HelenEdith's Blog

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

Archive for November, 2009

Old but good: Lottery Rollover

Posted by HelenEdith on November 25, 2009

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

13th September, 1998

Last Wednesday, nobody won the lottery here in the UK, so there was a rollover jackpot on Saturday night.

On Saturday afternoon, I was queueing up at the checkout in Sainsbury’s when a lad came along to remove a stack of baskets from by the checkout; and he discovered a pack of bread rolls, which must have fallen off the conveyor.

I can’t say I was surprised. After all, it was a rollover day.

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Book Review: Karen Hawkins – To Scotland, With Love

Posted by HelenEdith on November 25, 2009

This book is part of a series, and although it’s not the first one in the series, I read it as a stand-alone title with complete success.

This is a romance between Venetia Oglivie and Lord Gregor MacLean. They have known each other for a lot of years and have been friends all of that time, but when Lord Gregor finds that Venetia has been abducted by young Lord Ravenscroft, he realises that he must rescue her.

Venetia doesn’t think that she needs quite as much rescuing as Lord Gregor thinks she does. She is managing quite well to depress the pretentions of her abductor all by herself, thankyou!

Lord Gregor becomes so angry about the abduction that he activates his family’s weather curse and much of the action takes place in a snowbound inn with few domestic staff. By the time the thaw sets in (with a few additional snow flurries when Lord Gregor’s temper threatens to get the best of him again) Lord Gregor knows that he wants to marry Venetia; and as this is a romance, he gets his girl by the time the last page has been turned.

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More bonfire and fireworks pictures

Posted by HelenEdith on November 9, 2009

I’ve now uploaded my pictures from Saturday night to Chislehurst_Fireworks_20091107 pictures by HelenEdith – Photobucket

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks bonfire flames

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks bonfire flames

I’m wondering whether to start a photographic debate to rival the “fluffy water” debate where some people believe that “real water” is photographed at high shutter speeds; whilst others like to make it flow with a slightly longer shutter speed; and a third group like employing a really long shutter speed so that water looks like fluffy cotton wool.

It’s a bit difficult to achieve a long enough shutter speed to make flames that fluffy because flames are rather bright, but with some neutral density filters, maybe it could be arranged. 🙂

For the picture above, I used ISO 100 and f32 and achieved a shutter speed of 1/45 second. However, I also tried “freezing” flames by using ISO 800 and f6.7, which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/4000 second. This produces the much grittier result seen below.

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks gritty bonfire flames

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks gritty bonfire flames

I always enjoy pointing a camera towards the fireworks display. Sometimes I think I’d see more of the display if I didn’t take the camera. That was particularly true this year when I used the telephoto lens as I was continually realigning the camera. With a wider lens, I can set it up and just operate the remote shutter release without needing to look through the viewfinder at all!

Now, here are a few more of my favourite firework pictures:

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

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Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks 2009

Posted by HelenEdith on November 8, 2009

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks through a telephoto lens

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks through a telephoto lens

This evening, Stephen and I went to our local fireworks display at the Chislehurst Recreation Ground. It’s run very efficiently by the local Rotary Club and was very well attended this year.

The gates were open from 6pm and there was a funfair for entertainment until the bonfire was lit at 7pm. To get a good view of the bonfire, you need to gravitate towards it soon after 6:30pm. I left it a fraction late and didn’t have quite the angle of view I wanted, but it worked out fine in the end as I got some interesting smoke pictures which I might put up later.

The fireworks were about 10 minutes late starting as there were still people coming in through the gates at 7:30pm and the stewards correctly decided to get them all in before allowing the display to go ahead. This year’s display was accompanied by music, and lasted a little over 20 minutes.

I usually photograph the fireworks with an extreme wide angle lens. It allows me to capture the flower-like patterns made by the light trails from their launching point to where they explode; but I decided that I’ve done that several years running and I wanted a change, so I used a telephoto lens this year. The success rate with a telephoto lens isn’t as good as it doesn’t cover as great an area, so you’re more liable to miss some of the fireworks, but the images are quite different from those captured with a shorter lens. I decided that I didn’t trust my Sigma 28-300 as the zoom on it is loose and it won’t stay where you zoom it if you point it up in the air. So I got out my old Tamron 85-210 lens for the occasion. I’ve had that lens for over 30 years and it fits right onto my digital SLR. It only works in manual mode, but as I was shooting by holding the shutter release open as long as I felt like, that hardly mattered. I just set the aperture on the aperture ring and got on with it!

Once the fireworks were over, Stephen said I owed him a burger and that he was cold. His hands were certainly cold. We patronised the burger van, but in the end, he paid! Then we walked home, and got wet. Somehow, between the fireworks display and finishing our burgers, the stars we could see in the sky had all disappeared, and rain had crept up on us!

At least our pussy-cat boys have been growing up to the sound of external bangs and have learnt to pay them no attention, so we came home to two nice relaxed cats. In fact, Rolo actually spent an extended spell on my lap! That’s usually Monty’s perch!

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The Cattery Experience

Posted by HelenEdith on November 7, 2009

We went on holiday for a week in October and left our “babies” in a local cattery for the week.

When I’d enquired there about boarding kittens they said that they “loved having kittens” and that the kittens would “have a blast”, so I reckoned that they knew what they were doing. We’d also visited and seen the runs and they had said that they only fed high quality cat foods.

I dropped the cats off the Friday evening before our holiday. The person in reception at the cattery was surprised at how small Rolo and Monty were, but offered the option of allowing them to socialise, and as Rolo and Monty love running around, I agreed that they could socialise, mainly because I expected that it would give them more room.

I had never taken cats to a cattery before, and of course Rolo and Monty had never been, so we were all a bit unsure. Monty is the more adventurous and came out of the cat carrier and got put in a holding cage, but Rolo didn’t want to come out of the cat carrier. There were other cat owners waiting and the reception staff hurried me along to drag Rolo out and push him into the cage with Monty. I was told that they would be moved forward to their run when there was more time, so I never actually saw where they were to stay for the week.

I phoned the cattery up on Sunday and enquired how they were doing and the person on the phone hadn’t actually seen Rolo and Monty, but said that nothing was written in the book about them, so they were doing just fine.

So we relaxed and had our holiday and came home looking forward to picking up our cats. As the cattery doesn’t have Saturday evening opening hours, we had to wait for Sunday morning, when we arrived with our cat carrier. Rolo was waiting for us, probably having heard us coming, and he looked in good condition. The staff told us that Monty was very thin. Before seeing him, I assumed that as his parents are tall thin cats that yes, Monty would be thin. Monty had to be found as he was asleep and we put him in the carrier along with Rolo, paid our bill and came home.

When we got them out of the carrier, it was apparent that Monty wasn’t just thin: his little bones were sticking out and his flanks were hollow! He fell on the food we put down like he was starving!

Both cats were subdued and didn’t play like they normally do; and Rolo turned out to have an upset stomach. Within 36 hours, poor Monty started crying and threw up copiously, and also had diarrhoea. 😦 I phoned the vet for advice (it was about 11pm, so I got the duty vet) and the advice was to feed Rolo, who was hungry, but not to feed Monty. He should have access to water, and we should assess the situation in the morning. I also got up during the night to check on him, and he seemed OK although quiet.

In the morning, because of his extreme thinness, I decided to take Monty to the vet; and as Rolo, although outwardly in good condition was also having diarrhoea, I decided that he should go, too.

The vet weighed them; and Monty had lost virtually all the weight he’d gained since he was last weighed when he’d had his booster shots. At the time, both cats weighed 1.6kg, but Monty was only 1.63kg three and a half weeks later! Rolo, by contrast, was 1.93kg. The vet did comment that Rolo looks like growing into a larger cat than Monty, but this was still a huge difference considering their identical weights less than a month earlier.

The vet gave them half a worming tablet, as they’d been in a cattery and mixing with other cats; and although neither had a temperature, she decided to give each a precautionary course of antibiotics. Monty’s stomach was really sore from his puke-o-rama, so he also got Zantac liquid; and both cats got prescription bland food until their stomachs were better, when I was directed to reintroduce their normal kitten food. I was also advised to withdraw dry food until their stomachs had recovered, which was good advice, as they needed liquids, but was hard for Monty, as his normal diet contains mostly dry food.

Within a day or so, they found a bag of dry food and clawed their way into it for an illicit feed. At least they picked Royal Canin Kitten 36, which is supposed to be hypoallergenic, so I let them get away with it. I wanted to start moving back towards their regular food by then anyway.

Both cats were very good about their pink pills, and I didn’t get scratched or bitten at all during the time I was administering their pills. Rolo wasn’t too impressed about the procedure, but by the end of the week, Monty was treating it as attention and was purring through the whole procedure. He is such a lovely little cat, even if he is turning into a dear little pussy cat in both senses of the word!

Everything is now back to normal and we have our two playful little pussy cats back. I think that if I were to do things over again that I would not agree to socialisation. They wouldn’t get as much room to run around in, but they would have less contact with other cats and less chance of picking up an infection; and they would also not have to compete for food. I had assumed that even if they were socialising that they were being fed in their own enclosure, but maybe that wasn’t the case. Monty, with his preference for dry food, could have been losing out in competition with other cats if they had communal dry food. Of course, Rolo and Monty should have been getting dry food formulated for kittens, but I would suspect that somehow Monty was missing out. The cattery said that both kittens ate a lot, but somehow Rolo did well (although not brilliantly) there, while Monty did not do well at all.

I think we’ve certainly learnt some lessons over this. I don’t think everything is the cattery’s fault, although I didn’t like the way I was hustled out when checking them in and did not see the enclosure where they were to live for the week. I also wonder whether they should have advised against allowing socialisation for kittens that age. That certainly would have reduced the risk of cross-infection and removed some of the competition for food which I suspect that Monty was subjected to.

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