Photowalk Tiverton, 2008-06-07, Walls, Plants, Cygnets, Tucky

We went out for a nice long (for us, anyway) walk yesterday, starting with our usual Saturday brunch at Mad Hatters, Tiverton. After ordering, we went to sit out in the garden, and wondered if we should have gone for the duck – it was very fresh.

Try the Duck

It was drinking from the water bowl left out for dogs.

Reflections on Coffee

Mmm. Coffee. And Doppio. A good start to the day.

Rather than walking around the town centre as we usually do, we then headed down Angel Hill, and over the bridge, into West Exe, and up Leat Street. For some reason, I always get the urge to photograph the houses on Leat Street – they’ve very traditional terraced houses, deep and narrow, and opening straight out onto the street, but these are covered in satellite dishes. There’s no cable coverage in Tiverton, and reception isn’t good in some places, so satellite TV is popular.

I played with the colouring on this shot in Adobe Lightroom (these are all processed in Lightroom), and added a vignette effect.

Leat Street

We turned to head towards Morrisons, but crossed the road to see the swans with their cygnets on the town Leat.


A couple of gulls were very vocal about wanting their picture taken, so I obliged.

Shouty Gulls

Again, the vignette (the darkening towards the corners) is added afterwards in Lightroom. All these shots were taken with my Canon G9, which doesn’t have any (noticeable) vignetting, but I got used to the effect with my Nikon 55-200 VR lens, and I quite like a bit of vignetting on some shots now.

This duck was sleeping:

Duck and Shadow

One of the cygnets seemed to enjoy eating grass from the bank.

Cygnet Kronche

Want to see it in action? I took a little video of it too:

Here’s another of the swan and two cygnets swimming:

We found a path, and we had no idea where it went, so we decided to follow it to find out. I found a yellow hoop.


So I jumped in it.


Just after that, a well worn path disappeared up to the side of the path we were following


I had to know what it lead to, so I climbed up it. Well, what do you know? I didn’t expect that.

Digital Mammography Unit

It lead to a digital mammography unit.

We found a small area of concrete with a drain mounted in it, with interesting patterns all around the drain.

Splat Drain

Well, ok, maybe interesting is the wrong word there.

We found ourselves cutting through the grounds of the High School, which had gargoyles on the walls in several places.


As we left the school grounds, we found a little lost kitteh.

Lost Kitteh

We cut through the Moorhayes estate next, and right near the start watched a buzzard being mobbed by a couple of crows. No photos, I’m afraid, as it was happening a bit too fast. Buzzards are really crap birds of prey. There are loads of them around Devon, and they spend most of their time being beaten up by crows and seagulls. One day we’re going to find one having the shit kicked out of it by a young blue tit, I’m sure.

So, no pictures of all that excitement, but I did get a picture of some concrete steps. Fun, eh?


Oh, and grass.


And a buttercup.


I’m usually in the habit of pushing the contrast and saturation up to make really ‘punchy’ images. When I processed this lot, I experimented with actually reducing the saturation in quite a few of them. It seems to work well here. Taking away the bright yellow gives a more delicate result.

Yeah, there was quite a lot of grass.

More Grass

And some chimney pots that put me in mind of Madonna’s conical phase.

Madonna Chimneys

I liked the little ‘shooting star’ graffiti on the sign here, but when I went to take the photo, the rest of the wall wanted to be included too, so I obliged.


The colours are pushed somewhat, but the yellow at the bottom is quite bright in reality.

We stopped at the small Tesco store for drinks and ice-creams. As we got towards the far end of Moorhayes, I could hear falling water, and went to investigate. Unexpected waterfall!

Unexpected Waterfall

Unexpected Waterfall, Closer

Wherever you go in Tiverton, you never seem to be more than ten feet from a river. They’re everywhere. This little river follows near the main road through Moorhayes, then turns sharply right to follow the main road again, then suddenly turns left at a right-angle, and disappears under the road. It follows the edge of the business park after that, before wandering off into the countryside.

A few dead leaves and a fly.

Dead Leaves

I’m always careful to take photos of only the most pretty things.

Along the main road, here’s the same river:

Concrete in River

Wet Hole

Here’s where it turns sharply and cuts under the road:

Right-angled River

The hedge further along had some pretty and bright honeysuckle, along with the occasional nettle.


Honeysuckle Again


The Michelin Man had done a poo by the side of the road.

The Michelin Man Had a Poo

By this time, we figured we’d earned a drink, so we stopped off at the Tiverton Hotel (a Best Western).

The Tiverton Hotel

I had a pint of Bass, Sam had a glass of wine.

Table in the Tiverton Hotel

I took a couple of shots of my little Sheaffer Touchdown Tuckaway (Tucky) while there.

Tucky Clip

Tucky Nib

We then crossed the main road to Old Road, and cut up through Lewis Avenue, ending up back on Canal Hill next to the police station. We stopped off at the canal to visit the Ducks Ditty for another drink.

Table in the Ducks Ditty

Again, I had a beer, Sam had a glass of wine.

Beer in the Ducks Ditty

Wine in the Ducks Ditty

Further along the canal, bees were enjoying the flowers in their own special ways. Check out the bee’s knees:

Bee on Spherical Flower

This one looked like Starbug from Red Dwarf:

Bee or Starbug

When we got home, a sparrow was making a lot of noise on the corner of our building, and wasn’t going to be deterred by us being there.


It was a good walk. Around five miles, which is quite a lot for us. Lots of photos, though, and I’m quite happy with how many of them have turned out. The Canon G9 is doing good things for my photography.

Michael’s Scribbles: 2008-04-01

I have a Pentel GraphGear 1000 0.3mm pencil, which I’d filled with Pilot Eno 2B leads, because I get on better with softer lead. The problem was that it wore down very quickly. I couldn’t use it for taking notes at work, because I’d have to stop to click more lead out three or more times when writing down an address.

Today, I finally got around to trying it out with Pentel AIN HB grade lead, and it’s much better. Yes, the line isn’t as dark, so it’s not quite as easy to read, but I can write several lines between clicks.

Ever since we started selling Diamine Inks at Cult Pens, I’ve been using almost nothing else. Until today, I’ve had good experience with every colour I’ve tried – Prussian Blue, Steel Blue, Umber, Saddle Brown, WES Imperial Blue – all have behaved very well. I picked up a bottle of Blue-Black last week, and loved the colour so much I flushed out both of my current pens, and filled them up with it.

I had flow problems with my Sheaffer Clipper Snorkel fairly quickly, and switched to the Pelikan M600, which never misbehaves. I started having flow problems with that, too.

By this afternoon, both pens were writing unevenly and skipping.

I’ve flushed them both out, and fed them both Waterman Blue-Black, and they seem fine again.

I love Diamine inks in general, and every other one I’ve tried has been great, but the Blue-Black does seem to be quite different stuff.

Flock and Bad Pen Mojo


I’ve started trying out Flock again, since it reached version 1.0 recently, and first impressions are pretty good. If this post looks strange, impressions may be starting to dip – I’m attempting to post this using Flock.

It seems to be able to run the AdBlock Plus extension for Firefox, and Google Browser Sync seems to be working ok. I’m not entirely convinced it’s still working in Firefox, but that may be another problem entirely.

The problem I had before with Flock was down to memory management, and I don’t know yet if that’s fixed. It’s not really Flock’s problem as such – Firefox doesn’t seem to manage memory at all well, and Flock adds features on top of Firefox.

Update: Flock hung when I tried to post this – on the plus side, though, it recovered it when it restarted and I opened the blog editor again. It hung again when I tried again, so it doesn’t look like the blog editor likes our installation of Drupal.

Bad Pen Mojo

Today hasn’t been such a good day for pens. My new Clipper Snorkel seems to be having some intermittent feed problems – the ink flow just stops. I’ve just given it a good flush through, then flushed through with some very dilute detergent a couple of times, then rinsed thoroughly and refilled with ink. We’ll see how it gets on after that. If it still happens, I’ll probably try different ink next, and if all else fails, maybe have to ask Andy to have another look at it.

I then remembered that my Tucky needed filling, but as soon as I pulled the filler out, the blind cap popped off and fell on the floor. I attempted to put it back on, and it fell on the floor again. On further examination, it was a strange little setup that was obviously only supposed to be put together with the aid of a special Sheaffer tool. I managed to improvise with my Victorinox, and all was well again.

Pens and Photos

I Should Blog More

I should blog more. That’s hardly an original start to a blog post, especially one on a long-neglected blog, but there you go.

I’m using Emacs for much of my day-to-day stuff at the moment, working in PlannerMode. I never use the ‘Schedule’ section (I use Google Calendar), so I’ve changed it to ‘Blog’ instead, with the idea of tapping a blog post into it during the day, then posting at the end of the day. If you’re reading this, it worked. Once.

So, what’s been happening recently? We’re still enjoying Devon. My calculator obsession seems to have faded somewhat, leaving me quite settled with the HP 12C financial calculator. There are far more powerful things around, but they’re sitting unused in a drawer. The 12C just does the basics really nicely.

I’m left with my current obsessions being pens, notebooks and Emacs.


I have bought a few new pens recently:

A Sheaffer Tucky Vacuum-Fil set. I bought these on eBay, at a surprisingly good price. They work perfectly, and the vacuum-fil mechanism works smoothly, giving a good fill. They date back to somewhere between 1943 and 1949, so they’re doing well to still be going and in such good condition.

A few cheapies from an antiques shop in Sidmouth. I pop into antique shops from time to time, but I’ve never before actually found any fountain pens. This time, there was a little box full on the counter, £3 each. I grabbed an unknown lever filler, in full working order, a Sheaffer No Nonsense cartridge pen, a four-colour ballpoint, and a Conway Stewart No 116.

The Conway Stewart is the most interesting of the bunch – not a fountain pen as we know them now, but an ‘Ink Pencil’. The nib is like the nib in a real technical pen, like a Rotring Isograph. It’s a metal tube with a wire in the middle. The wire is pushed up by the paper, and moves a weighted seal to stop the ink from flowing. It has cleaned up quite nicely, but needs a new sac. I’ve ordered a set of sacs from Ian at Cathedral Pens, so I should be able to get it fixed up when they arrive.

I’ve also finally bought something from Andy’s Pens – a Sheaffer Clipper Snorkel, and a (reasonably) matching pencil. It’s a very nice looking pen, with a good smooth fine nib.


I’ve been taking plenty of photos recently, but not getting around to processing them and uploading them. I’ve been catching up on that a lot today – lots of new pics in my Flickr Photostream – you can just start at this one and keep clicking on the next in the photostream to go through them, if you like.

Some of the best ones to finish this up on, then I shall wallow in the bath for a long time before it’s Top Gear time…

Sheaffer Clipper Snorkel Nib

Vintage Computing Museum - Macintosh Classic, iMac, iBook

Vintage Computing Museum - Donkey Kong

Tern in Flight

Corner Pigeon 2

Sunrise from our Flat


Maybe if this idea works out, I’ll post again in less than a month.