20 December 2006

Logging off for the festive season...

Just wanted to wish everyone who reads this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I won't be updating this till 2007 now because I will be enjoying the festive season back in the UK. I will either be drunk, stuffed full of food or too damn lazy to be bothered! But I'll see you on the other side with the full set of Flatground photos and a short video of DJ Yoda, who I saw last Saturday night :-)

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19 December 2006

BMX Bandits

So last weekend I went to have a nose at the BMX Flatland contest called Flatground 2006. I wanted to watch these balance nutts and try to capture their fast movements on my new camera. Not heard of the BMX flatland discipline? Well checkout the video of last years final here.

It was a cool, literally freezing, setup in an old warehouse North of the city. It took Betty and I a short ferry journey to get there but it was a pretty sweet setup and a nice scene of people when we arrived. I heard the sound system pounding the beats from a good fair way away so it was easy to find!

There was two main floors, made of chipboard. This is the warm up area where loadsa people were all practising together.

The main arena had the judges, a DJ and all the spectator seating ->

At first I had the camera in automatic "sports" mode but again it was crap as you can see here.

But I do like how this blurred shot came out! ->

So I upped the shutter speed and shots started coming out a bit sharper like this one.

But what surprised me more was the power of the flash. I never bothered using it in the beginning cos I was a fair distance from the riders and thought it would just look crap! But it made quite a bit of difference as you can see in my collection of favourite photos below. Look closely at the Japs who were really good at adding bunny hops into there sessions, the photo where I managed to just get the guy before he fell off and the picture where the guy appears to be pedalling the bike upside down!

Worthy of a special note was this dude who got the loudest cheer from the crowd and was they only guy to do this trick - Awesome. He wobbled off the first time but the second time he nailed it, all the way across the floor and then jumped back down into the saddle - Class!

Then the final mention goes to this young whipper snapper, think he was only 18 but on Saturday during the qualifiers, he was the only dude to do a whole run without putting a foot down. Fair play!

I never returned on Sunday to see the finals which was a shame as I heard there was going to be two riders going head to head to "battle" off the 1st place position. But as you'll read in my next post, there was a reason I did not make it very far from home on Sunday! But I managed to get over 300 shots on just the one day so I think that's enough! I've whittled it down a bit for a slideshow but I'll upload that at another time.

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17 December 2006

Yet more snowboarding

Friday night I went snowboarding with Nick, one of my new mates from the beery brits. We actually grew up in the same town in England but never met before - different schools/area etc. We went to the closer Snowplanet again - improved on my switch 180's and had the bottle to hit the big jump. I was attempting 180's off the big jump but not quite got the bottle to hit it fast enough to get a clean landing on the down slope so was bouncing onto my arse instead :-( One day I'll go balls out at it... Nick has not quite had the same amount of experience as I had but full credit to him for also tackling the big jump - sweet :-)

We took a few snaps with my new camera but using the default "sports" mode. Although, I think this mode is for sports like tiddlywinks as it's still quite slow! On Friday, I had not had the practice with the manual settings to know what to change. But I took zillions of BMX'ing photos this weekend that came out a bit better - will post those here later on this week. But for now here's Nick and I snowboarding:

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Amsterdam Ice Rick

Wednesday night I helped Sandra out moving to her new room in the Other Disco Twins' gaff. Now a complete Disco apartment - I look forward to the flat warming in the New Year. It's near Leidseplein, the Leicester Square of Amsterdam and they have an open air ice rink there at the mo. Real ice, not the plastic (nylon?) ones you sometimes see. So I took my camera along and took a few snaps. The first few pics are from outside my own window tho.

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12 December 2006

I can make sunrise at 8:41am

As mentioned in my previous post I have a new camera and the more I read about photography more I realise I have a lot to learn! Like the best light is at sunrise - well at least this time of year I can make it up at sunrise! I snapped the following from our guest (gimp!) room this morning - like Adam did when he visited. I had the camera in the wrong settings from the previous night's play and didn't realise until it was too late. But they have not come out too bad and the colour in the sky looks awesome - I can't wait till I get another chance when I hope to use more appropriate settings or at least leave it on Auto!!!

In buggering about with the settings last night I took the following shot. For some reason I really like it. The clarity of the type on the yellow pages is exactly why I wanted a better camera.

If a picture with no flash and in crap light can be that sharp then roll on the weekend and I hope there is some sun :-)

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Barry's B'day and camera shame

Last weekend I flew home for the weekend to see Emma and head over to Blackpool for Barry's 40th birthday - hooking up with many great friends I made working at DWP in Lytham St. Annes before I left IBM UK.

I brought with me some entertaining presents from the delights of the most famous suburb of Amsterdam. I also picked up something for myself from the airport - the new Nikon D40 camera. But I goofed up cos Emma was planning to get me the camera for Christmas :-( I was completely shocked, stunned and gutted all at the same time when she told me cos I was totally not expecting Emma to spend so much on muggins for Christmas. Now Emma has the impossible task of finding something else - sorry Emma!

I have been deliberating over the camera purchase since it was announced - price, size and screen were all big attractions for me. But I know I was going to Canada in February and was planning to get it cheaper there. But then only the kit form will be available in North America and idealy I wanted just the body and this lens which is hard to get hold of. But I saved myself €100 in the airport and I can now practice using the cheaper lens till I can afford the more expensive lens. Plus, a big important factor, is that I can now take pictures of my family and their new home at Christmas. So, except for displeasing Emma, I'm happy to have the camera now.

Well enough waffle - here's some pictures from the weekend. I flew into Leeds and spent Friday night with Emma in York. Saturday morning we had a quick walk around York town where the ice sculptures were. Saturday afternoon we drove to Blackpool, partied in Poulton and crashed at Neil's - cheers all for a top weekend :-)

Can you guess which photos from the weekend I took with my compact camera?!

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08 December 2006

The truth about 911?

Your welcome to believe what you like about 911 and you certainly shouldn't believe everything you see on the internet but I was sent a weblink to a film that makes for interesting viewing. It's an hour and a half long but worth making the time for. I've always wondered how the huge towers could've collapsed like they did and this film describes a theory. I find the part about "squibs" very interesting and highly believable.

I won't embed the film here as it's worth watching full screen so here is a link ->


If you want to know more about the film before you watch it then checkout this website ->


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07 December 2006

Support the chicks with DIsCountS

If you ever need to buy any sports gear, do yourself and the GB rafting babes a favour by buying online from the following retailer. I'll let George explain for herself:

Hi everyone,

Please take a look at the attached website if you're interesting in
buying any sporty goods this Christmas!!

Basically, the GB White Water Rafting Teams have an account with these
guys, which allows us to earn 7.5% commission on all our member's

The real good thing is, is that you guys get 10% discount on any
non-sale item when using our code.

This is a great way of supporting GB Rafting while also getting
yourself a good deal. Pass it on to as many friends as you like.

The discount code is 16027823.

Simply type it into the promo/media code box on the RHS of the website
and you will get 10% discount on non discounted items.


Thank you!

love George.

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Random links

I've been saving a few random links for a while and keep meaning to add them here individually, each with a story to tell. But they are mounting up so I'll batch them all into one post with a brief message otherwise I'll never get round to it:

1) Whilst browsing the internet to find when the North Americans kids have their school holidays, I found this site could be use to determine which country to work in next! Brazil anyone?!

2) If I can't get more holidays, how about a change in job?!

3) Anyone used this? -> Twitter

4) I always wondered where "going Dutch" and "Dutch courage" came from. Well now I know.

5) Why are there so many windmills in The Netherlands, yet not much corn is grown to mill? They pump water that's why.

6) Forget kayaking 1st decents on planet Earth, how being the first to run a rapid on Mars?!

I had a great time with Olaf and co last weekend, although I didn't catch up with him on Saturday night. Mickael had his brother over from Paris and I ate out with them - by the time we got into town Olaf was already in need of passing out back at his hotel. Still plenty of "sightseeing" was had together on Friday and Sunday :-)

This weekend I am heading back to the UK to see Emma and we are both off to Barry's 40th in Blackpool on Saturday night. I wonder how tolerant of UK beers my gut will be after spoiling it over here?


06 December 2006

One more Sinterklaas view

Found this article this morning about Sinterklaas - a good non-Dutch view

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05 December 2006

Twas the night before Christmas...

Eh? A little early don't you think? Not here. Thousands of kids across The Netherlands will be little angels tonight and go to bed early because Sinterklaas will be visiting during the night and delivering gifts for being good boys and girls. Sound a little familiar? Well it should as Sinterklaas is what the rest of the Western World calls Santa Claus. Here in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas delivers his presents overnight on the 5th December every year as that is allegedly the birth date of Saint Nicholas. Supposedly, Santa Claus comes from Sinterklaas.

Oddly enough the ceremony may escape having ties with religion on the 25th December but there are some interesting links with racism and the slave trade. As you can see from the picture Sinterklaas doesn't have dainty little elves helping him but some black slaves instead called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)! The racism is covered up these days by telling the kids that the faces are black because the Zwarte Piet's climb down the chimneys to deliver presents and get covered in soot - yeah right!

The best part of Sinterklaas, from what I can gather, is that when presenting presents to family members a poem is read. This poem is written in a way to tease the receiver of the gift such as a father going bald or a brother that scored an own goal.

But nevertheless, I am not partaking tonight and will have to wait another 3 weeks for my presents, nudge nudge!!! There's also no National holiday tomorrow - I've still gotta go to work :-(

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