At last …

… credit where it is due, Nikon have finally done the decent thing.  Earlier this week I took delivery of a brand new Nikon D610 to replace the three year old, and seriously flawed, D600.  A few days later the invoice arrived – total cost £0.  I am of course delighted and the last few nights I have been re-studying the many-paged manual in earnest.  Not that there is any difference between the two models (at least none that I can remember) but I had grown seriously disaffected with the camera and the brand.  Sitting on the shelf, the subtleties of its dials, buttons and menus are soon forgotten.

It remains to be seen just how much I will use it.  The Fuji X100s is still my weapon of choice not just because it is small, easy to carry about, beautifully retro and produces such wonderful results but because it is so intuitive – yes, it too comes with a many-paged manual but I rarely look at it.  The dials are entirely consistent with a ‘proper’ camera and the menus easy to navigate, which prompts the question, will I be able to resist the rumoured 24MP X100F.

Enough of the hardware – the skies above Northumberland have been putting on a show this last week and here they are.  The stills are captured with the Fuji and the videos with the even more diminutive GoPro Hero 4.  The first two are time lapse recordings across the neighbouring fields and the last, a ten minute edited drive in the Elise from Hexham to Warkworth Golf Club (across country via Corbridge for fuel, Fenwick, Whalton and Morpeth):

Hexham sunset ... Hexham by night ... Hexham skyline...

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Old England

There is a sameness creeping into my imagery.  Old England has taken on the role of New England these last few weeks, the countryside turning a super-saturated Fuji Velvia riot of golds, browns and reds.  I carry my Fuji X100s with me almost everywhere I go, hence the opportunity to snap, hence the sameness – however clichéd, however familiar, the temptation to press the shutter one more time is irresistible.

Ken Rockwell describes the X100s as the “The World’s 2nd Best Digital Camera”, the best being its successor, the X100T.

I have said it before – the X100s is like a jewel, a retro work of art.  By comparison my Nikon D600 is a house brick – a perfectly capable house brick (apart from the oil spots on the sensor 😠 ) but not something you feel inclined to carry around in a golf bag, for instance – a full set of clubs in a carry bag is quite heavy enough.

This is what Northumberland has looked like these last few weeks through the eyes of a Fujinon 23mm F2 fixed focal length lens:

Beech leaves...

Autumnal waters ...
Autumn ... Talk about ... Autumn leaves ... Along the lanes ... Looking north west ...

And so to the crux of this post – my ongoing communications with Nikon Support:

Many thanks for your prompt reply. Unfortunately I am once again disappointed by Nikon’s response to this ongoing problem. At the heart of the issue is the fact that the Nikon D600 is a fundamentally flawed piece of equipment which should have been the subject of a replacement exercise from the outset. To be told, on the occasion of its third return for repair, that I might or might not be subject to a charge is unacceptable. There is inconvenience, time spent packing/arranging shipment and loss of use which seems to be ignored by Nikon, quite apart from the blemished images the camera produces.

In addition, it should be noted that I was explicitly told that my camera would form part of the D610 replacement programme by your colleague  – to receive the same camera back, which remains flawed, merely adds insult to injury.

I have been a Nikon customer for many years and have an extensive system supporting the D600. Unless you can guarantee replacement, I intend selling and replacing this system in its entirety – there are simply too many excellent, competitive cameras available on the market to remain with a manufacturer who has so little regard for its existing customer base.  I would be grateful if you could escalate as necessary.

I will let the world know how they respond 😉

The Flying Scotsman

In an earlier post I confessed to a youth spent hanging around sooty stations and sheds, inhaling steam, writing down numbers and underlining entries in an Ian Allan Combined Volume. Traces of that boy in a school cap, grey shorts and Clarks sandals remain.  For the last couple of weekends the Flying Scotsman has been travelling through Hexham on excursions to Carlisle; of course, I had to go and pay my respects.

I last saw this engine in steam at Doncaster when she was still in service; it would have been around 1961, a few years before she was sold to Alan Pegler.  Now she is pristine but in 1961 she was in standard BR livery, soot black and filthy.  Majestic she may be but I have fond memories of the days when not just the engines but the entire railway infrastructure was grubby, down-at-heel but workmanlike.

The first image, dated 14th August 2016,  was taken at Tyne Green on the opposite side of the tracks to the golf course.  The second image, dated 21st August 2016 was taken between Fourstones and Newbrough, on the track and crossing that used to lead down from Bull Bank:

Steaming through ... The Flying Scotsman ...

She is due through Hexham again tomorrow so I will mount the Yamaha and seek out another viewing angle. My whole life has been a landscape with machines.

Dusty roads ...

 

Out and about …

… in Hexham.  It will be September before we start travelling again so the summer months will be based at home: playing golf, putting miles on the motorbikes and keeping up with the endless maintenance tasks that are part and parcel of owning a converted cow byre. This year we are experimenting with changing the colour of the external woodwork, something I may live to regret.

Although we live in the country, almost everything you need is within a few miles drive, in the local towns of Hexham and Corbridge.  Everything else is available on the Internet. The problem is that these last few weeks, Hexham has moved several miles further away.  The main access from north of the Tyne has been severed while essential repairs have been carried out to the railway bridge.  It can be quite pleasant wandering the much less crowded streets but it has done local businesses no favours.  In no particular order, these are some of the images captured around the town over the last week:

Hexham railway bridge...Bridge closure ...The places ...Holy Island House ...Say hello ...Motorcycle ...

To round off, this is the mill at The Linnels, just outside Hexham – it is too easy to pass by familiar places and take them for granted:

The Mill ...

Another week …

This is a selection of images from Blip over the last seven days.  It has been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone – two rounds of golf, one on the coast and one in Yorkshire (Spring must be around the corner); no rides out on the bikes, too darn cold but the chains have been cleaned and oiled; various walks around Hexham, including one to the station – hence the picture of Les Dawson.  It is a look I have enthusiastically courted all my life – disapproval – reassuring that I can still do it 🙂

I finished reading Adlestrop Revisited by Anne Harvey, an anthology inspired by Edward Thomas’s poem.  It includes this by Martin Newell, an extract from Adlestrop Retrieved:

Bombastic brash and over-prone
To shouting on his mobile ‘phone
He’s cancelling his three o’clock
Or booking tickets for Bangkok
So fellow travellers have no choice
But hear his self-important voice.
“I’ve godda window, Tuesday. Noon.
“Yup. Abso-lootly. Speaktcha soon.”
No sooner has he closed the thing,
His brief-case then begins to ring.
And down it comes from off the rack.
“I’m breaking up, I’ll call you back.”
As fellow travellers wish he’d stow
His mobile phone where phones don’t go.
And so the pompous prat proceeds
From Paddington to Temple Meads.

Have a good week all and may you find life’s silent coach 😜 🚊

Beware the Bull ...I recognise that look ...Anick Grange ...That's the sound of men ...First eighteen ...The road north ...The Monument...

More random thoughts …

Last week I posted this image on polaroidblipfoto.com.  On a circular walk around Hexham we cut through the golf club car park to avoid the muddy public footpath where shafts of light from a low winter sun highlighted drifting smoke:

Smoke in the woods...

A split tone filter from ON1 Perfect Effects has turned the smoke blue which immediately put me in mind of the early television advert based on the Platters record:

They asked me how I knew
It was Esso Blue
I of course replied
With lower grades one buys
Smoke gets in your eyes.

I had hoped to find the original advert on Youtube but this was the best I could find:

All this reminded me that John Betjeman had a fondness for product names like Omo, Oxydol etc but could not find the reference despite much searching on Google.  Instead I found this, one of my favourite pieces by Betjeman which I had not thought of in years – A Shropshire Lad:

I love the rhythm of this poem and its repetition:

Captain Webb from Dawley,
Rose rigid and dead from the old canal
That carried the bricks to Lawley,
Rigid and dead, rigid and dead,
To the Saturday congregation.

I have traveled the full length of the Shropshire Union more than once but could not remember passing through Dawley.  I wondered if the ‘old canal’ might be a convenient invention by Betjeman but a quick Google search came up with this explanation from the Dawley Heritage site:

In 1788 the ironmaster William Reynolds proposed an extension to the Shropshire Canal southwards from Donnington Wood to the River Severn. After parliamentary approval, work started in that year. Following a route alongside the present-day Stirchley Pools and after exiting from a tunnel at Southall, the canal split into eastern and western arms. The eastern arm, through Oakengates to near Aqueduct, was replaced by a railway in 1860 which followed wherever possible the line of the old canal. The western arm from Aqueduct to Coalbrookdale, via Little Dawley, Wide Waters and across Doseley terminating at Brierley Hill declined in use and was closed in 1810 when the new tramway was built from Castle Furnaces across the Lightmoor Valley to Coalbrookdale.

Oakengates, Coalbrookdale and Dawley are all mentioned in the poem.

So, that is how I got from Hexham to Dawley.

As you climb up the golf course approach road you are walking almost parallel to the 18th fairway and at the top is the tee box adjacent to the 17th green.  Earlier in the week this had been as ice-smooth as a skating rink:

Hexham Golf Club ...

I cannot mention ice rinks without thinking of Ravel’s Bolero … and so,  it goes on, randomly 🙂

Last of the melting snow

After the previous frantic post, this is a calmer time-lapse video to soothe the frayed nerves. The view is across the fields from our front door – as far as I am prepared to travel before breakfast (in my dressing gown 😨) . The morning started well enough but even over the hour this was shot, the day started to dull down. Passengers flying into Amsterdam from Minneapolis on a Delta AIrbus A330 and those on a Lufthansa A380 from San Francisco into Frankfurt were treated to the best of Northumberland – they streak across the sky near the beginning of the video.

There is still some snow but the sun is doing its work at least until the next batch arrives:

... the melting snow

And finally – this looks perishing but it wasn’t – the camera always lies 😉

... across the Tyne