Monday 31 March 2014


Bee with lots of pollen.  Nikon D7000
31st March 2014

I saw this bee today investigating the Hyacinths that have just started flowering in the garden.  It seemed to be struggling to fly, and when I looked, I realised it was laden down with a huge stash of pollen in its leg sacks.

After a short rest, it seemed to buzz off happily, with lots of food for the evening.

I wonder if bees can sneeze?   With all that pollen around and sticking my head in flowers all day, I know I would.


Repaired Canberra model.  Nikon D7000
30th March 2014

After sitting on the shelf for the last year or so still in bits, I finally found some glue and repaired my Canberra model.

It was not purely out of nostalgia, I have some pretty rough 3D geometry to sort out and waving the model around with some paper axes on it does help to visualise the data transforms.

You never know, one day I may get around to painting it too!

Sunday 30 March 2014

Under Pressure!

Overfull water barrel.  Fuji F10
29th March 2014

The patterns water makes when pressure makes it work against gravity are rather fascinating.    Capturing water flow in the camera needs a decent shutter speed, however a slower speed gives slight blur and the impression of motion.

You just have to be careful not to capture water within the camera itself, or all subsequent pictures will be blurred as well!

Creepy Plastic

Alex's modified Lego figures.  Nikon D7000
28th March 2014

Alex has been modifying some of his Lego figures. It is amazing how a benign piece of plastic can turn quite macabre with just the addition of a little bit of black pen.

I am glad all policemen do not smile like this...

The chicken called 'Notch'

Notch,  Nikon D7000
27th March 2014

Of the chicks that hatched a few weeks ago, Alex named this one 'Notch'.   Notch is the stripy one in the middle of the last picture here; he has grown a touch!

Given the size of his comb already, we are pretty sure he is a cock.   He is a Silver Campine so should be really quite pretty, and if he ends up anything like Henrietta (a hen we had for many years; she was a Golden Campine) may be bright and quite a sod!

Colours: RGB pixels, the effects of being near and far

Pixels on the laptop.  Nikon D7000
26th March 2015

This image is intended to be clicked on and viewed large.

When the image is small, the pixels are there, just not quite resolvable by the eye and what we see is the intended overall picture.

When viewed close up though, the pixels form a wonderful abstract mosaic in their own right; truly a picture within a picture.

Every day objects: Papadum Tower

Papadum tower.  Fuji F10
25th March 2014

When it is curry night, it is fun to watch the papadum's curling up and changing shape in the microwave.

They seem so innocuous when they are totally flat in the packet, but soon identify the hotspots in the microwave oven and bubble and twist into fun shapes.

They are just a sod to stack on the plate to carry to the table though!

No throne, just a crown

Broken crown.  Fuji F10
24th March 2014

It is one of those weird sensations that I just hate; you eat your lunch and part way through, there is a loud 'click' and then something hard appears in your mouth that was not part of the original sandwich.

The feeling as you poke your tongue into the void where your tooth had just been is very disconcerting and it just feels plain wrong.

I hoped that having to get used to gaps amongst your teeth was a chore that was restricted to childhood, but it appears not.

It is not the first time this crown has detached itself, but this time the far side of it has also broken away and it is not looking good (i.e. it is looking expensive to fix!).   Bugger.

Postscript:   We think of being able to see the world with our eyes, but I am fascinated by the mental image we create in our brains of the structure of objects that we touch but cannot see.     I have a 'picture' in my mind of how the inside of my mouth is structured from just feeling around with my tongue; I can never really see properly the structure, even with multiple mirrors.   I am always amazed at how big objects seem to be when viewed using the tongue; the crown felt like a house brick in my mouth until I took it out and actually looked at it.  The structure seemed much more 3D when seen with my tongue than with my eyes!

Winter returns

Hail.  Nikon D7000
23rd March 2014

The wrath of Winter has returned today with lots of 'Wintery showers'.

The hail was pounding on the window making quite a din; even the pigeons went and took shelter from the ice pellets.

It melted quickly though and only really managed to make the grass very slightly paler; looks like we may have been out of luck for a decent dose of the white stuff this Winter :(

Spheres in the pond

Frog spawn in the pond.  Nikon D80
22nd March 2014

The frogs that were 'getting busy' in the pond a few weeks ago seem to have been productive after all.

Two decent size clumps of prototype frogs have appeared over the last day or two.

Fingers crossed the weather will stay on the warmer side and we get a good crop of tadpoles this year.

Pausing for lunch

Blackbird snacking on an apple.   Nikon D7000
21st March 2014

The blackbirds are nesting in the clematis on the patio; they have built their nest just above the bird box!

They have been flying back and fore for a few days, but the male stopped for a bit of lunch today and had a snack on an apple.

Scaffolding for Making Sparrows

Sparrow gathering nest material.  Nikon D7000
20th March 2014

I captured this sparrow today in the act of gathering material for its nest.

I am always amazed how the birds just know through instinct of good methods to construct strong nests to keep their eggs safe and warm in.

Evolving the shapes of legs, wings and beaks is one thing, but evolving genes to control brain wiring is really quite amazing.

I wonder what the nests of the first animals that laid eggs looked like; my guess is it was just a dint in the ground that did not make their bum hurt, rather than a true nest to cushion and insulate the eggs.

Full set

A set of six.  Nikon D7000
19th March 2013

The hens have pulled out all the stops today and have all laid!

I liked the symmetry of the colours and pattern the eggs made on the worktop and could not resist.

Half a dozen eggs a day takes some using however; I think it may be Omelettes again tonight!

Sad and lonely

Old Car looking sad.  Fuji F10
18th March 2014

The old car on the way back from school is starting to look very sad and lonely now.   The last picture in January seemed to be from a much happier time in its life; its bonnet has now been removed and it is starting to look rough.

Soon the grass will start to grow high again and hide it from the local vandals for another few months.

Colours: Red, Yellow and Green

Tulips.  Nikon D7000
17th March 2014

The current batch of flowers in the living room form a nice colour combination.   The yellow and red/purple tulips seem to work well together, especially with the splash of green from the leaves.  

Spring is coming....

A visit to Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield House.  Nikon D7000
16th March 2014

For Jo's birthday, we paid a visit to Tyntesfield house (well, Jo and I did, the kids decided that they wanted a pajama day instead).

The building is spectacular; lots of fantastic carvings and 'interesting stuff' throughout the house.

The weather was good, the birds were singing and we had a great day out without the kids :)

The bells!   Nikon D7000

Carving on the side of the wellie rack.  Nikon D7000

Falling Recklessly

Fall Out Boy performing just in front of us.  Fuji F10
15th March 2014

We had a fun day out in Cardiff today.   The rugby was on and Wales stuffed Scotland, but we did not see the match; we went to a gig instead.

Katie was in her element as her favourite band Fall Out Boy were playing, supported by The Pretty Reckless, and a 'support of the support' by New Politics.

New Politics were very good, and then The Pretty Reckless were worth the ticket price alone.

The show by Fall Out Boy was superb and rounded off the evening very nicely.    We loitered near the back of the venue as at least Katie, Becks and Jo could see the stage over the crowds.    The girls were all rewarded however when we noticed a small stage was set up just feet in front of us.    The band decamped for a few songs and played right in front of us :)

We just need to figure out how to get out of the carpark in under an hour if we go to another gig there again!

The Pretty Reckless on stage.  Fuji F10

Fall Out Boy.  Fuji F10

Fall Out Boy.  Fuji F10

Mission Impossible

Hamster just before it fell off.   Fuji F10
14th March 2014

I spent a little time watching this hamster today; it seemed fascinated with something at the top of its cage.

It took quite some time for it to climb up, and then fell off in a most undignified style :)

To Market to Market ...

Sheep at the livestock market.  Fuji F10
13th March 2014

We paid a visit to the livestock market today to see if there were any temping chickens or hatching eggs in the auction.

Although not a chicken, the other animals there seemed blissfully unaware that it would be their turn to go under the hammer later in the day.

We placed a few bids, but did not win much; certainly not a sheep anyway!

I just need to thaw my feet out now.

Miss big feet flies again

Blue heading out to the garden.   Nikon D7000
12th March 2014

After spending Winter moulting and growing new feathers, Blue has discovered she can fly again.

She has been back in the garden, raking out all the flowers with her big feet.

Last year she tried the same trick; Time for Mr Scissors annual visit...


Flat Frog.   Fuji F10
11th March 2014

With the advent of Spring and lots of wet weather, the frogs have been out in force.

This poor frog has well and truly croaked its last as it appears to have been in an argument with a car tyre.

Hopefully many more will have crossed the road safely and found a small pool to procreate in.


Bird foot prints in the mud.   Fuji F10
10th March 2014

As the flood waters recede slowly, there are plenty of patches of soft mud.   I have found it quite fascinating the range of foot prints that have appeared in the soft earth.

I have no idea what these ones belonged to, but I am sure that most of the birds have started to evolve webs between their toes to cope better in the Summer.

Muddy Feet

Increasing egg numbers.  Fuji F10
9th March 2014

The egg numbers are increasing each day; we have 6 hens so only one has missed today.    The rain is still falling on a regular basis however so it is sometimes difficult to tell which are eggs and which are just lumps of mud.

It does produce quite a conundrum when cracking the eggs too; do you bother to wash it first and just risk a bit of broken shell in the meal, or are you feeling lucky Punk?

Well done Katie too; she took Gold today at the Southern Region Fencing competition :)


Hellebore.  Nikon D7000
8th March 2014

Spring is advancing fast and the Hellebores are flowering profusely and giving a welcome splash of vivid colour to the garden.

It was also nice to see the sun out and shining through the petals.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Planning another Crumble

Rhubarb.  Fuji F10
7th March 2014

It has taken quite a bit longer than I thought it might, but the Rhubarb is starting to grow quite fast now with lots of new leaves unfurling.

I always find it fascinating how the leaf forms all so tightly packed so that it can unfurl and grow into a huge leaf.   As long as there are some decent stems though, that is all that matters.

Photographically, the green leaf with the red veins and stems is just so much fun to capture.

Well Frogged

Frogs embracing in the pond.  Nikon D7000
6th March 2014

I spotted today that frogs have found our pond and appear to be locked in a tight embrace.

If the weather stays mild, we may get quite a crop of tadpoles this year.

I have spotted that some of the fish have also made it through the winter too.

I should probably scoop out some of the leaves and gunk to make it a bit more pleasant, but I am sure the pond critters find it useful to hide in.

Plus the water is still damn cold to put ones arm in!

Spring Scents

Evergreen Clematis flower.  Fuji F10
5th March 2014

The evergreen clematis on the patio is just starting to flower again.  Although it is only very slightly scented, there are so many flowers, the aroma is very noticeable.

It is certainly starting to feel like spring is arriving properly now.

Eggs, Lemons and Sugar

Pancakes.  Nikon D7000
4th March 2014

Although I cannot do the 'Sugar' bit these days, Alex more than makes up for my share when he partakes of a pancake or 15.

There are some treats in life that are worth reserving for special days; it makes them taste so much better I am sure.

Morning Sun

Sunrise, Fuji F10
3rd March 2014

As the days are getting longer again, the sun is just rising when I come out of the bathroom in the mornings.

It is nice to see the yellow rays beam into the room.

Far better than the sound of 'drip drip drip' from the rain we had over the last few months.

Here Piggie Piggie

Sweetcorn husk.   Fuji F10
2nd March 2014

The Guinea pigs are still in their hutch under the stairs until the weather warms up again.

They have quite a taste for dried sweetcorn; this husk has been stripped bare by Wriggles and Titan.

Hopefully I may have more success growing sweetcorn this year; it would be really nice if the plants get above waist height this time!

Past Their Prime

Apples.  Nikon D7000
1st March 2014

Unfortunately our apple trees seem to have an issue with brown rot; many of the fruit have to be used really quickly otherwise they go brown and mushy.

The problem is really erratic in that some apples even rot on the tress, while others can stay pristine for months and show no signs whatsoever.

These fellows had a few signs of problems but then got forgotten unfortunately; some of the fruits succumbed quickly, while others only seemed to partially decompose.

I have managed to use up quite a few kilos of them this year, although some of the ones I froze I am still using from two years ago!

Today is also of course St David's Day: we have no Daffodils in flower in the garden yet again.  I did hope that as the Winter was so mild, one may grace us with its presence.

Dydd Gwŷl Dewi Sant hapus!

Saturday 15 March 2014

Firing Line

Pigeon on the wires.  Fuji F10
28th February 2014

I took a big chance today and captured this pigeon directly from below.

I could not resist the symmetry in the image, but for once, crap hitting the camera lens was going to be preferable to getting it in the face!

As I stepped back, the inevitable happened, but it hit my wellie boot luckily :)

More rain drops

Raindrops.  Fuji F10
27th February 2014

It has been raining again, but at last we have crocuses in our garden now which can make the most of the rain by providing nice photogenic scenes to capture.

My muddy shoes are not so pretty though :(

Dark Light

New streetlight.  Nikon D7000
26th February 2014

This morning a little man climbed a ladder and replaced the entire head of the streetlight at the bottom of the garden.

It was glorious when the lamp failed in December, but then they replaced the bulb and the garden was returned to its usual bright orange glow.

The new lamp is far better as it lights the alley well, but not our garden or the sky above.

I just need some clear nights now to see some stars.

Glory in Fading

Tulips.  Fuji F10
25th February 2014

The tulips I bought Jo for Valentines day are past their best now, although they have created shapes and colours as they have died that are still quite inspiring.

I could not resist one last image before they make their journey down to the compost bin.

Fluffy chicks

Fluffy Chicks.  Nikon D7000
24th February 2014

After yesterdays hatching bonanza, we now have 11 fluffy chicks in the hotbox.

They all look super cute at this stage; in a fortnight when their feathers are coming through they will look scrawny and grim!

A cracking day

Chick just hatched.  Nikon D7000
23rd February 2014

The eggs that we have been gently cooking for the last few weeks are finally starting to hatch their chicks.

This little one is almost out, a few more kicks and it will be free of its shell.

Surprise Birthday Presents

Katie opening her presents.  Nikon D7000
22nd February 2014

It is Katie's birthday today.   What do you get a 14 year-old these days when their life seems to revolve around their phone and Facebook?

We may come to regret the choice we made this year however; Katie was stunned at getting a present she thought we would never dare to buy her....

Luckily there is a headphone socket on the amplifier for her new guitar, although it is quite capable of making the floor shake otherwise  :)

Numbers reprise

Note book jottings.  Fuji F10
21st February 2014

I have been ultra busy the last few weeks and numbers have played a large part.

I realised that what I was working on today was mainly just zeros and ones when written on the page, but it is how they are arranged that is most important.

I think it is time to get back in touch with reality and see what rude words I can spell on my calculator :)

Memories in Plastic

Memory Cards.  Nikon D7000
20th February 2014

I continue to be astounded by how much information we can store in ever decreasing packages.  

As a kid, the memory in my 48k ZX Spectrum seemed vast and I thought I would never be able to fill it.

Now we routinely think in GigaBytes of storage and surround it all in a little plastic package.

I wonder what the next 20 years will bring.


Catkins.  Fuji F10
19th February 2014

The catkins are forming nicely on the Hazel tree at the bottom of the garden.

We had a good crop of very scrummy nuts off the tree last year.

Fingers crossed for 2014 being another nutty year!


Jo's Patchwork.  Nikon D7000
18th February 2014

Jo was sewing today and I could not resist the shapes and patterns formed by the cloth.  

The final product will be a patchwork quilt, but I think the interim stages of the artwork she is making are just as interesting as the finished item.

Fun with Fruit :)

Microwaved Grape.  Nikon D80
17th February 2014

There are many things you can do with grapes; one which is good fun, but not something I condone doing of course, is to put it in the microwave.

It is not just a case of cooking it whole, no, rather you cut it carefully from top to bottom, but leaving a small piece of skin attaching the two halves (as below).

When placed in the oven, a small antenna is made which captures the microwave energy very well and the highest current flow is at the little join between the halves.  

A nice grape-flavoured firework ensues :)

Just make sure you try it in someone else's oven.

Spring Bulbs

Crocuses.  Fuji F10
16th February 2014

The bulbs in the grass by the side of the road are starting to shoot up now; Spring is arriving fast.

It is good to see colours other than green and grey in the landscape again.