Archive for category 101 in 1001

2012, The Year In Review

So, another year over and a another reflection on what has been achieved (or not).

Things I’ve done this year

  • A single LARP
    • Victoriana. It was great fun and I can’t wait for this year’s game, although it’s probably a good thing that it’s not until September, as I still have lots to make for it.
  • Dress-making
    • I did enjoy this, but I didn’t like the deadline, the amount of work required, and more than anything I found I’m just not interested enough in clothes. Although, no doubt I’ll find it a very useful skill at times.
  • Underground Tour
    • This was really interesting and ticked off an item from my 101 list.
  • Fire marshalling
    • Technically, an ‘Evacuation Marshall’. I failed to step back quick enough when someone came around work looking for volunteers. So far though, we’ve only had a couple of evacuations, and as a bonus I get to shout at students.
  • First-aid
    • I was fortunate to get onto the work provided ‘First-Aid at Work’ course over the summer. This means I am first-aid qualified again for the next couple of years. The downside is that I have to be on-call for first aid incidents at work every four weeks.
  • Gardening
    • We have achieved a small garden. At one point it had tomatoes, strawberries, thyme, rocket, spinach and sunflowers. However, it was a terrible year for ripening fruit, so there was very little to eat and foolishly I didn’t make the most of the leafy veg when it appeared, so overall very little got eaten, except by the slugs.
    • I grew three Sunflowers for the Turing’s Sunflowers project. Sadly, I wasn’t able to count the seeds, mostly due to slugs, but it turned into a nice little photography project. More about it here.

Travel

I’ve put this into a separate section, as I’ve done a fair amount of travelling this year, with Paris being the highlight by far. It’s an amazing and friendly city, with so much to see and with a fantastic hotel to come back to at the end of each day (27th floor, woo!).

I missed not going to Centre Parcs last year, but I’m hopeful that a trip will be organised this year (and before anyone asks, I’m far too lazy, um I mean busy, to do it myself).

Technology

  • New phone
    • My contract expired and I kept running out of space on my old HTC Desire, so I now have a very shiny One S and a cheaper monthly bill.
  • New monitor
    • This has been an absolute necessity for editing photos and it has made a huge difference. Chris now has my old monitor with its slight blue colour cast.
  • Aftershot Pro
    • For the first time in many years, I’ve actually purchased a piece of software. I’m really pleased with it so far. It’s lacking a few features compared to Darktable, but its rendering of raw files, especially the shadow areas is much better. It’s also very fast and lighter on resources, and I can still use Darktable for the occasional photograph.

Photography

This is probably the biggest and most time consuming thing I’ve been involved with this year (as everyone who knows me has no doubt noticed).

Thanks to Ste Manns, I was given the opportunity to help out on a couple of studio photo shoots this year, where I had lots of fun and learned a huge amount about many aspects of photography.

I’ve started studying again, with a course by the Open College of the Arts. As a result I’ve:

I’ve also completed the 52 weeks project. The full set of photos are here:

52 Weeks

A couple of the photos were featured by the Guardian in the Flickr group, which I’m really pleased about. Also, a few of my sunflower photos were chosen for the Turing Sunflower gallery at MOSI and Manchester Art Gallery. I’m not sure yet whether I want to continue with another 52 weeks project this year or do something different..

Aims for 2013

Get fitter

I’ve not really done any regular exercise since moving to Denton. I want to get into a regular running routine this year and work my way up to 10km (I don’t think that will happen this year, but it’s a long term aim). The British Army Fitness book is lying around waiting to be read, and having had a brief look through, it seems to be just what I need.

Finish the Art of Photography

My progress has been much slower than I would have liked on this course. I really want to get my head down properly and finish it this year.

Travel

This year, Chris and I intend to visit Berlin. I would also like to visit a few other places (maybe as part of an extended German holiday). It would be nice to go back to Bletchley Park and London, and well, most places I’ve been this year, as well as exploring new ones.

What else?

I’m not sure what else I want to achieve this year, there’s a few smaller items, but generally it would be nice to see people more often and maybe do more table-top or LARP (but nothing too time-consuming or expensive or requiring too much kit, so this seems unlikely).

, ,

3 Comments

Photography: Manchester Below, An Underground Tour

There is a vast collection of tunnels underneath Manchester city centre and I have long wanted to explore them. In fact, the Manchester Underground Tour was on my 101 list of things to achieve. Finally, last weekend after booking a ticket months in advance, Chris and I went on one such trip.

Tunnels

The tour was two hours long and covered the area around the Midland Hotel, Manchester Central and Castlefield. The first hour of the tour consisted of a gentle walk above ground, while we were introduced to the Guardian Exchange and a number of canals and waterways used to transport cotton in the 19th century.

Abandoned

Some of the canals went underneath the city and it was one of these canals that we got to explore on the second half of the tour. The canal had been drained in the early 20th century and then used as a public air-raid shelter during the second world war. We were allowed to explore several sections of the tunnel.

It was dark and muddy and an interesting experience. It was possible to see leftovers from the tunnel’s history both as a canal and as an air-raid shelter. I was very glad to have a torch!

Broken

Overall, it would have been better if there were fewer people on the tour and if we had been able to see more of the underground tunnel system. However, it was well worth the £8 fee and muddy boots.

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Chocolate review: Chocolate Garden, whole real gooseberries in fine chocolate

I picked up a box of these unusual treats at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest, of all places. I’d never heard of Chocolate Garden before, but labelled as winners of the superior taste award 2009, the box of gooseberries coated in chocolate seemed too good and, well, too intriguing not to buy.

The chocolate used is 47% and while not labelled as dark chocolate does not contain any milk substance so I figured it counted as part of the series of reviews.

Further investigation (by which I mean, reading the packet) reveals that the gooseberries have been ‘candied’, i.e soaked in plenty of sugar. Rather ominously they have also had preservatives and flavouring added. The chocolate itself contains some vanillin, which implies a cheaper chocolate has been used.

Opening the packet reveals something a bit too uniform and shiny for something that’s labelled as homemade. The first bite uncovers a sticky centre that bares little resemblance in any regard to a gooseberry. Overwhelmingly sweet, there’s no taste of the tangy, tart tasting fruit I was expecting.

I can’t really comment on the chocolate, any taste has been drowned out by the incredible amounts of sugar and the (I assume) shellac glaze. I’d guess the glaze has been added to improve shelf life, but it’s a pity as it ruins the taste and texture of the chocolate.

In conclusion, they were not worth it. I’d rather save my money and have some cheap Tesco coated raisins instead, which is of comparable quality (but with less sugar!). Certainly not award winning produce.

Leave a comment

Chocolate Review – Hotel Chocolat, Nibbly Nibs

The dark chocolate ‘Nibbly Nibs’ from Hotel Chocolat are small rectangular pieces of perfectly formed chocolate in one of the ‘selector’ packets. The Hotel Chocolat selectors range being an affordable introduction to their range of chocolates.

Nibbly Nibs is described as ‘Caramelised cocoa crisps within dark chocolate for nibbly texture and flavour bursts’. There is no mention of the chocolate percentage on the front, but a look at the ingredients reveals that it’s 70%.  The next thing to mention is the wonderful smell upon opening the plastic packaging, these are not chocolates to be sniffed at.

Nibs are the resulting pieces of cocoa bean, after it’s been dry-roasted, cracked and de-shelled. It’s this which is normally used to create the chocolate. However, they can be eaten on their own if you want a real kick, or as is quite popular at the moment, sprinkled into chocolate to provide extra texture and flavour.

The chocolate here is lightly bitter, with a wonderful soft texture that easily melts away in the mouth to an explosion of a slightly fruity cocoa. It’s their standard dark chocolate, which is as tasty and more-ish as ever. The cocoa nibs are subtle; they aren’t evident until the chocolate starts to melt away and suddenly your mouth is full of them. They soon provide an extra kick though..

Not sort of chocolate to eat quickly, I nonetheless found my self snacking on my third piece before being able to stop myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to work off a chocolate buzz..

Leave a comment

Bands I’ve Seen Live

Glastonbury 2000

David Bowie, Travis, co.uk, Bloodhound Gang, Perfect Circle, Moby (incomplete).

Bristol Festivals

Seafood, Reef

Reading 2003

Linkin Park, Blink 182, Placebo, The Darkness, Staind, The Datsuns, Less than Jake, Finch, Bowling for Soup, Inme, Blur, Doves, The Libertins, Metallica, System of a Down, Sum 41, Primal Scream, The Used, All American Rejects, Biffy Clyro, Electric 6, AFI, The Ataris, Saves the Day.

Manchester

Bowling for Soup, Simple Plan, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Meatloaf, Ocean Colour Scene, James, Jonathan Coulton, Greenday, Biffy Clyro.

Leave a comment

Chocolate Review: The Riverside Continental Chocolate House, Rosemary and Sea Salt Dark Chocolates

The Riverside Continental Chocolate House is a tiny shop and café, hidden away in deepest, darkest Wales. It makes its own chocolate on-site and resales a few other well-known and less well-known brands. The selection is more limited than I would have expected for a specialist shop, but there were some interesting options. So obviously, I picked out a few to try. The one I picked out for review was a dark chocolate ganache with rosemary and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt.

It was excellent, one of the nicest and most distinctive chocolates I’ve had. The rosemary was strong but not overpowering and proved to be just the right amount to perfectly complement the chocolate. The chocolate itself I’m guessing was around 60%, with a nice well-bodied flavour. The sea salt provided an extra dimension, by cutting through the other flavours and preventing it from being too heavy.

A good experience and I’d happily stop off at the café again if I’m passing in future. However, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way, even if they do sell one of the most memorable chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

,

Leave a comment

Photography

One of my major aims for 101 in 1001 is to improve my photographic skills.

Although it’s not explicit in any of the goals, many of them are designed to get me taking more photos and to increase my skills.

58. Take photos along the Rochdale Canal
I’ve made a start on this, although I don’t think I’ve managed to take anything particularly special. I started by trying to capture the post-industrial feel, but it didn’t really work. I really like the run down factories and the way nature is slowly creeping back. I also want to take photos at different times of year to capture the contrasts in weather.
59. Create a photographic journal of one day
I haven’t done this yet. It’ll need to be one day when I’m not in work. Looking forward to it.
61. Take photographs around Manchester City Centre
I need to find someone to come round with me. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable taking photos on my own in Manchester. It’s going to be very interesting to see what places we find outside of the very obvious places.
65. Climb a mountain and take a photo at the summit
Exercise, fun, a wonderful achievement and a picture at the end. What could be better?
71. Visit a photo exhibition
This was surprisingly easy, as just after I wrote the goal an exhibition arrived at the art gallery in town. I found it much more interesting and thought-provoking than I was expecting. I may find another one to go to, at some point.
98. Frame a photo I’ve taken and hang it on a wall in my home
I wrote this goal for two very specific reasons. One, so that I could be living somewhere where hanging a picture on the wall of my choosing was an option. And two, because it means I need to take a photo that I consider good enough to put up on display.

In addition to these goals, I’ve decided I want to participate in the 365 challenge. Optionally joining the flickr group too. I guess this counts towards keeping a diary as well.

I’d also like to complete the ’26 things’ challenge at least once. I think this is certainly aimed towards skills improvements and getting me thinking about the photos I take. Might be one I leave for a while.

2 Comments