Friday, 31 December 2010


Well it’s nearly the end of 2010 (it’s almost 5o’clock tea/vodka time as I check my timepiece) and I cannot let the moment pass without a few mentions. We had a lovely get together yesterday hosted by our friends Christine and Doug. Lol and Wendy were round the table as well and the scoff was smashing, Christine force fed me smoked salmon- heaven! (the wine was quite nice as well).

This afternoon we were told that there had been a punch-up in one of the local pubs on Boxing Day (giggle) and that the landlady had emerged with a black eye. I thought it was a shame she didn’t get two black eyes because the fuzz could have taken her away in a panda car.

We are both looking forward to another year of our visit on planet Earth. Global warming has succeeded in driving away the snow and sub zero temperatures of recent weeks and with all the suggestions of a looming third world war we are planning to spend much of next year away from it all at the caravan

Happy New Year peeps, big kiss to Lyn and Nil Carborundum


Monday, 20 December 2010


We are back here on terra firma after spending ten days on our first trip on a cruise liner. We chose the Canaries for our itinery and it proved to be a splendid trip. An intensely luxurious experience which has charged our hedonistic batteries for the foreseeable future. “The Independence of the Seas” is one of the largest cruise ships afloat in the world and it was a pleasure to be aboard her. “Independence” is floated by Royal Caribbean – an American outfit - and the friendliness and professionalism of the crew are a credit. Thar she blows…….!

As we approach the end of the year the rest of this entry will look back and include a selection of pics from the past twelve months with rambling comment from yours truly.

I have just discovered that hovering the mouse over a picture and left clicking once gives a supersized picture - oh dear what a sheltered life I've lived :-)

Puerto Mogan on the Canarian island of Gran Canaria is beautiful but approached by a treacherously precipitous road. If you look carefully at the volcanic outcrop in the background of the picture – say half way up – you might just make out a hairpin bend. Our coach had to negotiate that on the way down. Buttocks remained firmly clenched for some time after!

Our Kent trip took us to Canterbury cathedral. I have always wanted to see this historic building and I was not disappointed.

While we were in the area we visited the Romney, Hythe and Dimchurch narrow gauge railway and this is one of the little locos in service that day.

And in Whitstable, after gorging on oysters we saw this lovely old sweet shop (candy to you Jud).

We also stayed a few days at Southwold and in that neck of the woods we visited the Aldburgh Moot Hall complete with jail cells where local women accused of witchcraft were incarcerated. Look here for a quick rundown:

I imagined the poor women in their cells on the eve of their hanging. Would they have been allowed a last supper? Might they have been given a choice? And would they have chosen from a drop-down menu?

To Portsmouth next and here we are on the deck of Admiral Lord Nelsons flagship “Victory”. To rise to the venerated rank of admiral then (and now) required a certain amount of string pulling – looking at this, he would have had plenty of practice.

We are in Oxford next and among several colleges we visited, Christchurch impressed hugely but I just hope that this IS Christchurch as I keep getting my images mixed up. Do you get your images mixed up? I sometimes worry that I’ve caught a dose of Multiple Personality Disorder or a touch of schizofunnier but something keeps telling me not to worry.

Up to the top of Ampthill Hill and the atmospheric ruins of Houghton House. These ruins are all that remains of John Bunyans “House Beautiful” depicted in his “Pilgrims Progress”.

A couple of pictures of our garden in her summer dress, she makes us smile.

And the garden again today.

This arctic weather has been with us for weeks now but there is no doubt that it can produce its own visually beautiful effects. These are the old oaks in the parkland of Turvey House. The cross on the steeple of All Saints' Church rides aloft the icy canopy as if in appraisal of the masters work.

The roads look treacherous so we have not ventured out for three days but we are running out of provisions and have decided to make a break for it. I have just been outside to de-snow the car and the temperature gauge showed minus 10C. Global warming? Bah – humbug!

Back to warmer times, the “bathing place” in Olney on the River Great Ouse still holds summery attractions for local children although I guess it’s nadir would have been in the 50’s and 60’s when the lido was still a watery alternative to the seaside.

Delapre Abbey is one of Northamptons little secrets and we enjoyed this visual joke in the gardens – the fig leaf had been secured by a couple of four inch nails – ouch – ouch!

We are blessed by lots of majestic and historic architecture in this area. A summer visit to Wrest Park gave me the chance to capture this picture. (Shame you can’t hear the splashing as the huge carp rolled and flapped in the lake.)

We are down at Felmersham gravel pits and a kingfisher was kind enough to stay still while I took his picture. Normally all you see of these birds is a blue flash. This is the first time I’ve ever managed to get a picture of one.

Harrold Country Park held a “do” some months ago showcasing traditional crafts and I was able to have a chat with a real old fashioned apiarist who I found weaving his own beehives.

If you have been reading this blog before you will have realized that I/we love traditional morris dancing. Here at Harrold we enjoyed watching “Hemlock” doing there stuff and this chaps pheasant headdress had to deserve a picture.

Earlier in the year we watched the same “Hemlock” performing at the Bedford River Festival. Watch it here if you like:

Just before we moved the old caravan on I filmed a little footage of the Red Arrows from the decking on the day of the Weymouth Carnival. Sadly with all these defence cuts the country is taking I have heard that they are shortly to be disbanded. Maybe this was the last time I’ll ever get to film them - what a shame, here they go.

A lovely summers day and we sat on the cob at Lyme Regis and looked back at the newly refurbed beach; the clotted cream ice-cream was delicious.

I have a more than keen interest in T.E.Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia, so on 22nd May and accompanied by my lady I took the opportunity of attending the 75th anniversary commemoration of his death. A service was held in the small but beautiful St.Nicholas’ church in Moreton,Dorset (TEL lived in his tiny cottage "Clouds Hill" just up the road) and was conducted by the Rev. Jacquie Birdsye in front of a packed congregation. After the service we all gathered round the grave in the cemetery a short distance from the church and heard an address delivered by Ronald Knight.

Lawrence loved his Brough motorcycles with a passion that in the end, killed him. It therefore came as no surprise to find that a number of Brough owners had travelled to Moreton for the ceremony. Their handsome machines were parked in the centre of the village.

I filmed a little video footage but I am no cameraman so apologies for the amateurish (and shaky – yes you’ll get old one day!) footage. It’s here:

Someone was asking about the inside of the caravan, this was taken on the first day we owned it.

And this is part of our view from the veranda.

Just a few weeks ago I went out onto the decking and took this of a spectacular sunset over Weymouth Bay. I used no colour filter to enhance the picture, what you see is exactly as it happened.

And where is the best place to eat the best fish and chips (from The Marlboro) – why here of course, the lovely old Weymouth harbour!!

Toodle-oo chums and Merry Christmas to all my readers wherever in the world you may be. From your very own salty old sea dog – Grampy (what do you think of it so far?)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Since I designed my MK1 NBC eyecup for the HS10 viewfinder I have been able to give it a good try out. When I posted the blog detailing its construction the weather was somewhat overcast and cloudy with no sun and it worked fine. However, since then we have had some fine sunny weather and I have to say that although MkI does improve things, in bright sunshine it suffers from some light ingress.

Nil desperandum as they say, I made a last desperate attempt to find another solution in the Milton Keynes branch of Jessops. I took my HS10 along and a young man – Chris – quickly removed an eyecup from a new NIKON SLR and offered it up to the HS10 viewfinder. Bingo! It was looking good. Chris explained that this was the only eyecup on any camera in the shop that had a large enough viewing area that would allow the viewfinder and the eye sensor to remain uncovered

Chris could not sell me the eyecup as it had to go back on the camera but he provided me with the details and offered to order one for me but told me that I’d probably be better of going to Ebay. In fact I ordered through Amazon and it arrived this morning.

Fixing it on the viewfinder was a simple matter of cutting three narrow strips of double sided selotape and applying to the back of the eyecup then carefully pressing it onto the HS10 viewfinder shroud. This is the result:

We had bright sunshine this morn so I into the garden to give it a go…….and?

Spiffing stuff matey! Only when shooting into bright sunshine does it allow a bit of light in but I rarely shoot into the sun anyway so no problem there. I suspect that if I removed my Delkin LCD shroud I would be able to get my eye in closer and achieve even better results but this will do for me OK. The eye sensor is unaffected and continues auto switching between viewfinder and LCD screen although I have this permanently turned of - in my opinion it’s a dopey idea and Fujifilm would have made a better job of the design by using the space to provide a larger viewfinder

MkII then gives the result I was looking for and can be considered a success. Oh happy day!!!!

If you want to carry out this simple mod to your own HS10 you need to order a NIKON DK-20 eyecup. As I mentioned before, I ordered mine through Amazon, it cost £5.99 with free delivery. Once again this mod will not void your warranty as the eyecup and selotape can be easily removed with a little surgical spirit to clean up. If the bloke who flogs these eyecups on Amazon reads this could I suggest 10% please?

Many thanks to the very friendly and helpful staff at the MK Jessops branch and especially Chris.

If you implement MkII on your HS10 I would be tickled to hear from you and how you got on either here or via my email ad.

PS. since I posted this entry I have had plenty of chance to try the mod and have found that the selotape kept coming unstuck so I have stuck it on with gel type superglue and it seems like its on there for good. (Added 11.05 on Boxing day - 26/12/10)

And now for something else completely different – again!!!!

Down to the pub a few days ago for a glug and was quite taken aback by this piece of truly remarkable engineering confection in the car park...........

I spoke to the driver of the machine - a chap sporting a Parachute Regiment sweatshirt...."you what"? ; and he told me that this design is known as a “Phoenix” and “it’s powered by a 1600 VW engine”. I didn’t say anything to him but I quietly reflected that it would look fantastic being hauled instead by three snorting, straining, snow white stallions ……… that’s real horsepower!..........that's romantic.........but it's NOT "para" so I'll just have to dream on won't I?

So long and see you later.

Friday, 8 October 2010


And now for something completely different……

Recently, I bought a new Fujifilm Finepix HS10 bridge camera to replace my S9600. One of the main reasons I chose this camera was that it had a proper viewfinder. (I find the LCD screens on cameras are all but useless in sunshine).

It’s a good camera except for the silly little viewfinder which is made worse by the lack of an eyecup. The result is that you can only see the information in the viewfinder in subdued light. I have been onto Fujifilm and they do not supply or have any plans to supply, an eyecup. I have trawled round various camera shops to try and source a third party eyecup that might fit even with a bit of modding – but to no avail. So I gave up – until this morning.

As I locked up my workshop yesterday I accidently knocked a package from a shelf which landed on the floor. I didn’t try to pick it up and left it there. Then in the early hours of this morning in that half asleep half awake state I could see this package laying on the shed floor and I thought “camera!”. Now you might have thought that a pair of ex-government nuclear, biological and chemical rubber gloves (for that is what the package contained) had about as much in common with a camera as a politician and honesty,  but there you would be wrong.

So if you want to breathe life into your HS10 viewfinder do this:

First remove this finger.

Pay attention FUJIFILM it must be this finger!

Cut a piece like this from the finger.

Stretch it over the viewfinder shroud then take a piece of thinnish wire and form it into a shape similar to this.

Feed the wire loop over the protruding rubber then fold over the rubber to make a neat hem – job done!

It works well, does not in any way damage your camera and will not invalidate your warranty. The diopter adjuster knob is left clear for continued accessability The HS10 is a great camera and this mod will make it even more pleasurable to use. Total cost was 25p for a pair of NBC gloves bought from a car boot sale about five years ago. Technical detail – the rubber material the gloves are made from is .032” thick and nicely stretchy.

If you implement my mod on your camera and you like it I would welcome your feedback either here or at:

Pip-pip chaps!

Sunday, 19 September 2010


We have ourselves another caravan; this one is on high ground and with lovely views of the surrounding hills. We are also able to see some of Weymouth Bay. It’s fab and we like it very much.

I love lamb. This woolly one watched me for a minute or so, then winking, he bleated out the side of his mouth “Hey fella, you want some good grass?” I felt a little sheepish when I admitted that I didn’t touch the stuff but he looked more sheepished than I did!

Bridport, just along the coast is a town of great character and the coastal road from Weymouth runs through some of the most staggeringly beautiful scenery. We have enjoyed a trip there again and we chose the day the town was celebrating the hat. That’s it, any hat you like - as long as you wore one you were seen to be taking part. I embarrassed my lady by wearing two baseball caps – at the same time. I call it my “two hat” (say it fast) look.

See you soon (I'll try to be a little more regular but no binding promises -  I just love eggs - don't you?)

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


My Admin and Financial Manager recently told me a sorry tale of a bloke who for years had run the local scout troop. He delighted in teaching his boys the “backwoods” skills that scouts were taught in the days when they used to wear those lovely broad brimmed hats and khaki “shorts” that ended just below the knees.

Over the years however, PC and the dreaded “Health and Safety” have taken their toll. Scouts were always proud to wear their sheath knife on the belt; after all, they were very useful for separating sausages before confining them to the camp fire frying pan. But sorry chaps – knifes not allowed any more.

Camp fires? Sorry, they are dangerous as well; something/someone may get burnt! And so it went on!

This chap had enjoyed years of passing on skills to his young charges but eventually he decided that onerous rules and regulations were spoiling the big plan so he jacked it all in. How sad and what a loss society has suffered from losing the likes of him and others like him.

So here I am in my mid sixties reflecting on my time in the cubs. I never made the scouts. Scouts? Big hard boys they seemed then.

Once a week us nine year olds would dress in cub uniform (make sure the woggle was adjusted correctly) and assemble at the wooden hut down by the gas works. We learnt essential skills – tying knots, singing songs, first aid and respect for Akala,

The end of the session was always a game of some sort. Far and away the favourite was “British Bulldog”. To play this game the entire troop minus one gathered at one end of the hut. "Minus 1"  remained in the middle of the hut and on the command of “British Bulldog 123” the troop would run to reach the opposite end of the hut. It was the job of the bloke in the middle - Minus 1 - to “bring down” someone, anyone, any way. It often involved pain but nobody cried. So now there were two in the middle and “British Bulldog 123” led to another charge ending with perhaps three or four in the middle.

Eventually, most of the troop would end up in the middle and the final charge would be of a suicidal nature with the runner/s ending up beneath a pile of bodies. We got bruised and bloodied but we thought it the most enormous fun. How sad it is that today’s kids cannot experience the rough and tumble of life as we knew it in the fifties because the powers that be consider it dangerous.

And while we are on the subject, Wednesday afternoons at my school was sports afternoon. If it was wet the rugby match was cancelled and we had boxing in the school gym. We all took turns at wearing the communal boxing gloves and knocking seven bells out of each other. Bullies often had their covers blown at these sessions and suffered the humiliation they deserved.

By present standards this sort of upbringing would be deemed barbaric but it hardened us kids for what life had in store and gave us an edge that seems sadly lacking in today’s kids.

I would love to bash on about the decline in educational standards since those days and compare the requirements of university entrances then to those of now but no………….I must leave a little gristle to chew on for later.


Monday, 31 May 2010

310510 - A trip to Kent

As we get older we are both becoming more reluctant to fly so we decided a few years ago to seek out and discover more of the UK. Neither of us knew Kent particularly well so we decided to go and investigate. For the first few days we based ourselves in Canterbury. We strolled round the city in the spring sunshine and admired the quaint streets and historic buildings but undoubtedly the highlight of our stay was the cathedral itself.

In the grounds of the cathedral we found these ruins.

I think these remains maybe part of the original Augustine priory which pre-dates the cathedral. Whilst touring the cathedral we struck gold. I was chatting with a guide who told me that a visiting choir would be performing within the hour. At the prescribed time we made our way to the Quire (like a vast nave with stunning acoustics!). For the next hour we were bewitched by the angelic voices of the Concordia University concert choir from Edmonton, Canada led by Joy Burke. They were nearing the end of a performing tour in the UK and we were very lucky to be at the cathedral when they sang. Lumps in throats? – Of course!.......A very moving experience and I feel privileged to have had this wonderfully unexpected experience. I took the opportunity of switching on the movie cam for much of the performance and I have included a video clip of the first item in their concert. This is hosted by Youtube and if the video is juddery you should be able to hover your cursor over the Youtube movie screen and get a popup tab that offers to download the video for you - way to go! Here is the link:

Before checking into our second hotel in Dover we called in at Whitstable to get a flavour of the area.The town is very picturesque and old plank clad buildings particular to this area can be seen in every street. I snapped this one while standing on a board walk with my back to the Swale estuary.

Whitstable is to oysters as Cheddar is to cheese so while there I had a fishmonger open a half dozen for me. Sitting on some fishy pallets at the side of the harbour I enjoyed one of the finest marine delicacies that this country can provide. They were delicious with a piquantly bitter aftertaste not found in the normal supermarket offerings.

I can never pass a charity shop without checking out the books (and waistcoats???) and in one (an ex bakery) this beautiful old bakers oven had been retained as a feature.

Next stop was our Dover hotel – Hubert House. We liked this place very much. The young owners were very helpful and friendly and we were intrigued to discover that this hotel has a long tradition of accommodating visiting channel swimmers from around the world. The best thing though was our room – posh it most definitely was!

The next day we decided to visit Broadstairs but enroute I spotted a sign pointing to RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial. We spent the next hour enjoying what turned out to be a museum and memorial to the fighter pilots who operated from here in the last war. A smashing old bloke called Ron performed his role as guide and answered all my questions with an infectious enthusiasm. Thank you Ron.

Eventually made it to Broadstairs where this bird was determined to be the centre of attraction.

On the way back to Dover we decided to go and have a look at Reculver. The twin towers have always been a navigation landmark and are all that remain of a medieval church.

The church was built on the sight of a Roman defensive shore fort and the ruins of the fort can still be seen behind the towers.

Next day and we are at the cinque port of Sandwich. We were quite taken by this lovely historical town and spent some hours just moseying around and soaking up the atmos. This old toll gate adjacent to the river bridge was known as a barbican.

Another historic feature is the Fishergate circa 1384.

Imagine all the sandwiches in the world. Imagine all the countless variations of fillings possible – all the types of bread used. Where would you expect to find them? Why here of course:-)

I have always been interested in steam power and have made several steam driven models so I had been looking forward to visiting the Romney, Hythe and Dimchurch Railway. The trains are narrow gauge and the locos are about half size. The little carriages are just wide enough to allow two people to sit side by side. We decided to stay on the train until it reached its furthest limit – Dungeness. We passed through several little stations on the journey and finally we were on the last leg to Dungeness. On its way the little loco hauled us across a vast desert of pebbles and scrubby vegetation. This is a strange, surreal wilderness where people have contrived to make homes in what for the most part looks like sheds and huts. The day was grey and very cold and seemed to emphasise the isolation of the place. The brooding colossus of the nearby nuclear power station only served to cast a pall of melancholy over the area. I was beginning to feel quite sick at this point and reflected that this place had been aptly named.

We chose our visit to coincide with a 40’s weekend. Lots of folk in 1940’s civilian and military costume dressed to provide the authenticity of the period – spats and fur stoles anyone?

At one of the stops on the return journey we were treated to a dance display by the “LindyHoppers”. See'em here:

And three young ladies in American military uniform - The Clover Sisters - wowed everyone with renditions of popular wartime hits. Get a load if this:

I should have loved to have recorded our visit to Dover Castle here. Unfortunately, at this point a very dodgy packet of Marks and Spencer’s egg sandwiches laid me low with food poisoning. Back soon though – byeeeee!