Adventures in the world of slow

After yesterday’s fun in the snow, today was always going to be a little slower. And in a triumph of wordplay, I decided to head off to the River Tawe to start using slow shutter speed techniques with my 10 stop ND filter on the waterfalls.

As if to confirm the slow nature of today, a selection of Sunday drivers littered the roads. It’s not just their inappropriate use of speed I dislike, it’s the generally poor standard of driving that comes with the Sunday driver; braking hard at the speed sign rather than slowing to meet it, failing to indicate and wandering all over the road to name three. All three of these were in evidence today.

At the river, we wandered and strolled, occasionally stopping for me to take long exposure photos. Slightly more occasionally, we stopped for Rufus to catch little stones, chase them into the water and for him to bark at me if I got anything wrong with either activity. Things that count as being wrong are:

  • Not throwing a stone
  • Throwing a stone in the wrong place
  • Taking too long between stone throwing
  • Taking too long to operate the camera
  • Not handing out enough treats

He’s a good teacher though, and is never slow to correct me if I make mistakes.

Before we knew it, we’d been out for over an hour. The clouds were beginning to peep over the hills and the temperature was starting to drop again as the sun became obscured by the first signs of the approaching rains. So we set off back to the car. I was surprised at how far we’d come along the river, which is well below the level of the road, and it took a little longer to reach the car than I had expected.

Our journey back included encounters with a driver who seemed to indicate at every roundabout junction, but never acted on the indication. I actually got quite good at anticipating where he was going by the position of the car on the road. Despite his attempts to run me off the road, we arrived home and settled down to a day of slow.

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Man Porn

Haha! Three thousand extra hits already, thanks to my clever title, and I’ve only just started typing this blog post. The power of search engines and that four letter word!

So, we all know what porn is. Don’t we? (If not there are a number of good, and not so good, sites on the Internet that will help explain it to you). But what about Man Porn? Well, depending on his (or her – Man Porn is gender neutral despite the title) particular interests it could be a car, lorry, train, plane, yacht, oven or vacuum cleaner (I knew someone for whom a particular vacuum cleaner was an object of slightly more than desire). And most importantly, I am not here to judge. It matters not what your particular ‘thing’ is. We are all adult and the world is free so unless you are causing harm or suffering (in which case, shame on you), be happy with, and celebrate, your particular item of Man Porn.

This post started because I’ve started working on my bathroom again and noticed that I had three power tools and lots of accessories for them, and all of it was strewn around the floor. It struck me that power tools were probably a form of Man Porn for some. I actually don’t like them but I appreciate them for the labour saving devices they are. I have the same approach to computers. I don’t really understand them but they do what I want them to do (for the most part) and they have an off switch.

I shall bare my soul to you now and reveal my objects of desire. Those who have read previous posts may be able to guess at some of them.

Cameras. Well, technically, any nice bit of photographic equipment really. A camera just does what you tell it to do and records what it sees in front of it. Nothing more. So how can it be an object of desire? I guess it’s a combination of look, how it feels in the hands (let’s be clear – size does not matter, okay?) and the satisfying clunk of the shutter. Interestingly, although the quality of the final image is important for photography, it doesn’t count on the Man Porn scale. I have several cameras and they are tools. I have one or two that are more than tools. They look nice, feel comfortable in the hand and they inspire me to take a particular kind of photograph. In the case of the DSLR, it’s the combination of lens and camera that works for me.

Musical Instruments. Guitars, actually, although I can well understand how someone would feel about an antique violin or piano. I find it hard to think of a modern keyboard as an object of desire and I’m not sure why. My first thought was that it was to do with the organic feel of a guitar made of wood, but that’s not it – the cameras I hold in high esteem are all metal, glass and electronics. So it must be look and feel – sensory stuff. My all time favourite guitar has been and remains the Gibson Les Paul. I love the shape and curves and the weighty feel. It had a fabulous smell of glue and wood. I owned one for several years and it made me learn to play better. I like the bass guitar I play in the band at the moment, an inexpensive Ibanez I got second hand. It’s rapidly becoming an object of desire, so it’s not monetary value, either.

Cars don’t do it for me, although I can appreciate a good looking vehicle. Neither do planes, bikes or boats, although the yachts racing for the America’s Cup this week are pretty cool. I don’t want one, though. It wouldn’t fit on the pond in the back garden.

So, what is your Man Porn?

Prepare for some Man Porn in the photos below.

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Here in my car…

In my 26 years of driving, I’ve owned 10 cars. Some were friends, one was my sworn enemy. Some died, some just passed on and faded from view. Many of them leaked rainwater in. Some leaked other fluids out. I think it’s accurate to say I had at least one adventure in each car.

My first car was a British Leyland beige (that horrible light orange colour) Morris Marina 1800TC saloon with a brown vinyl roof. Next door’s cat used the vinyl roof as a scratching post so eventually, I stripped it all off and painted the roof black with blackboard paint. Until I looked at the photos again, I’d forgotten I’d left the vinyl on the sides. With hindsight, it looked awful. It leaked like a sieve and every autumn I’d remove the carpets, to replace them after the rainy season. The footwells would fill up over night and I drilled holes in them to drain the water away. I remember driving off one day and the entire contents of the passenger footwell sloshed backward into the rear of the car. The boot would also fill up and I drilled the floor of that, too, missing the petrol tank my inches. Later, the petrol tank started to leak as it had rusted a bit, and my uncle and I replaced it after syphoning off the petrol that was in it into buckets in the garage! I know it died because the keyboard player in my first band killed it after I’d sold it to him. I did like the car, though, I suppose you always fondly remember your first.

My first Capri was a dog and hated me as much as I hated it – it was sold to me by a dealer who knew all the problems with it and gave it a false MOT. I believed his stories to explain away the faults and I learned my lesson with that one. The back axle was loose, the carb spat fuel out now and again and there were a few other problem. The bumper fell off when I did a three point turn outside my house and hit a lamp post. I didn’t realise it had fallen off until I saw it lying in the road. I did the walk of shame to retrieve it under the gaze of everyone who had heard the bump. It died several times but I managed to resurrect it each time – once hammering the starter motor with a hammer at a roundabout when it wouldn’t start. It got sold, in a zombie-like state, to someone who failed to register it and who end up being wanted by the police. Of course, they came to me as the last registered keeper but luckily I had a receipt. The photo below was a reject publicity shot for the first band I was in – I think we were called Jovian Winter at this point.

I owned a lovely Capri 2.8 Special. That was a beauty and probably the first car I wanted to keep. But it got too expensive to run and maintain, so I moved on to my first Audi, a 90. That was the car I first started travelling around the country in. That was followed by a Rover 220 coupe – another lovely car and, had it not been broken into 2 days after I got it, I would have kept it for a few years. Unfortunately, it looked good and the local car stealers liked it too. I swapped it for my first diesel – and Audi 80 – after 11 months of hiding Rover in someone else’s drive.

The 80 took me all over the country and cemented my love of German cars. I eventually part-exchanged it for a Passat Sport – an ex demo model fully loaded with all the extras and obtained as a bargain as I’d been advised on how to play the car buying game by a colleague who used to be a car salesman himself. This was followed by my first and only new car, a Volkswagen Bora 150 Sport. The salesman tried to sell me a lesser model and I later found out, thanks to my car salesman mate, that they always try and off load the worst selling model. I had also been introduced to the psychology of sales through work and I found I could learn from the salesman, and play his game. I drove it to the Outer Hebrides 3 days after I got it and managed to put a tiny scratch in the door by banging it against a wall in Oban. Until then, I was nervous driving it but suddenly it wasn’t new any more and I could relax.

The Bora finally had to go after 5 years, and I swapped it for a Passat. It had the biggest boot in the world though, and even Em failed to completely fill it when we went away on holidays. But I couldn’t get on with the electronic parking brake which never seemed to work reliably enough for me. It would either stick on, making me stall, or fail to catch.  So the Passat went and I bought my current car, an Audi A4 S-line. A gorgeous car, another bargain thanks to the lessons I’d learnt previously, and probably the first car I would be reluctant to get rid of.

I had some work done on the silver Passat and the courtesy car I was given was the little yellow Beetle in the final photograph. I have to say it was tiny but big on the inside, but not a car for me. I think I was given it as a joke. I removed the flower immediately, of course!

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