After much anticipation, Bertie the working cocker spaniel left his siblings and went to live with Jane at 8 weeks old. His new family now consists of two dogs, four chickens, one cat, and two children. I got to meet Bertie on his second day with the family and had a very happy weekend.
Over the years, Cocker Spaniels have been bred into two different types of cockers – the ‘working’ cocker and the ‘show’ cocker. Although their temperaments are very similar – both are very gentle and soft-hearted – the working cocker is a natural and eager field dog and is almost tireless. Coco is also a working cocker and it’s impossible to wear her out. These are not dogs for inactive people with little free time. It’s going to be interesting to see if Bertie will grow up to have the same amount of stamina as Coco.
Even though Bertie’s tiny at the moment, he seems to be a robust little dog. He’s curious, gentle, and self-contained. I think he’s going to have a very happy life with his new family. That’s a wonderful gift you can give to any animal.
It’s not always easy bringing a new puppy into a household that already has a dog. Coco has had to put Bertie in his place a few times. But Bertie’s a resilient little chap and bounces right back. And I think Coco is starting to realise that Bertie’s not here to steal all her food. Although clearly the same can’t be said about her bed.
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
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. I assume they chose it based on its vintage styling. 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. Oh, and it also features a fixed 35mm (35m equivalent) lens, the same focal length I use on my Nikon F100. I feel right at home.
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!”
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.
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
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.
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.