Monday, 31 August 2009
Sunday, 9 August 2009
Sunday, 26 July 2009
After I'd recovered sufficiently, I then went out on the hunt for something I'd seen in my RPS journal and become mildly obsessed by - the Olympus E-P1. Olympus has revisited their concept form the 60s and 70s of shrinking down camera technology into the smallest parcel possible, resulting in a high-tech tiny parcel of photographic goodness - for example the 35RC, which contained more features than cameras twice its size; the E-P1 itself is based on the micro-SLR Olympus Pen. Happily, I got my hands on one to try it instead of rushing straight to Amazon to buy.
So, great idea revisited; fit a fully functioning SLR into a tiny body. It feels great in the hands, is small, lightweight, balanced and has a great shutter sound (never underestimate this!). The main draw for me was manual focusing; but I was sadly disappointed by the feature. It has been so clumsily executed, it stopped me in my tracks to the cash register. In full manual mode the LCD screen (no viewfinder) zooms in to aid focus, however the screen resolution is so low it's hard to see if you've been successful. In auto-assist manual, you half depress the shutter to get an autofocus lock, then repeat the manual process to adjust. However, the screen stays zoomed in, meaning you can't see the whole frame when you take the picture - anything could have changed outside the focusing area and you wouldn't know. The only way to get the whole screen again is to release the shutter, which causes the autofocus procedure to start again. Not good. (The autofocus itself is also quite poor, not so much for its low-ish speed, but for the fact it always locked on to the wrong target for me). Things that could be easily fixed, but weren't even thought through it seems. A great idea spoilt.
The idea is fantastic, and I'd love to buy one, but I'm going to wait for Olympus to sort this out before I part with any cash.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Sunday, 17 May 2009
It may sound unusual, but I've really missed the heat and humidity and haven't realised it till I got back here. The instant warmth the moment you step out of the door, the hot sun, the feeling like you are walking around in an over-sized steam room - sadly conditions that Holland doesn't often offer.
It's good to be back in The Big Lychee. Let the holiday commence.
Monday, 11 May 2009
This week I will be going off on a long-overdue and badly needed holiday to visit my friends in Hong Kong, with a side-trip to Hanoi thrown in for good measure. I've not had a proper holiday since I moved here back in October (Christmas doesn't count, everyone knows that), and my brain would quite like some time to stop from and take a breather from all that's happened to me in the past year. I'm really hoping that this break will energise me again and bring me out of the routine trap I seem to be all-too-happily falling into (that's the trouble with comfortable places).
Gigs, old friends, nights out in SOHO (and, god forbid, Lan Kwai), beaches, more Indochine and most importantly sun and heat are the ingredients for the proposed pick-me-up. If I look in my copy of the Cultural Revolution rural medicine classic the Barefoot Doctor's Manual it suggests a remedy of 'Xiao yao wan' three times daily, three qian per dose. However, not knowing exactly what that is, and more worryingly the book not explaining it either, I think I'll stick with my own prescription.
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Dispirited, but not broken, I trawled the classic bike dealers in the neighbourhood - What Classic Dutch Bike? in hand - looking for a new set of wheels; but could anything come close to the sleek lines and classic performance of the Windsor? After prolonged enquiries and searching, something glinting in the sunlight caught my eye: I couldn't believe it, and speedily flicked through my guide to check, but there was a near mint condition Union Extra standing in the forecourt.
A quick test-drive confirmed it would be the bike for me. The gear changes are far smoother than the Sparta's ever were, and its taller driving position thanks to the larger wheels mean it has a more commanding driving position. Much more of a cruiser than the nippy Windsor, it'll be faster off the mark too, but I'm not looking forward to encountering any of the notorious local crosswinds.
Extended road-tests to follow.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Saturday, 7 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Yesterday was a grand day out for our fine group of gentlemen. After lunching heartily, we spent the afternoon on the clay pigeon shooting range, where some peoples' hidden talents/murky pasts were revealed. Followed by the rugby and topped off by a fine meal, the day was most enjoyable. And it gave us an excuse to walk around in tweeds.
Friday, 27 February 2009
Future prospects for the region depend on the amount of tranquillity it receives, and the lack of future disturbance.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
LOOK OUT FOR: PERSON(S) COMPLAINING OF HAVING STOLEN A BIKE WITH FLAT TYRES AND THE PAIN IT HAS CAUSED THEIR REAR IN PEDLING AT GETAWAY-SPEED OVER COBBLES. PERSON(S) TRYING TO SELL A BICYCLE FOR PANCAKES TO CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
We saw that the good citizens of Delft were also glad that this was the case, as this weekend is the start of Carnival. Even here in the dour, Calvinist North, people need to let their hair down and drink away the store-cupboard before lent. For those who feel it's too restrained here they head to the Catholic South, where joie-de-vivre is the order of the day, the celebrations are much wilder.
All this tourism has worn me out; I'd better get back on the slopes for a rest.
Monday, 16 February 2009
This weekend I left the low countries for the dizzying altitude of Geneva and the French Alps. Thanks to the good snowfall this year, there were excellent conditions on and off piste. My off piste exploring did not stop at whizzing through thick powder either; I also pushed the bounds of my regional food knowledge. Having been to the Haute Savoie a fair few times, I thought I had experienced a lot of the local fare - ham, cheese, bread in any order you wish. Imagine my surprise when I found two new dishes in one lunchtime! These being Tartiflette pizza, and Raclette-in-a-bun. Well, it would have been rude not to try them, having climbed so high and skied so far to discover them, so in spite of skiing for hour upon hour, I am sure I descended the mountain a few kilos heavier than when I went up.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
In an 'engagement session' at work yesterday, someone mentioned (in a positive way, mark) a task that his team had to perform as being 'Like Atlas with that boulder on his back, heaving it upwards'.
Are the supporter of the starry firmament and the performer of the painfully never-ending task related? I think we should be told.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
As any true Brit will observe, there's something quite queer in this picture. No, not him, look harder. That's right, the flag's been inverted! The press are abound with stories of incompetent 'foreign workers' in No. 10 being unable to identify the correct way up for the Union Flag - obviously another attempt to stir up the foreign v. British energy workers issue.
I think there is something far more sinister afoot; I believe that the flag was deliberately installed this way and placed in the full beam of the media spotlight by a person with full knowledge of what it means. Someone at that table is sending out a distress signal, trying to indicate that all is not well, possibly calling for reinforcements, and that this person has no other way of doing it without fear of reprisals! Now we just have to deduce who it is, and, more importantly, if we actually want to be helping them.