Monday, 27 June 2011

Hot Hot Hot - Hard Rock


On Sunday it was a trip down to London’s Hyde Park for the Hard Rock Calling festival.  This is not a festival competing with Glastonbury, on over the same weekend, but is more of a refined alternative.  You don’t have to wear welly-boots, camp or wear a gas-mask to go to the loo; picnics and chillin’ is more the order of the day and there were thousand and thousands of us there enjoying both the music and the weather.  That said, the line up is not quite as impressive as Glastonbury, but nonetheless it was a chance to experience some fantastic live music.

Guess who?
Rod Stewart was headlining yesterday and once he burst on to the stage he rattled off classic-hit after classic-hit for over ninety minutes to a very appreciative, capacity crowd.  Those hits included “This Old Heart”, “Baby Jane”, “Handbags and Gladrags”, “Maggie May”, “Hot Legs” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” just to mention a few. 

Stevie Nicks

To make the evening even more special, Ronnie Wood came on stage to perform with Rod, as did Stevie Nicks (from Fleetwood Mac fame) who had also performed her own set earlier in the day, belting out her own songs and also some from “Rumours”.  Great stuff!

There were many other supporting bands appearing at the festival, but Rod was definitely the highlight by far, finishing his set and the festival by performing the anthem “Sailing” - what can I say!

I make no apologies for the more-than-normal number of pictures in this blog entry and I know they fall short in the task of depicting the atmosphere of the event - but I just wanted to share a  small part the Hard Rock Calling festival with you.

Stevie and Rod
Ronnie and Rod


“Awesome” was the reaction from my son when he found out that we have tickets to watch 2 of the hockey matches during the 2012 Olympics.  Yes I am one of the lucky people who were successful the second time around in securing tickets for the ‘peoples’ Olympics.  I also have tickets for the volleyball (not beach) and weightlifting. I have to admit, I’m well chuffed!!!

A busy weekend.........more to follow later..............

Friday, 24 June 2011

The sun has got its hat on.............

The sun is coming back for the weekend and what a difference it makes!  To a photographer light is just about the most important things that affects the subject that you are trying to capture and it can make or break the shot.  I’m off to one of the many festivals that are on over this weekend and I will of course have my camera with me: so watch out for next week's blog entry and in the meantime here are a few photos taking advantage of the effects of the sun.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Gypsy Moth IV

Gypsy Moth IV
Birthday boy at the helm.
Well the dreadful day has been and gone and to be honest I feel better being fifty than I did being 49 and 364 days.  I’m not entirely sure why that is, but it just is.  Maybe it was the worry of a zimmer-frame arriving in the post or getting cold calls from Saga offering me cheap white-socks and sandal combinations by mail order as soon as I hit the big 5-oh.  But anyway, life is good and my fiftieth birthday was packed full of wonderful surprises, none of them involving Saga I'm pleased to say.  

One of those surprises was a trip out on the water aboard a piece of British history - the yacht Gypsy Moth IV.

As I am sure you all know, this is the yacht Sir Francis Chichester sailed single-handed around the world in 1966-7.  She has since been refitted and also completed another circumnavigation in 2006 to mark the 4Oth anniversary.  There is still much of her original fittings and equipment onboard and it was great just to have a look around her and even better to take her out on the water and also to be at the helm, imagining what Sir Francis must have been thinking as he set off from Plymouth on his solo voyage all those years ago.

The new electronics suite
The original HF radio set used by Sir Francis Chichester

The Galley on Gypsy Moth IV

Here is what he thought after completion of his historic journey:
Now that I have finished, I don't know what will become of Gipsy Moth IV. I only own the stern while my cousin owns two thirds. My part, I would sell any day. It would be better if about a third were sawn off. The boat was too big for me. Gipsy Moth IV has no sentimental value for me at all. She is cantankerous and difficult and needs a crew of three - a man to navigate, an elephant to move the tiller and a 3'6" chimpanzee with arms 8' long to get about below and work some of the gear." 

There were plenty of other yachts out on the water yesterday, old and modern, but everyone stopped and looked when Gypsy Moth went past - magic!!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Many Happy Returns, Your Majesty.

It is always great to see the pomp and ceremony of the Queen’s birthday parade, it’s something that you just do  not find in any other country.  I was lucky enough to be part of similar ceremonial duties, way back in the early eighties, when I was a member of the RAF’s Queen’s Colour Squadron.  During that time I was involved in the Royal Tournament at Earls Court, Remembrance Parades and shows at the Albert Hall and Public Duties at both Buckingham Palace and St James's (see pic left).  I always felt a ‘buzz’ at such events and the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up at the sound of the first few beats of a military march being struck-up by the band or when the reviewing member of royalty walked past inspecting the rank and file.

Like the Queen, I was also celebrating my birthday yesterday, but without the parade.  It was so great to have all of my family in one place and, even though it was to mark the first half-century of my life (and that makes me feel sooooo old saying that), I realise just how much I have to be thankful for in this world.
Also like the Queen, yesterday was not my actual birthday, rather an official celebration before the event.  The actual day is on Wednesday...........the big five-oh!  Where did the last fifty years go???

This was me on my first birthday..........not much has changed really!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

A good start to the day.

Just a quick entry this morning in order to blow my own trumpet..........

This is one of my favorite photographs, which I took in Morocco a few years ago,  and it has just been chosen as one of 10 winners for a photo competition. My prize is some cereal bars.........well you have to start somewhere and I do like cereal bars!!!   
If you want to see some of the other entries in the comp, just click here.  You may even want to enter their latest competition yourself.  Good luck!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tickets Please!

If there is something that we Brits are good at, then it’s  ‘design and innovation’.  Over the past few months I have had call to use the Dartford Crossing on several occasions.  The Crossing was built and opened in stages, the west tunnel in 1963, the east tunnel in 1980 and the QE II bridge in 1991.  The 2 tunnels are 1,430m long and the bridge has a span of 450m and is 137m high and you have to admit this all comes together to form an impressive shortcut, all put in place to help traffic avoid the Blackwall Tunnel, the Woolwich Ferry and, of course, London.
The trouble is that whilst the design and construction is something to marvel at, the actual toll-paying system is not up to par.  In fact whilst queuing to pay for the privilege of using the Crossing you have plenty of time to marvel........and also to wonder how it could be got so wrong.  At times the queue can be so long that, whilst heading south on the M25, you can join the end of the queue before even getting onto the bridge.  Surely there is a better system that could be put in place to prevent any delays.

With almost 150,000 vehicles using the crossing every day, Connect Plus Ltd (the company who manage the bridge for the Highway Agency) must have considerable income to spend on a new, efficient, toll-paying system to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic?

Further building has been taking place all over the country, where new stadium and sports facilities are being built in preparation for next year’s Olympics.  From what I have seen in the media we, as a country, will have of some of the best sports facilities in the World once the games start.  But is also appears that the ticketing system for the Olympics has also gone badly wrong.  So many people wanted to go to the ‘People’s Olympics’ and be part of such an amazing event in their own country, but so many people are disappointed as they are not ‘winners’ in the ticket lottery.  Ticket prices range from around £20 to over £2000, although nobody seems to know where you will be sitting for either of those price tags or how many of each seat price is available..............and it promises it get more confusing in the next round of ticket purchasing.

The Dartford crossing has been open for nearly 5 decades and still the people have to queue to use the shortcut because of poor organization of the ticketing (toll) system - will the Olympic ticketing prove to be any better organized?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Very Big Thank You.

Well we have crashed through the thousand ‘hits’ on this blog, so a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to look at my ramblings.  Recent visitors to this site have been from Russia, Italy, Serbia and Jordan to name just a few - welcome to you all and please do come back.
If you enter your email address in the box to the right of this page, you will be sent an automatic email whenever there is a new entry and, of course, feel free to leave a comment - if you do not want your comments visible to others on here, just let me know and I will keep them to myself.
It has been a while since I have put any quotes on here, so it is about time I put that right.  Below is a selection from a gentleman called Marcus Aurelius - a Roman emperor who was a Stoic philosopher.  At his ascension there was widespread rejoicing, as at last Plato’s prediction of a philosopher-king had become a reality.  You can read much more about Marcus online, but in the meantime here are a selection of his quotes and thoughts:
“Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone."
“Nothing happens to anyone that he can’t endure.  The same thing happens to other people and they weather it unharmed - out of sheer obliviousness or because they want to display “character”.  Is wisdom really so much weaker than ignorance and vanity?”
“Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.” 
The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
“To be like the rock that waves keep crashing over.  It stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.”
“Remember nothing belongs to you but your flesh and blood - and nothing else is under you control.”

Hopefully you will find at least one of these thought-provoking  - your feedback is welcome.