In The Picture….

I have finally finished getting my photography webpage more or less the way I like it. (You will see a link to it in the menu above)

The old theme became obsolete and was no longer supported by WordPress. A common occurrence for me it seems. The same thing occurred with the theme I had for this blog and I had to change it.

I am now in the process of going through all my better photos in Lightroom, only about 3800 since 2013! Selecting the better ones and editing them ready for loading them up to WordPress. I wish I had been in a position to do it at the start of lockdown, that would have helped to pass the time. It has taken me ages to find the right theme, now I have to learn how to best use its features.

If you feel so inclined please click the menu above and take a look. Thank you.

PS ……….. Well, its now October 16th (2020) and I just came back and made the finishing touches to my Photography blog so we could be back on track again..

Back On The Bike…

Today I made my comeback bike ride. I hadnt been out for a proper bike ride since 2017 !!! There was the odd pootle around the park but no more than three to five miles. Todays ride was just over twenty miles. When I started out I thought I might have to start the return loop at Harrold, via Carlton. I felt pretty good when I reached Harrold though, so I pressed on to Felmersham and a loop back from there.

The figures arent too impressive yet… !!!

Its been a long time coming for all sorts of reasons. All of which seemed like very good reasons at the time but in reality probably were not. Just the best I could up with at the time to justify not getting on the bike.

I have been getting plenty of exercise since the end of 2018 though, by walking our dog, Max the Border Terrier twice a day. Totalling a minmum of least an hour every day with a minimum of 12000 steps a day on my FitBit, some days with extra trips out its been as high as 25000. Not so many extra trips since March this year though.

I have been cycling for many many years. Check out my old cycling blog which I dont use anymore, but still exists. Once I retired I used to go out at least three times a week with rides between 30 – 100 miles. During that time I didnt lose much weight even though I am an ‘enthusiastic’ cyclist who keeps setting myself targets on the road as I go along to stretch myself.

In the first three months of walking Max I lost over two stones in weight, around 12kg and two inches off my waist. They always say that the best way to lose weight is to exercise but not too energetically, you dont want to get your heart beating too fast, that way it just burns off the fat and doesnt build muscle, which weighs a lot. In my case thats around the 95-105bpm zone. I am here to tell you that it works, although my weight loss was a side effect. I didnt set out to do that, I just discovered it when I weighed myself after some months had passed.

So I am now down to the ‘natural’ weight that I was “When I wore a younger mans clothes” to quote Billy Joel in his ‘Piano Man’ song, one of my favourite lines and songs. But the thing is I can wear younger mens clothes again now, nothing too young though!!

So hopefully you might see a few bike rides appearing on here in the future.

Seeing The Light..

More stressful times today, and some of yesterday, self induced though and not Blog orientated this time.

Being a glutton for punishment and still being in the throes of my WordPress refresher experience, I decided yesterday to change my photo editing programme from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom CC. Quite a job, Lightroom Classic entails storing all your photos on your computer so that’s really the only place you can edit them. There are ways around it if you are on the road but it entails carrying hard drives around with all your files on it or a hard disk that you transfer to your computer when you get home

Lightroom CC is a cloud based system where all the pictures are stored in Adobe’s ‘Cloud’, the plan I now have has 1Tb of storage. I can access my photos for editing from anywhere I have an internet connection. On any device, iPhone, iPad, laptop or desktop. I can also upload photos to Lightroom CC direct from my phone or my camera as it has a wifi function. This will all be very useful when we resume our travels and very soon now I think.

Another added bonus is that I will be able to load photos direct from the Lightroom app on my phone direct to Instagram. I have been looking for a foolproof way of doing that for some time, unsuccessfully. I will not be restricted to just loading photos taken on my phone to Instagram now.

Adobe Lightroom now operates on an account basis. You don’t actually buy the software anymore. You get all the software you require and regular updates ‘free’. This means that if you close your account you lose your software, its a kind of blackmail I think. However, I saved a copy of the Lightroom version I bought before they changed the system back in 2015/16. Hence today, having swapped from ‘Classic’ to ‘CC’ I instantly lost the ability to still use the Classic editor if I required it. I found my old copy though and loaded it up, so far so good. The first thing it wanted was a password, which I had saved. I entered it and as I half expected I got a message to say it was no longer valid!!

I therefore had an ‘interesting’ hour chatting online with an Adobe agent, you can guess how that went. I explained I had bought the software back in 2015 and I now needed to use it again. This they eventually understood but I had to prove I still had the password for it. I actually had three Adobe passwords for various software I had or have owned but no note which was for what. They helpfully guided me to a download of the ‘latest’ edition of my version of the the software and were also able to tell which of my passwords to use.

There have been several upgrades of Lightroom since 2015 so mine is well out of date. The latest Lightroom package I had been using is very sophisticated now but I never used all of its facilities. Essential for professionals but the facilities available on my old version are more than adequate for my needs should I need it. The Lightroom CC version I am now using is pretty sophisticated though. At least I have a back-up plan now and not trapped in Adobes crafty little scheme.

 

Block Editor Blues

As if making a comeback after a blogging break was not enough I was confronted on my return with a message from WordPress. It stated that in early June it was changing to a block editing system. Well, it hadn’t at that time (mid June) so I decided to carry on with old system I kind of knew, being the luddite that I probably am. On reflection though I thought I might as well take the bull by the horns and dive in and try the block editor system. So here we are.

After studying a few YouTube videos and the WordPress help section I wasn’t really that much wiser. They all seem to assume a base level of computer knowledge that I don’t intuitively appear to have. I gathered that everything is split into various boxes designed for every requirement that you could ever need. Fair enough but it’s locating the right block in the right section that I struggle with. Maybe as I use blocks more frequently they will move into the ‘MOST USED’ section, or is that expecting too much? For instance I just spent a good few minutes trying to find out how to ‘justify’ the text. The answer is, its quite easy to do but it only shows up when you do a preview not while you are typing ‘live’. I kept clicking , expecting to get results. When I did a preview there it was!

As I have progressed through this post I have learnt quite a bit already so maybe it’s not going to be such a challenge. I hope it’s now a case of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ and not ” Familiarity Breeds Contempt”. Did you see what I did there ?

Coming Out The Other End….

It seems I was just making a start on my blogging comeback a few weeks ago in March when, Boom…!! Coronavirus hit us and all of a sudden nowhere to go, nobody to meet, nothing to write about.. I hand write a daily journal every day and believe me, events are very thin on the ground.  Some days its just a weather report.

Another thing is that it takes a while to get back in the swing of things blogging wise again on here.  After a few posts it will seem like second nature I am sure.  The saying ‘In for a penny in for a pound’ comes to mind as yet again I have changed the theme of this blog.  There were a few things that were not quite right on the previous one for my taste.  I have spent the last couple of days getting to know this new theme and making some alterations to my photo blog as there were a few things on there that were also not quite as I would wish them to be.

It seems we are coming out the other end of the lockdown slowly now so I thought I would get set up and warmed up.  The caravan sites are opening on the fourth of July, our own Independence Day!  We have booked a site in Devon for a few days a week or so after that.  There are some things to do first though.  I have to get a couple of new tyres for my car.  I also need to visit the caravan in its storage place to give it some tlc.  We have an appointment at the local tip this week to get rid of some of the stuff thats has become surplus to requirements.  That follows some major reorganisation in the garage and shed.  I think about three trips will be needed at least.  There are also a few bags of clothing to go to the local charity shop when it reopens.

I have been missing my photography as well.  There is not much in the way of scenery around here so I am looking forward to finding something a bit more spectacular.  Everything I photograph around here seems to be predominantly various shades of green.   Despite the lockdown I have been pretty active one way and another, I definitely haven’t been bored thats for sure.  We are very lucky to live in the country, also lucky to have had such good weather.  I am not so sure I could have handled it all so well if we had been living in a city.

We walk Max (our Border Terrier) twice a day which takes up about an hour and a half each day.  He is not proving very easy to train but he does OK though.  I have to keep on a leash or he would be inclined to disappear over the other side of the field if he spotted another dog, but I am gradually curing him of that.  I have a very long leash and I keep him on that when we are walking over the fields, but I leave it slack so that I can restrain him easily if required.  He does seem to be getting quite obedient and will do as he is told if he has nothing better to do.  That is a trait of Terriers I believe.  I spoke to a dog trainer for advice a while ago and she said.. “Hmmm, Terriers can be very wilful and hard to train” which didn’t instil me with a  lot of confidence.

So thats enough for now, I will update you on progress as things do progress, I hope !!

Disappointments And Diversions

In our forward thinking the other day, and after consulting the long range weather forecast we planned a trip out for today.  It looked as though it was going to be the first sunny day in a while.  However when I was out walking Max first thing this morning it didn’t actually look that way.  After a brilliant sunrise the dark clouds arrived and I experienced two showers en-route.  However it did brighten up later after breakfast so we set off to go to Ashridge in the Chiltern Hills.  As we were headed south we decided to divert to Woburn Woods, just south of Milton Keynes.  It was very quiet and with plenty of paths to explore, it was also sheltered from the wind in there.

It will probably be our wood of choice from now on as the nearest alternative to us was Salcey Forest, near Northampton but that has been struck off our list.  We went there for a walk on Friday only to find the open car park we usually use has had a parking meter installed by the Forestry Commission.  They wanted £4 to park there for two hours. Apparently this all came into force just before Christmas.  Its not as though there are any facilities there and it only has space for about ten cars I estimated.  We set off to find somewhere else but all the other little road side parking places had been blocked off.  Another example of rip-off Britain which immediately got my back up.  So much for encouraging people to get out and exercise.  I know its not a lot of money, but then they arent going to make a lot of money from that car park either.  I dont know how much the installation cost but I would think its going to take a while to pay back.  I thought it was odd there were only two cars there when we arrived, it was usually quite busy.   We soon realised why.

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A bit of pine woodland

Thats why we ended up at Woburn Woods, they are part of the Duke of Bedfordshires Estate.  Also a very popular location for the mountain bikers of the area.  Its a mainly pine forest on a very sandy soil so not to too muddy.  I used to do a lot of training there when I was mountain bike racing.  Now there is an area set aside as a bike park with ramps and drop offs all sorts of challenges.  There are a lot of bike trails set out through the woods too.  Also there are waymarked paths for horse riders and pedestrians to keep everybody separate . We had a good walk around for about an hour and we have plenty more territory to explore there another time.  Max enjoyed himself too.  He was keen to try out his new leather harness which he seemed quite comfortable with.

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Max and his new harness at the end of his tether…

It was then home for lunch and a quiet afternoon  This evening It was off to the Olney Jazz Club with my friend Cyril for our monthly outing.  It was a good show with Paul Higgs who was excellent on his green trumpet with a backing trio, playing the music of Miles Davis.

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Paul Higgs and and The Chris Ingham Trio at Olney Jazz Club.

Watford, Expect The Unexpected

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Well that was a turn up for the books!

My beloved Watford FC beat Liverpool FC 3-0 yesterday way beyond everyones wildest dreams, including mine.  Watford at the kick-off being last but one in the Premier League and Liverpool top of the league with a lead of twenty two points above the second club and on an unbeaten run of forty four games. We are now fourth from bottom so onward and upward.

Watford and I go back a long way,  77 years in fact.  I was actually born about one mile from the ground, in King Street Hospital.  I didn’t start supporting Watford immediately though, there was a war on, yes I was a war baby.  I think the first game I saw was in the mid 1950’s.  At that time Watford were wearing a blue and white kit.  Its a bit blurry but I think the occasion was when I was in the West Herts Battalion, Boys Brigade Band and we were the pre-match entertainment.

From my mid teens and until my mid twenties I was an avid racing cyclist with Watford Roads Cycling Club. This was very time consuming, racing at weekends all over the country and midweek locally.  Like Watford FC I made it through the ranks over the years from a junior to first category amateur.  At the time Britain only had two full time professional cyclists racing abroad, Brian Robinson and Tommy Simpson.  There was no professional system as there is now.  You only got prizes for winning races, money was not allowed. It was mainly an amateur sport in the UK.  The only time you saw cycling on the TV then was in the annual Sportsview Personality Of The Year show and it was limited to about five minutes of blurry TV from the Tour de France.

It was therefore a long time from my first visit to until about the mid 1970’s before I next visted Vicarage Road.  I started going with my younger brother Bruce who at one time had been a ballboy at Watford.  He still has a season ticket every year.  Watford were then in the Fourth Division and by then, wearing amber and black.  Things first began to look up for Watford in 1977 when Elton John became chairman and appointed Graham Taylor as manager.  Elton John threw loads of money into the club and it progressed rapidly through the leagues until 1982.  They had made it to Division One and in their first season there finished as runners up in the league to, of all clubs, Liverpool !!

A couple of years after that Graham Taylor resigned and Watford dropped back down to the Second Division, later to become The Championship when The Premier League was formed.  In 1998 Watford were promoted the Premier league for one season only then went back down the Championship after one tough season.

In 2012 the ownership of the club changed and in 2015 it was back to the Premier League where we have managed to hang on until now.  Things aren’t looking too promising at the moment but while there is life there is hope.

So as you can see, I was never a glory hunter following teams I have no association with just because they are successful. I have been a devoted and proud fan through thick and thin and theres been quite a lot of thin over the years.  I was a regular season ticket holder and followed games home and away until we got back into the Premier league when the prices shot up dramatically.  It began to get too expensive for us, as by now my wife had been hooked by the the Hornet bug.  When she was young and living in Putney her brother used to take her to see Wimbledon FC, the original ‘Dons’ and still should be.  At the time they were a non league team so you can see she is well used to adversity, excitement and disappointment.  She obviously took to Watford very easily given this background, probably why she took to me too ?

It’s a hundred mile round trip up and down the M1 from my home in north Buckinghamshire to Vicarage Road.  Sometimes when we were making a wet and wintery trudge back to the car after another game we had lost again I wondered why on earth we did it.  I thought, well they didn’t come and see me when I wasn’t very well so why should I come and visit them. First of all we cut out going to away games, then when I retired and became a poor old pensioner I invested in Sky TV and followed the club from the comfort of our sofa.

There are clubs nearer to me such as L***n who’s name should never be mentioned by a Watford fan and only referred to as ‘The Scum’,  I think the feeling is mutual so I have no shame in admitting this. Northampton Town are the nearest club to me.  Also quite close are MK Dons but in my opinion they owe their football league status to some very dubious circumstances and dodgy dealing. Not only that but they hi-jacked the Wimbledon nickname. The revived AFC Wimbledon cannot legally call themselves The Dons anymore.  Watford however is my football home, my roots.  True football supporters will know this feeling I am sure.

I spend my Saturday afternoons now watching my three grandsons play for Olney Rugby Club when I can, about a quarter of a mile from my home.  I always have my phone to hand for live match updates from Watford though.  Two grandsons have made it to the first team at a very young age, having progressed through the years from tiny tots right through to big burly boys, the third won’t be far behind I am sure when he is old enough.

So, a big shout of “Come on you ‘Orns” and we can make it and survive.  We have a very good manager now in Nigel Pearson who took over just before Christmas and things are looking more promising after a very poor start under the previous manager.  I think he could well be the clubs next Graham Taylor, who lives long in the memory and fondness of Watford FC fans and supporters.  However if we dont survive I will still be proud to call myself a Watford supporter.

Frosty Morning And A Brilliant Evening…

This mornings walk was a very frosty one.  Two days and another different look at the bathing place.  The first picture will be familiar from previous posts, but once again a different look.  The Pussy Willow is still in hibernation, and who would blame it ?

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This from a little further upstream, I saw a Goosander here yesterday morning.  I couldn’t get my phone out quick enough but I doubt it would have showed up very well on the iPhone.  They are a recent arrival in this area, a fellow dog walker and nature enthusiast, Tom, told me that there are three pairs here now, but it was my first sighting.

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By way of a change to brighten things up I have included recent sunrise and sunset photos.  This is a really vivid sunrise from a couple of weeks ago, looking east, over the river towards Clifton Reynes. One of the rugby pitches is in the foreground

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Next a sunset looking south west over the river near the church towards Emberton in the same spell of weather as the sunrise.  Morning walk and evening walk, but not the same day.

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Here is a sunset view looking west to the southern end of Olney and the church.

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Winter River, Summer River

Back to normal now, rants over…

I thought I would show you a picture I took while out walking my dog Max around 7:30 this morning.  I thought it would also be interesting to compare it to the same view in summer.

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Winter River…

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Same spot in the summer…

I cannot wait for it to be like that again.. I can almost feel the warmth..  Its what is traditionally known locally as the ‘The Bathing Place.. ” Its on a bend in the river and there are some concrete steps in the shape of a very shallow ampitheatre down into the water.  A few weeks ago the water was up and over the top steps.

It used to be the the place to go swimming back in time. It was used quite heavily again last summer in the heat wave.  People would travel from quite a distance to be there.  I think they might not have been wise to do that a few years ago when there was a tannery in town right by the river.  However thats long gone now and the river is very clean.

It is occasionally used by ‘wild swimmers’.  I actually saw a couple down there the other evening as the sun was setting.  They were just warming up and getting dressed again after what I assume was a very quick dip after work maybe.  I was well wrapped up, I did tell them they must be barmy,  they just nodded and made some kind of remark, it was too windy to hear exactly what they said, maybe just as well.

The two bridge arches you can see in the distance are the remnants of the Bedford to Northampton branch railway line.  The bridge over the river has been gone for a long time.  They are in the middle of an embankment and allow water to flow through to the other side in the event of a flood.