Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thanks "Flame Force Five"!

Take a look at these babies:

Aren't they just gorgeous?!

They are proper real handmade lampworked glass beads. Made by playing with fire, so quite appropriate that they should be so bright!

Can you believe, I actually won these? By luck? Incredible! I never win anything!!

The deal is I have to turn them into proper bits of jewellery, which is a massive problem because I can't stop stroking them for long enough to see them imprisoned onto wire or cord... it's so sad.

Thanks Sarah!

check out her website Flame Force Five - lots more glassy loveliness

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vic Reeves - what happened to your mojo?

Prompted by a conversation on one of my regular forums (fora?) I found the wiki page for Vic Reeves' Big Night Out and I've been having a really good chortle to myself, remembering how absolutely hilarious it was... and it really really was, not like some relived memories of other stuff I just thought was funny at the time but now falls flat.

I mean - Donald & Davey Stott - I can feel the tears of laughter now from the momories of uncontrollable laughing fits when I first saw them.

The catchphrases ... the surrealisms ... you could tell they loved doing it too.

The Living Carpets... Man with a Stick ("what's on the end of the stick, Vic?")

dear oh dear. I have two copies of the video somewhere. I bought a second because I forgot I had one. Sadly, I have no working VCR now, bless Youtube, I feel a session coming on ...

I heard that rumour ... you lying get! oh god ... I think I've fallen ..

It's not all walking:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unsolicited Speeding Stressing Fascists - another rant

My Dad got very upset this week because he'd had a letter that called him a criminal and warned him that he couldn't evade being caught and then tried to help him mend his evil ways. He was, quite rightly, completely sickened and got very very narked.

What was this letter? Who sent it? It was the police notifying him he'd been caught speeding. 37 in a 30 zone. Now, driving is his living, his occupation. He spends the largest proportion of his every working day ferrying old grannies home from the supermarket. On this particular time in question, he was frantically trying to find an address which he had been given incorrectly, knowing that the customer was waiting... in full daylight, on a wide open road (Brampton Road, for those who know Carlisle)

Now my Dad is a very experienced driver, very responsible, does lots of mileage, and prides himself on knowing the highway code inside out (albeit the 1965 version) so how someone with almost divine rightiousness can have the NERVE to send such a HORRIBLY worded letter virtually calling into question his ability to be a decent hardworking citizen is beyond me.

I can completely sympathise with him - now bear in mind this had him panicking into how he could afford to still live in the house, my Mam would have to go back out to work after retiring, they would have to not go on holiday and sacrifice any idea of getting the roof fixed. All this in a few seconds flat, upon opening and reading the letter.

HOW EVIL. If anyone EVER drops dead from a heart attack THE FAMILY SHOULD SUE THEIR ARSES

Yeah I know, I know, folk shouldn't speed... and no-one's denying that he did. But the criminalisation of people by the opening of a letter is plain wrong. And I've gotta be honest, right now I could happily drive a bulldozer right through the nearest BMW saleroom. The number of illegal drivers, those without insurance or a license etc .. those are the risky ones, the drivers that should be locked up and their fingers cut off so they can't turn the key in the ignition. I am so angry right now!


PS My 6 points finally ran out last month - so it's over 5 years since I felt this kind of anger. But it all comes flooding back. BASTARDS!

Gretna Green Starlings part 2

The next day, I remembered my camera. There were loads of cars parked up, two police patrollers and a TV van with big dish and twirly antenna pole!

I got this short film and the photos below....
I love the way the traffic noise seems to compliment the bird's flight!
If you watch closely, there's a bit where a small flock swoop low across the field.

Gretna Starlings

Gretna Starlings

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gretna Green - Swarming Starlings!

On my way home from work I come down the southern-most stretch of the A74 past Gretna. From there you can get wonderful views across the Solway to the Lake District Fells, at this time of year it's just sunset when I'm on that stretch and there have been some incredible pinky skies during this recent clear weather, tonight included.

While obviously keeping my attention completely on the road, and the skies, I am also watching out for those black swarms sometimes lurking above trees and fields in that area ... swarthy alien-like shapes created against the darkening skies... they are of course huge flocks of starlings!

Tonight I saw an amazing display. I came off the motorway at the tourist trap junction and headed slightly back north, just near the new Smiths hotel. There were already about 3 cars and two minibuses parked on the side of the road, their passengers all out standing by the fence watching the unbelievable swooping and dancing. I stood there watching until they all decided en masse to land somewhere towards the back of the field and the one next to it.

Why? How? Well one's thing for sure - it turns out that starlings are good at something, and are not just those noisy leather-jacket mobs that inhabit city centre trees just waiting for unsuspecting passers-by...

I'm gonna try to remember my camera tomorrow.

Here's a video taken last month

Check this web-page out: this was today!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stoats and hot air balloons in deepest Northumberland

We took a flying visit to North'land yesterday to photograph some rock art at Buttony.

I forgot to take any alternative entertainment with me and the pine modern plantation was fairly sterile of anything worth macro-ing... It was sunny outside but freezing under the trees, so I huddled down into myself and tried to have a snooze - a mini hibernation, you could say. When all of a sudden, B stage-whispered "LOOK!" so I opened my eyes, took a moment to focus... and a furry creature was staring back at us! Another was running away - they had been having a little fight only feet away from us prior to them parting company, only to find human beans on their favourite high-bit-of-rock. A flash of white-tipped tail and he was away! We've googled them and we think they were stoats. No photies sadly :(

On the way back, took some pics of the WWII pillbox nearby and spotted a blob against the opposite hills ... turned out to be a hot air balloon taking off! Now considering this was about 4pm on a winter afternoon it was a bit late to be going anywhere in a mode of transport totally reliant upon none-existent winds. It came our way going right overhead as we walked back to the car. As we drove towards the A1 we passed it landed perilously close to some trees about half a mile NW of Chatton.

The tides were turning against us for a visit to Holy Island (next time, next time...) so we stopped off at the Alnwick bookshop only to find it closing in 10 minutes... so we headed home and enjoyed the sunset from the comforts of the A69 at national speed limit.

For a gallery of my photos from this trip click here

WW2 Pillbox

Cameron Balloon - landing!

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