I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died

Pretty happy at the moment I follow a sky arts programme on the telly, 4th series coming up. Anyway one of the finalists, unprompted, actually liked a couple of my photographs. This means a hell of a lot to me, I means its massive, to me anyway.

A bloke soaking up the low winter Sun in London on a Sunday morning

I recently joined a camera club which I attend for the guest speakers. I have visited about five times now and as yet, have spoken to no one. I have come to the conclusion that the membership are not my sort of people, now I’m not being snobbish and I am sure they are kind to their mums. But I just don’t like them, I came to this conclusion last Thursday, trouble is I don’t know who my sort of people are anymore. Digging deeper I really am not all that sure who I am anymore. I’m certainly a completely different bloke to who I was 10-20-30 years ago and I do think I have lost myself a little over recent years.

I’m off to the Photography Show at the NEC on Monday, I have to leave my wallet behind, I bought a Canon 35mm F1.4 lens last month and I need to let the bank account get over the shock before I buy anything else. Very pleased with the lens though.

On Monday I went to the camera show at the NEC Birmingham, it was a shock to the system. I go to the NEC a couple of times a year for trade shows but I never really visit for personal interest. The car parking is extortionate at £16 for the day, proof that lack of competition causes profiteering. Lord help us as competition for our public services and utilities get swallowed up by foreign mega companies. The next shock was the £19 entrance fee! I never pay to go into trade shows and I thought the fee for this, which is ultimately a large number of stands flogging camera equipment was excessive. Any show discounts were quickly wiped away by the £35 already paid out just to attend. Any way I did enjoy the show and even shelled out for some new stuff:

  • Lee ND Filters
  • A Tether Lead
  • Paper
  • A magazine subscription which included a Loweprowe rucksack

There were a few demonstrations using models and what amazed me the way the minute a pretty girl sits on a stool all the cameras came out (mostly guys) just to get a shot, the aisles became clogged up and the photographers would just stand there waiting for the person doing the demonstration to come out. I can’t imagine the photographers shots were very good as they were mostly out of sync with the lighting set ups. It just struck me as odd.

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Men with a wintry sneer

It’s been a while but I’m back.

I can’t believe we’re into spring already, for once I have been busy with my non-work life, don’t get me wrong work is still busy but I have been making time for myself so far this year. I seem to have got my mojo back for photography and have been making time for it and feel that my eye for it is coming back.

Tower Bridge on a wet and windy Monday evening

I have been spending a bit of time in London with my camera and thoroughly enjoying it, with or without the camera I have always enjoyed walking around the city, it sort of runs in the family. My brother is a blue badged guide for London and was recently awarded Freedom of the City of London. This give him certain rights such as being able to herd sheep across London Bridge and also freedom to walk around the city with an unsheathed sword, I can see no good will come of this 🙂

Blackfriars bridge

My football team are still going strong and after yesterdays game against Wrexham we are back at the top of the league. The team has completely turned around in the past two years since our lunatic Italian owner walked off. The atmosphere yesterday was brilliant and the best it has been for a few years, we are normally criticised for being quiet, with the South stand making the most noise and my stand (West) being silent. That wasn’t the case yesterday and it was good to hear. The margin for the top spot is very tight and no one can guarantee automatic promotion into the football league but I have my fingers crossed. I have managed a few away games this year and I have a couple more left to do before the season ends. Up the O’s!!

Rickshaw driver on his break

I have started planting stuff in the greenhouse for the allotment. We had a bit of a false start a couple of weeks ago when we had a week of warm temperatures and sunny skies and it did give you the feeling that it was time to get stuff in the ground. Spin forward to today and my plot is waterlogged in places so I won’t be turning it over too soon. It is good to see the trees coming into bud. No major changes planned for the plot this year. I want to grow more herbs, so I will create an area for this. I won’t be planting any potatoes this year, I have never done well with spuds. I will plant more onions and shallots. I am also thinking of planting another fruit tree or two, I’m still mulling it over though. I have planted some more rhubarb (taken from an abandoned plot) and aim to make more Rhubarb gin, this went down very well last year with all who drank it. I never touch the stuff, I have a sip when I am bottling in, but that’s about all. So I make it for others really but I get a lot joy from this.

Paul having a bath

I have had a load of old black and white negatives laying around the place. Many years ago my mother decided to throw out a couple of old suitcases, these had lots of old photos and negatives so I took the suitcases. I recently bought a photographic scanner to reproduce photo’s from the negatives. I have always been keen on the old photo’s and was surprised to see so many pictures I had never seen before. I have one of my father in his sleeping quarters when he was in the Merchant Navy, he looks about twelve years old (below) he was in the Merchant Navy from about 1957-62, I was born in 1960.

My Dad around 1959-60

He served on a number of ships and worked mostly in the engine room although he did serve one voyage as kitchen staff, I can only imagine how that worked out, the old man made a mean bubble and squeak but that is my only recollection of his culinary skills. He served on the: RMS Rangitata, MV Deseado, Dunotter Castle as well as some other. He sailed to New Zealand, the US and South Africa.

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A little less conversation

My plans to escape Wrights went awry, I received an offer from ADL but in the end chose not to follow it up. I have about 5-7 years left to work and have decided to stay put. It would have been nice to have a seven minute commute but sometimes you have to think of the bigger picture. I felt bad about backing out at this stage but sometimes you have to do what’s right for yourself.

Radio

After a some thought I decided to sell some of my redundant radio equipment, I sold four radios and some other bits and pieces and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I got my fingers burnt a few years ago when I sold my old FT-187. Unwittingly I sold it to a guy who sells radio components, who, on receipt of the radio, took the narrow filters out of it and promptly reported me for selling a non working radio. Predictably Paypal and Ebay ruled in his favour and I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth. Anyway I listed all my equipment as non-returnable and it all sold. I still have a couple of base station radios for HF and VHF/UHF. 

The other Saturday I went up into the shack to do some tidying and switched on the HF set, lo and behold I picked up an American station working a contest, a quick look on the web told me it was the weekend of the CQWW contest, so I quickly set about working as many stations as I could, I only managed about 5 hours over the weekend but still made 60 contacts, a good weekends work for someone who hasn’t touched the morse key for nearly a year.

My local radio club had it’s AGM last week, I normally go to these even though over the past year I think I have only attended the club once. I decided not to renew my membership. I have enjoyed being a member of HADARS but I don’t feel I identify with the club demographic any more. 

Allotment 

Apart from some brussels, garlic and celeriac, its all finished on the plot. I never go round to covering the ground this autumn so that means the work in the spring is going to be tougher, but I could do with the exercise. 

I will start my plan for next year shortly, this will last until I start planting in the spring and then it all goes out the window. I normally base my plan on what worked well and what didn’t. I don’t think I am going to grow spuds this year, I have had three years on the plot and I’ve never had a good show, even when I grow them in bags. I had a better show with cucumbers this year but that was mainly down to making them climb, I will do this again next year. The raspberries and blackcurrants weren’t very good but that in the main was due to very dry hot summer we had, so fingers crossed for next year.

Christmas

It’s going to be a quiet one for me this year, Lesley is on a long day 07:00 to 20:00, Patrick is going to his grandparents and Toni and Chris will be having their first Christmas in their house. So it will be just me and the pooch at home on Christmas day. We will have a house full on Boxing day which I am looking forward to.

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Waiting on a call from you

Pastures new? (again?)

You may remember that I have been sniffing around another company with a view to joining them. Yesterday I got the call to say I have got the job, their view is that I should start in three months time which is normal with positions like this. Management roles normally require at least three months notice. The interesting thing will be what my current employer does when/if I put my notice in. The new company is in direct competition with my current employer which could mean there may be a chance of gardening leave. Gardening leave is very common in my industry especially at higher levels, (higher than me) and it is done to stop you passing on any commercial information onto the competition. However, one of my colleagues has just put his notice in to go to a customer and I was quite surprised how laid back the company was about this, so I may see myself in the thick of it right up until the point I go (if I go).

I have gone through this over the past month or so as it became more clear that I was the favourite for the role. You pick up this information from the most unsuspecting places, first of all it started with calls from my engineers to say they’d heard a rumour, this was picked up from random bus garage staff which would have heard stuff from the opposition staff. Then comes the visits on LinkedIn from anonymous or the other companies staff as they check out your background. And then comes the fishing from customers senior management normally because they have been asked questions making sure that I have no bad blood with the customers.

One of the biggest reservations I have, is that over the past eight and a half years I have more or less been left alone to build my own team in London. Leaving them behind does make me a little anxious, my management style is very different to the company style, and it does worry me that someone is going to come in and kick it all up in the air. I need to get past this and think of myself for once. My average commute is around 2.5 hours per day, with at least one trip home per week lasting three hours. The journey home from the interview took seven minutes.

Watch this space

Odin

My beloved Land Rover Odin is up for MOT in two weeks time, unfortunately while giving it the once over I spotted some corrosion and after a bit of poking around made quite a few holes in the floor and floor members. I have the metal and the mig welder, the rest relies on a. Me still being able to weld and b. there being enough good metal on Odin to weld to. This will be my winter project, providing it can be saved and the weather is half decent.

Below: Odin in less rustier times

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Leyton Orient

Last week I took my son and my daughter’s boyfriend to the match versus Hartlepool, Pat has been before but this was Chris’s first time. Chris is a big football fan and supports Liverpool? Me neither. We had a few beers in the supporters club and then wandered in. Hartlepool were a decent side but like the O’s have struggled since landing in the 5th tier. We managed to grind out a 0:0 draw despite the O’s being down to ten men and in the last 15 minutes it looked like we could have got the three points, but alas it wasn’t to be. Luckily Salford and Wrexham also drew which meant we are still in the top three and no one is breaking away from us yet. It was an enjoyable day and at least we didn’t loose, which normally happen when I bring guests..

 

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Hoch Soll er Leben

Well, it’s here! My 58th spin around the sun, in the words of George Burns “If I’d have known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself”

A friend sent me a picture last year that I’d never seen before taken at a wedding in around 1982. This is me just about in my prime with a family I knew, the girl in the picture died a few years ago from a brain tumour, taken far too young, her brother and father are on the left.

Honey & the Smiths

The funny thing is that I don’t remember much about the wedding or this picture, I can only date it because of the event. It’s funny how time slips by, I am still in touch with a couple of people from the time when this picture was taken, but mostly via social media, which I don’t really consider as proper contact. I do meet up with my oldest friend a couple of times a year and am in contact with him on the phone regularly, he was at the wedding the picture taken at. Over the years I have had a big circle of friends which has dwindled down over the course of 40 odd years. It used to trouble me but I think this is natural, over time people change as well as their direction in life, it stands to reason that people will naturally drift. This doesn’t matter, I think what does is that you end up with a brain full of memories, we’re born alone and we die alone.

I got called back today for a job I went for a month or so ago, the job interests me and it is very close to home, it took me seven minutes to get home from the “interview”, which compared to my normal commute of more than two hours per day would be a bonus. I will have to wait and see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, this will hopefully be the last move, workwise, for me.

Clearing the allotment continues, despite my back problem, however the plot is still giving up its goods

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We will probably be eating beetroots for the rest of the winter, we have had a good crop this year. The surprise was the cucumber, I still have another three on the plant but I think the frost will put paid to that. The brown fruits in the centre are Medlars, these need to be left for a couple of weeks to “blett” and then they are ok to eat.

Mrs H went to see her parents this week and I will pick her up next weekend, the father in law was 80 last month and the Ma in law is 76, they have both had some health issues in the last year or so and its nice for Lesley to get some time with them. So its just me and the pooch for the next week, he’s good company, he doesn’t answer back and he’s always pleased to see me. He is a smelly bastard though.

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Gotta Light?

I have been struggling for a few weeks now with Sciatica, I have never let any ailment hold me back. But I have to admit, it is really depressing me (I’m not depressed), I reach my 58th birthday next week and I find anything that reminds me of my age lowers my mood. People often comment when they find out my age that they didn’t realise I was that age, I credit this to having a youthful mind and being very active. However I have been hobbling around like a little old man and I don’t like it. I do find myself questioning whether this is it, is this a permanent issue or will it pass like it used to. The jury’s out a the moment so we’ll have to watch this space.

Yesterday the Orient lost their first game of the season, we came up against a very determined Sutton Utd who battled and battled to go one ahead and keep the lead. They have obviously watched our style of play and knew exactly how to topple us. Thirteen games in a row unbeaten is a record for us and my only hope that the fans don’t turn on the team, things can get pretty toxic at Brisbane road and even yesterday I could hear the grumbles behind me as it became obvious that we weren’t going to get a goal back.

I bought my wife two tickets for Marc Almond/Soft Cell’s last concert, I got these as an early birthday present and she will be going with our daughter today. The concert is at the O2 and the last time she went was when it was the millennium exhibition, quite a lot has changed since then. She has always been a Soft Cell fan and it will be nice for her to catch the last ever concert.

As things quieten down on the plot, all my garlic has put shoots out so I should be five months away from a bumper crop next year. Anyway as things quieten down Mrs H has decided that I need to decorate the kitchen, so this will be my next project apart from:

  • Welding the Land Rover
  • Winterising the boat
  • Sorting out my antennas
  • Selling some of my radio equipment

Anyway, I am off to do some shopping and make the most of my last weekend of freedom before the winter projects kick in.

 

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Oh no, Joe Porterhouse

Allotment

The allotment is giving up the last of her goodies but there is still stuff going on, I put the garlic in last weekend and it already putting shoots out. I’m not sure whether to grow it in the greenhouse or outside. Garlic is hardy and the rule of thumb is to plant on the shortest day (Dec 21st) and harvest on the longest day (June 21st) so it will survive frost and snow. I will put some in the greenhouse as a comparison and see how it woks out as I intend to cover my plot again this year. While clearing the plot this week I noticed three new cucumbers, I though I had seen the last of these. I have moved them to the inside of the netting to stop the foxes having a snack. My medlars are looking ready and during this weeks high winds a couple were blown from the tree, but the rest still feel pretty attached so I am resisting the urge to pick them. They are normally ready in October/November but due to the very hot summer they may ripen earlier, just like most of the other fruit and veg.

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Pulled, Picked and plucked this week

  • Tomatoes for ripening
  • Rose Hips (for making tea)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Jalapenos and Paprika (for pickling)
  • Butternut squashes (Roasting and for soups)
  • Beetroot (Pickling and Roasting)
  • Lemon Balm (I use it in vinegar)
  • Rainbow Baby Carrots

Not a bad haul for late September

Family

My daughter and her boyfriend have recently bought a French bulldog pup which they have named Freddie.

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I am not into small dogs but I will make an exception with this chap. He has absolutely no fear and is the most confident pup I have ever come across. When they visit he walks around my house like he owns the place, much to the consternation of Alfie (My 6 year old chocolate Labrador). Alfie isn’t good with puppies so barks at him a bit but it doesn’t put Freddie off at all even when he is running from Alf after pinching one of his favourite toys. My daughter and her boyfriend are now going through the pain of house training, something I don’t envy. That said, I have been really lucky with dogs, my last two have picked it up really quickly.

Leyton Orient

The O’s are really on fire at the moment and we are currently unbeaten this season and sit at the top of the Vanarama league. Its now been 18 months since the mad Italian (Francesco Becchetti) cut us loose with just eight players three weeks before the start of the season and we seem to have turned a corner. Last season was a real eye opener, the national league really is different type of football. It also goes without saying that the refereeing is equally poor. We struggled last season but this season we are certainly looking like promotion candidates subject to a disaster. Probably the only thing I like about this league is the proximity of the away games, they are quite easy to get to as many of the clubs are in the south east. Braintree Tuesday evening!

Work

Last week I travelled to Northern Ireland for a meeting back at the factory, I was an eye opener for me because over the past couple of months the factory has been moved to a new site across the road into the old tobacco factory. It is really modern compared to the old site. The old factory grew organically and tended to be a pick scattered, whereas the new site now has a flow to it.

The worst part about the trip was the fight into Aldergrove just as storm Allie turned up. The landings at Aldergrove can be interesting due to crosswinds at the best of times but this time was probably about the hairiest I have had.

 

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