Back in Action

It’s been a while!

I kept my word, it seems. It’s been about two weeks since my last post. Probably more. In that time I’ve not honestly been up to much at all, hence the dearth of posts, though that probably has more to do with a real need to take some serious time-out; last term was pretty hectic, especially towards the finishing line.

Coming home for Christmas was never part of the original plan, but I’m glad I did. England at this time of year is pretty magical, with the mist, the frost and the rain in the pine woods about the house. Doubly so this year, as it’s been all of three months since the last time I saw rain in Spain. Apparently global warming is to blame. Whoever the culprit may be, it’s impressed upon me just how much I like rain. I don’t know whether that’s ineffably English or the reverse. I don’t really mind either way. I wasn’t really complaining about the gorgeous blue skies and twenty-two degree heat right up until my last day in the country (the twenty-second of December, in fact). All I hope is that it keeps for one week longer at least, so that it doesn’t put a damper on my stay in Madrid next week… more on that later.

That said, I haven’t sung a single Christmas carol this year, and that makes me feel more than a little wierd. Not even Silent Night. That must be the first time in my life where I haven’t. Next year had better make up for that.

I haven’t made anywhere near as much progress on the grand drawing as I’d have liked. Nor have I finished my series of 2015 doodles. What I have achieved over the last two weeks, however, is a new camera. The trusty old Nikon D70 has done me wonders over the last ten years, but… ten years is a long time. Especially in the fast-moving world of digital photography. I got my comeuppance for my loyalty when I went into Extremadura’s biggest camera store and was roundly told by the head clerk that nowhere stocked the ‘gigantic’ CompactFlash memory cards that the D70 runs off anymore. Time, perhaps, to move on.

Fortunately, I’ve been working two jobs and several private lessons over the last three months, so I’ve enough set aside for such adventures.

Introducing the Nikon D3200. In all its 24 megapixel glory.

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Tech that can crack out magazine quality prints on AUTO mode is worth the investment. Sadly, most of my lenses are a little out of date too, and the autofocus doesn’t work, so it’s been an ordeal learning to use manual (finally). A necessary one, but an ordeal nonetheless. Manual and nuthatches simply don’t mix.

To put it through its paces, I took it to Deal for a final coffee with the family before I jet off back to Spain for the unforeseeable future. Even on manual mode alone, it did a fine job.

The phrase ‘a kid at Christmas’ springs to mind; but then, I am a kid at heart, and this is technically still the Christmas season, so there you have it. I’m waiting on baited breath for my kit lens and the ol’ telephoto to have a functional autofocus (I haven’t been able to check thus far as I left them in Spain), but in the meantime, I’ll just keep practising with manual.

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A gannet far out to sea (Sigma 500mm, where are you when I need you?)

Apart from getting back into some serious camera hijinks, it was worth coming home for a reunion with two very special friends, and a whole panoply of others close to my heart. That’s what Christmas time is for; being with your nearest and dearest. A phrase I heard bandied about a lot this Christmas was that people had learned to distance themselves from those they ‘simply no longer really had time for’. I guess that’s a good ethos, and a strong marker of that over-the-hill feeling that is turning twenty-two. The first winnowing of friendships that were once so strong, and at the same time the moment when you see clearly, perhaps for the first time, who the people are that you will fight to keep in touch with. Having always had it in mind to leave these rainy shores to chase my dreams in Spain, I’ve never allowed myself to grow too attached to anybody here in England, but for two shining lights I would return home anytime and oft, and you know I would. You know who you are. Thank you.

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Things you’d be hard-pressed to find in Spain: a tankard of whipped-cream-topped hot chocolate

Well, Kent is behind me now, I’m back in West Sussex – where the rain and the darkness has not ceased for several days – and counting down the hours until my plane whisks me back to Seville and home. But for the wind, the place is as silent as the grave. That hasn’t stopped the birds from letting me know that they have not appreciated my absence, so I made sure to throw out some New Years’ seed for them. They’ve got to be so tame now that I hardly need to freeze when the camera’s out.

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Such is the power of that camera that neither of those have been zoomed in or edited whatsoever. Oh, but we’re going to have some serious fun with this thing.

Well, I’ll keep you posted. My next insert will probably be from Spain, but whether that will be pre- or post-Madrid depends entirely on whether the Bar Atalaya WiFi is in operation. In any case, hasta pronto, amigos. The rain in Spain falls mainly on England x

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