How would you feel?

This is a bit of a moan about people using my photographs without asking permission. I’ve discovered twice this week that someone has used one of my photographs in what I would consider a commercial situation and on neither occasions has anyone contacted me and asked my permission. On neither occasion have I been credited as the photographer and of course on neither occasion have I been rewarded for the use of what is my property.

The first one was that I discovered that one of the bands that played SoL last year was planning on releasing a limited edition vinyl recording of their appearance. While I was also interested in where they had obtained the recording I spotted that one of the photographs on the cover was one I had posted to the Facebook group during the event. To add insult to injury they had used the photograph three times, once in it’s entirety and twice as a cropped version.

Then yesterday I discovered that the Brighton Dome were using one of my photographs to advertise a upcoming gig by reggae band Misty in Roots. Again I would consider this a commercial use and again I wasn’t contacted by either band or venue to ask permission and again there is no photographer credit.

I mean what do you do? I can kick up a fuss but I suspect all that would get me would be an apology and possibly the removal of the image (probably to be replaced by another image that they have found on the internet). Should I just take it on the chin and be pleased that they used my image? If I do that surely the profession of photographer is dead as no one would ever be able to earn a living from it!

R.I.P. Jubbly

Sadly last week we had to let one of our cats leave this world. It was very sad because he had become such a part of our everyday life that he had left such a big hole.

In 2013 Sarah forwarded an email she had received from a guy who had advertised that he needed to re-home his late wife’s three cats – she had just written the words

Oh my God!!! Jubbly!!!!

here is the description from his former owner!

So the guy came round to see us and after chatting to us on a red hot day for about half an hour he suddenly revealed that he had Jubbly in the car so he went and got him. Poor cat was stuffed into a cat carrier that was way to small for him and had obviously been in there for some time in a red hot car.  As he emerged blinking into our dining room we all fell instantly in love with him especially when we saw his thumbs!

So he stayed (and later was joined by another of the cats that the bloke was trying to re-home Raj who sadly disappeared after we had moved up north. In the early days Jubbly certainly lived up to his reputation as a village idiot as he would often climb up onto the fence and then jump down into the alley only to find he couldn’t make it back again. Once he disappeared for a couple of days and we ended up out frantically searching for him only to hear a plaintiff me-ow from a back garden – we had to break into the garden through a gate that hadn’t been opened for years to rescue him. After a while he became a house cat and he couldn’t be trusted with the outside world unsupervised!

He was quite a chunky cat when we first got him but shortly before we moved up north he started to suffer from diarrhoea and to  lose weight to the point where we started to fear for his life. The vets had no idea why he was losing weight and their best suggestion was that we try him with different types of food. Eventually after much searching online we tried him with some cereal free food and that did the trick and thankfully he started to agin weight again but not before he famously poo’d all over the estate agent who was trying to sell our house!

He was such  a tolerant cat, I don’t think he ever swiped at us in all the time we had him and he had to put up with a lot! Ben would just pick him up and carry him around, he would let you tickle his tummy and swoosh him around on the polished floor! He liked to travel upside down so if you were carrying him anywhere that’s they way he would go! The poor thing was always the first to have a silly Christmas hat or sunglasses placed on him – the only thing he didn’t like was jumpers and he would manage to escape from them pretty quick!

At the new house he remained an inside cat but on two occasions when other people were looking after him he managed to escape! The first time one of our neighbours saw us looking for him and he was found quite quickly. The second time we searched and searched until it was dark and couldn’t find him. The next morning we posted on social media and he was found quite quickly – apparently he had got round to the next estate and had sat in someone’s garden for 15 hours until they took him in for the night! He was literally about 300 yards away from home but didn’t seem to have the sense to find his way back. The girl who rescued him thought he was pregnant!

He had lots of strange foibles! He would come and sit next to Sarah on the sofa and then just roll himself into her. When he was being chased he would walk a few feet and then just flump himself down on the ground. He would poo next to the cat lit tray instead of in it! He could open the door between the utility room and the rest of the house by jumping up and pressing down on the handle – he was so good at this we had to have two doorstops to keep him in! He would also lick things, paper, bedside lamps that sort of thing and given half a chance he would dip his paw into Sarah’s teacup and drink it by licking if off his paw. And no one could get caught in a vertical blind like the Jubbster!

When we first got the dog we actually let them share the kitchen and they got on really well together! Whenever Teddi would try and annoy Jubbs he would just flop over on to his side and swat her away with one of his rear paws, it was such a sight  to see and the poor dog had no idea what to do about it! The dog has different reactions to all of the cats, he dislikes most of them especially the naughty ones like Tag and Louie who she would get very worked up about if they snuck into the living room to steal Jubbly’s food! Diesel she can take or leave but she never quite knew what to make of Jubbs! It didn’t help that when we went away and took the dog Jubby would be in the kitchen and of course that lead to territorial disputes when we came back!

One of his favourite places to sit was on the back on the sofa and he used to get the right hump if one of the other cats had stolen his place. At first he would stare at them and when that didn’t work he would climb into his space next to them and wouldn’t be happy until his had managed to push them out and reclaim that space as his own! He would also like to get comfy on Ben’s bed and we’d often go upstairs and find them fast asleep cuddled up together – it was hard to work out who was looking out for who!

Sadly a few months ago he started to lose weight again but he seemed to be eating ok. When it was obvious that he was losing a lot of weight we took him to the vets. They thought he might have thyroid issues but the blood tests showed he had kidney failure – quite common in older cats but he was only at stage 3 and they thought that with the right treatment he could last another couple of years. We bought him the renal food and some medicine and at first he was eating it without a problem. But as days went on he ate less and less and he seemed to be getting weaker and slower and looking all hunched. He didn’t seem to be able to get warm and was either sitting on the radiator or we had to cover him with a jumper or his particular favourite Sarah’s dressing gown!

We took him back to the vets who said he was till in stage 3 and they gave us some more medicine. However over the next few days he just went downhill until on the morning of 12th May he could barely stand. We phoned the vets and discussed it and the decision was taken to put him to sleep. We spent the rest of the day making sure he was comfortable and loved before we had to take him on his last journey! By the time we got him to the vets we knew we had made the right decision and when the time came he slipped away without even a whimper. he will be sadly missed and had left a huge whole in our house – I don’t think there will ever be another cat like this crazy dude!

Run free Jubbly – we loved you so much, we will miss you and we’ll always love you xx

Ploughing my own Furlough!

I, like millions of others, have been furloughed by my company due to the Coronavirus. This means under the Government’s terms that I receive 80% of my salary while I am unable to work due to the restrictions. At the end of the day it’s just about doable because the money I save on not having to commute to Newcastle every day is about the same as the drop in income so with a bit of scrimping and saving I’m doing ok for now.

The reason my company, which has been in business for the past 26 years, has had to furlough most of its staff is that we service the conference and events sector and as gatherings of people are banned all of our business has either been cancelled or postponed until September at the earliest (and even that is looking doubtful) so all of our income is currently on hold. The company managed to pay our wages for the first month but after that we had to sign a form to accept the new terms and conditions of furlough.

I think it’s important to stress that we are in this position not because of anything we did personally or that the company did wrong it is simply because the virus spreading around the world has made our business impossible in the short term. The last event we did was in Northern Ireland and as we were setting up during the day the client was getting phone call after phone call from guests to cancel. At one point it was touch and go wether the event would go ahead after us travelling out there and setting everything up!

I’ve worked in this industry since leaving University back in 1985 – so 35 years now with only one week where I wasn’t actually employed as I took a week out between leaving one job and starting the next. I worked for a company in London originally and then left to help set up a new company which I worked for for 25 years and now I work for a company in the North East and have done for the last 6 years during which time I have only been off sick for 1 day.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I have been absolutely shocked over the past couple of days by the rhetoric coming from the Government regarding the scheme they set up a few weeks earlier under the banner “whatever it takes” There has been talk of people becoming “addicted to furlough money” (I mean how? I’ve only had one payment) and having to “ween us off the payments”! There was talk (which thankfully didn’t happen this week) about reducing the payments to encourage us to go back to work! At the end of the day I would happily go back to work BUT the work isn’t there at the moment! So talk of people not wanting to work is nonsense!

I spent yesterday despairing at the vitriol of some people on Facebook and Twitter towards those of us who have been furloughed. There were some common themes and I could have spent all day rebutting them…

Paying people to sit on their arses all day

Well I can’t work at the moment so what is the alternative – I become unemployed and er sit on my arse all day?

Why should my tax money subsidise people’s wages

Well it’s my tax money too – I’ve paid tax and National Insurance for 35 years and never claimed a thing so why can’t I claim on my “insurance” now? Also the alternative is 6m more people on the dole which, guess what, would come out of your taxes! And given that without the furlough scheme a lot of business would go under there would be a lot less vacancies for the newly unemployed so you would end up paying their benefits even longer than the furlough scheme

I wonder how many people would feel that way if it was the sector that they work in that was effected?

And my favourite – bloody lazy lefties just want to get paid for sitting on their arses

Well firstly as I said above I would love to be able to go back to work and will happily do so when the business picks up. Secondly I suspect a lot of people currently benefitting from the furlough scheme aren’t lefties at all and probably a significant number would have voted Conservative at the last election! Incidentally I have seen the same accusations thrown at school staff by the same vile people saying that teachers don’t want to go back because they just want even more paid holidays. This annoys me because firstly it was the schools that were closed before businesses for a reason. Secondly the staff have been going in to look after key workers kids and thirdly as a Teaching Assistant my wife doesn’t actually get paid for the holidays! They just want to know that they are going to be safe before they return – is that a crime?

Now don’t get me wrong I am very grateful to the Conservative Government (blimey did I just type that) for the furlough scheme and for everything they announced at the start of the crisis BUT why having put things in place to do “Whatever it takes” do they start, just a few weeks later, to try and claw it back making people like me feel guilty and stressed out in the process?

RIP Arnold aka Bacon Ears

Arnold – the cat who came in from the cold sadly had to be put to sleep last week.


When we used to live down south we had six cats and we would feed them outside on the decking. One evening, much to the consternation of the others, a feral ginger cat with tatty ears turned up. He’d obviously got wind of the food and was hoping to get some for himself. At first he would just sit and watch the others eat, he’d plonk himself down and curl his tail around himself and then put his two front paws on the end of it. I don’t know why but I christened him Arnold. (Ben nicknamed him Bacon Ears)

When he kept turning up I tried to make friends with him but it was a slow process. At first any attempt to approach him resulted in him legging it but as time went on he became less wary of me. He still wouldn’t let me touch him though and even after we got to know him better he was still wary of men and would flinch if you put your hand above his head. He clearly had had a rough life and I was honoured that he eventually came to me!


One night we had just gone to bed when we heard a commotion somewhere in the house. It turned out that Arnold had wandered in when the back door was open and made himself comfy somewhere and was now freaking out because the exit route was no longer there. I tried to catch him but that just made him worse until he finally found that the bathroom window was open and climbed out of it! With him sitting on a first floor windowsill we had no idea what to do next but he did! He leapt from the bathroom to the windowsill outside Ben’s room. Then from there he leapt down onto the fence below, it was quite a drop and Sarah and I were almost to scared to look down – but when we did he was ok!

He continued to get braver and would often come into the kitchen, the other cats now tolerated him rather than accepting him. One day I actually managed to pick him up and he let me hold him for a while and this was when I realised that he was actually an Arnold and not an Arnoldina!

arnold hold

At this point we had a problem – we were moving and we weren’t sure what to do with a cat that wasn’t quite ours. Luckily Becky came to his rescue and he went to live, not without putting up a serious fight when they tried to get him into the basket though, in Brighton. Becky and her girlfriend had him for about a year before they split up and then when Becky moved into a place where she couldn’t have pets Arnold went to live with Sarah’s mum. Despite all of her protesting I think she really enjoyed having the little ginger man there!

Earlier this year Becky was finally able to have him back and he went back to Brighton to live with Becky and her new girlfriend. Unfortunately a few weeks ago Becky noticed that he had blood on his nose and after lots of investigations at the vets he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma which had spread to his nose and eye sockets. Last Thursday he was really ill and she had to take him to the vets and the decision was made to end his suffering. She waited till the following morning so that her girlfriend could be with her so they could say goodbye to him together.


So poor Arnold crossed the rainbow bridge but at the end of the day he had six years of living the highlife that he probably wouldn’t have had if we all hadn’t taken such a shine to him. Run free little man!

Wining again!

As it’s been a while since my last blog about my attempts to make wine I thought I’d do an update!


At the end of May I decided that I should bottle the Elderberry wine I started in October last year. I’d washed out the bottles and got the labels off them the day before so all I had to do was sterilise everything before I started. I set everything up on the kitchen table and despite initially struggling to get the wine to flow (the cork was too far into the demijohn – strange as it wasn’t an issue with an identical one yesterday!) I filled five and a half bottles before the wine flow ground to a halt even though there was still quite a lot left in the demijohn. That’s the problem with the silt trap on the syphon tube – so I decided  to remove it and fill the last bottle.

img_20180528_181743 It was a bit of a struggle to get it going again but I soon had the last bootle full. I put some more wine into the measuring jug and used that to top up the bottles. There was still enough to fill a wine glass for ahem…testing purposes! The bottle tops I had bought during the week were a doddle to use and pretty soon I had six sealed bottles of wine on the table!


I had printed out some labels for the bottles. I’d designed them a few weeks back and used my photos of the surrounding area as the basis to create a number of individual labels. I went up into the attic and got my guillotine out to cut them out. Yesterday I had bought some spray glue from the pound shop so I used that to attach them! I used to used spray mount years ago and I was expecting this to be the same but it wasn’t and the glue came out somewhat manically and in lumps. I maanged to get all 6 labels on but some had more glue on them than I would have liked!


The mead that I started in February has been racked twice – I messed it up the first time disturbing the lees on the bottom of the demmijohn and sending clouds of them into the almost clear liquid meaning that by the time it was in the new demijohn it was all cloudy again! I then had to wait until it settled so I could do it again! IT’s currently sitting nice  and clear waiting to be bottled some tine around September.

I did think about making dandelion wine this year but if I’m honest by the time the dandelions had come out I was so busy with work and other things I never found the time to go and pick any – oh well maybe next year! Feeeling cheated by this I decided to try something else and that turned out to be Elderflower champagne! I’d seen a recipe for it on line and it sounded quite quick and easy so I thought why not!

I’d been working from home and at lunchtime I took dog dog out for a quick walk and we head down onto Millennium Green where I had spotted some Elderberry trees on my walk the other night. Unluckily for me they were more difficult to get to than I had expected and I had to fight through nettles to get to them! Luckily I only got stung once and I soon had a bag of elderflowers to take home.


Then in the evening I set about making my Elderflower champagne. I’d boiled some water earlier and added the sugar till it dissolved and then added cold water and left it to cool down. Now I had to add the elderflowers and the other ingredients like lemons and yeast nutrient to the mix! I didn’t add any yeast because it said to wait a few days to see if the natural yeasts in the flowers started the process off!


A few days later there was no sign of activity so I decided I would add some yeast. The original recipe called for champagne yeast but I knew I’d have to order that. Others said any yeast would do so I decided to head up to Wilko at lunchtime to buy some just in case. It was a lovely day so I decided to walk through the park to get there but when I did they didn’t have any! Still it got me out of the office! I had some yeast that came with the original kit that Sarah bought me that never got used so I used that when I got home and discovered that there was still no action! Almost as soon as I added it I could tell it was going to be ok and by the time I went to bed there definitely seemed to be something going on!


After a week the idea is that you put the resulting liquid into bottles but most sites suggest that you monitor the bottles everyday and “burp” then to prevent a build up of gas which can in extreme cases shatter the bottles! However I didn’t have any bottles yet and I was unexpectedly going away with work the following week so to be safe I decided to put it into a demijohn till I got back. So on Sunday evening I set about transferring the elderflower wine out of the fermentation bucket. I fished out all of the lemons and elderflowers before filtering the liquid through a muslin cloth and funnel into the demijohn.The resulting liquid in the demijohn looked very cloudy so I might have to look into what went wrong there! It says leave for a few hours to settle but this looks like it could take a lot longer!


So the following Sunday I went to  transfer the elderflower champagne into the bottles I bought that afternoon at Wilko. While I enjoy wine making I find the sterilisation of everything to be such a pain! Still I was soon all set up and ready to go!


I had hoped to buy 75cl bottles but they seem to have to be ordered in! I had thought to order some to be picked up in Sunderland on Saturday but it took four days and I didn’t remember to do it till Thursday! In the end it was just as well as we didn’t make it to Wilko in Sunderland that day! So I settled for 50cl bottle but the advantage of that is that they will come in useful for cider which I have promised to make at some point soon!


However it did mean that I still had some left over after filling the bottles so I put it in plastic bottle. One of the pages I read recommended using plastic in case the gas put the bottle under pressure. I don’t think mine is fizzy enough for that but I figured the plastic would alert me to any issues with the glass before it became an issue – if you see what I mean!


I left the bottles for a few days and then I tried my elderflower champagne! I’d put a bottle in the fridge  before I left for work so it would be nicely chilled by the time I got back. We had lasagne for dinner so it went nicely with that. The verdict so far – it tastes quite nice but isn’t very fizzy. I did add some sugar as per the instructions on another website I looked at but it didn’t seem to do much. I’ll add some to the other ones and leave a bit longer and see if that makes a difference. It is certainly alcoholic because I drank about 400ml and felt quite squiffy by the time I took dog dog out!

So that’s what’s been happening – I will try and make some cider at some point but I need to order some cider yeast first. Other than that it will be bottling the mead next so that I have room to start this years batch of Elderberry when the berries are ripe! Oh and there’s always the drinking to look forward to!

Fifteen Years

I was doing some digital tidying up the other day moving files from one HDD to another to keep them safe as the first drive is knocking on a bit! As I was doing it I realised that it is 15 years ago this month that I went into PC World in Chatham and came out with two new toys that I didn’t realise at the time would make so much difference to the way we live and record out lives over the next few years. The first was a Kodak digital camera and the other was a Compaq H3950 pocket pc.

It seems now like digital photography has been around forever but back then it was a novelty! My friends who had recently moved to Wales had bought one and I liked the idea of using a camera that meant the images could then be used on my website – blogs, Facebook etc had yet to be invented!

I can’t remember how much I paid for it but it was expensive for the time, especially as it was only 2.2 megapixels and only had a basic zoom. It took ok pictures but was very limiting in lowlight. I had it for around 4 years and by the end of that time, when we went to Australia, I felt the need to move up to the next level – since then I have had two Fuji bridge cameras and I now own a Nikon D300 DSLR. However other developments in cameras have obviously changed the whole ballgame!

The pocket PC was like what we now know as a smartphone except it didn’t make phone calls and ran a cut down version of Windows. You could connect it it to your pc via a docking station and it would sync up. I noticed the other day that my 2003 paper diary literally stopped a few months in so my switch over to a digital diary must have been instant! Looking back it was quite basic but the real improvement came a year or so later when I was able to connect to the internet  using my newly acquired Motorola Razr V3 flip phone, also the first phone I owned with a built in camera! This allowed me to receive emails or surf the web using the equivalent of a dial up connection. This was still three and a half years before the first iphone came out!

In 2005 both the pocket pc and the flip phone were replaced by a single device – the QTEC 9100 (and another year later by the 9600). This was truly what we now know as a smart phone as it combined the pocket pc with a phone facility and even had wifi to connect directly to the internet without running up your phone bill.  They were clunky compared to todays devices, they still had a slide out physical keyboard and you had to use a stick to operate the screen but I loved it. It was so useful when we went on holiday to Australia to communicate with home as I could also use instant messaging on it too!

After the two QTec devices I moved onto a rather good HTC phone, again running Windows, but after slamming that in a car door I was given a replacement on which they had tried to emulate an iphone gui which was crap. I decided that I might as well go over to an iPhone but really didn’t want to have to do everything through iTunes and in any case it would mean leaving Vodafone as they weren’t doing them at the time. I phoned them up and they introduced me to Android which I have used ever since!

The other development over that time is the addition of camera to phones. Although the first Qtec phone I had featured a camera it wasn’t until 2009 and the last Windows device and the first Android device that the resolution of the camera exceeded the Kodak camera I had bought in 2003. The camera on the phone was for a long time a “use if you don’t have a proper camera” device and it wasn’t until around 2011 when I got HTC Desire HD that it started to be something you could actually consider taking serious photographs with. The jump from a 3MP camera on the first Android to an 8MP camera on the HD made all the difference! There were now a number of cool apps that made your cameraphone a useful tool rather than a weapon of last resort, I even had some of the images I took featured in a local exhibition!

A G Hales High Class Footwear Repairs Revisted ©deadheaduk

Over the next few years the quality of the phones increased and so did the lenses and software to the point where I sometimes think “why bother with the Nikon!” My latest phone, the Google Pixel, has one of the best digital cameras I’ve ever owned on it – so much so that I had a professional photographer shaking his head is disbelief when he found out that a picture I posted on Instagram was from my phone! He’d used a £5k camera and lens and got the same shot!

The other thing that has changed significantly over that period is storage! The Kodak camera came with a 64Mb compact flash card which seemed a lot at the time and the Nikon still uses compact flash but the two I have for that camera are 32Gb each. (It should be noted that the first PC I owned only had a 20Mb hard drive and any of the memory sticks in my bag are hundreds of times larger!)

Most of the stuff I was moving was on CDr – I used to occasionally burn off the files on my PC onto CDr to clear up space. Obviously they only held 650Mb which now seems so small – mind you I’ve still got some zip discs somewhere and they seemed huge at the time and only held 250Mb! As things progress PCs don’t have the ability to read these “older” formats anymore and I worry about losing stuff – particularly old photos. I had moved everything onto a 400Mb HDD but even that was knocking on a bit so I moved everything again onto a 3Tb one.

Now of course there’s the cloud and one day I guess I should put all my stuff onto a virtual drive somewhere but I often wonder how long that will last! I had an account with one provider who suddenly decided to close it down and I had to re download everything. Maybe in thousands of years time there will be a gap in the history books for our times because everything became digital but was stored in a format no one can access anymore! It’d be odd to think that the more we advanced the more we lost!



Mother’s day

Today is mother’s day and as usual I feel sad that my mum isn’t around to spoil today. She died, younger than I am now, in 1990 without getting to see any of her grandchildren. Had she still been alive she would have celebrated her 80th birthday two days ago. Next year I will have lived half my life without her.

So this is for my mum just to let her know that she’s still loved very much and missed every single day.

Light Pollution

I originally posted this blog entry on another, now defunct, blog so I thought I’d repost it here

Where we live is in a strange place when it comes to dark skies – the north and east of the village suffer from a lot of light pollution from places like Crook, Consett, Durham and even Newcastle but the south and the west are relatively dark – and so they should be given that they look inland towards the more sparsely inhabited areas in the North Pennines. The upshot of this is if you venture away from the street lights in the village you get some wonderful views of the stars in the night sky.

In fact if I’m honest you don’t have to go that far, the Dark Sky Discovery site classifies two types of site to view the night sky – firstly there’s a Milky Way site where the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye and then there is a Orion Site where the seven main stars in the winter constellation Orion are visible to the naked eye which puts my back garden into the latter category. Then there is the Thornley Road (before that idiot put those super bright spot lights outside his unit), at the bottom of Ironworks Road and behind the cemetery where the Milky Way can be seen on a really dark night and both of those are within walking distance. We’ve also got Derwent Reservoir and Parkhead Station within a twenty minute drive that are both recognised by the North Pennines AONB as being dark sky discovery sites.

Of course over 100 years ago, when the skies would have been much darker, there was an observatory in the village. A local clergyman built one in the garden of the rectory. The Rev Espin, who also dabbled with medical use of x-rays, was a well renowned astronomer and even has a crater on the dark side of the moon named after him!

So the other night when I discovered that the sky was really clear I set out to discover for myself if the skies were dark enough for astrophotography. I would have driven to a dark sky discovery spot but by the time I discovered the sky was so clear I’d had a couple of glasses of wine so it wasn’t a good idea! I has also seen on Facebook that the moon was due to set at around ten to one so I figured I’d go out just before that and see what it was like.

I decided that I would head up to behind the cemetery so I got my camera out and refreshed my memory by looking at the cheat sheet I’d got from Kielder observatory earlier in the year and set my camera up ready to save me fiddling around in the dark. I took my tripod and headed off through the quiet streets to the edge of the village and then turned down a lane that runs down to the old railway track. As I did the moon was hanging low in the sky and I decided to see if I could get a picture of it. I started to set up but that was then I discovered that in future I need to remember that as well as setting my camera up before leaving I should also familiarise myself with the tripod, at least until I get used to it as this is only the third time I’ve actually used it and remembering the ins and outs in the dark wasn’t a great idea.

After a while and not getting any satisfactory shots of the moon (need to work that out obviously!) I moved on and continued to the end of the track where it meets with the old railway track which runs pretty much north -south being the line that used to run towards Consett. I moved into a position that meant I had the lights of the street behind me and where I was facing where I assume the Milky Way to be. I set my camera up and started to take a few shots. After 3 or 4 I realised that I had zoomed in to take the shots of the moon and once I’d gone back to the widest setting I could see a lot more of the sky!

I started to take various shots using various settings but decided that the light from the moon was too bright so it might be best to wait until the moon had set before trying again. At that point I turned around and I saw that the Plough was sitting directly above one of my favourite trees in the area so I swung my camera around and tried to capture the shout.

I did a 20 second exposure and when the image popped up on the screen I could see that I had an issue with light pollution – firstly in the bottom left where the street light on the A68 was causing a huge orange glow but also from the general north and east spill of light from our village and the surround area which was showing bottom right. Still the Plough had come out well and I wondered if I could move to get a better angle. I tried to take another shot and as I did nothing happened – I realised that the battery was dead and put my hand in my pocket for the spare only to realise that it was still sitting on the windowsill as I’d forgotten to pick it up!

I had no choice but to head back cursing myself for forgetting it and then cursing the nettles I walked into in the dark! Still it had been an experience and I had learned a few things for next time. It was quite eerie round the back of the cemetery especially when I could hear an angry horse in the field in front of me as I was leaving!

Still when I got home and processed the images I was quite pleased with this one – despite the light from a very bright moon!