February 03, 2021

During Lockdown I Have Been....

So how have you coped? That new language coming along is it? The guitar lessons going well? Maybe you've been practical around the house or exploring your artistic side. No, nor have I.

In my last post I mentioned a train set and boy, did I set my targets high. I bought a pile of 'job lot' track, loco's, rolling stock etc including a pre-laid track. I quickly dismissed this track on the grounds that it was too small and 'busy'. I started building.

Too small
First build

Having made a decent sized base, I poured much of my bank account into 'No More Nails', and bloody fish blades, the little metal bits that you slide track into to join lengths together. They are small - too small, fiddly and, opening them a little with a knife and pushing them on, caused much blood loss.

Of course, when you follow a designed layout plan with all the correct lengths of track with the correct curve radius, it's a doddle. Make your own track with limited knowledge and pieces well, that's a different story. I read again the forums and realised that I was making the same mistakes that most idiots make. Hey ho, up came the track and down it went again with lengths of bendy track for those awkward bends.

It nearly worked but I took it up again, relayed the base with a flat board surface rather than the insulating foam one. This time I got it just about right but, the continual bending, stretching and pulling on bits of track and tacks had taken its toll on my back. Suddenly my enthusiasm waned and the thought of all that modelling work on the scenery looked like a mountain to climb rather than a pleasurable hobby.

I took it up again, dismantled the base and am now selling the lot. Do I regret it? Not for a second. Slaving in my room got me through the difficult period up to and beyond Christmas, there is now a hint of an impending Spring and my mind has left the lockdown and plans are in the making for the day that freedom comes.

What I have done is to buy a replacement toy (well you do don't you), and I have a new camera. It's a Nikon Coolpix P950 with incredible zoom capabilities, ideal for my needs. I was switched on to the camera by Gavin Haig's Not Quite Scilly blog. If you have any interest in birds, this is a place worth a visit. Gav feels like a friend now as I eagerly follow his birding adventures around the south Dorset coast, all written in an easy to read light-hearted way. His success in 2020 was little short of astounding and his photographs are pretty darned good too. 

Of course, like everything I touch, just picking up a new camera and expecting National Geographic cover picture shots from the off is a big ask. But, when I have ventured out and when the sun has shone (I think it was for twenty minutes last Friday), it's been..... let's just say, a work in progress. This morning though, the sun beat down on my bird feeders and I sat on my bed for ten minutes with the door open, camera in hand. I was pleased with the outcome and I feel I am coming to terms with the multitude of settings. See what you think...

I'll probably sell it next month.


  1. Trains aren’t my thing but I’ve been reading Gavin’s blog for a while now and now you’ve increased my want for a decent camera to photograph the local birds and wildlife - cracking photos!

  2. Standby for graphs, statistics, miles walked, pictures kept against those deleted, species, locations.... and Jack will get a new friend for his birding... will it be Bill Oddity or Chris Fuckem? :o)

    I look forward to it Brian, honest I do. And it was your blog that put me on to Gavin's so, thanks for that too.

    1. Really enjoyed that post, Dave. Sorry the model train venture didn't quite work out, but sounds like it provided the perfect distraction. I do hope the camera provides a more long-lasting one though. Re settings... Obviously you may be far more camera-savvy than me, but in case it's helpful, here is a link to a post I wrote about the settings I use for birds: https://notquitescilly2.blogspot.com/2020/05/nikon-p900-first-six-months.html I am still using more or less the same setup.

      And thank you for the kind words. Funnily enough it was Brian's blog that put me on to yours. Cheers Brian!

    2. Thanks Gavin. My first job was to look back at your posts and copy your settings. The 950 does have a 'bird' setting too so my low camera savvy is slowly getting there. I can't wait to get out and do more.... but I'll leave the gulls to you ;o)

  3. Don't know about the Great British bird watch Dave, my lockdown has become the great british Youtube watch. I am amazed at my capacity to sit and watch a stream of video makers catch jack pike and tell me each one is wonderful. I should know better but with fishing banned, the garden frozen, and the house hoovered to clinically clean levels what else is an angler to do?

    1. You paint a sorry picture Paul :o) Don't worry mate, none of us want to be sat by the Wye this week, may be a good time to oil your reals, sharpen your hooks......

    2. Done the oiling, sharpening, etc I'm on to polishing the split shot now!

  4. The good news is fishing isn't banned,it's been allowed since the 7th of Jan ! Even managed to put a few fish on the bank since then.
    Nice bird pics Dave ,I'm now back in the UK in Hay but am struggling to attract anything to my feeders(bird) except Dunnock, robin and tits(blue,great and coal). No finches of any kind .What am I doing wrong.

    1. I haven't strayed far since lockdown Dean, Nicky is shielding so we have been ultra careful but, I had we've both had vaccines now and fishy plans are afoot.

      As for the feeders, have you tried sunflower hearts? Once they discover them you should get goldfinch, siskins and redpolls. It takes a while and usually some snowy weather, to get them to find your feeders but, once you are on their route they just keep coming. I've got through 20kg during each of the last three months!

      Dried mealworms attract hoards of starlings but I like them too so all are welcome.

      Last summer I was feeding the local kites with day-old chicks on the garage roof. I'm hoping one will grab a few of the bloody cats around here ;o)

  5. I'll try the sunflower hearts nothing is touching the niger.Thanks for the tip Dave.