Tag Archives: wallpapers

A ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper: Fictional Village of Brambledown

When I posted the first ‘It Features in My Book’ Wallpaper, I hadn’t planned to produce a sequel – of sorts; but nosing through my collection of digital photos, I found more that feature locations (from my recollections during childhood) that inspired scenes in this book…

Here is a shot that includes a part of the fictional village of Brambledown…

…which I thought made a nice wallpaper. But whilst I was bending myself to the task, I fiddled with a shot that features a location that is included in a specific scene from the book, which I present here as an extract. The locale has changed considerably since the sixties (the period from which I drew my imagery); but the general lie of the land remains pretty much as it was. The sunken lane highlighted here, featured in the first post.

An extract from Silent Apocalypse…

Since I was not present, the following part of this narrative must be second hand. It was related to me at a later date.

Night had fallen. Four teenaged girls, one of whom was Katherine Kingsbury – sister to Tom, and school friend of mine – huddled together in a thicket that grew upon the hillside that overlooked the village. They’d been abducted during the Wiltshire Rifles’ first foray into Brambledown. They rejoiced in the fact that they’d not been joined by others, but were greatly concerned about the villager’s welfare. As of yet they were unhurt and unsullied. None of them imagined the situation would remain that way forever. Katherine, bound at hand and foot, stared at the one young Rifleman left to guard them. What she hoped to accomplish she didn’t know, but if it made him feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, then it was worth the effort. And she was pretty certain she was having some effect. Eventually he turned angrily toward her.

“Will you stop that?” He snapped.

“Will you set me free?” She returned his outburst.

He took a step toward her. “I’ll tell you what I will do…”

“Rifleman!” The voice of the Lance Corporal erupted from the surrounding shadows, “Remain at your post.”

The Rifleman threw Katherine a glance of menace, and resumed his watching of the village through the thicket. He spoke to the Lance Corporal, who had come to check the girl’s condition:

“Any chance of action tonight, Corp?”

The Lance Corporal glanced at the girl’s bonds before returning his attention to the Rifleman. “For you – or the unit in general?”

“Both.”

“No – and yes – in that order.”

The Rifleman’s whining voice betrayed his youth: “Oh, but Corp, I missed out last night too.”

The Lance Corporal was unmoved. “Tough. Shouldn’t be such a prat then, should you? Tell you what: next time we need a complete louse-up, we’ll call for you. Now shut up and keep your eyes peeled.”

“Thanks very much.” The Rifleman managed. “So we’re going in again tonight?”

The Lance Corporal was already departing. “If my plan’s gonna succeed, we have to. We have to keep ‘going in’ until there’s either no womenfolk left in the village, or we’re all dead. Whichever way it turns out, we are not leaving here empty handed. You got that?”

Katherine heard these words, and shuddered.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As far as I know, this e-book remains available at several outlets, some of which are included on the sidebar via the book cover images, or on the Tooty’s E-Books Available To Buy Here page. And very nice it is too – if you enjoy genocide and disaster.

Wallpaper 639: The Breakfast Sentinel

Every morning, before breakfast, I shuffle to my garden shed to feed the wild birds in my garden. The first to arrive is Jacques, the Robin, who flutters in front of me like an inebriated humming bird, demanding access to perch upon my hand and pick through the tit-bits I have for him. Then, as I emerge fully, and begin to place the food upon the various feeders in my quince tree, the resident crow  starts calling to the other birds  from my roof – announcing that breakfast is served… 

Why it has taken on this role, I have no idea: but the pigeons and jackdaws seem particularly pleased that it has.

 

Country Life Wallpaper: The Lab Chase

Here, a huge hulking male Labrador chases it’s playful offspring…

Later I met with them, and the youngster’s mother. Being Labs, of course they were kind and gentle. Well the mother and son were. The father ambled up to me with his tongue lolling and his jaws agape; mis-judged his speed, and nearly took my patella off.

P.S If you look carefully at the centre of the upper half of the picture, you will note a blue portable toilet. Just for the record: I didn’t use it.

Eight Years On

As I mentioned in my Tooty the Chef’s wheel restoration post, I bought my ‘modern classic’ 1998 Toyota Corolla, in immaculate condition in 2014. It was done on the spur of the moment, and I’ve never regretted the impetuous act. Here’s what the little beauty looked like back then…

Well, as I said earlier, the years have not been kind to my dinky 1.3 automatic. But recently a new air filter, an automatic gearbox oil change, and those dashing yellow wheels seem to have perked up the motor somewhat. So, to celebrate the fact that my favourite car is still up and running after twenty-four years, I stopped by the same locale and took it’s portrait again…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I know: but I think it’s still a cracker. I think a lot of old Corolla owners feel the same way: there’s still loads of them on Britain’s roads, and every one of ’em I spot makes me smile. You’re bound to find at least one in Waitrose car park. Quality lasts, obviously. And if you’ve never driven one, give it a go: there’s something indefinable about them. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a big fan.

Nature Wallpapers: Listen and Survive / Going Hungry

Whilst out and about in the Hampshire countryside, I chanced upon a common, everyday encounter between two disparate (but linked) species. It ended well for one of them, and gave me a couple of nice wallpaper shots….

I know I shouldn’t have, but I could help myself from giving the rabbit an edge.  I gave the fox a cheery wave.

Everyday Objects Make Excellent Science-Fiction Wallpapers

My ancient Sony Cybershot DSC-P10 dates from 2002. I don’t use it much, but I think it had a hard life in the hands of a construction site engineer before I liberated it. As a consequence it can misbehave slightly – like not switching on when I want to use it. On this occasion I thought it likely that the battery might not be carrying  enough charge to fire it up, so I plugged the camera into the charger and tried again. It worked. By chance the lens happened to be pointing in the direction of a half-full water bottle. So, to test that all was well, I snapped a few point-blank close-ups. When I saw the resulting pictures, the ‘artistic genius’ (weird sci-fi guy) within me saw the possibilities. So I tossed a new (and exciting) smoke alarm on to the bed and snapped some pictures of that. The result is…

What the two saucers are about to do to the domed city upon an airless planet, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they appear in a future Earplug Adventure!

A Strange Philosophical Juxtaposition

Whilst walking through a local churchyard recently, I chanced upon this scene…

How the dice got there, I have no idea. It has been pretty windy lately, so it might have blown in from an adjacent garden. But, whatever, the significance struck me immediately. Every day we roll the dice. Life, after all, is a gamble. Nothing is certain – except for one thing. Ultimately, in the end, when the big screen of existence reads ‘Game Over’, we’re all winners. For having lived at all; for having become the person we are; and for moving on to something better.

Wallpaper 636: Half-Price Mountain Biking

Or circus performers on their day off…

Slippery downhills must be a bit of a bugger on these. But they take up so little room in the back of a car. Almost makes sense – until you look at the level of protection the riders are wearing. Falling off must be par for the course. And look at the padding in the back of their trousers: possibly unpleasant for arse holes too. I imagine the young lady’s back-pack is smaller because she doesn’t need to carry balms and ointments for swollen testicles.

Tooty the Chef: Remember Him?

Does this ugly mug look familiar?

The apron seems to have gone Absent With Out Leave, and the hat looks decidedly kitchen drawer-worn; but, yes, it’s Tooty the Chef. And look, he’s set the counter top with some ingredients…

Hmmm, let’s see what he’s prepared for his latest fabulous gastronomic concoction. Well inspiration came when his local Waitrose offered a pair of leeks at a reduced price – due to their age and less-than-pristine condition. Instantly his fertile mind slipped into high gear and he began to imagine what could be done with half a jar of macaroni; the dregs inside a bag of grated cheese; and some bacon medallions that had been sitting at the bottom of the fridge for three weeks. Well it was obvious really: macaroni/leek/bacon cheese! So whilst he boiled the macaroni and steamed the leeks…

…he lay the bacon (and some sliced peppers) on some olive oil in his famous Roasting Thing…

…and waited. When, eventually, the macaroni was sufficiently softened, and the leeks appeared most-way cooked, he stirred them together with some cheese sauce. Then it was simply a matter of pouring the goo on top of the bacon/peppers combo; then scattering the grated cheese on top of the lot…

…and shoving it in the maxxed-out oven (of course), This was followed by some sodding about for twenty-five minutes, until the meal was cooked good and proper…

Yep, despite all his frailties, the culinary cretin is back…

And this time he’s keeping his buttocks to himself!

Earplug Adventures Spaceship Wallpaper: Departure

I like creating spaceship wallpapers – usually out of everyday objects and civilisation’s flotsam. Sometimes it takes a while before I write a story that might include the resulting picture. Or maybe I’ll never write one at all. Whatever, the picture’s quite nice in itself. And you can always imagine a story for yourself.

Here, Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison (remember them?) pilot the Gravity Whelk as it departs a vast space station at the edge of a distant nebula.

Equine Wallpaper: The Horse That Talks With Trees

It was doing precisley this when I arrived; whilst I watched it for a couple of minutes; during the time it took to get out my camera and shoot this picture; and when I was leaving. Very single-minded critter, obviously. But if you take a look at the Flickr version of this, and zoom in, you’ll notice an eye looking sidelong at me. It knew I was there: it just didn’t care. Guess it likes the strong silent types.

A “It Features in My Book” Wallpaper: The Sunken Lane

When, long ago (2004 actually) I wrote the first draft of the book that was (after several re-writes through the years) to become my best-selling creation, namely this one…

…I based the locale of a very significant part of the story on the place of my birth and upbringing. I had no idea that, eight years later, I would return to live there again. In the book, the English village in question was named Brambledown, and this sunken lane (see above) was the means by which the central characters gained access to the village whilst remaining unseen by those besieging it. As you can see – even though the passage of years have worn the banks down somewhat,  and half the trees are missing – if you were unfamilar with the area, you might well fail to notice this tarmac  artery amongst the surviving trees and adjacent farmland. Well that’s what I thought, back in 2004. Here’s an extract from the aforementioned book that includes the sunken lane…

Lee indicated that we should keep low, and join him. As Kevin and I scrambled to his side we both noticed that a small thicket stood in the lee of the hill. A thin column of smoke curled into the air from it, but quickly flattened out and dissipated.

“Campfire.” Lee stated needlessly as we hid behind a thick bush and snatched brief looks over it. “But who are they?”

Kevin rummaged through his haversack, producing a respectable pair of binoculars. It showed great forethought. My admiration for this simple survivor increased.

“These help?” He smiled as he offered them to Lee.

Lee gave him a wink of thanks, and then put the glasses to his eyes.

After a few moments, “Just as I thought; it’s some kind’a paramilitary outfit. They know what they’re doing though: They’ve posted guards while the rest are havin’ a bit of grub.”

“Can we get past them?” I inquired.

From our vantage point we could see little of the village, but Lee scanned what he could. He sounded positive when he asked, “You said you knew this place?”

“I don’t suppose it’s changed much.” I heard a slightly defensive tone in my voice. ‘Am I making excuses for failure already?’

“There’s a sunken lane somewhere over to the left.” I said. “In the opposite direction to the thicket.”

The sunken lane to which I referred was just as I’d remembered it. It wasn’t until you almost fell into it that its existence became obvious. Beeches had grown about it – their massive roots forming high heavy banks and disappearing beneath the patchy, undulating tar macadam surface. To anyone who wasn’t local it was merely a line of broadleaf trees much like any other, and of no significance. To the inhabitants of Brambledown it was a defensible position.

I wasn’t surprised when a disembodied female hailed us:

“All right:” She spoke in a broad rural accent.

‘Clearly one of Katherine’s ‘serfs’

“You can stay right there, and don’t move a muscle.”

There was no mistaking the threat in her tone. We all stood as if rooted.

“Lose the firepower.” The next instruction followed.

With a clatter Lee dropped the shotgun.

“And the old pop-gun.” The voice, slightly amused, insisted.

Lee didn’t know in which direction to turn his attention.

“It don’t work.” He called, then held out the revolver, “No firin’ pin.”

“Only got your word for that.” The tone became sterner once more, “Drop it, or drop your trousers: I aint fussy.”

The revolver joined the shotgun in the leaf litter.

Moments later the voice gained form, and a sturdily-built girl – whom I judged to be about seventeen, and wearing filthy combat fatigues – stepped into view from behind a cleverly disguised hide. She was unarmed.

“Well!” Lee exclaimed as he bent to pick up the shotgun.

“Now-now!” A young male voice warned us from behind.

We spun to face a man of about nineteen years, who held a shotgun levelled at us. He hid the lower half of his a face behind a mask.

“Hello.” Kevin smiled at him, “My name’s Kevin: I live in Lutchins Farm. It’s me dad’s farm.”

The well-spoken voice warmed. “So you do. Hello Kevin; I’m afraid the hairdressers are closed right now. Who are your friends?”

Kevin introduced us. “This is Lee, and this is Flissery.”

“That’s Felicity.” I corrected him.

“Felicity, eh?” The young man looked me up and down. “Knew a girl of that name once, you know. Looked a little cleaner than you I seem to recall. Then I suppose the same could be said of all of us.”

There seemed a hint of sorrow in his tone. His voice seemed familiar. I watched his eyes as he instructed his associate to collect our weapons. Then recognition struck:

“Thomas.” I blurted. “Thomas Kingsbury!”

Lee looked surprised. “You know this bloke?”

Thomas winked at me before pulling down his mask to reveal his face.

“I thought it was you, Fel. My – you’re a big girl now! I mean that in nicest possible way, you understand…”

For a brief moment it hurt to hear my abbreviated name so soon after losing Sarah; but then I recalled all of Katherine’s family knew me by that moniker. Somehow it brought with it a sense of ‘belonging’.

“And you appear to have increased your mass too.” I replied – running to him and being swept into the air by surprisingly powerful arms.

Dropping me again, he introduced me to his associate. “Fel, meet Fred.”

We made our greeting. Then I introduced Lee to them both. And Kevin shook every one’s hand, including my own.

Before long two more youngsters arrived to relieve Tom and Fred. This allowed the five of us make our way to the village. What we found in the village dismayed us. It was an armed camp under siege, though it was heartening to see many tethered or corralled young animals too. We learned that the adolescents and children of several nearby villages, farms, and outlying houses had collected together in mutual need and for the defence of the village. But from whom came such threat?

Fred, rather inaccurately, referred to them as ‘The Army’. Others called them ‘Bandits’ or ‘Killers’ – though as of yet no one had been actually killed.

Tom, alone, called them what they actually were:

“A bunch of frightened cadets, Fel: That’s what they are – led by an absolute lunatic.”

“What makes you say that?” I enquired.

We were sitting together upon an old, lichen-coated, stone sarcophagus beside the largest Ewe tree in the village churchyard. I enjoyed the physical closeness. As a twelve year-old I dreamed that one day I might marry Tom, who was always out of reach, being three years my senior: Now at Sixteen perhaps… The thought struck me like a thunderbolt: ‘He must be nineteen by now: Old enough to die!

He didn’t notice my involuntary gasp. Instead he indicated the village about us. “Notice something missing – other than adults of course?”

It took me several seconds to re-gather my wits. I covered by looking from right to left and back again.

“Or should I say some one?” He added.

I was speechless. I looked into his grime-smeared but boyishly handsome face.

“Katherine.” He spoke as though I had merely made an enquiring lift of an eyebrow, “Katherine’s not here.”

Inside my head this new data did not compute. What my expression must have been, I can only guess; but the strength seemed to slough from Tom’s shoulders.

“They’ve got her, Fel. They’ve taken my only sister – and three more girls from the village. And what’s more they intend to take the rest. That’s how I know they’re led by a loony.”

Neither of us had heard Lee’s approach. We both jumped when he said, “So what are you doing about it?”

With Tom potentially at death’s door, and Katherine kidnapped by armed delinquents, this situation seemed impossible. Shangri la was rapidly turning into my idea of hell.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

If this book looks interesting, check it out by visiting the sidebar on this post, or the Tooty’s E-books Available to Buy Here! page beneath the header.

Photography: Which Camera? And Does It Matter?

I always seem to have at least one camera about my person; usually more. Today I picked up four compacts to take with me on my daily ‘keep fit’ walk around the village. By sheer random chance I selected a 7.2 megapixel Casio EX-Z11 with a X3 zoom: a 14.2 megapixel Samsung ES74 with a X5 zoom; a whopping 16 megapixel Fujifilm T400 with a X10 zoom; and one of my favourites – a 9.3 megapixel Ricoh CX-2 with a X10.7 zoom. There wasn’t a whole bunch of interesting stuff to snap, so all four remained unsullied inside my jacket pockets for most of the rural sojourn – until I passed through the church car park, in which I discovered a car that had been aesthetically parked. When I say ‘aesthetically parked’, I actually mean that the driver had simply stopped and got out. It was the colour and the shape of the car that was truely aesthetic to my ageing eyes. It looked so gorgeous in the afternoon sun that I decided to take its photograph… four times – once with each camera. I knew, assuming that the autofocus worked properly, that it would result in four excellent pictures, irrespective of camera quality. But it would also be vaguely interesting to discover which camera captured the vehicle’s scrumptiousness best.  Which would prove most beneficial – aesthetically: megapixel count or zoom length? Or a combination? Let’s see, eh?

Casio EX-Z11 – x3 zoom
Samsung ES74 – x5 zoom
Fujifilm T400 – zoomed out to roughly x8-ish

As you can see, the Beemer looks great no matter what camera I used. It is just fabulous. But I saved the best til last. With the Ricoh CX-2 also zoomed out to about x8-ish, it wasn’t the megapixel count that mattered, and obviously not the zoom either because I didn’t want to go in any closer than I did with the Fijifilm. It was the quality of the camera lens. Regardez vous…

Nice car: nice camera: nice wallpaper. Now I know why it’s my favourite compact.

P.S Almost unheard of, but every camera had a memory card inside it, and no drained batteries. Sheer luck: I hadn’t stopped to check any of them. Wonders will never cease.