Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Are we there yet?

Almost done.... just the piffling matter of New Year's Eve to get out of the way and soon, very soon, things can start to get back to normal.

So what's been occurring?

Christmas - spent recovering from flu. Had a few beers (on my own - not something I do very often) at the excellent Drop Inn in Elland - Treacle Stout makes for a great chrimbo tipple. The rest of the day I spent cooking up a storm for my own christmas dinner - A fake chicken roast thing, a sublime cauliflower cheese, cabbage, carrots, roast potatoes, stuffing, gravy, honey roast parsnips and the obligatory brussel sprouts - I am still trying to work out why my folks are so fixated with people eating or not eating brussel sprouts - I know my mum doesn't like pineapple so why would I force her (under peer pressure) to eat it?

Fell asleep in the afternoon with a bottle of excellent Leeds Pale Ale in my hand.

As for christmas gifts.... I wonder why I bother!! Dawn and I both agreed to only spend a tenner on each other and that worked quite well..... I got a keyring, a Woman's weekly cook book and a cowboy story (possibly the most costly postage of tat ever???) from the Australian relatives - A DVD from Dawn's kids..... Socks from my Aunty Jan..... chocolate coins, socks, liqueur chocolates and some love hearts from mum (presumably they ventured no further than Slaithwaite chocolate shop) and that's it!!

My flu has finally effed off..... Good old Cock o' the North have had a beer festival..... been for a walk around Scammonden Dam......

Much ado about naff all!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quickie.

Hello world.

I am alive.... just.... battling the flu!!

My boiler is fixed.... slurp.... now for a hot... cold... hot... cold.... feverish christmas!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shopping.

Well, I've sort of knuckled down to some serious christmas shopping. I always find the task very depressing.

I hate crowds of people that amble along with no sense of purpose or intent, like zombies in the shopping mall of a George A. Romero flick.

I hate buying things for people based on the fact that it's bad form not to, even when you know that in a couple of weeks time you could get twice as much "crud" for your money.

I'm not religious in any way, shape or form, and even if I was then I'm unsure that christmas shopping would form any part of my beliefs.

I hate seeing the same old crap that was on display at this time last year being wheeled back out onto the shelves for us to have another crack at.

Christmas socks, mugs, hats, shirts, cardigans, jumpers, decorations, in fact anything christmas "branded" that will never see the light of day until the same time next year.

I always see loads of stuff that I'd want to buy for myself, but I know nobody else will see those things and unless I DO buy them for myself, then I'll never receive them (examples of this, today, were: Electric toothbrush heads; Deodorant; Clothes; Shoes; Walking boots).

Even a dose of Michael Caine in Muppet Christmas Carol has failed to thaw my icy mood.

HUMBUGGERY!!



Not a great photo, but a nice example of a spider in my living room. I love spiders because they eat flies.... and I HATE flies!! There are also some good examples of dust bunnies in this photo, the kind that blow across my floor like tumbleweeds in Dead Man's Gulch.

Friday, December 12, 2008

JSQDUAOTT.

I'm upset.

I'm not sure what upsets me more:

The fact that, after twenty six years uninterrupted service, Carol Vorderman, the thinking man's crumpet and all round letters and numbers queen, has been forced to step down from her job on the popular, old ladies' favourite game show - Countdown.

Or.....

The fact that I can only make a six letter word out of the final letters selection of the final game.... I'd have liked to send Carol off with a nine letter salute at least, but ADJUST will have to do.

At tea time tonight, Des O'Connor and Carol Vorderman aired their final show. A sad time for telly, and me. The early evening slot will never be the same again.

RIP Countdown. God bless Carol Vorderman and all those that sail in her.



Proof indeed that the old ones are the best. A dog just after it had fallen in, crossing the famous stepping stones at Bolton Abbey, during warmer sunnier months, earlier this year. I watched this dog all the way across, it struggled to reach across some of the gaps, but it didn't panic as much as Dawn did when it was her time to cross. I kinda like the rippled reflections on this one and the skinny wet dog's legs.

Let me just say: With reference to tonight's full moon..... Let someone else say it, but DO take a look here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dark night.

It's a dark night, and a good night to watch the Dark Knight.....

I've been up to my elbows in films again. Spent a bit of time watching some old black and whites, watched a few episodes of John Shuttleworth's 500 Bus Stops, and crowned it all off with a viewing of the Dark Knight movie.... the one with Heath Ledger as a crazy arsed Joker and Christian Bale as a Batman with a Samuel Tweetesque speech impediment!!?? (anyone remember Thamuel Thweeth?)

At two and a half hours long it's a bit beyond my standard concentration levels and there were a couple of moments where I felt it was going on a bit but I stuck it out and thought it was a good film, albeit quite brutal and much too harsh for the younger eyes that I might have liked to lend it to under normal circumstances.

As for the rest of the day..... well.... gas fires were quite important..... Pictureka (a game like "Where's Wally") played a large part.... waiting in my car playing Pokemon while my mum attended various health centres..... ginger wine.... parkin pigs..... cherry scones..... usual stuff.

Perhaps I've got room for a beer tomorrow?



Perplexing: 3:38pm (last Saturday afternoon) in Albert Square..... I thought it was Coronation Street in Manchester, not Eastenders!! A very busy European Christmas Market and a giant illuminated santa.... what more could you ask for? The more eagle eyed amongst you may spot Sally Webster wandering about like she's just been discharged from a mental hospital complete with straightjacket (or perhaps you won't?)!! I might be wrong about this being Albert Square.... Sally Webster may not be in this picture.... I've still got that one-leg-shorter-than-the-other trademark tilt!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Never return.

Never return to a firework that's gone out. Even if the firework never properly ignited, it's not the best solution to go and stick your eye over the top of it to see what happened. We all learn these little rules of life, and they go along just fine until......

Even a broken boiler can burn you.

Having thwarted my usual boiler repair man and having soured our relationship by him having to back away from the deal seriously out of pocket..... I contacted the boiler manufacturer......

Here follows their reply:

As your appliance is now out of warranty, should you wish for our engineer to visit your property, we can do so for a fixed charge of £215 which includes most parts, labour and VAT. The only parts not included in this fixed price are the heat exchangers and expansion vessel, therefore should we find that any of these parts are required, our engineer will quote separately on site for the completion of the repair.

I would advise however that we do reserve the right to charge an abortive call out fee of £82.25, should our engineer be unable to gain access to the appliance, where parking is not available, where the appliance is deemed beyond economical repair or find the fault to be external to the appliance. This may also apply if the visit is cancelled by yourself with less than 24 hours notice.

Ouch..... burned again. What happened to my eyebrows??



My recent trip to Manchester. Not only did Sally Webster from Coronation Street try to buy some amaryllis bulbs from me in the market, but my good friend Shaun Ryder bought me a pint in the Marble Arch. If you look carefully you might just spot the lovely Wally Dawn in this picture.... Sally Webster's phone number goes to the first correct guess.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The boiler man cometh.....

... and invariably he faileth to fixeth my boiler.

The boiler repair man has suffered a severe defeat at the hands of my obsolete Gloworm Fuelsaver F 55F broken down machine. Parts were replaced, earths were restrapped, connections remade, circuits tested, voltages measured..... we even tried turning it off and on again!! For all intents and purpose, the boiler should be working... it goes through its routine and the final step is the spark which ignites it... and that's where it fails.... all other preliminary stages are present and correct.

Upshot, it's still f-f-f-freezing.... my boiler repairman has suffered a devastating cost in spare parts which he can't return or charge for.... I think it's new boiler time..... insert groan here.

We are all very disappointed but only one of us is cold.



Manchester Eye and the Arndale Centre - After a few beers and a trawl around the festive markets in the city centre on Saturday afternoon and evening. Spent some time in the Marble Arch (my first but not last visit there) and the Briton's Protection (where I struggled to get through a very fine pint of "hung, drawn and portered").

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jack Frost.

Man, it's officially VERY cold.

Update: Bath - fixed; Shower - new one installed; Boiler - waiting spare parts (possibly a week and I am not convinced that it will fix the problem when it arrives!!).

The gas fire is working overtime, and I am cuddled up with a quilt and a carbon monoxide alarm in case my quest to live in a draft free, superheated, micro-climate, should end anywhere near the wrong end of the disaster scale.

Snow came.... I got up for the customary post drinking, forgot to turn my electric blanket off, five AM whizz!! The ground outside was frosty.... the ground inside wasn't much better!! I went back to bed with a tshirt wrapped round my head like some sort of turban. Woke up at seven thirty.... lo and behold, it's been snowing.

I took an eight AM ride across town to get a new shower with my uncle.... the normally congested journey, was of course simply exacerbated by Joe Public's complete disregard of common sense and highway code.... when snow falls, it's motoring anarchy... It took a while!!

I'm not holding my breath that I'll have central heating again before Christmas now.



Quite literally - Up the garden path at seven thirty in the morning. A snowscape of small proportions. This here bunch of white stuff probably added thirty minutes onto our five mile trip this morning. Not the sort of thing you really want to wake up to when your central heating boiler's acting the lemon!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Send three and fourpence.....

... we're going to a dance!!

Bloody hell it's cold in my house without a boiler. Corned beef legs and sore throats are the result of sitting too near the dreadful gas fire that I am reliant upon.

On the plus side, my uncle (the cavalry) arrives tomorrow lunchtime to remedy any number of "household maintenance" items.

By my reckoning, today is Saint Andrew's day - To any Scots that know me, don't get too drunk the neet!! Enjoy your "new" bank holiday tomorrow - NB: We still don't have a Saint George's day bank holiday in England!!

I've watched a lot of films lately...... Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium; Kung Fu Panda; Indiana Jones; Prince Caspian; Iron Man, to name just a few that currently reside in my "rewriteable" dvd collection!?! I totally loved Kung Fu Panda - Didn't expect to, but it contains some great kung fu elements and serves as a great tribute/homage to some films I have loved over the years.



A weekend of dog-sitting culminated in an early Sunday morning frosty walk around Pighill Wood - A place I love. I take this same picture from below Nettleton Hill in all manner of weather and all times of day just because it's a good view across to Castle Hill. What you get here is (fore to back) Golcar, Milnsbridge, Crosland Moor, Newsome, Hall Bower, Castle Hill - All in one go...

If I could only learn to hold the camera horizontal.

Get well soon Dawn X.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Victor!

As I get older, I am constantly reminded by those around me that I have an increasingly similar disposition to that of Victor Meldrew. I have an alarmingly shortening fuse, terminal bad luck, and an immeasurable amount of bile which seems to spout forth from my vocal chords under its own angry volition.

Things happen to me and I have no tolerance for it to simply wash over the top. I used to be quite laid back.... I was one of those horizontal people.... If I laid back any further you'd have called it a cartwheel.

So what's my gripe today?

I took the plunge and ordered some carefully researched walking boots from an online store. The delivery went fine, the communications were acceptable, the product is in good working order....... they are just a whole size too small for my feet. I look at my trainers.... size 11.... I look at the boots.... size 11..... I look under my feet.... size 11...... ah well, I'll just roll over, accept that not everyone's definition of size 11 is the same, return them (at my own expense) and get the next size up.......

Insert blue air here!!

So, there's a size 11...... and the next size up is...... 12.5!!!!

Oh crimminy!!

Need Assistance? Live Chat - Offline.

Say no frinking more!!

(I also payed for them using PayPal so the refund won't be simple either)



Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling? - I love the blue skies that we get as we head towards winter. Clear, crisp, low slung, powder blue. I also have a fascination with power lines and pylons. When you really take time to look at things like this (the picture) it makes you realise we're a funny species on this planet! Nettleton Hill power lines and a starling.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I've said it before.

It never pays to drunken blog... drunken phone.... or indeed drunken text message. I generally fall foul of all three even though I try not to do any of them.

Suffice to say my drunken antics that meant I didn't spend the night with Dawn as per our previous "sober" planning, have not had any serious or long lasting repercussions other than to make me look like the idiot that I so often can be.

I conclude.... I love eating food, and often wish I didn't get full because the food tastes so nice and I could eat it all day if I didn't fill up. I also love drinking beer but am rarely happy with the end result.... I honestly don't drink beer to get drunk, or at least not to get as drunk as I do!!

We've had a good weekend though and enjoyed a little outing to the Huddersfield Festival of Light which ran on Friday and Saturday nights in town. I don't think it was as good a spectacle as last year, but the cold winter evening followed by a quick pint at the Grove in town was a rare pleasure.

This season I have been mostly pissed off at O2 broadband's DNS problems that have kept me off the web all weekend!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRR



Slightly out of sharpness due to the crazy long exposure and no tripod - nice example of the light and fireworks though. Somewhere in there is a soldier with some sort of firearm that was dangerously spewing fire and brimstone. We were (rather hilariously to me) warned at the start of the show that "these are real fireworks and real Spanish people".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dog house!

I'm in the frikking dog house for going out drinking.

You know the score.... one of them afternoon sessions turns into one of them evening sessions .... turns into one of them playing on the Nintendo Wii sessions.... and I promised to sleep over but it's too late and there's no way I can drive anywhere and I bit my tongue eating a Nik-Nak crisp sarnie..... etc etc.

There were surely something much wittier and humorous than this to write, but you also got the bum rush.

Sorry!!


If you leave me now!! - Still life or a landscape.... whatever the frik you want to call it. It's a bunch of leaves in the woods at Upper Greetland - Let's call it art - the glossy finish on them makes it all the worthwhile of course!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kelp?

Apparently we should be more bothered about kelp!!

It's been a pretty rubbish day in the most part. Was thinking about going out for a walk this morning, but when I woke up and my boiler was working, I felt obliged to stay in and reap the rewards of the fuzzy, glowing productivity that it exuded. Having been out walking on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, I can't really grumble too much.

Short lived it was, and it hasn't worked for the rest of the day.... back to the skanky gas fire then!!

Managed to watch "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" this afternoon... hmmm... not the best afternoon I've ever had and I have to admit to having to rewind a couple of times where I nodded off during the first hour.

Of course by the time the afternoon and evening arrived it was grey and rainy and the wind is picking up. Just the kind of weather you're glad you have central heating..... Doh!!



You don't see as many pigs around here as you used to!! I was pleased to find this friendly porker on Moor Bottom Lane, which of course runs along the bottom of Norland Moor and is at the top of Greetland. We had a nice chat together while I reorganised my rucksack.... very vocal and sociable animal.... and the pig was quite friendly too!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crud.

Well, my boiler has gone a bit screwy. It seems to be an annual occurrence and always seems to happen at roughly this time of year... i.e. when I might actually need it!! I called "the boiler man" and he came and took it apart, gave himself a full scale electric shock, told me it's knackered, and left it in a worse state than when he arrived.... charming.... the boiler now doesn't work at all!!

I now get to choose whether to pay for a new circuit board (about two hundred quid) or to replace the boiler (just over a grand!!).

I need a job!!

I am cuddled up on my sofa with a furry blanket and a bloody gas fire (which I hate). I have a carbon monoxide alarm on standby just in case the gas fire misbehaves - I've never trusted them.

Yesterday was cold, wet, foggy and miserable and full of boiler related unhappiness.

Today was so much better that I decided to go up to Norland Moor for a nice walk. I have only done this walk once before and it went a little bit wrong last time, so I was determined to do it right. It was muddier than anticipated, which I can only put down to yesterday's crappy weather.

The rest of the day was spent catching Pokemon... cooking.... taking Lemsip round to soothe Dawn's fevered brow.... watching "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" - which I'm finding strangely watchable this year, where three days into the show in previous years I had already lost interest.



I could've picked a dozen photos to commemorate my day, but I find this one equally pleasing and frustrating. This is one of many views across Norland Moor, looking directly North East and over the Calder Valley. You can just make out Wainhouse Tower poking above the horizon above Sowerby Bridge.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back to black!

No, don't worry, I haven't softened and started to like Amy Winehouse.... I still think she's a waste of space and ought to relinquish her grip on oxygen for someone who might use with more gusto.

I have in fact returned to Black Moss reservoir for the first time September 16th 2007 - I know this is the date because I took photographic evidence of my journey there and the maintenance work that was going on at that time. I am pleased to say that on this particular occasion, the weather was better, my camera was better, and the reservoir was all fixed and full of water.

We managed a really lovely seven mile stretch of the Pennine Way, which of course wound up in Marsden at the Riverhead brewery tap..... and after a walk around Black Moss, what better finish than to find that they had Black Moss Stout on tap.... delicious!



I know Dawn will kill me for uploading this picture - it's not the most flattering picture I have ever taken of her!!! What this picture DOES manage to convey (on my behalf) is: This was taken moments before I realised that I had left my bottle of water on my kitchen table; Dawn and Stevie both enjoyed the walk with me; This is where we sat to eat our lunch on the sandy bank of Black Moss Reservoir; Blue skies; Black water; Autumnal shades of peaty moorland; Note the hat, it was deceptively chilly in the breeze.

You can of course read about my original trip and see the photos here!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Smash it.

Watching "Celebrity Come Dine With Me" tonight on TV.... I am treated to Caprice (Vacuous model type), Nicky Clarke (Foofy hairdresser type), Nancy Sorrell (Wannabe celebrity type that sounds like a man) and Jimmy Osmond (Long haired lover from Liverpool type) all enjoying a series of dinner parties together.

The time has truly come to smash TV. To kill it. Those rockstars of days gone by that hurled TV from hotel windows surely had the right idea.

I did watch it until it made me so mad that I plucked out my eyeballs with a corkscrew.

There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. It fool me. We can't get fooled again. - G W Bush!



A very oldie, but still one of my favourite pics that I have snapped. Using my old Samsung camera when I used to live in Birky, I caught a humble-bumble on my sage plant. A memory of summers past.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Careful what you wish for.

Yesterday I was bemoaning our indecisive weather patterns. Today in a reversal of barometric pressure, we've had sunshine (and lollipops) and rather mild weather.

Woken with sun screaming around my curtain, directly into my eyes, where it would take until the afternoon to reach in summer, it now reaches by nine in the morning. I'm not complaining, but I notice how far round and how low in the sky, the old orange ball has really managed to let itself go.

I leapt out of bed (in my own inimitable fashion) and set off to buy myself some serious wet weather walking equipment. Although the weather's better today, you just know that underfoot it's going to be.... soggy, to say the least. I buy some nice wellington boots and some gaiters - I pay too much for them and say a little prayer that I might be able to persuade someone to contribute towards them by way of a christmas gift??

I can't remember the last time I wore wellington boots.... they take some getting used to and they're very tiring to walk in, but I manage a little outing to Pighill Woods and Nettleton Hill, from where I can see Drax power station (some thirty five miles away) whilst standing in thick leaf mould with dry feet!! Lovely clear, sunny conditions.



I'm very pleased with my attempt at putting the leaves back on the trees in this picture. I hope that this makes up for posting a picture of some scary trees yesterday. Pighill Woods walking in wellies!! This is one of those images that you really need to click and view at full scale to appreciate the colours, details and depth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gotta catch 'em all!

Hazy, lazy, Nintendo time days.

I keep meaning to get out on my bike or go out for a walk, but the weather..... oh the weather!! I wish it would make its mind up as to whether it's autumn or winter. Broadly speaking, we're supposed to have at least a couple more weeks of autumn left.... the hail storms and random storm force winds and fog and rain (torrential rain) are not really defining our season too well.

Some might say it's a typical Yorkshire autumn..... and even more so it's a typical Outlane autumn!! The wide main road here is a real open artery through which the weather truly gushes.
Roll on the winter beer festival season (There'll be loads of really strong dark beers)..... Of note:

The Star at Folly Hall - 26th November to 30th November 2008
Drop Inn at Elland - 4th December to 7th December 2008

So make sure you come and burgle my house over those dates - if I'm out then you'll have no worries otherwise I'll be the drunk one asleep on the sofa.... try not to wake me.



Be they alive or be they dead.... I'm just an old tree hugger at heart and I love this pair of dead trees in a field near the (very beautiful) village of Helme. A walk when the weather knew what it was doing.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quite amazingly.

No matter how hard I try to keep up with my blog, it just seems to run away from me. I can't believe I didn't make a post since Thursday already!!

What have I been doing that's been so exciting?

Drinking beer mostly.

Took a trip into York yesterday and even managed a trip to the splendid and very friendly York Brewery. Took the tour and drank the splendid beer. Very enjoyable. You can't beat a drop of Yorkshire Terrier or a pint of Guzzler!!



Oystercatchers in Anglesey. Having never seen an oystercatcher up close before, I was pleased to grab a snap of this one, even though I had to squelch out into the mud of a low tide to get near enough to them. Lovely orange beak and I love the seaweed covered rock behind it too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sensible in principle.

I love to give positive feedback. All too often we are miserably and predictably disappointed by customer service experiences. For that reason, I am always happy to write about the better experiences and to promote the businesses that offer them.

I bought a crappy multi-card memory reader for my laptop. Increasingly these days, I find myself dealing with a mindboggling array of memory cards for an even more mindbogglingly array of devices around the house. It seemed sensible therefore that I might have a device that I could just plug them into without having to have a host of adapters and cables and software in order to read the information contained amongst them.

I've been using the reader for a while and now I find that it has caused physical damage to a memory card for my camera.... first it buckled the little plastic teeth that separate the gold contacts..... next the teeth fell out..... next the whole card kind of split in two.

It's a Staples branded card... I don't have a receipt and I don't know when I bought it.... How sensible then that they should choose to replace the memory card for me free of charge under the warranty, simply because it's a Staples branded item!!

It's far too sensible and simple.



I won't pretend to be any good at that exposure, aperture, and any of that other photographing jazz-a-ma-tazz, so most of these sort of things are experiments that go right or wrong.... this one's almost there. Bonfire night at the Jack o' Mitre, Scammonden 2008. They tell me the three days of fog that we've endured may end tomorrow in sunshine!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well I never....

I never thought I would see the day when I saw the literal translation of fireworks being a case of money going up in smoke.

Tonight was bonfire night, and we generally send a lot of money into the sky amid oohs and aahs and smoke and fire. Today was so foggy that anything that flew more than a few feet above the ground was lost in the grime. Anything that stayed less than a few feet above the ground was generally lost in a cloud of fog and choking smoke.

Rockets? A total waste of time tonight.

We went to the Jack O' Mitre's annual bonfire and firework display. It's a well attended event and usually it's accompanied by horizontal rain and force nine gales. It was just foggy tonight and a bit cold.



What IS predictable about this photo is a long exposure with kids playing with sparklers. What may not be so obvious about this photo is the instruction.... Me to kids: "right make some big shapes" - taking photo - looking at photo - laughing at photo - One of them makes big circles..... and bloody loads of them..... the other?? Random!! Two opposites. One structured and active.... the other random and wild. Two very different interpretations of the same instruction.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fogging hell.

I've (quite rightly) spent the day at home behind closed doors keeping out of the dank.

A day when the fog came down and it never went back up. A day when the bare branches of newly shorn trees dripped relentlessly. Muffled sights and deadened sounds sucked up into piles of leaves in the gutters.

Getting ready for the fire service's most busy night of the year!!



Landscape two - Looking into Llyn Llydaw - crystal clear, freezing cold, sunshine on water. Halfway up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon to me and you!!)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Foot off....

Foot off the pedal and onto the leaf litter.

I've had a couple of walking days. These starkly contrast with the couple of drinking days/nights that preceded. A sojourn into the boozy boundaries of Brighouse and a lighthearted look at Elland's finest hostelries, complete with the Barge and Barrel's beer festival have left me with a desire to walk some of it off.

Saturday night and for a change we stayed in and had a curry. Having taken Stevie the wonder dog out on a suitably strenuous hike during the day, I was neither in the mood nor were my paws of sound quality to make a hike out to yet another establishment to sample more beery wares.

An indigestion inspiring vegetable madras and a peshwari naan (and potatoes and peas.... pilau rice.... chapattis.... onion bhajis..... you get the idea!!) with Harry Hill's TV Burp and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, made for a classically Novemberish night in on the sofa.

I love Autumn.



The playground of my childhood - Rocking Stones Quarry - used to be on the left on this picture, but since work resumed and has ceased again, is now on the right of this picture. You can see on the left where they have flattened over their workings and nature is gradually reclaiming the scoured earth. Nice gatepost, and a fine illustration for Maxxo that it was in fact a lovely day here yesterday - sorry buddy!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Snappy Samhain!!

Well, happy Samhain to you non-believers of the imported and vastly inferior trick-or-treat based shoddy version of our celebration of the dead.

It's our old new year.

It's a celebration of the dead.... of the change between life and death.... autumn.... winter....

You can't beat those four seasons in one day sort of days, and that's what we had on a guided walk around Castle Hill.

A guided walk... followed by a beer festival.... imagine!!!



A view over Honley.... warm and sunny after a brief cold snowy shower. No pumpkins, skeletons, or trick-or-treating!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My name....

My name's Jason, and I'm a Pokemon addict!!

Don't ask me how it came to be that I have waited until my fortieth year to investigate the photosensitive epileptic phenomena that put young children on the floor, all those years ago back in ninety seven.

We all grew up with top trumps, and essentially Pokemon's the same game, but with some adventurey role playing type game stapled on the front of it.

I can't even explain why I am finding such a simple game to be so addictive.

I only know that before long, I'll have played it to death and can get on with my life again!!!

Curse you, you crazy Japanese anime creators.



Irony: Seeing as we had our first hard overnight frost last night, and I spent most of the day in bed keeping warm, playing Pokemon, and subsequently didn't get out with my camera.... here's one I took earlier. I have a strange fascination with these old gateposts. This is somewhere between Slawit and Marsden.... somewhere between river and canal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali.

Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple - and some not so simple - joys of life. - Times of India editorial.

..... The festival of light is upon us. Lights, fireworks and sweets!! Every kids dream come true!! Forget your Halloween and your trick-or-treat nonsense.



Effing technology!! I tried to upload this very photograph a squillion and odd times, but for some bloody reason it kept rotating the image (anti-clockwise) by ninety degrees or 270 degrees (clockwise) whichever you prefer!!

Anyhow, this is an image I shot at the Huddersfield Festival of Lights last year during a performance by the Plasticiens Volants group. Catch a short video of it here (it's not my video).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Like I need an excuse.

Having spent last evening in Wakefield, at the lovely hostelry known simply as Fernandes - an Ossett brewery tap, Dawn spent the night being sick in my bathroom (accompanied by one of many power cuts that we seem to be experiencing lately). I think we're both fairly sure that the meat from the smorgasbord that we ordered, had, sadly, disagreed with her.

The upshot of Dawn's nocturnal stomach churning adventures meant that, today while my central heating refused to cooperate, she slept while I played Pokemon Diamond on my Nintendo DS. I think we eventually surfaced at about two in the afternoon and Dawn started to feel a little better, and the central heating kicked in, and we managed to settle on the sofa and relax for a while watching a bit of TV.

Poor lass..... hope she feels better soon!!



Just one of a series of "landscapes" that I have in my collection - A Bolton Abbey waterscape. I love the sunshine, the motion, the weed on the rocks..... You get the idea... I'm fond of it, you make your own mind up!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If you go down to the woods today....

... watch out for a group of people running round like maniacs looking for mushrooms, fungi, toadstools, whatever else you might like to call them. I have, of course, been on a fungal foray into Stocksmoor and into Lower Stone Wood.

I've never been on a guided walk or foray before, so wasn't quite sure what to expect. Turning up, I was surprised to find that about twenty five other people had the same idea!! For me, it was a little overcrowded and a little short on the fungual findings, but enjoyable nevertheless.

We found a few interesting things, but I didn't come away with the confidence to go and grab a basket of fresh food for my supper!!

Some of the finds were: Birch Polypore; Common Earthball; Sulphur Tuft; Honey Fungus; Turkeytail; Lots of types of Mycena; Candlesnuff Fungus - There were quite a few more species, but for the most part, they were very small and in such a big group it was difficult to see them properly or understand what was going on.



It's a Birch Polypore of course!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Glory.

Having a lie in. Playing some games. Watching some films. Drinking some beer. Going for a walk. Taking some photos. Writing a blog. Going to bed when I want. Eating food when I am hungry. Unlimited coffee.

I know that at some point I'll be back at work, perhaps even in full time permanent employment. I know there will come a time when I will be getting up in the morning or sitting behind a desk wishing I had the time to do the things listed above. For now, I'll settle for just living the dream..... every single day!!

For now, I'd better get back to my Pogo badges!!



Oh to be in Pighill Woods now that Autumn is here!! A rather "artsy" bark profile with bokkeh boughs beyond. Lovely textures in't it? Deep dark black cracks in the tree bark look like they could be bottomless pits.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Full speed ahead!

Seems the season of beer festivals is upon us. I have to be careful not to drink too much too often!! Having gotten myself a little bit blootered last weekend has made me slightly wary!!

Well I've been quite busy with one thing and another.... mainly Pokemon Diamond!! I DID manage to get my job application handed in on time though, so you never know..... Everything now remains crossed up to the point where interviews begin in the week commencing third November, and to hope that I get an invite!!

Shows how busy doing nothing I have been when I haven't even had a chance to look at my Pogo badges this week and they've been available for me for four hours or more!! Unheard of!!



Finding Nemo? A very lucky picture - indeed the one that DIDN'T get away!! A day at "The Deep" in Hull yielded some pretty crappy photos, and this is the best of a bad bunch. Shame the fish aren't bigger in the frame, but lovely colours and stuff.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A little bit deeper.

Yes, put off by the complicated "work history" that I seem to have accumulated, my enthusiasm to apply for a job has waned to the point that I managed to stay in bed until three o'clock this afternoon playing Pokemon Diamond on my Nintendo DS.

So far I've reached Pikachu procrastination level nineteen.

Bearing in mind that the application deadline is Wednesday and it's already Monday evening and I've only filled in my name and address..... if I had to ask a magic eight ball I am sure it would say something like "Outlook not so good".

I wish I had stayed in permanent employment and never turned to contracting now because the idea of references and work history would have been so much simpler.

Having played some Pogo and updated my blog, I guess I ought to go and at least try to fill in a few more postage stamp sized boxes with my patented "spider-crawling-across-the-page" style calligraphy.



Bolton Abbey 20th September 2008 - What can only be described as a lovely day out - we went walking near Menwith Hill around Fewston and Timble Ings Woods (walking route supplied by the excellent Yorkshire Water website) - A day filled with sightings of red kites, enormous dragonflies, and sunshine - Called at Bolton abbey on the way home.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Groggy.

A groggy Sunday, in a state of alcohol recovery.

Neither "self scanning" my own supermarket shopping at Tescos nor watching Bear Grylls (Born Survivor) drinking his own piss out of a rattlesnake skin have actually made me feel much better.

Brain swelling and puffy, tired eyes.

Effervescent vitamin tablets - extra B vitamins!!

Toad-in-the-hole with broccoli, mashed carrots and swede, new potatoes, savoy cabbage and lashings of gravy has more or less saved my life today.



Beaumaris, Anglesey - Portrait of a gull. Ironically, Beaumaris is a very picturesque place - so of course one of the best pictures I took there didn't actually feature any single view of the town itself - could have been anywhere!! Still, it's a nice picture (in my humble opinion).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The first fence.

Bloody hell. Although I am TRYING to make myself be more productive and even to apply for a job..... I am liable to fall at the first fence for the following reason(s)....

a) My employment history is quite complicated. I've been contracting for quite a while and this means a lot of jobs and not many job references.

b) My qualifications aren't what you would recognise as modern.

c) I find it hard to represent myself in a stiff, fill-in-the-box type application form, especially when it happens to be printed onto A4 sheets and the boxes you have to use aren't lined, nor are they bigger than a postage stamp..... so when it comes to filling in a small box with information relating to my personal characteristics (giving some information about myself, including my main characteristics and why I think I might be good in this role) - the box actually measures all of 16.5cm by 4.5cm!!!

d) My handwriting is pretty sucky!!



Before I went out tonight I selected this picture from a whole heap of other images. How apt that indeed, you would not want to encounter me on dark night inbetween me pressing "publish" and me getting home and typing the commentary to this photo - it somehow seems appropriate now, a bit like a premonition!! Puffin Island promontory at Black Point, Anglesey (two quid toll road).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kickstart.

I have started the transformation from a lazy arse into a mildly interested lazy arse.

I attended (along with The Turtle) a countryside volunteering meeting last evening. All I gotta do now is make sure I attend a some of the guided walks and "task" days over the next few weeks and to find out whether I fancy it or not. I've left my contact details and I think there's room for an Arctic Fox and a Turtle amongst their ranks.

Shock, horror, I even phoned up a company to send me out a job application too!! As anyone who knows me knows.... I am quite particular about which jobs to apply for - in truth I've applied for three jobs in the last two years!! This job is a nice one, and it's very local, and it seems pretty interesting, so fingers crossed on that.



For no other reason that I actually think this photo is as good as any "calendar" shot I've ever taken, this colourful shot of Conwy Bowling Club in North Wales has managed to find a place on my blog. I love the deep colours and the hint of an approaching autumn that are hanging in the frame.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trying.

I am trying, or so it's been said!!

In fact I am trying to be a better citizen. I'm trying to be more active, more sociable, more productive. I've even started using a diary!!

This week alone I've registered to attend a couple of guided walks, and tried (unsuccesfully) to enroll on a day of coppicing.... alas, it's oversubscribed, and I made it onto the standby list. I am planning on attending an open meeting of countryside voolunteers tomorrow night to see if there is a way I can be of ome use. I am also contemplating some dry stone walling courses.

Let's hope my flush of enthusiasm stretches to me applying for two jobs that I've noticed this week.



I like the spontaneous aspect of this photograph - I guess I was reading a bit about the macro function of the camera and trying it out at the same time....... and that's what you get. It's an oldie, but a goodie in my book - 5th December 2007. slightly out of focus but a valiant test shot - I also like the overexposed fade to complete whiteout at the top.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Full moon.

Hurray..... I am unable to contain my excitement at the coming of the Harvest Moon of 2008 - At least that's what we call it here in England!!

It is, of course, too cloudy, too rainy, too blustery, too wet, too miserable to be able to SEE the moon, but trust me, it's up there somewhere. I saw it last night and it was already VERY bright.

Hello to my mum, who landed in Australia today - I got a text at about midday to say she'd arrived and all was well.

Been out walking in Beaumont Park today - never been there before but it's a nice enough place with scope for adventure. Two strange things that attracted my attention whilst there: A young lad walking across the park removing a pair of latex gloves and discarding them in a flower bed (Possible solvent abuser?) - Two young Asian lads watching each other's backs while one of them sauntered up to the main steps and jumped into a car (no doubt trading in some sort of substance or other) - I am such a sceptic!!

Walking in dogshit was the downside of my day.

Eating Dixons ice cream - the world's finest!!



Autumnal bounty - grid ref SE 11475 05025 - walking around Riding Wood and Ramsden reservoirs. A nice circular walk through the village of Holme. There's a bit of something for everyone on this ramble - woodlands, open moorland, streams, reservoirs, a great little village with a pub and a hobbit house underground with a round hobbit door.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best foot forward.

I've been walking... A LOT. Aged forty, with middle age spread (which is presumably beer inflicted) making its presence well and truly known, I am trying to be a little bit more active inbetween the pint glass raising sessions. I've lost count of the number of walks that I have done recently, but if you'll bear with me while I post a few pictures from some of them, then we can recall some of my footsteps together.



Grid reference SE 00565 10990 - A brief moment of elation and enjoyment, sadly punctuated a few minutes later by me missing the right hand fork in the track, ending up on the Oldham Way (instead of the Pennine Way), taking a "shortcut" across some open moorland, and inevitably, and ever so predictably, falling thigh deep into a bog!! The final six miles of this 14 mile walk were completed with my stinking, muddy trousers stuck to my legs and a severe amount of chafing!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Partly to blame.

Well, another month has passed since my last post - I'm really getting rather bad at this "blogging" lark. I once heard that the road to something was paved with good intentions or something or other. Perhaps, in order to catch up with what has been going on, and indeed to provide someone who might stumble upon my blog with something to look at, I'll try, over the next few days, to post some "catch up" pictures.



Friday October 3rd - Irish Centre, Huddersfield - Oktoberfest. The campaign for real ale's annual beer festival. Attended this year by myself and my uncle's brother John, who used to actually be a teacher at the school I went to. Needless to say, I got a bit pissed!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It never....

... rains, but it bloody well pours!!!

The story of the last couple of days has been that of trudging through thick mud in the pouring rain. Wet walking boots, wet shirts, wet rucksack, trying not to get my camera wet, and trying to stay on my feet as the soles of my boots are filled with thick, black, gungy, Yorkshire mud. It's grim up north!!

Just managed a circuit of Scammonden Dam today, probably four miles or so, and in all fairness I'd say the weather really did get the better of me. The walk actually took twice as long as it should because of the horrible conditions underfoot.


I like this wall. A concrete wall at the end of Deanhead Reservoir... and undeniably man-made structure in a largely natural environment. I love the way that the mosses and lichens are slowly, but very steadily, breaking the concrete back down.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

An ill wind.

In a few weeks I will be forty. We are booked to go off to Wales for a few days to celebrate by walking up Mount Snowdon. I like to try some sort of active pursuit to celebrate my birthdays, and last year was a Lake District walk from Keswick to the top of Catbells. With this in mind, I thought I had better get back into my walking shoes and get some miles under my belt so I don't end up breaking myself over the course of the weekend that we are away. I found a book of local walks that was written by one of my old school teachers and decided to get out there and crack a few Colne Valley circular walks.... I managed a three mile ramble around Blackmoorfoot Reservoir and into the village of Helme and then I walked a four mile route around Deer Hill Reservoir. Today is the first time I've had to use my new waterproofs in anger!!

I had a great walk and the book that took me there was very good too.


Deer Hill End Road..... a self portrait that made me laugh. Wearing my VERY unfashionable walking hat under my hood, complete with waterproof pants..... you can see the rain clouds that passed overhead as they disappear into the distance behind me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Turtle.

A few beers with my cousin and the infamous Turtle of Huddersfield town, yielded a bag of home grown veg, the likes of which I have not experienced since I was a kidd-a-lee-dack. The turtle furnished me with courgettes (the size of marrows), spuds, onions, and a jalapeno - in return I gave some bottles of the Turtle's favourite brew, Batemans XXXB.

If you're in the vicinity of the Rat and Ratchet, they have some delicious Golcar Dark Mild on the go at the moment!! Fill your boots!! Also in fine fettle is the Phoenix White Monk - the perfect lunchtime tipple.


A quick shot from the beach at Formby. A young seagull in flight - I am really fond of the blankness of the sky behind..... it's not great photography but I like it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nearly there....

It's nearly the end of this current series of Big Brother.... it's been a long one, and I'm not overly sad that we are nearing the final week. I think I've done quite well to avoid discussing it here in my blog..... my original blog was very heavily influenced at this time of year by the reality show's goings on and off.

Well, today's not been much of a day.... crumby weather and catching up with paperwork and generally doing a few of those put-off jobs that have reached the end of their shelf lives.


Continuing with another Yorkshire Sculpture Park image (despite belligerent protestations from those who should know better!!) - this is a Sophie Ryder sculpture - her stuff is "interesting" and this is probably one of the saner examples on display.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Turned out.....

... nice again.

A trip to Formby, a place I knew little about, yielded an empty, sandy, windswept day by the sea. Usual stuff.... eating sand with sandwiches, picking over the myriad of tide-strewn detritus, getting wet, windswept, and generally just plain old sandy.

I heartily recommend the beach at Formby (near Liverpool) for anyone looking for a quiet place for romantic walks..... dog walking...... shell scavenging..... and even (squirrel pox permitting) the spotting of red squirrels.


Just a sample of the seabirds that you can buy in Formby. This one comes with its on sand dunes and includes delivery anywhere within a ten miles radius.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Grim up north.

Spent a day in Hebden Bridge being chased by a goose and scrutinising the local camera club's work. Hebden's a pleasant enough place, but it's overrun by touristy types (of which I am one) and overenthusiastic geese!!


That there is me, looking out over downtown Cairo. A crazy place to cross the road or to smoke a big bubbling pipe.... how bazaar?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday schmunday.

When I used to have a job (a couple of years ago!!) I used to hate Sunday because I knew it meant that I'd have to go to work on the very next day, and the Sunday evening always seemed a bit sombre and depressing. Now I just hate Sunday because my lovely girlfriend has to go home and carry on with her life while I get back on with mine..... bah!!


A lovely Henry Moore sculpture courtesy of the fantastic Yorkshire Sculpture Park which I took my Canadian family members to see last week. Rain fell heavily but our spirits were not dampened.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Done and dusted.

Well, I've been to my cousin's wedding, and moreover, I've completed the reading that I was required to make. In the end it was based on a reading found on the internet and tinkered with to suit my own inimitable stylee. Apart from one Freudian slip where I muddled the words "devotion" and "divorce" it went well..... you can of course, without prompt, guess the disastrous context!! Laughter ensued and the officiant could only respond with the immortal words "I'm not sure I can follow that".


Continuing my "stunning church" series, I managed to snap this lovely pick of the twisty spire of Chesterfield Parish Church..... bloody hell maybe this second coming thing has had some sort of effect on me without me even realising it????

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Knock knock....

Who's there?

A man clutching jump leads and a pregnant sobbing wife.

A man clutching jump leads and a pregnant sobbing wife, who?

It's not a joke, it's the modern day biblical tale of what happened at my house last night, or rather this morning at one thirty AM.

They wanted a lift to their car out on the dark moors to see if I could manage to help them get it started...... are you mad? Suffice to say, as much as I'd like to have helped them out in their predicament, I'm not about to go riding out into the moors with strangers offering money at any time of day!!

Bad times.


Deanhead church, in the area of Scammonden Dam near where I go riding my mountain bike. A truly lovely little part olf the world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moving along....

.... at the pace of.... well, of course a picture speaks a thousand words, or so they say!!

I'm trying to write a "reading" for my cousin's wedding.... unsuccessfully, I hasten to add!! This is made doubly difficult by having submitted a first draft for approval and now completely changing my mind!!


A simple close-up of a snail in my garden that appeared in the middle of the lawn while I hacked a few trees to bits earlier this "summer".

Monday, August 18, 2008

Failing and falling.

Flat on my face, I've already failed to make a daily post for three days straight. I think that's a fair reflection of my current level of commitment!! I blame beer, a stag night, and the impending sense of dealing with stuff.


It's just a nice example of a sculpted stone lion.... guardian of the College of Shipley College in Saltaire. Just an excuse to continue my rash of photo blog updates.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Old Salt.

Just because I probably won't get proper time on Saturday for real (it's just after midnight, so technically it really is Saturday), I thought I'd better at least try to keep up the posting.


Dawn, enjoying a drink of Weston's organic cider at Fanny's Ale House in Saltaire near Bradford, last weekend. For those that don't know Saltaire, it's a world heritage site which is made up of a mill and housing created by Titus Salt. It's worth a journey there to see some cool David Hockney works, and more importantly it's bloody free!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

More?? MORE??

You know it's the real Arctic Fox just as much as you ever did!!


Some might say "eyesore" others might say "treasure" - Blackley Brickworks (sadly disused), above Elland, viewed from Jagger Green. I can only imagine it will be turned into more unaffordable "luxury" shoebox apartments. They'd certainly get a good view from there. I took this photo when I went out for a walk one day on the 1st of July. I like the blank expressionless glassless windows.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Neglect!

I'm still here..... I'm still alive......


In retrospect, I figured I ought to at least add a little commentary to accompany my photograph.... outside Buckingham Palace (London) when I took Dawn down there for the weekend to see Justice play an open air gig at Somerset House in July - it was wet - read a review here.