Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Nation

It would be hard to explain the Royal family to Spock, who'd no doubt respond with something about how "that's not logical, captain".

And he'd be right, it isn't. But then humans aren't, valuing drama, ceremony and story telling in our leaders, all of which the royals richly provide. And that being the case there is some reason to split the colour and theatre of figure heads away from power which should, at least in theory, permit the government the space to do the job of governing.

There is of course another side: the degree in which national identity is closely entwined with that of the royals. The BBC presenter noted how every monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066 had been crowned in Westminster Abbey, which would represent nearly a thousand years of unbroken national tradition.

But what nation? I would not be surprised if there were phone calls to the Beeb about how there were separate Welsh and Scottish ruling families, and that this near millennium of coronation applies solely to the English.

For while Royals do a good job at connecting to all of the home nations there is an undoubted bias towards one in particular. The wedding service was performed by the head of the Church of England, in the capital of England, in English, as part of an English line of royals, wrapped up by that rousing chorus of William Blake's, a homage to England's green and pleasant land.

Bah! you're probably thinking: they're Germans or Greeks, not English!

I'm not sure how important that is, given we are all mongrel mixtures, but if it were think of this. Diana and Kate, the last two brides to marry those directly in line to the throne, both came from solid English families and so William and Kate's children will be at least three quarters English.

And if I had to bet I'd say that when their time comes to pick up the royal standard, maybe for that millennium in 2066, their list of titles will include King or Queen of England.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Caption Competition

What a week it's been for news! An American finds his birth certificate and a British couple got married (plus other stuff in other countries). At JP HQ the tension was almost noticeable.

One found oneself conflicted. The head said stuff and nonsense switch off the TV and go for a bike ride. The heart said ok, how about heading up the Kings Road and then see what one can find?

Alas one found that half of London if not the World was there too with the Mall reputably full, and one feared that by the time one got there one would find the famous balcony empty. But by leaping over the railings of Green Park, some neat elbow work and a last minute sprint one was able to say one was there for the kiss.

But now one has a conundrum as the head and heart have very different views on what would be a suitable caption for the photo above. So this is an opportunity for one's readers to come to one's assistance by suggesting suitable words.

One would be most grateful, and hopefully even amused!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Picture puzzle

Haven't had a picture puzzle for a bit so here's one for you.

Ah, punting! Arguably the best way to enjoy an idle glide up or down a gently flowing English river, glass of Pimms to hand.

But where is this? It's a tricky one this, not the usual suspects, but there's three bits to the puzzle:

1) Where is this most definitely not?
2) Where might you think this is?
3) Where is it actually?

No. 3 is a real tough one so Google and guess work allowed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thunderbirds are go!

Ok, maybe not one of the Thunderbirds, but still pretty cool.

Its the RNLB RIB on the Thames rushing to rescue someone - probably one of the Devizes to Westminster paddlers as this pic was taken on Sunday and it had to weave its way between kayakers. Fortunately I've heard no story of tragedy on the Thames so I'm guessing all systems were A-OK by the time they arrived.

And on the space theme, its the last ever Space Shuttle launch on Friday - big event!.... hmmm... Friday... big event.... that rings a bell.....

Isn't there some sort of event happening in London on Friday?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good for paddlers

Today I - well maybe you can guess how I spent today, and it isn't interesting at all so here instead are some of the kayakers paddling the final few miles of the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.

And for once they wouldn't had to worry about freezing wind and soaking rain but instead de-hydration and sun-stroke, for almost the whole of the long Easter weekend was fine - apart from the thunder and lightning that blew in Saturday evening and would have been visible to anyone watching the Chelsea game.

Anyhow, congratulations to all those that finished, particularly the overnighters and paddlers from Putney!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bad for ducks

It's been another scorchio day, but one that threatens to be bad for ducks (amongst others).

Partly this is because storms are forecast with lightning bolts that could turn these ducks crispy enough for pancakes, spring onions and cucumber etc as per Baydog's suggestion.

Mostly this is because of smog, which is a real problem with London's traffic and the heat. EU pollution rules allow 35 bad days a year and Marylebone Road has already had 36.

So the Government has issued a warning that ducks should do their 8 km run first thing in the morning, then stay in doing more work until get totally cheesed off, make a cup of tea, toast some hot cross buns and put their feet up to read a good book.

I might have paraphrased, but that was the gist.

Happy Easter and St. George's Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good for ducks

Its been a lovely day and more are forecast yet I have had to work.

Oh to be a duck.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

White water ready for 2012

Another venue is ready for the 2012 Olympics, this time the white water canoe and kayaking centre in the Lee Valley.

Looks rather a lot of fun and got the BBC presenter in the clip on this page well and truly soaked. Its just a shame its about as far from Putney as you can get and still be in London.

However more importantly, this is the last weekend to apply for tickets and I haven't worked out which ones to go for.

Thinking caps on....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday, Four Photos

There are many ways of spending the Sunday before Easter. St. Mary's church had palm leaves and a real donkey for their service, but my morning involved a run along the riverbank.

Only 8 km, unlike those doing the London marathon, which was also today. 36,500 runners pounded the streets on what turned out to be a lovely day, and there were a multitude on the river too, like this great flock of kayakers.
Later in the afternoon there was also this solitary coracle, otherwise known as the bike boat bloke.
After the sun had set, the moon rose.
And so another weekend is over, and another week begins.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Watch out Martian rocks

I can hear it now: "We come in peace.... take that you dirty Martian rock! Pzam! Pzam!!"

Very cool - apart from the fact that you would have thought NASA would know you wouldn't hear those pst! pst! sounds in space.

And it should have been sponsored by Pixar and called Wall-E, though I guess Curiosity is a good name (unless you're a cat).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gagarin Paper Weight

Following up on yesterday's 50th anniversary with moon photo post here is a paper weight of Gagarin I picked up when in Tbilisi.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Remembering Gagarin

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's successful first orbital flight here's another picture of the moon (taken this time with small tripod).

Friday, April 08, 2011

Drumming and the Heron

Summer has come to London early.

Tonight I gave myself a treat between work and family commitments, and went the QEH on the South Bank for a performance of Steve Reich's Drumming. It was totally, epically, brilliant.

Drumming is one of the greatest works, if not the greatest, to come out of the minimalist movement, full of hypnotic repetitions and phasing between players, here on drums, marimbas and glockenspiels, plus three vocalists / whistlers / piccolo.

Its tribal music: not from those dancing around open fires on the plains of Africa (though inspired by that), but for the urban tribes - those who live in communities of steel, glass and concrete.

Outside the evening was still warm, t-shirt weather in April, and the space outside the South Bank complex was filled with people while above us turned the London Eye.

On the way home, along a path lit by the moon (ok and also the odd street light), I lingered to watch a heron go fishing, its beak flashing into the dark waters.

I love this city.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

For a moment I got all excited.

Next year, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, there's to be a royal pageant of maybe 1,000 boats along the Thames. And according to an otherwise rather good article on the history of the Thames in The Telegraph, the route was from "Putney to Greenwich". For political balance here's The Guardian's take on the event, and they give the starting point as Putney as well.

Fantastic, I think: I can practice my royal wave and as HM passes I can salute her in style.

Closer reading of the route showed alas this to be a flexible definition of Putney to mean, basically, Battersea, as shown by the official route below:
The event already has its own web site with Facebook page and Twitter feed (of course) where you can register your vessel.

I don't think they have this sort of thing in mind:
I think I will need a bigger boat if I'm to join the fun.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Twilight lights and ducks

An unseasonably warm 21C today - and no complaints at all, as it was a lovely afternoon and sunset.

A lot of lights on this survey boat, though it seemed sufficiently able to manoeuvre to avoid a rower.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Alas poor cafetiere....

More on the theme of coffee at sea with the story of the cafetiere and the ARC.

"Twas many moons ago", said the ancient mariner, eye gleaming bright.... ok, actually it was just over seven years ago that we set sail from the Canaries on board the Ocean Wanderer, destination the Caribbean.

The first few days were a bit choppy, you know the score, thirty five knots gusting forty five, pretty much on the nose, and it was making life in the forepeak rather uncomfortable. I remember being bounced from the starboard bunk, up to the ceiling, over the lee cloth, and back down into the port bunk (which fortunately was empty).

It was about this time that the one and only cafetiere got broken and it was a bitter blow indeed.

For the next two weeks we relied upon that granule stuff, but it wasn't the same. I started to wonder if there wasn't some sort of alternative that the wit of a sailor could put together, starting with using paper kitchen towels, which were advertised as being strong even if wet, as a make-shift filter.

Without wanting to go into details it is fair to say that results were disappointing, with the result tasting rather too much of wet paper.

However it made the arrival at St Lucia all the sweeter to know that the next day we could say goodbye to the instant imitation.

Of course I didn't expect the breakfast area of the hotel to be overrun with swarms of cockroaches, but ah! that coffee tasked good.

Updated: an interesting article about coffee on today's Guardian here.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

My favourite drink

Over on Five O'Clock Somewhere Carol Anne has given us bloggers more time to write about cuisine, which is just as well as my muse is being stretched thin by the pressures of work and general Life with a capital L.

I was just wondering what on earth I could write about while finishing off my Sunday morning coffee when I realised I literally had an idea in my hands (assuming that cuisine includes drinks).

The home made weekend cappuccino made by the steaming grunting Gaggia is indeed one of the great things to savour. Unlike the rushed caffeine injection of the week this says there is time to relax, put one's feet up and read the paper.

And hopefully, like today, the sun will be out, its reflections glinting on the waters of the River Thames flowing by, and the bare branches of the trees will be tipped by the faintest spray of light green.

Updated: I see that Taru's been working on her coffee machine too and posted a picture that also included a very appetising chocolate something.

Now that is a great idea, so as an addendum here is an expresso with some Montezuma dark chocolate to nibble on:

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The HORR and different types of work

There are different types of work. Here are the rowers of the Head of River Race (HORR) no doubt either working very hard or recovering having worked as hard as they can.

I too was working today - or at least working out, doing an 8 km run along the river bank - before going back to do some "work" work at the laptop.


At least could stop in time to enjoy the lovely sunset.

Friday, April 01, 2011

JP accepts adverts shock!!

It's a sad day here at JP HQ where we've finally accepted a big fat cheque in order to run the above advert. Alas the number of zeros were just too tempting, so take it away, Buff Enterprises!!

G'day all, Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Buff by nature!!!

I'm here today to bring you a special offer you just can't resist!! Is your blog dull? Do you want a bit more bzing?? Well look no further, for I've got just the thing you need - a couple of exclamation marks!!

That's right, we at Buff Enterprises are here to provide you with the punctuation value-added that can only add excitement to the most boring of sentences! As we cater for all tastes - just look at a sample of the selection on offer:
You don't need any training or special equipment - just sprinkle wildly over any document for some added B.S. magic!!

Order yours today - you know it makes sense!!

This is Buff Staysail, CEO of Buff Enterprises, supplier of exclamation marks to the stars, over and out!!

Warning: large exclamation marks are heavy and should be moved only by persons with suitable heavy lift equipment. Over use of exclamation marks can make text and reader tired. Recommended dosage - one per sentence maximum. Not recommended for those being examined for their written English. Some writers can be allergic to their use - anyone suffering from F.Scott Fitzgerald syndrome are advised NOT to purchase this product.

Updated: Oh dear, the cheque from Buff Enterprises bounced, so its back to ad free blogging then.