When I bought my first decent scope (an early Kowa model, TS or TN something or other) I also had to think about purchasing a quality tripod which could withstand the rigours of the Essex marshes or even the odd teenage twitch, whilst also safely supporting my new scope whilst on any sea-watching duties at Dunge, without the worry of it blowing over in a south-easterly force eight! Long before carbon-fibre was even thought of as a material to use for tripods the Slik D2 was the professionals choice - and I had to have one!
It was a sexy colour combination of matte silver and black, a silky smooth panning movement of the head, compact with rounded legs and engineered central column, which would raise up and down with ease by the rotation of a handle, solid, robust and lightweight (well it was back in the day) with circular tubed legs, which made a beautiful swoosh sound as compressed air escaped through each of the three sections as you extended or closed a leg, locking solidly into position with the tightening twist of the carefully lathed criss-cross knurling pattern on each leg section - a thing of shear beauty!
Our relationship wasn't always perfect, we've had some amazing trips but we've also had our ups and downs - I remember one icy cold winter trip to the end of Southend Pier, when the sea wasn't doing much and whilst standing there bored, sheltering from the sub-zero wind (and I'm not sure why I did this) but I randomly licked the metal on the panning handle - and like Harry in the film Dumb and Dumber my tongue stuck fast to the freezing cold exposed metal! (like I said, I'm not sure why I was licking my tripod) but thankfully a carefully timed tug and my tongue was set free, if not a bit sore!
Click the link and skip to 1:23 Harry licks a ski-lift pole
So, if anybody reading this would like to offer an old but well loved tripod a home or you may even own a Slik tripod and could use some spare parts, contact me via the Blog or Twitter, arrange the collection and it's yours for free.
I'd be happy and could sleep easier knowing that it would be going to a good and worthwhile home - should I have no takers, then sadly the next time I visit Southend Pier I'll attach it to a paraffin soaked plank of wood, set it float, draw my bow and flaming arrow, aiming at the tripod I will fire the arrow skyward, setting it alight as it floated along the Thames and out into the North sea - in true Viking tripod burial style (ok, that last bit was a bit dramatic - I'll probably give it to the scrap metal guys who drive around in white vans collecting old fridges etc).