Educating myself: world politics edition

Following a couple of recent conversations (on Facebook and in a pub) I felt the need to try to learn at least a little about what the heck is going on in the world. Certainly to learn more than I could just relying on soundbite quotes and cartoons on social media.

I’ve come across a few well researched articles entitled things like “What ISIS want”, which I may link to later if people are interested, but before I do that this article from September seems to be a pretty thorough, if heavily summarised, history of the islamic world and its divisions. From just this one article, I feel I understand just a little bit more about “the middle east” than I ever have before.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 23.10.15

It’s a longish read, but the writer has a light, even humorous, touch and manages to make it all pretty engaging. A bit of a ‘horrible histories for adults’, I suppose.

If you feel so inclined, read it with me, and let me know what you think.


after (8 of 14)

Before and After

I photographed a lovely property in Bricket Wood last week for one of my regular clients. While I was there I noticed another agent’s sale board outside, so couldn’t resist a sneaky look at their website to see the photographs they’d been using.

Now, I’m not saying mine are the best photographs in history, but let’s do a comparison shall we?

Before (18 of 18)after (1 of 14)(I took the other agents’ board down before shooting this.)

Before (9 of 18)after (5 of 14)

Before (2 of 18)after (7 of 14)

Before (13 of 18)after (8 of 14)

Before (4 of 18)after (4 of 14)

Before (1 of 18)after (13 of 14)

Before (8 of 18)after (14 of 14)

Before (6 of 18)after (9 of 14)

Before (7 of 18)after (10 of 14)

Before (11 of 18)after (12 of 14)

Before (12 of 18)after (11 of 14)

Before (5 of 18)after (2 of 14)

Before (17 of 18)    after (3 of 14)

I’m learning all the time on this job, and looking at these two sets of photos helps me learn. Whilst I can see I’ve taken more care about angles and paid more attention to some details, There’s is actually something rather vibrant about the originals, and mine could do with looking a little less ‘flat’. I’m also intrigued to note that despite not knowing where to point their camera, whoever took the first set did choose to lift a couple of rugs. I wonder if that’s something I should be doing?

Nothing to see here…


Someone actually mentioned to me last week that they’ve “been reading my blog”.

Well, I don’t know which bits they’ve been reading as there’s been nothing new here for well over two months. As always I have a few things milling around in my head that I’d like to write about, but as always I simply haven’t gotten around to it. For goodness sake I’ve not even managed my annual write-up about Greenbelt, and that was at the end of August. (I normally try to get that up within a couple of days.)

So, what’s the point of this post? Just to say I’ve not forgotten about this old place, an I’ll try to get some new stuff up here soon. Stuff about:

    • finishing university, graduation, and new photographic adventures
    • greenbelt – what I enjoyed and how it’s made me feel
    • potential work and jobs
    • and maybe other stuff, if I ever get round to it.

Until then, catch me on Facebook or Twitter, where I don’t tend to disappear for months at a time. I also still put new photographs on Flickr pretty regularly.



Unexpected Beauty

Luton Roundabout

Isn’t this pretty? I was driving along this morning and saw these beautiful meadow flowers and just had to pull over to capture them. Here’s a couple more views…

Luton Roundabout

Luton Roundabout

Luton Roundabout


Clearly I was somewhere tranquil and rural, eh? Well, that’s the surprise. Where was I driving? I was driving through Luton. And this was a roundabout on a busy junction. One of many around town planted up like this.

Great job, Luton!

Luton Roundabout

Luton Roundabout

Luton Roundabout

Not about spectacles.

Gee, my last couple of posts on here have been dull have they not? New glasses! Whoop-de-do.

On to bigger things, I feel. And right way way back into where this blog started. God stuff. Rarely gets a mention these days, mainly because it rarely gets much of a thought. But lately it’s been there again. Wondering what I believe, and why.

I bumped into a friend just a couple of days ago, a guy from church who I once met with regularly to pray with and discuss life and spirituality. We’ve not met like that for ages, and a random encounter (thanks, Tesco) led to a coffee. Now, we didn’t chat God stuff at all, or at least not in relation to me, but that encounter somehow got me thinking. What if he had asked? ‘How are things with your faith these days, Trevor?’ What would I have said? How about the real basics? ‘Do you believe in God?’ 

Well, he didn’t ask that. And later I found myself imagining he had. And I’d struggle to say yes. But the thing is, I’d struggle to say no, too. The best I could come up with was in my imagined conversation was, “I’m not sure I understand the question any more.”

Just a couple of months ago I remember saying to someone that I felt “closer to God” than I have for a number of years, but that I simultaneously had no idea what that meant. Well, I’m still there for sure. Except I now have no idea what God means. Very recently I came across an article by David Hayward, a former church pastor whose blog, Naked Pastor, I have followed for quite a while now. (He was still an active pastor when I started reading.)

In “How God let me go,” he describes his changing understanding of God over the years, from the jealous God of one literal scriptural interpretation, though a more open, understanding God, a gracious God, a releasing God, and finally to a God who is not God at all. And it really resonated with me. I’ve not followed the same path, but I felt very at home with his description of where he’s at now

(© David Hayward 2015)

Here’s a short extract:

When I awoke from this dream I suddenly knew that the All really is All. “God” was gone. There was only Reality. Reality rules because that’s all there is. I saw that we are all one, connected at a deep level, unified and not separate. Separation and division is only an illusion that impresses our eyes and minds. I suddenly realized that the only thing that seems to separate us is language. Thoughts. Words. Ideas. Beliefs. That’s all. We all feel the rain as it falls on us, but we all have different experiences of this rain, thoughts about it, words for it. Same with reality, the universe, the mystery, or God. It’s just words. Believer or atheist or anyone else. We are the same. God as Not-God or as All. It is the same. I saw this as clearly as anything I’ve ever seen, although it is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to articulate. But this has given me a peace that passes understanding. And it has lasted for years now.
(© David Hayward 2015)

It’s well worth a read to see the steps he describes going through before reaching this point (if nothing else, to read the dream he had that triggered this final realisation. And, if you’re someone who’s ever wondered what’s happening with my faith, I think that David’s article may come closest to explaining where I am. I’m somewhere similar. The full article is here: How God Let Me Go.

One of my brothers would probably dismiss this as simply being half a step away from atheism. Atheist, but not daring to name it because of all my church background. We’ve had a similar discussion once before. He may be right. In fact, if you look at the “religious views” section on my Facebook profile, you’ll see it’s said this for years:

Religious Views Edit Some days Christian. Some days Atheist. Most days somewhere in between.

So, yes. I embrace the title atheist. Sometimes. A Christian Atheist. Not sure that’s possible, but it’ll do for now.

Funny thing is, having just been thinking about this over the last week or so, I was at a school PTA function on Friday, helping out behind the bar (yes, we have a bar at school functions) and another school dad asked me, pretty much out of nowhere, “are you religious”. (Well, it is a C of E school.)

I had to think about that. Couldn’t really give straight answer, so told him my whole story.

Poor chap.

Varifocal acclimatisation. Advice please!

I picked up my new glasses on Monday. These ones.

TC-20150106-1125(Image from Specsavers’ website. Copyright acknowledged.) 

As you may remember, these are my first pair with varifocal lenses. Which means I am officially old. But that’s not the point of this post. We know I’m old already. I knew there would be a bit of ‘getting used to’ involved. And I’m planning to pop back into the optician to ‘review’ my first week. But before I do, it would really help to get some feedback from others to see if my experience is just normal…

Initial impressions were great. But after relaxing into them I began to notice a few things. First up, in some circumstances, looking left and right makes the edges of my vision go up and down. Tricky to explain, but I guess that’s what I recall my dad describing as things ‘swimming around a bit’ when he first got his, so I’m guessing it’s normal. And it’s a little disorienting, but not really a problem. Any other varifocal wearers recognise what I’m talking about?

Next up – and this is probably the prescription needing tweaking – but whilst distant vision is good, when I’m reading it seems to vary a lot. In good light, and when I’m alert, everything seems fine, but at other times I still find that I get a bit of double vision and am tempted to take them off or close one eye, with of which I’d been hoping to avoid. And it’s tricky to be certain, but it seems to me that my best position for reading (when I am still using both eyes!) isn’t quite straight ahead, but slightly to one side. Again – probably something needing tweaking. I’m also noticing a lot more spots of light; I keep thinking the lenses are dusty but they’re not, so I’m guessing the light bounces around inside the lenses more due to the complexity of the varifocal. In about thirty years of wearing glasses I’ve never bothered with anti-glare coatings and never felt I’ve needed to. Are varifocals more of a problem, or is it just the shape of these ones?

But here’s the main thing which I’m struggling with… Once I’ve been wearing them for a while, my eyes actually feel dry. It’s just like when I was wearing contact lenses – I keep thinking I’m looking forward to taking them out. And then I remember I’m not wearing any. Did this happen to you? And did you get used to it?