Saturday, March 31, 2012

Film review: The Pirates! In an adventure with scientists

Aha me hearties, 'tis movie pieces of eight, so it be!!

Talk yea not of the hunger games, compared to this 'tis as dead as a dodo - or Polly as we call her!

Be there grog? I hear someone ask - me think that be O'Docker's croak. Aye, there be grog lad, barrels of it.

Be there wenches? Aye, Tillerman, for I know yon voice, there be the surprisingly curvaceous pirate and Queen Vic as you've never seen yon lass before.

There also be pirates, and the greatest pirate of them all, the PIRATE CAPTAIN!!! Arrrrr!!!!

His crew be a mottling gang, including the pirate with a scarf, Peg Leg (*), and the pirate with gout (ouch) but also a Blue Peter badge, aha!!

Me hearties 'tis entertainment through and through, aye, 'tis so, upon my word.

'Tis also educational as you learn how Mr Charles Darwin came up with his BIG IDEA and why he grew a beard. You also learn the benefits of travelling by airship (you can look down lady's tops).

Aha, 'tis a masterpiece, and starts with an aaaah-awesome example of stern-to mooring, aye, that it does.

Five gold doubloons stars, aha me hearties, yes it be!!!

(*) not this Peg Leg

HORR 2012 Video

My latest rowing blog find is "Something about rowing..." which apart from being very funny and illustrated with great stick people cartoons was written by a member of the Cambridge women's rowing team - go Cambridge! - and also as a NatSci / astrophysicist.

In a recent post about their recent win over Oxford (yeh!) she embedded this great video of what its like to row in the HORR race.

Very impressive rowing from the Thames Rowing Club, based here in Putney, as they power their way to victory. Good line the cox took - avoiding the trap of cutting the corners but losing the current.

Lots of familiar landmarks there for a stretch of the Thames that I have walked, ran, biked, sailed, kayaked, canoed and, at least in part, swum.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Sacred Boat of Queen Mutemwia

This is a very, very old boat.

Ok, its actually made of stone so wouldn't really float, but its a sculpture of the sacred boat of Queen Mutemwia (otherwise known as Mutemwiya). You can see it if you go to the British Museum where it can be found just north of the Rosetta stone.

It's from about 1400 BC, so that's around 3,400 years ago and I'm guessing it was actually made of reed.

Its strange to think that people just like us once sailed them and long, long ago this might have been cutting edge technology.

Out of sync at Somerset House

It's spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the daffs are out, but at Somerset House there's a reminder of the seasons down under.

This installation is called "Out of sync" by Chilean artist Fernando Casasempere, and maybe that's why the colour scheme is autumnal brown.

Anyhow very striking and can be found at the lovely Somerset House until 27th April, worth popping your head in the courtyard if you're near the Strand / Waterloo Bridge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ben Ainslie is Covent Garden

One of the icons of London is the fantastic underground network map, originally designed in 1931 by Harry Beck.

Another aspect to London is of course the 2012 Olympic Games, so put the two together and you get the TfL Underground Olympic Legend Map.

Appropriately water sports have got the blue coloured Piccadilly line, and you can see legends like Steve Redgrave (Knightsbridge) and Russell Coutts (Russell Square - a nice touch that).

And in the centre at Covent Garden is Ben Ainslie.

Get your copy here.

Graphic from: TfL site here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The great London Easter Egg hunt

One of the fun things about living in London is there's always something new going on. This Easter its Eggs.

Aha, you're probably thinking, nothing very new about that. But these are not your average chocolate treats, these are artist creations, large and there are two hundred of them dotted around the capitol.

What's more there's a prize of a real Faberge egg to the lucky winner worth £ 100k made of 18 carat gold with sixty gems in it. Every time you find one you text in a code or follow a QR link and you'll be one closer to the "Diamond Jubilee Egg".

Despite finding several.....

... (actually they are quite hard to miss)....

... I have not been entering. I am not good at finding things.

Incidentally two were actually stolen but then recovered, which is a just as well as the aim of the project is actually to raise money for charity and therefore is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finding things - updated

The weather's been great recently and along with what felt like most of SW London I've been pounding along the Thames path.... and yet again found something interesting.

I'm not that observant, honest, and have even run past friends who swear they yelled out. But lets add up the list: a gun, two mobile phones, a cashpoint card, some cash and a watch.

This time it was something Apple related, so I thought they must know who registered it and have an email, so I booked a tech support call. Alas they regretted that they couldn't help and suggested the local police.

Fair point, so I turned up on Saturday morning at the local Police Station, to find it was closed. This being the 21st C. the Met. have an email system so off flew a little message.

No reply.

I also did a Google of the device name and found a sport club which denied all knowledge.

So if you've lost an iSomething on the tow path email me! Just say what type, model, size, colour and your name and a confess to a couple of the more embarrassing tracks asap.

Though why Apple don't have a return to owner option on their web site escapes me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

London in the spring

London's been looking lovely for the last few days as spring has come.

I've been out on not just my own bike but also one of the Boris bikes, peddling my way through central London:

Double deckers to the left of him
Double deckers to the right of him
Double deckers in front of him
Noise and pollution
Boldly he rode and well
Zooming around Aldwych went JP 

But no one had blundered as everything was looking so good

 The daffs have been out for a while now:

Its a good time to be out and about.... but what has JP been out there seeing?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The kayaker and the speaking rucksack

T-shirts and sun glasses at dawn, JP's been paddling!

Ok, got to get these things right, preparation is key:
  • Passage plan: it might not be a LAT but the range at Chelsea was over 6m and anyone on the Thames in London must think tidal. Headed downstream with the outgoing tide and then came back up near slack.

  • Clothing: short, boots and t-shirt (ok, plus something long sleaved) and of course life jacket

  • Equipment: water bottle, VHF radio, waterproof camera and some rope just in case. Oh and shades.
The VHF radio was set to listen in to channel 14 and then stuffed into my rucksack behind me. 

I then kept hearing these voices from it on the lines of "This is London VTS: proceed through span Delta" which was at first disconcerting but also useful as there were updates on river status including tide at 15 and 45 minute past the hour.

All in all a good first paddle to add to those two day sails - though the camera, alas, is now looking rather battered.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bristol Pilot Cutter Video

One of the most loved class of boats must be the Bristol Pilot Cutter, and if you are one of those that do have a soft spot for these classics you'll enjoy this short video about their history.

Picture: screen grab from this video

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Misty morning on the Thames

This week was not just back to back meetings but ones in which a battling JP took on the world (ok, just Europe) single handed.

The only plus in this struggle was could take the lovely river bus to central London - apart from this day, when there was thick fog and the boat was cancelled.

Ah well, there's always the tube.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

William Golding, sailor

Been overloaded with work at JP HQ so likely to be gaps between postings.

Today's short post is to point you towards this article about Nobel and Booker prize winning author William Golding who wrote Lord of the Flies.

Apparently he was a keen sailor until an accident at sea in the fog in which he lost his ship and nearly the lives of him and his crew.

Picture from: The Guardian

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Preparing for the Queen's Jubilee Regatta

On the 3rd of June 2012 a great armada will parade along the Thames.

It will be the culmination of a series of events to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and preparations are already well under way.

Organising a flotilla of maybe a thousand boats will of course be a mammoth task. The Port of London Authority's web site has a number of notices to mariners that point to some of the key tasks.

For example if you look at notice U4 of 2012 you see a chart (above) of the areas where moorings, and lots of them, will have to be laid in the upper river by Barn Elms. More will be laid along the route, for example in Battersea, and others by London Bridge, Tower Bridge and Wapping (see M5 of 2012). These will be used before and afterwards to martial the great fleet.

Today it was announced that the Thames Barrier would be raised on the 3rd June, presumably keeping water levels high.

In case you're thinking of going for a paddle or sail that day you best check out notice to mariners No. 9 of 2012 which basically says if you're not on the list you should keep off the river.

If you want more the pageant briefing can be found here.

As to me? It looks like I'll miss it as I have a family event that weekend, but fear not: Buff will on hand to give his minute by minute, boat by boat description.

I can't wait!

Chartlet from: Port of London Authority

Pageant route from:  Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Updated: See latest post here.

Monday, March 05, 2012

My other yacht is Alinghi

Its the time of year when those with boats (*) are thinking of what repairs might need to be done to get their pride and joy (**) ship shape for another season of boating.

However for those in the 0.01% then the question is more likely to be what boat shall we buy this year?

If you are in the billionaires club then you don't want to be stuck with last year's tub at a mere 47m but instead upgrade to something a bit more respectable, as in the example above.

This is America's Cup tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli and his wife, ex Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, latest plaything on its way to the Caribbean last Friday.

The Vava II is a six decked yacht and at 96m just over twice the length of the previous one but cost a whopping £ 100 m and just filling her with fuel sets you back £250,000.

Yacht owning is an expensive business.

(*) and are in the northern hemisphere
(**) or whatever you call her

Picture from: Metro news site

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sony DSC-TX10 waterproof camera review

There's nothing more annoying than seeing your brand new camera go phzzzz at the first drop of water (*) and as I've found out to my cost, not all waterproof bags work as advertised when kayaking on the Thames.

So I decided to invest in a waterproof camera and after the usual googling of reviews I plumped for the Sony DSC-TX10 on the grounds that its small and neat plus Sony are known for their quality images.

It turned out that two of those three assumptions were correct.

So the plus points:

  • It is small and dinky, easy to stash in a small pocket and carry anywhere
  • Despite not having that encased in plastic look it has been dropped on concrete and been well soaked in muddy Thames water without complaint
  • The battery life is pretty good - though buying a spare I've never needed to use it and now rely just on the built in batter
  • It can take HD video and has a 16 mega pixel sensor

However the images aren't that great, with soft images and high noise. For example look at this picture of sea kayakers on the Solent that was taken when out sailing two weekends ago:

That's pretty fuzzy.

In a way its reassuring that all that weight and money spent on a DSLR really is worth while - those big sensors and lenses do have a point.

So overall a camera that does do what its meant to - as long as you don't expect crisp images.

Updated: alas there is a design flaw - see this post.

(*) ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

Camera picture from: Amazon