Now Reading: Attention All Shipping

Well, it is not quite correct to say that now I am reading “Attention All Shipping” by Charlie Connelly, in fact I am finishing reading this book. It has taken a while and this is perhaps one of the few actual physical books I’ve read in recent times. It took a while as I was reading it slowly and spontaneously as my encounters with the wonderful Shipping Forecast at the BBC have been. 

I find the forecast to be of a soothing quality and a mysterious air, with the mentions of hypnotic combinations of names and numbers together with calm as well as furious adjectives. Take a look at some examples from today:

  • Viking Cyclonic 4 or 5, becoming northeasterly 5 to 6.
  • Forth West or northwest 4 or 5, increasing 6 or 7, perhaps gale 8 later. Slight or moderate, occasionally rough later.
  • Rockall In south, westerly 5 or 6, backing southwesterly 4 or 5 later. In north, variable 4 in west, otherwise northwesterly 5. In south, moderate, occasionally rough at first. in north, moderate. In south, rain at times. In north, showers.
    In south, good, occasionally poor. In north, good.

Brilliant!

The Shipping Forecast Areas

The book covers the travels of the author across the different areas covered by the Shipping Forecast. It is an interesting read and I enjoyed the descriptions of the very different places that make up this wonderful broadcast, first started by Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy  in February 1861 as a warning service for shipping, using telegraph communications. 

Listen to the Shipping Forecast, and join Charlie in his adventure!

Leonardo da Vinci – The Mechanics of Genius

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

The Science Museum in London is currently showing “Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius”, giving us a chance to investigate both the facts and the misconceptions that surround Leonardo.

  • 39 historical models of Leonardo’s inventions including flying machines, diving equipment and weapons
  • Large-scale reproductions of Leonardo’s famous drawings and sketches
  • 13 Interactive games and 10 multimedia installations
  • Modern examples of bio-inspired robotics, aviation and materials technology

 

Ballet Folklórico de México in London

What do I think when I hear the name “Ballet Folklórico de México“? Well, I think of colourful clothes, big smiles, joyful music and great “zapateado”. I also think of Sunday TV and weirdly enough, school. I do remember the end-of-year festivals at school, when señorita Caballero would choreograph some traditional dances for us.

BalletFolklorico

BalletFolklorico_DancerI was thus very pleased to see in the Guardian Weekend, that Ballet Folklórico was coming to London, and that it would be the first time in 20 years that they would be in the British Isles. I had never seen them live, so it was a great opportunity to do so, and boy was I pleased to have done so!

They had their show at the London Coliseum, the home of the English National Opera, and it was a great venue to hear some well-known songs. I was expecting great dancers, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear live music from start to finish.

 

The programme was divided into 9 distinct parts, going from Mariachis to pre-hispanic dances and indeed a lot of zapateado:

  • Los Matachines: as many cultural expressions in Mexico, La Danza de los Matachines (also known as “Moros y Cristianos”) is a clear mix of European and pre-hispanic influences. It is a popular dance in religious festivals in the North of the Country. The interpretation presented in London was simply superb.

BalletFolklorico_Matachines

  • Guerrero-Guerrero: The name of one of the Mexican independence heroes; one of the states in the country is named after him and perhaps best known for places such as Acapulco. The company presented three parts here Solo de Mariquita, Las Amarillas and El Gusto.
  • Mexican Revolution: There is no November 20th parade in Mexico without the mention of Adelita and Las Soldaderas. This makes reference to the brave women who joined the fight during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. I really liked the reference to the railways as an important means of transport for los revolucionarios. BalletFolklorico_Adelita
  • Charrería: Sometimes dubbed the “Mexican National Sport”, Charrerías incorporate equestrian competitions and demonstrations, specific costumes and horse/cattle trappings, music, and food. I was truly amazed by the lasso skill of the main Charro who never stopped dancing.
  • Fiesta en Tlacotalpan: Tlacotalpan is a town inthe state of Veracruz. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the Ballet Folklóriko celebrated the traditional 2nd February Candelaria party with a Carnival. It was great to see real mojigangas on the stage. Even La Bamba made an appearance!
  • Los Quetzales: A quetzal is a magnificent bird with beautiful plumage. And with just a few movements, I felt transported to Puebla de los Ángeles. Great headwear and lots of colour!BalletFolklorico_Quetzales
  • Danzón and Jarana: Once again the mixing of cultures in Mexico brings a fantastic result and in this case Europe, Africa and the Caribbean give us dances such as Danzón and Jarana, from Veracruz to Yucatán.BalletFolklorico_Jarana
  • Danza del Venado: And from the South of the country, to the Sonora Dessert in the North. La Danza del Venado (or dance of the deer) is a visceral performance representing the hunt of a the deer by the Yaquis. Truly magical performance!
  • Jalisco: If Mexico is known for anything in particular, it would definitely have to be for teh recognisable sombreros, and Mariachi music from Jalisco. How did I enjoy the Jarabe Tapatío, La Negra and Viva México.

What a great way to finish a fantastic performance. People could not be stopped from joining in from their seats. I am truly glad that I had a chance to join la fiesta while El Ballet Folklórico de México came to visit London. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

BalletFolklorico_Jalisco

England Rugby World Cup – 10 years…

It is true, it has been 10 long years since England won the Rugby World Cup against Australia. The memories may be good and the celebrations of the ten year anniversary are in full swing: round tables recalling the victory, charity match in Twickenham, DVDs, tweeting the match as live, and Strictly… maybe not the latter.

There are of course criticisms about not consolidating that win into a more sustained legacy, but let’s hope that things are getting better.

The 2003 winning team: Josh Lewsey, Jason Robinson, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall, Ben Cohen, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Dawson, Trevor Woodman, Steve Thompson, Phil Vickery, Martin Johnson (c), Ben Kay, Richard Hill, Lawrence Dallaglio, Mike Catt, Jason Leonard.

Rugby Worldcup 2003 Rugby Worldcup Rugby Worldcup

Related Articles:
Rugby World Cup 2003: How the Guardin covered England’s victory

 

 

 

Turing’s Universal Machine is voted the best British innovation

Turing’s Universal Machine is voted the best British innovation

The theoretical “Universal Machine” proposed by Turing in the 1930s has been voted the greatest British innovation from the past 100 years in an online poll run as part of National Science & Engineering Week.

The model that Turing developed provided the mathematical foundation that modern computing is based on.

There were more than 50,000 votes cast, and the Universal Machine won with 18 per cent of votes, narrowly beating the British Motor Corporation’s Mini with 17 per cent.

When I do count the clock…

This is a good way to start the British Summer Time:

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

Sonnet 12
William Shakespeare