on my radar …

2018-06-13 13.30.17It’s been a busy week so maybe I’ve got enough highlights to talk about.

1 sport. It doesn’t seem to let up does it with the World Cup taking over our TV screens and the European national rugby teams on tour? Are the latter post or pre-season? And we’ve just finished a test series with Pakistan and are about to start one with Australia. I enjoy sport but what do I watch and, critically, whom do I support?

Generally I’ll go for rugby first and for this I’ve got two teams to support: Wales and South Africa. I was comfortable with the last gasp Wales victory over the Springboks in Washington and have been delighted that the ‘Boks have just beaten England twice in succession.

There are some who say that rugby in South Africa has suffered because of the need to include black players in the team and that some are there for political reasons and not on merit. All I can say is you don’t give a 100 caps to a player who doesn’t deserve them (Tendai Mtawarira affectionately known as the Beast). And the new captain, Siya Kolisi, looked every inch the part in the two victories.

2 restaurant. We went to 1921 in Bury St Edmunds for lunch. It was the bribe I gave myself in return for agreeing to a furniture shopping trip to Glasswells. 1921 is super. It’s very much Masterchef with smaller portions and uber-elegant presentation (see the picture above). The food was excellent and the service attentive, knowledgeable and professional. It’s not cheap but I’ll certainly return. They have a seven course taster menu which sounds pretty good to me.

3 music. Today we’ve been to a concert at St Andrew’s in Histon given by the Medlock Ensemble with guest soloist Rachel Cannon on clarinet. I’m no expert but I’d say that the second half was better than the first and I enjoyed particularly the Mozart Divertimento in F  K138. Ms Cannon was especially super first featuring in Five Bagatelles for clarinet and strings by Gerald Finzi and then later in a challenging modern jazz-like variation of I Got Rhythm by Paul Harvey.

But I have a grumble. There was an official photographer present who took photographs during the performance so it wasn’t just strings and clarinet but also shutter noise. Not good.

4 book. I’ve just finished Smoke and Whispers by Mick Heron. I’ve previously enjoyed his Slough House trilogy which are to some extent in the le Carre mould but so tightly written that if you skip a paragraph you’re in danger of losing the plot completely. Smoke and Whispers is crime without an ending. Strange really, I felt a little cheated but I guess you have to read the next one to find out what happens next. A bit like those box set TV series which go on and on.

5 London. I don’t often go to London now but it always thrills me. This week I had two meetings and my schedule worked perfectly. It was a sunny day, not too hot, and I started with an early train from Cambridge North to Liverpool Street. I met colleagues at Wild & Wood. It’s a no compromise coffee shop; ‘we don’t do decaf’. Then a very satisfactory meeting on the 12th floor of 88 Wood Street before I stretched my legs to walk to the Aldwych. en route I stopped for an excellent lunch at Haz, I sat at a pavement table and enjoyed a salmon and avocado salad, before getting a good couple of hours of ‘free’ planning advice from a consultant who’s interested in pitching to help the Parish Council with its Neighbourhood Plan. Finally more walking to King’s Cross where I got a seat on a rather full train which got me home at the end of a very rewarding 12 hour day.

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Charlie Hewitt

hewittWe all spend some time reminiscing but you do a bit more when you get older and for some reason I had this memory of my father taking me and a bunch of other males relatives from Connah’s Quay and Shotton to a football match in Bolton when I was about nine.

The occasion was an FA cup tie between Bolton Wanderers and Millwall (Bolton won 3-1) and we went because Millwall was managed by Charlie Hewitt who must have been married to one of my paternal grandparents’ sisters because by father always referred to Charlie’s daughter, Joan, as his cousin.

I wasn’t sure how accurate my memory is but Wikipedia has quite an article about Charlie (click here to read it). He had been a pro footballer before becoming a manager. During the 1920s he managed Connah’s Quay & Shotton United with some success as they won the Welsh Cup in 1929 beating Cardiff, who had won the FA cup in 1927, in the final. He then moved to Chester and on to Millwall in 1936. He was sacked in 1940 (plus ça change) but rejoined them and managed them again from 1948 to 1956.

The match in question took place in 1955 and I remember little of it but I do remember being taken into the boardroom after the game. I have a faint recollection of dark panelling, a cabinet full of silverware and lots of men.

I have stronger memories of Joan who married Dudley Hodson (Hudson?). They lived in Beckenham and had three children one of whom was Peter whom I remember meeting in Hong Kong in the late 1970s.

Connah’s Quay & Shotton United went through a number of rebirths and name changes and I remember them as Connah’s Quay Nomads whom I watched in the 1960s. The club is still going strong and I note from wikipedia that in recent seasons it’s qualified to play in Europe and that in 2015/16 it played the Norwegian side, Stabæk Fotbal, and became the first Welsh side to keep two clean sheets across the two legs of a European tie!

Click here for the Wikipedia Connah’s Quay Nomads page.

Apr 18: photo of the month

DSC00238This is a nice photo of how people should work together voluntarily to improve our communities. This is just a few of those who turned up to do a big litter pick in Orchard Park mid month. The event was organised by Andrew Chan (4th right; now chair of the community council) and Amanda Haywood (extreme right aka Mandy Moo community environment activist).  Also present were district council election candidates Steve Hunt (third right; now a district councillor) and Darren Cotterell (second right).

This photo was taken with my Sony Alpha 77 II f9 at 1/200th and a focal length of 20mm (why didn’t I stand further away?). I confess to post-processing to remove a shadow in the foreground.

on my radar …

DSC00632It didn’t last very long. I started what I thought might be a weekly review back in September last year (https://wp.me/phtcF-IZ). I wrote just 2. Maybe it should be an occasional review. Anyway here’s one for the past week.

1 photography. I’ve been an avid photographer for a long time and I learnt the basics from my father way back. Of course it’s helped that I’ve done my fair share of physics so I understand how cameras work. I’ve had an SLR since 1974 or thereabouts. That was a Minolta and that’s why I’m now with Sony.

I’ve recently worked with Chris Sidell who’s a good, I mean good, photographer. He’s mastered the technique of setting up the shot (art direction) and then he’s also pretty good when it comes to post processing. I’m not a great fan of the latter but I do now pay a little more attention to the way that I frame the shot and don’t always simply take the camera chosen exposure settings.

I’ve been on holiday to Sardinia recently and have just posted a selection of photographs from the trip (https://flic.kr/s/aHsmiBCBGe).

2 local government. Early in the month most of the country went to the polls to elect new district councils. South Cambs was no different but the result was quite extraordinary. The Lib Dems took control with a yellow tide which swept all before it across the district. In Histon & Impington we elected 3 Lib Dems where previously there’s been 2 Independants and a Tory.

Last Wednesday was the first meeting of the new Council and it was good to see the Leader of the Lib Dem Group, now the Leader of the Council, talking in inclusive terms about the how she wanted the Council to operate. In any contest the winners will win most if they can avoid alienating those that they’ve defeated. It should be about bringing everyone together and not about imposing the will of the majority on the rest. Check out https://wp.me/p7tuu7-1Oc for my take on the meeting.

3 football. It’s a cruel game especially in cup tournaments because the result is so digital. You win and it’s good or you lose and it’s like the world has come to an end. So it was with Liverpool on Saturday. For many reasons I wanted Liverpool to win: I grew up close to the city, I really like and respect the manager Jurgen Klopp, I’m delighted at the success that Mohamed Salah has had, and I think it’s time that Real Madrid moved over and let someone else enjoy the glory.

It was not to be but the one positive to take from it is that Liverpool was beaten by a flash of brilliance from Gareth Bale. OK I grew up close to Liverpool but my home was still in Wales and Gareth is a fellow Welshman (and he went to school with Sam Warburton). He’s a great team player, he turns out for Wales and always seems to raise the game of those with whom he plays.

4 book. I’ve read lots of John Grisham. I wouldn’t say he authors great literature but his books are always well written with good solid three dimensional characters and well-researched plots. On my recent holiday it was the turn of Camino Island. It was good enough for the purpose but I really would have liked a stronger ending. It was all a bit convenient with nobody getting hurt, a bit like those TV series which all too frequently set up the next series.

5 TV. It seems that more good TV is being broadcast outside the mainstream UK channels these days. The critics talk about the good stuff being made by Netflix, Amazon and the like but I’ve not yet got hooked into it mainly because it’s all on subscription and there’s a limit to the number of £10 a month fees I can afford.

I like watching TV as a part of my unwind process in the evening. However recently I’ve been disappointed by the drama on offer so I was interested by the ‘all stars’ production of Crooked House on Channel 5 last night. For once it was not a case of ‘all stars no actors’ because it was done rather well although it fell flat in the end. Did the little girl really have to due? As an Agatha Christie mystery it had little depth. Fortunately for me I did get to see another performance by Gillian Anderson, albeit a cameo. She really has performed well in her post X files days especially in the contrasting roles in Great Expectations and The Fall.

Mar 18: photo of the month

DSC00173I think this is the first time that my photo of the month isn’t one from my daily photo blog (jdjhiston.tumblr.com) Not sure why this one of number 1 grand daughter Amelia didn’t make that cut but for me it’s just about perfect. I like the back lighting and succeeded in exposing properly for the face.

It was taken with my Sony alpha 77 II f5.6 and 1/125th with a 70mm setting on the telephoto.

Feb 18: photo of the month

2018-02-14 13.48.01DSC_0233-EFFECTSFebruary can be a bit of a challenge for photography unless you’re in a place which is blessed with halfway decent weather and the photo on the left is a point and shoot with my phone at the church in Keyston.

The photo in the right is the result of accepting my phone’s offer of post processing without my involvement. I just gave it a light crop.

Not a bad result.

Taken with my Sony Xperia XZ1, f2 at 1/160th. I guess it’s always f2 but why is there such a generous depth of field?