Friday, 30 August 2013

seamus heaney

i was glum today after hearing of the death of seamus heaney. true, he hadn't kept the best of recent but even so..

it's true I was never his biggest fan but, having met him briefly a couple of times when I read him now it's his voice I hear in my head. I found him to be immensely approachable, ready to give opinions on his work and no less sure about it than the rest of us despite all of his achievements.

much will be said, no doubt, about what he leaves behind. hopefully there'll be room in all of that to remember the man himself, one of poetry's good guys.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

things i didn't do

away back in the day i used to play underwater hockey, it was during my brief time working a nine to five and, to date, remains my only exposure to actual team sport. it was great fun, top exercise but exposed any aerobic frailty that might be shown by anyone with a history of smoking.....

so mainly i got relegated to short burst aggression, a role i got rather good at (until i came up against my nemesis good and proper at my last scottish championships - great game but a whole other story) but not one that certain of my team mates turned out to like during practice! of those there were couple who liked to go free diving - the whole underwater bit of the hockey predicates much chat and practice of breath holding - but for me the smoking and the head weasels, tho primarily the smoking, kept me from going any way deep.

that said, i was always fascinated by it so was loving this...

William Trubridge - Freediver from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

which got me to thinking about other stuff i don;t do, mainly due to time constraints these days.

around about the tine i was playing underwater hockey there was a photographer knocking around who was taking landscapes from a kite. i was well taken with this and had one of the engineer guys at work looking at how he might make a remote servo for me but it was one of those things that fell by the wayside. at least it was until a few weeks ago when i was looking around for some aerial shots of some local roman remains. welcome to the world of kite archaeology

it was with glum faces that both me and t had to admit to ourselves that there was no chance we'd ever get it together to build one of these despite the multiplicity of kite platforms available in the house but, you never know, maybe one day we'll get in touch with that lot and go and see what they can do. it looks top fun and if there's one thing i can do, it's fly a kite.

which was why, the other day at work, one of the conversations lead up to someone expressing a desire to go kite boarding. yes, i said, i can do that, in fact i've got all the gear in the house if you want to give it a go. as ever, the rest is silence!

i'm amazed at just how much time people have to lie about, watch tv, go drinking/drug taking and generally do nothing. there is so much to see, so much to do and so little time to do it. now i'm off on the bike!

*checking that link for  underwater hockey has got me in the mood for a game. unfortunately there isn't a club near here but i think i can rustle up a game on spec. i'll dig out my sticks and results will follow....

Thursday, 15 August 2013


me and t did manage to get ourselves out on sunday to see the perseids, taking advantage of gaps in the cloud, which was just as well as, had we waited, we'd have been totally out of luck - you need to take your chances if you're sky watching in scotland!

as it was we had a decent time of it with a frequency of something like 40/hour. the real pleasure tho was lying on top of the car watching the night sky. it's a simple thing and all too easy to forget to do (tho a wee bit more demanding in the winter when you're needing to be wrapped up in multiple layers) but it's always worth it to get out under the stars, to look up and watch the show.

not that it's just star watching that's suffered recently - no time in the boats whatsoever this year!! shocker!! but you can't do everything and, pleasingly, our tv is more or less redundant. neither of us has been the best at keeping in touch tho, esp me, so if i'm a bit slow on the email/blog etc front many apologies..

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

things we saw and liked

obviously, experiments in speed was a nap for me given the bike content but, I think, it's more than that, something to do with doing a thing just because you want to see where it goes, whether it makes sense or not (see - me and t - the shop!)

Experiments in Speed from SpindleProductions on Vimeo.

and then the other day while I was doing my vain channel flick thing I came across typeface. i'd seen it before but t hadn't. don't watch this I said, you need to be at work and it's not going to happen if you get involved with this. which is exactly what happened...

quite how it made it onto you tube I don't know but here it is and well worth a watch. certainly my favourite type documentary along with gary hustwit's Helvetica. buy them both!

another doco which isn't available to watch is the mighty uke, which is both life affirming and a great big advert to learn to play the ukulele (tho be warned - there are lots of truly awful entry level ukuleles as I can only too well attest). they seem to run it not too irregularly on sky arts 2 but worth getting if you're into that type of thing. in the meantime here's james hill, courtesy of colossal, a legend...

Monday, 12 August 2013

and the cycling

and then the tour finished. i was happy for froome but a shame that some of the shine of his victory must've been taken off his victory because of the media obsession with le dopage. ironically it seems the media are starting to up sticks and move onto athletics now. you'd hope the the lessons learned in cycling might have been enacted but it would seem not.

not even in cycling. routes for next year's giro have been discussed including, tho hopefully not realised, a sort of copycat of the double d'huez in the form of a double zoncolan. not only do i not think the alps double was that effective overall, the crowd being particularly iniquitous, but the zoncolan is a different kettle of fish entirely and bad enough for one ascent. given the epo era emerged as tours became harder it's difficult to fathom what the giro organisers are thinking about - beyond 'spectacle' and money.

talking of spectacle while i was watching this year's event i was drawn back to barthes' tour de france as epic. well worth the read.

but, back to the giro, it's also been suggested that one of the stages might be finishing in trieste. i'd thoroughly recommend john foot's pedalare, pedalare for a more in depth analysis of the ins and outs of the last time it finished there but, historically, it promises to be full of resonance and one wonders quite how that will manifest itself in today's italy.

other than that, sylvain chavanel, what a guy, great attacking, great form. i loved what, at the time, appeared to be jens voigt's last attack on the tour. now he says he'll be back next year and, doubtless, he'll be attacking again but, as a swan song, i don't think he'll be doing better than this year. and what more can you say about peter sagan?

in the interim i watched thor hushovd win the arctic tour of norway the other day. i don't think old thor has so many wins left in him now so that was great to see, not least because the weather looked great and the countryside is just so spectacular. they wouldn't be liking it some much in the rain and gales tho! me and t have fond memories of watching hushovd in his glory days with a bunch of norwegians in a bar in latvia.  hushovd won - much drinking ensued!

as for me, i'm nearly three thousand miles into some proper fitness despite breakages, sickness and weddings. the great weather we've been having recently has contributed in no small part to blog absence and has also result in a proper bike comedy tan - i really should have given up on the gloves but didn't, resulting in jazz hands and peculiarly brown thumbs. best make the most of it while i can tho as the sun induced tan gives way to its belgian equivalent and normal service is resumed!