Posted by Tania Kindersley.
As the regular readers will know, the camera charger has gone for a little walk. I thought it might be left at the Beloved Cousin's house; or in the depths of the car. The search has been fruitless.
On to The Google I do. Olympus battery charger, I type. It's the kind of thing I hate buying; boring, pointless, waste of money due to my own carelessness.
As I googled about, I discovered that Olympus has brought out two new models of my old camera. It is two editions out of date. I'm not an updating sort of person when it comes to tech; I just want something I like which works. I have no snobbism about the newest thing.
But then I saw the PEN EP-3. (I do wish they would give them nicer names which do not involve so many caps.) It really is a thing of beauty. The reviews were gushing. At which point, a very, very naughty thought entered my mind.
Those of you who were reading last week will know I had a pretty good Cheltenham. I won a rather vulgar amount of money. The season started exceptionally well when I had a crazed forty quid on dear old Kauto Star at 6-1 in the Betfair at Haydock, mostly out of cussedness. I get very cross when people write off great horses. It's always when I have my biggest bets. It's a sort of I'll show 'em all mentality. I remember doing it on Desert Orchid, years ago, when some people gloomily said he couldn't win his fourth King George.
The season has ended well (although there is still Aintree and the Whitbread to go) with a rather successful Cheltenham, mostly thanks to a Lucky 15 which had Riverside Theatre, Sprinter Sacre, and Quevega, the lovely Irish mare, in it. A Lucky 15 is the sort of nuts bet my dad used to love: a combination of doubles and trebles and singles, where your initial stake rolls over and the odds stack up. It also allows latitude. My fourth choice, Zarkandar, did not win, but the other three did, so the bet still paid a huge dividend. The good old Lucky 15 really was lucky. I've never won one before, and I was beside myself.
Anyway, I suddenly thought: why not spend my winnings on the new Olympus PEN? Perhaps the lost charger is a sign? Such is the sinuous whisper of the magical thinking.
But the new PEN is very expensive indeed, even for me, even when I have the extravagant bit between my teeth. Oh well, I thought, never mind. Silly idea.
I did one final desultory search. It was then I found a very lovely man on Ebay called Mr Adam Williamson. He just happened to have a very smart silver PEN, second-hand, but as new. It was hundreds of pound cheaper than the new ones. At which point, the magical thinking started whispering in my ear. Rude not to, it said.
Bugger it, said my extremely naughty mind. I pressed the button; the thing was done.
Mr Adam Williamson turns out to be a man of celerity and efficiency. The button was pressed on Thursday evening. An email arrived yesterday to say Royal Mail would be bringing me my order. This morning, the Pigeon greeted the postman with a faint attempt at her scary guard dog persona. 'Oh, shush,' I said. 'It's the lovely postie with my parcel.'
The postman and I grinned madly at each other. I love the postman. I have missed him all week because of the riding. This morning, Red is having a deserved rest, after all the work I have put into her, so I was here to sign for my package.
And what a package it turned out to be. It may be the most brilliant camera I have ever owned. It is streets ahead of its earlier sister. I don't know what the clever people at Olympus have been doing, but it's not sitting around clicking their teeth that is for sure.
From the first touch, I could tell the difference. It is beautifully responsive, sharp as a tack, smooth and pleasing to use. I don't know enough about cameras to tell you exactly why it is so good, or what precisely has changed. It's just streets ahead, that's all. In particular, the auto-focus, which was rather maddeningly mulish on the EP-1, is now marvellously eager to please.
That's enough talk. Here's the proof of the pudding.
The blossom is out on the Japanese cherries. I have been yearning to show it to you. Here it is, at last:
And this is my favourite of the little apple trees:
The hellebores are going like gangbusters this year:
The grape hyacinths are perhaps my favourites, if I had to choose one flower in my entire garden. I got down on the ground to take this one:
This is my dear blueberry bush, only planted last year, and looking very happy:
The dwarf euphorbia:
And, and – THE RETURN OF THE PIGEON:
Sometimes, when I look at this face, I wonder how any living thing could be this beautiful:
Thing is, when they made this one, they broke the mould:
Doing her famous downward-facing dog:
Bear in mind these were taken on a very dull, murky day. There was hardly any light. The cloud was so low that I cannot even take a picture of the hill to show you, since it is not visible today. So I do think those results are very impressive, and it's all the camera, not me.
It's funny. I have been hating not taking photographs. I discover that I do not like putting up other people's pictures on my own blog. I missed the acute looking that carrying a camera makes me do. I'm sure that the readership has not missed the hill, but I have missed being able to bring it to you. I also love the thing of being able to have a visual record of each day.
I'm not an expert with a camera; I pretty much just point and shoot. But I have missed it, almost like a limb. I had no idea how much pleasure doing the daily photos for the blog had given me, until I was forced to take a break from it.
And, finally, in Red news:
Even though it's quite nice to have a slow morning, instead of getting up at six-thirty and rushing up to the glen, I find myself missing my horse. I imagine her, dozing in her box, being put out into her paddock in her little blue rug. I picture, vividly, her sweet head and her kind eye. I have a sense memory of her lovely, clean, horse smell. I smile as I think of her funny little lower lip; it protrudes slightly and wobbles a bit when she is happy.
What a creature she is, and how intensely lucky I feel to have found her. I shall go up to see her a bit later, and then there shall be pictures a go-go.
Oh, and I do not generally do promotions for shops and things on this blog. Not sure why, really. It might be a useful thing for the Dear Readers. Anyway, if any of you ever want to get a good camera at an excellent price, I cannot recommend more the excellent shop of Mr Williamson:
Best and most efficient service I have ever had. And that includes John Lewis.