What’s this? No blogs from Jake since August! I bet he’s in trouble for swearing on the last one! Writers block! Fallen of the twig! – Maybe, he’s very old you know!
Well he isn’t and he hasn’t and I’m back in rude health; Still doing 2 hours from 0630 hrs every weekday morning visiting one of Duncan Bannatyne’s Health Clubs trying my best to keep everything working. So tough luck to my critics, it was all just wishful thinking so carry on trolling. I’m back.
I am guilty of having taken a couple of holiday breaks, done a bit of sailing, camping, some sea fishing and even a few days on The Grand Union Canal on a narrowboat. I used my kid’s inheritance to buy a new digital single lens reflex camera together with a range of very expensive lenses, thinking to expand my photography experience. Ah! I suppose you have heard the expression “All that gear and no idea”. Suddenly that was me!
Back in the mists of time I once wrote a book called ‘Travels with my camera’ and even longer ago, when Nelson was a lad, I was known as a camera buff. I owned several cameras including a top of the range Hasselblad, had a dark room and an enlarger and developed and printed my own photos. . . . . . . . But my new camera, all those switches, dials and letters nothing for it! I took myself of to a DSLR Photography Masterclass in Cambridge. So I’m once again in fine fettle on the photography scene and can bore the backside off anyone. I now know about Apertures, Depth of Field, f Stops, Shutter Speeds, Light Paths, ISO, Histograms, White Balance, RAW, but that’s not enough I’ve forked out for a computer programme called Lighroom as suggested by my tutor, all I have to do is teach myself to use it.
After my Masterclass I spent hours walking miles through the local woodland, shooting birds, deer, livestock and autumn colour. I’ve photographed close-ups of small plants, berries and the odd mushroom. Heck! I’ve even photographed rain and wet pavements. As Pollyanna remarked (and she only sees good in everyone, even her husband) “You really don’t do things by half, do you?”
In between holidays, sailing, fishing, camping, canal boating and becoming a ‘professional’ photographer I have also been easing the boredom that even semi-retirement threatens, I’ve been filling in spare time by volunteering at my local hospital. Not by ferrying old sick people to their appointments because I really don’t get on with old people, especially sick ones, I offered my services doing something that I could do.
Having had more than my fair share of goods and services from the National Health Service over the years in the way of two total knee replacements, two new thumb joints, and carbon fibre pins in my medial and cruciate ligaments in my left leg. Not to mention surgery to remove my gall bladder. All because of brilliant surgeons and selfless care from the nursing staff, I am able to walk without a limp, walk up mountains and indulge my love of the sea by skippering ocean racers.
Unsurprisingly I felt it would be good to give something back so a good while back I became an active member of my local hospital NHS Foundation Trust doing a number of tasks using my journalism skills. I represent patients to see that they are getting the service they are promised by checking wards for the Care Quality Commission standards as far as cleanliness, patient needs, etc. I read patients information leaflets and try to translate them from Medic-Speak into plain and simple English, so that not just I can understand them but the ‘Man on the Clapham Omnibus’ can make sense of them.
I find one or two snags to that great idea, in that I don’t speak Medic-Speak as a first language so quite a bit of research is needed. Even Mr Google has trouble with words like Temporomandibular Joints. I’ve also had trouble interpreting the leaflet on ‘Pelvic Floor Exercise for Men’ without crossing my legs. As for gathering too much information from leaflets on ‘Therapeutic Mammoplasty’ and the ‘Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy’. But as they say, any experience that doesn’t kill you . . . . . . . . In fact if I wasn’t so old, I might consider becoming a surgeon.
Meanwhile, back on the bayou, I occasionally still fit in a bit of travel commentary for newspapers and magazines and you now know why my blogs during September and October have been a bit thin on the ground. I remember a long, long time ago my Pa saying “Now that I’m retired, I don’t know how I ever had time to go to work”. He must have been a dreadful wimp. Now where’s my camera? Oh gosh, Pollyanna has just suggested that I find time to get my hair cut!