Waddesdon Manor Christmas Lights 2015.

Waddesdon Manor Christmas Lights 2015. Bruce Munro’s installation of lights at Waddesdon Manor called SOS, This is his final year of three years at Waddesdon Manor. The lights on Waddesdon manor were by Woodroffe Bassett design.  We visited with Ian and Julie.  Lovely warm evening for December.  You must watch the video to hear the sound track associated with the lights in the tent.

The Amazing World of M.C. Escher at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Rosemary and I ventured into London to see The Amazing World of M.C. Escher exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  His graphics were truly amazing, from his original portraits and drawings, onto metamorphosis, and tessellations.  There was also the iconic waterfall.  He worked with British mathematicians, like Roger Penrose who gave Escher the idea for the stairs picture.  Exhibitions of his work are very rare in the UK, and this one is well worth visiting.  It is on until  the 17th January.  We also ate lunch at the gallery restaurant, tad expensive, but very nice meal.

Back in Central London we visited the Chris Beetle gallery.  They are the gallery that sell the original Matt cartoons which are published in the Telegraph. I have an original Matt which Rosemary bought me for my birthday, its of Cyber Crime. Sorry Guv I had to taser the computer. R had tried to buy me a Glastonbury Matt, but it was sold in minutes of being published. The gallery staff were in fact setting up an exhibition of Matt Cartoons, presumably the ones which did not sell.  They also sell originals from many other cartoonists and etchings from a variety of books.

A coffee in a Cafe Nero, then a stare at some of the shop windows as we walked our way to Piccadilly Circus and back home.

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Crystal Palace from West Dulwich

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Fortnum and Mason

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Fortnum and Mason and Selfie

Mars, Venus and Jupiter

I have been meaning to see Mars, Venus and Jupiter for the last few days, but been thwarted by not waking up and the clouds.  First saw them at 2.00am on Saturday morning, saw two bright objects in the sky, low to the horizon.  I thought the other object must still be below the  horizon.  So went back to sleep, to wake at 4.45 am to find cloud.

After the Kingswood fireworks, I set the alarm for 4.45, prepared the camera and went to bed.  Woke and it was misty, but the stars were still visible.  This time I saw the two bright objects high in the sky?  Where was the third.  Puzzled, fired up google Night Sky and searched for Mars, Venus and Jupiter.  Duh, of course Mars was not as bright as Venus and Jupiter. The red planet was easily spotted with binoculars.  Here is a photograph of the planets, from left to right they are Mars (red), Venus (the brightest) and Jupiter.

Mars, Venus and Jupiter on 1st November 2015 a 5.42 EDT, Kingswood, Bucks, UK

Mars, Venus and Jupiter on 1st November 2015 a 5.42 EDT, Kingswood, Bucks, UK

Kingswood Firework Display

Saturday we went to our local firework display at Kingswood organised by Ian and Julie and kindly hosted by George and Annie. Ian put on the display. Burgers and sausages cooked and serverd by Duncan, Keith, Karin and Charlotte.  Good time as we get to meet and chat with others from the village we might not meet every day.  Selina, Phil and Julian came over as well.  Selina caught up with  Julie and Smeg.

Lovely still evening, no wind and remarkably warm for the end of October.  The bonfire included some of the stuff we had been collecting for years, including old doors and our “thermometer” which was placed on the crossways years ago when we were trying to get people to sign up for broadband.

 

 

 

Kingswood Bonfire 2015

Kingswood Bonfire

Land Rover Defender

imageWednesday a group of us went to Land Rover Solihull factory to have a look around the factory and see the last of the Land Rover Defenders coming off the production line. We started the day at a nearby pub for lunch, then arrived at the factory at 1.00 for the Land Rover Experience day.

First we saw the body shop where the components of the body are manufactured and were put together ready for painting. This seemed quite a manual process, with the occasional robot doing a spot of welding.

We missed seeing the paint shop, apparently not practical for a tour.

The next stop was the production line, where the chassis, wheels, transmission, engine all met with the body. It all was a complicated process as each Defender is made to order, and there are many variations in body and style. Apparently around 110 Defenders are manufactured per day.

We were taken around by an Australian, and predictably were not allowed to take photographs. It was a fabulous day out, seeing the last of a great British iconic vehicle coming to the end of its life. What will its replacement be like? Did you know the biggest export market is Germany, and that a door made for today’s vehicle can be fitted to a 25 year old Land Rover? The factory building where the vehicles are assembled in are the same buildings as Maurice Wilks used when he started building Land Rovers after the war.

King Crimson at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

King Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside TheatreKing Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside TheatreMonths ago I ordered a ticket to see King Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.  This was the start of their tour where they are playing their music from the 70s  The first two dates were at Aylesbury, put on by the Friars Club. (There was an earlier private event at the Waterside the day before.) The reason for the first UK tour dates being hosted by Friars was Kings Crimson’s long association with them.

Well the day came, and I remembered the gig, still sitting at home, almost an hour after it had started.  I was gutted.  Luckily there were still a few good tickets available the next day, and more importantly I was given permission to go and see King Crimson.   Arrived at Aylesbury in plenty of time, time to have a pint at the Farmers Bar in the Kings Head where there were some drinkers waiting to see King Crimson, and others who had been the day before.

Back to the theatre, King Crimson merchandise purchased and then into the theatre.  What a sight – three drum sets at the front of the stage.

What an evening.  The set of three drums was phenomenal, the way they interacted.  The encore, brought tears to my eyes.  All the music was familiar King Crimson.  The encore of  The Court of the Crimson King and 21st Century Schizoid Man sealed a great evening.

The Play List

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One
One More Red Nightmare
VROOOM
Suitable Grounds for the Blues
Radical Action (To Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)
Meltdown
Hell Hounds of Krim
Easy Money
The ConstruKction of Light
(Part One only, no vocals)
Level Five
Epitaph
Interlude
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Starless
Encore
Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row
The Court of the Crimson King
21st Century Schizoid Man

My T shirt

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Back

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Back


King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Front

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Front

Reading Festival 2015 #ReadingFestival #RandL15

Reading Festival White Camping

I couldn’t make up my mind whether to go to Reading Festival, and delayed and delayed, looking at the site for nearly 6 months.  Two weeks before the event, permissions granted, I decided I would get a day ticket for Saturday to see Metallica. Unfortunately the Saturday tickets were the tickets which had sold out, so I ended up buying a full weekend camping ticket.  I knew I could do the Friday and Saturday, Sunday was out because of other commitments.

As is usual for me, I travelled to Reading on the Friday, arriving a little after 10, soon erecting my tent on the White campsite which is on the North Side of the River Thames.  I parked the tent in a very empty space, making sure it was not erected in the water.  The picture does not show the water which is surrounding the tent.  There was an inch or two of standing water on all sides of the tent.  Soon had the tent erected, I was pretty proud of the speed and efficiency in its erection.

 

 

Reading Festival Thames Bridge Reading Festival Thames Bridge Reading Festival Thames BridgeSo off now to the stadium, almost a 30 minute walk.  This took me over the River Thames on a specially built festival bridge, and then through several campsites, eventually arriving at the arena a few minutes late for the first band at 12.00.  For the two days I watched bands on the main stage, not venturing to the other stages.  I didn’t know any of the names on the other stages other than Limp Bizkit, but they clashed with Mumford and Sons, Alt-J.  As it turned out I should have watched Limp Bizkit.

 

Reading Festival Ale barThe first band MARIACHI EL BRONX, they create a fusion of traditional melodies and modern ambience, the band embraced the sonic mash and created a mariachi inspired sound.  A very inventive band, they had the crowd entertained.  I enjoyed listening to them. Quick break and I found Reading Festival were yet again selling real ale.  Other festivals take note, not everyone wants to drink that tasteless lager.  In fact the real ale seemed really popular, and could have done with a larger outlet, or more outlets, to cut down on the queuing.

Next up were  Neck Deep.  A Wrexham pop punk band, poised on the brink of certain Stateside superstardom.

Drenge came on next, I really enjoyed them.  Drenge are from Castleton and Sheffield where the band now live.  The duo Rory and Eoin Loveless, joined by Ross Graham in their recently released album.

Relaxing in the sun at Reading FestivalPalma Violets came on, while the sun was still shining.  Another must-listen-to band. Will I be buying ‘Danger In The Club’, time will tell.

More beer, some food, and then back to listen to Panic! at the Disco. This Las Vegas band were really good.   Next up were All Time Low as the sun was setting.

Next memorable band was Bastille.  Good rock band nominated in 2014 for four BRIT Awards (British Breakthrough Act, British Group, British Album, Best Single for ‘Pompeii’), winning British Breakthrough.

The final two bands were Alt-J and Mumford and Sons.   Both these bands have a couple of good memorable tracks, while I admit I find the rest of their work not very inspiring.

Reading Festival CampingWalked back to the tent, taking a rather circuitous route, arrived back after a rather long time.  Managed to find the tent, it did now have a couple more tents surrounding it.  Managed to get a good sleep, there was not too much noise during the night.  Eventually was up and out by 8.00 for another day, breakfast of bacon, egg, beans and sausage.  The utensil to eat it with was the smallest wooden fork I have ever seen, a couple of inches long.  Then to the bar, but it was too early at 10.30, so a wonder around, looking at T shirts waiting for my first pint of Hobgoblin at 11.00.

One change I noticed to the main stage was that there are now three sets of barriers.  The barrier in front of the stage now has a section in the middle which extends into the crowd and joins a second barrier 30 meters back.  This allows performers to leave the stage and interact not only with those at the front, but also people further back.  There was another barrier, separate to the other barriers, another 30 meters back.  Health and Safety rule, gone are the days of the one barrier.

Baby Metal playing at Reading Festival 2015 Waiting for Baby Metal at Reading Festival 2015First band started at 12.00 and were Baby Metal.  Baby Metal are a Japanese band, fronted by 3 females who are dressed to look very young.  They danced and sung. The backing group, all wearing white robes and white masks, were a very reasonable metal band.  Personally I am not sure what the three front line girls added to the band, other than they looked cute.  They also have a very heavy media machine behind them, I have never had 26 retweets of any tweet I have made.  Maybe one retweet. I am sure we will be hearing more of them.

Fidlar were on next, and then the Marmozets The Marmozets were a half reasonable band, their third Reading show, they play happy punk to visceral aggression and soaring progressive epics, the Top 30 album showcased the band’s technical prowess and a band teetering on the brink of mainstream mania.  Well worth a listen too.

Still not raining, though the sun had now gone, Modestep came on to play their Dubstep.  I was  jumping to their Jump Jump commands.  The band expanded upon their rock, dubstep and electro hybrid sound to create a homage to their hometown that redefines their status as the forward thinking sound of 2015.

Pierce the Vail at Reading FestivalNext on were the Californian band, Pierce the Vail, to be met with the first of the Reading Rain, a light drizzle.  Now remember this festival goer was well prepared, today he was not just wearing a T shirt like the day before, but was well kitted out for the rain, with his Fat Face cotton top.  San Diego’s own Pierce the Veil – Vic Fuentes (vocals/guitar), Mike Fuentes (drums), Tony Perry (guitar), and Jaime Preciado (bass) were good, could be a buy.

 

 

Alexisonfire playing Reading Festival 2015 Alexisonfire played next.  The band came together for a series of summer festivals. Reading and Leeds were their exclusive UK performance. Ok band.

A really interesting band them came on.  Just two people, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, make up the two halves of Royal Blood, a drummer and a guitarist.  The band is called Royal Blood. Despite their minimal line-up of drums, bass and vocals the pair create melodic music, with a totally full sound.  What these two guys could do with the drums, bass and voice makes one wonder why some bands have so many members.  Royal Blood are a British band from Brighton.  Yeah a must buy.

Now I was down to the last two bands of the evening.  Quick refuel of Chicken Tikka wrap, and beer, I was back  in time to see Bring Me The Horizon. Leading the unstoppable charge of British metal bands shaking the world’s arenas to their core, the band switch between danceable party music and brutally apocalyptic soundscapes.  Actually I can’t remember much about them.  Fatigue setting in.

Metallica Black Balls Reading FestivalMetallica Reading FestivalNow the band we were all waiting for  Metallica.  Already I had seen the preparations for the band in the morning.  It was going to be similar to Glastonbury 2014 where a huge set of large inflatable balls were released on to the audience from the top of the stage, and from the rear speaker stacks.  The stage setup was huge.  The largest video screen at the rear of the stage, set well back, because there were also huge screens on the insides of the stage as well, creating a huge box of video screens.

Before the show started, a large number of selected audience were led on to the stage to watch their heroes at close quarter.  On came Metallica ( James Hetfield – Vocals and rhythm Guitar , Lars Ulrich – Drums, Kirk Hammett – Lead Guitar, Rob Trujillo – Base ) a few minutes late, but they played over a two hour set.  The video footage was similar to Glastonbury, the sound was not as bassy intense as Glastonbury where I was in physical pain in the chest from the low sound waves.  Still it was an intense experience, with lots of friendly people in the crowd. All dancing and singing along to their idols.  This was the third time I have seen Metallica, and the fourth time Metallica has played Reading.  I saw their first show at Reading 18 years ago, in 1997 with Selina.  As I was chatting with some random guy in the ale queue before Metallica played, he reminisced on seeing a blonde busty lady dancing on her own towards the back of the crowd.  I too had see her. She put on a memorable eye catching show.

The show ended with the huge black balls being punched across the crowd, and a small firework display.  Afterwards I stumbled out of the crowd, refueled with a bedtime Hobgoblin, and some Chicken Jerk before walking back to the tent in the rain. A long journey, I have not worked out the geography of Reading, failing to take a direct route back.

Bed by 1.30, woken by the rain at 4.30 and a need for a pee, should not have bedtime beers, up again at 6.30, tent packed, walked to the car and out of the gate by 7.20 and home by 8.45.  Driving out I thought there would be chaos for those leaving on Monday.  The tracks in the field were already dire.

I was a wreck, my arms ached, my legs ached, I needed sleep.

Reading you have a good sound system.  The sound was so much better than T in the Park.

Reading, you must get some better food franchises, those 12 inch dogs, really suck.  The plus side was a good coffee outlet.

I came away with a Metallica Reading Festival 2015 tour T shirt.

Did I feel old at Reading?  Glastonbury festival has lots of older people attending, Reading is mainly a young persons festival.  That said, I got the impression there were more older people there than a couple of years ago.  I reckon I spotted several older festival goers than even me.  Several dads and mothers taking their children to the festival, seeming on a tight leash though.  I remember those days well.

 

 

 

The Kingswood Gun Club and Saint Brides Major shoot

Steve at Kingswood Gun ClubThis Sunday we had the second leg of the Welsh shoot at Kingswood Gun Club.  The shoot was on Pete’s farm and had already been set up by Mark and Graham, all we had to do was load the traps, and erect the cages.  Saint Brides Major arrived at around 11.00 in their coach, we all had a coffee while we were squadded.  We then had an enjoyable clay shoot of 70 birds, some quite demanding birds, some that should have been easy, but for some reason I missed.  Unfortunately the predicted rain came before the end of the shoot.  It was very noticeable the Welsh were well prepared for the rain, while most of us from Buckinghamshire expected the rain not to arrive before the end.  By the time I had picked up clays, and help clear up I was definitely a drowned rat.

Quick stop at home to change, and pick up the chauffeur and we were off for the shoot lunch at the Crown in Tyford.  Sunday Roast, pudding, cheese and biscuits along with some beer.

Unfortunately it seems we did not do enough to beat Saint Brides Major, and Kingswood Gun Club had to hand over the cup for a year.  There was not much in the scores, we were beaten by only a few shots.  Next year we will have our revenge,

Ravilious exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery

On Saturday, Rosemary and I visited Dulwich Picture Museum to view an exhibition of Ravilious pictures.  Ravilious painted water colours before WWII, he became a war time artist, and painted until 1942 when he disappeared on the 2nd September, presumed dead, after his flight never returned from a mission in Iceland.   We first saw his work in a Gallery in Saffron Walden at the Fry Art Gallery a couple of year ago.  There we were impressed by his Submarine Lithographs.

At this exhibition we saw  so much more of his work, including much before the war.  A famous picture of his was painted at the outbreak of WWI, this is the Westbury White Horse with a steam train passing by.

Aperol SpritzerWe had chosen the hottest day to visit London, sitting outside in the sun, having a lunch at the Picture Gallery proved to be quite toasty.  Afterwards we went over the the Shard, Rosemary refused to pay the rather exorbitant price to take the lift to the viewing platform.  Instead we had a drink in a nearby bar.  Rosemary going for an Aperol Spritzer and me for a boring lager.

Journey back to Aylesbury rather was fraught, our trip was abruptly halted at Harrow on the Hill, where we were all ordered off the train.  The points ahead had failed.  There was a complicated alternative route, which we took by tube, only to see a Chiltern train passing us by and going to Aylesbury Vale Parkway.  The points were working again.  We resumed our trip to Aylesbury from Rickmansworth, and arrived at Aylesbury Park Way an hour late.  Needless to say Chiltern Railways compensated us, extremely quickly!, for the late arrival.

 

Buckinghamshire County Museum Dr Who Exhibition

 

Early morning appointment at the eye hospital in Aylesbury, and then into town for a coffee at Cafe Nero while we waited for the Bucks County Museum to open.  There was a small exhibition of Dr Who memorabilia on show, sourced from collectors throughout the county.  Open until September 5th.  The star is the Dalek, called Darren. Neal Davies, who works for Fremantle Media, a company that makes TV shows including Grand Designs and Escape to the Country, constructed him from plywood and fiberglass for a £20 bet.  Apparently it moves, talks and lights up, all through remote control.  There were some fab womens shoes decorated in Tardis Livery.

Of course there was a tardis, a K9 and Cybermen along with posters and signed memorabilia all the way back to William Hartnell in the days I watched the original series in black and white from behind my Gran’s sofa.

Hughenden Manor home of Benjamin Disraeli and the World War II Bomber Map Makers

Valerie and Norman stayed with us over the weekend.  We met up at the National Trust property, Hughenden Manor home of Benjamin Disraeli in High Wycombe for lunch and then a tour of the property.  As well as being the home of  Benjamin Disraeli, the house had been requisitioned during the second world war and was used to produce target maps for the night time bombers of Germany.  We were taken for a a very informative tour and talk about the map making which occurred during WWII on Hughenden Manor.  Like Bletchley Park, those who had worked here, kept quiet about their work, telling no one.  This map making at  Hughenden Manor  only came to light in 2004, when an elderly visitor was heard to say that his desk had been in the corner by the window during the war.  His conversation was overheard by a NT room monitor.  It took another year before the visitor had been released from the official secrets act and could divulge what had happened on the site. The National Trust has now put together quite an impressive exhibition about the people who made the maps for the night time raids of Germany.  The maps were hand drawn from reconnaissance photographs of the the target areas, printed, and then sent over to Bomber Command nearby at Naphill.

We had a lovely day at the Manor, even lazing on the deck chairs on the lawn in the late afternoon sun.

On Sunday we visited Gallows bridge BBOWT nature reserve.  The birds took the hint and did a disappearing trick, except for some 20+ Geese.

 

 

 

Waterside Theatre

My first visit to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.  Selina had bought Rosemary, Phil & me tickets to see “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime”, a play about an autistic teenager.   The staging of it was fantastic.  A black box, with a grid pattern and lights at the grid intersections which indicated a houses, or furniture, or a tube station. Very, very clever. It took me a while to understand what the plot was, never having read the book (both girls had, of course). All I had heard was a mention of Sherlock Holmes, so I was wondering when Sherlock would arrive, or was this a great detective story?  My problem had been a quick google of the title only without reading even a synopsis.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime” is a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. Its title quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story “Silver Blaze”.

Think I missed the word title in the above quote when I read it.

As a first time visitor to the Waterside Theater I was quite impressed.

Wonder what it will be like when it’s rearranged for the King Crimson concert I am going to on the 31st August (without Rosemary).

London Museums

Rosemary and I visited London for the day.  Caught the 9.00am into London.  The weather was kind, sunny, ideal for doing some grockling.  We were visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Royal Institute of British Architects, The Museum of London and The London Transport Museum,

Sherlock Holmes Museum

We started off by walking to Baker Street to view the Sherlock Homes Museum.  (It’s not quite at 221B, but near enough though.) The museum is a private one and is basically a house which has been decorated in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes house, but with imaginative objects (such as severed ears) from the stories and some waxworks.  Rosemary thought it all very cute & well done.

Chemistry at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Chemistry at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Slipper, Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Slipper, Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Steve as Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum – Moriarty

Royal Institute of British Architects

Next, one tube stop to Portland Road, and the Royal Institute of British Architects to see the exhibition on Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  This exhibition was about his architecture and not his other work.  There were numerous plans and drawings of buildings he designed.  Some built and others not.   We have been and visited some of them, from the Glasgow School of Art, to The Hill House he build in Helensburgh.

We then tried to see a Forensics exhibition at the Welcome Collection.  Unfortunately, it was not open on a Monday.  Instead we headed across the road to Drummond Street for a lunchtime veggie buffet curry at Diwana Bhel Puri House.  For under 7 quid you get an all you can eat buffet, including a sweet.  There are so many unusual flavours, colours and foods to choose from.  It’s now my favourite restaurant.   Near by is also a camera shop, Calumet, where we paid a short visit and came away with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.  Made the lunch rather expensive after all. [Ed. I am told the proximity of the camera shop was unknown before the outing. My other leg has bells on it.]

Museum of London

Next over to the city, getting out at Bank (mobile phone navigation is a God send), we made our way to the Museum of London to see their exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. This was a large exhibition, started of with masses of TV screens showing clips of the many Sherlock Holmes films and TV series.  We were able to see videos of the many the actors who have played Sherlock and Holmes, from the 1920s to Benedict Cumberbatch.

The exhibition also featured many pictures and drawings, some with little relevance to Sherlock Holmes, other than a picture of London Bridge in the smog. There were several like that, including one by Monet.  The exhibition improved again with more objects associated with Holmes.

This was a picture depicting Sherlock Holmes London.  I loved the illumination in the clouds.

This was a picture depicting Sherlock Holmes London. I loved the illumination in the clouds.

London Transport Museum

Final museum was the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.  Here they have the history of London Transport, from horse drawn carriages (including Sherlock’s beloved Hansom Cab), horse drawn buses,  the start of the rail network, the underground and the buses. Thankfully they did not have a Ken Livingstone bendy bus.  You had the chance to drive a Central Line tube emulator.  Love to know how they managed to move some of  the vehicles to their resting places in the museum.  There were some lovely 1930 taxis on display.  Very relevant as there is an owner of a similar taxi in our village.

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