Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writer's Block - Blog Block

Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block, Writer's Block, Blog Block ..........

Try reading that! How's that for a tongue twister?

Tongue Twister

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Breakfast For a Light Bulb

Some people are completely without shame. Listen to this.


On the way to our French house we stopped overnight at this Ibis Hotel on the outskirts of Albert in the Somme. For those of you who are not familiar with the Ibis chain I can say that it is a lowish-budget one of more than decent standard. This place in particular, is very well run with welcoming and helpful staff. We stayed there for the first time last July when they had just opened. The restaurant offers a small menu of good food, and most guests choose to eat there in the evening, often after having had a drink on the terrace watching the sunset.

When we arrived we were given a room on the bottom floor in this totally smoke-free hotel, another reason for staying there. The rooms are nice, no-frills and modern. One modern feature is the energy-saving light bulbs, which give out a lovely warm glow.


However one light fitting would not work, and we soon found the reason. There was no light bulb. My wife, whose French is much superior to mine, went to the front desk to report the missing bulb. While I was waiting I was studying a leaflet lying on the table, which promised action and problem solving within fifteen minutes, otherwise you would be their guest, as in "no charge."

They certainly lived up to that promise. A young man came equipped with the right tool and sorted it out in a flash. It turned out that a previous guest had stolen the light bulb, but failed to steal the second one on the other side of the bed. Look at this picture.


Can you see the little screw inside at the top? That is meant to be taken out before you remove the light bulb, but some greedy low-life had managed to yank it out and, on top of that, damaged the other bulb attempting to steal that one as well. So two expensive light bulbs had to be replaced. How low can you sink? I have heard of people stealing towels and other items, mostly as souvenirs, but to steal light bulbs?

Maybe somebody wanted a free breakfast and stole something of similar value as compensation. I do not know, but the hotel staff certainly lived up to the company promise and they were as baffled as we were. What are some people like?


Friday, April 24, 2009

Take Five!

Or should I call this post “Me and My Camera Having a Night Out”? When we went to France for Easter I was very keen to take some night shots with my new tripod and infra-red remote control. Our house is way out, deep in the dairy countryside of Normandy, where there is very little light pollution at night, so we can often see “the whole universe” and have sometimes had such a clear sky that the blurry, white streak across the sky we call “The Milky Way”, has been clearly visible. It is truly awe-inspiring. You just stand there and feel very insignificant.

I was not lucky enough to see The Milky Way this time, but the sky was relatively clear with masses of stars, so I pointed my camera at a few constellations. I tried different settings, timings and positions, pacing up and down the country lane waiting for the camera to do its work, and trying not to walk into the tripod in the dark; one, two, three, and even five minutes of exposure time. I expected to capture more stars with increasing exposure, but I also experienced one rather unexpected effect (apart from the slight light pollution in the top corners, coming from a couple of villages miles away).

At first I was disappointed with the fuzzy shots, in particular the five-minute shots; that was until I realised I had captured the image of five minutes! Look at the picture in detail and see if you can figure out what the Dickins I am talking about. You might need to click on it to enlarge it, to see the pattern more clearly. This is what five minutes look like.

What five minutes? See the lines, which actually are innumerable stars, stretching in a circular pattern? No, I did not move the camera, the stars did not move, but the earth spun around its axis for five minutes!

My camera was pointing roughly to the North, the earth spun one way, making the stars seemingly draw lines the other way. If you look really closely you might possibly see that there is a centre point towards the bottom around which everything seems to have turned. That is where our earth’s North-South axis is pointing, the North Celestial Pole.

What a dizzying thought! I had captured an image of five minutes. I had truly taken five.

For more Easter pictures (part 2), go to my photo blog, Camera Digitalis.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Normandy Easter

We had a very quiet Easter holiday with some days of sunshine; enough to cut the grass, have one breakfast outside and sit with our backs to the warm stone wall with a drink shortly before sunset. But often it was either cloudy or rainy.


So most days we kept the wood-burning stove going to give us some lovely, cosy heat while listening to music or reading. Most of the time I use my iPod and a transmitter that broadcasts to this old piece of music player (came with the house); Hi-Fi with radio, turntable and cassette facilities.


But sometimes we actually use it to listen to French radio. There are some good stations with classical music, but most commercial radio stations play a mixture of (mostly) rubbish French contemporary music and music in English, which is always several decades old! There is a lot of Kate Bush, The Eagles, Supertramp, Chicago and Bread. Something to do with having to pay for playing the music? Or is there some sort of time filter? Only the French know.

For more Easter pictures, go to my photo blog, Camera Digitalis.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Happy Easter Everyone!

We are going off on Easter Holidays, going to our house in Normandy to see if we can get some chocolate eggs from Monsieur Lapi, the French Easter Bunny.

Easter Bunny