Over 300 new jobs, 100 apprenticeships. And 8 years of my life…

Sainsbury’s at Talbot Road, Blackpool opened its doors for the first time today. This has been part of my life for over 8 years and I am both happy and sorry to see the end of it.

Over 300 people, many of them long-term unemployed locals, now have jobs in this town that desperately needs them. Around 800 council workers have been brought back into the town centre, to bring life and their lunchtime spending. A local couple have opened a coffee shop in the ground floor of the office and Subway are there too.

During the construction, we created over 100 apprentice and work placement positions and worked closely with the local college to get the maximum benefit for young people. With the refurbished multi-storey car park, we have transformed this part of town and the benefits are already being felt.

Phase 2 next year, with a bit of luck. This is what our kind of property development and regeneration are all about. Sincere thanks to everyone in my various teams who has made this possible and made this such a brilliant project to work on.

A good day.


Yes, it’s that birthday time again

I have just read a few of the posts here from the second half of several Julys. In fact, this is the sixth July that I have been writing this blog.

That is good news.

The first one didn’t mention my birthday at all, which I find a little strange, looking back. I was in a complete state of flux then, although I probably wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone – stiff upper lip, and all that. Face up to your troubles like a man.

I do recall crying my eyes out on the M62 that evening, on the drive home from work, wondering how many birthdays I had left in me. Well, in 2009, I was 48. And now I’m 53 and I’m still here, writing nonsense on this blog. So that’s good news, provided you don’t mind the nonsense.

In 2010, I had just finished my chemo. FOUR years ago! Sheesh! I was asking myself some questions and deciding that I had until Christmas that year to answer them. They remain un-answered.

By 2011 and 2012, I was into the maintenance period, but that came to an end two years ago and in 2013, it was a steady as she goes year. 

I’ve written here ad-nauseum about diagnosis, prognosis, life-expectancy and all the rest of it, and I have written about the love and support I get from family and friends. This support is freely given and most gratefully received every week of the year, of course, but it’s always nice to be thought of when it’s your birthday. And I would like to use this opportunity to publicly thank everyone who kindly offered their birthday wishes, bought me presents and generally made my life better last week and every week. I am very grateful.

At the weekend, on the Saturday night, we stayed at The Inn at Whitewell, in the Forest of Bowland, a few miles north of Clitheroe. It’s a pretty posh place, where we have stayed once before many years ago, and had some lovely lunches since. This time, we enjoyed a good meal with our two oldest friends who had driven from their home a few miles away. Despite the forecast of potential thunderstorms, there were photos like this one to be had.


Not a bad view from the window…

So, what will future birthdays hold? I don’t know any more than the next man or woman, of course, but as things go, I won’t be doing any more crying about the potential lack of them any time soon.

And that is good news.

Many blessings counted? ✓

Road closed

Now, here’s a slightly random entry to this blog, unrelated to lymphoma or photography or anything else really.

The gas company have decided that a large, 12″ main at the top of the village needs to be replaced. This requires the road to be completely dug up so that the new pipe and other gear can be installed. This is likely to take at least a couple of weeks beyond today, judging by what I saw this afternoon.

This road is one of only two ways into the village from the main road that runs up the Wirral. All access currently has to be from the road that comes in from Neston and, in order to warn motorists that the other road is closed, warning signs have been placed at strategic junctions. From Neston, to Parkgate, there must be at least half a dozen “Road Closed Ahead” signs.

This afternoon, curiosity got the better of this cat and we went to see what the gas board were up to and whether the road would be reopened on Monday as they promised. They won’t.

But, what really surprised me was the number of motorists who clearly don’t look at the road signs or choose to ignore them. In the time it took us to walk up to the closure and back, we must have seen about a dozen cars go right to the barrier and have to turn round. These photos show the situation…

A set of signs, typical of those that are all along the road…


This is the closure itself…


And here is one of the motorists that chose to ignore all those warning signs… Just incredible…


Made me chuckle, anyway 🙂

Never give up hope… Perch Rock revisited

Doesn’t take much to re-vist, to be honest as it’s less than half an hour away from here, but a couple of years ago I was bemoaning the fact that this is a very popular spot with photographers around here – too popular.

Yet, there I was last night seeing whether the sunset that I’d seen while walking the dog at about 8 o’clock, would result in something interesting up at New Brighton.


When I got there, about 20 minutes before sunset, there was a large bank of cloud sitting on the horizon, over the Irish Sea. There would be no spectaculars this evening. I tried a couple of shots with the half moon behind the lighthouse, but they didn’t work, so I decided to head home.

As I left, via a slightly different route back off the sand, I turned to look at the lighthouse again. And saw this…

All-quiet-at-Perch-RockNow, this isn’t the best ever shot of this place, but it is unique.

I was the only person there, taking photographs.


Holiday slides. (Bear with me…)

Yes, I know. When we were very young people used to show their holiday slides to any victim who couldn’t think of a good enough excuse to be somewhere else.

“We have been to Cornwall. Relive our memories of getting sunburned on Rock beach with us, and enjoy our memories of our holiday, even though you weren’t there, and were at work that week”

You know the thing.

To a very great extent, recent posts on this blog are a modern equivalent. “I’m here in Cornwall. The weather is bloody lovely. You’re not here. Too bad”. But, my recent posts while on holiday were not intended to rub any noses in it. They were intended to show my Mum that the weather was nice 🙂 (Sorry Mum!)

No. What this post is about is the wonder and the joy and the shear perfectness of a well exposed and composed photograph taken on “slide” film. A positive image in all senses of the word.

With slide film, you have to get it right. You have to get your exposure spot on (it’s pretty unforgiving of sloppy exposure), with maybe only one stop either side of “right” to play with. You can soon see a poorly exposed slide.

With colour print film, where you shoot a negative image and have it printed to a positive print, the film technology allows for a decent amount of leeway, making the medium definitely more forgiving.

With digital, with a modern, decent camera, you have a huge dynamic range to play with. Under-exposed? Over-exposed? Don’t worry. Fixable in Photoshop, or Adobe CameraRaw.

Not so with slide film.

Get the photograph back from the processor in a nice plastic mount. Stick it in a good projector onto a good screen, and that’s it. What you took is what you see. No messing about. No fiddling. No adjusting exposure or white balance.

Now, there are still a few of us who shoot E6 film. A dying breed. There will be fewer of us next year, and fewer still the year after. Most of us who do, I suspect, scan our film and manipulate on the computer. It was the best of worlds and it was the worst of worlds. Neither film in it’s purest sense, nor digital in its most versatile, scanning film leaves one in a tricky bunker somewhere on the 10th tee.

So… the point of this blog post? Scanning slides is brilliant. You have a real colour original as a reference (as oppose to a colour negative on a pink/orange base…) and it makes scanning so dead simple it’s stupid.

Here are some scans of slides I took last week in Cornwall. You can’t see the real thing, unless you come round to my house and see the slide. But you can see the scans of them.

These two rolls of slide film have restored my faith in my Leicas. My photography.

Let’s just hope that slide film lasts a little longer yet…