100 Strangers #2 – Rob

With the first of my 100 strangers under my belt I thought that it might get a little easier, less personal pressure. So, continuing with my “people working” idea, I saw Rob, he had everything under control as he navigated up the locks. I asked if he minded if I took some pictures as he worked, he was totally unperturbed by this and continued to winch away. I explained about the 100 Strangers project and flickr, it seemed that he had little or no interest in such things, but was more than happy to pose for a portrait shot. A crowd had gathered to watch as he rose to the next lock, so I left him and his wife to enjoy his holiday.


Today’s lesson is it’s difficult to go into details with someone if they are busy or there’s a crowd of on lookers.

This picture is #2 in my 100 Strangers Project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/

100 Strangers #1 – Amanda

Having mainly been a landscape photographer over the years, I decided to take part in the Flickr 100 Strangers Project, pushing me way out of my comfort zone with the camera. Talking to people has never been a problem, but to ask for permission to take the portrait and obtain any details I could about them in what was essentially a brief meeting, became very daunting.

However, on a beautifully sunny day in July, whilst photographing the locks at Foxton in Leicestershire, I was watching a woman opening a sluice gate. I seized the moment and asked to take pictures of her working. The usual idle chat of how good the weather was etc followed. I then explained about the project and asked to take her portrait to which she happily obliged. Further pleasantries were exchanged and I now had a name for my stranger… Amanda. Amanda had hired the long boat for the day and was busy showing her daughter how to navigate the locks.

Amanda-HSP-1Today’s lesson is two fold, firstly DON’T stand at the bottom of a slope while taking portraits upwards when your a short person like me. Secondly, while taking to your subject, try to capture them between your questions and NOT while they are answering.

This picture is #1 in my 100 Strangers Project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/

Don’t Push Me Around

Hidden away in the middle of the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon, there is a world of butterflies. Butterfly17-2For a reasonable entrance fee you get to see a large array of butterflies flying around and landing you and have a mini sauna all in one. Butterfly17-51There are other other areas showing the life cycle of the butterfly along with other insects, spiders, snakes and not forgetting the ants that busily match over head on suspended ropes. Butterfly17-25Well worth an hour or so visiting, with or without your children.

Now I come to the negative, why’o’why do people insist on taking their “buggies”, pushchairpushchairs and child sized 4×4’s into these places. It never ceases to amaze me. Other than the fact the the bloody things are bigger than the narrow walkways, they think that they always have the right of way, pushing through no matter what. What has changed, my wife and I have had children, we had pushchairs, but we never took them in places like this, nor did we use them as a battering ram to force our way through. The same was true whilst walking around Stratford, very busy streets to which you are constantly confronted with an oncoming pushchair, that momentary stand off until the gentleman in me lets them pass. Have good manners gone like so many other disposable things nowadays. Is it the modern way just to be rude or is it nothing more than ignorance?

The Writing’s Not On The Wall For Chester

We had a pleasant surprise when we went for a weekend brake in the City of Chester. In an age where we are persuaded that all cities should be “multi-cultured”, it was very refreshing to see that Chester is one of the few places that has managed to preserve it’s identity and is proud to display it for all to view. The main streets were herringbone brickwork, very tidy and well maintained. The shops are restricted to keeping within the Tudor-styled half timber buildings. There is no horrible modern structures, nor any out of place mosques to litter the skyline.

The city centre is surrounded by the boundary wall which has been well maintained and is still almost complete. A stroll around the wall presents various places of interest, including the Victorian Eastgate Clock, the Cathedral and Falconry Gardens, and not forgetting the Roman Gardens & Amphitheater.


There are many pubs and eateries throughout and a walk along the River Dee reveals more tea rooms allowing for some time-out to refuel.
As we discovered, Chester is far more than just a shopping centre and is well worth a visit. After seeing part of British heritage is still alive and well it caused me to think about our rush towards the multi-cultured environments with our cities. A path that will create all cities to become the same, losing their historic individuality, so what will be the point traveling else where, you might as well just visit a city near you?


Hacksaw Ridge: Review

Hacksaw Ridge

To be honest, with the words “True Story” and “about a Conscientious Objector”, I didn’t hold much hope of me watching it all the way through. The story starts a little slow as we get to understand the circumstances of why Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) decides not to pick up a gun when he enlists in the army. He has a rough ride through his basic training with hopes of becoming a medic. Then the action really starts with dramatic scenes of warfare in a bloody battle where our hero comes into his own. Trust me, you will stick it through to the end.

4 Stars

Santa, Real or Not?

father_xmasAs children we all loved Christmas, then as we get older we lose faith in it all, turning it into a booze filled holiday. Then we have kids and it’s all rekindled, the magic returns for a few years only to fade when they in turn, turn it into a booze filled holiday.
It therefore would be simple to say that Santa doesn’t exist. The idyllic vision of a fat man in a red suit, flying around the world towed by a team of reindeer is simply stuff of fiction.
So what is Christmas? I’m not going to talk about religious faith, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. I want to talk about the essence of Christmas.
Here’s where it goes wrong, I was standing outside a shop waiting for my wife and I couldn’t help overhear a couple that walked by, concerned that the gift set they’d just brought for someone, had a shower gel in and they’d already brought this person shower gel, so they’d take that out and give it to someone else. This is not Christmas, this is retailers heaven. Then there’s the idiots that use the Yuletide “merry” season as an excuse to go down the pub, get drunk and then drive, putting themselves and us at risk. This is not Christmas, this is selfishness. I’m sure I could continue with all the bad things, but that’s not what I trying to do here, we are hunting for proof of Kriss Kringle.
In resent years, my fondness of the festive season has returned again. And I think I know why, by pushing aside the bad points. The fact that we do want to see our families, met friends down the pub, give the right present, clutter our homes with flashing lights and trees, over indulge in our favourite food and drink.
So, does Santa exist? Well it’s really down to how we conceive Santa.We all basically want to feel good and want those around us to feel good and make this a special time of year. So therefore Santa is real in all of us.

The Nice Guys: Review

niceguysSet in the 70’s, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling) are forced together to investigate a missing girl. They stumble about gaining leads on a conspiracy connected to the death of a porn star. I almost pasted by this film, but I’m glad I gave it a view. Both Gosling and Crowe work together well giving the film, although dark in subject matter, a light humours feel. Add to this the retro music backdrop and bad hairdos and it was very enjoyable to watch.

4 Stars