Blogging ‘eck

I’m keen to develop the discipline of regular writing, and a blog allows that in bite-sized pieces which suits me and my short-attention span! And yes I use exclamation marks much too often.

I try and write about things that interest me. My eclectic tastes include art, architecture and writing, as well as sports such as cycling, running and kayaking with other stuff just thrown in, a bit like life itself.

Oh and I moved from Blogger (remember that?), this time last year, so used the xml export/import with no problems. So this year thought I’d try and learn a bit more about blogging and get a bit more dynamic.

You can’t parkour around here mate

Parkour has just been recognised as a sport by the UK sports council. For the development of this sport, also known as freerunning, this is good news as it now allows it to attract government grants and National Lottery funding.

Often perceived as being a high-risk activity in an urban environment, it was interesting listening to Sébastien Foucan in a recent radio interview. He’s a spokesperson for the sport but probably more recognised as the stunt man who did the audacious roof top chase in the James Bond film “Casino Royale”. He eloquently talked about it not being restricted to a “built environment” (i.e. urban) but about being a non-competitive discipline in public spaces. It was revealing and inspiring to hear him describe the need to respect the environment and that you could do the sport while “staying on the ground”. In response to the view that it wasn’t a sport, Sébastien stated they could measure and assess participants, as there were defined techniques and levels of progression. Adding that it was similar to gymnastics, you needed to respect the levels and not take risks by attempting something well outside your progression. I’m making him sound a bit dull, on radio he was enthusiastic and positive.

Why bother? I think it might be the simple attraction of being a big kid again, enjoying the freedom of running around outside, and the simple joys that came from doing things just because you could, like climbing trees and the fun of jumping off low walls and park benches, now being carried through to a bigger playground. Here’s an inspiring free running story.

There could be a downside, the trouble with being a recognised activity is that it can then become too elitist and competitive. While not a recognised “sport”,  Urban Exploration, or Urbex seems to have splintered into various factions, which does seem to be more prone to macho posturing, especially for social media. Mind you both Parkour and Urbex would look pretty spectacular as an Olympic Sport and far more an intrinsic challenge then many of the soi-disant Olympic Sports!

Building images

Murphy House, named after Richard Murphy, the architect and home-creater and owner, won the RIBA house of the year award this year.

Love it or loathe it, a least it’s a fascinating design, and looks like some sort of house. Other shortlisted ones included the ubiquitous endless glass panels of the Outhouse. Oh come on, give in with the sliding glass doors; and for goodness sake at least try and make it resemble a private dwelling rather than a trendy office block with lifestyle fixtures!

Meanwhile the CIOB are showcasing some fabulous photographs in their “Art of Building” competition. I know with Instagram and endless image banks there are already plenty of striking images, but trust me, these are striking images worth looking at. Plus unlike RIBA it’s a public vote so you can have an input into this year’s winner. But only if you’re quick, before 23rd January 2017. And if you’re not quick, you can look at next years!

My favourite? The art deco of “Control”, by Roman Robroek, from Hungary.

The competition attracts fabulous talent, so is a great opportunity for any budding photographers out there.

May you live in interesting times

Purporting to be a blessing, which is in fact a curse, it seems that truly we are now living in interesting times.

First, in the UK we have Brexit. We have voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the vote after 23 June 2016 were for leaving the EU 52% to 48%! The reality is we have left behind what we know and are now moving into a period of uncertainty.

Second, the next president of the United States in Donald Trump. Regardless of what you think of him, its now an unknown time, he is no experienced politician with a considered manner, instead he has a penchant for driving policy announcements via twitter. And in November 2016 more voters voted for Clinton, but Trump won the Electroral College votes, so is now a 70 year old president-in-waiting.

The saying may be apocryphal, in the UK is known as the “Chinese curse”, but has no real grounding in the East, but may have originated from Chamberlin’s 19th century speech:

“I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety”.

Airlander in the air

Anyone driving along the A421 near Bedford, England will wonder what are those two massive buildings that sit just off the road, but at enough distance to be near-unrecognisable. The locals know that what were once derelict giant ex-aircraft hangers are now hubs of industry. Being near enough to Bletchley Park, and with numerous active military airfields nearby, maybe there is a reluctance to let on what goes on there. But now all is revealed. It’s an airship

It is Big, And it is clever (hopefully). And apparently its not an airship, as it is not lighter than air! Watch the video for a few minutes in and you will see the giant airlander get inflated like a child’s beach toy, you can tell this is English technology! Interesting background and story. The actual company making this, have an interesting website for more information. There are some fascinating images of the Cardington Hangers and related pictures of RAF stations and equipment. And of course next door they filming Superman!

Ice, ice…

Just been to the first public icebike event, full of new cycle technology. It was cool to have a look at some of the trends and see some new products. As well as the brand-new products and cycle-related stuff (Go-Pros, Garmins etc) there were a couple of nifty stands like the bike fitting one.

As it had been a trade only event, now open to the public at the weekend, it was a good bit low-key and less frantic that a lot of the public bike fairs. Well, all except the sale area which of course was jam packed full of bargain hunters!

It’s a sign of the times that there were numerous café bars, including a coffee stand manned by Thule – who knew! My favourite was Mule bars which is veggie friendly (some are vegan) and in a range of trendy flavours. Hopefully all good for you, and made in the UK. Of course we drove there – oh no did I just say that!

Gym Bunny

So its that time of the year when “new year resolutions” get made. For many that message is “get fit, be healthier” and one big way is to join the gym.

That’s the easy bit over with. Joining the gym! As long as you afford the expense.

Then the kit buying, that occupies time and more expense.

Then the routine. Most gyms despite all the high tech are quite crap. A repetitive machine and mirrors, lots of mirrors. And as everyone else had the same new year resolution as you, and most seem to have office jobs just like you, they’re busy when you get there. Busy and Boring. Um.

When its winter its too dark to go out early mornings and its too dark and cold to go later in the evening. Suddenly that new year resolution looks shaky. Much better and easier to just get a hobby and get a routine. Go for a run, go for a swim, go for a cycle. Go for a walk. Less expensive than a gym and probably a whole lot better. Maybe a resolution for next year!

Jimdo

So spent time this month creating a website for Sally-Anne Adams, artist. I was going to create the site on WordPress, also looked at Wix and Weebly.

Jimdo seemed easy to set-up and had nice clear crisp templates to choose from, and the benefit of not having so many choices that its hard to select one. I started doing a mock up on that. Then realised the site went live straight away, so decided to stick with it and make it active. Working on live site isn’t that recommended though!

While the template fitted well I then had a play with selecting other templates and viewing how the site looked with those. The editing was fairly straightforward and seemed OK and the site uptime seems fine so for a free website quite impressed. Have just added it to google so hopefully will be active soon.

For original and unique artwork go to Sally-Anne Adams, acrylic and watercolour paintings. Also available at Sally_Anne Adams Instagram and Facebook. Why not have a look?

Who would want to be a coach?

After England didn’t win the Rugby World Cup, that they hosted, the head coach Stuart Lancaster took the blame and was ousted.

Now Eddie Jones has been appointed. While it was clear Lancaster was going to be the brunt of the lack of success as a coach he had been lauded before the World Cup, much like the new man, Eddie Jones is being. Will he do the trick and help England onto a winning path? On paper it looks encouraging. But the odds are stacked high, only one team can be the best in the world, only one team can win a tournament. So where does that leave all the rest?

RIBA Cycling

While I do admire modern buildings, somehow another year of RIBA buildings are here, and yet again expanses of glass, pillars of modern materials be they steel or concrete seem ubiquitous. I grasp the concept that designers have to design for their clients, but surely someone wants a different looking building in the whole of the modern world, and not one that looks as tho you could design it with lego bricks and then do some sort of computer modelling “substitute sheet glass for lego plastic”. DONE.

I mean they’re all quite striking. But just heft and weight. Not something you can really say “wow”. Last week a Vulcan bomber flew overhead, on its last public flight. The Vulcan has been flying for 50 years. You still look at it and go wow, same with a Jaguar E-type, it just exudes sheer design style.

Burntwood School: Nearly £41million. Please can someone pay a bit of attention to the cycle stand outside the school. Presumably quite a lot of kids could arrive on a cycle. What do they get?. A cold windswept corridor of stark metal hoops. Oh and there’s a rubbish bin right beside them, as if to say this is an area for a right mess, the naughty kids and smokers. Oh and you can park your bike here. Not under cover, not protected. No. just against a metal hoop, near a rubbish bin. Great. Actually maybe it is a striking design feature – the blurb says they have “produced grown-up buildings for Burntwood School, which make kids raise their game, instead of pandering to them” so there! Raise your game don’t arrive by bike.