26 June, 2006

Two nice sights in Suffolk, England

I saw this peacock today crossing the road in Stowlangtoft, a small village in the county of Suffolk. It was a real surprise but the bird did not seem surprised to see me!
A short time later I came across this thatched-roof house in Badwell Ash, Suffolk.
"The number of thatched buildings in England decreased from one million in 1800 to 35,000 by 1960 due partly to mechanisation and transport enabling other materials to be used. Today there are around 24,000 listed thatched buildings in England." (http://www.thatch.org/)

21 June, 2006

My Heroes: (2) Paul Cezanne

Mont St Victoire
(Note: For technical reasons I changed this image August 2006. There are many others views of this subject that would have equally suited.)
Paul Cezanne painted Mont St Victoire, near Aix-en-Provence, tirelessly over many years, yet he would always find something new to show. I find this picture captivating, the range of colours convey an emotional impact that is rare in landscape painting. He 'saw' what others could not and it's possible to see the pre-figuring of cubism in the way he began to break the surface into shapes of a single colour.

Paul Cezanne 1839-1906, self portrait
Pablo Picasso called Cezanne "...the father of us all" and hence he is often described as the father of modern art. He came from a background of wealth but, although he worked in Paris for a while, he returned to his home town of Aix, always remaining a social outsider.

My Heroes: (1) Andres Segovia

The last time I saw Segovia play was in the early eighties, a few years before he died. He was around 90 years of age at that time; he had fingers like a bunch of bananas. He was brilliant, spellbinding and charming.
Segovia was virtually single-handedly responsible for the transition of the classical guitar from a gypsy instrument to the elevated position it now enjoys in the world of serious music. He even encouraged the design of the instrument that we know today so that it became more suitable to play in the larger concert halls.
He commissioned many composers to write for the guitar or to transcribe their existing works. He transcribed many famous piano works himself, notably J S Bach's Chaconne.
His self-declared mission was to see instr
uction for the guitar established in every music school and university and he was a dedicated teacher himself.
The Australian-born guitarist John Williams was his pupil. Segovia famously said of his brilliant student, "God has laid his finger on his brow".
He was generous, modest and eloquent.
To me he is a hero of the first magnitude.

17 June, 2006

Saturday in the Park

Jacob has now recovered from Chicken Pox but, big surprise, his twin brother now has it. I took Jacob to a Learning Alliance exhibition in Valentines Park this afternoon where his Mum, Ruth, has a tent promoting her Honeybee's Creative Play Groups & Parties.
There was a tribute band called The Beached Boys playing and they were better than good. The atmosphere was broken a bit when the singer announced, in a broad cockney accent, "OK, now it's abaht time to catch a wave!"

13 June, 2006

A Humid Tuesday Afternoon

Who is a wise man? He who learns of all men - The Talmud

Yesterday the temperature in London was 32C/90F. Today unsurprisingly we have thunderstorms. As this is England we could have a prolonged cold spell starting, say, this Friday. Or a tropical heatwave.

I've just finished reading Affinity by Sarah Waters which I did not enjoy as much as Fingersmith or Tipping The Velvet. I think it a pity that her writing is sometimes labelled 'Lesbian Historical Fiction'; although it usually is that, it is good writing first and foremost. I believe her new novel The Night Watch is set in the 1940's and not in Victorian times like her first three books.

My favourite wartime-set novels are Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, both by Sebastian Faulks.

08 June, 2006

1932 Duesy/1989 Gatsby replica

I saw this car in Ealing today. It is a breathtakingly beautiful Gatsby replica of a 1932 Duesy. It has a V8 5.7 litre engine and wonderful wire wheels.

07 June, 2006

Jacob, Zack & Sonny

Jacob & Zack in good moods.

Sonny learning to drive.

Zack helping Daddy to build the decking.

05 June, 2006

Do you read blogs backwards? I do.

Talk low, talk slow and don't talk too much - John Wayne

Isn't it odd that when you are trawling randomly through other peoples blogs you always read them in reverse chronological order?

Or is it just me? Someone please let me know!

Jacob (aged three-and-a-half)

My eldest (by 10 minutes) grandson Jacob has got chicken pox. Strangely, he had a mild dose of it 4 weeks ago but the doctor said it wasn't enough to give him an immunity. I expect his twin brother Zack will develop it soon. This picture was taken about 8 weeks ago at the peak of good health.

04 June, 2006

Funny Story

On Friday my in-law and friend, 'Hammy' made a delivery to a local Retirement Home. While there he asked if he could use the bathroom. When he had finished he absent-mindedly (his trademark!) flushed the toilet.
Within seconds half a dozen nurses and doctors were knocking on the door and starting to use their pass-keys to open it.

What he had taken to be an old-fashioned pull-chain was the emergency alarm which he had set off in error.

We heard that story today while gathered for a family birthday where Sonny, our youngest grandson at 16 months, was the star of the show. He loves an audience.

03 June, 2006

Narrow Lane

If a man should conquer in battle a thousand and a thousand more, and another man should conquer himself, his would be the greater victory.....The Dhammapada

On Friday I had to drive from Aldershot in Hampshire to Storrington in West Sussex. The road (A281) was closed for resurfacing and a diversion was in place which went through some very narrow country lanes.

Unfortunately no one had bothered to check the width of the road and I was stuck for nearly an hour in the same place because a bus and a large farm vehicle could not pass each other.

All of the drivers and passengers got out and were talking to each other. Lorry drivers and little old ladies were conversing and groups of small children were skipping and playing football (soccer). It was like a party atmosphere and when we eventually moved on there was almost a sense of dissapointment!