Baku In Two Hours

Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, the largest city on the Caspian Sea, topped and tailed by Russia and Iran. The name Baku is derived from the original Persian name, Bād-kube. This broadly translates to the rather catchy ‘Place Where Wind Is Strong And Pounding’. Which is fortunate, as when I was there it was consistently above 35℃. The breeze definitely kept things bearable. In the winter it can get quite severe.

Baku was part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Russian is still spoken by a proportion of the population, and there’s definitely a slight soviet flavour. But the city also has both a European and a middle-eastern feel. If Paris and Dubai had an illicit fling, and the love child was shipped off to a Russian Uncle, then that’s Baku.

Baku / Fujifilm X100T

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

In spite of what the title says, I actually spent five days in Baku. But most of the daylight hours were spent working at the airport, and consequently I had just a single afternoon to look around. Ideally, I would’ve liked to take my Nikon F100, but I knew there’d be few chances to use it. And I didn’t want to put my film through at least two x-ray scans without even having used any. Instead, I took my compact and perfectly formed Fujifilm X100T.

The X100T was given to me as compensation a reward for 10 years service with the company. I don’t normally get on with digital cameras, especially compacts. I don’t even like using my smartphone for pictures. But Fuji’s camera has many of the things you normally don’t get in a compact. A viewfinder, for one thing. And ‘real’ controls; an aperture ring and a shutter speed dial. Best of all for me, it shoots natively in black and white, and crucially, the photos rarely need any editing. I shoot it much the same way I would any film camera, and don’t need to spend hours editing in front of a computer. Just like film, all the choices are made before and not after I press the shutter.

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

I see that some sources refer to it as the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, but my visa just said the Republic of Azerbaijan. Democratic in a country’s name is always a bit of a warning sign. Yep, I’m looking at you Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Anyway, I’m not going to make any comment on the state of Azerbaijan’s democracy. But it’s worth mentioning the 2013 election, where the incumbent Government won with 72% of the votes. The one problem? The results were accidentally released via a mobile app the day before voting started. In the words of one of our greatest philosophers: “Doh!”

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Baku

Go and visit Baku. It’s warm (in the summer), the food’s great, the people are lovely, the city is safe, and the atmosphere is relaxed. And even though the driving’s vaguely disconcerting, it still only scores about 5/10 on the Cairo Brown Trousers scale.

Bertie News – Episode 00: Pilot

This is Bertie. He’s a 7 week 2 day old Working Cocker Spaniel. When he reaches 8 weeks (that’s in just 5 days – count ’em) he’ll be going to live with Coco The Cocker. I believe this may become a source of joy for me.

I’m hoping the pilot will get taken up and Bertie News will be commissioned for a full series….

Bertie the working cocker spaniel puppy at 7 weeks / Fujifilm X100T

Working Cocker Spaniel Puppy at 7 weeks

Basil Comes To Stay

December was a quiet month, at least photographically speaking. The only daylight I saw during the week was through the office window, and even at the weekend the days were short and typically gloomy. I have three unfinished rolls of film in three different cameras, desperate for opportunities to be used up.

Basil The Border Collie came to stay for a few days. He may be smart and agile, but in a play flight his considered and tactical approach is no match for Coco’s somewhat less thoughtful blunderbuss routine.

Fujifilm X100T

Glastonbury Tor

The last time in I was in Glastonbury was way back in 1986 for the renowned music festival. Except that’s not strictly true, because the festival actually takes place seven miles down the road in the village of Pilton. Nevertheless, the town of Glastonbury appears to be populated by people who got lost on their way back from the festival sometime in the mid 1970s. They clearly drifted along in a haze of weed and never got up the energy to leave. The town itself is peppered with hippy-dippy shops selling everything from wholemeal sandals to organic tie-dye chakras. But our main motivation for visiting was to climb to the top of Glastonbury Tor and see the remnants of the ancient church. The original wooden church was apparently destroyed by an earthquake in 1275. The stone church of St Michael’s church was built on the same site in the 14th century, but all that currently remains is the roofless tower. But it’s certainly worth the trek.

Nikon F90X / Kodak Tmax 100

Chicken News: October 2018

This month in Chicken News:

I’m guessing the chickens are around 6 months old now, although it’s hard to say for sure. They’ve been here a couple of months and have settled in to their new home well. So far only two of the four are laying. Nevertheless, I’ve been really pleased to discover what lovely and fascinating companions they make.

All photos Fujifilm X100T

This is Beaker. She’s a Skyline, and the quirky one of the bunch. Which is a polite way of saying she’s as nutty as a fruitcake. She’s easy to spot as she’s the only one that slaps a comedy toupee on top of her head every morning. Skyline’s have an 80% chance of laying blue eggs, but so far, nothing. Beaker, if you’re reading this, sort yourself out please.

Dorothy is a Black Rock, and likes to wander round with a pretty gold collar round her neck. She’s the sensible one of the group and was also the first to lay.

Bluebell is a….Bluebell. She seems to be the timid one, the outsider. If there’s a pecking order, she’s the one being pecked by everyone else. And no eggs yet.

Domino was going to be a Domino, but the farm were out of stock. So she’s apparently a Grey Speckledy. I say apparently, because she still looks more like a Domino to me, but I don’t want to start an argument. She’s pretty docile, and she’s been coming up with the goods every day for the last month or so.

I’m surprised how peacefully the chickens and dogs coexist. Old Girl Daisy can barely contain her indifference, and in any case she generally ignores anything she can’t eat or can’t wee on.

Coco The Cocker want’s to play, but Beaker’s pretty feisty and a swift peck on the snout soon puts her in her place.

More Chicken News next month!