've got lots of lovely reading to do and radio this evening and I can always find pictures to mess about with.

Just room for the last verse of the E. Nesbit tree poem :-

"The chestnut's proud, and the lilac's pretty,
The poplar's gentle and tall,
But the plane tree's kind to the poor dull city-
I love him best of all !"

Evening All ! Take care.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cold and Dull - Morrisons - New £20 notes

The new £20 notes are, in my opinion, very stylish. A work of art without question and full of little security tweaks; bit of embossing here, holographs, 3D effect there, watermarks etc., etc.,...... Interestingly I tried to 'open' the images in Photoshop, to crop etc., and I was curtly told that Adobe didn't permit banknote images. So there! Good old Picasa however had no such scruples so here they are, front and back.

I was surprised to learn (Y wasn't) that so few people apparently know who Adam Smith was. Mind you they probably didn't know who Sir Isaac Newton was either when he appeared on the banknotes. The Queen must be a safe bet though. It's probably a Tower of London job for blogging these pictures but, so long as I can take my laptop with me !

A nice quiet Rest Day, or 'doss day' as Karen calls them. Leisurely start, Telegraph, toast, start crossword and so on. By the way we have finished the crossword except for 23 across. Old pupil left 99 of the poems (4). We have ?D?C. The 'C' is abit suspect, being provided by 'decoked' from 20 down, 'Decarbonised fuel requiring no energy in the act' (7 letters). Then Morrisons at Bulwell for reprovisioning.

Picture 2 is Brum and I was very taken with him in the foyer. Y tells me he is a most unusual cartoon character.

If I had been just a little smaller I would have quite liked a ride but Y said that we hadn't time.

Y had picked herself a salad for lunch from the salad bar, as we were at the Bulwell store. They differ from the Eastwood store version which is too oily. I decided on a Cornish Pasty. Hope my 'Orlistat' will sort it out. Then it was back to the papers and magazines and a nice read prior to sorting out my pictures and doing my blog.

Pleased to report that the goldfinches are back, but are having to face being bullied by the greenfinches who seem to have taken a fancy to the niger/thistle seed feeder and they shoo away the waiting goldfinches. They remained patient however and got there in the end.

Just to carry on with the E Nesbit poem:-

"The English oak is a sturdy fellow;
He gets his green coat late;
The willow is smart in a suit of yellow,
While brown the beech trees wait."

That's it for today folks. Finish off spag-bol and watch 6pm news. TJ coming tomorrow for lamb-chops and then taking Y to Burton Joyce to watch Hannah dancing.
Hope we get a little sun tomorrow. Remember to do your clocks.

Friday, March 23, 2007

6C - Less Windy - Raspberry Canes

The purpose of the pictures is to give my new Nikkor 50mm lens a test run. It arrived this morning from a firm called Microglobe in London.

Jessops, Jacobs, Camulet etc., had all run out. They told me they had re-ordered from Nikon but that Nikon had also run out. Just shows what happens when a piece of equipment gets glowing reviews.

Anyway I googled one down to Microglobe; the bloke sounded respectable so I ordered over the phone around 1.30pm yesterday and Royal Mail delivered it at 7.30am this morning. Amazing.

I couldn't play with it straightaway because I had to go and have a blood-test. Then Trevor arrived to fix the boiler, again, and it is still leaking even though less.

The pictures aren't designed for artistic merit but for my own reference purposes. Picture 1 was at f16 and I wanted to see the depth of field. I'm most happy and the reviewers are correct, the lens is fast, very sharp and surpisingly light when compared with a zoom. It's quite like going back to 'proper' photography because, being a prime, it has a depth of field scale actually on the lens body.

Picture 2 was to see how it coped with an intricacy of foliage. Admirably in my opinion. This was at f8. Lenses often used to perform better at that aperture than at any other.
"The silver birch is a dainty lady.
She wears a satin gown"..

.................E. Nesbitt

Everybody knows that little couplet from School I think. But since my find of the 1000 poems for children book, I know the whole poem. Not off-by-heart of course.

Segue back to my lens. (I was amazed some years ago to discover the pronunciation is segwei. I'd always assumed it to be seeg to rhyme with league). My only slight criticism is a wee tendency to over-expose. But that is the D80 and not the lens. No problem once you are aware of it. I think I shall leave the lens more or less permanently on the camera I like it so much.
I made a spag-bol for lunch and at around 1pm Bungus arrived for the raspberry canes he is having for family. We had lunch first and then tackled the job. Y and I didn't see why new owners of this bungalow should have the produce from the excellent best-Scottish canes and much better for friends to benefit. He took a selection of early, mid-season and lates and you would all have laughed to see 2 old men armed with forks, spades, secateurs, sticks, black plastic bags etc., in the rain, digging up substantially rooted plants as if we were thirty. After about 10 though we reached a decision that 10 would be avbout the right number, and staggered indoors for a coffee. The soil was surprisingly un-sodden just below the surface. Following such a wet winter I expected it to be really claggy but it wasn't.

John rang and gave me Philip's new address. Lucky boy. His firm have set him up in an appartment in Alexandra Court off Woodborough Road which is really very nice and with a super view.

Then messing about, crossword puzzle, Telegraph and eventually made cheese-on-toast for tea and it was 'blogging time'. It was lovely to have Bob over. Y loves abit of 'social' and she often used to miss Bob's visits so she really enjoyed this one.

.... Coffee, radio, read and then bed, I think.

p.s. The clinic rang and my blood has settled down considerably. 3.5INR and I don't need to be re-tested till Tuesday. Three whole days away..... Wow!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cold - Wet - Misty - Miserable

Another Trinity Square picture so you can see what's afoot. To help in orientation, the building on the skyline (centre-left) is Victoria Centre flats.

Y rang me from the bus, on her way to Burton Joyce this morning to say that she had been in Market Square. The water-spouting wall which I foresaw as potential trouble has been demolished. Oh dear !! More expense for the poor council-tax payers of Nottingham. It will be interesting to see what they do next.

We haven't got closed minds about these things because we really like and approve of most modern architecture and design. There seems to be some horrors though. One building at the bottom of Tollhouse Hill has these ghastly blue and green panels which look so tawdry and cheap.

Picture 2 was just abit of street furniture opposite Y's 'nail' place where I dropped her yesterday. It is in black & white because it was the interplay of lines and shapes which appealed. The colours were not important and even a little of a distrasction.

I haven't been converted back to monochrome by John Blakemore; it is just that, sometimes, it seems more appropriate.

The 'comments' yesterday were pleasing and I would be prepared to wager that Bungus's 'Ghosts of Nottinghamshire' book was written by Rosemary Robb who, if he casts his mind back used to be a member of Nottingham Writers.

I had to laugh when he said he had cooked a 'Shroutm'. At first I thought he had said a 'Scrotum' and thought "they waste nothing at Boughton do they?"

Yesterday I decided that the bird-feeders needed a good spring-clean so I took them down and emptied them; gave them all a good scrub and dried them and refilled. No problem with tits, starlings, sparrows, the robin, and greenfinches - but the goldfinches have taken umbrage and I've not seen them since. No doubt they will be back. I hope so because I'm quite proud of our goldfinch family.

Camera Club this evening but first I ust go and collect Y from the tram.

Brilliant tip on WUforums this morning from Pete (Manxislander) of how to clear your desktop of all those untidy icons. You right-click on an empty bit of your desktop, click 'arrange icons by', uncheck 'show desktop icons' and they will vanish. But don't panic. Go down to your task-bar and right-click in an empty bit. Then left-click 'toolbars' and put a tick against 'desktop'. The word 'Desktop' will then appear at the right of your task-bar with two black chevrons above it. Click those and you have access to all your desktop icons. Luverly tidy icon free desktop.

Thanks Pete.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

2c - Sunny - The storm clouds but no storm

Still cold but the wind has dropped.

This morning it was over to the Chinese Nail place for Y's three-weekly full service and one to be repaired following a ring-pull accident on a can of alcohol-free lager for me !

After 'nails' we went to a smashing Italian café on Carlton Hill and had scrambled eggs on focacia, topped with smoked salmon followed by a sweet of which we had half each. Can't remember accurately but it was something like Toscanella ! Whatever it was called both dishes were delicious and the coffee was first class. I had a regular from a cafetierre and Y had Latte. I hesitate to call it a restaurant because it is so small. But we shall definitely go again. While Y was in the 'nail hospital' I had a look round the charity shops and, as I cannot leave empty handed I bought an earthenware crock which was originally for marmalade and I'm hoping that Helen and David will give it a home.

As usual when we go to Carlton it was a bright sunny morning but by the time we got to The Mechanics the storm clouds were gathering as you can see from Picture 1. All the activity in the centre of the picture is where Trinity Square used to be. A fact I didn't know until last week when Mike told me was that with these multi-storey buildings the first job is to install the lift-shafts. Then they build the rest of the building round them. It makes sense when you think about it. How on earth would you install a one piece lift shaft in a pre-existing ten-storey building? Our architectural correspondent will inevitably say something like "It's obvious and I would have thought everyone already knew that".

The threatened storm didn't materialise and by the time we emerged from our Venice class it was bright sunshine again.

I have entitled Picture 2 - 'Man lands Crane on Pub Roof'. The crane seemed to my 'lay' eye to be enormous and it must be a helluva difficult and skilled job.

The Italian lunch was a pleasant change from The Mechanic's grub but 'Horses for Courses' I guess.

In our Venice class we zoomed through Baroque and arrived at Rococco ( which always sounds to me like an Italian confection - which I suppose theoretically it is) - I think I'll have a Rococco and Coffee please ! The tutor reached Tiepolo and unfortunately that is where we must bale out. Last week is the last session and neither Y nor I can make it. I'm going to the Aviation Museum at Cosford with the photographers and Y is grannying in Palmers Green. So we thanked Bob very much and offered our apologies.

I got my INR book back in the post this morning and, as predicted, I have to be tested again on Friday morning. I have been given my Thursday dosage, so I guess I shall hear from them again on Friday evening. Thank you all for your sympathetic comments but I'm not really worried because we have been down this alleyway so often. The Clinic were concerned that I might be bleeding or have odd bruises and Y checked me over. Not a task for the faint hearted bless her!

BJ day tomorrow for Y and Camera Club in the evening for me. Nothing to prepare though because Clay Cross Club have sent across the slides of their exhibition for us to see. So that will be fun. My other photography magazine arrived this morning and it contains a big article about what is/is not acceptable photo manipulation and there was another article in AP about it. So if my little piece has stimulated debate, I am delighted.

And 'Anonymous 1' - when I said I was relieved you had arrived via Pete's Blog I only meant that it reassured me that you weren't a spammer, or a hacker, or worse. Nothing else, and it implied no criticism.

Just looked out of my window and there's a delightful crescent moon, really thin and nearly on its back.

.. Makes me think I'd better be sorting myself out is 9pm !!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Only 2C - Plus/Minus WindChill.

Really cold. Flurry of snow again but it didn't settle. It is hard to believe that this was taken as recently as Saturday.

Still if it wasn't for the weather we English would be at a loss for conversation openers. But it is because our weather is so interesting. Fancy every day being reliably sunny and warm and no wind = really boring in my book !

It was a Karen morning and we were talking about 'Rest Days' and she said "Round here they call them doss days". I've never heard it before but I like it. Trevor also came to fix the boiler and it is hard to know if his efforts have worked or not. It is now dripping from a different place but he said it might, until his leak-lagging hardened. We shall see.

For main meal we had jacket potato with cottage cheese and lots of salad. Y nipped down Nottingham for a mooch and to take her books back to Brommers. Unfortunately encountering the irritating woman who stopped her from going on Tuesdays. Apparently she sits in the little reading-room-come-coffee-place and reads something like The Spectator or Private Eye and every few minutes laughs pointedly, hoping one will ask her what has amused her. Y never does and just finds her annoying. I'd probably say something subtle like "Do you mind being quiet; this is a Library".

Picture 2 is a tulipy flower which is in Y's Mother's Day bouquet and I thought I would try to blur the background a little. But probably I've overdone it again.

There is a lens I want for my Nikon; it has had excellent write-ups, and obviously others think the same because none of the camera shops have one, or can easily get one. Every shop is having to order them from Nikon and Nikon have run out. Ah lackaday. I can manage without. But I wanted to spend my article £50 on something photographic.

I loved the Bungus and Jill stuff about the camera symbols. The Nikon is much the same, if less obscure. I'm sure the icon of' 'a man running' is for Sport, and that 'the mountain' is for landscapes. But I'm too much of a purist to use them. I hark back to the old manual SLR days and use A for 'aperture-priorty' or S for 'shutter-priority'. How boring !

It is a relief that 'anonymous' has become 'anonymous 1' and I'm relieved that you arrived via Pete (Manxislander)'s blog. Any friend of Pete's etc..etc........ That is enough for me and please keep your sense of mystery. We are all intrigued.

Nothing from the anti-coagulant clinc. But she said it would probably be Wednesday before they decided what to advise. And it is our Venice class tomorrow. They are coming to an end soon.

Wanted to share this quote with you:-

That's right. 'Tain't yours, and 'tain't mine. Mark Twain

(when friend said that a certain rich man's money was "tainted")

Then preparations for bed. Take me at least an hour and it's nearly 9pm.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Weird weather - Blood trouble again.

I thought that the house of strange design might be of interest from the front. Rear view in Friday's blog. Someone with local knowledge must know about it. I shall ask around, because it intrigues me.

This was taken about 12noon and the storm clouds are already gathering. The wind has been blustery all day and when I collected Y from Sherwood this afternoon the light was dramatic. We managed to have a charcoal sky at the same time as brilliant sunshine soon followed by sleet and then snow. Big flakes too.

My day has been busy. The car had passed its MOT fine so I went and taxed the car, then a blood test at the Doctors and my INR level has gone haywire again. It should be around 3 but has zoomed up to 6.4. The Clinic rang to stop me taking my Warfarin tomorrow and I guess I shall have to have it checked again on Thursday. Oh what a pain! The Clinic Practitioner was on the point of admitting me to Hospital again but, after checking that I wasn't bruising or bleeding, decided I could stay at home. Thank God. It can only be my 'Orlistat' anti-obesity drug, nothing else has changed. Watch this space !

I spent some time this morning making another bucketfull of Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup and for our evening meal -griddled smoked cod, the Jamie Oliver thinly sliced potatoes done in the oven, together with courgettes, mangetout, and fine beans and little mushrooms. Follwed by some left-over strawberries and raspberries with a dollop of Ice Cream. And I have discovered some alcohol-free lager which is tolerable. Bavaria. And 'No' it doesn't come from Bavaria it is bewed and canned in Holland. Anyway it is a great improvement on how Kaliber used to be i.e. vile.

The season is strange. This dandelion on a grass verge is in flower. I have always considered May/June to be the typical flowering period but maybe I'm mistaken.

John Redwood was a little disloyal to his boss when he pointed out that scientists have found that Mars too, is warming as well as Earth, but they can't find any race of the 4 x 4s which are causing it. But, as Bungus points out, it won't do us any harm to cut back on fossil fuels and other nasty things we do to the environment. The trouble is that, as we all know, it will all provide yet another excuse to tax us more.

Thanks 'anonymous' for asking. We were happy with the Crossword. It would be nice to know who you are but welcome anyway if you want to preserve your mystery. Could you perhaps be 'anonymous 1' so we don't become confused if any other 'anonymousses' appear. Or should it be 'anonymice' ?

The consensus seems to be 'mistle thrush' but, as Bungus points out Turdus viscivorous is an unfortunate proper name.

My INR blood level will settle down again eventually. But....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blustery/cold - RPS great - Y at Sherwood

Picture 1 is a perky young Thrush (I hope) who stood still long enough to be photographed through the kitchen window. I've noticed that, in between moving very fast, they stand stock-still for ages. I suspect that she (hopefully, again) could see me through the window and wondered what I was about. Anthropomorphing like mad. Me that is, not the bird.

A cold day and we had everything from sun, through showers, to heavy sleet and all with a strong blustery wind. TJ was to pick Y up and take her to Sherwood for the 'mothers' day' celebrations and as they weren't eating till this evening she plans to 'sleepover', meet Joan for lunch and then I'll collect her from Tracy's sometime in the late afternoon..

My day at the RPS was super and even better than I could have expected. Geoff Watts in the morning session was interesting with his work about the closure of factories, culminating in the closure of Raleigh on Triumph Road. He had many weeks of access to the production line and so won the confidence of the workpeople that his resultant pictures are of historic significance.

The afternoon was John Blakemore Hon FRPS and his pictures were stunning. He is a black & white man at heart but really an 'artist' working in the medium of photography. He also has a lot of 'the poet' about him. "Daffodils stand to attention but the tulip is a gestural flower" he says.

All his prints were beautifully presented and, as I said yesterday, he has an international reputation. I feel I learnt such a lot, even though I don't aim to resume monochrome. One thing he said which went straight in is "don't abandon an image to soon; without looking at it for perhaps weeks, there may be more there than you think" . He actually suggests doing an A4 print and blu-tacking it to the wall somewhere. And for digital people, don't delete stuff in the camera, wait till you see it bigger on the computer. You can't judge an image that is 2.5 inches across or less.

Sitting next to me was a very intersting chap and his wife. He is a psychiatrist working with 'art therapy' and they were both art lovers and keen RPS members and our inbetween time conversation were wide-ranging. I was 'virtuous' in the matter of buffet lunch and had tea and coffee without a single biscuit. No walk today, the weather isn't fit anyway. Perhaps tomorrow.

Jill sounds as if she has had a busy day. 14 people ! I thought on Mothers' Day the mother's role was 'feet up with a stiff gin & tonic'. Bet it was fun though; families are, even if they cause worries.

I'm going to try an early night but prolly won't sleep well. Brain still too busy

p.s thanks 'anonymous' for pointing our that 'truant' doesn't end with an 'n'. 'Truant' was correct; it was 'monorail' which produced the 'n' that was wrong. It must have been 'motorail we guess !

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rest Day - Art Exhibition - Walk

Lovely leisurely start to the day. Both slept well and breakfasted together. Nearly did the Telegraph Crossword straight off, which isn't bad for me because traditionally I find Saturday's competition one difficult. Y finds it easy. 'Innit strange. Anyway she nearly finished it, then I did another. But we were left stumped by 4 Down, clue= "Played by one out of form".(6 letters) ?R?A?N,

Answer please?

Then after a late coffee we decided to go to Durban House to see Broxtowe's Annual Art Exhibition. We didn't realise it closed today at 12noon. I knew that our Camera Club Chairman Reg had won 'Best Local Landscape'. We arrived with minutes to spare and saw Reg receive his prize. Another friend Mary Bingham also won a category which was an excellent effort in view of how bad her eyesight is. But she can see form and colour and does an excellent job of transforming that gift into Art. She's always been very talented.

Picture 1 is the Council's 'flyer' for the event. Quite a tussle to make a picture of it because it started life as a PDF document. The Ways and Means Act triumphed again.

Picture 2 is Reg's winning picture. It is of the old Greasley Board School at which Lawrence taught (briefly) and it is still going.

Apparently some of the 'paint' artists were a little dismayed that a photograph had won. But the rules allowed photographs, and congratulations to the Judges for being broad enough to give it the first place which it richly deserved. It does rather 'catch the eye' in my opinion.

Altogther, counting all categories, 143 pictures had been selected for the exhibition and were displayed. Congratulations Reg !

Then, - wait for it - we went for a walk along the converted railway line which used to serve Brinsley Colliery. I only managed a 100yds or so but it is a start. And if I can combine diet, orlistat, and at least some exercise I am sure to benefit.

Picture 3 is cute little bridge over what hardly merits the description 'stream' , and the footpath eventually leads round to the 'Headstocks'. All that dappled shade looked smashing in the afternoon sun. But I decline to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins on the subject yet again !

We turned round at that point and I made it back to the Car Park. Y was extremely supportive and said it was excellent for a first effort.

The home for a gentle salad lunch. Eventually I suppose I shall grow to like salads as opposed to considering them a punishment. If I eat them often enough I suppose. Seem to remember that Pavlov did some work on the topic.

Quick kip, messing about with pictures and it was tea-time. Gravad salmon on nice fresh toast, with a little gravadlax sauce. And lashings of mugs of tea. Rich orange colour, just as I like it. Then watched the Rugby. Wales won, deservedly so. Their pack was much stronger and, as Y says, there seemed to be more of them! A sure sign of ascendency.

Three Blog pictures this evening. Might be brief tomorrow because I am an RPS do all day. It is Geoff Young who I don't know well, and John Blakemore Hon FRPS who I do and has a worldwide reputation. I shall take my binoculars because there will be prints. It amazes me that more don't do the same. How they manage to appreciate A3 prints on an easel 30 yards away amazes me!..

..... Their business I guess, not mine. Sleep tight.......

p.s Just a reminder again. If you want to see a picture full size please click on it. Pete (Manxislander) had forgotten. So others might.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mostly Rest Day - Car MOT - Griddled Tuna

Another from the 'dawn' series. I'd put the camera on the tripod and set the self timer to 5secs, to prevent camera shake as it needed quite a long exposure. And just as the shutter clicked open this lorry shot across. The effect pleased me so I didn't delete it.

I shan't use it for anything though because I wouldn't expect anyone to like it. Mind you, at the camera club last night, Helen had the subject 'Movement' so it would have done for that I suppose. She did a lot of lateral thinking and managed, among other things, to shoe-horn in a picture of Abu Simbel, quite properly arguing that that temples had been moved. (To allow for the flooding of Lake Nasser')

Other people had subjects I would have preferred to my 'atmosphere', like 'bridges' and 'street-scenes' for instance. But it was a most pleasant evening and the absence of competition worked well. Surprisingly enough there were fewer there than on a competition night. Perhaps other people enjoy the merciless attacks on their little darlings more than I do.

Picture 2 is a house of most peculiar design which we pass on the way to Eastwood. The other side of the sticking-up bit has quite normal windows in it. Why it was designed like that I know not. Perhaps our architectural correspondent could shed some light ?

The house is almost level with a flashing sign which has just been installed and tells you what your speed is. Unfortunately, for days it has been stuck on 33mph, and it still flashes "Thank You" as you sail past.

I'm sure they will fix it.

It was a lovely morning after a frost. And with the lawn having recently been mown the air was worth taking lungfulls of. Mrs Blackbird was working the front lawn with a will while Mr Blackbird was uselessly pecking at the gravel. Blackbirds really are stupid birds. Later in the day it clouded over and rained quite heavily. Derek next door had seen the 'global-warming denial' programme and has been persuaded by the arguments. This though is difficult to believe - the daffodils have peaked too early in Cumbria and they have planted plastic ones so as not to disappoint Wordsworth fans. Please click. Y thinks we have been taken over by aliens. It is beginning to seem the only explanation.

The car passed its MOT without needing any work, but it made me realise that the OAGs have now gone national. I couldn't find this years certificate to take to the garage with me, and only realised when Steven brought the car back, replete with new certificate, that the gremlins had changed the shape and design of the certificate ! On a more local note, when Y unpacked after London the OAGs his her electronic thesaurus (her favourite toy) in her bedside cabinet with her tablets. The swine !

I read a piece this morning in which the journalist said it had been necessary to 'anonymise' something. To make sure I wasn't missing out on some current usage I checked - Chambers - "Sorry, no entries for anonymise were found" - it said. To my relief.

.Apparently we are in for a cold spell, with the possibility of snow. I hope those plastic daffodils will be OK.

p.s. To remind readers. If you want to see a picture full size just click on it. And if you want to leave a 'comment', and they are always welcome, click on 'comments', right at the bottom and follow the instructions.