Tag Archives: camera

Cars, Costs and Cameras

I got my car back tonight. Apart from servicing, they fixed the oil leak, replacing several pipes and a gasket. The pipes lead to a valve I can never remember the name of. I had the valve replaced a couple of years ago. It cost a fortune. The annoying thing is that I don’t remember having one before – I suspect it is a modern “improvement”.  I also suspect that the pipework wasn’t properly reconnected last time, leading to this problem. All in all it has cost me the equivalent of two computers or 250 days on the bus. And all for a valve that doesn’t seem to have been necessary on my previous (reliable) diesel cars.

It’s good to be back in a manual car with plenty of legroom.

Other news – my camera broke. The small one finally gave up the ghost a few months ago. The big one, after several days of making increasingly ominous noises on startup finally refused to start at all. It whirrs and grinds and squeaks and the lens moves but nothing else happens.

We tried using a phone, but it isn’t really good enough. I ended up using the shop camera, which is quite good, but it isn’t really practical to share a camera. We will have to see what happens. I’m not going to take my other camera down. I didn’t mind taking the old ones to work but it’s time for them to provide one now. I suspect that whatever happens will the cheapest option. It has become clear that this is the way we select computers and I can’t see cameras being any different.  Ah well, less than two years to retirement . . .

The picture? Peppermint creams. I was scrolling through pictures and they made my mouth water.

Another Average Day

I had a great idea for a post this afternoon. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera home so I can’t do that one as it needs photos.

Not all is lost. I Googled something this morning after Julia told me about it. If you go to this link you will find a story with military and political interest. Johno used to keep poultry and do various other things on the farm when we were there. He was the one who was told that he couldn’t have a blue badge for disabled parking as young people often recovered and didn’t need one. If you have read the link you will be able to join me in a wry chuckle. If not, read this.

The only other thing of note was that the shop was cold and the rain hammered on the roof all day. That’s what happens when you work in a lean-to.

It’s better in the front of the shop because there’s a flat on top of it and it has windows so you see daylight. And it has a heater.

It could have gone better…

We went down to the Mencap garden tonight to drop off a donation of plants from one of the neighbours. We have Japanese anemone, Michaelmas daisies, buddleia and raspberries. I’ve also donated my tea plants as they can make a better job of looking after them than I will.

The Magpies were waiting.

There were two on the roof of the shed, two perching on the fence and two standing on top of a lamp post. One was perching in a tree and one was pottering around in the grass. He’s the one that we think acts like a stroppy teenager. We assume it’s a “he” because girls don’t act like stroppy teenagers. If Magpies wore baseball caps his would be on backwards.

We’ve never seen eight at one time at the gardens before.

The first part of the afternoon was less interesting.

It involved eating soup (which went well) but then deteriorated as I took two bags of books to the charity shop. It started to rain as I parked the car. I grabbed a lightweight rain jacket from the back seat and managed to empty one of the bags of books onto the floor.

As slapstick goes it was a polished and faultless move.

After parting with the books, which still hurts as I talk about it, I decided to use the available light to photograph some bits and pieces. (I find the light in the car better than the interior of the house at this time of year). I hadn’t locked the door of the battery compartment last time I opened it.

They fell out.

I put them back.

And at that point I realised I hadn’t put the card in.

I was so wet I steamed up the inside of the car. This took a while to clear and gave me time to brood on the unfairness of life.

Then I went home, where Julia told me she had a job for me. That brings us back to the top of the page…

Pictures Loaded, Menu Sorted

I finally worked out how to load pictures from my phone to the blog. I’m sure a five-year-old could do it, but I can’t. When I was that age telephones were attached to walls at home, or red boxes when you were out and about, and you took photos with cameras which had film in them. Just to complete the picture of the technological desert of the 1960s, computers were so big they had their own rooms and TVs showed black and white pictures from a choice of two stations.

Makes you wonder how we got by.

So yesterday’s post now has photos.

It’s time to cook now – Pea and Mint soup (again) for a couple of weekday lunches, Cottage Pie for tonight with lots of healthy green veg, meatballs to be precooked for tomorrow, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry to be refrigerated for Tuesday.

I’d better stop watching Pointless and get cooking before I pick Julia up from work or I’ll be in trouble. The fact I got a pointless answer won’t impress a hungry woman.

“No rules. No fear. No steady form of income.”

When I look at what we’ve done over the last week I think I could come to like this pretirement. It’s a word I first heard last year on daytime TV last year, and one I’ve adopted for my current state of existence. I can’t be unemployed because I wasn’t employed, and I can’t be self-unemployed because the world isn’t ready for the term. Every time I use it people just look at me blankly. However, if you look it up in Google, there are other people using the term, so it may catch on.

One man defines it as “No rules. No fear. No steady form of income.” I like that, because it makes me sound like a bit of a rebel, rather than a middle-aged layabout. In truth it also defines my mode of self-employment, as the last 23 years have been hard work, interesting and challenging. They were meant to be lucrative, rewarding and successful, but you don’t always get what you want.

At least I’m still able to add new experiences to my life. I’ve never seen Red Crested Pochards before or been attacked by a swan.

The coming week isn’t going to be so much fun. We have a day on the farm teaching people to do some of the jobs we used to do (there have been several emails on the subject, as they have realised getting rid of us not as easy as it seemed). As if that isn’t bad enough I have also been summoned to hospital to follow up on the pre-Christmas hospital visit.

I’m not keen on hospitals, as a visit almost always seems to involve removing my trousers in front of strangers. When I visited to have my arthritic finger examined it was a positive joy to sit there fully clothed and talk to a doctor. If only the trousers were the major problem! This week’s visit features a camera, and although I’m told it’s a good deal smaller than the one I use for bird photography, I’m still not keen on the idea.

That still leaves several days to fill in, but I’m not able to plan that far ahead. Every time I try to think about next week I get a mental picture of a camera. A large camera…



What we did next

So, what have we been doing apart from egg-based humour?

Well, we ate doughnuts, made Halloween masks, and I tried to take a photo of a green woodpecker through dirty triple glazing. The doughnuts and masks were successful. The photographs weren’t, as the glazing and dirt mess with the autofocus. When I went out to try for some clearer photos the woodpecker (a) hid and (b) flew away.



later I saw a kestrel perching on the brush shaft of the hooded youth statue. I got my camera, I switched it on…

…and got the Battery Empty message.

So I swapped batteries…

…and got the same result.

I then remembered that I hadn’t recharged them, because they’d run out late one day – too late to recharge at work and too stupid to remember once I got home.  Bah!

Can’t really complain though, as we got great views of kestrels and a buzzard perching by the roadside on the way to work. The buzzard was on a fence post along the new A46, perching at about eye level. We couldn’t have asked for a better view.

Later in the afternoon we cleared some beds, played a Dracula-themed snakes and ladders game (Julia kept winning) and finished off Monday’s biscuits. They had kept well, and we really should have left them a few days longer, but you know how it is.

I can vouch for most of my biscuit recipes lasting three days. If you ever find me vouching for them lasting longer, ask yourself why they are still not eaten.

At least, having seen two small falcons today, Julia was able to make a quip about the coming of night and the fact that we would be having Orkestrel Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Pop music puns can be tricky as they are sensitive to the age of those listening, but for those of us who remember the band, it’s a quality pun.

These things are sent to try us…

Interesting day.

Dropped Julia off at the hairdresser (don’t know why she can’t just use my clippers but it seems the Ripley look is not considered good on most women). A strange thing just happened, when I looked for photos to link to 98% of Ripley photos seem to feature hair, and lots of it, even though I always picture her as almost bald.  Just shows that you only remember what you want to remember.

Went the long way round to the farm, looking for photo opportunities. Camera ground to a halt.. Grrr! It started switching itself off when I pressed to take the photo and showing an intermittent message about the batteries being empty. They’ve been in five days and taken about 100 shots. Can this be right? Spare batteries are at home so will have to put them in and check before deciding if it is poor battery life or faulty camera.



Got to the farm just as yoga was ending so had a cup of tea with the group and ate some of the chocolate chip cookies that they had left. The Health Mentor people only ask me what I ate in the “last week” and they won’t be ringing for another five weeks so I won’t have to admit to three biscuits. Or even four or five…

They were small biscuits.

After lunch – cheese cobs with red onion jam – it was back to the grind of blogging, emails, writing an information sheet, photos, rang Virtual College to see where our COSHH courses are as they haven’t been emailed to us,  brewing tea and planning the new Quercus marketing plan.

The heron came back – you can just see it by the trees in the bottom right of the photo. Flying birds aren’t a good subject for me.

The Virtual College didn’t fix things in 20 minutes as they promised, but it’s difficult to take a photo of that.

I think that’s about all.

I did consider writing some sarcastic emails but it generally isn’t worth the trouble it causes so I just composed the most caustic answer I could muster, deleted it, and then sent one that said: “Yes, I can do that.”

In the end it’s no skin off my nose if someone wants to show how rude they can be in writing.


I merely hope that they enter their next life as a skin disease.




New Camera

After a few days thinking and looking at cameras I finally came to a decision.

My current camera, an Olympus SZ 14 has been great, and has taken thousands of photos in all weathers and been subject to carelessness, gravity and neglect. It is still working, though with a speck of dirt in the works it needs a clean.

At £99 it is now far cheaper than the price I originally paid, and if I pay for the sensor to be cleaned it will cost me at least a third of that price.

Alternatively I could buy an Olympus SP 820 UZ. No, I don’t know why it needs such a long name. It’s a bigger camera and, crucially, has a bigger lens (40x zoom instead of 24x). I’ve always been impressed by the 24x, but 40x is quite an attraction. It’s £155.

Both cost more than I want to spend at the moment, but neither of them is expensive in camera terms.


Well, I’m a man, so I was obviously going to go for the bigger zoom wasn’t I?

It arrived yesterday, while I was too busy to use it, and today there have been few subjects.

However, I did get a chance to photograph a moth (a Small Magpie) that was resting on the ceiling. I think I’m going to like the new camera. It’s bulkier, feels less substantial and has a flimsy battery cover, but it’s just like the old one in use and it takes decent photos.



I’ve now caught up with myself.

First call today was the dentist for my regular check up and to let him look at my broken tooth.  It’s been a problem for over 30 years and a three weeks ago, after Julia treated me to some of my favourite sweets (sugared almonds), it finally disintegrated.  I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it’s been aching on and off for five years or so, and gradually crumbling for the last year, so it will be a relief to get rid of it. On the other hand, apart from wisdom teeth, It’s the first adult tooth I’ve lost and it seems like a big step towards senile decrepitude.

I may not actually be standing on the crumbling edge looking down into the grave, but I’m getting close.

It has been smoothed off, and in 15 days it will be removed.

“Do you bleed a lot?” asked the dentist.

“No,” I replied, “but I am a coward.”

He laughed. I think he thought I was joking.

We saw two Brimstones and an unidentified white butterfly as we travelled to the farm, though there were none when we arrived because it’s cold and windy again today. We have had a lot of birds in trees by the roadside, including bullfinches (presumably after the buds) and greenfinches, which we don’t see often. Looking at some photographs from yesterday I see I have a good photo of two pied wagtails in the field with the sheep. I hadn’t noticed them at the time and they are, unfortunately, too small to show up in blog-sized photographs.

Julia went to Men in Sheds when we arrived, whilst I started looking for instructions on how to take my camera apart. I only found one, and that showed how to replace  a screen, which doesn’t show enough of the interior for me to feel confident about mending it myself.

Repair charges start at £30, and that is for much simpler jobs. I have a feeling we are looking at £50 plus and in the end I will have a clean sensor but the rest of the faults such as a scratched screen and intermittent fault with the zoom action will still be with me.

Time to do some thinking.


Julia, meanwhile, emerged from the Shed with a big smile on her face. Phase One of her mysterious plan is going into action. It involves pink paint and plywood, but I can say no more.


A mystery solved…

We’ve been using a lot of fat balls in the bird feeders over the last few weeks, but we’ve hardly see a bird on them. Even if we had it’s normally blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits, and they aren’t exactly big birds or voracious feeders.

Starlings will eat them but we haven’t had any around recently and the only other bird I’ve seen on their was a blackbird, which didn’t stay long and obviously didn’t feel comfortable.

Now, I haven’t been able to photograph the offenders because they are wary of humans sneaking up, but I can tell you that we have discovered the cause – jackdaws!

We have a lot of jackdaws about, and I do like them, but they are a nuisance when helping themselves to the food of the free range pigs and poultry. At the moment they are gathering to eat the debris from lambing – some of it spilt food and some of it considerably less wholesome.

As a child I used to watch them for hours, as they nested in a hollow tree in the garden, always hoping I might end up rescuing an abandoned juvenile and teach it to talk. It never happened.

However, if they are going to add acrobatic fat ball theft to their many scavenging activities I may have to start reviewing my attitude.

Second mystery of the day is the black spot in the pictures I took. I thought the first one I noticed was a blurred jackdaw as one flew past just as I pressed the button, but it appeared on others. Then I decided that it must be dirt on the lens, but after the application of sophisticated cleaning techniques (my handkerchief) it didn’t go. I then used spit and a handkerchief. Still no result.

(That whirring sound you hear is generations of lens designers and proper photographers spinning in their graves.)  I know I’m supposed to use proper cleaning equipment, it’s just that I never seem to have it when I need it. But I do always have a handkerchief…

The internet provided the likely answer – dust on the sensor. All I need to do is dismantle the camera (you can find details of how to do that on the internet too), clean the sensor and put it all back together.

Plastic, electronics, small screws, me, big fingers, screwdriver…

What could possibly go wrong?

In the top picture you can’t see the spot because it is hidden by the hedge, but that isn’t a technique you can use all the time.

(Mostly written on Thursday, finished on Friday)