ARCHIVE: LEVELS 73 – SWEETS TEA ROOMS (MONO)


 A busy morning in the kitchen at Sweets Tea Rooms, on the Blakeway between Bleak Farm and Turnpike House, on Westhay Moor; 25 July 2009.   Note the still warm rock cakes on the tray-  absolutely delicious!  There are three tearooms in this area and this is the one I know best – friendly owners, excellent, simple food and drink, toilets, parking – and an intriguing Peat & Science Museum in the adjoining building. 

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 24mm Nikkor lens; 1600 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 60 – SUGAR CUBES IN BAILLIES’ CAFE (MONO)


Sugar cubes in Baillies Cafe, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset; 7 Mar 2012.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the Burnham’s Cottage Cafe in the past.  This establishment has now re-invented itself as Baillies Cafe, and the food is still good!  Yesterday’s Large Full English Breakfast rocked – and I was especially glad to see Bubble And Squeak which, for those not already familiar with it,  is a wonderful, fried concoction of  potato, cabbage, onions and other veg left over from earlier meals, named after the noise it makes while being cooked in the frying pan – wonderful stuff!

This is white sugar, but I’ve darkened it down and toned it, and I think that the reflective edge of the metal sugar bowl, top right, adds something to the shot.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Canon G11 Powershot; 400 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, and further manipulated in SEP2 and Capture NX2.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

ARCHIVE: STILL LIFE 9 – LUNCHTIME DRINK


 

Out for lunch, some years ago.  And a pint of soda water with ice and slices of lime.

Out for lunch, and lunch taking awhile to appear. Well, it was a Monday, the school holidays are over, and maybe the restaurant hadn’t expected such a tide of (mostly) oldies.  Anyway, the TG-5 camera was in my pocket, as it often is, and so to looking around at the things on the table in front of me.  When you’re into photography, there’s always something to look at …

But when it eventually appeared, the large mixed grill couldn’t be faulted – a carnivore’s dream, accompanied by tomato, onion rings, mushroom and (an inexhaustible supply of) chips, and probably with more than a whole day’s quota of calories.  In fact it was almost more than I could eat; must be getting old …

And, as always, the Olympus TOUGH TG-5 camera was wonderfully compact, and very capable and adaptable.  I used spot metering; and also the Microscope Mode, which enables extreme close up shots with illumination from the camera; 1600 ISO; processing in Lightroom

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

ARCHIVE STILL LIFE

This is a new category on this blog – Archive Still Life studies.  The Still Life definition will certainly be followed loosely – e.g. some studies may only have been made “still” by the split second opening of the camera’s shutter – and my objective will be to use as many different types / genres of subject matter as possible.  Some images will be Minimalist and, in general, I try to make simpler images, rather than cramming them with visual content.

Some new Still Life studies will (hopefully!) continue to appear.



SOMERSET PICTURE GALLERY 4 – POSTS 31 – 40

SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERIES

I’m currently posting images from my large archive of photos from the Somerset Levels, an area not far from where I grew up that holds particular meaning and attraction for me.  These photos are being posted singly, with full text.

To make viewing of these images easier for those with little time to spare, I’m also posting groups of these images with minimal titles.  This is the fourth gallery – you can find the earlier galleries here: 1 2 3

Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.

31: Arriving next to some cows and their calves, I kept very still and quiet and just looked at them.  Most were unconcerned by my presence, but this one, who had been lying down beside her calf, stood up to look at me, and advanced a few paces – and I was very glad of the water-filled ditch – the rhyne – that lay between us.  But, keeping silent and motionless paid off and, slowly raising the camera, I carefully started making images of this very placid scene; Tadham Moor; 12 July 2019.

32: Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor; 22 Nov 2013.

33: Pollarded Willow in floodwaters; Tadham Moor; 23 Nov 2012.

34: Lost in fog; dawn on Tealham Moor; Nov 2014.

35: Looking up, beside Pillmoor Drove, south of Wells; 2019.

36: The rising sun through trees, de-focused; near Godney; Oct 2014.

37: Queen’s Sedge Moor, morning light; May 2019.

38: Breakfast – “The Bellybuster” – at the Cottage Cafe, Burnham-On-Sea; Mar 2013.

39: Swans over Tealham; Feb 2014.

40: Early in the day, just before midwinter; Binham Moor; Dec 2016.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



ARCHIVE: LEVELS 38 – THE BELLYBUSTER AT THE COTTAGE CAFE!

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The Bellybuster Breakfast at the Cottage Cafe in Burnham-On-Sea, where the Somerset Levels run down to the sea; 20 Mar 2013.

This has got to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve eaten for a long while – and perhaps the largest I’ve ever eaten!  Let’s see what’s here.

Well, a lot of very tasty food – but equally importantly all served on a warm plate – something which can make or break a meal.  Having this lot served up on a stone cold plate would have been dreadful!

And then the presentation of the food: fine by me, except for the fried bread – see below.  But then, having mentioned the fried bread, the chef was faced with the problem is how to cram as much food as this onto the plate  – even an over large plate like this one!  This presentation certainly stirred my appetite.

Then very tasty sausages containing a great proportion of meat, and sourced from a local butcher.  And more bacon than I think I’ve ever been served – that’s a stack of it and there must have been at least five tasty rashers.

The black discs at the top are Black Pudding – made from onions, pork fat, oatmeal and flavourings – and blood, usually pig’s blood (so Google tells me).  Its not something to eat a lot of, but what oh what a flavour it adds to the mix!  And beside the pudding are mushrooms, a wonderfully subtle flavour.

Then baked beans – which are always good, ALWAYS!!!

The tomatoes are canned and I’d prefer fresh ones, slightly blackened by grilling – but the combination of their taste with that of the bacon was, as always, purely magical!  Another such heavenly combination is bacon with fried egg, and that was there too.

I’m really neutral about Hash Browns.  They’re ok and I eat them, but but really quite bland and I don’t think they add much to the overall thing.  I’d rather have chips, but add chips to a breakfast this size and I might have been overwhelmed.  And underneath the egg is the fried bread, which had unfortunately lost some of its wonderfully crisp texture due to the juices of various overlying fodder.

Overall, not wildly healthy, but consumed from time to time, rather than daily >>> WOWEEE!!!

The Cottage Cafe unfortunately closed down years ago now.  I imagine that – with meals of this calibre – many of its patrons keeled over immediately after stepping out of its (necessarily wide) doors.  But, nonetheless, I value this photo, a wonderful reminder.  And a picture, I suppose, that talks about the simple pleasures and frank enjoyment of Life, a world away from Health & Safety, starvation diets, concerns about cholesterol, calorie counting, Political Correctness, body shaming and all the other sad traits that our modern society has so adeptly dreamed up.

And if you are feeling an urgent yearning to be face down and uttering little squeaks of joy in all of this moist and overt lusciousness, you can get somewhere near the effect by clicking onto it, when a larger version will open in a separate window – NOT recommended for those of a excitable disposition, as well as coming with a Government Health Warning about banging your face on your viewing device.  While admiring your boundless (and fairly mindless) enthusiasm, FATman Photos cannot be held responsible for anything untoward, although FP does not of course mind in the slightest being held responsible for anything enjoyable and deeply satisfying …

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 28mm (35mm equivalent); 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 609 – A DISTINCTLY CIVILISED FULL ENGLISH

 

 


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I’m quite a fan of Full English Breakfasts.  They are of course eminently unhealthy food, full of fat and calories, and they can also be very bland – the ingredients can all be there, but they’re cheap, pallid affairs, and really not worth the effort.  Sausages can be the worst culprits, cheap, bland, with not a trace of texture and with almost no taste – might as well be eating cardboard, really; probably just as nutritious too.

But in other instances Full English Breakfasts are rich explosions of taste, and one pointer that I’ve discovered to this greatness is their colour – the more colourful (but not garish) ones have better ingredients and tend to taste better.  And so it was with the distinctly classy repast pictured here.  It has been another long morning of walking and photography in the city, and so into Browns eminently civilised restaurant, and a breakfast to warm the spirit.

So, what is here?  Well, the usual suspects – taking it clockwise from the top, fried eggs hiding just right of the sourdough toast, tasty sausages, thick smoked bacon, mushrooms, tomato (real, not canned) – and then that dubious black chunk trying to hide under the toast is black pudding, a pudding made with blood – truly repulsive, unhealthy … and tasty!    And then some baked beans and those thin strips of greenery – which were tasty too!  All in all, probably 1600 calories or so …

This food was indeed delicious, but the icing on the cake for me was in the semicircle of supporting accoutrements   Butter of course, and tomato sauce not in the ubiquitous plastic bottle.  And then a teapot and  small jug of milk >>> and because actual tea leaves were used instead of the ubiquitous teabags, sitting on top of the cup is a tea strainer and a little round metal cup the strainer sits in after use, so that it doesn’t drip onto the table.  I am not any great connoisseur of food nor do I have any great eye for style, but for me that tea strainer and its little receptacle were just the icing on the cake.  In a world where money rules, quality is often forsaken and there is a general race to the bottom, this tea strainer and its little holder turned a good meal into a really quite restful, elegant and special experience.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 26mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Browns restaurant, central Bristol; 28 Apr 2017.  Use of a wide angle lens pointed down at the subject appears to lift the plate of food slightly so that the objects to either side appear to be tilting outwards slightly.  This effect may be correctable with software but I’m content to leave it as it is.

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HOME 6 – SOFT DRINK, BACKLIT

 

 


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Bottle of mixer, waiting on the kitchen worktop for dilution by simply unconscionable amounts of gin.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 08 profile; in the kitchen; 9 Sept 2020.

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HOME 4 – MY FAVOURITE TIPPLE!

 

 


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As you may be aware, The FATman is an inveterate imbiber of top quality Belgian beer.  I have tasted many Belgian brews, but for some years now have (delightedly and enthusiastically!) standardised on Duvel, which is an absolutely glorious Belgian strong blond ale – with taste, after-taste, texture and … 8.5% alcohol – so, not something you pour down your throat with gay abandon, unless you have a desire to become senseless and horizontal quite speedily.

Shown above, here is golden Duvel in its own, large, tulip-shaped glass, which has been specifically designed to contain this beer’s often towering white head.  Its can be unwise to whip the tops off bottles of Belgian beers as they will often enthusiastically come out to meet you, to say hello, and to end up all over your clothes and the floor.  And Duvel is absolutely no exception, caution is needed and, after the bottle’s top is off, then the correct pouring angle is needed –  if only to avoid my wife’s comments when I emerge from an accident with perhaps one centimetre of golden ale in the bottom of one of these huge glasses – and the rest filled with bright white foam …

Since 1871, Duvel has been made by the Moortgat Brewery in Puurs – and this town has now achieved even more fame by also containing the Pfizer lab that has started producing vast amounts of covid19 vaccine.

And if all this were not enough, Moortgat Brewery now also produces the simply sublime Duvel Tripel Hop Citra, which is stronger (9.5%) and even more delicious!

I’m being spoilt: both of these wonderful beers are available in our local supermarket >>> but whether this will continue after the current acrimonious Brexit trade talks is anyone’s guess!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: TG-5 at 38mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Natural profile; my favourite armchair; 18 Sept 2020.
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ARCHIVE 525 – SAVOY CABBAGE, BACKLIT

 

 


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Savoy cabbage with backlighting; 29 Mar 2009.

Click onto image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: F6 with 105mm Nikkor lens; tripod; Fuji Velvia 100 colour slide film, rated at 125 ISO to further saturate the colours.
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ARCHIVE 486 – FAST FOOD OUTLET (MONO)

 

 


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Table and seats outside a fast food café in Newquay, Cornwall; 11 Sept 2013.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 135mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s High Contrast Smooth preset.

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