The meaning of………..

Life? No, the great philosophical conundrum I am grappling with is this: does the perfect camera bag exist? I have no idea how many I have. Probably no more than a dozen. Each time I persuade myself that this one is just a little bit better than the last one.

The ultimate camera bag would be like a Tardis – bigger inside than its external dimensions. It does not have to look like a police box. Currently my best two camera bags would have to be my Lexus SUV and my Crumpler bag. The Lexus is old, worn, goes anywhere, has room for many camera bodies, lenses, tripods, flash guns, film and can also hold plenty of food and water. It is rather too heavy to sling over the shoulder and it is too wide for many of the narrow streets of say, Venice or indeed Sai Kung. The Crumpler bag on the other hand holds just one camera body. And I would not be able to fit my DSLR in it. But it is perfect for the M9, even with the Nocti attached. I can just about fit in my wallet, phone, spare battery and, with a little care, a bottle of water across the top. And one roll of film. No second lens. No food. Well, maybe a mars bar. For a stroll on the beach or around the town it is ideal. I have a rather nice Domke bag too. Green canvas I would guess. A tad heavy, roomier than the Crumpler but somehow I don’t feel comfortable with it.

My biggest gripe about any smallish camera bag is where to attach the tripod. There are people I know who would never dream of using a tripod and others who would consider it unprofessional not to do so. I sort of sit somewhere in between. I like to have it available if needed but I feel no compelling urge to mount the Leica on a tripod when it is light enough to hand hold down to about 1/15 and, with the Nocti mounted it can give me much faster shutter speeds if I use it wide open and/or tweak the ISO up a bit. But for macro shots needing DoF, frequently taken in less than ideal light, a tripod is must.

I would also like a built-in dog-deterrent. Here in Hong Kong village pye dogs can be a real nuisance. It is true that often the bark is worse than the bite but who wants to put it to the test. A hiking pole might suffice but a taser would suit me better. Don’t misunderstand me. I am very fond of dogs. I have one myself and I would never dream of putting her on the menu. So if I am not willing to bite into a dog I am darned if I think it is OK for a dog to sink its fangs into me.  When we were teenagers the physics master, Mr. Peabody, used to make us join hands then he would “connect us up” to a Van der Graaff generator to show us the joys of static electricity. That would do nicely. Gather up all the strays, make them join paws and teach them a little physics. Yelps of joy, no doubt. Actually I expect there is an “app” for the iPhone which would do this so I may be able to strike this off my list. If there isn’t, are you listening Stevie J.?

A photograph for today. No camera bags. Too tedious. No pye dogs. No physics labs. Just a simple image of someone who really does seek the meaning of life.

I'm a-just a-mad about a-Saffron, She's just mad about me. They call me mellow yellow.



Seoul searching

Last autumn we went to Seoul. I was on business but Mrs. H wasn’t and had some shopping time booked. We decided to stay the weekend so we could sight see a little. We had a wonderful Saturday exploring the Secret Garden followed by a walk in the older part of town and rounded off by a meal with colleagues and their spouses. The first time I visited Seoul must have been the Winter of 1997. Asia was in crisis but meltdown was not the word. I had arrived in Hong Kong in the pre hand over days of 97 and was acclimatizing to the sub tropical climate. I did not have a winter coat. Well I did but it was somewhere in darkest Hampshire about 6000 miles away. The day before I was due to travel to Seoul I casually asked a colleague what the temperature was in Seoul. About minus 11 Celsius he said. Not too bad.

I took an executive decision to jump on the Star Ferry to visit Harry. Harry is a character. His card says he is a tailor but actually he is a sorcerer. Born somewhere in India he speaks fluent Cantonese and despite all my efforts I have never walked out of his tiny shop without buying at least a suit and half a dozen shirts, all made to measure. Nobody says no to Harry. Believe me I have tried. But he did make me a cashmere winter coat in time for me to wear to Seoul the following day. Measured at noon, fitted once at 2pm and again at 6pm. Done. It is still hanging in the wardrobe. It is dark grey and an old friend called it my undertaker’s outfit. Good old Harry. I have spotted the Black Label hidden below the counter but he tries to serve me coke, which I confess I don’t drink. Apparently he works to put his children through university abroad. His shop is tiny, the changing room a curtain in the corner. If he doesn’t have what you want he will send a boy scurrying around to another of the many TST tailors to find it. Never fails. His opening hours are………..flexible. Maybe 1.30pm. Maybe not.

But I digress. We were in Seoul. It was November, cold but not sub-zero and we were wrapped up warm. I had my beloved M9 and Mrs. H had my beloved credit card. What a combination! And here are a couple of the local scenes:

And to prove what wonderful autumn colours we enjoyed:

The Singing Ringing Tree

The Hidden House

I confess I was rather smitten by Seoul. Mrs. H loves the Korean dramas, rather cutesy rom-coms. I quite liked Pasta in Love but that was only because it was so implausible it was riveting. I’ve never seen a 20 part drama before where the star could have been a pan of scallops. Many an evening has been spent trying to get the DVD player to work on the probably pirated discs we have been lent by one of the inner circle of KorDram aficionados.  Or do I mean desperadoes? I am not sure which is more fun, the battle of the DVD players or the corny stories. And I do mean players. We have two connected to the TV so we can switch over when one decides to go on the blink as a protest against the putative IPR infringement.

I recommend a weekend in Seoul. It is sad that my first trip there included an encounter with that well-known local delicacy, the sea cucumber. The living gherkin has a texture not unlike rubber and I was dining with the CFO of Hyundai Motors it may well have been. Provided you can avoid the winter tread marine zucchini its well worth a visit. Take my advice and stick to the scallops in love.

Heart verdict

Happy to say that although the tests confirmed the original diagnosis I am in the “lower risk” category. Just one aspirin a day to thin the blood. But now I have to do the dreaded treadmill run tomorrow. On balance this is a good outcome.