Monday, July 30, 2007
As my mother has infected cellulitis it is paramount that her legs are kept clean and this is not easy without clean water. She is seeing a specialist soon so we are hoping that she will be able to help her as the antibiotics do not seem to be working. Otherwise my family are all safe and smiling in the face of adversity. Thanks again for all your well wishes :)
Meanwhile I wanted to show you this advert I found for a 4x4 off-road (SUV). When I first saw this I thought it was very amusing, and clever too. There are bits of it that are reminiscent of Monty Python's Holy Grail. Or is that just me? Anyhoo, I hope you like it!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
As I said before, I have been training now for about 18 months and am still very much a novice. I heard about a group of like-minded people who were setting up a club and jumped at the chance when I was asked it I wanted to join. WMA is not easy to learn. It takes a lot of dedicated practise and study of historical texts to learn and then master the techniques. Part of the difficulty is that many of the techniques fell out of use in the West with the invention of the firearm. Traditionally, each school of swordsmanship taught their techniques through word of mouth so much of what was common knowledge has been lost. Luckily, many of the masters recorded their fighting systems and these are used by various WMA groups.
The club I belong to is called the Academy of Historical Fencing. We train in many schools of historical fencing and use a variety of weaponry such as rapier, broadsword, longsword, sword and dagger, sword and shield and bow staffs. We almost exclusively use steel weapons to train with which are blunted, although the 'newbies' use Shinai (bamboo swords) at first until they get enough armour (padded jackets and leather gauntlets as well as fencing masks) to train safely. The pic above is of one of my first swords and is of a 17th Century Hangar which is a particular type of single handed sword. It is mostly used with a companion weapon such as dagger or buckler ( a small shield). The pic below is of a sword I have recently purchased which is a Pappenheimer Rapier (named after a great swordsman) and is the style of swordsmanship most akin to modern day sport fencing which has it's origins in these schools of swordsmanship.
People who join the club are from a huge variety of backgrounds and there are a few clubs in the UK and a number in Europe and the US. Some people have backgrounds in Eastern Martial Arts and some people who join have done re-enacting. This differs from WMA in that re-enactors recreate battles, usually for the entertainment of spectators and will often also recreate the historical living conditions through researching the period. Although they practise some aspects of WMA, the battles they recreate are sometimes staged and based on a known outcome (i.e. who is going to win). Students of WMA however, study the fighting techniques as an historical competitive martial art.
The next picture is of my first longsword which is a two handed sword and is currently the system I am learning (specifically, from the German school of Longsword). This is also a blunted sword (like all the ones we train with). Sharp swords are only ever used for cutting competitions, like the one using bottles of water in the video on my last post of fight camp. Fight Camp is an annual event where different WMA clubs get together to train. It is a great experience!
I hope that explains a bit more about it and I suspect you might have two more questions. The answers are: yes I do get bruises and yes I probably am a little bit crazy. You can blame my old junior school teacher who introduced me to The Hobbit when I was 9 years old. Ever since then I wanted to learn to use a sword and yes, one of my swords is called 'Sting' :) The video below is of two of our members sparring. I hope you enjoy watching it!
Friday, July 27, 2007
WMA or Historical Fencing is the practice of weapons-based martial arts. The techniques are of European origin and involve the use of swords, shields, daggers and stick fighting. Often these techniques were passed down orally and so very little was recorded. There are very few surviving texts so much information may have been lost as these techniques fell out of favour with the widespread adoption of the firearm but thankfully the techniques of some of the masters are not lost. One of the people that attended put together this video of the weekend which is a great account of it. I hope you enjoy it (those of you who don't like heavy rock music should turn the volume down, those who do might want to turn it up!).
The flood water in Gloucestershire is receding nicely though the rivers are still very full and the land is very soggy in places. Now the clear up is underway in earnest. There is still no fresh water there (it's been 6 days so far) and the supermarkets are out of fresh food. Bottled water is being handed out but some people are being greedy and taking more then they need and then trying to sell it on despite it being rationed. The water bowsers are always empty. My father went around 11 the other night and they were all empty. This is not great for a man in his 70's. Apparently, people have been taking more then they need and also vandals have been breaking off the taps and letting the water out. Unbelievable! Some vigilante groups are now guarding their bowsers!
Anyway, my parents came down yesterday to get some washing done and have a hot shower. It is very important that my mother's legs are kept clean and they have clean bedding and clothes and it is not easy under the circumstances. The journey down was obviously tricky for my mother but she was glad of the chance to wash properly. We also picked up some fresh food and water for them before they went home. My brother and sister are coming down this weekend with their washing too so I'm thinking of opening as a launderette! Hopefully they will get the water back on soon so their lives can get back to normal.
I also hope that my mother gets some medical care soon. I saw her legs and they looked awful. She is obviously in a great deal of discomfort too. They tried to get through to the doctor's surgery but that was flooded and is closed. I can't believe they discharged her from the hospital with no aftercare, especially considering she is on antibiotics (and about a dozen other drugs) with her kidney problems. There is no-one monitoring her bloods at all. We are all keeping an eye on her though. Hopefully they can get some medical support soon. Thanks to all who visit and continue to leave well wishes :)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
A big thank you to all of you who dropped by to send positive thoughts, prayers and best wishes to my mother and my family. They were greatly apreciated.
My parents and other relatives all live in Gloucester which has been badly hit by the flooding. You can view many pictures here. Yesterday the water was receding but today another inch of rain is due and then more rain is expected later in the week. With the rivers full and the ground already saturated this is a big threat and will hamper the clean up operation. My family escaped actually being flooded but were without power for a day (now restored) and have been without fresh water since the weekend. It could be two weeks before this is restored! Emergency supplies are being shipped into the area as shown here.
As you know my mother was taken into hospital at the end of last week as her legs had become very bad and the treatment would exacerbate some of her other medical problems. Well, they strated her on anti-biotics and said they would need to keep her in but yesterday all but the critical cases were dischaged and my mother was sent home! She was simply told to keep taking the anti-biotics and that was it! I can understand them not having water and needed to reduce the strain on the resources BUT I cannot understand how they can wash their hands of these people so easily. There has been no plans to re-admit them, no follow-up appointments made, nothing. My poor father has just been left to care for her. I am quite concerned as he is not a nurse and I worry about the strain on him.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Today it is not raining but there is much more on the way. The flooding is quite bad in many parts of the country, one of them being Gloucestershire where many of my family live. My sister is having trouble getting home as many of the roads are closed and they are now ironically without fresh water due to the water treatment plant being flooded. My father (in his 70's) has had to dig a trench around my sisters house to stop water entering as her garden was flooding and the playing field behind his own home looks like a lake! Right now (Sunday afternoon), the water levels are rising due to run-off from higher ground and it is due to get worse. there is also more rain on the way next week. Perhaps an ark is not such a bad idea!
I went up yesterday and was lucky to get through. Many roads were flooded and there were abandoned cars on roads where people had just had to leave them. I was determined to go and see my mother however. The news is not great. My mother has 14 different know medical problems, among them diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, spondylitis, renal failure, asthma and infected cellulitis. She needs antibiotics to treat the latter but is allergic to many of them and also it is a big strain on her kidneys. If they treat one thing it has an adverse affect on something else. On top of that some of the vertebrae in her back are out of alignment and are crumbling. We are waiting to see what the specialists say next week. Mum had a bit of a break down when she was faced with the enormity of what was happening to her. It really shook my dad up and he seems very worried. I hope they have something positive to say next week. Fingers crossed.
Still holding out for some sunshine here. meanwhile wish me well for this week. I have a lot on my plate so please be patient if I don't get to visit you as often as normal. Thanks :)
Friday, July 20, 2007
The weather here in the UK has been very wet for weeks now. So wet, in fact that I feel like I should find a hammer and some nails, build an ark and start rounding up random animals.
Looking out of the window, it reminds me of that old adage: 'It never rains but it pours'. I am swamped at work. Things are uber busy with preparing for a big meeting on top of normal work and also being involved in a change management programme. My boss has been on holiday all week and so I have been fielding all sorts of things. My days have been looooooong!
I also have an assignment to write for my masters degree. I only have a few days to get it done.
My divorce papers came yesterday. They make me sad. When I got married I never thought it would come to this. On the plus side getting them signed and receiving the decree nici and then absolute will mean that the process of getting divorced is over and I can shut the book on that chapter of my life.
My mother was re-admitted to hospital again today. I am currently waiting to hear what is going on. It is the cellulitis infection again. It has worsened to the extent that her legs are covered from the feet to the knees. It isn't life threatening in itself but it is a worry, considering her kidneys are not strong and she will need anti-biotics. My dad is very worried and I can't help but feel we have been here before. Fingers crossed that this time they cure it. My mother is very down at the moment.
Can we have some sunshine please?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Anyway, a friend sent me the following little missive which I found terribly amusing. For anyone who doesn't know, the TV references are to a programme called 'Dr Who'. If you follow some of the links it will explain more. Also, in case you don't know a 'Mondeo' is a make of saloon car which is very popular here in the UK, 'Eddie Stobart' is a huge haulage company, the M4 is a motorway which is a freeway and a 'jam sandwich' is slang for a police car. Enjoy!
What if,' said a friend down the pub the other day, when the conversation was circling uneasily for take off at that tricky third round mark, 'what if those old Greek philosophers - you know, the ones that used to sit around all day gassing - what if they had had the benefit of modern social website software, like Facebook? Would it have made a difference to Western civilisation?'
Extract from Plato's The Banana Republic. Socrates and Glaucon are discovered in the Facebook group called 'Philosophy is the new iPod'. Socrates has created a new thread.
SOCRATES has 6 friends in the network Philosophers.
SOCRATES: I thought I would kick off a new one on the nature of human companionship. 'Be slow to fall into friendship; but when you are in, continue firm and constant' as a great man once said. Oh yes, I did.
GLAUCON: Nice one, Socco. Talking of friendship, I hear that Catherine Tate is all set to return to the Tardis to reprise the role of Donna. My heart is sore.
SOCRATES: And how does this bear on the nature of friendship?
GLAUCON: My reasoning is thus.
In the first place, Donna's grating voice and her sarf London accent – apparently a prerequisite to getting hold of a Tardis key these days, by the way, no matter how many hearts you possess – offends my ear, even so that my enjoyment of The Mill's special effects is disturbed.
In the second place, this seems to be a continuation of Russell T Davies celebrity obsession, which is running wildly out of hand. Tate, Kylie, that actor off of 'Life on Mars'. What will he do next? Reintroduce Bonnie Langford?
CEPHALUS joined the group Philosophy is the new iPod.
CEPHALUS: @Glaucon, this is an excellent analysis! How suggestive are your remarks! But I rather suspect that people in general are not convinced by you when you speak thus.
As to your first point: the London accents are indeed part of the contract that BBC Wales committed to, in exchange for the right to take Who production away from Shepherd's Bush. This may also be why Christopher Eccleston, who never really got the hang of being a cockney dude, only lasted one season.
As to your second point: Ms Tate has performed as Lauren in partnership with former prime minister Anthony Aloysius St John Blair. Toes haven't curled so far since Thatch did 'Yes, Prime Minister' with Nigel Hawthorne. Lauren is dead, and Ms Tate is no longer a celebrity; she is merely another actor in need of employment.
And as to your third point, you were not so keen on continuity when they said Tom Ellis was up for it.
CEPHALUS and GLAUCON are now friends.
GLAUCON: You argue with great skill and force.
But, pray, what was wrong with Martha Jones? Why are we to be deprived of lovely Freema's presence for the first half of next season?
SOCRATES: Guys, can we be a bit more serious around here?
GLAUCON removed "Bay City Rollers and Artic Monkeys” from his favourite music.
CEPHALUS: Allow me to explain. Recall the expression on the Martha Jones's face when she is happy. She shows her teeth. And when she is anxious or worried, she shows her teeth.And when she is thoughtful, or harassed, or tired, or surprised, or angry, or seductive, or curious, or assertive, or baffled, or bored, she shows her teeth.
GLAUCON: Hey – you are onto something there.
SOCRATES: Can I remind you guys that this group is supposed to be about philosophical matters? You seem to have wandered off topic.
CEPHALUS: Now, the audience for the show is a family audience, which means it is comprised 20% children and 80% male IT consultants aged 20-55. And it is well known that such males are hopeless at reading facial expression; these males thought Martha was always happy. Freema's dental misdirection has been misleading significant subsections of the viewership into laughing during the tense bits.
I understand that, before he went with the Tate option, Russell did think of putting some supportive subtitles, probably written by Terrance Dicks, on the remote control red button - 'emotions for the hard of feeling' it was going to be called. Education remains an important part of the BBC's Reithian remit.
SOCRATES: SOCRATES: Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
CEPHALUS: Gordon Bennett, you are obsessed, you are. Anyway, I'm going off the air for a bit: there's a repeat-fest on BBC3.
GLAUCON: Good point. Think I may do the same.
GLAUCON and CEPHALUS are offline.
POLEMARCHUS, THRASYMACHUS and CLEITOPHON have joined the group 'Philosophy is the new iPod'
POLEMARCHUS: You want philosophy? Let me tell you about modern justice. That'll give you some thing to philosophise about.
Two months ago, on the 50mph coned stretch of the M4 just outside Swindon, right, I was tootling along in the Mondeo at 48 all right 57 like a good boy when this bloody great jam sandwich comes up behind me, sirens going, headlights flashing like he owns the road. So I looked to pull over out of the so-called fast lane, but I couldn't, because theres a blimmin' great pair of Eddie Stobarts hogging the middle lane like they own the road. So I put my foot down to get past, because I musn't drive behind artics because I have medical asthmer, and to cut a long story short I thought I saw a flash in the driving mirror and sure enough three weeks later I got a letter from mister average speed Gatso saying it was going to cost me £200ukp pounds and 6 points on my licence – I might loose it.
I mean, I wouldn't never have done it if I hadn't been getting out of the way of the police like a good boy.
Now just you try to tell that that's justice, Mr philospher.
THRASYMACHUS: @Polemarchus Noooooooooo! You should go to this website, can't remember what it is called but you can easily Google it, you go there and put in your name and they get a big lawyer in and they get you off ;-) :-) you won't lose anything and it doesn't cost too much
CLEITOPHON: @Polemarchus go to http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm its very funny they have got lots of photos of burned Gatsos. Well you've gotta laugh havent you?
SOCRATES: Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.
POLEMARCHUS: Don't lord it over me. I need my licence for my job and if I loose it I literally will have to crawl to work with my medical asthmer. It's all down to that fat smug Scotch bugger Brown, I bet he's feathering his own nest literally with the blood of the working man as has to pop up to Swindon from time to time.
SOCRATES: Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. In some cases more than others.
POLEMARCHUS: Ok I've had a bellyful of the little creep. lets carry on in 'Ford Mondeo chariot of the gods'. they dont mind intelligent discussion there.
POLEMARCHUS, THRASYMACHUS and CLEITOPHON have left the group 'Philosophy is the new iPod.'
The group Philosophy is the new iPod has 1 members.
SOCRATES has 0 friends in the network Philosophers.
SOCRATES: He is the richest who is content with the least. Boom, boom.®
Sunday, July 15, 2007
When I got back to the car the traffic had moved about 20 yards but I had stocked up on water and chocolate so my significant other cheered up a bit. Half an hour later the traffic started moving for now apparent reason what-so-ever! There was no sign as to why the traffic had stopped for so long. I hate that. While we were sat in the traffic we were listening to Wings FM which was giving a commentary of what we were missing. I was very annoyed to have missed the B1B, the Apache and the Blue Eagles flying. Still, when we arrived we were treated to an absolutely awesome display by Typhoon.
RIAT is the world's largest military airshow, held annually over the third weekend in July, usually in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. I saw many aircraft and the flying displays were excellent. I was particularly pleased to find the Red Arrows there. When I was a child I lived near to where they were stationed at that time and remember often seeing them fly over as they practised their aerobatic flying. I loved watching them then and that feeling has never left me. The skill of these pilots is incredible!
The Red Arrows are officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team. They were formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various RAF commands. The team uses the BAE Hawk trainer plane, which is highly maneuverable. All of the photo's on this post are of the Red Arrows (except the first) but photo's do not do them justice. As I have a dSLR I cannot take video footage, so I have put in a video at the end to give you an idea of what they do.
Since 1966, there have been nine display pilots and each is a volunteer. Pilots must have completed one or more operational tours on a fast jet and have accumulated at least 1,500 flying hours to be eligible. Even then, there are more than ten applicants for each place on the team. Pilots stay with the Red Arrows for a three-year tour of duty with three pilots being changed every year. If one of the pilots is not able to fly the team flies an eight-plane formation but if the Team Leader, 'Red 1', is unable to fly then the team do not display at all. Each pilot always flies the same position in a formation and the pilots spend six months from October to April practising for the coming display season. During an aerobatics display, Red Arrows pilots regularly experience forces up to five times that of gravity.
In July 2004 there was speculation that the Red Arrows would be disbanded after a defence spending review due to running costs of between £15 million and £20 million. Thank goodness, the Arrows were not disbanded and the expense has been justified through their PR value and because they act as a recruitment mechanism for the RAF. According to the BBC it is highly unlikely that the Red Arrows will be disbanded, as they are a considerable attraction throughout the world and this was reiterated by Tony Blair in 2007. I really hope they don't get disbanded as they are now part of the British institution in many ways. I would also hate to think that other children won't get the pleasure I did seeing them as a child.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
- I went camping.
- I attended 'Fight Camp' at Waltham Abbey and had a great time.
- It was a training event for clubs who practise Western Martial Arts.
- Using real swords (blunted).
- It was sunny. The whole weekend.
- Very sunny.
- And hot. I got sun burnt despite wearing lotion.
- Once home I had loads of washing.
- I was pooped from the weekend.
- Went to work on Monday.
- Feet haven't touched the ground since.
- BIG meeting to prepare for. Loads of other things going on so very busy!
- Also have an essay to write for my course.
- Will visit everyone soon if I haven't already done so.
- Will also post more about my weekend soon!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
1. I have never been on a roller coaster. Come to think of it I have never been down a water slide or tube or been on a bouncy castle or in one of those pits full of the coloured balls. I have been deprived! Out of all of these I would really like to go on a bouncy castle the most. They look like loads of fun!
2. When I worked in theatre I did not like working on the pantomimes. At first they were fun, but when I worked as a technician I would have to work 2 shows a day for 6 days a week for 9 weeks and I had to watch every single show as I would either be on the lighting desk or the follow-spot. You do the maths! If you don't know what a panto is them you can find out here. Trust me, before the run was half way through I was bored to tears having heard all the gags before. I knew all the lines and missed out on the fun back stage. Funnily enough I never got bored working on musicals though.
3. I love candle light. Something about the soft glow is very relaxing.
4. You already know my favourite alcoholic tipple is Champagne (or any good sparkling wine) but my favourite spirit is vodka.
5. I do boxing training every week, not as a competitive sport but more as a form of fitness training and as a combat sport. It is a great cardio work out, wonderful for stress (hitting something after a bad day is great as a stress reliever) and learning the techniques is great for confidence.
6. I am great at growing things. Always have been. My houseplants seem to thrive and yet I don't do anything special. Guess I just have green fingers. I had a little piece of garden as a child and I grew salad vegetables and flowers. I didn't realise it at the time but I practised organic growing techniques as the onions I grew kept some of the pests at bay. I used to love pulling carrots straight from the ground and eating them. They tasted so good, not like the ones you get in the supermarket at all.
7. I have a Galileo thermometre in my lounge which was given to me as a christmas present and I love it. It is surprisingly accurate and looks great too.
8. I am going away for the weekend to a Western Martial Arts Training camp. There will be many people there from clubs all over the UK and Europe and it's a great opportunity to pick up techniques from others and train with them. It is open to the public as spectators and there will be classes for those of us who are club members. It's a camping weekend so figers crossed that this very wet weather we have been having will clear for a couple of days or else I am going to be a very soggy and boggy Bob-kat. This also means I won't be around for 4 days so won't be visiting but I'll catch up with you all on my return.
Now the rules of this game of tag are:
Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
I don't do tags but if Beckie, Little Miss Muffet, Moogie, Katherine, Diyadear, Ramona, Melody and Nikki-Ann would like to participate then I would love to read their lists. This doesn't mean I wouldn't like to read yours as well if you're reading this and haven't been named; so if you would like to do it come and tell me and I will pop over :0)
Sunday, July 01, 2007
On a cheerier note I wanted to share some more of the fab gifts my blog friends left for me. As ever follow the links in bold italics to view the gifts. R. Sherman of 'Musings from the Hinterland' bought me a couple of great 'gifts' in the shape of links to interesting sites. The first was to the National Park Service website showing the parks for Wyoming, which from his holiday photo's looks absolutely incredible. Visit his blog to see the pics of the natural stone arches for yourself. They're amazing. Not done with the partying this intrepid blogger returned later with another gift which was quite dramatic and instantly appealed to my quirky sense of humour. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for some real drama!
Next Utenzi dropped by with birthday wishes and left me a picture of a wonderful peaceful forest pathway - just looking at it evokes feelings of relaxation. I just love how dappled sunlight looks through trees. He also popped by again and this time left a picture of a gorgeous waterfall that he had seen one day while out walking. There is something fascinating about running water and especially waterfalls so I loved this photo too.
Last but not least for this post, Mar came by with two gifts also! Firstly she left me a link to her favourite chocolate place in Barcelona, The Chocolat Factory, and also one to Custo designs which look fun, and colourful. After all, what girl can't resist good chocolate (mmmmm!) and shopping! I was particularly taken with the Chocolat Factory's claim of 'Chocolate is healthy'! Hey, I'm not gonna argue if it means I can eat it and forget the guilt trip! :) Check out 'The Pot' under 'Products'!
As ever, thank you to you all. I will be showcasing more of my blog friends gifts in my next post too!