Archive for August, 2008

Huh?! Flickr – sorry forbidden.

It seems Flickr is being silly…. (or perhaps BONK! – it has the hiccups – as the people at yahoo might say.)

When I tried logging in earlier it just kept on telling me this:

flickr - problem logging in.

I panicked at first as I thought that meant flickr had banned me – although what for I would have no idea.

Anyway, I’ve been googling, and it looks like this has been happening to quite a few people today, so I thought I’d post this to explain how I managed to log in eventually in case it’s happening to you too. Basically, following the suggestion of flickr user “escheresque-er” I just refreshed the above screen. It didn’t do anything the first few times, but then suddenly I was in my account.

There is a thread about it in the Flickr help forum which you can view here:

http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/79941/

Please get your act together and sort it out flickr!

Bank holiday bliss

Before I go too far, I should point out it doesn’t take much for me to consider myself in bliss. ūüôā Just a warm, sunny day and nothing in particular to do. The fact that it fell on a bank holiday – it is British tradition that they are usually cold, wet and manky – was an extra added bonus.

It started off well because I actually got a decent night’s sleep for once. Recently, I haven’t managed more than about 5 hours tops without waking up for various reasons. Last night I slept about 8 hours straight through and felt so much better for it this morning. I got up at a leisurely pace, finished a “Samauri” Sudoku (5 interlocking puzzles), had a couple of cups of tea, did a bit of reading (nothing weighty – a bit of chick lit by Louise Bagshaw).¬†

After that I went and had a prowl around the garden to see if I felt like doing anything out there – after all I had the rest of the day stretching out in front of me to do as I pleased. I walked around rubbing my chin a bit in deep, contemplative, herbaceous thought. There’s a few things I’ve been wanting to move to different places for a while now, but didn’t have the time, inclination or weather to manage it. “Mmmm,” I thunked to myself, “yes I do fancy a nice little bit of pottering.”

Just to remind everyone -here’s a picture of what it looked like back in February:

Operation returf

I think it’s fair to say that it was pretty ‘bare’ back then. Minus half a lawn in anticipation of “Operation Returf”, and all the perennials are either so small you can hardly pick them out against the ground or have lost their leaves for the winter. Here’s a ‘before shot’ from today (I know¬†a bit of blue sky always does wonders, but¬†I think the contrast is quite nice.¬†You don’t notice changes when they creep up gradually over the year):

In the garden

On with the “gardening”. I started by picking all the decent sweet peas and plonking them in a¬†vase before ripping out the plants themselves.¬†As per usual, I’ve ended up neglecting them. Most of them had just gone to seed. (Note to self – plant sweet peas where you can actually reach the blinking things.)

Then I bumbled round getting rid of rain bashed geranium heads. It hasn’t been quite as wet as last year although it’s fair to say summer has been¬†another wash-out really.¬†(Northern Ireland has had the eye opening floods this year – yikes.) We’ve had more rain than you can shake a stick at with d several predicted ‘light showers’ turning out to be torrential downpours. I think we had a reasonable forecast for this week though, so hopefully the geraniums will¬†perk up a little.

After this I realised I was feeling an unfamiliar sensation. It rang vague bells, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Suddenly it came to me Hot. I was HOT! Too hot for jeans even. So for the first – and probably only – time this year I went and got changed into shorts (nearly blinding myself with my pasty white legs in the process).

In the garden

This is the bit that had most done to it. You probably can’t tell, but I promise I’ve moved a couple of things to the right, brought down a choisya from nearer the house, moved two heucheras from somewhere else. Blah, blah. I think it¬†looks better now anyway. I’m just hoping these things won’t protest too much about being moved. *crosses fingers* There’s still a couple of things I want to pop in here from somewhere else, but I’m saving that for another time.

In the garden

I made a start with this bit, but it still very much a work in progress. It might be a good place for some penstamons as it has the sun for most of the day. I think I’m going to move my agapanthus there too. Their current home seems to be too shady – they’re just bending over in a vain attempt to reach the¬†sun. Poor things. They’re my reminder of California! They deserve a bit of sunshine. Still, gardening is all about learning. That pinky thing In the middle is a new Wigelia (I think that’s right) and I’ve moved the three heucheras that used to be there into more shady places where they’ll hopefully be happier.

In the garden

I’m saving this bit for another time too. You can’t really tell from that picture, but the lavendar got bashed when the conifer hedge behind got trimmed earlier this year. I was a bit annoyed about it. I’d asked my next door neighbours if we could join together to get both sides of the hedge done as it seemed the sensible thing. (It’s their hedge really anyway – they have it instead of fencing.) The guy took 5 weeks to eventually get both sides done and when I saw my lavendar afterwards my face fell. Perhaps it wasn’t as good an idea as I thought. Ho hum. You live and learn.

I’ve been thinking about my L shaped beds too. My original idea was to keep them for summer bedding, but I’m not so sure now. It just looks too messy to me- largely because I ended up with too many different colours. I probably should have given a colour scheme more thought. The other thing is I either have to splash out for winter bedding too, or live with it looking bare for quite a few months. So I have a new idea now. Yes – you guessed it. Lavendar! I love my lavendar hedge in the front garden, and I think these beds might be a good home for it in the back. They’ll also be out of the way of any future hedge-chopping. I’ll give it a whirl next spring.

And to close, here’s a picture looking down the garden from the patio. I like how it’s looking, but I flipping¬†wish I’d put those Penstamons back against the fence.I didn’t realise how tall they’d get. There’s smaller things behind them you just can’t see. (That need moving…!) I’ve also put in a new Sambuca just to their left. It’s smaller than they are at the moment, but it should get quite big all being well.

 In the garden

Anyway – Yet another rambling post. Well done if you get this far! (I never mean to waffle on quite as much as I do!

Sorry I haven’t written anything…

….for ages. I don’t seem to have the energy to think of anything to say – and that includes posting comments on other people’s blogs. *hangs head in shame*¬† I’m not enjoying work in the slightest¬†at the moment. Don’t get me wrong – we’re spending a fair amount of time laughing – but I think it’s out of mild hysteria and desperate frustration¬†to be honest. The person I sit next to has developed a new catchphrase over the last few weeks where he’ll says something extremely sarcastic or scathing¬†about the situation in hand which is followed by a tiny pause and then (in mock horror) “Oooh – did I say that out loud?!”.¬†It’s hilarious – to us at least.

So, when I’ve got home all I’ve been interested in either constantly refreshing the ‘explore’ page on Flickr or¬†messing around with my own photos. (I’m currently going through a must-put-borders-or-part-borders-around-things phase.) Then I go to bed at 11pm¬†and lie awake until¬†around 2am¬†worrying about work and what a mess it all is at the moment and how I feel more of a hindrance than a help because I don’t understand how to do what I’m meant to be doing, and¬†the other guy has no time to show me properly. etc etc etc blah blah blah.

So, back to the post in hand. I’m trying to be good and go through photos and delete the pointless ones. I still haven’t been through all my April LA ones yet either… I did start looking at them the other night and ended up playing with some of the ones I took very early o’clock at Newark airport. These were taken with my Canon point and shoot, in a bit of a rush through a dirty departure gate window. (I’ve been told off for taking photos through windows at LAX – even though I don’t think there’s any signs saying you can’t – and was worried they might do the same here.) Anyway, it¬†was pretty good watching dawn break over the Manhattan skyline. Probably not something I’m likely to see again anytime soon anyway. (The teeny tiny upright spike in the dead centre of the skyline is the Empire State Building!)

Manhattan skyline

I wasn’t meant to be at Newark airport at 5am, but I don’t think I’ve ever said anything about this year’s LA expedition.¬†For those who are interested, here’s a brief recounter of¬†the¬†trip out:

I was meant to be flying from Birmingham UK to Newark at 9am and getting an onwards connection to LAX. I got up at 4am to get to the airport for 6.30am. At 8.30am it became apparent the plane was poorly and not going anywhere soon. (I must be a bad luck genie because this happens everytime I attempt this journey Рand the delay and drama gets worse each time.)

At 11am Continental decided to bus any¬†people with onwards connections to down to Heathrow. We got to Heathrow at 1pm and¬†stood¬†in a queue until 3pm when we were finally¬†re-checked in.¬†(During this time about 4 different people asked us the¬†same security questions which¬†got very aggravating but you¬†daren’t get grumpy in case they think you’re a terrorist). At 3pm we joined the end of a queue about 1/4 of a mile long to go through the security gate and quickly realised we were not going to¬†manage it in time for a 4pm flight.

Fortunately the security people took pity on us and let¬†us¬†join the business class queue – which¬†had about 12¬†people in it….¬†hmmm. Something extremely out of balance there if you ask me. I ended up being taken to one side at security and having my body x-rayed. Then when I was called to board I was taken to one side again and frisked. I suspect it was because by then I had the most harried expression on my face.¬† It can’t have been pleasant for the frisker either. I was definitely getting a bit stinky by then – and the journey hadn’t actually started. LOL. We finally got on the plane about 4.30pm – with a 7 and a half hour flight in front of us. We’d already been told we’d probably need to book into a hotel at Newark as it was unlikely we’d make a connection.

In the chaos Continental did not feed us either. So I went from about 8am UK time until abut 5pm UK time (when we’d finally taken off) without anything to eat. The flight felt like it was never going to end. The last two hours were particularly tedious. I well and truly missed any LA connection in Newark and ended up staying in a motel which turned out to be practically at the end of the runway.¬† Despite this, it still took an hour to get there as we had get another tedius combination of¬†monorail and¬†airport shuttle to battle with. (In my opinion Continental should have arranged a coach for us – there were enough of us to make it worth while.)

I ended up helping someone else caught up in the nightmare. She had two of the most enormous suitcases I’ve ever seen. (They were full of shoe samples as she’d been to a Birmingham for an exhibition for work and was trying to get home – by coincidence to LA). We ended up sort of palling up and helping each other a bit. Her suitcases were so big they almost didn’t fit through the doors of the elevator you had to take to the monorail. You had to laugh at that bit. It was either laugh or cry by then anyway. And getting them in the monorail was fun too since it was unmanned and you weren’t quite sure when the doors were going to open or close. We can also vouch for the fact that it is¬†rather chilly and miserable waiting for an airport shuttle at 10pm¬†on am April evening in Newark (3am for us – having got up at 4am remember).

So we got to the ‘motel’, had a burger courtesy of Continental (well I tried to have a burger but I was somewhat past it by then), and got to bed at about 11pm, only to get up at 3.30am to do the reverse journey back to the airport since the instruction was to be there 2 hours before departure time. ARRGGH! Still – it was a worth the¬†sunrise. (Cue panoramic photo)

Manhattan

We boarded the morning flight and breathed a sigh of relief – only to be told by the pilot¬†as we were trundelling along to the runway¬†that we might have to stop part way to LA to refuel as we were “tight on gas and it was a bit windy out there”. NOOOO!

As it turned out, we didn’t need to. (They found an altitude where the wind wasn’t much of a problem or something.)¬†I was extremely thankful for this since I was actually meant to be attending a film premiere that evening (probably a once in a lifetime experience), and the thought that I might be delayed even further¬†was starting to freak me out.¬†

I always seem to have bad luck flying to LA with Continental. Don’t get me wrong – the flights are fine once we take off and I’ve always felt safe . I just seem to get all the delays – and they’re always because of technical faults with the plane.¬†The first time I was delayed 4 hours in Birmingham and missed my connection, the second time I was delayed 8 hours in Newark and thought I was going to be stuck there as it was 4th July weekend and all other flights were full. (Fortunately someone remembered a ‘spare plane the other side of the airport’.) And now this one… The only time the outbound flight has gone without any hiccup is the one time a delay wouldn’t have mattered much as I was breaking the journey with a three day stop in NYC. I think it’s called “the law of sod”.

Naturally it all goes perfectly on the way home.

(Sorry – I seem to have rambled on there a bit. Never mind….!)

How on earth…..

…did it get to be August already?! This year¬†seems to be¬†slipping through my fingers like sand.

At the moment I’m still working my way through wedding photos. It’s taking a long time because I suffer from a personal case of perfectionitis and also I can only do it in the evenings after work. I can see immediately the mistakes I made with the camera. I turned the ISO up for one photo, and then forgot, so a lot of photos have come out a bit grainier than they should have done. Oh well. It was either that or have the camera on Auto all the time which would have defeated the object of me trying to improve.¬†

Good old photoshop elements is real help being able to do at least “something” with the photos that would otherwise be consigned to the trash can. Here’s an example:

Red

I was too far away when I took it, had ISO set too high (hence the grain), but a pretty¬†fast shutter speed (so the colours were too dark and went yukky after brightening up). So I deliberately created a black and white layer, then messed around with the ‘red channel’ (in a very amateur way) on the colour layer¬†to get it as bright as I could, then deleted through the black and white layer to the bits I knew were red.¬†The result isn’t¬†perfect, but I¬†quite like it! And like¬†I said, it would have been unusable otherwise.¬†

I’ve been really tired in the mornings because each evening I’ve told myself “you’re only allowed to play with photos until 10.30pm at the latest” and then I’ve ended up getting carried until after midnight. Then I’ve had to “wind down” so I’ve normally been awake until about 1.30am.

No wonder it’s been a struggle getting up in the mornings for work! Anyway, thankfully it’s now the weekend so I can catch up on a bit of sleep, and hopefully get most of the photos ‘gone through’. I’ve got as far as the wedding breakfast. Just speeches and people enjoying themselves on the dance-floor to go. ūüôā (I’m enjoying it though!)

Here’s a picture of the location of the wedding. Rowton Castle Nr Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

Rowtown Castle

It’s pretty beautiful! And we had such lovely, lovely weather. It’s been quite rainy again this summer, and lovely warm, sunny days have been a bit few and fair between. However 24th July 2008 was absolutely perfect.

Fiery

And look at that sunset! It’s verging on the cheesy how wonderful the day was!