Thursday, December 25, 2014

Queens' Square "Gloom & Doom" 

Went out early this morning to get my usual Christmas Day pix.  Disappointed to find the Christmas lights turned off. I suppose for economies sake but Queens Square was dim with no shop lighting on except for Boots' and they were behind protective shutters. I did a sweep pic of Old Church Road but the same thing applied there too. Nothing on but the street lighting.














Moved up to Six Ways and got a shot. Then calamity: -- put the camera back in the car and went round to get in and I went Ass over tip getting onto the path. (and this at 6 a.m. in the morning with no people about) Managed to open the car door and levered myself up using the seat and steering wheel as anchor points. Got back home and found nothing drastic except a bruised rib where my right hand had been between it and the hard path. I MUST get into the habit of always using my stick. Even on a short movement of only a few feet.
Maybe if I repeat at times through the day "Remember you are not Immortal" it will drive the message home.

Boxing day addition. "I am not immortal"  "I am not immortal"  "I am not immortal"  and don't I know it today. My ribcage is aching and my knee gives me hell. If that don't teach me a lesson then nothing will.









Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Odd how some pix posted on Morguefile 'click'. Some years back now I went up to Portishead to say goodbye to Uncle Bill Gale. He was moving over to the south-east to stay with his daughter after 'Betsy' his daughter who had been looking after him had died.
Uncle Bill was quite a character and had a store of interesting tales about early days in Portishead. He was originally born in Bedminster and had lived at one time with his parents and siblings, in one of the cottages in Mary's Garden on Cadbury Camp. He took great delight in informing nieces and nephews that he had not come downstairs until he was 8 years old. - Perfectly true tale because the boys in the family had slept in a lean-to abutting the little one-up one-down cottage. In fact he had never been upstairs until Ben Gale had moved the family over to 'The Wilderness' cottage on West Hill.

However to get back to my main item. Uncle Bill didn't care about superstitions and had a white cat. Somerset folklore frowned on keeping white animal pets. The same lore forbid taking Hawthorn blossom (White May) into the house. When I banged on his door he looked out and said "That damned cat have got up the ladder again. He climbs up and then can't get back down" I had my camera with me and took a few shots of the cat on the ladder, as well as one for memories sake of Uncle Bill. When I came across the negatives last year and scanned them I put some of the cat on the ladder, on Morguefile. Now I find that one of the cat looking puzzled about how to get down has clicked and had over 800 downloads in the 15 months on Morguefile.



Uncle Bill Gale 
And what a marvellous Blackthorn walking stick he has made for himself. 






Saturday, December 20, 2014


Some people might be wondering why there was a gap in activity on my blog.
The reason was I was busy transcribing census records for some of the villages around Clevedon (where I live)  and my time was taken up by typing in the record pages of various places. My niece Jane had copied over the detailed pages needed and I set them into the word files to make up the records. Later they were added to Microsoft Access to permit data searches. Some very interesting Info can be found via Access.
That is the reason for the posting of the page about 'short cuts' when typing data in Microsoft Word. It is possible to save a lot of time when using the word correction tools.
I have at the moment declared a stop of activity until after Christmas. 
I will mention at this point that both myself and Jane are willing to help folk searching for family history. We have posted what Church Register data we have on the Clevedon Civic Society website and are willing if we can to find details of family in North Somerset. 
We do have most parishes for the 1891 and 1901 census records for North Somerset U.K. and for close villages for the earlier ones.
Info is derek.lilly@btinternet.com

We now have the complete set of Kingston Seymour Parish from 1841 to 1901 set on access files and can if you want, send them as Email attachments. Tickenham will follow shortly.







Friday, December 19, 2014

While idly searching on my blog pix by right clicking on the picture and selecting "Search Goggle for this image" I discovered yet another picture from Morguefile being used as a book cover.
This was a slide taken from the hill above Leyland Chapel on the Brendon Hills near Raleigh's Cross Inn. I had scanned it and then treated it with Paint Shop Pro 8 "Pepper and salt" file to simulate a water colour painting before posting it on Morguefile.

Nice to get a surprise like that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014



Have a

No this is not a human heart it is a sheep’s heart but the working principle is the same. For some years now I have been suffering from a heart flutter because (I understand) one of the valves is getting tired.
Now the pulse rate for the average human being is as below.
Children over age 10 and adults 60-100  while for well-conditioned athletes it is 40-60 heart beats per minute.

My recent visit to the Brunel Centre at Southmead for a scan started me thinking. I was more than surprised at the result, — I was absolutely flabbergasted.
Let us suppose that the average for a 50 year old is 60 beats per minute.
Now I will calculate their lifetime. 50 years of 365 days, and you will notice I am counting on the short side in all my reckoning. Is a total of 18,250 days.
24 hours per day makes it 438,000 hours of 60 minutes = 26,280,000 minutes.
Now we find that at 60 beats per minute we have an answer of1,576,800,000 a total that passes all understand. Just Imagine 1,576 MILLION. What a fantastic creation the human body is. And you will observe that I reckoned from the lowest heart rate for an ordinary person and not the average of 80

I understand, and I may well be wrong: that for every 10 lbs over weight (Don’t ask what the metric equivalent is) we have a mile of extra blood vessels in our body. Is it any wonder that the 30 stone and over folk have a shorter life than average? 

Monday, December 15, 2014



Way back in the early 1960's the Clevedon camera club had a couple of trips doing night photography in Bristol.  I had not long before bought myself a Pentax S3 camera with an f1.8 lens. Amazing to me because the lens was so good at wide open shots. When I found a series of negatives while scanning 35 mm monochrome film I discovered that some that had been impossible to print with the enlarger at the time of taking, could be manipulated using the histogram on my 4870 scanner.
I posted a few of them on Morguefile in September of 2013. Last week I found that this one had had over 1,000 downloads in the 15 months it had been on the website.
An average of around 70 downloads a month. I reckon the exposure was about 1/10 to 1/15th of a second at full apperature on Ilford HP3 film. I wish I could hold as well today. That was in the days of my being able to take shots using a 400mm lens hand-held at 1/100th of a second. Thanks to standing and kneeling .22 rifle shooting practice.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Access Database Word-files and Census

Short-cuts when typing census information or lists carrying repetitious information, can save time. Similarly plenty of -useless? - data can be extracted from Access files
Local villages, some with tongue-twisting names that can cause mistyping, and other input can be short-cutted.
[Cgr] Congresbury for example can be used to transform itself into a laboriously long name, using the AutoCorrect options in tools,
[w-i-g] Walton-in-Gordano [ws-i-g] Weston-in-Gordano etc.
[z] can become M [x] S  to speed up key strokes and finger movement when designating if the individual is either married or single.
[stm] changes into Som. [clv] to Clevedon using combinations of letters that do not occur in the normal sequence. All without the brackets placed here to stop alterations in place names etc.

In the same way when using Access by blacking a name or occupation with the mouse, then right-clicking it shows a series of choices. Opting for filter by selection then lists all of the folk working as farm Labourers there in 1871. A total of 30; in using this system it is easy to identify also how many were born locally by moving the mouse to Location,blacking the column with the mouse then right clicking and select Sort ascending.
We then find the listing has been sorted into alphabetic order of places; and that Kenn village is outnumbered by over double the numbers from elsewhere.
Useless information and waste of time? Quite possibly so; but it can still bring up statistics of interest to local historians.

A comparison search for example of both Clapton-in-Gordano and Tickenham villages for the same period shows that whilst there were miners living in Tickenham who worked in the Nailsea coalfields Clapton-in-Gordano had not only miners but engine drivers and firemen plus stokers showing that at that time the coal-field there was still producing in quantity. It will be interesting to see what Nailsea village shows when that census is in turn transcribed. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Old Portbury Chapel


For many years this old Brunel broad gauge coach served as a chapel in Portbury. When the construction of the M5 began it was removed “for safety” — but where is it now? It was supposedly taken away for renovation, I think though that if it was successfully restored it deserves a place back in the Somerset village that first saved it from demolition and converted it into a chapel. 

















The interior had some of the original railway carriage seats as can be seen in the rear.

















Looking rather devrepit and beginning to sag a little.

















The coach roof started leaking so a corrugated iron one was put over the top of it.


















Interesting to see that although the frame of the carriage was square the over-set metal-work was given a rounded effect just like a horse carriage would have had.

This door was presumably used as an entrance to the chapel. 
On the left had side of the chapel was an acknowledgement thanking Mr Shopland of Clevedon and his horse Smart for moving it to the site from Portbury railway station a few yards down the road to Portishead 











Looking Back



I recently came upon a series of negatives that I had taken back in the days of “steam cameras” using Ilford XP1 film. I had recorded some houses in East Clevedon for the records but never printed them. The stone built houses were erected by/for Watts in the 1820’s in that part of Clevedon called Stonebridge. The name was given because the roadway used to get flooded in the winter and was given a hardcore surface in an effort to stop the mud bogging down farm wagons and carts. Otherwise they would have to go up through the narrow Carey’s Lane as it was called in those days, before the building of All saints Church.
The main cause of the flooding was a spring that rose in the valley and ran down through the fields where the present petrol station now stands.
That area and modern road still used to flood after heavy rainstorms as late as the 1960’s




Eventually the Way-wards got the road straightened out to its present situation.

However who would think that this little dirt surfaced track was once the main road leaving Clevedon for Tickenham and Nailsea. 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

 Just checked on www.morguefile.com where I post under the pseudonym jusben. I have now gone to over 3,500 downloads of my top image. Yet I still don't like it as a picture, can't understand why it has so many users.
I know that Morguefile allows royalty free use but what on earth do they use this for?
I checked on total dowloads too and found just over 400,000 total for all my images.
This one of the Oliver Cromwell preserved steam loco taken just two years ago, leads the steam train downloads with over 1,500 users,
while this one taken back in 2010 has over 500. I think it is probably the best rugby pic I have taken. By the time I had to finish watching and taking pix I had more rugby shots on Morguefile than any other contributor. This was a hectic game and the mud, by the time the game ended, seemed to be more on the players than on the ground. 

I wonder how long it will take me to reach the half million total download mark?










Monday, November 03, 2014

At Last 

I managed to get shots of a flower on Good King Henry, Chenopodium bonus-henricus,
 The buds are hard enough at only about 4 to 5 mm in size.
The flower itself is so delicate that the petals hardly show against the bright green background.
The yellow dots of the stamens are about 2 mm. in size and the cluster makes it harder to focus on the flower.
This time I used the 90mm Tamron macro lens stopped down to f22 on the front of a 1.7 tele extender and four Kenko extension tubes with a 10 dioptre lens in the front 
with the ring flash mounted on the assembly on full power. Took this shot at full distant focus; tried another at closest but could not get the complete flower in at 5 times life-size. 














It does however show the almost transparent petals better than the 4x JPG.
Oddly Culpeper has no mention in his herbals of this plant; Presumably because it was not used as a treatment for disease or illness but consumed as part of peoples' diet.






Friday, October 31, 2014

Why do these things happen to me?





Is it because I try to work too quickly? I was going through the 1871 census for Walton-in-Gordano and getting on fairly well. Then came the time to save it and take a break. I asked Word to save the document and was told it could not be done. Purely for convenience I was working with it on a memory stick. I had moved the usb holder and inadvertently held it next to the on/off switch. My fingers tips being a bit big had switched off the connection. File was saved as a Temp, I thought OK I can open it and transfer to Word.Doc. Could I hell; the Temp file could not be opened.
Now since my trouble with the hard drive on the PC failing and having to be re-formatted I decided to use hard drives in a caddy and a dock for my files. I upload my programmes to the C drive but my work folders are saved in auxiliaries N, O, P. When my hard drive failed I lost around 10,000 JPG’s. I just did not know what to do but was told about a fantastic programme from Australia “Rescue My Files”. It cost around £70 but I was able to save all the files that had not been written over by reloading the Windows XP system. In spite of the re-formatting they could recover them, and I wound up with around 13,000 JPG’s and a lot of Doc files. True it had recovered not only full sized picture files but also thumbnail images. All of the files had the pre-fix lostfile and series number. That made a lot of work time to sort them but better that, than no pix at all.
Next thing I knew was that my auxiliary drive N a 2.5 inch 500 GB drive in a Novatech Dock disconnected. I jiggled it about and managed to regain contact but it was a warning. Solid state drives are now being sold that will hold 1 and also 2 TB’s. The price though dropping is still out of my range, on EBay I managed to get another Seagate 500 GB 3 inch drive for £20. I already had a spare Novatech Dock so 9 hours work saw the files transferred. Yes 9 bloody hours – my JPG’s numbered over 22,000 and required 3 hours alone.
Now I have a total of 2 TB’s on 4 auxiliary drives and I am making sure that they are cross-saved as back-ups.


 I wonder what the next crisis will be?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sony SLT A77 with Sigma 70-300 mm plus 55 mm lens reversed

Following a posting on Morguefile.com I hunted out my reversal adaptor.
I found that it would fit my old Sigma telephoto lens. I rigged my 1200 AF ring flash gingerly on the front of the 55 mm with no clips holding and found I could get almost 6 times life size, I checked by looking at metric ruler
However it is very difficult to focus and the Sigma has only 5 contacts rather than 8 and does not like stopping down. 
I feel safer going to 4 times with the Kenko rings and tele adaptor there I can manoeuvre with confidence and also without so much weight on the lens mount.  I will try with a converter on the front of my 18 to 270 mm tele and see what happens then. I still don't like the idea of the ring flash loose though. I would hate to bust it after so much trouble getting one.
Experiment










Tried an experiment. The pencil lead was taken with the Sigma 70 to 300 zoom lens, plus reversed 55mm. Set on program on the SLT A77 Sony. 16,000 ISO hand held by the light of an anglepoise. Weighty to hold and hard to focus










The Metric rule was the same unit with a Minolta 1200AF ring flash on the reversed lens. The flash could not be clipped so any pix have to be taken at level or an upward tilt. This gives approx 6 times life-size.












The Tamron + had the 55mm reversed on the 18 to 270 tele zoom. I had to use step-down rings and the 1200 AF flash, hung precariously on the 55mm. Hand held but gives only a useable centre section approx 6 times life-size.1/200th at f22












The Tamron 90mm macro was used with a 2 times tele extender and 5 Kenko rings. The 1200AF flash mounted safely on the front; hand held 1/200th at f22. gives a pic of approx 4.5 times life-size. 
Lighter than the Sigma set-up and can be moved around with confidence because the ring flash is firmly fixed.



Saturday, October 25, 2014


The Friday market in Arnhem has many types of fish for sale. The Dutch nation like their fish and I was in a way, not surprised to see these smoked eels for sale.
Eels are the third most nutritious fish, 1st are Herrings, 2nd Mackerel, and then Eels.
I was rather amazed though to see what they were priced at !. 19.50 at that time equal to around £15 per pound weight.
It made me think of getting out my old eel sprear again and going out onto the moor. However 
when viewing it I realised it was way past its sell-by date. There was no way that it could be fastened onto a 10 foot long withey pole. a few strokes with it and it would have collapsed from old age.
That is if I hadn't collapsed first ! !
It is now strictly illegal to use an eel spear. The same with clotting for eels. Clotting is only allowed by licence in a few villages down by King's Sedgemoor,on the Somerset levels. Yet they will let almost anyone have a licence for catching elvers as they make their way up the Severn Estuary.
Spearing was decided to be cruel to the eel 











because it was squeezed between the blades of the spear. You will see on the lowest picture the notches in the blades in the white lined section.
They have almost rusted away but when the spear was first made it held an eel firmly when the spear was pushed into the mud at the bottom of a rhine or river. Then it was raised a little and moved across the bottom for about the width of the spear and it was plunged into the mud again.
When you felt it strike an eel you pulled it out and put the eel into a sack. Half a dozen eels simmered, then the flesh stripped off from the back bone and mixed with a little stuffing and baked, made a very satisfactory dish. 
I have in my time made many visits to the moor fields in spite of the law. A dish of eels was a welcome meal in the days of tight food rationing during the war years and also for a couple of years afterwards.
In the same way in the 1930's, a couple of chaps out on a sultry night's clotting, could get enough eels to feed both families.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Following a discussion on Morguefile.com about reversing a standard lens on a longer focal length lens by way of double male adaptors; I hunted out some that I took on the Romano-British farmstead we dug at East End Farm.
The piece of rose quartz had been faceted and polished, presumably to use as a decoration on a broach.
The little site had been vandalised at a little later date (probably when the Roman occupation had ended) and my last dig as an amateur archaeologist  to 'prove' the drainage ditch recovered a large quern stone that had been broken.

















The small blue bead is around the size of a match head and the boot nail was found near it in the ditch immediately to the north of the stone floor.
There were a series of nails but the leather had needless to say rotted away.


The quern seems to have been deliberately broken and is quite large in size. Most domestic stones are more like 10 or 12 inches across. This one was so large it required a whrist to turn it rather than the domestic type small hole for a wooden peg.




Monday, October 20, 2014

I dream of the days that are gone.










When the Somerset Rivers Board or Catchment Board ruled the roost.
When the Walking Pelter and Mr Cox of Congresbury, inspected the rivers to make certain that riparian owners had done their keeching.
When the district council had to ensure that their river sections were trimmed and weeds were cleared.
When anyone guilty of not doing the maintenance on their sections of rivers or streams were prosecuted for allowing 
them to be restricted for the free flow of water.
Before the Environment Agency took over and said "No No we must not slub out excess mud accumulations" and allowed rivers to get befouled.
When the sight of a river blocked by weed growth was the exception and not the rule.
When the Rivers Board would pounce on wrongdoers and get them fined for failing to dredge the section of river running through their fields, or through land alongside which they owned properties.
When the Richards brothers of Yatton ran their scythe blades across the river bed and cut back all the weeds growing that stopped free flow of the water.
Oh how I dream and how useless is it for me to dream because no-one will bother to take action.








Friday, October 17, 2014

I thought I was done until nest spring.

Then I noticed a Good King Henry, Chenopodium bonus-henricus,
plant growing in the gap in the concrete by the car bay.
Such small flowers that they only measure 
about 2 to 3 mm in size.
Even with additions to get ehm to 4 times life size they don't show up very well.
These plants were the medieval spinach. Tend stems could be gathered and cooked and were a good subsitence food for peasants and I expect most country folk.
















The tiny yellow dots in the lower picture are the flowers. to see the blossoms larger click on the pic and will will grow to screen size. The plants are very similar in appearance to Red Goosefoot AKA Fat Hen Chenopodium rubrum. However the leaves are more of a lanceolate shape  whereas Fat Hen has a small red flower and a hastate spear shaped leaf towards the base. both plants are edible and the young plants can be treated as salad contents instead of, or added to lettuce
There was a 'natures food' enthusiast who lived in Clevedon some years back, that regularly picked them and ate them when he pulled the tops off as they grew in waste ground..

















Sunday, October 12, 2014


Went up to post off my driving licence renewal and noticed from the hill that there was a mist out on the moor.
Grabbed the camera when I got back and went out to Manmoor Lane. In that short  time the mist had dissipated but still showed a trace. 
I took a sweep pic that covered the fields and also the Blind Yeo.

Still a little mist along the water but not very much. It is beginning to FEEL like autumn now, in spite of the trees still showing green. I was glad that I had stopped to put on my top-coat when I got the camera.















Took a shot downriver too towards the M5 bridge. A few swans there but not as many as I have seen in previous years. They can be as bad as Canada geese for trampling the grass and early crops down.
I must post a set of pix  on Flickr, with the notation 
"Clevedon is more than a pier" Why is it that the pier is all that some folk see to take pix of?