Sunday, May 29, 2011

Alice's Jurassic Adventure

Last weekend three friends and I went on a girls walking weekend to the Jurassic Coast. Although Kieran and I have lived in the "deep-south" for approximately 3.5 years, we haven't ventured further than the more generically recognised parts of the south coast like Bournemouth and Portsmouth. This was my first chance to see the coast the way the locals have grown up seeing it... and it was beautiful:

We started off with coffee in the village of Abbotsbury, and walked 11 miles to Portland where we were staying. We reckoned the name Abbotsbury had something to do with this...
If you can't tell, it's a small Abbey on the top of a hill...It'd be a bit of a treck up there on a Sunday morning!

Clare and I take in the view, and the wind!

The journey wasn't without it's hazzards and tricky negotiations had to be made when this lot totally blocked off the path half way round...


Tempting as she was, this old girl was in need of some drastic repair so we stuck to the footpath.

11 miles covered and in need of fuel we went for fish'n'chips. It was a special treat, not just in it's own right, but all three friends are extremely gluten intolerant, so these were specially prepared, and very well done gluten free ones!

That was a real fish tank in the background. Slightly disturbing as we were eating fish!
(The waitress taking the picture obviously didn't think Anna would mind being only half a face!)

After good grub and a sleep in the BnB (run by divers - that's another story - picture many dry suits/wet suits, oxygen canisters and tanned middle aged people acting like excited teens - it was 'rad' dudes, yah!!)

Now for the really beautiful bit -
We drove along the coast to Durdle Door and walked to Lulworth Cove:

and walked down some scary steps...
and up and over and down some other scary steps...
This strange rock formation was like a back bone stretching out way into the water.

The sky was blue and the water clear and breathtakingly powerful against the rocks. Just lovely.
Ice-cream in Lulworth and then home.

More anon.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Gnome Office

Here are some pictures of my work.  As you can see it all very futuristic and snazzy looking (apart from the Georgian Hall on whose grounds it is built).   We study whole genomes here - famously the human genome - but many others too.  Hence our address is the Genome Campus.( You should probably know that the study of genomes is genomics - when I told Jill this while she was drinking she laughed so much that she choked!)   Anyway a few years ago some local wags  erased the appropriate letters on the road signs leading up to campus so that it read Gnome Camp.  To be honest I expect it was one of the overly educated people I work with but I will never know.  Everyone was amused by this and behold two little gnomes appeared on a  futuristic water feature by one of the buildings trying to fish for something.
I think most people were rather fond of them but when Princess Ann visited campus they mysteriously vanished.  Actually, when she visited many trees in pots suddenly appeared only to disappear after she went.

Years went by and the the road sign was corrected but there were no small plastic creatures to amuse us until last week!
Look who has reappeared!

Along with his little fishing freind who is too shy to transfer his photo from my phone. Hurray!
Let's hope no passing royalty makes him disappear again!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dagger judging

Here is a pic of the Dagger in the library judges
we had lunch in a basement this year.  Chez Gerard off Picadilly, which was very nice indeed.  As you can see we were having a very good time

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A new tea shop experience in Grantchester

So today we had lunch at the Orchard in Grantchester and then walked into Cambridge with Jill. Boo then suggested trying a tea room in Grantchester called Byron's Lodge (yes after he of poetic fame). Luckily we were early (2.15 ish) as this place gets booked up and they lock their door later on. Well we had 2 cream teas, fruit cake and tea for 3 with proper pot, extra water and decent cups for £8.25. result! Here is a picture of the tea.
Byron's Cream Tea - Romance on a plate!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Brian's new website

We have produced a new version of Brian's website with lots more information about the works, plus sample scores and a few mp3s as well

Here is the address.

If you see any mistakes please let us know - proof reading on screen is really difficult.

A few more views of Highgate

Here are a few more pics from the day out at Highgate


One of the hottest tickets in London theatre at the moment is a new adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It is directed by Danny Boyle and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller who alternate between playing the the creature and Dr Frankenstein. It has been fantastically well reviewed and you just can't get tickets for it. So I was pleased to see that our local Arts Picturehouse Cinema was doing a live broadcast of it and got tickets to see it yesterday.
Arthouse cinemas often do live broadcasts from theatre, ballet and opera nowadays but I have resisted the temptation simply because I feel that live theatre requires overacting and cinema/tv requires underacting. I love live theatre but I think on the whole a play needs to be adapted to play to film's strengths for it to work at the cinema or on TV.
So my opinion. It is a fantastic play and the two leads were amazing. It sticks fairly closely to the original text and follows the creature learning about humanity and becoming a reasoning being. As in the original text it asks more questions then can be answered and I noticed many a sixth former in the audience obviously doing it for A level.
There is no chance that we would have seen it otherwise but there were times when it was a bit shouty as the actors were throwing their voices to the gods. Also we discovered that it isn't a live broadcast as they interupted it at the beginning as they were playing the wrong version of it (we should have had Cumberbatch as the creature) and the overly liberal cinema manager put it to the vote as to whether we would prefer the other version which would mean starting again. (We stuck with what we had and those unhappy got their money back). Also towards the end the sound left us temporarily. These things were annoying anyway but part of theatre is the willingness to suspend disbelief and to be brought back to earth so suddenly didn't help.
However, where the cinema improved on the theatre is that you got close ups of the actors, which was brilliant and also the music was amazing with Lucas THX sound.
So I am very glad I saw this and would recommend seeing the play in whatever way you can but I'm not too sure I will being rushing to buy tickets to similar "live" broadcasts.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

April in London

Several of us read or half read "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffineger last year. When we met up and talked about it most of us said it was disappointing, nowhere near as good as the Time Traveler's Wife but we would like to visit Highgate Cemetery (where it is mostly set).
So that is what we did yesterday. We met up for lunch at Cafe Rouge in Highgate. Highgate village is REALLY nice but probably not the cheapest part of London. Trev had printed off a Google Map which let us down somewhat meanwhile Erin was directing us with the GPS on her smart phone. It all got rather competitive and it meant that we saw a great deal more of Highgate then we had intended. I felt that the extra exercise totally justified having chocolate cake for pudding after lunch.
Lunch was lovely with much talk of the royal wedding, of course. After which we ventured to the cemetery. Luckily Linda had a better map and a better idea of the area so we followed her advice. The cemetery is in two parts. The East which is the current working one and costs only £3 to go round and you can just wander round yourself and the West which you have to go round with a guide and costs £7. However you can't book a guided tour on a weekend but it said if your party is less than 10 you can just queue and it is first come first served, there were 9 of us. However that was not the way the hatchet faced battle axe at the gate saw it.
Three people went in before us then she let people in after us because we should have booked apparently. Brian did try and argue with her but she was having none of it. Wearing her badge of being a volunteer as a deadly weapon.
So we went to the East side which I actually think suited us better. We could wonder round at our own pace and it had both Douglas Adams and George Elliott who are better than the Rosettis anyway!

It is absolutely beautiful. Incredibly crowded with graves of all denomination and design. It is overgrown in places with ivy and holly and rosemary and bluebells. It was a perfect day weather wise and we had a lovely time.
After this we went for a stroll on Hampstead Heath where you can get a fantastic view of London then on the bus back to Linda's for tea and home made cakes. Kieran and I managed to have an altercation with an old bag on Parliament Hill.
Seriously, these people live in the wealthiest parts of one of the wealthiest cities in the world but it doesn't seem to make them happy. Erin pronounced, loyally, that she would die alone and Helen added that she would also be eaten by an Alsatian. We are not a vindictive family in the slightest!

It was a lovely day topped off for us by yummy nibbles from Marks and Sparks in front of Dr Who!