Friday, June 29, 2007

Photo Nottingham

I thought I'd have a go at making a little slide show to
show you what I've been up to in the last week or two.
I was very impressed with Andrea's slide show, which she
set up a few days ago, and thought I'd have a go myself.

I got chatting with a professional photographer a few
months ago -- Stuart McIntyre of Photo Nottingham --
while he was opening his premises on Mansfield Road one

More recently I contacted him to see if he would be willing
to give us (at Nottinham U3A) a few ideas on how to take
better photos, which he very kindly agreed to do. So, about
ten days ago he took a small group of us around one of
Nottingham's parks, The Arboretum, which is round the corner
from his studio, followed by spending another hour going
through our photos (and tweaking them with Photoshop).
You'll see some of my efforts in the slide show below.

Earlier this week, we had a second meet-up with Stuart, but
this time he showed us how to take studio photos with his
equipment (and we spent another hour going through the photos,
when I picked up a few more ideas on what to do in Photoshop)
So in the second half of the slide show are photos that the
other group members took ... not my efforts. As you'll see
Stuart was a wizard with the lighting, and you can see some
of his work on his Photo Nottingham website. He uses very
high quality Canon digital cameras, and gets superb results
with them ... he's a brilliant photographer too.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


How much do we edit the content of what we say to family
and friends? So as possibly not to bore them with the full
details of what might be a dull story anyway, to cover up
what really happened to avoid feeling embarrassed, perhaps,
or not to say or to reiterate negative thoughts or feelings
… so you’re not criticised as being too negative?

Think for a moment about how heavily edited our main TV
news programmes are … the endless deaths in the Middle East
or in Afghanistan for example would otherwise be portrayed
as horrible scenes of blood and body parts strewn all over
the place – nightmarish for those who were there, and
nightmarish potentially for the TV viewers.

I started thinking about this after a simple remark from
Mrs C about her friend having left her coat in our downstairs
cloakroom the other day. I said: “That reminds me of the time
when I left my coat at the hospital when I visited Dad after
his op. (This was in the early 1990s a few months before he
died). I remembered that I'd left my coat behind not long
after I'd set off in the car, and went back to the hospital
to collect it … much to the relief of Mum & Dad.”

What I missed out was my Dad’s angry comment, when I reappeared
at his bedside. Instead of being pleased to see me, he said:
“You turnip-head! Amy ran out after you to catch you up when
we spotted your coat, but you’d gone.” A negative remark,
which was one of many minor criticisms he’d made of me over
the years. I don’t remember receiving much in the way of praise
from him … though I think overall he was pleased with my

Why do we remember crappy remarks like this one, but forget or
devalue in our minds some of the good things that have happened
to us? Why don't we forget the crap?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

La Vie En Rose

Mrs C and I went to see the Edith Piaf biopic last
Sunday, and were amazed by the quality of the enire
film - fabulous singing, acting and production - I
think it's a must-see film. My only minor criticism
is that the action jumped around back and forth in
time too much for me.
For a taster, have a look at the official movie site
(it's worth waiting a few minutes to hear the music
and to see the photos - and a cleverly put-together
website with the red theatre curtains opening and

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yesterday in Leeds

Mrs C and I drove 80 miles or so up to Leeds yesterday
with our daughter R and Little Ava -- so see our
youngest daughter, Bubs. Our usual car (a Peugeot 306)
is off the road at present, having repairs to get it
through its MOT. Instead I hired a car from Enterprise
-- a new VW Jetta 2.0 litre TDI, which was bloody
fantastic -- felt as though we were driving a top limo
-- it was effortless to drive at 70-80 mph -- wonderful
comfort and acceleration.

Thinking back to my past life in Leeds, I went to a
grammar school there for 4-5 years, and later to Leeds
Med School for another 6 years, and did various hospital
and GP training jobs there, before we moved to Nottm in
1975, which is Mrs C's home city. My parents lived in
Leeds much longer that I ever did, so we spent many
weekends visiting them when our girls were little. So
I think of Leeds as my second home town.... even though
I was born in Manchester, spent some idyllic years as a
child in leafy parts of Chealdle Hulme (Cheshire), and
2-3 years on the Bulmershe College campus in Reading.

Bubs studied music at Leeds University (BMus Course), and
has decided to make Leeds her home. She and I have an
occasional funny banter about whether it rains more in
Leeds than it does in Nottm -- I reckon that the East
Midlands is drier (it's one of the driest parts of the

It was pouring down with rain as we left Nottm in the
morning, and the rain caught up with us an hour or two
later in Leeds -- which didn't put us off having a stroll
round Kirkstall Abbey. Bubs is moving house at the end of
July, from a 1 bedroomed apartment to a shared house across
the road. The owners threw a street party for everyone
9 months ago, and had invited Bubs to attend, since when
they've all become good friends, and go out to clubs
together as well. Bubs was house-sitting for the couple,
so we spent a good part of the day in the new place.

She made us a very nice meal, out of cans of butter beans,
red kidney beans, chick peas (one can of each), and one and
a half tins of chopped toms -- all heated up in a pan, plus
half a tin of coconut milk, and then well seasoned with salt
and freshly ground black pepper, served up with brown rice
and brocolli. I'm used to eating this kind of mix flavoured
with Thai spices, but it was lovely to be able to taste all
the veg without having my taste buds blasted with chilli,
etc. After all that, we had mugs of tea and fresh fruit,
followed by a walk round the block. By the way,Little Ava
had one of her favourite meals: mashed potato with cheese
sauce, which she ate by hand and by the spoonful, and a pot
of fruit yoghurt also - so she had to have a good clean up

Here is a photo of Little Ava and Auntie Bubs.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dalziel and Pascoe

Unfortunately I missed the first episode of the TV crime
drama Dalziel & Pascoe on Thursday night. I went to bed
early that evening at about 8pm, telling Mrs C that I was
going to have an hour's kip, but then woke up at midnight,
by which time Mrs C was asleep. After a trip to the loo,
and a brief wander downstairs (when I let one of our cats
out of the sitting room -- accidentally shut in by Mrs C),
I returned to bed and slept another 6 hours -- that's
almost a record for me -- I haven't slept so much since I
was a houseman/intern (after my weekend shifts on duty
when I got little sleep).

So yesterday, Mrs C gave me a 5 minute briefing on what
had happened in the D&P episode I missed. It was a really
bizzare story centred around a bloke who gets his revenge
on an alleged child murderer (AM) by stabbing him with a
long knife. There wasn't sufficient evidence to convict AM
of the murder, who was then set free by the court. Shortly
afterwards, the bloke's wife commits suicide by jumping off
the balcony of their apartment. The bizarre bit of this
story is that Pascoe, who is a very straight-laced character
normally, is a witness to the revenge killing, and takes
pity on the deranged dad and helps him cover up the murder
by disposing of the body ... I was beginning to think that
the scriptwriter had lost the plot.

Anyway, Mrs C and I watched Part Two of this yarn last
night, when it slowly dawns on Dalziel that Pascoe was
involved with covering up AM's murder, especially when
Dalziel sees Pascoe removing a piece of evidence from the
crime scene later. I felt more and more uncomfortable as the
drama progressed, right up to some plain talking at the end
between D and P about P's involvement, all which was left
unresolved. How could a partnership recover from something
like that? How can the drama series continue? Overall, I
thought both the acting and the production were production
were brilliant, though the acting of AM's accomplice wasn't
very good.

Friday, June 22, 2007

veggie fest/marathon

How do you like your veg, and how much veg do you eat?
Well, Mrs C and I eat mountains of the stuff -- sometimes we
cook so much that we can't eat it all. We usually cook veg by
steaming it -- to enhance/preserve the flavour of it.

Other times we roast it -- an idea we copied from watching one
of Jamie Oliver's TV programmes. It's very simple to do - to
chop up your favourite veg, then lightly coat it in oil (olive
or sunflower) and then to pop the tray in a hot oven for 45 mins
to an hour (about 200 deg C).

As regards the veg, we chop up whatever's in the house -- we
usually have in some onions (red/cooking), potato (I've found
that new potatoes - the Jersey Royal variety in particular, are
delicious), sweet potato, peppers, carrots, celery, courgettes
and parsnips.

I sometimes include a few sprigs of fresh rosemary in the mix.
Towards the end of bake (about 15 mins or so), I add in lots of
very lightly oiled halved/quartered mushrooms and several cloves
of garlic (with the skins left on - about 4 per person).

We eat all this with cottage cheese or some home-made houmous -
and sometimes with some steamed brocolli too -- veggie-heaven!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Terrible jokes and my dad

The worst jokes can sometimes be really funny, don't you
think? I'm not very good at telling jokes ... I often
make a mess of the punchline, or tell it in such a way
that the punchline is terrible ... that's my poor short
term memory for you.

I don't like reading lots of jokes, one after the other ..
I get bored with them, as I do with reading long lists of
pop songs, that you see on some blogsites.

Having said all that, I was "jammin'" with a couple of my
mates, Steve and Barry, the other morning, and Steve told
me this one -- about a bloke who goes into a sandwich shop
and demands a crocodile sandwich -- and then he shouts:
"And make it snappy!"

My dad was an intellectual snob -- he was extremely well
read (he was a university professor, and the house was
full of books of every description). In his retirement,
he spent most of his time reading books and newspapers
(only the quality press, of course), doing the difficult
crosswords, listening to classical music on the radio &
on his hi-fi, and drinking fine wines.

If you can think of the character, Inspector Morse (played
by the actor John Thaw), my dad resembled him a lot, both
in character and in looks -- my dad was less grumpy though.
He loved watching the Inspector Morse TV series, and
reading crime novels too.

Despite the fact that a lot of the time he'd be immersed in
these intellectul pursuits, he could be really funny and
attentive towards our girls, when they were little. He loved
to tell them really feeble jokes -- he used to LOL telling
these two ....

"Where did Julius Caesar keep his armies?"

Answer: "Up his sleevies".

"Whats' the difference between a post box and an elephant?"

"I don't know", one of the girls would say.

"Well, I shan't ask you to post a letter for me, then."

I can still hear him telling these, and all the laughter that

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Monsoon weather

As some of you will have experienced, the UK has been hit by torrential
rain in the past few days, causing widespread flooding but only one or
two casualties. I walked home from town a couple of days ago, in the
middle of a thunderstorm, with only a brolly to shield me from the
downpour -- I started to feel scared as I approached our road as I was
very close to the centre of the storm with lightning flashes and thunder
every 2 minutes or so... rainwater was flowing like 2 small rivers down
both sides of the road.

Nottingham's Broadmarsh Shopping Centre was flooded at this time, and
had to be closed ... it's at the bottom of a hillside, a short walk
south-east from Nottingham Castle. I don't recall that happening before
in the last 22 years that I've been in Nottingham. However, the flooding
was minimal compared with what happened in other parts of the country--
the West Midlands was worse hit than we were.

It's going to be drier today, so Mrs C and I are going round to our
daughter's house in Bramcote and then possibly to Wollaton Park for a
walkabout (and to see the refurbished Orangery). Wollaton Hall is one
of our great Elizabethan houses, formerly owned by the Willoughby and
Middleton families (who made piles of money from coal mining in the area),
and which is now owned by Nottm City. It's now used as a Natural History
Museum and for art exhibitions, so it's not one of those must-see places
like Chatsworth in Derbyshire, which is full of lovely treasures...
thought to be "Pemberley" in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice".

Friday, June 15, 2007


Have any of you been to Kendal, a small town in Cumbria?
We visited it again, while we were on holiday, and had a look
around a quaint cobbled street there, depicted below. Kendal is
the home of Kendal mint cake, which is very nice bar of sugar,
flavoured with peppermint, which has been used by explorers &
mountaineers over the years. I found out on Wikipedia that the
author of "Postman Pat", John Cunliffe, lives/lived there.
In the window of the Kendal Picture Framing shop, I saw a
lovely Lakeland photo done by Mike Shepherd, in triptych format
... I had to look up the spelling of the word, "triptych", BTW.

Across the road is the 1657 Chocolate Tea Room -- chocolate
heaven. Mrs C had a gorgeous chocolate cake, which I think was
laced with whisky, while I had a cheese scone and a very nice
cup of tea. The tea room itself is interesting to look round ..
low ceilings and old wooden beams ... low enough to bang your
head on. It's what tourists just love to do .. to get a feel of
what life was like a few centuries ago.

I've also included a view up the road (Branthwaite Brow), which
is quite pretty. The Route 66 Bar, which I think is part of the
pub, looks out of place to me ... an odd name to choose for a bar
in Kendal... ("Route A6 Bar" would have been more appropriate),
and the lamposts seem to be leaning over somewhat... still they
add some charm to the street.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

yet more baby photos

Well, you can see from the following photos that I'm a doting
grandparent. I really enjoy seeing Little Ava -- it's like being
a dad again, but without all the nappy changing and night-time
disruption. At a feeling level, I'd call it love - to an
outsider, he or she may call it "observer bias".

Thinking about daft ideas, I was listening to a news quiz radio
programme about 2 weeks ago, when there was mention of a new
city academy school, that's just opened in the south of England
(query in London). The new headmaster was asked by a journalist
why there were no playgrounds in his new school, to which I
gather he replied that the lessons in class would be sufficiently
stimulating for the pupils not to require breaks, and that they
could have drinks and nibbles within the school building.
At the end of this story, one of the radio comedians remarked
that the pupils should be renamed as "scholastic end-user units".

Monday, June 11, 2007

Glasson Dock

One sunny day last week we went a walk along a nearby canal to
Glasson Dock. The dock was once a thriving port and shipyard,
and was owned by the family at Thurnham Hall. Now there is only
a small amount of industry there, and a marina, which looked
spectacular in the midday sun.
I took loads of photos as usual while we were on holiday,
including more of our little granddaughter, Ava, who is becoming
more responsive, and who is not far off the crawling stage now.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Just back from our holibobs

Hi Folks,
Mrs C and I have just got back from our holiday in Lancashire.
We wentwith one of our daughters and little Ava (aka Shibby),
and we stayed at Thurnham Hall, a lovely refurbished country
mansion (a few miles south of Lancaster). I've posted three
photos are of the house and the lakeside there.

We were very lucky to see the sun on all but one day in the week,
whereas most parts of the UK were cold and cloudy (with heavy rain in
London and Kent at times).