Friday, 31 March 2017

A Happy Difference

On Wednesday I mentioned a gem of a 1999 book by Dan Price.

If you thought that all books had to conform to a standard size and layout, then this one can challenge your belief patterns.

Sure, the pages about incorporating photos in your journal are obviously from pre-digital times although the principles still hold true.

Hope these sample pages encourage you to explore further.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Start Bay Notebook 3 Months On

 It looks like Spring down by the harbour, but it feels like Winter out in the biting wind.

As the evenings grow longer and lighter it is good to know that we have weeks of great weather to look forward to.

It was in deep Midwinter when I acquired my fabulous Start Bay Notebook cover in thick, luxurious, leather.

Truth to tell it hasn't even ventured out of doors yet because I ordered the A5 size and it is way too heavy to cart around. Instead I use it to contain a few Moleskine notebooks that I can slide out and write in when the muse strikes. However it is wearing well and I still gain pleasure from handling it.

Here it is, along with a copy of what is probably the best, briefest, smallest and quirkiest books about the pastime called journaling. This is a topic that we have left alone for too long and that we will return to,

Meanwhile, here is a cover shot of the book with a Lamy fountain pen and £1.50 to indicate its size. More about the book coming this Friday [If I remember]

As Benjamin Franklin wrote; "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

Monday, 27 March 2017


"Going back in time in the sounds of the Nation, it's a Caroline Flashback".

That's how my favourite offshore radio station announced a 'blast from the past' whenever Radio Caroline was going to blow the dust off a "revived 45".

I cannot offer you any ear candy, but, it was always my intention to follow up on a few earlier posts. For Instance; I acquired a book about Twitter and Facebook for Seniors just to see if I could detect any point in either of them. I found that a Facebook account could be useful for signing in to a few other sites that I wanted to  visit but could never in my worst nightmares imagine any circumstances where I'd get the urge to 'follow' or 'like someone' or make a post of my own.

As for Twitter I still find this strictly for the birds. No surprises there then.

In a quest for  tools that might help me improve my photos, I downloaded a free editing program called Gimp. Yeah. Right. The on-line  manual was a pdf of 900 pages and the opening screen is the stuff of nightmares. So I guess I shall stick with the basic and easy tools found in PicMonkey. Easier by far to get it right first time in the camera BEFORE pressing the button!

My so-called Smartphone continues to need a battery recharge every 48 hours even when it is sitting at home and switched off. Smart? Progress? So the ancient basic dumb Nokia - where a battery charge lasts all week continues to be the go-to - phone of choice for calls and texts while I prefer a camera for photos.

Seems like I've traded 'groovy baby' for a rut. A rut becomes a trench, a trench becomes a hole and a hole becomes a grave.

At least I inadvertently used a four-letter obscene expletive for the first time here in one of last week's posts. Not even progress there then.  More of a retrograde step for which I apologise to readers of a nervous disposition.

To close on a happier note, This photo by c j chilvers welcomes the return of lighter evenings. Whilst Margate's own fishing boat was pictured by an unknown skilled photographer and posted on line. Thanks to you both for allowing me to add them here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Have a happy weekend

 Some days it seems really hard to stay upbeat. But that's OK.

Each day you wake up with a choice. You can decide to be miserable and focus on your problems. Or you can decide to be happy and focus on possible actions that could help to reduce your problems.

Surely nobody would deliberately choose to be miserable?

Remember, this too shall pass.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Midweek Mentors

Photo copyright Douglas Kirkland /Corbis/Glitterati

I recently opened a photo album that held some shots of our last visit to Rome some four years ago.

I discovered a couple of pages that were loose, probably with an intention to add them if there was a spare space.

The photograph dates from 1965 and is one of Douglas Kirkland's extensive portraits of the stars of the day. In this Peter Sellars is posing as a paparazzi stalking Britt Ekland from a cute Fiat 500. 

The poem is by Rod McKuen and dates from the same year, featured in his first book Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows. I share it with you at the end of this post.
Douglas Kirkland

1965 was one hell of a year in my life as it marked the close of a decade of seafaring and the start of creating a family life and totally new occupation ashore. In the absence of any formal training, along with Tom Hustler and later David Hamilton and Tony Armstrong Jones, I learnt about portraiture and street photography from the example of these guys.

In a fit of nostalgia I sought out a copy of Freeze Frame. Checking the usual online sources I found that used copies ranged  from £4.82 - including postage from World of Books - to well over £60.00. Moral: If seeking second hand books check ALL the offers on several sites.

While shopping on line I replaced my long ago lent-and-not-returned copy of Rod's book. That's the guy here in poses from the 1960's and 2000.

I thought I didn't like poetry until a former lover introduced me and she and I subsequently enjoyed seeing the man himself during his  UK Friendship Tour at the height of his fame.

Anyway ... here's the poem I promised ... and I think it is nice to acknowledge the beneficial impact that these mentors had on my life. Both have extensive coverage on Wikepedia and elswhere if you want to know more about them.

Comfort by Rod McKuen 1965

If we could do it all again
Motorbike through roman cities in the rain
watch the cats chase lizards in the forum
drink bad wine from mouth to mouth
I would probably try to love you harder than I did
I would probably smile a smile much better than the ones I did
for I was just rehearsing then
imagining what might happen in the years ahead.

It is not just you I love
[Or even Roman rain]
Or all the times you rattled my windows
After twelve-o-clock

I love the smell of rooms where you have been
The foreign touch of things I never knew
Until you came along.
I even love your enemies
Because they drive you to my arms for comfort.

Monday, 20 March 2017


Tony Bennett is coming to UK during last week of June and the first week of July ... to perform a series of concerts just a month or so before his 91st birthday.

For sheer professionalism and quietly impressive showmanship I rate Tony way ahead of any other performer that I have seen live on stage. [And I've been lucky enough to see many over the years]

As I type this post I am playing my current favourite CD Perfectly Frank Here Tony pays homage to the songs, lyricists and composers that featured in Frank Sinatra's repertoire.

Great stuff for quiet relaxation, a mood accentuated by long time association with accompanist Ralph Sharon and his trio. I was delighted to meet the man at Leeds Castle for US Independence Day concert back in 2000.

This album is a marked contrast to Tony's more raucous and upbeat albums with the Count Basie Orchestra. You can listen to it on You Tube or buy the CD on Ebay [My copy was under a fiver including postage]

What always comes through is his sheer performance professionalism from, sadly, probably the last of the great crooners and exponents of 'The Great American Song Book'.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Frugal Friday

Here in Margate we are very lucky to have a branch of The Works ... a discount book and stationery store.

It is directly opposite WHSmith who seem  to be morphing into a sweet shop.

On the same day that I acquired this for six quid from the range, the other place had a few copies at £14.99

Another time I might tell you why I bought this particular title - and it may surprise you - but for now, just remember that when, like us, you are on a very limited budget where books are a special treat, then look around, delay if necessary, then pounce. And for goodness sake don't pay extra on any quoted price for delivery [On books or anything else!] Or, check out an Amazon price, look for their 'used copies' and then go direct to the vendor where you will find several who do a discount with free postage.

It really does pay to shop around. The Works have a ream [500 sheets] of 80gsm white A4 copy paper on special offer at £3.50. In Smith a similar product but a different brand starts at £9.70 whilst in  Tesco you need to pay only £2.50. Yes. Every Little Helps!

Finally, if you only  need the occasional sheet of glossy photo printing paper, check out Poundland where their packs of 12 x A4 work just fine in my Epson printer.

Or ... I suppose you may want to follow the tv  people who blather on, and on, and on about switching your energy supplier and bank to 'save' [But what then happens next year when your new supplier ends their welcome offer?]

Stay frugal than you can afford life's little luxuries.

Our beautiful beaches, blue skies and fabulous seascapes are free!

Even from our 120 year old basement flat we can see blue skies through our leaded light lounge windows.
Canon Ixus 70 on auto everything 1100 hrs March 6th 2017

I am amazed that a magazine called Amateur Photographer and which has been around for 100 years, regularly reviews cameras costing well into four figures for the body only and similar prices for lenses. Some wealthy amateurs as readers maybe. That's why I stopped buying it over a year ago.

The camera that I have been using for the last month sits in my pocket, can produce shots that enlarge to A3 with no difficulty, even when set to point-and-shoot automatic. Grab your seat! It cost me £10[Ten Pounds] including postage from eBay about two years ago. It is a Canon Ixus 70. It even has a viewfinder.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

NHS Crisis - What Crisis?

Once upon a time we had a great hospital and guess what? It was called Margate Hospital. But that was way too simple 'cos it said what it was and where it was.

Now it is called Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital ... shortened locally and understandably to "QEQM" which must baffle our summer visitors when they see it on bus destination boards.

But there's more. It used to be a simple NHS hospital. Now it is [and forgive me if I get this wrong]  part of "South East Kent University Hospital NHS Trust".

Then I heard this on the radio. 'All UK hospitals are to be rebranded on orders of NHS Identity Managers. This involves moving the NHS logo above the name of the Trust instead of beside it. The move follows 1000 interviews and 28 public focus groups following a two year review of the NHS logo with nine workshops involving 100 communications individuals'.

When I heard this I checked the date to make sure it wasn't an April Fool joke.

The saying about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic comes to mind. A supreme case of jobs for the boys while, on the same day I heard that the Urgent Care Unit at nearby Canterbury Hospital [Sorry: NHS[etc!] Kent & Canterbury Hospital] is to close for a few days each week to improve service to patients. So that's why minister for health always looks so last, it seems, he really has got the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

If you know for sure, please tell me this isn't a joke as I reckon you couldn't make it up. Then guess the cost of new printed materials, building and hospital signage, uniform logos and ID cards and the inevitible welter of press releases. Then translate that into numbers of nurses on wards and doctors in A&E.
What's the going price of 36 stainless steel letters on brickwork ...

When there's a nice clear and cheap sign 20 metres away

This was all we ever needed before the suits got at it!

Monday, 13 March 2017

This guy gets it right!

Despite any rumours to the contrary, this Loveable journal seems to say it all. When we saw it in Waterstones my lady told me that some people will believe whatever they wish and that anyway I already have enough journals and notebooks to last a lifetime! 
It is one of a series from a US outfit called 'Knock, knock' which seemingly has nothing to do with a sacred Irish shrine of the same name.

After a rather grumpy week of blogs I am happy to plug one by a guy who has clearly done his homework, gets just about everything right and totally deserves his success. As he is based in Ashford and I am in Margate we have never met and probably never will.

His name is Richard Torble and you can find his excellent website at 

DO please take a look, even if you are not into needing photography. Richard's site [and especially his blog]demonstrates PR principles that can be used by any business. 

If you want to learn about the business of a self employed professional without all the technical malarkey ... then spend the next inclement weather day lost in admiration for all Richard's blog entries.

Friday, 10 March 2017

You couldn't make it up!

Look. See how happy all the little people are, playing in la-la-la-land!

Some 'businesses' appear to have a similar approach to client creation.

Take professional photographers for example.

My needs were very clear and very simple. I needed a series of head shots of myself for editorial use in magazines and book covers. I would choose ten photographs from those taken to be supplied as post-processed enhanced 10 x 8 glossy prints.

All the shots from the shoot would also be supplied on a CD and the fee was to include my free use for any legitimate purpose without payment of any additional copyright or reproduction fee. I would not expect to pay any 'sitting fee'. For this all inclusive deal I would always give the studio a credit when the shots were used and I even expected to pay more than the usual advertised prices for baby/wedding/family/social sittings. I  immediately take to the hills at any attempt to up-sell with any 'special offers', frames or 'discount vouchers'.

The good news is that I found an excellent studio in Margate with whom I agreed a fee that was fair to both of us.

The bad news is that some potential professional photographers weren't even in the running because I didn't know that they existed!

My other requirement was that the studio should be easily accessible by public transport as we flogged our car almost ten years ago.

I found one encouraging looking lead via Google and even met the photographer in question, I bought him two coffees and arranged a date and cash fee. He cancelled a couple of days before the shoot so I was back to square one, I had a list of three other possibles.

One phone call produced a message from BT. "This number cannot be connected at the moment." My guess was that it had been cut off. Yeah! Great Business.

The next asked me to leave a message and, because my call was important to them, they would get back to me. So I did and they didn't.

My third attempt to phone was answered by a voice that sounded about 4 years old, he [or she] was very polite and well spoken. "Daddy isn't home from work yet and Mummy is out shopping." Presumably a 'home studio'?

My previous post here included some fine photographs by a couple of local photographers and, when I searched on line, I discovered that both were professionals ... but they hadn't cropped up in my earlier searches because they didn't advertise in the local press or radio and had no well signposted sites. Seems they both depend on Facebook or Twitter ... but, if you recall, these posts began because I had no interest in either, believing them to be populated by thumb clicking teenagers.

The happy outcome was that I recalled seeing a shop [Yeah. Remember them? A sort of square building alongside a pavement and made of bricks and mortar] that was a photo studio and was never open when we walked past.

Five years later we were strolling down a side street that we had not used before and there was a shop, trading as a studio and with the same name as the one we had seen previously. Wonder of wonders it was open! A few days later I had my disc and prints in my hand after a most enjoyable and professional shoot, which is why I thoroughly recommend AG Studios in New Street Margate ... just off the lower High Street and opposite Sands Hotel. Mark Websper is the gentleman in charge.

If you are in business, any business, make it easy for people to know that you exist, keep to advertised opening hours, respond to all enquiries promptly, deliver what you promise, and if you have a shop, for pities sake put a name and street number over the window and it should be blindingly obvious that aforesaid windows are kept clean and well presented with regularly changing displays.

Highly Recommended for getting it right!

Next time ... another guy who is getting it right and whom I haven't even met ...yet!

Housekeeping Note:
One of my beautiful regular readers has given me a roasting for posting new blogs at random without any signs of a regular schedule.
I explained that this let-it-happen approach was typical of an Aquarian creative mind. She wouldn't accept this as an answer. ["Cheap excuse - not worthy!" she said]
So for those of you who prefer a tick-tock world I shall endeavour to post each Monday, Wednesday and Friday around the crack of dawn.
That is not a promise however, it is an aspiration!
Well, at least she cared. Aaaaah bless! 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What The ****** Twit?

As part of my self education into the world of social networking I have just ordered this book. I hope it will tell me what is the point of Twitter and Facebook...if there is one. My hopes are not high.

Whilst waiting for my used copy to arrive [£4.12 invested]

by post, I did some preparatory investigation on a twitter site called Love Margate.

This seems to be an online equivalent of the small ads that used to appear in newspapers and shop windows, but without any indication of who the advertiser is, where they hang out or their phone number. Seems pointless to me. I guess the clues might be in the apparently random collection of abbreviated shorthand codes and words that are usually shown in blue?

I clicked a few and they took me to other pointless places like 'Pinterest' and 'Instagram' which are equally uninformative concerning who, where, how and why. [There is even one outfit who seem to tweet 'Whooo Hooo its Wednesday' so I assume they are running a rescue centre for owls which are fed on pizza]

There were some pictures on Love Margate. So to restore my normal, calm, charming, relaxed composure I clicked obsessively until they took me to more information.

This beautiful sunset shot of our Harbour Arm is by Frank Leppard on March  3rd. A week or two earlier Sheradon Dublin was photographing the same scene in an atmospheric mist.

Meanwhile our local authority posted a couple of pictures about the revival of Dreamland Cinema. I hadn't seen the drone shot before and the 'envisioned impression' of the finished job is apparently the work of someone called 'mycolorfulpast'.

Copyright obviously exists in all these pictures but as they were on Twitter I guess they can be used for non-commercial purposes like this?

If not, then tell me and I will immediately take this post away.

Next Time: The true story about what happened when my Stateside editor asked for a recent professional headshot. You couldn't make it up and I didn't.

Ye Gods! Whatever happened to professionalism in the service industries?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

March 5th 2017

Cliftonville 2013

I am not really into 'duvet days' of idleness. But sometimes it just looks too damned windy, grey, damp and cold to venture out with a camera. Had enough of that back in the day when I took pictures for clients and HAD to go out.

These days I load the coffee mug, tune to a favourite music station and revisit a book from the past. There, today, I refreshed my memory about the works and theories of one of the pioneers of the personal discovery and popular psychology professions.

Today's photo from 2013 is of my favourite reading spot in the sun.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Margate Strip

A couple of days ago I threatened[or promised] to reproduce some of the photos that I took for my book, Margate Strip, in 2013.

I still need to improve my scanning and picture enhancing techniques. Having lost the original picture files I am simply scanning the rather dingy pages from my proof copy.

You may be able to increase the size of the printed page with a few clicks of your mouse?

Picture and text by Colin from Margate Strip

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

New Month and New Adventures

 Already the temperature has hit double figures once or twice. I am looking forward to being able to relax with a book or magazine on my favourite seafront bench.

Until then, and following acquisition of a smart phone and a blue-tooth dongle for my decidedly non blue ancient laptop it seemed like a good idea to herald the imminent arrival of Spring by repairing gaps in my IT armour instead of saying, "I don't do this, that and the other."

Although I cannot imagine ever embracing social media fully I have plans to learn more about Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook ... mainly so that I can see what one-time former bloggers are up to these days.

Then, looking ahead to summer, our thoughts drifted towards holidays and the realisation that it is no longer sensible or viable to travel abroad. We liked those far off places when we got there but the angst of getting to Gatwick and the whole airport terminal malarkey is hassle we can do without.

Last year's staycation allowed us to pay for some essential home repairs and replacements around our apartment.

This summer we hope to do some day excursions to local attractions that we haven't visited since our children were small, around 40 years ago! Thanks to our free bus pass we should be able to get to most of them and even afford the odd admission price to places that have had 'experience' tacked onto their names.

Just as I decided to get more phone savvy, Nokia are relaunching their iconic dumb phone. Ha ha. For once we are ahead in the game as we still have our old, trusty, originals that don't do much but they do it really well.

A week or so ago I mentioned a website called Photowoha. I have no wish to learn [or pay for Photoshop] so have acquired a Movavi picture editing suite from the Indian based company for about 100th of the brand leader's asking price. I don't need all the whistles and bells anyway. UPDATE: AVOID THESE ORGANISATIONS. THEY ARE FAST AT PROCESSING YOUR PAYMENT WHERE IT SEEMS £19 BUYS YOU ENDLESS SALES BLURB AND REQUESTS FOR A NON-EXISTENT ACTIVATION KEY. AT BEST THIS IS A FLAKY OUTFIT. AT WORST IT IS A FRAUDULENT SCAM OR FRAUD.

Finally, I may attempt to scan some pages from my Blurb book about Margate and reproduce them here over the next week or three. I was astounded at the changes that have taken place in the space of three years.

Thanks for stopping by and here's looking forward to whatever turns you on.