365 2023 ~ Hipstamatic week 5

This week I decided to try one of the more avant garde Hipstapaks and chose the Kaleidoscope combination which consists of the Kally X3 lens, a multi-lens that captures several images and gives you a kaleidoscopic photo, and the Brewster 1817 film which adds a rich and amorphous black matte to the image.

So, without further ado…

Sunday, 29th January
Phil’s son Carl visited with his herd of kids including his eldest daughter Katie, who we rarely see as she’s at University now and having her best life by the sounds of it. I took a picture of her with Phil for him, proud Grandad that he is. I’m not sure I’m keen on this effect for people shooting, so I also kept a straight shot, and decided not to shoot people with this set up.

Katie and Phil

Monday, 30th January
Back to work but nothing floated my boat there. When I got home though and stood at the back in the conservatory with my cup of tea, I noticed some clouds in the distance that looked as if they were fading Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds on their way out. I quite like the effect on the houses, like castles in the sky, but houses 🤣. I resolved to shoot more buildings.

Kelvin – Helmmholtz, maybe.

Tuesday, 31st January
The building works in the field beyond our little patch at work, have resulted in a ‘Marketing Suite’ in the corner of the land we’re on. I’ve been watching it come together, and this is the result. Our car park is going to be a nightmare when people start coming to it. There’ll no doubt be strongly worded emails going to our estate manager, who’s about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. The businesses in the units do not like their spaces being usurped.

Marketing Suite.

Wednesday, 1st February
ASDA day today, after an easy morning at work, shouldn’t say that too loud, it’s a rarity. Still had it in my mind to find buildings, and next door to ASDA is our local cinema complex, Cineworld, which I think is quite an attractive building, though it’s been a long time since I went in it. It used to have a long advertising board up where the Cineworld letters are, with posters of all the movies showing, but that’s gone so I’ve no idea what’s going on in there.

Cineworld.

Thursday, 2nd February
Chores and laundry day today, as well as writing the next episode of Prudhoe remastered for the Sunday post on the Universe blog. I resorted to experimenting indoors, with mixed results. Tried the cats but that was a mess, so a simple window shot seemed to work best. I like how the Teddy squad are elevated to look out of the window and you can see the dip in the bedclothes where Winnie had been ensconced.

Windows

Friday, 3rd February
I needed to finish off a film before going out on Sunday with Sophie for our next adventure, and as the weather was bearable I drove up to the Angel and took some pictures in the spooky memorial hedge thingy. But of course, shot the angel too, which I think worked quite well.

The Angel of the North.

Saturday, 4th February
I was hoping for a decent sunset to shoot the houses over the road at the back, but you get what you get and it didn’t turn out too bad.

Sunset on Manor Gardens

So that’s another week over. On the whole I enjoyed it, it made me think differently as to what might work and what wouldn’t and I like the surreal results, mostly. Now to choose the next film and lens combo for week 6, arty-farty or straight up, hmmmm, decisions!

Hipstamatic 365 out~takes

I’ve been taking more than 1 shot a day most days, so figured I’d do a monthly post of the outakes I liked best. Which probably will mostly be of the cats.

Liddy in her giant Christmas coverall PJ thingy.
Cal at South Shields
Winnies latest new-place-to-sleep
Lord Vincent
Winnie
Winnie on the roof
Sunrise

C’est tout!

365 2023 Hipstamatic week 3

This week I chose a Jane lens, which boosts contrast and saturation, with Robusta film, a textured discoloured matte film.

Sunday January 15th
Shelley and Liddy came over in the afternoon, and of course I had to take a picture of Liddy eating her way through a huge piece of rainbow cake whilst wearing pink headphones, as you do.

Liddy the Pink

Monday January 16th
Nothing out of the ordinary when I got up for work, still in the dark here. I washed and had breakfast, looked out of my window and ka-boom, severe snowing going on. It lasted for about 20 minutes, stopped, and was all gone by the time I got home from work. Poor show really, sigh. I know other parts of the country got a lot more for a few days, but we missed out.

Snow Day! Well Snow 20 minutes at least.

Tuesday January 17th
I tried to get a decent picture of Teddy, my boss’s dawg, but everytime I bent to take a shot he came trotting forward for a fuss, so he’s blurry. Serves him right!

Blurry Teddy

Wednesday January 18th
I don’t have a sweet tooth, and me having a cake or dessert is rare as rocking horse poo, so when Shelley brought cakes on Sunday I left mine sitting in the fridge. On Wednesday I didn’t have time for lunch at work and it was way past lunchtime when I got home, so I bit the bullet so to speak and had this. It is white chocolate (which I don’t really like) cream, (which is OK in soup, curry & chilli etc) and packed tight biscuit crumbs, making this a cheesecake apparently. Being that cheese is the only part of this I would like, I couldn’t taste any at all, but I have to say this was bloody lush! I’m a convert!

A no-apparent-cheese cheesecake.

Thursday January 19th
On Thursday Phil and I did chores. The biggest one clearing out one of the kitchen cupboards which had got to a point where you couldn’t get one thing out without another falling out with it. It’s all very neat and dejunked now, and to celebrate we took ourselves out to lunch at the Red Lion in Boldon. Had the awesummyummiest scampi and chips with mushy peas 🤣, you can’t beat 70’s pub grub! They do it really well at the Red Lion.

Phil & menu.

Friday January 20th
Friday was a busy day, Phil at work in the morning and I got more housework done, then spent the afternoon doing a post for the Universe blog. I got a cyclamen not so long ago, and it’s a bit quirky compared to normal houseplants in that it likes to be cool, doesn’t like the sunshine, needs moist soil all the time, and goes dormant in summer so you have to hide it away in the shade. I mean, what’s that about? Anyhoo I’m renowned for causing death to houseplants so getting a complicated one probably wasn’t my greatest idea, but encouraged by my continuing success with a spider plant I took the plunge. So far, so good.

Pinky.

Saturday January 21st
Friday night is always music night here and we play youtube videos of bands/singers we like, CD’s and vinyl until the wee hours and imbibe a few sherbets along the way. So Saturday morning is the one after the night before and a gentle day is required. It is a cold but blue sky day today and I took another shot for my ongoing House Across the Road series.

The House Across the Road, and visiting magpie.

So week 3 is over, and I really like this lens and film combo. The lens is sharp and clear and the film has warm tones and a nice bit of texture, but not too much. Onwards though….

📱😊

365 2023 Hipstamatic week 2

This week I’m trying a combination of Lumière Lens with Delauney 1941 film. The film is named after Sonia Delauney, a French artist who co-founded the Orphic Cubist art movement, and the film adds a cubist filter to pictures and does funny things with colour.

Sunday January 9th
Phil and I went over to the coast and had coffee in Marsden Grotto, a gastro pub now, it started out as a home for a chap known as Jack The Blaster back in 1782.

A lead miner from Allendale, Jack Bates and his wife Jessie moved to the area in 1782. It is alleged he moved into a small cave at Marsden Rock either after refusing to pay rent on his house in Allendale or simply having nowhere to live. Using explosives from a local quarry, he blasted the small cave into a much larger one, earning his nickname “Jack the Blaster” in the process and creating a rent-free and landlord-free home. The dwelling was accessed by zig-zagging stairs down the cliff, thought to be built by Jack. The unusual and eccentric choice of dwelling attracted visitors, which the couple supplied with refreshments at a cost. It is suggested that he became involved in smuggling activities – offering refreshment to smugglers using caves of the coastline to hide contraband cargo.

Marsden Grotto

Monday January 10th
Back to work. The converted farm building in which I work, the land it sits on and surrounding fields are owned by the Duke of Northumberland. He is building 310 houses on the land next to us and last week put up a prefab sales office in our car park. This chap was laying slabs for a path to the office door.

Gadgie

Tuesday January 11th
The rains came, and didn’t stop.

Rain

Wednesday January 12th
I finish work at 2pm on Wednesdays and go straight to Asda to do the weekly shop. The car park in our Asda is down a slight gradient, and it was still raining.

Flood

Thursday, January 13th
Once a month I go to my pal Kendal’s place to have my nails done. I’m not really bothered about them any more but I’ve been going for over 10 years and I’d miss her if I didn’t go, plus she needs the money! This is her 18 month old son William, and a bowl of spaghetti in tomato sauce. He scoops some spaghetti into his spoon nicely, then picks it out of the spoon with his fingers and shoves them in his gob. 🤣 He is quite adorable.

William

Friday, January 14th
I was hoping to do my blogpost for yesterday at this point on Friday. Sigh.

Winnie

Saturday, January 15th
Went to the local shop for a few bits and bobs, a blue sky morning but cold!

Three Tall Trees

And that’s week 2 finished. I quite like this combo of lens and film, but next week I’ll be moving on.

😊 📱

365 2023 Hipstamatic 1

Yet again I’m embarking on a one photo a day for a year project. This will be my fourth, the last one being in 2021. This will be the first time though that I’ve used the iPhone for it, and specifically the Hipstamatic app. If you don’t know what that does, and do want to know, there’s a short explanation HERE.

Doing a 365 project is not easy, especially as time goes on and you are struggling for ideas, but it’s good discipline and keeps photography at the front of your mind. My photography of late has been in the back of my mind, especially when Sophie my shooting pal is away for a few weeks and the weather is not so good ( which is a LOT of the time!). Last year I started shooting with film a lot more and going forward will still be doing that, but that’s not cheap so a 365 with the Contax is not an option, and I’ve done all my other 365’s with my digital DLSRs.

So this will be a deep delve in to what the Hipstamatic can do. I’ll post my week’s shots up, probably every Monday, I’ll also be putting the details of what lens/film combo’s I used. I’ll be using one combination a week to keep each week in a uniform set. There will be pictures of cats, grandkids, Phil, trees, places I go and (hopefully) people I meet, and a few words to go with them.

So without further ado…Welcome to my life ~ 365 days in photographs.

Week One ~ Kantō HP lens, Ina’s 1935 film

January 1st, Sunday. New Years Day
Phil’s daughter Shelley and her daughter Liddy came for a sleepover, as her hubby and son had gone off for a football match and were staying away overnight. I cooked a Sunday roast dinner and then we did music videos, watched a DVD of Liddy in her Drama group end of year all singing/dancing review and had a lovely family evening together.

Liddy & Shelley

January 2nd, Monday
I never tire of being amazed how Winnie navigates Phil’s model desk and the blinds to get on the window sill.

Winnie

January 3rd, Tuesday
Is it too soon for another Winnie shot? I don’t think so, snuggled in her radiator bed.

Winnie

I’d meant to keep going with the same settings but accidentally changed to Odakayu film instead of the Ina’s 🙄. Same lens though.

January 4th, Wednesday
Today was my first day back to work after the festive break, though I’m then off until the following Monday so it wasn’t really a hardship. It was nice to arrive home in proper daylight and with a blue sky for a change!

Blue sky day

January 5th, Thursday
Phil was on a late shift today and I had my Grandson Callum to look after whilst Shelley was at University. It was a great day, we did shopping, went to lunch and then down to Marsden Rocks for a coffee, coke and some photography! I love spending time with Cal, we talked about lots of stuff and had a few laughs, can’t wait to do it again.

Cal learning the Contax!

January 6th, Friday
A day for housework, blogwork and a bit of shopping at Lidl in Pelaw. Pelaw is the residential area over the tracks from Wardley. If you’ve ever seen the movie Get Carter you might remember the Post Office scene

As you can see, the Post Office is now a Greggs Bakery 🙂

Pelaw

Saturday 7th, Saturday
A quiet day today, cold and showery weather. I’ve been mapping out photography outings for when Sophie returns at the end of the month. I couldn’t finish the first week without a shot of Lord Vincent though.

Lord Vincent

So that’s the first week done. Onwards……

Tales From Fraggle Towers ~ December 2022

It’s that time of year, where some of us look back on the year that’s been, before jumping in to the year ahead. It seems to me this year in particular the World has become a more turbulent, more unkind and more expensive place to live, but here we must stay, and at least there is music, books, movies, art and some good people still left in it.

At Fraggle Towers we have had some ups and downs, some health issues both for Phil and I, and also for some of our younger family members, and they are still all ongoing, but we’re not dead yet so there’s that!

Work has been much the same, clearing the North East of earwax, and I’m an angel/darlin’/miracle worker or star, depending on the vocabulary of the client, and that’s a nice thing to be at work.

Arty Farty clinic windowsill shot.

The cats have continued to be their annoying selves. We have always had ‘easy’ cats in the past, and though Lord Vincent is quite sedate and cool, Winnie is a veritable monster at times. She’s mean to Vinnie whenever she comes across him and he doesn’t bat an eyelid. He’s had his quiet revenge though, Winnie used to sleep on our bed, and one day Vincent usurped her position and has kept it ever since.

Usurption Day!

Winnie then took to sleeping on the radiator downstairs, so I purchased a little bed for her, not really expecting her to be interested in it as she’s so ornery, but two minutes after I put it up…

Happy Cat

Christmas was quiet and lovely, just the two of us and we had a chilled out day. I cooked dinner which was yummy and we watched a daft Christmas movie. We did the present thing, a photography book, perfume, earings, a 12″ single and socks for me, books, whisky, a decanter and favourite chocolates for Phil. We’ve both been off work in the week between Chrismas and New Year which is cool. A mini staycation, reading, watching movies, cooking, playing records, nothing new, just lots more of it!

Red Vinyl

I’ve been thinking about next year, photographically of course. In the past few years, 2016, 2019 and 2021 were all years where I completed a 365, or one-picture-a-day project it’s also called. Well it’s going to be 2023 in 4 days time (as I write) or tomorrow (as you read) and I seem to be mentally gearing up to do another one. Not with the Fuji’s or the film cameras, but using just the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone. There’s some parameters to work out over the next couple of days, and the final decision on whether I do or don’t is yet to be made. If I do I’ll be posting them weekly here and if I don’t, well who knows?

My Contax will be employed for photographic outings with Sophie, and I have a stock of film now which I need to crack on with. The weather is pants, grey rainy cloudy windy and forecast more of the same all week, but I’ve been seeing the weather reports for the USA over the past few days and so my complaining is very quiet and small. I do keep thinking I should make a resolution to go out in the rain with my camera, but I’d break it straight away, I do not like being cold and wet, not even for photography. #wimp

And that’s a wrap for December and 2022, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose and all that, but let’s hope 2023 isn’t as bad as we think it’s going to be! Pink thoughts people, pink thoughts! 🦩

Happy New Year to all, wherever and however you are 😘

📱😊

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ November 2022

The end of November is nigh, and I’m noticing more and more Christmas lights up in towns and on peoples houses. Asda are already awash with Christmas tat.

Far too early IMHO, 2 weeks is enough for me! Oh well, to each an apple. November didn’t start too well as I’d really hurt myself at the end of October. I got up from the sofa and twisted so as to trap a nerve in my back, and ended up incapacitated for a week. Couldn’t drive so couldn’t go to work, and sitting down or standing up was quite horrendous. I had planned to visit my lad Ben and Grandson Lewis on the following weekend and really didn’t want to cancel, but by the time it came around I was all better. Big relief. Nurofen and paracetamol combo to the rescue!

Off I went down south and as it was Guy Fawkes night, we went out to Milton Keynes to a Firework display, but first went for dinner at one of the Wagamama restaurants which has Asian fusion food based on Japanese cuisine. I think it’s supposed to be hip and groovy to eat there, but neither Ben or Lewis enjoyed what they ordered though they did their best, and it’s good to try stuff out of your comfort zone. I ordered Pad Thai, which is slap bang in my comfort zone so I was fine 😃.

Of course it was raining on and off so traipsing over to the firework display wasn’t that great as it was in a park and things got a bit muddy. There was a big fairground which was heaving with people and long, long queues for the rides, which none of us fancied doing, but Ben and Lewis wasted some coins in a mini amusement arcade.

A fee but no win

We waited in the field for 45 minutes before the fireworks started, and they lasted 20 minutes. They were not all that spectacular but the end bit (you can see below) was pretty. Anyway, getting rain sodden didn’t stop me enjoying being with my boys.

crackley fireworks.

Back home we’ve had nearly 2 months with silly internet. We decided to swap over from Virgin to BT, for various reasons I won’t bore you with but not least because it’s faster and cheaper per month. It has taken 7 visits over 10 weeks, by several teams of internet fixerupperers to get us connected. They’ve had to dig up the path that runs past the front garden, dug holes in our front garden, spent hours on the phone back to base and finally yesterday got us connected and we are back online.

BT men at work.

BT were very good whilst this was all going on and gave us a mini hub that was basically a sim card in a case. It was enough to use the computers but no good for streaming, and it dropped out every now and then and on rebooting had to have a megalong password put in. So annoying (I know, 1st world problems) but they didn’t charge us for it, so I can’t complain really, even though I just did.

Mini Hub

Achievement of the month… I made dumplings for the first time ever and they were OK at least. Phil tries to make them quite often and fails dismally everytime, so I volunteered to have a go and ta-daaah!

Dumplings.

Work has been as usual, mostly busy though this week it’s dropped off a bit, that happens around this time of year, and this year paying for wax removal might not be a priority. I pulled the longest pair of skin ribbons I’ve done so far out of one ladies ears, one out of each, amazing! They remind me of shedded snake skin.

Skin ribbons.

Phil has been busy repainting the woodwork of the landing doors and skirting boards, as well as upscaling the banister. Looks nice. To celerate we went off to Jarrow and chose a new stair/landing carpet, which will be fitted in a couple of weeks. It’s from the same people who carpeted the house 20 years ago when it was new. Nice to see a local family run firm make it through all the mad stuff.

Horned Helmets!!!

After all that hard work the past 10 days have been a pain literally for Phil as, not to be left out, he trapped a nerve under his shoulder blade. He’s been fannying on with a tens machine, which did do some good when it worked, but couldn’t sleep too well and finally went to the Docs yesterday and got himself some strong painkillers, which gave him a good nights sleep. He’s doing better today, at least I’m not getting hourly reports of the pain level, and he’s unplugged himself from the tens, so fingers crossed!

I bought an indoor cyclamen back in October, it’s doing well but I can’t get over it liking cold weather and no sunshine. It’s pretty.

Cyclamen

Lord Vincent and Winnie have been stuffing their faces since the weather has turned cold, and don’t go out so much when it’s raining, but both are doing OK.

I found this and it made me laugh, so true!

I didn’t do much photography at the beginning of the month, but had a play around trying ICM (intentional camera movement) shots

Windy window
Gee tarrrr

I love how ICM photographers make artistic work with it, but somehow it just isn’t for me.

Sophie is back for a couple of weeks, and we went out this weekend, so there will be a post on the Universe blog in the near future, though I will wait until the film shots come back as there are not many digitals. Not sure how long that will be as the post office are on strike until Friday. Along with half the country. Good to see people fired up and taking action at last.

So that’s about it for November 2022, the year is nearly over just Christmas to get through and then we can all start again!

Stay tooned!

📷 😊

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ October 2022

It’s been a funny old month here at Fraggle Towers with health issues to the fore. Phil had his Corona booster and Flu jab at the beginning of the month and was not well for 3 days, I had mine later on in the month and apart from one day being wierd got through that Ok. But I’ve had a couple of visits to the Doc’s for blood tests and other stuff. Then just this week I twisted somehow getting up from my sofa and did something to my back, with the result that I’m having time off from work. Can’t remember the last time that happened, and if I was able to drive I’d have still gone in. Sigh. Getting old and decrepit is just no fun. I seem to be improving anyway, fingers xt.

Winnie has been to the Vets as she has chronic cystitis they’re trying to get to the bottom of and she’s now on a daily dose of Loxacam which seems to be helping. None of this stops her being as mad as a box of frogs! Out in all weathers and doing a cracking job of rodent disposal.

Winnie Up.

Lord Vincent is hale and hearty, and in between patrolling the perimeter of our bit of the estate and eating for England, he spends most of his time on the bed ~ not one for rain and cold weather. He can’t even be bothered catching a mouse.

Lord Vincent

It’s been great having Sophie back in the country and we’ve had a couple of outings which has given me a good bit of fodder for the Universe Blog and for Fraggle film, though I’m still waiting to receive the scans back for that.

Work has been so busy, I’m getting through 40 people a week on average and I only work 2 & 1/2 days, so it’s full on, but I still get 10 minutes here and there to have a bit of lunch or take Teddy for a quick trot around the carpark. He is such a happy little soul and makes me smile.

Teddy, my BFF

Tonight is Halloween, and all the Grandkids turned up to go out trick or treating, which really is ‘begging for sweets’ apparently, but most of our estate get involved so I have sweets at the door ready and I get to take pictures, though use my iPhone now as the Fuji freaks people out 🤣. Phil and Shelly went with the kids to do the rounds and I stayed home to answer the door. Liddy and Livvy made a good effort at dressing up! Phil tells me that one house had made a fake cemetary on their front lawn, and another had a spooky figure that spoke to the kids as they got near to it and made them jump. Another had a giant spider across the front of their house. ALl good fun and the kids loved it.

Liddy ~ a dead bride 🤣
Livvy ~ zombie schoolgirl (I think!)

The boys are ‘too old’ to dress up being 11 and 12 (pfft!) but are happy to have the sweets of course! To anyone moaning about copying the USA, or commercialising Halloween, or begging for sweets etc I agree, it’s true and I don’t bliddy care, as having the grandkids round laughing and being happy for a daft evening is fine by me. One day they’ll be in their teens and this will just be a memory.

Some neighbourhood kids

Not sure who he’s supposed to be, ? Pennywise
???
another Pennywise I think
who knows?
Jail bait. 😄

So that’s the end of the 10th month and we’re going into Outer~Christmas Land now, as people are mad for it up here. I’m off down South at the weekend to visit with Ben and Lewis, fingers crossed my back has recovered as it’s a long old drive, and I’m dreading sitting still in the car for 5 hours doing it in case it sets it off again, but am thinking pink thoughts, like that’ll help.

Back next time with a November round up so stay tooned!

Scale Scotland model Show report.

We went to Edinburgh on Friday, to the Scale Scotland Model Show, which was held in the amazingly big Murrayfield Rugby Stadium on Saturday.

Peter Vardy 🤣

for a while I thought the chap in the middle was called Peter Vardy, but there were pictures of other chaps wearing shirts with Peter Vardy on them so I realised Mr. Vardy must be a sponsor or suchlike.
Because of Corona the show hadn’t been on for a couple of years, so it was good to be back, and it was very well attended.

This was our exhibition table

Some of Ren’s busts..

Paul’s cars, and Phil’s tank and busts.

Paul’s cars are amazing pieces of work

Phil’s Tank battalion on display..

Phil put his model in the competition and came out with a Gold medal and 3 awards!

We saw a lot of modelers we hadn’t seen in ages, and had a grand day. The chaps running the show are Lovely Scots, not pesky in the slightest, and we’ll be back next year for more of the same.

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ August 2022

The end of August is nigh, and the official the end of summer. According to meteorological seasons, the first day of autumn arrives on 1 September and then according to the astronomical calendar, autumn will begin on Friday 23. Oddly, The Meteorological Office, which forecasts our weather (or tries to anway) uses the astronomical calendar. 🤷‍♀️

My autumn begins when the green leaves turn gold/red/brown and that isn’t happening yet, so I’m still in Summer, albeit the latter stages. August has been full of the drought, and then torrential downpours which did nothing to alleviate the problems drought is causing. Up here we haven’t had too bad a time of it, no hosepipe bans, and the crops and fields look healthy when I’m driving about anyway, though ponds have dried up across the way.

I got the results of the lung screening back, and whilst I haven’t got lung cancer, there’s a different issue shown up which has to be addressed, and is being. My hedonistic past catching up with me 🙂 . I may, or may not write more about it later, but it’s all a bit new at the minute, anyway I’m not at death’s door so yay!

Work has been mad busy as always, there’s a lot of ear wax in this world! I’ve got a week off coming in September which I’ll be glad for, it will be a staycation as no-one sensible would try and look after our cats, but we’re having a night in Edinburgh as the Scale Scotland Model show is on and it’s one of Phil’s faves. We’re only staying for one night and our lovely next door neighbour Cheryl will come in and put food down for them.

August is when the schools shut for summer, and I had Cal and Liddy to stay and took them out for a trip to the Northumberland Zoo whilst their Mum went to a funeral.

us at the zoo
snack break

Liddy loves horses and has riding lessons everyweek, but on bigger ones than this chap.

Mini horse

They loved the marmasets and Cal turned his camera round so the little guy could see himself! 🥴

selfie

This is a Scottish Wildcat, and the first time I’ve managed to see it as it hasn’t appeared on the other occasions I’ve been, it’s usually hiding, which is pesky, surprise surprise. Caught it at feeding time though.

Pesky Scottish Wildcat

The café at the zoo is pants, so I took them to Northhumberlandia which has a nice one, and hadn’t expected it to have 300 Harley Davison riders in it’s grounds. I got chatting to one of them in the café queue and he was telling me that most weekends, chapters of the riding groups meet up and go riding to places together. Their next event was the following weekend in Scotland, which is apparently the most anticipated and best of the year.

Angels of Hell, (and Scotland and Wales).

It was nice to spend some time with the kids and they had a sleepover.

Winnie and Lord Vincent have been enjoying the nice weather

Winny and Vinnie

also their assassination rates have gone up somewhat. Winnie has brought home 3 shrews and a rat and left them on our dining room floor mat to be admired, her modus operandi is unknown as they are always perfectly intact with no sign of damage.

a shrew

Lord Vincent is a different matter. He has caught two small mice which he announced by mewing loudly so we’d come and look, but he wouldn’t give them up and ate them 🥴. Sigh. Vinnie also caught a small bird, parts of which we found one morning in the living room along with copious amounts of feathers. I don’t mind about the rodents really, they’re not endangered species, (well maybe to Winnie and Vinnie), but I hate it when one of them gets a bird. What can you do? They both have noisy bells on their collars at least or it would be a massacre out there.

It was my birthday last week and I got taken out to dinner, to an Italian Restaurant over the train tracks in Pelaw. It’s called the Olive Verde and is above a rough and tumble pub in the main street, it does a small but very nice menu, has friendly staff and the food is good quality and (so far) is reasonably priced.

Happy Birthday to me

The big plus is it’s only a 10 minute walk from home and we were treated to a little sunset over the metro station on the way home.

I haven’t done much with my Fuji, and Sophie has only been home for the Raby weekend but I’ve been employing the iPhone camera and hipstamatic app when necessary, and am still taking my Contax Aria in hand, with a film sent off and one on the go. But I do belong to The Scavenger Hunt group on Flickr where there are 50 items to shoot within a year’s timeframe. I particularly liked my attempt at ‘Spices’.

Spices.

I’ve watched a few films this month,

The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling.~ Netflix. A so-so action movie, a good review HERE by Dix/Eddie/the Pesky Scot, delete as applicable.
Samaritan starring Silvester Stallone. The reviews I read liked it better than I did- nicely filmed, minimal CGI but hokey script and acting veering between OTT and wooden. Still, it’s Sly, so there’s that.
Dog starring a wonderful dog, and Channing Tatum. Highly recommend it, did I mention the wonderful dog? She is fab, Tatum does OK too. Eddie has an excellent review HERE.
The Railway Man starring Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine and Nicole Kidman. A true story about a chap called Eric Lomax who becomes a POW in a Japanese POW camp in Singapore and has to work on the Thai-Burma railway. In spite of being tortured for a spurious offence, he manages to survive the war, but suffers PTSD for a long while after, until there’s a reconciliation at the end. (Trying not to do a spoiler but it’s a true story so that doesn’t matter really 🙄). Phil had read the book, and felt though it was told in a different way than the autobiography the movie was based on, it was all there, the flashback sequences being particularly good. Definitely recommend. Eddie wasn’t as keen so for a different POV his review is HERE.

So that’s about it, I’ll be back when September ends, so stay tooned.

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ April/May 2022

I’ve been rubbish at keeping up the monthly Fraggle Towers posts, but hey-ho, life and all that. Anyway here is a potted update on our doings.

April saw Phil and I attend our first gig since the Covid thing began, and we went into Newcastle and met up with Phil’s son Carl and his Missis Karly, to see the band Stone Broken, which I’m sure you’ve all heard of 🤣. Phil and I started out in our regular pub Rafferty’s on Pink Lane, which has cheap alcohol and a floor your feet stick to.

Rafferty’s

The venue was The Riverside, which is beside the river Tyne (not being funny, we have a Lakeside pub that’s nowhere near a lake 🙄) a small venue which gets packed. I must admit to a certain amount of trepidation at being stuck in a room with a few hundred people, none wearing masks. I had one on, but it seemed overwhelmingly pointless as I had to remove it to have a drink so ended up maskless too.

Family outing

Newcastle at night is lush for photos

Tyne at night
The Bridge and the bridge.

The Band were great

Stone Broken

and a good time was had by all, plus we didn’t get Covid and die, so result!

Phil and I went back there in May to see a brilliant American Southern Rock/Soul band, Robert Jon and the Wreck and they were fantastic.

Robert Jon and The Wreck

We’ve been checking out a couple of local restaurants we hadn’t been to before, the first one was pretty poor food-wise, though a nice looking pub, in a lovely setting near our wildlife reserve. It was cheap, which was probably why we got oven chips and frozen veg with our main course, Phil had a microwaved pie (soggy pastry) and I got away with scampi which it’s hard to ruin really. Won’t be going back.

The Cock Crow Inn at Hebburn

The other one is called Le Olive Verdi and is a lovely Italian restaurant on the top floor of The Pelaw Inn, had a fab dinner, steak in 3 peppercorn sauce and it came with fresh veg, not cheap, but worth the money, and we can walk there so it’s all good and we will be returning.

clock at Le Olive Verdi

The cats:- Lord Vincent has been his usual zen self, eating, sleeping, sitting under bushes and plodding about.

Lord Vincent

WInnie has been on a killing spree. I came downstairs one morning to find a dead mouse on our dining room mat, it wasn’t mauled, just looked like it was asleep. A few days later Phil found a dead blackbird in the TV room. Then one day whilst Phil was at work she came running past me with something in her mouth, I chased her upstairs to the bedroom where she had something under the bed which was tweeting. It must have got free from her and hid as she came charging around to the other side of the bed whereby I picked her up and evicted her. I couldn’t see anything under the bed and it’s too heavy for me to move so I shut the door and left as I had to go out for a couple of hours. When I came back I could hear a constant tweeting from behind the bedroom door. I opened it and something ran very quickly under a chest of drawers, so I left it alone again. Still could hear the tweeting. I tried again a couple of hours later and this time it ran into the bathroom.

Tweety Pie

I shut the door and waited for Phil to come home. Phil managed to pick him up and gently carried him into the bushes over the road, where, we hoped forlornly, his mother would hear him and come and fetch him, but Lord Vincent had sneakily followed Phil outside and as soon as Phil’s back was turned, well, need I go on?

Finally I came downstairs one day and saw

😳

which was a bit of a shock. I couldn’t believe Winnie had managed to catch this big magpie and get him through the catflap without a sound or feathers being every where and thought he must have managed to get himself in through it. But then when I checked our hedgehog camera, well… you need to set it to a slow playback speed to see it as she’s fast as fek! Keep your eyes on the top right corner right at the beginning.

So she dropped it through the catflap and it must have got away from her pretty quickly. Her ambition is boundless and I dread the day she decides Woody the wood pigeon is her next victim.

Even though she’s lethal, she’s still cute.

Killer Queen

and also makes us laugh

It’s all gravy.

Work is still full on, and I’m busy as a tree. Little Teddy is worming is way into my affections and I take him out for a walk when ever I have 10 mins spare, which is about twice a day. He mainly sits with Lynn our office manager barricaded in as he’s apt to escape.

Teddy and Lynn

Phil’s Giant Tank is coming along, and this weekend is his clubs model show, so I’ll be attending on Sunday to photograph the competition tables and winners for the club’s Facebook page.

phil’s giant tank.

Entertainment-wise I haven’t seen any movies I’d recommend, maybe The Contractor as it has a good cast- Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Kiefer Doodah. It’s a serviceable action movie, but nothing new. Bird Box with Sandra Bullock started out well, and she was great all the way through but there were too many good coincidences at the end. Phil wanted to re-watch Oblivion with Tom Cruise as he got the blueray but we gave up before the end as we’d had wine/whisky and couldnt get our heads around what the fek was going on. I’ll wiki it one day. 😃

TV has been better, we got through to the end of Ozarks and are currently in the last season of Better Call Saul, both have been outstanding. We are now rewatching the first 2 seasons of Das Boot as the 3rd one is out and we forgot a lot of 1 & 2 as it was a couple of years ago, looking forward to seeing the 3rd, it is excellent.

Reading, well I’ve read all 47 of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series twice, and am starting again at the beginning, I just love these books. I have bought other books in the meantime, but as yet I can’t let go of Wolfe to read them instead. A strange addiction!

That’s all folks. More tales from Fraggle Towers to come, eventually. If/when I remember!

📷 😊

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ March 2022

Yep I’m a couple of days late with a ‘tales’ post for March, but c’est la vie. March has been a busy month for us with Phil doing a make-over of our dining room.

stripper
paperer

We had a new floor done too, I can’t remember why but I like it so not to worry.

job done

New music equipment was purchased at the beginning of the month, well not new, Phil rarely buys new as it’s mega bucks for what he wants, he waits until new stuff comes in and then buys stock that’s getting sold at a bargain price in order to make room for the next things. We went off to Stockton on the River Tees for his latest aquisitions, a phono cartridge pre-amp and a regulated power supply. He tries to explain to me what these things do but I just can’t. Anyways we got lost getting there or rather we didn’t but just couldn’t see it, as the building entrance faced the river and the car park didn’t. We spent some time ogling the amazing music systems they had in their upstairrs showroom

ogling
more ogling

and I took a couple of pictures out of the window,

River Tees

The cats have been their usual selves, Lord Vincent has been loving the sunshine we had last week

LV

and Winnie has been bonkers

Boxed Winnie

WInnie has learned how to get up on top of our conservatory roof, and the other morning I woke up at 7.30am to her meowing. Couldn’t see her in the room but when I opened my curtains

let me in!

there she was shouting to come in. Not best pleased as I wasn’t going to work that day so getting up at 7.30 hadn’t been the plan. Sigh.

Talking of sunshine, it’s been a mad month for the weather. Last week was like summer, and then this week we got snow and sleet in between some sunny bits. I’ve been out walking a few times with the Contax Aria, with Sophie away a lot more than she used to be there are now several weeks in between our outings, so walking out into the nature bits around where I live is a substitute. Not a great one, but better than nothing.

Phil’s sister Annette had her 70th Birthday last weekend and 13 of us went out to a local restaurant, The Lakeside (there’s no lake anywhere near it) where she had booked us in for a celebratory meal. When we arrived they had no record of the booking. That was a shock and Annette told them she’d spoken to a chap but didn’t know his name. The place was really busy too. Have to applaud the manager and her staff though, they apologised profusely and went straight into action, managed to find enough tables to cobble together for us to sit at and we were sorted and our orders taken within 15 minutes. Not a bad meal either which Annette’s husband Brian paid for which was lovely of him. Afterwards we went to their house for cups of tea and some birthday cake.

Birthday girl

Annette rang us the next day to tell us that she’s booked another local restaurant, The Green, for Brian’s birthday meal in a couple of weeks time. They asked her why we hadn’t shown up for the booking she made for the day before. 🤣🤣

My Happy Eater tree is in full bloom now, it’s strange to see the bees buzzing about on it in the middle of a snow shower.

The Happy Eater Tree

Unfortunately we seem to have aquired a herd of Magpies who are going through the bird food at a fast pace. I’ve counted 7 of them, ‘seven for a secret never to be told’, which I won’t because I don’t know what it is. Anyway I’m not keen on them but everything needs to eat so I keep topping it up. Sadly the cats are no deterent as Winnie barks at them from the windowsill and Vinnie sits under the tree but they know he’s there and wait until he goes indoors.

I drove over to the coast at South Shields the other day, managed to photograph the sea with a weather front coming in.

Incoming!

My boss was off sick with Covid last week, the guy who works for her the 2 days I don’t had picked it up and then, as he stays over at Brendas when he works for us (he lives in Scotland) she was the next in line. So far I haven’t had it, nor our office manager, we dodged a bullet there as they say.

Well that’s about it for March, I’m glad we’re into April now and looking forward to Spring springing and getting out more.