Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2009

PhotographyWednesday, June 24th, 2009, (5:20 pm)

Last week was a pretty busy week for me, so I thought I would snap a few pictures along the way and see what I ended up with at the end of the week. Below is the result, a photographic snapshot of my week. You can click on the little pictures to enlarge them and check the details of each picture in the numbered list below.


1. Friday. Looking out across the Irish sea from New Brighton as Friday (12th) draws to a close.

2. Turbines of the Burbo Bank offshore wind farm as seen from New Brighton.

3. Saturday. A Welsh ‘wiggle road’ snakes it’s way over the hills near Carno in Wales where I would spend a couple of days with my friend Jeffrey.

4. Massive wind turbines serenely rotate on the Welsh hills generating clean renewable energy.

5. Arriving at Romy’s cottage. You have to drive through several gated fields to get there.

6. Romy’s cottage is in the middle of the picture obscured
by trees, however you can see her barn.

7. Romy’s beautiful stone cottage. Romy herself was not there but I joined my friend Jeffrey Hyman who had escaped from London for weekend in the Welsh sun.

8. The cottage kitchen.

9. The view from my bedroom window at Romy’s cottage.

10. A dragonfly that must have just hatched because it attempted to land on my head and had absolutely no concern with the close proximity of my camera lens.

11. Looking around Romy’s cottage you can bet that every item has a story.

12. Flower pots outside of the stone built barn next to the cottage.

13. Sunday. Jeffrey and I headed out for a drive and stopped in the little bay town of Aberdyfi where we strolled along the banks of the mouth of the River Dyfi and had ice cream.

14. A little boat tied up at Aberdyfi.

15. Cottages on a narrow road in a Welsh village.

16. A small Welsh chapel (Sorry, I don’t know where this was).

17. With no particular plans or agenda Jeffrey and I simply threaded our way though the breathtaking mid Wales countryside on the ‘wiggle roads’ that lend themselves well to such relaxed driving.

18. Wales in full of remote stone built dwellings. Part of me would love to live in one out there in the wild countryside, another part of me wouldn’t.

19. Mr posing with my car.

20. Jeffrey and I chatted away as I drove along roads chatting away merrily and stopping regularly to get out of the car and look at the scenery.

21. Me posing with my car again! It was fun driving onto the beach and doing donuts in the sand.

22. Another little village road, and another opportunity to wonder what it would be like to live in one of these houses.

23. Painted homes in the beach town of Borth.

24. To call Borth a town is perhaps overstating it somewhat. The ‘town’ practically consists of one road with a row of houses and shops. Jeffrey commented that it looked like a film set.

25. Happening upon Borth was a trip down memory lane for Jeffrey. In his twenties he had camped there with a friend so we both walked to the top of the hill for ‘old times sake.’

26. There was a telescope at the top of the hill that overlooked the sea and the town. This is a picture through that telescope. I knew I wouldn’t get a close up, and in truth my camera could easily zoom-in to the same degree, but I wanted to take the shot to see what the effect was like.

27. An accidental shot as I walked down the hill. I was going to delete this picture, but there’s just something about it that I like.

28. Monday. Passing through another Welsh village at the start of a long day behind the wheel heading south to Essex.

29. The weather was beautiful until I got to the city of Birmingham which stood under a heavy black cloud of doom.

30. Having gotten so much sun over the weekend I elected to wear a hat as I drove with the roof down in the sun. That’s the only downside to owning an open top car, you really have to be mindful of sunburn.

31. A picture postcard English cottage in North Essex.

32. Tuesday. After Yogi’s funeral Mom, Dad, my sister Louise, and I got changed then went out for something to eat. This picture was taken by our server at the Five Bells pub in the sleepy Essex village of Colne Engaine.

33. Clouds. (Well dah!)

34. A red telephone box in Colne Engaine.

35. A sun/moon face thing. It probably has some kind of name and meaning, but to me it’s just a sun/moon face thing.

36. Leaving Essex and heading North on the A14 to the midlands the clouds were amazing. However, it’s difficult to capture vast expansive scenes like a spectacular cloud filled sky. Not to mention the fact I was doing 70mph while taking this picture one handed!

37. I spent Tuesday night with my friend Andy who happens to live near a Ferrari dealership. I had to stop and look at them because there is just something mesmerizing about Ferrari’s isn’t there.

38. Wednesday. Wednesday morning I headed over to Will’s place and then over to Sainsbury’s cafe for ‘Blunch.’ (‘Blunch’ is a breakfast that is so close to lunchtime you can’t get away with calling it ‘brunch.’)

39. In traffic I spotted a van on which someone had written ‘Wish my wife was as dirty’ in the dirt on the back of a van.

40. A trip to the Apple store in some boring shopping mall.

41. Will’s birthday dinner was at some expensive restaurant in Birmingham. The meal was good, but the company was so much better. In the quartered picture… Top left: Graham, Will, and Andy (Aka ‘Orange Andy’). Top right: Andy and his girlfriend, Louisa. Bottom left: Crazy Sue and I. Bottom right: Polly and Geoff.

42. An arty shot of me taken by Andy

43. Thursday. Will was once famous for drowning everything he ate in ketchup and not eating anything that hadn’t at one stage had a heartbeat. These days he’s become something of a food ponce, but this always means that you’ll get good food when you stay with him. Last time I was there he cooked a knock-out curry.

44. Presenting slow cooked free range tofu fed chicken eggs and spa treated champagne washed bacon served with organic virgin baked fresh bread.

45. Friday. The day draws to a close as I watch the sunset at Hoylake where there is, curiously enough, no lake.

46. Saturday. An afternoon cook-out at my friend Dom’s. Vast quantities of meat washed down with beer, what’s not to love about that!

47. Wild offspring at Dom’s cook-out.

48. There’s just something great about cooking meat on a grill in the open.

49. It might look like a picture from night out but this is actually work for me. Once a month I go out and take pictures at a local nightclub.

50. Clubbing regulars Roxy and Penny pose for a picture with me.

51. My friend Hillary’s younger sister Denise showing off her pearly whites.

52. And finally, in the early hours on Sunday morning a drunk man is ‘restrained’ by nine police officers after he ‘air punches’ a little fat cop. Despite missing her completely, losing his balance and falling face first to the ground, the brave cops restrained the violent man who I think was actually snoring at this point. Well done bobbies, that’s another dangerous menace you bravely managed to apprehend!

After doing this I am tempted to embark on a photographic project to take and upload one picture each day next year, from the first day of the year until the last. I think that might be interesting, a mosaic of 365 pictures that illustrate something of the year.

Looking at these pictures it’s hard to pick a favorite. I like number 23 (which has nothing to do with the 23 enigma) but then I like 26 and 27 too.

Digital photography is great. I just love the fact that we don’t have to take pictures sparingly being mindful of the cost of getting them developed. These days you can just go crazy, point, click, review, and repeat until done. It’s great!

So do you have a favorite picture?

GeneralTuesday, June 16th, 2009, (12:29 am)

I have a busy week this week that will include quite a bit of driving, a funeral, a birthday party, and a house guest or two. Because of this I won’t have a lot of time to blog. So I had an idea; maybe I could just illustrate the week in pictures?

I’ll snap my way through the week and then post the best pictures that capture the seven day period. I’ve already taken a few so the experiment is underway.

I sometimes think it would be fun just to have a photoblog alone, but I enjoy the process of writing too much to abandon this medium. However, as this will be a busy week, maybe as a one off experiment it would be a good week to photoblog.

Why not get my photoblog post, and all future posts, delivered direct to your email? It’s a spam free email service run by Google that enables you to get my blog posts sent direct to you. There’s no long winded forms to fill out, just a quick box where you input your email then press a submit button. It’s 100% spam free and you can unsubscribe at any time. Click here to subscribe.

ArtFriday, June 12th, 2009, (2:18 pm)

It’s the end of another long working week so you’ll probably be in some state of neural fatigue which makes you ripe for this optical illusion, sent to me by my friend Susan, which will exploit that very condition.

Pink dots, green dots

So here’s what to do: Let your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink. Now, stare at the the black plus sign (+) in the center of the image. First, the moving dot turns to green. (I saw the green dot right away, so perhaps you will too?) Then as you continue to stare, all the pink dots will disappear, and you will only see only a single green dot rotating. This can happen in different ways (including different ways for same person in successive viewings):

  1. Green dot consumes the pink dots
  2. Dots disappear, but reappear briefly after being passed by green dot
  3. Dots in certain positions disappear quickly and dots in other positions can persist for several additional rotations of the green dot.

Because this is an effect of neural fatigue, minor gaps in concentration can cause the circle of pink dots to reappear (and disappear again). Holding your visual concentration, shift your gaze away from the center of this image. The pink dots reappear, but you may also see a full circle of green dots centered on your new focus point.

I’ve actually found another aspect to this illusion which you too might see. If I concentrate on the plus sign for a few seconds then move closer to the screen a little I see a ring of green dots around the ring of pink dots. If I move back from the screen I’ll see the ring of green dots inside the ring of pink dots. Does that happen for you too?

Another popular optical illusion you have probably seen is the old/woman by American psychologist Edward Boring. Apparently when looking at the picture (right) young people tend to see a young girl; older people, an elderly lady.

With effort, you can switch from one to the other: the young woman’s chin becomes the old woman’s nose; the old woman’s mouth, a band on the neck of the young woman.

I couldn’t see the old woman until I read instructions on how to do so. I don’t know what this means in real terms though. Either I have a “young” (and somewhat dumb?) brain, or I have an overactive honeyometer?

Thanks to Susan for the email

Freaky Friday
Get my blog by Email

GeneralMonday, June 8th, 2009, (6:32 pm)

On a recent visit to see my Grandmother, I asked her how she came by her nickname ‘Yogi.’ She told me she couldn’t remember, to which I made some cheeky comment about how memories fade when you’re as old as her. She gave me a faux frown and said something she’s been saying all my life; “You’re not too old for a good hiding you know.” I wonder when exactly I will be too old. Perhaps I should have asked that.

Doris Bradley, aka Yogi

‘Yogi’ and Granddad lived just down the road from us, their bungalow at number 70 Falmouth Road was just a couple of minutes’ bike ride away. Opening the side gate would always excite their dogs who would bark and bark causing Granddad to bark back at them telling them to be quiet.

There was always candy on offer, it was a treat to go to Yogi & Granddad’s after school. Yogi would get the sweet box down from shelves behind the retractable kitchen table that would pull down from the wall. It was thick and had a pattern like broken glass, I remember sitting around it eating dinner, drawing, making things, and playing with cars.

They had a Teletext TV, a kind of internet long before the days of the world wide web we know today. You could read the news, find out what was on TV, or go to page 300 on Oracle for the kids’ section where my siblings and I would do the quizzes.

In the summer we would pick blackberries from their garden that backed onto the London railway line. If I heard a train coming I would rush to the flimsy wire fence and step onto it, swinging back and forth as the train hurtled sometimes sounding its horn.

Yogi had a jar of buttons and things that I used to love turning out and sifting through. Week in and week out it was full of the same strange and fascinating treasures from sparkling buttons and big old coins, to sewing thread and thimbles.

Neither Yogi nor Granddad were religious but in that jar, I found a crucifix. I remember being fascinated by the little man on the cross. I didn’t really know who he was or why he was “sleeping” on the cross, as Yogi told me, I just liked that he was a little man. With the contents of the jar spread before me, I remember sitting in the hall and asking Yogi if I could have the little man on the cross. “When I die you can.” She said. I looked back at Jesus and then back at Yogi and asked, as only a child would, “When will that be?” I don’t remember what she answered, I just remember it wasn’t going to be anytime soon.

In the garden of their old place on Falmouth Road Yogi liked to feed the birds. There was a bird table upon which my brother, sister, and I would place bread crumbs and seed packs. In various trees and from various places hung bird feeders full of seeds and goodies that the little birds enjoyed. We even nicknamed a cake she use to make ‘bird seed cake’ on account of the fact it looked so similar to the stuff she used to feed to the birds. That cake was always so filling, I don’t think I ever managed to eat a whole slice.

Bread Pudding reminds me of Yogi. She made a mean Bread Pudding. Packed with Raisons and topped with a lashing of sugar (which I think was my addition), her Bread Pudding was, in my opinion, the best in the land. Maybe it’s just my rose-tinted memory, but to this day I’ve yet to have a Bread Pudding better than hers.

With bread itself, she used to tell me to eat the crusts. “It’ll make your hair curl.” She would say, which was exactly what I didn’t want to happen, so I would leave the crusts safe in the knowledge that I’d be allowed to leave them – more food for the birds!

As I grew up and popped by to see her and Granddad she would always be quick to ask me the same question. “How’s the love life?” She’s asked that same question every single time I saw her since I was a teenager despite the fact I never once gave a straight answer.

On a recent visit to see her, I asked her to tell me a little about herself, I told her I wanted to know a little bit about Doris Bradley. “I’m Yogi.” She told me. I explained that I wanted to learn something of the woman she was, some of her stories before she became ‘Yogi.’ She wasn’t forthcoming which might have been disappointing but for the fact that I concluded that no matter what I might learn about Doris Bradley, she would always be ‘Yogi’ to me and she was happy to be just that.

I didn’t want to take her for granted so I tried to make every effort to see her as much as I could. I would send her postcards from wherever I was in the world, perhaps in a way to show her that the “naughty boy” she once told me was “bloody hard to love” had grown up, done well for himself, and was now a happy man of the world.

Yogi died today, leaving behind children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – a legacy I hope she was proud of.

So Long Yogi, or as you might have said “Ta ta.”

Doris Bradley, aka Yogi

So long Granddad

General and PhotographyMonday, June 1st, 2009, (6:47 pm)

One of the things I most enjoy about life on a North Western peninsula, is the abundance of spectacular coastal sunsets. Often awe inspiring and always unique, a west coast sunset is a great way to bring any day to a close.

New Brighton seat

When I first moved to the North West of England from the South East, I used to often cycle to the nearby beaches of New Brighton to watch the setting sun slowly melt into the horizon beyond the golden waves of the Irish Sea. I would sit there and watch ships come and go, reading their names to try and figure out where they were from. Sometimes I would imagine what life on a ship that size must be like, how different it must be from mine.

I must have spent hours watching the same sun fall behind the same horizon, but never has it been wasted time. I think perhaps we could all benefit from taking a little time out of our hectic routines to unplug, switch off, and just look around once in a while, to soak up the surroundings, and catch our breath. Sometimes I think it’s escaped peoples notice how breathless they have become in pursuit of a happiness that they would struggle to describe if asked to.

Burbo Bank Wind Farm

Perch Rock Lighthouse, New Brighton, Wirral

There’s an old lighthouse at Perch Rock, New Brighton, where the River Mersey spills into the cold Irish Sea. It’s a lonely figure that stands in contrast to the modern offshore wind turbines that rotate serenely in the distance generating electricity to satisfy our unquenchable thirst for power.

I’ve not stood in its shadow for years so on Saturday evening I decided to wander out to it and snap a few pictures as planes drew lines to and from America in the darkening sky above.

Perch Rock Lighthouse, New Brighton, Wirral

Perch Rock Lighthouse, New Brighton, Wirral

Having so many beaches so close at hand is a luxury for someone who enjoys stopping to marvel at the wonder of the world. Sunsets on the west coast are simply awesome, they are beautifully dramatic and possessing of a near hypnotic power that can entrance anyone, young or old.

I often reach for my camera as the clouds glow like embers and the sky begins to blaze. But more often than not I choose to just sit there and witness the event, knowing that no matter how good any photograph might be, there are some scenes so stirring and magnificent that a photograph can do little to record them, some moments that are so glorious and free that nothing of heaven or earth could ever capture them.

As the sun goes down
Port in a storm
Hide and seek
Big picture, little post
Secret sunset
A bridge of stars