Category Archives: Lymington

Ferry Tales photobook now available

As the Ferry Tales project is now nearing completion I thought I’d do a personal book of the project. It gave me the freedom to publish the shots that meant something to me and the poems that I liked without the constraints of an exhibition. I was also free from the demands of sponsors and funding bodies.

So I debated long and hard and used Blurb. They have excellent downloadable Indesign templates and a reasonably simple publishing process. Their optional ebook download is rubbish so avoid that as it creates a PDF of single pages where as my book is in spreads.

I opted for the hardcover 11×13 inch version with pearl paper and the result is excellent. Almost as good as my Canon Pro100 printer.

The process was painless but the cost isn’t cheap as you might expect. The 46pp worked out at £70……ouch.

If you want to buy it or have a passion for ferries between the Hampshire Coast and the Isle of Wight  you can order it here. Lots of my photographs and some great poems will be yours. Alternatively you can view the whole thing as a preview before coming to the launch event at Dimbola Museum and Galleries on the Isle of Wight from 22nd April to 1st July or in Lymington 6th-8th July at the Library.

We are now trying to get the anthology of poetry finished (£4) with 8 A5 pages of my pictures. Somewhat less impressive but far less expensive. Drop me a line if you want to buy a copy but I sense they will sell out fast.

I will do a further post about Ferry Tales once the project is finished but the good news is that the grant from the Arts Council England will just be enough to send me to The Albuquerque Balloon Festival in New Mexico in October. So stand-by for endless Monument Valley sunsets and balloon images.


Sanctimonious, Self-righteous, Groupthink

sheepI’ve noticed on Facebook in particular and to a lesser extent on Twitter a tendency towards a hideous self-righteousness that is driving me crazy. My town of Lymington has a Facebook page called Lymington Rumour Control that is supposed to be a lighthearted watercooler (or village pump if you go back that far). The plan was that local people could gossip about local events in a lighthearted manner, share a joke and generally get along with each other.

However, in the past year a hideous form of groupthink has arisen whereby you must agree to the following tropes or be denounced and verbally shat on by the scores of mouth-breathers who inhabit the site

  • Our local community hospital can do no wrong
  • All local shops and business are exemplary and must be supported even if they are feckless rip-off merchants
  • The armed forces are saints
  • Fireworks emanate from Satan’s darkest nether regions and should be banned as they scare dogs, cats and most importantly horses
  • You are a Nazi sympathiser if you don’t wear a poppy for Rememberance Day
  • Cyclists and gypsies should be banned from the New Forest
  • …and the list goes on

What I particularly dislike is self-righteousness of these opinions. Who would want an animal to suffer ? therefore no fireworks for anyone. If we don’t support local businesses we will end up with 23 branches of McDonalds in the High Street.  It is so thoughtlessly binary; A or B, if you criticise the hospital you de facto want to destroy the NHS. There is no debate or nuanced discussion; just for it or if not for, against.

Our local hardware shop Knights closed and people rung their hands in nostalgic outrage. The fact that the owners plan to sell the land to a property developer to build retirement homes is conveniently overlooked. The news was greeted with the same degree of shock as if the National Anthem had been replaced with Gangnam Style and Winston Churchill was gay. Now we have Screwfix, a national chain, that are open longer hours, seven days a week and are, as a result a great deal more convenient. But God forbid you should mention the fact as you’ll be denounced as some disloyal, bourgeois interloper who’s only aim in life is to destroy our precious High Street which as it happens is filled with charity shops and coffee bars.

So my message to the pseudo-outraged of Facebook is calm down and get some perspective or as they say so eloquently in the United States. Take a chill pill.



New Forest Show: An overpriced market with some horses in the middle

Having lived in the New Forest for six years we had never been to the New Forest Show. Now I know why. We had been deterred by stories of horrific traffic jams but when we went on the first day of this year’s show the traffic was light mid-morning but that sadly was the best part of the day.

We parked easily but unfortunately it was in Wales, given that it was over one and a half miles from the show ground gates. My wife’s pedometer gave us that number in case you think I’m exaggerating.

The event itself is a mixture of farmers and pseudo-landed gentry strolling about in yellow corduroy trousers and checked shirts and chavs from the local campsites stopping to eat ‘Ye Olde Hampshire Sausage baps’ every thirty yards.

But we came to see the animals, so were guaranteed to see some. The Pig enclosure had one sad sow and her brood in a small pen surrounded by camera phones. We couldn’t get to see the cattle and frankly we could get closer to horses on the road home through the forest.

But you ask, the displays must have been great. Yes, the dressage and old milk float display were OK. Slightly more interesting that queuing for a miniature coffee sold by itinerant Latvians but my real complaint was the Metropolitan Police display team.

I’m from London and my idea of a Met Police Mounted Team is a group of mounted police with riot shields kettling Anarchists in Trafalgar Square. No prissy trotting for our fine boy in blue, full gallop with batons raised. Atomkraft Nein Danke, I think not sonny Jim; if you go back that far.

P7260254Here we saw some well trained boys and girls trot over faux-hedges at knee height. The horses were probably missing the smell of dope and kebabs in the air. It was billed as thrilling and exciting but it was SO dull. They set the odd arch on fire and the horses jumped through these but I think the horses were as bored as the spectators. The ‘highlight’ we were informed was when the police riders took off their jackets and THEN PUT THEM ON AGAIN. I’m not a horseman but if your job is riding horses in stressful urban situations this seems a useless skill. Tasering a demonstrator at full gallop while strapping on a flak jacket, now you’re talking urban policing.

So like everything at the New Forest Show, this display was rather tame, over-priced and not worth waiting for.


Newtown Park – Nothing nasty in the woodshed

Newtown Park

If you’re a fan of Cold Comfort Farm you’ll get the reference in the headline. If not, don’t worry and enjoy the photographs. I was lucky enough to recently go on a private tour of a fabulous Georgian country estate near Lymington. The house is managed by a trust who spend a great deal of time, money and energy keeping it in spectacular repair. However, Palladian architecture to one side I was fascinated by the woodshed stuffed as it was with wonderful old tools.

Sadly, it is not open to the public but it was a privilege to see it despite the typical English spring weather.



Dawn photography – the antidote to Christmas

After a Christmas filled with a bad cold, too many parties and grey skies, I was looking forward to a chance to get out with my camera and try and get some half decent shots. So for reasons I can’t quite understand even now, I got up at 5am and drove off to Boscombe Pier near Bournemouth. 

I chose this for no other reason than it might be an interesting spot for some long exposure photography and the wind was strong enough that the waves may not be pounding but would at least be interesting. So I headed off in the dark and drove to the deserted beach to set up my camera, try and avoid frost bite and capture the pier.

Then a bit of Lightroom and Photoshop love later and I had four shots I’m happy with. An unexpected result and it reminded me that often the best results come when you set expectations low and just go for it.

The wierd world of local club speakers

In our new life in Lymington, Elly and I have joined a number of clubs and societies and one thing that they all have in common is guest speakers. This seems to be the lingua franca of local clubs, so when in doubt get a speaker in. From the Lymington Society to the Camera Club, from the Sailing Club to the Fine Arts Society they all have speakers. And the quality varies dramatically. Basically from Richard Dawkins to Les Patterson.

So here is a quick run down of the three key speaker types.

1. The Pro

These speakers are experts and know how to present. They use animation and special effects like perfume to add an accent rather than to choke the sences. We’ve seen great speakers on topics from Botticelli to Belle Epoque. 

2. The Enthusiast

These presenters know their stuff and tend to present a series of slides. Let’s be honest a large number of slides. A really large number. But they know their subject and rely on enthusiasm

3. The Trainwreck

Here we meet the Les Pateson level with speakers who knew a lot about the subject in 1972 but since then, when they retired haven’t kept up on the subject. They get bogged down with the trivia that no one is interested in and mumble and fluff their way through the evening.


Too provincial for Heathrow?

There was a time when my wife and I would race through Heathrow with the grace and aplomb of a seasoned world traveler. No searches at security because we knew what we’d packed, then a quick trip to Duty Free before a lightening dash through the gormless masses before reaching the haven of the BA lounge.

Small tasty nibbles and a glass of something sparkling until ten minutes to departure and then we reach the gate and all was well.

Then we moved to Lymington, our beloved, rather sleepy Georgian town by the sea. As noisy as a Benedictine rave and as crowded as Victoria Station during a rail strike. In Lymington a traffic jam is if the car in front has to apply it’s brakes.

So imagine us, country bumpkins, in Terminal 5 last week. There seemed to be tens of thousands of angry,sweaty,unhappy families all trying to stop one of their offspring from dropping their teddy bear or putting their fingers into machinery.

Then the noise. Having poked my head out of the BA Lounge to buy headphones, I was assaulted by shouting families, derricking parties of identically dressed Dutch basketball players and to cap it off a piper started playing the bagpipes to promote Loch Adele or some other fatuous fashion whisky. So I nip into Dixons who had every piece of equipment capable of making a sound turned up to eleven. And to cap it all the security alarm went off.

I grabbed my purchase and made speedy retreat to the BA Lounge. 

So what is the solution? I think Elly and I will have to make monthly trips to London and ride the Circle line at rush hours just to get our eye in again.

By the way I hear there are road works on the A337 towards Milford on Sea. That will add at least 60 seconds to my journey time. Shocking really.