An Electric Velocipede

Late last year I purchased an electrically assisted bicycle from Figgures my local bike dealer.  I decided to go for a folding model just in case I had to lug it around in the car.  I mean lug too as the bike is really quite heavy and that is not because of the battery.

The make is FreeGo.

I am very pleased with the machine for the most part. I regularly use it to get from Lymington to Keyhaven via an old gravel road called the Ancient Highway which borders the marsh and wildlife preserve near the sea wall.  On a sunny day it is a very pretty cycle ride even though one is very close to Lymington’s large landfill site.  Actually the landfill site is quite well landscaped and if it were not for the telltale gas escape valves one might not know that it was landfill.

As for the bike, it has a  36volt 16AH battery by Samsung  which should give a range of over 40miles.  I have yet to test this fully.  I am waiting for warmer weather when I will try a a return trip to Christchurch which is probably about 24 miles in all.  I will take the charger just in case.  I have a few quibbles with the bike.  The magnetic discs which help hold the bike in its folded position have rusted as have the Top Gun hydraulic front forks.  I know this is only cosmetic but it was not a cheap bike. The odometer / speedometer got misted up owing to some damp getting in.  Figgures promptly sorted this in its first service.  The wheels are substantial and the tyres take the rough gravel track.  The front brake is a disc the rear being conventional bike brakes.

It is electrically asssisted, no pedalling no assistance, this is no problem as one only needs to pedal quite lightly.  It will do a maximum of about 17mph, I think the legal limit for them is 15mph, I find myself averaging 12mph.  It has Shimano 6 speed derailleurs and 5 positions for degrees of electrical assistance.  I mostly use position 1 or 2 with the derailleur in position 6 ( the highest gear).  Of course most of my journey is close to sea level so we aren’t talking of any serious gradients.

In the summer I am hoping to drive it to Boscombe and from there take off with a cyclist friend to Studland and Worth Matravers for an afternoon out.  We will go via the Sandbanks Ferry.

It is a clear bright day so I shall be off to the Gun Inn at Keyhaven for a brief libation.

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My New Pressure Cooker

I have always been wary of pressure cookers, possibly the fear of explosion, possibly various complexities. I have to admit I am hopeless when it comes to reading instruction manuals. I also have a rather alarming childhood experience of pressure cookers. My mother had purchased an Easicook pressure cooker from a house auction. It looked like a bomb. If you saw it protruding from the sand on a beach you would call the coastguard or the army.


Scary isn’t it. The reason for my wariness is that Mum somehow contrived to explode the contents of the thing all over the kitchen ceiling, not pleasant. I don’t know how she managed this unpleasant feat, I don’t think she wanted to admit that she might have acted in a foolhardy way by opening it when the pressure was still in it.

I purchased a Prestige six litre stainless steel pressure cooker, this was an induction capable model as nearly all my hob top cooking is done on an eight year old Stellar two ring induction cooker, noisy but effective. The initial heating up to full pressure is done on max, #8 then when pressure is reached I knock the heat down to #2 or #3.

Harmless looking isn’t it.  I bought it because I had suggested to my local pub, The Borough Arms in Lymington run by friends Terry Smith and Sarah Murphy, that another friend Sue Price and I do a curry night.  Having researched the internet a bit I discovered that many Indian people swear by their pressure cookers.  I was to make a tarka dhal and rogan josh.  I also made a fruit chaat masala, see earlier blog, this didn’t require cooking. I was to be cooking for twenty so I thought I would risk trying to do it all in a pressure cooker.  All went well apart from some sticking of the rogan josh to the bottom of the pan.  The meat certainly tenderised excellently.

Today I am doing some Northern Soul cooking.  I am making pease pudding in ham hock stock.  The yellow split peas have soaked over night an I have given them 5 minutes on 12psi.  That didn’t quite soften them enough so they are getting another 5 minutes, this time with the shredded ham hock on the top.

Just opened it up and I see that it could do with another 5 minutes.  Each of these 5 minute sessions has been 5 minutes after full pressure has built up.  Then I set the induction cooker for 5 minutes and let the pressure drop naturally.  I am hoping that these three sessions will have done the job.  Next time I shall start with 10 minutes. I hope that the bottom doesn’t burn again.

All seems well.  It looks like pease pudding for lunch or supper,  I might top it with a poached or fried egg.  I have yet to find or try making a stottie cake which is the traditional Geordie accompaniment.

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Back again after a long time

I have been remiss in not contributing to this blog for ages, years in fact. The last couple of years have been interesting, I mean interesting in the scenes of the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. My mother died just over two years ago and then I was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagas. Things are a lot better now, don’t hold your breath too much but I shall be back contributing to this blog shortly. I shall be writing about things as diverse as electric bikes and pressure cookers.

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Chaat Masala

Many years ago (late sixties) when I was a student in Birmingham a new up market Indian restaurant opened in New Street, one of Birmingham’s main retail thoroughfares. It was in my mind anyway rather ludicrously named the Gaylord Indian Restaurant. This was an eye opener as far as Indian eateries go. Little sign of flocked wallpaper, no oriental knickknacks, just a cool European look to it. They did specialise a bit in tandoori, like a lot of other restaurants but what tandoori. Their chicken tandoori straight from the tandoor was beautifully made and was to die for. The rest of the menu was pretty good too. There were excellent with vegetables, the bhindi was great.

What really hit me as I had never come across it before was their chaat masala. It looked like a fruit salad but containing some vegetables such as cucumber and potatoes with fleshy mangoes, peaches, apple, and soft pear. Surprisingly it was served as a starter when it most definitely looked like a dessert. Perhaps this is where my fascination for the dish started.

The dish was very pretty, looking as I said like a fruit salad

The taste was astonishing, or should I say tastes : it seemed to have all the five primary tastes – salt – sour – sweet – bitter – umami.

Starting with the salt (black salt), well I got to learn that this sulphuric almost eggy tasting salt is called Kala Namak and can be found in any ethnic Indian, Pakistani or Bangla Deshi store. It is pinkish grey to black and is extracted in the Himalayas and salt ranges in North West Pakistan. It is the sulphury taste that gives the umami flavour.

The sour and the sweet flavours come from amchoor which is dried mango powder as well as the fruit acid from the ingredients.

Some of the bitter flavours come from the spice of cumin, coriander, fennel (saunf), black pepper, asafoetida, ginger, ajwain or carom seeds (sometimes called onion seeds but they are not from the allium), sometimes powdered mint. Some people add chilli, cayenne or fresh chopped green chillies. I don’t think you need the heat of chilli but it is a matter of taste.

I think the first taste to hit one is the eggy taste of the salt, then the amchur comes through, more so if fresh mango is in the dish. Then the fruit.The potato and cucumber seemed to add a cooling touch to the spiciness as does raita.

As soon as I got home I was determined to emulate this dish. Fortunately Birmingham was not short of Pakistani stores. I asked one shopkeeper about how to get the ingredients for this dish as I hadn’t a clue then what was in it. He pulled out a small cellophane packet with a premixed masala which gave away the ingredients. And being a good salesman he got me a packet of mango powder and a packet of black salt. All I had to do was remember what the fruit and vegetables were.

I have been making it ever since being as faithful to the Gaylord recipe as I can. Sometimes I make my own masala (mix) sometimes buy the ready mixed. More satisfying to do it your self of course. If you make curries you will already have the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. If you are a foodie you might even have the asafoetida (a warning here, use it extremely sparingly it has a resinous kind of tang that can easily completely overpower a dish).

People new to this dish wiIl possibly be better off with a premix (check date when packed). If you are making it yourself roast the seeds coriander, cumin, fennel and ajwain seed separately and grind in a pestle and mortar ( for ease I actually use an old German manual coffee grinder for spices, the sort with a little drawer at the bottom – find one at a car boot sale)

The proportions of ingredients are entirely up to you but this might be a recommendation for beginners:-
4 tablespoon coriander seeds
4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1.5 teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
2.5-3 tablespoon black salt/kala namak/rock salt
5 red dried chiles, stems removed (optional)
3 teaspoon dried mango powder/amchur
a cautious pinch of asafoetida (less than a 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint (optional)
2-3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder/paprika (optional, for a nice bright colour).

Ideally keep for one month but it will last three months but slowly losing pungency.
People on the subcontinent use for more than chaat masala salad. It can be used to sprinkle over cooked food, delicious with just sliced cucumber on a hot day.

By the way I went back to the Gaylord a week or so later to resample the dish only find that they had added mayonnaise or some salad cream gunk. When I complained they said it was to suit English tastes more. They didn’t last that long.

Picture to follow

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Easy Russian Salad

Recently I felt nostalgic for tinned Russian Salad. I can’t remember which company supplied them might have been Heinz or possibly Crosse and Blackwell. What I recall was something like a macedoine of vegetables but with a salad cream/ mayonnaise type of sauce. It was usually found in the half size tins.

The rumour is that Heinz Vegetable Salad (once Russian Salad) is discontinued. I cannot find it on the official Heinz website.

Unable to find the product on supermarket shelves I thought I would try and recreate the product. I did not want to create an up-market salad but get the feeling of the then popular product sold in the 50’s and 60’s possibly 70’s too. My first attempt, very easy, was a little disappointing. I bought a tin of diced vegetables from Tesco’s added Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a little Heinz salad cream for tartness. This was further embellished with chopped cornichons(Mrs Ell swood’s) and chopped capers. True it did largely resemble the original product that I remember except that there was little or no crunch. I did quite like it though but knew there could be improvements. The problem I think was that the Tesco’s vegetables were too mushy.

Undeterred I had another bash. This time I happened to find in Waitrose their own brand of diced vegetables. I also found their canned boiled potatoes. Good I tried these along the same lines as above and found greater success. The crunch was there. Waitrose diced vegetables are more al dente than Tesco’s. I still added the cornichons and capers but this time I slightly upped the potato content with some of the canned potatoes. This time Tesco’s mayonnaise was used, along with a dollop of Heinz salad cream. I rated this a success.
My easy Russian Salad
The not so good photo above shows my version garnished with halved quails eggs and slices of cornichons.

What I have described above is nothing like the original Russian Salad or Salad Olivier which was apparently created a by a M. Lucien Olivier in the 1860’s, a Belgian chef working in Moscow’s l’Hermitage restaurant, one of the city’s up scale eateries. His had chicken and or game, sometimes shellfish and other costly ingredients.

My easy version is very palatable and adaptable. Add fresh diced shallots if you want. This works. I haven’t tried chopped green olives yet but I am sure they would work. To make it a bit more high end you could serve it with pickled quails eggs ( I used Opie’s), king prawns perhaps, not necessarily mixed in but on the side. Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_salad for the history.

The reason I chose to go down the canned route is firstly because I am single and only need small quantities and secondly I like the idea of knocking something tasty and adaptable up from my store cupboard. If you are going to cater for a party I would probably recommend doing it the hard way and cooking and dicing your vegetables. Make sure that you have these ingredients: potatoes (preferably waxy) one quarter, carrots one quarter, peas one quarter with the last quarter being a mix of the more piquant ingredients. The piquant ingredients can be gherkins or cornichons, capers or caperberries chopped, finely chopped raw onion, shallot or spring onion. The latter can add extra green if some of the tops are used. I prefer shallot. The daring could try chopped pickled silverskin onions. Proteins can be added but I think I prefer them alongside or on top, not mixed in. The protein can be tuna, hard boiled egg, anchovies, ham chopped or sliced. Basically anything you fancy.

The salad is great accompanying cold meats left over from the Sunday roast or if you are like me just for snacking.

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Lunchtime at the Pig

Thursday 13th of March we went to the Pig. It should have been the previous day had it not been that Jersey Airport was closed owing to impossibly snowy conditions.

I had not been to the Pig before yet I was a frequent visitor to its previous carnation as Whitley Ridge. Whitley Ridge at the time was our favourite local place to eat, many of our Birthday lunches were spent there.

On arrival it looked almost the same, a bit more freshly painted stucco and a large new conservatory covering some of the previous terrace. Whilst Whitley Ridge was a little on the formal side the Pig has gone for a more everyday approach albeit with plenty of quirky twists. There are touches of shabby elegance (can’t say chic) even some faux shabbiness as in the trompe l’oeil painted cracks on the wall of the reception lounge. In this room we managed to bag the sofa and chairs around the log fire, great.

We ordered wine and a few “Piggy Bits” from the menu – devils on horseback and pork crackling with apple sauce – whilst we waited for the rest of the party.

We weren’t in a hurry so didn’t order too quickly, just as well really as it was one of those difficult menus, difficult in so far as there were too many temptations offered.

I dithered between the baked crab with mustard (and something else), scallops
and brill as main courses. A lot of the offers came in big or little sizes so for starters there were a lot of options. I chose the black pudding with poached egg. Glorious black pudding. Our family are quite piggy and we like to taste each others choices so the starters usual end up as a kind of tapas or mezzes. Mum’s tempura fried oysters were superb.

The restaurant now has been enlarged by a large high conservatory extension which must add a third or more onto the original space. The table are odd lots of things don’t match (apart from the napery) and the scene is partly agricultural with seedlings and small plants growing to the front of the glazed area. Chairs and tables are a friendly mishmash.

Conservatory

The slightly horticultural look of the conservatory

Our table

Table

Waitress at our table

Our Table at the Pig

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Draw Something – or other

First of all I have to apologise that this blog has been untended for almost a year.

Wetherspoon have opened their newly refurbished premises in St Thomas Street. The premises look good and the designers have done a very nice job. The fifties feel of the place has been preserved in place. They have kept the great Festival of Britain style of electrolier and some of the chairs on the ground floor appear to be the real thing – original retro.

Snobbish Lymington seems to have done a volte face as to their attitudes towards a Wetherspoon in the town -there is much, possibly grudging, approval.

In the last year I have acquired another unhealthy addiction, Draw Something. Having purchased an iPad my friend Jane insisted that I obtain this app called Draw Something so that i could play with her. At the time she was already playing the game with her sister in law in Houston, Texas.

Well we now play almost everyday all of us being childishly stupefied by this wonderful time waster.

Below I will add some of our better artworks on Draw Something.

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Great at first sight – Firstsite Colchester

The beginning of the title of this blog is borrowed from Rowan Moore of the Guardian / Observer. A neat pun which expresses some of his caution about the architecture. As an ex curator myself (Minories – Ikon Gallery) I worry about the ratio of promenade space to real exhibition space. The promenade space can and does house free standing objects. The promenade space has little to no control over daylight so would be useless for any art which has any light fugitive properties. For me this circulation space has the feeling of a surrealistic shopping mall. The whoosh of the outward sloping curved wall to the right of the promenade has a gasp factor, but then what do you do after the gasp. The foyer is huge and suggests a much larger building behind, but in fact the building shrinks as you proceed down it, and yes it is downward in some places as there is some sloping to the floor.

Perhaps I am too much of a traditionalist wanting conventional vertical walls for flat paintings – some might say that art practice has changed so much that walls for paintings are less necessary than hitherto. The slope and curve of these walls would make it even difficult for video projection unless you required that kind of distortion.

The actual galleries when you get to them are conventional – vertically walled but they do seem quite compact after the towering space of the entrance.

Firstsite

As to the gold sheened exterior. it’s amazing what you can do with the Terry’s All Gold concept, but the gold in Terry’s and perhaps Ferrero Rocher’s wrappings is actually disposable – kind of temporary: this is not.

Colchester has certainly made a statement in this visual arts centre. When I worked at the Minories the the Council did not seem particularly keen on contemporary visual art, had it not been for Arts Council and Eastern Arts funding at the time I think the Council would have shown little interest in the work of the gallery. Kath Wood and her team must have done a lot to influence the Council.

Good luck Kath.

apologies for the dreadful photograph – a wet day and a smartphone

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Apple™ confusion – Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion

My brother recently acquired an iPhone, I had the lowlier HTC Wildfire S (interesting camera though) so I was a little envious. I told him I was a bit green and he said he was a bit disappointed. It was only after he had committed himself to his iPhone, taken it out of its box etc. that he discovered it wouldn’t work with his Mac mini because his software was too aged, I think he had either Panther or Tiger versions of OSX. I asked him why he couldn’t upgrade – he said he was just sure he couldn’t. Well, I have a Mac mini running Leopard and have just contracted myself to an iPhone (jealousy). The two seemed to work relatively seamlessly, syncing contacts at least, that was until I discovered iCloud (through the iPhone) only to find that it wasn’t really meant to work with Leopard, it wanted Lion.

I thought upgrading would be easy (I haven’t come to the end of this yet) so I went to Apple Store online. This is where my confusion started – in order to get to Lion you have to go via installing Snow Leopard. Easy I thought. No not so easy I find. You can get Snow Leopard on Apple Store on line – this means purchasing discs, I thought I would be able to buy Lion at the same time in the same transaction. Wrong; you have go to Apple Store to buy Snow Leopard online as discs, wait for them to arrive, and install. Then in theory you get Mac Apps and download Lion online.

Sunday 4th March

Snow Leopard arrived yesterday so it only really took 3 days to arrive. I am currently downloading further software to upgrade it further, another two hours it says but at least I can work this time. Looking at the net people are saying it can take up to 4 hours to download on a not-so-good connection. Mine is1.45mbps which I am told is not so clever and might mean a download is going to take forever or possibly fail. I am not going to risk a failure so have ordered Lion on a stick, more expensive but safer. Ordered it today so will see how long it takes to get here. I will have to without the wonders of iCloud for a few more days.

I now read that Lion does not support my Iomega MiniMax NAS (or vice versa) so Time Machine doesn’t recognise or find the backup HDD.

This series is not over yet.

I will keep you in touch in due course.

I hope all this messing around proves worth it.

Will get back soon

Footnote – my brother thinks his processor would have been a problem anyway – not being an Intel Duo Core 2.

Mac Mini set up

Mac Mini set up

N.B The DVD/CD Read/Writer is a Buffalo as the slot on the Mac Mini is defunct. I got the logo with the iPhone.

Monday 12th March

I received Lion OSX 10.7 last Thursday and started to install it on Friday morning. I panicked slightly about my photos not getting backed up so joined Livedrive (which by the way – so far – seems excellent). Lion took an hour to install and then there were updates which took a further two hours. All pretty seamless except for some extraordinary reason I had decided to back up all pictures onto the desktop – backup panic I guess. I really can’t remember the logic for doing this, it was a crazy thing to do as it nearly bought the Mac to a grinding halt. I ended up having to learn Terminal to batch delete files with similar names, as moving stuff to trash was not easy.

Every thing is now fine although I still haven’t worked out the ultimate usefulness of iCloud. Oh and by the way Time Machine seems to be acknowledging the Iomega MiniMax (it is backing up as I write) so perhaps the money spent on Livedrive was a waste, however it is another string to my bow for photograph preservation.

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Another kind of lomography

People coming to this blog might be questioning my abilities to take a decent photograph. I do myself sometimes. Just before Christmas I saw a guy in Waitrose, Lymington’s car park taking photographs of a strangely beautiful dusk sky. I thought ‘I wish I had a camera’ then remembered that of course I did on my phone so I went ahead and took some snaps. I couldn’t believe how they were coming out not remotely like what I was seeing but very weird and in a grotesque way, rather beautiful. I hadn’t a clue what I had done wrong.

Weird Dusk

What can go wrong with photography

When I got home and in good light I checked the phone’s camera and found that I had chosen solarisation by accident. Here is another spooky picture.

Spooky House

A weird dusk - solarised photography

This photograph seasonally shows the mistletoe in the trees.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe in solarised dusk

The next photo shows how odd sodium lighting can look.

Mistletoe and sodium light

Sodium light

Having discovered this attribute of the HTC I took a couple of photographs of my patio garden – one of which is doubly tricked up by re-photographing it on the computer display to double the amount of solarisation.

Patio Garden

Patio Garden Solarised

Patio Garden double exposure

Patio Garden double solarised

For on short time I became a bit hooked on this peculiar photography. Here are a few more.

Abstract

Abstract

Mystery photo

Mystery photo

Oh I have just remembered taking the last picture. It was of two pizzas at the Conservative Club in Lymington. Somebody went berserk and bought 17 pizzas for some celebratory reason.

Back to the HTC Wildfire S. Well as a phone it is a bit quirky, I found that scrolling through the phone book/ contact list gave unexpected results, like it would certainly start dialling somebody you had just gone past. So slightly sadly I have let it go and contracted myself to an iPhone 4, a much better phone but the camera is not so quirky (I think).

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Life in the Costa Geriatrica

The Costa Geriatrica is a wonderful name I have invented for the strip of coastal land stretching from Eastbourne to Bournemouth. I live in Lymington at the western end of this coast. It was named as best seaside resort town ahead of Sandbanks in an article by Richard Savill in the Telegraph 5th June 2008.

Typical of the South Coast, Lymington and the area surrounding has been losing larger industries for decades. Wellworthy, manufacturers of piston rings, a once major employer, closed in 1989. In its heyday in the 70′s the Lymington plants provided employment for about 5,500. One of the sites of its plants is now a major supermarket, the other Ampress Park now houses out of town businesses and a new hospital. According to a one time manager there the closure of the first site was a loss of about 400 jobs, the closure of the second lost about 1,000.

Webbs Country Foods ( a chicken processing factory) was another major employer, that closed in 2001. Five hundred jobs were lost. The factory was situated on a large site east of the railway line, earmarked for housing. Commercial property developer and builder, Redrow, bought the 3 hectare site presumbaly hoping to make a a bit of a financial killing. They have been frustrated though by the awkward position of the site, the entrance to the site being adjacent to a level crossing. The site is also vulnerable to tidal and fluvial flooding. So at the moment there is not even the new building work that may have provided jobs for a year or two.

The town has lost the following pubs in the last forty years:-

Britannia;

Wheatsheaf;

Crown and Anchor;

Redlion/Whitelion 1998 I think;

Anchor and Hope;

Londesborough Hotel and the Country Bar at the rear;

The Bugle;

The Lymington Tavern (a.k.a. Dorset arms, Fighting Cocks, Champagne Charlie’s);

The Tap Bar – Angel

The Hearts of Oak

What else can Lymington lose. Well it nearly lost its saltwater swimming baths which were saved due to a large public outcry.

Never mind the retirement industry is booming. Oh, and Wetherspoon might come. See Whether to Wetherspoon on this site.

Author’s note – apparently there is another Costa Geriatrica in Spain – near Suerte I believe. Obviously someone was thinking along the same lines as me. I did not knowingly nick the name.

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The Number Four

I was listening to Alex Bellos on favourite numbers on Radio 4 and was fascinated to know that he had created a survey website asking people for views on their favourite numbers.  http://www.favouritenumber.net

I went to this and informed that my favourite was four, my birthday.  Also the sum of 1 and 3, 13 being an auspicious number as I was treated once as child to go and see Peter pan on Friday 13th.  I also mentioned that I liked to collect Macedonian tetradrachms.

I see in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_in_Chinese_culture that four is considered by the Chinese to be inauspicious as nearly homophonous to the word death, fourteen is even worse “shi si” which sounds like “ten die” in Mandarin.  In East Asia some buildings do not have a fourth floor.  Eight however in Chinese culture is auspicious as it is similar to the word for wealth or prosper. The Summer Olympics in Beijing was scheduled to open on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 p.m.

Back to four – Judaeo/ Christian symbolism – The Tetragrammaton is the four-letter name of God. The four matriarchs of of Judaism are Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel.  Perhaps not so good is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride in the book of Revealation.  In the Kabbalah, there were four worlds of the Tree of Life. There are four creatures on the arms of Freemasonry, four primary mental functions according to Carl Jung, and four dimensions of modern science: length, breadth, width, and time.  According to Plato the four virtues were wisdom, courage, self-control, and justice.  Four is the smallest number of colors sufficient to color all planar maps.

൪ Malayalam:   四,亖,肆 Chinese: ארבע   Arba – Hebrew:   ٤,4,۴, Arabic

What else is there to say about a number.

 

 

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Changing the colour of links in iWeb

I did think that you couldn’t easily change the colours of links in iWeb.  It’s not true it’s very easy.  Mac don’t seem to tell you this in help.  All you do is go to links inspector and it says Hyperlink – Format.  Having created your hyperlink go to Format – click on your link – it will show white rectangles filled with grey.  Go to the colour palette, choose web safe colours preferably – click on the normal box and then click on your selected colour, do this again with different colour for rollover and visited.  You can apply the selection to all links on your page if you click on Use for New Links on Page.   I think MacMurphy makes it all  a bit difficult.  No, to be fair to MacMurphy he is talking about the iWeb generated navigation menu which I am now beginning to turn off because of the lack of control.  I reckon it is just as easy to manually make navigation menus.  Researching the menu topic I came across Suzanne on 11Mystic.com who is very good at educating you deep into iWeb.

I am now just worried that having put the Papyrus typeface into http://www.wisteria-lymington.co.uk that it it will look bad on Windows PCs, I think it gets replaced with a Lucida font.  If any body with windows can tell me how awful it looks I would be grateful.

Inspector and Palette

And after

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City of contrasts – Birmingham UK

 

 

 

Ikon Gallery

Ikon Gallery

Chinatown

Chinatown

Canal, Birmingham

Canal, Birmingham

This photo was taken in Summer Row close to where the old Birmingham College of Art Experimental Workshop would have been.

A forlorn building on Henstead Street

A forlorn building on Henstead Street

Only a stone’s throw away from the brash new city centre.

The blue glass Radisson

The blue glass Radisson

Amazing - possibly awful

Amazing - possibly awful

The Cube detail

The Cube detail

Note the contrast between old and new.  This is the owners take ” A world class building which dominates the Birmingham skyline. Exceptional apartments, state-of-the-art offices, exclusive shops, water side café bars, Birmingham’s first boutique hotel and panoramic rooftop restaurant all fuse together in one extraordinary location. Put simply, a building like no other.”

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

Canal

Canal

I lived in Birmingham for approximately 10 years coming there as a student in 1968 and living there until 1979.  Starting from the genteel but declining area of Moseley, crumbling Victorian villas converted into squalid bedsits and finishing in Vicery Close on the Bristol Road, an elegant late 30’s apartment complex set in a  large garden.   Going back the change is enormous. Broad Street, once a slightly out of centre shopping street with Everymans where I could buy artists’ materials and visit if I had the money – the Rum Runner a busy night venue.  Oh and you could look over the Gas Street Canal basin- not the prettiest of sights.  Now Broad Street is the major artery of the so called Westside area.   Change was happening when I was there with the relocation of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, then on a second sojourn, working for West Midlands Arts, there in the mid 90’s the Symphony Hall was apparent.  There was talk of something called Brindleyplace, I thought it was going be just more offices,  I know the Ikon was considering relocating to an old school in Oozells Street.

The Council House

The Council House

Going back there last year to be involved with This Could Happen to You was a shock for me.  First, the new Ikon.  I was amazed at how a Victorian neo Gothic school could be turned into an amazingly trendy contemporary art galley.  Brindleyplace wasn’t merely offices, it was an upscale commercial area with culture and retail.  The canals had been opened up and re-furbished, one walked past new sculpture, good quality street  furniture. What! They used to say Birmingham rebuilds itself every fifty years, well for Westside this certainly seems to be true. Last year I stayed in a SACO apartment,  almost a penthouse, from where I could see this astonishing building the Cube going up.  Well it is finished now and open.  Now the new Library is on its way to completion.  They only built the last one in the 70’s.

Sixties signal box

Sixties signal box

This is listed thankfully.

Canal boats

Canal boats

Difficult to take a picture of a glass lift

Difficult to take a picture of a glass lift

This the lift at the Ikon Gallery must be one of the most amazing lifts in the world.  It has voices singing rising as it ascends and lowering when it descends. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLq7dk-QtGs or Google Singing lift at the Ikon Gallery.

Glazing on the Cube

Glazing on the Cube

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Ikon and John Salt

I was invited to the private view of paintings by John Salt at the Ikon in Birmingham.  John Salt was the first artist to show at the Ikon and then he had a major show in 1975 curated by my then boss Simon Chapman with many of the paintings lent by Ivan Karp of the OK Harris gallery, New York.

Originally from the Sheldon district of  Birmingham UK, at the age of 15, John gained a place at Birmingham School of Art where he studied from 1952 – 1958.  From 1958 to 1960 he studied at the Slade School of Art in London.  Early influences were the works of Prunella Clough and American pop artists such as Robert Rauschenberg. After teaching for a spell at Stourbridge College of Art in the West Midlands he decided in 1966 to move to the United States and was eventually offered a place in 1967 at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

In Baltimore Salt noticed the work of photographers Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander and how the photographers’ documentary style relieved them of  the need of any self-consciousness in terms of artistic technique.

Salt was to start painting from closely zoomed photographs of car interiors.  The paintings were at the time still painterly interpretative representations of the photographs.  He was later to attempt to remove traces of interpretation by following the photographs ever more closely.  One painting of this more faithfully detailed style was taken directly from a Buick catalogue.

Salt was planning to return to England at the end of his Baltimore  engagement in 1969 but when a New York dealer bought two of his works he decided to to move to that city.  His work in New York moved away from consumerist portrayals of car interiors to work that was based on his own photos. After his discovery of a scrapyard under Brooklyn Bridge the images began to be of more mangled or wrecked cars.

It was in New York that Salt developed a relationship with dealer Ivan Karp who was on the point of opening his own gallery and who had a portfolio of artists associated with the then emerging Photorealist movement. Salt’s first one man exhibition was in New York in 1969. He was then to feature in 1972 in the prestigious Documenta 5 exhibition in Kassel, West Germany, where the American Photorealist movement first gained an international reputation.

Through the early seventies his work became even more detailed and realistic realistic painstakingly using an airbrush with stencil to obtain the photo-like precision he sought. His characteristic iconography was of photos of trashy trailers and beaten up cars taken in poor semi-rural areas.

As well as the astonishing realism there is a poignancy to these pictures and possibly the slight feeling of voyeurism in the way they go to depicting poverty. Perhaps there is something harking back to the rural works of the English 18th Century.  Perhaps we will see these works on the chocolate boxes of the next century (hopefully not).

The above is an installation shot of  Pink Trailer with Plymouth 1977 at the Ikon’s This Could Happen to You exhibition last year.  For more images go to www.ikon-gallery.co.uk where you can view a pdf file.

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A quiet place in the New Forest

Donkey

Donkey

Royal Oak North Gorley

Royal Oak North Gorley

Fo peace and quiet go to North Gorley, 2 miles south of Fordingbridge.  There is a small plain with wild cattle, horses and donkeys, tranquil ponds and a thatched pub.

Forest pony

Forest pony

The pub serves good food and a wide range of ales.  A very traditional English pub.

Reflections in pond

Reflections in pond

 

 

 

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One of the dirtiest cars seen

Dirty car, Ibiza

Dirty car, Ibiza

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Signsmith van

Seen in Lymington on Easter Day.

Signsmith van

Signsmith van

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Another couple of Jersey tractors

Beach tractor, St Brelade's Bay

Beach tractor, St Brelade's Bay

Seen last August.

Beach tractor, St Brelade's Bay 2

Beach tractor, St Brelade's Bay 2

I just love these old salty workhorses.

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Pretty Triumph

Bank holidays seem to bring out pretty motorcycles.  This Triumph is another good looking bike on Lymington High Street.

Triumph

Triumph

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