Saturday, 27 October 2012

O Beamish!

For various reasons we were in the North East late last August, as demonstrated by the bridges.  So on the late Summer Bank Holiday we decided - despite the rain - to go to the open air museum at Beamish.
Beamish celebrates and records the lost industrial and agricultural past of the North East of England.  But it does so by recreating a landscape through which visitors can walk and explore.  Like the confectioners above, which in addition to selling sweets from jars, has a sweet-making workshop in the back, where various flavours of boiled sweets are produced.  This requires large amounts of molten sugar, pulled around like taffy and flavoured as it cools, and then cut in to lozenges for the pleasure of the customers.  Hot, and amazing.
 Elsewhere there are mineworkings, miners cottages, a chapel and school, actors selling things and so forth...
While Beamish occupies a big area, it is still walkable, but most people seem to want to use the trams and buses and carts that travel around the different locations on the site. 
There are indoor bits (where we sheltered when the rain got too bad)...
... as did some other residents...
And of course, as you might expect, there is a little bit of heritage steam railway to have a go on.
Although to be fair, not every heritage steam railway has a replica of Puffing Billy!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Nunhead Olympics - 3

As the Autumn begins to bite (hence my poem of the week) and Winter is only just around the corner; while the TV sport that appears to be everywhere is godawful football; it seems an appropriate moment to recall a happier time this Summer...

So, one warm weekend evening we went to the Excel centre for the Fencing (men's team foil finals - yes, we watched some people medalling!).   This truly was a public transport Olympics, and a highly successful one...  The DLR (which I have criticised here in the past, I must admit) proved simple and straightforward.  We arrived with plenty of wandering-around time to spare.
I must admit I wasn't very clear about the various types of fencing before we went there...
Once inside the Excel centre,, the venue- all darkness and neon lights - proved amazing...
If there was one flaw, it was that whenever they were presented, the fencers faced the other side of the arena and kept their backs to us....
We knew little about fencing, so in the final we applied science to decide who we would support - Italy or Japan?

In the end we went for the Japanese, because the Italians were unfairly tall and had floppy hair.
The supporters on both sides were eager and enthusiastic - but even with our help the Japanese couldn't win.  The Italians got the Gold.
And then it came to the medalling.

So, after a slick hour and a half of top-quality sport, the podium had to be built. 

By people in Olympics purple (so by definition they were nice) bringing out the sort of boxes you'd use to build a school stage.   You know, handles cut into each end, made of cheap boards - easy for people to manhandle around. And they were fiddly to fit together and they had to go in a certain order, so it took a while. 

I don't know, there was nothing wrong with this as such, I'd just expected something higher-tech, I guess.

And then the teams all medalled.  With their backs to us.
Although they did turn around at one point for a big wave. 

So basically that was all good then.

Poem of the Week

To Autumn
John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Bank Manager up on the Wall

Well, after its Fitting, the print of a Flying Machine to Escape the Bank Manager finally is on my office wall.

It arrived, was unwrapped, carted in to work, and now there it is...

Of course, it is hard to see the scale like that - so here it is parked on a comfy chair...

Thursday, 4 October 2012


A crystal clear blue sky this morning.  No clouds at all, the sun and moon both high, and a gentle breeze as I left Nunhead for work...