Friday, 28 April 2017

From Elsewhere

On a PC the list is over to your right. On a 'device' it could be absolutely anywhere so look for the heading Bloggers' Hall of Fame.

Each of these has earned its place on merit, by blogging and updating regularly on topics that not only interest me, but which can also initiate new ideas. They have more in common too. The authors have a distinctive style, they include personal snippets about their home town and family whilst adding to my knowledge bank with relevant information.

Starting with local blogs, Promote Thanet does what it says on the tin.

Thanet on Line can be a good source of local history and the joys of running a second hand book shop. 

J2 is a fairly recent  photo diary from a couple who live not far from Margate Harbour. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, Dave Lawrence Photography has a massive archive which always entertains as does his almost daily postings. Better than most photographic magazines in my opinion.

CJ Chilvers has a friendly approach and, has upped his no-nonsense creative posting schedule since losing his job recently.

As for Eric Kim, masses of content on the genre of Street Photography but, beware a tendency to unnecessarily strong language.

Over on the topics of stationery, notebooks and journalling you can always find weekly updates from a variety of sources at Travellers Notebook Times whilst the Well Appointed Desk offers plenty of fascinating material.

The oddly named My Life All In One Place has masses of free stuff to help planners and journalers as well as some valuable paid for offers from Mr Ray Blake, one of the good UK guys!

Baum-Kuchen hails from California and offers interesting insights into the joys of running a small family business in an arena dominated by big players. Lots of cute family pictures too. 

La Vie Graphite defies description, created by a philospher, writer, photographer and not updated quite as often as the others it is always a thoughtful place to visit. 

All of these sites have extensive leads to others that you may wish to explore ... so when you are stuck for something to pass the time for a few minutes then take a look.

Hey! I can remember when every small town had a business like this one!

Photo via Dave Lawrence Photography blog archive

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Catch Up

I am always pleased when readers send an appreciative email. They remind me that, although I started blogging as a selfish pastime to keep mind and fingers  in active co-ordination, some posts do give a few moments of pleasure to people who may be total strangers from anywhere in the world.

So why do I discourage this feedback by prohibiting comments except by email? Perhaps it is time for a quick catch up ... or a check up from the neck up as I used to suggest that some of my life coaching clients should do.

Around five years ago, when I started taking an interest in blogs, I stupidly thought that every reader would share my sense of values and fair play. Then some moron started making off colour comments in the foulest language that I had encountered since leaving my seafaring career long behind. So I pulled the plug on that blog which, in any case, had become an excuse for the sort of rant that elderly  geezers of my generation seem to enjoy.

After licking my wounds of self pity for a few weeks I launched another, this time heavy on opinions about local politics which were going through some kind on introspective death wish at the time. Then a couple of bloggers had their collars felt by the Old Bill. They were 'interviewed under police caution' and soon afterwards abandoned blogging in favour of other social media platforms where I absolutely refuse to go. So my second blog went the way of the first.

My next attempt was focused on 35mm photography and was a pure ego trip similar to many longer established sites that did the same stuff better and with more knowledge and experience, so that one only lasted a couple of  months. The next attempt was little better but not a total waste as a style ... my personal style of writing, presentation and photography evolved. My current headline gives a one line preview of what readers might expect.

It is several years since Don Wood wrote about his enjoyment of ordering a camera on Ebay, the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive and the fun of eventually using it. I could totally empathise as I had only just started usingEbay myself.

Don's blog is listed on my Bloggers' Hall of Fame elsewhere on this page under Promote Thanet in which he shares his enjoyment of living in this very special corner of Kent. It was also influential in our decision to have a staycation this year, I was disappointed to learn that he was finding it all a bit of a chore rather than a pleasure and was wondering whether to keep his blog going.

Oh yes Don! Been there and done that!

I usually have so many ideas that it would take several lifetimes to activate them all. I actually enjoy writing and photography but, even so, there are times when my words are constipated by a dark mood. Winston Churchill called them his Black Dog Days. When that happens I turn to reading instead of writing and within 24 hours the mojo/muse/whatever returns.

Back to that  Hall of Fame listing. There is a common link which I aim to explain in a week or so. They are all blogs that can trigger and inspire new ideas. These days I don't wait for ideas to arrive as I know that they always will. Instead I jot them down as headers for future blogs [to remind me with key words of the main idea] and the write them a few days in advance by using Blogger's Schedule facility.

In fact, while writing this post I have just had a potentially enormous idea for a personal project. I'm off to start making notes now while the notion is freshly conceived.

Thanks for being here.

I leave you with a photograph that I didn't think was up to much when I took it in Margate's Market Square three or four years ago. Now, I can enjoy it more and see its merits. To go back to Winston. He allegedly said, 'Never, never. never give up'.

Monday, 24 April 2017

It ain't rocket science

The story you are about to read is true and is the star of this 'you couldn't make it up' category. It concerns small business. In particular one small shop in Margate.

We saw an item in the window that was an ideal birthday present for our daughter. The shop was closed so we made a mental note of the opening times thoughtfully displayed on the door. We made five return visits at different times on different days. Still no signs of human habitation.

We rang the phone number engraved on the door and got the 'unavailable' tone. We tried the website written large on the fascia over the shop. It was simply a plug for half a dozen items that they were clearly trying to push but, no on-line shop.

So, ten days after seeing this item [which I had photographed through the window] we found a better version on line and at a lower price with free postage. Within 24 hours the parcel arrived.

When that shop owner goes into administration or bankruptcy he or she will no doubt bleat about the people of Margate, the high cost of business rates and the way that the internet is killing the high street.

If so, I hope that someone reminds him or her that the people of Margate are mainly generous, caring and appreciative of all that the town has to offer, that business rates benefit everyone in the community so for goodness sake open the door when you say you will be open and take payment from customers who are ready, willing and able to spend. Nothing killed the high street. It committed suicide.

P.S. My wife and I acquired a shop that was struggling to survive. Within a month selling similar products, we were turning over more in one day and at a higher profit margin than the former owners managed in a good week. After a couple of years we bought the freehold from the landlord. Yes, it was hard work that continued after the shop was closed but with zero retail experience we did it all and eventually sold for a price that made us feel good all over.  

I don't share this to brag, just to point out that we have been there and done it.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Time Warp

It is said that 'what goes around comes around'.

During the 1950s at sea we would have a movie each Sunday night, which is where and how I came to love and admire the musicals of the 30's and 40's, especially if they featured big bands and amazing set pieces choreographed by Busby Berkely.

The music from 42nd Street [1933] still has the power to brighten my day and lift the mood. I saw the fabulous stage version in London's west end in 1980 [Twice!] and then a few touring productions since. A new production opened in London a few weeks ago but, for us that is now a trip too far from Margate.

Barry Manilow is a skilled and professional entertainer whose music has featured throughout our married life and even helped our daughter win a talent contest with her dancing to the composite cassette tape that I cut of 'Copacabana'. Released today, Barry has a new CD of New York themed tunes.

See what I mean about a sense of deja-vu?

If you only ever see one stage musical in your life, then make it 42nd Street where the feel-good factor helps you to suspend belief for a couple of hours of corny plot, remembering that it dates from '33 when life was more simple.

If you have been one of Mr Manilow's outspoken critics, then I suggest that you take a look at and listen to, his latest CD along with his other earlier tributes to the musical theatre and the big bands of the Great American Song Book. We saw him in concert around 30 years ago and he delivered a slick, highly polished show to a sell-out audience.

If you have a chance to visit Manhattan you will surely see why I fell in love in [and with] New York during my early twenties.

Enough nostalgia for one week!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Notebook Reprise

About a week ago I showed some of the books that were culled at that time.

I have a 'capsule library' of a dozen or so 'keepers' and then there is a third category of books that I have read, enjoyed, disposed of and then replaced a few years later.

I know it doesn't make financial sense ... it's just what I do and, each time, with the benefits of hindsight, experience and maturity I find something new that I missed the first time around.

Take Writing Down The Bones by Nan Goldberg first published in 1986. At that time I couldn't get my head around her 50 or so short essays on the art and technique of writing. 

As I read her last few entries over breakfast this morning I decided to promote it to 'keeper' status this time around.

Here is an example of her style and suggestions ...

Happy reading and writing ...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Margate Sunday Morning

It was a warm weekend in Margate - high tide on Sunday April 9th.

Note the pair of 'sinking boats' in the harbour demonstrating the common amateur's error of fastening the buoy ropes too tightly at low tide so that they hold the craft under later.

The visiting car is the same age as me. Its a Bentley blown 6. Value around £110,000 today!

The 'just about floating' boat looks fit to prove that a boat is 'a hole in the water into which you pour money' and is surely not long for this world. And the blossom is in our memorial park on the site of the old Holy Trinity Church.

All pictures [except the twilight header] taken with Canon Ixus 70 digital pocket camera. Thanks for visiting and have an amazing week.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Creatin' Space

Each year, at around this 'spring cleaning' time, I take a bag of books to Pilgrims' Hospice Old Bank Book Shop in the Piazza. 

We tend to take novels there as soon as they're read, so these are just some titles that have accumulated over the winter and were kept in case of  need to refer back.

Once upon a time I used to cart such collections around the second hand book shops where, on a fair day with a following wind, this small collection would create an offer that just might pay for an Americano in Caffe Nero [£ 2.20]

Frankly I'd rather give them away and let the charity shop take their loot from the independent second handers. 

Happily No  Imagaination Needed ... it's at the end of our road!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Three photos

Almost five years ago we enjoyed one of several spring and autumn vacations in Sorrento. You can find plenty of holiday brochure style shots on line. Here I am pleased to share a couple of 'street' photographs that I took on the fly with a simple point and shoot camera, set to auto everything and without even breaking my step as I wandered by. That's the joy of the Amalfi Coast's r-e-l-a-x-ed atmosphere where even photography is as casual as you wish. The flare on the third step is from  the late afternoon sun which cast the shadow of the railings onto the wall behind. Can you work out why the bottom step is tilting?

I haven't the foggiest idea who this young lady is and she was so engrossed in her painting that she wasn't even aware of my interest. This was a day later on Capri. In the same way that steps and doorways make for  good photos, so do pictures-in-pictures like this one.

That tilting bottom step in the top shot is because the steps aren't real. They are on an oil painting by Naples artist Raffael Starace which was at the entrance to an exhibition of his work. The 'tilt' is because of the angle the canvas made with the ground where the flowers are in its bottom right hand corner.

It was shady inside the exhibition and, when we saw the man himself at work, it could have been discourteous and distracting to use flash. That's why this final 'available light' photo is grainy.

All three photos are prints in an album so that we can trigger happy memories at the turn of a page [no 'devices' or batteries required] A far more tactile experience than clicking and swiping.

All three photos were taken within a 72 hour period and were absolutely unplanned and spotted by chance, but then serendipity tends to happen when you are open to it.

Those last two pictures feature people which reminds me that I so rarely include them when I am  about with a camera. Again, this is not deliberate, it is just one of those patterns that can occur in life although we may not be aware... until something offers a moment of insight.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

G Mail really scared me!

I am not the sharpest knife in the box when it comes to technology. But even by my baby footstep progress this REALLY scared me.

The top picture is a normal Gmail screen with a list of six options. The bit I  didn't know was that clicking 'more' would create the screen on the right with twice as many. Note the 'All Mail' invitation.

When I selected this I discovered almost 5000 emails listed ... every one since buying this computer three years ago!

We only use email for routine household transactions  and family stuff so there were no secrets or bank details. What scared me was that we always delete our outbox and inbox and clear spam areas as soon as the messages have been dealt with. At least we thought we deleted them. Little did I know that they still lurked in'All Mail'.

I cleared them to Trash [Which is otherwise listed as Bin on another address] and then cleared them from that too. In the scheme of things my ignorance didn't matter, but then I figured how devastating it could be for someone using the method for business matters or credit confidential client stuff. In G World, 'delete' clearly means 'shift to somewhere else on your PC'.

I only discovered this when trying to get familiar with my new 'smart' phone and wondering why it had gazillions of sent emails when I hadn't even sent one! Then it dawned that it had captured these from g-mail on the PC and ... sometimes I really DO lose the will and recall how simple life was in the days when a GPO black bakelite phone at home and a 'radiogram' were as good as technology got...and urgent messages were delivered by Telegram Boys in GPO uniforms on bikes!

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Man Went Shopping

Canon Ixus 70 pocket digital camera and light from window. March 10 2017
I probably shop like most males ... decide a want, head for a store, buy the want as fast as possible. leave the store.

Unless there is a queue at the till/check out. Then I leave empty handed and do something more interesting. 

That happened a few weeks ago in T K Maxx. This is the only UK place I know where you can buy my favourite notebook. I have these three at the moment.
They are by Fringe Studio of Culver City California and are made in Korea.

From left to right above 'Wood Grain', 'Seascape' and 'Yosemite'. At 7.5" x 9.75" each is slightly smaller than A4. They come 'perfect bound' with passe-partout taped spine holding the160 standard ruled pages and cost £3.99.

I did see another with white fluffy clouds against a blue sky. I actually had the only two copies in my hand, saw a queue a mile long and one checkout out of the eight manned, so put them down and left. This store has a policy of small quantities of many lines at claimed discount prices and they state the obvious maxim that when it is gone it is gone.

Next time I looked they'd both gone.

But I STILL refuse to queue or hang about waiting for someone to take money for my purchase. You are absolutely right that I don't NEED another notebook either. It just seems that 'want' has a lower personal priority than 'need'?

Or could it just be that I am an impatient and grumpy old man? [No answer required!]

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Geranium Spring

0952 April 02 2017
It is Springtime Sunday!

The lady in my life has just rescued last year's staircase cavalcade from the shaded corner where they have sheltered over winter. Seems they have all survived.

A touch of plant food and a bit of primping and all should be set for a scarlet Summer cascading down our basement steps.