Monday, 30 November 2015

Ceci n'est pas The Min

So I'm back from The Min, or The Royal Mineral Water Hospital to give it it's rather grander title.  Here it is.  Or some sort of HP5+ representation of part of it, via a Nikon and with the help of some ID-11.

I love this place.  It really has changed my life, starting back in 1983 when I first darkened its doors.  What this place doesn't know about ankylosing spondylitis ain't worth knowing, believe me.

Now The Min isn't your usual hospital.  It's been in the centre of Bath (or Aquae Sulis, as the Romans called it) since the early 18th Century.  Inside you get a wonderful wooden staircase, oil paintings of early physicians on the walls and even the odd marble bust of important benefactors, such as Ralph Allen.

But The Min is doomed.  You see it has recently been incorporated into the more modern hospital on the outskirts of Bath and given the over-inflated property prices in the centre of the city combined with an unfathomable requirement for yet more upmarket, useless, boutique shops I fear the worst.  The board of the 'other hospital' are, I suspect, already counting the moolah and no doubt excited about how the sale of The Min will make such a difference to their 'bottom line'.  Never mind the 300 years of history of this rather unique hospital, the people who work in it and the patients they help.

It will be a very sad day when they close the doors for the last time and I really don't want to be there when they do.  I'll be happy to remember it as a vibrant, thriving place which is more than a little bit special.

Friday, 27 November 2015


Friday.  Archive Day.

1963 was a very good year, for a number of reasons.

While I was getting my first taste of this thing called life, The Uncle, who taught teachers how to teach in Belfast, spent 1963 as visiting Professor in the University of Toledo, which, as you all know, is in Ohio.   I recently came across a few transparencies of his from that time and thought they warranted some space on this place.

Here is the man himself, relaxing in front of his apartment:

You can tell he was relaxing, since he was wearing his lounge suit.  In those days people had standards, y'know.

The inside of his apartment was sparsely furnished, but adequate for him and his wife.  He must have liked it, as he took a snap of it:

The Uncle and his wife did their best to see as much of the country as they could during their year-long stay.  Their very best.  Really, they did.

This was, I am led to believe, Detroit - near the Civic Center.

I like the sight of those big cars just edging in from the left there.  Some real Detroit Steel there, just waiting to guzzle some more gas once those darn people in those funny coats get out of the way.

1963 was long before Americans had heard of the words 'oil crisis' and economise just wasn't in their vocabulary.  Just look at these little 'ol coup├ęs with their white wall tires (Ed: 'tires'? Must we?) resting outside Synder Hall in Toledo:

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, The Uncle is all dressed up again and clearly he's been a-shoppin'. 

From the size of the box of chocolates I think it's reasonable to assume they were visiting friends.  Either that or they were heading back to their hotel to have a cosy night in, perhaps to watch The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  Hang on, it might have been this hotel room:

That's him there in the middle, next to his wife.  The other couple are I believe his boss, colleague and Dean of the Faculty ('Ed') and his wife.  The Uncle made life-long friends with Ed, who visited him in Belfast regularly once retirement came his way.

It would appear they spent Christmas in New York:

I don't know who these people are below, but clearly the dress code was white gloves for the ladies, black for the child:

Impressive Christmas window displays for 1963, though.

Presumably this was the Rockerfeller Center...

...and presumably this was Niagara Falls:

The writing on the slide mount would indicate that this shot below was taken in Howard's Inn, Gatlinburg, which is in Tennessee.  Gateway to the Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg is, apparently.

The old Ektachrome colours have lasted the pace well, don't you think?  And here is the aforesaid National Park - or part of it, anyway:

While he was there, The Uncle squeezed in a visit to Biltmore, North Carolina.

Biltmore is the somewhat immodest family home of the Vanderbilts and runs to some 178,926 sq feet.  Yes, that's correct.  I know - on the large size of large, isn't it?  Still in Vanderbilt hands today, it is apparently the largest private home in the USA.  Makes you think, doesn't it?  Mostly about the size of the heating bills...

And he found some time to get to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, although this may have been a fleeting visit, perhaps on a train:

And I did mention Chicago, didn't I?  The famous shot everyone takes on the Eisenhower Expressway as it disappears under the Stock Exchange building:

What's that?  Toledo University?  Oh yes, well, clearly that was the reason my uncle found himself in the USA.  Hmm?  Photographs?  Well, yes, I did find one or two:

Aw will you look at that lonely wee red car there, parked beside the ticket machine.  From the look of it, all the others were in the car park:

And lastly we have one shot of him actually going to work.

You see, The Uncle must have done some work that year, in between all the sight-seeing.  Well I don't blame him.  I mean, you have to make the most of these opportunities when they come your way, don't you?  And he certainly did, bless him.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Poisoned Glen

Last of the colour snaps of Donegal, then.  And what better place than The Poisoned Glen, what you first seen here, in B&W, if you recall.

It looks good in Provia-colour-vision, I have to admit:

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dunlewey Church

The old ruined church at Dunlewey, just at the foot of Errigal.

Yes, I know, the frame is a tad full.  Had the Nikon with the 180mm attached, y'see.  A bit long, it was.  Still, nice evening light, though.  You saw it before, in B&W, if you remember.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


A quick blast back to Donegal, then, in Fuji Provia-colour this time.  Errigal - thon big hill thing way out west, near where the land stops and the Atlantic takes over.

I know, it's shrouded in cloudy stuff.  It usually is.

But just occasionally the cloud lifts and then you get to see it in for real:

I know - I preferred it covered in cloud too.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Last Postcards from Rathlin

OK so the last of the postcard-type snaps from Rathlin while I'm in The Min.

Just round the corner from there above is the South Lighthouse and from there on a summer evening when the sun is going down you get views like this of Fair Head:

Here's the wee lighthouse thing itself, Knocklayde in the background with a wonderful cloud formation on top.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The boys are back in town

Well, this may well be the last of the proper Bandfriday slots but boy are we going out on a high.  Thin Lizzy were probably the biggest band to come anywhere near The Liberties in the late '70s and if memory serves me correctly we had to travel to Antrim to see them.

Thin Lizzy were definitely a rock group but in-between the harder stuff (Rosalie, JailbreakBoys are Back in Town) there were ballads (Sarah - a tribute to his daughter) and the odd Irish folk song (Whiskey in the Jar), re-done in the Lizzy style, of course.   They enjoyed world-wide success for a few years.

This collection comes courtesy of The Brother and as usual, the lad done good (to use Football Manager-speak).

Phil Lynott, keeping it real
Phil Lynott was a Dublin man through-and-through (although he had actually been born in England, but we'll keep quiet about that) and lived the rock-star life - drink, women and drugs.  Unfortunately the life caught up with him and he died the rock-star death at the age of 36.

At this time we have the American Scott Gorham on lead guitar - and a pretty fine guitar he played too.  As you can see he had all the right moves: long hair, snazzy outfit and decent poses while he did his work.

By all accounts Phil Lynott didn't take easily to being a front man - although you would never have thought it at this stage in their career.  I seem to remember that particular night he had a sore throat and we were all a little disappointed at the number of ballads they played.  But on the plus side ballads usually mean time for some serious guitar solos...

The Brother even got a nice little sunstar coming off Phil's saxophone:

I wonder what Mr Gorham was playing here - he looks well into it, whatever riff it was.  Apparently he used a '59 Gibson Les Paul guitar, in case you were wondering...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Misty morning

We didn't have full sun when in Rathlin but that was OK.  More than OK, actually, since full sun is rarely interesting, not like what we got:

Misty morning on Rathlin, looking over towards 'the mainland'

Here's a grand wee 'fixer-upper' for someone wanting to get away from it all...

Actually there's a fairly decent tin roof on that, so there wouldn't be much 'fixing-upping' to be done.  Just stick a wood-burning stove in there and you'd be grand.  No trouble from the neighbours anyway, and there's a lot to be said for that...

You'd probably want one of these, though:

I mean, there'd be no point in having all that water nearby and no boat, now, would there?  That one there snapped up in Church Bay would be fine - plenty big.

Then you could sail all around the island and even over to the Land of Tartan, just visible in the distance here:

Of course you'd have to watch out for those coal boats, or whatever that is coming down the North Channel there.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Still on Rathlin,  a couple of colour shots of the seals around the island.

They look so ungainly out of the water, don't they?  On the other hand, I'll bet there ain't many fish to be caught in the waters around the island after these guys&dolls have dinner.

It must take some effort on their behalf to haul themselves up onto a rock.  Or maybe what they do is beach themselves on a suitable rock when the tide is high and then just stay there as the water level drops when the tide goes out.  That's what I'd do if I was a seal, anyway...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Rathlin's birdies

You will all recall, I'm sure, Rathlin Island and it's wee birdy things...thousands of them.

Apparently the rocks are so white in summertime due to the copious amount of bird guano deposited on them...they return to their normal basalt black colour in the winter.

Aw just look at all the wee feathered things there, all sociable and everything.  Cute, aren't they?

At the beginning of the summer nesting season there must be a mad dash for the best bits of real estate on those rocks.  Some quite precarious nests there.  And can you just imagine being at the bottom of the rocks, since gravity would have the normal effect on things coming down from above...

Monday, 16 November 2015

I'm not here

You don't get much colour here, as you know, but that's going to change for a week or two.  Two reasons - the first being that I'm not really here.  That's correct, you are listening to a recording.  I'm in Bath - well, at this place to be precise.

Think of me as one of the 'deserving poor'.   The Mineral Water Hospital, or just The Min to those in the know, is a wonderful place to be if like me you have Ankylosing Spondylitis.  For 12 days you get access to the best treatment - in the world, no less.   Mostly that means stretching and doing exercises, on land and in water while you get screamed at encouraged by the sadistic commandants caring physiotherapists.  It's no holiday - your day starts at 8.45 in the gym or the pool and finishes at about 4.30, so it's no surprise that after 12 days you feel a little different - better, you feel better, that's what I meant to say, yes...

But the good news is that although you are in hospital, you're not really 'in' hospital.  You are able to go out and about inbetween times (assuming you have the energy, that is).  And that means not only have I packed my shorts&t-shirt for the gym and speedos for the hydrotherapy pool, I have also packed some film and a Nikon.  And a little Yashica T4 that me mate Dr C lended to's a P&S but gets rave reviews so I'm intrigued - he might not get it back haha.  Anway, in about a month's time, once I've recovered from my 'therapy', you might see some shots from around and about this pleasant little city.

I know Bath well, y'see, since I came here as a young fellow to the big Institution up on Claverton Down and studied for a few years.  Here's a wee snap from c1981 of the University - or part of it at least.

Bath Uni, c1981
Eh, don't the cars look different nowadays.  Must be getting old...

What's that?  The colour thing?  Oh yes, nearly forgot.  The second reason then is that I got a delivery yesterday.  Two little blue boxes with white tops and inside were a whole load of colour transparencies, mounted and all.

If you're like me whenever you shot colour slide film, by the time you actually finished the film, remembered to send if off and got the slides back you'd totally forgotten what was on the film in the first place.  That was me, yesterday.  I blame Kodak.  It was looking at all those lovely Kodachromes from the '80s and '90s wot did it.  It got me wondering, y'see, what modern slide films are like.  So I went and purchased a couple of Fuji Provia 100 films earlier this year and one by one they sat in the Nikon and occasionally got wound on and eventually got finished and sent off.

So for the next couple of weeks it's a chance to re-visit some of the places I've been to over the last few months - in colour this time.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Old friends

In today's delve into The Archives I pay homage to old friends...cameras, naturellement (to be spoken in the exaggerated Basil Fawlty way).  These are just some 35+ year-old snaps of some 35+ year-old cameras.

I know that there is a famous photograph of a certain Mr A. Schwarzenegger holding a TL Electro X but I can't help but wonder if Yashicas weren't a bit asexual. The symbol on the prism housing, the name Tl Electro X - for me it has echoes of Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  Now as good as the film was (Bladerunner, Harrison Ford&Rutger Hauer and that scene on the rooftops where Roy is reciting poetry and Oh Man all that rain and stuff Mr Ridley Scott that was your finest hour) - the book was better.

Next up we have Herr Professor R T S Contax. Most definitely a Highly Educated German Alpha Male Camera if ever there was one).  No nonsense - this was a Functional Thing.

Zeiss optics, Porsche design (Japanese Yashica electronics)

Original '70s dust on the negs above, in case you're wondering...and did you notice the old Slik playing a supporting role there?

Now...what about this lady:


This is a feminine thing, for sure.  Asahi - even the name is soft on the lips.  She's all curvy and beautiful.  And not even a wrist strap - she's a free spirit, is this one.

We did colour too for a while...

The OM-1 was my baby, just the most beautiful little piece of engineering ever, with a lovely bright viewfinder to boot.  Pictured here with a 200mm Zuiko, perfect for all those shots of motorbikes that came to the Liberties from time to time.  That would be the 50mm beside it, but I didn't use it much in those days, whereas nowadays I hardly deviate from 50mm or 35mm.  Funny how your tastes change...

Unfortunately none of these beautiful creatures are with us today.  Long gone, sold, traded, exchanged.  Ships that passed in the night...

All but the OM-1 belonged to The Brother - this is what he looked like in his Asahi days...

The Brother, snapped c1980, printed 2015

Now what is that look?  Trance-like?  Or maybe trying to perfect that 'I know what I'm about' look.  Even in them days, eh. Nowadays he's Professor of Philosophy or something at some Mid-West US University or somewhere.  Or so he tells us.  Not much time for photography anyway - too busy with books and the old brain-games.   Last time I was there he had a Nikon F100 lying about gathering dust in his garage.  I've put in a request for Santa to transport it across the pond to The Liberties, where it might see some action.  Here's hoping, eh?  

As you can see I printed that one - on Kentmere VC paper for a change.  Definitely one for the wall.  Came out nice and moody - no burning in by the way, them edges is all vignetted naturally.  C'mon, don't ask me How come that? - it was 35 years ago...

You might have seen this one before, but this is him now, printed on Kentmere VC paper.

Not quite on a par with one of Jane Bown's portraits.  More light needed!