Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I had no idea if these plants would flower again but I have been rewarded with flowers every year. I don't do anything special and I had never kept orchids before. My ethos if a plant is not doing well is to move it or check the watering and feeding. My orchids are flourishing so I must be doing something right!
This type is a phaleonopsis orchid and I love the contrast between the pure white of the petals and the bright colourful centre. In the background you can see another bud which is yet to open. I took this picture the other day. The sun was catching the flower and being me, I just had to take a photo.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I used to work in theatre as a lighting technician and stage manager, and now I work as a project manager so I have bought these skills to Spearhead Films. I basically work for them as a Production Assistant and I am also training with their camera to actually shoot footage. This is quite a challenge and is quite different from still photography. There is also a world of new language to get to grips with (pun intended!). Anyway, 'Pax' is being taken to the Cannes Film Festival by the distributor and a new trailer has been put together for the occassion which you can watch below.
Anyway, let me tell you a bit about their latest film. Pax Imperium, War on Terror portrays a futuristic dystopian society and the rebels that fight against that system. The story is set in a fictional metropolis and centres on the capture and interrogation of the prime suspect in a high profile murder case. The story centres on a man who awakes in a car park with no memory of whom he is or what has happened to him. He must piece together whatever information he can to make sense of what is going on. Meanwhile, the security forces in the shape of the ATU (Anti Terrorist Unit), are trying to solve the murder of a leading media mogul linked to state propaganda.
The directors specifically chose a topic that was 'of it's time' with the Western World in a state of war against terrorism and the possible infringement of civil liberties at home - just look at Blair's nanny state for example. They have attempted to tackle the motivation of those who fight against authority, the struggle faced by security personnel and the ongoing fight to uncover who in this time of crisis, the enemy really is. The film was shot and put together in just over 6 months with a budget of a mere £20,000. This meant that many of the people working on the film give their time freely. The actors and the crew were mostly locally based in South Wales and England.
Fingers crossed that the film does well at Cannes! Have a look and let me know what you think as the directors always welcome honest feedback.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Basically it is a story about how these large carniverous plants break free (yep, they move) and attack humans as society crumbles after a meteor shower leaves the majority of the population blind. So it might seem weird that I have one on my kitchen windowsill. Well, actually it's an Amaryllis but it is a large plant and the flower does kinda look like a Triffid so that is what I have dubbed it.
My Triffid was a Christmas gift from my mother about five years ago and it has bloomed every year. It grows a long stem and then four blooms of the most beautiful orange burst open. It really brightened up my kitchen while it was in flower, especially this time of the year while we are waiting for spring to sprung.
I took the picture below when I came home from work the other day. The sun was streaming in through the window and I just had to get my camera. Enjoy!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
This reminds me of Schrödinger's cat which is a famous illustration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition. Simply put, Schrödinger hypothesised that by observing something we could see (the cat) we could draw conclusions about things we couldn’t see. The cat serves to demonstrate the apparent conflict between what quantum theory tells us is true about the nature and behaviour of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true about the nature and behaviour of matter on the macroscopic level.
The experiment goes like this: Place a living cat into a box (easier said than done!), along with a vial of hydrocyanic acid and a very small amount of a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays, the vial will be broken and the cat will be poisoned. From outside the box, the observer cannot know whether or not an atom of the substance has decayed, and consequently, cannot know whether the vial has been broken, the hydrocyanic acid released, and the cat killed. Since we cannot know, the cat is both dead and alive according to quantum law, in a superposition of states. It is only when we open the box and observe a cheesed off kitty or a motionless one that the superposition is lost, and the cat becomes one or the other (dead or alive). This situation is sometimes called the observer's paradox: the observation affects the outcome, so that it can never be known what the outcome would have been if it were not observed.
So, from this I was thinking: Whatever had happened to Schrödinger to make him dislike cats so much and is this why some people like to leave their mail unopened (virtual or paper)? To my friend then, the non-opening of mail is not procrastination, it is rather a test of quantum physics. As long as the envelope remains sealed then the exam results (or pay or anything else) is in a state of superposition, it is only when it is opened that my friend passed her exam and my colleague discovered that his pay was wrong…again. This of course assumes that the exam result has not been decided until the envelope has been opened rather than when it was marked, as the point of observation is only when the envelope has been breached.
Now I’m more of a ‘rip the Elastoplast off quickly’ kind of person. I would rather know than wonder, as knowing means I can move on, celebrate or do something about it if I don’t like what I find. I have no control over the marking of my exams but I do have control over what I write down in the exam, so to me it’s a done deal once I hand that paper in. Sometimes I know I have done okay, other times I’m not so sure but I do know that my result depends on what I have written (and perhaps the mood of the examiner when he marks it!). And as I said to my colleague, the fact that his pay was wrong again was practically a certainty though!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The reason that pancakes are traditionally eaten is that the 40 days of Lent form a period of fasting, during which only the plainest foodstuffs may be eaten. Therefore, rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, sugar and flour are eaten immediately prior to the commencement of the fast. Pancakes and doughnuts were a great way of using up these things prior to fasting. The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb "shrive," which means to confess and therefore Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving (confession) that took place immediately before Lent.
All over the UK people will be eating pancakes to mark this day before giving up something for Lent. I like my pancakes with lemon juice and sugar and I promise faithfully that I will then give them up for Lent. They are just too yummy!
Saturday, February 17, 2007
The Severn Bridge was opened in 1966 to replace the ferry service crossing from Aust to Beachley. The new bridge provided a direct link for the M4 motorway into Wales and it has now carried more than 300,000,000 vehicles since it was opened. Over the years traffic flow increased and the bridge acted as a bottle-neck at the tolls. The problems were made worse by the occasional high winds, and the bridge still closes today in these conditions. It is for these reasons that the Second Severn Crossing was constructed and opened in 1996.
The bridge celebrated it's 40th anniversary last year and is very much a part of the history of the South West. I more often use the Second Severn Crossing these days which now carries the M4 (the original Severn Bridge carries the M48 motorway). Either way, these bridges are a vital link between England and Wales for the South West and they mean that traffic from this area do not have to detour around the estuary. If this were the case then I would not have gone to some of the places I have shown you as the journey would be too long so this is why it is important to me. I'll finish by sharing an ode written about the bridge by the Anglo-Welsh poet Harri Webb:
- Two lands at last connected
- Across the waters wide,
- And all the tolls collected
- On the English side.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I got sent this quiz at work. It is basically a way of sharing some info about yourself in a quick and easy way, CrazieQueen has already done it on her blog. So if you want to learn more about me then read on...
1. What time did you get up this morning? 06:55.
2. Diamonds or Pearls? Diamonds for sure.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? New Rocky movie - it was genuinely enjoyable.
4. What is your favourite TV show? My Name is Earl currently.
5. What did you eat for breakfast? Raspberries & blueberries with yoghurt and a smoothie.
6. What foods do you dislike? Baked beans and mayo.
7. Your favourite potato chip? We call them crisps in the UK. It depends on my mood.
8. What is your favourite CD at the moment? Too many to mention but I have the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my car at the moment.
9. What kind of car do you drive? MX5 or Miata as it is known in the US.
10. Favourite sandwich? Smoked salmon with cream cheese and cracked black pepper.
11. What characteristics do you despise? Arrogance, selfishness and rudeness.
12. What are your favourite clothes? Black! Goes with everything.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Surely you're not going to try and make me choose? I want to go around the world!
14. What colour is your bathroom? Cream with sandstone coloured tiles.
15. Favourite brand of clothing? I have no preference
16. Favourite time of day? First thing in the morning when I wake up - before it dawns on me that I have to go to work...
17. Where would you want to retire to? Don't know - that's way off!
18. Favourite sport to watch? I'd rather participate.
19. Coke or Pepsi? Neither - water.
20. Are you a morning person or night owl? Both!
21. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I have a new zoom lens for my camera!
22. What did you want to be when you were little? Me (I've never really known what I wanted to do).
23. What is your best childhood memory? Christmas.
24. Nicknames? Bobkat (online) and there is a family one but that's personal!
25. Piercings? What about them? I have earrings.
26. Eye Colour? Green.
27. Favourite day of the week? Saturday
28. Favourite restaurant? Don't have one - variety is the spice of life.
29. Favourite ice cream? Haagan Daas.
30. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Tiffanys and Aston Martin. I wish!
31. Bedtime? What now?
32. What are you listening to right now? My cat snoring!
33. How many tattoos do you have? How many do you think I have?
34. Next film you'll see? Probably Hot Fuzz. A Bitish Comedy from the makers of 'Shaun of the Dead'
35. Tag anyone? I don't tag but anyone who wants to take the quiz and share a bit of info about themselves can feel free. Let me know and I'll come and take a look!
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I looked into the history of Penarth and the town owes its development to the massive expansion of the local coal industry in the 19th century. Its proximity to Cardiff, which was the natural outlet for the industrial valleys of Glamorgan, and its waterfront meant that it was ideally situated to meet the world demand for Welsh coal.The development of the town was rapid through the late 19th century to early 20th century and Penarth soon became self-sufficient with its own local government, thriving shopping centre and community facilities. Many of the town's features owe their origin to the landowners of the time and many fine buildings and parks are still evident. Thanks to the generosity of these landowners, Penarth earned the reputation of "The Garden by the Sea" because of its beautiful parks and open spaces and many of the buildings and features of the town have led to a substantial part being designated as a Conservation Area today because of its Victorian and Edwardian architecture including Penarth Pier which is over 100 years old and is in the photo above.
The pier is in the process of being redeveloped as it fell into disrepair like the Esplanade on the sea front. Above is a photo of the end of the pier wher people were fishing and below is a shot showing the beautiful railing that runs the length of the pier. There were many people about enjoying the brief spells of sunshine on a chilly wintery afternoon. Many had stopped by the pier as there were cafes selling hot drinks which were welcome to warm the hands. I found that the wind cut through my fleece jacket and that my ears became numb. Still the fresh air blew away the cobwebs.
As I got older I had some sweet boyfriends who sent me a card or bought me some little gift. Then later I got married and at first it was sweet too. Later on I learned not to expect much on Valentines Day and was often asked if I wanted to 'bother' with Valentines. Not exactly what every girl wants to hear and didn't exactly leave me feeling cherished. Eventually we went our separate ways. However, this year is different. M bought a Fondue home last night together with Strawberries and chocolate. Champagne has also been produced and is in the fridge suitably chilled. When I got up for work this morning we exchanged cards and it was lovely. All day I have been looking forward to a lovely meal that M has promised to cook. There has even been talk of a gift! So, for the first time in a long time, I am having a lovely Valentines Day.
I hope you have many lovely moments in life to make you feel cherished and not just for one day a year.
Monday, February 12, 2007
This past weekend I wanted to try out some things on my camera so M and I went to Penarth for the afternoon. Penarth is a small coastal town next to Cardiff in South Wales. It has a shingle beach and an old pier so we went for a walk. The weather was a bit mixed but mostly the sun was weak and covered by thin wispy cloud which filtered the light and made everything look slightly 'faded', like in an old photograph. The wind was chilly and made my cheeks and ears numb but it was still nice to be out in the fresh air.
When I got to the end of the pier I looked back and the sun looked beautiful on the sea with the land in the background. Anyway, above is the shot I took. I wanted to try and capture the feeling of the light on a chilly winters day by the sea. I love the reflection of the light on the surface of the water and I hope you like it. I will post a few more photo's I took in the next few days.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Pembroke Castle was originally a Norman Castle and was used as a strategic base by them to launch their campaigns against Ireland. Originally a wooden structure, in 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshall who transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification.
First to be built was the inner ward with its magnificent round keep which is shown in the photo above. It has a height of over 22m and a remarkable domed roof. The original entrance was on the first floor seen on the right of the keep in this pic) and was approached by an external stair Later on, the present ground-floor entrance was inserted as is seen in the middle of this picture at the base of the keep.
Inside, the keep had four floors, connected by a spiral stair which also led to the battlements. The keep is open to visitors and you still climb the original spiral staircase that was used by the inhabitants of the castle over the centuries. The photo above shows the inside of the keep today. Of course the timber that was made up the floors has long since gone but you can see the holes in the walls where the timber joists slotted into the walls to hold the wooden planking. You can also see the domed roof in this picture and some of the deep windows that show how thick the wall of the keep is.
The large square holes on the top of the outside (which you can see in the first photo) were to hold a timber hoard, or fighting platform. When the castle was attacked, the hoard could be erected as an extra defence, outside the battlements but way above the heads of the attackers.
The last photo was taken from the top of the keep and is of the outer ward. From this you can see the curtain or outer wall with it's towers and the large fortified gatehouse with the town of Pembroke outside the walls. I love visiting these places and you get a real feel for the history while you are there that you wouldn't otherwise get from reading a book. I hope my last two posts have helped to bring Pembroke Castle to you and if you find yourself in the UK (or live here) I can highly recommend it.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Pembroke Castle is the largest privately owned castle in Wales and is situated in South West Wales in the centre of the town of Pembroke (see a theme there?). It was first established in 1093 by Roger of Montgomery, when the Norman Conquest of Wales was far from complete and stood firm against Welsh counter-attacks. Pembroke's strategic importance soon increased, as it was from here that the Normans embarked upon their Irish campaigns. In 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshal, who transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification. First to be built was the inner ward with its round keep which is shown in the photo above.
The photo above is of the main gatehouse which is still the entrance to the castle. As you walk through it you can still get a feel for how hard the castle would have been to attack. You can still clearly see evidence of two portcullises, stout doors, three machicolations, or murder holes, in the vaulting and a series of arrowslits. The gatehouse is now home to exhibitions detailing some of the history of the castle. During the 13th century the castle was expanded and defences were added to the outer ward.
The photos above and below were taken from one of the towers in the outer wall. I could see for miles around me so it was obviously an advantage for spotting enemy forces approaching. In the pic below you can see another of the towers and part of the wall walk. In 1405 Francis Court was hastily given munitions to hold the castle against Owain Glyndwr's uprising and the castle later passed into the hands of Jasper Tewdwr, Earl of Pembroke, and was apparently the birthplace of his nephew Henry, later King Henry VII.
As ever, I explored everywhere I could. I walked along the walls, climbed the towers and looked into every nook and cranny I could find. One place I had to see, but wouldn't have wanted to spend too much time was the Dungeon Tower which is in the photo below. Inside it was dank, cold and dark and I got that impression that this wasn't just because the castle had fallen into ruin as the main hall and living quarters would have been quite sumptuous with warm fires, tapestries and furnishings.
I learnt that Pembroke Castle became ruined during the Civil War. Pembroke declared its support for Parliament at the beginning of the Civil War, but in 1648 the town's mayor, John Poyer disgruntled at his lack of reward, joined a disaffected group of Roundheads unwilling to be demobilized. Apparently Cromwell himself came to besiege the castle which only fell after seven weeks when the water supply was cut off and a train of siege cannon arrived to start a bombardment. After this defiance, Cromwell blew up the barbican and the fronts of all the towers to prevent the castle ever again being used militarily. The castle fell into ruin and much restoration work was done in the 19th and 20th centuries and now the castle is run by a private charitable trust.
This last photo was taken from the top of the keep. In the foreground you can see the inner ward with Pembroke and the river in the background. Standing on top of the keep I wondered about all that this ancient building had witnessed over the centuries - the people that had lived there, the battles that had been fought adn the changes to Pembroke town outside it's walls. If only stone could speak...
Monday, February 05, 2007
I took this photograph on my recent visit to Pembroke in South Wales. Pembroke Castle towers over a river which is next to it and there is a lovely walk around the castle next to the river. I was ambling along enjoying the sunshine adn taking photos of the castle when I noticed the reflection of some nearby houses in the water. I love the colours and how the ripples on the water blur their outline.
I also love how the English language can be used in different contexts. There are the physical reflections such as above and then there are the inward looking reflections that we make about ourselves and our lives.
I'm preparing a post on Pembroke Castle complete with photo's I took whilst there and will be posting it up soon, promise!
Sunday, February 04, 2007
This weekend just gone was glorious weather-wise. The greyness just melted away and was replaced by a beautiful blue sky and golden sun that had been hiding from us in the
There was a plaque on a nearby wall which told me that it was a combined wheel-head and neck cross that was fastened by a tenon on a tall splayed shaft adn that it was apparently the largest and best preserved of the composite crosses. There is an inscription on the front near the base which translates as: 'King Margiteut, son of Etguin Maredudd Ap Edwin' who was joint ruler of the Kingdom of Deheubarth (i.e. South-West Wales) from 1033 until his death in 1035. It is thought that the cross commemorates a gift of land made by him to the church. Isn't it amazing that a chance stop bought me to such an amazing find?
Saturday, February 03, 2007
As ever, something so lovely inspired me to take some photographs and so I took them outside to make the most of the natural light. I think the flowers must have cheered the weather up too as the sun made an appearance. I think the dark edge to the carnation above looks fantastic.
All the flowers were gorgeous but the ones that really stood out were the roses. I love how the petals unfurl around the centre of the flower and how the edges are just turned over. There were also iris in the bouquet as you can see in the photo above, as well as chrysanthemums, gysoplila, lilies, hypericum berries and alstromera.
Above is another photo of one of the roses and below I have included close up of the alstromera.
Below is a shot of teh iris which are a springtime flower in the UK. Having these flowers in my home will definitely hold the grey weather at bay! Meanwhile I also have an amaryllis about to bloom and in the garden I have daffodil bulbs sprouting. Spring is defintely on the way!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
10 Favourite things:
Colour: Blue, a nice rich bright blue so deep you feel you could dive into it and swim.
Food: Strawberries, no chocolate, hold on strawberries covered in chocolate!
Month: I don't really have a favourite month though I suppose June is good as that's when my birthday is, December is good because I love Christmas adn any month where I go on holiday is great!
Song: This changes with my mood.
Movie: Too many to choose from though I loved the Lord of the Rings Films, Grosse Point Blank and Amelie.
Sport: Western Martial Arts
Day 0f the week: Any day when I'm not at work and free to enjoy myself!
Ice Cream Flavour: Praline and caramel
Time of Day: First thing in the morning on a bright sunny day after a good nights sleep.
First Best Friend: Sadie, from about 6 years old. We are still in touch!
First Pet: I had two rabbits but can't remember their names. I was only 4!
First Piercing: Odd question. Other than getting injections (shots) my ears.
First Album: I honestly can't remember but my first CD was Bat out of Hell.
First Movie: I have no idea but I can remember being taken to see The Aristocats when I was small.
Last Cigarette: I've never had one.
Last Drink: Hot chocolate. With marshmallows...mmmmmm!
Last Holiday: Calpe in Spain.
Last Movie: It would be 'Miss Potter' at the cinema and 'Bandits' on DVD.
Last Book Read: Besides my study books you mean? Scar Tissue by Anthony Keidis of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Next thing to do: Wash my car.
Next Holiday: Not yet decided but I quite fancy Rome and Pompeii or Vienna and Berlin or Poland.
Next Meal: Casserole. Nice and warming. Proper winter food!
Next Purchase:Cat food.
Next Movie: It won't be the next one I see but the next one I am looking forward to is '300'.
Don't worry - by visiting today you haven't been tagged. I don't do tags but if you want to do this then I would be happy to come and read your answers if you let me know :-)