Day 20: Today is the summer solstice, or the longest day in the northern hemisphere. The UK we will be bathed in daylight for 16 hours and 38 minutes. The solstice marks the beginning of meteorological summer and the drawing in of the days. English Heritage has cancelled its event at Stonehenge due to Covid-19, however you can watch it from the comfort of your own home via a Facebook live stream here.
English Heritage will be broadcasting the sunset of Saturday 20th June 21:26 BST (20:26 GMT) and the sunrise of Sunday 21st June 04:52 BST (03:52 GMT) and begin broadcasting at least 30 minutes before. They stated that they’ll be announcing their full schedule soon.
Sunset at Stonehenge
Big Wild Weekend
The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend, part of 30 Days Wild have a full calendar of events to mark the solstice. On Saturday they will be celebrating by having a summer solstice camp out (or in) from 5pm to 10pm with lots of activities to partake in, and on Sunday between 7pm and 8.30pm there is a wildlife quiz on their Facebook page here.
Wow! It’s been such a long time since I updated you all with a Sunday Sevens, a series devised by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.
With the start of a new year, I was excited to begin counting the miles to 1000 again! This week however my miles have been hobbled by my clumsy self, breaking (yet again) my little toe. I have had to restrict the amount of walking I’ve been doing until it heals. So as feared my miles gained this week have been a pitiful. 25 miles, bringing my new total to 190 miles.
The Girl you left Behind
Book I am Reading:
At present I am reading JoJo Moyes’s – The Girl You Left Behind. It begins in an occupied town in France during the First World War and follows the fortune of Sophie whose husband has joined the French army. Edouard was a gifted painter and leaves Sophie behind with her portrait which herr Kommandant has fallen in love with. The second half of the novel sees Liv, who has Sophie’s portrait in her home and learns of the troubled history of the painting. I have just read Sophie’s chapters and now begin Liv’s. It’s an easy read but quite harrowing in parts. A much better novel than The Horse Dancer!
Have you read any good books lately?
An Inspector Calls
Do you ever get excited about seeing something and then when you do, it is a total disappointment? Well that is what happened when we visited The Playhouse, Liverpool to see J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. I enjoyed reviewing the play during my 2017 A Year in Books, so was excited to see the stage performance. However this ‘visionary, radical, challenging version of JB Priestley’s classic thriller‘, directed by Stephen Daldry for National Theatre really missed the mark for me. Daldry’s production began with World War Two bomb sirens. The stage design was of a house that would ultimately be destroyed by German V2’s. The whole stage design sat uneasy with me and did not help the drama between the cast. The play is set during a dinner party in the Edwardian period, before World War One, however in this production most of the action was on a street outside a house. It never really jelled for me. The only saving grace was the atmospherics and soundtrack.
Have you seen this play, if so what did you think?
2020 has begun rather disappointingly in more ways than one! In January I discovered, to my sadness that I had somehow broken the lens on my Samsung S6 which I use predominantly as a camera. However I am blessed that we had the means to be able to purchase a replacement. I am now the proud owner of a Samsung S10 with wide lens and ultra slow motion. I’ve found the phone is more intelligent than I am!
David has just purchased a DJI Mavic Mini. For over a year we have been humming and ahhing about getting a drone to add more depth to my wild swim videos. This year David plucked up the courage and spent his pennies on this light weight drone. We’ve not tried it yet, what with Storm Ciara causing havoc, but I will report when we do.
Do you own a drone? Any tips?
Hans Zimmer Live (again):
Hans Zimmer Live 2021
In 2017 I went to see Hans Zimmer Live in Liverpool, a year before that in Birmingham. Notice my surprise when he recently announced a European tour for 2021. With David and my brother Daniel we decided to purchase tickets to see the new show in March 2021 at Manchester Arena. I hope it’s as good as the original!
To round off a rather disappointing week, we had the delivery of our new washing machine today. Only to find that the electrical plug isn’t long enough to reach our power socket. So we are having to move the socket some place else. In a house as old as ours, nothing is straight forward. I may not be able to use my new washing machine but I can admire it!
I’d recently read that 200,000 visitors had visited Dippy at Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery. That was before David and I ventured south to visit him. I don’t know what possessed me to book tickets to see Dippy on Tour for the August bank holiday! But (free) tickets I had anyway! So this Saturday we drove the two hours from Liverpool. Luckily, I had planned an hours leeway. On our journey south we hit miles of roadworks, due to the M6 being turned into a smart motorway, to be completed 2022! We also faced a junction closure. Junction 10 was closed, due to a police incident. Recent research discovered that the incident was of a man on the wrong side of a bridge! With the motorway swelled with bank holiday traffic and football supporters travelling to see Wolverhampton v Manchester City and Aston Villa v Reading matches, the delays were up to 90 minutes!
Thanks to motorway signs early informing us of the closure at junction 10, we managed to divert, (though heavily), away from the jam and navigated, thanks to the M6 toll (at £5.30 a car), back and around towards the centre of Birmingham. Adding 40 minutes to our journey.
Our meeting with Dippy was at 1pm, so you can imagine the pressure we were on to get to the museum on time. We parked up at the Bullring and with twenty minutes to spare, rushed towards Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which can be found on Chamberlain Square. The entrance to Dippy was on the Gas Hall entrance on Edmund Street.
With time to spare we checked in and walked into the Gas Hall to come face to face with Dippy, a 100 year old cast of not one, but five Diplodocus skeletons. David commented that Dippy was smaller than he’d expected, but during the time we spent with Dippy we marveled at his size. This sauropod (lizard feet) stands some 26m long, is 4m wide and stands 4m tall. I particularly liked his little face with razor sharp teeth. He roamed the earth some 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic age.
Dippy at Birmingham
Dippy at Birmingham
Christine and Dippy
Dippy at Birmingham
Dippy at Birmingham
Dippy was undoubtedly the star of the attraction. The surrounding exhibit paled in comparison and sadly did not measure up to my expectation. It was a poorly comprised set of stuffed birds (with pigeons and magpies) alongside skeletons featuring a velociraptor and dodo to emphasise the link between dinosaurs and the evolution of birds. I think the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena show said it more eloquently.
‘We think of dinosaurs as…fierce creatures from a mythical world… they [were on this planet] for 170 million years. If you look closely, you’ll see, they’re not really gone, not completely…remember the raptors, the way their arms folded at the wrists?… The next time you are outside, have a look at a bird and try and imagine it 50 times bigger, with razor sharp teeth. So do not mourn the dinosaurs, they are with us still, their direct descendants are the birds.’
We spent 40 minutes with Dippy. Walked around him three times, and took lots of pictures. I was satisfied that we drove the two hours to see him. We did not linger in Birmingham, though we did casually look at the replica Typhoon, as Victoria Square held a 100 RAF event. We decided to return home, and make head way against the traffic and roadworks, which took three hours instead of two!
We got home to news that an injured pigeon was sitting outside our back door. As you know we have a long standing relationship with the descendants of dinosaurs. I found it rather fateful that this pigeon (a descendant of the T. rex) chose our step to rest upon. He was but a fledgling, his down still protruded from his adult feathers. However we could not save this particular soul. He had suffered a brain injury from what probably was a collision with a wall. His beak was all bloodied and he was labouring for breath. He passed away in our care not an hour later, wrapped him in a towel and placed in a carrier. At least he died safe and warm.
It was rather a mixed day. I’d say Dippy was worth the visit, even if we had to fight through roadworks, delays and road closures to get to him. Dippy will be touring the UK until 2020. If, like us, you hadn’t seen him when he was resident at the Natural History Museum, London, then you can catch him at these other locations:
I was inspired to write this post after visiting Sheffield’s herd of elephants and writing about it in my Sunday Sevens #15. Mark at worldwarzoogardener1939 commented that Paignton Zoo are doing a trail with rhinos and Marwell Zoo have Zany Zebras gracing the streets of Southampton this summer! I would love to visit them all but 2016 seems to be the busiest year regarding animal street art in the UK! One of the biggest promoters of these events is Wild in Art, check out their website for past and future events.
Over the past eight years David and I have been lucky enough to visit a fair amount of trails, stretching as far north as Aberdeen, to Norwich in the east! My first encounter with these colourful animals was the Manchester Cow Parade in 2004. Since then there has been an explosion of animals gracing the cities and towns of the UK. From lions in Bournemouth to horses in Hamilton. Below is a selection of the trails we have seen. Enjoy!
2008 was the year of Liverpool’sCapital of Culture. During the summer, 120 6ft lambananasgraced the city’s streets. I have fond memories of seeking each and every one of them out, there was even one atop Moel Famau in North Wales!
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The winter of 2009 saw 135 5ft penguins bring cheer to the cold streets of Liverpool, St Helens and the Wirral. I don’t think they were as successful as the lambananas the previous year, even David seemed jaded in seeing them all. However I managed to capture them all on camera and even a few months after the auction date, acquired one for myself. A hint of madness but our home wouldn’t be the same without Snowy standing sentinel under the stairs!
Staying in the North West, Chester in 2010 had a herd of rhinos career through their streets.
Also in 2010, Skipton found they had a flock of sheep bringing cheer to their town…
..and we visited Newport for the first of their two Super Dragon trails.
2011 saw two very diverse trails. The first was in Congleton where a sleuth of bears had taken up residence.
The second was in Edinburgh, where the city was transformed into a jungle for the summer.
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In 2012 it looked like David and I never visited any art trails, though in fairness we did buy our first house!
2013, looked more promising! My appetite was reawakened when I saw some of the LindtEaster eggs. You can read my post here.
The summer of 2013 saw us visiting a spate of trails. We visited Manchester for the national tour of the Elephant Parade. Read my post here.
2014 saw David and I take a tour to Aberdeen, Scotland to see their pod of dolphins in torrential rain! Read my post here.
2015 saw us returning to Norwich to see their Go Go Dragons trail. I am always impressed with the quality of art from this city! I look forward to seeing what their hares look like in 2017!
Also in 2015 Liverpool had their celebration of ducks which commemorated the history of the city.
While Birmingham witnessed a parliament of owls in their Big Hoot!
As I’ve said previously 2016 will see more trails than ever before. There are pigs inIpswich,snowdogs in Brighton and Hove and Newcastle and Tyne and Wear, and lions in Paisley. That is just to name a few! Sheffield’s herd of elephants are on the streets until 5th October when they will be auctioned off for charity like most of the above. They are a great way of getting the public behind a charitable cause and can raise hundreds of pounds!
Have you seen/followed any animal sculpture trail? What do you think of the initiative? What kind of animal would you like turned into art next?
I first realised the music of Hans Zimmer in The Lion King (1994), the soundtrack earned him his Oscar! I didn’t care much for the songs of Elton John but the orchestrated pieces were breathtaking. He managed to convey all the emotions in the film; love, terror, heartbreak and joy. Listening to Stampede, if you close your eyes you can imagine the buffaloes bearing down on Simba.
Over the years, I have accumulated many of his soundtracks. Fan based videos on YouTube are a great source to go to, as well as Wikipedia and Amazon. I could list all of his soundtracks, but I won’t. You can read more here.
Biography search results suggest that during his early career, as well as writing themes for BBC TV shows, (Going for Gold being one of them), he produced and featured briefly in the video of The Buggles’s number one hit single, Video Killed the Radio Star (1979) which was a theme from my early childhood. So even though I was not aware of Hans Zimmer as a composer, his music contributed to the soundtrack of my 80’s.
In 2001 he received great acclaim for his soundtrack to Gladiator. I was a little slow on the uptake but since then most of my free time has been filled with the music of Hans Zimmer. For me, he seems to be the go to composer whether you want to be energised as in the rollicking tracks of Inception or to have a good cry, the music from The Dark Knight Rises seems to hit a particular cord with me.
No other living composers music has had such a profound effect on me as does Hans Zimmer’s. So imagine my excitement when his Live on Tourwas advertised last year! For many years, it has been a dream of mine to see the music of Hans Zimmer being performed by a live orchestra, but for the man himself to be performing on stage also is something I never comprehended.
In London two years ago Hans Zimmer did ‘trial’ arena shows because he didn’t believe ‘anybody would actually show up’. I was tempted to go but the cost, not just of the tickets but of travelling and accommodation put me off. So last year on the day tickets were released I eagerly snapped up a couple for the Birmingham date. It may have cost a small fortune but to have a dream come true, it was worth it! A month later I was reeling as they released a new date in Manchester, but that is by the by. Birmingham it would be!
April 12th 2016: Being my nosy, inquisitive self I already knew what to expect come the day of the concert. I was looking forward to One Day from Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight medley.
The Barclaycard Arena was relatively easy to get to by car but due to certain roads being closed in major roadworks we left with plenty of time. Inside we were subjected to bags being searched and the boys being frisked! Once finally past security, I bought my programme which was £10, in London it had been £15! Then went in search for our uncomfy seats.
We sat in eager suspense for 40 minutes, then the lights in the arena dimmed and an excited hush murmured from the crowd. Hans Zimmer, his guests and a 70 piece orchestra took to the stage just after 8pm, even though there were still a lot of empty spaces in the audience. People were still being shown to their seats while the choir sang 160BPM from Angels and Demons, which irked me somewhat. I took some pictures but they weren’t very good. I wish I had taken my camcorder but didn’t know whether photography was allowed.
What I like about Hans Zimmer is that he collaborates with (and mentors) people from diverse musical backgrounds and this concert was no different. It felt more like an ensemble production rather than a one man show.
The first set went too fast! I almost blinked and missed it! It was wonderful to hear so many favourite themes. We were entertained by Gladiator, Czarina Russell sung it so beautifully. The Lion King performed by Lebo M made everyone teary and Tina Guo flicked her hair as much as she did the bow across her cello for the Pirates of the Caribbean medley. The sound was impeccable, not ear tingling as in some concerts, and the lighting was inventful, in the second half of the show it became more akin to a rock concert!
There was a 20 minute interval. We went to stretch our legs before the darker second set began, which was filled with superheroes, inhuman guitar riffs and drums that reverberated through your body.
Even though at times there was a lot of bombast, the quieter moments where Hans Zimmer talked anecdotally about his career were more intimate, even in a big arena space.
The Dark Knight medley did not disappoint. I sat through it tapping my feet and grinning, much like the Joker. I felt bereft when Interstellar pipped up. I knew that the show was drawing to a close. As the final triumphant bars of Stay vibrated around the arena, Hans Zimmer stood conducting from the front. The note faded and he took a bow as everyone in the audience stood to their feet. Some of us stayed standing knowing that he would come back onto the stage for an encore. I was surprised that quite a few people left before he came back to perform the medley from Inception. ‘Fools,’ I thought as Mombasa lit up the stage like a rave. The night ended with Time. If there was a piece of music that was written to describe the human condition, then Time would be it! Heart-achingly painful and yet so brief. The night ended on the wave of Hans Zimmer’s hand and the audience standing to its feet once again.
There are moments in life when I wish I could push the rewind button and relive the experience again and again. This concert was exactly like that, if I had a fairy godmother I would suggest Manchester! :p However I will just have to make do with watching the videos I took and others like them on YouTube. I hope you enjoy the concert compilation I have mixed below and any feedback is appreciated.
In the future, I look forward to Hans Zimmer’s next installment for the Ron Howard film, Dan Brown’s Inferno. I wonder if it will be just as good as his Da Vinci Code soundtrack?
I will end the post with Hans Zimmer’s own words taken from the concert programme. I found them very profound.
‘Concerts are in real time…I get to be…part of you; and you be a part of me. Only in this very moment does this exist. We’re lucky, in these tumultuous and violent times, to have art and music to lean upon and unite us. At this very moment it is at its most essential. It breaks through the boundaries…and just allows us to be people united in common enjoyment and pleasure for a few precious hours. My hope is that tonight my music speaks to you personally, wherever you are in your unique story.’
I had published a compilation video with a short sample of my latest work on Friday but as no one seemed interested in reading it. I have deleted the story. You all will just have to wait until it is published. LOL! 😀
On Friday 20th March 2015 was the day of the partial eclipse seen in the North West of England. We witnessed 90% coverage!
David and I drove over to New Brighton and arrived at 8.30am which was when the eclipse began. There were a few other photographers at the waterfront, with the iconic buildings of Liverpool across the River Mersey. Sadly there was cloud around so every time I took a photograph or tried to zoom into the sun with my camcorder all I got was glare from the clouds.
Liverpool skyline during partial eclipse 2015
David’s camera caught some pictures of the early eclipse which you can view on his Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/romeoliverpool/ and we could view the encroaching eclipse through his viewfinder instead of damaging our eyes!
At around 9.30am at the height of the eclipse, a thicker bank of cloud drifted over the sun and we could suddenly see the partial eclipse with the naked eye and I was able to get some footage of the event!
The light turned into a surreal ‘twilight,’ more murky than dusky but the chill in the air was noticeable.
90% partial eclipse light
We stayed at the riverside until 10am when the cloud just grew thicker. We had planned on taking the first visit of the year to Chester Zoo which we did. Video to follow!