Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Bloomin heck, not more snow!

Who wanted some snow pictures? Well here they are. My back garden looking out of the office (back bedroom) window. The tumbledown garage on the left houses my wood store and gardening paraphenalia. Alongside are the plastic covered lean to's and small plant shelving, and beyond the six foot leylandi hedge are the raised beds and home made greenhouse.

Looking up the road from my bedroom window....

And looking down the road.

Here is Henry, taken yesterday, he has gone home now. He loves the snow.

How thick it is lying on the branches.

I dug the car out and cleared the driveway today, and went to town. I needed some cat litter, and food for them, and me. Yes, I have spent some money. We are all stocked up again, it's just as well as it's coming down thick and fast now. Maybe I won't be able to get out of the door tomorrow :0(

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

This is a brilliant film, have a look at it. Guaranteed to make you smile.
Thank you Mike Knipe for allerting me to this.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Looking for the unusual at the Saatchi Gallery

Let's get back to London, still some more photo's to come. Everyone has heard of the name Saatchi. Charles Saatchi opened his gallery in 1985 , to exhibit his collection of contemporary art. After several moves it is now located at the Duke of York's HQ, in Kings Road, Chelsea.

I was looking forward to my visit here, and I was not disappointed, I loved it. It was a bright and sunny day, opposite the main entrance is the playing fields of a nearby school, the tiny tots were enjoying a good old fashioned run about, and relay races, followed by a game of footie.

The gallery is free to go in, a few huge snowballs were scattered on the grass to the side of the entrance. Not real snow of course, nothing is real at Saatchi, everything is tantalisingly confusing.

In the courtyard to the side is this modern Christmas tree.

Here are some of the exhibits which caught my eye. Please excuse the shadows on this first one. It was a large class case in the middle of the room, and inside were lots of different kinds of dead insects, suspended by near invisible thread. The artist had created a strange scene where the smaller insects were placed onto the larger ones giving the impression that they were hitching a lift.

This one is a lot of small boxes, all individually made, inside a larger box, which was hanging on the wall. This probably doesn't look very much by itself, but there were several other pieces where the larger box was of a different design. It was quite interesting.

If you have been to the mountains in Spain you will know what this is. Some of the burial grounds are like filing cabinets, the bodies are put into drawers and stacked up. At the front of each one is it's own little window which the families decorate in remembrance of the departed. Here we have 91 windows, and no bodies, thank goodness, they completely covered one whole wall in the room.

I have posted just one example of the artists work here, she has used old photographs as the starting point and added embroidery thread to draw the viewers attention to one specific spot on the photo. This one is the eye of the child. It looks rather surreal, I found myself fascinated by it. Each stitch is perfectly placed at precisely the same distance as the one before it.

This exhibit was called Black Lines, indeed that's all it was. All over the place, hanging from the ceiling. Like a spiders web but with straight lines rather than curved. Some kind of plastic material was used.

Great clumps of it that you could walk between.

This next one is a bit of trickery, that's me looking into a mirror. What you see behind me are more black lines, and it appears that the three cubes are laid on the floor around me. Not so. They are attached to the mirror itself. A half size cube is stuck on the mirror so that the reflection makes it a perfect square. Two of the cubes are several feet off the ground. No matter how closely you look you cannot see how the plastic is stuck to the mirror.

The next four photographs are in sequence, at first glance the exhibit looks like a digital clock, and once a minute the numbers change.

The hands whizz round....

And round, and round...

And then stop. Have you spotted it? There are twenty four conventional clocks here, stacked on top of each other. It took the artist eighteen months to fine tune the hands so they stop in exactly the right position. Clever eh!

When I saw this next exhibit, I thought, oooh look, carrier bags, just my thing. Twelve of them pinned to the wall.

Each one has been ironed and a length of string stitched into them. The note next to them said they are for sale. Guess how much, steady yourself, you're gonna faint. £235, cough splutter, shock horror.

Quickly moving on, this was a fascinating piece. A real stuffed goat, with it's head and foot embedded through the clay ornament and emerging out of the other side. A very unusual pose.

My favourite installation is this last one. When you approach it along a walkway you emerge onto a balcony, overlooking the room to look down on it. It baffled me for a while, as I peered at it trying to work it out. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask the attendant. There appears to be nothing there, an empty room, but look closer. What you see as you look down is the reflection of the ceiling in what looks like a gigantic mirror. When you look up you see exactly the same thing as when you look down, a mirror image.
It isn't a mirror, the whole room is full of used sump oil, about a metre deep. To the left of this picture are steps down to a passageway through the oil, which comes to the top of the barrier. People used to be able to walk along it but they closed it off, because they kept putting their fingers into it.

Looking down you think the oil is a lot deeper than it really is and it is very tempting to throw something into it to make a ripple, just to satisfy your mind that it really is oil. Because you think you are looking into the bottom of a pit your eyes tell you it is very deep indeed, at least the same depth as from the top of the oil level to the ceiling. But it's an illusion. You are not looking through the oil because you can't, you are looking at the top of it. It's an ingenious piece of work. There is more about it here with photographs.

The Saatchi website is here
I loved the Saatchi Gallery, it was everything I expected it to be.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A winter warmer - for Sun, Mon, & Tues

Here is tonights winter warmer. With the snow piled up against the door the best place to be is indoors. I put the heating on for an hour but now it is off, with the amount of clothes I have on I am bloomin sweating. With this inside me, I shall stay warm till bed time.

This is one example of my 'chuck it in the pan and see', recipes, ha ha.

Five or six carrots, Tesco Value, they are cheap at the moment, or they were when I bought them a week ago. A quarter of a butternut squash, chopped. One chopped onion. A few pieces of cauliflower, plus the stalk chopped up. A chopped up cooking apple. Small bag of frozen runner beans, from the garden. Some frozen peas. Some wholemeal pasta twirls. Two tablespoons of porridge oats. Chuck all this in a large pan with water, bring it to the boil, then add whatever spices you have. I have used an oxo cube, shake of garlic granules, two teaspoons of turmeric, and a packet of out of date tomato soup in a cup. It's only 18 months out of date, I'm sure it wont kill me.

I have three meals here...

And it is delicious.

Why don't you have a go, a meatless stew. I sometimes put quorn pieces in or chopped up veggie sausages, for a change.

Let it snow, I'm saving money

What is going on at Meanqueen Mansion, not a lot, due to being snow bound and dog bound. Henry choc lab is here till Monday night, and as I type he is whimpering for attention. We went a walk first thing, it was lovely to scramble through the woods at 8 o clock, in the cool fresh air, before everyone else was out. Well almost everyone, I met Paul walking Tango, his gorgeous English Setter.

Henry went bounding up to them as he usually does, he loves to greet people and dogs alike, he thinks everyone is his best friend. There is sadness in Paul and Janet's house at the moment, they have recently lost their other beloved dog, Thomas, who was very poorly. I share their grief, it is very sad when a treasured pet reaches the end of it's life.

The snow is coming down thick and fast now and I have just taken stock of my food situation, just in case I can't get to the shops. I reckon I have enough to see me through the next week. It might mean having toast or porridge for breakfast instead of bran flakes, and using up the frozen veg when I run out of fresh. This weather might be good for a bit of money saving, can't get out, can't spend.

I am still waiting for the cheque for my car from the insurance company, but it doesn't matter. Not very good for looking at cars at the moment anyway, that's unless they have cleared the snow off them. I am looking on the internet to get some idea of what you can get for your money. I had a chat with my insurance brokers, to get an idea of how much I might have to pay for certain types of cars. I want to upgrade a bit, and want to stick with Ford. Trouble is that a newer car is going to be more insurance, unless I pick a smaller engine with lower road tax. I can see why there are so many older cars on the road, people can't afford to insure something decent.

Oh well, back to sewing. I am making more shopping bags. This time they are not to give away, but to sell at the school Christmas Fair. Sue has got us a table so we can raise a bit of cash for our rescue cats. She has to pay out such a lot for them, in food and vet's fees, all out of her own pocket. A bit of good news this week though, she has been able to rehome Bella, and she seems to have settled in well. We still have Tiger and Lilly, brother and sister, but they are ok in their snug little house with their own run attached. I dont think people are considering taking a cat in at the moment, their minds are on Christmas. I shall be glad when it's all over, I think it's just an annoying interruption. Bah humbug!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

London Wall, then and now.

Twentyone years ago I was working for Leicester Heavy Haulage, and one of our regular jobs was to load up concrete panels at Trent Concrete Cladding Ltd at Colwick in Nottingham, and deliver them to London Wall. At the time there was a massive redevelopment programme taking place. I remember thinking, 'oh no, not again', when the office gave me more paperwork to do another trip down there, I hated driving in London.

I have dug out these photo's, and have even found a copy of a delivery note. I have kept all the paperwork from my heavy haulage days, movement orders, notifications to the police and utilities, details of routes and which loads were escorted.

It says here that I was onsite at 7.45am and left at 1.15pm, and the slinger standing on the top of the concrete panel in the second photo, was Harry Greenwood.

We used semi stepframe trailers for these loads, they were heavy and we had to keep the weight low to the ground. I remember following a colleague once, he was half an hour in front of me, and when I got to the top of Archway Road, round the bend, I came across him parked at the side of the road. One of his panels had come adrift and had skidded down the road, demolished someone's garden wall and come to rest wedged against the house.

When the panels have been unloaded we had to bring the frame back so we couldn't pick up return loads. There it goes hanging on the end of the tower crane.

Look at London Wall now, to think I played a part in the construction of this. I went in the Museum of London, it was a fascinating place, and free to get in. It showed the history of London, right from the beginning up untill the present day, and beyond.

Some more pics of the area.

I took the following four photo's of computer generated pictures, inside the museum, there was no restrictions on taking them. They illustrate how London might look in the future.

Wind turbines down The Mall

The city under water.

Picadilly Circus flooded and littered with turbines.

And after global warming it will be like a tropical island.

Scary stuff indeed, but will it happen? There seems to be some doubt.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The buzz of London

She dragon mentioned 'that charged atmosphere', and Billie Jane called it a 'buzz about London'. They are both right, people were literally charging about like a lot of buzzy bees. As soon as I stepped off the train at Kings Cross Station I had to stand still for a few minutes to take it all in. What was so urgent that caused them to move at such speed. There was nose to tail traffic with the howl of sirens, and blue flashing lights, I had arrived in a crazy world.

I found it all very fascinating, a completely different lifestyle to what I am used to. I can understand however, when people say that living in a city can be the loneliest place on earth, no one has time to stop. I can also understand why people yearn to escape the rat race and retire to a cottage in the country.

Some flashy Christmas lights.

These hanging baubles are in Covent Garden, it was certainly buzzing here.

The street entertainers were playing down in the courtyard. I stood on the balcony for a while and enjoyed the free entertainment. I noticed an elderly lady walking round and round the balcony, shaking a basket and asking for coins. I thought, aaaah, how sweet, she must be the mother of one of the fiddlers. But when they finished their stint and the next act came on, an operatic singer, there she was again, going round and round with her basket. I have to say though, she wasn't collecting for herself, she did go down the steps and deposit her takings into the basket of the performers.

This stall selling antique silver was doing very well in the market. I had to wait a few minutes for the customers to make their purchases, to get the photo

There was a buzz at this open air market outside the Saatchi Gallery. Most of the stalls were selling food and they were doing a roaring trade from the nearby offices. I don't think anyone does their own pack up in London, they all seem to buy their food and eat it while on the move.

The crowds were thronging around Harrods of course, you have just got to go inside for a look, to see how the other half lives. No I didn't buy anything just to get the Harrods carrier bag, ha ha.

Oxford Street was very buzzy.

And so was Regent Street.

Picadilly Circus was crammed full of people.

More Christmas lights.

This was a little courtyard just off Carnaby Street. At one time it was open to the elements, but now it is covered over. There are balconies all around with shops on three floors.

And seating in the middle if you want some food.

The mural was on a side street nearby.

And here is the world famous Carnaby Street. This used to be the place to go in the sixties if you wanted to be in the height of fashion. There are still a lot of clothes shops there now, but it has lost it's buzz. Most of the people strolling through seemed to be tourists, not shoppers.

A few days into the holiday I was getting into the buzz of things and was starting to enjoy the atmosphere. I thought, how exciting, look at me walking round London, eager each morning to get out of the hostel and see what interesting stuff I could find to look at. Imagining what it would be like to live there, going back to my cosy little flat in the evenings. There would be plenty to do each day, no time to get bored.

But then I came to my senses, and when it was time to get on the train for home, I thought, get me out of here. I'm a country bumpkin at heart, it's ok to visit, but I like to breath fresh countryside air, not be choked to death with all the polution. Aaahh, the smell of the nature, you can't beat it.