Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Poloroid faces

Face of the week (two even).
Just for a change this week the camera is pointing at myself and my sister. This picture is well over three decades old and was taken by my old Poloroid Instamatic. I got it as a Christmas present one year. I had a hard time saving up pocket money for the really expensive film cartridges and flash plug-ins. Usually my mum would treat me to some free cartridges when we went on holiday or at Christmas. So I eventually filled my photo album with either festive pics or ones like this one on our hols. The dingy you see us using was notorious in our family history. A lot of our summer adventures took us to Devon or Wales. On arriving at our holiday destination, the first and most vital family mission was locating the nearest Betting Shop to our digs. My dad was a terror for the gee-gees (horse-racing). Waiting outside the bookies was always a holiday low point but he usually made up for it during the rest of the day. One year he actually won £20 pounds. With the winnings he bought the dingy in the picture. We had a lot of fun in that dingy. Unfortunately, it also almost killed me. On holiday with our extended family my younger cousin and I were paddling in a bay thinking we were quite safe. The tide had other ideas and swept us out into deep water and deep trouble. My cousin was too young to row and my paddling was mainly for show. I was certainly no match for the tide. We didn't really understand how much danger we were in. My uncle tried to swim out to us and it seemed like we were going out faster than he could swim. I think he eventually got a hand on the trailing tow rope. And we were saved. Phew. Maybe I was like the cat with nine lives. I know the dingy incident wasn't the first one I'd chalked off. It didn't stop us from using the dingy again but from there on in, well, we were a lot more cautious. Eventually, after a few years, the trusty, and almost fateful vessel started to get punctures. In the course of repairing the damage my dad managed to superglue his fingers together, which was careless, but not half as careless as supergluing our dingy to the floor. Ahh... Happy Days.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Shopping For Harry Part 3

Last year Harry turned ten years old and in the same year we discovered he had arthritis. He's on tablets to help him (which he thinks are a great treat) and his walks have grown shorter. Sometimes he takes a breather mid walk. Some neighbours seeing him sprawled out on the grass recently have rushed out to see if he is alright. "Has he collapsed?" they say. But he's only resting. There's still a lot of life left in this old chap. We decided to get him a dog coat during the winter - see the blog entries where we spent all week choosing; Shopping For Harry and then changed our mind: Shopping For Harry Part 2 ; and then bought something else at the last minute - the Sherlock Hound number he is wearing in these two pictures. He just wears it when it's wet really. Not that he minds getting wet. He's still an eager aqua-dog. He was swimming in the river Ribble today - sans coat thankfully.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Leveller

Guest photographer on Badelynge this week is a friend called Neil Bury. Sorry this took a while to get posted. Neil's photography can be viewed at this flickr address: This shot is of the Chinese entry in the Fireworks World Championship at Blackpool. I like how the fireworks are reflected in the sea. Anyhow check out his site because there is some unbelievable aviation photography on there. If you prefer the original aviators (those of a feathered kind) I can recommend his Gigrin Farm folder for the beautiful Red Kites.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Prophecy of Zephyrus

An American teenager is whisked off to a fantasy world. To get back home he has to set out on a quest to confront an all powerful sorcerer. On the way he befriends a lion man, encounters a witch and battles odd creatures in the woods. Add a few fantasy staples like goblins and elves and that is about it. This book is about as undemanding as books get. It's a shame because the first two chapters showed promise. Obie and his friend Josh seemed like real characters. Unfortunately things go awry as soon as he ends up in the fantasy world leaving Josh behind. From here on in Obie is surrounded by awfully nice people who are in conflict with some awfully bad people. G.A.Hesse's clean and flawless prose just seems to compound the lack of any rough edges to her world building. And you do need some rough edges in this genre. The dialogue is very odd indeed with characters interacting with pretty much the same voice and standpoint throughout. Things take an even more dire turn for the worse when Hesse introduces a cutesy character who seems to have taken a wrong turn on the way to Toad Hall. If I hadn't committed to doing the review I would have put the book down at about page 40. I think even in my younger, fantasy devouring days I'd have come to the same conclusion. By page 320 I had to admit defeat. Another 100 pages of The Prophecy of Zephyrus was just a bridge too far. I believe I'd read enough to justify still penning this review though. I think this was a case of an author who has fully mastered the technical side of the written word but has not even begun to learn how to become a storyteller.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Above and below

This is Engine Bridge on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Wheelton. Don't worry about our equine friends on the bridge. They aren't actually loose on a road. There isn't a road there at all. The bridge just links some stables to some pasture land. The canal here sometimes attracts anglers trying to snag Bream, Chub, Roach, Rudd or Tench. If you look closely you can see a couple of intrepid ducks cutting up the reflections with their wake.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Miser's Hoard

Squirrels make pretty good photographic subjects. They're always... up to something.
This one could be auditioning for the pantomime villain. He looks so avaricious.
Camera Critters
There is an episode of Dad's Army called The Miser's Hoard, which features Private Frazer as the archetypal miser, hoarding his gold Sovereigns in coffins. I'm calling this squirrel Frazer.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Maybe if Joe Dunthorne's Submarine had clothed its covers with far fewer off the mark testimonials, I would have been a little more forgiving in my judgment of this book. But for the sake of balance alone somebody has to pooh-pooh all the best thing since Catcher in the Rye statements. To live up to such statements Oliver Tate (our narrator) would have to seem like a real character - but he never does. Maybe he was never meant to. Submarine sort of lives in a skewed reality not far removed from a post watershed episode of My Family. Other times it's hard to believe Oliver's ramblings are anything other than the voice of the true author, Joe Dunthorne. To be fair the first chapter was ok. It seemed quite light, quirky, with some pretty clever lines: 'Depression comes in bouts. Like boxing. Dad is in the blue corner.' Unfortunately that line was the last of them and even that one had been wasted on a cover quote. Are there any truths uncovered in this book, other than suggesting that 15 year olds aren't always as right as they think they are? Back to those pesky testimonials. No, no, no. 'Adrian Mole for adults, with a much more complicated protagonist, truer to life and infinitely funnier' Big Issue. I think somebody should go back and read the Adrian Mole books again, because this couldn't be further from the truth if Oliver Tate had written the quote himself.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Lock up your socks

Face of the Week
Harry in the mood for a partay. No sock will be safe.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Odd quacker

Something about this picture isn't quite right.
A Mallard with a blue bill. Mallards can interbreed with a number of other dabbling duck species, which sometimes results in some very odd looking hybrids. In this case he has ended up with a blue coloured bill.

A Little Girl Talk

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Phasianus colchicus regalia

Mark sent me a picture update to how the phantom pheasant is getting on. As you can see, he's no longer skulking about. Now he looks ready for spring and a spot of posing. What a show-off.