Wednesday, January 31, 2007
So, here is what I have been excited about! There has been redecorating at Bobkat's House.
Goofy Girl, med student, blogger and web designer extraordinaire has come up trumps and put together this great template for me. Isn't it fab?
The pic at the top is a photo I took whilst in Calpe, Spain over Christmas. I was walking back along the beach one evening and saw this glorious sunset. Of course, I had to take a photo, or dozen! You can read about my trip to Calpe in earlier posts this month.
I love the new look of my blog and hope you do too :0)
The picture is of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights which is named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas. Especially in Europe, it often appears as a reddish glow on the northern horizon, as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction and this is what Debra captured in this picture. I have always been fascinated with this phenomenon, ever since I saw it on a television programme as a child, and it is on my list of 'things to see'. There are so many wonderful things in this world I sometimes wonder how I will see everything! For now I have my picture and I never forget that there are wonderful things right where I am too.
Don't forget to come back soon and see what is afoot at BK's. I can't wait to show you...
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I have had perfect days though. Last year I can remember M took me to Plymouth and went to visit Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. The sun was shining, we walked and talked and I got to drove my MX5 with the top down around some great roads, surrounded by wonderful scenery. In the evening we had a lovely meal and then a walk back via Plymouth Hoe in the balmy summery evening watching the lights from boats moored off land. Perfect.
The clip below is of a song that I love and sums up days like that for me. Days where you can forget all the things that weigh you down. Days where you feel good and at peace. The video was made by the BBC for their annual 'Children in Need' appeal and won many awards and is visually very strong, colourful and entertaining. A number of celebrities in the music world took part and it is great fun trying to name them. I hope you enjoy it and it makes you think of your perfect days.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Meanwhile I thought I would share some little known things about me. When visiting other people's blogs I have often seen a meme asking you to name seven weird things about yourself. I don't know about you but I think it's the quirky little things that make life interesting, though hopefully not too freaky (there are laws to govern that sort of 'weird' but that isn't where I'm coming from). I'm thinking of the little things that we all do or think or believe that add to our personality but stop short of actual psychosis. The sort of things that make other people smile, may drive your nearest and dearest nuts but is kind of cute at the same time or even just plain best kept to yourself. Anyway, here are mine:
1) I can't whistle. I never have been able to despite many people arguing that I can and trying to show me. This usually ends in dry lips on my part and incredulous frustration on their's as they tell me "It's no good, you just can't whistle!". Well, d'uh!
2) I hate baked beans. Everyone else seems to love them.
3) I cannot sleep with any cupboard or draws open in the bedroom. They absolutely must be shut or they will bother me so much that I have to get up and close them. I know nothing is going to jump out from them and attack me but that is not the point. They. Must. Be. Closed.
4) I don't like the colour pink much. I really don't see the need to wear it and have most of my belongings in pink just because I am a girl. You do not see men wearing blue and having blue things all the time because they are boys! I figure there are other clues for people to pick up on!
5) My hair has turned from straight to wavy as I've got older. What is that about? Has someone switched DNA while I wasn't looking? Now, if I want straight hair I have to wrestle with it using the sort of super-heated straightening plates that could easily be employed as torture implements; I have to spend money on all sorts of straightening lotions and potions and things to protect my hair from heat; it takes forever to do and then after about 30 mins it starts to curl again anyway! It drives me nuts.
6) I practice and train in Western Martial Arts. Or put another way, I have a sword and I know how to use it!
7) I hold my pen in my right hand to write so that makes me right-handed, right? But I hold my knife in my left hand to eat, so that makes me left-handed doesn't it? It seems a small thing but this used to get me into trouble at school!
Hopefully, you'll still come back and visit now you've read this! What is your weird thing?
Thursday, January 25, 2007
This is the question currently being posed at Blog Fodder by Melonie, over at The Joy of Being Melonie.
Well, I do work full-time, currently in the field of scoping and developing a new Strategy for the organisation I work for. I also have a home and there is always something that needs doing - cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, more cleaning and tidying... but I don't have children. I do have a cat but other than being at his constant beck and call (or so he'd like to think), he just requires grooming, feeding and a clean litter tray.
However on top of work, I am also a part-time student with the Open University doing my Masters in Business Administration. I have been studying for 3 years now and some days I wonder if it is worth the trouble, especially when I come home from work and feel tired only to see the books on my desk at home. On a bad day it can make my heart sink. The weekends can be difficult too, especially when I have a deadline for a report or essay. If it's a nice day then I am stuck inside feeling like a petulant teenager being asked to do my homework! Sometimes I find myself procrastinating. All of a sudden the big pile of laundry seems preferable to studying, and then I'll just put those papers away and feed the birds... you know how it is!
However, I know that the studying will be worth it. Already I have been able to apply things I have learnt to my work and have been awarded several bonuses. It has helped my to develop a wider view of business so that I can see beyond the immediate issue and can appreciate the persepctive of other functions. It has developed my appreciation of creative thought in problem solving, about the different ways people learn and work together and the implications for leadership. It has bought home to me the contradictions inherent in running a business and managing people.
I have already gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Management (with distinction!) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business along the way. I have enjoyed meeting other people from other organisations at the tutorials - some I have struck up an instant comradship with, one or two were just irritating. However, most of all, studying has taught me the value of my time. I appreciate the free time I have to do what I want to do more than ever. After all, all work and no play makes Bob-kat a dull person so I practice the "5 P's": Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance". Or at least I try to!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I am busy busy busy and the weather has been yuk yuk yukky so I am afraid I haven't been anywhere interesting to share with you unless you really want to see the local supermarket! Don't get me wrong, I love winter when it's cold and bright but this time of year in the UK can be miserable. The days are short, the nights are long, the sky seems to be permanently grey and the air is damp. It seems to be always raining, it's ages since Christmas and summer seems to be so far away.
This is why I always watch for the first signs that spring is on its way. I love watching the spring flowers start to push their way through the hard earth and I have some daffodils that are just little green shoots at the moment. As they get taller, the days get longer and spring gets closer. Until then though, I like to have flowers in my home. Over Christmas I had a poinsettia and a flowering cactus and then just when I thought I would be without flowers one of my orchids burst into many little purple flowers. I think they are gorgeous.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
This next photo was taken from within the castle looking accross to the Wye Valley. You can see a ruined tower in this photo and many birds were roosting in the ruins. Chepstow Castle was successively added to over many years and was originally built by the Earl of Hereford, William FitzOsbern who was one of William the Conqueror's trusted officers, and was given the job of helping to maintain order and put down rebellions along the southern border with Wales. FitzOsbern began construction on Chepstow Castle in 1067. It was the first stone castle built in Wales, and its Great Hall is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain.
Chepstow Castle was remodeled and expanded several times in its life: it was expanded and fortified in the 12th century; in the 13th century a complex of rooms known as the domestic range was added; and in the 16th and 17th centuries it was further fortified. During and after the Civil Wars in England, it served as a prison. Among its inmates were the Royalist Bishop Jeremy Taylor and the regicide Henry Marten. The tower in which Marten was housed for the last 20 years of his life is now known as Marten's Tower and is the big tower in the first photo.
The photo above shows one of the heavy wooden doors within the castle and below is a shot taken in one of the towers showing a narrow stairway with an arch leading to an external walkway to another tower (this shot was not so easy to get!). There were not many people at the castle when I visited - a symptom I think of the time of year and the fact that shopping seems to be the main past time in the UK now, but it was quiet there and the lack of modern noise meant that you really got a feel for the 'heaviness' of the years and the history of the place.The photo below was taken inside one of the large halls where you could see the remains of some of the sumptious decorative stonework there. The archwork that held up the long gone roof must have been beautiful. The owners of the castle would also have decorated the plasterwork that once lined the internal walls (most of it long gone but traces were still evident in places) and of sourse there would have been tapestries and large fires to warm the rooms. Many of the large fireplaces were still visible.
This final photograph is looking from within the castle back towards the main entrance, so it really does give you a sense of how big this castle is. The sun was going in at this point as the clouds returned but I wanted to inlude this picture so that you could get a sense of the size and to show you that the castle was built on a cliff right next to the River Wye. Behind the castle you can see some of residential chepstow. Just imagine having this the castle and the river as a view!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
If you have visited my blog in the last few days then you will have seen an advert for Sony Bravia LCD televisions that I posted (if you haven't seen it then it's well worth a viewing - see the post titled 'Colour. Like no other' and if you are interested in how they did it or don't believe that the balls were real then see the post before this one).
Anyway, there has long been an advertising campaign in the UK for Tango fizzy drinks with the slogans 'You know when you've been Tango'd' and 'The hit of the whole fruit' and they have made their own version of the Sony advert to promote their drink 'Tango Clear Bravo' (see the link?). Watch the real ad first if you've never seen it and then you will apreciate how clever the makers of this ad have been in making their spoof version. Enjoy :0)
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The footage on the clip below is quite informative (just ignore the marketing bit at the front - I'm not trying to work for Sony!!). They used 23 camera men instead of the usual 4 in order to capture the live action as it happened from different angles and locations on the road. It seems you don't get too many chances to capture hurling that many balls down a hill at once. It's quite funny as it shows the crew cowering behind riot shields as they are bombarded with bouncing balls. I love seeing behind the scenes stuff. It always reminds me of my time working behind the scenes in theatre.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Anyway, I remember thinking what a clever and simple idea it was. Apparently they used 250,000 rubber balls that were all colours of the rainbow and filmed them bouncing down the hill in San Francisco. Of course many people would recognise the main street as Lombard Street which is where the famous car chase in the movie Bullitt took place (with green VW Beetle)!
The cinematography and editing are fantastic. The soundtrack for the advert is also a wonderful choice. It is a song called 'Heartbeats' by Jose Gonzalez and is beautiful to listen to. The advert reminds me of warm summer days and of being a child (I used to have one of these balls and I was always losing it on the roof or somewhere when it bounced out of control!). Whenever I see this advert it always makes me smile and feel happy. I hope it has the same effect on you.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Here comes the history bit - The name 'Wall Street' derives from the fact that during the 17th Century, it formed the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement. The stockade was built on behalf of the West India Company by Peter Stuyvesant. This was further strengthened by the time war had developed with the English to a 12 foot wall of timber and earth fortified by palisades. The wall was created, and strengthened over time, as a defense against attack from various Indian tribes, New England colonists and the British. In 1685 surveyors laid out Wall Street along the lines of the original stockade and the wall was dismantled by the British in 1699 leaving the street running along the course it does today.
Wall Street is of course famous for being the heart of the Financial District and the photo above is of the New York Stock Exchange. In the late 18th century, there was a tree at the foot of Wall Street under which traders and speculators would gather to trade informally. In 1792, the traders formalised their association with the Buttonwood Agreement which was named after the type of tree they met under. The photo above was taken looking across from Federal Hall and in the foreground you can see the steam rising through one of the covers in the road - a common sight in NYC! Below is a close up of the wonderful carvings that are above the columns of the Stock Exchange.
Federal Hall is also sited on Wall Street and below is the statue of George Washington that stands outside it. Of course, Federal Hall is the site where George Washinton took his oath as the first President of America in 1789.
Of course I couldn't do a post about Wall Street without showing you a photo of the Bull. This isn't actually on Wall Street but stands on Broadway just a little way from Wall Street, towards Bowling Green. The is also a very nice little diner nearby where I had a great lunch. As I ventured further down Broadway towards Bowling Green the wide opened up, allowing the sun to reach the sidewalk and defrosting my fingers as I can't take photos with gloves on - how I suffer for my art! :-)
This last photo (below) is of Bowling Green looking back up Broadway. Bowling Green is the oldest park in NYC and was made by the British who played bowls there (hence the name). After this I continued my explorations and headed towards Battery Park but that is another tale...
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The photo above is of one of the many halls housing collections of ancient Greek and Roman art. I love the fact that this picture shows the living mingling with the motionless scultures that were carved by long gone artists. In the photo they all stand regarding one another. The photo below is a close up of the statue that is in the middle of the hall in the first photo. I learned that the way to tell Greek and Roman sculpture apart is that Roman sculpture always has a tree trunk or other article (as in the pic below) to support the figure where this is absent in Greek sculpture.
It was quite inspiring to spend time in the presence of these ancient works of art. The halls were quiet and serene and you could almost feel the 'age' of the pieces as you looked at them as the air felt heavy with years. This was also true when I went to visit the Egyptology section. The photo below shows an Egyption carving of a tablet and head and it was marvellous how close you could get to these pieces.
Many of the Egyptian items at The Met are from private collections but about half were uncovered during the museum's own archeological excavations, carried out between 1906 and 1941 However, the popular centerpiece of the Egyptian Art department continues to be the Temple of Dendur which was dismantled by the Egyptian government to save it from rising waters caused by the building of the Aswan Dam. The large sandstone temple was given to the United States in 1965 and assembled in the Met's Sackler Wing in 1978. It is situated in a large room, partially surrounded by a reflecting pool and illuminated by a wall of windows opening onto Central Park and was an amazing sight to behold when you stepped into the hall. The picture below is of the Temple itself and you could walk right inside it.
I also saw many masterpieces while I was there and among them was the picture below - Water Lily Pond (Le bassin aux Nympheas) (1899). The Met contains many of the world's most instantly recognisable paintings in European art including thirty-seven paintings by Monet, twenty-one oils by Cezanne, and eighteen Rembrandts and also paintings by Vemeer and Van Gogh among others.
I also visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) while in NYC. The idea for MoMA was conceived by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D Rockerfeller Jr.) and two friends, Lillie P. Bliss and Mrs Cornelius Sullivan. The museum opened to the public in 1929, ten days after the Wall Street Crash in a rented space. MoMA's permanent and current home was designed by the modernist architects Philip S. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone and opened to the public in 1939. It is an absolutely incredible building on the inside, very white with clean lines as you can see from the photo below.
MoMA had many displays by modern and contemporary artists, some of which I liked and others which did nothing for me. They also had works by Monet, Van Gogh and Warhol. I watched part of a film of his that was running in one room called 'Empire' which is 8 hours of footage of the Empire State Building shot from his apartment. They also had on display the complete collection of his Campbells Soup paintings. These are early works of his and I smiled when I saw such iconic works. I also remembered a post by Old Old Lady of the Hills (Here in the Hills link in the side bar) where she described seeing these pictures on display for sale for the first time.
It was an incredible experience seeing all these works of art. I spent half a day in each museum and really could have spent much longer, especially at The Met where whole sections remain unexplored. Of course, that gives me an excuse to go back and see some more one day.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Museum was founded in 1869 Theodore Roosevelt Sr., the father of the 26th U.S. President, was a co-founder.
The photo above was taken looking across from Central Park on the Upper West Side. As it was late November, many of the buildings were decked in lights and decorated for Christmas. The Museum had topiary dinosaurs holding wreaths outside! As you can see from the photo the entrance to the museum is quite grand and in fact the architecture was magnificent both inside and out. In the picture below you can see the moulding on the ceiling and the marble columns.
The dinosaurs in the picture above stand in the foyer but there are many other fossilised remains of dinosaurs with the circuit of an entire floor is devoted to vertebrate evolution.The Museum boasts habitat groups of African, Asian and North American mammals the full-size model of a Blue Whale (photo below) suspended in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, the 62-foot Haida carved and painted war canoe, and the Star of India, the largest blue sapphire in the world. The Museum's anthropological collections are also outstanding with large displays showing differnt cultures and their development.
While I was at the museum they had a special display of live reptiles so I took pictures of a few. It was nice to see some exhibits that were moving after seeing so many that were models or that had been preserved. Also worth checking out is the huge meteroite which is smooth to the touch. The museum is huge and takes the best part of a day to go around and is well worth a visit if you find yourself in NYC with time to fill.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I am currently up to my ears in work and study for my MBA (who's bright idea was it that I do a part-time course on top of working full time. Oh, that'll be mine then!), so thought I'd do a quick meme for you instead. Anyway, it's a kind of nice one and lets me share some things about myself myself with you in a fun way so here goes:
4 jobs I have had
Stage lighting technician
4 movies I could watch over and over
This is tough as there are so many I can watch over and over depending on the mood I am in at the time. i suppose the first four that come to mind at the moment are:
Grosse Point Blank
Lord of the Rings (all 3)
The Shawshank Redemption
4 CD's I never tire of
Again there are so very many (I have a huge music collection) so this is tricky but they include:
Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks
Foo Fighters - One By One
Green Day - American Idiot
Sheryl Crow - Sheryl Crow
4 TV shows that I watch
I've kept these answers to current(ish) shows:
My Name is Earl
4 things you like to do
Watching a good film
Walking barefoot on grass or the beach
4 places I have been on holiday
The last 4 places I visited are:
Calpe in (Spain)
Rio de Janeiro
Chocolate (of course)
4 places I would rather be right now
Walking on a sunny beach
On top of the world
In a great restaurant
Travelling - somewhere exotic
4 things people might not know about you
I once stepped on the fingers of the Phantom of the Opera
My biggest disappointment in life as a child was learning that dragons never existed
I hate apricots
I used to play chess for my school
I'm not going to tag anyone but If you would like to do this then let me know and I will come and take a look.
Friday, January 05, 2007
In these photos you can see the Pinon de Ifach which is the sister rock to the Rock of Gibraltar. It stands prominently at the end of the 13 kilometre stretch of coastline that covers the Calpe region. It towers over the sea to 332 metres, and has now been declared by the government as a nature reserve. You can walk around the base of it and up the side of it to where the rocky part starts. I did both and the walk up it was exhilerating as the view of Calpe below me expanded until I could see the beach below me stretch into the distance and everything became small.
The photo above was taken from the top of the walk up the Pinon before it disappeared into a tunnel through the rock. Apparently a local man who loved to paint (and also had some money) had the tunnel cut so that he could paint the view from the other side of the rock. In the photo you can make out the Marina where there were many boats and yachts and where fishing boats also land fresh fish. There are fish restaurants nearby that line the front so the fish goes from the sea to your plate very quickly!
You can also see the salt lakes behind the beach front apartments and then in the distance you can see Calpe Old Town climbing up the base of the mountains. It is hard to make out but on the beach front near the marina there are also rocky remains of an ancient Roman fish factory cut out of the rocks known as the Queen's Bath (Banys de la Reina). The Romans used to farm the fish in the rocky pools and then use the salt from the lakes to preserve them for food and trade.
The photos above and below were taken during walks back along the beach during sunset. I loved being able to walk along the sand just above the waves and watching the sun drop towards the horizon and turning the sky orange which would change colour as you watched it. When it was time to leave Calpe I felt that I had only started to scratch the surface of this vibrant and cultural town. I am sure I will return to explore it and the surrounding area some more.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The next two photos are of typical streets in the Old Town area. The top one shows a fountain and there were many water features dotted in small plazas or in front of buildings. Although it was warm and sunny for the majority of the time I was there (apart from the days it rained!), it wasn't particularly hot, but I could imagine that when it becomes very hot in the summer these fountains would provide a cooling effect. Walking around the Old Town they provided a soothing sound in the quiet streets during siesta. Apparently in the high tourist season it can get very busy in the Old Town so I was pleased to seemingly have the place to ourselves, apart form the local residents going about their business.
In the photo above you can make out the start of the mountains in the background that provided a scenic backdrop to the town. The photo below shows another small plaza with apartments and on the right is a church. I very much enjoyed walking around the Town which rises from sea level, and climbs steeply up the main street to the Old Town. I took many more pictures which I will share with you next time...
I would also like to thank all of you who were kind enough to leave supportive comments on my last post. They were greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
So, now it's 2007 and I'm still wondering where 2006 went, although, I must admit I'm not sorry to see it go and am looking forward to a better year. It's funny how an arbitary point in time can make us take stock of where we are, but I think it is important that we do, so we can move on.
A lot happened to me in 2006, some good but on the whole it was not a good year. I was diagnosed with multiple fibroid tumours (thankfully benign but it was scary for a while) and had surgery twice. Thankfully the second procedure made me a hell of a lot better and the anaemia and crippling pain has stopped. In the summer I had a nasty fall and badly hurt both feet. I could barely walk and limped for a good few weeks and one foot still hurts in the cold (A friend says it's likely I fractured my big toe). Last year also saw the end of my marriage after 14 years of being together, and it was one hell of a wrench. Even though it was the right thing to do it was still a painful process, teasing the strands of our lives apart. There are still things about him that I miss though, despite his behaviour that eventually left things very strained between us. I thank each of my friends that were there to listen to me and support me.
There were some good things too. I started to blog, partly as an anecdote for what was going on in my life. I met a new man who is kind and generous, though we are still feeling the way ahead things are looking positive. The surgery has left me feeling so much better (though it looks like there will be more this year). I also started to travel again which has pleased me more than anything else. After years of going nowhere much I have recently been to New York and Spain. Money is tight but I am determined to continue travelling and am already saving for my next trip. And now I have my new dSLR that I am looking forward to getting to grips with. So, on the whole I am positive about the coming year. I don't make resolutions but I have some intentions and these are:
- To get fit again
- To sort my home out including the empty room that has become a dumping ground.
- To travel (at least one trip)
- To improve my photography
- To catch up with old friends
Monday, January 01, 2007
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Anyway, that got me to thinking that it would be nice to uphold these traditions and then I got thinking about the modern day equivalents that could be bought in with the new year to symbolise things we shouldn't be without. Perhaps a bank note so that you would never be poor? I figured that this would be better than a credit card as that could be mistaken as symolising debt and that is something we could all do without! I want mine ushered through the back door! An MP3 player or CD so that you would never be without music? How about chocolate so that you would never be without er, chocolate? What would you bring?
Anyway, having seen the new year in I hope that 2007 brings you health, wealth and happiness in whatever form you find it.