Saturday, 21 July 2012

Wet and wetter plus the joys of being BlackBalled

It was off to Scotland and Norfolk last week or as I will now always remember the trip,  wet (Scotland) and wetter (Norfolk)....  The Scotland part of the tour was a wild life trip.  Our main quarry  being British Cetaceans (order of marine mammals, including whales) particularly the minke whale, that allegedly hang around the Corryvreckan whirlpool (The bronze medallist  of whirlpools according to size* – what can I say? I’m getting into the Olympic spirit) in large numbers.  As well as being wetter than an otter's pocket, the trip will be long remembered for its total lack of whales -  I guess someone must have accidently left the Corryvreckan on full throttle, as not only had the minke’s vanished but so had all the fish......   No doubt sucked into the rotating mass and taken away like greedy punters being offered entry into the world’s third largest Ponzi scheme or Mrs B and myself signing up for a wild goose chase looking for whales in the west of Scotland....

* The thrill of  learning that Britain is the home of the third largest whirlpool in the world was somewhat dampened (as if we were not wet enough already) when I discovered that whirlpools are not the all powerful entities that Hollywood Blockbusters would have us believe. black holes a run for their money as they suck in large ocean-going liners like they were a light training snack for Adam Richman (Man Vs Food)....

Fortunately the rest of the trip offered an abundance of wildlife including dolphins, red squirrel, otter (about time I saw one – up yours otter pimpernel), mountain hare, a pine marten (It always sounded like some sort of tall tree dwelling bird to me - especially when I thought it was a martin), deer, umpteen birds, including Mrs B breaking her owl duck** with not just one but three varieties of the formally elusive Strigiformes – barn owl, short-eared owl and a tiny owl.

** No, that is not some new variety of Owl , although how awesome would that be?  An owl with huge webbed feet landing on an ice-covered pond – I’m getting visual flashes of Roy Hodgson (current England football Manager or ex-England Manager if you are reading this in the future)  entering   “Dancing on ice” after having a few too many drinks beforehand in order to boost his confidence.

The recently discovered Owl Duck
Looks like a wise old bird but guaranteed
to waddle through any football tournament
before crashing out early....
The Norfolk part of our break saw us meet up with our friends Hugh (Farmer), Catherine (Teach), Joe (Stunt Cock),Kirsty (La Terriere) and Alfie the dog (CEO of Xupes).

We got to climb up the inside of a wind turbine, with the promise of views over the Norfolk countryside (well, there would have been if the day had not been full of dull brooding clouds awaiting the opportunity to spew another reservoir's worth of water on us .... It was quite interesting as a one-off experience, unlike the two gentlemen who joined us, who claimed (with excitement) that this was their 10th flight (OK, I guess 300 stairs - 600 if you include the return trip- can be described as a flight) and talked rather too passionately for my liking, about getting frequent-flyer status...for god's sake get a life.... 

We visited Sandringham,  where Queenie and the rest of the royal family spend Christmas and New Year.  I learned a number of things, including  –
  • It pays to be inside when it is pouring down with rain.... I kind of already knew that...
  • The Queen likes to do jigsaw puzzles – I saw her more of a Grand Theft Auto type of gal....
  • Her Maj likes to hang her own Christmas Tree decorations  - I suspect this is a throwback to the days when her predecessors had the joys of hanging us commoners on the slightest whim– I guess some habits are hard to break....  
I managed to help educate one of the room guides – they were in the Ballroom (which also doubles up as a cinema room – I wonder if I could convince Mrs B that we really need a ballroom?).  Sandringham has annual exhibitions in the Ballroom when the house is open to us commoners....This year it was dedicated to the royal dogs who have lived at Sandringham.  I was chatting to the guides and the subject of Crufts came up.  I managed to inform the guide that Queen Victoria had been a winners of Crufts,  as a breeder not an actual contestant. Although in her latter years she could probably have passed herself off quite convincingly as a breed of giant Pug....

The BlackLOG gets BlackBALLED
For some odd reason many of my recent comments on Blogger sites, especially in the US, are being frogmarched directly to the Spam section  and dumped unceremoniously – “Ouch, that hurts”.  Admittedly many of my comments are uninformed drivel but it is well intentioned, uninformed drivel and deserves better than being left on the scrap heap of word life that the spam file represents...

Oddly enough  Wordpress and other blogging arenas don’t seem  to be taking the same hard-line approach as Blogger, which happens to be my blog engine of choice....I wonder if Blogger is trying to tell me something and this is the start of its eviction attempts on  BlackLOG.....

If you are a regular target for my misinformed prose and are wondering what has happened to your regular dose of ignorance, check out your spam area first before filing a missing commenter's report ....

Watch of the Week....

The regular section in support of Joe (Stunt Cock) and his growing watch business Xupes. Joe mentioned that they had been getting a number of hits via the BlackLOG. Xupes has been trading for over 2 years and Joe has recently developed some great contacts in the trade which enables him to pick up surplus stock and sell them at great prices. Mrs B is a regular purchaser from his jewellery section, going self-service once she finally realised that her husband is not the jewellery buying type…

Audemars Piguet Limited edition Black Carbon Ceramic 
Bumble Bee Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
Royal Oak Offshore Bumble Bee Black Ceramic
PRICE                 £18,495
RRP                     £25,480
SAVING                £6,985
This is your chance to acquire an immaculate unused Audemars Piguet Limited edition Black Carbon Ceramic Bumble Bee Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch. Black forged carbon case with stunning black and yellow dial, with black crocodile leather/yellow stitched strap and deployment buckle. This is the XL 42mm size. The watch is in absolutely unworn condition with all tags, boxes, and manuals/European guarantee dated June 2012 so under manufacturers warranty

Record of the week

Here Comes the Rain Again by Eurythmics
Rain in the Summertime by The Alarm
Why Does It Always Rain On me? by Travis
With A Little Help From My Friends by Wet Wet Wet

Photo finish
Scotland and Norfolk as seen by The Beast in the gaps between the many rain showers.... 

A Pine Marten
part tree, part bird
all  mustelid ...
Otter just makes it to the bank for early closing
The new Puffin range is waterproof which
proves ideal for  reading in the bath.....
Mrs B's Russian routes showing through....
If only he could talk I bet he could tell us a tall tale
Is that a gun in his pocket or is he 
just please to see us.....

How embarrassed is he going to be 
when he finds out his flies are undone, lets 
hope he hasn't lost his nuts....
This misguided little fellow seems to have taken a short cut and has
ended up going down the wrong branch of the evolutionary tree.   
Mission Mmpossible V - (Bark worse than bite)

Tom Cruise (as Nathan Hunt) takes on his arch
enemy  Secret Squirrel - possibly the only co-star

 to be shorter than the diminutive  Mr Cruise 
Oops, I think I may have just shot Bambi's Mother ?
Dolphin porn

Don't you just wish they would get a room .... 
"Suicide Hare" It's always embarrassing 
when you have to wait ages to be...road kill  
There is allegedly a  cafe on Route 66 in America called
 The Road Kill Cafe - that cooks your road kill for you.
A case of -  "From your grill to their grill"

Depending on your driving skills you could find yourself dining on

Squashed Nosh
Splatter Platter
 Big Bagged Stag
Highway Hash
Possum Pie
Baked Badger

and not for the faint hearted

Human stew 

Best to eat it all in one sitting
"No evidence, no conviction"
Possibly the world's first rechargeable Kestrel.....
This is some sort of fancy fly trap -
 I wonder if we should warn that flashing squirrel... 
Scottish lakes - just like English lakes
except they have a billion more midges ...
He might look cute but don't be fooled. This is half of the infamous
body snatching gang -

I'm not sure where Burke has got to? 
Great Scottish cuisine  No. 23

Roast hare on a bed of heather......
Looks like David Cassidy had let himself go
no wonder they cancelled "
The Partridge Family."

OK this would have worked a lot better if it had not been a Grouse
or if  the series "The Grouse Family" had made it into production..... 
Here is someone who is not looking
forward to the Glorious 12th
Another Scottish lake,  another billion midges...
Still it gives you something nice to look at while
you are being eaten alive.... 
Blackbird singing in the dead of night....
or would have been if he wasn't frightened of the dark .
Meet the Marti Pellow of the sparrow world 
Wet, Wet, Wet

"Wishing I Was Lucky"
It's not a case of luck but proper planning 
he should have brought a brolly......   
The weather looks better than it was, honest.
Windy Miller will be spinning in his box 
View from the flight deck

On a clear day you can see probably see the next wind vane.....
CEO of Xupes

I think he might have dropped the ball!!!

Pop in next time for Paloma Faith, my patriotic jacket and possibly me in my London Ambassador uniform (Although I'm not sure I'm ready to reveal all yet.....) and as I've had a few enquiries some highlights of the wedding that I photographed....I.e not the full 1700 shots....

Monday, 9 July 2012

Is that a Blog in your inbox or are you just pleased to see me?

I have to apologise for the extended break after my 200th blog. I would like to claim that it was due to excessive partying,  in celebration of such a momentous event but in fact has been down to a combination of work load at the day job, being the official photographer at my first proper wedding (a number of times they called for the “official photographer” and I had to stop myself peering  round to see where he had got to...), our Wildlife tour of Scotland (an absolute explosion of furry animals from across the border, leading to even more photos to sort through.... ) and last but not least my Olympic training .... which sounds very grand and important but I have to admit does not actually involve me preparing for any sporting events, not even the 100 metres – I have my dreams of course -  

Making the 100 metres final and drawing alongside Usain Bolt, just at the point where he smugly looks sideways at what he expects to be the customary empty track.... his look of horror is something to behold as he stutters to a holt a thoroughly beaten man.... As I collect my gold medal I give thanks to Mr Pistorius for the lone of his springy legs*, which indecently also go on to bring me Gold in the high jump and a creditable but ultimately disappointing 4th in the hop skip and jump – one of the legs buckles at the crucial moment and my dreams of an Olympic track and field triple crash in an explosion of sand and cat pee (Damn you McG – I told him not to use the sand pit.....) .  What did you really expect?  This is BlackLOG which ultimately ends in some kind of disappointment....

* On the subject of artificial aids** I wonder if my fellow Olympic swimmers would mind if I fixed an outboard motor to my budgie smugglers, in order not to be left behind – after all, my current swimming times make Eric the Eel look like a potential Olympic champion...

** Personally I’m not a fan – It’s great that it allows disabled people to compete at the Paralympics but if the sock was on the other ear, would I be allowed to enter the Paralympics if I turned up with an in growing toenail  or a slight paper cut (don’t scoff they can be bloody painful)? ....I don’t think so.

..... back to reality (or as real as I ever manage).  My Olympic training involves :-
  • Being taught to be nice to people (not as easy as it looks, especially when they have tickets for all the events you would have liked to have seen) by not sending them in the wrong direction when they ask how to get to an Olympic events.
  • Showing them the nearest toilet without claiming that women wear the trousers around here and men like to wear kilts.
  • Smiling inanely,  especially when asked awkward questions like “What time is it?”....... apparently, “Time you got a new watch” is not an acceptable Olympic Ambassador response (Who knew?)....
  • Not lumping anyone when they laugh at the ludicrous pink and purple uniforms that us volunteers are being forced to wear*** – Yes it is important to stand out but do we have to look like escapees from an LSD induced fashion accident?
*** If we were criminals we would have rights, one of which would be to refuse to wear the uniform but as volunteers we appear to have less say than plankton in a heated debate with a blue whale.....

Record of the week

America  by Razorlight (Live Earth 2007)
Dodecahedron by Beth Jeans Houghton:
Silenced By The Night by Keane
I Will Return by Beth Jeans Houghton:
Golden Touch by Razorlight
Sweet Tooth Bird by Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny

Photo finish

I shall finish with a couple of musical events that we attended recently - Keane at the Brixton Academy and Razorlight playing in the open air at Thetford Forest.

I discovered that as an O2 customer you can jump to the front of the queue at 02 sponsored venues, although for all the checking they did I’m surprised that everyone didn’t just jump to the front....apart from Mrs B who arrived fashionably late – just as Keane came on stage... She’s like a wild bird that turns up just as the food is put out...  

Richard Hughes

"Can't stop now"
from "Under the iron sea - 2006"

Tom Chaplin

"Nothing In My Way"
"Under the Iron sea - 2006"

"Perfect Symmetry"
from   "Perfect Symmetry 2008"

"Watch How You Go"
from "Strangeland 2012"

A couple of discoveries at Thetford :-

Norfolk people might be really friendly but have no idea about encores.... the curfew for the venue is 10:30 – I’m guessing that the trees and squirrels don’t like being disturbed beyond that.  Razorlight played for about an hour and stepped out for a breather, received a rapturous applause,  played a few more songs and went off again, probably expecting another excited response – there was after all a good 25 minutes to go before the trees start getting edgy...only everyone just wandered away...Now come on guys, it’s not that unusual to have a second or even third encore...It would have been comical if Johnny Borrel had leapt back on stage to find an empty venue...

The other discovery was the support group Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of destruction, who turned out to be a lot better than their name would lead you to believe – a case of don’t judge a book by its title....

Johnny & Gus

"Wire to Wire" from "Slipway Fires 2008"

well guitar string to guitar string....
Gus Robertson

"Before I fall to Pieces"
from "Razorlight 2006"
Johnny Borrell

"Hold on" from "Razorlight 2006"

"Burberry Blue Eyes"

from "Slipway Fires 208"
Freddie Stitz

"Vice" from "Up all Night 2004"

"Who needs love?"

From "Razorlight 2006"

Tune in next time for some Scottish wild life pictures and some of the wedding...