Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Yesterday we started off with a very cheap haircut, a fun (and informative) experience and a photo each and came out with a regular priced haircut, a fun (and informative) experience and 5 ok-priced, well-lit, well-posed digital photos. This is following a deal I spotted on lastminute for a haircut, makeup and photoshoot with one print for £10. Unfortunately (?!), we are a very photogenic, touchy-feely couple who were having some fun - and it shows.

I was most excited about the photoshoot part of the experience as I hoped to learn some poses for portraits. Most commonly, standing shots of me were one hand on hip and sitting was with legs crossed. For Lee, standing shots were hand in pocket or arms crossed. There were, of course, minor adjustments and differences, including holding collar or looking away and down for me.

If you're not interested in poses - I'd skip the next few paragraphs..
Our first set was a typical residential stair, with everything painted white. Here, I stood leaning against the wall, one hand on hip, or one hand on banister, or I sat with my wrist on my knee, or leaning forward with my head on my hand. The next step was to bring Lee in to sit beside me on the step above and I rested my hands on his knee. Then it was his turn: leaning back against the wall, leaning shoulder against the wall with hands in pockets, sitting with feet on different steps either leaning back or leaning forward.

Next stop, a wall with bamboo curtain, where we stood alone or together, and then back to our own bit of curtained-off studio where we changed. Most of our shots were then taken in front of a roll of black card, with or without an additional light behind us. We had together shots where my arms were on his shoulders or around his waist; where we looked at each other or at the camera, or he looked at me and I looked at the camera; Lee stood behind me with arms wrapped around or I looked backwards over my shoulder and he looked basically straight on.

The remaining shots, brought in props. The first, a plain black chair, at a slight angle to backdrop, lesser angle to lightbox and photographer 
- for me: sitting up (wrists crosses on knees), sitting back (one arm across back of chair), leaning forward (chin resting on hand, keeping other arm across back of chair) [See below];
- for us: Lee giving me a hug from behind [See below];
- for Lee: sitting leaning forward (elbows on knees), with leg crossed [See below].
The second prop, a white box with a hole in the middle with a white background (rather
than the black to date) 
- for me: Sitting sideways in the circle (feet against the perimeter), sitting up in the circle (hands against perimeter, legs crosses);
- for us: Lee poking his head over my shoulder with no change from me, me back in first pose with Lee leaning on my knees, us both sitting facing forward.
- or Lee: ?
We finished up with some individual and paired shots in front of a textured wallpaper.

The whole shoot took about 30 minutes and there were approximately 80 photos from which we could choose. In most poses there was a portrait and landscape shot. Each location was lit by a giant lightbox and in some cases an additional light source (with or without a coloured gel). Our photographer Jay-Lin was experienced enough to recognise how much we enjoyed photos together and to use our connection in the photos she took. She never said to smile, just positioned us and got to shooting. I would be interested to see what would happen if the photographer then gave us 2 minutes for anything else we wanted to try - could really get some gems - but then perhaps this has been tried and resulted in duds.

The photos of us are pretty sweet: Exhibit A.

From 20111121 Photo shoot

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

This show was spectacular.  Our cheap Theatre for a Tenner tickets backfired a little when we found ourselves in the top balcony with practically a birds-eye view of the stage. Not ideal. We quickly realised why they were pushing the Upgrade Tickets for a Tenner so hard, and took advantage of it. From that somewhat grumpy start (on my part), our aspect vastly improved.

Men with smoother, sexier legs than me rocked the stage with their dancing, singing and general cavorting, through multiple costume changes. The larger-than-life characters were right at home on the
stage, (perhaps not surprisingly), and the smart as a whip one-liners seemed to be funnier than when said in the film. The costumes were all-out in size, cheek, and glitter. The wigs alone were works of art that looked terribly heavy to wear and a little unstable to dance in. The whole composition was a visual delight, making it the show I have most wanted to photograph. Perhaps others have felt the same - which is why they were checking bags at the door.

We laughed our way through the first half - particularly the scene in Broken Hill. A cheer went up when Ray Meagher who played Alf Stewart in Home and Away came on with the line "Stone the flamin' crows, what the hell's going on here" - or something to that effect - to close the first half.

The second half was marginally subdued as more of the personal aspects of the plot were explored, but continued to deliver the laughs and costume changes. At the end of the show, it appeared to be a full
standing ovation from the audience.

If you enjoyed the movie, then I believe you will enjoy the stage show more. If you enjoy a show with spectacle, visual and audio delights, and a good laugh - this will suit you down to the ground.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Nice Bristol

We spent a really enjoyable weekend with Dave (who Lee had played with on Chilly) and Laura (his new wife), in Bristol. A pair of very easy-going hosts, they picked us up from the train station Saturday morning, and we spent a couple of hours cleaning the front of their house, demolishing a rickety lean-to out the back and scraping old paint off the window-sill. The time it took to demolish was faster than the paint off the window-sill, but made the greatest difference.  They seemed really pleased with how much we were all able to do in a short time and after a tasty deli lunch, we made the most of the sunny
weather and went exploring Bristol.

We walked down the street, through the park, saw the lock that enabled the floating dock and a swinging bridge that allowed the boats through, the river at low tide, the spanning suspension bridge, the tower, picked up some patisserie treats for 'pudding', stopped for a hot drink, and wandered home along the river, which was running a bit higher.  We stuffed ourselves on home-grown pumpkin curry and our patisserie treats before being treated to large-screen David Attenborough.

This morning we had a little sleep-in before heading down to the riverside for a breakfast sandwich and to explore a little of M shed - a dockside shed filled with the people and places that make up the history of Bristol. The morning quickly disappeared and it was time to go, pack and board our train before we knew it.

I left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated (only a little bit sore) with a couple of winning photos to share (although, mostly taken by Lee - I told him he wasn't allowed to get better than me..). All in all, a comfortable weekend filled with easy conversation with Good People.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Million Dollar Quartet

We took our seats to the sound of the new fangled rock 'n' roll music of the time and watched the ushers dancing along and the audience peering at their tickets short-sightedly to work out where they were

The story was of one night at Sun Records, where the owner, Sam Phillips, brought together 4 stars that he had discovered: Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. In the first half, characters were introduced bit by bit, with the backstory of how they had introduced themselves to Sam Phillips and what he had seen in them. I found myself unconsciously tapping my foot in time to the
music or dancing in my seat.

The premise for the show was a bit thin, but it was an excellent way to hear the hits from the four stars. The actors appeared to struggle with the accent and Elvis, in particular, had a tough gig, turning on and off the showmanship. Jerry Lee Lewis, on the other hand, was set to On the whole time - it was entertaining to watch his larger-than-life performance as he instructed the other stars about hits (before he even had one).

I would recommend this show to people who wanted to see a performance of the music from these stars. I came out singing, "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.." (I walk the line - Johnny Cash).

The Cast
Carl Perkins - Steven bor
Johnny Cash - derek hagen
Jerry Lee Lewis - ben goddard
Elvis Presley - Kevin mains
Jay Perkins (bass) - phil bloomberg
Fluke (drummer) - Adam Riley
Sam Phillips - Bill Ward
Dyanne - Francesca Jackson

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Seen or heard anything strange?

Last night the doorbell rang at 12:15. It was the police. They had found a man 20m from our front door and were wondering if we had heard or seen anything strange. I had no useful information for them that I could determine.

Soon after I realised what an insular life I lead, as I walked home from the station (not passing the place he was found) thinking about the cold, about training that night, thinking about what I was planning to eat for tea, and not noticing a thing around me. (All that thinking is probably generous too.)

This a reminder that the whole world does not revolve around ourselves and that life is fragile.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park

Today I enjoyed a relaxing and informative day at Hampton Court, one of the entertaining palaces of Henry VIII. I was joined by one of my Iceni friends, Caroline.

Together we explored the Tudor kitchens and great hall, the history of Henry's wives in his quest for a son and then the Baroque half of the castle, updated by George and ??  Before they ran out of money.

From there we went outside to explore some of the gardens and the maze. There were several sections of formal gardens as well as Woodland parks. I really enjoyed the woodland parks with the exciting array autumn colours. Another highlight of the garden was a small, but as always, exciting, maze.

From there we had some lunch in the cafe - not surprisingly a pie - after all the ones we had seen in the kitchens, and then stretched our legs in Bushy Park.

Bushy Park
The feel of cold, misty rain against my face, the drag of camera bag on my shoulder.
The smell of woodsmoke and damp earth.
The bellows of horny stags sound over the top of the crunching of autumn leaves under my feet and the constant drone of traffic.
The darkening twilight, turning vivid reds and oranges to murky browns on the trees, the ground and the expansive, ground-covering ferns. The deer blend into the environment, until they startle, splash across an otherwise still stream. One stag has stolen two doe, while the alpha is chasing others. A lonesome stag returns the bellow, head tipping back, antlers along its back to release a deep, guttural mourning.
The lights of distant cars and houses seem nothing to do with this existence.