Saturday, 14 September 2019

Sigh… there goes another summer, Snoopy!


Chafford arms garden

Last weekend Richard an I cycled 48 miles to Fordcombe and back, for a drink. Well not exactly, we hadn't got together for a long time, so needed to catch up. As is the case with good friends we were soon chatting as if no time had passed.

It was a tough ride, with some challenging hills but Thatchers cider at the Chafford Arms coupled with good food made up for it.

thatchers cider at the chafford arms fordcombe


We arrived a little before it opened, so we had plenty of time to find a table in the big garden.
Once open it filled quickly but the service was speedy and efficient. We were quickly tucking into a tasty lunch. I'm not normally a cider drinking, but I'm glad I choose to be. It was delicious, just what I needed to top up my energy for the ride home.

It had started out a bit chilly, within a few miles the temperature was just right. By the time we sat down for lunch it had become a very pleasant afternoon, just right for a pub lunch in the garden. We talked about what we had both been up to and our plans. Richard is a beekeeper, I'm looking forward to some honey next year; I'll start saving some jars. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, and if he's not careful they could just fly away. It's now all about building their reserves for the winter, having taken the honey during the summer Richard has to feed them quickly. He'll be wrapping them up soon, to ward off the winter cold.

Today was a solo ride, Matt having returned from his holidays late yesterday. So I took out the road bike. 

The hills felt a little harder than usual, even the flat was tougher that it should be. Am I getting old all of a sudden? Nope; the bottom bracket has started to seize. A quick trip to Ross Cycles to drop off the bike after my shower will have it sorted by next weekend. I took the opportunity to have the brakes upgraded. They have improved a bit since my first ride, but not enough.

This morning was really chilly, I didn't take my jacket off until I was heading home, a real sign of impending winter. It's beautiful now, with better promised for tomorrow. 

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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Bold and bright

court basketball


I have been working hard on my photography, trying new styles and pushing myself with new challenges. Personally I have seen improvement, both in the quality of my work and my confidence.

But it's great when others see it.

I have had a number of photoshoots with Saskia, the last one was a few months ago.

Her mum approached me about a shoot for a designer. (facebook page) She had been asked to recommend a photographer, and Janise suggested me. That was a big boost, and a new challenge.

The theme was sporty so a tennis court was an ideal location; would the weather intervene?



I had hoped for a sunny day feel; but it rained for a short time and was overcast. A typical summer day.

A remote flash added a little punch to the scene.

At one point we had quite a crowd; moving to a different court cured them of their curiosity. I don't usually mind an audience, Saskia is use to it too. But when they stare from a few feet away it can be off-putting.

Janise got involved as well.




We tried to vary the poses and use every inch of the courts.





 Janise noticed one with pink chairs, although faded, they still added to the variety for the pink outfit.



This last outfit was a little less sporty, no-one is going to play tennis in those heels.


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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Deeper into Kent than normal

oast house kent

I don't normally cycle very far past Westerham, there isn't the time. But today I had some of that precious commodity. It was to be a lone ride, so I set my sights on Fordcombe. It looked like a good distance, just under 48 miles. And I'm due to cycle with some mates next weekend to the Chafford Arms in the village. I wasn't sure of the route, how hilly it was and if it was quiet or busy roads. It was good to reccy it and report back.

Sorry Matt and Richard, there are a few hills, one or two particularly challenging.

Although it didn't seem as bad as the Cyclemeter graph below.



The weather was perfect, not too hot with little wind so I kept up a reasonable pace. The bike has drop handlebars, but I rarely get in to the low drag position. It isn't particularly comfortable and the bumps threaten to loosen my grip. It does make a big difference, but I'm not racing anyone so I mostly stick to the top tube.

fordcombe kent

I arrived earlier than I had expected, so the pub was closed. Leaving later and being on mountain bikes next weekend should mean it will be open. It'll be great to catch up over a pint and some food.

I can guess at the meaning of the village name, a ford across a river in a valley, looking at the graph above it is in a valley. But has a steep climb to enter it, well away from any river. The pub gets good reviews so I'm looking forward to visiting it.

With not much to do, I ate a cereal bar, took some pics and headed home.

I'm starting to rack up the miles on the road bike; it was okay for most of the journey. Every bike I have owned seems to fit, until a longer distance is attempted. It's always the same, thirty nine miles all is well, but as forty rolls past. Thighs, knees and my back all cry enough. Fortunately it was a simple fix; move the seat forward and tilt the front up a bit more. Pedaling and pushing yourself back onto the seat takes its toll, hopefully it's sorted and I can enjoy the longer rides again.

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Monday, 26 August 2019

Remember the good stuff

shadow of the cycle helmet

The long weekend hasn't let us down.

Great weather coincided with a bank holiday, I'm sure it often does but I don't always remember.

It seems most holidays are marred by rain; or is it me holding onto negative experiences?

I can vividly recall mistakes, poor performance and disappointments. But successes, and good times; they're a little more difficult to recollect.

I suppose a diary would be a good idea, maybe that's why people write them.

I guess it could, subconsciously, be why I started this blog. I use it to record photography and cycling, both produce memories worth holding on to; shared experiences with friends, challenges overcome, and achievements.

I read it when I need reassurance or encouragement, a kind of "you got this".

It's too easy to think nothing is going well, but as I write this and think about old posts it has me remembering the good stuff. Not only what I have written previously but the day to day highs, that don't make it here.

We all have them, we just need to recount and value them.

It's said there is always someone worse off, I don't want to feel better at another's expense. We all need to count our blessings and not take what we have for granted. It's a more positive way to live.

Yesterday I caught up with a friend I hadn't seen for a while for his birthday, just four days until the weekend, I am working in London on Friday with the rest of the company and then a week off.

Four blessings right there.

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Monday, 19 August 2019

Stepford wives

stepford wives in the kitchen

A first for me; a themed studio day. With three models and a lot of work building the sets. It was a four hour shoot with one other photographer. A well planned schedule meant we shot separately; one model, then two and finally all three. We came away with different pictures, not normally the case with workshops and studio days. They usually encourage a queueing ritual, where everyone waits for the flash trigger. Hoping the current holder doesn't take too long and the models adopt the same series of poses. It's not their fault, there isn't time to chat and bounce ideas around. Even worse is when the person leading the session tells everyone what settings to use and places the lights in their never to be changed positions.

Not the case this time; there was advise from very the experienced models. But I had time to experiment.

The first time I had been to this studio was way back in 2017.

Beforehand I had some ideas for shots, bold colour, and a more posed look. We talked about the plan at the beginning, to make sure we all were going in the right direction.

To be honest I was a little unsure about the style the models had in mind. And I worried my mind would draw a blank.

I shouldn't have worried, they had plenty of ideas. It took me a while to change from my default shooting style, I relaxed and it flowed much better.

Rachelle built an incredible set; you hear the saying, brought everything except the kitchen sink. She can now say, "I bring everything, including the kitchen sink".

In addition to the kitchen set there was a living room. Again bold colour blocks were the theme.

light ironing

I had an idea to have Rachelle ironing Nicole. Have to keep that young appearance, no wrinkles allowed in a Stepford household.

That was the part of the session I took time to latch onto; if you have suggestion, the weirder the better, say it.

Nicole's idea to be blown away by double hair-dryer wielding Rachelle took a few attempts to get right. We had time and it was another example of a shot I wouldn't have got at a busy workshop.

blown away by hair dryers

 The bathroom was a little restricted by Scarlet made it work. The blue tiles a great contrast to bright orange.




Always eager to do what it takes, here is a novel way to change someone's mind. Give it a quick whisk

brain mixing

If you haven't seen the film, the women in the town are implanted with a computer chip. It makes them into the men's ideal spouse's. I prefer a more independent minded women.

So this last scene is Scarlet and Nicole persuading Rachelle it's for the best.

inserting the control chip

All friends again.



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