Although it’s closed at the moment, I stopped to take a picture of the front of the Royal Navy Museum in Hartlepool – for the sharp-eyed it’s a relatively easy landmark to spot. Not that long ago a derelict dockside, it’s now a re-creation of an 18thC port complete with period shops and the oldest British man-o-war still afloat. Situated next to the splendid marina, it’s also a successful tourist attraction.
To keep me amused at the dockside, Leon reminded me that 7 years has passed since he went to pick up his Austin 7 Special from Royston in Hertfordshire.
For a return journey of nearly 70 miles in an unknown homebuilt car, it was unlikely that something wouldn’t go amiss. This is breakdown number 5 of several where a rarely pictured Awkward is seen interviewing the chief suspect, the fuel tank.
Breakdown number 6 occurred outside Highpoint prison and it would have needed only Alastair Sim and Terry Thomas looking furtively from behind the tree to complete the picture.
A few miles further on and with the day’s end in sight, help had to be summoned. The Special travelled the last few miles home on the back of a truck.
The culprit – a pile of rust that had collected in the bottom of the tank.
Currently sporting a polished finish and fitted with a Coventry Climax engine, Leon’s Special has taken on a new lease of life and, despite the lack of a steering wheel, is said to both go and handle extremely well.
To further entertain myself in my hut, I decided to investigate computer programmes that can turn photos into sketches and watercolours. There are plenty to choose from – too many in fact – and I started by reading the reviews. As it’s something that I would rarely use, it had to be a free application (a free download is not quite the same thing) so it was unlikely to be over-sophisticated. Just for starters I downloaded a free trial of one of the top-rated paid programmes; it was excellent. However, the reviews complained of advertisements popping up every time a new command was selected. As if dealing with computers in any case doesn’t drive you to distraction, I can’t think of anything more certain to make you want to kill than ads at every turn while you’re trying to concentrate.
After some more research, I picked what seemed the best of the bunch and, although as usual it was a minefield sorting out which download button was the one I wanted, I eventually managed to get it up and running on my laptop. It took a couple of hours to understand the controls and the limitations of the programme, but taking everything into account, I’m very impressed. If you start out with a good composition that has clarity and contrast, that seems to return the best results. The final images are fairly low resolution so I don’t know how they might reproduce in print, but for birthday cards and whatnot I think they could work rather well.