“Help Me, Please, Becky”

This morning we collected my new Epson printer from Wessex Photographic in Lymington.  Luke was extremely helpful in helping me understand how to load the paper profiles for my preferred Ilford Galerie papers into the printer.

Knowing that whenever I take delivery of anything involving new technology I am likely to leave it in its box for a matter of days, if not weeks, before I can pluck up the courage to open it, Jackie kindly freed the equipment from its cardboard and polystyrene outer layers

leaving me with no choice but either to get on with the job or admit to being terrified. She laid the main appliance on the hall chair and other bits on other available surfaces.


So I began to attempt to study the project.

The first obstacle was the CD containing the software. What, you may well ask, is the problem with that? Well, you see, there is no slot for a CD in an iMac.

Ah, situation resolved, I thought, I have a CD player thingy that I can plug in with the aid of a USB lead. Simples, as a Meerkat would say.

Not so simple – I couldn’t get it to do anything.

I thought I had better read the basic paperwork. That is when I discovered that you don’t have to use a CD with a Mac. Apparently you have to ‘visit the [epson] website to install software and configure network settings’. But you must ‘not connect the USB cable until instructed to do so’. In case anyone is wondering, that dark stain on my jacket is Jackie’s shadow – I have not wet myself.

Next step, I thought, should be to disconnect my Canon printer and tidy up a bit to make room for

the new machine. I was required to remove all the internal protective packaging including the transport lock which took a bit of identifying from the

pictorial directions which were a marginal, minimal, improvement on the average flat pack instructions.

I managed to plug it in and turn it on. This required Jackie at one point to realise that ’tilt’ meant ‘raise’.

I decided to leave it there today, as the next step is loading the inks which look similar to the Canon process; and the one after that involves going onto the website for stuff to happen.

Now, I know you are having an anniversary celebration break, but on your return I may need to ask you to “help me, please, Becky”. On the other hand, I might work a miracle.

This evening we joined Elizabeth and friends Nicki and Andrew for an excellent carvery  meal in pleasant company at the Wallhampton Arms. The meats were turkey and pork with all the trimmings. Malbec, Beer, Shandy, and Amstel were imbibed.



At 3 a.m. this morning, having woken up thinking about it, I tried the link suggested last evening by the WordPress advisor. It led me to clearing the Safari cache. This seemed rather frightening. I ‘[felt] the fear and [did] it anyway’. It worked. I was then able to reformat yesterday’s post with larger photographs.
Owls in the forest cheered me on.
Layered landscape
With another glorious day in the offing, I walked down to Seamans Corner, from which the layered landscape has always intrigued me, then took the Bull Lane loop.
Church bells rang out a fulsome melody, and small camera-shy birds filled the treetops with their bright and cheerful song.
DonkeysDonkey scratching
The trio of donkeys I had seen recently on Upper Drive were foraging in Seamans Lane. One, after nuzzling one of its companions, stopped feeding for a good scratch.
Further on, a pile of timber that was once a splendid tree was being burnt. A crane heaped it up and the flames were doing the rest. The small bonfire John had lit in our garden on 24th February still smouldered some days later, so I imagine this one will take a while to consume the remains.Horse on hilltop
A solitary horse was silhouetted on a hilltop.
Alan diggingAlanAlan and his wife Fran were beginning their spring work on their cottage garden opposite The Trusty Servant Inn. I had a long and convivial talk with this septuagenarian who greatly impressed me with the deep hole he had dug to take a new fencepost. Fran, who was cutting out a stubborn bramble from a rose hedge, quipped that she had the hard job.
Sandbagged ditchAn extensive ditch-digging operation is taking place in the most waterlogged areas of the road through Minstead. Deep trenches have been excavated to take the water that runs off the fields. Pipes, covered by sandbags, have been laid under the banks leading to farm entrances.
The whole of this lovely afternoon was spent on further moving administration. This time it was composing and printing a dozen business-type letters. Banks, pensions, utilities. That kind of stuff. Four hours on twelve similar letters? You might well ask.
Should anyone else consider purchasing a new and unfamiliar laptop without transferring data from the old one, at the same time as preparing for a house move, my advice would be not to even think about it. Firstly my correspondence folder containing all the necessary addresses was on the discarded Toshiba.Derrick Secondly the HP has a very different display. Thirdly, I couldn’t remember how to make a correspondence folder on the old machine, let alone the new one. Fourthly, sitting in an easy chair juggling with two different computers made for a certain amount of confusion over mice, and created an enhanced risk of tripping up. It wasn’t really reasonable to expect the mouse attached to the Toshiba to operate the HP, or vice versa. And one connecting cable stretched across your shins is fairly dicey. Two is positively careless.
Oh, and fifthly, some of these organisations were in France, so I was dealing with two languages. Sixthly, I had to remember to change references and account numbers each time I cut and pasted stuff.
Having managed to produce this vast collection and stick it in a folder labelled ‘correspondence’, I got to the really exciting stage. Printing.
This involved walking across the room, attaching the HP to the Canon printer, loading the paper, calling up each document in turn, and pressing Print. The first one took about an hour. I struggled with all the directions; icons; help sections; getting started; which printers could or couldn’t be supported by my new device, etc., etc. Eventually I found in ‘printers’ that my Canon didn’t seem to be connected. Then it dawned on me that I might have to load the original disc. Now where was it?
Eventually Jackie remembered seeing a couple of discs in the children’s bookshelves in the spare room. Well, of course. Where else would they be, but close to hand for the only people who might know what they were and what to do with them?
The disc was loaded and the job was soon completed. Unfortunately it was then too late to catch the last post.
But still in time for this one.
Red hot chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice, peas, and sweetcorn furnished our dinner this evening. The heat was achieved by including six dried chillies I’d bought at least six years ago. From Jackie’s point of view, it was a good thing there was some natural yoghurt in the fridge. I drank some more Pomerol.

Clipped Wings

Continuing with the card-making process, I began by trying to understand why, when printing through iPhoto on the computer, pictures were being cropped in a frustratingly restrictive way.  In many instances this did not matter much, but when it came to a butterfly having its wings clipped this was intolerable.  So I got up this morning determined to crack the problem.

Essentially what was happening was that the iPhoto customising facility offered specific frame sizes and sliced the pictures to fit.  It is a while since I used my Canon Pro900 printer to any great degree, but I seemed to remember this not being the case with that piece of equipment in the past.  So what was happening?

It occurred to me that I was not seeing the usual box on the screen showing alternatives that come with the printer.  This offered me much more flexibility.  iPhoto must therefore be overriding it.  It is, of course possible that I have not fully understood the capabilities of the Mac.  Nevertheless, I had to find a way round this.

Peacock butterfly card

I thought I would work outside iPhoto.  How could I do that?  Then I had a brilliant idea. I would drag the pictures onto the desktop, open them up in preview, and print from there.  And what do you know?  It worked.  This had the additional bonus of the printer’s options for producing multiple copies of the same photograph on one sheet of paper.  Instead of having to find two different pictures that would conveniently fit together, I could now fit up to four samples of one image on the sheet.  I was able to rescue the poor Peacock, and to offer unpruned Clematis.Clematis card (long)

I had not used the butterfly at all, because the clipping would have ruined it.  The Clematis, however, had worked to some extent as a squarer image than the elongated one I had wanted. Clematis card (square) I was now able to use both.

Now, I am sure there are those of you out there who would have managed this in a much easier way, but please remember I am a septuagenarian, and when I was your age, before space travel brought the computer into its journey to the palms of your hands, we made do with film and chemicals.  And time.

Swan taking off card

The swan taking off is an example of the inventive creativity my able assistant brings to her part in the process.  Swan taking off inside cardNot having been able to decide the size of this print that would work, I produced two, one really rather too small.  Jackie decided to place the smaller version inside the card to echo the larger image on the front. This also involved considerable trimming so that the whole concept made sense.  Once having hit on this idea there was no stopping her.  Bits snipped off pictures began to turn up in all sorts of places, inside, on the back, to the left, to the right, in the centre.  Here a swan, there a swan, everywhere a swan.  When writing my inscriptions on the back I even missed some.

Despite her antipathy towards photographic cards, believing that such artwork should be drawn or painted, Jackie was heard on occasion to punctuate her work with such phrases as; ‘I could buy that one’.  It made me feel I must be doing something right.

We spent all day in the ‘factory’.  Today’s tally of products placed in the plastic wallets was fifty three.  That makes 153 in all.  Jackie thought that should have sufficed, but I found some more photographic paper that just had to be used up.  More were consequently printed.  The tally will be recorded tomorrow.                  .

Jackie still cooked a delicious hot arabbiata which I enjoyed with Lusac St Emilion 2011, and she with her customary Hoegaarden.  Before this I learned what it is like to water 83 pots so full of flowers that you cannot see the containers.  I just helped.  I didn’t fill the whole eighty three.

Printing Mottisfont Trout

DaffodilSpring continues to be thrust aside by its hoary old relative.  Why winter has been unable to enjoy an easy third age on the lecture circuit is a mystery to us all, except perhaps Michael Fish, the weatherman who infamously dismissed reports of the Great Storm of 1987.  A solitary daffodil manages to defy the cold and to brighten the shrubbery opposite our dining area.  Its companion probably isn’t going to make it.

Just as cold today, at least the wind had dropped.  There was not much sign of life until I met the sheep as I walked the first ford ampersand.  A couple of bedraggled, head-drooping, forlorn looking ponies jerked their slow way up the centre of the road through the village.  A young woman relaxed aboard her pony at the end of a ride.  The occasional car went by.  Apart from the rider, the only other person I spoke to was a driver on my return journey who stopped and asked the way to the Study Centre.  I trust Judith will be as impressed as I was by the detailed accuracy of my stunning directions.

Imagining being reliant on sheep for your day’s excitement should give the reader a better flavour of the day than yet more attempts of mine to find different ways of describing miserable weather.  As I approached the sheep field in Newtown I was greeted by a very loud bleating chorus.  This was emanating from the hedge through which it was just possible to see the vociferous ovine occupants.  On turning a corner and drawing up alongside a five barred gate I felt like a London bus driver arriving at Morden bus station soon after school going home time.  The parent sheep were already waiting at the gate baaing their heads off. Sheep and lambs It was then I saw the lambs.  These small animals leapt, gambolled, pushed and shoved each other, and squirmed their way in front of the adults, determined to get to the head of the queue.  The parents’ hubbub followed me as I continued on my way.

This afternoon I tackled the last of the challenges my new computer has set me.  I connected the Canon Pro 900 printer to the iMac.  Lo and behold, the software download was done automatically in about two minutes and I made an A3 print in a jiffy.  The setup is now pretty well complete.  The whole kit has to be confined to a fairly small space in our massive sitting room.  Mac sits on the desk.  The small Epson printer lies underneath on a ledge alongside the A4 printing paper, and the Epson V750 Pro scanner is perched on a small Sainsbury’s wine rack on its side on top of a little filing cabinet.  There is no room in this arrangement for the enormous A3+ printer.  Jackie, of course, came up with the ideal solution.  This very heavy piece of equipment nestles in a laundry bag within a plastic box on wheels.  All this stands at the bottom of her wardrobe.  When I need the printer I open the wardrobe; pull out the box on wheels; open the box; lift out the laundry bag by its handles; carry it from bedroom to sitting room, where the kitchen trolley waits to double as a stand; place the printer on the trolley; and finally attach the plug in place in the trailing socket on the desk and put the cable into a USB port.  I really think Heath Robinson, a superb draftsman famous for his drawings of complex and complicated contraptions for simple tasks, would have envied my lady her inventiveness.  Not, I hasten to add, that there is anything ridiculous about Jackie’s simplification of my set up.

Printing trout

Today’s test print was of trout taken at Mottisfont on 7th September last year.

This evening we took a trip to Imperial China in Lyndhurst, where we enjoyed the usual excellent meal, and both drank TsingTao beer.