I worked hard yesterday to free myself up to “break eggs with sticks” today (as my mother-in-law would say), and yet come this morning it just didn’t materialise.  My get up and go had certainly got up and gone!

Crest of HMS Ocean
Crest of HMS Ocean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I planned to put that right this afternoon by cycling into town to shoot some images at the parade marking the visit of HMS Ocean to the Port of Sunderland.  I formatted a memory card, packed the camera into a small bag (I’ve discovered over the last couple of days how uncomfortable a quick release plate is when sticking in your back) and gave myself time to thread my way through the throng of sun worshippers along the sea front.  With the wind at my back I made it into town 15 minutes before the parade was due to start, and so had time to recce a good spot for pictures.

As I fastened my bike to a roadside barrier, I struck up a conversation with Tom, a Londoner by birth who had lived in the North East for the last four years, having been persuaded by his wife to get away from it all (she is local).  Naturally I thought he’d made a good picture and so with his agreement I raised the lens, got him into focus, pressed the shutter release and…  nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  The battery, which was showing 3 bars when last checked was completely dead.  What was worse was because I wanted to travel light on the bike I didn’t have my usual spares.

No point waiting for a parade that you can’t photograph so I hopped back onto the bike and headed for home, this time with the wind against me of course.  A few miles later and I was there, ruefully inserting a new battery and wondering about today’s image.  Shame about Tom.

I decided to jump in my car and head for the end of the Wear Bridge, on of my usual haunts for finding interesting portraits.  There were few people about so I headed over the river and back into town, seeing the warship dwarfing the buildings of the university campus downstream.  Checking my watch, I realised that I might still see some of the parade; they were due to attend a Service of Remembrance at the war memorial, so I might still catch them marching somewhere in town.

As luck would have it, the service was still underway and I made it back almost to my original spot.  There across the road was Tom and his wife (sorry I didn’t get your name!) so I got my portrait too.

I’ve put a gallery together today, showing just a few of those taking part.  Last year they saw action off the coast of Libya, this year, in common with all of the armed forces the threats come from cuts imposed in Whitehall.  They were applauded as they passed through the town.  Rightly so.

Not sure who the woman with the newly coiffed red hair is, but  she reminded me of the younger sister of a girl I really fancied… when I was 11!  Enjoy the slide show.


After the boys of summer have gone…

Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

Nobody on the road,

Nobody on the beach,

I feel it in the air,

The summer’s out of reach.

The strong NNE winds bringing cold air and wind chill were enough reason to keep people in today, so I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.  If you’ve seen some of my kite surfing shots in the last week, you might have spotted one man who loves taking to the air, and this morning I was lucky to catch him before he entered the water.

This was the third time I’d spotted him in the last few days, and he explained to me that the kite surfers have been waiting six months for conditions like these.  His name is Russell and he shared with me his secret weapon – the thick neoprene gloves that  keep his hands warm are fine for the control bar that steers his power source but would presumably be too thick to hold the larger boom used to steer when windsurfing.

Thanks Russell for providing me with some great opportunities this week.