Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wedding Weekend in Rutland

Situated on the edge of Rutland Water is Barnsdale Lodge Hotel where I spent a very enjoyable weekend at a fellow cricket club member's wedding. I travel the country quite extensively, but this was an area I hadn't really got close to before.

We were blessed with fantastic weather all weekend, which was fortunate for the end of February, and Rutland Water looked fantastic!

As is the case I completely overdid the drinking at the wedding, and have spent half the week nursing a hangover. As much as I love weddings and enjoy seeing friends getting married it does also make me feel a little sad at times, as I realise that not only is it something I would love to happen to me, but also how far I am away from achieving it. So I took a self portrait picture in the hotel gardens in the hope that it brings me better luck on the Internet Dating sites. Having said that on February 29th of this leap year I have yet to receive a marriage proposal! :)

Sunday, 26 February 2012


I gave a rare outing to my family heirlooms, a lovely gold ring and seiko watch, both of which were passed down to me from my grandfather on my mother's side. I only wear them on special occasions, but really must give them more outings as I love them! :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

46 and Counting

So another birthday passes by and I really can't believe I am 46 years old now. Sometimes around my birthday I get a bit wobbly about the whole ageing process and more particularly about not having managed to meet someone and settle down. This year I approached the whole day in a pretty positive mode and it was fine. I have a pretty good life with many wonderful people in it and some of those lovely people spoilt me rotten this year with presents including the best wrapping paper ever to match my favourite band and tattoo :) Seeing as I have posted a picture of the fantastic cake I was given, maybe over the next year the icing on the cake would be to finally bump into that female that has eluded me for so long...

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Tenerife Holiday in 1995

Back in 1995 I was having the time of my life. I don't think I had ever played quite so hard as I was at this point. The holiday to Playa de las Americas in Tenerfie would in fact turn out to be my last "boys" holiday.

Every night we would start off in Molly Malones and drink until they threw us out. I will of course claim that the photo above is a bit misleading and actually all that happened was I took a slight tumble :) We would party until the sun came up, go to sleep until the afternoon, get up to sun bathe and then go out and do it all again every night for two weeks. The holiday got off to a typical start. We stayed up all night and were drinking in the bar at Gatwick Airport at 5:00 in the morning making nuicanse phone calls to our friends. I have to confess that on the plane I managed to throw my vodka and orange over the lady sat next to me! Kind of set the tone for what was to follow...

Such was the extent of the drinking that whilst having our usual early evening meal one night, I went completely numb and lost all feeling in my hands. So I was holding a knife and fork, but unable to get anywhere close to the food! The boys thought it a good idea to get me back to hotel room for a lie down and some water... It did the trick as it was not long until I was back down Molly's on the Guinness and away we went again.

There was the occasional moment of sanity though and the lovely Sinead Kelly in the above photo is testament to that. No idea what she saw in me! I think she quickly saw sense :) I'm afraid my character T-shirts were in their prime back then, and I would wear some unbelievably "nasty" shirts and shorts :)

The young lady in white was Linda Foy from Dublin. Mad as a hatter, but we stayed in touch and visited each other a number of times. I remember meeting her dad for the first time on a Sunday morning at their house in Dublin, and myself and Ad sat down with him in the living room at 10:00am having been out clubbing until the early hours and being offered and accepting an Irish whiskey. Definitely a case of kill or cure! On a trip to the UK I managed to lose them on the tube whilst trying to get them back to Heathrow for their flight home which they ended up missing and had to sleep at the airport!

The third girl in the holiday trilogy was Therese Jordan, a lovely young nurse from Waterford. I stayed in touch with her afterwards while she travelled around Australia and went over to see her in Dublin a few years later. I think she is married now, but someone with a true heart of gold.

But in many ways Sinead, Linda and Therese summed up the whole holiday adventure. You met people with a lust for live, who certainly lived life to the full, but at the same were amazingly friendly and welcoming. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of this...

There were 3 boys from Reading partying for 2 weeks in an Irish bar with just the best crowd of people you could meet and we just had so many laughs. It was a great unforgettable holiday as I came towards the end of the madness years. My body had started to tell me it was time to ease up and it knew best I have to concede.  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

On my cut through from work in Medmenham to the M40 motorway, I drive past Cobstone Windmill which looks over the lovely village of Turville in Oxfordshire. Turville in recent years in best known for being used as a filming location for "Midsommer Murders". The windmill however is most famous for being used as a location setting for the Potts family in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

I have driven past it so many times, and there comes a point where you almost take it for granted. But then every so often you catch a glimpse of it and appreciate what a wonderful structure it is. The view from the road directly behind it gets you very close to it.

The added bonus of having such a famous location so close is you are literally retracing the steps of legend that is Mr Dick Van Dyke, cast in the lead role as Caractacus Potts!

Turville has a lovely pub in the centre of it called The Bull and Butcher and from there you can enjoy a fantastic view of the windmill whilst enjoying a drink or two, and if you are feeling energetic you can walk up Cobstone hill to the windmill itself!

Valentine's Day Thoughts

February 14th is a lovely day for couples everywhere to celebrate their love and dedicate the day to romance. I took great pleasure this year in seeing many of my friends near and far doing this, and it filled me with happiness. However it's not a day I particularly enjoyed as a single man, and it would have been nice on Valentine's Day to have been able to pop into a time machine and jump forwards to February 15th! But I will not give up in pursuit of romance and you just never know what might be around the corner.

And remembering as well as loving others, it is also important to love yourself so this year I have treated myself to a little present... It is a telephoto conversion lens for my camera, and will add to photography experience so be prepared to be bombarded with even more photos over the coming months!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

London Town in February

One of the advantages of the compact digital cameras is you can take pretty much anywhere, and on my trip to a stag do in London I was able to spend half an hour as the sun set snapping away before the drinking festivities began. I got a nice shot of the sunset as my train pulled out of Reading.

I took the tube to the Embankment and went onto the The Golden Jubilee footbridge to get a nice twilight shot of London across The Thames.

Looking down to the river from the footbridge there was a nice lighting effect on the water below the Hungerford Railway Bridge.

I got an interesting view of the footbridge from down on the road below. This is one piece of modern architecture along The Thames that I actually quite like as there has been so much dross been allowed to have been built along the river.

From the same position I was able to get a nice shot looking along The Embankment towards Big Ben and also looking across The Thames to the London Eye. I must get on that London Eye one day...

I then headed up to Trafalgar Square for the final photo opportunity. It's a place I have been to so many times and really love. I was able to get a nice silhouette shot of Nelson's Column.

The final shot was of The National Gallery, which is such am impressive building looking out onto Trafalgar Square.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lighting The Christmas Pudding

One of the annual family traditions we have each year with the Christmas dinner is the let's face it the rather pathetic attempts to light the Christmas pudding. 2011 was no exception and the whole debacle was captured on film... Shocking!

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Blast Of Winter

The mild Winter of 2011/12 came to a shuddering stop this weekend, and we had an arctic blast of snowy weather. Usually that signals South East England grinding to a halt, but fortunately a combination of good gritting and wet snow means the roads weren't too bad at all. These two shots were taken at Maidenhead thicket and who would realise that a major road is just out of picture. I am not a huge fan of snow when it impacts on work as it has in recent winters, so hopefully this snow will have melted away before long.

I took the opportunity to get out in my back garden and got a nice abstract shot illustrating depth of field, which I have just done on my joint blog.

Arriving to a very white work, I had to make a make shift snow plough with the forklift and clear some snow to enable me to get stuff in and out of the unit.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Musical Winter Weekend In North Wales

I arrived to this stunning backdrop of the North Wales coast at Prestatyn on the last weekend in January for The Gathering to celebrate the music of Mike Peters and The Alarm, which I attend every year. The weather on the Friday afternoon was bitter with icy winds and driving rain. I did well to capture this shot as I was being buffeted badly by the wind.

Down to business on the Friday night with half a bottle of wine to warm me up, a bite to eat and then entered the arena with Guinness in hand to watch first Steve Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene, but mainly Mike Peters do his acoustic Friday night set. This year Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet was on stage with Mike and the band and the big surprise on the Friday was the band doing Gold by Spandau Ballet! I thought I had just about seen everything until this...

I was a little lethargic on Saturday morning after quite a late night, but I went down to the beach again with my camera and with the sun shining and the tide out I was able to have a great walk and get snapping with the camera. The previous day's harsh weather had left snow on the mountains. Turn 180 degrees and there was a lovely tranquil sea to appreciate.

Saturday night and back to business with a fine support slot from a band called The Men They Couldn't Hang who I used to follow a bit in the mid 1980s. And then to the main act The Alarm with a 3 hour electric set. Quite random at times this year with some of the song choices, but none the less enjoyable for it and certainly something for everyone from all walks of the history of Mike Peters and The Alarm.

What a weekend and roll on The Gathering 2013!