A Sunny Autumn Afternoon

Today’s dog walk was cold (7C) but beautifully sunny.

I took the camera out with me, hoping to capture Beetley Meadows in low winter light.
(The photos are on Flickr, and if you click on them you can enlarge them there)

Ollie sniffing around under a tree. Its leaves have finally changed.


Most of the berries on the Holly have been eaten by birds already, but these ones by the gate to the woods are on the lowest branches.


The river was hardly flowing today, making the surface very still. I was able to get some reflections of the trees as a result.


If this good weather continues, I may well take the camera out again soon.

Cars: My Life On The Road

Strictly speaking, this is a ‘Thinking Aloud On a Sunday’ post, as I woke up imagining (or dreaming) that I was driving the first car I ever owned.
That prompted a search of my memory for the cars that have marked the stages of my life, and also made me realise I have very few (almost no) photos of me with them.

These photos are not of my own vehicles, and have been sourced online.
But I had the same models.

Six months before I was old enough to drive, my Dad came home with a car he had bought for me. He got a deal on it, and didn’t want to chance leaving it until I got my licence.
It was a 1963 Vauxhall Viva HA, and he bought it in 1968.
I thought it was the best thing ever, and on the day I passed my test, I drove it around Central London all afternoon.

(My one was light green)

Two years later, in 1971, I was working as a salesman for a record company. They replaced the vans we had been using with cars, hoping to improve their image.
I got a new Vauxhall Viva HB free of charge, as a company car. Of course, I didn’t own it, and had to give it back when I left.
But it always felt like ‘my car’.

I changed jobs, and was given another company car. This was what we call an ‘Estate Car’ here, known as a Station Wagon in America.
It was a Ford Cortina 1.6, and was really roomy.

(My one was a burgundy colour)

In December of 1973, I decided to add to my income by working part-time as a taxi driver. I couldn’t use the company car of course, so I bought a brand new car to use at weekends as a taxi. It was a Hillman Hunter 1725, and it took me over three years to pay it off. I enjoyed being a taxi driver, so I resigned from my job and did it full-time.

(Mine was dark green)

In 1976, I moved with my Mum to South-West London, where we bought a shop.
Although I didn’t make much money as a shopkeeper, I discovered that we could run a car through the business.
So in 1977, I traded in my old taxi for a 1974 Volvo.
It was a top-of the range model, the 164 TE, with a three-litre engine, an automatic gearbox, and a luxurious leather interior.
I loved that big white car.

As the Volvo got older, it started to cost a small fortune to run.
I had already joined the Ambulance Service by then, and didn’t have much disposable income.
I was using a motorcycle to commute to work, so in 1982, we bought one car to share between us.
It was a six-month old VW Golf. It was white, and dressed up to look like the GTi model in this photo.
Except our one was a cheaper ‘special edition’ that only had the 1300 cc engine.
In the autumn of 1984, the car was destroyed in a motorway accident that almost killed my first wife, and left me with broken fingers.
(She was driving at the time)

With the insurance money from the accident, I let my wife choose the replacement car, and I bought a better motorcycle.
She chose a two-tone Ford Capri 1.6, known as a ‘Cabaret Edition’. It was a pre-registered car that had never been owned, and we got a good deal as it was already one year old.
This was the exact colour of the one we had.

After a hard winter that year, I had decided that I had enough of motorcycles.
So I sold the one I had, and went out to buy a cheap used car for cash.
I came home with a Citroen GS Estate, in the same blue as this photo.
It was the most comfortable car I have ever owned.

When we split up in 1985, my wife kept the Ford. I was having numerous electrical problems with the Citroen by then and decided to change it.
I bought a recent Austin Metro, a very basic car that was cheap to run, with a small 1.0 litre engine. It was red, like the one in the photo.
But I hated that car with a vengeance. It had little power for motorway driving, and was very noisy too.

I still yearned for the ease of an automatic transmission, and a return to a quiet, comfortable car.
Then I found a good deal on a Fiat Regata 1.6 saloon. It was the top model, with an expensive radio/cassette player, a three-speed auto gearbox, and tinted windows.
I loved it.
But then I discovered why it was a good deal. It gave me nothing but trouble.
Electrical issues, bulbs blowing, and then a disastrous water leak. It had to go.

I swallowed my pride, and traded the Fiat in for another Citroen. The new Visa model. Low mileage, in red like the photo, and only the small 1,000cc engine.
But that turned out to be a good decision, as it was a great car.
I drove it across Belgium and France, and used it every day for work too.
I loved it, and it never once let me down.

But London traffic was driving me insane with so many gear changes, and I still hankered after an automatic.
I found a Ford Fiesta 1300 in black, with an early version of their CVT ‘Easydrive’ auto gearbox.
I had a lump in my throat as I waved goodbye to the Citroen.
I should have kept it.
The Fiesta gearbox was indeed smooth, and made life a lot easier for me.
Trouble was, the car still used the unreliable carburetor from the old model, and it constantly broke down.
I found myself taking the thing apart at the roadside on a rainy night in North London, and made the decision to get shot of it.

That went in part-exchange for a brand new Fiat Punto. That had a 1.4 engine, a 5-speed manual shift, and was very light and nippy in traffic.
Despite the issues with the earlier Fiat, this one proved to be really reliable, and I kept it for some time.

(Mine was green)

Then I moved away to the edge of North London, and had to start driving a longer distance into work.
I wanted a more powerful car, and one with an automatic gearbox too.
I discovered an American car that was being imported into the UK, the Chrysler Neon.
This had a powerful two-litre engine, a smooth auto gearbox, and very light power steering.
I found a dark green one for sale in a London dealership. It was out of my price range though.
So I arranged a deal where the Fiat went as the deposit, and I made low payments for 36 months.
At the end of the payment period, I had to pay a lump sum to own the car.
It was a very nice car indeed, though it used a frightening amount of petrol, with around 20 mpg at best.
I still had it when I moved back to Camden, and kept it until Julie moved in. With no need for two cars, and plans to move to Norfolk, it was sold to a friend for cash.

For three years, I used public transport to get to work, or walked. We had Julie’s car if we had to go further afield.
In March 2012, I moved up here, and we got Ollie. I wanted a car with plenty of room for the dog, and was determined to get one with an automatic gearbox too.
So I bought a low-mileage Vauxhall Zafira 1.9 turbo-diesel in silver, with a six-speed auto box. It was already five years old though.
It was the SRi Sport model, well-equipped, and with a huge area at the back for Ollie. It also had an option to use as a 7-seater.

I still have that car. It is now 12 years old, and starting to cost serious money to keep running.
But I do love it still, and have no plans to change it.

Let me know about some of your car memories, in the comments.

Ollie, and some Autumn colour

A particularly interesting smell in those leaves, Ollie?

***All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them***

A bright and breezy day made me decide to take Ollie out in the car. I headed for Neatherd Moor, a substantial area of nature on the outskirts of Dereham, our local market town. With Beetley still showing just drab greens and browns, it was nice to get a variety of colour for a change.

This tree was shining gold in the afternoon sun.

Ollie was preoccupied with trying to find a rabbit he had spotted, so I was able to get a shot of him.

More bright colours, just around the corner.

And a tree that has lost its top leaves, but is hanging onto the lower ones.

Ollie could hear barking coming from the path behind, and was waiting for the dogs to appear.

Then we finished our long walk in the shady woodland that fringes the Moor.
It seemed like those leaves had a great smell too!

The shorts are on

After the popularity of my posts on fluffy gowns and slippers, I thought that it was high time to share my love of wearing shorts. Today was my first day (this year) of wearing them, and it was much later than normal, for the ‘shorts season’ to arrive in Beetley.

I generally wear shorts from my birthday in March. Once on, they are rarely off, until at least the end of October. However, the weather has not been very kind this year, so my usual time for donning shorts has been delayed, until now. I have to confess that I was pushing the boundaries, as it was not that warm. But it felt right to me, so on they went. That feeling is priceless. Cool legs, unencumbered by joggers, or normal trousers. OK, I have to be careful of nettles and prickly plants on my walks, but it is worth it, to once again experience the annual delight of shorts-wearing. My shorts tend to be of the longer-legged variety; at least knee length, sometimes a tad longer. They are always roomy, and some pairs have numerous pockets too. I am old enough to eschew fashion, and happily embrace comfort over style.

Not for me, the shorts of the fashionista. Mine are practical, a little baggy, and always a joy to wear. Today’s choice was an old favourite. A beige pair of goes-with- anything, traditional English baggy shorts. The type you might see in a WW2 photo, wide-legged, and superbly cosy. I also have some more modern shorts, slightly waterproof, easy-iron, and also knee-length, in a variety of colours. As well as beige, I have navy blue, khaki, and the ubiquitous stone colour. They all match with almost any shirt or top, and with six pairs in the wardrobe, I am ready for anything.

Whether thick cotton, or part-polyester, they are all good. They leave my legs open to the elements, available for tanning, and toughened to almost anything I might encounter. They are acceptable as evening wear in most Norfolk venues, and even if it is is a chilly evening, a warm top or fleecy jacket accompanies them perfectly.

It is almost June, and despite the occasional wearing of trousers to restaurants, or windmill volunteering, it is a safe bet that they will be on my legs until we see November. Feel free to join me in the joy of shorts-wearing. You know you want to really.

Themes and appearances

Update to this post.  After all the -most welcome- comments, I am now using this theme (called Penscratch)  for a while, and experimenting with header photos. This current photo is not mine, but very like the area nearby where I walk Ollie by the river. It will do for now.

I think most bloggers get to the stage where they become tired of using the same theme and style to present their posts. Many change these themes regularly, others once a year, or on a whim. Some change when their own blogging style changes, or use the themes to reflect their moods. Many photographic bloggers look for styles that showcase photos well, and some literary bloggers prefer darker, black or brown themes, with light text, when they are discussing books and stories.

I have used my theme since day one. I picked it to give a ‘warm and cosy’ look, with an idea of the countryside. As I rarely publish photos, I felt that I didn’t need a landscape format, or bright background, and the A4 page design seemed to suit my idea of a ‘journal’ too. The green and grey text on a clear background seemed to me to be able to be ‘read well’, and the absence of any border images meant that nothing distracted from the words.

After almost three years, I am now getting a little tired of this theme though, and wondering if it is not looking a little stale. I have recently made use of the excellent preview feature provided by WordPress, to examine just what my blog would look like, if I changed to something new. After trying more than twenty different themes for size, I didn’t feel comfortable enough with any of them, to risk the change completely.

So not for the first time, I am throwing the topic open to my dear readers and followers. What do you think? Do you like the current theme? (MistyLook) Should I stick with it, or do you think I should grasp the nettle, and change completely? Or would that just be too strange?
Please let me know in the comments.

Another recommendation

It must be the week for such things, as I have just received a link to another friend’s photographic website. This one is very different to the last though. It is abstract photography at a different level, designed to be seen as art. If you like to look at large images representing artistic concepts derived from original photographs, then this might be the one for you.

Bold and bright colours, unusual shapes and designs, yet all originated as photos of water. It’s certainly different from your everyday photo enthusiast or professional blog. This is a website intended to act as a window into ideas behind the work, and with an ultimate aim of making a business from the idea. Not that I am trying to sell you anything, there is no web shop on there.

Denis was originally from Hong Kong, though he lived in London for most of his life. He has now returned to Asia, living first in Thailand, and more recently in Taiwan. The reproductions on his site are exceptional, and well-worth a look. He can be contacted through his site too, and has a page laying out his background, and his process. If you enjoy photos, or even just colours, please click the following link. http://www.denisyeung.com/work#0