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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Impulse buy

I went to Southport yesterday.

Purely, you understand, for the purpose of taking photographs. With no intention whatsoever of even going inside any shops.

Imagine, then, my horror at finding myself inexorably drawn inside the tiny Osiris Antiques shop, the owners of which had cunningly displayed an irresistible collection of period jewellery in its windows.

It is fortunate that yesterday was pay day, because I was forced to buy this:-

It is both a pendant and a brooch (it even has the original safety chain intact); it is in excellent condition; it is a full 2" in diameter; and it is hallmarked Birmingham, 1923.

I have been purchasing from Neile and Nicole for long enough to recognise the flash of butterfly wing when I see it, but I've never before seen a period piece incorporating it at anything like this size.

Although - with the possible exception of the reflection of the tree in the top right-hand quadrant - I'm rather pleased with this photograph, I must say that the wing is less blue - and more of a lavender colour - in real life. I am hoping one of the aforementioned ladies will be able to identify the species of morpho for me, although I do appreciate that, given the age of the piece, it's possible that particular species no longer exists.

(And, yes, I do realise that any butterfly used in a piece of this age is unlikely to have led a full and happy life, but will have instead been snatched untimely from the forest canopy. But I really don't consider purchasing this piece more than eighty years after said butterfly was ruthlessly hunted down with a big net to constitute tacit approval of the way materials were sourced in those days. It's not as though my money will go to the perpetrator.)

The Editor

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Such a perfect day

Readers who have followed this blog since its inception can not help but have noticed that the regularity of posting has tailed off significantly of recent months. But that the content of the Flickr link in the sidebar now changes quite regularly.

It's the acupuncture, you know. I am very considerably more mobile now than I have been for at least the last four years. And, with increased mobility, comes the responsibility to consolidate that improvement by undertaking judicious levels of exercise.

(NB, as I have alluded to previously, whilst I can now walk what, for me, are very considerable distances, my pain levels have not altered significantly. I don't feel that I am at imminent risk of what the medics call "an acute episode", but walking is by no means pain-free, and bending of any kind still hurts like a bar steward, and carries great risk. I would rather people didn't leap to the conclusion to which my father leapt with frightening alacrity, i.e. that I am "better". I am not. Nor do I believe I ever will be. But I can get out and about a lot more.)

Not only must I walk for my own physical benefit, but I am now able to look around me while walking. This is both a great novelty and a great pleasure. For years, walking has taken every available spoon - and then some - and has required titanic levels of concentration. Now, as long as the pavements are nice and level, and not crowded, I can almost break into a casual stroll...

However, I have long harboured a completely-irrational belief that passers-by know when one is walking just for the sake of walking. And that they mock one for so doing. Absent the excellent excuse for random walking provided by a dog, walking with intent to photograph one's surroundings seems to me to be an excellent cover for the less-interesting walking-to-increase-one's-capacity-to-walk. Of course, it's entirely possible that passers-by who would not otherwise have paid me the slightest heed now regard me with amused curiosity for taking photographs of things they consider to have no visual merit. But I am too engrossed in what I am doing to care.

To my astonishment, I am now taking an interest in weather forecasts. For longer than I can remember, I only left the house when I had no option but to leave the house. On those occasions, I could tell what the weather was like by the simple expedient of looking out of the window. Now, I want to plan my perambulations according to the quality of the light, and I hate to miss the opportunity of pottering about, camera in hand, on a clear, bright day.

Yesterday being forecast - correctly, as it turned out - to be just such a day, I planned to pay my second visit to Another Place on Crosby beach. The first time I went, I went when the tide was coming in. Quite apart from the fact that it is really quite depressing watching the figures being drowned, the incoming tide makes photography tricky and, indeed, quite dangerous for someone who could not, even in her wildest dreams, leap to safety should she get cut off.

But the tides were such yesterday that I was able to watch the figures gradually emerge from the frothing waves: a much more cheering prospect. Although it was cold - even I was reduced to putting a fleecy hat on eventually - it was also quite incredibly beautiful, with clear views across to New Brighton, and the Welsh mountains beyond.

Having gained in stamina since my last visit, I was able to stay longer, and to mind less that, on a beach, there is nothing against which one can lean casually when one's back and legs are complaining. I even went so far as to buy a portion of chips, and eat them on the prom. The local starlings are evidently accustomed to the presence of chips, and hopped at my feet, cheeping piteously. In fact, one or two took turns hovering in mid-air on a level with the tray of chips and would almost certainly have stolen one had I not waved them away with my tiny, two-pronged wooden fork. I would dearly have liked to have caught this on camera but, of course, if I had put my chips down even for a moment, I would never have seen them again. And I regretted having left the last few to the starlings once I had had to chase the polystyrene tray along the prom a couple of times...

The best of the photographs I took are on Flickr. I should say, though, that not even the most professional photographs - amongst which I do not count my own - can even begin to convey what the installation is really like. Maybe because it's too big. Maybe because the movement of the sea is such an important part of it. I don't know. I do know that you shouldn't miss the opportunity of seeing it for yourself if you are ever in the area. Just wrap up warm if you are in any way nesh.

The Editor

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I thought this was one of those things that everybody knows. But the Dude didn't. So it may not be quite so well-rooted in the British subconscious as I had assumed...

In the picture above, there are three mallards, a pigeon, a coot and a moorhen.

How do you remember which of the little, black water birds is a moorhen and which one is a coot?


No-one is ever described as being as bald as a moorhen.

The coot is on the right.

The Editor

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter woolly

In preparation for the long, cold months of winter ahead, Bertie has been growing lots of extra fur...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Oh, my friends, be warned by me"*

We had a hard frost on Friday night, which led on to an icy-cold, but quite brilliantly-blue, day on Saturday.

Having woken up at half past five, I waited impatiently for it to be light enough for me to venture out with my camera.

At a little after eight, I caught a bus down to the river. I had heard on the news that the Pier Head had reopened earlier in the week, and I wanted to have a mooch around and see what was there.

For almost two hours, I pottered about. I took photographs of buildings and statues and friezes and war memorials and even lamp posts. The air was clear and the sky was a divine shade of blue.

The moment I got home, I attached my camera to my computer and did the things one needs to do in order to upload one's photographs.

And then the Kodak software crashed.

And I lost them.

All of them.

All one hundred and some of them.

And I wept with fury at my own stupidity.

Never, ever again will I blithely put a check in the box next to the "Remove pictures from original device?" question. I will delete them manually only once I am absolutely certain that they have been successfully transferred to my computer.

My hardly-childish-at-all decision never to take any photographs ever again lasted, you will be impressed to hear, until yesterday morning. Unfortunately, yesterday also saw the last of the beautiful blue skies for the moment...

The Editor

* Belloc

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An apology to Pop

When I got home from work yesterday evening and told you that I had spent the afternoon in a three-way videocon, I didn't mean that I had had myself filmed having sex with two other people.

I meant that I had been in a videoconference with colleagues from London and Belfast simultaneously, and there was a split screen, and that made it really quite exciting (for about the first thirty seconds).

I know you're disappointed. Sorry.

I'll try very hard to think of something equally alluring - but non-pornographic - to get you for Christmas.

The Editor