HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for August, 2009

Baby pussy-cats!

Posted by HelenEdith on August 31, 2009

Monty on the left and Rolo on the right

Monty on the left and Rolo on the right

Rolo and Monty joined our household on Saturday 29th August, 2009. Their mother is a cat who belongs to Stephen’s sister. We’d been thinking about getting a cat for a while, and we’d even done some preliminary tidying up and had some of the cat basics to hand, but we only found out that these two were going to be available a couple of weeks ago, and the house still isn’t ready for them!

We brought them home and put food out and let them out in the kitchen. It isn’t an ideal place, but it’s better than the alternatives. They spent their first 24 hours in there and they found a hidey hole at the back of the bottom shelf of the island bench. When we’d only had them an hour or two, we went in the kitchen, and they’d disappeared! That’s where they turned out to be. Phew!!!

It’s quite frightening to think that these two tiny balls of fur are going to depend on us for about the next 15 years. Stephen is an experienced cat owner, but I have not ever had sole responsibility for a cat; and the cats from my childhood didn’t face the dangers that these face, and therefore had a lot more freedom than these will, so we will have to work harder to look after them and keep them entertained.

Today we went shopping for a few more supplies and then we opened up some doors and let them out into the hallway and the living room. They loved it! They raced up and down the stairs and did some serious exploring under Stephen’s parka in the hallway; and then some more serious exploring in the living room. They managed to disappear again, but turned out to be asleep in a black bag which also contained a second-hand sat-nav. 🙂

Initially they weren’t all that friendly with us. They weren’t afraid of us: they just ducked out of the way when we went to touch them. However, we got them both to purr today; and I got Rolo onto my lap and kept him there with the incentive of a toy. I thought he’d lose interest and get off, but he lost interest and went to sleep! Monty decided that he was missing out and arrived in my lap, too. 😀 Eventually Rolo decided to get off and with the use of the same toy, we enticed him onto Stephen’s lap. Meanwhile, Monty slept on, and eventually I got stiff and put Monty into one hand and deposited him into Stephen’s lap.

Then I went out in the kitchen and cleaned out their feed bowl. They already seem to know that sort of noise after only being here a day 🙂 and they joined me in the kitchen, where I put them down the rest of a pouch of Felix chicken. I also put them down some Iams dry kitten food.

We wanted to shut them in the kitchen again tonight, but Rolo escaped into the hallway. I shut the kitchen door while I went and retrieved him; and Monty cried when he realised that he was shut in alone. When I came back with his brother, he decided to climb my leg! I’d better discourage that: It’s cute and only mildly painful in a just-weaned kitten, but it won’t stay cute for very long!

Rolo and Monty at play. Monty is on top. Doesn't he look fierce!

Rolo and Monty at play. Monty is on top. Doesn't he look fierce!

When we went to Stephen’s sisters place to look at these kittens, we thought that Rolo was the dominant one, but now we have them home, we think that Monty is. When they yawn, Monty appears to have more teeth through than Rolo does. Monty looks quite fierce in this picture of the two of them play-fighting.

Rolo is easy to photograph, but Monty, being dark, is more difficult. I’ve done a bit of work in PhotoShop to bring out his markings. We think that he might end up being silver with black tiger stripes, although right now he looks mostly black. However, he might be brown rather than silver. If the colour comes through reddish brown, we wonder whether he might be a she and not a he… 😕

They will need to visit the vet for their innoculations, so we will seek the vet’s opinion on Monty’s gender at that time. We’d rather that they’re both boys, but if they’re not, it will just be a little more complicated when neutering time comes around.

Posted in Monty, Rolo | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

A trip to Hair Plann

Posted by HelenEdith on August 29, 2009

Fresh from the hairdresser, August 2009

Fresh from the hairdresser, August 2009

I have just been to my local hairdresser, where my hair was cut by a nice Russian stylist. She took the time to look at my hair and discuss styles with me before she set to work, and I have ended up with a layered bob rather than the crop that I was originally leaning towards.

So long as it fulfils the requirements of giving my hair enough body; not blowing into my eyes when I’m outdoors doing photography; or into my mouth while I’m outdoors playing on bandstands I don’t really mind exactly how short it is, and this undoubtedly suits me better than going super-short.

I’ve also been told to come back in about 3 weeks for a free fringe trim, as she wants to change the shape of my fringe, but it wasn’t long enough to do today. She’s told me not to go trimming my fringe for myself, but to go back and let her do it! Phrases like “promise you won’t put scissors near your fringe” were uttered, so I think she definitely means it. 🙂

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Old but good: An entry in the groaner stakes (Saab joke)

Posted by HelenEdith on August 27, 2009

I’ve been looking back through the contents of my Writings Page and found this:

17th December, 1998

If Saab ever decided to expand from the automobile and aircraft businesses into shipbuilding, what would they make?

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Saabmarines! 😆 😆 😆

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Favourite pictures revisited: Leaning on the Late Side

Posted by HelenEdith on August 26, 2009

St Stephens Tower, which houses Big Ben, photographed at 11pm

St Stephen's Tower, which houses Big Ben, photographed at 11pm

This picture was taken on a summer evening when we had been up to town to do some photography and had stayed on for some twilight pictures of the Houses of Parliament. By 11pm it was fully dark, even on a June evening, and I set my tripod up on Westminster Bridge and composed this picture diagonally in my viewfinder. It was shot on colour slide film, but converted to monochrome after scanning, partly because I had to do some work on the clock face, which was brighter than the rest of the picture, and that resulted in some odd colours! I think this picture works very well in monochrome but I only got 8/10 from the camera club judge. However, I noticed several members of the general public enjoying it when it was hung at the Annual Exhibition in 2004 and it remains a favourite picture of mine.

I may try reprinting it with my Epson Stylus RS2400 printer some time, as the prints from my old Epson Stylus 1200 tended to mark very easily. I always felt that this printed best as a matte print, which may have been part of the problem, but I think I’ll still try it on matte or Oyster paper with the new printer and see if the print is more durable.

By clicking on the thumbnail below, you can open up a full-sized copy of this image:

Leaning on the Late Side

Naturally, this is copyright, so please get in touch if you want to use it commercially. 🙂

I have not yet (and maybe never will) put all of my Palace of Westminster pictures up on my website, but I used this one in a Bromley Camera Club competition and you can see this image in that context on my website here.

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Old but good: The hazards of outdoor playing

Posted by HelenEdith on August 25, 2009

I’ve been looking back through the contents of my Writings Page and found this:

4th May, 1998

I thought that I would share what happened to me today with you all, as you will probably get a smile out of it.

I have just been playing with the Beckenham Concert Band at a church fete. The band was set up under some trees. Part way through our performance, something wet landed on my arm. I hoped against hope that it was a drip of water off one of the trees, but when we got to the end of the number we were playing, and I had a chance to look, alas, it was not water which had landed upon my sleeve. I was in the direct firing line of a bird. 😯 Just what I wanted to fall foul of. 😉 The saxophone player sitting to my right said that she saw what landed on me go by her at an angle, and counted herself lucky that she didn’t lean forward at that moment! I was relieved that it landed on me and not my instrument.

I suppose that this is the ideal time to share an old schoolyard ditty with you:

A little birdie flying high
Once dropped a message from the sky.
And as it fell upon my eye
I thanked the Lord that cows can’t fly!

Helen (off to do some washing)

Just as well we didn’t have the purple jackets back in those days: it might have meant a trip to the dry cleaner…

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Favourite pictures revisited: The Harp Player

Posted by HelenEdith on August 24, 2009

The Harp Player

The Harp Player

I have always liked this picture, which was captured on colour slide film; and thought that I was a fraction hard done by when a camera club judge gave it a mere 7.5/10. 😦 However, that is the way of camera club judges; and putting a picture of stained glass in front of them often does not inspire them to award high marks. Their justification for this is that the photographer is merely recording the work of the stained glass artist and is not being innately creative him- or herself.

This particular piece of stained glass is to be found in a window in the chapel which forms part of Bromley and Sheppard’s Colleges in Bromley, Kent. I visited with the Bromley Camera Club, but it’s also possible to visit most years during London Open House Weekend in September, and possibly at other times as well.

I was blessed with perfect stained glass photography conditions: overcast but bright weather lighting the stained glass perfectly without being too harsh. I zoomed in on the window and rather than photographing the whole window in its original context, I sought an interesting image from within the whole of the stained glass panel. It does mean that my image is somewhat out of context with the original, but I was looking for an interesting image and I think I got one. 🙂

By clicking on the thumbnail below, you can open up a full-sized copy of this image:

The Harp Player

Naturally, this is copyright, so please get in touch if you want to use it commercially. 🙂

I have not yet (and maybe never will) put all of my Bromley College pictures up on my website, but I used this one in a Bromley Camera Club competition and you can see this image in that context on my website here.

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Book Review: Kay Hooper – Stealing Shadows

Posted by HelenEdith on August 23, 2009

There are some books which you know, right from the first page, will be easy and satisfying to read, and this book is such a one.

Psychic Cassie Neill gets into the minds of abductors and murderers and helps law enforcement agencies to find them and bring them to justice. However, sometimes she is more successful than other times; and a mistake made in Los Angeles causes Cassie to run three thousand miles to Ryan’s Bluff in North Carolina, where she has inherited a house from her Aunt Alex.

After six months in Ryan’s Bluff, she finds herself in the mind of a murderer. She goes to the Sheriff Matt Dunbar; and to the Public Prosecutor Ben Ryan and tells them of the murder to come, but they are sceptical. However, the body turns up as she describes.

So starts a killing spree with the murderer staying one step ahead of Cassie for a long time. Matt the Sheriff is gradually brought around to believing in Cassie; and Ben the Public Prosecutor falls in love with her as events continue to unfold and draw to a conclusion with a surprising twist to it.

I have a fascination with books about extra-sensory perception, whether it is the telepathic abilities of Cassie or the telekinetic abilities of the characters in Anne McCaffrey’s Talent and Tower and Hive series. Some people might like a little more realism and a little less ESP and romance in their crime novels, but I am well satisfied with this one.

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3-wheeled taxi

Posted by HelenEdith on August 22, 2009

Green and yellow three-wheeled Delhi taxi

Green and yellow three-wheeled Delhi taxi

A reader commented that she didn’t know that 3-wheeled vehicles were still legal.

While she may be right about Australia, who have all sorts of rules about what constitutes a legal vehicle, in many other parts of the World, the 3-wheeler is most definitely alive and well.

The example above was photographed in the Delhi area during my 2006 trip to India. This is the common budget taxi in India. In fact, some enterprising soul tried to introduce them in Brighton on the south coast of England, but I think that the local 4-wheeled taxi firms mounted stern opposition and may have seen them off. I need to do some more research to verify that, though.

Maybe I should do the next Beckenham Concert Band gig, which is in Brighton, and go for a look-see! 😀

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Just when my feet are sore…

Posted by HelenEdith on August 20, 2009

Stephen's Reliant Rialto 3-wheeler

Stephen's Reliant Rialto 3-wheeler

I knew that there was a reason why I’d stopped wearing my mail-order black shoes and started wearing my trainers into the office and changing into something else when I got there, but I was thinking that it was just because the weather was hot and I wanted to wear sandals.

Well today I had to visit a customer, so I wanted to make an effort with my appearance; and I was also a little concerned that it might rain and I’d get caught outdoors in the wet in my sandals, so I wore the black shoes today.

That was fine until this evening, when I suddenly noticed the time, realised that I’d been carried away by my own enthusiasm, and that if I got out of the office quickly, I’d be able to make it to Cannon Street just in time to catch a train home.

I set off briskly in the direction of Cannon Street, and by the time I was part way along Gracechurch Street, I realised that brisk walking and the black shoes don’t go together and that I was in line for a blister across the top of my foot.

Anyway, I made it to Cannon Street in time and caught the train and then phoned Stephen up to see if he’d save me the walk up the hill as my feet were hurting. He agreed to meet me at the station; and as he usually parks some distance down the Station Approach, I wasn’t unduly worried when I didn’t spot the Reliant straight away until I looked right down to the bottom of the Station Approach and saw the Reliant with the door open and Stephen pushing. 😯 The $*@@£& starter motor has failed again. 👿

So we both walked up the hill; Stephen changed out of his white shirt, and then we took my car down to the station. Stephen jacked his up and attempted to bang the starter motor and unstick it, but nothing worked and I was getting really worried that he was going to get run over where he was lying mostly not under his car, so we went over to plan B and towed the Reliant home and then pushed her mostly onto our steep driveway.

The day when we can dispense with her and Stephen can drive a normal car cannot come soon enough…

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Beckenham Concert Band: Horniman Gardens Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on August 16, 2009

Horniman Gardens Bandstand being prepared for a Beckenham Concert Band performance

Horniman Gardens Bandstand being prepared for a Beckenham Concert Band performance

This afternoon I had an outing with the Beckenham Concert Band. We played on the bandstand in the Horniman Gardens, where there are 16 acres of formal and natural landscapes. The bandstand is tucked in among them, and didn’t look very large from a distance, but it accommodated our whole band, so I think that its appearance was deceptive.

Here is our programme:

  • 001 Blaze Away
  • 044 Swingin’ Safari
  • 032 Teddy bears’ picnic
  • 014 Oklahoma
  • 070 Bandology
  • 216 Instant Concert
  • 376 King Cotton
  • 718 Jesus Christ Superstar

Interval

  • 128 Semper Fidelis
  • 275 Costa Brava
  • 432 Wizard of Oz Fantasy
  • 538 Raiders March
  • 243 Blue Tango
  • 060 Aces High
  • 066 Hootenanny
  • 337 High School Cadets
  • 658 The Symphonic Beatles

This is a bandstand which I’d never previously had occasion to perform on, and it is in a beautiful setting. We plan on going back one day when I’m not performing to look properly at the gardens and the museum. I think I might bring my tripod: there’s a view from by the bandstand which encompasses the Battersea Power Station and the arch of the new Wembley Stadium, but even with shake reduction activated on my camera, I didn’t get a good picture.

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