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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ear Is the News

I saw something today that I've never seen before. A dancing ear!

Not just any ear mind you. But the left one. Which must be the artistic one. I didn't see the right one. Maybe it was sitting in a corner sulking, as it didn't know how to dance.

The ear was 'performing' outside my local branch of Specsavers; who are a national chain of opticians. I'm not sure why it was there, as they do eye tests and sell glasses. Unless they have just started doing hearing aids too now.

Anyway it was getting a fair bit of attention from the passing pedestrians. No idea if any of them went inside for a hearing test or not. But it was fun to watch, and certainly something unusual for a sunny Saturday morning.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Didn't Your Mother Ever Tell You Not To Go Near A Naked Flame?

This is the moment that a flicker of the Olympic flame was collected for its onward journey, before the flame is extinguished in the golden cauldron.

I didn't realise that the two people who were undertaking the task were the police. I was so far away from the stage, that I had my lens at its full 270mm. Looking at the shirts they are wearing, you can clearly see 'Metropolitan Police' emblazoned on their T shirts. I zoomed in on iPhoto and the name of the male officer is Rhys Peters, and he is a sergeant.

I'm not entirely sure why this bit of the celebration had to be done by cops. It's not as though anyone is going to steal the flame! Unless they were worried that a pyromaniac might get the job and start setting fire to the stage.

Anyway the flame started on it's way to Derby this morning. It left around 8am from the statue of Robin Hood, which is near the castle. This is far too early for me. So I let the rest of the population of Nottingham wave it goodbye.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Some Ice, Some Stars And A Flame

The Olympic Torch reached Nottingham today, after travelling from Athens 41 days ago.

It had come from Lincoln, and after staying the night tonight, the convoy will be heading to Derby, before reaching London next month.

It arrived in the county during the late afternoon and made it's way to the Ice Arena, where famous local skaters Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean did a turn on the ice with it. They made history in 1984, when they got straight sixes for their interpretation of Ravel's Bolero.

I was lucky enough to get a couple of tickets for the show from a friend. Gail unfortunately couldn't make it, as she had a prior engagement, and it was also difficult to get into town, as the local authority had closed many roads across the city centre.

It didn't go to waste though, as I bumped into a pal, and fellow photographer of mine. So I invited him along. The arena was packed as you can imagine. But we managed to get some decent seats to take some shots. We both had good telephoto lenses on our Nikons, which also helped.

After the show was over, we went outside and followed the torch to the Old Market Square. It was also rammed full of people, and so we missed some of the action. But we did see them put out the flame. We also met up with another Flickrmate and wandered off to the castle, to see what was happening there.

A couple of bands were playing. and low and behold, another two photo buddies appeared. It was almost like a Nottingham Flickr group convention!

Here's one of the many shots that I took of Chris and Jayne skating with the torch.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


This week marks Gail's first ever choice for the Headbanger Challenge, and she's gone for the really girly theme of 'BLING'.

So I've gone for the equally girly thing of shoes and handbags. Something that Gail has a lot of, and in about equal measures. Still she complains about my large book and video collection. So all's fair in love and storage space.

I got this photo whilst walking around the beauty show at the NEC in April. I was looking for interesting and unusual shots. Quirky ones that may come in handy for future headbanger challenges. Which this clearly has.

That is certainly a traffic stopping shoe. More crystals per square centimetre than the Swarovski factory. Any woman wearing them would be bound to get a lot of attention. Matched by the bag. A paparazzi's delight.

Do pop over to the rest of the teams' pages, including my DW's and enjoy this bit of music. Be warned, you may need sunglasses!

I've noticed that Stewart has posted a few photos of Gail and I whilst we were holidaying together in Woodhall Spa over the last couple of days. So today for a change, I thought I would get my own back and show you a shot of him.

When we returned to the town after visiting Tattershall Castle and seeing the Spitfire, we were astounded to see giant kangaroos leaping about in the middle of the road. Not real ones of course, but guys dressed in costumes and on stilts. As I was driving, I couldn't take any photos, but Stewart was snapping away. There was also a jazz band dressed as chefs and two comic policemen, also on stilts. They were also being very silly in the road and accosting pedestrians. Of which Stewart was one.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Face To Face

Gail and I met up with some fellow photographers and three models this evening for a photoshoot around the city centre.

We split up into two groups and wandered around looking for suitable locations. We started off at the entrance to the Council House, and attracted the attention of a passing community policeman. He was very good natured, and a bit of a photographer himself apparently.

We then made our way along to Bridalsmithgate. There is a long, well lit passageway there, where we stopped for a while. Here's a shot of Gemma, one of the models that we were using posing by a blown up poster of another model.

All the while that we were out we were being watched by onlookers. Some wondered if we were shooting for a magazine. Others just walked by looking. We were also accosted by a small group of Polish men, that may have had a drop or two more ale than they should. One wanted his photo taking. Then tried charging us 50p for the privilege!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Left Right, Left Right

A large contingent of soldiers from the Mercian Regiment were in the city today. They had just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan and were returning for some welcome R & R and to see their families and loved ones.

They marched from St Mary's Church in the Lace Market, down to the Old Market Square and then up to the castle. I followed them along nearly the whole of the route, and felt like one of the reporters that were also following the action. One of the photographers that I stood near was holding a Leica M8. I had a touch of camera envy I can tell you.

This shot shows the tail end of the march reaching the gates of the castle. There were several hundred soldiers in all, with just as many waving and cheering them along the route.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

All Fire, No Spit!

For our last day in Woodhall Spa, we decided to visit Tattershall Castle, a National Trust property, about six miles from the small town.

The castle is quite amazing to look at and was restored during the early part of the 20th century. It originally dates from the 15th century.

It has six floors, and you get to see some great views of the Lincolnshire countryside from the battlements.

But what made it extra special today was that a Spitfire flew over the castle whilst we were there. The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is stationed at an airfield very close to the castle, and they all took off this afternoon to fly for an event in Lowestoft.

Besides the Spitfire, the Memorial Flight includes, a Lancaster bomber, a Hurricane and a Dakota. Unfortunately neither the Lancaster or Hurricane came out well, and it was an extra surprise to see the Dakota about fifteen minutes later.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Dambuster's March

In the centre of Woodhall Spa is a fitting monument to the airmen of the 617 squadron, who flew in Lancaster bombers over Germany to destroy the dams there.

They used a very unusual sort of bomb, in that it bounced on the water before hitting it's target. It didn't look like a bomb either; more of a giant beer barrel.

The monument is distinctive, with the names of all the RAF personnel involved in Operation Chastise, but didn't live to see its success, together with the emblem of the RAF and list of targets.

The most famous of all the airmen involved is that of Guy Gibson. He was played by Richard Todd in the 1955 film called The Dambusters.

During the war there were quite a number of airfields in Lincolnshire. Many have disappeared, but some remain, or have been turned into tourist attractions.

Friday, 22 June 2012

We're Off, We're Off, We're Off In A Motor Car

Gail and I are off on our jollies today. We're going to spend a long weekend in Woodhall Spa, a small town in deepest Lincolnshire.

We are going to be spending it with Stewart (iMac) and his DW Julie. It's Stewart's birthday tomorrow and it will be nice to share it with them both.

The journey down went OK. There is a new road that the Sat Nav didn't know about. So it was strange to see the little cartoon car driving on 'grass', with the road next to it.

Woodhall Spa is an old fashioned town, that hasn't seemed to have changed that much through the years. It has lots of small independent shops; your classic butcher, baker. Alas, no candlestick maker, but there is an amazing wedding and birthday cake creator there, called Dawn.

Her small shop called Sophisticake, had lots of unusual and clever designs on show, including this one of two rag dolls. They do not look like they are made from cake and icing at all. She and her assistant make everything themselves.

We watched her make a rose out of some small pieces of icing, which she moulded into petals. They were a deep red colour, which I believe is the same shade as someone's wedding dress.

Dawn of course has a website, where you can view some of her impressive and wonderful creations, and order one for your special occasion. Prince Charles did, when he married Camilla, a couple of years ago!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Per Aspera Ad Astra

Edward Joseph Lowe was a Victorian botanist, astronomer and founder member of the Royal Metorological Society.

The eminent scientist was born in Nottingham and had this house called Broadgate House built in the 1850s in Beeston. He also used it as an observatory.

The house presently belongs to the University of Nottingham. It's just a shame that they have let such an important local building going into such a bad state of repair. Now that there is a blue plaque mounted on the wall highlighting the site, perhaps some funding will be found to get it back into it's former glory.

The latin inscription: through hardship to the stars.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Ultimate Scarecrow

Today is of course Wednesday and so we dip our toes once again into the madness that is the Headbanger Challenge. This week is also the debut of a certain Gail. Yes that's right, Mrs Gailsman has decided to jump in at the deep end and become a headbanger as well. How will she do, and what is it going to be like voting for, or against one's wife? I intend to vote as I've always done; on the quality of the photo, and how it matches the theme.

So what is this week's there you may be asking? Well it is not supermarkets, but the colour orange, as chosen by Tom.

I've seen all sorts of things coloured orange on my travels, but none of them have really inspired me. So it was a quick trip to the archive and where I found this image of rows of shopping trollies, or carts as they say in the States. I took it on a bank holiday, which is one of the rare times that the supermarket is actually closed all day.

The supermarket in question is called Sainsbury's, and their corporate colour is orange. Other supermarkets use yellow (Morrison's), green (Asda/Walmart), while Tesco's is blue. Do have a look at the teams' pages and how they have interpreted the theme. Also enjoy this colourful and inspiring music.

Today's photo is of a statue that appeared in the Old Market Square today. It is part of a day of arty things that are going to be happening tomorrow. The figure created by two Haitian artists, appears to be made of all sorts of things. The earrings from trolley or wheelbarrow tyres are hilarious. I don't know if it lights up or not, but I'll find that out tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Aliens Have Landed

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the works of H.G Wells. Especially his science fiction classic; The War of The Worlds. The story of an alien invasion by Martians. Only to be outwitted; not by guns, or bombs, but by bacteria. Germs from the people that they have sucked the blood from.

Well I witnessed a very similar scene last night. I saw a couple of flashes of light in the sky, which at first I thought were planes, as we are on the flightpath for the East Midlands Airport. But then one of the lights seemed to drop from the sky and land in a field; not too far from our house.

So I called Gail, and we raced to where I thought the 'light' had landed. We approached carefully, as it was pitch black now and we only had the glow from our mobile phones to help us stumble across uneven fields. We saw smoke and a big fire in the distance. This was obviously from the heat of whatever had landed.

A few people had gathered and were milling around the site. We joined them, and stood silently,awaiting developments...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Post Modernism

The university's Jubilee Campus was built on the land where Raleigh once stood. It was a massive site, covering acres and acres.

I didn't see the empty land when they had cleared away the buildings, but I could tell how big it was by what has been taken up by the university so far. Some 65 acres.

Here's some of the buildings that have replaced the factories. I think I may have shown these separately in the past, but not altogether. I took the shot on Saturday, whilst making the most of the break between the two performances.

The building that looks like a slab of red cheese is called the International building, while the tall structure in the middle is called Aspire and finally the other building is simply called the UNIP (University of Nottingham Innovation Park) Reception.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Titchy Wheels

Well sadly it's over. But I'm relieved too. The play about Raleigh that I have been involved in for the past couple of months saw it's final performance yesterday at the Jubilee Campus of the university.

It co-incided with a day of celebrating cycling and Raleigh's 125th anniversary.

We put on two performances in the afternoon, with an hour break in between. This gave me time to have a look around at the exhibits, demonstrations and events.

In the play the Raleigh small wheeled bicycle from the 1960s is mentioned; and nick-named 'titchy wheels' with some derision. So I was quite pleased to see an example or two of the said bike on display, amongst some others. Including the more famous and beloved Chopper

You could buy a little saddle bag for it which went on the carrier over the back wheel. It wasn't very big, so you couldn't really go shopping with it, unless you were only going for a loaf of bread and a jar of jam.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

BlackBerry Memories

Here's a shot of a girl capturing the moment of the Queen's visit to Nottingham on her mobile phone. Something a little different.

A big screen was erected so people at the back could see what was going on in the middle of the Old Market Square.

I tried taking some photos of it, but some of them have turned out quite odd. Either the colours have gone all psychedelic, or you can see the individual pixels that make up the screen. I couldn't tell whether she was having the same problem.

Friday, 15 June 2012

King For The Day

After her majesty had left the city centre, I walked around the area a bit looking for interesting characters to photograph, or people that had made an effort in dressing up for the occasion.

There were of course hundreds of people to choose from, but I noticed this little boy dressed like a prince and wearing a very regal crown whilst sitting on the knee of his gran, or aunty.

He looked very happy at being there, and I bet he had waved his little flag that much, his poor arm was aching.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Press Pack

The Queen visiting anywhere is of course big news, and to be accompanied by William and Kate just puts the icing on the cake. She of course is followed by journalists, photographers and other members of the media circus, to report back to an avid public.

Here's some members of the press pack training their Nikons and Canons at Her Majesty. I would love one of those lenses. Who wouldn't? But at around £6000, it's something that not everyone can afford. And that guy with three Nikon D4s. How greedy is that!

Can you spot the lone spectator getting an aerial view of the action?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Red, White And Blue

Headbanger Wednesday again. It soon comes round. This week's theme is 'Down and Out' and was picked by iMac, who as usual has gone on another holiday. But he did post before he and Julie left to enjoy the delights of Scotland.

At first I thought down and out meant a tramp, a homeless person etc, and I was going to put such a photo on. But looking through my archive, I came across the photo which ideally matches the theme.

I saw this guy sat in the middle of the pavement with his bike, taking up all the room whilst mending a puncture. People were struggling to get by him as it's only a narrow walkway as you can see. He didn't seem to care two hoots as he continued fiddling about with his back wheel. So the bike is down and the inner tube is out.

Don't forget to visit the rest of the teams' blogs and enjoy this piece of cycling inspired music.

Today was a very special day for Nottingham and its people as the Queen; together with Prince William and Kate paid a visit this morning, as part of the golden jubilee celebrations. People apparently had started to appear in the Old Market Square from about 7am this morning, even though they weren't due until about 10am.

I and several others from the office decided to go, and by the time we got there, the place was heaving. Lots of roads close by had been closed and traffic diverted. It was difficult to move, or to get closer to the Council House, where they would be appearing on the balcony. So I just had to do the best I could with my 18mm-270mm lens. They did a small walkabout in the OMS and then went into the Council House for a while and to meet some dignitaries. They were then driven off to visit a local park which was going to be given a special status so it would never be built on.

When they left, I stayed around and took photos of some of the people that had dressed up for the occasion. I also bumped into some friends and stayed to chat to them. I then had to go back to work for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


The big news this week is that the Queen and some members of the Royal Family are going to be visiting Nottingham city centre tomorrow morning for a small walkabout in the Old Market Square and a visit to a public park in Basford.

In readiness for this visit, the police, the council and others have been fencing off the areas affected, including roads and pavements. It is expected that thousands of people will be descending on the city centre. Probably from the early morning, so they can get a good viewing spot. I and a few others from work intend popping along and see what's what.

Here's a shot of one of the police vehicles parked outside the Council House. I know that there is a water feature in the square, but it's not really deep enough for divers! I watched some of the officers inspecting all the cracks between the paving slabs. I don't think they rounded up all the pigeons though, as one pooping on ER would be hilarious, but unforgivable!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sage, But No Onion

Another visit I made yesterday was to the Green Festival at the Arboretum. There were a number of different stalls promoting their causes, such as animal rights, saving woodlands, recycling etc. There were also stalls selling second hand books, ethnic clothes and this one which was absolutely brimming with plants of every description and colour.

I bought a rather small lavender bush which will produce some lovely flowers and is very aromatic. I am rather partial to lavender, as it fills out quite nicely and makes for a very attractive plant in anyone's garden.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Medical Matters

I've been quite busy today visiting a few events across the area. Gail wasn't with me, as she had gone to Birmingham to learn how to be a professional spray tan artist. So if there are any local ladies (and gents for that matter) that need a good spray tan for their holidays, then do drop us a line and Gail will be able to give you a golden glow.

Firstly I went up to Papplewick, where there was a display of ambulances, both old and new. Quite a good selection too. 16 in all. Here's a shot of the oldest; a 1943 Austin. Next to it is another Austin. This time from 1952. I was talking to one of the organisers and he said that the group had another five in the collection and a couple of others that they were currently restoring.

I had to use my Panasonic G1 today, as my Nikon D90 has strangely died on me. I've tried changing the batteries, SD cards and lenses, but nothing seems to be able to bring it back to life. It was working yesterday, albeit a little temperamentally. But today, nothing. I will leave it a couple of days and if it doesn't revive, then I will have to take it in for possible surgery.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Standing Tall For Elizabeth

I came across these two 'soldiers' at the Autokrama in Wollaton Park over the jubilee holiday.

They were larking around, ticking passers by with their extra long feather dusters.

They were happy to pose for me, before finding other victims to annoy, while they were looking at the classic cars!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Happy Camping

Well what a day. Besides the rain, the winds have now got up. So much so, that the rain was almost horizontal at lunchtime, when I braved the weather for a walk around the city centre.

The heavy metal gathering called the Download Festival is taking place a few miles away in Castle Donington and the field has already become a mudbath. I dread to think of what it is going to be like with 90,000 people tramping around the place over the three day event. The highlight band will be Black Sabbath.

Of course most people with be camping, but I don't know how many will be coming with caravans or Dormobiles like this one that I took last Saturday at the Hemlock Happening. I remember my dad buying one when I was young. I don't remember ever going away in it, but can recall it being loaded with furniture that my dad had bought from a local auction.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Well, Here's Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Us Into

A Model T Ford with Laurel and Hardy. A classic comedy grouping and one that would certainly make anyone chuckle. How many times in their old short films of the 1920s did their car either get cut in half, smashed in two or just get blown up?

Of course the Model T was cheap and readily available; and Henry Ford famously said: it was only available in black. I don't know if this is an original or a reproduction. The figures obviously are. But they were a bit of fun at the Hemlock Happening.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Lying Down On The Job

Today is of course Wednesday and so it is time for the Headbanger Challenge.

It was postponed from last week as Stewart was away; although he posted, and I wasn't able to spare the time to participate, due to previous engagements. So we are doing it this week. I chose the theme and I went for advertising.

Promotional material is all around us, informing us of special offers, buy this, buy that. Some of it is very clever and artistic, whilst other material is stupid, poorly conceived and looks completely out of touch with the 21st century.
We all have our favourite TV adverts from when we were younger. Mine was the Cadbury Smash aliens. Creatures from a far distant planet telling us that making your own mashed potato was very primitive and the way forward was granules.

So what to show. The latest travel posters, buses carrying advertising or something a bit different. I tried to find two posters next to each other whose straplines go well together; such as "Eat chocolate every day" "Makes you run for the hills". That sort of thing.

Instead I've gone for a bit of self promotion. Well not me personally, but the wit and wisdom of the late Brian Clough. He was the manager of Nottingham Forest Football Club in the 1970s and early 80s, and saw them win various trophies every year. Unlike now as they languish in the first division. He was a bit of a character and this T Shirt is advertising his most famous quote. They are available from the tourist office which is under the Council House, should you wish to buy one. Mmm, I'm doing a bit of advertising for them now!

Do have a look at the gangs' pages and what they have found to show you. And do enjoy this bit of music which was used on an old British Airways advert.

Gail and I went to a street party close to where we live on Monday. It was great to be invited, as it was on a street that we don't really use that much. We were made welcome and chatted to perfect strangers for a few hours. We both took our cameras to record the adventure. Here's a shot of Gail lying on the ground, so she could get a better shot of an impromptu band that were playing to us all. One of the members is our neighbour, who owns the old yellow Citroen van that I showed you all a year or so ago.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Coronation Chicken

On Saturday I went to the Hemlock Happening; a community event at a local park. Besides the classic cars etc, was a recreation of the coronation as people would have seen it on television in 1952. It was quite inventive of how they made interference, the vertical hold and other problems people used to have with TV, before digital appeared.

The actors had daubed their faces so they looked like they were in black and white, which of course TV was until the late 1960s. I knew a few of the people involved, as I had worked with them before on previous shows.

Here's a shot of the Archbishop of Canterbury who is just about to place the crown on the head of the young Elizabeth, with one of the TV directors looking on, who is actually a local councillor in real life.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Happy And Glorious

Well today has been quite busy, as this morning I went to Wollaton Park to see a motor show including classic cars. I didn't stay long as there were a lot less vehicles on display as there has been in the past. Possibly due to the jubilee, or the terrible weather yesterday. Anyway, I promised Gail that when I came back, I would help her move some furniture in the house. I had just taken my coat and shoes off when she said that she could hear some music outside and remembered that there was a street party going on in the next road. She said that we ought to go round and say hello. So while Gail was getting ready, I found a couple of bottles of wine, a tube of crisps and some biscuits that we could take as our contribution.

So we had a walk round and saw a couple of our neighbours and then got chatting to some others. We were there quite a long time, and have hopefully made some new friends. One of the neighbours is interested in 1/43 scale model trains, and has a track in his garden, together with a very detailed layout in his shed. So we had a good chat to him and is wife.

When it was getting dusk we took a drive to Bramcote, where they were going to light a beacon for Her Majesty. One of many that were being lit as part of the jubilee celebrations. There were a lot of fireworks too. The beacon was actually a very big bonfire, rather than the classical idea of a metal container on the top of a high pole. Still it did look very effective, as my photo shows.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Underwater Jubilee

Wel it's arrived, the celebrations have begun for the Queen's diamond jubilee.

But what a wet day it's been. It's rained all day today. I've only popped my head out a couple of times. And it's still raining while I am writing this.

Fortunately I took this photo of some Union Jack bunting blowing in the breeze yesterday at the Hemlock Happening. An outdoor celebration organised by the locals of Bramcote and Beeston and included some classic cars, demonstrations and activities.

No rain, but it was rather overcast and windy, so I had to take a few shots to get the right look that I was after.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Walking Tall For The Queen

A trip to Broadgate Park was called for today, as a Jubilee tea party was taking place.

There were a number of stalls and an old Barton's bus on show. Together with a cake eating contest which had been organised by a local radio station.

But I just had to take a shot of these two guys on stilts, who were walking about publicising the event.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Boatyard

Cycling a bit further along the canal route, I came across this boatyard with this rather delightful wooden boat tied up for repairs. The colour of the wood of Muriel Anne looks very 1920s.

The canal looks very calm doesn't it? So flat that you can see a great reflection in the water. But it's just as well I took the photo when I did, as moments later a narrowboat chugged its way past, causing loads of ripples and wash in the water.

This was the first time that I had ventured along this stretch of the water. I may do it again sometime, as there always seems to be something interesting to see along the towpath.