Photos of Rum Creek Fire!
Not all that are available by any means! These were copied from the Facebook page.
Well done all those actively involved. We will see what the next week brings.
Photos of Rum Creek Fire!
Not all that are available by any means! These were copied from the Facebook page.
Well done all those actively involved. We will see what the next week brings.
A guest post from a dear friend!
Many years ago I found myself teaching at a unit attached to Exeter University. I was teaching sales and marketing. I can’t remember clearly the events that produced the meeting between myself and Chris Snuggs. But I recall the outcome.
Chris was the director of studies at a French institute named ISUGA. Let me borrow from their website:
The ISUGA Europe-Asia International BBA Bachelor’s degree is a 4-year cursus following the Baccalaureate or High School diploma which combines studying International Business and Marketing with learning an Asian or English language and comprising university exchange stays, as well as internships in French and International businesses.
ISUGA is located in Quimper, Western Brittany relatively close to Devon in England where I was living.
In Chris’ words: “It must have been through them that we got your name when we needed someone to teach Selling. Now I come to think of it, we HAD someone lined up for a whole week and he CANCELLED on us, so you were a last-minute replacement.”
For quite a few years I went across to Quimper to teach for Chris. Mainly by ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. During the summer months I flew to Quimper from Exeter in our group-owned TB20. (The picture below is of the type only not our aircraft.)
Since that day we have remained in reasonable contact and I regard Chris as good friend.
A few days ago Chris published on his blog his account of his journey from Quimper back to Ramsgate, in east Kent. It was hilarious and I asked Chris if I could publish it and share with everyone.
Chris not only said yes but insisted on improving it (his words) including expanding it to what it is below.
So with no further ado, here is Chris’ post.
“A DOG’s Travel Across Northern France” … as in “Doddering Old Git”
I am officially a “Senior Citizen”, but as such prefer much of what passes for “The Good Old Days” when in this case we were called “Old Age Pensioners” – MUCH less PC and wokeish AND more realistic – but DOGS sounds much better (and more informative) than OAPs.
A simple trip to Blighty to see the family for XMAS was not supposed to be a saga, but it turned out to be one:
Like ET, I was going home, though not quite as far – though it probably seemed like it.
I got about 3 hours sleep max Thursday night/Friday morning; worried about oversleeping even though I had THREE electronic wake-up devices.
I got up at 04:30 to finalize packing and clean up (the worst of) my mess.
I went out into the street in front of the house at 06:45 to await the taxi – it was raining, albeit not heavily.
The taxi was 5 minutes late, but the driver didn’t apologize. (I was going to say “woman driver” but I believe that sex differentiation is no longer allowed.)
I tried to help her (it, hir, shim?) load my heavy suitcase into *** boot (car, not footwear).
I lightly touched the car with the suitcase, and shim said: “Mind my car. Your suitcase is too heavy.”
I nearly said: “So are you, but it’s probably your hormones or your genes.” but decided that discretion was the better part of insult as I had to catch a train ……
We got to the station in plenty of time, only for me then to find that the train was due to go from platform C (usually it’s A as you leave the entrance hall).
I then found out/remembered that there is no lift at Quimper station. “This is not going to be my day,” I thought …
As I approached the stairs down to the access tunnel, I pretended to be a Doddery Old Git on the point of collapse (no comments please) and a nice young man helped me with the case.
Same procedure with a different bloke to go up to platform C. I actually tried this ploy with a pretty young lady first, but just got a funny look ….
Eventually got onto the right and very crowded train; my “This is not a gasmask” COVID mask was very reassuring as the virus probably had a field day circulating the carriage. I got some more funny looks, but two people asked me where I got my mask, so I am thinking of merchandising them ….
Got to Paris 4 hours later – showed a railway worker my little map where the taxi was supposed to be waiting and he pointed me in direction X saying authoritatively: “Tout au bout.” (“right at the end” for those who left school at 14).
Seemed a bit iffy to me (I vaguely remembered having gone somewhere else the last time I had done the journey, but couldn’t remember where. Does that happen to you?), but I followed his directions in the obviously-idiotic belief that someone actually working in a place would know where the taxis would be.
Of course, there was no sign of a taxi area at the distant far end of the HUGE Montparnasse Station, so I asked another railway bod.
He pointed in the 180° opposite direction and said the same as the first bloke, so I had to retrace my steps and go another 200 metres past where I had started to one of the no doubt multiple exits.
On exiting I was surrounded by some Middle Eastern gentlemen (without beards as it happens) who were desperate to take me somewhere.
I told them I had booked a taxi already and they suddenly lost interest.
I then got a call on my posh new mobile, but as with every other mobile I have ever owned it is specifically designed so that one cannot easily answer a call – first there is always some other leftover screen on the thing which by the time you have got rid of the caller has given up, and second you have to SWIPE to even see a green button which you then press – and I don’t know who invented SWIPE but hanging, drawing and quartering while being burned alive in oil over a period of several hours would be a suitable punishment.
This was all way beyond me, so I missed the call.
Miraculously, however, I did manage to call back and it was in fact the driver.
After two or three calls in each direction we managed to find each other physically as well as phonally.
We set off for La Gare du Nord, which should be about 15 minutes max by road – but it took us an hour and a quarter … (This was Paris in the rain on Friday at lunchtime – but I did learn a few new French swearwords from the driver.)
Fortunately, I had plenty of time between trains and so managed to find and embark on my TER to Calais.
This was an uneventful trip except that I was opposite a young mother with an inquisitive baby who kept looking at me for some reason (the baby not the woman ….).
I thought about playing with the baby but did not want to be arrested as a paedophile. I did plonk a small orange on the little table between us thinking she might want to play with it, but I got a funny look from her mother …. so I picked it up (the orange not the baby) and ate it – getting more funny looks. Strange … I get that all the time.
There was no internet on the TER so I tried to doze, but dozing with a high-decibel baby one metre away is a skill I have not yet mastered – and probably never will.
Arrived at Calais station – it took me 10 minutes to find the lift to get to the exit: in fact, one has to be led across an actual line by a railway bod and then take the lift – which is conveniently hidden.
But once outside the station I got a taxi right away. (a rare plus chalked up!)
I was dropped at the port outside a little hut marked “Billets”: (“tickets” for the linguistically-challenged).
This was weird – there used to be a big hall full of foot-passengers, but it has all changed – there IS a big hall, but it is empty except for two WWI biplanes. “Perhaps they want to fly us over?” I thought.
Went into the ticket office to be told my boat was cancelled (no explanation was offered) and they would try to get me on the next one. I never did understand why they would “try” (there was hardly anyone else there), but it seems they had to wait for a phone call.
It was a very small cabin with four guichets (Would you like a French dictionary for XMAS?) and three simple chairs, on one of which – after having my particulars scrutinized and recorded – I was invited to sit – which I did, not sure whether I should show appreciation or keep going with the scowl I could feel coming on ….
Behind the desks several women came and went, but spent all the time yacking to one another about women stuff while three of us sat waiting in stony and in my case exhausted silence (it was by now 18:00 and I had been up since 04:30).
I eventually got up and complained, something that comes naturally to we DOGs. I said I did not understand the delay, that I needed a coffee and a toilet break and that the least they could do was install some beds in their little office for those in my situation (and condition) who had to wait overnight for information about getting on a replacement ferry. I wanted to add a question about whether they had been trained in defibrillation techniques but by then I had run out of breath.
The charming young lady smiled and said they had none of the things that might alleviate my stress (adding the word “understandable” would have been nice) but that the large hall opposite might be open, and if not she could lend me a key to open it and visit the convenience.
I couldn’t be bothered to try to work out why she wouldn’t know whether the hall was open or not and that what I in fact most urgently needed was to get out of there without bothering with keys I would probably lose – which I did.
I then walked round the large hall three or four times admiring the WWI planes and wondering if the Red Baron had ever flown one of them. The fresh air and exercise refill renewed the oxygen supply to my needy brain.
I eventually staggered back to the ticket office and sat down on my hard chair again. I was tempted to feign a loud snore but as with the taxi driver in the morning decided that discretion was the better part of valour.
15 minutes later a phone call came and I was summoned to the guichet and given my ticket.
“Great,” I thought. “At last we can get outta here.”
THEN she told us that in 40 minutes someone would come to drive us to the boat.
I was fast losing the will to live, but thought that another dose of circling the large airplane hall might at least get my blood circulating again.
I told her where I was going and mentioned the hall and the planes (to be fair she did laugh at my joke about flying us across the Channel), but said: “That’s all run by the Chamber of Commerce.”, and of course we all know that no lunacy is beyond THAT organization.
I left after asking if she could send out a rescue party if I did not return – and she smiled again …. Smiles don’t of course achieve anything practical but they do at least make the pain somewhat more tolerable.
I came back half an hour later, having admired the bi-planes once again and wondered whether the Red Baron had ever flown one – and indeed a lady driver soon turned up as predicted to drive us to the boat. (another rare plus chalked up …)
We had to go up and down two or three kerbs (nowhere lowered for people to wheel their too-heavy suitcases) and eventually got onto a bus.
Had to go up a multiply-zig-zagged ramp to get onto the boat, but I played the Doddery Old Git card again and someone helped with my case.
I had thought of taking my walking-stick on this trip to boost the DOG sympathy factor, but could not work out how I could possibly carry it simultaneously with the rest of my baggage.
I asked a boatbod what time we would be leaving and then arrive in Dover, and he said: “in 15 minutes and 20:00.”
40 minutes later we still had not left, so I asked someone else when we would be leaving and was told in 15 minutes.
We actually left 30 minutes later, and I decided that being 100% wrong in a prediction was not actually that bad as these things go.
When I asked yet anOTHER bod WHY there had been another delay he just rolled his eyes and said something about the Captain which I didn’t understand – but was past caring.
Ten minutes later I asked the next available bod what time we would arrive in Dover and was told 20:30.
This was well past the time my taxi was booked, so I called to inform Eddy, the driver.
Fortunately, making calls on mobiles is easier than receiving them, so that was OK.
On the boat I got talking to a foot-passenger couple (there were only EIGHT of us!).
They were very nice and I gave them Taxi Supremo Andy’s phone number as they had nothing arranged for their arrival.
When we eventually got to Dover, there were no more checks (even though they made us walk through a maze of corridors in the totally empty border-control and customs instead of going straight to the taxi area – maybe they were filming us secretly?) and we eventually got to where I hoped to find Eddy the Driver.
However, there are huge roadworks going on just inside the port entrance and all the usual roads are blocked off and/or rerouted.
There was of course no sign of Eddy – OR any other taxis. Foot-passengers have a VERY low priority …..
Grateful for my phone once again, I called Eddy who said he was ALREADY in the port but had got lost.
Taxi-drivers getting lost is a bit ominous, so I assumed he was even more of a DOG than I am. Still, we DOGs have to stick together …..
I told him where we were ….. right near the entrance just past the roundabout at the bottom of the long clifftop descent to the port. For those who know Dover this is the easiest part of the entire port (or indeed of England) to find …..
Three exchanged calls later we finally met up physically as well as phonally – which was a reminder of Paris. In future, I am going to fix a GPS signal to myself and ensure my driver has military-standard tracking equipment. Perhaps Nathalie can arrange that?
Eddy was as suspected a bit of a DOG – but like me, very nice …… I asked if he could drop off my friends from the boat at Dover railway station before taking me back to Ramsgate – which he agreed to.
So we took them up the road to the station, where they unloaded their stuff from the boot.
I did think about getting out to check they didn’t take any of my four bits of luggage, but I was very tired and also thought that it would be impossible to confuse the grotty things I was carrying with any of their posh stuff from Parisian shops.
They gave Eddy an extra £8 for the slight detour. As I said they were very nice even if the lady’s perception and memory banks were highly undeveloped.
We then at last set off for Ramsgate, but Eddy took a wrong turn and we ended up driving towards Canterbury.
It takes a really advanced stage of dodderation to get lost driving from Dover to Ramsgate, so I will be contacting “The Guinness Book of Records”.
I decided against advising Eddy to do a U-turn in the pitch dark, and after driving four miles up a dual-carriageway we eventually got to a roundabout, retraced our wheels and made our way back to Dover.
Miraculously finding the right road to Ramsgate this time, we set off on the last lap. By now I was desperately hanging onto life by a thread.
Halfway to Ramsgate Eddy got a call from Taxiboss Andy’s Missus:
“The couple you dropped off at the station just rang; it seems they have got a package belonging to one of the other passengers.” ME! NO, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP …..
…. but they were nice people and apparently said they would wait at the station for us to come and pick up the bag.
I tried to keep calm, but remembered Einstein’s famous dictum. (SEE BELOW)
We stopped to check the boot and I saw that they had taken a plastic bag with two boxes of wine for my sister Maggie and another box of boiled eggs and fishsticks essential for my diet.
I asked Eddy if he minded going back, and he agreed to instantly – even without being promised any more dosh.
So back we went to the station, picked up the bag and Eddy collected another £10 for his trouble. (As I said, nice people …)
Off we set for Ramsgate again, and this time Eddy did not get lost ……. even we DOGs are capable of learning.
I eventually got to Ramsgate around 22:30 instead of the anticipated 20:00 – and of course I felt obliged to give Eddy a generous tip even though he DID get lost twice. Actually, everything in France had gone pretty smoothly as planned; it only went really tits-up when we got to Dover. I of course blame BREXIT ……
How was your day?
PS No insult to real dogs is intended in this account. As we know, if the world were ruled by dogs we would all be safer and happier, though the absence of tv and the internet would be a shame.
PPS I was fortunate to be able to employ Paul for brief periods over a number of years to teach business students about Selling and Marketing during my time as Director of Studies of a business school in France. His teaching was highly impressive, but even more so his habit of flying his own plane to Quimper. In this and many other ways he was and remains unique. As I told the students: “Listen to Paul’s advice and one day you will fly your own plane.”
Thank you, Chris!
Make no apologies for publishing some more photos of Pharaoh!
As I mentioned it was the anniversary of his death last Friday.
That will do for now! That last one is really precious.
To be honest this is more about the Spitfire! The Spitfire SX336.
Raymond was working on the design of his dog tags and to nail stuff about the way to make them, the material thickness, how to work with it (2MM thick brass) and how to stop them failing, when he turned to a contact he had who is a Spitfire Engineer. At that point Ian, the contact, was up the road from Hertfordshire at The Shuttleworth Collection, getting AR501 back in the air.
However, mid-2019 he moved across the airfield to Kennet Aviation. That’s the home of Spitfire XVII.
At that point Raymond was still pestering for help with a fair few aspects of the manufacturing, from working with the five-ton fly-press that was recommended (from a closed aircraft factory south of Birmingham) to using high-speed polishing tools, but – above all – the position of the hole in relation to the edge of the tag, which is the same distance rivets are from the edge of the wing in a Spitfire.
In return, Raymond offered to build a few websites, one for Kennet Engineering and one for Kennet Aviation. Both the same company really, the Engineering one to try and get more work for a few huge and expensive CNC machines they’ve recently acquired to make spitfire parts they couldn’t get hold of.
Anyway, it was when researching regarding the Spitfire that he, Raymond, came across my Spitfire content and obviously noticed the title of the website he was looking at: LearningFromDogs.com, saw I had a tremendous-looking book and thought ‘hang on a minute!’ this is all too much of a coincidence, he must say hello AND introduce me (Paul) to the SX336.
So Raymond finally said ‘hello’ and let me know there is indeed another Spitfire still flying somewhere in the world.
Here is an extract from that Shuttleworth website:
At approximately 3pm on Tuesday 25 April 2017 The Shuttleworth Collection’s Spitfire under restoration fired into life for the first time in 12 years.
A first stage engine run took place on the airfield with volunteers who have been working on the project watching with fingers crossed. The Spitfire has recently been fitted with new propeller and spinner, with testing on all systems from hydraulics, electrical, coolant and air being undertaken in the engineer workshop where visitors have been able to follow the project’s progress.
Project engineer Ian Laraman expressed his relief that all had gone to plan, saying, “With any engine being tested for the first time you always hope it will run smoothly, and happily today the Spitfire’s first engine run couldn’t have gone any better. Higher power runs will now follow, which will give us a better indication of how close we are to flight testing, but for now hearing this aircraft powered up again after all the work that’s gone into it has just been fantastic!”
The coolant systems will now be flushed out, and checks carried out on the oil filters in advance of further testing of the Spitfire’s 1,440hp Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine in the next fortnight. To follow the progress of AR501 as it moves toward the end of its restoration come along to see the aircraft in the engineering hangar or follow The Collection’s Facebook and Twitter pages!
Here is a photograph of Spitfire SX336 from the Kennet Aircraft Collection website.
A real blast from the past!
I will finish the post be repeating the photograph that Raymond took at the Eastbourne Air Show.
Lulu loved an air show, going to several with us over the years. Here she is at Eastbourne air show, enjoying the Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Ray offers us a guest post.
As can happen from time to time, I was contacted by Ray Dunthorne in England. He very kindly said that he had been following Learning from Dogs for a while and also was aware of my previous interest in flying.
So I emailed Ray saying that I would love to publish his account as a guest post and lo and behold in came the following story.
The Story of Lulu
Ah hello again, I’ll try ever so hard not to give you my full life story, but just stuff you might find interesting and relevant, but can’t promise to get the balance right!
Willows Activity Farm St Albans
My adult dog journey began with Lulu, 15 years ago, but the seed was sown some 5 years earlier at a city farm. We’d gone with the then middle-born five-year-old for his birthday party. The shepherd who did herding demonstrations was over from New Zealand and had two dogs who’d just had a litter of puppies, which we were shown. We’d never heard of the New Zealand Huntaway, it was described as a combination of German Shepherd, Border Collie and Labrador, with a few other breeds thrown in for good measure.
They’d been consistently bred in, yes, you guessed it, New Zealand for over 100 years, specifically to help move large herds of sheep or cattle over long distances. The agile New Zealand Huntaway became known for its ability to move across packed, penned herds by leaping from the back of one sheep to another. Its loud LOUD bark was also required, as if not busy barking to get cattle or sheep moving, the Huntaway would be sent after a sheep or lamb that had strayed out of sight, hold it down (I don’t know how) and BARK so the shepherd could locate the unruly pair.
Little thought was given to the New Zealand Huntaway for a few years, when – on the other side of divorce – my then ex-wife and I decided to get a dog to raise collaboratively, to keep the disparate family united in some way. Divorce-wise, it wasn’t so amicable initially, as these things usually aren’t, but soon settled down with the three growing boys being the priority.
Lime End Farm, Sussex
Of course we couldn’t agree on the type of dog. I’d always wanted a German Shepherd, madame a Border Collie and a Labrador was a popular choice with Stanley, Arthur and Sidney (the aforementioned three boys). I bet you can tell where this is going. Yes, I remembered the New Zealand Huntaway. In 2006, it was a lot harder to find a litter in the UK than it is now, but I did. Down on a farm in Sussex. Lulu’s mum and dad were also over from New Zealand with a shepherd, this one herding cattle at Lime End Dairy Farm.
Lime End is in Herstmonceux, East Sussex, which is as Olde English countryside as it sounds, with a castle and an annual Medieval festival to complete the picture.
As soon as we arrived in the classic farm yard, all the puppies bumbled out to say hello, emerging three at a time from under an old caravan where they’d been sheltering from the sun. Their dad, Lord Toro was tied to a nearby barn, doing some general barking ‘he’s frightened of the puppies’ the lady told us. The nine puppies all toppled about us for a few minutes, then all rushed off to find dinner. All except one.
Eight week old Lulu came back with me, Sidney and Helen, my new girlfriend at the time, who I’d charmingly had to borrow the £300 needed to secure Lulu from. It was a four or five hour round trip for the three of us, four including Lulu. A bonding opportunity all round.
I always remember that – to add to the idyllic Sussex farm scene, as if it wasn’t enough like a scene from a film Hugh Grant drives a Mini in – just as we were leaving, an old barn door got pushed open from the inside and a litter of Border Collie puppies and their mum and dad ran out, to say hello to the remaining Huntaways and good bye to us.
Best Laid Plans
The wisdom of bringing that hard-working herding dog into two separate St Albans houses didn’t cross my mind. It probably should have, especially as my ‘house’ was a rented Maisonette, no dogs aloud. The theory was Lulu would be at the children’s house in the week, mine along with the children at the weekends. It didn’t turn out like that.
After a few months both me and my ex-wife got short contracts that meant heading off to work in an office for the day. Far from ideal, but no money at that point meant no choice. At least it was only temporary. Lulu would have been about six months old by then and absolutely should not have been left alone FOR A SECOND.
The office was just 15 minutes away (PC World, Maylands, Hemel Hempstead). I did manage to pop back at lunchtime most days and a child would pop round a few hours later after school. New Zealand Huntaways are like any puppy only more so. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, or else you will pay.
A novice dog guardian then, I learned everything the hard way. Before her first birthday, Lulu had removed the floor covering in the kitchen and the lounge. She’d moved a large old cathode ray TV across the room, knocked bookshelves over and generally done over £1,000 of damage. I know it was that much because I got a bill from the landlord. I paid.
What dogs do
I will cut to the end here. That was in the first year of Lulu’s life.
The contract I mentioned was my first proper BIG company for the digital stuff I was doing, without it I wouldn’t have been able to have the career I’ve had, which started late as I accidentally tried to be a musician for ten years. Not too successfully. That doesn’t matter though.
The 14 years has gone by and even Sidney, who was about five years old when he came with us to East Sussex to meet Lulu, has gone off to university, the older two long-since moved away, to Nottingham and London respectively, leaving me, Lulu and my Helen, that new girlfriend who’d come to Sussex with us on that early date, who moved in a year or so later and is still here.
What Lulu did was tie us all together. Yes, she was a nightmare initially. Yes, she would run away, out of sight chasing imaginary deer, for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. Yes, she’d bark at everything, constantly herding the children when they were small, stopping them from fighting among each other as they got bigger, becoming more and more generally in control and charming with each year. Almost without us noticing. All of a sudden, she was one of us. Not a pet, not a ‘furry friend’, not even a dog really.
She could sense when someone was ill or in distress and would attend accordingly. She loved small children and even when in a fierce mood, if a small child the same size as her approached, she would sit down and raise her head waiting for a pair of tiny arms to be thrown around her. It had all just got normal for us. Pretty much every time when we were out with her, she’d do something that would further add to our respect for her understanding of what’s going on. She WAS one of us.
Now it’s all gone
It’s only when Lulu was finally gone I noticed everything else that’s passed too. All that time, pretty much my entire career, moving from acrimoniously divorced to getting along just fine and concentrating on giving the three boys as good a start as we could manage. The three boys no longer the children they were when Lulu was working out her role in the family, now all long-since scarpered and working harder than I ever have.
My career is pretty much done too. I’m finding it harder to get new contracts or jobs in digital. ‘What are you doing working in digital? I thought that was a young man’s game’ one marketing director interviewing me for a dull digital role I didn’t want tactfully said, almost ten years ago too. I won’t say where, for reasons of professional discretion (David Lloyd Leisure, Hatfield, Monday 4th March 2013)
Lulu’s Legacy is Ten Year Tags
Phew, we’re getting up to date at last. Lulu lost dog name tags like it was something she was born to do. Sometimes in a few months, sometimes in a few days. We got through dozens. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, it took me a while to work out the dog name tags on the market just might not be up to the job.
It took about a year of fact-finding, market assessment and trying to work out how to make a better dog name tag before I was ready to start planning the equipment we needed. Having wasted months liaising with companies in China to get the tags made in volume, I gave up on that idea to both keep our carbon footprint down AND have more control over any supply chain and not have to worry about any one critical supplier.
With over 9 million dogs in the UK alone, there’s a good sized market. Research quickly revealed this ubiquitous, low price point product has largely been ignored, especially digitally. Consequently many competitors are getting away with minimal product quality and poor customer experience (I’ll come back to this). This surprised me, as not many products pretty much anyone can manufacture are actually required by law in the UK courtesy of a stupidly out of date Dog Tag Law.
I pretty much, at least subliminally, thank Lulu for every tag I press out and when it’s a busy day that started at 6 am and is only drawing to a close with a 6pm trip to the sorting office with a sack of 50 or more orders, I’m ever so grateful to Lulu, as without her showing us the flaws in all those substandard products over the years, patiently waiting until Raymond here got the hint, we probably wouldn’t be coping at all right now. Lulu is still looking after us.
Thank you, Ray.
This is such a delightful story. So much so that I am going to post another story for Saturday. Namely, a short article, broadly written by Ray, and featuring the Spitfire.
Ray’s company Ten Year Tags is linked to Ray’s website.
Despite the gloom and real stress for many people it’s not wall-to-wall pessimism.
The reason I was prompted to write about this was a couple of connections made in the last few days and the power they have to keep this elderly chap still bouncing along.
They were lovely and I thought what a good idea it would be if I was able to republish them for next week’s Picture Parade. So I asked!
Well I was not disappointed and indeed said gentleman emailed me with a short bio and a photograph of him and his dog by way of an introduction. This is what he wrote:
I was born on Long Island and spent the first 60 years of my life there except for my Naval service for four years during the Vietnam war. I was a Naval Aviator, and after my active duty was over I returned to Long Island and got into a career in law enforcement that lasted 31 years. I made thousands of arrests during my career and many of those who were incarcerated threatened to “get me” some day, so I would prefer that you don’t use my real name.
When I retired at age 60 I moved to Tampa, FL because my daughter lived there and I have two granddaughters and now my son lives here too. It’s great for photographing flora and fauna all year round. My love for dogs has worn off on my kids as my daughter has two of them and my son three! Photography has been a hobby of mine for over 60 years. Here is a casual photo of me and my buddy Ollie (a three year old golden doodle).
You will have to wait until Sunday to view his photographs!
At the end of November Jean and I wanted to join the local camera club. It was clear that I had a camera, a Nikon D750, that was way more advanced than I thought and, frankly, I didn’t know my way around it.
So we joined the Caveman Camera Club in Grants Pass, Oregon. Although at the moment the pandemic puts a halt on physical meetings, twice a month ‘zoom’ meetings are held. Also mentors were available. I took advantage of the opportunity to work under a mentor and last week I went the short distance of nine miles to meet with Gene. Gene had so much knowledge and had regularly taught photography for a number of years. I came away very inspired and very motivated to become better in my photographic and composure skills. Gene’s area of interest is landscapes.
What was clear was that for my whole life, and I have been taking photographs for a very long time, I had been taking pictures and not composing photographs.
It’s going to be a long journey but one that fills me with delight
Here are some of my very first attempts, taken yesterday along the Rogue River in the rain and mist.
Well it’s a start!
But I just wanted to reiterate that staying local both literally and virtually is very rewarding.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
There was an article on the website EarthSky News yesterday that, literally, took me out of this world. It described the role of magnetic rivers in newly forming star clusters.
There’s not a dog in sight but nevertheless I wanted to share this article with you.
Astronomers have learned that the pull of gravity can sometimes overcome the strong magnetic fields found in great star-forming clouds in space. The resulting weakly magnetized gas flow can feed the growth of new stars.
Astronomers have known for decades that stars like our sun form when giant clouds of gas and dust in space – sometimes called molecular clouds – collapse under their own gravity. But how does the material from interstellar space flow into these clouds, and what controls the collapse? The image above helps illustrate an answer to these questions. It’s a composite, made with data from SOFIA – an airborne telescope designed for infrared astronomy – overlaid on an image from the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope. This composite shows that the pull of gravity can sometimes overcome the strong magnetic fields found in great star-forming clouds in space. And it shows that, when that happens, weakly magnetized gas can flow – as on a conveyor belt – to feed the growth of newly forming star clusters.
A statement from the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, Germany, explained:
A major finding in the last decade has been that extensive networks of filaments permeate every molecular cloud. A picture has emerged that stars like our own sun form preferentially in dense clusters at the intersection of filaments.
Now look back at the image above, which shows the Serpens South star cluster, a star-forming region located some 1,400 light-years from Earth. In that image, you see a dark filament in the lower left. Now notice the “stripes” on the image, which astronomers call streamlines. They represent magnetic structures, discovered by SOFIA. The astronomers said these magnetic structures act like rivers, channeling material into the great star-forming cloud.
As you can see in the image, these magnetic streamlines have been dragged by gravity to align with the narrow, dark filament on the lower left. Astronomers say this configuration helps material from interstellar space flow into the cloud.
This is different from the upper parts of the image, where the magnetic fields are perpendicular to the filaments; in those regions, the magnetic fields in the cloud are opposing gravity.
The scientists said in a statement from Universities Space Research Association (USRA) that they are:
… studying the dense cloud to learn how magnetic fields, gravity and turbulent gas motions contribute to the creation of stars. Once thought to slow star birth by counteracting gravity, SOFIA’s data reveals magnetic fields may actually be working together with gravity as it pulls the fields into alignment with the filaments, nourishing the birth of stars.
The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Astronomy on August 17. The lead author of the new study is Thushara Pillai of Boston University and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.
In 1835, the French philosopher Auguste Comte wrote of the unknowable nature of stars:
On the subject of stars, all investigations which are not ultimately reducible to simple visual observations are … necessarily denied to us. While we can conceive of the possibility of determining their shapes, their sizes, and their motions, we shall never be able by any means to study their chemical composition or their mineralogical structure … Our knowledge concerning their gaseous envelopes is necessarily limited to their existence, size … and refractive power, we shall not at all be able to determine their chemical composition or even their density…
He was, famously, wrong.
He couldn’t have envisioned the range of tools available to modern astronomers. It’s a beautiful thing that, nowadays, astronomers can not only learn about the compositions of stars via their studies of their spectra, but also probe the deeper mysteries, going all the way to the births of these colossal, self-luminous balls in space.
Bottom line: Astronomers have learned that the pull of gravity can sometimes overcome the strong magnetic fields found in great star-forming clouds in space. The resulting weakly magnetized gas flow can feed the growth of new stars.
Just read that paragraph just before the end of the article: “He couldn’t have envisioned the range of tools available to modern astronomers. It’s a beautiful thing that, nowadays, astronomers can not only learn about the compositions of stars via their studies of their spectra, but also probe the deeper mysteries, going all the way to the births of these colossal, self-luminous balls in space.”
What a long way we have come from just, say, 50 years ago.
It would be easy to get lost in the article in a scientific manner, and that would be entirely appropriate.
But there’s another beautiful way to get lost in the article; by dreaming of outer space and forgetting just for a moment or two this Earthly planet we all live on!
With thanks to Monika for the title of today’s post!
My father was born in 1901. He had two wives. Me and my sister, Elizabeth, are the result of the relationship between our father and his second wife; Betty. Our father died in 1956; December 20th.
My father first was married to Maud and they had two daughters, Rhona and Corinne. Rhona died in 2003 and Corinne died in 2014. Although Rhona and Corinne were half-sisters I prefer to think of them as sisters!
Both had children. But I want to concentrate on Rhona. She and Reider, Norwegian by birth, had four children: Rolv; Greta; Rikard; Marit.
As is the way in this modern world, Rikky who lives near Torquay in South Devon, recently called in to see my brother-in-law, John, and John remarked to me that Rikky’s new wife, Jazz, was gorgeous. I asked Greta for a telephone number and, hey presto, Rikky and I were in contact with each other.
This is a little bit from Rik’s bio.
So you may remember I was with Amanda at the time of Mother’s passing, seems a long time ago now. Well that ultimately came to nothing and I ended up living alone with a couple of huskies in a small flat in Torquay. I had invested a large chunk of Mother’s inheritance into a PA system and set up and ran a sound engineering business for years as well as running quite a successful tribute band to ‘The Doors’. The PA company eventually ended after going into a partnership with a friend who also invested a chunk of cash allowing major upgrades to the kit.
Unfortunately I soon found out he was more interested in holidays to Spain than actual PA work, the problem being I had now sold vital parts of my rig which was replaced by his. We went separate ways and he took his gear with him leaving me without a full system, BIG lesson learnt.
At that point I went back to employment as an engineer for a company servicing and repairing lifting hoists to the health care industry. Four years in and the company went into administration.
Later Rikky says:
Back to work again this time to DPD as a delivery driver for a couple of years following in Rolv’s (Ed: brother) tyre tracks. This was when I also met Jazz on a random night out with friends. We immediately realised that we had many mutual friends and had actually met before many years ago when I was playing in her Dad’s Jazz band! This was around 19 years ago when I was 30 and Jazz was only 16. I only have a vague memory of her then sitting in a corner of the rehearsal room furiously scribbling in a sketch book.
Not much has changed there except she now holds a degree in Art and Design. She is also a Holistic Therapist and has trained in many holistic therapies including Reilki, Reflexology and Massage and is a very talented and beautiful woman. I feel incredibly blessed. She has two daughters Sanije and Latoja (nine and eleven) who I consider as mine; their father left the country last year and went back to Albania which actually has been a blessing for the girls as he is a difficult man to say the least.
So the driving job became another engineering position this time with a company specialising in fire alarms, a couple of years in and the contract I was working on was TUPED over to LiveWest which is one of the largest social housing companies in the South West. Two years after that and the company merged with another housing company, the role changed slightly so I was offered voluntary redundancy which I took giving me the financial opportunity to retrain as a commercial drone pilot and so here we are today.
Thus Rik became a commercial drone pilot and as the home page of his website declares:
We can accommodate all your aerial requirements from photography to cinematography, inspections to 3d mapping.
The name of Rik’s website is Ahead4Heights which strikes me as apt. And from the About page of that website, one reads:
Here at Ahead4Heights we have a passion for flying drones and creating visually stunning aerial films and photography. We are PfCO certified by the Civil Aviation Authority and hold full public liability insurance giving you complete confidence in us to provide the service you require.
With our post production studio facility we are able to add voice overs and original music written to your brief if required as we have our own in house composer and audio recording engineer.
Our UAV fleet consists of a variety of drones from the market leading DJI Inspire 2, capable of filming in incredible 5.2k resolution and producing the RAW file format standard for the film industry to our Pixhawk based quadcopter (equipt with a 4k camera) which we use for autonomous flight taking photos used to generate 3d mapping of locations useful for the construction industry.
Finally we have a heavy lift Tarot 680 hexacopter which is used as a backup drone and also for specialised payloads such as thermal cameras and high power lighting.
If you simply want aerial photos for property sales, photos and footage for weddings and events we will be happy to offer our services to you.
We can also carry out inspection work on roofs, tower masts and bridges etc where specialised safety equipment and scaffolding would otherwise be required. Utilizing both the high resolution and thermal imaging cameras we are able to identify problems with the insulation of properties, stress points in structures and damage to roofs and guttering.
Ahead4Heights also holds certificates in the building and setting up of drones so if you require a drone built to your special requirements we would be happy to discuss. We would also offer a full maintenance package with any build projects.
A couple more photographs.
And, of course, one more of the dogs! That is Storm and Tia.
I won’t explain more until tomorrow!
There’s quite a story behind this!
And behind this one!
Another post from many years back.
From June 4th, 2013 to be exact.
Continuing the theme of revisiting earlier posts this week!
What a wonderful relationship it has been.
Years ago if I was ever to own a dog, it had to be one breed and one breed only: a German Shepherd Dog.
The reason for this was that back in 1955 my father and mother looked after a German Shepherd dog called Boy. Boy belonged to a lovely couple, Maurice and Marie Davies. They were in the process of taking over a new Public House (Pub); the Jack & Jill in Coulsdon, Surrey. My father had been the architect of the Jack & Jill.
As publicans have a tough time taking holidays, it was agreed that the move from their old pub to the Jack & Jill represented a brilliant opportunity to have that vacation. My parents offered to look after Boy for the 6 weeks that Maurice and Marie were going to be away.
Boy was the most gentle loveable dog one could imagine and I quickly became devoted to him; I was 11 years old at the time. So when years later it seemed the right time to have a dog, there was no question about the breed. Boy’s memory lived on all those years, and, as this post reveals, still does!
Pharaoh was born June 3rd, 2003 at Jutone Kennels up at Bovey Tracy, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor. As the home page of the Jutone website pronounces,
The Kennel was established in 1964 and it has always been the aim to breed the best German Shepherd Dogs for type and temperament. To this end the very finest German bloodlines are used to continue a modern breeding programme.
and elsewhere on that website one learns:
Jutone was established by Tony Trant who was joined by Sandra Tucker in 1976. Sandra continues to run Jutone since Tony passed away in 2004. Both Tony and Sandra qualified as Championship Show judges and Sandra continues to judge regularly. Sandra is the Secretary and a Life Member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Devon.
Turning to Pharaoh, here are a few more pictures over the years.
The next picture of Pharaoh requires a little background information.
For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon. The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151. (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)
Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit. So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in. Absolutely no problem with that!
My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft. First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted. He was perfectly behaved.
Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight. In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh. So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight. The chances are that it would have been fine. But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.
So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval. The date was July 2006.
What a dear dog he has been over all the years and, thankfully, still is!
As if to reinforce the fabulous dog he still is, yesterday it was almost as though he knew he had to show how youthful he still was.
Because, when I took his group of dogs out around 7.30am armed with my camera, Pharaoh was brimming over with energy.
First up was a swim in the pond.
Then in a way he has not done before, Pharaoh wanted to play ‘King of my Island’, which is in the middle of the pond.
Then a while later, when back on dry land, so to speak, it was time to dry off in the morning sunshine.
Long may he have an enjoyable and comfortable life.
Pharaoh died of old age on June 19th, 2017. He was 14!
Despite the fact that we have six wonderful dogs including Cleo there is still a twinge of sadness when Pharaoh is mentioned. And now you know the origins of Pharaoh!
Let me close by sharing a photograph of Cleo.