An Early iPhone Upgrade

I am one of those people who loves the latest, shiny new electronic toy. If I had the budget, I’d fill my entire flat with gizmos and gadgets. Mrs P would probably object, but then if I had the money, she’d be out shopping for shoes and might not notice. But aside from budget constraints, there’s another issue that prevents me from upgrading my second favourite gadget whenever I want to. My mobile phone. It’s that two year contract with the network, locking you in. My camera is my number one gadget. Of course.

I still have seven months left on my HTC One contract. It’s a great camera. I love it. But have you seen the shiny new iPhone 6?! It’s just so….shiny. And new. I want one. But how, oh how do I get one? And by getting one, I mean now. Not is seven months. Without paying an arm and a leg for the privilege. Preferably, without paying anything more than I do now. Well, it’s actually quite simple. I sat down, did a little research and then did the maths.

First things first. I am going to have to pay Three £35 a month for the next seven months. Fact. But could I use my current plan in a different phone? More to the point, will Three swap over my plan from the micro sim of the HTC to the nano sim of the iPhone 6? The answer, happily, was yes. For a small and very affordable charge of £5.

Second issue. How can I get an iPhone, without paying a deposit (or at least only paying a small one) and without a network contract but with the payments still  spread over 24 months, without ridiculous interest charges. There’s a number of ways. I’m going to deal with the 16gb model here. You can buy one from the Apple Store on finance, paying a total of £600 for a £539 phone. Or from GiffGaff, paying Just a few pence under £590.

There are other ways to do this and pay even less interest. Such as take advantage of Curry’s Buy Now Pay 12 Months deal. In 12 months pay it off with a 0% transfer credit card and all you have to do is pay the fees – £25 to Currys as an early settlement fee and anything from £5 to £15 for the balance transfer. This adds up less than, but pretty close to, what you’d pay Apple. Which is why I went the Apple route. It’s just easier.

Third issue. For the next seven months, I will still be paying £35 to Three and now another £25 to Apple. Which leaves me £25 extra out of pocket for the next six months. That was simple to resolve. Firstly, by the time I actually get my iPhone and have paid the first instalment, I’ll only have six months left on my contract. Secondly, I’ll just sell my current phone. I don’t need two, and I’d get a handy £120 for it. Which I can offset against the extra £25 p/m I have to pay.

Ok, so I will still have to pay an extra £5 per month for the next six months. But I can manage that. And actually, I will be better off in the long run*. When my contract with Three is up, I will keep the sim only plan at £15 per month. So I’ll be paying in total the sum of £40 per month for my iPhone with unlimited data. Instead of the £45 I’d be paying Three, plus the £99 upfront cost, if I upgraded next year with them. In total, with Three, you’d pay £1179 over 2 years. Going the independent route, the total cost is £960. That’s a saving of more than £200. Plus, I’m free from the phone contracts. Sure, I’m paying the phone on finance, but I’ve split the hardware away from the network. Which is great**. Which begs the question. Why is anyone signing up to phone contracts with the network operators?

So I have ordered my phone. It’ll be here in a week or two. I plumped for the Space Grey model. Just 16 gbs. That’s plenty. I checked my 32gb HTC One. I’ve only half filled it up in 17 months, and there’s at least 5 gigs of rubbish just waiting to be cleansed.

* Yes, I know. I’d be better off still if I did wait till my upgrade date. But stop raining on my parade!

** O2 and GiggGaff both already split the call plans from the phones. That’s a great move by them. Three haven’t. That’s a poor move. I shopped elsewhere as a result.

Fuji X-M1: Image Quality

Ok, so I have a camera that I like the look and fell of, admire the sensible menu layout and enjoy using. But the proof in is the pudding. What sort of image quality have I gotten for my money? It must be said, this review is not solely about the camera but also the 16mm – 50mm kit lens that comes with it. I would expect better results from the X-M1 when I have a better and more expensive lens attached to it.

I won’t lie. Some of the images below have been through post processing in Lightroom. But I have selected images which have had minimal work done on the them. Perhaps a little sharpening, cropping or contrast adjustment. No filters or presets.

This isn’t meant to be a full review. There are many websites and blogs on the internet with experts who have the time and knowledge to do a far better job of that than I could. This are just some of my observations, with a few samples to demonstrate my point. You can see all the images below in full size on Flickr, although with a load more photos in an album titled First Impressions.

Low Light

The camera has a big fat APS-C sensor, so low light shouldn’t be a barrier to good photographs. The sensor has gotten rave reviews in the photography press, with favourable comparisons to full frame DSLRs. I’ve been quite impressed so far. It’s nice to see a decent level of detail from a handheld shot with some very contrasty scenes.

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Night Photography

It’s perfectly possible to get some great quality photos at night from even the cheapest of cameras. Mount it on a tripod, set the ISO to 100, give it a decently long exposure and hope that nothing, absolutely nothing, moves. Not a millimetre. The real trick is getting a good shot when things are moving and when you have the camera betwixt your fingers.

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Macro
The kit lens supplied with the camera is not a macro lens. Nor does it attempt to perform like one. So the results do reflect that. However, it finds it easier to focus on nearby subjects that the Olumpus E-PL1. And like the Olympus, I find the best way to get a shot is to move the lens back and zoom in, rather than get the lens as close to the subject as possible. Alas, there is some colour smearing to be seen.

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Colour

Fuji are famous for producing great colours and the X-M1 is no exception. It must be said that I’ve not been fortunate with the weather in the last month, and most of my shots have been underneath grey, wet skies. Which doesn’t help. But still. I’m pleased with the vibrant hues and well managed saturation. Although I have yet to explore the various colour settings, such as Velvia, which produce nicely balanced shots in daylight.

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Bokeh

That big sensor makes it much easier to throw the background out of focus. Of course, the closer you are to the subject, the easier it is. But I no longer need to be inches away. What I really want for some creative bokeh photography though, is the XF 35mm f1.4 lens. One day, one day…

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Dynamic Range

This is an area where the Fuji has really excelled. I’ve had an awful lot of cameras come through my hands that left me disappointed when the shot was a difficult scene with a lot of contrasting light. No details in the shadows. Any light areas blown out. The photo below isn’t a great photo by any stretch of the imagination. But you can see details in the shadows and blue in the skies. Which is neat.

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Fuji X-M1: First Impressions

I’ve had my Fuji X-M1 for about a month now. That’s been plenty of time to get out and about shooting with it. Enough time that I can start spouting off what I think of my new possession. Let’s start at the beginning. First impressions.

Build and Feel

The XM-1 is largely constructed from plastic. It looks like a traditional, metal camera from a distance but don’t think anyone would be fooled upon taking it in their hands. I don’t think anyone would be too bothered, either. It feels robust. It doesn’t rattle when you wave it about. It feels like it could survive a few bumps too. Although I don’t intend putting it to that sort of test.

It feels like a camera should. It doesn’t have the solidity of a Sony Nex6. When picking up the Sony you can tell straight away that one is made of metal and one is not. There’s extra heft to the Sony, although neither camera weighs enough to cause anyone back ache.

I have seen reviews suggesting Fuji designed the camera with the intention of making one handed operation easy. If that was their intention, then they got it spot on. It fits in a single hand easily and all the key buttons are placed ‘just so’.

WiFi and GPS

I was pleased to see that the Fuji incorporated WiFi, with a GPS solution built in. I say ‘solution’ because the GPS isn’t itself built in. I also have to say that the WiFi/GPS is the biggest – actually, the only – disappointment I have had with the X-M1. You can connect the camera to your smartphone, once you’ve downloaded the Fuji app, although this in itself is a fiddly and slow affair. NFC would have been a nicer solution.

Once you’ve made the connection, you can use the GPS on your smartphone to embed your location directly into the photos. However, if you’re off on a long walk or trip, the Fuji app on the phone will stop recording location data after just 99 minutes. Which could prove annoying. It’s safer and simpler to just record my location through Google Tracking and then embed the data into the photos in Lightroom later.

I do like the ability to send photos from my camera to my smartphone though. It’s a nice way to kill a long journey home – editing a few shots and posting them to Instagram. This is the one WiFi feature that I will use. I do hope that Fuji revisit the WiFi capability of the X-M1 though. I’m sure it has potential for  better GPS tagging . It would also be nice to be able to use the smartphone as a remote for the camera too.

Menu System

Fuji have excelled in their menu systems. One of the biggest pains I’ve experienced in digital photography is having to sift through menus trying to get at the setting I want. There’s nothing more frustrating that an important setting being buried five deep in the menu system.

The X-M1 has most of the key settings on the dial. But for those you need to access through the LCD, its just one button to a smart layout that reveals all the key settings. Each setting can be changed by moving to it via the arrow buttons and then scrolling the thumb wheel. Sure, a touch screen would have made it easier still, but in reality the menu as it is works so sweetly that there’s no reason at all for any serious grumbling.

The LCD

I really wanted an electronic viewfinder with my next camera. But when I chose the X-M1, I did so knowing that this was a feature I’d have to sacrifice. So the quality of the LCD really is important. The LCD on my old Olympus Pen E-PL1 was a major weakness with that camera. One of the delights of digital photography is the ability to see if you’ve got a good shot there and then. Instant gratification.

The screen on the back of the Pen was so poor that I really could not tell if the shot was any good or not. As a result, I’d often take a batch of shots, each exposed differently. And yet I’d get home to find that the lot of them were either under or over exposed or out of focus. I don;t like having to put in extra effort and still not get a result.

The screen on the Fuji is, happily, a good one. With more than 900 million pixels you can see what you’re shooting. Sometimes, light areas look as though they’re over exposed, but are actually fine when viewed on the computer. This isn’t a problem then, as the results are consistent from shot to shot. This means that I can trust the camera. Which is rather important.

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The Flash

Ideally, I try not to use the flash. Sometimes it’s necessary. I tried to use it on the X-M1, but for neither love nor money could I get it to work. Sure, I could press the button and get the flash to physically pop up. Sure, I could find it in the menu. But could I turn it on or off in the menu? Nope. I scratched my head plenty. Then I ventured online to see if there’s a reason for the non functioning flash.

There was. You can put the X-M1 into Silent Mode for some stealth photography. Which I had done. The flash will not operate in stealth mode. Problem solved. But it was a kinda weird problem. This should be fixed. If I have popped the flash up, it’s clear I want to use it. The camera should recognise this and switch out of stealth mode.

Focussing

Other than the LCD, my old Olympus Pen had another issue. It wasn’t the quickest out of the blocks as far as focussing is concerned. In fact, it was often downright slow. The Fuji is such a huge leap forward compared the the Pen. Sure, it is not on a par with Sony or the modern Olympus and Panasonic compact system cameras. But it’s quick enough.

How big a difference is this? It’s like a race between Usain Bolt, Johann Blake and little old me. With me being the E-PL1 Pen. I’ve now been upgraded to Blake. So, ok, I still might not win, but at least nowadays when I cross the line, my competitors are still catching their breath as opposed to being showered, dressed, interviewed and half way home.

Satisfaction Rating

I love the Fuji X-M1. That’s for sure. It’s a lot more complex than the Pen and I’ll have to study the camera and its manual a little more and use it in a smarter way to get the best out of it, I also really want to get a couple of new lenses for it at some stage. They are key to maximising this cameras full potential. The pancake-ish 27mm f2.8 would be a nice addition. But I’m really craving the XF 35mm f1.4 prime lens.

But the 16mm-50mm kit lens is a decent piece of kit, an I’m looking forward to the free telephoto lens when it finally arrives. They will be good enough to keep me going for now. Can I recommend the X-M1. Sure, why not? It has to be said though, that it depends on your budget. It was the promise of that free telephoto lens, worth more than £300 in its own right, which swung the deal for me. Without that offer? I may well have held out for an XE-1 or looked harder at a Sony Nex6/a6000.

But regardless of the competition, I’ve gotten myself a superb little camera with the same fantastic sensor that’s fitted in Fuji’s more illustrious and substantially more expensive big brothers.

The Scotland Question

A little over 300 years ago, Scotland and England were bonded together, to have and to hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do they part. Or until legislative change allowed for lawful separation. The legislation has been passed, and today is the day that the Scots will get to decide the answer to the Scotland Question.

The likely answer is that they will vote No, and the UK will continue business as usual on Friday. It is a close vote, and anything could happen. But looking at the polls, the bookmakers odds and the last Scottish Parliament Election….the Yes guys struggle to get much above 45% of the ballot. Whoever wins, roughly half the country will be disappointed.

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Borders do change though. Often and dramatically. Sometimes through the ballot box or civil discussion. But more often through bloody enforcement of new borders designed for the benefit of the better armed party. I’d have liked to have been able to post a video of global border changes, but could not find one. Europe will have to do. I personally hope the Scots do not vote for independence. We are, generally speaking, better together. We’ll see…

Montacute House

Mrs P and I are still on our mission to make the most of our annual National Trust membership. It was certainly a smart move paying out the initial £70 for joint membership. We’ve saved a small fortune, visited a dozen fabulous sites and enjoyed every minute of it.

Our latest trip was to Montacute House, near Yeovil in Somerset. It’s a grand old place. One of the finest we’ve visited. It is, of course, steeped in history. It was built in the dying days of the 1500s by a lawyer of some renown. Sir Edward Phelips. He opened the prosecution against the infamous Gunpowder Plotters. We as a nation shall celebrate their demise in little over a month with fireworks and iffy hot dogs. He also participated in the trial of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh.

There are plenty of photographs on Flickr. Click here, and ye shall see them. I have also added Montacute to my growing National Trust map – click here.

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Hampton Court Palace

We went to Hampton Court Palace. It’s big. It’s grand. There’s a rotund chap strolling the corridors playing Henry VIII. I loved the painted ceilings, especially the way they wrapped around soft corners. But. But, but, but. Although it was a nice day out and although the palace is a ‘must see’, it just doesn’t have the pizazz of Windsor Castle or some of the other Royal Palaces and Castles we have visited. I’d like to tell you more about our day. But it just didn’t inspire a story. Maybe it’s just me and not the palace. One can only have a certain amount of enthusiasm, and I may have burned through my store of the stuff.

On the plus side, it was a lot better than Kensington Palace. And it’s another of the Royal Palaces on the list that we’ve ticked off. There’s just one more of the London pack to visit now. Roll on Kew Palace. If you’d like to see the photos click here. If you’d like to see the photos of Mrs P and I, then click here too.

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Viva Mexico Cabrones

Happy Independence Day to all my Mexican amigos. I’m sorry I can’t be there to share it with y’all. Instead, the same as every year since 2010, I’ll post my video from the Bicentenario. And the same as every year, I’ll say ‘wow, has it really been so many years since that great day?’ So this is my most unoriginal post of the year, but it’s become my own personal annual nostalgic tradition.

Every now and then in Mexico, to my amusement, I’d get asked when the UK’s Independence day is. Perhaps next year, I’ll be able to tell them. It’s three days after yours. September the 18th. Because, if Scotland gains its independence from the UK, does England not also gain it’s independence, albeit by default?

The Weather in Mexico

Got a smartphone? Haven’t we all. Got a weather app? I’m sure you have. Have you got the best weather app? If you have Yahoo’s weather app, then the answer is yes. Or so I will have you believe. If not, you can get it for Apple or Android. The things I like about Yahoo’s weather app is the photography they use as the backdrop. All sourced from Flickr. You have to join the Yahoo Weather app group and submit some photos to get noticed. I did that about a year ago, and a couple of them were chosen.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve had dozens of photos of mine from Mexico added to their pool. Almost all are mountain or archaeological shots I’ve taken from across central and southern Mexico. So if you do have the app and are travelling to sites of interest in Mexico, have a look out for where the photo came from. There’s every chance it came from yours truly.

The Scottish Independence Fraud

A couple of months ago I withdrew some money from a Tesco cashpoint. The screen came up with a little message. “All our call centres are in the UK. Because all our customers are in the UK“. It made me chuckle. I wondered how that would read in a year or two if the Scots choose to go their own way. In less than one week’s time the Scots will get to cast their vote and the decision will be made.

I’ve plenty of thoughts on the subject. But let’s look at that message on the cashpoint machine. The fact of the matter is, Scotland is host to quite a number of giant financial institutions and in the event of Scotland gaining their independence, they are all heading south of the border to London. RBS, Halifax, Lloyds and even little old Tesco. They have no choice. They need to be where their customers are. They need to have the backing of the Bank of England.

There’s the rub. That’s why Alex Salmond, the figurehead of the Yes campaign is so eager to ‘keep the pound’. His desire to retain sterling is not because of any historical link to the currency. Not because of any fondness for it. It’s because he wants Scotland to be underwritten by the Bank of England, for that inevitable day when everything goes economically pear shaped.

So when Mr Salmond boasts that Scotland is strong enough, confident enough and big enough to be its own master, he’s not quite telling the whole truth. He’s clearly not confident that Scotland is either strong enough or big enough to weather the financial storms without England backing them up. What Salmond really wants is devolution, but with a throne upon which he can sit.

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Independence comes down to two real issues. The first is, to state the obvious, economics based. So what sort of ‘independence’ is he peddling with his insistence on a currency union? Just how independent have Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain been these last five years? They’ve been effectively annexed into provinces of Germany.

It’s highly unlikely that Scotland will get to keep the pound. As an English person, I would not want them sharing our currency. If they want independence, that’s fine. But don’t cherry pick the good bits for yourselves and leave the rotten parts for us all to share. Do independence properly. Set up your own currency, or <suppresses giggle> join the Euro.

Only the most delusional Scot believes that they will be more prosperous in the short and medium term after independence. They will have extra oil revenues. And they will need them. To pay the costs of the unemployed. All the finance workers. The shipbuilders. The military bases. The industries currently based in Scotland which are dependent on being part of a United Kingdom. Plus all the basic set up costs of forming your own country. There will come a day when the Tesco cashpoints in Edinburgh and Glasgow might as well read, ‘All our call centres are in England. Because that’s where the money is. Bad luck’.

Then there’s the second issue that I referred to. It’s an emotional choice. It’s the chord that the nationalists are fine tuning to pull at the heart strings of the undecided voter. Cry freedom! Bad Westminster, Good Holyrood. It’s an unquantifiable argument that cannot be made with reason or logic. But it is effective. Mr Salmond is essentially pleading with voters to cast their ballot based on their heart, not their head. And the gap between the Yes and No campaigns has closed in the run up to the referendum, with some pollsters making it a neck and neck battle.

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There are other consequences to a Yes vote that are worth touching upon. In the last General Election, we had a hung parliament. The Conservatives failed to gain a majority of seats in Westminster. Their inability to woo voters in Scotland was a key part of this. They have just one of the 59 available Scottish seats. Without Scotland, David Cameron would have had a comfortable majority. Next year it is likely he will win a majority in the 2015 General Election if Scottish seats are removed from Westminster. Which means we will have another referendum. To be in the EU or out? (Caveat: the Scottish seats won’t be removed in time for the next election, but a year after which may prompt another General Election.)

Without Scotland it is more likely (though not necessarily likely) that the vote will lead to England’s exit from the EU. So many of the benefits that the Scots may assume will come from being in the EU with the rest of the UK may not materialise. It’s worthy of consideration.

My own feeling is that we are better together. The politicians are going to great lengths to predict the futures of our country/countries relative to the success of their own campaigns. But I look to the past, to the last 300 years. I am fairly certain that both England nor Scotland are be better off for having joined in union. I am equally certain that the future holds the same sort of story.

So what will happen? What would be the best result? If you’re interested in this story, I can point you in the right direction. The Yes campaign’s website is here. The No campaign website, Better Together, is here. The BBC poll tracker is here. And my preferred economics commentator, Robert Peston of the BBC can be read here. He has been posting plenty of interesting thoughts this last couple of weeks.

Finally, perhaps the soundest predictors of the future of them all. The bookmakers. They don’t like losing money. They don’t always get it right, but when it comes to uncertain outcomes, they have a better track record than most. What do they say? The bookies are convinced that this time next week, the United Kingdom will be intact. The No vote will triumph.

But the result is not entirely a foregone conclusion. Could Scotland have their independence? No, not if Alex Salmond gets his way. Ironically. But he might find in victory that the English force it upon them anyway. The Bank of England is for those inside of the UK. Not on the outside.

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Bournemouth Air Festival 2014

The Bournemouth Air Festival has been and gone once more. As ever, it was a fantastic show. Photographically, this year’s show was not the best for me. Firstly, I haven’t yet received my free telephoto lens from Fuji. And to match the shots I achieved last year with the Fuji X-S1, I really needed a telephoto lens. Secondly, the weather. It wasn’t cold. It didn’t rain. But it was grey. Which always makes photography a little more challenging. And again, I needed blue skies to match what I achieved last year. So. Maybe next year…

But I did get some snaps. The one below for starters. The others are in a single album with all the photos I’ve ever taken at the Bournemouth Festival, from 2011 thru to 2014. click here. This year’s are at the bottom.

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The Flying Carpet

Mexico City was not awash with flash cars when I was there. Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis aren’t the status symbol in DF that they are elsewhere in the world. They’re a ‘come and get me‘ sign to the more dastardly sections of the community.  In London, owning a pricey motor is unlikely to get you kidnapped. The worst that might happen is that some jealous passer-by might rake his keys along the flank of the beast, scarring its expensive paint job.

What to do? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it. Do away with the paint. Carpet your coupé instead. As well as preventing the hoi polloi from gouging the car there are a plethora of other benefits. Worried about parking under the Walkie Talkie Tower? That’s no problem now. On hot days you won’t even burn yourself when opening the door. Fancy a picnic? Get yourself comfy on that spacious bonnet. Has Jeeves got the weekend off, and you really need the car as clean as a whistle, but….well, washing with a hose and bucket is just so messy? And just so not you, sir? Fear not. Fetch the hoover.

But let’s come back down to earth. What this carefully coiffured Rolls Royce really tells us is that if you have the money, then every dream, no matter how fanciful or whimsical, can be turned into reality. And that no amount of money can buy good taste.

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Notting Hill Carnival

When I was a youngster, I didn’t much want to go to London’s premier carnival. It wasn’t much of a multicultural event. Not much in the way of diversity, not very inclusive. Many things have changed over the years. It’s gone from a troublesome street party known best for after dark riots, to a riotous jamboree of colour, smells, flavour and fun. And now I do want to go. So I did. Although there is still some trouble, sadly. Every year a number of people will have a less than pleasant encounter. And as you’ll see from the boarded up windows, the local shop keepers know what’s best for their businesses.

We were early to arrive and early to leave, so any potential trouble missed us. Except for one very troublesome chap. He’s called many things, mostly starting with curse words. But you know him best as English Weather. He was in a foul mood. And he let everyone know it. It rained from dawn to dusk and through to the next dawn. It often came down cats and dogs. Sometimes it eased off. Just some cats…

But a spot of rain wasn’t going to stop the party. And the drop in temperature wasn’t going to get the girls in the parade donning sweaters. Which was a good things. There’s nothing like a skimpy costume to warm everyone else up. There’s a taster below. For the full booty call, click here and Flickr will provide…

 

To Blog Or Not To Blog

It’s a question I often ask myself. What is the purpose? I did once have a defined purpose. Once upon a time in Mexico. I sometimes redefined that purpose, changing the ‘theme’ or style of my content. But it always had a purpose. Once upon a time, I used to earn money from my blog, from revenue brought in through running sponsored posts. Alas, that market is currently dead and the Mexile is revenue-less. I have sometimes used my blog to praise companies or products. And if I’m displeased? It’s a great place to vent my displeasure, publicly. Although I’d be well advised not to do so in France.  Nowadays, I seem to blog out of habit. Is my blog dying? Just a little bit. A bit of bird flu at the least. But some do say the concept of blogging is dead anyway. Perhaps I should lay the Mexile down to rest in peace in the bloggers graveyard.

Not so many people read my blogs these days. The stats page of WordPress confirms that the world was far more interested in my adventures in Mexico City than it is in my daily grind in Bournemouth. My readership nosedived in March 2011, the month after my return to the UK. It is but a third what it once was. But you know what they say about quantity. It is secondary to quality. And so it is with the little band of readers I have here. Many of whom have blogs of their own, which I in turn read. I may have departed Mexico in the flesh, but my blog list shows I am still very much in Mexico in spirit.

The thing about blogging is that you own who you are. You can present your favourite version of yourself to the world. It doesn’t have to be the real you. But then, the blog concerned would be less engaging and less believable. In my opinion. This isn’t to say that everything must be revealed unto the world. But it is good to get to know the real person behind the virtual pages of the web. The chaps and chapettes on my blog list certainly let themselves be themselves. Or else do a fabulous job of pretending. Either way, it’s why I follow them.

I think most of us also blog simply because we enjoy it. Writing can be therapeutic. Fun, even. I’m sure there’s a number of us, myself included, who’d like to write something of importance one day and gain a few minutes worth of fame. I’ve had a few ‘minor moments’ of international renown with the Mexile. This won’t be one of those posts though. I’ve already been scooped. Which brings me to the point of the post.

I’ve met a few bloggers before now. Some have been a bit of a mystery. There was, for example (and I hope he doesn’t mind being an example) the legendary commenter on Mexico’s many blogs. His first name gave away nothing. Male or female? Could be either. Korean or Danish? I couldn’t tell. There was no second name to help out. He had, at the time, no blog of his own. The great Sherlock Holmes would have had a job deducting the story behind the internet moniker of Mexico’s most famous blogging participant. He was, as I found out, a great guy.

On Friday I met another blogger. A meeting that has long been in the making. Our paths have crossed before, but alas it wasn’t to be. This is a guy who runs a very open blog. I expected my every expectation to be met. He’s very much a Ronseal type of blogger. Maybe you need to be English to ‘get’ the analogy. For the record, I’m not suggesting that anyone put Steve through a human sized blender and smear him against a door. But he is every bit the person you’d expect the Mexpatriate to be. He is what it says on his virtual web based tin. Which is a good thing. The Mexpatriate is great. It makes my life easy as well. I don’t have to convince you of his general decency and joviality. I can just point you in his direction and let him do the job. But if you read this blog, then you probably read his already.

So I’ll keep on blogging. Less often, I suspect. Although things can change. But alongside the therapeutic nature of blogging, the enjoyment of recording my adventures, there’s also the benefit of keeping in touch with the Kim G’s and Steve’s of the world. There are other bloggers I wish to meet to one day, though I’ll need to return to Mexico. To places like Puerto Escondido and the Pacific Coast. Until then, I present you with the sole photograph I took on Friday. Just one? In more than four hours of being in a fancy part of London. That’s unlike me, I know. It tells you how good the conversation was.

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Paddington’s Bench

There are a ton of colourful new benches all over London right now. Fifty of them in all. Each one decorated in the theme of a book. A specific book. There was only one that I really wanted to see. I didn’t look for it, but life is full of funny coincidences an surprises. The first book bench we saw was the book bench. Paddington Bear. The original Latin American illegal immigrant in the UK. A trendsetter. Years ahead of his time, with Mrs P following, legally, in his pawsteps. His TV series is decades old, but every bit as enchanting today as it ever was.

We are big fans of Paddington Bear. He’s a true English icon and worthy of his bench. We’re pleased to have sat on it. I’d like to buy it. Once the display is done, the benches are all being auctioned off. I suspect my bid will fall short. I would have liked to have seen a John Le Carre bench too. He has been my favourite British author of the last 20 years. Alas, he has none. Or if he does, one needs the help of the great masterspy Smiley to find it. And you? Is there a deserving author that has entertained you that is worthy of a bench?