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6 Days Ago - 28 Likes   #1
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BigMackCam's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: North-East of England
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Simple pleasures... Lunch out, a walk, un-planned photography and "coffee"

Regulars here may recall that my parents and I live together in the same home. It's not without its occasional minor frustrations, but overall it works pretty well. We have a rescue cat, Boo Boo, who adores us all but is particularly devoted to my Mum, and she him. Since the start of the pandemic, our family activities away from home - restaurant visits, days out etc. - have been significantly curtailed. My Mum has become increasingly dedicated to Boo Boo (you might say obsessively so), and spends a lot of time with him in the garden, whatever the weather. My Dad has become almost welded to the sofa in our living room, and barely looks up from his Kindle tablet 90% of the time

Today, on a spur of the moment, I suggested that I drive us to one of our local coastal towns for a take-out lunch we could eat in the car, and a change of scenery (and because I didn't feel like making lunch again today ). The weather seemed quite pleasant - around 9C / 48F and dry - so potentially a good day for it. To my delight, both Mum and Dad agreed. Getting Mum away from the cat was a minor miracle, but he'd just finished a bowl of his favourite food and had curled up on "his" laptop bag (that used to be mine). He was settling down for a long nap, so the timing was perfect...

... and off we went to Seaburn. Half an hour later we parked up, and I wandered over to Minchella's to order fish & chips (Britain's famed contribution to world cuisine ) from their window service. We sat in the car, sun bleaching through the windows, and gorged on our deep-fried, calorie-laden meals. None of us said much while we ate... the food did all the talking; it was delicious

Suitably replete, I felt a short stroll was in order to aid the constitution, and suggested as much. Dad would normally object to such a notion - he's not one for much walking these days (or anything else that requires physical effort, frankly ) - but again both my folks surprised me by readily agreeing. We took our time and ambled along the promenade for an hour, chatting, talking to dog owners and their dogs, gulping down the salty sea air and enjoying the sun. I hadn't taken any serious photographic equipment with me, as I didn't expect to take any photos... but the light made me wish I had The low Winter sun was casting long shadows and a golden glow upon everything... Colours were popping in a way I've not seen for months. So, I didn't have a DSLR with me... but I did take my little Panasonic DMC-TZ70 compact (that's a DMC-ZS50 for you folks in the colonies ), and I've always agreed with that well-worn phrase, "the best camera is the one you have with you" - so I thought "what the heck" and took a few snapshots. It was fun, and since I tend to walk a lot quicker than my parents (even though I try not to), they were able to catch up or walk ahead while I composed my shots

On the way home, we stopped in at Aldi so I could buy some of their inexpensive Alcafe Rich Roast instant freeze-dried coffee. I'll be trying my hand with Caffenol film developer in the next couple of weeks and needed some cheap coffee for the chemistry. At GBP 1.39 (about USD $1.90) for 200g / 7oz, it certainly qualifies as cheap - so I bought a couple of jars.

Finally, we arrived home - three hours after setting out! We all agreed we'd had a wonderful time - great food, an invigorating walk with lots of fresh air, some social interaction in the safest way possible right now, and perfect weather for it all. Boo Boo was delighted to see us... His laptop case was still toasty warm to the touch, so he'd obviously been asleep on it until we returned. Bless him

Settling down for the evening ahead, my thoughts turned to the cheap instant coffee I'd bought. Though I'd acquired it for film developing, I wondered if - given the price - it was actually drinkable I'm a freshly-ground coffee man, but I'm not ashamed to say I can enjoy a cup of strong instant every now and then. My Mum drinks it all the time and doesn't like real coffee. I always buy Nescafe Original Extraforte when I do the grocery shopping, because it's her favourite and I quite like it too. It's an imported variety that only a few supermarkets stock over here, and usually costs around GBP 3 for a 200g jar at our local discount grocery store - but it's not always stocked consistently, and can be difficult to source. Anyhow... curiosity got the better of me. I broke the seal on one jar of the Aldi coffee and made myself a cup, adding Coffee Mate powdered creamer (my guilty secret ). I expected it to taste pretty rough, but no... it was remarkably similar to the Nescafe Extraforte ... so similar, in fact, that I made a cup of the Nescafe too - same amount of freeze-dried coffee granules, water and creamer - to try alongside the Aldi stuff... and I honestly couldn't taste any difference! So, I made another cup of Aldi coffee and another cup of Nescafe - this time with milk - for my Mum to try. I asked her to taste them and tell me which one she thought was Nescafe - and she couldn't! As a result, we're switching to the Aldi Alcafe Rich Roast from now on. It's just as good and less than half the price. We'll save around 4 per month on average, or close to 50 per year... not a lot of money, admittedly, but in these days of rising costs, every little bit helps Of course, I'm now down one jar of developing chemicals...

As I implied in the title, it was an afternoon of simple pleasures... Tasty lunch, a lovely walk in a pretty location with lots of fresh, sea air... some unexpected photography in wonderful light... and a surprise discovery on instant coffee that saves us a wee bit of money too. All days should be like this

I haven't processed all my shots yet, but I have a few keepers already. Just snapshots - little memories of the afternoon out. Taken, as I said, with the Panasonic DMC-TZ70 compact, shooting raw to squeeze the most from its tiny 1/2.3" sensor and processed in Lightroom 6 + GIMP 2.10...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 5 Days Ago at 03:01 PM.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #2
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Beautiful story and wonderful pictures!

Yes, the winter sun in the upper latitudes turns the whole (short) day into the golden hour for photography and offers many opportunities for long-shadow images that accentuate the landscape and subject matter.

I like how the instant coffee crystal saga developed in an unexpected direction. (You'll have to do a side-by-side comparison of Nescafe vs. Aldi for film, too. ;-) )
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #3
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Thanks for the wonderful story of a special outing. A nice respite from the daily grind. (pun not intended...)

I envy the +9 C temperature! We're a tad cooler in this part of the northern hemisphere.

- Craig
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #4
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Great story and photos, but the fish and chips part is making my mouth water!

Last edited by ramseybuckeye; 6 Days Ago at 02:02 PM.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #5
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Sounds like a great outing and reinforces to not overlook the little things all around us that we easily take for granted. You're weather is also a bit nicer than ours. The wind is blowing hard, temps are dropping, and waiting to see how much snow versus ice or other mystery wintry mix falls out of the sky over the next few days. Where's that extra cup of coffee?
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #6
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It seems you really did enjoy your time with your family. Always a pleasure getting along and having memorable moments. Little things. There lies the truth. Your set of photos is beautiful, hope you get some more keepers. Thank you for sharing. It was a joy to read.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #7

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Good light, excellent colors. While mid-day shooting in summer may not be a good idea, the mid-day light is very good in the winter.

6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #8
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Sounds like a good time was had by all.
I have to admit, I'm more than a little bit jealous.

6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #9
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Lovely story, very pleasing pictures, thank you for sharing hopefully you can make this a new habit...
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #10
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The weather was much like yours today at my house; but alas, getting out was not an option at present and I had no fish and chips.

6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #11
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Mike,that sounds like a pretty perfect day,time well spent with your parents,good food and drink,fresh air in a lovely part of the world and some great photos to boot,thanks for sharing.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #12
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Loved the two scooters so neatly parked and so close together - seemed to suggest the nature of the relationship between the absent owners.

(Afterthought: please don't spoil the moment by telling me they were just a pair of scooters for hire!!! )
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #13
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Great story, great images, great day.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #14
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That's a beautiful story, Mike, with photos that show the little TZ70 at its best. I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures with caffenol.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #15
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Nice story. Great shot framing on that last shot.

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