Saturday 23 May 2009

Wildlife on Ely to Waterbeach walk

Michelle took up my twitter invite to join a walk from Ely to Waterbeach on a glorious sunny Saturday. Dry weather causing increasing cracks in the banks and cattle churning the path in places meant that we were often looking to our feet and noticing some of the smaller wildlife.

Starting with Muscovy ducks in the city of Ely, we passed herons, diving greater crested grebe, Greylag and Canada geese. Dragonflies (common darters) and damselflies flew tantalisingly in and out of cameral range. Butterflies were out too, from eyed peacocks and handed red admirals to lemon coloured Brimstones. Banded snails and others were abundant on parts of the walk. The yellow lichen Xanthoria parietina grew well on tree trunks and exposed gates.

In contrast to last weekend, there were more walkers out too, from ramblers young and old to the Romanian farm workers off to Ely.

It was great to have company on the walk, especially as Michelle's interest in Philosophy meant we touched on Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbs and Rousseau in relation to freedom and responsibility.

New concept for me to consider "freedom is defined in terms of the limitations others impose upon you".

Friday 22 May 2009

A little something to make you scratch your head!

Ten years ago our family had been victim to some persistent visitors. My wife arrived at work with the children in tow, with suspiciously wet hair.
"I have some good news and some bad news!" she greeted me.
"The bad news is that the children had caught headlice and have just been treated!"
"And the good news?" I asked.
"I kept a few for your microscope!"

I was truly grateful and made some permanent microscope slides.

Because the insects are a few millimeters long, they were difficult to photograph in focus throughout at the time using a film camera.

At last, in 2008, armed with a digital camera and modern software, I was able to revisit the slides for an new project, in preparation for Open Studios 2009.

My ambition was to photograph the head lice under polarised light, where the muscles glow in fantastic colours. Using Helicon software, I could also photograph at different focal depths and combine the images to obtain a final picture in focus throughout.

21 pictures were taken at different polarisation angles and foci to give the centre-piece picture of my Open Studios exhibition.

You can either shudder at or admire the images above taken of 2009 live (active and therefore blurred!) insects and the ones as specimens for eternity that I prepared over a decade ago with the final exhibition piece.

In 1976, Michael Andrews commented in his book "The Life that lives on Man" that at that time, there were 1.5 million "lousy" people estimated in the UK and that a survey in one industrial area in 1970 found 26% of secondary school children infected. He predicted, that despite eradication campaigns, the head louse would be with us in the future! He was right. My children's generation had them and they are thriving in the 21st Century!

You can see the print of the magically coloured Head Louse at my place as part of Open Studios this year over the first two weekends in July.

Thursday 21 May 2009

A walk along the Fen River Way

When Terry Downing asked for volunteers to join him on the 46 mile Pathfinder March in June, I fell for it! Since then, I've been trying to build up my stamina. Last Sunday I had an enjoyable walk from Milton to Ely (see slideshow), a treck of over 15 miles, which took 5 hours with all the diversions & photographs
This Saturday, 23rd May 2009, I'll be walking the other way, from Ely to Milton and welcome the company of anyone wishing to come along! The itinerary and rescue points below:
  • 11 am Start: Ely - River by Maltings
  • Past road entrance to Ely Railway Station
  • Across bridge to Eastern river bank path (Fen River Way walk)
  • 1st possible collection point at 5 miles (crossing of Stretham-Wicken Road)
  • 2nd possible collection point at 6.6 miles (Upware - Five Miles From Anywhere Pub)
  • 3rd possible collection point at 11.6 miles (Clayhithe/Waterbeach)
  • 4pm-5pm Finish Milton (15 miles)
Give me a call on 01223 440024 if you would like to join me on the walk.

Friday 1 May 2009

A Grand Day out at InternetWorld 2009, Earls Court

Mark Dodsworth of Europartnerships and I decided to get up and meet some real people behind the headings in the InternetWorld catalogue of Exhibitors. The intention was to see how relevant and how interesting any might be for our Autumn IT delegation from Germany. To aid my memory and as a benefit to those we accosted, I took the occasional photo and asked for their tweet texts.

The first thing to note was that most companies sounded far more interesting and were very enthusiastic when spoken to as opposed to their exhibition guide entries. A few stood out particularly.

In a competitive word of web designers and service providers, Jilly Welch of Fortune Cookies stood out in the way she communicated with visitors to her stand. Warm, engaging and informative, her knowledgeable approach was more that of a conversation between business friends instead of the heavy and often technical sales pitch so often encountered. I am sure others will remember her all the more for it and approach her more readily in the future.

Walking by the Chillifish stand, with its framed pictures and no other explanatory text, I was intrigued enough to talk to Louise. A company specifically targeting the marketing of high value brands! Brilliant concept which fitted in with the brand image approach of the stand. Chillifish also provided the best free gift for me personally, the book "It's not how good you are, It's how good you want to be." By Paul Arden who used to work for Saatchi & Saatchi.

Everyone was talking about accessibility but Nomensa really meant it with solutions for the visually and otherwise impaired. One of their products was a dating game for the RNIB (organization supporting blind and partially sighted people) as well as making flash more accessible (damn – it’s that word again!).

The InBox Warriors also presented a totally different look to the suits and conservative attire, with their relaxed T-Shirts, cult film “The Warriors(?)” running in the background and a stand with giant soft cushions to sit on. Their avowed aim was to ensure E-Mail campaigns by their clients actually hit the in-boxes of the prospective customers. With a Job title on the business card of “Client Slave”, Tony brought a smile to my face.

I could go on about all the others I met – perhaps the Tweets below will give you a flavour.

The exhibition was well organized, however there was one sour note – the food. The Baked Potato at Internet world yesterday was another example of exploitation - nearly £6 for a baked potato - skin was forming on baked beans, the chilli con carni had an unappetising black dried out crust on top, fortunately the cottage cheese & chives was OK. And service? the indifferent serving staff made it more like receiving slops than a meal (and I can normally entice a positive smile from most serving counters). Also the little shop serving chocolates had Mars bars at £0.70, where you could get them for £0.55 at a kiosk within 100yds outside near the station

Overall though, Internet World was a positive experience and we make plenty of contacts who were either interested in talking to us later in the year re our delegation or would be able to pass us onto relevant people.

Tweets (most recent first)

@miltoncontact Best InternetWorld freebie from Chillifish - Book "It's not how good you are, It's how good you want to be." #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Innovative integrated security for cross-platform applications" Sharp on Gridsure #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Protection, intelligence, growth, consumer protection - the power of association" the DMA #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Providing advice , knowledge and support to Austrian companies" Austrian Chamber #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Digital pen and flipcharts for annotating presentations - only £99!" Papershow, Hamelin Paper brands - #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Widescreen eye-tracking to optimise your site; with detailed analysis" Acuity #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Getting your message into your clients in-box!" Inbox Warriors #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Hi end brand internet marketing" Chillifish - #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Don't miss important parcel deliveries whilst out on business" ByBox #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Reward customers, increase their loyalty and generate extra revenue" Adaptive affinity #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Dating game for RNIB and other unique accessibility services - humanising technology" - Nomensa #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Web design & Development specialising in accessibility and useability" Fortune Cookie #iw_expo

@miltoncontact "Leading international professional body for marketing" - the Chartered institute of Marketing #iw_expo

@miltoncontact Due to poor internet connection at Internet World 2009, entering my tweets after return home #iw_expo