Letter #1

Dear Mr. Jones,

Andrew - can I appeal to you as a person not as an MP. I would question why you, Andrew Jones, would vote to decrease the welfare of a severely disabled adult by what is our weekly expenditure for the food shop. I am not appealing to you as a politician - I am trying to appeal to you as a man. You held yourself as a man of promise, Andrew, but the promises never materialized.

I like how you have consistently voted for the equal rights of same-sex couples. Good on you - not bad. Now try working on that compassion and try and help the disabled - the people who are most vulnerable in society.

Before people are classed as disabled they have been to see countless medical specialists, been signed off work by a DWP officer and then suffer the humiliation of being called a liar and told to re-apply through ATOS. Yes, I am peeved that me and my wife have to choose between heating and eating now - but, please, do not take any more of our dignity. I appreciate that there will soon be sweeping reform to try and get the vulnerable back in to work - but, golden carrot or birch rod if you are too ill to work you are too ill to work.

It is bad enough that the Conservative party pandered to the moderate-right of the Nation when they were seeking power by saying We will do something about the Disabled Problem.” As if denying our suffering and the prejudices that we encounter daily. Thanks to the policies that you voted for, Andrew Jones, I feel like I am the victim of a witch hunt. Allow me to give you a bit of background information:

I was a promising student at the University of Plymouth - whilst out in the rain forests of Borneo, researching seed dispersal, I had a reaction to the anti-malaria medication I had been prescribed. My brain damage has been diagnosed a schizo-affective disorder - a phasic illness that renders sustainable work impossible. If I had the health, yes, I would work - but being house-bound most of the week means I cannot go to a Remploy factory that you voted to close down in your last office. I am trying to work as a part time freelancer. Even though this work is starting to prove detrimental to my health.

All you disabled people do is sit on your arses watching Daytime Telly” - say a lot of the town. How could you pander to the blood lust of the masses for the money of the vulnerable? I know, it beggars belief when it is spelt out like that but that is the case, Andrew Jones. People are DYING because of the reforms you have voted for. History will be the judge of you (either that or the Hague).

March 8, 2016 · Andrew Jones

Salon #1

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Went to gig tonight - no biggy in that itself - but, if I said it was the start of monthly installments of manifesto spouting artistic brilliance then, YES, it was a biggy.

Salon #1 was hosted by cAVE - an improvisational outfit heading from North Yorkshire - and they opened the show. I did have a bit of an idea of what to expect as I had played in bands in the past with some of the members. However, what I was not expecting was the sheer level of ingenuity and accomplishment that they (all four of them) bought to the stage.

There was sweeping bleeps, ambient drones & field recordings of the highest calibre - my only gripe was that it was difficult to hear them over the level of chatter from the audience. I do not know how to take this - maybe it was an accomplished mission on the account of cAVE in that they lulled the members of the audience in to comfort - or, maybe it was a rude audience? I am unsure of the motives of both group and of the audience - but, surely, if you want to talk you go to the pub?

At the start of the show, cAVE handed out a mini-manifesto for their series of nights (Salon #1.2, Salon #1.3 or Salon #2, Salon #3) - here is a type up of it:

Welcome. cAVE presents a new monthly evening of sonic goodness: conversation, creativity, genre exploration, entertainment and fun. We encourage interested artists and musicians to perform and participate. cAVE celebrates:

We will be running a regular event on the first Saturday of every month. If you have enjoyed this evening and wish to either participate in a future event, or simply come along please join our mailing list. Find out more about future events on: facebook.com/soniccave | soundcloud.com/cave

So that is my plug for cAVE - a real band on a mission with direction and poise. I managed to get to talk to David from cAVE after the gig - he said he took the whole experience as a learning curve.

The second / main act was Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. I freely admit - I was there to see cAVE and I was a bit down in the mouth after how they were received and I was a bit worried about how the crowd would receive an act like Mik - whatever Mik was to sound like - I had not done my homework and was walking in to the gig blind. I could not name a song he had done and didn’t even know what genre he played. Turned out he is damn good - I would compare him to a side-splitting Ian Drury and he held the crowd in the palm of his hand.

There was laughter and the beer was flowing - for the bar, there had to be a trip to the local offie to stock up on bland beer (which I really appreciated - thanks, Kendall & Mark!)

Personally, the best song of his repertoire was a track called Plastic Fox -

…. actually, I take it back - Mik Artistik is nothing like Ian Drury; Mik excels at his own game. With a really tight band behind him (guitar & bass) Mik is out front either in the crowd or behind a synthesiser with programmed drums.

Dressed in a charity shop trilby, which any Sunday driver would be proud of, and a painter’s jacket (complete with paint) - Mik stepped on stage to a group of people and stepped off the stage from a room full of fans.

Best thing to happen in k-Town since the Tour de France’s Tidswell gig.

March 5, 2016 · Music · News · Review (Of Sorts)

La Jetée

The movie that inspired Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, Chris Marker’s La jetée is a landmark of science-fiction filmmaking, a 28-minute masterpiece told almost entirely in still frames.

Set in a post-apocalyptic near-future, it tells the story of an unnamed man whose vivid childhood recollections make him the perfect guinea pig for an experiment in time travel. After a lengthy and nightmarish period of conditioning, he is sent into the past, where he falls in love with a woman whom he once saw on a pier. At the experiment’s conclusion, he is visited by an advanced race, who offer him the opportunity to journey into their future world, but he instead requests that they send him permanently into the past, where he can remain with the woman of his dreams. A singular experience. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

What got me was that this is the first film I have seen composed entirely of still images and a soundtrack. Mind-blowing on an epic scale! Chris Markers still powerful 1962 post-apocalyptic short film, with its classic anagnorisis finale, produced entirely with still photographs, music and voice-over narration, it portrays a horrifying future world and the melancholic vision of a man consumed with nostalgic love for a dead woman he saw as child. Becoming the subject of the subterranean totalitarian governments attempt to throw emissaries into time, to call past and future to the rescue of the present, he just might have a chance to see her once again.

La Jetée, as a movie, is one of the most interesting I have encountered. Virtually the whole movie involves narrating still shots. While this sounds like a glorified slideshow, its anything but. The pacing is magnificent. The mood created is truly immersive. In a truly astounding feat, Marker traps the viewer in this slide show” mentality, and then, as the movie is discussing whether the character can decipher what is real or not, he pulls the rug out from under us.

February 29, 2016 · Review (Of Sorts)

Birthday Schmerfday

Had a birthday recently - it was ace!

Stayed up until after mid-night the night before to cuddle Kathryn. Then it was a bit of a lie in until 10am and I was chasing up my present. A while ago I organised the delivery of an old valve, bakelite radio to this address. The plan, under Kathryn’s guidance, was to convert it into something workable for today.

The plan was to allow the use of either a guitar or an iPod to play through it. This was achieved by going to Regent Electronics and having a chat with John Noe Sr. He is a pleasure to work with - a real calming influence.

He sorted out the valve radio and it works like a charm - I went to pick it up at around 4pm on my Birthday and have not stopped listening to it since. Ol’ time Ska sounds fantastic on it - as does all musics from the valve radio days. Here is a photo of it -

My birthday present from Kathryn.My birthday present from Kathryn.[/caption]

It can get quite loud (good thing) and there is a bass / treble knob. All in all I am over the moon with it - it is my favorite sound system.

Then, to continue the birthday celebrations, me and Kathryn headed out to a new restaurant call Street Food which is near the theatre, on the back road. I had prior experience of the restaurant as I pigged out there just the night before - but this was a new one for Kathryn.

In Street Food, there is a wide range of authentic world foods and dishes inspired by world cuisines (Wagyu Beef-Burger, anyone?). I plumped for the Brit Burger (Blue Cheese dressing, fries) but Kathryn won with here choice of the Stars & Stripes Burger - It was massive (bacon, cheese, fries etc.).

We then headed to a watering hole to quench our beer-thirst. Major Tom’s was the point of call and we met up with a few mates …. who gradually swelled in numbers until it was almost like a party. Scooby bought me a CD of High-Life Music (I hope to review that CD later in my blog) and the drink flowed. I had a rally good time and I hope that every one who ventured out on the evening had a good time too.

I had received a lot of cards throughout the day and I am very grateful for them. This included from new friends, good friends and old friends as well as relatives - it really was a shock! It really was a good day - the sun was out for some of it and I am happy I made it this far … I am now half way to being really old.

February 22, 2016 · News

Profound Sound Festival - LIME Bar Mix

I was invited, back in November, to take part in the debut Profound Sound Festival down in Folkestone. Profound Sound aims to capitalise where Plunge started back in 2015 - by bringing experimental sound / musics to the south coast for the enjoyment of those that flocked to it - and, boy did they flock. There was a real buzz in Folkestone over the weekend. I had been invited to play both Friday and Saturday night in differing venues - quite an accolade.

The Friday night set was really about testing the water on how I would be taken over the weekend. It did not go well - I was billed more as a DJ than an act and there were people talking loudly into their phones and boorishly greeting each other - I took umpage and got a bit precious (very precious) so I played numerous recordings of Bomb Testings in Nepal and glowered over the multitude. The act that followed me was why they were there and I had given myself an acute sense of self importance. This really was a leveler.

Saturday night: I was prepared for more humiliation - but, it proved to be one of the best nights I have been out performing. The venue was LIME Bar / Cafe on Tontine Street, Folkestone - as owned by Andi & Cathy. I was expecting more of the same as Friday night but this time there was silence and appreciation - I was amazed that people found worth in what I was doing! For a good twenty minutes in the middle of the set there was silence across the whole bar. I managed to record the set and here it is, below.

So, then. What lessons can be learned from Profound Sound 2016 - Essentially, I need to clarify whether, in this situation, I am a DJ or an artistic act I suppose. I get out and about playing the nightclubs of North Yorkshire to lay claim to any DJ ambition - so when I am playing field recordings across four decks I think I will need to bill myself as an act. How to go about this? Well this will be a period of acute experimentation as I try and fathom the best way to engage the audience.

One suggestion given to me by Alex Monk was maybe I should try blind-folding the audience members? I think: A dark room? 1-2-1 performance ….? The list is endless as it is vexing. However, roll on 2017!

I really hope I will get asked back by Denise and Diane Dever to play 2017 - It really was a treat to go out there and perform with like minded souls. There was a professional DIY ethos to the event and a bonhomie around the town that will keep me coming back every time I am asked.

February 16, 2016 · Imaginary Landscapes · Profound Sound

Kai 2015 - Where Did You Go?

As this is the first blog post of 2016 I thought I would recap and recalculate the dots and dashes of 2015. A lot of my friends had a terrible year - with the loss of loved ones, losing jobs and relationship break-ups. However, 2015 was a bit of a vintage year for me.

I piloted Harrogate Alternative Radio through troubled seas and made a group of friends in the process. I gained secure employment and found out that I will very soon be an uncle (Brother’s baby is due this month). I built things, I broke things, I loved things and I loathed things - all in all, 2015 was full of life!

It was an eventful year for all those that I know - for good or bad.

I saw the New Year in with Kathryn just by staying in our flat and dancing to the radio. I know it doesn’t sound much fun - but when you find someone you can dance to the radio with then you really want to hold on to that person. Thank you Kathryn for being with me throughout the year and keeping me keeping on.

That about sums it up - a cup of tea is brewing / stewing that I need to rescue. Here is a link to all of the Blog entries for the last year: http://ijopona.org/2015/<

January 2, 2016 · News

T-Shirt Designs

Me and a close friend, Jason, run a clothing brand in Harrogate called Kalama Insa Designs.

The aesthetics are street wear with a nod to minimalist sacred geometry.  I have rattled off a few more designs - I hope you like them. We keep our production costs low and source our wares from sustainable sources that do not use slave labour.Well, here are some of my most recent designs …

Mens_Crew_T-Shirt_Front_Arsenal copy 2

Prism

The tees are available for under £20. If you are a designer of tee-shirts and are reading this - get in contact by emailing us at our business email here and we can start a conversation.

December 19, 2015 · Kalama Insa · News

Desmond & The Freshwater Floodings

The title of this entry is not the name of an obscure 50’s beat combo - oh no, Storm Desmond wreaked havoc in the fells of Cumbria and Scotland over the weekend. It had a personal effect on people I love, so this time it has got personal. The gloves are off Environment, but, it will be about the Re-wilding of Britain.

There are two principal reasons for the freshwater flooding. The first, obviously, is heavy rainfall. Second, perhaps less obviously, is the way in which land and rivers respond to this rainfall. I believe that the restoration of some of Britain’s missing ecosystems could play a major role in the prevention and mitigation of the kind of floods now blighting Cumbria and parts of Scotland.

If the uplands, where most of our rain falls, are kept bare, rainwater flashes off them. Tree cover greatly increases the rate at which it is absorbed by the soil. This means that instead of rushing off the hills and into the nearest river, it is released more slowly, and the flood peaks are likely to be lower.

The management of rivers can have a major impact on the speed and severity of flooding.’

Studies of the Pontbren Project in mid-Wales, where shelter belts of trees were planted across sheep pastures, discovered that water infiltrates into the soil under the trees at 67 times the rate at which it infiltrates into the soil under the pasture. The reason appears to be that the tree roots create channels down which the water can flow, allowing the soil to function as a sponge. By contrast, heavy grazing, as a result of the removal of deep vegetation and compaction of the soil by the feet of livestock, ensures that the land is much less permeable.

One research paper arising from these studies estimates that reforesting just 5% of the land reduces flood peaks by around 29%, while full reforestation would reduce them by some 50%.

The management of rivers can also have a major impact on the speed and severity of flooding. During the last devastating floods in Cumbria, in 2009, river managers noted a massive difference in the response of the St John’s Beck in Thirlmere, which had been canalised and straightened, and the River Liza in Ennerdale, that had been allowed to rewild: to braid and meander naturally, to form islands and accumulate banks of stone and woody debris.

The St John’s Beck suffered a massive pulse of floodwater, roaring down the river valley. The River Liza was still clear and fordable the day after the downpour had occurred. The obstructions in the river slowed and filtered the water. Dredging, canalisation and embankment speed the flow of water downstream, while ecological restoration turns out to be as good for people as it is for wildlife.

One cost-free solution to flooding is allowing beavers to return to our rivers. The dams they build and woody debris they pull into the water can have a powerful influence in slowing the flow. Following the reintroduction of beavers to Belgium, one study found a significant lowering of peak flow downstream of dams, and an increase in the interval between major floods.

Claims are often made that soils are saturated and incapable of taking more water. But in many cases the problem appears to be not saturation, but compaction as a result of careless land management — too many livestock or the use of heavy machinery in wet weather, for example. The photograph heading up this article illustrates this. One field is covered in surface water, creating the impression that it is saturated, while its neighbours are not. The problem in this case is clearly compaction, rather than saturation.

The Westminster government is spending £2.3 billion in flood defence over the course of this parliament. Much of this spending takes the form of hard infrastructure, such as channels, walls and barrages. We believe that in some places flooding can be prevented much more cheaply and with less disruption, through better management of land and rivers.

major study by Forest Research, an arm of the Forestry Commission, found that tree planting, both in the hills and along watercourses, could significantly reduce flooding, soil erosion and water pollution. It concluded:

There is a need to increase incentives for woodland planting by making these better reflect the full range of water and other benefits.”

Woodland for Water - Read Forestry Commission report

In its 2015 progress report to Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change noted that:

Some forms of farming practices are exacerbating flood risk. Although the area of agricultural land protected by flood defences is increasing, some forms of farming practices are potentially exacerbating flood risk, increasing the need for dredging and watercourse management downstream.”

Land management practices can play a role in reducing the likelihood of flooding through their effect on the water cycle. Approaches include upland water storage, peatland restoration, the management of run-off from cropped land, and riparian tree planting.

In reaction to this weekend’s floods in Cumbria, a spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said:

Climate change is happening now and we must build resilience and adapt to the changes that are unavoidable.

We believe that rewilding has a crucial role to play in Britain’s efforts to adapt to climate change. The restoration of river catchments and the rivers themselves could help save homes and lives, as well as providing magnificent and enthralling habitats for wildlife and natural wonders for people to enjoy.

December 8, 2015 · Ranting (About The Environment)

Getty Images

I am delighted to announce that I have been invited to contribute images and videos to the Getty Images database.

Getty are one of (if not the) biggest image license market places on Planet Earth for stills and videos - I am absolutely over the moon. The fact I am now with Getty means there is a bigger opportunity to have my work in the press and on advert boards. Getty distribute the photographs for me and I get paid - and hold on to the copyright of the video / still. I really is a win / win situation for me and I can hardly contain myself.

Yes, it is approaching 2am on a Tuesday morning but I aim to be out tomorrow with my lens. This has made me feel like a pro.

November 16, 2015 · News · Photography

Me & Liam Neeson - How I Owe Him One

Back in, I think, January of this year (2015) I wrote a blog article about where I would like to holiday in 2015. Well, things did not go ahead with that plan as the whole of my immediate clan descended on Granny Dornoch in the Highlands for a week (well, not all of us - Dad was busy planting potatoes).

So, inevitably, these holiday plans took a back burner as I took on more work - as did the Mrs take on more work. However, we were very fortunate to have a bit of money gifted to us and so I thought about how to break it to the Mrs. about my plans for carrying out The Great Work in Bohemia.

I figure you can really get a sense of the geography of a place through cinema. Good cinema can lend an air of what it is like to be there - in a profiled way. Essentially, I was looking for a way to frame Prague to make it as appealing to my wife as Prague is to me. I read on this blog - The Top 15 Hollywood Movies Shot in Prague - the following advice and then purchased a copy of Les Miserables - the C19th revolutionary epic set in Paris:

Before Tom Hooper’s laborious 2012 film version based on the Broadway musical, Danish director Billie August (Pelle the Conqueror) made this non-musical (and vastly superior) version of Victor Hugo’s classic story. I don’t know why it’s so under-seen: it’s one of the best film versions of this story, with a dynamite cast that includes Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman, Geoffrey Rush, and Claire Danes in the central roles. Filming took place at Barrandov Studios and throughout Prague, which filled in for 19th-century Paris.

Well, Liam Neeson and his baritone drawl worked a treat and the Mrs gave her consent to the booking flights for the end of April 2016 for both of us to go to Prague! For the hotel, we have a booking in the amazing looking Hotel Raffaella (4* and at a bargain!) which is 0.4 miles from Wenceslas Square! I will treading in the footsteps of John Dee, Franz Kafka, James Bond & Hellboy! I am, needless to say, very excited … However, this jaunt to the continent will be well documented: I plan on bringing mobile blogging apparatus, cameras, portable field recorders & binoculars.

Meanwhile expect blog articles about everything from Communist era Czech Movie posters to the newer, more silent Prague tram system.

November 6, 2015 · 2016 Holiday · Dornoch · Holiday · Prague

VIBE

I have the good fortune to be in the VIBE Collective. We hold a residency every second and last Saturday night of the calendar month at a local venue, RETRO Bar. I will embed our Facebook feed at the bottom of this post for you to get more information about what we get up to.

VIBE Harrogate

Last night, the 31st of October, was a VIBE event - it was a bit of a quiet one but a good time was had by all. The tag line for our events is Serious About Dance Music?’ and we offer a night for those people who take their dance music seriously, an alternative to the more commercial offerings that the other venues in town put on. The collection of other DJs showcase some of the most technically accomplished talent our fair town has to offer …. and I open the night. The other DJs play a whole German IDM / Tech House / Balearic vibe. I opened last night with the dirtiest Funk set I have ever played - it was pure filth!

One of the other DJs, Ben, runs a tent at Alchemy Festival in Leicestershire - called Psychedelic Breakfast. He very kindly booked me to play next years (2016) festival. Yes, my first festival booking! Amazing! I really am over the moon on this one - but, we will see how it goes and I am not counting my chickens before the eggs hatch.

November 1, 2015 · Procrastination

Allantide & My Mate Allan

I have a mate called Allan - he is probably unaware of Allantide so I thought I would trawl the internet and find some facts out about this day, today, for him - and post them up here. Needless to say me and my mate, Allan, will not be indulging in these traditions - we are, instead, DJing at an event called VIBE tonight.

My mate Allan

Allantide (in Cornish Calan Gwaf or Nos Calan Gwaf) is a festival celebrated on 31st of October . The festival itself seems to have pre-Christian origins similar to most celebrations on this date, however in Cornwall it was popularly linked to St Allen or Arlan a little known Cornish Saint. Because of the this Allantide is also known as Allan Day. As in all celtic cultures this time of year was seen as being a significant one and sometimes considered to be the celtic New Year (although this is disputed). In the celtic mind this was the point in the year when the veil between this world and the next was most thin.  At one point Allantide was a popular time for parties across Cornwall. It is customary to give large polished Red Apples at Allantide which in the past  were bought at large Allan Markets”.

Here follows 2 descriptions of Allantide from 19th Century sources which talk about giving Allan apples and Allan Markets.

The shops in Penzance would display Allan apples, which were highly polished large apples. On the day itself, these apples were given as gifts to each member of the family as a token of good luck. Older girls would place these apples under their pillows and hope to dream of the person whom they would one day marry.”

The ancient custom of providing children with a large apple on Allhallows-eve is still observed, to a great extent, at St Ives.”Allan-day,” as it is called, is the day of days to hundreds’ of children, who would deem it a great misfortune were they to go to bed on Allan-night” without the time-honoured Allan apple to hide beneath their pillows. A quantity of large apples are thus disposed of the sale of which is dignified by the term Allan Market.”

There were also a number of folk divination games played at Allantide including the pouring molten lead into cold water, which, according to tradition, could predict the occupation of a future lover or spouse. The shape of the cooled lead indicating the future job, a broom being a janitor, a gun a soldier and so forth.

Noted folklorist Margaret Courtney records the following Allantide games.

Another game sometimes played at Allantide is as follows.

A local game is also recorded where two pieces of wood were nailed together in the shape of a cross. It was then suspended with 4 candles on each outcrop of the cross shape. Allan apples would then be suspended under the cross. The goal of the game was to catch the apples in your mouth, with hot wax being the penalty for slowness or inaccuracy.”

Another tradition associated with Allantide was the lighting of Tindle Fires”, which the Cornish shared in common with the majority of their other Celtic brethren.

Here is what Wikipedia says of the matter:

Allantide (CornishKalan Gwav, meaning first day of winter, or Nos Kalan Gwav, meaning eve of the first day of winter and Dy’ Halan Gwav, meaning day of the first day of winter) is a Cornish festival that was traditionally celebrated on the night of 31st October, as well as the following day time, and known elsewhere as Hallowe’en. The festival itself seems to have pre-Christian origins similar to most celebrations on this date, however in Cornwall it was popularly linked to St Allen or Arlan a little-known Cornish Saint. Allantide is also known as Allan Night and Allan Day, possibly in reference to the Cornish. The origins of the name Allantide probably stem from the same sources as Hollantide (Wales and the Isle of Man) and Hallowe’en itself.

  - the full text can be found at this link.

October 31, 2015 · Folklore

That’s One For The Album, Dear”

At some point in your travels, you’ll come across a sight that’s so beautiful, it takes your breath away. In those moments there’s only one thing to do. Take a photo. With your balls out. Nutscaping is a photo-taking trend which involves dropping your trousers, whipping out some testicles (yours, if you have them), and gently hovering above the camera so your balls hang down like a majestic moon in the sky. Nutscapes.com is a website dedicated to capturing the phenomenon, and has even shared a handy guide on how it’s done:

How to Nutscape

  1. Find yourself somewhere awesome
  2. Turn your back to the awesome scene
  3. Drop your pants
  4. Bend over and shoot Nutscape through your legs

Diagrams are to come, in case you need some help perfecting the technique, and there are a few rules. Like no dick tips. Just interested in the balls, here.

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Lone testicles overlook some rocks. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

The creators of nutscapes also have a few pointers (not a double entendre. Again, balls. Not penises) to offer, advising loose clothing for easy whipping out, and the use of a friend when needed. The trend first appeared back in 2007, but is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Because, balls.

It’s art, really.

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

This one’s quite soothing, if you ignore the pubes. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

And people are willing to brave chilly temperatures….

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Such bravery. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

…and terrifying heights in order to capture the perfect nutscape.

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Good composition on this one. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

It’s a new take on freeballing.

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Balls on the beach. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

That allows your balls to take in nature and the beauty of the world around them.

people are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Balls in the mountains. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

Balls deserve a break, too.

(Picture: nutscapes.com)

Balls at large. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

And their time in the limelight. Because dick picks are so passé.

nutscapes men are taking photos of their balls in front of beautiful locations

Balls gone wild. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

And really, if you’re not dangling your bits in front of some cliffs at sunset, we’re just not interested.

balls overlooking some cliffs

Balls. (Picture: nutscapes.com)

Head over to Nutscapes if you fancy some more nutspiration, or fancy submitting your own.

October 28, 2015 · Review (Of Sorts)

A Review Of How To Change The World”

Right, I am fresh back from the Cinema (Odeon Harrogate) after seeing a premier screening of the film How To Change The World, a biographical documentary of the early days of Greenpeace. I admit it, I am no qualified film critic - but think of this as www.poopshoot.com from the Kevin Smith film Dogma - where everybody has their own opinion and, normally, it is crass.

Well, what did I get from the film How To Change The World? Essentially: revulsion & hope.

Why? Why the revulsion? Well, the film is rated Certificate 15 yet shows images of the slaughter of whales and skinned & disembowelled seals. Why did I feel hope? Because of the people risking their life to stop the slaughter of whales and the skinning of seals.

The documentary paints the founding fathers (yes, they were men - white & bearded) as a group of flower children who became sea-bikers. There was very much a Flower Child influence in the early days  - for example; the consulting of the I-Ching to determine the fate of their second outing (to stop factory whaling). This methodology continued until the founding of Greenpeace International divorced Greenpeace from its hippy roots.

The documentary projects Bob Hunter as a reluctant leader (in my eyes he reached guru status in the film) but as is said in the documentary “Let the situation be the Guru.”

[David ‘Walrus’ Garrick]

David Walrus’ Garrick - Founding member of Greenpeace, my new favourite person & a real life Radagast The Brown

However, one thing irks me - it is preaching to the converted. The only people who will see this film are the people who already have a passion for environmental campaigns. You will not get Joe Public to part cash to see a film in which you are shown the clubbing of a baby seal. It is Joe Public who needs to see this film - to create their own Mind Bombs as the film explains.

Me and Kathryn stuck around for the Q&A’s afterwards - being broadcast from down south. In the Q&A’s after the screening, the director of the film stated that he would quite like it if someone came away from the film disgusted with Greenpeace. He is obviously not using cinema as a vehicle for social change. I fear that the very people who should view this film will pass this film by.

However, what a film - a mesmeric (real life) plot and even more intense characters. 5*

September 9, 2015 · Review (Of Sorts)

Dornoch Beach

Dornoch beach is a beautiful expanse of golden sand located on the tranquil Dornoch Firth.

Miles of golden sand stretch from Dornoch Point heading past Embo beach to the mouth of Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve. Further north along the coast there are two other award-winning beaches located at Golspie and Brora. Adjacent to the beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest that features nesting birds, flora and fauna.

This fine long blue flag beach has been given a Seaside Award status as a clean bathing beach.

Dornoch Beach

July 21, 2015 · Dornoch · Holiday · Image

Dornoch 2015

I have the good fortune to have a lovely Gran living in the Highlands of Scotland. Granny lives a stones throw from Dornoch Cathedral.

Dornoch is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east. The town is within the Highland local government council area, and within the county of Sutherland.

The name Dornoch’ is derived from the Gaelic for pebbly place’, suggesting that the area contained pebbles the size of a fist (dorn) which could therefore be used as weapons. Dornoch has the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop’s Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest magazine.

It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch’s Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722.

Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links. The golf course is next to the award winning blue flag beach.

However, I just remember the place for good food and good company.

July 20, 2015 · Dornoch · Holiday · Image

Rewilding Britain

Rewilding Britain is a charity set up by people with a passion for nature. [They] believe rewilding provides hope for the future for people and nature. Through rewilding we can start to reverse centuries of ecological damage. We can re-establish natural processes, reconnect with nature and regain wonder for the natural world.

The above is what the website www.rewildingbritain.org.uk says about itself - and I am all for it! I have an interest and an academic background in Wildlife Conservation; so, I am bound to be interested.

Many years ago (around the turn of the millennium) I was fortunate enough to study BSc. Wildlife Conservation at Plymouth Uni. No big, I was pretty crap at it. However, the passion I hold for the diversity of eco-systems within Great Britain is still there.

Rewilding Britain will help to bring the land and seas of this beautiful country back to life. I’m delighted that this is happening. It’s great news for wildlife and for people.”

Yes there are better people for the job (I cannot watch a wildlife documentary without have PTSD flashbacks) but, surely, this very Blog article is the start of something? The more people that are made aware of the great work done by the small group of people who have dedicated their life towards a sustainable future then the more their message will be spread.

Imagine our natural habitats growing instead of shrinking. Where space for nature is expanding beyond small pockets of reserves. Imagine species diversifying and thriving, instead of declining. That’s rewilding.

July 20, 2015 · News · Review (Of Sorts)

A Pick Me Up Talk

Yup - things can be tough for you. However, look at this photo …

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There is something I wish to draw your attention to … This photo was taken as Usain Bolt smashed the World Record for the Mens’s 100m Sprint. He completely ripped it apart at Beijing in 2008 - setting a new record of 9.69 seconds.

9.69 seconds! I would struggle to fall to the floor in that time.

However, look at the photo - do you see his trailing leg in it. Notice anything? Yup, his shoe lace is undone,

The moral of this story is that you can do awesome things and still feel quite stupid.

Have a good Monday …

June 15, 2015 · A Pick Me Up · Procrastination

Review: Sony QX10 For Street Photography

The DSC-QX10 works seamlessly with your smartphone, allowing you to shoot beautiful images, edit them on your phone and then share them online.

 > - Sony

The above is what SONY have to say about their own product - for more information on what Sony have to say about the QX10, please click here. However, I am going to write this review from my point of view - a hobbyist street photographer living in a Spa Town in the north of England.

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Well, how does it handle?

Lets get the bad (and there is very little of that) out of the way: the start up time in agonisingly slow. I have it charging up in the kitchen now, as I type, and that does not seem to be helping matters much. So, if you wish to just crank it up and take a quick candid portrait I recommend maybe purchasing a RICOH GR - the start up time on the Ricoh is legendary, yet the Ricoh is 3x the price.

The full spec of the lens is that it is a 1/2.3″ type (7.76mm) Exmor R™ CMOS sensor - a real beauty. It shoots in 18.2MP and for a clue as to the finished result, please scroll down to the bottom of this post. My major gripe with this camera is that is only shoots in JPEG - not RAW, losing a lot of data in the compression. However, the lens is fixed and is a SONY G Lens! The G Lens is known for standing shoulder to shoulder with the Carl Zeiss Lens’ - hue and colour were faithfully reproduced thanks to the BIONZ™ image processor.

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How is it in action? I unhooked it from its Smartphone mount and walked around my town centre documenting the hubbub. It fits nicely yet loosely in my left hand (no need for a right hand to operate a shutter as the shutter can be pressed with the thumb of my left hand). It really is shooting from the hip - there was no way of knowing if the photos would all be headless or blurry - I had it detached from the smartphone screen so there was no way of knowing how the images were composed. Bang, bang, bang - image after image. Of course, when I got home the images were all upside down - but batch rotating helped that.

The images are stored on a MicroSD card and it is connected to a mac / pc through a Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0), Multi/Micro USB Terminal. There is the option to sync your photos and videos with your smartphone using Wifi, or NFC on the Android platform. PlayMemories is the app that allows you to control the camera (I come down on the side of that this is a bonafide camera with smartphone attachment rather than an attachment for a smartphone).

DSC00011

This is a review for a QX10 inline with Street photography and Candid Portraiture - the 10x Optical Zoom is unnecessary for the majority of street photography - plus with the QX10 the zoom is quite sluggish and not all that. With a fully charged battery I can easily get over 200 shots in a day - meaning a full day out with this camera.

So, as a walking-around-town camera for candid photography I cannot recommend this camera enough. It sits mid way between a GoPro Hero (5MP :( ) and a top end RICOH GR. I have heard RICOH GRs billed as the ultimate street photography camera - I am not here to disagree. Just I motion that the SONY QX10 is an excellent budget candid alternative.

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June 3, 2015 · Photography · Review (Of Sorts)

Harrogate Underground

Did you know there was an old, disused Underground Railway in my hometown, Harrogate? The tunnel was abandoned 150 years ago and the far end near Leeds road became an air raid shelter during the war years.

George Hudson and the York and North Midland railway completed the line from Church Fenton in 1848. When it reached the site of what is now Harrogate’s Hornbeam Park station, it veered left and then plunged under the 400 yard long Brunswick tunnel, before emerging on what is now the far side of the Leeds Road/Park Drive roundabout. Here the line followed a discreet cutting before reaching Brunswick station, built opposite Trinity church, on Trinity road next to the stray. The only evidence the station was here these days is a plaque set in stone opposite the church.

The station was built here, because it was not allowed to cross the Stray, for fears of noise and smoke polluting the area. However attitudes had changed towards the railway by 1862 when the North Eastern railway arrived in the town and completed the new station where it still stands today. The branch through Brunswick tunnel and the station was then abandoned after only 14 years in operation.

During the Second World War the tunnel was converted into an air raid shelter with steps leading down to it from the Leeds road roundabout area. Workmen constructing the roundabout in the 1960’s accidentally dug into the roof of the tunnel not knowing it was there.

The air raid shelter was abandoned by 1943. Today the entrance is filled in leaving no trace it was ever there. Apparently, the tunnel is in remarkably good condition considering it has been abandoned for 150ish years, you can even see the indents in the floor were the sleepers used to be.

The air raid shelter was built with six foot high blast walls and wooden benches running along both sides of the tunnel. Toilet cubicles were also to be found in all four corners. There was also evidence of electric cabling suggesting there was a light and power supply down there during the war.

May 29, 2015 · Folklore · Procrastination

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