Category Archives: Randoms

Who turned the heating up?… A Mozzie

It was 34′ in my car this lunchtime. Memories of the Top Gear Africa Special came flooding back……this is a nice change though isnt it? Afterall, this is what Summer should be like. We have had so many bad ones over the last few years I think we have all forgotten what Summer actually is.

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I think the above image just sums up the last few years in a nutshell. Lets forget the weather for a minute and talk about its side effects. You may recall my insect bite last week that very nearly hospitalised me yet again. Seeing the little blighter hanging off my leg in hindsight I should have inspected it and then wrung its neck. However, a flick of the finger cut to the chase and sent it from here to oblivion in less than a second.

Years ago, we would have only associated Mosquitoes with the tropics and jungles of the world. Nowadays it appears these little menaces have become illegal immigrants and are now residing in our neighbourhood here in the United Kingdom. How rude and inconsiderate is that. So, have the British Summers been getting warmer? Well, it appears not…you only need to take a look at the statistics and see. So what about this little menace then….

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Complaints of mosquito bites are on the rise in the UK. So should Britons brace themselves for a future mosquito menace? Hovering perfectly at ear level with a lingering, bothersome whine, mosquitoes leave you with bites that lead to itchy, swollen welts. In much of the world, affected by malaria, repelling them is a matter of life and death. In the UK they are a mere annoyance, interrupting summer holidays and barbecues.

Based on a survey of UK local authorities, reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996. NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings from early May this year to now – up nearly 15% from last summer. Not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes – many can be attributed to bedbugs, midges and fleas. But conditions in the UK, particularly in southeastern England, are increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes. “The wet weather through May and June this year, along with a warm summer, has affected the population because mosquitoes like the standing breeding water,” says zoologist Michael Bonsall at Oxford University.

It’s difficult to track mosquito numbers accurately, but the UK authorities are trying to do so. The Health Protection Agency has organised the Mosquito Recording Scheme to look into where and how mosquitoes live and breed. And the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, with help from the HPA, has created Mosquito Watch, a voluntary reporting system geared towards collecting and analysing various specimens. Not only do mosquitoes swarm over pools of standing water, including bowls left outside for pets, they appear under man-hole covers and even travel on London’s Tube network.

But while mosquitoes transmit deadly diseases in many parts of the world, they do not cause major harm in the UK. They may spoil picnics in the park, but they are usually only a major problem when Britons travel to countries with malaria, dengue or other mosquito-borne diseases. But once upon a time, malaria-carrying mosquitoes could be found in the salt marshes of southeastern England.

It is believed that malaria – literally “bad air” – dates back at least to Roman times in the UK, and outbreaks occurred as recently as the years just following World War I. British doctor Ronald Ross, who discovered the malarial parasite living in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito in the 19th Century, recruited teams to eliminate the larvae from stagnant pools and marshes.

Malaria in England had effectively died out by the 1950s, mostly due to the draining of much of the marshland where mosquitoes bred. But because of the growth of global travel, the number of imported cases of the disease in the UK has risen, with nearly 2,000 a year today.In many cases, live mosquitoes have been found on aircraft, or travelling in luggage, having been transported from countries with malaria. On rare occasions, people may even have contracted malaria in Europe and North America, dubbed “airport malaria”. Five of the 30-plus species of mosquito found in the UK are not native. One variety is coming alarmingly close to the UK. The Asian tiger mosquito – Aedes albopictus – known for its white and black striped pattern has been spotted as close as Belgium.

While the species does not carry malaria, it does transmit West Nile virus, Yellow fever and dengue. “It is possible that Aedes albopictus could make its way to the UK,” says Dr James Logan, medical entomologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “Because they lay their drought-resistant eggs in transportable materials, like used tyres, there is a possibility that they can be transported to a country where they are not normally found. “Some studies suggest that they could survive the UK winter, however, to date this species has not been found in the UK and the HPA are keeping a watchful eye on it.” Bonsall agrees and adds that predictive models show how malaria-carrying species could even make their way to areas such as the North Kent marshes, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mosquitoes are becoming immune to the insecticides used to treat them – via spray or bed nets, according to a recent study from Senegal. Between 2007 and 2010, insects with a resistance to a popular type of pesticide rose from 8% to 48%. “This could be a big problem for future control,” says Dr Hilary Ranson, head of the vector group at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.But according to Dr Logan, the health infrastructure and access to drugs in the UK means malaria is unlikely to take hold and cause major problems. Unlike much of the world, the rise of the mosquito will be a nuisance in the UK rather than a serious threat.

And for me, well…..if you have Cellulitis like I do, then you have a constant reminder of them 365 days a year. They are definitely on my Facebook block list.

Thanks for reading.

Excerpts of Article from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14613140
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The dreaded Cellulitis…..

480426_10151718805790831_1601438609_n In 2007 whilst on holiday in Lanzarote I suddenly became mysteriously ill. It wasn’t like it was something obvious it was just a gradual feeling over a few hours. I recall coming back from a place called “Rancho Texas” and suspecting I had been bitten by a fly of some variety. It could well have been Spanish but as flies don’t speak I couldn’t really ask it could I? Whatever it was took a real fancy to my blood and within twenty-four hours I was flat on my back, sweating profusely and craving cold drinks. We were staying at Lomo Blanco Apartments in Puerto del Carmen and as far as I can recall with only two or three days to go until our plane ride home I did nothing but sleep. Much of this was down to heaps of Panadol kindly dispensed by my loving wife Elaine but with all good intentions she wanted to get me home. In hindsight she was right, ten days in the Leeds General Infirmary has a little more appeal than being stuck on your own in a Spanish hospital 1800 miles from home. I am sure you see where I am coming from here.

After getting me on the plane drugged up to the eyeballs I managed to get home. Looking back, two things spring to mind… firstly, I cannot even remember the journey home and secondly, how in the name of all thats holy did I get away with it? It would only have taken an eagle eyed flight attendant to realise how sick I was. Once home a call to “NHS Direct” for advice seemed the right things to do. When the call was made with all the symptoms it must have come across as a little misleading to the call handler and we awere advised that “deep vein thrombosis” was likely. I think the fact that I had just stepped off an aircraft may have swayed the decision in this direction to be fair. Anyway, that was not the point… Elaine was instructed not to panic and to get me to Accident and Emergency like…rapid. And thats exactly what happened.

My home for the next week or so was a darkened ward in the bowels of the Leeds General Infirmary called the “High Dependency Unit”. Here, I lay with my feet in an awkward postion much higher than my head and drugged up to the eyeballs much like I was in the final days of my holiday to the Canary Islands.

I was very lucky really, bites like this can be poisonous and if not treated can do real damage. Since then, my legs are painful and the skin is very soft and even the slightest knock will cause them to bruise quicker than an old tomato. The price I pay for this means I have to be careful, much like I wasnt the following year when back in Lanzarote when I scraped my leg on a the rough edge of a plastic sunbed and tore a hole on my shin. What I have managed to do is stay clear of flies and mosquitoes. Two more visits to the Canary Islands and I have stayed bite free. All down to special wipes, wristbands and a loving and caring wife who obvisouly doesnt want to see me in that state again. This was until last Friday…..when the unexpected happened…in Cottingley. Yes, Cottingley del Sol.

A beautiful summers evening and the last thing that was on my mind was the dangers of the British fly. I was at the Moonlight Walk hosted by ny good friends at Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale  — if you get a chance please take a look at the great fundraising and events the friends do…they are nothing short of fantastic.  They often ask me to take photographs for them and as its my passion I never turn down an opportunity. The event was to be held at Cottingley Fitness & Wellbeing Centre near Bingley. The place has fantastic grounds including a lovely water feature and open lawns. Ideal for an event of this kind I am sure you will agree. It also appears that it was ideal for an old friend of mine, one that was to come back an haunt me with a bang. The Fly !

It had never crossed my mind when getting ready that on a beautiful summers evening I would be better covering up my legs or caking them in Jungle Formula Insect Repellent. Afterall this is West Yorkshire not the Canary Islands.  I had been taking photographs of the participants (below)

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and all was going well. I was sat by one of the tables near the edge of the lawn when I felt a sharp pain in the side of my left leg. I looked down and to my horror saw a black humped shaped insect drawing blood from the depths of my calf. How rude ! Without permission too, surely that constitutes theft? With a swipe of my hand I tried to remove said creature from my leg but it was going nowhere fast. I had to physically pick it from the hole itself had created. I was left with a trickle of blood and a feeling of nervousness came over me. What if this brought back my Cellulitis?

After a few panic ridden text exchanges with Elaine I thought nothing else of it until the next morning. I woke with a slightly more swollen pair of legs than I went to bed with, a warmer and hotter (not in the biblical sense) pair of legs along with a nauseous feeling. This was the last thing I needed. Once again, thinking nothing more of it I carried on my normal Saturday morning routine and my lovely wife went to work. Within an hour of her departure something went wrong. It was almost like it was waiting for her departure to create this problem because the timing was just that. My legs started to swell and the skin started to stretch. I took evasive action and lay on the sofa nearest the window and propped my legs up on the window sill. It was there I stayed until Elaine returned home from work at two o clock.

She knew….Straight away. Women know when something is not right, they have this ability to detect problems it’s a seventh sense (lol). No matter how much I could have tried to hide it, it was never going to work. The proof was in the size of my body parts so without removing my legs I had no chance. We both mutually agreed that a trip to Leeds General Infirmary was in order….Oh no, here we go again.

Saturday afternoon at casualty is no fun, nothing compared to Saturday evening but still no fun. Five hours later and a number of potions later and I was allowed home. This was only because no matter how much they tried they could for the life in them get a drip in to me. This has resulted in numerous bruises in my arms but I’m not going to worry about that. I will have to look like a temporary addict for a few days and deal with it.

And here I am, its Wednesday and I am still sat with my feet up and resting. Top Gear has been the highlight of my week. Thanks foe reading my woes. Call back soon for more.

Ooops…even the “best of the best” cock it up

An easy mistake lol…..

And the moonbeams kiss the sea…..

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The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one another’s being mingle –

Why not I with thine?

 

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdain’d its brother:

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea –

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

…and the numbers keep dropping

Disappointment !! Now there is a word…it will sit alongside frustration, annoyance and other choice vocabulary as words that could be used to describe my feelings within my photography life. I shouldn’t complain at all really. It has been a good week in terms of output. First was an hour down at Rodley by the canal which produced some lovely images, then the sunrise on Sunday with some coverage on BBC Look North and that was it. The week dried up in terms of images, but not on the weather front. Only this morning I am hearing that Scotland has snow forecast for next week. Snow in May?? Is this heard of? Yes it is, a trawl through the archives of the internet reveals that May 17th 1955 was probably the most notable May snowfall on record. Much of England and Wales was affected by several hours of snow, including two to three hours worth in the London area. I think it is best that we don’t go down that route and let’s try forget about snow until the end of the year, if at all.

So, to drop all thoughts of cold weather and howling gales lets move on. I did make a mad dash down to Rodley on Saturday morning as the weather was wonderful. Warm enough for t-shirts and I even stretched to a pair of cut-offs too. I am not sure why I selected Rodley but when I show you the handful of images that I got from the side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal you might understand why. I am sure you will all admit that it’s no where near as easy to just set off and travel miles just for the sake of a few images. A few years back I would have not thought twice about getting in the car and setting off to the Lake District to get some photography under my belt. If the weather was right it was a great feeling to be spontaneous and just go. Today, that’s not quite so easy; not because of personal travel restraints or my ability to get to the places but for the sheer expense of the journeys themselves.

For the married man with children (and grand children) prioritising time and money puts certain things in ascendency over ones leisure activities. For me, this is just the case. My love for my wife and children, my family and my own well being will always come first over any activity that could be looked at another time. Is this normal I think? I am sure it is.

The Rodley visit wasn’t meant to be anything special. Every other Saturday a couple of hours either side of lunchtime I have some “me” time and if the weather is good I usually get out with the camera. The canal side in Rodley is ideal, close for parking and seating too. What more could I ask.

I churned out just nine decent images from about 50 or so that came through the camera. Overall, I was pleased, especially with the lone tree in a monochrome edit.

And that was it, the week that was……As my passion for image making goes, ranking it against the Football League this was at the foot of the table….The Conference Table.

Enjoy your weekend….

A week like no other…..A week in words.

I have found it very difficult to find the strength to even publish a blog that would sum up this week in words. When you take away the small problems that we all encounter every day and look at the situations of others it really pushes your troubles in to insignificance doesn’t it?

I am not strictly a religious person, and I don’t want to go in to that subject but you sometimes have to beg the question…Why me? Why him? Why her? I am sure you know what I mean. I don’t want to go in to specifics regarding those concerned but they will know who they are. Don’t you?

We may not be close in terms of distance, we may not see each other every week, or even every month but, each of us knows that when one of us is in need the others will drop tools and come running that very day. This is not friendship, this is so much more than friendship, this is a special bond forged between very special friends. Friends that have become so much a part of our lives they feel like brothers and sisters. In recent months I have being a member of the “running party” that has responded to a cry for help. I have also been at the opposite end of the scale by having to place a cry for help. These are the people who respond with no request; no physical cry for help is needed….they just know. They are so close they actually know something is wrong. In times where a request is the only way to get the message through, these friends will down tools with no questions asked and knock on your door.

I am proud to be called a friend, proud to be a friend and the group of people who are friends need no reminding. You have all been there for Elaine and I over time and for this we are eternally grateful.

This is for you….. SF, DM, LE, GRB, WB, DM & PM, SC.

FRIENDS

As we walk our path of life,
We meet people everyday.
Most are simply met by chance.
But, some are sent our way.
 
These become special friends
Whose bond we can’t explain;
The ones who understand us
And share our joy and pain.

Their love contains no boundaries.
So, even we are apart.
Their presence enhances us
With a warmth felt in the heart.

This love becomes a passageway,
When even the miles disappear.
And so, these friends, God sends our way,
Remain forever near.

And the words that sum up this week…….

SADNESS, HAPPINESS, FEAR, PAIN, LOVE, PEACE, SANCTITY, SURPRISE, JOY and finally FRIENDSHIP

Thank you for reading……

Somethings to consider……

People who point at their wrist while asking for the time… I know where my watch is pal, where the hell is yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where the toilet is?

People who are willing to get off their arse to search the entire room for the T.V… remote because they refuse to walk to the T.V. and change the channel manually.

When people say ‘Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too’. Damn right! What good is cake if you can’t eat it?

When people say ‘it’s always the last place you look’. Of course it is. Why the hell would you keep looking after you’ve found it? Do people do this? Who and where are they? Gonna Kick their arses!

When people say while watching a film ‘did you see that?’. No Loser, I paid £12 to come to the cinema and stare at the damn floor.

People who ask ‘Can I ask you a question?’…. Didn’t really give me a choice there, did ya sunshine?

When something is ‘new and improved!’. Which is it? If it’s new, then there has never been anything before it.. If it’s an improvement, then there must have been something before it, couldn’t be new.

When people say ‘life is short’. What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that’s longer?

When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks ‘Has the bus come yet?’. If the bus came would I be standing here?

Just saying………

I think Canon consulted me before printing this….

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Wing suit….unbelievable

What a week….

Its been non-stop this week. I’ve not even done what I love doing. And for those who don’t know the connection between me and a camera then you need to either look back in this blog or check out my Flickr account here

It’s now been almost a month since that snowfall and my lovely car’s wake up call. I received a phone call from the body shop yesterday stating that the vehicle should be ready for the end of next week. That’s great news I thought, my lovely car restored to its former glory. You may recall me mentioning that the very same thing happened to my Vauxhall Vectra back in 2009. When that car eventually came back from the Body Shop it was scratched to ribbons but highly polished. I say eventually because they lost it and couldn’t locate it in Leeds at all. To cut a long story short the had transported the car to another depot….are you ready for this…in Stockport. It turned out that it had been moved on one of those double-decker car transporters and had been scratched on the ramp. There were scratches all down the front of the bonnet and headlamps and as far as I could work out it hadn’t gone through a quality control. They even fitted some wrong parts including the rear bumper which should have been a dedicated Sri part. They even replaced the manufacturers/garage number plate with a body shop plate too.  After I rejected receipt of my car they took it back to the garage and an investigation was launched as well as further repairs. I eventually got my car back 1 week later.

You can understand my concern when I found out that my lovely new car was going back to the very same body shop. It was then that I decided that I was going to make sure the same mistakes didn’t happen again. Since 2009 the company have vastly improved the contact and update facilities for unfortunate customers as they have a tracking facility on their website that allows you to follow your repair and even send messages to the repair team. Well, there was no way I was going to have the same thing happen to my lovely new Astra Vx-Line. My car doesn’t have the model/style number on it but I am sure they could find this out via the computer. Anyway after checking on the site I was happy to discover that the correct parts had been ordered. Phew….. The latest update suggests that my car should be ready for next Friday…..6 days and counting.

So, it was another Image-less week…with only a handful of images to edit myself and half the population of the United Kingdom have arrived at the conclusion that the weather needs to warm up and the clouds need to vanish. I will leave you with a poem by Dean Thorpe that I found on the web…..

A normal person sees a storm, thinks help and runs away

A photographer sees that storm, and runs the other way

Off into the cold they go, the wind, the rain and more

To capture pics no matter what, of all the things they saw

Watching all the huge waves crashing, defiantly they stand

Looking out from beneath the pier, with camera in hand

Why do we do such stupid things, like photograph the snow

We can’t resist to get that pic, so off we always go

We see the world through rule of thirds, and many shades of grey

The search to get the perfect shot, continues every day

The poem: “The photographer” by Dean Thorpe.

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