Saturday 4 August 2018

No cam

About 45 years ago I bought a second-hand Olympus SLR camera and became hooked on taking photographs. That camera has long since gone to the great photographic museum in the sky (or, more accurately, is probably buried under a heap of rotting rubbish somewhere). Other cameras have come and gone, and although there have been spells of several months when I haven't even picked up a camera, I have still managed to take a fair few pictures.

It is about this time each year that I start to think about the illustrations for our calendar for the next year. Our kitchen calendar has, for many years, been a one-off specially produced using pictures that I have taken. It all started as a way or reminding ourselves what we had done and where we had been the previous year, although that has gone by the board and we simply select a dozen pictures from the many hundreds that I have on file. I select a long-list of about 30 and the Old Bat selects one of them for each month. I am graciously permitted to pick the cover illustration!

I haven't taken many pictures this year; it has been one of those hiatuses when I haven't picked up a camera. But I have earmarked a few pictures, and here are a couple of them.

The chateau at Chateaubriant reflected in the window of the bank opposite.

In Withdean Park, Brighton

Friday 3 August 2018

Well, well, well

I notice that it is almost six months since I last stumbled into the bloggosphere. I have to admit that I thought it was probably rather longer than that, but who's counting? For some reason I simply lost interest.

Even without the compulsion to write something every day (and that compulsion disappeared over the horizon more than six months ago!) I don't seem to have had any more time than before simply to sit and twiddle my thumbs. Much of my time has, as ever, been taken up with matters concerning Brighton Lions Club. I am still treasurer and have, for the second year running, taken on the organisation of our annual fireworks display. Although the display takes place in November (gunpowder plot, Guy Fawkes and all that) planning obviously has to start well ahead - January, in fact! Fortunately, the actual pyrotechnic element is not part of my responsibility and almost everything that needs to be done, has been, although there are still a few odds and ends to tie up.

Another Lions activity that gave me something to do was Project Wenceslas. Let me say right at the start: this was not something that we in Brighton dreamed up. We borrowed the idea from Farnham Lions Club in Surrey, but they had no difficulty in letting us use the same name - and even their artwork!
The basis of the scheme is that every person in England over the age of 65 receives the Winter Fuel Payment, subject to certain conditions. This is paid at the rate of £200 (or £100 each for a household of two who both qualify) rising to £300 for more elderly people. Not everybody really needs the payment, and we asked those who received it but didn't need it to donate it to us. Our promise was that we would use it to reduce fuel poverty in the city.  Agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau were able to refer clients to us and we would clear their outstanding accounts - or make a suitable reduction - from the donations we received.Needless to say, it was the treasurer who had the job of receiving the referrals and making the payments! Without going back to the accounts, I would say that we paid out some £8,000 last winter.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Winter Olympics

It seems scarcely possible that it was 34 years ago we watched Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean win their gold medals at the Winter Olympics at Sarajevo with this routine.

Monday 15 January 2018

Apple howling

I'm sorry I missed this. It took place not many miles from here and sounds a lot of fun!

Get the full story right here.

Friday 5 January 2018

I didn't think it could happen

I wouldn't call myself a technophobe - but I'm not exactly a technophile either. (Why does blogger recognise technophobe but not technophile?) Nonetheless, I bought myself a Kindle some months ago, presumably for a reason that made sense at the time although I have long since forgotten what it was. I probably puzzled myself by doing so as I have always said that I enjoyed the sensation of holding a 'real' book in my hands - especially a new book - and turning the pages. You wouldn't catch me reading a back-lit screen!

Well, I have to admit I was wrong.

Reading is something that I have always enjoyed; once I had learned to read, of course. I always have a book 'on the go', generally a library book. That is, the books were generally library books before the Kindle transformed my reading habits. Although it was not a transformation of my habits, merely a change from hard copy to electronic. And, somewhat to my surprise, I now prefer to use my Kindle. Of course, it does mean that I have to pay for my reading material now instead of borrowing from the public library; in the past I have been too mean to buy books!

So what is it about the Kindle that has so drastically altered my view? Well, in no particular order:
  • I can slip it into my pocket far more conveniently than a book for reading in the doctor's waiting room or in the hospital outpatients' department.
  • There is no need to scrabble around looking for the bookmark that has fallen on the floor or slipped down the side of the armchair. (I refuse to mutilate books by folding down the corner of a page to mark my place.)
  • The size of the font can be altered - a boon for those late evenings when the eyes are tired.
There were more things I had in mind - but that's just where they are now; right at the back of my mind!

Thursday 21 December 2017

Santa's cats

I was on Ho Ho Ho duty at the garden centre this morning and was just about to start putting on the gear when one of the women staff at the centre poked her head round the door.

"Are you doing Santa this morning?" she asked.

I replied in the affirmative.

"Would you mind if a friend of mine brought her two cats in to see you? She treats them as her children."

So there I was later on with a cat on each knee while the owners took photographs to be used as their Christmas card next year.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Il Stroncapane

During the last two and a bit weeks since I last posted I have had several ideas that I fully intended to set down here. But something always got in the way - Life with a capital L. Now, of course, I can't for the life of me remember what any of those ideas might have been.

Another senior moment, I suppose.

Anyway, Il Stroncapane.

It was while doing the washing up yesterday evening that those words flashed into me mind. What caused this flash of Italian sunshine is beyond my comprehension.

And what, you ask, is Il Stroncapane?

Some years ago, my Good Lady and I had a holiday in Tuscany. As was in those days our wont, we rented a place for a week, self-catered breakfast and ate in various restaurants in the evenings. We visited Florence (disappointing, except for the baptistery doors), Siena (cram-packed with tourists) and Pisa (Piazza dei Miracoli miraculously empty when we arrived but after a stroll around it was filled with people pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower as their photos were taken).

What? No tourists?

We also took a look at the famous triangular piazza in Greve in Chianti. Just like Siena, there was hardly room to breathe. But in a small town closer to where we were staying is another triangular piazza. For my mopey, the piazza in Figline is more attractive - and wasn't full of screaming tourists!

The piazza in Figline
And tucked away in a corner of the piazza is - or was then - a restaurant that became our favourite that holiday: Il Stroncapane.

I wouldn't mind going back there sometime.