January 25, 2017

The Giggling Squid

A weird one this, it is a kind of a Thai restaurant and a Tapas place. This is a VERY new restaurant and has only been in Wokingham for a short amount of time.

I rate a 10/10 until something HORRIBLE happened, we waited what seemed like 30 minutes for them to clear up! What sort of show is that?! I rate a 7/10 now! I ate a Pad Thai Noodles and there was a weird thing at the bottom I was like “Hey look at this!” I ate it and “AAUUGGH! What is this!? Mum! what is this!!!” It turned out it was bread and I thought “?!” because why would you have BREAD in a bowl of THAI NOODLES. As a extra I had some beef on skewers with a dipping sauce! That was GOOD. If I came back again I would have Pork Dumplings, Pork Dumplhins HeHe Pork Dumplhins! I like my food because it had a good taste and it showed that they put a lot of work into it.

I like that they had 7 jelly beans in a little pot at the end like the indian buffet restaurants have the mint chocolate.

 

Bernard
January 22, 2017

Subway

This is a very old fast food place in Wokingham, it is a very small shop but it is very good. Thanks for the comment Gordon. I don’t get to go to the shop much because Mum and Dad don’t like it much.In this review I will put up something special too!

I rate this a 8/10 because my food ( a Steak & Cheese Subway with Italian Herb & Cheese Bread) was great. Service 10/10 for speed, you make it yourself, 45 second heat up then this is the special part: you can customise. Yep, you can just say, ” Excuse me, please may I have some Salami & Olives too. Ooh, and some BBQ sauce”. That is what I said. BOOM! Got it! If I came back again I would have a Chicken & Chorizo melt, I dont have to explain it because it is pretty obvious what it is, isn’t it? I like my Sub because it was a very good combination of Steak; Cheese; Olives; Salami and BBQ.

The chain of Subways is very big after all.

 

Bernard
  • Comments: 3
  • I'm so much more sophisticated in my culinary tastes these days. - Pete
  • Pete would rather chew his arm off than go to Subway, yet in our first year of dating, he ... - Karen
  • Interesting combination. I don't like olives but I like that Subway let you choose whateve... - Gordon
January 17, 2017

Gig Photography

If you listened to Uborkast last year then you may remember me mentioning my intention to try out some gig photography. Well, it took me a little while, but I finally got round to it!

On Saturday night I took my trusty Nikon D40 and my 50mm f/1.8 out to a gig to find out how it would perform in these conditions. I’d done a little bit of reading about the sort of problems that I could expect to encounter, and it all turned out to be fairly accurate.

Exposure

With the ISO cranked and the aperture wide open, I was able to get nice clear shots at a fast enough shutter speed (1/250s at f/1.8 and ISO 800). The end result is fairly grainy, as a result of having the ISO almost all the way up, but it’s an acceptable showing from what is now a 10 year old camera. This is one of those aspects where the camera body comes into play – a brand new top of the line camera will produce less noise at ISO 3200 than my 10 year old entry-level DSLR does at ISO 800. Still, the pictures produced are a little, shall we say, “moody”, so maybe ISO 1600 would have been a better choice.

Zack Johnson at The Acoustic Couch, Bracknell, 14th January 2017 (taken with Nikon D40, f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO-800, 50mm)

Focus

I mostly stuck to using the auto-focus. I’d read various articles about how to prepare for concert photography, both in terms of technical settings and also in terms of the more practical things to remember, and one author mentioned that one of his major annoyances was microphone stands. I’m really starting to appreciate that now. A lot of otherwise good shots were ruined by microphone stands, either because they wrecked the composition, or because the camera decided to focus on them. With basically no depth-of-field to play with, if the microphone stand is in focus then the person standing behind it isn’t. I found that the most satisfying subjects to photograph were the singers who weren’t also playing an instrument (and hence could hold their microphone in their hand throughout), and the musicians who didn’t sing at all (and hence had no microphone stand in front of them). For the others, I found that best results came when I moved around the side of the stage, and shot them in profile.

Vicky Sayers at The Acoustic Couch, Bracknell, 14th January 2017 (taken with Nikon D40, f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO-800, 50mm)

Composition

As a general rule, I use a zoom lens with this camera, and have only used a prime lens on a few occasions. That said, I’m a bit of a moron when it comes to using zoom, as I have a tendency to default to the widest angle possible to maximise light. I also do treat my camera phone as if it were a prime lens, because I assume that digital zoom is no better than cropping the picture after it’s already taken. Anyway, I’m digressing all the way into the weeds here, so should probably get back on track. Once you’ve chosen a place to stand, it narrows down your compositional options significantly. You can’t do much playing about with depth of field, because you need every photon that you can get, so basically all you can do is choose a direction and go for it. With only a 6 megapixel sensor, I know that I’m not going to be doing an awful lot of cropping afterwards, so I take the attitude that if I can’t get it right, the best I can do is to get it gloriously wrong. It’s somewhat liberating.

Origami Heart at The Acoustic Couch, Bracknell, 14th January 2017 (taken with Nikon D40, f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO-800, 50mm)

Getting In The Way

I wasn’t the only person taking photos at this gig, and as I was watching the other photographers I was realising how difficult it is to be unobtrusive when taking photos. I tried to minimise the amount of time that I spent taking photos, and I only got the camera out for a couple of songs from each band’s set. I also had a moment (thankfully very early on) when I realised that I’d been moving around during the songs, and this was probably quite annoying for the band and audience alike, so after that I tried to stay still until the end of a song. Let’s call this “noobie mistake #1”.

Moments

When something interesting and unforeseen happens on the stage, either you already had your camera up to your eye and are able to capture it, or you only get the tail end of it. I didn’t manage to end up on the winning side every time, but I got a few of them, and when that happened I was fairly liberal in my deployment of the shutter button. This is always going to be a bit of a hit and miss affair, but the general rule is to keep your eye on the target.

The Final Clause Of Tacitus at The Acoustic Couch, Bracknell, 14th January 2017 (taken with Nikon D40, f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO-800, 50mm)

Regrets

There was one particular angle which was giving me some difficulty. I was trying to capture the lead singer in silhouette against a very bright light. However he was moving around a lot, which meant that my camera was constantly in and out of his shadow, which made it hard to meter correctly. Looking back now, the solution is obvious – instead of having my camera in shutter-priority mode, I should have been on full manual all evening. Noobie mistake #2.

Noobie mistake #3 was another realisation that struck me during the evening – while I had my flash turned off, I wondered whether the autofocus assist light was causing any annoyance to the bands and/or audience, or whether it all just blends into the rest of the dynamic lighting that you’d expect in a gig situation. Either way, I’ve now learned how to turn it off, so next time I will start with it deactivated, and only switch it back on if the camera is utterly failing to find focus without it.

Finally, I wish that I’d also taken a few photos with my camera phone for comparison. It would be interesting to see how it fares, and whether an extra 10 years of technological advances are of any use.

Pete
January 7, 2017

Oslar Coffee

I have been going to this cafe for a long time – since it opened – so i came back today to write a post on it. Thank you Lyle and Clair for the comments. I have wanted to go to Oslar Coffee again because I haven’t been for a while. I also have a picture on the wall in the second room!

My Lunch

My second place is a cafe, Oslar Coffee to be exact. My star rating is a 9/10, I rate 9 because the service was a 10/10, only 2 – 3 minute wait! I ate the Ham & Cheese Panini’ which is definitely a 9/10, it was very hot so I CAN NOT believe, I don’t even WANT to think HOW hot the spicy is. I also had a Mango Drink which was a 8/10 because there wasn’t a large taste of mango in it. if I came back again then I would have a ‘BBQ Pulled Pork Burrito’ because it sounds like something I would like. In my ‘Ham and Cheese Panini’ the cheese was very gooey and lovely, the ham was nice and soft.

I am sorry if you are annoyed that this is shorter but it is still very good, I recommend this place.

Save

Bernard
  • Comments: 2
  • That does look like some nice gooey and lovely cheese! I hope you get to try the BBQ Pull... - Gordon
  • For the record, Pete and I shared a meatball panini and a bacon and hash brown panini, bot... - Karen
January 6, 2017

Archive-diving Into 2002

Some thoughts on re-reading my blog archives from 15 years ago:

  1. It’s all very low-tech. At the time it was just a manually-updated page, so there were no permalinks, comments, categories, tags, RSS feeds or anything like that. My blog posts didn’t even have titles. Just a date and time. Over the course of the first year, I wrote a little program to help manage my posts, so I was able to gradually incorporate some of these features, and eventually I just switched to Movable Type where it was all provided for me.
  2. The content is all muddled together in a very haphazard fashion. I would often write a long diary entry and then dump a few unrelated links (the vast majority of which I imagine are now broken) at the end as part of the same post. All very unstructured, there was clearly no intention to provide a searchable archive for future generations to enjoy, it was just for the now.
  3. By looking at the timestamps on the entries I can see that I’d often stay up until 2am for no particular reason. I remember that during the first six months I had a lot of connections in the US blogosphere (and yes, I use that term ironically) so I imagine I stayed up late chatting with them on AIM.
  4. I was an incredibly self-centred, ill-informed, sexist arsehole. Doubly baffling when you think that Karen was somehow attracted to me. I guess she saw through all my bullshit to the potentially-decent guy underneath. When posting news articles (often from the now-defunct Ananova) I’d add my own thoughts and opinions, and politically I was all over the shop. In a way, it’s sort of cute – the scattergun reaction of a young man who wasn’t trying to affiliate himself to any particular political party or movement, and judged each situation in isolation, resulting in a puzzling, usually self-contradictory jumble. The word whimsical used in its most literal sense seems appropriate here.
  5. I’d often write a lot of entries during the day, capturing my thoughts as and when they occurred to me, in a very twitter-esque way. I was clearly totally unconcerned about my employer finding out.
  6. While I would frequently bend the truth wildly for the sake of entertainment, there’s a great deal of honesty if you know where to look. The most significant and memorable events pass by completely unmentioned, but I can recognise them by what else is happening at the same time.

If you’re wondering where you can go to to view these archives, the answer is that you can’t. So deal with it, you stinky bastards.

Wow, a bit of 2002-Pete leaking out there.

Pete
  • Comments: 7
  • I quite like that back then, the links and the diary entries could coexist so easily. Nowa... - Pete
  • I think I was mostly just boring and without a meaningful "voice" in 2002. I still did lo... - swisslet
  • Interestingly, looking back to when D4D started, there isn't *that* much of a difference f... - Lyle
  • I think that a big part of it was that I stopped viewing my readers as faceless entities w... - Pete
  • Well that's interesting, because I always think that you made/make me a better person, so ... - Karen
January 5, 2017

Spectacular

I’ve been wearing glasses for about twenty-five years, and sometimes contact lenses, though rarely at the same time. My prescription has remained fairly constant for the last ten or fifteen years, and so it’s been an impediment that hasn’t given me too much trouble. Every couple of years I get an eye test to verify that my vision is much the same as ever. I order a new pack of contact lenses once in a while. I used to wear monthly disposables, but then switched to daily disposables because I would wear them less than once per month on average anyway.

In recent times I’ve had three pairs of glasses – a main pair for daily use, a backup pair that never needed to be worn (and which were free, thanks to Specsavers’ 2-for-1 offer), and a pair of prescription sunglasses (which actually get used more often in the winter, when the sun is low in the sky, than in the summer, when it’s generally stuck behind a cloud anyway).

Three months ago, my main pair broke. The metal just gave way and the lens fell out while I was cleaning it one day. I took them into the shop to see if there was anything they could do, but the news was not good. Had the frames not been of an old, discontinued design, they might have been able to perform a lens swap, but that option was not available.

They checked my file and told me that my next eye test was due in about six months, so I figured that my spare pair would be able to do me until then. After all, I’d managed decades so far without breaking a pair of glasses, so what were the odds of breaking another pair in the next six months?

I’m sure you can see where this is going. On Monday morning, New Year’s Day 2017, I stepped out of the shower, tried to put my glasses back on, and instead dropped them on the floor. A lens went scurrying off across the lino and tried to hide inside my disreputable pyjamas.

One small piece of electrical tape later, the glasses were bodged back together with the lens in place. I called up Specsavers on the off chance that they were open, which they were, and gave them my sob story. They made sympathetic noises and agreed to bring my eye test forward, and could fit me in the next afternoon.

The eye test yielded the thoroughly unsurprising news that my prescription had once again steadfastly refused to change significantly, of course. I also received the bad news that my spare pair of frames, too, were of an old and discontinued breed, so a lens swap was once again out of the question. New glasses time!

I chose two pairs of frames, one thin and discreet, the other bold and chunky. Eschewing the thinnenned lens option for the chunky ones, it turned out that they’d actually be able to produce that pair, in-store, in under an hour. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, and it makes me wonder if there is any provider of goods or services who has given me such a consistently excellent experience as Specsavers. They’re not paying me to say that, I promise you.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson from this experience. Never again will I risk the danger of being without a spare pair of glasses. It’s true to say that the adrenaline rush from flying so close to the sun was unsurpassed, but in the long run, it just ain’t worth it.

On an unrelated note, I started my first blog on the 25th July 2002. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I had started at least one before that, but it’s lost in the mists of time. Anyway, I’ve dug out my old archives, and discovered that I wrote 7 posts on that day. One was fairly weighty, but the other 6 were fairly short. Not quite short enough for Twitter, but certainly so short that nowadays you’d be more inclined to trim them down to 140 characters than to create an uppercase-b uppercase-p Blog Post for them. How things change.

I feel another blog post coming soon, about how much of an arsehole I used to be. How very meta.

Pete
  • Comments: 19
  • It'll give the two of you something to talk about as well. - Pete
  • Well that will improve my time. - Karen
  • ...also, you're not getting off the hook that easily. I'm entered in the race and will fi... - swisslet
  • (I also know that it's a stupid habit with no foundation in anything) - swisslet
  • I. Just. Can't. Help. It. - swisslet
January 2, 2017

Treatz Dessert Parlour

Hi, On Uborka I shall be, every now and then, putting up restaurant, pub, inn, diner, cafe and other. reviews so YOU can see what I suggest. I hope you like this, I will try my best. I will put up my star rating and why, what I ate there and how quick service was, if I came back again what different thing I might eat and why and why I liked my food.

My first place is an other. It is a dessert parlour, what should you call it? Mum says it should be a cafe but I don’t know. My star rating is a 9/10. I rate it 9 because the food is AWESOMELY AMAZINGLY PRO! I had a ‘Signature Platter’ with my mum and dad and if you think it sounds nice then you are so right! The ‘Signature Platter’ was a  big plate with 5 different pieces of food on it and a BIG bowl of dipping chocolate sauce in the middle. The 5 different items were: Oreos (Chocolate & Milk), Squidgy Wafers, big marshmallows and chopped up strawberries and bananas (very ripe and tasted sweet). The service was quite quick so it is good to just drop in for a quick snack. If I came back again then I would have the toffee (or was it fudge) waffle basket which is a ice cream inside a bowl made out of waffles covered in sauce. I liked my food because it was well presented and tasted great for how little time it took to make. They managed to make the banana with the amount of ripeness I like.

I hope you enjoyed my review it is definitely recommended by me and probably lots of others.

by Bernard

Bernard
  • Comments: 2
  • Sounds very tasty. - Clair
  • Sounds like a pretty good place for just desserts... - Lyle
December 11, 2016

Garden Furniture

When we first moved into this house ten years ago, we had no furniture, so we spent the first week making do with the dregs that the previous occupant had left behind. As a result, there was a certain amount of garden furniture indoor usage involved.

The IKEA sofa which brought this silly state of affairs to an end is now ready to be replaced. It has served us well, but a younger, flashier, sexier sofa dressed in red leather has drawn our collective eye, and we’re too weak to resist. It will arrive this week, and to avoid having everything happen at the same time, we’ve moved the old sofa into the conservatory today, where Maisy can have it all to herself until it is taken away.

In the meantime, we shall once again sit on garden furniture.

Pete
  • Comments: 1
  • I feel like there should have been a photograph to accompany this post. - Karen