Tweets this Week (2010-04-25)

  • I was supposed to be at the theatre this evening, but the play was cancelled because of an ill cast member. Also cancelled tomorrow. #
  • Michael's lovely home-made yoghurt (with greengage jam) #
  • Twelve blokes in dresses left the Free Press just before we arrived—bad timing. They left in single file like a line of dowdy ducks. #
  • What a lovely evening for sitting in the garden and reading the newspaper. #
  • Trying to squeeze in a quick BBQ: brawurst and sauerkraut with a bottle of Thwaites Wainwright golden ale. #
  • Ah, that's better. Been looking forward to a G&T in the garden all afternoon. #
  • At Girton College for Monteverdi Vespers. Lovely. Intevsl only 5 mins! #
  • Vespers were fab! #
  • In the Elm Tree drinking Belgian beer: The Duchesse de Bourgogne really does taste of Wostershire Sauce, sharp and tangy. #
  • I can see the hazy sky from my bed. Wondering whether I can time getting up with haze burning off? #
  • Based on the weather forecast I'll head down to the river after lunch #
  • Finally made it to the riverbank, with packed lunch. Water's 10°C so might have a swim if I get too hot! #
  • Feels a bit wired, baking in the sun, then admiring the daffodils! Lovely by the river. #
  • *Vespro della Beata Vergine* blog post #
  • *Tyrrell's Vat 8* blog post #
  • *Visiting mum and dad in Glasgow* blog post #
  • *Lunch with Nuala and Joel in Kippen* blog post #
  • *Lunch with Barry and Adam* blog post #
  • Heading out to meet Michael off his (slightly late) train in the Devonshire Arms. #
  • Hard decisions: a pint of Sparta or a half pint of Colossus? Need to plan ahead for tomorrow: an early start. #
  • Bend it Like Beckham's on pause at the moment. We're watching a dodgy copy bought in Delhi for 70 rupees and the audio sync isn't great. #

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Vespro della Beata Vergine

Michael and I cycled out to Girton College last night to hear Monteverdi’s Vespers in the college hall. We bumped into Stephen and Lorraine, and sat with them. Stephen is a cornett player and reported that the cornett playing from His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts was very good. The programme, from Martin Ennis, was also very good and great introduction to the vespers. The Magnificat was stunning, with one chorister providing a vocal echo from outside the room, which worked very well. I also enjoyed Lauda Jerusalem. I was impressed by Martin Ennis acting as both the conductor and also playing the harpsichord (but not, I think, at the same time). Overall I enjoyed the vespers, but I prefer a leaner plainchant—this was rich and ornamented.

From Girton College web site:

Girton College celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine with two performances of this sumptuous work, arguably the crowning masterpiece of seventeenth-century music. The concerts feature the world-famous wind ensemble, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, the Cambridge University Collegium Musicum (led by the internationally renowned Baroque violinist, Margaret Faultless , currently a visiting Fellow at Girton), and a vocal ensemble comprising choral scholars from the leading Cambridge choirs (including King’s, St John’s, Clare and Girton). Conducted by Girton’s Director of Music, Martin Ennis, this event is set to confirm Girton’s central role in early-music performance in Cambridge.

Tweets this Week (2010-04-19)

  • Regretting not staying in Edinburgh last night, earlier start this morning from Glasgow to get to UKSG conference. #
  • I'm having a Mort Geuze at The Brauhaus, 105-107 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh. #
  • Dread just another Monday! #
  • Good view of Edinburgh Castle from my hotel. #
  • Police in Edinburgh drive marked smart cars. Great fun! #
  • Heading back home tonight instead of tomorrow afternoon. Get an extra day in the office  Sorry to be leaving Edinburgh, it's so lovely here #
  • Platform at Waverley was crammed, but lots of seats on the train. Good train too: free wifi and laptop power sockets. Sorted. #
  • Bored in Doncaster. Yawn. #
  • In Peterborough now, with 15 mins to wait until next train. It's much chillier here than in Scotland. Bbbrrrr! #
  • Having a pint of Tolly Cobbold Phoenix at the Fort of St George in the glorious sunshine! Michael's having far too many little sausages! #
  • So lovely out—planning a sunset viewing to see whether the volcanic ash will give a spectacular show. Having another pint while we wait! #
  • Watched an amazing Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In. The 2 child leads were great esp Lina Leandersson (Eli) #
  • How exciting! We're in Letchworth meeting Barry and Adam for lunch. Survived the very loud couple on train, thankfully got off of at Foxton #
  • Nice fountain in Letchworth #
  • We had a lovely lunch at The Fox, Willian Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire. #
  • Photo: lunch with Barry and Adam #
  • At the ADC theatre to see Breaking the Code—about Alan Turing #
  • The weber BBQ survived the winter well. Scrubbed up nicely in 5 mins. Let the BBQs begin. #
  • Enjoyed sitting in the sun on Parkers Piece chatting to my sisters and watching the guys playing football. #
  • BBQ smells good. The clematis in the garden also smells and looks good, but it needs a major hack-back. #
  • *The Stoneground Ghost Tales* blog post #
  • *Two Caravans* blog post #
  • *Breaking the Code* blog post #

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Breaking the Code

Went to see Breaking the Code produce by the Combined Actors at the ADC Theatre last night.btc_bg4.jpg TheCombined Actors is an amateur dramatics group based in Cambridge, and the quality of the production was good. The play, by Hugh Whitemore, was based on the book ‘Alan Turing, The Enigma‘ by Andrew Hodges, and it was only last year that I read a different good biography of Turing.

The lead, James Dowson, and Peter Simmon (playing Dilwyn Knox) were both very good—Dawson was on stage constantly, and his stuttering and hand shaking all combined to give a powerful, believable performance. The play brought a couple of new points to my understanding of Turing’s life: The significance of eating the poisoned apple has been discussed and debated. Early on in the play, Turing explains to Knox why the film Snow White was so good and says something along the lines of ‘it wasn’t so bad to eat a poisoned apple and then to wake up on the arms of a handsome prince’. I also got the impression form the book that I read that Turing’s death was soon after his prosecution—but the play makes it seem like some time has passed (enough time to have a bit of fun in Greece).

The play focussed on his personal life: relationship with his mother and colleagues, and passingly with his friend Christopher. Perhaps more could have been developed with Christopher—but time is limited on stage.

Good review from The TAB where it’s nice to read that Pat Hamilton’s views of homophobia were changed. I agree that the best scenes were between Knox and Turing, but I also liked the scenes with Ron Miller (Matthew Peacock was good fun as the ‘bit of rough from Oxford Street’)

From the Combined Actors Web site:

This compassionate and often amusing play shifting back and forth in time and place, revolves around the remarkable mind and tragic fate of Alan Turing, mathematician and computer pioneer who broke the code in two ways. One was by cracking the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park during World War II for which he was decorated by Churchill and lauded by the state. The second was by shattering the gentlemanly English code of sexual discretion and making little attempt to disguise his homosexuality. For this he was arrested on a charge of gross indecency. Combined Actors are delighted to bring Whitemore’s play, which is a wonderful homage to an extraordinary man and a fierce indictment of the hypocrisy of the society that he saved from occupation, to the ADC stage.


Two Caravans

Two Caravans Twocaravanswiki.jpg was a romp of a read. It follows the story of russian, polish and african migrant workers getting exploited in the UK. The themes are dark: sex trafficking, exploitation of migrant workers, sexual assault, murder. However, the treatment makes all this seem easy to cope with—the book is consistently upbeat. The success is in the fantastic dialogue and phrases used by the characters, which make the novel so entertaining. The Dog, gets a stream of consciousness which is highly amusing. This follows on A short history of tractors in Ukranian, both by Marina Lewycka.

Just added her third novel, We are all made of glue, to my Amazon wish list!

Lunch with Barry and Adam

Took the train to Letchworth to meet Barry and Adam at The Fox Inn at Willian . Glorious weather continues and we were able to sit outside in the front garden. I had some massive Brancaster oysters which were a bit frightening and very tasty! The food was good and th service a little bit chaotic but in a nice way. There were quite a few gay guys there for lunch, which was nice, and sales technique in the little boutique food shop was suitably targeted.

Photo: lunch with Barry and Adam

I was amazed that it was about 4 when we were walking back to the station. We had some time to kill and had a short explore around Letchworth. Nothing to report—all quiet on a Sunday.

Tweets this Week (2010-04-12)

  • DUCK SOUP: I managed to save 24 ducks, but killed 7 in #FoxVsDuck Help me save more ducks! #
  • It's been a relaxing break—and I've also been busy and productive. The trip to Bourne Market today was an eye opener. #
  • Wind creates a rain / pouring golden oak flowers- / the lawn is submerged! #haiku (via @gavindecuir) #
  • Enjoying the masses of lovely pink cherry blossom on our (neighbour's) tree. #
  • Enjoying the calm warm evening sitting on Platform 1, waiting for delayed train: I also got here 30min too early, so lots of relaxing time! #
  • I could get very addicted to Platitude of the Day: e.g. today's—Rev John Bell of the Iona Community #
  • Starting the 'arduous' journey on the Caledonian Sleeper to Glasgow. A couple of whiskys will help us sleep! #
  • Buichladdich for Michael #
  • Woke up in Carluke. Where's my breakfast. ? Our train is rather juddery, driver needs a new engine or lessons.  #
  • Had a lovely meal last night at Euston at the Great Nepalese. Pretty spicy and sour food, distinctive. #
  • Breakfast has arrived. #
  • Had a lovely visit to mum and dad's, lunch (with wine) and then a short trip to Holmwood House in Cathcart. Now at Marks Hotel for a rest. #
  • Meeting family in 30 mins at The Dhabba in Candleriggs. Hope it's good (strong counter-vote for Ming's) #
  • The Merchant City was lively and full of atmosphere tonight. Ended up in Babbity Bowsters, after dinner at Dhabba, for a couple of beers. #
  • Heading out of Glasgow to visit Nuala and Joel in Stirling. Looking forward to seeing Nuala's 9-month bump! #
  • Having lunch with Nuala and Joel at lovely Cross Keys at Kippen. #

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Lunch with Nuala and Joel in Kippen

Early train this morning to visit Nuala and Joel in St Ninians. Joel drove us out to Kippen for lunch at the lovely Cross Keys. I haven’t really been to Kippen before and it’s lovely, as was the pub. It helped that the weather was glorious and we were able to sit outside in the sun, with views of Ben Ledi and back towards Callander (where I grew up). Nuala was three days short of her due date and was looking fabulous—

Cross Keys Kippen

Good lunch—fish and chips—and nice beer (I think it was Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted). The time raced by and we had to head back to the station straight after lunch—MIchael to head back to Cambridge and me to spend a winey evening with mum and dad, which was good fun. Mum made her salmon with ginger, and they walked me to the bus stop to see me off. The bus is very handy—dropped me almost outside Marks Hotel.

Visiting mum and dad in Glasgow

Another exciting sleeper journey to Scotland on the Caledonian Express. Michael and I met up in London at a Nepalese Restaurant at Euston, called the Great Nepalese, and had a lovely meal there. The food was different in style from a standard UK indian restaurant so that was good. On the train, we traded in our £10 worth of vouchers (part of travelling first class) to get a couple of whiskeys, which was lovely. But mild disappointment awaited—First Class = single occupancy standard class + breakfast (I knew I shouldn’t have expected the Orient Express).

Michael on the Caledonian Express

We did get to sit in the ‘First Class’ lounge car though. Amusingly the steward wouldn’t wait on tables and we had to go up to his door to get any service and he wasn’t keen on serving food!

Great to wake up in Glasgow at 7am, with a bacon butty and cup of tea, then to walk out into the centre of Glasgow which is empty at that time in the morning. We checked into the florid, ugly, but good value, Marks Hotel in Bath Street, a stroll from Central Station, then headed out to visit my parents in Croftfoot. After a winey lunch we went to visit Holmwood House close by in Cathcart designed by Alexander Thomson, a famous Glasgow architect. I first visited the house about 10 years ago on a conference excursions and I loved the way it was being restored back to the greek-style original with frescos and lovely wood-work. The place had been converted into a nunnery and all the fancy pagan, stencilling painted over—but also protected. The renovations haven’t come very far in the ten last ten years. We wandered around the house, which has a pretty feeble audio tour, and I think a few handwritten guides would have been better. Still, it was a good visit and very atmospheric. Lovely photographs on this web site (where the picture below is from):

Holmwood Innterior

In the evening we all met up with my brother and his new partner, Kelly, who is good fun. They beat us to the bar The Dhabba where we had a good North Indian meal and very good service. The place was buzzing. Walked around the corner to Babbity Bowsters for a drink afterwards and were chatting with people in the street—Glasgow really is much friendlier than down South.   

Tweets this Week (2010-04-05)

  • 'A Four Letter Word' was really good—much better than I thought. I almost never made it past the dreadful trailers! #
  • Had a lovely bottle of Tyrrel's Shiraz Cabernet that we bought in Hunter Valley 10 years ago. Well worth the wait! #
  • The house smells of durian. Defrosted a big lump to have with yoghurt, pretty overwhelming. #

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