Monday, March 31, 2008

Dam big beaver

After visiting the site of Torchwood last weekend, we found ourselves at the site of one of the best British war films of all time this weekend, the Derwent valley and its dams. The film of course is The Dam Busters, and the Derwent valley and its dams had a staring role as the German dams. This was not the first time that the dams had played this role as they had already being used as a stand in for the German dams by the crews of the original raid during the training for the attack. In the tower to the left of the picture is a free museum dedicated to the men of 617 squadron RAF, which details the raid and has loads of artefacts relating to it, the museum is only open on Sundays between 10am and 4pm, and also on Bank holidays.

Not wanting to sound like a travel log but if you are in the area it has some of the best scenery in the peak district, and loads of good walking.

Today’s picture is of the Derwent dam and like the last panoramic shot is made up of 3 pictures, click on it for a large image.





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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dam Busted

I hate it when they play around with time. I got up this morning to find a whole hour had gone, I’ve spent the rest of the day looking for it. This way round it’s quite bad but many years ago in a Scottish pub we got the extra hour back, during a lockin.

Today Carolyn and Kep dragged me round yet another reservoir, this time it was 11 miles round the Derwent and Howden reservoir’s in the peak district. The weather was wonderful and very windy. So after missing an hour and walking forever I’m off for a rest and watch the time team. Picture of C and K waiting for me to catch up by the Derwent Dam.




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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nice Beaver

Just received the latest news letter from the UK Wolf conservation trust, a fantastic organisation trying to help improve the wolfs image through education. I got involved with them after my wife brought me a Wolf walk from them, this consisted of a 2 hour walk in the woods with 2 American timber wolfs and then time afterwards in the pens with some of the other wolfs at the trust, a truly special gift. The news letter reported on the discussions relating to the reintroduction of wild species in to Scotland, at this meeting there was a pole taken on how many people were happy for certain animals to be introduced back to the wild. The results were as follows.

Beaver 90%, Lynx 75%, Wolf 50%, Bear 15%. I would love to see all of them reintroduced but can understand people's reluctance to see a great big bear wandering free in their local woods. Photo today is about as close as I get to real wild life at the moment.





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Friday, March 28, 2008

Free Tibet

I hate chain and junk e mails, given that fact here is a chain e mail that I am going to post as I think it is up to every individual to make a stand in any way they can.

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. Violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is right now making a crucial choice between tougher crackdown or dialogue.

President Hu Jintao needs to hear that "Made in China" exports and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing will have the support of the world's people only if he chooses dialogue. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Click below to sign the petition - in just 3 days, the campaign is almost half way to the goal of 1 million signatures!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

Thank you so much for your help - forward this email to friends!

I’m sure that if Tibet had oil or sat on a strategic trade route more would be being done. I’m doing my bit, feel free to copy this on to your blog or mail to friends.

Picture today is another shot of the dam from last week





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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Photo improvement or cheating?

I feel that there has not being enough said about photography, so I will start with the moral question.

To bugger about with the image or not. This picture looks pure, but is anything but. First, its 3 photos in 1, joined using Photoshop. Why, well the subject was too big to get in 1 picture, it was 3 or nothing. Second, the lens used bent all the upright poles towards the centre, so this was also corrected in Photoshop. Third, the colour and exposure were altered to improve the look. Lastly around 10 people were removed from off the main square to improve the look and sense of space, all in all about an hours work. Is this wrong?

All the things could have been dealt with differently, for example a perspective control lens would have kept the poles upright, but at quite a cost, or I could have had the square cleared of people, again at a cost or after expanding a lot of effort. I think that good photos should not just be available to people with money for expensive equipment or lots of resources, but to anyone who wants to express their art and as long as the changes are used purely to enhance an image instead of misrepresenting something, what harm is it doing?

This picture is from the trip to Cardiff, and like all the images on the site can be clicked on to view full size, this one is quite large.




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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Getting old seems to have the strangest effects on me, one that we were discussing in the pub last night was the lowering of our tolerance to alcohol. I’m sure I could drink loads more when I was 18, but now a couple of pints is enough to give me a head ache in the morning. Hair is another change; loads were I never had much and less and less where I had loads. Evolution must have a reason for this but I’m at a total loss. The picture for today a weeping angel, from the Dr Who exhibit.




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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shot in the dark

How do you rate something? How do you attribute value to something that really does not cost anything? People often comment on how good my photos are, but to me they often look run of the mill. The reason I think that they are nothing special is that they cost me no effort, so I think that anyone could have taken them. Its only when you try to tell someone else with a talent that what they do is special, that you realise that to them being able to play the guitar or sing is as easy as taking photos is to me. I started this blog to force me to take more picture as I often lose heart and faith that what I do is any good, this has worked, some of the images on here would never had happened without it. I think that most people under rate their special talents because we cannot judge it against anything, looking from blog to blog I have found so many amazing people exploring their skills by blogging on every subject under the sun and although Blogging is hard work I would recommend trying it to everyone.

Just sometimes I take an image I know is good, this I hope you agree is one of them, taken during the weekend, in Wales at Claerwen reservoir, I was cold, wet and did not want to be there, but kept the faith and kept shooting.





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Now playing: Blondie - Youth Nabbed As Sniper
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Home sweet home

Very short post as I’ve just come back from a fantastic 3 days in wales. A massive thank you to Sue, Heather, Scott and Sofa for looking after the 3 of us so well. The picture today is of the pier in Penarth.





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Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's all going down hill!

My diets blown out of the water, it's defeat is only beaten by my attempts to stay away from the booze! That is the danger of staying with generous friends, yes we have been enjoying the delights of Newport and Cardiff, in sunny? Wales. The picture from yesterday was taken out side torchwood HQ, in Cardiff. No sign of captain Jack so i still have Carolyn, i'm sure she thinks she has a chance to turn his head! To day's picture is from the mountain bike course just around the corner from here, some people are madder than me. Short post today as the booze is calling, once off the wagon i might as well enjoy it.


If i had music it would be, the theme from the Waltons?

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where am I?

Bit of a teaser for you today, on many levels?

Had lots of weather, lots and lots of booze, and even more food!

A quick clue, we have not seen Who we were hoping to see, Carolyn does carry a bit of a Torch for him, but i'm not worried.

No music for today, but if there was it would be, Delila, by Tom Jones


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Chain letter

Great news formula one is going back to the BBC from next season. For the last few years we in the UK have had to put up with commercial breaks just at the most crucial moments. Now we will get uninterrupted coverage, on a standard channel. My only hope is that they bring back the old music, dum, dum dum dum, dum dum dum, dum dum, dummmmm, well some thing like that.

The weather for the Easter holiday is, rain or snow, or rain and snow, or rain followed by wind then snow, perfect holiday weather then. Great time to work on the computer then, hopefully no interruption in posting. The image for today is of the inside of a plastic cup.



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Now playing: Moby - Moby - Lift Me Up
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

For the girl that has every thing.

Today is Carolyn’s birthday; she is my wife, my best friend and the centre of my universe. She is also my boss, my spell checker and my toughest critic. Most of the good that I am today is down to her, all the faults are down to me. A card and a present do not even come close to show what she means to me, I can only hope that you reading this have found, or will find your own Carolyn, then you will known just how happy she makes me.

Today’s photo is of the gift I got her, he is made of wool by a local artist, Megan Walmsley-Pitts, megan3d@hotmail.co.uk, who will do commissions based on photos of your dog.. He stands about 4” high by 5” long, and is dead sweet. I’ve included her e mail if you want to known more details.






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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jerusalem

I don’t think that there is a better spot in the whole world than England on a cold frosty morning, just like this morning. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and I’m stuck in the office writing this. Not that I begrudge the blog, it is serving its purpose, that of getting me to take more pictures and having feed back from a larger audience. I have found it interesting that the pictures that have raised the most comments are the ones I would never of normally taken, like the shot of the market place, or the pub.

I have updated the video, its well worth a look if you are a star wars or Monty python fan. I have also added some blogs and sites to the links at the side, these are places I visit often and would like to share.

Today’s photo is to celebrate the spring



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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mine's a large one

Sheep shaggers Gold, Old Slapper, Goblings Swinging Gibbet, Old Stoat wobbler, Pressed Rat And Warthog, Hampton Caught, Piston Bitter,Well Blathered, Builder's Bottom, Guzzler and Sneck lifter. No I’ve not gone mad, but I have upset the spell checker, again. These are all real, real ale names, set down so that any ex pats out there can have a nostalgic pub moment. Why? Because I have notice on my wandering around the blogsphere, that a lot of bloggers seem to have a fascination with drink and some even use it as an aide to posting. You know who you are. Last on the list is my favourite, Sneck Lifter, made by the wonderful Jennings Brewery (any free samples much appreciated) All of these beers reflect how diversity and difference is crucial to an interesting life, like yesterdays post about music, supporting small independent breweries keeps the option of choice available to us all and lets them create more wonderful beers with wonderful names.

The picture today is of an old gate hinge, the nearest I could get to a sneck.





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Monday, March 17, 2008

The children our our future.

I was asked what I have got against Leona Lewis, well nothing at all against her personally, it’s what she represents. Let me just explain for the non UK readers, Miss Lewis was the winner of a reality TV talent program, she is undoubtedly talented but the concept that brought her to fame is the problem. These shows are produced by show business types who stake their reputation on creating a star, and make their money on the shows success. To guarantee that they make a star they stick to safe popular music and chose performers that fits within a safe demographic image. These so called stars then get hours of TV and radio air play, yards of news print and more media exposure than any member of our royal family. This is a self feeding monster, the more exposure they get, the more famous they get, and so then they get even more exposure, using up more and more of the available air time.

These shows cannot take risks with the stars they make because if they fail, then it will all come crashing down. I think that if these shows continue to grow new talent will give up stretching the boundaries of music and stick to a safe, successful and boring combination. Do you think that if these shows existed in the past that Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, the Sex Pistols and Nirvana, all thought to be a bad influence on the kids by the establishment of the day, would have had a chance. Real music should be naturally grown not forced by big business, our talented young musicians should diversify and experiment, at my great age might think it all sounds like noise, but it will be new noise, their noise.

Today’s photo a tree standing out from the wood, if you write songs, play an instrument or sing, make like this tree and stand out.





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Now playing: The Jam - That's Entertainment
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chalchihuitlicue

What a day, most hits ever, thank you all. Fantastic result in the GP, thank you Lewis. Wonderful day out, thank you Sandra, Trevor, Caz, Sam and Kep. Duffy still at number one, keeping Leona Lewis off the top spot, thank you Duffy. All in all not bad for a very wet Sunday. The picture for the day is of the day, a very wet group of friends waiting for me to finish taking photos so we can then go to the pub. Today’s title for the blog is for Sandra, you will have to Google it.




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Now playing: The Cult - Rain
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Relax, it's only a blog.

Just renewed my car insurance using an on line comparison site, how easy. Not having done this before I was amazed that I could save £80 with ¼ hours work. Its not that I was unhappy with my current insurer, but with the cost of everything going up the price of loyalty was just too steep. I still went with a company I had heard of, there was a few cheaper but I had never heard of them, but the difference with the price made me move. Companies have just started to realize that service is important but in this day and age they cannot let their prices let them down. Given a gap of £10 or £15 I would have stayed, but £80 that’s the cost of a good night out.

When I checked the site this morning I was shocked at the number of visitors, on checking the details I found that the site had being listed on Eric's Planes, one of the Blogs of note, this has prompted me to update my links page, which I will do on Monday. I have found lots of good blogs and site while doing this and will enjoy sharing them with you all.

Today’s picture was taken from my stairs just outside this room, the starling is nesting next door and sits for hours singing away feet from my window, they are the most beautiful bird when you look at them.






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Now playing: Portishead Feat Massive Attack - Teardrop
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Friday, March 14, 2008

Minority report

We have been having a diversity week at work this week, celebrating the differences between the people the company employs. A lot of the facts and figures seem to come from the various special interest groups along the lines of gay pride or age concern, while going over the information and seeing the groups listed I noticed that one minority was missing. Now this group seems to have no special support, in fact to voice support for this group is frowned upon, it would also be in bad taste to suggest that they got special help, like quotas to get them into management or parliament. The members of this group are the butt of jokes and slander that if told about any other group would be classed as very un PC, and if they object they are accused of being weak and lacking a sense of humour. The reason I feel so strongly about this group is that I am a member, a proud member, and with no shame I will say that I am a white heterosexual Anglo Saxon male.(see we do have a sense of humour).

I have updated the video, i had Glory box on as i did yesterdays post, and loved it so much i found a video to share with you, its well worth a look as its done live.

This blog has, much to my surprise made it through the first month. I started out thinking that I was writing this to be read by me and 3 or 4 kind and patient friends, well I’ve had in the first month 283 visitors from 31 countries viewing over 1000 pages. On top of this I have had loads of comments, mostly good and all welcome. I would just like to thank every body for the support and hope to keep this up for the next 11 months.

Today’s picture was taken near Macc forest looking toward Shutlingslow.





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Now playing: The Smiths - This Charming Man
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The camera never lies

Well that is not quite true, look at most, if not all pictures of celebrities on magazines covers, their eyes are very clear, the whites very white, the skin very smooth and even coloured. With today’s technology any image can be changed in any way, its all just bits of computer information. I’ve had a couple of comments about how I create my photos, so here’s a run down of what I use. All the pictures so far have been taken on a Nikon D80 SLR; the images are then sorted and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Yesterday’s photo was taken in colour and then using lightroom all the colour was removed except for the yellow, the contrast and shadow were increased and a vignette was added to focus the eye towards the centre of the image. Today image in contrast has just had the exposure changed slightly to improve the colour and contrast.





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Now playing: Portishead - Glory Box
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A very grand thing

The storm has returned, Here we still seem to have missed the worst of it, just our bins getting blown over. In an attempt to feed this ever photo hungry blog I've walked around the local town looking for photos. Leek is an ancient market town dating back over 800 years and today is market day, well normally. For the only time I can remember the market place was deserted, just the abandoned stall, their tarpaulin covers lying on the ground beside them, mute testimony to the power of nature.

Today's blog title is from a story I have just read regarding a windy day, I’m still a kid at heart.




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Now playing: The Specials - The Specials - Ghost Town
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time travel

Time, how is it I never seem to have enough. This morning for the for the first time I had lots of comments (thank you all I love them) to read and sort out, I always try to see where they have come from and as most are from bloggers I end up reading and commenting on their blogs. One even had me in tears. Looking at some of the blogs they have many more comments than mine and some times more than one blog, how they find the time really amazes me. In looking at lots of blogs I find that the standard of writing and content is very high, I presume that it must be a darwellian (spell check has just had a fit, but this looks right ish) process that weeds out the crap ones.

Back to my blog (still hear so far), I have up dated the two vids, a bit more time travel, the top one is Billy Connolly so if you are easily offended don’t watch. The second is the Go Go’s, doesn’t Belinda look young! Both take me back, Billy kept me amused during the 6th form, this sketch was on that tape. The Go Go’s, well I was around 15, so you could say they kept me amused too. Anyone remember who covered this Go Go's track?

The image for today shows one benefit of the storm, great light.





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Now playing: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Storm in a tea cup

The UK news is all about the terrible storm that’s hitting the country, so I went out running in the beautiful sunshine we were having. It sometime seems that here in the Staffordshire moorlands we have different weather to the rest of the UK. Not that I’m complaining today.

I have spent a lot of my free time checking out the daily city photo blogs from around the world, I linked to them on Saturday; they are all fascinating, a real glimps into other worlds. Due to my leaving comments, a lot of people have being hitting the site, so I have put on a map so you can see where they are all coming from.

The image today is a shot of an old wall, I just love the texture and think that the black and white treatment is the best way to show it.







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Now playing: Black Sabbath - Paranoid
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunny day

The weather forecast predicted rain all day today, with the threat of the worst storm of the winter. So glorious sunshine all day and a fantastic walk over the Roaches. Kep, who was free for most of the time and should now be fast asleep, is still barking and pestering for some more play time. I hope I have that sort of energy at 77.

In response to Meg in Nelson, New Zealand, yes spring has sprung, the green tips are showing on the trees and life is starting to appear all around. Spring is one of the best times in the UK and I will try and include some shots of the finer points for my overseas readers.

Today’s picture is of the man himself, Kep cooling his feet after his long walk today.



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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Narcissistic

I’m not the worst out there, I thought that taking pictures of my year could be a bit self obsessed but there are more self focused people out in web land. Meet JM from Paris, he takes a picture of himself everyday at 09.09. Genius and he’s being doing it since 2002! Also on the daily photo trip is parisdailyphoto.com, Eric the friendly Parisian, takes photo of the fair city and posts one per day, he also takes requests! From his page you can follow links to other daily photo blogs featuring cities from around the world, this for example is Boston, well worth a look as they are not the normal tourist shots.

Photo for today is the second of the landscape shot I took this week after it snowed.




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Underworld - Born Slippy
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Friday, March 7, 2008

Much nudity

No not miss Lohan again, sorry Faff, I’m talking about the lack of leaves and ground cover that you get in the woods at this time of year. It’s the best time to find fox holes and badger sets. So most of my spare time is taken up traipsing through the local wood’s finding sites for later in the year to photograph fox cubs. I’ve already found two good sites and with luck may get some good photos this year.

This is also the reason why I seem to take lots of photos of trees at this time of year, I think they look so striking and complex with out the leaves. This shot was taken this morning at a local nature reserve.




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The Creatures - Right Now
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Thursday, March 6, 2008

All work and no play!

In to my 3rd week, I can’t believe it. No rants today, it’s been one of those days and I’m too drained to get worked up.

If you have not already looked, play the top you tube clip, both the sound track and the video are amazing. Talking of amazing video the makers of Monopoly have just sold the film rights to the game? A cast of 1000’s, one dog, one man with a top hat and a cop with a whistle.

Happy birthday Mr P, is it 40 next year? You can never tell by looks.

Swift link into this on the cracked.com website, 8 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Geeks, you really can not tell by looking. Stars that are smarter then you would have given them credit for.

A fun picture for a fun day, a Crow hopping!






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Now playing: Adam and the ants - Adam & The Ants - The Idea
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Its the end of the world

Carolyn said last night that I should make the post more personal, well here is something very close to my heart. Pubs. Pubs are closing down at a rate of nearly four a day because of poor sales and the effect of the smoking ban, the organisation which represents the industry has warned.

Last year, 1,409 pubs shut their doors, according to the British Beer & Pub Association. The number was up on previous years with 216 closures in 2006 - four a week - and 102 in 2005 - two a week.

I like pubs and I think that the verity of them is an important part of the make up of Great Briton. Soon we will lose all the old unique pubs and be left with large lounge bar super pubs selling crap beer and latt├ęs. I did my bit last night to support the local pub trade, are you?

Following on from yesterdays post a link to the New York magazine, and its article on miss Lohans photos.

My picture today is of a closed local pub.




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Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Species of Female

American photographer Bert Stern has recreated his famous last photo shoot with Marilyn Monroe, using troubled actress Lindsay Lohan. The images originally for Vogue magazine feature Monroe in next to nothing, posing nude with some scarves and jewellery as her accessories and sipping champagne. These pictures were taken shortly before her death in 1962 and were released in full after her death, including photo marked by Monroe as not to be used. Miss Lohan has now been approached by Hugh Hefner who was so impressed by the actress' tribute to Marilyn's last photo shoot, he has asked Lindsay to recreate the screen icon's infamous nude swimming scene from her unfinished film Something's Got To Give.

The whole thing is just a big publicity stunt, as a photographer I cannot see the point in recreating the shoot, it was a fantastic moment in time now cheapened to resurrect the career of an actress who has spent the last couple of years trying to destroy it.

I thought of posting an old picture to be ironic, but that would just have been sad, so here’s one taken 4 ½ hours ago.




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Now playing: Space & Cerys Matthews - Female Of The Species
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Monday, March 3, 2008

Time for a change

I’ve just watched the news of the Israelis pulling out of Gaza, leaving behind up to 100 dead including 22 children. If any other country invaded their neighbour with such regularity the USA and UK would be the first in line to condemn them. Israel is as much of a rogue state as Iraq or Libya ever was, it is about time she was treated as such. On a positive point this invasion does not seem to have the large backing from the man in the street, Haifa, Tel Aviv ect, as earlier assaults had.

After such a short rant on such a complex issues, a simple image to balance it out.




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Now playing: Tears For Fears - Change
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Urry up Harry

At last, news about the royal family that shows them in a good light. Prince Harry arrived home from Afghanistan yesterday insisting he was “no hero” and pointing to two badly wounded soldiers who returned on the same aircraft as “the real heroes”. I think that it is a glowing example to the youth of today when someone from a privileged background voluntarily goes onto the front line. This is a very good case for a rule that those who wish to lead, should serve first. Would are leaders be so keen to send men to war, if they had seen it first hand themselves. Soldiers very rarely start wars.

Still having Harry back safe must have been a wonderful mother’s day gift for his grandmother.

Happy mother’s day to my mum, she always encouraged me to read and took a keen interest in my photos, both of which have lead up me to doing this blog. Thanks mum.

The picture today is of a stick in water, sometimes the very simple can be very beautiful, not a dig at my blonde readers.





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Now playing: KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Time flies

I can’t believe that it was a week ago that we had friend's here and were planning the weekend’s events. Time seems to flash by so fast its hard to keep track of all the things I need to do. Yesterday I planted the first things in the greenhouse this year and am already looking at the hedges with dread as they will need cutting soon. I’m sure that when I was 18 time was much slower or was I faster and got more done?

Anyway that all for today, it is the weekend after all, the image is of the Great ridge taken last weekend, good times gone so fast.





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