December 21, 2005

Altogether Now..

(To be sung to the tune of 'One Man Went To Mow)

5 more sleeps to go
5 more sleeps to Santa
5 more sleep till the big fat bloke comes down your chimney and leaves you presents and drinks your beer
5 more sleeps till Santa.

Feeling festive yet? :)

December 15, 2005

We're All Going On A Llama Hunt.

As a fully paid up flickr addict I was quite excited when one of my contacts – Monster , aka Steve, organised a flickr meet. For the unaffiliated out there flickr is a website that gives anyone, amateur, professional or wannabee a chance to show the world what they can see through the lense of a camera, or at least that’s the simple explanation. I’m not going into my own thoughts on flickr because part of the genius of it is that it is something different to everyone who uses it. You need to discover it for yourself.

Anyway last Sunday I headed down to Portsmouth to meet up with a few cyber friends from flickr. It was a strange meeting. Firstly there were only three of us! I have no doubt whatsoever that Steve did everything possible to badger others into coming, no doubt there was lots of promises made to be there but at the end of the day only three of us turned up. But that was ok, because we had a really nice day.

It was doubly strange (in a nice way) because I had known Steve pretty much all my life but not met the other contact that came, and yet I’d had the chance, via flickr to get to know her and see the world through her eyes, so it felt like I already knew her. The fact that I was meeting up with Steve was weird in itself, we grew up on neighbouring streets, we went to the same schools, we almost got it together as teenagers but then drifted apart and didn’t see each other for over 20 years. Then with the advent of friends reunited we made contact again. We met up for the obligatory school reunion then kept in touch via a few e-mails, but on a chance trip to the little village that is now my home, en route to drop his dogs of to kennels, I showed him flickr and literally created a Monster! He takes great photos, and is hoping to make a career out of it now, and I wish him all the luck in that. (and if you read this Steve – don’t get big headed, I still have that photo!) Anyway I digress. The other flickrite that came to the meet was a lady who goes by the screen name of Joker the Lurcher . Now (and this will only make sense if you take a look at flickr) I’d had a quick nose at her photos whilst looking at Steve’s but I’d never really had much contact with Angharad, but from the moment we all met up it was like meeting up with old friends. We warmed up with a couple of drinks in a pub in Old Portsmouth and talked and talked! There were no awkward silences, no struggles to find a common topic, if all else failed there were two real and one surrogate dog owners round the table, that conversation alone could go on forever! And, may I add, Joker has the most amazing eyes, he’s a cool dog.

Then we wandered over to Portsmouth Cathedral, camera’s at the ready and wandered round snapping away in there for a while, and even though the same things caught our eyes we still managed to come out of there with three different views. A Nice start to the afternoon, then…..

Steve and I went to look for Llamas! My latest obsession is the flickr monthly scavenger hunt. Twenty photos’s to get by the end of the month, and December’s challenge is (drum roll please)…

1. A waitress/waiter dressed all in black.
2. The number 12.
3. A set of twins.
4. Someone with no hair.
5. A bicycle in the snow or rain.
6. Someone on crutches.
7. A dog on a leash.
8. A Hot drink.
9. Green eyes.
10. Red shoes.
11. An airplane, not in the air.
12. A Llama.
13. A U.S. veteran, uniform optional (or a Veteran from your own country)
14. A lighted Menorah.
15. A strange hat.
16. A burning fire.
17. A coin, not from the U.S.
18. A holiday desert.
19. A gift.
20. Brown eggs.

So I checked on their website and there was a park that was near the area that both Steve and I grew up in that allegedly had Llamas! So, eventually getting back to the whole point of this tome! We went on a Llama hunt (photographically speaking of course).

We got there, and worked out that neither of us had visited this area in well over a decade so we weren’t sure exactly where the Llamas might be, it was just an open bit of park when we were kids, a nice lake, an arch thing in the middle, some good trees to climb, but no zoo. But the website said they had one, so in we went. We wandered down to the lake, and round a bit of it but neither of us could be bothered to walk all the way round – it’s big, and besides we were looking for the Llamas. Then we wandered back up to the arch thing, took a few pics then spotted a path that we hadn’t seen before – the zoo maybe? No, it was a Coach House. Interesting, a good place to play with a camera, but no Llamas!

As we walked back to the car I started to doubt my sanity, I knew I had seen a zoo on their list of attractions, I KNEW it had Llamas – how hard can it be to find a Llama in the only bit of green land midst the biggest council estate in the South of England? Then, just as we were about to cross the road back to the car park, we saw a map. And there it was – the ornamental gardens, complete with Llamas, on the other side of the road, in the bit that was never open to the public when we were kids! I have no doubt that, by then, Steve would have told me where to shove paying £4.60 to go into the zoo and take Llama pictures but he needed the little boys room and the only one for 10 miles was the other side of the ticket office!

So I had a great day, met an old friend and made a new one, proved my sanity and got a picture of a Llama. All in all really a good Sunday.

December 07, 2005

Christmas Quackers!

Tis the season to be jolly and all that, and today we, that is my business partner and I, decided, for the second time, that if we can't beat the Tuesday Market in our little village then we'll join 'em! Alison did the first week, after I pulled the "I've got a cold' card so today, despite the remnants of a really annoying cough I stood outside in the freezing cold, and occasional shower, flogging our wares.

I got to pitch up next to Gary, or "the Duck man" as he is more commonly known in Odiham. It's amazing just how many people want wooden Ducks! We are in the wrong business! Even I succumbed eventually and came back with a little wooden duckling of my very own :) And you know what? I quite enjoyed it! There was a real sense of community amongst the market traders. It's only a small market, no more than 6 stalls at the moment, and to be honest it's always been a source of friction amongst the retailers in the village. Parking is hard enough as it is, but when the Tuesday Market takes 10 parking spaces out for 4 hours it's impossible! So, just like everyone else, we moaned! "Our shop is always quiet on a Tuesday" we said. "It's our worse day of the week" we whined! Then Alison suggested we give it a go ourselves, set up our well-worn Gazebo, take a few chocs out, some toys, and a Christmas card or two and see what happens. So we did!

Although the market itself will never pay for our retirement the strange thing is as soon as one of us stood outside freezing to death for the morning the shop got busier! Go figure! And we didn't do too badly on the stall so all in all it's worth it. We'll stick it out until Christmas then maybe do it once a month in the New Year.

So there I was, full of the Christmas spirit, albeit frozen to the very core when on a trip out later in the evening I stumbled across this! I think Christmas has arrived in South Warnborough! I think I saw a collection box at the gate, although it was hard to see past the glare. So I hope they are doing this for charity! I'll take a trip back under the safety of daylight to see. Happy Christmas!

December 02, 2005

The Art of Asking Questions

I keep six honest serving-men
(They tought me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and When and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them easy and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small-
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes-
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

From The Elephants Child by Rudyard Kipling.