Thank you and goodbye

To all those who have liked, followed – and especially to those, if any who have actually read any of the story of Melissa and Jamie – thank you.

The final episode was posted last night, but it was also my final post of this Blog. I’m allowing my 12 months subscription to expire when it ends on 14 August. It was started as a response to Covid and I don’t think that there have been more than two days on which I have not posted something.

The need for the Blog has run its course, summer has come and the time to enjoy life outdoor with my camera.

So, as the post title says, Thank you and Goodbye.

My final featured photo is of a field of lavender. I took the shot last weekend with my Pentax K-1 full frame camera using a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at an ISO of 100. The shutter speed was 1/500 secs @ f/11 and 15 mm.

Regarding Melissa #87

…..Previously

Mel had noticed the way that Jimmy had been looking at her – appraising her was how she thought of it. That evaluation made more sense now that she knew that the two weren’t together except as fellow travellers who’d be on separate paths from then on. Nevertheless, she didn’t feel threatened – she was quite flattered, but not enough to encourage his attentions. The only man she wanted to see now was Jamie.

When they all arrived back at Manapouri, they parted company – Lorna would be driving back to Queenstown, Jimmy was staying on the boat – which was also returning to Queenstown.

Mel returned to her hired van and headed off to Te Anau, where she’d booked a powered space on a holiday park with a communal kitchen and lounge.

Continued…..

Te Anau to Milford Sound

On her first day of this final leg of her time in New Zealand, Mel spent the morning in sunshine in Te Anau to do some shopping. The first thing on her list was some extra midge-repellent for herself, and some bug spray for in and around the van. She was already noticing the sandflies and she’d been warned that they’d be particularly bad around Cascade Creek and Milford Sound, where she’d be spending some time.

She wanted to choose some souvenirs relating to the area to take home as presents for her family and for Jamie and his mum and dad. Other than that, she wanted to make sure that the van would be properly stocked for fuel and food for the four days ahead before she headed back to Queensland and her journey home. She was worried that there might not be another chance before she returned to Te Anau – it could be six or seven days until then.

Te Anau is a pretty town and is the main visitor base for the Fjordland National Park. She made a point of visiting the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre to check her plans for her journey – and for her overnight stays on her way to and around Milford. Having spoken to the staff there, she returned to the shops to buy some waterproof footwear. She wouldn’t be taking her purchase back with her to England, but, from what she’d heard, she’d need them at Milford Sound.

Approaching lunchtime, because she knew that, from then onwards, she’d be living mainly on packed lunches, she decided to treat herself with a meal at one of the restaurants serving local seafood.

For the afternoon she wanted to look at local photo opportunities, so she bought tickets for a boat trip across Lake Te Anau to the western shores and to visit the Glowworm caves there. This involved a guided cave tour that passed the rushing water of an underground stream before continuing for a short while in silent darkness. The caves were still being carved out by the force of the river that flowed through them via a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. Deeper inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, she was taken to a silent grotto inhabited by hundreds of glow-worms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produced a glittering display. She hadn’t planned the visit, but she managed to shoot some fascinating sights to include as a diversion among her landscape images.

She returned to the holiday park to top-up her water supply, charge her batteries, do some laundry and to talk to some of the other travellers in the communal dining area before heading back to her van to phone home and to sleep.

The following morning, a somewhat overcast one, she enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before departing. She wasn’t planning to travel far before her next overnight stop at Cascade Creek campsite, but she wanted to take more photographs on the way there, based on what she’d seen on her daytrip to Milford Sound when she first arrived in Queenstown.

The winding road had many narrow sections as it passed some breath-taking scenes. The first major highlight was the Eglinton Valley, where the views changed and she could now see steep, beech covered, rocky mountains. The flat valley floor was carpeted in golden tussock – it was a surreal place.

The view ahead was unbelievable, and she could see why she’d seen so many photos that had been taken from the middle of the road. She waited, preparing her settings beforehand until the traffic allowed, and then ran out to snatch some shots for her own collection.

Further along the road she parked to take a short 400-metres or so path to the lovely Mirror Lakes. The parking bay had been well signposted. Beneath a cloudless sky, she was able to photograph outstanding reflections of the Earl Mountains on the still lake.

She still had another 35 miles to go before she reached Cascade Creek, but she was in good time.

One sight that she’d not noticed on her first visit was the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, where an optical illusion caused the approaching mountain to appear to become smaller rather than larger. The final photographic treat of the day was Lake Gunn. She explored it along an easy, loop nature track that took just a couple of hours including her photo-stops.

From there she headed to the Department of Conservation campsite, where she’d be staying for two nights. The facilities there were basic compared to the holiday parks where she’d stayed for much of her time in South Island. It was non- powered, had non-flush, long-drop toilets and no communal dining or laundry facilities. Water was from the stream. The other problem was sandflies. It was as well that Sam had warned her about them. Even the stuff she’d bought earlier in the day seemed to be struggling to control their attacks. Still, it was a good place to rest and look at the images she’d shot that day.

Before resting, however, she realised that she’d have time for a forty-five-minute walk along the Lake Gunn Nature Walk that started beside the campsite. The mountains that surrounded the Lake seemed almost to disappear into its surface.

As she lay in the silence of her campervan bed that night, she knew that her homesickness was getting worse. What had begun as an adventure of a lifetime had turned into an odyssey. She missed her mum, dad and Jack, she missed Jamie – she hadn’t realised how much she’d miss seeing him, hearing his voice, being held by him. She even missed the shop and wondered how Marcus was faring. She looked forward to these next couple of days though – she hoped that they wouldn’t disappoint. They were intended as the climax of her trip, but at the same time she was impatient to be home.

There were no better sites between the Cascade creek site and Milford itself so, the following day, she would be travelling towards the Homer Tunnel but, even so, she’d be returning to Cascade Creek that day after she’d taken more roadside photographs of the intervening area.

Before long, she parked briefly at The Divide. This marked the lowest, east-west pass in the Southern Alps and was the start of several well-documented walking tracks, such as the 32 km Routeburn Track.

Two kilometres further on, along a particularly winding stretch of road, around a blind corner where she had to slow, she stopped at the small parking area for Pop’s View Lookout, which had some great mountain views over the Hollyford River Valley. She knew from her planning notes that this was an excellent spot to see kea, the cheeky alpine parrots common to the higher parts of the South Island. True to form, when she turned back to her van, one of them was attacking a windscreen wiper.

Her final stop for the day, before returning to the campsite, was the Lake Marian car park, off the Milford Road, along Holyford Road. This was a longer stop for her, where she planned to walk to Lake Marian. She changed into her hiking boots and set-off. She allowed two hours each way including a stop at some waterfalls that she expected to reach after she’d crossed a swing-bridge some twenty minutes into the journey.

The reflections of the mountains reminded her very much of Mirror Lakes and provided some excellent views for photography.

On return to her van, she changed back in the shoes she wore for driving and headed back to Cascade Creek for an overnight stay.

There was even less to do there than the previous night, except to wash, change some clothes, eat and text home. Because she was now so eager to get back to England, she almost regretted making this stay. She could have continued straight to Milford Sound if she’d made fewer photo-stops. She reminded herself though, that those stops were a large part of her reason for having travelled to the other side of the world. It was memorable images of places such as the ones she’d seen that day that would enable her to augment her portfolio of saleable shots to use for stock images, photobooks, and material for magazines, prints and exhibitions.

When she set-off early the following morning, she consoled herself that she would be at Milford before evening.

Her first stop on her way was the large open car park for Monkey Creek, still within the Hollyford Valley and a little further down the Milford Road from Lake Marian Track. She topped up her water supply from the pure glacier-fed water there, before crossing the small stream into the field beyond for her photos.

She was well into her journey now, and it was just before she reached the Homer Tunnel that she parked briefly at the Gertrude Valley lookout point to capture an image of the Marian Peak and its snow-covered companion mountains.

The Homer Tunnel, shortly afterwards, marked her descent to Milford Sound. Approaching it, she saw the green light turn to red. She stopped behind a small queue. She’d heard that she might need to wait twenty minutes for the light to change, so like several other people from the cars ahead of her, she got out of her van to take some shots of the tunnel entrance and of the waterfalls descending the valleys alongside the road. Once the lights changed, she entered the sealed, one-way tunnel that took her three-quarters of a mile steeply downwards towards her destination. ‘Are we nearly there, mum?’ she thought.

She drove out of the tunnel into bright sunlight. The next few kilometres of road were even more twisting than any stretch of road so far, with a series of near hairpin bends.

She had one final place to see, however, before she reached Milford and she expected it to be busy. This was The Chasm. The large car park was well occupied – including by several coaches, so she wondered whether her shots from the best viewpoints were likely to be photo-bombed by day-trippers. If that were the case, she’d need to return early the following morning when it would be quieter. The boarded walk lasted only a couple of hundred metres before she saw the roaring water dropping into a huge abyss with amazing dips and bowls, in front of vibrantly green mossy rocks. Scouting for photo-opportunities she found that the two footbridges over the Cleddau River gave her the best viewing points for the waterfall.

Featured Photo

Today, I continue my series of photos taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.

The next set of shots will show scenes from around the town that I saw that Saturday. This shot was one that I took at the open air market

For all these shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/160 secs @ f/8, focal length 16 mm, and ISO 320.

Regarding Melissa #16

………Previously

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and asked what she saw in him. She thanked them better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Continued…….

CHAPTER THREE

The camera shop – Induction

Mel woke early on the Monday morning. As she got out of bed, she remembered that it would be her first full day at work in her new job at the shop. Her stomach lurched with anxiety. This was a big deal, quite different from a few hours a week of casual work behind a bar. A different employer, different systems, different people and different skills to develop.

The job wasn’t what she’d been looking for, but for the time being it was the only job she’d come across in more than two years of looking that at least had some relationship to photography. It would be up to her to make it work for her benefit. She wondered what they’d expect of her.

She showered and got ready quickly and went downstairs for breakfast. She could hear from the hallway that dad were already in the kitchen finishing their meal. She paused to check her appearance in the hall mirror, appraising her face with its neat straight nose, blue-grey eyes and full lips. Her hair was swept back from her face and secured in a ponytail by a  colourful scrunchie. The evening before, Mel had carefully considered what outfit she’d wear for its suitability to her expectations of the job and, in the mirror, it looked fine on her tall athletic body. She headed for the kitchen.

‘How are you feeling, love?’ her mum asked, ‘Worried?’

‘A bit,’ she admitted.

Her dad assured her that she’d be fine. He knew the people at Hannays’ and they were a friendly lot. They’d soon make her feel at home.  She felt reassured and managed to eat her breakfast  before leaving for the day, buoyed by her parents assurances and best wishes.

Her mum gave her a lift into the town.

Codmanton town centre was a quirky mixture of old and new. The coal mines were now closed, as was the old gasworks that stood on the edge of the town. Many older buildings bore the black staining of chimney-smoke and coal dust on their quarried stone walls.

New, smaller businesses, built with red bricks and glass were interposed beside and among them. Apartment blocks – some private, some built by the Council – had replaced most of the old, town-centre terraced cottages. Some of the old miners’ cottages still existed at the Southern end of the town, rising in steep, narrow rows towards the hills..

A mile South of the town centre, the Leeds to Liverpool canal passed, accompanied on its journey by the railway line that had stolen most of the cargo it once carried.

The High Street itself ran North through the town. Along, and around it, stood an ancient church, the Town Hall, municipal buildings and a commercial area. The former department stores had now decamped to a largish retail park at the North end of the town, off the High Street, as it climbed on its way to neighbouring Croxton.

What was left of the former shopping area was mainly small independent shops – some along the high street; some in a small precinct; some really old shops in the up-market arcade; and the remainder in narrow alleyways, or ginnels. There were a few restaurants, a cinema and a theatre still, but the town centre as a whole, looked as if it’s dying on its feet.

A pub and a betting shop stood across the street from a Christian bookshop, charity shops and an upmarket clothes shop.

Hannays camera shop stood just off the High Street in the precinct of newish shop premises. The Hannay family had traded in the town since Jamie’s great grandad had sold cameras from a market stall in 1947, moving to a shop in the High Street in the mid-1950s. The move to the precinct had only happened in the 1990s to escape the escalating costs of trading. Like many small local businesses, the Hannays had been trapped between the hammer of rent rises and punitive council taxes on the one hand and the anvil of reduced income as unemployment worsened.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the canal approaching, after some canal boats, a bridge above another section of canal, at which point the Rufford branch of the canal departs (or joins) to the left. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/8 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #15

………Previously

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever. I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Continued…….

Brian was saved from replying by Jack’s arrival. He redirected the subject to Jack’s team’s success the previous day. Jack was a six-foot something rugby player who owned and managed a gym on the far side of the town.

‘I believe that you ran in two tries yourself,’ Brian said.

Craig said nothing further. His attempts at conversation hadn’t gone down particularly well up to that point, and Jack was twice his size – he definitely didn’t want to get on his wrong side. He remained quiet throughout the meal. Jack was complimenting Mel on her success and, when Brian told Jack what Craig had said, Jack glowered at him. Jack shrank beneath that baleful gaze.

‘Coming from someone who’s still unemployed, that’s rich,’ he said, ‘You’ve done great, Sis. You take no notice. I think that this news will just be the start of a great career for you.’

After the meal, Craig and Mel went for a walk during which they had a frank disagreement. They meandered along a track that led to a viewpoint both over the town and, in the opposite direction, towards the hills. Craig told her that he wouldn’t be going with her to her home again. He felt that he had been belittled, and he blamed her for not standing up for him. He said that her family were too bourgeois and, anyway, what would an architect or a rugby player know about trends in language teaching?

Mel was incredulous – she told him off for accusing her of not listening to him and of lying that he had told her about his university acceptance. She asked him why he hadn’t even told her that he’d intended to apply. In truth she didn’t really believe that he had applied. She made it clear that she was angry that he’d tried to belittle her success. She made it clear too that if he didn’t like her family he should find somebody else – a girl from a more working-class background. When they parted for the afternoon, the tension between them had still not been resolved and they made no arrangement to meet again.

As she walked home, Mel was seething and remembering what Stacy had said to her. Even if Craig were to apologise and they were to get back together, she’d be monitoring his behaviour.

When she got back, she found that her family had, similarly, not been pleased by Craig’s behaviour and they asked what she saw in him. She thanked them and was in a better frame of mind to face her new job the following morning.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fourth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a bridge and its shadows and reflections in the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/80 secs @ f/8 and 34 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #14

………Previously

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been ever since she’d known them through a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Continued…….

A family lunch

The dining table was laid for five at the Harrington’s. Mel’s brother Jack hadn’t arrived yet, but Mel had brought Craig with her. Her Mum was busy in the kitchen and Brian, her dad, had been asking Craig what he thought about Mel’s career news.

They were sat on the white leather furniture in the front living room – Mel and Craig, side by side on a three-seater chesterfield couch and Brian on one of the matching easy chairs.

‘Well, it’s more a job than a career isn’t it?’ Craig said, ‘I’m sure that you’ll agree Mr Harrington that being shop assistant is hardly like what you and Mrs Harrington do – architect and teacher – they’re careers.’

‘How’s your career progressing, Craig?’ Brian asked – knowing full well that Craig was still unemployed.

A fleeting frown of annoyance passed over Craig’s features before he replied.

‘I’m thinking of doing a postgrad course and training to be a language teacher. I have written off to the University.’

Mel and her dad both spoke at once.

‘You never told me!’ Mel said.

‘What languages did you have in mind?’ Mel’s dad asked.

‘I was thinking of German and Spanish,’ Craig told Brian, while, when he turned to Mel, he said, ‘You weren’t listening. You were going on about this job of yours.’

Mel was furious. She knew that he hadn’t said any such thing and, anyway, she hadn’t interrupted anything that he’d said – he always criticised her if she did.

‘Were those your degree majors?’ Brian asked, ‘I’m sure that Jean told me that Russian and Chinese were the main shortage subjects.’

‘You’re correct that there’s certainly a demand for teachers in those languages,’ Craig replied, ‘but German will be useful for pupils who wish to work in Europe – and South America is an emerging market where Spanish will be useful.’

‘From what I’ve heard,’ Mel said, still annoyed with him, ‘Brazil is the only emerging country in South America and they speak Portuguese there.’

‘Whatever! I’m quite sure that my languages degree will be quite acceptable.’ Craig told her.

Mel scowled at him.

 ‘What do you make of the council’s plans for redevelopment, Mr Harrington?’ Craig asked to change the subject.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows a moored narrowboat and its reflections in the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #13

……..Previously

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Continued……..

‘Ah! Stace. You’re a professional cynic. He’s not like that with me.’

‘Okay, Mel. I’ll shut up about him, but you, girl – you have a think about what I’ve said, and take more note of how he behaves. Oh, and one more thing, just make sure that he doesn’t get you pregnant. A baby with him would make it damn near impossible for you to ever get him out of your life.’

The pub was filling up now. Mel asked Stacy whether she wanted another drink.

‘I’d better not kiddo,’ Stacy replied, ‘I’m driving and I’ll be on duty soon. When are you going to start driving lessons, missy?’

‘Stace, I just can’t afford it,’ Mel said, ‘The payments from the Social go to my mum for my keep – and even if I passed my test, I can’t afford to run a car never mind buy one, can I?’

‘You’re going to need a car to get to meet fellas elsewhere, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘Escape Craig, the Codmanton Creep.’

They both laughed, but Mel was shaking her head.

Stacy persisted. ‘Jesus, Mel, you can do better than Craig for a boyfriend.’

‘You’re wrong, Stace,’ Mel replied, ‘I’m like that woman I read about once, someone from ancient Greece – I remember – Circe she was called. They say she turned all the men she met into swine,’

‘No, Mel. You’re the one who’s wrong,’ Stacy insisted, ‘Craig was already a swine.’

They both hooted with laughter.

‘Okay Stace,’ Mel argued, ‘answer me this. Why has every man I’ve ever met been already married, or gay, or had more hands than an octopus or wanted me to be their mum – those that weren’t like that were Neanderthals whose sole ambition was to get totally bladdered every night.’

‘Mel, love, getting stuck with a control freak like Craig will be even worse for you in the long run,’

‘Okay, Okay,’ Mel said, ‘I hear you. Listen, shouldn’t you be going to do your policeman’s lot for the night?’

Stacy Jackson

Mel’s friend was just a few months older than her. They lived on the same estate and often had long, serious discussions at each other’s houses. Stacy though no longer lived with her parents. She’d married a fellow officer just a couple of years after joining the police force. The couple had bought a house together using the maximum mortgage they could manage on their joint salaries. Her husband had died during an incident, when the police vehicle he was driving was hit by a lorry, whose driver had been approaching them, while overtaking, around a bend in the road. The insurance had paid off the mortgage. They’d had  were no children.

Stacy worried about Mel. Her friend was pretty, kind and clever, but she had no idea how to pick a suitable boyfriend. Time and again she’d agreed to go out with someone who’d seemed to be charming but had turned out to be a closet misogynist. Craig was just the latest of a bad crop.

She was genuinely pleased that Mel now had a job. Stacy was familiar with the shop and its owners – she had been since a previous role she’d had as a uniformed community constable. Because of that history, she knew Jamie Hannay – she used to fancy him before she’d been married. “Now,” she thought, “He’d be a good catch for Mel.”

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the third of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image looks back along the canal towards the Wharf Buildings from a few hundred metres along the towpath. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/7.1 and 88 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #12

…..Previously

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel in their hands what they’re thinking about buying – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Continued……

Brian was home from work in time to join them for their evening meal, and heard all about the job and the discussion that had occurred earlier between his wife and daughter. He thanked Mel for helping out with the meal and congratulated her on the job.

As an architect Brian often used cameras on his site visits. He was a competent photographer and had bought cameras, lenses and other equipment from Hannays’ shop over the years. He reassured his wife that the Hannays were good people and that the job would be an excellent start for Mel. Other than photographic skills, she’d be able to develop her negotiation skills by dealing with customers on a daily basis. He told Mel to mention his name to Tony Hannay when she started work.

A meeting with Stacy

Mel was met with warmth and a wall of noise and the smells of beer and food as she walked through the small door of the Farmers Arms. It was an old pub on the edge of the town and had been  considerably extended over the years. The Lounge was in the oldest part – dark oak beams across the low ceiling. The carpet had recently been replaced as part of a refurbishment. Much of the noise was coming from the other side of the bar through the gap into a newer room where a television screen was showing a live football match. That sound competed with conversation and the easy-listening music being piped around the Lounge.

She saw Stacy as soon as she entered. She was sat at a table for four against the wall opposite the bar.  As Mel approached, Stacy stood to greet her with a hug and a kiss. The two attractive, young women could easily have been mistaken for sisters, especially since they both wore similar blue denim jeggings, white tee shirts and white trainers.

‘Congratulations, Mel,’ Stacy said, ‘It sounds like you’ve landed on your feet.’

Mel had phoned Stacy even before she’d let Craig know. They had been friends since childhood and had always stayed in touch with each other since. Stacy had worked for the police since leaving school and was now a detective sergeant. Stacy asked Mel what she wanted to drink.

‘It’s my shout,’ she said, ‘Choose something expensive – we have to celebrate.’

‘Nah!’ Mel said, ‘just a glass of house white will do, thanks. I don’t intend to get bladdered. It’s been a busy day for me and I want an early night.’

‘Lightweight,’ Stacy said, ‘I bet you’re just going to sneak off to see that loser, Craig.’

When Stacy returned from the bar with the drinks, she sat and proposed a toast to her friend.

‘Well, it’s taken long enough,’ Mel said, ‘I won’t be earning half as much as you, but it’s a start.’

A roar went up from the other room. It was clear that someone had scored a goal for the favourite team of those in there.

‘Sounds like the folks  in there will be celebrating later too,’ Stacy said, ‘Shall we go in there and watch the end of the game?’

Stacy declined,  pleading that she didn’t want to stay long and, once they got absorbed into a group of the football supporters, they’d never get away.’

‘Mel, it is that waste of space bloke of yours isn’t it?’ Stacy said, ‘You’re worried that he’ll find out if you start talking to other guys. He’ll pull you down with him if you’re not careful.’

‘Come off it , Stace,’ Mel said, ‘I do know that he gets jealous – and I do get frustrated by his moods sometimes, but I won’t let him pull me down as you put it?’

‘Mel, he’s jobless and he’s a control freak. He won’t like it that you’ve got a job and he hasn’t. I bet he’s already complaining that you won’t have as much time for him.’

‘I think that you’re wrong. He just likes it when we’re together.’

‘Don’t you believe it, girl. If he had a job, the boot would be on the other foot. He wouldn’t miss you then when he had less time to see you. he’d be made up because he could talk down at you and make you feel bad.’

Mel shook her head. ‘You’ve never liked him, Stace.’

‘Listen, Mel, in my job we often come across women whose blokes end up hitting them. Those men always start off like Craig.’

Mel shook her head again. ‘He’s never laid a finger on me – well, not to hit me.’ She laughed.

‘Okay, Mel, but whenever I’ve been out with the two of you, I hear him criticising what you’re wearing, correcting things you say – then he appeals to me for support. Things like that. It’s not nice and he would never do that if he loved you – try to belittle you to me. If he’s like that in company, I hate to think what he’s like when there’s just the two of you.’

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the second of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the prow of a narrowboat moored at Burscough Bridge plus reflections in the canal – below the bottom of the Wharf pavement – of the Wharf Buildings and safety fence. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/60 secs @ f/10 and 53 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #11

…….Previously

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you – as you well know. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Continued…….

Melissa and her family

Mel was stirring the contents of a pan, preparing an evening meal when her Mum walked through the door. Jean was not quite as tall as Mel, but they shared the same fair hair – though Jean’s was cut into a smart bob.

‘Hello, Mel love,’ her mum shouted from the hall, ‘Something smells good.’

The Harrington family home was on a small estate of  detached properties in, what estate agents generally called, the desirable residential area of Upperton. The carefully tended front garden and block-paved double driveway added to the house’s desirability. The estate was on a wooded rise above Codmanton. The four bedroomed house had been designed by Brian, Mel’s dad, an architect who had personally overseen every stage of its construction and landscaping. The large rear garden afforded a stunning view of the tops of the dales.

Jean and Brian were of a similar age – Brian was 49 and Jean was two years younger. She was head teacher at the local comprehensive school.

‘It’s only a chicken curry, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘Thawed-out chicken thighs and a jar of Jalfrezi. Will that be enough. There’s a supermarket apple-strudel for afters if you want it.’ With both of her parents working full-time, food that was home cooked from scratch was a luxury reserved for weekends and holidays.

The kitchen had been recently modernised with shiny, black, granite worktops adjoining the walls and on the central island unit, contrasting with white tiled walls and white drawer fronts. Suspended black lights and black and white floor tiles completed the look. This modern kitchen with its futuristic equipment seemed wasted on the basic simplicity of the meal Mel was preparing.

Her mum, hung up her coat, walked across and leaned over Mel’s shoulder to look at the chicken-thighs simmering in the sauce. She kissed her daughter on the cheek and thanked her.

‘Have you had a good day, Mum?’ Mel asked, still stirring.

‘”Good,” is relative in teaching, love. Sixty percent teaching rather than half of my time dealing with bureaucracy would be good in my life. How’s your day been?’

‘You’ll be pleased to know that I now have a full-time job to go to starting next Monday.’ Mel announced.

Jean clapped her hands to her cheeks – her mouth and eyes registering her pleasure and surprise.

‘Turn round while I give you a hug,’ she said, ‘Where? Doing what?’

Mel’s reply was muffled as her face was squeezed into her mum’s cardigan.

‘Tell me again,’ Jean said.

‘I got a job today at Hannay’s camera shop in the Precinct – permanent, full-time and more than minimum wage. Proper sick pay and holidays after a probationary period.’

‘Hannay’s?’ Jean asked, ‘You mean the little camera shop off the high street?’

‘Yes,’ Mel said, ‘on the approach into the precinct.’

‘Mmm,’ Jean said, ‘They used to have a place on the High Street, I’m sure. I hadn’t noticed that they’d moved. Probably the rents and rates for the High Street. Are you sure that’s a good move for you, love? Doesn’t everybody buy that sort of stuff online now?’

‘Yes, Mum,’ Mel said, ‘I do understand your concern, but most photographers want to feel what they’re thinking about buying in their hands – judge the weight, the grip and so on. Even the people who own the shop seem to expect that, with my degree and photography skills, I’ll probably want to move on eventually to make the most of them. I’ve seen inside the shop though, and I’ve met and discussed things with them. They’re lovely people, it’s full-time, reasonably paid for a starter job – and I can see how I’ll be able to learn a lot working there.’

‘All right, Mel, love, I can see you’ve thought about it. Your dad will be over the moon, I’m sure. How did you manage to get an interview?’

Mel explained, and Jean said how impressed she was.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the first of a series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. The series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted. I’ll start with a shot I took at Burscough Bridge wharf.

The image shows the view along the wharf from under an arch of the road bridge (Burscough Bridge) which passes over the canal. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/100 secs @ f/10 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

Regarding Melissa #10

……Previously

‘You’re just jealous because I showed some initiative. Admit it. Some of us have what it takes – don’t I?’

‘Well, it’s easier for a girl to succeed at interview. I bet they saw things your way just looking at your tits and your legs.’

‘Sexist pig,’ she said. She waited because she could hear Craig’s dad talking to him, asking him what job she’d got. He was shouting at Craig telling him that if ‘Dolly Daydream’ could get a job it just showed how useless Craig must be.

Continued……….

When Craig re-joined the conversation, he told her what his dad had said.

‘Oh, I heard, she said, ‘Tell him that I heard him call me Dolly Daydream. I won’t be sending him a birthday card.’

‘Do you think that they’d employ me?’ he asked.

‘I shouldn’t think so, Craig,’ she told him, ‘There was just a note in the window saying that they wanted an assistant. Now they have me that’s probably all they need. It’s only a small shop after all.’

‘When do you start?’ Craig again.

‘Next Monday.’

‘What’s the pay like?’

‘Don’t be nosey. Better than minimum wage anyway. Before you ask, I also get sick pay and four weeks holiday after I’ve been there six-months – if they keep me on after that probationary period.’

‘What about the hours?’

‘Well,’ she hesitated, ‘they’re a bit unusual because it’s a shop.’ She paused again, I have to think how it works. Hold on.’

She rummaged round in her bag for the note she’d scribbled earlier with the details.

‘Right,’ she said, ‘thirty-nine hours a week. I’ll be working Monday through Saturday 8:30 to 4:30 with an hour for lunch and Thursday afternoons off. They’ll give me time-and-a-half for any overtime they ask me to do. Satisfied?’

‘Jesus, Mel,’ he groaned, ‘Saturdays? Really? Do you have to?’

‘Wrong attitude, Craig, for someone who wants a job,’ she said, ‘It’s a shop. People want to buy things at weekends. I’m lucky that they don’t open on Sundays – and it might come to that.’

‘When am I going to get time to see you then?’ he pleaded.

‘Craig,’ she said, ‘I’ll be home before five every day normally and I will have Thursday afternoons off – and all-day Sunday.’

‘Yes,’ he argued, ‘but my job behind the bar is almost always evening work. Can’t you get another type of work?’

‘So, which of us do you think should change their job, Craig?’ she asked. ‘My permanent, full-time, thirty-nine hours with holidays and sick pay or yours with whatever hours they say they need you a couple of nights a week? What do you think? Really?’

‘I know what you mean, Mel, but I am trying.’

‘You’re just going to have to try harder then, Craig. I’m going to be meeting a lot of male customers who have loads of money to spend on cameras. You’re going to have to up your game if you don’t want me to see you as a long-term loser.’

‘Christ, Mel,’ he said, ‘Is that a threat? Surely you’re not that shallow? You know that I’d top myself if I lost you.’

‘It’s not a threat, Craig – and I don’t like emotional blackmail,’ she said, ‘but I do want you to get real. We were never going to be able to afford a place together at the rate you’re going.’

‘Can I see you tonight to talk about things?’ he asked.

‘Sorry, Craig. I’ve promised Stacy that I’ll meet her and we’ll have a drink together to celebrate. I’ll see you tomorrow I’ve had my tea.’

‘You mean that you’re putting PC Plod Stacy Jackson before me – your boyfriend? That’s not very nice. Where are you going with PC Plod? Shall I come and join you?’

‘Not tonight, Craig. It’s a girls’ night together. Stacy and I have been mates since even before I met you. Stop sulking and stop calling her PC Plod. It’s not nice of you.’

Craig was clearly unhappy, but Mel wasn’t the kind of person to break arrangements with her friend without good reason and she thought that Craig was becoming a bit of a drama queen.

Featured Photo

Today’s image is the last of those from the evening of sunset photography on Crosby Beach, Merseyside. Tomorrow, I’ll start a series of shots that I took this week on a canal walk. When I was packing my gear away on Crosby Beach, I noticed the illuminated cranes at the container port in North Bootle. It was getting quite cold and I needed to walk a kilometre or so southwards, but I felt that the effort was worth it for this image along the beach.

I continued to use my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera and the same Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were: shutter speed 8 seconds @ f/8 and 70 mm. The ISO was 100.

Regarding Melissa #9

…..Previously

The walk around the lake and through woodland offered a variety of viewpoints for photography and Mr Waring coached them in the skills of framing focusing and exposing their shots. He related focusing to ideas he’d explained in class about lenses and optics. The outing was a revelation to Mel. She made her mind up during that outing – she wanted to become a photographer when she left school. On the journey home she plied her teacher with a barrage of questions about careers in photography and qualifications required.

Continued…….

From her time in secondary education and through university Mel had always had male admirers and, occasionally boyfriends. Until Craig, none of these relationships had lasted more than a week or two.

It was after her graduation, that she’d started going out with Craig, who’d read for a modern languages degree.  He wanted to work in the travel industry but, after university, his job applications kept getting turned down and he grew increasingly frustrated. Mel was having no better luck than Craig in finding employment, but she always took her camera with her on their walks and remained resolute in her determination to find a way to pursue her dream career,

The word love was never really mentioned but they enjoyed sex together when opportunity permitted – but because of opposition to their relationship from their parents, opportunities seldom permitted.

Mel’s mum and dad disliked Craig’s general attitude, his appearance, but above all they were concerned by how he spoke to and about Mel even in their presence. They knew not to say too much for fear of driving her further into his  control.

On the other hand, Craig’s dad wasn’t too impressed by Mel. Ken Whittaker, Craig’s dad saw Mel as an ‘airhead’ – pleasant enough, but impractical, having her head in the clouds. He wanted Craig to find a girl who was more ‘down-to-earth’.

 Marriage had not been something either had in mind, though they had talked a few times, in very general terms, about moving in somewhere together when they could afford to pay rent. Mel was becoming increasingly irritated by his attitude lately though and was becoming less and less committed to the idea. Meanwhile, because neither her parents nor his approved of their relationship, there was, in any event, zero chance of them being able to live together in either of the parental homes.

Craig

‘You jammy bitch,’ Craig said, ‘How did you manage that?’

Mel had phoned him with her news as soon as she arrived home.

‘I simply dazzled them with my charm, loser,’ she said

‘What? You just walked into the shop, told them you wanted a job and they said ‘Okay’?’

‘You’re just jealous because I showed some initiative. Admit it. Some of us have what it takes – don’t I?’

‘Well, it’s easier for a girl to succeed at interview. I bet they saw things your way just looking at your tits and your legs.’

‘Sexist pig,’ she said. She waited because she could hear Craig’s dad talking to him, asking him what job she’d got. He was shouting at Craig telling him that if ‘Dolly Daydream’ could get a job it just showed how useless Craig must be.

Featured Photo

Just two more photos from the sunset session at Crosby beach. This first one is a simple landscape shot view of the Sun setting over the Irish Sea wind farm.

Once again, I used my Pentax K-1 camera tripod-mounted and paired with my 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data are as follows: Shutter speed 3/10 secs @ f/13 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100.