This is the end of my first year of Pbase PaD. I can quite proudly state that I didn't miss a single day in all that time. I have decided to take a break for a while, although I may continue posting here more or less regularly. We'll see. Anyway, this is what I wrote on my Pbase blog.

Phew! That was a blast. I started this exactly one year ago tomorrow, with a picture of the sodium street lights lighting up the North Sea haar. I was using my old Fuji M603 - a point and shoot that I got in the January sales, and only my second digital camera (my first one was a Fuji A202 that got sand and Atlantic Ocean in it when I took it on the beach north of Nazaré in Portugal in 2003).

I often wonder now what I did during the six months that I had no camera. By the end of April the photography bug had bit, and I persuaded Linda and Liam to get me the Fuji S7000Z. I had to learn it all from scratch, and the S7000 was a good camera to learn it on. It became my substitute cigarettes, and the camera always came with me wherever I was going.

Through photography I discovered many things that I would previously have simply walked past without noticing. I learned the names of some trees and flowers, I clambered over dry stone walls and barbed wire fences to get to ruined castles, I got to know the countryside around Dundee like the back of my hand. More importantly, however, I got to spend lots of quality time with my family as we toured Scotland looking for photo opportunities - or even just when going for walks with no clear idea of where we would end up.

Now I have a DSLR and a reasonable selection of lenses and an expanding collection of filters and magnifiers, and I think that I am capable of producing reasonably good images. To the extent that I have improved (and, let's face it - it would have been difficult to get any worse - just have a look at last April's images!), well, that is largely down to the Pad community and your constant words of encouragement. Now that my year is up, I want to take a break for a while and get working on some other projects (book, home renovations, get my leg better, etc.).

Before I sign off, though, I want to say a big thank you to every single one of you who have left messages or who have simply looked at my images. Cheers, take care and see you soon, Stu.


Bumps, bruises and bandages

My penultimate Pbase PaD day was a day of sunshine and mini disasters. One of the lenses fell out of my spectacles, and the little screw that was supposed to hold it in place disappeared into the carpet. I found the lens quite quickly: the screw was a little more devious. I eventually tracked it down, though, and managed to put all the pieces back together again with the help of Liam's Swiss Army knife. Now my eyes have recovered from having unbalanced sight (one retina corrected, the other not) and i can see again. That said, however, wearing glasses with only one lens in them gives a sensation that is pretty freaky... it messed with my mind and I came over all mellow and felt the urge to put on some acid house music and drink lots of water while waving my arms in the air. Then I remembered that I had a sore leg and back, and that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face (which wasn't surprising, given that they were both waving about above my head in time with Primal Scream).

No sooner had I overcome this psychedelic disaster than I heard Liam screaming in the back garden. He came running into the house writhing about yelling 'God, it hurts!!! God, it hurts!!!'. He had fallen off his skateboard and landed on his head and arm. Now he has a big lump on his forehead and a sprained right wrist. After he had calmed down and accepted that he would live, he cheered up when he was told that he will probably be excused from having to write in school tomorrow, since he is unable to hold a pencil.

This was only the second tribulation affecting Liam today. He came home from school with a big dod of someone else's chewing gum in his hair. Apparently it got there by magic, although on closer interrogation he admitted that the magician who's chewing gum it was got into trouble for 'accidently' disposing of his waste on another pupil's head. We tried, without success, to freeze it and make it brittle in the hope that he would be able to comb it out. Our attempts to wash it out with shampoo were equally unsuccessful. This left us with no other alternative but to cut it. Unfortunately the cut lock isn't noticeable, so I have no excuse to give him a short back and sides!


Carnation Street

And so the flower theme continues in the run up to the end of this PaD. You can't say that I didn't warn you that this was going to happen. I distinctly remember telling you to expect a lot of flower photos now that the house is like a florist's following Linda's birthday last week. Liam went back to school this morning. There was no spring in his step as he walked out the door with Linda.

I got the place to myself! Continued with my work, and kept on thinking that I ought to send out my invoices (nearly three weeks late....eeek!) and telephone the surveyor about the driveway that is supposed to be getting put in this side of the decade. I must remember to do these things tomorrow - I'd put a knot in my handkerchief, but these paper tissues just tear.

It started raining very heavily yesterday afternoon, just about 30 minutes after Linda had put a washing out to dry. It rained all night, and continued for most of the day. I sat at my computer all morning listening the the rain on the window and couldn't for the life of me shake the vague thought niggling inside my head that I was supposed to do something. About 4.30 I brought the sodden washing from the line in and put it all in the washing machine, then went upstairs where, despite my current disability, struggled up a set of stepladders to change two of the bathroom spotlight bulbs.

Liam came home looking like a drowned rat. He walks home from school with an open coat, regardless of the weather. His coat has a hood, but Liam won't use it. One very wet schoolboy needed some soup. However, he has it in his head that he is putting on weight, and despite our attempts to reassure him that this is normal for a boy of his age. and that he is not overweight, he eats like a sparrow with the odd trip to crisp- and Bounty-ville. By eating the soup, his appetite for supper was gone, so we ended up eating at Portuguese and Spanish dinner-time - 9pm! I was so hungry I could have eaten a scabby dog.

I had a hard time picking today's pad from the list of contenders. In the end I adopted the scientific method, commonly known as eeny-meeny-miney-mo. So here you have it. Now go and enjoy it.


Medicinal Compound

Continuing with the Dr Who theme of extraterrestrial prime ministers, I present you today with the SETI sponsored flower - lilium, better known as the Stargazer Lily. This is yet another of the many flowers that Linda received for her birthday. I don't normally like flowers that are this fussy, but I must admit that they do smell nice.

Liam starts back at school tomorrow following the delayed Easter holidays, so it was a case of getting him new shoes and a haircut (he asked the hairdresser to take about a millimetre off the top, and less off the back and sides). We were going to go to the cafe next door to the barber's for a coffee, but it was full of football players spending their wages (the Dundee and Dundee Utd players go there on a Sunday afternoon when they are not playing), so we decided not to bother. Instead we went for a short walk along the seafront, but it was freezing (typical April weather), so we rushed back to the warmth and comfort of the car.

There was football on the radio, and you all know how much I like my football. As expected, Dunfermline were unable to beat R*****s, so it looks as if next Sunday's Old Firm game will be the title decider. I'll bet you can guess where I'll be then! Three days of padding to go! What will I do to fill the void (apart from work, that is)?


Cala lillies or triffids in disguise?

Today was a day for football and for watering the plants that I got Linda for her birthday. I woke up at 8.30am, and went downstairs for my weekly helping of Soccer AM whilst eating breakfast. Linda woke at about 10.30 - just in time for the Soccerette catwalk - and surprised both myself and Liam by not telling us she thought the Soccerette is 'full of herself', but instead saying that she thought she was very bonny (and she was).

The TV stayed tuned into Sky Sports 1 for the Arsenal v. Blackburn English FA Cup semi-final. The game was rubbish, but the result was good (3-0 to the Gooners). No sooner had that game finished than it was time to head over to the PC and tune into Sportsound for the Celtic v. Aberdeen game. Being only two points ahead of R*****s, and with the final Old Firm game being at Ibrox next Sunday, Celtic can't afford to go dropping points at home to anyone, so imagine my reaction when Celtic conceded two goals in the first 14 minutes - and to Aberdeen too - a team that have already beaten us at home this season - and just two weeks after Hearts beat us at home! My misery was relatively short lived, as Celtic pulled one back before half-time, then scored another two in the second-half. So we are still on course for the title, which will almost certainly be ours should Dunfermline get a result tomorrow (although I won't hold my breath for that one - plastic pitch or no plastic pitch).

The remainder of the afternoon was spent working whilst listening to the radio phone-in show, which is always good for a laugh as fans - many of whom have had a wee swally before calling - make generally incoherent comments to a less than respectful presenter.

I heard that the replacement Dr Who had been chosen and is a relatively unknown Scots actor (so that rules out Sean Connery, Euan McGregor and Robert Carlisle, then). The new series continues to disappoint... still waiting for the Doctor's only worthy opponents: Daleks and Cybermen. Instead, what we got today was a pig in a space suit, and some green Halloween masks in human suits. One good thing about tonight's episode: Tony Blair had been replaced as PM by an alien. A case of art imitating life, perhaps. The BBC had better watch out: it can't go replacing Our Tone with green aliens and hope to keep its licence fee. There are limits, you know. These lillies kind of remind me of triffids - perhaps that will be one of the good Doctor's next opponents.



Sorry, but I have been too busy lazing around to take any photographs today. Nah! I've been busy with work, then we had visitors, so no time for the camera. Instead, what I can give you is this image with a series of coloured blotches on it. It was taken way back last August when I was doing the faux-lomography. I came across it again as I was cataloguing my images (yes... how sad is that!). Well, you never know when someone might offer me money for my images - I need to be ready!!! Anyway, I'd better get back to it, and think of a theme for the final five days of my PaD year.


No pasaran

Liam and I were out the house early this morning, on account of the fact that the car had to be taken to the garage, and I wanted to go into town and then to the Botanic Gardens before dropping him off at his friend's house where he is spending the night.

We dropped the car off, then caught the bus into town and discovered a memorial stone to the 16 natives of Dundee who were killed fighting against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This flower was in the flowerbed surrounding the memorial, and just seemed to be very appropriate. I have been interested in the Spanish Civil War for as long as I can remember, and in the bravery and sacrifice of the ordinary working men and women from many countries, who left their homes and travelled hundreds of miles to a country they knew very little about to help them defend their democracy from the fascist supported insurgents. It is even more amazing when you consider that these Scottish heroes, and their comrades who survived to take to battle against Hitler less than 6 months later, had to cross the whole of the UK and France to get there, and all the time the authorities of these two 'great' democracies were doing all they could to stop ordinary people from going to defend another democracy.

After our brief pause here, we caught the bus out to the botanic gardens, where I bought a family annual ticket, only to discover as I was leaving that University of Dundee Students get in free: Linda is a Dundee Uni student. Still, it didn't cost much, and now I can go as often as I like.

Liam headed off to Joe's and I made towards Deke's to pick up the car. It sailed through its MOT, only needing a new set of indicator bulbs. While we were in town I bought Kasabian's album. I've been meaning to get it for ages, and today I did. It is excellent: the Stone Roses of the 21st century. If you haven't got it, you need to get it.