Drumming

Welcome home Tim (brother), Penny (sister-in-law) and Izzie (beautiful little bundle of fun aka our baby niece)

Tim Lewis

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Its been a hectic few months as the family have relocated back to London and the UK after a fabulous two and a bit years away on the wonderful Maltese islands. We left as two people and returned as a family of three, bringing with us our beautiful little baby girl. A gift from those remarkable rocky islands in the sea. Since returning everything has gone nuts with work and being home again, seeing old friends and family. Now I am involved on a big project filming some of the best and most interesting drummers. So a collection of drum kits will appear here from time to time. This belongs to the charming and sweet Drummie Zeb of Aswad.

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No posts this week?

Wrong! This is a post so there!

Joking aside, it’s been a busy week compared to last and we’ve just been knuckling down to building our events site for the local area. The local council have taken a keen interest in it too and have been telling us of the family events taking place for Christmas. Lots of classic quirky British stuff, Christmas light switch-ons, Daleks, local pop-stars and Panto Dames. So my apprentice Dan has been busy creating flyers for the events. I think he is now tired of snowmen and Santa. 

We visited one of our clients the other night for an end of year meeting and lasagne. I recommend this combination and all meetings should be conducted this way. Bentley Copse is an activity centre for the outdoors up in the Surrey Hills. It was taken over by a new team about 3 years ago and they are very ambitious. The exciting thing is, it’s paying off and there has been an upturn in their turnover meaning, old buildings can be upgraded and new activities introduced. What’s more the website we built for them is working very well. 

Tina and I left their training center to walk back to our car, in total, absolute darkness, the site is in the middle of a big woodland near Shere. It was slightly spooky and so silent. I could happily live there!

Yesterday I filmed an office team for Tinas colleagues. Our friend Gill acting as presenter, providing a video tour. I was quite proud of my video and would happily do more of that. I used my DJI Osmo for this and edited the video in Adobe Premiere back at my office. I took delivery of a new monitor this week and it’s perfect for video work. 

Today I’m taking time off and plan to get out of town into the countryside somewhere for some decent fresh air.

Kalami awakens

In today’s post, I share another photo from our recent trip to Corfu and this one was taken from where we were staying up on the hillside overlooking the village of Kalami down below.

Kalami was home to the Durrell family and if you cast your eye from left to right, you will see the three yachts moored up in the bay and to the right of them a cluster of buildings down by the water’s edge. One of these buildings is the famous “White House” and was home to the Author and playwright, Lawrence Durrell. It was the time when he invited the rest of his family to come and live with him that inspired the famous novel, “My Family and other Animals” written by his youngest brother Gerald Durrell. It was during the 1930’s that the story was set and if you have read the book, you must visit Kalami. It has grown, for it is said that in Lawrence’s time there, his house was the only one and now there is a procession of small tavernas and holiday homes. It has maintained most of it’s Corfiot charm though.

The White House is now a very good restaurant and there are a suite of apartments there that you can rent on a bed and breakfast basis. The village is adorned with many reminders of the Durrells and indeed people do travel from far and wide just for this connection alone. You will see lots of little animals here and there including rabbits, foxes, otters. Not real ones, just little statuettes of the creatures, some are wearing little jackets and hats, slightly Walt Disney if you ask me and rather overdone.

I can remember the first time we entered the village, after an interesting drive down windy roads and plenty of sudden braking to avoid the local drivers running us into oblivion. Parking was tricky down there too and I grounded the car on a big hump which made a horrible grating noise. I was half expecting the exhaust to fall off. In fact that morning, our first since arriving the previous day we bundled into the car to realise we had a puncture. A farmer appeared from nowhere with his hand outstretched. He was friendly and gestured towards my Dad and I who were sweating over the spare tyre and jack. He helped us repair it and the following day he had fixed the damaged tyre for us. The people there are like that. Nothing is a trouble. Happy to help and very friendly.

I digress….

Back to Kalami – We did something that I can remember seeing the Durrells doing in the recent TV series, the original film and the book. That was to sit on a rickety table right down by the water’s edge and have a coffee. We later returned to have a full meal and I can highly recommend the restaurant there. It is a bit expensive but that may be due to it’s location and that it has a captive audience of people making their pilgrimage there in honour of the Durrells.

The featured photo today was taken fairly early in the morning, as the light was at it’s best. Kalami is on the North Eastern side of the island, so you don’t get to see the sunsets there but if you are an early riser, you sure get to see some fantastic dawn light.

I made use of a 0.6ND grad in this shot and mounted the camera on a Gorillapod that in turn was mounted on a glass panel. The pool area behind the villa is surrounded by glass panels for safety and they also look great because they don’t interrupt the view as much as a fence would!

I shall be back with more photos from Greece next week, have a lovely weekend everyone!

The Church at Kassiopi

Today let’s share some photos from my recent archives and I am going to begin with some Corfiot shots! We fell in love with Corfu, having never been before and were instantly gripped by it’s charm and character. We stayed in Kalami and we would hop in our hire car to take a 10 minute drive down to Kassiopi. I will share more photos of Kassiopi because we really love the little coastal resort. Now I am not normally a fan of these kinds of place but Kassiopi was a really nice place with a good blend of tourism, cuisine and history. Parts of the town are delapidated around the edges, clear signs could be seen of the effects of the economic crash that we all know about. However it had a positive vibe despite the problems of recent failures.

The Churches on Corfu all seem to bear the flags of Greece and Albania (the two-headed eagle) and many of them are not open to the public when compared to countries such as Italy. I suspect this to be due to the Orthodox nature of the religion.

4 day week?

We are forever seeking the finest balance between work and life but what do you do when work is your life? Well perhaps that is the problem? In some cases people (myself included) do stuff for a living that they are passionate about and some people aren’t so lucky and end up lumbered with a job they don’t really ike – either way, being able to push back and say, I need time to take a breather from all of this, is not always easy.

In my case I have been working on a contract based project for 18 months and now that I have walked away from that, I truly realise how much it was stressing me out and that I had lost all control of my creative side. I had become some kind of robot at times, just getting up each day to work on something that I never really saw the benefit of for myself nor anyone else. It had it’s plus sides because I did learn a lot and I did meet some great people, many of whom I shall keep in touch with. Oh and the money was good. Yes, money, we all need that don’t we. Don’t you just love Capitalism?! (Digression alert!)

So now I find myself thinking, “4-day weeks, can I do this? Will I lose money? Will I lose momentum?”

Well for starters momentum is a rythmic pulse of life and work. You can’t find a perfect momentum without focussing on the space in-between. Think of music, if there were no breathing spaces between each note or phrase, the “rest” as it is known, it would become a cacophonic blur. Ok some modern music is THAT but my point is, you need to find those quiet times to pause, reflect and take your next step. You need be in control of your pace of life before you find momentum.

Each alternate week I am taking a Wednesday off and the following week, the Friday. Repeat.

My inttention is to spend these “off days” doing things that aren’t desk based, I switch the computer off for most of the day, emails (unless urgent) can wait till the following working day. I can allow myself time merely to think about work, the plans we have for the future, the projects we are developing. I will permit myself to making notes on Evernote or Trello but that will be it. I hope that I can recharge my batteries this way and find a new momentum once more.

So what am I going to do on these days, starting with today?

  • Take long walks out in the Hampshire/Surrey countryside
  • Do some photography
  • Catch up with other people
  • Gardening – always things to do there
  • Fly the drone and capture some new footage
  • Cycling
  • Gym – not a member of any at the moment
  • Learn to cook
  • Many other things

I will let you know how this goes.

P.S. Can I keep up the daily blog entries? Let’s see, I will certainly aim to write them during the week and take weekends off 😉

Have a lovely day!

 

Farnborough Guide: Southwood woodland walk

Our local council have been setting up a number of local trails on land that had either been used by the Army or just not used at all for various reasons. I shall introduce you to some of these over time, as I am gathering photos of the local area for a combined web and mobile app project that I am developing. This project is called “Farnborough Guide” and I shall reveal more of it as time progresses. Anyway, let’s have a look at some photos I took first thing this morning whilst out doing some research.

I had taken walks here in the past but hadn’t noticed until today these fabulous signs and their stands. Local councils, love them or loathe them, do put the effort in when given the chance and gather together local talent who create masterpieces like this.

I also love the fact that it is educational, informative and eye catching all in one go. We are growing more and more concerned nowadays that people are disconnected from nature and the great outdoors or so the media would lead us to believe. I do agree that there is some element of truth in this, so anything like this is more than welcome in my book.

The last photo is of what they have named the “Stag beetle stumpery” and that brought a smile to my face. I know some people hate stag beetles, find them scary but they are as important to our ecology as any other creature on this earth. So helping them is a very important thing indeed! Once again it helps teach people about their plight and helps raise awareness of wildlife that is becoming scarce for a number of reasons.

So going back quickly to what I shall be using these photos for.

We are using a service called Cloudinary that you can use in conjunction with Amazon’s S3 servers and what they call “buckets”. So these images (taken on my iPhone) will be uploaded to these servers and Cloudinary allows you to create numerous different versions of your original images, caches them and delivers them across a fast CDN. I like this because I can generate thumbnails, cropped images, compressed versions (for speed) and use them across both the website and app we are developing.

New start: Out with the old, in with the new

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I have been working for a company called Premium Credit for about 18 months as a contractor and with that now behind me, I start a new week in a different location and I am back in my very own office that I rent in North Camp, Farnborough. This means that I am no longer having to get up at 5am in the morning to commute out of Hampshire, across half of Surrey, stuck in traffic to start at just after 7am…… no more of that and instead, I now have the option of walking, cycling or driving no more than a mile from home!

So here is a little photo of my new working environment or rather I should say “rekindled” at least. I did have multiple monitors crammed on to this desk for my Windows laptop and Mac systems. I have split them up now and it is a lot less messy.

I have an interesting week ahead of me because it is very much a case of catching up on months worth of loose ends and catching up with our apprentice Dan who is just coming back from holiday today. We are a small digital consultancy with a broad range of interests, web, photography and social media amongst many others. We are planning to go out and say hello to local businesses to drum up project work across the area.

So the intention is to spend the next two months freelancing from this lovely local office and see where it leads us in early January. I shall also write about how I am going to attempt to work a 4 day week and offer some insights into how I approach freelancing in the web industry. I am also going to have time to catch up on presenting more of my photography here on the blog, I know some of you have been waiting on this! Will I post daily, I shall try to, as I am going to treat this more as a journal.

 

Albanian Sunrise

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I decided to take a break from the computer whilst we were staying on Corfu, having had a busy time in the run-up to our trip, the priority was to relax, do nothing apart from explore and take the occasional photos. Luckily I did take quite a few but I never rush to publish my shots, I often prefer to leave them on the hard drive and return to them later. If I liked a photo when I took it and I still feel the same some weeks (even months or years) later, then I am happy. Simple as that.

The villa we rented was so well located and we could see a lot from our high vantage point. We were only 2 miles away from the coast of Albania and the land mass you can see in the photo above comprises of our “personal” mountain in the foreground, the Adriatic and then in the not-so-far-at-all distance, Albania! You could probably swim to it, if you were the sort not scared of very very deep water and able to dodge Cruise ships passing through the channel.

This shot was taken close to 6am in the morning, as I often wake up as early as that even when on holiday, but by jove! It was worth it!

So technically, for my technically minded friends out there, I used a Gorillapod and a ND grad filter for this shot. I mounted the camera on the glass panels that surrounded the pool terrace using the Gorillapod, as you can twist and contort it and affix your camera to all sorts of things. It came in very handy and I will take it on future travels. I always use Lee filters, they are just soooo good.

 

 

The flora and fauna of Corfu is diverse, whilst we have been staying here (near Kassiopi) we have seen all sorts from birds of prey to an unusual snake. Now I had no chance with the snake, it vanished before I could even raise my camera to my eye. However this little guy, that I later identified as being a Balkan Green Lizard was actually surprisingly easy to get a picture of. Would you believe me if I told you this was hand-held too? I took one photo, sneaked closer, took another until I was too close to obtain focus with my 24-70mm Sigma lens. I zoomed to the full 70mm, the light was dropping (evening time) and set my ISO to 640, aperture to f6.3 with a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. I was super pleased with the result, keeping the lizard sharp and softening out the environment he was sat in.

It was quite amusing to see him on this tree again the following two days as we took our regular walk down the mountain side to the coastal road below.

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