It would be quite unfair to take complete credit for this shot. In truth, it is a combined effort between Jac and myself. I actually took the shot, but it was Jac who discovered the delightful spattered panel on the door of the shed. Jac also carefully and gently instructed me as to how she would crop the shot and colour enhance it.
I listened well, and made my own minimal input when she was safely gone. The results I find cheerfully pleasing - and I would not be unhappy to have an art-print quality picture of this. I guess it almost ranks as "discovered art" - or some such pretentious genre. I have no idea why, but I find the shot endlessly interesting, perhaps enough to want to hang it up somewhere.
The other little shot is simply a hole in the wall of the shed. Is it me - or is it an outline of a cartoon man with a massive Roman nose? I'll let you be the judge.
Whilst this is not the actual picture being taken, it illustrates the method used.
If you fancy checking out Jac's comments and pictures of the shoot, go HERE.
One of my nice pleasures in life is a few brief hours grabbed every couple of months or so to go out and photograph stuff with Jac. Last Friday was one such day. Jac arrived in time for us to travel up to Alnmouth and photograph the sunrise. My enthusiasm for these trips was further increased by Jason's kind supply of a Canon 10D. This made me feel like a proper member of the photography duo and not just an "also-ran" with my little IXUS (...as TL sometimes calls it - but that's another matter). I might even consider joining the Newbiggin Arts Forum Photography Group now that I have a camera worthy of the word 'photography'.
Anyway, we drove down the terribly-bumpy lane to Alnmouth dunes, whereupon we embarked on the long and tortuous ascent onto the dunes. Well, that's not strictly true - Jac glided effortlessly up the dunes and a climbed desperately, as if my life depended on it. Surely, thought I, this kind of harsh exploration will all but guarantee me the very finest sunrise shot ever.
I was of course, all but disappointed with the results. The sunrise itself was singularly underwhelming, and yet there were some interesting shots to be had. I was grateful to Jac for taking a picture that proved I had made the climb. I was glad that no-one had to know that I got down from the dune on my bottom, rather than via the "effortless-gliding" which Jac seemed so adept at.
It was, however, lovely to welcome the sunrise and to point a camera this way and that, whilst trying to remember how to drive one of these big heavy photolumps. As ever, my greatest successes happened when I stopped trying to be a landscape photographer and turned my attention to portraiture.
I know, more depth of field required. Should have been possible, as it was quite a big field.
I like the harsh black and white one of Jac very much - largely thanks to the splendid flash unit that came with the camera. I also like the one with Jac leaning against the wall. The big problem with taking pictures of people is having people who are willing to be photographed. So, if you fancy having your picture taken by me - perhaps somewhere outside or something - just drop me an email and let's see what can happen.
So, all this was done, and we made it back to the place I am now proud to call home by 10.30am for a well-deserved coffee. It was at this arrival that I pointed out the old shed on the waste ground next to us...but more of that in the next blog.
Here's the wonderful Terry, adapting the speaker cabinet in a clever way.
Then on the right, the fantastic results of his labour. He's amazing. It's official.
So Terry was here today from darkest Durham and Paula & Dave were here from even darkest'er Yorkshire. We were a new grouping, but one that collaborated surprisingly well. Amidst such a wealth of DIY know-how, I wisely took a back seat - preferring instead to make drinks and sandwiches. I know my place. Besides, I had exciting things to do, like meet Jason after his long six month holiday away.
Not to be outdone, Dave, from Huddersfield, put up our DVD shelves. It was a tricky job, but he had his Paula to help out. Thank goodness.
Liz did other, more secret, things. I cannot speak of them here, but they were outstanding also.
Obviously, you'll see our DVD racks when you visit, but suffice it to say here, that they were not easy to put up. IKEA stuff is, on the whole, very well prices and clever almost to bursting point - but some of the cheaper items are a little inconsistent. So Dave battled this as he tried to fit 8 Lerberg DVD racks flush next to each other on an undulating hollow wall. Massive respect to him for succeeding so well.
Terry's feat was also a significant one. In reality, a much bigger task to start with. Back at Griffin House, he made a huge coffin-like structure to house my two centre speakers for my surround-sound setup. It was a "hammer to crack a nut" solution, but it worked beautifully.
Coming here, the unit fitted nicely in the corner, but it needed to work a lot harder, as there was not room for more big speakers either side. So, Terry's job was to house a pair of Tannoy speakers for the Left and right - and a Celestion in the middle as a centre speaker. Not only that, he had to fit a shelf half way up and house all the AV gear - Amplifier, SKY+ unit and DVD Recorder. Then, on top goes the TV. Easy.
The amazing thing is that he did it - not only that, but it actually looks like it was meant to be that way all along. When you see it, you'll never believe that there are three full sized speakers in it - it seems like too little space for them. I find it hugely satisfying that he has made it all work. I'm relieved that the amplifier still works after over a year in mothballs.
I am still totally buzzing that we now have a lounge that we can really relax in. We are so blessed to have such a lovely space - after the "crampedness" of the last one, it feels like a cathedral. I took large spaces so much for granted at Griffin House - then I was taught that life can exist in much smaller spaces in the next two places I have lived. So much so that I really appreciate this one.
I don't want to gloat or be over-proud or anything like that - I just want to express my childish glee at having somewhere nice to be. It's so cool.
Later on, we had laptop lessons about Blog posting. I wish I even had the first idea how to do that...
(Look at all those intent faces)
The dust is beginning to settle, and we are starting to feel like we really do live at our new place in Newbiggin. It has, undoubtedly, been a stressful fortnight, and one littered with various physical and emotional challenges. I'm not entirely convinced either of us have come through with flying colours, but the reality is that we now have a home which we are starting to like - and a location that suits us far better than the previous one.
No longer must we put up with the constant swearing outside our window and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting in most of the time. We get a degree of noise at night, because we are quite near two pubs, but it is not on anything like the scale of before. Not only that, but our bedroom is on the back of the property, where it is considerably quieter anyway. The only thing to trouble us here is the barking of the dogs who live at a business out back. I'd be happier if they were actually in the Outback. Australia.
I still don't have my shack fully built, but it is coming along. I am frustrated by my supposedly super-dooper firewire sound card, which has actually been nothing but bother. Trying to get my radio station to work has been a right pain.
Nevertheless, I have a much larger kitchen to create nice things in - something that TL and Ruth were kind enough to let me do last night. I made a creditable mushroom and leek risotto. It was nice to cook with sufficient space to actually move in. It was actually a joy.
So, we have a housewarming to look forward to and prepare for - if you know us, there's an excellent chance that you are invited. Forgive me if I forget to ask you personally. All our friends from Newbiggin/Ashington are very welcome. Please contact me for details.
Well, that about wraps it up for the "catch-up blog".
I should close by saying something very heartfelt and sincere:
It's not been easy, this last year, despite living with the person I love, having to put up with with such an awful place to live in. This new flat brings with it a promise of a more peaceful existence, and I feel a real sense of relief - but also pride that I am no longer embarrassed to welcome people into my home. It will be great, over the next few weeks, to welcome people to somewhere we have no immediate intention of leaving.
Quite apart from anything else, TL would explode if we were to move again soon.
OK, so we didn't get cut off. He tried to climb the pole at the new place and discovered it to be fire damaged, so he then ordered a cherry picker for tomorrow, so as to ensure his complete health and safety.
I still have no faith whatsoever that the switch will go smoothly...
It's great news, isn't it? We're finally moving house.
Assuming we can manage the stress sufficiently well to stay married and solvent, we'll be relocated to a different position in Front Street on Friday this week.
The immediate upshot of this happening is that there is a possibility that we will lose our internet connection for a few days, or even a couple of weeks. If all goes according to plan we will not lose anything at all, and our telephone number and internet connection will travel with us up the street and all will be smashing and lovely.
That said, I simply do not trust BT in any shape or form. So, expect the worst and hope for the best.
As for this place, I really do not have any emotional attachment to it whatsoever. I don't think it has been for either of us much more than a place to sleep and eat. For me, maybe not even the latter. I am grateful that we were able to have a base in Newbiggin to get us started last year, but that's about as far as it goes.
I shall not miss the cramped conditions, noisy street and all the problems associated with the club next door. I may miss being so near to the Co-op, but it's really only a few yards further from the new place.
In contrast, there is much to look forward to. More space, more comfort, quietness to sleep in, TL having a decent shack at last with space to spread out just a little. Having a kitchen that can comfortably accommodate more the one person will be quite an experience too.
More than that - just to have a place that I am not embarrassed to invite people into. That will be splendid.
So, much to look forward too, not too much to mourn at leaving behind. Just an awful lot of work and expense in moving. We have already spent enough to mean that we really should stay there at least a couple of years. I honestly don't think that will be a hardship. There is a nice atmosphere about this new place. It's peaceful and friendly.
I feel we will be happy there. Please do feel free to pop round and see us.