Sunday, 23 October 2016

RPS East Anglia Exhibition 2016

I spent yesterday at Wingfield Barns, near Diss in Suffolk, stewarding this year's RPS East Anglia Region exhibition.  Very good it looked too, demonstrating the huge amount of work put in by Moira Ellice and her team of expert "framers" and "hangers".

As with last year, The Dumb Blonde was in position waiting for the next person to open the biscuit box...

Hughes have very kindly lent us a large screen TV for the duration of the exhibition, and this was used to display the accepted Projected Images.

We have some superb Natural History photographers in the Region, and Moira was also able to fill the foyer with a selection of stunning nature shots.

It's always a pleasure stewarding at photograpic exhibitions, and yesterday was no exception.  Although the number of visitors wasn't high, this gave plenty of opportunity to chat to everyone who came.  Roll on the opening of next year's exhibition at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Toft Animation Festival

Yesterday saw a workshop run as part of the world famous (and cutting edge) Toft Animation Festival.  I went along ostensibly to help participants to set up their cameras, but it soon became clear that I was also expected to be creative.  After a small amount of thought - and sellotape - I made a short sequence about two Land Rovers entitled Road Rage.

Stop-motion photography is time consuming and frustrating, but very satisfying.  More taxing was trying to remember how to drive Photoshop to turn the image sequence into a movie; but, like riding a bicycle, it all came back to me once I had started.  The masterpiece, now available on YouTube (and in all good cinemas), took about 90 minutes to shoot and another hour to download and edit.  All this when I should really have been doing something useful...

I know: don't call us, we'll call you; but it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Meet Leonard

Leonard is a lungfish (naturally) and belongs to the geology department of the University of Bristol where my elder daughter, Frances, is a PhD student.  Apparently he was acquired by someone who was studying the palaeontology of lungfish, with the intention of dissecting him for comparison purposes.  When the time came - and quite understandably - the student concerned couldn't bring himself to "do the deed", so Leonard has lived at the department ever since.

In geological circles, Leonard is actually quite famous.  He even has his own web and Facebook pages...

Leonard is fed once a week on Fridays, and I was lucky enough to turn up at the right time to witness this rare event.  Step one is to remove some prawns from the freezer and thaw them in the microwave (emulating what happens in the wild, presumably).

Stage two is to attach the prawns, one by one, to the end of a long stick and dangle them directly in front of Leonard's nose.  His eyesight is pretty poor, it seems, but his sense of smell is rather better.  His appetite wasn't much to write home about, though, as he only took one of the prawns on offer; and, even then, spent the next half an hour or so spitting it out and then re-swallowing it.

Frances and one of her fellow students demonstrating the tools of the trade needed to look after Leonard.  The baton/magic wand is the feeding stick, and the rather clever cleaning contraption uses a strong magnet to allow the inside of the tank to be scraped while being controlled from the outside.  Sneaky.

The final picture shows Leonard being "tickled" (which, apparently, he likes).  I always wondered what all those thousands of washing up brushes from IKEA were used for.

It was a real privilege to meet Leonard - even if the department isn't quite sure of his/her gender.  Maybe I met Leonardina, after all?

Friday, 9 September 2016

Water Baby

Last week Izzi and I had a "Grand Day Out" in Norfolk, principally to do some shopping at the wonderful Roy's of Wroxham.  Apparently it was "essential" to buy lots of "stuff" before the new University term, although I'm sure it wasn't like this in my day.

Needless to say, The Dumb Blonde came along too; and, given that we had some time to kill before lunch (and serious shopping), we decided to head to Salhouse Broad: one of our favourite locations, and a great place for canine swimming.  It didn't take long before Amber went headlong into the water...

Sometimes, the similarity between Amber and Winston Churchill is uncanny.

Although Amber is a retriever through and through, she's never quite got the hang of handing back what she's just fetched.  I suppose blondes are allowed to play hard to get.

Gradually worsening arthritis means that Amber is now getting rather "limpy" on land, but this hasn't dampened her enthusiasm for diving into water (no pun untended).

I only wish Salhouse Broad were a bit closer to home, as it would do Amber a huge amount of good to swim on a regular basis.  I suppose we'll just have to visit Roy's again soon...

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Wimpole Estate Park Run

On Saturday morning I accompanied Izzi to Wimpole Hall where she was taking part in a Park Run.  Coming from a school where cross country running was used as a punishment, I was completely ignorant of these events which are happening weekly - and completely free - all around the country.  It's an astonishing piece of organisation, and clearly very popular with the participants.  Here are a few pictures from the event, starting with the obligatory stretching in the September sunshine.

Not having been to one of these events before, I had no idea where to position myself for the start of the run.  I got it completely wrong, of course, but the sight of so many people setting off was pretty impressive - even from a distance.

Having met a fellow Fuji enthusiast, who was there supporting his girlfriend, I decided to head for a spot where we could watch the runners as they returned to the Hall.  I chose a spot on a hill overlooking a gate with the lake and folly in the background, but didn't get quite as far as we'd hoped since the race leaders were already well on their way to finishing.  The majority of the runners had yet to reach the gate, though, so Amber and I sat down in the grass and watched all the people who were more energetic than we were.

It has to be said that some people didn't look like they were enjoying it very much.  Perhaps they went to a school with a similar running policy to mine?

Lots of people were running with their dogs, and I love the Weimaraner who clearly couldn't wait for his owner to stop fiddling with his watch!

Izzi soon came through, and it was a proud moment to see her running.  I don't know where she gets her atheticism genes from, but it certainly isn't from me.

Once the race was over I went back to the stable block to meet Izzi.  I also bumped into the race organiser who turned out to be someone who lived in Harston until she and her family moved to Barton.  Debs and Scott used to walk their collie, Guiness, and I would often bump into them when I was out with Amber.  As a piece of nostalgia, here are three pictures from February 2009 when we all ended up with an unexectedly free day at home owing to snow.

Guinness and Amber are now both now starting to look (and feel) their age, but they seemed to remember one another despite not having met for six years or so.  Guinness (below, on the left) now has a younger playmate - Swift - who has a very definite twinkle in his eye.

It was lovely to catch up with Debs and Scott again, and the chance encounter proves (perhaps) that running isn't so bad after all.  Not sure you'll catch me doing it any time soon, though...