Cheam – A London village Wed, 5 May 2021 @ 4:41 pm

Despite being in a London Borough there’s still very much the air of a village about Cheam Village. It’s too small to attract the shopping chains, although the café and restaurant chains have got a foothold.

On a day that threatened some nasty weather, the morning was sunny and warm enough to allow the taking of some bright pictures with the phone.

The croquet lawn has stimulated me to look into the game’s rules and to find out a bit about the village club. The walk in the grounds of the church provided some nice images, and I liked the new bench in the grounds of the library.


Kitchen window view (approx) Tue, 4 May 2021 @ 7:59 pm

Another dead afternoon so why not have another go at not being an artist? Here is my preparation – note the image on the laptop as it’s my kitchen window and is my intended subject. I’m not happy with my effort, but that’s no big deal. It’s the taking part that’s important, eh? My non-progress can be seen on the page NotAnArtist.


A visit to the library Tue, 4 May 2021 @ 2:40 pm

The libraries are open again and there are the necessary Covid precautions – masks, a one-way system and an ID registration. I must have been there three-quarters of an hour yet I was the only visitor. After several circuits of the shelves I was almost resigned to coming away with nothing but then a flurry of possibly interesting reads appeared. In addition, the library was disposing of copies of Matt Haig’s Midnight Library, leftovers from World Book Day. Well thank you very much, I’ll have one!


Terribly Happy Sun, 2 May 2021 @ 5:44 pm

It’s oddball, it’s strange, it’s Danish, and it’s a super gem of a film. I’ve watched it twice in two days (Netflix). At a mere 100 minutes, give it a try!


Writing without structure Sun, 2 May 2021 @ 2:57 pm

It’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog post – life has been a bit dull (apart from Chloe reaching 7 years!). In a blog I follow, an artist accompanies his fine sketches with a stream of text. There’s punctuation and word spacing but no paragraphs or blank lines. I wonder whether this ignoring of normal formatting might be a way to overcome the difficulties I have putting down my thoughts. So here goes. Instead of an artist’s drawing, an image taken this morning on a walk around the local park. Using a phone app that takes images in raw format there’s a noticeable improvement on the over-sharpened images of the default app. Of course it’s necessary to process raw images before they can be used, but I’m in control of how the image looks rather than leaving it to the default camera app. Yesterday was a typical Saturday – the papers, the bakery. A coffee in the gardens of a new vegan / vegetarian café was disappointing – a latte was nowhere near hot enough and our reticence in not complaining was something we regretted. Entertainment was provided by the couple whose dog lead got tangled in their table, bringing plates, cups and saucers crashing and smashing to the ground. Embarrassing! We’d visit the café again if only because on a nice sunny it’s so nice to sit outside with a drink and reading the papers. In the evening we watched the first episode of a re-run of series-1 of The Killing. Great stuff – 19 episodes to go and all available on streaming for binge watching at our leisure.


Sleep cycle Sat, 17 Apr 2021 @ 5:32 pm

My son put me on to an app for monitoring sleep patterns. You put your phone next to your bed at night and the app listens out for noises and decides what the noises mean. It can sense the sound of your breathing and movements and from this decide whether you are awake, asleep, in deep sleep, snoring, talking.

These are my 6 days of using the app. The sleep patterns are all over the place and I couldn’t see a relationship between the patterns and how well I felt I had slept. Also, I suspect that the awake peaks in the middle of of the night are my wife going to the loo! I’m not sure how the app can work when there are two people in close proximity to the phone. With the app draining the battery 50% or more, my curiosity is exhausted and I’ve deleted it – at no cost.


Just another walk Fri, 16 Apr 2021 @ 6:09 pm

On another 13 mile walk I came across this chalk hole, confirming that the North Downs is very much a chalky landscape. That’s a great tumbledown shed in the background!

I like this signpost

White bushes were everywhere

A typical path through the trees

In an enormous field populated by many sheep, interesting shadows

Slopes make for an interesting image

And near the end, a lovely tree and hedge


I’m happy with this Thu, 15 Apr 2021 @ 7:46 pm

I painted this from an image on the laptop and I think it’s my best so far. But I’m still NotAnArtist! You can see my development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

This morning I popped into a local charity shop (Oxfam) to buy some books (4 novels). It’s good to be able to go into bookshops again.


Wagon Wheels are not bland! Wed, 14 Apr 2021 @ 5:49 pm

Nearly 7 years old Chloe says Wagon Wheels are bland! I was astonished that she could think this but also that she knew the word ‘bland’!!

Her Dad thinks they taste of cardboard. <shakes head>


Sleep cycle snow Mon, 12 Apr 2021 @ 2:35 pm

It’s the day after my birthday and I woke up to check the results of an app I had loaded onto my phone to monitor my sleep cycle – just a bit of fun. I don’t know whether this chart is good or bad. I woke up feeling grotty, but that’s normal. There doesn’t seem to be much deep sleep happening, but is that good or bad? I’ll see how the following nights go.

We weren’t expecting snow! By the time I got out for a modest hike it was no longer snowing, and on the return leg the snow had disappeared.


It’s my birthday! Sun, 11 Apr 2021 @ 7:10 pm

What do you give someone of a certain age who likes to indulge just a little?


A🐄🐄🐄🐑mile walk Wed, 31 Mar 2021 @ 1:51 pm
Dead stuff

My family worry about me when I go out for a hike! Tue, 23 Mar 2021 @ 11:52 am

Next time my family worry about me when I go out on one of my solitary hikes, I’ll remind them of this video. The nonchalance regarding the obvious dangers is truly bizarre. Watch until the end to see the majestic finale. Best watched full-screen, in HD and on a big screen.


13 miles! Mon, 22 Mar 2021 @ 6:50 pm

I extended my occasional 10-mile walk with an additional loop at roughly half-way, and what a delightful stretch it was. There were plenty of walkers out on a lovely spring-like day and I got chatting to a delightful man as he enjoyed his picnic. A retired headmaster, his walks were more like 3 miles and he seemed quite impressed with the length of my walk. Nice to have met you, David!


Headley Heath Fri, 19 Mar 2021 @ 3:00 pm



On a lovely, sunny morning the yellow butterflies were out in force on Headley Heath, but too quick for me and my camera.


My first Python code Tue, 16 Mar 2021 @ 8:15 pm

For a challenge I’ve tried to teach myself the Python programming language. It’s a big language with many features which I, as an ex-programmer from many decades ago, am unfamiliar with. But I’ve managed to write and test the code below, though I’m not sure I want to take this much further. I’ll see…..

import csv
from datetime import datetime
from operator import attrgetter
#======================================================
# A re-creation of my Reminder program from several decades ago!! My first Python program!
#
# Version 0.1 04-Mar-2021 In the beginning
# Version 0.2 07-Mar-2021 In the beginning 
# Version 0.3 07-Mar-2021 I'm finally happy!
#======================================================
class Reminder:
    def __init__(self, myRec):
        self.Date = myRec[0]
        self.DateTimeConversion = datetime.strptime(myRec[0],"%d-%b-%Y")
        self.Message = myRec[1]
#======================================================
# Function GetReminderData to get the reminder data
#
#
# Read each record in the file
# Ignore any blank lines 
# Add each record to the list myReminders
#
def GetReminderData(myFile,myReminders) :
    with open(myFile) as csv_file:
        csv_reader = csv.reader(csv_file, delimiter=',')
        line_count = 0
        for rec in csv_reader:
            if rec == []:
                pass
            else:
                line_count += 1
                p = Reminder(rec)
                myReminders.append(p)    
    csv_file.close()
#====================================================
# Function HowManyDaysDifference to get the number of days between today's date and a text date
# This is my weird code - what a palaver!
def HowManyDaysDifference(TextDate):
    today_object = datetime.now()
    mydate_in_datetime = datetime.strptime(TextDate,"%d-%b-%Y")
    tdiff = mydate_in_datetime - today_object
    diff_in_days = tdiff.days
    if diff_in_days >= 0:
        diff_in_days += 1
    else:
        tdiff = today_object - mydate_in_datetime
        diff_in_days = -tdiff.days
  
    return diff_in_days
#==================================================
# Function PrintList to nicely print the data
def PrintList ():
    mySectionSeparator = "-" * 75
    tChange = True
    print ("\n" * 10 )
    print ("         Welcome to my Python Reminder program!")
    print (mySectionSeparator)
    
    for i in sorted(myReminders, key = attrgetter('DateTimeConversion')):
        nDays = HowManyDaysDifference(i.Date)
        if tChange and nDays > 0:
            tChange = False
            print (mySectionSeparator)
        if nDays == 0:
            t1 = "     Today    "
        elif nDays == -1:
            t1 = "   Yesterday  "
        elif nDays == 1:
            t1 = "    Tomorrow  "
        elif nDays < 0:
            t1 = '{:4d}'.format(-nDays) + " days since"
        else:
            t1 = '{:4d}'.format(nDays) + " days until"
        t2 = i.Date +t1
        print (t2,i.Message) 
    
    print (mySectionSeparator)
#=================================================
# This is the MAIN  program
#
myFile = 'C:/Users/Mike/Documents/Documents/MyPythonCode/Reminder.dat'

myReminders = []

GetReminderData(myFile, myReminders)

PrintList()

And the output is….


Get Thy Bearings - Donovan Mon, 8 Mar 2021 @ 11:12 pm

This is rather nice.


Berlin bookstores Sat, 6 Mar 2021 @ 5:33 pm

I’ve just started reading this second-hand, 1973 paperback  – a Christmas present from my son’s German girlfriend. Admire the book’s yellow pages – it’s 48 years-old! The enclosed bookmark says the book came from one of the many Berlin bookshops selling English books.

Astonishingly, Berlin bookshops are considered ‘essential services’ during lockdown and allowed to stay open – we in the UK can only dream.

Here’s a rather nice article detailing ‘The best English bookstores in Berlin‘.


The sun shone for 20 seconds Sat, 6 Mar 2021 @ 3:54 pm

On a 10.4 mile walk taking just over 3 hours, the sun came out for a mere 20 seconds. Fortunately my camera was primed and ready to shoot.

A grey day.


A walk to Ewell Wed, 3 Mar 2021 @ 2:16 pm
Ewell postbox
Ewell pond
Cheam Art gallery
New life out of old

Not an artist Sun, 28 Feb 2021 @ 2:44 pm

What have I talked myself into? I casually suggested to my daughter that on a Zoom call I could do some painting with the little ones. So I invested in some gear, and here is my studio setup. My daughter suggested acrylic paints but I did find it all a bit fiddly squeezing bits out of tubes – oh for a paintbox! I think I’ve verified my opinion that I have no artistic skills as well as no shame, but early days, eh! If nothing comes of it I can pass on my materials to Chloe and Iris.

First review from the little ones:

“Iris said “wow!”…Chloe observed that you’d paid attention to that video you’d watched! And she wants to know where’s your next one!”

See my progress here….