Sunday, December 31, 2006

An eye on the past

picture of South Shields beach reflected in an eye

Remembering better days.

As I sit at home recuperating, I thought I would try to make a little use of my new graphics tablet and wireless pen. This image has been created to remind me of the busy summers days had down on the beach in South Shields, a long cry from the wet and windy winter we have now. I've tried to create the illusion of the busy beach reflected in the fresh eye of a young girl, ready to rush down to the shore.
Two images merged in Photoshop, the eye having been desaturated, painted, and some noise added, and the beach scene with the South Pier, masked and blended with the iris. A little extra drawing was used to give emphasis to the lashes.

Hope you all like!


Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Big Thank You

The Big Thank You!

May I take this opportunity of thanking Trigger17 for kindly informing the blogosphere of my recent absence, and also say a big thank you to the 102 bloggers who took the time to email me expressing their concerns and support. Your prayers and thoughts are most welcome and comforting. May I also say a big thank you to my workmates and colleagues in the Corner Shop for their support and best wishes.

This has been a most memorable Christmas period in the Curly household, but not for the best of reasons; some of us were not looking forward to our first Christmas without a very important member of the family in our midst, yet circumstances prevented too much sentimentality on Christmas Day which was the normal bustle of frenetic activity transporting children and sacks of Santa's presents from house to house as we did the family rounds. It was the normal helter skelter of activity and included some quality time with my father before we were ready to crash out at home, long before midnight!

Boxing Day started with the confused indecisiveness of whether or not to run up to Sunderland early in the day to get tickets for the home match against Leeds United, I had a strange unworldly feeling, rather like being detached from reality, it's difficult to put one's finger on it, but I did not "feel right". Eventually I decided not to go to the match (I must have known we were likely to win, but ugly) and thought instead of taking a walk into the town centre to see which shops were open, perhaps in the hope of finding an early January sale bargain.

I had a light lunch and was just installing the software that came with the new graphics tablet when it happened, it came with a slight light headedness and a quick rise in temperature along with a massive feeling of tight compression on the upper chest, arms, and neck which led to breathlessness and sweating. Years of professional first-aid training told me straight away that I was suffering a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and that a 999 telephone call was required. Whilst Mrs. Curly summoned help the children both wanted to climb up on my knee, and couldn't understand my protestations as I pushed them away and sought to settle on the settee. It was hard to exclude them in such a brutal fashion and emotionally difficult to watch them witness my suffering, but fortunately a paramedic was with me in less than three minutes. Having quickly inserted an intravenous vent and administered morphine he then attached a portable heart monitor which confirmed my own diagnosis. The ambulance and crew arrived less than two minutes later and I lost the fight to remain lucid within one minute of settling into the interior of my saviours' transport.

To make matters that little more worse, as I came to at South Tyneside District Hospital it quickly became apparent that I was paralysed from the neck down! This was unexpected and caused my spirits to sink just that little further, the medical team at the hospital's coronary care unit were unsure how the paralysis had been caused and felt that more specialist resources were required to find the cause of my problems, so I was dispatched by ambulance through the pre-closed Tyne Tunnel to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, a journey that took little more than ten minutes! Sadly my wife and father had to stay behind in South Shields.

I have to say that at all times I felt very comfortable, paramedics, ambulance personnel, doctors, and nurses were all saying the right things to me, I felt reassured and calm (even when my heart rate dropped to 15 beats per minute and looked in danger of stopping.) It didn't take long for the coronary specialists in Newcastle to decide to reopen the theatre late at night to perform an emergency angioplasty, they whisked me through without any formal pre-op preparation and spent over two hours investigating then repairing the blockages found in my coronary arteries. I have their tenacity and skills to thank for being here to tell the tale. I give you many thanks guys. Years of smoking, before I eventually decided to give up in 2006, poor diet, lack of strenuous excercise, had all combined to produce the dreadful circumstances that create arterial sclerosis. The left anterior descending artery in the heart was 70% blocked, and two of the diagonals were 100% blocked, my existence was hanging by a mere thread! I now have the arteries reopened and kept open with three stents, small metal coil like inserts designed to prevent plaques building up in these locations again.

Remarkably by 7.30 on Wednesday morning I was feeling magnificent and fresh as a daisy, and full motion had returned! I returned to South Tyneside District Hospital on Wednesday evening and stayed there until this morning when I returned to my family armed with a carrier bag full of tablets and drugs which must now be consumed every day of my life. I now feel as though I have been reborn, or at least given a second chance. The National Health Service performed to it's best this week (although there were one or two issues that I could talk about) and the ambulance service was notable for it's speed, efficiency. and highly trained life saving paramedics, to these I give the greatest thanks of all.

Therefore, I hope you will excuse my absence over the next couple of days as I try to catch up on some lost sleep, regain some strength, relearn how to properly relax, and begin to plan the future. Blogging may be erratic, and visitors of Curly's Photoshop will be treated to one or images from my archives until such time as I am able to get out and about (armed with the camera) on a more regular basis.

My new life is about to start, a change of diet, a change of regime, a fitness plan, and a permanently positive attitude will help me launch the new me!

Once again thank you all for voicing your concerns and support.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Break in Transmission

Sorry to report that Curly was admitted to hospital on Boxing Day. After preliminaries he was transferred to Freeman where he underwent surgery in the early hours of Wednesday. He has now returned to STDH and is making good progress. Indications are that he should be well enough to return home at the weekend. All this, thanks to the woders of the NHS not forgetting the lifesaving work of the paramedics. The blog should return to normal soon afterwards.

Posted in Curly's absence by Trigger17


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Wonderland No. 4

picture of illuminated house, South Shields

Blue Christmas

Own up, who remembers that song? That's what I thought of when I spotted this house on one of the outlying estates in South Shields this evening.
I will try to bring you one of our traditional Boxing Day events tomorrow.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Cristmas

Curly's Christmas Card

Merry Christmas

Curly and his family would like to extend our very best wishes to the DP blogging community and our many visitors around the world. May you all have peace this Christmas Day.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Christmas Tree

picture of the Old Town Hall, Market Place, South Shields

Old Town Hall

This is the Christmas Tree in front of the original Town Hall in South Shields. This was our first Town Hall and dates from the late 1700s, our Town Council used to meet here.
The image has been cropped from a larger image of the Market Place and was an HDR merge in Photoshop (three images at differing exposures merged on top of each other) I hope the High Density Range retains a fair bit of detail from this night shot.



Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Performance

Picture of schoolchildren's nativity play, South Shields 2006

The Nativity Play

Pupils at a South Shields school perform their Nativity Play at Christmas time for the benefit of their parents.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Hark the herald angels......

Picture of carol singers, King Street, South Shields

Carol Singing

A group of carol singers performing for the shoppers under the Metro bridge in King Street, South Shields.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Wonderland No. 3

picture of South Shields Town Hall

South Shields Town Hall

The Town Hall in Westoe Road, South Shields, all decorated and illuminated for the Christmas period. Just a shame that the statue of Queen Victoria at the front isn't lit up too.



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sunset over the Tyne

picture of the River Tyne at sunset

The River Tyne

Taken half an hour after sunset catching the 'afterglow'. You just see the South Shields to North Shields ferry leaving it's landing (centre left) to cross the river to the North bank. This shot was taken from a vantage point on River Drive, South Shields, an old ballast hill.



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Away in a manger

picture of Christmas manger and crib, King Street, South Shields


Every year the lads from Northumbria Fire and Rescue Service (South Shields Station) build a replica of the nativity scene, featuring Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. They use it raise money for local charities to ensure that the less fortunate can enjoy a comfortable Christmas. They always display the nativity scene in King Street where many shoppers can remind themselves of the true message of Christmas.



Monday, December 18, 2006

Boy and dog.

picture of boy and dog, King Street, South Shields

A dog is not just for Christmas.

Boy and dog look as though they are letting the Christmas rush pass them by, in King Street, South Shields.



Sunday, December 17, 2006

God works in mysterious ways!

picture of Bethesda methodist church, Victoria Road, South Shields

Bethesda Methodist Church, Maxwell Street, South Shields



Saturday, December 16, 2006

"The Lights" No. 3

picture of the Criterion, public house, Ocean Road, South Shields

The Criterion

The final public house standing on one of the four corners of the intersection of Ocean Road, King Street, Fowler Street, and Mile End Road (commonly known as "the lights") is The Criterion.
This pub still manages to retain an older charm about it, reminiscent of the first half of the last century. Again it is popular for eating during the day and more energetic disco music at the weekends. This is a very popular spot.

On the fourth corner is a bank!



Friday, December 15, 2006

Coffee and colour

picture of interior, Cafe Nero, King Street, South Shields

Cafe Culture

The new Cafe Nero again, in King Street, South Shields.
Black and White with a splash of colour painted in. We are just about getting used to cafe culture in South Shields, maybe next summer when the weather is warmer, we might see tables and chairs outside on the street?
I would quite enjoy coffee and biscuits over a friendly chat, whilst we sit and watch the world go by!



Thursday, December 14, 2006

"The Lights" No. 2

picture of The Ship and Royal, Ocean Road, South Shields

The Ship and Royal

Remember this post about meeting at "the lights"?
Well, we have three pubs (public houses) at this, normally busy, junction. The previous post showed The Scotia, and opposite is The Ship and Royal with the Assembly Room upstairs. This is busy pub, especially favoured by the younger crowd at weekends when they can enjoy a drink and a dance upstairs. It is also popular for enjoying a cheap and wholesome meal.
Look out for the third of these old pubs appearing soon!
The Christmas tree looks fabulous at night!



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rainbow Ferry

picture of DFDS ferry approaching the Tyne

DFDS Ferry

Whilst I was shooting at Marsden Bay on Sunday morning I turned around just in time to catch this shot of a DFDS ferry approaching the River Tyne from the continent. In the pre dawn light she had just sailed past the end of a glorious rainbow!



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rise and shine

dawn in Marsden Bay, South Shields

Dawn at Marsden

Here's another of the sunrise shots that I grabbed on Sunday morning, this was taken about 15 minutes before the sun appeared.
Konica Minolta Dimage Z3, ISO 50, 1/8 second at f8, velbon tripod.



Monday, December 11, 2006

Papa's gotta brand new day!

Souter Lighthouse, South Shields at dawn

Sunrise at Souter

I was out and about nice and early yesterday morning to catch the sun rising over Marsden Bay, I was lucky, it was one of nature's spectacles. Here we see the sun creeping over the horizon behind Souter Lighthouse in an absolute blaze of glory.
It looks golden and warm, but let me tell you it was pretty cold there this morning with a gusty wind thrown in for good measure.
Stay tuned for another sunrise tomorrow!



Sunday, December 10, 2006

Winter wonderland No. 2.

Selling roast chestnuts, Ocean Road, South Shields

Hot Nuts!

An unusual sight in South Shields, somebody selling hot roasted chestnuts in Ocean Road. definately an old fashioned Christmas theme here!



Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Tea Party

picture of ride, Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, South Shields

Ocean Beach Pleasure Park

As is common with most seaside towns we have a fairground, the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, it is not open all year, but certainly for about two thirds of the year when the weather is good. We also have a young man in South Shields who has gathered a reputation for outstanding air brush art, his name escapes me right now, but his work is now seen in fixed and travelling fairgrounds as well as on many seaside reorts' shop fronts and in individual commissions for trucks!

Here is one of his earlier pieces depicting Lewis Carrol's "Mad Hatter's Tea Party" from Alice in Wonderland. (Lewis Carrol - now there's another story relating to South Tyneside -I'll save it for another day.)



Friday, December 08, 2006

Long Sands

picture of the Long Sands, Tynemouth


Sometimes when we feel the need for a little change in scenery we get the ferry across the River Tyne and visit Tynemouth. It's beach is not quite as large as ours but is much favoured by surfers. This view is of Tynemouth Long Sands and Church Point in the background. Tynemouth used to have a huge fairground called The Spanish City for many years, but it has now been demolished - pity really.



Thursday, December 07, 2006

Coffee break

picture of a cup of coffee, cafe nero, south shields

Cafe Nero

After a hard day out doing some shopping for Christmas presents it was so good to sink into a comfortable chair and enjoy this cappuccino at South Shields' newest coffee house, Cafe Nero, which is almost adjacent to the Metro Station in King Street. I also enjoyed the option of being able to request extra strong coffee, sometimes you feel as though you need a strong injection of caffeine.

I tried to create a 'film noire' look to this late afternoon coffee and chocolate indulgence.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Ghost Train

picture of South Shields Metro Statio

All aboard!

This is almost a repost of my picture of 27th. November, shall I explain how I came to make this? It's a dreary wet day and commuters were waiting to board the train to Newcastle. I had set up my tripod in the corner of the station and took a few shots with longish exposures as the train arrived.

In Photoshop I copied and pasted four frames and duplicated them twice each and used them on separate layers, before playing around with the blend modes and transparency. That's how I came to make "the Ghost Train."



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winter wonderland No. 1

picture of houses decorated for Christmas, Copley Avenue, South Shields

All ready for Christmas.

Last Christmas I ran a competition to find the best decorated house in South Tyneside, and I noticed that this recently imported American tradition has taken off in a BIG way here in England. I don't have the time to run such an effort this year but I will feature a few of the best that I see during the course of December.
These houses are in Copley Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields and it's hard to decide whether this is a communal effort, or more a case of "keeping up with the Jones'es'". What do you think?



Monday, December 04, 2006


picture, windswept tree, North Marine Park, South Shields

Bendy Trees.

Yesterday's weather was grim, to say the least. Dark all day with driving winds and heavy squally rain showers, horrible!

I found these trees bending to the breezes in the North Marine Park, South Shields. Picture taken at 16.25 GMT, in the rain, hand held with a little fill-flash.



Sunday, December 03, 2006


picture of watch stall, continental market, king street, south shields


Here is the final part of this small series of pictures from this weekend's Continental Market in King Street, South Shields. These guys were from Turkey and offering watches complete with straps.



Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ostrich Meat

Picture of Ostrich meat suasages, continental market, king street, south shields

Continental Market (part ll)

It's quite fascinating what some people will eat, I'm not sure how many folks will be buying this Ostrich "Sausage" offered in the Continental Market, King Street, South Shields this weekend.
Perhaps some of our Australian visitors can let us know what it tastes like. However, as they say, "variety is the spice of life".



Friday, December 01, 2006

A nice bunch!

picture of roses, continental market, south shields

Continental Market

Today saw the start of a special Continental Market in King Street, South Shields, a host of traders from mainland Europe offering us some delights which we don't get to see very often in England. They are trading here until Monday evening. I think I will feature a few pictures from this market during this week-end.
Here we see a collection of roses in some amazing colours, frankly I don't know how they do it!



My Photo
Location: South Shields, Tyne Wear, United Kingdom

Born in 1956, I'm a retailer, father and husband, with two young children a son born in 1997 and a daughter in 2001. I am also a former borough Councillor who has had his passion for people and politics reawakened recently.