Bag Whore

August 2, 2013 | Posted in 5.11, bags, camera, Canon, collosus, DSLR, EOS, flipside, Gearslinger, GoPro Hero, lowe pro, Maxpedition, monsoon, rush 12, Sitka, Tripod | By

Exploring has made me into aself confessed bag whore and I’ve been on the search for the perfect exploring bag for years and years, the thing is there isn’t really any such thing. As long as what you’ve got gets your kit where you need to go without falling apart or damaging your stuff then it doesn’t matter.What is true though are certain bags are better in certain environments, for example in tight, flooded or really muddy spaces I prefer my Sitka Gearslinger as I can spin him round and access whatever I want without taking it off or let the bag touch the ground…..quite useful if you are in four feet of water :-)Every now and then I get an itch to try something new though but invariably they are on eBay within a few days as I’ve not done my homework properly or some ‘feature’ of the bag has annoyed me and I’ve fell out of love with it. My ‘daily driver’ up until recently has been my Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger as he can carry my Canon, various flashlights, Gas Detector, batteries, bits of climbing gear and a side mounted tripod. More importantly its f**ing Bomb Proof which I like in a bag. I’ve had it years but it’s probably not quite as big as it should be……I hate carrying big bags but should probably upgrade him to a Kodiak Gearslinger which is the exact same design just a touch larger…
The last few weeks I’ve been taking out a Lowe Pro Flipside 300 AW that was gifted to me. He’s great in some respects, light, totally customisable and padded inside so I can get my Canon, GoPro, lighting rig, flashlights etc. in plus it has a really neat tripod carrying solution….BUT….the shoulder straps feel VERY flimsy compared to the OTT build qualityoftheMaxpedition stuff and you have to take the damn thing off to access anything inside.

Lowe Pro Flipside 300 AW

The main two I keep going back to though are the Sitka Gearslinger if I’m somewhere out of sight or if I’m trying to blend in a bit the 5.11 Rush 12, he’s great as I can get the camera and tripod inside the bag so is much less conspicuous. For silly ass wet/flooded sites I take an Ortlieb heavyweight dry bag in an attempt to not kill another DSLR.

The new kid on the block is a Maxpedition Colossus which I’ve not taken out yet but like the fact I can drop the Canon/Tokina rig straight into him and access it quickly. I’m hoping it will be perfect for handheld only trips where the tripod stays at home but I reckon it will take a side mounted tripod quite easily if I needed to.

Maxpedition Collossus

 

Other’s that have come and gone are:

Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack – Too small

 



Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger – Nice in theory, annoying in practice.

Read More...

Nemesis & The Resurrection

February 21, 2012 | Posted in Canon, DSLR, EOS, flashlights, flooded, GEO E-540, Lenser, Thrunite, Tripod, Underground, wad0rs, waders | By

If you follow this blog you might be aware of an incident that caused me an amount of problems, sadly the upshot of that day has since had even worse fallout and has been the reason for radio silence on this blog…

The place is really my nemesis, we’ve been going there for a long time and it doesn’t reveal its secrets easily, hard work and an often dangerous environment are required to get any payoff. We have found really neat stuff in far flung corners that makes all the slog worth the effort. In fact certain things, that have become obsessional, still elude me and it was just this said ‘thing’ that was on the menu when karma dealt me a sucker punch.

Its true my wad0rs split and I dropped a few quids worth of Lensers into the murky depths but the damage was far far worse as I was to find out. The Thrunite is now working, although it took several days for it to dry out, the ‘sinking tripod’ issues turned out to be the column clamp failing on my Velbon E-540 of which I am waiting to get a spares/repair price for.

The icing on the cake was when my 40D stopped working….yep…d-e-a-d. All of the buttons apart from the shutter had stopped working, the display had gone and the camera just sat there with the autofocus chattering away to itself trying to focus on an invisible/imaginary subject in the distance….FUBAR!!

It was left to dry for a week or so but still refused to play so it got shipped off to the camera doctors while I started searching for a new Canon body (just in case). Two weeks later and several hundred pounds worse off it got couriered back to me having been totally stripped, lovingly rebuilt (with several new parts) and calibrated to Canon factory standards, oh and they cleaned all the mine gunk off it for me too 🙂

The repair slip said my camera had suffered ‘contamination and corrosion’ LOLZ

So, I’m nearly back in the game…stand by for updates in the coming weeks 🙂

Read More...

Mines #40

June 3, 2011 | Posted in flooded, Ironstone, mines, roof collapse, roof fall, Underground | By

More water filled fun this week which ended up in a near ‘over (chest) wader’ moment in which my tripod disappeared and I nearly played submarines with my Canon. From here its likely to be Inflatable Tenders all the way on another trip to this area to get any deeper though…

(Once the tripod was drained though it seemed happy enough so its passed the test in my book.)

When Roof Supports go wrong
Wonky Props
Don’t ask…
Giant Jenga
Prop Fest
 
Giant Jenga Remix
Jenga Blah…
Watersports
 

Read More...

West Norwood Cemetery Catacombs

February 25, 2011 | Posted in Bramah, catacombs, catafalque, Dissenters Chapel, Episcopal Chapel, London, Major John George Richardson, Sir George Carroll, Sir William Tite, West Norwood Cemetery | By

It’s not a well known fact but there are actually two sets of Underground Catacombs present at West Norwood Cemetery and there were originally two chapels, the Dissenters Chapel and the Episcopal Chapel (both with catacombs beneath them).

At 05:12am on 17th July 1944 a V1 Flying ‘Doodlebug’ Bomb fell in West Norwood Cemetery and destroyed the Dissenters Chapel and caused severe damage to surrounding buildings, including the Episcopal Chapel. Plans from 1946 have only recently been discovered that show architect Alwyn Underdown had planned to rebuild the Dissenters Chapel but sadly after laying derelict for many years and hoping to be repaired by the Ministry Of Works, both were eventually demolished and in 1955 a more modern crematorium and chapel was constructed (also an Underdown design).

In total West Norwood SE27 was to suffer from 13 V1’s and 1 sole V2 and 47 People died in the area. As well as this the cemetery was hit multiple times by Luftwaffe bombers who used the A23 as a guide into Central London as well as many ‘own goals’ caused by unexploded Anti-Aircraft shells falling to ground!

The modern crematorium that stands today on the site of the Dissenters Chapel has the furnaces installed in the old catacombs below, they simply boarded up the few dozen internments in one of its original four aisles and installed the cremators in the remaining space. (The Dissenters Catacombs would have originally had capacity for approximately 1500 internments). Over the years the cremation equipment has been changed and upgraded but today there is now an ugly above ground Heat Exchanger in Square 51 causing much controversy due to it being placed over graves…

Across the path all that remains of the Episcopal Chapel is a Rose Garden which today lies beneath scaffolding and sheets of plastic in place to protect the catacombs beneath from further environmental damage. These catacombs have a tall central gallery and six main aisles (three on each side) containing some 95 bays (see plan below).

The bays were used in a variety of ways, some contain private vaults while others contain mixed internments. Other bays today contain gravestones from the cemetery above and some are totally empty.

All shots : Canon 40D & 11-16 Tokina glass – Thanks for looking

Some ‘proper’ history, © Professor Bob Flanagan, Friends of West Norwood Cemetery:

The Norwood Catacombs
By 1900 the cemetery was becoming largely filled with graves, and even some of the roadways were used for burials.  In 1915 a crematorium and columbarium were
installed beside the Dissenters’ Chapel. Sadly, both chapels were damaged during World War II, and a number of monuments were also destroyed or damaged. 

The cemetery lodge, only just rebuilt in the 1930s, was destroyed by a flying bomb in 1944.  The Dissenters’ Chapel was demolished in 1955, and replaced by a modern crematorium.  The Episcopal Chapel was demolished in 1960 and replaced by a rose garden. Nonetheless the catacombs below the Chapel still survive: those beneath the crematorium now house the furnaces, but those on the site of the Episcopal Chapel remain complete with some 2,000 coffins, unique architectural features, and a unique hydraulic coffin lift. Now listed Grade II, they are sadly closed to public access because of Health and Safety considerations.

Mediaeval tradition allowed for burial in churches for those who could afford it. Thus, at Kensal Green and at Norwood, provision was made for interment in catacombs
situated beneath the mortuary chapels.  Of the other commercial cemeteries founded in London at this time – Highgate (1839), Nunhead (1840), Abney Park (1840, wholly for dissenters), Brompton (1840) and Tower Hamlets (1841), catacombs only featured in the designs of Brompton and Nunhead, although the famous Egyptian Avenue at Highgate performed a similar function above ground level.  The Brompton catacombs, whilst still accessible, are not on the scale of those at Kensal Green or Norwood, whilst the small catacomb at Nunhead beneath the remains of the Episcopal Chapel is sealed. Catacombs were of course provided in some other English cemeteries, such as those at Church Cemetery, Nottingham, built into the site of a former quarry.

At Norwood the catacombs beneath the Dissenters’ Chapel, never very popular, have been so modified as to have lost almost all their original character as they now
house cremators and associated equipment.  The fate of the coffins they once held is unknown. The corresponding catacombs at Kensal Green have been sealed.  However, the catacombs beneath both Episcopal chapels survive.  Those at Norwood consist of a series of brick vaults supported on brick walls and piers.  The layout is regular and symmetrical, and consists of a tall central gallery, which corresponds to the location of the demolished chapel, and six corridors running at right angles to this gallery to the North and South that give access to the vaults.  Access to the catacombs is now via an external staircase to the East end.  There is a further staircase, which would have led down from the interior of the now vanished chapel above.

The six narrower vaulted passages, three on each side of the main vault, each have 7 bays on either side (see plan). Some bays contain gated vaults. Whole bays, half
bays, or any number of individual loculi could be purchased and modified either with cast-iron gates, sealed, or set with stone memorial tablets. Some were simply
left open – in many the remains of funeral tributes placed there by mourners are still visible. An estimated 2,500 coffins are located in those vaults and are supported either on stone shelves, on cast-iron bars suspended between the brick pier supports, or rest on the floor.

At the end of each of the vaulted passages there is an open grating designed to allow air to circulate through the catacomb. By law all above-ground burials must be
in lead-lined coffins. There has been much decay over the years, but generally the lead coffins are intact, although a few have been desecrated. Some massive hardwood coffins, however, remain in fine condition, although many brass nameplates and fittings have been stolen.

The central bay contains some impressive mortuary chapels with elaborate architectural detail in Portland stone and in cast iron, much of it now sadly rusted. 

Pride of place goes Sir William Tite (1798-1873) himself, who is interred in Catacomb 90 together with his wife. Vice-Admiral William Young ( ?-1847) has an impressive catacomb chapel part sealed behind an open ironwork door. Young was an officer in the Royal Navy for nearly seventy years, and was at one time in charge of Deptford Dockyard.  ‘He was distinguished not less for zeal, ability and courteousness in the discharge of his public duties than for simplicity of manners, love of truth and practical benevolence in private life. Erected by widow and children to testify their affectionate and reverential attachment to his memory’. He was a Vice-Admiral of the Blue and lived at Denmark Hill, Camberwell.  He was buried on 19 February 1847, aged 85.
Elsewhere in the catacombs are stored various items such as Victorian grave diggers’ spades and the memorial plaques removed from the chapels and arcades when they were demolished, including that to Sir William himself. There is also an attractive carved wooden plaque to Pilot Officer Edmund H(ugh) C(raft) Theobald RAFVR (1915-1942) that records that his Hurricane fighter-bomber of 30 Squadron was shot down during ‘Operation Crusader’, the final relief of Tobruk, on 28 December 1942.  He is buried at Halfaya Sollum Cemetery, Egypt.

The Norwood Coffin Lift
In the middle of the central gallery is a unique hydraulic catafalque by Bramah & Robinson dated 1839, which was used to transfer coffins into, and presumably out of, the catacombs – it is thought that the catacombs had a subsidiary function in providing temporary interment for some coffins whilst vaults or mausolea were completed in the cemetery grounds. A major advantage of the hydraulic system was its silent operation, but reliability may have been a factor in view of the problems
encountered with the screw-jack coffin lift at Kensal Green.

Norwood – The Future
In 1965 the South Metropolitan Cemetery was compulsorily purchased for £6,000 by Lambeth Council, using Public Health Act powers. A condition of the deed of transfer was that the rights of existing grave owners were to be maintained, and the Act of Parliament establishing the cemetery and governing its operations was never
repealed.  The importance of the cemetery and the quality of its monuments were emphasized in 1978 when it was included within a conservation area, and in 1981 when the entrance arch, gates, walls and railings and 44 monuments were listed (seven Grade II*, the rest Grade II – a further 21 monuments have since been listed). 

It has been recently been awarded Grade II* status on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Despite this apparent protection in law, the cemetery was subjected over a couple of decades by Lambeth Council to a programme of ‘lawn conversion’. During this period, well over 10,000 monuments were removed, ignoring rights of grave owners and keeping no proper records of the position of graves.  Moreover, nearly 1,000 private graves were resold illegally for new burials.  The destruction was eventually stopped in 1991 (by which time two listed monuments had disappeared and several others had been badly damaged), by the Archdeacon of Lambeth who referred the matter to the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Southwark (80 percent of the cemetery is consecrated ground). The power of management of the cemetery was delegated to a Scheme of Management Committee composed of representatives from both the Diocese and Lambeth Council.

As ordered in the judgment, the Council has restored/repaired the disappeared/damaged listed monuments, and a landscape management survey has been carried out.  In the past few years, a concerted effort by the Council, English Heritage and the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery has resulted in the restoration/repair of numerous monuments, as well as parts of the wall and railings; plans were in hand for improvements to the drainage system and, perhaps eventually some restoration of the catacombs. But the Council is currently aiming to undo all this good work, remove monuments, and reopen the cemetery for burials. This despite the its unique place in the history of London, and indeed in the history of British cemetery architecture. Sadly the future for the catacombs looks increasingly bleak.

Others notable catacomb interments at Norwood include
(i) Hon Colonel Sambrooke Anson (1778-1846). Gazetted Lt-Colonel on 15 September 1809, he commanded the 1st Foot Guards in the Peninsular Campaign, 1809-13.
(ii) Edward Charles Mackintosh Bowra FRCS (?-1874). One of the first British Commissioners of the Chinese Customs Service.
(iii) Major-General Charles Alfred Browne (1801-1866) (Catacomb 16 D), son of William Loder Browne, merchant, of Kennington. He joined the Madras Army in 1826 and was gazetted Major-General in 1862 (see www.fownc.org/newsletters/no52.shtml for further information about the Browne family).
(iv) Sir George Carroll (1784-1860) (Catacomb 11 North). Carroll was a stockbroker in1811 and also a contractor for the State Lotteries until 1826 (when lotteries
were abolished) with offices in Cornhill, Oxford Street, and Charing Cross. He was Sheriff of London and Middlesex, 1837-8 and was knighted in 1837. He was Lord Mayor of London, 1846-7, and died at Loughton, Essex on 19 December 1860. [In total there are 17 Lord Mayors interred at Norwood.]
(v) Sir John Cowan (?-1842) (Catacomb 36).  Lord Mayor of London, 1837-8.
(vi) James, Lord Hannen (1821-1894). A barrister and judge, Hannen was educated at Heidelberg University and was called to the bar, Middle Temple, in 1848. He became Junior Treasury counsel (government prosecutor) in1863 and was made a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1868.  He was knighted in 1868 and appointed to the Privy Council in 1872. A judge in the Courts of Probate and Divorce from 1872 and President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division of the High Court, 1875-91, he was made Life Baron and Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1891.  He was President of the Parnell commission, 1888-9, and an arbitrator in the question of the Bering Sea seal fisheries, 1892. He lived at Kingswood House, Sydenham, later the home of John Lawson Johnston (1839-1900, ‘Mr Bovril’), also buried at Norwood (grave 29,462, square 38). Hannen is commemorated on the family monument in the cemetery (square 61), but is interred with his wife and the cremated remains of his daughters in the Catacombs.
(vii) John LOCKE (1805-1880) (Catacomb 31 North).  A barrister and politician, he was MP for Southwark, 1857-80.  He introduced a bill to give witnesses in criminal
cases the right to affirm as in civil cases, 1861.
(viii) Sir Chapman Marshall (1787-1862) (Catacomb 37). Lord Mayor of London 1838-9.  He died at Pembridge Crescent, Bayswater on 9 January 1862.
(vii) Major John George Richardson (1786-1867). A Royal Marine, he was severely wounded in the mouth, in an arm and a leg on board HMS Africa in action with a Danish flotilla of gun and mortar boats while becalmed near the Malinor Channel, Sweden, in 1808.  He died on 25 January 1867.
(ix) James Bogle Smith (?-1870). A director of the Union Bank of Australia (now ANZ Bank), a post he held from 1837-70. From 1840 the UBA helped to finance settlers to New Zealand.  Smith was also London agent for merchant-shipowners William Smith and Son of Liverpool, a trustee of the National Life Assurance Society, and Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths Company. He lived at Lavender Hill, Wandsworth.
(x) Francis Sheppard Thomas (1794-1857) (Catacomb 34). Secretary to the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, 1826-57. He wrote A History of the State Paper Office, 1849; Handbook to Public Records, 1853, and related works. He died at Croydon on 27 August 1857.

Image Credit: Subterranea Britannica

Read More...

More new toys….

January 10, 2011 | Posted in Canon, DSLR, EOS, Leica, Lumix TZ6, Panasonic, Tokina | By

My trusty Panasonic Lumix TZ6 has produced every picture you can see on this blog, in fact i’ve taken over 10,000 shots with it, but it has limitations, in fact it has many pluses too such as its size and weight and the awesome Leica lens. However if I want to take better pictures then I need better toys so I dumped a bunch of stuff on eBay which paid for both of these guys. I’m still gonna keep the Lumix as its a great shooter but really want to start to sue these more.

Canon EOS 40D, bought in October last year from a friend and sat on a shelf gathering dust while I sold more stuff on eBay to pay for some quality glass. Two hours ago DHL showed up with the glass, an Ultra Wide Angle Tokina 11-16mm  F2.8, all the way from Germany. This is where the fun starts as I have to learn how to use these guys properly…..

Read More...