Paddington Basin Development

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

I enjoyed another thrilling day wrestling with technology. After a few hours last night the iMac update ground to a halt. First thing this morning I phoned Apple again and got started once more. Today the process continued for a little longer, but again took an unwelcome rest. James Peacock, my local consultant is going to have to come and collect it.

My next task was to order and pay for Christmas presents from the Disney Store. The nearest was in Southampton. They had four of the main item in stock. They couldn’t accept payment over the phone; and they could not save an item for us. I could buy the present on line. I went on line. The item was not included in their pages. I’ll leave that one there.

I am due possible laser surgery on my left eye. I need to book the appointment on line. Apparently this is an easy process. It didn’t prove to be. Each time I typed the address given on my form, I landed on Google explanatory pages. I’ve no idea how I managed it, but I did eventually arrive at the booking system, and obtained the first available NHS appointment. This is in April.

Not to be deterred from my determination to illustrate this post, I transported my Windows laptop to my Epson scanner, and set about scanning my next batch of colour slides from the Streets of London series, produced in May 2005.

Everything was correctly plugged in, but no scanner icon appeared on the screen. Further investigation revealed the message that the driver was unavailable. Given that I thought I was the driver, that seemed at first to be out of order. Further head scratching made me realise that I had never used the ten year old scanner on this laptop. From the depths of my memory I remembered that a CD contained the relevant software. I found it. Things were looking up. This ancient bit of kit loaded perfectly, and I was up and running.

Sheldon Square 1

Sheldon Square, W2 has appeared before, especially featuring the other realistic sculpture walking towards this chap standing on the left.

Sheldon Square 5.05

Neither of the two shirted gentlemen will ever be provided with an umbrella like the real live woman walking towards us.

Sheldon Square 2

This sculptural group is not striving to hoodwink passers by. Much of the paving in this up-market development was, in my view, laid too soon to allow sufficient settlement. There also appears to be a dearth of drainage. Pools are the result.

Paddington flyover 1

My counselling room in Beauchamp Lodge enabled me to look across the Harrow Road roundabout

Paddington flyover 3

and  the flyover

Paddington flyover 2

that spans the canal

Paddington flyover 1

and the edge of the square.

Paddington flyover 4

I was able to watch cars, vans,

Paddington flyover 6

industrial vehicles,

Paddington flyover 5

and bendy buses travelling along Harrow Road or the A40. What could easily be mistaken for two red buses is in fact one. Bendy is the colloquial name for articulated buses. They were introduced into London in 2001, some 20 years after several other countries. Most Londoners would probably agree with Boris Johnson who believed they were unsuitable for the city. They were all withdrawn by the end of 2011. I believe that Sadiq Khan, the current mayor of London is being urged to bring them back. As a fairly frequent traveller on this method of transport I observed many people securing a free ride. It was possible to enter the bus by means of the exit door situated at the centre join. The buses are operated by a single person who, with so many standing passengers, had no chance of preventing this abuse.

Blomfield Road W9 5.05

Blomfield Road, W9 forms a junction with Warwick Avenue which leads up towards the huge roundabout featured above.

Park Place Villas/St Mary's Terrace 5.05

The grand terraces of Park Place Villas and St Mary’s Terrace stand in stark contrast to the buildings shown at the start of this post.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, creamy mashed swede and potato; with runner beans and carrots for a splash of colour. I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

Everlasting Sweet Peas?

James Peacock brought back the cured iMac and checked everything was all plugged in and  working well. He also worked out the CR2 format problem. This was because the camera was set to film in RAW mode, and CR2 is the format for that. I had not noticed it before because the Mac automatically converts to jpeg for WordPress; whereas the Microsoft appears to please itself whether it does or not. Given Microsoft’s current advertising campaign in which a series of alleged Windows users work in the phrase “I couldn’t do that with a Mac” I wondered whether Apple would take this opportunity to retaliate with “Derrick couldn’t do that with his Windows”. I am up for negotiation. Interestingly, a set designer called Beowulf, in the first of these adverts, stated “I couldn’t do that with my Mac”. The “a” quite swiftly replaced “my”.

I therefore spent some time inserting the missing pictures into ‘No Resolution’ and ‘The Never Ending Summer’.

Raindrops on sweet peas

During the process of unravelling the CR2 issue, I nipped out and photographed the seemingly everlasting sweet peas. These are not, in fact, Lathyrus latifolius, but ordinary annuals which this year are thriving forever. Perhaps it is the sunshine and showers that keep them going.

Beef stew

The mashed potato served with Jackie’s bountiful beef stew this evening was as smooth as the main dish was packed with goodies. With this, the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the madiran.

Stymied

Progress on the computer front has ground to a halt. Yesterday’s senior advisor had undertaken to telephone me to enquire about my reloading of Sierra.

He phoned just before lunch. When I told him I had managed to load one picture, very slowly, he decided I should insert an external hard drive onto which the entire contents of my iMac should be downloaded; and I didn’t take in what else; I told him I didn’t own an external gadget and lived too far away from a source to buy one today. ‘Don’t phone me, I’ll phone you’ was the essence of my additional phrasing. No way was I going to spend more hours on the phone on something that was likely to be beyond me.

What I didn’t know when I spoke to him was that I would be unable to load any more pictures, even at the rate of Aesop’s tortoise. When I discovered this I called a Peacock. Peacock Computers of Lymington, that is. Their James is to visit in an ambulance tomorrow, and take Mac off to hospital.

It seems it needs a heart transplant, in that the hard drive is likely to be on the blink. This was confirmed when I could send no more than five pictures by e-mail to my Windows laptop, and, later not even turn it off. Sometimes you need a good surgeon.

Not to worry. I could, after all, put the photos directly into the laptop from the cameras. Couldn’t I?

Well, no. You see, when you upload photos onto your computer, you have an option to delete them from the camera. That is what I always do. So they, like maggots, are trapped inside the Apple. Stymied.

At least I could add the e-mailed pictures. Ah, but. Hopefully coincidentally, the ‘attachment display settings’ on the sidebar in WordPress has disappeared. This means I can only put small or ‘standard’ pictures on, and they can’t be enlarged. I have sent a query to WordPress Happiness Engineers. It is a bit worrying that there is an unresolved forum thread about this problem.

Louisa and Emily 12.93

Here’s one I made earlier, in which Louisa holds Emily in one of the pictures I sent to my granddaughter two days ago. That will have to suffice for today, and act as a further taster for the earlier post.

This evening we dined on lamb and mint sausages, mashed potato, and crunchy carrots and runner beans; followed by Normandy apple tart and evap. I drank Collin-Bourriset Fleurie 2015.

Revealing The Ancestors

We have a stairway the walls of which we are reserving for photographs of those we call the ancestors. A start was made with the Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen featured in ‘One For Rebekah’.

Beside that print hangs a wedding photograph from Jackie’s family. From the clothes worn by the group of family and friends, we estimate the event to have been pictured in the 1920s. Today I spent some time on my iMac refreshing this image that is almost a century old. Instead of a wander around the English countryside, today’s journey guides you through the process of producing as near a pristine photo as is possible for me. I’m sure my professional friend, Alex Schneideman, would make a better job of it.

Almost the longest stage was removing the 8″ x 6″ print from what must be the original very sturdy frame. Small nails had been driven through the hard wood surround into a backing plank thick enough to take them. Clearly this had protected the photograph, but it proved impregnable to my delicate efforts. It being Jackie’s heirloom, she was less nervous about using ‘brute force’, and prised the nails out with a small screwdriver.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding original version

My original scan shows the customary sepia coloured print that has come down to us. This would once, before the passage of time, have been a crisp black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding B-W scan

I then adjusted my Epson Perfection V750 PRO scanner setting to convert the colour to black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding iPhoto version

The next step was to brighten up the image in iPhoto.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding final crop

Then I cropped out the mount.

Clicking on this last image to enlarge it will expose lots of little white or back blemishes. These are not relevant in the normal sized reproductions I have used in WordPress. Anyone wishing to examine this slice of social history in more detail, or to enlarge the print, would prefer the retouching that I then carried out. The iPhoto facility for this involves, with the use of a mouse, placing a circular motif which can be adjusted according to the size of the area to be treated, and clicking on or dragging it. You need a keen eye and a steady hand. And rather more time than I was prepared to give it, as will be seen by following the suggestion below, thus revealing that my work was not perfect.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding after retouching

Comparing this final image, similarly enlarged, with the last one will show the final result which I then made into a 10″ x 8″ print. When framed, this will not replace the original, which is a treasure in its antiquity. The two will be hung one above the other.

The bride is Jackie’s paternal great aunt Renee Dove, who was marrying Canon Percy Green of Keystone in Staffordshire (See PSs below). Interestingly, it is the groom’s mother, Jackie’s great grandmother, who holds centre stage. She favours a dress length of her generation, rather than that of the younger women around her, who are not afraid to display their ankles. One of these, second from the right on the front row, is Jackie’s grandmother Vera Rivett, nee Dove. Is she wearing spats? Her outfit is certainly most splendid.

Would today’s bride wear gloves? Or would she, like her mother and the woman on the far left, hold them in her naked hands? Are feather boas the precursors of today’s fascinators? Neither, after all, is a hat, like the wide brimmed ones sported by these ladies.

Fob watch

I do like the gentlemen’s three piece suits, and, had my brother Chris not left me one that sits, in its box that Frances made, on the window sill beside my chair, I would envy the fob watches.

It would certainly be unlikely in 2015 for a fag to be carried into the formal photograph grouping. Hopefully, the smoker in the back row (identified in Adrian’s comment below) flicked his ash out of harm’s way. There are no white spots on the shoulder of the gentleman in front of him.

The great granddaughter of Mrs Dove senior cooked a splendid liver casserole for our dinner tonight. New boiled potatoes, and crisp carrots and cauliflower accompanied this. Dessert was apple crumble and custard. I drank Chateau Saint Pierre Lussac Saint-Emilion 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

 P.S. Becky’s Facebook link comment dates the picture with a little more precision:

  • I would say around 1919. The hats and skirts are still a bit WW1.
  • Rebekah Knight Fashion drawing from 1919

    Rebekah Knight's photo.
    P.P.S: Helen added this: ‘Not in Staffordshire, but Jackie and I have been trying to get that information straight. Lovely and interesting picture. The young lady in the front row next to the man with the child has a familiar look. Wonder who she is.’
    Jackie has noticed that the gentleman next to her grandmother also clutches a cigarette. (Adrian’s post highlighted below establishes that this smoker is Great Great Grandfather Albert Edward Dove). Vera is wearing a wedding ring which suggests either that grandfather Albert Rivett was still involved in World War I (he was at the Battle of The Somme in November 1916), or that he did not attend for some other reason.
    Later, Becky would seem to have cracked the condundrum: ‘Had a little mooch on Find My Past and have found a Percival L Green who was married in 1921 in Grantham and an Irene Dove who was married in the same year in Grantham.’
    She continues with this quotation from Adrian Barlow:  “…by 1895 they [the senior Doves] had moved, south this time, to Denton in Lincolnshire, their home for the rest of their teaching lives. And what a home! They lived in the school house, a large and elegant early Georgian building. Here their children – Albert, Vincent, Irene and Vera – grew up. Albert joined the Navy, while Vincent and Vera became teachers. A local clergyman, the Rev. Percival Green, proposed to Vera, who turned him down, so (rather like Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice) he proposed to Irene instead. She accepted, and they were married in St. Andrew’s Church.” (Albert, in Victorian times, was a name popular enough for Vera to have one as a father, one as a brother and to marry another)
    ‘You should see the picture that goes with this piece!’, says Becky
    1024px-Denton_near_Grantham_St_Andrews_Church
    Here it is
    Jackie has now done the Google walk on Denton, just outside Grantham, and has established without a shadow of doubt that her ancestral wedding took place at St. Andrew’s Church, and that the photographer produced the photograph in the garden of the school house, now called Ley’s House, across the road. Those parts of the church that are visible in the old shot are identical to those in the modern one above. The stone wall that can be seen through the gap in the hedge surrounds the church. The twin-trunked tree still towers from the lawn today.
    Adrian Barlow’s blog of 21st January 2012 gives further amazing detail.
    This post now holds the postscript record.

Is This Orlaith? 2

After I had walked down to the postbox and back, the rain set in for the day. I amused myself scanning more of my loose negatives, viz. fifteen from the summer of 1982.

Matthew 1982Becky 1982 01 Sam 1982 04That year water pistols were all the rage, and Sam was delighted to be introduced to them by Matthew and Becky in the garden of Gracedale Road. In his photograph Matthew is wearing his P’tang Yang Kipperbang haircut.

Covent Garden Craft Market at that time when the area was in the process of being rejuvenated was the genuine article. Covent Garden 1982 03Covent Garden 1982 06Covent Garden 1982 07Tiffany lamps1982Stallholders brought their own work for sale and continued creating it on site. Although we no longer lived in Soho, trips up to the vicinity were always popular. It was during the one featured today that I photographed the picture that Alice snaffled.

The iPhoto application on my iMac has a face recognition facility. It automatically picks out a face and invites you to identify it. It does occasionally select something like part of a tree that could resemble a fizz, but on the whole it is remarkably accurate. If it thinks it knows whose is the likeness it asks ‘Is this [a name]?’ and gives the option to put either a tick or a cross in a box. A tick receives an automatic entry. A cross allows you to enter the correct name.Sam 1982 02

This shot of Sam prompted the question ‘Is this Orlaith?’.

Orlaith is, of course, the daughter of Sam and Holly, and hasn’t quite yet reached the age her father was in this picture.

One of the consequences of finally acquiring a dishwasher is that, unless you run it before you have filled it, you need more of everything so that what you need is not in the machine awaiting a wash when you want it. This led us in search of a ten cup cafetiere this afternoon. Despite visiting Lidl, because you never know what you might find in the central aisles, we came home without one.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole (recipe), mashed potato, runner beans, and carrots, followed by ginger sponge and custard. She drank Cimarosa chenin blanc 2014, and I drank more of the rioja.

On A Mission 2

This morning I began the nightmare that is the administration attached to moving house. Most organisations prefer you to make the necessary arrangements on line, but I am of the generation that prefers to deal with real people. This is actually possible, but first of all you have to deal with a machine, You may use a keyboard, or in some cases speech, to answer the robot’s questions. At some point the mechanised voice will politely ask you to repeat either what you have said, or the number you have keyed in. If that happens more than once or twice over a particular point, you are advised to wait for an operator whilst you listen either to dubious music or advertising of the particular business’s services. If you are lucky you are told how many people are ahead of you in the queue or how long the delay may be.

Today’s experience wasn’t that difficult. It began with organising the removal service supplied by the admirable Globe removals who have moved us three times already. No problem. Once we passed the machine hoops, BT gave us a very friendly and efficient woman who sorted out the transfer of their equipment and account to be within four days of the move. Even New Forest Council had the decency to have their demands for council tax and consequent direct debits date from 1st April, to coincide nicely with our departure from Castle Malwood Lodge.

I’m bound to forget something, but at least I have made a start.

After lunch Jackie gave me a 90 minute start for a trip to just beyond Bolderwood. She then caught me up in the car and drove me to our destination and back. I walked to Emery Down by the usual route, turning right at The New Forest Inn. Had I not stopped in Minstead for a chat with Anne, I may well have reached our goal. As it was Jackie reached me just a mile from the Canadian Cross.

Peaty poolMy readers are more than acquainted with the huge corpses of forest trees and their crudely amputated limbs that littered this stretch of terrain. Pools of still water lay beside them. I suspect it was peat that lent its tincture to some of these glassy patches.

PonyA young and beautiful white pony ambled inquisitively across the dried bracken and  watched me walking past.

My Facebook friend, Barrie Haynes, who once lived in the area, had asked me about two maple trees planted either side of the Canadian Cross. Canadian Cross from leftCanadian Cross from rightJackie at Canadian CrossHe wanted to know how they were surviving, and I undertook to investigate. Rene FournierThe Cross is the centrepiece of the Memorial to Canadian Servicemen who lost their lives during the Second World War whilst contributing to the struggle, the outcome of which made my upbringing much safer than it may have been. Barrie wrote that ‘the story goes that two Canadians came back many years [after the memorial had first been erected], looking for the original  cross (which had rotted away). When the new cross was first set up, the maples either side were stolen’. They were subsequently replaced.

I am happy to report that the trees, although leafless at the moment, are thriving.

Please spare a thought for Rene Fournier and his compatriots.

This morning’s tussle with technology was a sweet dream compared to the nightmare that beset me when I began to draft the latter half of this post. iMac’s Safari would not load the page. The message they gave me was that the server had discontinued, probably because it was busy. I was to try again in a few minutes. I did so several times over the next hour. Then I had the first of my brilliant ideas. Perhaps it would work on Windows. It did. Oh joy. I could then write the text. But what about the photos? They were on the iMac. No longer on the camera so I couldn’t try to load them onto my HP laptop. I always delete them from the camera once I’ve put them on the computer.

Then I had my second brilliant idea. I could -mail the photos to myself, put them onto the HP desktop, and upload them to WordPess from there. I did send them successfully. But how, on my newest equipment, was I to transfer the pictures from the e-mails? I couldn’t fathom it.

But. Wait a minute. Do you feel brilliant idea number three coming on? I did. I still had my old Toshiba that Becky hasn’t yet collected. I knew how to do it on that. I thought. In fact I’d already forgotten, but I did manage it.

I couldn’t, however, do much with the image sizes, so I hope you will forgive me. In any case, I trust you will appreciate the effort that has gone into illustrating this post.

The superb bottle of Pomerol, La Croix Taillefer 2007, given to me by Shelly and Ron for Christmas, accompanying Jackie’s liver and bacon casserole (recipe), went some way to alleviating my suffering.

As did the WordPress support system. I had alerted them to my problem. Whilst I was completing this piece, David from WordPress came on to chat. He confirmed what I had been beginning to realise, which was it was an internet compatibility problem. He sent me a link which may help. I’m not up to pursuing this tonight. We’ll see what tomorrow may bring.

P.S. At 3 a.m. the next morning, waking up thinking about it, I rose from my bed and tried the link. It advised me to clear my Safari cache. This seemed a pretty scary thing to do. But I did it anyway. And. Blow me. It worked. The result is I have been able to reformat this page with larger photographs.

Technical Frustrations

Last night the internet reception was hit and miss, which is one reason why my post was shorter than usual (I’ve just lost it again). I was also knackered, but mostly I wanted Orlaith’s photograph to stand alone.

Waterlogged fieldWaterlogged roadThis morning, taking advantage of what I thought was a lull in a night of rain, I walked the La Briaude loop. I hadn’t got very far on the straight stretch towards the hamlet when I was soaked to the skin, even through my raincoat. The chainsaw that was ripping into the back of my head was hail. The wind was the fiercest I have experienced. The rain was blinding and the hail piercing. The photographs of the rainswept field and the lake that was the road, were taken with eyes closed, by pointing, shooting, and hoping for the best.

Had the tumult not been coming from behind me, I would have turned back, but I could not have faced the driving rain and the painful hailstones.

As I struggled, head down, along the Eymet Road the wind roared through my ears and the violent precipitations spattered on my raincoat. Had I been offered a lift I would have taken it. Normally when a kindly driver stops for me I say I am walking for pleasure. I wasn’t about to give anyone a story to tell about the mad Englishman.

When I reached the corner indicating the last kilometre back to Sigoules, the downpour ceased, but the wind did not.After the rain A thin sliver of blue sky beyond the saturated vines appeared beneath the flat, leaden, cloud layer.

Upon my arrival, I peeled off and attempted to dry all my wet clothes. Changing apparel involved taking the trouser challenge. I have been aware that recent pressure on my waistbands has suggested that my older garments retained in rue St Jacques may no longer quite accommodate me. They didn’t, so I failed the test and was compelled to pull my wet pants back on.

Mo and John came over to Sigoules bringing my obsolete iMac and the bulk of my DVD collection so I can watch them on a bigger screen; and to treat me to lunch at Le Code Bar.

Max provided the usual excellent fare. An intriguing and delicious soup containing noodles, lentils and potatoes was followed by quiche for Mo and belly of veal in a piquant sauce for John and me. John opted for steak whilst Mo and I chose sausages for the main meal accompanied by the customary mountain of chips. We all selected creme brulee for dessert, and shared a carafe of red wine.

We enjoyed each other’s convivial company and went on, following Max’s recommendation, to L’Ancienne Cure, Christian Roche’s wine outlet at Colombier where we engaged in pleasant conversation with the proprietor who had been a friend of Max since they were boys. They had played rugby together and I wouldn’t have liked to have met either of them on the field. They each possess a grip of iron. After ample tasting, John made a purchase, and Mo drove us back to Sigoules.

In eager anticipation, I plugged in the iMac. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring either a mouse or a keyboard, so I couldn’t use it.

My technical frustration was to continue. Either my laptop or my card reader is playing up. I had the devil’s own job to download the three photographs I had taken in the morning and was completely unable to transfer the heart-warming shot of the open fire in the winery fuelled by spent vine stems.L'Ancienne Cure fire I may have to wait until I return to England next week to illustrate the rest of the next few days’ posts.

P.S. Back home with iMac