Weight and Stuff Report – 27 August 2016

Weight: 213.4 pounds (15 stone 3.4 pounds, 96.8 kg)
Steps taken: 7,602

Back down today, good stuff.

After the traditional Saturday shopping, I persuaded myself that I really should make the effort and go to Blyth to see what I could of the Tall Ships Regatta thingy. Sometimes, I really shouldn’t listen to me. This really turned out to be a Bad idea. I got to the Haymarket bus station by about 11:30, and got on a bus, which was pretty damn full, but that was OK. What was less OK was the slight problem that everyone else in a 300 mile radius[1] was also going to Blyth. Only they weren’t on the bus, they were all in cars, and they were all in front of the bus. The result was incredibly slow progress from Whitley Bay onwards, so that what normally takes just over an hour, if the timetable can be believed, took nearly Three Hours. So, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind on arrival. Now sometimes I can deal with crowds of people, and sometimes I find them unbearable, especially when many of the people concerned seem to have a slight issue with looking where they’re going, or with deciding to randomly stop where there’s no room to get around them, and apparently trampling on them is considered rude, so I couldn’t do that.

It didn’t help that the layout of the port meant that views of the tall ships were very restricted (quite apart from all the people in the way), so I didn’t get a lot of photographs to make up for the annoyance (a few good shots would have transformed me from Mr Grumpy to Mr Happy…), so after a look around, I left. Though this was a struggle, as the crowds seemed to have got worse. I managed to get on a bus almost immediately, and that was only moderately delayed getting back to Newcastle. And now I’m home.

Here’s one I did manage to get today:

Wouldn't get me up there

Wouldn’t get me up there

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 51.6mm
ISO 250
Taken 14:49, 27 August, 2016

[1] This is an estimate. Possibly exaggerated for effect

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 August 2016

Weight: 214.4 pounds (15 stone 4.4 pounds, 97.3 kg)
Steps taken: 8,191
If you’re reading this on Facebook, make sure to click through, or you’ll miss an more interesting photo than the one of me, and loads of words about my day off.

Back up a bit today, ho hum, never mind, etc.

Having worked in Birmingham last weekend, I decided to make the most of the long weekend by having an extra day off, which is what I did today.

I was awake at least as early as usual[1], and once I’d aught up with things, I headed into Gateshead to do some essential tasks:

  1. Renew the travel pass that expired the day I went to Birmingham, so I won’t need to keep buying individual tickets
  2. Pick up my prescription from Boots (I take these pills, you know)
  3. Pour the contents of my penny jar[2] into the machine[3] in Tesco’s

All tasks were completed successfully. The final one was more successful than my best guess – I was hoping for around £100, but it turned out to be £131 after the machine’s commission, which came in handy for my next set of tasks

Well, having got up and out moderately early, something was missing: breakfast. So I went to Frankie & Benny’s, where for a change I had their larger “Pappa Grande” option, which comes with more bacon, and extra sausage, a big potato rosti thingy and a slice of black pudding, which was previously removed from the menu. Oh, and toast is included. It was a big breakfast, and I ate the lot, making lunch unnecessary today. And it seems it’s a good job I went when I did, as the owners of the chain are reported to be planning to close the Gateshead Frankie & Benny’s, which isn’t good at all.

After that, I went to Newcastle for more essential tasks – it was time to buy coffee beans from those nice Pumphreys people in the Grainger Market. And then I needed a haircut. Well, I’ve needed one for about a month, but never seemed to have the chance at lunchtime, and everywhere is too busy at weekends. The cheaper place I usually go to had a lot of people waiting (all seats taken), so I went in search of alternatives. The more expensive place I’ve been to in the past is now appointments only, which doesn’t work for me, so I decided to give Supercuts a try. They’ve been around forever, but for some reason I’ve never been in. They’re strictly walk in, no appointments, and I was told I’d have to wait half an hour. Well, there were seats, the ambient temperature was comfortable, and I had my iPhone with me, so I said that was fine. In the event, my wait was closer to ten minutes[5].

After a brief discussion, and a quick attack of the clippers, my hair was washed, cut, styled and generally given a good seeing to. Price was a wee bit cheaper than the more expensive place, but quite a lot more than the cheaper place, but they don’t do the washing bit there, being more of a standard barber.

So, err, here’s the hair:

That'll be me

That’ll be me

I came home briefly, picked up my X-T1 and headed out, with no definite plan in mind. I decided it was a bit late in the day to aim for Blyth to see the Tall Ships (maybe tomorrow), so I settled for a short walk along the coast from Tynemouth, and then a bus back to Newcastle, and another one home.

Here’s a view of the old pool at Tynemouth. There is talk of restoration and making use of it again, which would be good. It’s also a view of the beach. It was also a test of Snapheal, one of the MacPhun tools, which I used to remove some humans who got into the shot where I didn’t want them to be. Silly humans.

The old pool

The old pool

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/11
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 16mm
ISO 250
Taken 14:05, 26 August, 2016
Location 55° 1.3412′ 0″ N 1° 25.2878′ 0″ W

[1] Though I did go to be early, so waking up early may be related to that…
[2] I call it a penny jar, but it gets all my change from 20p coins downwards, so maybe I should rename it
[3] These things no charge 9.9% commission, which is a bit steep, but I’d rather pay than spend hours sorting, counting and bagging coins, not to mention queuing in the bank several times[4]
[4] Mine has limits on how many bags they’ll take in a single transaction, and I’d have had loads
[5] This was either luck, or clever management of expectations[6]
[6] AKA the Scotty time estimate method

Weight and Stuff Report – 25 August 2016

Weight: 213.8 pounds (15 stone 3.8 pounds, 97 kg)
Steps taken: 2,415

Down again today, which may be more randomness, or may be a sign of something, or err, something else.

Here’s a tasteful interior from Beamish

Tea is served

Tea is served

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed 1/180s
Focal length 18.2mm
ISO 6400
Taken 13:01, 6 August, 2016

Weight and Stuff Report – 24 August 2016

Weight: 214.8 pounds (15 stone 4.8 pounds, 97.4 kg)
Steps taken: 1,780

Ooooh, substantially down today. Must have recovered from all that restaurant activity in Birmingham.

Here’s another view of Tynemouth Priory

Through the arch

Through the arch

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/11
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 22mm
ISO 1000
Taken 13:17, 13 August, 2016
Location 55° 1.0568′ 0″ N 1° 25.0829′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 23 August 2016

Weight: 218.6 pounds (15 stone 8.6 pounds, 99.2 kg)
Steps taken: 1,951

Up a wee bit more today, and can I just say

Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Yes, it seems the manual labour, crawling under desks and other such things in Birmingham has caught up with me. My dodgy shoulder has returned to a state it hasn’t been in for months: it hurts even when I’m not moving. And the rest of me feels worn out and tired. It seems that I really am getting too old for this kind of thing…

Here’s something a bit less shiny from Birmingham:

Decay in pastels

Decay in pastels

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/140s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 14:01, 21 August, 2016

Weight and Stuff Report – 22 August 2016

Weight: 218.4 pounds (15 stone 8.4 pounds, 99.1 kg)
Steps taken: 4,319

Shock, horror, up again on my return from the Midlands. Must be something in the water down there. Couldn’t possibly be the food…

Anyway, job done, left when I planned to, caught the train I was aiming for and got into Newcastle pretty much on time.

This, unlike the church I posted the other day is really Birmingham Cathedral

Birmingham Cathedral (Really, this time)

Birmingham Cathedral (Really, this time)

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/9
Shutter speed 1/80s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:46, 21 August, 2016

Stuff Report – 21 August 2016

Steps taken: 6,456

After breakfast, it was back to the office to finish off a few things – there ended up being enough to do to make it worth leaving it for today rather than trying to squeeze it in to a late finish yesterday, but I was done by about 12:30.

I had hoped to have a proper photographic wander, but the clouds were making the light just a bit too variable for what I was after, so after a break for a sarnie, I got back to the hotel at about 14:00, and then had a relaxed afternoon. Any suggestion that I might have had a nap will, of course, be denied.

After relaxing, I was in the mood for some food[1], and after toying with the idea of a burger or some such in the hotel, or a visit to Las Iguanas, I went with my first thought – the James Dahl Indian restaurant, which is next to Las Iguanas and around the corner from last night’s venue, Milano.

First impressions were good – it’s a modern, light, spacious restaurant with comfy seating and bright lighting. Staff were all friendly and service was quick and courteous.

My Cobra (large) and poppadoms arrived quickly. The poppadoms were light and crisp and even slightly warm on arrival, and the usual selection of dips were all very tasty indeed.

My onion bhajee turned up as three smaller balls of light, crispy deliciousness. Really good – it’s so easy for bhajis (or bhajees, if you prefer their spelling) to be stodgy, but there was no sign of that here. These came with a side salad, which wasn’t bad either.

For my main course, I went for the House Specials section of the menu and had a chicken garlic chilli masala, which was spicy enough to be interesting rather than hot enough to melt your brain – it tasted just right, anyway. The pilau rice was nicely presented, and the garlic naan was light, soft and with a few crispy bits, and was just about perfect.

The meal ended with a dehydrated hot towel. Well, the waiter came with a small plate with a round white thing on it, then poured hot water on it, which made it expand. Nice touch.

The bill came to just over £30 including service charge, which I thought was pretty good value for the whole experience. And yes, I only had one beer, aren’t I a good boy?

I did get some photos earlier. This one interests me because even when you know, your brain may take a while to work out what it’s seeing:

Inverted Diners

Inverted Diners

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/9
Shutter speed 1/100s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 13:48, 21 August, 2016

[1] So, no change there, then

Stuff Report – 20 August 2016

Steps taken: 4,614

Well, that was actually a nicely productive day. The things that were misbehaving yesterday have been beaten into submission and are now rolling around with their electronic legs in the air waiting for their virtual tummies to be rubbed. Still got a bit to do tomorrow, but it should be a short day, leaving me time (weather permitting) to take some photographs of the delights of Birmingham.

Having skipped lunch in favour of getting on with the job (a decent breakfast made that an easy decision), I was in need of a nice dinner, and I thought I’d try something different. The hotel is adjacent to the Arcadian Centre, a courtyard full of restaurants, bars and the like. Previously (including last night) I’ve been to Las Iguanas, but I’d dithered about giving another place a try. And tonight I did. Milano is a rather good Italian restaurant, with a nicely varied menu – they’ve got the usual pizza and pasta, but I thought I’d try something different tonight. After a paté starter, which came with a nicely crispy salad and some caramelised onion, I went for the Pollo Toscana – chicken breast with shallots, garlic, peppers, Italian sausage and tomato in a white wine sauce, accompanied by rosemary potatoes. This was delicious – looked good, tasted even better. I may have started with a glass of Pino Grigio and it’s alleged that I had a Sauvignon Blanc with the main course, though this may be denied. I won’t deny being tempted by a tiramisu dessert and a very good espresso. And I was pleasantly surprised when my bill was accompanied by a free shot of Limoncello, a lemon liqueur that I should probably avoid as I could get used to it far too easily. Friendly service, great food. Well worth a visit if you’re in Birmingham. And if you stay at the Ibis, it’s a really, really short walk for your dinner!

Here’s another random photo taken at Tynemouth Priory, which shows that my long lens isn’t just for lighthouses four miles away:

Not just for distant objects

Not just for distant objects

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 379.4mm
ISO 1250
Taken 12:49, 13 August, 2016
Location 55° 1.0626′ 0″ N 1° 25.0716′ 0″ W

 

It’s an outrage!!!

If you’re reading this on Facebook, make sure to click through, or you might miss what I’m outraged by.

After finishing work thingies for the day (more to come in the traditional daily report), I had a look at some of the aerial photography exhibition that seems to be scattered around Birmingham.

I spotted this quite nice one of Caerphilly Castle (I’ll let them off the English spelling, just so long as they don’t pronounce it CARE-filly):

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/160s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 17:36, 20 August, 2016
Location 52° 28.7753′ 0″ N 1° 54.1215′ 0″ W

Very nice. Then I noticed the words. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear:

Who are you calling invaders?!

Who are you calling invaders?!

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/270s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 17:36, 20 August, 2016
Location 52° 28.7788′ 0″ N 1° 54.128′ 0″ W

Wait, what? Some French[1] bloke builds a castle in Wales and apparently used it to prevent Welsh people invading Wales. You have to wonder if anyone thought about those words before having them printed and put on public show….

Obviously it didn’t work, because Caerphilly is full of Welsh people these days, and not too many Normans. Apart from Norman who runs the chip shop, who I just invented because if I didn’t do the obvious gag, somebody else would have.

And talking of things Welsh, there were a lot of Police around New Street Station, including at least one van from Wales (easily identifiable by the large friendly letters HEDDLU). I suspect they were all waiting to greet a party of tiddlywinks fans, or some other such sporting thingy.

[1] Bloody Normans

Stuff Report – 19 August 2016

Steps taken: 7,603

Well, that was a fun warm and wet day in Birmingham. Things were done. Stuff was connected. Some stuff is playing silly buggers and will need to be dealt with tomorrow. Food was eaten and a small drink may have been had. Colleague Neil has been packed off home to Leeds, leaving all the fun bits for me.

But never mind all that, here’s a nice photo[1] of Tynemouth Priory

Tynemouth Priory

Tynemouth Priory

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 33.2mm
ISO 250
Taken 13:08, 13 August, 2016
Location 55° 1.04′ 0″ N 1° 24.9827′ 0″ W

[1] Well, I like it anyway