Jan 18: photo of the month

2018-01-31 13.02.27It seems to have been a rather humdrum month for photos. Plenty of worthy photos related to activity during the month but nothing exceptional from a photographic standpoint so this is the best of a perhaps average bunch.

The photo is of fish and chips at the Red Lion. It’s a feature of the Wednesday lunchtime menu and it’s a treat. This was taken with my Sony Xperia XZ1, f2 at 1/50th. No post processing, perhaps I should have lightened it a tad, not even a crop.


on reading the newspaper

guardianI guess I’m of an era. I read a newspaper. In fact I’ve got one on subscription and if I haven’t bought one all day I’ll still go along to the newsagent at 10pm and pick one up. I just like to read a newspaper.

Of course it isn’t just any newspaper. It’s the Guardian. I’ve been a devotee since the 80s when I lived in Switzerland and had to make do with the Guardian Weekly and the occasional daily paper when I was close to a main railway station or passing through an airport. I read it because it reflects my values and it’s got some super columnists which I especially enjoy reading. And perhaps it’s also important that The Guardian is not an establishment paper like the Telegraph and the Times. It stands alone, it’s got a bit of attitude. I like that.

My routine these days is to walk to the village in the morning and buy croissants for breakfast and to pick up my newspaper. I then eat the former and read the latter at the kitchen table. Then just last week my routine was shattered (well, not quite) when the Guardian moved from Berliner to tabloid and restructured itself at the same time. How would my routine cope.

With the Berliner, I liked that format because it fitted my briefcase easily, my breakfast reading routine was easy. First the sports section, then the main section from the back and finally G2. Nothing too complicated but the new structure isn’t so simple.

Today’s Guardian comes as just one package so to some extent it’s like reading an old fashioned newspaper: I start at the back to read the sport first. Then it’s Media, Arts and Social depending on the day. I tend to go through that more quickly before hitting Financial which I spend a little more time on.

That’s when I get to the centre where I find the Journal nestling. I take it out, enjoy the centre spread, and then start the Journal, from the back again. This is the meaty part of the paper and this morning it gave me a comprehensive briefing on digital currencies after which I quickly scanned the obituaries and then hit the centre again. This time I find G2 which I lift out and put to one side because one advantage of the new format is a double page spread of letters. After letters I continue towards the front where I get a full 4 pages of editorial and opinion. That’s a good chew over breakfast.

When I’m done with the Journal I go through G2, but from the front this time, before returning to the main paper and finishing off the front section, again from the front.

So: a changed format and a changed routine. Does it matter? Is it worth it?

I liked the Berliner because it was different but the tabloid has one distinct advantage. Because I read a newspaper flat on a table, and at breakfast it’s spread out beyond croissants and coffee, it’s good that the top of the paper isn’t too far away. Certainly I couldn’t read a broadsheet that way and even the Berliner was a bit of a struggle. The tabloid is just right.

In addition to the change of format and the change of structure there’s been a redesign. It’s not bad but at present I’m still mourning the loss of the old blue logo with the italic ‘the’. Actually it’s not italic. When did that change? That must have been the last logo but one. I find the new logo a little stark.

But what hasn’t changed is the content. Same old, and young, columnists. Same left of centre value set. Same breadth of coverage. It’s still my paper.

Dec 17: photo of the month

2017-12-10 08.54.48I got a new phone towards the end of last year and I’m really pleased with the photos I’m getting with it. You’ve still got the disadvantage of a single fixed focus lens of course but as long as you’re looking for a shot with a dominant foreground or one that asks for a good depth of focus it does a great job.

This is one of the first photos I took with it and it’s a classic point and shoot to capture the moment. It was early morning after a snowfall and I had to hang around a bit whilst the Co-Op cooked another batch of croissants. Serendipity again.

My new phone’s a Sony Xperia and this shot was taken at 1/50th f2. You can almost feel how cold the morning was …

2017: best year for some time

DSC06909-2I’m not saying that recent years have not been good, they’ve all been good or even excellent, just that 2017 seems to have been exceptionally so. Anyway this is my 5th year end review and I’ll change the format.

It’s been a year of three thirds (aren’t they all?).

The first third of the year (Jan-Apr) was dominated by politics, specifically my campaign to be reelected for the third time to the County Council. With hindsight it wasn’t a big ask but I left nothing to chance and worked very hard just to make sure. As it was I secured just 55% of the vote and, as the Cambridge Evening News said, crushed the opposition.

The middle third (May -Aug) was quieter. We had a week in Portugal (https://flic.kr/s/aHskVpVnC9) to wind down from the election and a short break in Southwold (https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3V3Df9) then I had a Charles Rennie Mackintosh weekend in Glasgow (https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1EPJss). I had a reunion lunch with three friends from infants school days and was fortunate to pick up a little extra work in Spain. But generally it was a quiet middle of the year.

The final third (Sep-Dec) started with my birthday, the big 7 (see picture above), and then extended through an epic holiday trip to Hong Kong (https://flic.kr/s/aHsm9pTuvQ) and Australia (https://flic.kr/s/aHsma53xXU), the birth of grandson number 1 in November, and a wedding which involved us staying in Gladstone’s Library (https://flic.kr/s/aHsktRq3cQ) in Hawarden in December.

Looking back at the year in total I am surprised again that my generation seems to be surviving. I attended the funeral of neighbour Jean Davidson in January and read of the death in 2016 of Colin Sprakes, a contemporary at Churchill, but otherwise it seems that we just soldier on. For that I am truly thankful.

On a personal level I’ve not managed to shake off the kilo I put on during Xmas 2016 and have exercised less but nonetheless find myself in good enough shape and comfortable running longer distances. My only problem at the moment is an ectopic tooth which looks likely to need surgery early in 2018.

Juni and I have continued to enjoy meals in excellent restaurants including Costume Bistro in Porto, Realmente in Queluz and Churrasqueira in Braga (all in Portugal),  the Sibton White Horse in Sibton, Suffolk and Number 16 in Glasgow and Petition, Sauma and the Boatshed in Perth (WA). We’ve also stayed in several super hotels including three Pousadas in Portugal and the Lindrum in Melbourne.

And finally … this is how I signed off 2015 and 2016.

‘It has been a very good year and I feel blessed. With so much trouble and uncertainty in the world I seem to have found a place which is especially rewarding. I can but hope that my life continues that way’

Don’t see any reason to say anything different again this year.



Nov 17: photo of the month

DSC09228I could do with posting a few more pieces about life in general because this is the third monthly photo in a row which doesn’t say much for the variety of my life!

November seems to have been rather over supplied by wine and beer photos with no special events. Here’s the best of the wine photos taken with my Sony A56 DSLR 1/80th sec at f6.3 with a focal length of 210mm. I’m getting better at setting up these shots to keep the background out of focus. There’s been no post processing.

Oct 17: photo of the month

DSC08701Lots of candidates for this month  with some epic (by my standards) pictures from my stay in Australia and some good ones too following my return. But this one gets the nod because I reckon it’s technically good (would benefit a little from cropping in) and I guess I got it by doing what the professionals would do: taking lots of shots and trusting to serendipity that some will come out pretty good.

It was taken at Surfers’ Beach at Kalbarri, Western Australia with my Sony A56 DSLR. My telephoto was at 280mm with a 1/640th exposure time at f8 and ISO100.

Sep 17: photo of the month

DSC06918This may not be the best photo of the month, there’s a bunch of good candidates from my visit to Hong Kong and the start of my vacation in Australia of course, but it’s of a type and it’s a memory of a great event.

The type is my liking for handheld available light photographs. And the event was my 70th birthday party. It was a dinner so it was nighttime and the subject is a pavlova.

The photo was taken with my Sony alpha 58 DSLR, 1/40th and f6.3 with an ISO setting of 1600. There’s been no post processing beyond a light crop to get rid of some of the clutter in the foreground.