Playing with colour

I’ve seen some amazing projects involving colourising old photographs in recent years, and have often fancied having ago. And just recently there’s been a spate of great photographs of my home town of Stevenage appearing on an “Old Memories” Facebook group.

One photograph really caught my eye as it happens to have me and my three brothers in. And so…

PlaygroundBoys

And then once I’d started, I thought I’d try a few more.

Market73

Portrait

 

young ronMk2(This one is my dad.)

Now, to a layman these might look okay, but if you’ve seen just how amazing these can be, you’ll see I still have a lot to learn. Skins tones in particular are really tricky. But I’m glad to have made a start and plan to continue.

For reference, this is how those four started out:

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And for some examples of these done properly, how about this extraordinary work by Benjamin Thomas:

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Day to night…

Recently I asked on Facebook for any little fun Photoshop challenges. I do that every now and then. Always good to try something out just for fun as it gets you experimenting with the software and discovering new things that might come in handy for real projects.

A friend suggested “turn a daytime photograph into a nighttime one”. Ooh, I’ve never tried that, I thought.

So I rummaged through some recent photographs and found this scene of central Hertford.

HertfordDay

Wasn’t really sure where to start, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube you can always find people sharing their knowledge. Half an hour later, and I had this…

HertfordNight2

Far from perfect, but not bad for a first attempt, I thought. Thanks for the challenge, Christopher!

Ride London 46. I reached 270.1 mph, allegedly.

It had been a long while since I did a proper ride, so when my friend Graham suggested riding the Ride London 46 how could I not join him? Yes, yes, I have ridden further – London to Paris over four days twice back in 2010 and 2011. And yes, yes there is a Ride London 100 which I’ve had in mind since it was established back in 2013. In fact I even got a place on that in its first year, but had to turn it down as we ended up being in America that weekend. But even so, 46 miles in less than four hours (the required minimum time) felt like quite enough of a challenge.

And so today, after not quite enough training, we headed down to London. Graham had a plan of where to park in a residential area in Hackney, so after an early alarm call and a smooth drive down our first ride was just over four miles from there to the Olympic Park where the ride starts.

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Eek! Look at that route. I’m sure we could have saved ourselves a bit of distance there, but hey, we followed the signs. Anyway, it was a nice warm up. Unfortunately we didn’t stay warm for long, as just after we’d placed all our belongings on the lorry that would take them to the end and been corralled into our starting area, the rain started. It never got too heavy, but we were held in our waiting area for about an hour and half, and even light rain soaks you through in that time. When the breeze came I was getting seriously cold to the point of shivering.

And that was the worst part of the day. Wet through and cold before we’d even started.

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In the waiting area between showers. Still smiling at this point! (And indeed for most of the day.)

Eventually we found ourselves at the start line, and we were off. Still raining at this stage, it took a while to warm up, but it was a delight to be cycling among such a crowd (there’s about 40,000 people riding altogether) and on closed roads. I’ve never ridden on a ‘closed roads’ ride before, and it’s a really lovely experience.

My poor training meant after about 15 miles I was beginning to flag a bit, but an energy gel boost got me back up to speed soon enough and we enjoyed a decent pace for amateurs.  The great thing about a mass ride like this is that everyone doing it together drives you on and encourages you. Even more so, those that come out to stand by the side of the route and cheer on complete strangers. Always a boost. And the route is lovely.

We only stopped once (and only briefly for a wee) after which it was Graham’s turn to flag a bit but soon enough we were back up to our cruising speed of between 14 and 15 mph. Now, as I said before I’ve ridden further. Day one of London to Paris was 84 miles to Dover, so 46 miles should have been easy, right? But as we rode I realised the big difference: our 84 miles to Dover was broken up into smaller chunks as we stopped every 20/25 miles for a break. 46 miles with only a loo stop was harder than I expected, but I was also delighted to find we got round with a riding time of 2:59. They expect you to be able to ride it in under four hours, and I’d really thought I’d be coming in longer than three and a half, so to ride under three hours was great.

Could I do the 100 some time? I’d need some proper training, but yes, I really think I should aim to do it…

…one day.

Until then, it’s not too late to make a donation. Don’t forget we were riding for Breast Cancer Care in memory of Graham’s wife Lois who he lost far too young. Oh, and today should have been their 18th wedding anniversary. Thank you to all who have sponsored me, and if you haven’t, please please do consider it. Heres a link:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TrevorCoultart

Tired but happy

Here’s the details of the ride: Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 20.49.38Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 20.49.28Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 20.50.13

(Hang on: I don’t remember reaching 270.1 mph!? Can only assume this is where my GPS lost me in the Limehouse link tunnel then found me again and jumped me forward instantaneously.)

Oh, and to finish the day we then had a gentle ride back to Graham’s sneaky parking space, which was another 47 minutes in the saddle, this time partly sharing roads with other traffic and partly along the Regent’s Canal towpath. A lovely end to the day.

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A Twitter Conversation

It started yesterday afternoon, when Tom, an RAC engineer tweeted this:

Now, I’m not sure how I came to see Tom’s tweet – I don’t follow him so assume someone I do must have retweeted it, but I couldn’t let it go. Malted Milks?

My reply:

And that’s where RAC’s Twitter account joined in, in the form of the lovely Hannah:

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And so the day ended.

But then this morning…

Top internet points to Hannah, and to the RAC for giving her free rein! (And thanks, Tom, for letting us play on your timeline!)

(Note: I’ll confess I’d not noticed that the original biscuits were chocolate Malted Milk, but then again I’m not sure even chocolate can rescue a Malted Milk.)

“Savour every moment”

(Warning: cheesy platitudes contained herein.)

“Savour every moment”

That’s what the guest on Radio Four said the other morning. She was talking about what she hopes her children will learn from her. (Or something like that. Not quite sure I caught the whole thing but that was the general idea.) Anyway, it’s a platitude, but one I can go along with. A laudable aim.

To savour every moment.

To cherish the now. All that sort of thing.

But at the particular moment she said it, I was scrubbing a frying pan from that morning’s breakfast.

And I found myself thinking, every moment”? How do I savour this particular moment? It’s a mundane, not especially pleasant task, scrubbing this frying pan. It’d had bacon and eggs in it. They’d stuck a bit. It’s greasy. I can hear my son and his cousin having fun in the next room, and here am I stuck doing this. Dull. Boring. Ordinary.

But you know what, I thought about it and realised how much it meant, that fact that I was scrubbing that greasy pan.

And I was thankful. Scrubbing that pan meant I’d had a good breakfast. Bacon and eggs: my favourite. We can afford such luxury from time to time. What a privilege that is. I was washing the pan in hot water. Readily available hot water, straight from the tap. What a luxury. So many don’t have that. My son was having a great time, in the company of someone he loves and looks up to. He’s lucky. So am I.

Yes, it was a moment to savour.

Chin-up project two weeks in.

So far so good. I’ve stuck with this chin-up thing for a whole two weeks. That’s not bad going for me. And how is it going? Yep, okay. I think.

I’m broadly following a routine I found online, but adapted to my level of ability. It suggests that most days you do multiple short workouts, never going to the point of failure. For my first week I knew I could do five chin-ups at a time, so that’s where I set my base point, and simply went back to the chin-up bar several times throughout each day to do my five. One day a week is “challenge day”, where you set a timer for five minutes and do as many chin-ups as you can manage. The next day is rest day, where you do none at all.

For challenge day at the end of week one, I managed 16 in the five minutes. 

For week two I increased my standard session to six at a time, and also generally managed to do more sets most days.

For my second challenge day I managed 20. I’d call that progress.

The aim of the project is to increase the TOTAL number of chin-ups you do across the whole week, and as you can see I hugely increased from week one to two.

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Look, I did a spreadsheet and everything!

You might also spot that I’ve started week three on sets of six again. That sixth one each time is still just a bit much at times and the plan I’m following suggests you work within you ability, not expecting to fail. I’m happy with that.

(Yes, I have taken new photographs at the end of each week but I’ll spare you those until I can see some progress.)

…in which I surprise everyone by buying a piece of exercise equipment.

I’ve always been a bit of a skinny weakling. Somehow I’ve managed to get this far in life maintaining a reasonable level of fitness without doing all that much, but I’ve never had anything much in the way of strength.

And once in a blue moon I have a half-hearted attempt to do something about that. Heck, I even joined a gym once, back in my twenties. (Not forgetting that my twenties were quite some time ago now.)  There have been more recent attempts: back in 2013 I wrote here about an attempt to start doing some press-ups. (That lasted about a week.) A couple of years later I wrote again, this time telling the world I was embarking on a regime of Planking. (That one lasted, I seem to recall, a couple of weeks.)

So what’s happening this time? Having seen them in lots of houses while I’m working, I’ve been thinking about getting a pull-up bar. Today I stopped thinking about it:

Actual exercise equipment. In my house.

And here’s where I’m happy to accept any advice that people would care to give. I can do a few chin-ups. Five, I’d say before it gets too much of a strain. But what’s the best way to go about this? How many repetitions? How often? If you know about muscles and training and stuff, I’d love to hear from you.

Since I put it up earlier today I’ve been past a few times and done a group of five each time. Maybe four or five times spread over the evening. But I need a plan.

Also not really sure how I’ll measure the effectiveness and success or otherwise of this little scheme, but for sake of completeness – and with apologies to anyone eating –  this is the starting point:

My not-so-sculpted self