Saturday, 30 November 2013

Tickleford Gully

In The Importance of Living Lin Yutang says . . .
      there is the alternation of summer and winter
            perfect in themselves
                  but made more perfect
                        by being ushered in 
                               by spring and autumn
                                       and there is nothing better than that

I wasn't going to take any Autumn pictures. They've all been done already. It would be hard to take any pictures that are better than the ones that have already been taken. As a genre Photos of Autumn is swamped. Totally swamped. Anyone can run around New England in the Fall or Old England in the Autumn and snap away and come up with classic autumnal pictures. 
However walking through Tickleford Gully it is obvious that these trees and leaves need to be photographed. Otherwise you'd miss them. So here's a few.

As has been previously observed on this blog "English woodlands are often improved by follies and other introduced features. Shopping trolleys are a simple addition to the picturesqueness of any landscape." If you don't have access to a shopping trolley a burnt out motorcycle will serve as a substitute.

The cranes in the background here look like something from War of the Worlds, an alien technology invading the green (and yellow, red and brown) space that is Tickleford Gully.  To be fair all the building that is going on is on brownfield sites.  Specifically the building on all three sites is residential on sites which were formerly industrial.  The industry has gone (shipping and shipbuilding) but has been replaced by services and, well, things that nobody needs.

 Here's a few more - shapes and colours and textures.  Enjoy the Autumn.  Unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case enjoy the Spring.  And the summer. And the Winter.  Enjoy every sandwich.  I mean, why wouldn't you?

here is the context of the Lin Yutang quote:

    in the first place
        there is the alternation of night and day
            and morning and sunset
                and a cool evening following upon a hot day
                    and a silent and clear dawn presaging a busy morning
                        and there is nothing better than that

    in the second place
         there is the alternation of summer and winter
             perfect in themselves
                 but made more perfect
                     by being ushered in
                          by spring and autumn
                               and there is nothing better than that

    in the third place
        there are the silent and dignified trees
            giving us shade in summer
                and not shutting out the warm sun in winter
                     and there is nothing better than that

    in the fourth place
        there are flowers blooming
           and fruits ripening
                in the different months
                      and there is nothing better than that

Lin Yutang doesn't stop there, he gives a fifth, a sixth and a seventh place.  He finishes by saying
    The menu is practically endless to suit individual tastes
        and the only sensible thing to do is
            to go partake of the feast
               and not complain about the monotony of life
This earth the only heaven

Thursday, 28 November 2013

South coast snapshots

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral - sundial

Graffiti - Wiltshire style

 Grafitti - Wiltshire style

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Stonehenge explained


There are many theories about Stonehenge.  Geoffrey of Monmouth said Merlin put it there.  Aubrey said the Druids built it.  There's a story that the Devil dropped the stones there because he didn't want to waste any more shoe leather on them.  Some believe the KLF placed them. Some people seem to think it was aliens.  To be perfectly honest with you I don't think any of those theories are true.

There is a commonly held belief about solstices - that by ancient science, magic or even magick, at midsummer and midwinter the sunrise or sunset lines up with the stones.  There is a counter argument that you could get the same effect if you lay a dart board on the ground or a map of the M25. There is a circle of stones with gaps between them . . . the sun is gonna rise up between two of them.  There's no doubt a lot of detail has been lost in the mist of time.

If it wasn't Merlin and it wasn't the aliens how did the stones get there?  Some came from Wales, others from Marlborough.  Each one weighs the same as a sack full of elephants.  Quite a big sack too.  Like stubborn stains they must have been hard to shift. The answer is, of course, wheels.  Tree trunks, rollers, wheels.

This little fellow is called Walter. He is believed to have lived around 5000 BC. For centuries he has been worshipped by the inhabitants of the  village of Tickleford where this tribute stands.  Known locally as the "Last Man Standing" it is said he was the first man to appreciate the usefulness of the wheel. Obviously after all this time no-one can be sure which of our prehistoric ancestors was first to notice that round things moved more easily than square or pointy things.  Walter's claim to fame is that he was the first to realise the potential of the wheel; it was Walter who set up the first "wheel factory".  

Some of his earliest attempts at extracting wheels from wood were unsuccessful.  As can be seen from the picture above early methods were wasteful and time consuming.  There is a fable which tells how Walter was on the verge of giving up - then, while watching the women of the village slicing carrots, he realised that there were better ways of cutting tree trunks to maximise the number of "wheels" that could be extracted from each one.

A fossilised wheel contemporaneous with the building of Stonehenge lies half buried near a  street used by commuters.  This is thought to be a prototype lightweight wheel (note the "speed holes").

Once the wheel had been perfected building Stonehenge was a doddle.  But still the question is begged - why?

The answer is of course partying. Let my people Go-Go.  Here's the thing: people like to party.  People like to have the monotony of the year broken up.  They like to have things to look forward to.  Christmas (or saturnalia), Easter (or Eastre, Eos, Aurora, Eostre, Ostara), Notting Hill carnival, Glastonbury, Glyndebourne, the Rolling Stones Farewell tour, holiday in Tuscany, new season of Strictly, French air traffic controller's strikes.

These are the communal events that break up the year, create markers, provide something to look forward to, to experience and then to look back on.  7,000 years ago the people of southern England would have come together at Stonehenge in just the same way as their descendants do at Michael Eavis' farm at Pilton.  There would have been an element of council business, some ritual religion and some drinking of honeyed mead (I was at Stonehenge today - needless to say I was offered honeyed mead), music (Stonehenge ROCKS!) and dancing.

Walter, the Wheelwright, is commemorated at Stonehenge with the carving shown above (the nose was chopped off by John Aubrey in 1649 and used in ritual Druid services at Avebury).  Walter's likeness can also be seen at Carnac in France and he is one of the most well known faces of the the Moai of Easter Island and of the Olmec heads of Mexico.

Pictured above: Walter's early attempt at a Short Wheel Barrow (not to be confused with a Long Barrow) was a failure but he persevered.  It is said that a spider, watching Walter repeatedly trying to build a better barrow and failing but not giving up, was inspired to keep trying to build a web although he had hitherto been unsuccessful.  It was a descendant of that spider who went on to inspire Robert the Bruce.

Stonehenge.  Worth a visit.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

rear view mirror

 It was 50 years ago this weekend that JFK was shot.  It evoked a range of emotions and provoked a range of reactions.  

 There was anger

There was disbelief

There was shock

 There was concern for the future

There were calls for retribution

There was awe and wonder

and there was always Elvis

pictures from 1956 Elvis gig in Memphis,
treatments by thenewcornpoppy, 2001

Fun with paint

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
Dr Seuss

You know that place between sleeping and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always think of you.
                                                                          JM Barrie

Lisa:       Remember, Dad. The handle of the Big Dipper points to the North Star. 
Homer:    That's nice, Lisa, but we're not in astronomy class. We're in the woods.
The Simpsons

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
 Oscar Wilde

You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

the pictures on the walls

the art of QE2 Activity Centre

the pictures on the walls 

 Over the past two decades the walls of the QE2 Activity Centre's sports hall have been canvasses displaying some mighty fine artworks.  The majority of these have been painted by Centre staff, sometimes with more inspiration than technique, sometimes with more technique than inspiration, always without utility.  There have been works inspired by Mondrian, Warhol and Hockney.  There have been works painted from photos, from the imagination and from the hip.   Some of it has been to brighten, accentuate or hide the climbing walls.
The current crop of art on the walls is dominated by a commissioned piece from outstanding grafitti artist Eldon Griffiths.  It shows three of the Centre's regular users, portrayed in a bright, almost comic book manner.  
Alongside this is an old master by Old Master Pete Dunnings, a silhouetted climber against a Tuscan sun. This was painted in 1995 and has survived the purges that have occurred annually since then.  That's because we like it.


For 2013 we have gone for a different style, based on the palettes left behind by the Hacienda Club and Shakeaway cup design teams.   Simple bands of colour, like a breath of fresh air, wafting through the building.

Ars longa, vita brevis, so they say, but here at QE2 Activity Centre the ars is brevis too.  Pictured below are some of the paint jobs that have graced the walls and climbing walls at QE2 Activity Centre.  Painted mostly by Centre staff - what a clever bunch!  However all of these fine art works are gone.

not a Mondrian

Dum de dum de dumm de dumm, the Archer, Pete Dunnings


in the style of A. Warhola (although those that painted it didn't know it)


 a nod to the mod, Tetris, Lawrence Parker 

the hills are alive. an attempt to bring mountains to Hampshire


Mondrian a go go


24 hour party people


Snakes & Ladders, B&Q


Shakaway (Kerry Lees), QE2 (Great Oaks School), Aaron (Kerry Lees, Emily Weller, from a non original photo and idea)


Great oak (Lees), Aaron (ibid)


 Jigsaw, Phil & the Green Team

boats, thenewcornpoppy
read it in books
This work fuses chaos with order, with lines and shapes laid randomly - at first glance. Closer inspection gradually reveals that a set of rules governs the placement of shapes and the choice of colours. Thus, the artist challenges the viewer to explore the rules encoded in the subconscious that shape our aesthetics, to consider why we find beauty in the juxtaposition of chaos and order.

Rather than any implied meaning or message, the minimalist nature of these paintings encourages the viewer to consider the visual qualities of the work - the composition, surfaces, textures and the relationship of depicted space to line and form. In simplicity, art becomes more direct and incisive in its dissection of the human mind, a more lucent mirror of our collective subconscious.  Kent Wang

 Aaron by Aaron, Aaron by Lees, Weller
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