Archive for February, 2009

Nothing ever stays the same

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I always think that things I know will never change, but they do, and it’s a bit disconcerting. Places, people and things grow old, decay, get damaged and get altered. A place that I love and know stays forever the same in my mind, so if I see it again after a long time and find that it no longer looks like my cherished memory, it’s a real shock.

The house I grew up in looked out onto some hills and there was a prominent rock stack visible. It had a very particular shape that I came to love and know, and I would stand and gaze at it every day. Even though it was some way away I could see it clearly.

I loved it when we went for a walk on the hills and climbed up to the place where we could stand just a few feet away from the familiar shape and I could gaze and marvel at it. It looked so big and strong. My love of shapes and patterns and textures that is seen in my Flickr photostream has been with me for as long as I can remember.

A while ago the camera club I belong to had a visiting speaker who showed us his photos of the county I grew up in. I was really enjoying seeing familiar places that I love and know full size up on the screen. Suddenly I got such a shock! There in front of my eyes was my beloved rock stack thin and emaciated, it’s familiar shape completely gone. I was stunned. I just couldn’t believe it, How could it have eroded away like that. It looked old and wizened as if it was dying, my familiar childhood friend replaced by this imposter. It had looked so permanent to me as a child that I thought it would be there forever. How wrong I was.

I got another shock yesterday. This is one of my highest viewed photos on Flickr. I love the patterns and textures in it, and I took this photo because I had never before seen old tyres so beautifully stacked as if they had been woven together. It really inspired me.

Used tyres

Yesterday I was visiting a friend who lives near to where I took this photo, so I decided to go and have a look.
Of course it had gone – completely! The beautifully woven stack was just an empty yard with some ordinary messy piles of tyres behind it. Why ever did I think it would still be there? But in my mind it was. I’ve never before or since seen a stack of old tyres so beautifully arranged. I’m so glad that I got this shot of them while they were there.

Spring is in the air

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

After a long cold snowy frosty icy foggy winter, I can feel Spring in the air at last! There are lots of snowdrops around and beautiful purple and yellow crocuses. I haven’t seen any daffodil flowers yet, but their spikes are shooting up through the ground and their yellow buds are fattening. I’ve got some lovely bright lime green helebore flowers in the garden, and when I wake up in the morning, I can hear birds singing. It feels warmer, and the sun sometimes shines. And there’s a special feeling in the air. You really can feel Spring in the air. I don’t know how it happens, but I can definately feel it.

I’m looking forward to the time when gardens are full of beautiful colourful flowers again, and I’ll be able to take photos of them. That’s one of things I love doing with my photography. Preserving the fleeting beauty of wonderfully created flowers. I can look at my photos any time I want to, so in the middle of the winter, I can enjoy images of flowers from past summers. The latest photo that I’ve added to my Flickr photostream is a lovely bright photo of some pinky/mauve daisies that I’ve added a texture to.

Guided tour

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

In the village where I live we recently had a meeting about speed limits. All speed limits are going to be reviewed soon, and the Parish Council wanted to make sure that parishioners had an opportunity for their views to be heard by the people doing the review.

During the meeting the speed van that regularly vsits us was mentioned and discussed, and our county councillor told us that if we would like to have a look round one of the vans, the operator would be pleased to show us.

This morning as I went out, I saw the van in the distance but I couldn’t stop then as I was on my way somewhere, but when I came back and was no longer in a hurry, he was still in the village, just in a different position.

So I parked the car, walked to the van and knocked on the window. A small black window opened, and I explained our county councillor’s invitation. It took a minute for the operator to realise what I was saying, but then he opened the door and invited me in. He showed me the equipment and demonstrated how it works. It was fascinating! The zoom on the camera was amazing!

On the screen cars looked so close and so clear that it seemed as though they were only a couple of yards away, when really they were miles away! (well not literally miles but a long way down the road) He showed me how he used the laser and locked on to a car’s number plate then with a click, the car’s speed was instantly displayed on a screen. The operator isn’t allowed to check every car. He has to judge that the car is exceeding the speed limit before he is allowed to use the camera, and has had training in speed recognition.

I always try to keep below the legal speed limit, but when I’m driving past a speed van I go much slower than the legal limit in case there is a margin of error in my speedo. I asked about this, and was told that when a car is manufactured, the margin of error has to be lower and not higher than the actual speed. How they do that I’ve no idea, but it was quite reassuring.

Thank you for the music

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

My favourite shows at the Theatre are tribute bands, and some of the ones I like best are Abba tribute bands.

I saw one of them recently, and I really enjoyed it. They were brilliant! Over two hours of singing and dancing Abba style. They were very loud, which I don’t like, but I think they had to be loud because the theatre was packed and everyone was singing along!

Every now and then ‘Agnetha’ and ‘Anni-Frid’ would stop singing and hold the microphone towards the audience, and the song just carried on full volume, with perfect timing! The atmosphere in the theatre was amazing! For all of the second half, the whole audience was on their feet dancing. It’s not very often that audiences dress up, but when it’s ‘Abba’ quite a lot of people do. There were lots of long wigs, some blonde, some dark and some silver! And lots of home made sparkly glittery 1970’s clothes.

It was a great night, and I can’t wait until the next one!
So – Thank You For The Music.

Taking holidays is stressful

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I love holidays. I love going abroad to investigate a new country, spending time at the seaside in the UK, and having days out visiting gardens, towns and other interesting places. It’s exciting looking at new environments, taking photos of interesting things and walking along the beach listening to the rush of sea on the shore. These are all things I look forward to and plan into my year.

But unfortunately there’s always a price to pay. It has to be paid after the holiday when I get back to work. I come back to find piles of things on my desk, most of them without any notes to say where they came from and why they’re there, so I have to do a lot of time consuming detective work. Everything is behind and queing up to be done, and everyone expects their query to have top priority.

It gets very stressful knowing that I can’t complete the waiting work as I would like to be able to. I often wonder if the stress is worth it, and perhaps it would be better not to take the holiday, but I don’t have any choice. The law has just been changed so that people can no longer carry any holiday forwards into the next year. That means that I have a lot of holiday to use up this year, and I’m already worrying about the work not getting done.

I’m told that the law has been changed to protect employees. But it’s taking away the option to spread out your holiday if you want to. It will make people have to take their holidays at a time of year when they can’t benefit from them, or when they are too busy at work to take any time off.
I’m sure that the lack of flexibility will work against the wellbeing of employees and not for it.

Torvill and Dean

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

As well as being Valentine’s Day today, it’s also a special anniversary. It’s 25 years ago today since Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympic Ice Dance Competition.

Over the years that they had been competing together, they were at the cutting edge of Ice Dance choreography leading the way with all the other competitors worldwide watching what they were doing and copying them a year later. As they headed towards the Olympics they gave up their jobs, Christopher as a policeman and Jayne who worked for Norwich Union, and turned professional to concentrate on their effort to win Olympic Gold.

When they had finally decided on Ravel’s Bolero, it was far too long at over 17 minutes when they were only allowed 4 minutes of skating for their performance. After working together with a professional musician for three days, they could only get it down to 4 minutes and 28 seconds. As the 4 minutes only started ticking once their skates were on the ice, the beginning of their now famous performance was invented and they started it on their knees so that wouldn’t be counted in their time.

Their iconic performance is still as brilliant today as it was 25 years ago. It was the first time ever that any skater had achieved the top score of 6.0 across the board, which has never been done again since.
Have a look and see for yourself – Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and Ravel’s Bolero.

A mitred square

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I had a very creative day today. I took a days holiday from work and went to a Creative Craft Show with some friends. It certainly was creative and very inspiring. There were stalls and demonstrations of all sorts of crafts. I got ideas on cardmaking, jewellery making, machine embroidery and knitting.

I could have spent a fortune at the stalls because there were so many exciting products, but I was careful not to get too carried away and managed to find some good value items that were a bit different.

As I was looking round, I saw a piece of knitting made up of squares where the stitches went round a 90 degree angle! I’d never seen anything like it before and it facinated me. The angle showed up well because the squares had been done in multi coloured yarn. As I was looking at it and asking the knitters about it, they told me that there was going to be a workshop later in the afternoon where I could be shown how to it.

By the time I’d finished walking round I was tired and needed to sit down so the workshop was just at the right time. A lovely lady called Sue gave me yarn and needles and instructions and I knitted my first mitred square! Now all I have to do is think of something that would look good knitted in them!

Concentric circles

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

I recently got the chance to experiment with a light box. I tried photographing all sorts of things on the light box. Some of them worked well and some didn’t work at all. The things that worked best were the ones where the light from the light box shone through them and made them look translucent.

This is one of my favourite shots and one of the most successful. It’s a glass bowl in a fairly dark almost navy blue glass. I love the way that the light has lightened the colour, shown up the texture, and enhanced the circular ridges in the bowl. It looks like abstract art.
My other lightbox images are Glass nuggets with red and Glass nuggets with bottle

Concentric circles

Colour in the winter

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

One of the reasons that I became interested in photography, was so that I could capture the lovely colours and the beauty of summer flowers and be able to enjoy them in the depths of winter when everything was cold and grey and colourless.

Since that time my photography has expanded and I enjoy taking a variety of shots particularly pattern pictures, but flowers remain a favourite. The beauty of creation is something that amazes me. When I photograph a flower, especially if it has an insect on it, I get the chance to study them closely, which I find so interesting. I love all sorts of flowers, but roses are one of my favourites.

Here’s a photo that helps me to remember the lovely delicate pink petals and beautiful fragrance of an August rose, and to look forward to the time when I can photograph this year’s flowers. This photo is on my Flickr photostream.

Pink summer rose

Moonlight and snow

Friday, February 6th, 2009

After several days of brushing snow off the windows and windscreen before I could drive the car, this evening for the first time in quite a while, I had to scrape ice off it. It’s a lovely clear night. The stars are twinkling in the sky and the waxing gibbous Moon, only three days away from being full, is shining it’s silvery light on the snow that’s still lying around.

The snow looks so lovely, sparkling and glistening as if it had diamonds sprinked across it, and together the snow and the moonlight make everything look so beautiful and quite light.

It’s a long time since we’ve had as much snow as there’s been in the last few days, and I don’t think I can ever remember the loveliness of moonlight on snow before.