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Not In My Name.

Today our glorious leader will be sending a letter to the European parliament to formally announce the start of the process for the UK leaving the EU.

I am hugely sad about this for a number of reasons – I was stunned by the result of the referendum last year and have been quietly hoping that it was either all a bad dream, or that there was some undercurrent within the political machine that would make it possible to review the decision in the cold light of day and with some truthful data, rather than the hate-fuelled scaremongering that characterised the original campaigns.

And yet here we are, several months later, with the main protagonists in this awful storyline having slunk away into the wings until everything has blown over, about to drive the bus off the cliff because that’s what the passengers have voted for.

I feel sad that the idea of being part of a world greater than our own small shores is so scary to so many people. I feel sad that so many of my fellow countrymen can’t see the benefit of the free flow of people as a positive thing, despite all the evidence to back this notion up. I feel sad that so many people in our small island see the self imposed exile that we are about to inflict on ourselves as ‘taking back control’.

But I shall travel. I shall see new things and I shall continue to be bewildered by the little Englanders who see anything not draped in a Union Jack as somehow lesser.

Sigh.

NDC

Go!

Last week was quite a week.

It all started sanely enough on Monday at 6am, after my first (sort of*) weekend off since January. I headed off to the office and was home again around 6.45pm. I made dinner for Mrs A and I, we ate together, watched TV for a couple of hours, before going to bed and sleeping the sleep of the just until 6am the following morning. (more…)

Saphar episode 4 – Delhi to Dubai

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It was an unusual journey to the airport. The hotel that we’d stayed at overnight was very close to the terminal building, one of the big, corporate places that spring up around most airports, surrounded by similar hotels, empty roads and not much else. Eight days after we’d arrived in India I’d become (almost) acclimatised to the traffic to the extent that the lack of cows, camels, suicidally reckless cyclists or certifiable Tuk Tuk drivers trying to occupy the same small patch of tarmac as us felt odd. Not even so much as a single truck heading towards us on our side of the road…..

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Lucky Man, Part III

Today marks the passing of another great man that I’ve been lucky enough to call father.

Today my father in law, Jim, died.

Jim lived a life that I am envious of. He was a man of character and humour and grace. He welcomed me with open arms and was a warm, honest man of integrity. He was full of the qualities to which I aspire.

Thank you for the smiles and the happy times Jim, your like is a rare thing.

NDC

North

The Lake District smiles on me. I love North Wales and the mountain ranges of Snowdonia, but almost without exception when I’m there the Goretex will be on my back before I’ve trudged out of the car park.

The lakes are different. I know they’re officially one of the wettest places in the UK but in recent times the sun has always shone on me, so I feel like the place actually doesn’t mind me being there, like it isn’t giving me a great big cumulonimbus-shaped “sod off” every time I haul my pack onto my back.

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Small Town

I love the town I live in, it’s a really nice little market town with a great mix of small independent shops sprinkled with enough supermarkets and the like to make living here very easy. There’s a fast train to London and good connections to pretty well everywhere in the country. We have access to at least
4 airports within an hour and a half’s drive, so our numerous microadventures to other parts of the planet are pretty cheap and easy.

The mix of people here is quite interesting too. Although the connections to London have meant that quite a few commuters live here, you don’t have to scratch too far below the surface to find the rural community. It’s not at all unusual to see a kanckered old pickup with hay bales and a collie parked up in the town centre between the BMWs and there is a tractor showroom on the main road into the town just next to the ford dealership.

Old school and new school occasionally have differing priorities and have been fighting a battle over aesthetics recently as evidenced below:

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This door was, until yesterday, attached to one of the lovely little terraces that happens to be on a route I take when walking into the town. We’ve lived here for a couple of years now and it’s always been shabby (which I am a huge fan of. To quote mrs A: “If it looks old and knackered you’ll like it”), but over the last couple of weeks has become, shall we say, embellished?

I spoke to the guy who owns the house, who explained that he’d been getting anonymous letters put through the door about the shabby paintwork. He started by ignoring them but, as the letters kept coming, he painted the door as above. The thing that made me laugh the most was that he’d actually gone out and bought a notice board just so he’d have more space to write scathing commentary about the actions of his neighbours. He cackled as he was telling me the tale, whilst in the background fitters were installing a new front door in a very tasteful colour.

I couldn’t see any haybales or a collie, perhaps they were in the garden.

You should come and live here, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Happy Birthday

Today The Boy Wonder has turned 10. A lot has changed in the last year, for a start he’s been doing a ‘how to stay safe online’ study at school today, hence there is no picture of him and we now have a super-secret password just in case someone decides to hack my email account and tries to start an illicit conversation with him, so he can check it’s really me.

We had a birthday for him on Saturday with us, with cake and bowling with his mate and burgers and presents. It was lovely.

Happy birthday big fella, may the wind always be at your back.

Photographic Memories

Once upon a time I used to be a quite keen photographer. When I was in my early twenties I spotted an old Minolta X-300 35mm SLR  in a charity shop and got bitten by the bug. Over the space of a few years I began a learning process that took me from knowing very little about f-stops and  apertures, to being able to discern between specular and diffuse reflection and take a pretty good shot at setting up a multi-light arrangement for most occasions. The full manual setting on my SLR was my weapon of choice and I even managed to take a handful of decentish pictures.

I was, in short, a nerd.

Years later digital arrived and I gradually moved over, eventually assembling a pretty decent digital outfit including one of Canon’s legendary ‘L Series’ lenses (see nerd comment above) and I lived it all over again. There was a new learning curve to be had in post production which had previously been way outside my scope. It used to be that I’d think nothing of lugging around a couple of kilos of gear for hours in search of that one elusive, perfect image, a choice made a little more straightforward by the fact that compact cameras were pretty limited and phone cameras were laughable.

But times change and since I was really firing on all cylinders with this stuff, technology has moved on (along with airline luggage weight allowances). I picked up a pretty decent compact a couple of years ago to travel with me to Sri Lanka, I’ve found that it has more than enough manual control for me to be happy and to get 99% of the shots I could have got with the full fat setup plus others that I would have missed through being too slow with heavy gear. As a result the bulky old SLR has languished entirely in the back of the wardrobe along with flashes, light modifiers, stands, tripods and assorted other bits and pieces. It’s time had been and gone for me so its currently finding various new homes via eBay and charity shops.

And the proceeds of selling off my gear?

Well, please allow me to indulge myself in one of my favourite photographer quotes, attributed to Jim Richardson:

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” 

Next stops Riga and Berlin, maybe more depending on how much people value L series glass these days…

Not So Dry February

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So here we are in February, the start of a new month and the first beer of the year for me.

Mrs A and I decided to pack in the booze for a month after a hectic Christmas and new year, a cheque written by my confidence that I wasn’t entirely sure my willpower could cash. I thought that the early part of the month would be tricky but it was surprisingly easy (I think because we were both on the same wagon) and I always knew that once I’d got past the midway point only a forcibly administered pint would spoil the challenge, such is my competitive  nature.

Mrs  A is talking about extending the dryness through February as well (I’m not sure if she has, as she’s away with work this evening), but that’s not for me. I’ve done my time thankyouverymuch.

The beer in the picture was a Christmas present from The Boy Wonder, suggested by our local wine/beer merchant and is a belter. Apparently the brewery in Belgium that produces this beauty only make one batch per year and that’s that. To do my best to mirror the time and care taken in production, it’s taken me all evening to drink it, as it’s 11% and should probably be categorised as ‘weaponised beer’.

Cheers!

November 2015

November was a surprising month for our neighbours. We were actually at home for the whole month. My photostream for the month contains a grand total of just 5 pictures. 4 of them are of small boys desperately trying (and often failing) to be on best behaviour at the remembrance day parade. TBW got picked to carry the standard for his pack, mainly by dint of not paying attention and failing to be elsewhere at the appropriate moment. I told him it was a big honour and he just gave me the look of a boy that’s been told to carry something big, heavy and unwieldy. Later I stifled giggles as one his mates got told off by Akela for pretending his memorial cross was a sword as the vicar delivered his sermon on the folly of war.

And so the month passed in a blur of house viewings and auctions year end paperwork. The real world can be very dull, can’t it?

A bit of a short post bust next up is December (as is the way of calendars). We were busy in December.