Sunday, 30 September 2007

Slains Castle

Went up the road to Slains Castle. Well, it was sunny, and I got a text from Mike, who'd been ill, saying that he was a bit better and it was sunny. We eventually found the castle - it's a castle on the coast. Decent car park, and walked down the farm track (it killed my Allegro's suspension years ago).

IMG_3313z IMG_3103z

Great setting for a castle.


Cheap silhouette.



Mike wanted some 'book cover' shots


With the pains I'm currently suffering, I couldn't climb up to the same ledge.


Mike told me about a stock photography site, stock.xchng. I signed up for it and posted one trial photo after reading about the section on "dealing with rejection". Unlike photo hosting sites, the photos are hand picked before being hosted. I'll post more photos in the future.

At time of writing, the one shot has been downloaded 24 times. Good-oh.


Saturday, 29 September 2007

Surf's Up

Combed the beach looking for photographs. Took the new 2nd hand tripod with me, a Velbon CX460, from eBay. I also tried shooting in RAW format for the first time. I need to learn how to use both of these to help improve my shots. I failed today.

Some vignetting added, and colours balanced.

Grampian "Eye"




Water power.

Fittee, at the foot of the Dee river.
Sun glinting on the harbour waters.

Trail Nov 07

There's something different about this month's Trail magazine. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe a change of colour repro companies has made the photos look different. The cover has 2 chaps enjoying themselves out of doors,  map in hand, with the geekish-looking chap looking straight out at the reader, unable to hide his enthusiasm.

The first article proudly points out that more people watched "Mountain" than "Big Brother", and gives hints and tips to folk new to the outdoors. With great timing, "The Mission" is about boosting your navigation skills, and the next main article is about the hiking scene in the USA.

Sadly, my magazine was vandalised by trying to remove the glue that had been used to stick two cards to the pages. A silly move by the publishers, and just soooo last century. Luckily you don't have to tear your magazine apart to enter the various competitions.

"The Knowledge" has a column by Pete Macfarlane "a lighweight expert". Asterisk or no asterisk. Also some more information on gear shown at Friedrichshafen European OutDoor trade fair.

And Claire looks like she's being stalked in the photo on p111. Overleaf, there is a range guide to Arran, showing that there is plenty to do on the island.


Sad news. I just found Zach Braff's blog and read the words "We are currently shooting episode 6 of the final season of Scrubs" ' ' Aaargh.

I'm watching the re-runs at tea-time on freeview, and tonight they did the M*A*S*H trick of having a psychologist interview the main cast about their issues. There's so much imagination and enthusiasm shown in that show. Scrubs clip. M*A*S*H clip.

I wonder if the cast will re-unite for a computer advert? Sans Alda.

Friday, 28 September 2007


Is it coincidence that as the Chuckle Brothers celebrate 20 years on kids tv, I find a set of wargames rules that they may have written? Spooky.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Better Late than Never

This blog is one year and 2 days old. As I didn't start recording site statistics with Google Analytics until February of 2007, I don't have accurate figures. However, since February, there have been 27,666 pageviews, 16,415 visits from 6,019 absolute unique visitors.

A quick extrapolation gives a very rough estimate of numbers of real people (according to Google anyway) reading this blog:

  • UK 4,788
  • USA 544
  • Germany 169
  • Norway 52
  • Canada 47
  • France 43
  • Ireland 39
  • Netherlands 32
  • Australia 32
  • South Korea 22
  • Others 251

Thank you for calling by, and I hope I have helped you get through the day in some useful way. This blog has certainly been therapeutic for me in the last 367 days. Shame the way some things have gone, more than happy the way other things have gone. Just goes to prove that I have no intention of pleasing all the people all the time - if you don't like it, go and look at happy pictures of cats instead. Some times it rains. Deal with it.

In the meantime, I'm still waiting the appointment with the physio. I have to eat to line my stomach for the painkillers. Hmm, eating, and no exercise in case I make things worse. Even I know that's a bad combo. But I'm dealing with it.

BBC2 Alba Tonight

A couple of good programmes on the BBC2 Alba Gaelic strand.

Soitheach Nan Daoine

The first told the story of "The William" - a ship who's cargo was of men, women and children. Allegedly criminals from Skye, Harris and Barra, being sold into slavery in 1739. Before crossing the Atlantic to the cotton plantations of America, they were held in Northern Ireland, where some escaped and the authorities got involved. Turns out that the 'criminals' had never had a trial, and some had been dragged from their houses to the ship. The captives were released, some staying Ireland, others going home to Scotland.

Ealtainn - "Sad Day We Left the Croft"

Not a history programme, as it covered the release of a punk album from 1981. The arts programme tracked down the folk involved, traveling from Stornoway to Tong (just down the road from my parents') and London. Talking to people that I had been in the Nicky with, but probably a few years ahead of me. Coincidentally, the album is being re-released, and some of the tracks are available on via MySpace.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

As Others See You

Listening to part 1 of Robert Hausam's interview on the podcast. Robert walked across Scotland earlier this year on the TGO Challenge. This was his first time in Scotland and he came purely on information gained over the Internet, including forums and Bob C's podcasts.

To hear my homeland being described as "exotic" and our wonderful access laws being heralded to the world. The question of "what is a bothy?" is raised, and answered. Taken for granted, i find it strange that they might be "staffed?" B&b "hospitality wonderful".

He discusses his wearing of hiking sandals on the crossing. The nearest experience he has had was in the Alaskan tundra.

Terrain. Scenic. History. Culture. Old civilisations, chatting to folk, getting a feel for local life. Meeting other Challengers on a daily basis. Met some Munro baggers ... "what is a Munro?"... Good recall on that, remembering that Sir Hugh didn't compleat.

Good to hear that overseas visitors are well looked after. Different approaches to hiking in UK hmm, maybe hiking is a bit more common in UK than US. Elevenses not common in the US. Also the ability to go out, climb a couple of peaks, pub for a pint and then home, because of the shorter distances involved. Good to hear that Robert hopes to come back. Large fried breakfasts and pubs mentioned too.

Update - link to podcast page, featuring written article, photographs and kit list too.

Monday, 24 September 2007

First Sighting

Christmas stuff out in Asda. Only 3 months and a day to go.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

No Rights, Just T&C

You have no rights on the Internet. Just a series of Terms & Conditions that you blindly accept. There is no freedom of speech unless you have your own server and don't have to worry about an ISP. You have nothing.

This was shown today by the closing of a UK blog host after receiving lawyer's letters. Under UK law, no crime had been committed. Under UK law, no legal authority had requested that the site(s) be closed down.

It’s extraordinary, but true, and even though we live in a image democracy where freedom of speech is a right we can enjoy, that freedom does not extend to your blog if you upset a rich and powerful person.
That is the gist of Iain Dale’s unbelievable post outlining the shutting down of Tim Ireland’s Bloggerhead’s site, as well as Craig Murray’s, former Ambassador to Uzbekhistan.
They both spoke out against the Russian/Uzbekh billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, (pictured) who is trying to buy Arsenal FC. Lawyers letters followed which led to the webhost pulling the plug.

Outrageous shutting down of British blogs

Link to More4 News clip (interview starts about 60 seconds in). Nothing at the time of posting on the BBC news, their technology pages merely saying that we should "fight cyberbullies" - oh, that's in schools, not in the real world. So, the BBC isn't being ironic.

As news items change rapidly, I'll add a caveat that this information is what is known to me at the time of posting. (link to my legal representative)

Photography is Not a Crime

Having read about some of the trouble that a photo-blogger got into in the USA (link), I followed up some of the links. The first link was to JPG Magazine, where issue 5 had the rallying cry that I used in the post title.

The UK Photographers Rights Guide. Although written in 2004, and accepting that you accept that the authors have no responsibility for the advice given (i.e. if you get into trouble, hire an expert).

There is an American version from 2006 (pdf link), dealing more with how to deal with harassment and security guards making up the law as they go.

Bear in mind that the law is constantly changing, and that many police have an "attitude test" - be a pratt, and you'll be treated like one. Know your rights, know your responsibilities and don't be afraid to say that "actually, I'm on public land, and the law says ... ", all in a professional manner, as you note their badge number.

Another beat of the Drum

Mike was round last night for beer and pizza - well, no beer for me as I'm on painkillers :( - and anime. He saw the photos of Saturday's event and was disappointed to have missed it. So, a quick check of the weather forecast, and I offered to head back to Drum Castle to see Fraser's Dragoones again. National Trust for Scotland membership has its privileges.

Unit shots
















Weapon Detail


War Correspondent - Snipers in the castle tower






War Correspondent - Being embedded with the Royalists has its disadvantages





Today's skirmish was dramatic again, with the Royalists having a surprise win.




Some clever film students had the same idea as us. Mike couldn't resist chatting to them about the gear they were using.





Sound monkey moving into shot - but I had plenty of similar photos, so no loss to me.


Why can't all saltires have messages on them?


Saturday, 22 September 2007

Drum Castle

I went to see Fraser's Dragoones at Drum Castle. Fine day, nice bunch. Good to be asked for feedback, especially from a hodden grey, blue bunnetted person armed to the teeth.

FJ came along later, and then I remembered how much I'd forgotten. Was a snaphance a musket lock where the priming pan opened as the match came down? Which was the frizzen? What was the primary differences between the Scots government troops and the Royalist rebels?

Unit shots
Details of pyrotechnics from the musket's touch
The Artillery Piece
There was a good skirmish display, and I couldn't resist putting them in sequence.