Venus and Mercury. It is unusual to see Mercury so clearly (bottom right), as it was approaching maximum elongation (when the Sun, Earth and Mercury form a right angle). Uranus would also be in frame, as it was approaching conjunction with Venus, except it is far too dim to show up in this exposure of course. Neptune, if it were bright enough to see, would have just set.

The long exposure has given a pretty effect to a passing plane (top left).

Snowy Finchley!

A St. Valenteen’s Day card that I made for someone, it turned out they did not want it. It says ‘Lettuce bee Valentines’!

Magpie Mosaic. This is my hommage (French for ripoff) of South African photographer Johann Mader’s Mopane Mosaic. I like that he lists among his equipment, ‘beanbag’. In my picture, can you spot the cheeky magpie? :D

Look! A plane!

How to get keithlard into bed

I really hurt myself yesterday [three years ago], as I was getting out of the shower and bending down to pick up a towel, a muscle twanged in my back and within half an hour or so I was unable to walk or stand. It was a little scary as I managed to get into bed, but was not sure how I was going to get out of it again. I lay there for a few hours drifting between sleep and pain, before eventually considerations of hydrostatic pressure forced me to start planning Project Toilet.

It was hard as the slightest movement caused all my back muscles to go into spasm and thus hurt much worse than they already were, but I knew I had to move if only to avoid a Tycho Brahe scenario. I managed to stagger to the bathroom and back, but the whole operation took about twenty minutes for a journey of a couple of yards. I started getting a bit worried about how I was going to feed myself ekcetera.

It is scary and lonely if you are lying on your own unable to move and in pain, and no one knows where you are or can help. Luckily Adam Bede was within reach of the bed so I was not dying of boredom, but even George Eliot’s rich and lovely prose failed to distract me from how much it hurt. It is funny though especially if you like Cold Comfort Farm, as there is a character called Seth and a rustic mother who says things like “Thee ‘t allays so hard upo’ thy feyther, Adam.” The mild, grave and saintly Dinah is also immediately annoying, and one recalls the odious Madeline Bassett asking Bertie Wooster very earnestly if he did not think that the stars are God’s daisy chain.

After another few hours I found I was able to move about a bit, grabbing at random things for support, and made it into the living room for a while. I discovered that although moving was painful, staying still was even worse, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a very slow walk up the road to the little shop for some provisions. I managed this all right, and walking (slowly and delicately as though balancing a crystal vase on my head) definitely seemed to help.

If you have accidentally been crippled like this you will know the most frustrating thing is not being able to do anything or look after yourself, so I was determined to do normal things even if it meant doing them very slowly and carefully, bending your knees to pick things up, and occasionally wincing in pain. I drove to the big Tescos and got a few things for dinner, this was OK because the trolley acts like a Zimmer frame and I could make plump and stately progress, like Buck Mulligan, around the aisles. Standing in the checkout queue was agony though especially as the person in front of me insisted on paying for their shopping in a mixture of pennies, defunct vouchers, and out-of-state personal cheques.

I do not want to sound like I am moaning too much as it made me realise how horrid it is to be in continuous pain and not be able to move around, and how many people are in that situation all the time instead of just for a day or two, and much worse besides. Contrary to what you might think if you imagine being ill is like Cousin Helen in What Katy Did and you become all compassionate, wise and saintly, you just feel impatient, angry and sorry for yourself. It is impossible to concentrate on anything or enjoy your favourite TV show eg. viz. The Apprentice.

It does give you some sympathy with Epicurus who taught that true happiness is freedom from pain, of course to truly appreciate this you need to regularly suffer orful pain. I will be extra kind to the sick and elderly now, at least as long as the memory of pain lasts, which thankfully is no time at all. Today I am much better and able to sit at the computer twiddling with photergraphs and such. So that is why there is an annoying preponderance of photergraphs just now.

Tamar Bridges

If you grow up in east Cornwall the main shopping place to go is Plymouth, which unfortunately is over the border in Devon, where they talk funny and are inbred and so forth. But you do get to go over this magnificent bridge. It was built in 1961, the UK’s longest suspension bridge at the time, and is still not paid for.

Brunel’s famous Royal Albert railway bridge. It is always a bit worrying going over this as the train has to go super slow, for fear of the whole thing collapsing into the river. I am sure it is not likely to collapse any time soon, but you cannot help thinking that as the train picks its way gingerly across.