1-a-day

In 2013 I set out to take and upload one photo every day of the year. It wasn’t always easy but it did get me thinking because one of the rules I imposed on myself was that it had to be a picture that I felt meant something, rather than just a random snapshot taken out of the window as the deadline loomed. This year I will be doing the same exercise again.

I wrote in 2013 that it would be risky, as I tend to lose interest if I don’t stick to the rules; should I miss a day it will be hard to carry on. So no pressure there, then!

This year the rules will be the same – 1 photo for every day. I have decided that there is no need to upload the photos by midnight on the day. If I’m away from home it might not be possible. But for each of the 366 days this year, there will be one meaningful image. Meaningful to me, of course.

Below is today’s, which has also been uploaded to my Flickr account, which will be the default location for publication of the photos. Wish me luck!

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Smooth as a baby’s

The things I do for fun. Two days to go before I fly off to climb Kilimanjaro. This evening was shaving evening! I’ve had a beard for just over two years, mainly because I hate the inevitable shaving rash I used to get when wet shaving (an electric razor never did it for me). But I have to look like my passport photo so I decided to shave the beard off.

Me with full beard

Beard

I’ve grown (grown, ha ha! Groan,) used to my beard now and I even let it grow over Christmas until I found coffee and bread crumbs from breakfast still there when I got to work. I trimmed it back again to what you see above. I set to work with shaving cream, two razors and hot water.

10 minutes later, I was at the goatee stage.

Me with goatee

Weird

I was alternately soaking one razor and using the other. It still took ages to get the long bristles off. I kept scraping but the razor was being deflected over the longer hairs. Still, eventually after another 15 minutes, I managed to get the Mexican Bandit look.

Me with moustache

Village people

If you’ve ever seen the episode of Top Gear where they make an intro for a 70’s action hero show (with a Reliant Scimitar as the main car) you’ll recognise this style of moustache. By now, all the scraping was taking a toll on my skin and my upper lip always suffers the worst. But the temptation to leave the mo’ was countered by the inevitable comparison to Village People. So the scraping continued.

After another 15 minutes, it had almost all gone and I’d had enough.

Clean shaven

16 again

 

As I’m writing this, I can feel a gentle waft of air on my upper lip. It’s stinging too. The double chin that the beard hid is still there but I was looking up slightly at the camera (there are some benefits to being a photographer – I know the tricks to hid the undesirable bits).

It’s as smooth as a baby’s bum,. apart from the bits where the blade was obviously blunt, which is as smooth as a piece of sandpaper.  

www.justgiving.com/DaveFarmer0304. It’s got to be worth it just to see the mo’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take it easy

Day off today and while I would normally be out on a walk somewhere, even if I wasn’t actively training, I can’t at the moment because of my swelling!

Ha! That got your attention. Don’t try to back out of it now, you’re reading because you want to know what my swelling is. Unless you’ve been following the blog, when you’d know that it’s my bursa. Stop giggling at the back. Too much activity and my bursa swells up. I said STOP GIGGLING!

On a serious note, I have gone from a high level of exercise to next to nothing in the space of a week. On one level, that means I have to drastically adjust my diet, because I was eating to fuel the exercise and if I continue that diet, I’ll be adding weight in all the wrong places. So I have to find some other way of exercising and I’ve picked on weights at home as my calorie consumer of choice. That and a reduction in portion size.

On another level there’s the mental change. I’d been building up to the challenge in my mind too. It was about attitude – getting up early on a rainy morning to go on the hills, going out after work, selecting routes that ended on an ascent, going the extra mile. That’s gone and I have to try and find a substitute goal to keep me occupied or I risk making an even bigger dent in the sofa.

The third level is the spare energy I have right now. Although this will diminish as my body adjusts, right now I feel I want to go charging off and doing stuff. I don’t even know what. It’s hard not to overdo things. Last night I cut the lawn then went out to Broadpool. I couldn’t just sit still.

I went out to the River Tawe with Rufus this morning. I was careful not to go too far or do any climbing, but it was hard looking up at Fan Brecheiniog where I’ve been doing a lot of my training and knowing it was out of bounds for a long while. Grrr.

Grrr, was also the noise Rufus made when I picked up the first stone. It was closely followed by a bark and then several more barks. As fats as I could throw the stones into the water, Rufus was bringing them out again. The banks of the Tawe, just above the twin waterfall, are lined with stones now. These days, dredging stones is not enough. I have to carefully select smaller stones to throw for Rufus to catch. He’s very good at it now and I love watching the absolute concentration on his face as he waits for the stone to be thrown. One good thing about throwing stones for Rufus is that i can sit down to do it, and I took advantage of this to rest the knee.

We were following wagtails along the river. they hopped from rock to rock, just keeping ahead of Rufus as he splashed and waded along the riverbed. It was like a game to them and once they realised Rufus wasn’t interested, they started playing it with me. I’m sure they knew I was trying to get a photograph; they’d wait until I’d stopped and raised the camera to my eye before flying away again.

Back home, I can feel my knee aching, which means I’ve probably done a little too much, so as I sit and type this, I have the ice pack on again.

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Post work post

It’s after work time. I’m in a chain coffee outlet. It’s been an interesting day, one of changes, frustrations on behalf of other people, a lot of humour and one remarkable and unintentional revelation from a very senior person. Of course, I can’t talk about any of this in detail because to do so would leave me open to criticism from those who pay my wages. In fact, I probably can’t even tell you that I can’t tell you. Even telling you that leaves me vulnerable.

So instead I’ll talk about the fact that for the first time in many years, I’ve entered a photography competition. For most of those years, I’ve strongly believed that photography is too important a means of escape from the pressures of life for me to risk losing that escape by adding the stress of having to make money or meeting other’s expectations. (That last sentence was brought to you by The Complex Sentence Company of Bakhtapur).

For years I’ve taken the photos I wanted to take, when I wanted to take them and for no reason other than I wanted to do it. In amongst them there have been occasions when I’ve done weddings and commissions but strictly on my own terms.

But yesterday I decided to take the plunge and enter the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition run by, surprisingly, Amateur Photographer magazine. I won’t win and that’s not me being modest. I entered a photo that came from my catalogue, not taken for the competition. I need to get into the mindset of competitions again, too. But it’s a start and another motivator for me.

I have already found that the 1-a-day project I started on January 1st has proved valuable on the days when I am tempted to sit on the sofa and do nothing. I find I am thinking of suitable subjects more often and a welcome by product is that I take more notice of my surroundings and circumstances. I carry a camera everywhere I go so I can always take a snapshot, even if it’s the visual equivalent of a post-it note for later evaluation and action.

It’s time for me to re-evaluate my approach to photography. Less reading, more doing. Looking back over the image files I have I find lots of waterfalls, which seem to be my default subject matter. Probably because they’re easy. So I have to find something else. It adds a bit of pressure, but that may not be a bad thing after all.

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I would rather be with Rufus on a mountain right now!

Twin Peaks

In 2007 I trekked to Everest Base Camp and climbed to the top of Kala Patthar, some 5,500m above sea level. I spent 15 days in Nepal, a beautiful country with incredibly friendly people, stunning scenery and the most incredible mountains I have ever seen. It was an experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget. The last 10 minutes of the climb to Kala Patthar was the hardest thing I have ever done and was worth every heaving breath and aching muscle.

It was such a fantastic experience that I went again earlier this year. At the risk of running out of superlatives, this time was even better than the last. We had a fantastic group of people, a great leader and we had a mix of weather that made the trek into a real adventure. Another trip of a lifetime. I am so fortunate to have been able to do them.

Now I have the trekking bug. I have some regrets that I didn’t start trekking sooner – what a waste. But now I am lucky enough to be able to see these wonderful places. On the last trek, the leader said ‘There are those who dream of such adventure, and there are those, like you, who go and do them.’

So in that spirit, and taking advantage of my health, I’m planning my next trek. It’s a double – Mount Kenya and then Mount Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro – the highest free standing mountain in the world – is a very popular destination for trekkers and fund raisers. Chances are you know, or know of, someone who has done it. Because it’s so popular, many people see it as an easy challenge. If you know people who have done it, they will tell you it most certainly is not easy. Some groups have a success rate of as low as 30%. Much of this is down to lack of preparation but a significant proportion fail due to poor acclimatisation.

The key to acclimatising properly is to limit the ascent each day and take the pace slowly. Unfortunately, tight schedules mean that an ascent that should really take 9 or 10 days takes only 5 or 6. We took 9 days to reach Kala Patthar and that was 400m lower than Kilimanjaro’s summit – and more than half our group didn’t get to the top.

The beauty of the twin peaks version of this trek is that climbing mount Kenya first acclimatises us to 5,000m before tackling Kilimanjaro. Clever.

My plan is to complete this trek in September 2012, although as I write there is some doubt as the Mount Kenya part of the trek isn’t as popular and there is a minimum number needed to run the trip. I’m really hoping that some of my Base Camp trek colleagues will be able to join me, as their company was a great moral booster last time. There’s a lot of preparation to undertake as the total ascent will be about twice that of the Base Camp trek. I’ve even joined the gym at work (I don’t really like gyms as I find it hard to motivate myself, but needs must and the instructor is a Kilimanjaro veteran, so he can help me with some specific preparation).

Watch this space, as they say, for further updates.

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