Storm

In the alternative universe where a certain microbe didn’t leap from a bat, there’s a version of me holidaying in Barcelona right now. (NOTE: I am neither a virologist nor a quantum physicist). And even though my version of me is serval hundred quid lighter and stuck in England, it’s great to be able to do some of the simple things that make life feel normal. For the last couple of weekends, this has meant walking through the South Downs with the dogs, and spending time in the pub with friends. Just like people used to do back in Normal Times.

But it’s hard to know which way things are going, on all levels. Photos are a lot easier than words for me right now. There’s a sense of Autumn in the air, and it feels like there might be a storm coming.

Midhurst & the South Downs / All photos Fujifilm X100F


There’s a polo game going on over there in the fields. No spectators allowed these days due to Covid.


It’s not easy being this handsome


The dogs and the chickens co-exist relatively peacefully


Potato Wars!


And in the pub with friends. As it should be.


On the tipsy shuffle back home at sundown and past the ruins of Cowdray House, destroyed by fire in September 1793

In An Instant: Coco & Bertie

When Polaroid stopped making SX-70 film in 2005, it seemed like a terrible blow. But all was not lost. The Polaroid 600 cartridges were the same size, and although they had a couple of extra ‘nubs’, with a little bit of jiggery-pokery they could play nicely with your SX-70.

That left the rather big issue of ISO. Polaroid cameras have no ISO dial. The meter is fixed at a single value that matches the sensitivity of the film. SX-70 film was rated at ISO160, 600 film at ISO 640. The cameras came out of the factory with meters permanently set accordingly. 600 film in an SX-70 is going to be over-exposed by around a couple of stops.

The film photography community is by its very nature creative. Soon enough you could buy SX-70 ND filters on Ebay. These were thin squares of semi-translucent plastic that you slid into the cartridge over the film, and stopped the excess light hitting your film. Perfect exposures, and you just needed to remember to retrieve the filter before disposing of the empty cartridge. Sadly, a couple of years later 600 film was also discontinued and I was left with nothing but a useless bit of plastic and a sense of loss.

Now that many years later I’m using the resurgent Polaroid1 SX-70 film, I’ve recently been wondering if the same thing is possible. With SX-70 film currently abundantly available, there’s absolutely no need for this, but one thing I’ve learnt is to always have a Plan B. I suspect 600 film sells considerably more than SX-70 film. And whilst I don’t expect them to discontinue it, it’s possible they may continue to develop the 600 but leave the SX-70 where it is. I was also curious to see if the two films looked any different. Interestingly, Polaroid now sell their own ND filters.

After extensive experimentation, based on me taking….one photograph….I can’t really see any difference. But hey, I put in the effort so you don’t have to even though nobody cares.

These are very difficult times for most, and life-changing for many. These two guys are my little golden chunks of happiness and joy that are helping me get through it. They live in the moment. Perhaps that’s something we all need to do more of.

1. In March this year, Polaroid Originals dropped the ‘Originals’ part of their name, and went back to simply Polaroid.

Coco & Bertie / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid 600 Color Film with Polaroid ND filter

Working Cocker Spaniels Polaroid Polaroid ND filter

In An Instant: Smiling Coco

The UK took a big step on Saturday. Most businesses were allowed to open up again, albeit with strict social distancing measures. Pubs reopening was undoubtedly a big thing for many people, although I’m sure half the people there were tabloid reporters waiting to take photos of the anticipated carnage. Whilst there were issues, it does seem like most people behaved sensibly and followed the rules. For myself, I’m not eager to rush back. I’m watching to see if infections rise again in the coming weeks. Besides, since lockdown, I’ve discovered you can drink at home ’til you fall over, for a fraction of the cost and without waking up next morning with a half-eaten kebab on your pillow. Why didn’t someone tell me this years ago?

Popping out for a sandwich today, I was surprised to find myself quite emotional at the sight of people in the cafes again. But for me, as the restrictions slowly loosen, the big thing is that I get to spend a lot more time with the dogs again. And Jane, of course. And I’m not just saying that because she sometimes reads this. Really.

Coco The Spaniel / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Black & White Film

polaroid spaniel

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | In An Instant: Botleys Mansion

This week the Government urged those unable to work from home to go back to work. Meanwhile, the rest of us can continue to ping off a few emails in the morning, have the occasional video call in our underpants, and spend the afternoon watching Netflix. Or is that just me? Anyway, during this difficult period our Prime minister has certainly lived up to his reputation. Unfortunately, that reputation is for laziness, incompetence, and pathological dishonesty. Yes, as Britain stands on the edge of a precipice, nobody is better equipped than Boris Johnson to take us forward.

From this week, we’re also no longer officially restricted to exercising once a day. To be honest, I’ve been doing more than that anyway. The streets have been practically empty, and when I do come across someone we smile and politely do the now-familiar social distance dance. Exercise is one of the things keeping me sane, although part of me thinks that the only rational thing to do in these circumstances is to go mad.

Some non-essential shops are now allowed to open, provided they take the proper precautions. The Subway near me has a sign saying four people only, but every time I walk by they seem unable to even muster that many victims customers. It almost as if people think a chipotle ‘chicken’ foot-long sub is not worth risking death for. Who’d have thought?

When Bertie was here we took our walks down by the Thames, and through the meadows and woods. Now he’s gone I’m back to walking along the pavement and through the parks. My morning walk now takes me through Homewood Park and past Botelys Mansion. Botleys is a Palladian house built in the 1760s. It’s changed hands many times during its lifetime, but for much of the 20th Century it was variously a war hospital, a psychiatric hospital, and a nurses’ home. These days it’s owned by a private company that hires it out for weddings.

Botleys Mansion, Chertsey / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Color Film

Botleys Mansion


Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.

So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.

See all previous updates here

This week in The Coronapocalypse:

  • In a devastating blow to the virus, the Government changes its slogan from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’
  • PM announces three-step approach to ease country back to normality, but forgets to include his resignation
  • Some non-essential shops allowed to re-open, provided they take necessary precautions
  • Avianca, the world’s second-oldest airline, folds
  • Furlough scheme to continue until October
  • Football restarts behind closed doors in the German Bundesliga
  • Goverment recommends homemade face coverings in enclosed places
  • People who can’t work from home should go back to work, provided they can social distance
  • Trump declares victory over “invisible enemy” as US deaths surpass 80,000
  • Covid-19 breaches supposedly one of the most secure facilities in the world: The White House
  • Public Health England approves use of ‘100% accurate’ antibody test
  • Large areas of London are to be closed to vans and cars, allowing people to walk and cycle safely and thus avoid public transport
  • UK trial begins to see if dogs can ‘sniff out’ virus
  • Anti-lockdown protests take place in Hyde Park and Britain takes back the Covidiot Crown. Donald Trump demands a recount


Worldwide cases: 4,722,233 (previous week 3,484,558)
Worldwide deaths: 313,266 (previous week 244,786)
UK cases: 240,161 (previous week 182,260)
UK deaths: 34,466 (previous week 28,131)

source

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | Bertie Goes Home

So. Bertie went home this morning and I’m back to solitary confinement. I’m sad about this. These are the photos from our last couple of days together.

All photos Fujifilm X100F


Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.

So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.

See all previous updates here

This week in The Coronapocalypse:

  • Italy begins to ease lockdown after eight weeks, with parks reopening and relatives reunited
  • Contact-tracing smartphone app piloted on Isle of Wight
  • Five Eyes Alliance contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab
  • Virgin Atlantic to axe 3000 jobs and shut Gatwick operations
  • More than half of UK adults receiving some form of state financial help
  • Air France, KLM and Lufthansa make face masks compulsory for all passengers
  • Key Government Covid-19 advisor resigns after breaching social distancing rules with visit from ‘mistress’ (note to tabloid editors: nobody has had a ‘mistress’ since about 1890)
  • Bank of England predicts economy 2020 will be biggest economic slump in 300 years
  • 400,000 emergency PPE gowns flown in from Turkey fail quality control checks
  • Britons commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day and remember those who died in WWII, whilst many of the survivors die in care homes
  • Britons celebrate VE Day with socially-distant street parties
  • President Trump says coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine” but offers no scientific evidence
  • 14-day quarantine proposed for air passengers
  • Government announces £2bn plan to encourage more cycling and walking


Worldwide cases: 4,152,885 (previous week 3,484,558)
Worldwide deaths: 282,733 (previous week 244,786 )
UK cases: 219,183 (previous week 182,260 )
UK deaths: 31,855 (previous week 28,131)

source