Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Long way up

It's a fair old climb down to the bird sanctuary and the West Lighthouse on Rathlin from the top.  They've done a great job in making it as accessible as possible - the first part is a sloped path but then you've got a few steps to negotiate:

The view from the bottom.  It took 5 years to build the lighthouse, from 1912-1917 at a cost of £400,000 - apparently that equates to something like £17million in today's money.  Transporting the materials to the location was no mean feat in itself - it's over 4 miles from the harbour.  All done using horse, cart and manual labour.

Beside the lamp is a small platform which we were able to get out onto.  Unfortunately the weather was starting to close in so visibility wasn't great.  On a good day you should be able to see the island of Inishtrahull just off Malin Head to the west and Islay to the North.

Looking west, towards the Antrim Coast, Giant's Causeway and Portrush

Inside the lighthouse was interesting - small enough, naturally, but surprisingly cosy.  The keepers used to stay for 2-3 years at a time.  Lighthouse relief day was once every two weeks, when supplies and ordered goods were delivered.  I think the last keeper left in 1983, by which time everything had been automated.

The sleeping quarters.  You'd need to be happy with your own company in this job, methinks.  A love of literature would also come in handy...
There's been a bit of a run on lighthouses lately - Mr Karlsvig over there in Norway has a few great snaps of ones around his neck of the woods and some wise words as well.  They're all a wee bit different, these houses with light.

...or a love of writing. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

West Lighthouse

This summer we did a couple of lighthouses on Rathlin - two out of the three that are on the island.  We didn't go to the East Lighthouse - the haunted one, our host Hilary informed us.  She's experienced a few episodes there herself to go along with the many other stories she'd heard.  And that's in addition to the PĂșca spirit that is said to inhabit The Manor House.

We did go to the West Lighthouse, where the bird sanctuary is.  Last year the centre was closed for renovation but this year the new place was open.  And, like with so many things these days, there was a charge.  Not an exorbitant charge I have to admit, but still, there was something nice about being able to get to see round the place in the good old days - 2 years ago - without having to put your hand in your pocket, as Jim Grey knows only too well.  The Brother still can't believe how many things around The Liberties are free to enjoy - compared to the States, that is, where he resides - but the times they are a-changing and it's coming, like a hard rain.  OK, enough Bob Dylan I hear you say.  I like old Bob - even saw him once live in Belfast, a double act with some local dude called Van Morrison.  What a great concert that should have been, eh?  Unfortunately it was an open-air affair and not, in my opinion, best suited to either of these great artists.  No - it would have to be a smoke-filled speakeasy to get the best out of those critters.

Looking down on the top of the West Lighthouse, Rathlin Island. I know - another straight horizon!  Must have been the air...  Not often you get to look down on a lighthouse dome, is it?  The reason being, this one is upside-down: the lamp thingmy is at the bottom, rather than the top.  Reasons being the cliff face the lighthouse is positioned on and the fact that apparently they reckoned the siting of the bell in this position would grant best visibility to any ships nearby.  
The good thing about the new arrangements at the West Lighthouse is that as well as the bird sanctuary, you get to explore the lighthouse itself.  It's still functioning, but like all lighthouses nowadays it's electronically controlled, so no need for a keeper.  We learnt a lot about lighthouse keepers, we did.  In the good old days, if your grandfather was a lighthouse keeper the chances were your father was and you would be too.  It was a very important job - detailed notes on weather conditions and shipping traffic had to be kept and of course lives depended on it.

OK, so who knows what this thing does?

I've no idea about the hair arrangement outside the window - could well be a scanning artefact, or maybe signs of a PĂșca.  This device, which is still working and in use, is used to detect fog.  We learnt that in the olden times - as far back as the 1980s and even earlier, there were things called fog-horns, which sounded periodically when the presence of fog was detected.  I can remember the eerie sound they made.  The guide told us that before that they used to fire an 18lb gun every 20 minutes when fog was about - he mentioned something about a rocket as well.  Eventually Morse code took over.  Anyway, interesting that they now use a bit of fairly old imaging technology (by the look of it) to search for fog nowadays.  There was a very polite notice on it 'Not to touch - machine in current use'.

I took a snap of the workings of the thing, but it didn't come out very well - reflections and under-exposure and the usual sort of thing you get around here:

In the past the light from the paraffin lamp used to be focussed by lenses before being projected out sea-wards, so we were told anyway.  The lens used to float in some sort of mercury bath - could that be correct?  These days of course it's all electronically controlled apparently, via some transistors and PCBs and the like.  Still a pretty big affair, though, as you can see.  A bit of engineering in there, methinks.  Very impressive, it was.

So, a snap of the outside, Missy included, getting the head blown off her.  It was unbelievably windy - really, I mean, hard-to-stand-up windy.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Way out west

Well, way out west and a bit north, if truth be told.  One of our day trips in the summer was across on the ferry from Magilligan to Greencastle in Donegal.   From there we turned left towards Moville and then turned west and north towards Carndonough (Carn Domhnach, or Burial Mound of the Church).  A bit further on and you are soon in the wilds of Donegal, which is a pretty good place to find yourself at any time of the year:

A wee print, on Kentmere paper.  The black dots on the beach are people.  Now from the clouds you might have expected some precipitation - and you would be right.  Predictably, the heavy shower came as we exited the car and made our way to the cafe for some refreshments.  I think that was the only rain we saw that day.  Typical, eh?
Donegal is a pretty special place - it's a huge County, stretches all the way west to Gweedore, past the Derryveagh Mountains.

Just a scan - looking the other way from the first shot.  We're pretty close to the North End of Ireland here - Malin Head just a stone's throw away.
There was a reason for our little day trip - Doagh Famine Village, an eclectic assortments of cottages, artefacts and all-round interesting stuff pertaining to this part of the world.  More of that another day.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Fast hands

I know Rathlin is only a wee island 3 miles of the Antrim coast and it has electricity and 3G coverage and everything but there is something different about it.  When the weather is good the evening can be a really special time on the island.  After the last ferry leaves for the mainland there's a stillness about the island.  You can just mosey around, perhaps head down to Rua Point where the South Lighthouse and the seal colony are and generally feel at peace with the world.

Unfortunately on our visit a couple of weeks ago the weather wasn't great.  Although it wasn't particularly cold, there was a wind that would have nearly taken your head clean off and so we retreated to the shelter of McCuaig's bar/restaurant/tea-room/general-place-to-go-when-everywhere-else-is-closed.  After refreshments and something to eat (pretty good fare, truth be told) we headed back to our room for the night.  

Isn't it great when you're forced to make your own entertainment?  While The Brother and I reflected on the day just past and our hopes for the following day the girls kept themselves amused with camp-fire songs and general mayhem:

One of the many, many, hand-clap songs the girls amused themselves with.  It was great to be party to - all to easy to forget how the simplest things can lead to so much enjoyment.  They had a lot of fun.  I tried my best to capture them on HP5 - tricky enough, when your widest aperture is only f4 and it was as dark as it looks here.  I think I was somewhere around 1/4 or 1/2 a second on the rangefinder. I printed this one out on Ilford RC Warmtone.
Now the thing is, if we'd been at home as usual, these moments would never have happened.  Well, they might have, but doubtful if The Brother or I would have been witness to them.  There's something about 'going away', isn't there - puts us in the holiday spirit and all that.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Puffin Bus

The Puffin Bus takes you from the harbour at Rathlin to the West Lighthouse, where the RSPB bird sanctuary is.  It's just over 4 miles, but seems like 10 since the bus tootles along a single-track road.  Like most vehicles on Rathlin the bus is well into its retirement.  It appears that there has been a bit of a war going on in Rathlin between rival bus companies - there were even stories of sabotage.  But I understand peace has broken out and the two companies now operate on alternate days.  The day we went we had Patricia as our driver - this is the sort of view you get from inside.

Patricia looks like she was giving her running commentary here - this was just before she stopped the bus.  Turns out the bus had a flat tyre, but it was OK apparently as there were two wheels at the end of each back axle.  Anyway, we slowed down even more, to walking pace and continued our journey back to the harbour.  After about 20 minutes we hadn't advanced very far, so when Patricia eventually got a signal on her mobile phone she called her dad, who came out in the other, equally decrepit bus, to rescue us.  Sure it was a grand wee adventure.
It's hard not to notice the number of abandoned cars, boats, caravans on Rathlin.  I guess the cost of taking these things off the island is just too high, so they are left to slowly rot at the mercy of the elements:

Old fishing boats, Church Bay
I'm sure the locals don't even notice these old bits and pieces any more and while there is some charm in it for us visitors you don't come to Rathlin to admire the scrap.  Perhaps the authorities (whoever they might be) should organise an amnesty on Rathlin - just do a big clear up, take all the scrap off the island for free.

"Vincents Boat", Rathlin

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


OK so if The Brother ever sees this on here I am in trouble.

On FP4+, via ID-11 on Ilford RC Warmtone paper

I couldn't resist snapping him up as he was fighting with his shoelaces.  Like me, he has ankylosing spondylitis and so getting down to the old feet is a bit of a struggle.  Unlike me, he can actually get down there, albeit with difficulty.  This was Portrush, by the way, in full summer.  You can tell it's summer as he has his waterproofs on and the sun was out.  At other times of the year you don't get the sun, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

There was a swell

On the trip to Rathlin the sea was fairly choppy - so much so that our host Alan elected not to take us over on his 31-foot borrowed boat (his rib was in for service, apparently, awaiting a part from Japan).  Instead we got the fast ferry from Ballycastle.

I came out the back of the boat before we got underway, in the hope of getting a snap or two.  In hindsight that was a good move, although I was hanging onto the rail with all my might once out of the harbour as things got a little choppy.  The Brother elected to stay inside the cabin - wrong choice, as it happened, since the lady beside him was very sick.  Once the boat got moving there was no hope of moving - too dangerous, so he was stuck.  At least it's not a long crossing - 30 minutes or so.  Long enough in that situation though.

This was the view looking back towards Ballycastle, the hills of Antrim and Knocklayde visible in the background:

This was the only shot I took looking forwards, as the waves were by that time giving me a shower every so often and I didn't want the rangefinder soaked.  The sea doesn't look too bad, but it was bad enough for a land-lubber like me.  They cancelled the later sailings that day, as the wind got up and conditions deteriorated.  Marooned, we were - but not for long.  Apparently it's rare for there to be more than 2 days that the islanders (all 100 or so of them) aren't able to get back and forth to the mainland, even in the winter.  Even with the worst of the winter storms there's usually a lull every so often when normal proceedings can be resumed.

There weren't many birds around - a couple of gannets and I'm pretty sure I spotted a couple of Manx Shearwater riding the waves - all white underneath and dark on top - which was a treat.  Apparently they been spotted a few times over the last week, as well as an Osprey.  No Osprey today, though, unfortunately.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Kelp House

The Kelp House on Rathlin is a bit of a landmark.  Disused since the kelp industry on Rathlin disappeared in the late 1930s, it sits on one side of Church Bay.

The Kelp House on Rathlin Island, via HP5+, ID-11 and Ilford RC Warmtone paper.  Probably not the ideal paper for this subject matter, but I was on a bit of a mission after doing a few portraits for The Brother to take back to Chicago with him. As usual it got left to the last minute.  The print has a bit more zing to it than this scan, which looks pretty awful (on my monitor at least).

The talk on Rathlin was of the new ferry which is arriving soon.  Our lovely host Hilary was telling us that the island had been offered a choice of 3 ferries - two that would have been OK with the existing harbour and a third that was too big for the harbour and would require a new jetty.  Naturally enough, they chose the larger one.  According to Hilary, in the 20 years that her and Alan have been on the island visitor numbers have remained pretty static, so there was really no need for a bigger ferry.  It's like a lot of things, I suppose - if you're offered something bigger and supposedly better, it's hard to say no, even when it doesn't make much sense.

I think the ferry is actually ready, but they've hit problems with the bedrock when driving the piles in for the new jetty and so are 3 months behind schedule.  Mind you, Hilary and Alan take their boat over to Ballycastle at 6am every morning to pick up the workers and were able to tell us that there are very few days when all of them actually turn up.  The ones that do didn't seem too animated to us - there wasn't much evidence of work going on the 2 days we were there.  But then we heard that they couldn't work as they didn't want to disturb a couple of seals that were nearby.  My guess is that there might well be seals nearby most days and my other guess is that these guys are getting paid whether they work or not.

As we got back into Ballycastle there was a large tug from Greenock moored up.  Apparently that had something to do with the new ferry...and was now sitting in Ballycastle marina tied up doing nothing.  That's doing nothing, but costing £3500 per day.

It's all a terrible waste of money.

Friday, 19 August 2016

The wind was up

The American in Portrush, enjoying the wind in her hair:

There's something very odd about this shot - my horizon is more or less straight.  Now that's a rare occurrence.   The rangefinder/21mm combination.  FP4+ I believe.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Wee Church

I know I've said it before, but if you ever find yourself walking around the Walls of Derry-Londonderry a must is a visit to St Augustine's church.  We were there a couple of weeks ago, with The Brother and his daughter.  Compared to St Columb's Cathedral just around the corner, St Augustine's is tiny - hence the local name, The Wee Church on the Walls - but is pretty special.  The site has been a religious place since St Columba (Colmcille) built his first monastery in 546AD - which has been generally accepted as the founding of the city.  Various buildings have come and gone over the years - the present one dates to 1872.

The graveyard at St Augustine's.  The oldest gravestone is that of Richard Carrec, an Elizabethan soldier who died around 1609, just at the start of the Ulster Plantation.  That's pretty old for a gravestone - most of the older ones around The Liberties date from the mid-to-late 18th century. A bit before that history tells us that in 1196 Muircertach Mac Lochlainn, High King of Ireland was interred on this site.  McLaughlin remains one of the most common names in this part of Ireland today.  Doherty is another common name here - the O Dochartaigh Clan dating back hundreds of years.
The graveyard isn't typical for this region - there are a lot of horizontal slabs, as you can see.  And they're a lot closer together than usual.  Most of the horizontal slabs I've seen don't weather as well as the standing ones - a lot of them are very hard to read.  Presumably they need more frequent cleaning than the vertical ones, since more detritus must fall on them from the skies.  A couple of years ago we took a scrubbing brush and some cleaning fluid to one in a graveyard down the road from us, where some of our ancestors lie.

Apparently the cannonball containing the terms for surrender during the Seige of 1688/89 fell in the Church Graveyard.  It's fair to say there's a bit of history in this little spot.

The Irish name for the city, Doire, means Oak Grove.  Legend has it that Colmcille lit a fire on the site, in order to cleanse the land of the works of worldly men.  The fire spread and almost destroyed a grove of Oak Trees - only saved by the prayers of Colmcille.
It's a grand walk around the Walls of Derry/Londonderry - good for keeping you grounded, what with all that history and everything.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


The day we went to Portrush for a dander the sun made an appearance.  The harbour was looking busier than usual, with a couple of fairly big yachts moored up.  This one was from Nantes:

I like the washing hanging out to dry on the front rail or whatever the technical term is.  There was a good wind blowing that day so there was plenty of drouth, as they say around these parts.  A good Ulster-Scots word that - meaning thirst, or dryness.

The big lady above was out of Annalong, County Down.  Those County Down folk, eh? - coming up here, taking our fish and our women.  Not often we get fishing boats as big as that in Portrush - the bigger boats fish out of places like Killybegs in Donegal.  I'm not a fan of the super-trawlers, which can net enough fish to feed half the population of Ireland in one trawl.  That doesn't seem very sustainable to me.  If you're not familiar with it, a depressing read is the story of Atlantic Dawn.  The vessel was built in the 1990s, in the days of Bertie Ahern and the Celtic Tiger.  It was largely financed by Irish banks and hailed as 'one of the proudest moments for the Irish fishing industry'.  The reality was that under EU quotas it was too big to fish in Ireland for all but a couple of months of the year.  So the owners did a deal with the government of Mauritania, Africa to fish there, outside EU restrictions.  It didn't seem to matter that Atlantic Dawn could take more fish in one trawl than 7000 Mauritanian fisherman could in a year.  They dubbed it 'The Ship from Hell'.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wasted frames

That man Roy Karlsvig over there in Norway or wherever he finds himself has a lot of good words to say about end-of-film frames - you know, the ones you fire off just in order to finish the film.  His are mostly masterpieces, of course.  Mine usually end up as half-frames, which are no good to man nor beast.

No, today I bring you something completely different - wasted first frames.  Clearly I'm a little conservative with me winding on after loading, since I have created some masterpieces all of my own.  Like this one, taken at Doagh Famine Village in Donegal:

Ah yes, I can remember loading up and firing off a couple inside that wee cottage.  The particular thatched cottage I was standing inside was the one our guide had grown up in - 3 rooms, so quite big really.  Lovely it was.  That's lovely as in, 'Isn't this quaint-and-unusual lovely but I'm glad I'm not living in it nowadays'.  Ah yes, we like our home comforts, indoor toilets, running water and darkrooms and all that.

And here's another first frame masterpiece:

I should run a competition on this one - a 'Where is this?' competition.  Not many would get it, I suspect, so I could offer a really Big Prize, like one of the many point-and-shoot cameras I've picked up over the years and hardly ever use.  But I'll put you out of your misery and tell y'all it's from the Bird Sanctuary at the West Lighthouse on Rathlin Island.  A really special place to visit - but go in July.  We went last week, early August and all the puffins had left.  There were kittiwakes, fulmars and one razorbill.  One.  And not a puffin in sight.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Back to normality

So this morning the house was awake a little earlier than usual for a Sunday - 5am, in order to take The Brother and his daughter to Belfast, so they could catch the 7am coach to Dublin Airport.  Then all being well they'll be on an Aer Lingus flight to O'Hare.  It'll be a long day for them.  At least the rest of us could get a couple of hours back in bed once we'd got back home.

The man himself, in the Guildhall Cafe, Derry/Londonderry.  Missy's Kindle just visible on the right there - she spent most of the summer on it.  I'm about to find out exactly how much time she has spent on it when I get my credit card bill, but you have to encourage reading, right?!  On the rangefinder/21mm combo, HP5+ in ID-11 and printed on MG RC Warmtone.
It was a busy few weeks, hosting the Americans, but a good time was had by all.  Lots of days out, in spite of the weather.  At least it wasn't cold, just kind of grey and windy and damp.  We saw the sun briefly at least 3 days, I think.  I'm sure they enjoyed the fresh air, though, coming from the Mid-West where the temperatures are in the 90s and the humidity to match.  It's just too hot for me out there in the summer - well, we're not exactly used to those conditions in this part of the world.  And it's too cold in the winter out there.  We get cold here, but nothing like Chicago cold, which is brutal.  The Brother says he's used to the extremes out there now, after some 25 years and likes the heat.  I'd be happier with just a little more sun and a little less rain here in The Liberties - that would do me.

The other American, adding as much sugar as she could to her coffee, as it was a tad bitter for her.  I think the coffee won in the end.  
So now we've a couple of weeks to get the house back to normal and take a breather, before the new school year starts.  Missy already has a packed social diary, catching up with all her friends.  Sleepovers have been planned.  

The Brother reckons that it's harder for the hosts when guests leave.  At least the ones that are leaving have something to do - travel.  And then for them it's back home to catch up with the rest of their family, hear all the news and get back into their routine.  For the hosts you're left feeling somewhat out of sorts - the house feels a little empty now and a lot quieter.  For the first time in a few weeks we don't have to think about what we're going to do today or how to cater for everyone's food preferences.   Strange how our lives seem to merge for a while and then suddenly we all go back to our own, separate lives again.  Skype next Sunday, as usual then bro?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

O'Cahan's Rock

Finally I got round to developing a few films and so things on this place might get back to normal, whatever that is.  We'd had a busy couple of days with The Brother on my favourite island, Rathlin, just off the North Antrim Coast - more of that later - and I took advantage of a rest day to get the films developed.

So today we are in the Roe Valley Park, a gem of a place situated near Limavady, about 15 miles North West of The Liberties.  The River Roe was where grandpa used to take us boys fishing, a lifetime ago.  In those days there was reasonable chance of catching a fish - that's what grandpa called a salmon - but more likely a few trout or even a flat fish or two.  If you were unlucky you'd get an eel - you'd think it was a salmon, as an eel puts up a terrific struggle.  If you didn't act fast the eel would wind itself around a rock or a branch and you'd have to cut your line and lose your hook and weight.  Even if you landed the eel it was a nightmare, as the thing would have your line wound round itself several times, so you usually had to cut the line anyway and retrieve the hook and sinker any way you could.  Eventually the eel would get tossed back into the river, more often than not in several pieces.  Nowadays top London restaurants would probably pay a small fortune for one, but in them days you just wouldn't consider eating one.  No, it was salmon first, then trout and only if things were really bad did you bring back a few flat fish.  If all else failed grandpa would juke into one of the adjoining fields and dig up a few carrots to bring home.  Nowadays you just wouldn't dream of doing that, but somehow back then you didn't think twice.  Strange looking back at it all, nearly 40 years later.

The Roe Valley is pretty magical, with a few very old oak trees still living there.  Most of the oak around here were felled many years ago when the wood was used for building but the river cuts a deep valley through the surrounding rock and so this area largely escaped the wood-cutters' attention.  In olden days (12th Century), this land belonged to the O'Cahan clan.  The story goes that once upon a time, when the O'Cahan's were coming under attack, a faithful dog leapt over the river, from a high rock on one side to a rock on the other side in order to summon help from nearbouring allies. Today that leap is remembered  - DogLeap Road, DogLeap Bridge, O'Cahan's Rock and even the name of the nearest town, Limavady, comes from the Irish Leim an Mhadaigh, meaning Leap of the Dog.  What a great story.

Even the teenager managed to tear herself away from her phone for a few minutes to contemplate the beauty of it all:

Friday, 5 August 2016

This land

So we had an enjoyable day yesterday out and about searching for Megalithic Tombs and Cairns.  It turns out that North Antrim has its fair share and more of these things, some dating back to 3000BC, which is a fair few years ago by my reckoning.

We didn't get to see Craigs Dolman, since it lies some way off the roadside and my days of jumping over gates and hiking up hills are over, but we did get to see the smaller passage tomb nearby, just outside Ballymoney along a wee country road.  Took us a while, though, as it wasn't signposted, but eventually we spotted it, about 20 yards from the roadside in a field.  It's not that big, perhaps 4 or 5 feet high and around a 12 foot circumference.  The Brother and his daughter hopped over the style to take a closer look but I thought I'd better not chance it, since the style looked pretty slippy and I'd be bound to fall or catch myself on the barbed wire or something stupid.  The stones hide a burial chamber underground.

What was most apparent, apart from the structure itself, was the setting.  It's set fairly well up the hillside, with a commanding view of the countryside, West to the Sperrin Mountains and North towards the coast.  No better view to spend the rest of your days, I should think and the fact that the Dolman was sited there would seem to indicate that the folk that placed it there must have had similar thoughts, all those years ago.  Nice.

The shots that I did take are still inside the rangefinder, so will have to wait a while before they emerge into the light, but in the meantime I give you one from another old place and one closer to home - Mount Sandel.  A place I've done before a few times on here but it's always a good area to visit for a stretch of legs and my favourite tree is there:

Mountsandel, Coleraine
Mountsandel is the siting of an Iron-Age Fort and is the oldest known settlement of man in the whole of Ireland, dating to around 7,600 BC.  It's just beside the River Bann, in Coleraine and in those days the area would have been covered in forest.  I'd imagine there would have been rich pickings from the  animals that lived in the woods and the salmon would have been plentiful.  Records show that even as late as the 17th Century 62 tons of salmon were netted at the nearby Cutts in one day.  No wonder there aren't many left nowadays...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Same old

Well after a couple of days of reasonable weather the rain is back.  This is turning out to be a pretty awful summer, weather-wise.  The thing is, in the not too distant future the days will be getting noticeably shorter and the temperatures noticeably lower.  If we stand any chance of warm, dry weather it should be now, so this is not good.

I went into the darkroom this morning to develop a couple of films that got finished the other day...only to find that I was out, or nearly out of ID-11.  Not enough left in the bottle to develop anything.  So even that didn't go to plan.  I had another box of it on the shelf, so I set about mixing it up so maybe later today I'll get back to Plan A and produce some negs.

In the meantime, I bring you an old one of some trees:

Somerset Wood, by the Trim Trail.  Not that there's much of a Trim Trail anymore - that fad seemed to die a death about 10 years ago.  But it's still a decent walk in the country, with lots of interesting paths through the trees.

Just in case you're interested, with ID-11 there's a sachet of powder A and another of powder B.  You start with 3.75 litres of water, at 40 degrees.  Add A, stir it about a bit, then add B and stir some more.  Lots more.  Then bring the volume up to 5 litres and you're good to go.  Well, you're good to decant it into some storage bottles, hopefully air-tight and then you're good to go.  You've 3 choices how to use it, stock, 1+1 or 1+3.  Stock just seems extravagant.  I get decent results with 1+1 and that's my usual method.  I've used 1+3 and it's OK, but the times get a bit on the long side - 20mins or so, compared to 11mins (FP4+) or 13mins (HP5+) with 1+1.

Anyway, we're off to Ballymoney, to try and see some megalithic tombs - these ones, to be precise.  Hopefully the landowner won't see us, or if he does, won't mind too much.