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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Flying The Flag

Lanny has given us this week's rather intriguing Headbanger Challenge title of "Hello December". December obviously means Christmas. That one time of the year when everyone is supposed to get on well with each other, and all hostilities and differences are put to one side for a day or so, and cards and gifts are exchanged, food eaten and drink slurped.
I don't know about in your part of the world, but December seemed to start around the middle of July; when I first noticed cards, chocolates and decorations slowly creeping onto the shops' shelves. Now that is far too early in my opinion. Then I saw a fully decorated tree in a shop sometime in October. Personally I don't think the run up to Christmas should start until the First of December, although if you were to follow the old rhyme, it shouldn't start until around December 12.

Bridalsmithgate began a promotional exercise today, to encourage shoppers into it's higher end designer stores like Jack Wills, Kurt Geiger, Office and American Apparel. My header shows three stiltwalkers welcoming the customers along the road.

Do pay a visit to the other team members (except Imac who is on holiday again) and see how they have interpreted the theme. And to get you into the Christmassy mood, here's a little Kate Bush.

As many of may have heard on the news today, there was a nationwide strike of public workers over the Government's plans to cut pension payments to everyone that has paid into it. Of course there was a very large march through the city centre which brought traffic to a halt for nearly 30 minutes. I have showed you photos of people holding banners etc before, so I thought I would try more of an arty shot this time.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Window Show

I was quite taken with this window display of the Jack Wills shop on Bridalsmithgate,that I came across on the recent Flickr walk. It looks a lot more colourful and exciting in the dark, than it does in the daytime, as I have walked past it a few times now on my lunchtime picture hunt, and have never really paid the shop that much attention. Maybe because it always looks so dark inside.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Ghost Of Christmas Past

The thing about Christmas lights and decorations is that they tend to be the same every year; whether it is at home or on the street. The ones in the city centre are no exception. The only thing that changes is the actual tree. There are a number of these garlands with presents dangling from them, and tied to some of the Lampposts around the Old Market Square. They are very colourful though.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

You Spin Me Right Round

Despite presently suffering with a cough and runny nose, I ventured out into the cold night to meet up with some fellow Flickr folk, for another spot of night photography. For various reasons there was only me and Steve the organiser who turned up. Still not to miss an opportunity, we had a stroll round taking various shots of the Christmas lights etc.
This shot is one of the North Star ride, taken with a slow shutter speed. For the technical folks out there who may be interested, it was 5 seconds at f29, with an ISO of 400. When we had had enough, we retired to a local hostelry for a welcome drink and a warm. Although I enjoyed the walk, I just hope my cough doesn't turn into flu.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Grin And Bear It

Another busy day today. For most of the day I was up at Bramcote rehearsing in the morning and then we had our first performance in the afternoon. It was grandly titled a preview, and quite a few people attended. The proper shows are next Saturday and Sunday. I've wisely booked off the following Monday, as I know that I will be worn out. I am now also suffering with flulike symptoms. Which is a bit concerning. After we had all helped to pack away the props and stages. I raced off to Beeston to do a bit of shopping and to watch the switching on of the town's Christmas lights. I bumped into some friends I know, including Kevin 'the hat' seen here with his latest creation. He attracts so much attention wherever he goes now that he has become something of a cult hero. Here he is posing with some of the security guys, including one who was rather camera shy and had to be made to show her face.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Up In The Clouds

Here's a daytime shot of the North Star ride. I think it gives you a better idea of how tall and how scary it is. So high up and in the open air. Eek! Only 32 people can ride in it at a time, and it costs £5 to be terrified. I think the view would good, but I wouldn't be able to use my camera, as I would be clinging on for dear life and even the vibration reduction on my Nikon would be no good as I would be shaking too much!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Read All About It

A new web based magazine launched a couple of months ago via Facebook called 'All About Nottinghamshire". Although the Facebook page is called All About Tourism - Nottingham. I of course subscribed to it, and get daily messages of things that are happening in the city. This is very useful for finding out about events and possible photo opportunities. A few weeks ago, a message appeared asking for possible stories to go in the December edition. I sent them a message asking if they would be interested in featuring this little blog in their magazine. I had a reply saying they would, if I could write about 150 words and provide a photo or two. I had a message a couple of days ago saying that the Christmas edition is out and my article is in. They also asked if I would publicise the magazine for them. So that is what I am doing now. Here is a shot of the front page and the page with my article on it. If you would like to read the whole magazine, here is the link: All About Nottinghamshire.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Shoppers Paradise

Kathy's first ever theme for the Headbanger Challenge is 'Thank You'. Now there are so many things to say thank you for: the unconditional love of another person, good friendship, sunshine, and the rain (sometimes). And so many things that makes life worthwhile. Politeness of course doesn't cost anything, but so many people are so rude these days. Never saying thanks for things done for them, no matter how important. Personally I always try to remember to show my gratitude to others for things they have done for me. I have course find it difficult accepting thanks for things that I have done for others. "Oh it's nothing" I'll say. or "Anytime". So looking for ideas to show this weeks' theme, I came across this giant sign thanking shoppers for their understanding while the Broad Marsh shopping centre is updated. And boy does something need doing with it, as it's hardly changed since it was opened in the early 1970s.

Don't forget to see how the rest of the team have interpreted Kathy's theme and enjoy this great song of love for another by Dido.

Today's blog photo is of the North Star ride, which is the new attraction in the Old Market Square for the festive period. The big switch on of the lights happened tonight at around 6.15. Alas no one famous to flick the switch, just the lord mayor. Although Santa made an interesting entrance, as you can see if you look closely. The budget cuts appear to be effecting every corner of society now. I wonder what sort of Christmas everyone will be having this year?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

It's Snow Time

Here are some of the last minute touches taking place in the Old Market Square ready for the big switch on of the lights and the start of the Christmas festivities. There is also a new ride on offer. It is called the North Star and stretches about 60 metres into the air. Not sure if I'll go on it though, as you're sitting in chairs in the open air, rather than in a cabin. So it sounds a bit too scary for me.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The White Lion

The White Lion is the pub in Bramcote when I will be playing the landlord the the Star Safari show in the next couple of weeks. Alas I will not be behind the bar, but I do make my entrance in an interesting way. Of course I'm not going to tell you how, just in case you are coming to watch. But be quick, as the tickets are selling fast.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


It's been a really foggy and cold day today. But the show still has to go on as they say, as we had a proper dress rehearsal this afternoon. I wasn't therefore able to take any photos. So here's one that I took yesterday at King George's Park, which is being used for the shepherd scene.

There's been a statement for a long time now about photographers taking shots of single trees and how cliched it is. Personally I don't really subscribe to that point of view view, as photography is all about taking photos of what you want, and I liked the look of this one in it's golden glory, lit by a warmish sun.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Gold, Frankenstein and Mirth

Had a full day's rehearsal today in Bramcote at the actual locations that we will be using for the production that I am in. It is the basic nativity story with a few extra bits and pieces to make it unique. It is called The Star Safari, as people are wandering from place to place, rather than being stuck in a theatre. I am playing the innkeeper that says to Mary and Joseph that the pub is full, but he has a rather grotty, empty stable available if they want it. I only joined the company last week, as the original actor had to drop out for personal reasons. Lines almost there, but lyrics to the two songs which we have to sing are still at the learning stage.

When I wasn't needed for my scenes, I took lots of photos of the cast performing. I quite like this shot of the three pretend camels that the Magi, or the Three Wise Men ride when they bring their gifts to the new born Prince of Peace in the manger. I do like it when the writer and director come up with such imaginative ideas due to having a non existent budget.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Wiped Out

Having a quick look at this photo, you might be thinking it is the windscreen of a truck driving in the rain. Well you'd be wrong. It's actually one of the installation pieces on show at the moment at the Contemporary. They are celebrating the work of Klaus Weber, a German artist who has created a number of exhibits that are now on show. Most of it I wouldn't give houseroom to. A giant wind chime moved by fans is ok, but a bathroom sink stuck to a giant boulder is just plain pointless. I'm not sure what this piece is supposed to represent, but apparently it is called "Wiping Out The Competition".

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Life In The Fast Lane

While I was walking through the Old Market Square at lunchtime, I noticed a photographer taking lots of shots of this man with the black sunglasses. He had a Canon, with a very expensive looking zoom lens attached, so I knew he was a proper photographer and not just a happy snapper like me. So I asked him who the guy was. He said that he was a famous rock musician who used to be in Iron Maiden called Brian Cox. I'm not really an Iron Maiden fan, so didn't really know who he was. The photographer told me that a lot of people had stopped for autographs. I should have been brave and asked him for a proper posed photo. But didn't like to disturb him while he was chatting to the other guy. So took this snapshot instead. If you are interested, the scaffolding behind is for the Christmas tree that has just arrived and is presently being decorated.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Midnight Cowboy

Another Wednesday, another Headbanger Challenge. This week iMac has dreamt up the apparently simple but cunningly difficult theme of Postcard From Your Home. Now you may think that producing a postcard of Nottingham would be an easy task. Just take a snap or two of the castle, the Old Market Square or the Theatre Royal. Yes, I could have done that, but me being me, I wanted to create something a little bit different, but still adhering to the theme. So looking through my treasure trove of photos, I thought I would go with a theme, and the obvious one is Robin Hood. But instead of showing you the famous statue outside the castle walls in sunny weather, I would go for the more noir influenced night shot, and a Triptych one too.

To see how my fellow headbangers have interpreted the theme, just pop along to their blogs using the links above, and enjoy this little homage to film noir.

Now today's photo is of the cat that appears to live in Beeston Library. I don't know whether one of the librarians looks after it, or it just comes to visit. I normally see it sitting around outside, or on this occasion, in the entrance. Being surrounded by books all day, I wonder if he or she has learnt to read?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Blink And You'll Miss It

I spotted this poster in my local library the other day for a new play that someone who I used to work has recently written. I knew that Simon had written it because I presently work with his wife, and she had told me about it. I was actually thinking about auditioning for one of the parts a couple of months ago; but I don't consider myself a good enough actor to be worthy of a part.

Blink is set in a hospital and concerns a patient who has had a accident of some kind and his only form of communication is blinking. It's on for this week only, but I don't think I'm going to be able to get to see it (pun not intended) as I am, ironically enough in rehearsals for a community play in Bramcote that is based on the Christmas Story. It goes on in early December. I am playing the innkeeper who didn't have a spare room for Mary and Joseph, but just happened to have a stable that was empty. Several locations across Bramcote are being used, including a Medieval church tower.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Pretty Baby

Besides eating, Oscar loves sleeping. Here he is snoozing on a makeshift bed made up of two blankets. Gail took him to the vet last Friday for a check up. The good news is that he is very healthy, around two years old and now officially ours. She's taking him back later this week to be chipped, injected and given the snip.
Marmalade is slowly getting used to the idea that he is around, and doesn't grumble as much as recently, but still has his moments. Maybe when Oscar has "been done", Marmalade may not see him as such a threat, and we can all live happily ever after as the story goes.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Top Of The Pecking Order

Here's one of the birds of prey that I was telling you about yesterday. I think it may be a kestrel or a harris hawk, but whatever it is, it has rather vicious feet and not a pair that I would fancy meeting on any occasion. They certainly look just as lethal as those hands belonging to Freddie Kruger or Edward Scissorhands.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Doin' The Funky Chicken

It's a shame that I didn't have this photo available for this week's Headbanger Challenge, as I am sure it would have been voted gold in the competition. So what it the reason for this funky chicken? It isn't to promote Colonel Saunders, but a local bird of prey and pet rescue centre. They were in Beeston today to show off some of the owls and eagles that they care for and to raise funds for the charity. I took various shots of the birds that they had bought along and put some coins in their collection bucket. The guy in charge joked to the people watching, that the "chicken" was going to be the birds' dinner!

Friday, 11 November 2011

A Lunchtime Drama

I did something unusual at lunchtime today. Something I have never done before. I went to the theatre. The Playhouse actually, where they were presenting a reading of Harold Pinter's "Umbrellas". A short sketch that apparently hasn't been seen since 1960. It has recently been rediscovered. Quite bizarrely, it was first performed at the Playhouse as part of a bigger revue show all those years ago.
Two actors who are presently appearing at the Playhouse; Ian Bartholomew and William Hoyland performed the sketch under the direction of Giles Croft a couple of times. We then discussed the meaning of the work. Who the two men were and what the metaphor of the umbrella meant. Then the audience were asked a few questions about what lighting might work best, the possible location of the scene, sound effects etc before the two actors came back on stage in costume and performed it again using our input and decisions.

It was very interesting to watch from a performers point of view; being a sort of actor myself, of how an actor thinks about their character, the words that they are saying and how they relate to the other characters and the world they are inhabiting. At the end, I asked Giles if they all wouldn't mind posing for a photo; which was duly granted, as you can see. Ian (left), William (right) and Giles (standing).

If you are at all interested in reading about the history of the sketch and seeing the script for yourself, I have found it on this website.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Are You Young And Creative

There was a stall in the Old Market Square today advertising the young creatives awards. Alas I'm far too old to join in, and bizarrely enough so it seemed were the people doing the actual promoting, as you have to be between the ages of 13 and 24. There are various categories including art, photography, fashion and film making. Apparently it is a global project and around 1000 people will descend on Nottingham sometime next September to show off their abilities. So there should be plenty of photo opportunities for me of the things going on then.
If you would like to know any further information, there is of course the obligatory Facebook page.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Eyes Have It

Weird and Wonderful is this weeks Headbanger Challenge and comes from Lincolnshire Lad, Dave. It is certainly an interesting theme and one that I have been pondering since last week. Unfortunately I haven't really come across anything in the last few days that fits the bill. So looking through my photographic archive, I came across this photo of Gail that I took with my iPhone whilst we were at a local pub. She knew that I was going to take a photo or two of her and so she pulled this mad face. I just hope she doesn't thump me too hard when she sees it posted to the world!

For today's post, (pun intended) I also came across this photo that I took in the summer of a gatepost that looks like it has a face in it. All is missing is a smiling face, which I suppose I could add with some photo software. Don't forget to see how the rest of the gang have interpreted the theme.

Also enjoy this weird and wonderful and strangely surreal puppet show from the early 1970s. The Clangers was a favourite show from my childhood, and many others I think, if they were honest.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lighting Up Time

Another very grey and wet day today. Nothing worth pointing my Nikon at again. I do hope this depressing weather shifts soon, as it is no good for either photography or peoples' spirits and happiness.
So I am once again having to raid the archive. But this shot of Maid Marian Way was only taken two weeks ago, so the digital film is still theoretically wet.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Monte Carlo Or Bust

Gail and I were back to work today after our break. What a shock in having to get up early and do a full days work, instead of taking it easy at home. It has also been a very grey and wet day, so there wasn't really anything worth photographing at lunchtime. So here is a shot of a model Formula One racing car that I got on Saturday from a charity shop for the grand price of £1. It is a Williams Renault design from 1992 and was driven by Nigel Mansell. If you click here, you can see the real thing. It's interesting to note that the advertising for Camel and Labatts are missing from the model. I'm not sure if that is because the advertising of beer and cigarettes is a no no these days, or that these companies would want paying for the use of their logos. Still it's a nice model and it also come in a little plastic case to keep it dust free.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What Made A Nest Like This?

Gail and I attempted to sort out the garage today. A simple job you may think. But no, because there is no room for a car at the moment, as it is full of my collectables, empty boxes, bikes and furniture. Whilst I was looking in one of the many boxes that hold my collectors items, I came across this strange bundle in one corner of the carton. Getting it out, I realised that a mouse had made its home from the pages of a Victoria Wood paperback and pieces of material. Part of an old blanket that is kept in the garage. Quite clever really, and I am sure the mouse felt very safe and warm in there. Before it ended up in the bin, I took a photo for posterity and to show you lot.
I plan to go through all the boxes and eventually put all the film, TV and music collectables that I have hoarded for years up for sale on Ebay, as I don't really do anything with them now and so they would be better off with someone who would appreciate and do something more worthwhile with them.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fading Fast

Well today has been the dullest of the dull. The sun didn't even think about popping his head out at all and was totally obscured by clouds all day long. So I didn't manage to take any photos again. Today is of course Bonfire Night. I can hear plenty of bangs going off whilst I am typing this. Neither Gail or I will be going out tonight, as we have two pets cats that need to be looked after and kept safe whilst the sky is being lit up. Oscar doesn't seem that bothered at the moment, but Marmalade can get a bit frightened and will hide under the stairs or in the hallway. So we like to be around to keep an eye on them.

So I am putting on another shot from Belton House. This time it is of some lime trees that are are starting to shed their leaves. It also gives me an opportunity of shamelessly promoting my wife's own blog "Boopsters View". She has now posted some new photos for the first time in about six months and redesigned the page, so do pop over and leave a message. You'll make her very happy.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Who Lives In A House Like This?

This rather quaint birdhouse stands in the garden of the gatehouse at Belton House. As it's so low off the ground I don't think any birds would feel safe in calling it their home though, but some mice or insects might. It would make a great treehouse; the sort of thing that may appear in Grand Designs.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Like A Rolling Stone

Many know Ronnie Wood as the guitarist for the Rolling Stones, but he is also a gifted artist too. There is a small exhibition of some of his work at an Castle Galleries in town at the moment. Here's one of his paintings, showing Keith Richard and Mick Jagger in full swing at a concert. I'm not the world's biggest Stones fan, but their music is good and so is this painting.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Happy Go Lucky

Sanguine is this weeks theme for the Headbanger Challenge, and has come from the fertile mind of Lanny our farm girl. This week is also the debut of Kathy, our newest headbanger, who hails from Washington. So we should get to see some interesting shots from her in the future.

Sanguine is not really a word I have come across that much, although I knew it meant having an upbeat mood. It is also a colour. Red, but not just any red. No sir, it's a blood red, or a rusty red. That end of the colour spectrum, rather than say a cerise. Gail and I are having a little break from work this week, so I haven't really taken many photos, but I noticed that the fruit on our cotoneaster bush have turned a good dark red colour and are now ready to be eaten by birds and insects, to keep them going over the winter. So that is my entry for this week's competition. Don't forget to have a look at the other members' interpretations.

As I mentioned earlier, Sanguine also means happy, and one person I know that always seems to be happy is Kevin, who is also known as 'The Hat', as whenever there's an event in Nottingham he'll make a hat for it. Here he is posing in his gambling hat, which he made for the Las Vegas fashion show last week.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Nikon Brothers

Stewart (iMac) has run a series of photos that he took of our meeting yesterday near Grantham on his blog. He took a sneaky one of Gail and I, so I thought I would return the favour with a sneaky one that Gail took of us two, on the look out for our next shot.