A New Camera

Jackie and I spent the morning continuing the clearance of the back drive. I reached the fuchsia hedge on the North side, while she began redesigning the entrance at the Western end. She has finished pruning the conifers, weeded the bank that extends onto Downton Lane, and used the cuttings to lay on the soil as a weed suppressant and nesting areas for insects and other wild life. The next step was to line the edges with concrete transported from the former kitchen garden. That was my task.
When I came to photograph our work, disaster struck. My camera lens stuck and I couldn’t use it. A Call to Curry’s and an examination of the Canon website revealed that my trusty little S100 has been superseded by the S120. Knowing that any possible repair would require a return to Canon and some time without a camera, I decided to investigate the possibility of a new one.
After lunch, Jackie drove me to Curry’s where I conducted my investigation. The helpful assistant confirmed that I would have to send my now apparently obsolete device to Canon myself. I came away with an SX700 HS, which has the kind of 30X zoom I have been looking for in a compact camera.
Knowing how long it took me to find my way around the S100 by trial and error, this time I downloaded the manual from the internet. The starter guides that come with electronic devices now are really very basic indeed, but I have always been ‘more than somewhat’ (Damon Runyon) phobic about downloading something I probably wouldn’t understand. Well, this one was very useful. The first photograph I took was an accidental close-up of the surface of my desk. That in itself sent me to the page about deleting images. So I managed that.
We have a crab apple tree in the front garden. That seemed a likely subject for testing out the zoom. Crab applesEven pointed through a not too clean closed window, the resultant picture seemed reasonably satisfactory. I have not cropped the photo, so that the range of the camera can be displayed. Back drive entrance
I then trotted down the back drive and took the aborted photograph of our improvements. One problem I had with the S100 was not knowing how to take the frame without a wide angle being employed. This made for the occasional weird effect that often required some cropping. I don’t have this with the SX700.
There is a layer of gravel under the grass. But that is for another day.
This evening’s dinner began with vegetable samosas in tamarind sauce, followed by Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice, and a flaky parata. Chocolate eclairs were for dessert. I drank Cobra, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden

A Further Piece Of Quirkiness

3rd April 2014
PeriwinkleOn a wander round the garden this morning, I added periwinkle to the photographic gallery of our plants.
Curry/PC World delivered the fridge/freezer promptly as promised. Until they came we continued moving stuff around. This involved carting some furniture upstairs.
I telephoned Neff customer support line in an unsuccessful attempt to be talked through disenabling the child lock on the hobs. Although the woman who tried to help me was very helpful it didn’t seem to work. It was fun seeking out the relevant model number, which would enable her to know how to advise me. This, you see, was on the underside of the equipment that now formed part of the kitchen surface. Clearly I had to take out the drawer underneath, but then, how was I to read the figures? Lying prostrate on the worktop and sticking my head into the narrow space didn’t seem to be an option.
Jackie gathering flowersThis is where the Canon S100 camera came into its own. I held it under the plate, and after several goes, managed to obtain one image that was not too blurred for me to read the number.
Later in the morning we gathered up some spring flowers to take to Pippa in Spencers as a token of our thanks. This personable young woman found time to have a friendly conversation.
We then visited Costa coffee for some Wi-Fi time, and I posted my blog entry for 1st. An antique shop didn’t have a suitable replacement door knocker. If you are thinking of visiting before we find one, flip the letterbox repeatedly and yell loudly.
Back home we continued the cleaning and sorting. I then tackled the scary task of attempting to set up the home hub in preparation for its activation tomorrow. It remains to be seen how successful I have been. In the process I think I discovered a further piece of quirkiness. The previous owner had his office in the living room where there is a television aerial socket, but, as far as we can tell, no telephone point. The only place allocated for a telephone appears to be in the bedroom above. In the hope that we will be able to access the hub wirelessly through the ceiling, I set up the telephone and hub, I hope, in the upper room. Our predecessor definitely used his laptop in the room below. If that doesn’t work for us we may not be able to contain our screams of anguish.
My next task was to clear a path to the washing machine. This was no mean undertaking.
In the evening we set out on a search for any Chinese restaurant that was not Lotus in New Milton. There were a number of takeaways scattered about, but we felt we had earned a sit down. Following circuitous diversions across the forest, we were led to the Yenz in Brockenhurst which was very classy. The establishment was rightly proud of its head chef. The food was excellent, and the T’Sing Tao beer thirst quenching.
Back at Old Post House we just about managed to climb the stairs to bed.

I Didn’t Get Lost

It was very murky in the New Forest today when I took the Fritham walk from the AA book.  Rain drizzled all day.  Jackie drove me there and went off to do her own thing whilst I did mine.  She had been indicating in good time that she wanted to leave the A31 via a slip-road on her left, when another car came zooming up on her inside making it impossible for her to leave the major road at that point.  She was forced to go on to the next opportunity.

Soon after leaving Fritham, ‘a hidden hamlet’, I ventured into Eyeworth Wood, which presented the townie with another woodcraft lesson.  The half-mile long path was even more difficult than those I had taken last week.  There were no dry sections at all.  The mud had even stronger suction, and several fallen branches had to be negotiated.  At least the direction was clear, although I was forced into the bracken at times in search of surer footing.  Each of my shoes, at different times, was sucked into the muddy maw of the quagmire.  It was here I met a couple sporting green wellies.  They told me that was what I needed.  I’m clearly going to have to get a pair.  Before I do this again.

I came to ‘a tree-studded heath, with far-reaching views’.  On a different day this was probably an accurate description.  Today, visibility was about 500 yards.  Thereafter I was required to ‘walk through a shallow valley to a car park at Telegraph Hill’.  The bottom of the valley was a pool deep enough to wash some of the mud off my shoes.  The only animals I saw were a few cattle near the car park.  Ponies and deer were keeping well out of the way.  A long, wide, path through heathland leading south past a tumulus to Ashley Cross was virtually all large pools, some of which harboured pond weed.  I gave up trying to avoid them, contenting myself with the knowledge that my feet were dry and my shoes getting washed.  It is amazing that my feet felt dry, for I had got my socks very soggy and muddy when I lost my shoes.  I bought the socks with the walking shoes.  They bear the legend ‘Smart Wool’.  They certainly are pretty clever.  As soon as I returned to The Firs I took off my shoes and socks and proceeded to wring out my muddy socks which still had pieces of holly adhering to them, before inserting them into the washing machine.  When she was told the story of the shoes Elizabeth called me a stick in the mud.

Logs, New Forest 10.12

In the last section through the forest trees were being felled, the logs being piled up around Gorley Bushes.  As I watched the men in the trees working with their power tools I thought of those ancestors of theirs, in the early centuries after Henry VIII had the forest planted, who, with only manual equipment felled and dressed this timber for the building of ships for the defence of the realm.  Trees then were even trained to grow in the right shapes for specific parts of the ships.  It took a long time to build a ship in early times.

Rather like the Bolton Marathon (posted 11th. August), the last stretch of this walk is uphill. Having ascended the slope I arrived back at the Royal Oak pub forty minutes ahead of the  allocated time for the walk.  The fact that, for the first time, I didn’t extend both distance and time in an AA walk, is because I didn’t get lost.  I tracked Jackie down in the pub and we returned to The Firs for a left-overs lunch.  As we drove out of Fritham four bedraggled donkeys filed miserably past the car.

For the last few days we have been puzzled by telltale heaps of pigeon feathers on the lawn.  We had attributed these to raiding foxes.  We were wrong.  Jackie witnessed the demise of one this afternoon.  The poor unsuspecting bird was, as usual, foraging for pickings under the bird feeders; for seeds dropped by lighter, more agile avians who could perch above.  Suddenly, ‘thwack’, in the flash of an eye a predator struck.  As Jackie moved to see what was happening, the sparrowhawk made off with its prey.  It reminded me of a crow in Morden Park a couple of days ago which had fled its comrades with a large white object in its beak.  Later, as we set off for Sainsburys to return the party glasses, we saw a squirrel scaling a telegraph pole at the end of Beacon Road with a biscuit held in its jaws.

From Sainsburys we proceeded to Jessops where it had been my intention to get the staff to show me how to read how many photographs I had left on my memory card, and, if necessary, to buy another.  The camera seized up in the shop and has to be returned to Canon for investigation and repair.  I was most upset.  Fortunately Elizabeth has an earlier model and has lent it to me for the two to three weeks it will take for mine to be returned to me.

This evening we took Danni and her mother to see the building Danni had found for us and to dine in the Trusty Servant.  Danni regrets giving us the flat, thinking she should have kept it for herself.  We all enjoyed our meals.  Jackie drank Budweiser and the rest of us shared two different red wines.

 

Graham Road

130A Graham Rd., Initials 6.12

Having spent an hour this morning ‘getting my head round my new camera’, in the process being surrounded by various connecting leads; a CD Rom; a lead with a plug on it; a ‘getting started’ booklet; a charger; oh, and a camera, and not really having got very far except for a couple of out of focus pictures of a sofa and cushions, it was fairly obvious where my feet were going to have to take me.  This was a round trip to Jessops in Wimbledon.  Actually the two pictures featured today were taken en route to Jessops, so it wasn’t all bad.

I fell at the very first hurdle.  The camera is so small that you are enjoined to fix its strap so that you can wrap it around your wrist in order not to drop it.  This initial instruction I was unable to perform.  Anyone who read yesterday’s post will know that my camera was a display model.  This meant that it probably contained an already charged battery.  I felt fairly confident in skipping the battery charging section.  There were other setting up procedures which to my uneducated eye staring at the various icons, numbers, and letters on the screen may or may not have been carried out.  One of these, said to be essential, was the setting of time and date.  I didn’t want these printed on my pictures, so why were they essential?  Pass.  Panic.  Perambulate.

Off I trotted to the experts.  An elderly couple in Mostyn Road were amused to see me photographing all sorts of stuff, like (out of focus) convulvulus.  I explained it was my new toy, and the woman said that after five years she hadn’t really got her head round hers.  ‘I’ve got lots of pictures of my feet, fridge door, mantelpiece…..you name it, because I keep pressing the wrong bits’.  ‘I’ve just done that,’ said I.  We had a laugh and I moved on just in time to see that I was being approached by swarms of boys from  Rutlish school presumably freed by the bell.

I had hoped by now to have completed the cyclists theme begun on 19th. June.  However, despite the danger of seeming to have a bee in my bonnet about them, I have to report that two of the boys in the leading phalanx were coming straight at me on the pavement doing slow motion wheelies abreast of each other.  The boys alongside them had to make way for me.  By the time the next lad on a bike approached me I had had enough of stepping out into the road and held my ground.  He bruised my knuckle as he swerved across my path.  At least he was trying to avoid me, and did apologise.  I decided to walk into the school and have a word.  I was seen by a gentleman in authority who may or may not have been the headmaster.  He was neither owning up to being the boss nor offering his name.  If I could identify the boys by picking them out after having waited at the school entrance the next afternoon something may possibly be done; otherwise it was all rather difficult because if the boys were told to cycle in the road the school would be in trouble if one of them ‘got whopped’.  I politely stated that of course I couldn’t identify the boys and wasn’t looking for retribution, rather some sort of ruling or guidance from the school.  Perhaps I would like to come back later and speak to the police officers attached to the school.  No, I wouldn’t.  I was thanked for bringing the matter to his attention.  C’est la vie moderne.  I was reminded of a walk along the Ridgway in Wimbledon village just over a year ago.  A 200 bus was being marshalled by two police officers ensuring that the melee of schoolboys from Wimbledon College were keeping some semblance of order.  Some lads were being turfed off the bus.  I told the representatives of law and order that had I behaved as the boys were doing when I was at the school 50 years ago I would have been before the headmaster in the morning.  I was in fact no angel, but when I did anything out of order outside school, like getting my rugby boots stuck in an apple tree which I was trying to scrump, and consequently being unable to play a match, or wittily (I don’t think now) changing a street name with whatever was the then equivalent of a marker pen,  I was inevitably shopped and for the high jump.  Am I showing my age?  Am I being an old git?  I don’t care.  Maybe I was a bit out of sorts because I was struggling with my camera.  I don’t think so.

130A Graham Rd., 6.12

As always when I use the Graham Road route I experienced a glow of pride when I walked past number 130A.  This extremely tasteful new-build was created by my sons Michael and Matthew and Michael’s small and friendly workforce.  Michael’s firm, Able Assignments, had done some structural work for the woman who owned the house next door.  She had wanted for some time to sell part of her garden for development but wanted craftsmen she could trust.  Having been pleased with his work, his manner, and his reliability, she invited my son to buy the plot and build a house.  No. 130A is the result.  I believe this property is an exciting hybrid of old and new ideas.  Many of the features, such as high ceilings; ceiling roses; deep skirting boards; and solid wooden panelled doors, were inspired by the Victorian architecture of Lindum House in Newark.  These are combined with top quality modern kitchen, bathrooms and entry system, with more than adequate storage space.  I wouldn’t mind living in it if I could afford it.

The man at Jessop’s put me right on various issues, sorted the settings, and explained that the out of focus pictures were so because the flash was turned off and therefore not operating when there was insufficient light, resulting in camera shake.  He immediately reassured me by telling me that most people couldn’t attach the strap, and showing me why.  I hadn’t gone ten yards out of the shop when I had forgotten how to zoom in on a picture I had taken.  Back in I went for a repeat lesson.

Whilst cooking this evening’s Methi Gosht I managed to slice the skin off a broken knuckle with the lid of a ghee tin.  The knuckle is one of two I broke playing Rugby many years ago, so it sticks out a bit more than it should.  I am not going to seek sympathy from my friend Judith Munns, because she’d probably think it served me right (the break, not the cut).

My Methi Gosht was accompanied by Cobra beer, Jackie’s with Hoegarten.

Choosing A Camera

Having been promised rain all day today the weather was kind to us and turned out much brighter than yesterday.  We therefore had a good morning’s planting.  This was a welcome change for me, having spent a year preparing soil by digging, weeding, and composting.  This seemed much the lighter option.

Jackie, Elizabeth and I went to buy Mum’s shopping and take it round to her, after which we paid a visit to Jessop’s.  It is so different now than in the days of my youth when no shops and very little else were open on Sundays.  As a child I could never go down the road for a loaf of bread.  We had to plan ahead and there was no room for impulse purchases let alone cameras.  Yesterday we had discussed the purchase of a camera but had not wanted to stop the gardening as we had expected rain today.  ‘No problem.  Jessops will be open tomorrow,’ was the solution.

I have been a keen photographer all my life, but have stubbornly insisted on using film.  I have a very good Canon and an even better Leica and will continue to choose colour slides and negative film for my main work, unless of course the experience I have sought today convinces me otherwise.  Over the last few years I have been working my way through thousands of slides and negatives from as far back as 1963; scanning them with an Epson; giving them the Photoshop treatment; and printing them on my Canon printer.  I’d never really need to take another photograph.  Rather like I’d never need to buy another book.

Unbeknown to him it is my friend Dominic who is the reason for the Jessop’s trip.  Having read a number of my posts he was complimentary but said he thought they could be enhanced by photographs.  Because of their purpose these pictures should be as instant as possible, making a move to a digital camera inevitable.  Yesterday I asked Elizabeth to photograph the rose arch mentioned in that day’s post, so that I could start the requisite illustrations.  Jackie then offered to buy me a digital camera for my birthday.  I snapped up the chance.  I am adding two pictures to yesterday’s publication.

Let us return to the trip to purchase the camera, which we had thought would only take a matter of minutes.  First we had to choose.  I’d gone in with two recommendations which narrowed the field somewhat.  I thought I’d best tell the assistant something about me, primarily that I’d never used digital equipment, but also what I did do.  He was somewhat surprised.  Then there was the consideration of all the different features, most of which I didn’t understand.  Then there were all Elizabeth’s more experienced and informed questions, most of which I didn’t understand.  Eventually I told the young man he obviously knew what he was doing and I would therefore like to know which he would choose.  He acknowledged a bias, and, indeed Elizabeth pointed out that he was sporting a Canon logo on his t-shirt, yet chose an updated version of the very same camera I had helped Elizabeth choose two years ago.  That was good enough for me.

Unfortunately the business of paying was even more prolonged.  Firstly, the only example of the specific camera that they had in the shop was the display model.  I asked for a discount on that.  The manager said it was not possible, but I could have some free printing.  As I’d already explained that I only wanted the camera to illustrate my blog I said this would not be of any use to me.  After a lengthy discussion involving the assistant toing and froing between me and the manager we were awarded a reasonable discount.  By this time, Jackie, whose patience had worn thin during the choosing process, was pacing the store like a caged tigress.  The first indication we had had of this was when she rushed around the shop pointing in turn to each camera in a row saying: ‘Would you like a black one, a red one, a pink one, a blue one……’  I was then asked for my e-mail address ‘in order to activate the discount’.  I was just about to give it when I thought I’d better mention that Jackie was paying for it so perhaps it would be her address they’d like.  This was indeed the case so we had to interrupt her march for a time.  Three or four trips were made by our friend in the Canon T-shirt to other parts of the store through a private door, it seems to collect bits that went with the camera.  Jackie continued her pacing.  The display camera had to be unscrewed from it’s stand, which set off the alarm.  Jackie was unperturbed.

Finally we arrived at the till.  Unfortunately the till’s computer was not speaking to the salesman’s computer so the discount had not been applied.  By this time our friend had gone off to advise someone else what they should buy.  Jackie went off for a pace whilst I called our original salesperson back.  He had to involve the manager who managed to unlock the problem and asked us if we’d like to purchase a second memory card at half price.  Even if I thought 1000 pictures on the one card I had would be enough he wondered had we thought what a good Christmas present it might make someone.  By this point Jackie was waving her card around with a wild expression in her eyes.  I do believe she would have said yes to anything.  I’m sure I caught the word ‘Whatever’.

Having taken the least line of resistance we agreed to the additional purchase.  The manager went away happily totting up his commission.  The check-out girl amended the entry in the computer and Jackie almost relaxed.  The bill was presented.  Unfortunately it was £20 more than it should have been.  This just happened to be half the price of an additional card.  I asked the young woman if this could be the problem.  She looked at her screen and denied the possibility.  The manager was sent for.  Jackie almost wilted.  The manager took his time.  I walked round and looked over the young lady’s shoulder.  I was right, the second card had not been reduced by 50%.  By this time even I slapped the desk  as I said: ‘OK. Take off the second card.  We don’t want it.’  Our friend Shannon (by now we knew her name), looking very relieved, took the card out of the equation just as her boss arrived.  He looked somewhat disappointed.  Perhaps he was just mentally reducing his commission.

Thank you Dominic.

Back at Elizabeth’s, after a later than expected salad lunch, Jackie was let off the leash to get back to her planting.  My contribution was a very little more ground preparation.

Before Elizabeth’s chili con carne meal with red wine, I helped Danni go over a teaching session she was planning for a course in which she is participating.  I’m proud of her already, but this, in my view, simply confirmed her abilities.

And so to Links Avenue and bed.