Archive for December 13th, 2004

Minolta Digital SLR

Finally got the replacement camera, after sending the earlier one back because the flash wouldn’t synchronise. Guess what? I took the new camera out of the box, charged up the battery, set the time and date, put a CF card in the slot, and took a flash picture.

Yup! The flash didn’t work. I phoned up and caused a flurry of calls between the shop and Minolta and they couldn’t understand it as they hadn’t any returns other than mine.

So I thought I had better go through the setup and the custom setup, to see if I could find a solution.

I had purchased a body only and Minolta had set the damn thing up to work with D-Lenses (Digital Lenses). These are brand new lenses and are only just appearing on the market. You would have thought Minolta would have set it up for the majority of users! Or at least had a sticker on the manual cover warning of this.

Even the Minolta rep seemed surprised!

Anyway it is now working well and I am spending this week in testing all aspects of it.

Once I have tested the famous Minolta Anti-Shake system I will report back to the blog.

Anti-shake is useful in two areas. One, it enables you to hold the camera with large telephoto lenses and fire at a slower speed than you would normally have to if you wanted sharp pictures. Three stops down in fact – which is an enormous help to the sports or news photographer. For example, if you have a 600mm Telephoto lens, you may have to fire at a 500th of a second normally. Now, with anti-shake, you can reduce that to a 60th of a second.

The second area is, if you are an old codger like me, who likes his brandy and Jack Daniels, you will find you probably shake a little more than most. Using a standard lens I would have to hold the camera at 125th of a second. Now I can hold at a 30th and get a sharp picture , and that is only two stops!

I will get back to you when I have tested it thoroughly.


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Going to Brussels?

We recently spent four days in Brussels and there were only two watering holes to write home about. But these were exceptional and superior waterning holes!

The first place was La Belle Maraichére, located near the Brussels old fish market in the Sinte Kathelijneplaats (Number 11A).

The outside is most off-putting – run down and in need of paint work – but once you go through the scruffy portals, it is a palace, and you will find only locals eating there as the seedy exterior is there to put off tourists and politicians. The upstairs part of the restaurant is smaller but more intimate even though it has those huge old-fashioned high ceilings.

Although owned by Flems, the style is most decidedly French, as is the cuisine. The wine list is extensive and is in two parts. The first is for fairly high priced wines and the other is for very highly priced fine wines.

This is a fish restaurant and was the best place we have eaten in, whether in Belgium or France, over the years. The flesh just fell off the bones and apart from being lovely and tender, extremely well cooked and with beautiful spices, it was of the best quality.

Telephone numbers Vox +32-2-512.97.59 and Fax +32-2-513.76.91

The Delirium café is in the Impasse de la Fidelité (Number 4A but it is a very short cul-de-sac) right in the centre of Brussels, close to the Grande Place.

A lovely basement bar which is very cheerful. Almost empty at lunchtime, with a beautiful Flemish manageress who was most helpful.

With 2,004 beers, (next year it will be 2,005) we found it easier to ask her to choose.

Say something like “I want a Belgian lager, and not a wheat beer, size 25cl, preferably not more than 5% proof.” or 7% or 10% or higher than 12% – yes they do have them!!!

Or as I did, “Please may I have a South African lager, in a 330ml bottle, with a minimum of 5% alcohol” – she brought me four!

Or “I would like a Danish beer, 330cl, at around 7% proof”. I am sure you get the message. She will then go out and return with three or four for you to choose.

Can’t do that in the evenings as it gets pretty crowded. But if you do your research at Lunchtime, it won’t be a problem. They do have a menu of beers and genevers, these are, as you can imagine, huge books and take a lot of ploughing through!

By the way, if you think 2,004 beers are a lot, they also have up to 80 guest beers at any one time. They have British beers, but what a waste to drink those at this cafe!

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza. The restaurant was very nice, but not nice enough to write about on my blog. But we were very comfortable there and they did the usual four star three choice breakfast. A full “English” cooked breakfast, a plate of cold meats and cheese or a fruit salad – lots of things to choose from each choice. I confess, I had all three, each day!


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Wrong sort of radio waves!

Readers will immediately recognise a London Underground (The Tube) bulletin from these headlines.

The problem at the moment… well, let the article speak for itself… (OCR’d in) The paragraph emphasis are mine. The newspaper was The Hendon & Finchley Times – 9th December edition.

Tube radio interference

The Northern Line lived up to its “Misery Lane” billing this week as commuters put up with a severely disrupted service caused by defective radios.

Worse still, neither London Underground (LUL) nor Tube Lines (the company charged with the task of improving the line) could say when the service will be back to normal again. LUL has been running 80 per cent of the normal service, but advises passengers to use an alternative route.

An LUL spokeswoman said the delays have been caused by the failure of the radios in the drivers’ cabs, which link the trains with the control centre. She said: “The train radios have failed in the train cabs, but train operators can still commnicate with Northern Line control through the tunnel tram radio system. However, for safety reasons, this means that the train operator must have another person in there in case they collapse or become incapacitated.”

As a result of the disruption, all High Barnet trains run to Morden via Bank, while all Edgware trains terminate at Kennington via Charing Cross. The LUL spokeswoman said: “It is the most reliable way to operate so there are fewer gaps in the service and to make the trains as frequent as we can.”


Ah well, it’s lucky I work from home – but I still have to go into the West End or the Ciry each week!


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