New Photoshop tools for your photos – free to download until 5 September


Image created by Nicolle Rodriguez, using the Looking Glass action set and an Adobe Stock photo

Actually, I don’t use Photoshop – as I don’t really need it to enhance my photos – and I just never worked out how to use it!  But sometimes you come across something that really stands out – and I love this photograph, and the special effects.

This is one of the new tools that are available on Adobe Create that I found on “Creative Boom”   They are free to download for those of you that use Photoshop, until 5 September.  There are various sets – and you can find the links for the downloads on their site, or by going direct to

Have Fun!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – in memory of Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin – Respect Song written by Otis Redding

Album: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You [1967]


Aretha Franklin died a few days ago – as no doubt you will have heard, because nearly every newspaper and media all around the world will have been playing this song and talking about her long career.

So you might have heard R-E-S-P-E-C-T many times, but if you want to hear it again you can also listen here – its worth it!

There is no need for me to say more – everyone else has already said it!

see also

“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin Dies at 76

A Guide to Duck Shelters for Winter

I’ve currently got two pairs of call ducks – unfortunately the two original white males have disappeared – I know not where – so I have been doing a bit of research, and as a way of keeping some of the information, I am copying this post that I found in the online Countryside Magazine – the original post can be found here.

With their double coat of waterproof feathers over thick, warm fluffy down and a layer of body fat, ducks (regardless of duck breeds) are exceedingly cold-hardy. They love being outdoors year-round in most climates, perfectly happy playing in the rain and even the snow. Duck shelters don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. But providing your ducks a place to occasionally get out of the elements, especially the wind, is important.

Older ducks, any suffering from one of the (fairly uncommon) duck diseases, those molting, or young ducks just growing in their adult feathers do run the risk of becoming chilled or suffering hypothermia in extreme cold temperatures. Here is some information about ducks and duck shelters to help you get your flock through the winter as comfortably as possible.

Your night duck shelter should be draft-free, but well-ventilated, since ducks emit a lot of moisture when they sleep, and that moisture can lead to frostbitten feet. Unlike chickens, who come equipped with vulnerable extremities in the form of combs and wattles that often suffer frostbite, ducks only have to worry about their feet, so be sure to line the bottom of the duck shelter with a nice thick layer of straw. Although you can use shavings or hay for bedding, straw is a superior insulator because of its hollow shafts that trap warm air inside and provide a nice soft bed.

Stacking straw bales along the inner walls of your duck shelter (if there is extra room), is helpful because they not only take up some of the cold, dead air space, your ducks often like to squeeze behind them to sleep, which also helps them to keep warm.


Duck shelters should never be heated. For one thing, the ducks don’t need it, being perfectly capable of pulling their feet up against their warm bodies and tucking their head under a wing to sleep, but more importantly, heat can cause fires so easily, and the heat also creates moisture – which can lead to frostbite.

Ducks are extremely vulnerable to predators, especially at night, so for their safety, they should be locked inside a secure duck shelter. A chicken coop, shed, doghouse or even child’s playhouse all can be converted into a great duck shelter with the addition of a solid door with a predator-proof latch on it and some ventilation spaces cut high up on the sides and covered in 1/2″ welded wire. Ducks don’t roost to sleep like chickens, they are perfectly happy making a bed in the straw on the floor, and they will lay their eggs in a corner of their shelter, usually in the pre-dawn hours, so neither roosting bars nor nesting boxes are required. I have had some luck filling wooden boxes with straw and having our ducks lay in them, but more often than not, they prefer to make their own nests on the floor.


Adult ducks don’t need feed and water overnight – and in fact, will just make a mess if you do provide them a nighttime meal. One caution though: If you remove the water from your duck house, be sure to take out the feed as well, because ducks can easily choke if they eat without having water to help wash the feed down.

When snow covers the ground, your ducks will still love being outside, as long as you create a wind block in a corner of their pen using tarps, sheets of plastic, landscaping (low shrubs, bushes, and trees), bales of straw or plywood. They don’t seem to mind the cold but don’t like the wind. Even banks of snow pushed up against the run fencing provide a great wind block for them.

It’s easy to build a few simple A-frame structures out of plywood and some scrap boards for your ducks to sit in during the day in the winter. They don’t have to be very large, just enough to fit a duck or two. These protect them from the wind as well as aerial predators (if you free range your ducks) and will encourage your ducks to spend more time outdoors getting fresh air.

Ducks love to sit in the snow too though. To protect their feet from frostbite, they will tuck them up under their feathers against their warm bellies, same as when they sleep in the winter, or stand on alternate feet, pulling the other foot up against their body to rewarm the blood. However, shoveling and then putting down some straw paths outside over the snow will help your ducks navigate outside more easily and give them a place to curl up more comfortably.

For the most part, these few tips should help prevent frostbite since ducks do have very elaborate, efficient circulation systems in their legs and feet, but if you notice a duck sitting and not moving around much, if she has ice forming on her feathers or her feet start to turn black, get her inside and warmed up. Smearing some coconut oil on a duck’s legs can help protect them from frostbite if you have concerns.


Brexit staggers under the burden of ignorance – and DUP leader Arlene Foster

I wouldn’t normally go on about the subject of Brexit, see my previous post, it’s a mess any way you look at it!

Britain PoliticsBut, just as there seemed to be some way through the tangle of money, egos, grandstanding, and the views of 27 European countries half of whom seem to want to  strangle Britain – simply because it NEEDS to leave the group (European Union) ……..  along comes Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP (Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party) who are now ‘propping up’ Teresa May’s fragile majority in the House of Commons, and refuses to play ball.

OK, she has a point.  After all those years when terrorism reigned in Ireland, and the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland was a killing field, we have finally had a few years of peace, a peace that took years and much work to achieve, and no one wants to go back.

The border at Killeen (viewed from the UK side) marked only by a metric (km/h) speed limit sign

And yet. when we leave the European Union we will have a glaring weak spot.  Eire is not part of ‘Great Britain’ and therefore are able to stay in ‘Europe’, Northern Ireland is, and will be leaving Europe.  All that will separate the European Union and the ‘United Kingdom’ will be a rambling border that runs through a great deal of unpopulated rural country, and border security is almost impossible to regulate.


Even worse, all the politicians and those wise people who would normally say “this is the answer to the problem”, literally cannot see any way to solve it.  So we were going to try and continue our negotiations with a “fudge” –  ie: give us time, we’ll solve it somehow!

As I said before, I want us to leave the European Union, but we will always be part of Europe.  Its nothing to do with immigration, as I see it, its about keeping our independence.  When we joined in 1973 – and finally had a referendum in 1975 – no one expected that most of our laws would be made by Europe, or that we would be so tangled  up with rules about how straight a cucumber should be!  Let alone how expensive membership has become.

The Leaders of the Union are not actually voted for by the membership, and those making the negotiations so difficult for us have no political validity for their role.  We have been gradually allowing them to have the decision making status for the UK, without actually realising where they are taking us.  Plans are afoot to form armies, and tighter regulations to keep the members of the EU from making their own laws, as well as fiscal decisions.

To my mind, its definately time to get out.  It’s been great at times, there has been a lot of collaboration across the continent, within individual businesses and universities.  There is no reason for us not to continue with those, but we have become rather like children, allowing the parents to make all our decisions.


If only we knew how to do it!  We seem to have lost the ability to make sensible plans as the recent budget showed, and to have run down the NHS and the social services so badly with the Austerity Programme, that we have very little left that works, and have sold off so many of our assets

that we no longer own a great deal of our country!

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American Pie – the song – by Don McLean


iuI’ve just been re-united with some of my old CD’s – in the process of moving to West Wales, there were some boxes that didn’t have labels and so didn’t get opened until now.

I picked one out at random, and was back in the nostalgia of the 1970’s! It was. of course, this one – well actually a compilation of his popular songs – and just played the whole CD thro’ – this was the first track, which I’d always liked, but I had bought the CD for his song – Vincent – about Van Gough and his painting of Starry Night – a poster of which I once had on my wall, when I was a student.

Wikipedia tells us that “American Pie” is a song by American folk rock singer and songwriter Don McLean. Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972………..

The repeatedly mentioned “day the music died” refers to the 1959 plane crash which killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. (The crash was not known by that name until after McLean’s song became a hit.) The meaning of the other lyrics has long been debated, and for decades, McLean declined to explain the symbolism behind the many characters and events mentioned. However, the overall theme of the song is the loss of innocence of the early rock and roll generation as symbolized by the plane crash which claimed the lives of three of its heroes.[2]

You can find the full lyrics here, as they are too long for this short blog post, and there is a fascinating article on the BBC news site, written when the original lyrics were sold for $1.2 million in April 2015, which goes into the meaning of the lyrics in great detail.

All I can contribute to a subject that has been endlessly debated over the years, is that the song is about what Don McLean was doing on the “day the music died”.

Enjoy!  This one is for Orde who helped me move some of my stuff around last week, and  when he asked about this song, I couldn’t even remember Buddy Holly’s name until we looked it up – smile.

Please do contribute your memories of the song – if you are old enuf to have them – by leaving a comment at the bottom of this blog!


Cardiff Docks: ‘Below the Bridge’ 1982/83

A selection of photographs I took of Butetown and the Docks area of Cardiff before the redevelopment – the book has been in my study for years, and is a little tatty!

If you hover over the pictures, you will be able to read the captions.  Click on a single picture and you will be able to see an enlarged version within a slide show.


WHAT I HAVE NEVER FEATURED ON THIS BLOG are a few of the hundreds of shots I took of Cardiff Docks for the then WELSH INDUSTRIAL & MARITIME MUSEUM that used to be just a stones’ throw from the wooden Norwegian Church which is just by the new Welsh Assembly building.  

This was back in 1982/3, when three of us were employed on one of those ‘community schemes’, and as well as me photographing the area to memorialise it, we interviewed, on tape, as many locals as we could, did as much research on the history of the area that time allowed and at the end of the year’s contract, the Museum staged an exhibition of our work, and published the ‘book’ we wrote – which was called “BELOW THE BRIDGE”.

The idea of redevelopment was already in the air, although not yet agreed, and it was the foresight of the then Curator, to put this project together – altho’ I have to say the ‘politics’ within such a small museum was vicious, and it wasn’t a very happy year, which is perhaps why I’ve never talked much about it – smile.

I knew the area so well at the time, and had wandered into every foot of the old Docks – the pubs and clubs, on some of the ships and the businesses around the area – and community hall – but I get totally lost there now!

The book and the archive seem to have vanished from public sight – they must have been lodged somewhere, as that was the point of the whole project – but I’ve no idea where.

I’ve recently reconnected to Linked-In, and a few people were asking what kind of photographs I used to take, when I was a ‘serious’ photographer, and it occurred to me that it would be nice to show the collage above, and use this page to create a mini-portfolio of my work.

Among the other posts I have put up on this blog, there are some of my favourite photos – you can see the set of photos I took in 1981 of the small local mine that until it closed in 1985 still worked with pit ponies HERE

And a still life, taken on large format, that I have played with HERE

And a collage of photos taken at various Agricultural Shows HERE

All comments would be welcome – its nice to get feedback – critical or not – smile.