Friday 28 June 2013

Havergate Ahead...

Just time to get washed and brushed up, ready to...

hop over to...

Havergate Island, to tutor on the next weekend of photographic discovery...

where visitors can get up close to the laid-back Havergate hares and resident birds.

An overnight on the island will hopefully allow shots at golden hour, and some time the next day to

  explore the flora...

and fauna...

before heading off back home, having left only footprints...

and taken only pictures and memories.

An exhibition of photographs and paintings by visitors and tutors from the Havergate Season will be held at
Aldeburgh Music's Pond Gallery, Snape Maltings, Suffolk.
(Thursday 5th September to Wednesday 11th September)

Tuesday 25 June 2013

The New Fox, Performing Now...

Jesse Fox

A little while back you may remember a post I made about an up and coming young actor.
Well, here is a chance to go and see him in action.

Currently appearing in Hard Feelings at the Finborough Theatre until 6th July, the play, written and set in the 80's, is about a group of Oxford graduates, living in Brixton, who are more concerned about the battles within their home than the riots that are going on outside.

Receiving excellent reviews, it is a play to try and get along to if you live in the south. For those of you living further north, his next role will be at the Edinburgh Festival.

Break a leg Jess!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

VMCC Banbury Run 2013

After the buzz of the TT post the other week, let's go right back to the beginning with motorcycles all built before 1931.

Over the past thirty years, I have been to watch these old machines at a particular summer event on a number of occasions. This has mostly been due to the fact that himself has a passion for two wheels. So, coupled with the fact that we haven't been for a number of years, and the newest member of our family also has a passion for two wheels, it seemed a perfect reason for us all to set off on Sunday, picnic-in-panniers, to watch the annual Vintage Motorcycle Club 'Banbury Run' take place, starting from the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire.

It is amazing to think that enough of these old bikes are still road-worthy enough to be able to get together to make such an event but nearly 600, mostly British, veteran and vintage motorcycles took part.
With almost a complete lexicon of all the old manufacturers names,
from Ariel... Zenith,

riders could choose to be competitive...

or just social and for the fun of it.

From traditional tweed-clad riders... those in a mixture of old and new, the riders lined up the bikes in batches of five, ready to be waved off at minute intervals, to cover one of the three circular routes.


With such clouds of smoke and a succession of bikes queueing for the electric rolling road to coerce the aged machines into life, it was questionable as to whether some of them would actually make it all the way round their designated route.

All knew what lay ahead.
Cue the moment to hop back onto our own two wheels and head over to Sun Rising Hill.


Situated on the A422 Stratford to Banbury road, Sun Rising Hill is the long, winding road from Warwickshire up over the wooded Edge Hill escarpment into Oxfordshire. It is notorious for the best wheels, let alone those belonging to this ageing band of motorcycles. It isn't any wonder that spectators gather on the hill to watch as these machines pop, wheeze and bang their way up the hill, with some seemingly covering the route with little effort.

Others get caught out for any number of reasons.
But can you imagine the possible embarrassment of being overtaken by a cyclist?!

Hats off to this cyclist though for riding non-stop up a road where many spectators walked just a small portion, and wheezed worse than some of the old motorcycles!

Countless machines expired just in sight of the top of the hill, relying on the VMCC volunteers and sometimes, spectators to give a friendly push to the top, whilst other motorcycles just plodded on past.

As machines went by, there was always the hope of that distinct whiff of Castrol R to confirm that the event was indeed running old and not modern machines. We didn't need the proof though.

Where else might you see purple motorcycle and sidecar outfits like this?

Some machines 'flew' up the hill but not necessarily quite as planned.

For others, touch-down would be imminent.

Whilst there were those with a long taxi back.

Sun Rising Hill. Sorts the men from the boys. There are those that can and there are those that can't but by one means or another, they all still have to get to the top...

 ...but there will always be one straggler.

Post script

Judging by my blog stats, it appears there are loads of you out there dropping in to have a look at this post
- and thank you!
Would be lovely if just one or two of you might leave a comment too. (Don't be shy!)

Saturday 15 June 2013

Blue Plaque Day

Today was a blue plaque day for Saffron Walden. The first of two days of unveilings of these special signs, which are traditionally installed to commemorate a link between the location and a famous person or sometimes an event for the town.

There are to be six new plaques in town with the first, commemorating Henry Winstanley, having been unveiled today by the town mayor, Councillor Keith Eden.

Preparations for the installation of these plaques had been going on for some considerable time. Indeed I had caught the town team in action with their 'blue lollipop' several months ago, where they were seen waving the it in front of Hill House, as a means of deciding the best location for the plaque.

Last minute preparations were being made to the careful cover on the Henry Winstanley plaque as I arrived in Museum Street prior to the unveiling this afternoon.

Plaque awaiting unveiling
on home of Edward Bawden

The further five unveilings will take place tomorrow, and include:

Gabriel Harvey, 16th Century poet and scholar
George Stacey Gibson, Banker, philanthropist and botanist
Gordon Jacob, Composer and arranger
Jack Cardiff, Oscar winning film cinematographer and director
Edward Bawden, Designer, printmaker and illustrator

Much of the planning for this day had been undertaken by the Saffron Walden Initiative, so it was great news to find out on this same day, that Peter Riding, who tirelessly leads this group, had been awarded with the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours today.

Many congratulations to Peter!

...onwards with the unveilings tomorrow.

Monday 10 June 2013

Saffron Hall

Entrance under construction, June 2013, and inset, as it was before work commenced.

(Photographically, this isn't to be the most excting blog post but there is a film later...)

It had been a familiar aspect of the Saffron Walden County High School for many, including ourselves. The triangular glazed lobby was passed through on many occasions, be it to drop forgotten items of school paraphernalia to one of our off-spring, or latterly, as the entrance to the towns' excellent community cinema Saffron Screen

Around two years ago, the old entrance was closed off and the school hall, which had been built in the 1950s and had out-lived its usefulness, was pulled down at the beginning of an ambitious plan to provide the school and also the town with a world-class facility.

To quote from the school website:

"A  brand new performance space is gradually taking shape next to Saffron Walden County High School. The name of the venue is Saffron Hall - designed to inspire through music and the arts and the result of a progressive partnership between Saffron Walden County High School and the Yellow Car Charitable Trust.

Saffron Hall will be a flexible state-of-the-art hall with equipment to match and exceptional adjustable acoustics. It will open in late November 2013 and provide a home for concerts, plays and other events of all shapes and sizes - a programme combining school and amateur events and performances by professional artists and ensembles of national and international stature. The Hall will have a maximum seating capacity of 730."

Whilst on my daily walks in the near-by park, I have been watching and indeed, listening to the noises during the construction process of this new building. The townsfolk have endured wrangles with parking issues created as a result of the building work, and the cinema-goers have had to adapt to the changed access to Saffron Screen. So, to find that the new hall is nearing completion is music to the ears of many. And are we excited about it? Well, I can't speak for everyone, but for me, I'm certainly looking forward to enjoying the new facility. Last night I caught up with the second of two films documenting the progress of this project. Judging by the information given, it is sure to give some of the other venues, both local and further afield (with one, which will remain nameless and has the most dreadful acoustics) serious cause for concern. This second film shows just how versatile and exciting this top-class hall is going to be - and it is in our town.

Take a look at this fascinating little film for yourself

Enter Saffron Hall by clicking on the image

So, no more uncomfortable church pews; views obscured by pillars; muffled music; lost voices and the end to driving miles for a good gig.

Roll on November!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Lovely Evening For It

1. I hardly had any food in the house
2. It was a lovely evening
3. I deserved a break after a hard day cleaning and preparing the cottage for the summer season
I took myself off to Baltimore in search of my dinner this evening. 

I was just about to place my order with the barman in Bushe's Bar when his bleeper went off. About to drop everything he was doing, he breathed a sigh of relief when he checked to find that he wasn't needed on this occasion. Naturally, I wasn't surprised to learn that he was a member of the Baltimore lifeboat crew.

I thought nothing more of it as I sat outside the bar in the evening sunshine and ate my plate of fresh grilled haddock and chips, enjoying the lovely view. Just as I finished, the clouds started to roll in on what was the end of a wonderful day out here in West Cork. Clearly it was time to move indoors and pay the bill and as I walked back to the car past the harbour, I was reminded of the earlier shout. The Baltimore lifeboat, the Alan Massey was on it's way into the harbour, seemingly to drop off the subjects of the call-out. In the evening light, this Tamar class all weather lifeboat made a splendid picture.

Along with Southwold RNLI in the far East of England, I also like to keep a watch on the Baltimore RNLI out here in the far West of Ireland too. Normally, this is via a text message that comes to himself's mobile phone, announcing that the Baltimore lifeboat has been launched. I understand that this 'boat launched' text message generates a donation to the RNLI and whenever himself says "Baltimore lifeboat was launched again today" I first hope that the outcome is successful and all are safe and second it reminds me that I have every respect for all RNLI crews who go out in all weathers, and not always in the calm of an evening like this evening.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Isle of Man TT

Racing into Parliament Square

Sitting down with a glass of wine, in front of the TV last night, himself asked if I minded if he switched channels as
"The TT is on"

Crikes! is it really a year since we joined the host of bikers to immerse ourselves into the atmosphere of this two-wheeled spectacular on the public roads of the Isle of Man?

I suddenly realised that I hadn't edited any of the images from our visit, and it is a classic case of, if you don't set-to and do an edit as soon as you can, they just won't get done at all - unless you have a publication editor screaming a deadline at you! These images were purely for our own pleasure and as I would have had deadlines for other assignments on my return from the lovely Isle of Man, the TT got put to the back of my hard drive.

So, here in celebration of the event are a few random images I have quickly pulled form the images folder. At this moment, I couldn't fill you in with the details of the races or riders as I had intended to look up those details from online reports. I will of course do that later... but it might just take me another year to do it!

Manx rider closely negotiating the winding roads

Sidecars frequently taking off over the brow of this rise

An evening of racing on the street circuit - Ramsey

About to get the knees down on the 'Gooseneck'