This morning I woke with a determination to do more work and make several steps forward in my struggle with the English language.
What I actually did was blog, make breakfast, watch TV, make lunch (which was soup and a sandwich), mess about on the computer, watch TV, snooze, cruise eBay, watch TV and make the sandwiches for tomorrow. The actual “work” element of the day (unless you count TV and eBay as “research”) was about two hours.
It is now just past midnight and I really should get to bed, but I thought I’d make one more post before retiring.
I had a letter from the Ribble Rivers Trust. I donated a year or so ago to plant a couple of trees. They sent me a letter and certificate then disappeared from view. The new letter tells me where the trees are planted and provide a photograph of a couple of holly leaves and some out of focus tree planting tubes on a hillside. I hope they were aiming for an abstract effect, because if they weren’t I have to question their thought process on this one.
I will probably not live to sit in the shade of the trees which I am paying to plant, which is, they say, a sign of a mature society. It’s also a sign that I should have started supporting tree planting schemes years ago, then I might have been able to benefit.
Tootlepedal, of course, is well ahead of me on this – he is involved in a plot which is raising enough seedlings to cover Scotland in trees.
The featured image shows a tree at Gibraltar Point yesterday. I have used the “Dramatic” setting, which could easily be labelled “Melodramatic” as it always reminds me of the words “It was a dark and stormy night…”
The one below is the one my camera took with its normal setting. Having just checked it I see that “normal” means it’s set for fluorescent lighting (which is what I use when taking pictures for eBay. This may account for the slightly lifeless colours I have been noting recently will dull weather.
Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – normal setting
The next one is the same tree, and the same photograph as above, but with the computer’s “auto correct” setting applied.
Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – auto correct setting
I’m not clear what it actually uses for reference. In this case it hasn’t made a lot of difference. I have tried it on other photos at times and it does make a considerable difference, but I didn’t think to save original copies to compare the two. I only actually started thinking about this a few minutes ago when I auto corrected a couple of beach photos, which seemed to consist of moving them from Lincolnshire to California – the difference in sea, sand and sky were that significant. It did not, however, change any of the subjects into youthful, bronzed lifeguards, as you will see when I eventually use the photos.
I did, as you may guess, take three photos for use in a blog post, the fourth is an afterthought. The fourth uses a setting called Pop Art, which brings all the colours out and always reminds me of a 1970s colour postcard. I have used it before with some posts, mainly when I’ve been at the seaside.
I’m sure the postcards that used this colouring were labelled Photochrom, but I’ve just looked it up and found that it was a completely different process according to Wikipedia, so I may be getting confused.
Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – Pop Art setting
Personally, I like the stormy picture, as it suits the skeletal tree, and I like the Pop Art setting as it reminds me of a day at the seaside. From the point of view of it just being a photograph with no context, either of them are reasonable tree photos.
From the documentary point of view, neither are accurate – there was no storm and the day was not that bright and sunny.
However, it was a bit brighter than the other two settings imply, which might be partly down to me having the camera adjusted for fluorescent light.
Having started off to compare a few camera settings I’m now starting to wonder if any photograph is reliable, particularly with so many ways of manipulating photographs being available.
How long, given the current state of technology, before somebody comes up with an app that inserts Elvis Presley into a crowd scene every time it detects more than twenty faces in the photo?
Or even better, inserts a photograph of Derrick J Knight holding a gherkin – we could call it the Where’s Wally? App. (That’s an in-joke for regular readers of Derrick, who has introduced the slang term wally into the culinary vocabulary of a wide range of his WP readers.)
The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.
Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.
Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.
And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.
Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.
This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.
As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”
As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.
People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.
Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.
I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.
They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?
The sun is draping itself gently on the rooftops of Nottingham as I stare out of the window at the back of the house and try to look like a writer. There’s still a while before sunset and the sky has not yet taken on any colour, but I am a patient man and I live in hope. It’s low enough to light up the trees in the garden and it is doing a particularly fine job of lighting up the variegated holly which are looking quite spectacular tonight.
The view, rather like the Amazon, has been deforested over the years.
On our left the neighbour removed an ornamental plum and a crab apple tree, as well as ripping up their lawn and spreading the garden with gravel. They also pushed over our laburnum tree when they had a new fence put up. It didn’t need moving, but they had never liked it and used to hack at it whenever they got a chance. I can’t, of course, prove that it was done with malice, but I’m pretty sure that this was the case.
Small Tortoiseshell on Red Valerian
That same corner was the site of a strange case of forsythia die-back, a disease that only seems to have existed in one corner in one particular garden in the country. A man give to muttering dark things about his neighbours might justifiably think that they had poured something through the gap in the fence to poison his plants.
When I win the lottery I am going to fit this house with a high-powered sound system and it out to students. This will be my revenge. I’m also going to fit water feature and wind chimes – let’s see how they like it.
To be fair, they do still have two Leylandii, which are the only trees, apart from ours, in a six garden area.
Over the years a couple of birches have disappeared from a garden at the back of us, supposedly removed because they were rotten. They looked good when they were cut, and they haven’t been replaced.
The worst loss was the hawthorn. It looked to me to be shared between four gardens because it had grown at the junction of the fences but one of the neighbours took it on himself to remove it one day and that was that.
That was a really bad day for biodiversity. We frequently used to have nesting birds in that tree – mainly blackbirds.
The neighbours on the other side, the ones who used to complain regularly, took several trees out too, though apart from a few Leylandii I can’t remember what they had. They were the ones that reported me to the the local Community Support Officer because of the brambles, the overhanging plums and the leaves which blew into her garden. She actually wanted me to cut the trees down to stop the leaves and the plums dropping in her garden.
As I pointed out, you can’t stop leaves (and there couldn’t have been many of them) and I thought of the plums as giving them free fruit, rather than being a nuisance. You can’t help some people.
The brambles, you say? Yes, I admit they are a nuisance, but several of them were actually coming from their garden into ours under the fence. A previous gardener seems to have had cultivated blackberries in the garden and they have always been rampant. And juicy. I suppose some people just don’t like fresh fruit.
We’re not savages, by the way, and not even particularly bad neighbours, despite the way things may sound, so we did cut the brambles and the plum branches. Couldn’t stop the leaves though.
That leaves our garden as the only one making an effort for nature. We have a privet, which I confess was a mistake, the holly, a plum, the one we don’t know the name of, and a Leylandii. This needs topping as it is really too big for the garden now, but most years we have pigeons nesting in it and I never get round to it. We also have a couple of apple trees in pots but I always feel guilty about them as they look so dispirited. I really must give them some compost.
I didn’t really mean to run on about the deforestation of back gardens and the drive to force out wildlife, but I did. Sorry about the crusading, but I just don’t know why people don’t just live in flats, or even dungeons, if they hate trees and wildlife so much.
It’s an outdoor space full of birds and insects and even animals and kids. It’s not an extension of the living room. You can tell the difference because of the absence of carpets, though I’ve recently seen astroturf on sale in a garden centre so even that distinction is being blurred. I’ve been thinking that I really must get on top of the garden next year. And plant more trees.
This is what happens whe you are on a mission to post every day, when your wife is going mad looking for something and you can’t concentrate because of the noise and bustle. Yes, twenty four days into the 100 day self-imposed challenge and I’m sticking in three photos to make sure I don’tmiss a day.
I went out this morning looking for sunbeams, and even managed to get a few pictures, though they weren’t as good as the ones I saw last year when I didn’t have the camera with me.
The header picture is taken with the Pop Art setting which peps up the colour a notch or two. The sunbeam picture below is taken on the normal setting and is, as you can see, much greyer.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Gorse in Sherwood Forest
I then carried on a bit further and took pictures of bluebells and litter. I didn’t actually intend taking pictures of litter but I was concentrating on the bluebells so much that I didn’t notice the litter until later.
We stayed in Skipton last night and spent the day doing some Family History photography. The day was bright in patches, but by the middle of the afternoon, when we were at Clitheroe Castle, it was rather dark.
The trees in the main photo were an early find, while the sun was managing to break through.
The others are slightly less than sharp, but seemed too good not to use. Julia spotted the squirrel going through the bins as we left the castle.
Bin raiding squirrel at Clitheroe Castle.
Bin raiding squirrel at Clitheroe Castle.
Bin raiding squirrel at Clitheroe Castle.
There will be more on this trip later, but first I want to stick my feet up and have a cup of tea.
The woods have really pinged into life since the frost and we are finally seeing some good autumn colour. My camera, of course, is doing its best to take the colour back out. I really don’t know what goes through the minds of camera designers, but they really seem to hate colour.
I first noticed this when taking a sunset with my old camera. A deep red, cloud-flecked sky behind Sandal Castle became a pale pink sky with pale grey wisps.
The lake at Clumber Park
Autumn Beech leaves – Clumber Park
Oak leaves at Clumber
Sunlit oak leaves at Clumber
In the old days of film you used to buy Kodak for restrained colour or Fuji if you wanted something brighter. These days, with my camera at least, you can get the same effect from selecting “Scene” mode. I selected the “Cuisine” option, which brightens all the colours. It’s meant for taking pictures of food but it seems to work for autumn leaves too. Some, like the oak leaves didn’t need help. With others I forgot to use the setting. It did help with the landscapes but even with this help the colours in the photographs are more restrained than they were in real life.
Autumn Beech leaves
Walkers at Clumber
Brambles leaves at Clumber
Leaves at Clumber Lakes
Julia had a Safeguarding Course at Worksop today so it seemed like a good time to visit Clumber Park. It’s the home of an 87 acre lake and the longest Lime Tree Avenue in Europe. It was planted in 1840 and is 2 miles long with 1,296 common limes.
The Lime Avenue – Clumber
Clumber in Autumn
Clumber in Autumn
At the end of the lake is a shallow section with a number of tree stumps and drowned trees. These date from the 1980s when subsidence from coal workings dropped the level of the ground. The new low-lying areas filled up and the trees dies. A few still stand to provide perches for cormorants and gulls.
Drowned tree at Clumber Park
I read a haiku today, by coincidence. I can’t remember it, but it was about how maple leaves are at their best just before they fall. I wish the same could be said for me.
In Japanese they have the word koyo – autumn foliage.
We’ve just had a letter from our electricity supplier telling us how we could have saved money by signing up to a fixed-price deal or paying by monthly direct debit. It’s very kind of them to go to the trouble of doing this, though there is, of course, a suspicion at the back of my mind, that the letter isn’t really for our benefit.
A thought crosses my mind at this point. If they send one letter a year to their 33 million customers (I take this figure from Eon’s Wikipedia entry) and if each letter costs 50p (for ease of calculation) that costs £16.5 million. Sounds like a lot of money. They could do a lot with that money.
From 2006-10 their sponsorship of the FA Cup (including the Women’s and Youth Cups) cost them £40 million. They spent money on other sports-related sponsorship too, but that’s the only one that has a figure attached on Wiki.
The question is, did this make them any money? I don’t know about you but “What sports do they sponsor?” isn’t top of my list when selecting an energy supplier.
Similarly, they spent around £28 million on supporting the Museum next to their corporate HQ over the years 1998 – 2014.
Again, it wouldn’t really influence me in my choice of supplier. I might feel good about indirectly supporting a museum, but it would come a long way after price and green credentials.
It may be that sponsorship pays its way. It may be that sponsorship is just a massive vanity project.
The only thing I do know for sure is that if they sent out one less letter per customer per year they could probably pay for all the sponsorship, and save 8,715 trees a year.
The sun has just broken through the clouds, bringing a welcome brightness to a wet, grey day. I’m typing and watching antiques programmes on TV after a late lunch of home made pea and mint soup. Today has been productive and pleasant and all is right with the world. The only thing that could improve my mood is an invitation to stay at Blandings Castle.
So why am I wound up to the point of homicide?
Because yet again I’ve had to go to the phone to answer a call from an overseas call centre. I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service but unfortunately this doesn’t stop the overseas calls and we are getting one or two of those every day. We notice them more that we are at home.
Trees at Arnot Hill Park
As a general rule I try to be polite because the callers are only doing a job, but today I wasn’t in much of a mood for manners. I was forthright rather than rude, but I don’t suppose I improved their day. In fairness, they didn’t improve mine either.
As part of my on-going process of self-improvement I’m going to stop being irritable and start letting karma take its course. As I always told the kids, you shouldn’t let the actions of others dictate your behaviour.
From now on I’m going to stay polite and let karma sort things out. It’s just that I’d find it easier to do if I was allowed to pick karma up and hit people with it.
The trees are archive shots because if you want to be calm, trees are good for you.