Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Demise of Picasa

So Google, in their infinite wisdom have decided to end Picasa, or , in their words, moving on. All albums are now available on Google Photos. Nowt wrong with that, they have been since the inception of Google photos. What is annoying though is that Google Photos do not have an easy way to upload, title or organise albums. More importantly there is no way to embed a slide-show or grab a handy link as there is in Picasa. A lot of Bloggers use the slide-show facility from Picasa, especially as there's nothing else out there (that I can find) that does the same. So OK Google, end Picasa but please give us away to embed a slide-show.

Unless I can find a solution this may be the last slide-show posted on this Blog:

Cambridge Botanic Gardens

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Halesworth Day of Dance 2016

Having enjoyed the Mark Jones day of Dance I was pleased to see that another day of dance was planned, this one to be held at Halesworth and hosted by OxBlood Molly. (I think I mistakenly tagged them as Oxblood Morris in the photos, sorry guys.) Halesworth is a pretty little town in Suffolk, so worth a visit anyway.

It was an enjoyable day but a shame the weather didn't play ball.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Mark Jones Day of Dance 2016

So a couple or so weeks ago I decided to get the train to Ely. I've visited the place many times before but this was the first time I had gone by train. As the train pulled in to Bury station I noticed one carriage was filled with people with blackened faces, men in hobnail boots, one wearing a dress and women with ivy leaves around their hat. I recognised Old Glory Molly immediately and decided to go sit with them. Chatting to them on the way I found out they were attending the Mark Jones day of Dance in Ely. Yaaay! An event! I hadn't known it was taking place, luckily I had a couple of lenses with me that were suitable for event snapping.

The day is organised by the Ouse Washes Molly, in memory of a former member who died in a traffic accident in 2004. Gathering outside the Cutter's Inn at Ely the invited Molly Dance teams threw themselves in to their performance with gusto. Apparently eleven sides took part,from such places as Bournemouth, Kent, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and more. These are the sides listed on the Ouse washes website: Black Annis Molly, Good Easter Molly Gang, Holly Copse Molly, The Norwich Kitwiches, Mepal Molly Men, Old Glory Molly Dancers, Ox Blood Molly Dancers and Seven Champions Molly Dancers.

After their lively and colourful performances the dancers then went on to Little Downham, the last known place where molly was danced before the tradition died out. (luckily it was revived at some point). Then on to Upware and the Five Miles from Anywhere Inn (don't you just love that name?)

I only photographed the Ely leg of the day, though Old Glory had very kindly offered me the spare seat on their coach at Ely. I had to decline, mainly because I needed to be home before nightfall. There' a Picasa slide show of the photos below - they can also be found at Flickr. Read on below the slide show to find out more about Molly dancing.

Molly dancing is similar to Morris dancing, but is louder, and more boisterous. It was a tradition of East Anglia and the East Midlands, where farm workers in winter needed to make money. With the Christmas holidays just over and ploughing not due to start until spring the farm workers would tour the local land owners and offer to dance for money, if they were refused they would plough up the land owners lawn. Molly dancing is usually characterised by blackened faces, the farm workers would not of wished to be recognised by the land owners, with whom they would wan to gain employment in the spring so they would blacken their faces with soot. To help their disguise they would wear a version of their Sunday best, garments adorned with coloured scarves and other knick-knacks.

In eighteenth century England, there were 'molly houses' which were meeting places for homosexual men, some of whom would wear female attire. So the term 'molly' is an old word that refers to a man dressed in women’s clothing, traditional molly dance teams always included at least one such character, why they do so I've no idea.The traditional dances are mainly lost to history, so most modern Molly dancers create their own dances, all are lively and all tell a story.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Long Walk

It's been such a beautiful blue sky day today, with very mild weather for the time of year. certainly makes a change form the dull greyness that has marked a lot of the days here of late.

I went of for my usual walk, which usually averages 4 miles, but it was so nice I kept on walking. Signs of the mild winter were everywhere, snowdrops, usually seen in February, Daffs and Hawthorn blossom, usually seen in March.

I could witter on more but I won't. Here are some of the photos I took as I meandered around town and countryside.

A long walk photos

Friday, 8 January 2016

12th Night Celebrations - London 2016

The first major event of 2016 and the weather did it's best to deter us, but it couldn't mar this excellent event staged by The Lion's Part,  but we were not to be deterred. The players, musicians and actors carried on regardless of the weather, they played on and coped remarkably well in adverse conditions.

There was no arrival of The Green Man on The Trinity Tide boat this year because of the weather, instead he and a few others arrived by crossing the Millennium bridge. With the backdrop of St Paul's they were a remarkable sight. Once the Green Man had joined the rest of the players and the Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle, (brave woman to turn out in the rain,) the players moved to the steps of the Globe for The Bankside Wassails, led by the London Beadle. To wassail (a very old tradition) is to drink to health and to friendship, it probably pre-dates Carol singing and is traditionally performed on 12th Night.

After the Wassailing comes the Mummer's Play (Folk plays, again traditionally performed on 12th Night.) More rain fell as the Lion's Part performers enacted their play. There were lots of topical jokes as well as lots of laughs and a selfie in the middle of it all. Throughout all of this the musicians played on, apparently undeterred by the weather.

After the Mummer's play cakes were distributed, hidden within two of these cakes are a bean and a pea. The finders of the bean and the pea are crowned King Bean and Queen Pea. After the "Coronation" the players and the audience wend their way to the George Inn in Southwark where there is further merriment with Molly Dancers, Story Telling and The Kissing Wishing Tree.

I enjoyed the event enormously, despite the weather, unfortunately though my photography suffered. My front elements got wet, no point in trying to keep them dry so there's lots of pictures here that include raindrops. At one point my specs were so wet I was literally shooting blind hoping the camera could "see" better than I could. The light was dreadful so a lot of these have had to be de-noised, I also back-focused more than I would have liked. So, that's my excuses, meanwhile, I hope you enjoy viewing the photos, regardless of quality.

12th Night Photos

The Lion's Part are on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 That Was The Random Year That Was

Well that was 2015. My most memorable events? Birth of Grandson no 5 of course and, after decades of being a vegetarian, deciding to become Vegan.

Most memorable photo moment? Hard to say really, there were fewer events to go to, I suspect there were loads but probably only promoted on Facebook, which is OK only if you know the event is already happening. Those I did attend, including Strawberry fair, London Pride, Ipswich Global Rhythms. Norwich Pride, Brighton WNBR, and many more were all excellent (and all previously blogged here apart from the WNBR* events.)

I've walked a lot of miles, I've taken lots of photos and I've been lucky enough to meet up with Internet friends who are also real life friends. Nature snapping has been hit & miss, largely due to waiting for sunshine, then when it did appear we were beset with winds. There also seemed to be far less butterflies around this year. Otherwise one of the best weeks of the year was our holiday in Margate where I was treated to some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Most of my photos end up on G+/Picasa, some also get uploaded to Flickr where I have an album called 2015 Randomness which contains many snaps that didn't really fit into my other albums there. The slide-show of said album is here. I wonder what randomness 2016 will bring?

2015 Randomness

WNBR=World Naked Bike Ride. Photos from said rides violate Google's ToS because, of course, they contain nudity. If anyone wants to look at them they can be found on my alternative Flickr Account.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Aldeburgh: Swimmers, Morris, and Random Snaps

Boxing day and we headed off to Aldeburgh hoping to catch their annual Boxing Day Dip. We arrived at the car park 15 minutes before the advertised start of the swim, plenty of time to walk from the car park to the correct part of the beach. But... just as I was approaching the back of the watching crowd we heard the starting hooter. I ran like a mad thing to get to the front of the crowd, on the way I got soaked up to my knees by a big wave, by the time I could see the swimmers they were coming out of the water so I didn't get as many snaps of them as I would have liked.

It was a lovely day though, some winter sunshine and it was mild for the time of year, so we had a wander around with me taking photos with my new Sigma 8-16mm lens, it's going to take some getting used to....

At the South Lookout they had a Pebble Homage, such a lovely idea. We left a pebble in memory of Mr A's two late brothers, both still missed and both remembered with fondness and love.

Later we caught a "Dance Off" by the Barley Brigg Morris team (presumably dancing of the Christmas eats.) All in all it was a lovely way to spend Boxing Day.

All photos taken using either the Sigma 8-16mm or the Pentax 18-135mm (a Picasa search should filter out one from another).

Photos here

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Bury St Edmunds Wolf Trail

This year there was a Wolf Trail in town, organised by Our Bury St Edmunds. By all accounts it was a great success with both locals and visitors, I certainly saw lots of people walking around with a wolf trail leaflet in their hands. I've photographed them all, (more than once as you can see from the slide-show,) except for the one in the Cathedral Cloisters. The Cloisters wolf was a video which I didn't think would make a good photo.

I started off by trying to give the official number to each wolf photo but I was unable to find all of the relevant numbers, I also noted some (probably all?) have names, where I've found the name I've titled a relevant photo too. If I've details of the artist concerned I've mentioned the in the photo too. The trail is now over with the wolves having been auctioned off for charity.

There's one extra wolf here - the Lone Wolf, not part of the Trail but imaginatively added by our local health food store, Butterworths. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed discovering all of the wolves.

Bury St Edmunds Wolf Trail photos

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Tree Festival, St Peter and St Mary's Church, Stowmarket

We recently visited Stowmarket and popped in to see the St Peter's & St Mary's legendary Christmas tree festival. What a sight it was, Christmas trees filled every nook and cranny of the church. There were also two further halls with trees but unfortunately these were closed whilst we were there. Given the low light in the church it was certainly a challenge to my lowlight  photography. Anyways here's just a few of the many trees.

Christmas Tree Festival Photos

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Dog Owners, a rule unto themselves

So #BuryStEdmunds dog owners, how many of you actually read this and comply??? Every time I go for a walk in Hardwick Heath I can guarantee that at least 3 (if not more) dogs will come bounding up to me whilst their owners are at least 50-100 yards away.

Monday, 9 November 2015

How do you get inspired to take photos on a grey day?

OK, there's been a lot of grey damp days of late, so many that my mojo was taking a serious battering. So this was the plan, take one of my older lenses, just one, and see how it performed in low light. So I chose to take my SMC Pentax-F 70-210 lens out with me. This lens was produced between 1987 ~ 1991, so it's at least 24 years old, if not older.

This isn't a review of the lens, it's just me taking it for a walk. It's a solid feeling lens, quick to focus, but it does tend to focus with a bit of a thud. Now I'm sure I could have got better examples had it been a lovely sunny day and had I had a tripod, but hey, where's the challenge in that? Did I get inspired? Not sure really, I'll let you folk decide. Meanwhile I have to decide which lens to take for a walk next time.

Direct Link to photos.(For those with Flash disabled)

Monday, 2 November 2015

October Plenty 2015

Once again this annual festival was a great deal of fun, excellently organised and run by The Lion's Part. October Plenty had a bit of everything harvest related. It all starts with a procession to the Globe theatre on Bankside. An integral part of the procession is a huge Corn Queene effigy made from various Autumnal fruits, vegetables, and grains. Then there are the Goddesses, musicians, the Hobby Horse, mummers, morris dancers and of course The Berry man.

On arrival at the Globe the onlookers are gathered together and ushered in to the theatre, there follows singing, Morris dancing, a short play and general merriment. After this the players lead a procession to Borough Market where apple day is being celebrated. At the market there is apple tasting, apple bobbing, conker fights, morris dancing, story telling, another play, and more music and merriment.

Towards the end of the day the Corn Queene is stripped of her plenty, this is distributed to the crowd, with some parts of her being auctioned to raise money for The Lion's Part who put the event on for nothing. Finally the Berry man leads a procession to Crossbones Graveyard in Southwark where a short ceremony is held.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, though I don't think I was on form re my photos, never-the-less there are quite a few here that I hope will give a flavour of the day and the event.

Click to view photos on Google+