Archive for June, 2012

At the Lazy Bishops Festival with a Fuji X100

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by yammerman

I mentioned recently that my badly refinished ’63 Fender Jaguar had been dropped off at Joe White Guitars for him to restore to its original sunburst;  so, with news that the job was completed, I roared down the M4 to Surrey for the weekend.  This provided the opportunity to visit my good friend Bob Machin, with whom I could share the joys of following England v Sweden in Euro 2012 and take in The Lazy Bishops Festival in Farnham on the Saturday.

I was slightly nervous as I parked up at Joe’s, as to what the restored Jaguar  might look like but, as you can see from the photograph, it is a thing of beauty. It had been stripped to a natural look by one of its previous owners and while it looked OK it didn’t really shine.  To me the grain and character of the wood look much better with this nitro finish and as it wears I think it’ll look even better.

I sped round to Bob’s to show off the new beast and indulge in a relaxed jam before the main event of the evening, the England game. The original plan to watch in a pub, came undone when Bob failed to persuade the landlord to reorganise the pub’s seating arrangements so we had a decent view of the telly. On this basis we wolfed down a hearty supper and headed back to the comfort of the couch, where the game unfolded along traditional stomach churning lines.  As England’s early lead disappeared in the minutes after half time, we knew where this agony was headed but low, the introduction of Walcott brought about a minor miracle and all ended happily with an England win.  Which of course we’d never doubted for a moment.  It is a shame that Italy proved us to be a King without any clothes several days later, but these days we know the script and our hearts are harder.

The next morning after a high protein breakfast and strong coffee we headed for the Lazy Bishop Festival with one eye on the clouds scudding across the sky. It was once known as the Secret Garden Music Festival and it’s easy to see why. You step off the main street down a short path and appear to have been transported to the heart of the country side. In fact when we emerged many hours later it was quite a shock to find ourselves in the center of a small town.

There were two small stages and through the day a succession of pretty darn entertaining acts passed before us; my favourite being Hillfolk Noir who play American roots music with a swagger and panache. Their entrance coincided with the arrival of a gale and rain, so they began with the crowd along way off sheltering under canvas.  They were strangely saved by the power going off, which they ignored and continued to strum acoustically.  The audience moved as one out into the rain to the front of the stage, so they could better hear what was going on and. once so positioned, miraculously the power came back on.  I never realised that the  ill wind saying could work quite so literally.  They performed a fine set and I even bought a CD afterwards.

With Bob and I beginning to feel the effects of wandering around a field for several hours we watched our final act The Arlenes.  The interest in this for me  was that a virtual Facebook friend Tom Bowen who I’d never met was playing guitar and doing it rather well.  It was good to meet him afterwards and discover his Welsh accent and that he hales from Cardiff.  So while the virtual world can do much, it is very poor on communicating accents.

It was a very fine weekend and I sped back to Wales all the better for it.  I had taken some pictures  with the Fuji X100 but in a halfhearted way so as not to intrude on anyone else’s fun.  I really thought they’d be rubbish and didn’t look at them for a week.  Finally I forced myself late one night to download them into  Lightroom to see what I had.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised because while Cartier-Bresson may not have cropped, I operate under no such constraint and took a bloomin’ great chopper to them.  Thus hewn I really came to like them and felt compelled to blog them, so here they are below.

A Villa in Spain with a Fuji X100

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2012 by yammerman

I’ve been meaning to post these for a while, but our return from a Spanish holiday coincided with the start of Euro 2012 and I have been distracted.  The latter stages of the tournament are upon us now and, with England’s exit at the hands of Italy, normal service can be resumed.

Our usual cheap airline to Faro had pulled out of Cardiff Airport, so we were forced to select another destination which I was told would be Spain.  I nodded my delight while inwardly thinking that learning about a new country was going to be at odds with my desire to avoid all adventure.  The villa selected looked mighty fine on paper  which somewhat assuaged my trepidation.  So, with the rain falling on South Wales, we jetted off to enjoy the clear blue skies over Barcelona.

The villa proved the devil’s own job to find,despite my fore thought at downloading Sygic, a Slovakian  Sat Nav app for my phone.  It had proved adequate, if not brilliant, in Florida but when faced with the labyrinth of roads above Sitges it flunked it.  I can think of no circumstances under which the instruction ‘Turn left and do a U turn when possible’ would be considered helpful.  I find at these moments, when technology proves rather less than perfect,  swearing and shouting  is the most satisfying response.  I believe if interviewed my family may think otherwise and possibly why my career as  a computer engineer is now over.  In the end it was that old analogue technique of following your nose that proved the most effective.  Hot and bothered, we finally made our destination.

The Villa Olivella proved every bit as good as its online images and the view from the balcony was both spectacular and tranquil with vineyards stretching towards distant hills.  The big sky, the landscape and my good self with a glass of red wine proved an excellent triangulation point. There are several other places on the globe that have met these requirements, my favourites mainly being in Australia or Ireland and, of course, my own back garden.

It proved so  pleasant a spot that we ventured no further than Sitges and some local supermarkets during our entire stay.  I read the excellent Headlong by Micheal Frayn which, as we were in a Dutch owned villa in Spain, filled me in on Breugel and the bloody history of the two countries during the 15th century.  I finished Levon Helm’s autobiography of The BandThis Wheels on Fire’ which I can highly recommend unless you are Robbie Robertson, in which case I’d give it a miss.

I can report little of Spain but that it is clearly richer than Portugal, with no obvious signs that its banks are about to succumb to the Euro crisis.  I can reveal that heading to Terminal 2 at the airport will take you on a tour of an industrial estate much like the ones you find in any big city. I explored it pretty thoroughly while searching for a petrol station and really there is nothing for the tourist at all.  One hour forty minutes on the plane means we’ll be back for a look at Barcelona soon.

I shot plenty with my Fuji x100 as I wanted to figure out how it worked when in proper use.  The discovery of the panoramic function was particularly exciting considering the landscape I had in front of me.  The images are no more than average, but you get them anyway.  I’m happy to report we got soaked walking back to the car on our return to Cardiff.