May 2022 Update

Dad – late 1940’s

I seem to have fallen into monthly updates here, whilst still posting my FiftyFromFifty newsletter over there.

It’s been a busy month work wise (see below), and also in a few other areas. I’ve had my film camera out again and have been working my way through a couple of rolls of film some of the results I’ve posted here and there are more to come. I’ve been looking at buying some more rolls of film as I’ve almost used up the small stock that I have. Unsurprisingly the prices have gone up quite a bit, but I have a couple of ideas of different things that I want to try so I don’t feel like I need to buy large quantities of film at the moment.

I’ve also been breathing new life into old photos and slides, scanning boxes and folders of them in fact. I’ve found quite a few that I’ve never seen before and many of relatives in their younger days. Some are obvious as to who they are, others I’m not 100% sure of, possibly because they died before I was born. Some are labelled, but they are in the minority.

I’ve been able to visit my Mum – as opposed to only speaking to her on the phone – now that her care home is covid-free again. It’s strange that we’re now supposed to be “living with covid” and yet hundreds of people are still dying on a nearly daily basis. It really does feel like the government has failed this country in dealing with this killer virus and continues to do so on daily basis, preferring to pretend that there’s nothing to see. Their favourite phrase seems to be that we “just need to move on”.

We’re still planning our house move, and although it’s still a little way off, I’ve made some significant progress this month in making it happen and there’s more to come hopefully next month.

We’ve had a few issues with Wilson’s health which has resulted in more unplanned trips to the vet. He seems to be doing much better now, but he was a cause for a bit of concern earlier in the month.


Work

This month has been busy with a client project and also having to renegotiate a contract. There’s been an exchange of emails over the content of the contract which at the moment I cannot sign. I’m hopeful that we can reach some middle ground but I’ll have to wait and see what comes back from them by way of revisions before being able to make a decision. In the meantime I have delivered on what I have been doing for them and there’s is potentially more work in the pipeline.


Allotment

It feels very strange knowing that this is probably my last year on the plot with a potential house move imminent. It changes the way you think about things and what you’re going to plant where. At the moment we’re getting a good crop of broad beans and I’m hoping to be able to plant out squash and courgette this week, as well as some climbing beans. I’ve also got some bush tomatoes coming along that look like they are about ready for larger pots or potentially going into the soil.


Books

I’ve read a few books this month, including finally finishing Derek Jarman’s first volume of diariesModern Nature – evidently it has taken me nine months to read them and as they’re not very long I’m not sure why. I would definitely like to visit his gardens in Dungeness one day and see just what he was able to do in such an inhospitable space. I’ve since moved on and am reading his Pharmacopoeia: A Dungeness Notebook and a little of his second volume of diaries.

I’ve also read a couple of books that didn’t pass my fifty page rule (or 20% on a kindle if there are no page numbers), I don’t name and shame because I think this can sometimes be as much about personal taste or mood at the time of reading, and I have been known to go back to books that haven’t passed the test and reread and enjoyed them so it’s a rule of the moment rather than to be rigidly applied.


TV / Film

Really not much to report here at all, mostly we’ve been watching repeats, programmes from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, programming that fills the time but ultimately means that I spend more time reading with the telly switched off. I have been enjoying Bosch: Legacy which I think is the only bit of new content I’ve been watching but I think that only has 2 episodes left, so probably by the time this goes out will be finished.


Well I don’t think that there’s much more to say this month.

Stay safe and take care.

Easter Weekend Film Project

The weather was forecast to be good over the long Easter weekend, so I decided that I would load one of my film cameras with a roll of film and restrict myself to shooting that roll over the four days. I was up early most days so had some really great morning light, particularly on the first day (Friday). Here are some of the images I took.

As an aside I used a new local (to me) laboratory to process and scan the film. They advertised a 3 day turnaround (from receipt of film) but actually took nearly ten days. By contrast I sent another roll to my usual processor and they turned it around in 2 days (they advertise a 7 day turnaround).

Always Check Your Exposure TWTW # 135

These posts are always a look back at the week gone by, and sometimes either because I’ve not done much or because there’s stuff I don’t want to or can’t talk about it’s a struggle to know where to begin. My week this time started with a visit to see my Mum, she’s very well, but didn’t recognise me or rather she had me confused with her cousin. This is pretty normal, and I suspect partly to do with having to wear a face mask but the alternative i.e. covid is much worse.

I’ve had another vet appointment with Wilson, he’s much the same and we go back again next week.


Allotment

It’s been very hot at times this week, and I’ve been picking the moments when it’s slightly cooler to go down to the allotment, mostly earlier in the day. The weeds are relentless but we’re getting a nice run of different things now, including the start of courgette season – it won’t be long before the novelty wears off I suspect.


Watching

Another Star Trek movie this week – Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home – but not much else of significance. I did enjoy this YouTube video though, Jaws is one of my favourite films and this was a little treat.


Reading

I’ve been reading Nature Cure by Richard Mabey this week. Or rather re-reading it. It’s the authors story of recovery from a period of mental illness and how he falls back in love with nature.

It’s not actually that long ago that I read it, but the book was originally published in 2005, and this is a reprint to celebrate the author’s 80th birthday.

If you’ve never read it, I’d recommend it and all of his other books to be honest. I have another more recent book of his in my tbr pile – Turning the Boat For Home – which I’ve yet to read.


Photography

I’ve had one of my film cameras out this week, I’m determined to make use of the better weather if I can but I am very conscious of the rising covid numbers and therefore cautious about where I go to take photos to not put myself at risk. I’ve exposed about half a roll of film, which doesn’t sound like much but given the fact that film photography is so much more expensive these days, carefully choosing a shot is much more important. I accidentally took a frame this week (I pressed the shutter a little too far when trying to trigger the autofocus and it took the picture before I’d had a chance to set shutter speed and aperture to check it was properly exposed) and I felt a little guilty knowing that one probably won’t come out. I might of course be surprised by the result.

My plan is to try and finish that roll this week if I can.


Links

In Cape Cod’s ‘Sharky’ Waters, Humans Learn to Coexist with an Apex Predator – after watching the Jaws YouTube video this landed in my inbox!

Sea, sand and dogs galore: the best British beaches to run free

Climate scientists shocked by scale of floods in Germany


Well I guess that’s about all that I have for this week. I’ve got a couple of unconfirmed work things and a vet appointment in my diary this week but otherwise no firm plans. Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.


Infrared Euphorbia TWTW # 124

Hello.

I probably should be working on a bid proposal right now. I have a few days to do this but obviously the sooner it’s done the better, that said I wanted to write this post first.


I had the scans back from both of the rolls of film that I sent off to be processed. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I am pleased with several of the images. One of the rolls was another roll of infrared and I want to get the negatives back so I can understand what I’m looking at a bit better. The first half of that roll I experimented a lot with different filters, exposure lengths etc and I took notes, but I really need to see the reference numbers on the negatives rather than the file names on the scans.

I’ve also bought a couple of new rolls, so hope to be loading the camera with one of those soon.

If you’re interested I’ve shared some of the images from both rolls in the slideshow below.


We watched The Call of the Wild over the weekend. We were both a bit sceptical about it being a good film, but both enjoyed it. It’s not going to win (m)any Oscars but it told the story from the book quite well. I’d been curious as to how that might happen. It wasn’t completely faithful but if you’ve read the book, you’ll certainly recognise it in the film. I’m not quite sure who the audience was meant to be and whether it was supposed to be a family film or something else, and it’s a shame that all of the dogs are CGI but it was a pleasant evenings entertainment if your bar is set fairly low.


I got to see my Mum in person this week. As covid rules are relaxed and vaccines deployed I was able to go and have a short visit after submitting to a rapid test. I’m not certain that Mum knew who I was behind all of the PPE, I think she recognised that it was someone she knew but not that it was me. That could be part of the Alzheimer’s disease too of course. A proper visit as opposed to a window visit or a phone call is of course much better and now that it can be a regular thing again, that’s much better.


Books. I’ve been reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week, albeit somewhat slowly. It’s all about the Common Swift and it seems a little poetic to be reading it at about the time that the Swifts normally return in any number. They seem later this year but that might just be my poor observation but I’ve spotted Swallows already and normally I see Swifts a little earlier than them.


Allotment. The nights are still so cold, despite us enjoying some warm daytime temperatures where I’ve even sat in the garden under our sun-brolly reading a book on a couple of afternoons. On the allotment I’ve been preparing ground for sowing but holding off with the actual sowing due to the nighttime temperatures. Clearing weeds and watering have also sucked up a lot of time. Although we’ve had a few passing showers they haven’t delivered much in the way of moisture for the plants and because of the temperatures a lot of things are under cover to protect them and so don’t see any of the rain.

Garden lore says that the first bank holiday in May is the time to sow runner bean seeds indoors and the second bank holiday the time to plant them out. I’ll be doing mine tomorrow on the bank holiday and hopefully temperatures will improve before the end of the month.


Work. As mentioned above I have a bid to prepare. I don’t feel that confident about it but we’ll see what happens. Otherwise this week has been pretty quiet in terms of work things, I’m not sure that I’m seeing the economy picking up in my sector the way it perhaps is in others.


The week ahead is going to focus on work things but hopefully there’ll be some time for some other things.


Digging In TWTW # 116




Greetings from my allotment. No I’m not there typing this but I was thinking about this week’s post earlier when I was there. Thinking that for many weeks I haven’t had all that much to report about my plot but I’m hoping that as this week I’ve actually been able to turn the soil a bit as we’ve had a dry spell and the heavy clay is less heavy and therefore less likely to do me an injury when digging, that there will be more news to tell.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do over the coming few weeks to get things moving into spring properly and realise that I’m probably a bit behind with seed sowing, so this coming week I’ll be making some headway on getting things moving in the right direction.



Reading. My reading this week has been more listening that reading as I’ve been working my way through some audiobooks.
I’ve been listening to Austin Kleon’s audiobook trilogy of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work & Keep Going. I have actually read all of these and they’re a great resource to dip into but I’ve found quite a few things by listening to the audiobooks, that I missed when I read them. It’s been interesting just thinking about how my brain works differently when listening as opposed to reading – ears over eyes.


Also from Austin Kleon was a post linking to the artist Julian Onderdonk who is one of the artists who I added fairly early to my Artists Twitter list.


Shaman Balls – Craig Childs


We had a trip to the vet this week. A planned appointment for Wilson to have some blood drawn for his regular checkup and adjust his medication if need be. We haven’t got the results yet but we’re not expecting any nasty surprises. Fingers-crossed.


Watching – The Commute Walking 90km to Work. I’ve done this a few times over the years, but I think the longest I’ve done was about 8 miles each way and I left early and got home late to make sure I was on time for the start of my day. I’ve been enjoying Beau Miles latest video this week. It reminds me how much I’ve missed walking during this latest lockdown. Fingers-crossed that everything will continue to move in the right direction and in another few weeks the only being able to go out once a day for exercise rule will be relaxed.


I’ve had my film cameras out this week. The sunlight has been great and I’ve loaded a roll of infrared as much to have an experiment with different exposure, iso and other settings ahead of being able to get out properly and take photos. My theory is that experimenting in controlled conditions in my back garden mean that I can make better judgements later. I also broke my cable release and have had to order a new one.


Well that’s it for this week. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, not that I’m expecting to be doing anything much different, but I am planning on doing some different things from my usual routine.

Stay safe and take care.


Teams Zoom-a-thon TWTW # 101

I forgot to mention last week that I’d made some grape jelly. We harvested the relatively small amount of grapes from our vine in the potting shed and converted it to jelly. We ended up with 4 jars. We have also since given it the taste test. It’s pretty good, although I think Ann likes it better than I do. I put some Star Anise in when I was cooking it and this has given it quite a unique taste, I’m not sure I care for it.


I was saddened to read that Sir Sean Connery had died


I’ve been reading an Inspector Montalbano mystery this week – The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri – and when I finished that I moved straight to an Inspector Morse – The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter. I seem to be wanting to read a lot of mystery novels at the moment. Not sure why, maybe it’s just a part of my brain that wants to be entertained in a certain way.

We’ve also watched a couple of Inspector Morse mysteries on TV as reruns. It seems that the series are being reshown from the beginning, so I’ve set our digibox up to record them as they are shown. It will give us something to watch as we enter the new national lockdown.


Workwise this week has been a round of virtual meetings. I have to say that depending on which client I am talking to their videoconference platform of choice varies. There’s a lot of Zoom and the rest seem to be Teams, with the odd Facetime or Googlehangout for some variety. Of all of them Teams seems to be the worst, although they all have their varying problems, the variety means that I get to experience them all. At the moment I’d much rather use them than have to travel for face-to-face meetings but I’m not convinced that it is a mature technology yet, despite the extensive field testing it’s getting.


Neil Gaiman’s Halloween Reading for 2020


More photos back from the developer this week. This was the black and white roll that I took more or less the same time as the roll of colour that I shared some pics from last week. Anyway some examples from the second roll below.


Work on the allotment has been a bit limited this week due to inclement weather. I’ve managed to do some weeding and some digging to keep things moving in the right direction but that’s about all.


I doubt it will all be over by this time next week, and frankly I still think it could go either way.


So it looks as if we are going back into another National Lockdown, assuming that the Prime Minister can get the new restrictions through Parliament. It’s going to be much harder this time I suspect, and possibly harder for the authorities to enforce.


That’s it for this week. Stay safe and well.

TWTW # 100

Life’s a beach as they say…


Work has been fairly quiet this week, with a few queries about on going projects and potential new ones. Not much to report on that front.


I’ve been reading Rowland White’s – Harrier 809 as mentioned last time. I enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as I thought I was going to when I wrote about it last week. I would recommend it though if you have any memories of that quite iconic airplane or that time of history.


I did get back one of my rolls of film this week, I expect to get the other one shortly (they had a problem matching the developing liquid to the film, so we’ve gone for a work around). I was pleased with the results. There’s a little slideshow of some of them below.


Our government doesn’t seem to care about child poverty and hunger.


There’s not much else to say this week. The week ahead looks like it’s going to be a bit busier work wise, but other than that I have no specific plans.

Take Care and Stay Safe.

Memories of Jumping Jets TWTW # 99

I seem to have packed quite a bit into this week, including a trip to the seashore. Here are some highlights.


I’ve been reading Colin Dexter’s – Last Seen Wearing this week, an Inspector Morse novel. I finished it yesterday afternoon and immediately picked up Rowland White’s – Harrier 809 (Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War. A bit of a contrast in reading matter. The Inspector Morse was a good read if a bit convoluted in plot terms towards the end. It’s a bit early to say much about the Harrier book, except that it is already bringing back memories of watching Harriers practice ski-jump take-offs and vertical landings at RNAS Yeovilton. There’s an aviation museum there and right alongside it is/was the airfield where you could go and stand against the fence and watch the aircraft. In those days mostly Harriers and helicopters. They also had a Concorde in the museum where you would walk up a stairway at the tail of the aircraft and walk along its length to end up looking at the cockpit. You can probably tell that I’m looking forward to reading this book, and in truth have had it on preorder for a while.


We’ve had a number of lovely days this week, and on Friday the nice weather coincided with an opportunity for me to take my film camera out again. In truth I took two film cameras, and a digital out. One film camera loaded with a partially exposed roll of black and white film and the other with a new roll of colour. I finished both the rolls and they are now on their way to be processed. I’m using a new company to do this, but they seem to be well recommended so hopefully I’ll have something to show for it in a week or so.

I was a bit undecided as to where I was going to go. I’d been thinking about trying to get some photographs of the autumn leaves, but the colours aren’t really there yet so in the end I went to Royal Victoria Country Park. It’s the site of an old military hospital, has a military cemetery on site and is right next to Southampton Water so there is a land / sea interface to play with photographically. The bulk of my pictures are on those rolls of film although there are some digital ones shared here.


My car passed its MOT without requiring any work other than a couple of advisories. I was worried that I might end up with a big bill for repairs, but other than anything that might need doing in the meantime we’re all good for another year. I’m hoping that my next car will be electric but at the moment the prices are still prohibitively high so I am trying to make what I have last a little longer in the hope that those prices may fall.


I’ve been digging and manuring on the allotment this week, nothing very exciting, but essential work to prepare the ground for next year.

I gave a talk via Zoom to a horticultural society on Thursday evening. There were about 25 viewers, which is about half what they normally get for an in person talk. It’s strange giving talks this way. They need to be revised as some of the things that I can do in person don’t work via Zoom and you don’t get the same feedback as you do when you’re there in the flesh. It is however keeping something going.


Covid-19 lockdown rules are pretty much a mess here in the UK at the moment. Summed up pretty well by Jonathan Pie


A Rare Look At a Bobcat Family


My friend David has a new article up at Lit Reactor on Modern Western Films. I love his selection and would also recommend watching In a Valley of Violence and Jane Got A Gun if you haven’t seen them.


Well I guess that’s about all I have for this week. Take care and stay safe!

Porridge Days TWTW # 96

Greetings from the allotment where I’ve been preparing the ground and planting out kale plants and sowing broad bean seed.

It was the autumnal equinox this week, and for the first time in a while I felt a little cold wearing shorts and swapped them out for a pair of jeans and socks. Porridge has returned to being my breakfast staple of choice. We’ve had some clear nights and it won’t be long before we have some frosts I think. I’m getting the plot ready for winter and this is probably the last planting round of the year.


I got all my rolls of film back from processing over the course of the week. Disappointingly my roll of infrared was heavily underexposed. I was using a filter to totally block visible light, and long exposures (40 secs) to try and capture images, but probably the exposures needed to be maybe a minute or longer. The roll of black and white that I had, which was over 16 years old and date expired back in 2004, produced some good results. As far I can see there was only one frame on the roll that looked like it might have deteriorated with age, the rest were great and some very pleasing images.


 

It was my Mum’s birthday this week, because of the new covid restrictions the care home she is in has gone back into lockdown and so visits are not possible again, but we dropped off some presents and a card the day before and had a good chat on the phone. She had a good day by all accounts with a tea party and cake on the afternoon of her birthday.


I was sorting through some books at my Mum’s house this week and found an old bible. When I looked inside I saw the inscription in the picture. My assumption is that it was presented to me, but I never knew I owned it. The day I found it was also the 24th September. Very strange coincidence. If you’re interested the verse referenced reads:

 

“And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable-fill all you thoughts with these things”


I’ve been reading Desmond Bagley’s – High Citadel – this week, originally written in the 1960’s and despite a slightly unbelievable closing, it stands up well, unlike some other books written in the same period.


I’m reading less “news” nowadays. I just find the latest screw-up by our government or Trump outrage something that I just don’t want to know about. I think this probably means that I am missing some other interesting stuff but to be honest I think I’m better for it. It does mean that these posts are a bit more, me, me, me, rather than a broader view, so apologies for that.


That’s it for this week, stay safe and take care.

Hard Words TWTW # 95

Sometimes these words come easily and sometimes they don’t. This week the words are a bit lost. I’ve had quite a busy week, although much of it was mundane things and really there should be many, many things I could write about but the words just aren’t there, so sorry if this weeks post is a bit on the boring side.


 

I thought I was going to have a quiet week workwise this week (see below), so I booked a day in my diary to go out and take photos. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. No pressure, just take some gear and go and shoot some roll(s) of film. I took two cameras and three rolls of film. One infrared, one fast colour negative and one slow black and white. As with all of these trips so far this one was experimental, particularly with respect to the infrared. I used a filter on the lense that blocks all visible light, and will only allow infrared through to the lense / film. It meant that taking shots took a lot longer to set up and I was playing with ISO settings and the length of time that the shutter was open. I’ve taken some quite detailed notes so I can understand what was more effective (or not) when I get the pictures back. They’ve all now gone off to the lab to be processed so I might get them back in time for next weeks post or I might do a separate post depending on how technical it might get.


The lense convertor for using my old Minolta lenses on my Canon digital camera arrived. I’ve only had a chance to check it fits and take a few test shots, but it works within the constraints of matching two different types of hardware. So physically everything works well, but not unexpectedly things like the autofocus doesn’t, so manual focus will have to do but beyond that shooting purely on manual works really well, and that is what I do most of the time anyway.


I’ve been reading Robert Harris’s new book –  V2 , which I enjoyed. It’s a good mix of fact and fiction over the Vengeance weapons used at the end of WWII, it wasn’t amazing but it was entertaining.


I’ve been planting garlic and overwintering onions on the allotment this week. It will be another nine months or thereabouts before we’ll be eating those. I’ve also been doing some of the more mundane jobs like weeding and tidying and getting the plot ready for winter. There’s always plenty to do.


It’s been an interesting work week. All quiet until mid-week when I had a call from a client asking for some help. Not quite sure where this will go, and I have a follow up call booked for Monday to work out what they need and how/if I can help. It’s good news so far and hopefully will turn into something concrete.


That’s about all I have for now. Take care and stay safe!