Friday, 24 February 2017

Frugal Friday Free Fotos

I have always found that magazines are a pain-free way of earning a living, learning, acquiring a veneer of knowledge and relaxing.

With the prices of mainstream Photo magazines hitting the upper limit of acceptability I have had to let this pleasure slip away, for good.

This means that I have to overcome my dislike of reading on a screen if I am to get my fix of information from others.

Take this for example, which I discovered on an amazing site called which seems to emanate from Bana India.

There you can find several hundred FREE interviews on line along with a couple of dozen FREE handbooks to download.

All the photos on this post came from Photowhoa and these last two are from a blog interview with Satoki Nagata who has taken the street-photography genre to new levels. His technique is to use an off camera flash mounted on a tripod, a slow shutter speed to record the snow, sleet or rain and I suspect a bit of careful photo montage.

If I thought I could even begin to approach taking pictures like this I STILL wouldn't venture out on the streets after dark, in the snow and loaded with gear.

I have downloaded a free book on Street Photography ... a 62 pager with plenty of examples and supporting text and, so far no annoying pop-ups or advertisements. I may even print it out ... in fact I shall do so right now for reference during my next camera playtime mood.

Thanks for being here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Time of my Life!

The late 1950s were good for me. I was good at my job, I had fun in the USA, the American Dream looked as if it really could come true, red and chrome were dominant features in my life and I had money in my pocket and some very pretty young ladies to escort.

Of course there were also tough times and many disadvantaged souls but these were off our radar.

I was reminded of this when reading of the movie The Founder which is now playing at various UK cinemas. I am tempted to see how well it recreates the fabulous fifties when Ray Kroc screwed his partners. left his wife, stole the McDonald's name and concept from Mac and Dick McDonald and the created the fantasy that he was the 'founder' of the Golden Arches empire. [He wasn't - they were]

It is many years since I last visited a cinema and I plan never to do so again. Guess I'll wait until it is released on DVD ... if I remember.

As for my 1950s lifestyle ... the cars, boats  ladies, burgers, coke [Coca Cola!] and the invention of Rock n Roll ... all now just gently fading sweet dreams when I am sittin' on the dock of the bay here in Margate ... or at least I will be when the weather warms up and the wind drops,

When were your 'happy memory years'? If there weren't any, then set about making 2017 your first.

Meanwhile, there are some interesting links in the weekly newsletter from
Still from 'The Founder'
Other pictures on this page via Glastron Boats PR materials

Monday, 20 February 2017

Its the business

Many moons ago I subscribed to the US magazine Entrepreneur and yes, it is still going although my subscription isn't.

Two of their earlier regular columnists were Jay Conrad Levenson and Ted Nicholas who were also prolific business authors. Although most of their output was in the pre-digital age, their fundamental marketing strategies still hold good. I learned more about this dark art from their columns than from any text book.

One of them, and I forget which, suggested the concept of a 'fire sale' to clear dead stock at rock bottom prices. Keeping old stuff occupies valuable real estate space which is a cash outflow, selling it, even at cost, is a cash inflow. 

During the early 1980's we would have a queue outside our wool shop waiting for us to open for our 'One Day - Once a Year Penny Sale' when we would sell odd remainders, patterns, needles and accessories at 1p per item. The stuff flew off the shelves and left space for exciting new stock. 

I note that Holland & Barrett now run regular 'penny sales' but theirs are simply variations on the Buy One Get One Free principle.

Last week I received an email from a small family run publishing house that I once used. It was headed 'Fire Sale' and explained how the proprietors wanted to recoup some hefty losses incurred when their website hosting company did the dirty on them and pulled the plug.

I found the offer irresistible ... a one year, non recurring sub to their excellent photography magazine at a full 50% off the usual price. Of course I went for it! I got a bargain, they got an instant income of cash up front for products not yet printed so  I guess it was win-win.

I have made two references to different magazine subscriptions and yet I really dislike the idea. Another photo magazine changed ownership and then called in the receivers so I never saw my money or any magazines again. A US fine art magazine totally failed to deliver any issues at all and after a long hassle sent me a refund cheque in US$ which would have been  reduced by 50% in value by bank charges for depositing it in UK.

Generally I hate paying for subscriptions to anything in advance because my tastes and obsessions and interests may well have changed long before the promised goods are delivered ... and usually the special offers to encourage new subs are worth very little over the length of the agreement [and especially beware 'automatically renewing concepts']

If you must subscribe to anything, I suggest you do so by a one-off payment and do not get involved in direct debit arrangements or standing orders. At least with standing orders YOU are in full control. With direct debits the vendor is in control.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

What the ****

Please do not adjust your set ... or ... it's probably not you, it's me.

I proudly present my first ever photograph taken with a mobile phone.

It is through a window because it was cold and windy outside. The horizontals and verticals go every which way because I wasn't holding the damn thing correctly.

I still haven't  figured out how to send it from phone to laptop via bluetooth ... and as for getting the phone to access the internet ... well I STILL haven't found the correct bit of magical geek talk or logic.

Mmmm. Cannot see me abandoning my camera any time soon, in fact it is more probable that you will see this distinguished gentleman shouting obscenities to the seagulls as he tosses this 'smart' phone into the sea at high tide from a great height.

I've seen grey haired old grannies doing it on the bus. I've seen three year old kids doing it on the bus. How hard can it be?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Traveler's Notebook Olive Edition

It has been some time since I caught up with the Traveler's Notebook company.

I took a look at their official site [] and was surprised to find that they have done a lot since my last visit. They've even opened an on-line shop!

The first two innovations for 2017 are a new collection of brass stationery accessories and this Olive Edition TN.
[Photo from their website]

Now I can see the appeal to genuine jungle explorers who want to carry their TN around in their low visibility tracking suits ... but would they really?

From checking out a few favourite blogs it appears that most TN enthusiasts are probably female, aged 20-30 and obviously with significant disposable income. It's a helluva long time since I met one of these delightful creatures although I remember them with love, even so I cannot really see them queuing up to get their hands on one of these olives.

Being a gentleman of a certain vintage my immediate reaction was that it reminded me of army issue and wartime austerities and atrocities which was not a happy thought. In fact it was totally negative.

Then I remembered how Flying Fortress Sally B needed an olive paint job to protect her former unpainted aluminum body ... and how this was used to enhance her role as a flying memorial to more than 72,000 USAF lads who sacrificed their lives on our behalf during WWII. I even had passing thoughts of pre-ordering a TN Olive to 'customize' as a Sally B special. Then I remembered that it is not a good look for elderly gentlemen to even think about recapturing their past ... even in a notebook.

Of course, the TN team see it differently. Well they would wouldn't they? Here is their take on the colour choice. It seems this 'collector's' item will be available in the UK during April 2017.
From Travelers Company Blog

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

From Elsewhere

With half an hour to spare I visited a few blogs that had been ignored since the end of last year.

That's how I found this item at which is an extract from a book which was suggested by their guest blogger Trina O'Gorman on July 29 2016.

"The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of a swing on a summer's day. ages 6,4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, what we talked about and how they sounded and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on with the next things; dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less"
-Anna Quindlen from her book 'Loud and Clear'

OK. I leave it there for you to think about.

Meanwhile I have been catching up with the January issue of the USA magazine Success featuring an interview with, and a free cd by, Tony Robbins. I met Tony 17 years ago when he visited London and he revitalized my interest in Personal Development, Public Speaking and Life Coaching just when it was waning. Tony is a charismatic showman, salesman and mentor.
Here is my daughter keeping warm earlier this month ... is she running towards something or away from it?

Can't tell you 'cos I didn't take the photo.

Always found it difficult to keep up with her!

Monday, 13 February 2017

February Book of the Month

Photo earlier today with myCanon IXUS70 compact digital camera
Poirot and Me by David Suchet
Headline Books 2013 
ISBN 978 0 7553 6419 0
£20  [But my copy was £2 from Charity Shop]

This may seem an unlikely candidate and yet it is highly appropriate, especially given my fascination with many aspects of show-biz.

Sure, we caught the odd TV show in the Poirot series from time to time [although we were never avid compulsive viewers] and like many of my contemporaries we went through phases of reading paperback detective novels.

Going gently back through time, I had my own version of 'Wilderness Years' following a totally different lifestyle from what went before and what has transpired since. Those 20 years more or less spanned the production periods of the Suchet / Poirot filming.between 1988 and 2008.

They also included a couple of visits to Totnes in Devon to meet a client author and to visit a publishing house when a boat trip to Dartmouth revealed some tantalising glimpses of author Agatha Christie's house named 'Greenaway' on the bank of the River Dart. I hear it is now owned by National Trust and is open to the public ... but it wasn't back then.

Set designer Jeff Tessler and the production  team of the TV series chose to set all 70 shows in 1937-38 for recognition and continuity instead of the more accurate 1927-47 when the novels were originally published.

And that's the point for me really. As I was born in 1938, the first ten years of my life [in a dozen or more addresses] were mostly in houses furnished in what is now 'art deco' period style. The decor and fittings are still so familiar to me.

Finally, I checked to see who created the title sequences for the shows. His name was Pat Gavin and you can find out more about the ethos behind his designs and more of this specific style of graphic design and artwork at

Title image by Pat Gavin [more and video on line]
Back in 19th July I posted some photos of a few of the art deco style homes that I inhabited in Brixton and Streatham and that were still standing last time I looked.

There is a wealth of on-line location information and 'behind the scenes' revelations about Poirot and David Suchet. Happy Googling!