We had a little family trip to the FINA World Series Diving at the London Aquatics Centre yesterday. It was my daughter Esther’s idea. She bought the tickets as a birthday treat for my wife Naomi who had enjoyed watching Tom Daley et al on TV competing at the Olympics two years ago.
My best picture was of Ivan Garcia about to hit the water having dived from the 10m platform.
This guy is maybe better known to UK readers. Tom Daley was not on his best form yesterday although he did execute a few truly excellent dives.
Not so easy to recognise from this picture, maybe even to his own fans. It’s Chen Aisen, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.
In between taking pictures of the sculptures I spotted this couple enjoying a bit of quiet togetherness on a bench, overlooking Chatsworth House.
They were just there, enjoying the view. In an odd sort of way, it reminded me of when Naomi and I just sat for an hour admiring the totality of Machu Picchu.
Another sculpture by Tony Cragg. This one is Tongue in Cheek.
I was trying to work out whether the title was supposed to work on a number of levels. That is, was it supposed to look literally like a rolled up tongue inside a cheek, as well as representing something intended as fun and playful?
Questions of interpretation apart, the sculptures in the Beyond Limits exhibition were in general very accessible in the sense that they were eye-catching and enjoyable for their own sake. Just back in August, Naomi and I had been to Venice and were somewhere between bemused and sickened by some of what passes for art at the Biennale fringe events.
I had some holiday to use up at the end of September, so Naomi took a few days off as well. We used one of them to visit Chatsworth House, to see the Sotheby’s sculpture exhibition “Beyond Limits” on display in the gardens.
This is Current Version by Tony Cragg.
We enjoyed the trip very much and luckily the weather held up, just. The Chatsworth gardens are quite beautiful and the fact that the 20 sculptures are strategically distributed around the garden area means you end up exploring the whole of it. The gardens set off the art and vice versa, so the experience as a whole was more than the sum of the parts.
On the minus side, I think my Sony DSLR is on its last legs. The electronics went very wobbly at one point and I was shooting “blind”. The problem righted itself but I think I may need to delve back into the camera market quite soon.
Some pictures I took at the Chatsworth International Horse Trials this weekend. These are all from the cross country event. No show jumping or dressage.
The weather was very changeable – fleeting sunshine would give way to torrential rain in a matter of seconds. I did not fancy the risk of water damage to my camera and took it back to the car out of harm’s way.
These three, of Polly Jackson riding Papillon over one of the water jumps, form part of a sequence on continuous shooting.
Sarah Barker on Diamond Life. Seems to be finding it an exhilarating experience …
Another Sarah, Sarah Thorpe, riding Durlas Aris. I nearly left this picture out, because the horse’s head is partly out of shot. But on reflection, it captures the power and pace of the horse, and the impact on the water, better than any of them.
I believe (based on this) that this is Beatrice Stocks on Toy Story II.
Oli Townend on ODT Penguin Ice:
Some more pictures from the British Open Show Jumping Championships 2009. This one, of William Whitaker on Fairviews Mirabelle D’Or, is my favourite.
The horse is not 100% sharp, I couldn’t get the shutter speed fast enough in that situation. But it’s not far off and I caught the peak of the action. The foreshortening, raised front hooves and dipping head make it look more like William Whitaker is riding a dolphin than a horse.
In practice, there were only two fences I stood a chance at capturing the action at. The one above and a green and yellow one closer to where I was sitting, but where the horses were moving across my line of view, not towards me, making it even harder to freeze the action. This is another Whitaker, Ellen this time, on Equimax Ocolado. Sounds like a drink or maybe a supermarket.
This is Guy Williams.
The perennial Nick Skelton.
Unfortunately I misjudged the trajectory of the action, managing to lose the top of Pius’s head. Naomi joked that if I’d done the same with the photo above it, we’d have a picture of Nearly Headless Nick.
On 19 April, Naomi, Esther and I went to the British Open show jumping at the LG Arena, NEC Birmingham. To my surprise, photography (without flash) was allowed. Well flash would have been useless at the distances involved anyway.
Some of my pictures from the event, starting with French trainer Jean-François Pignon.
Then the preparations for the grand final showjumping event.
Robert Whitaker on Lacroix 9
Some pictures from last weekend’s afternoon tea at the West Lodge Park hotel to celebrate Lucia’s milestone birthday. We had perfect weather so took our tea out in the open. This meant we could go for occasional wanders around the arboretum, play croquet to our own invented rules, etc.
Another of my legendary random compositions.
Jonny has just finished his four years at Trinity, Oxford. Results next week. A couple of weeks ago Naomi, Esther and I went to see him there and we went punting on the Cherwell.
Esther turned out to be a very good puntist, or whatever the correct word is.
Not everyone was using punts. The boathouse also have these crosses between punts and pedalos. I called them “puntalos”.
This was Trinity lawn, taken not long before they started marking out the grounds for the Commem Ball marquees.
A digression from the recent Far East fare – some pictures taken today from a family (plus Chloe Honeyborne) trip to the park on Hale Road to get some poweriser practice in. The powerisers (strictly Pro-Jumps) were bought as a present for Esther and are this year’s alternative to pogo sticks. Once you get the hang of them you can leap over mountains in a single bound, do 100 successive backflips in one minute and other such amazing feats.
Getting Chloe strapped into the powerisers:
This picture is not as dodgy as it looks. It was Chloe’s first experience of the powerisers and it takes a while to get your balance. Early on you need to hold onto somebody if you want to avoid collapsing in a heap.
Having questioned the extent to which Newsvine really is a bastion of Citizen Journalism I’ve decided to take some positive action by indulging in a bit of CJ of my own. I’m afraid this comes under “soft” news but meets my own criterion that it must be something that might reasonably be carried by the “old” media. In this case I’m reporting on an exceptional musical performance by Regina Spektor at the Carling Academy, Liverpool UK, home of the Beatles (Liverpool that is, not the Carling Academy which wasn’t there in their day – Ed).
Maybe I might become the Newsvine Northwest England Arts and Entertainment Correspondent, or something like that.
No press pass for me. I had to pay for my ticket. Actually, it was only by chance I went at all. My two sons had booked the tickets, but the older son got himself a job in London (working for the BBC no less) for a month before returning to Oxford for his final year there. Anyway there was a spare ticket. Alex, the younger son, asked me to go with him, mainly because he needed someone who could drive him there but he also knew I was a Spektor fan of sorts.
In my own small way I had “discovered” Ms Spektor before he did, which is an achievement given how hooked in he is to the music scene. I’d heard one track (Hotel Song) on Pandora and was instantly hooked. So now we’re all hooked.
Regina is not big enough yet to command a mega-venue. The Carling Academy in central Liverpool is very much a second-line venue, the main hall taking a maximum audience of 1,200, all standing. As befits a theatre sponsored by an alcoholic drinks company there was a big bar at the back serving Carling lager.
Standing for hours is not so much fun when you are of an age to have grown up (ish) children. The teenagers and young adults don’t mind so much. They just drink, jabber amongst themselves and tinker with their phones, mainly texting. I wasn’t necessarily the oldest person there, and I’m well enough preserved not to embarrass my progeny in attendance, but the local demographic was well stacked against me.
The support act was a well-intentioned but talent-challenged individual called Eugene McGuinness who sang random songs of his own invention, accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. The best that can be said for him is that he broke up the monotony of waiting for Regina, at least for a while. We had been in the place from just after 7, shortly after the doors opened, and Regina didn’t make her entrance until after 9. By that time the audience were frantic for any evidence of her at all, and she came on stage to rapturous applause. The place was by then packed, but Alex and I, having arrived relatively early, were close to the stage.
Aside from the powerful voice, quirky singing mannerisms, very original lyrics and the strength of her songs, what caught my attention the most was the way she related to her audience. Regina went to pains to make us feel that she wanted to relate to us, to engage with us. We were not there just for our ticket money. Regina was not taking us for granted. She was respectful and always reminding us that she knew we were there. She thanked us for “choosing to spend an evening with her”. I liked that. I liked the way she kept having the lights turned up a little bit briefly between songs so she could “take a peek” at us. It may just be her routine for working the audience but it came over as genuine and heartfelt, and I’m happy to take it at face value.
She seemed genuinely thrilled that her audience knew her songs, were prepared to sing along, would yell out for their favourites. It’s like until making a public performance she hadn’t realised there was a world “out there” that had discovered her music and had taken it to their hearts. Now this was hardly Regina’s first concert, yet she almost gave the impression that it was. She was delighted with us for being delighted with her.
It was just her, a piano, a guitar (for a couple of numbers), a stick which she thwacks against a chair with frightening fervour to provide a bizarre form of percussion on “Poor Little Rich Boy”, a microphone and us. No backing band. Not needed. She had plenty enough charm, presence and talent to transport us all into rapture. And all this without alcohol – I’d have lost my vantage point if I’d wandered off to the bar. I even forgot my tired aching legs.
This post first appeared on Newsvine.
Not a cheap place to go for one’s Bank Holiday Monday family outing. Four of us at £20 each, no concessions.
The Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting is the North’s answer to the Goodwood Revival historic racing car event, so there were some historic cars such as John Polson’s 1934 Talbot Alpine:
Or Martin Overington’s 1929 Bentley Blower. Note the expert panning photographic technique – so the car comes out reasonably sharp but the background is blurred, emphasising the impression of speed. I was quite pleased with this one.
A more recent Bentley: the Speed 8 which won Le Mans in 2003.
The highlight of the day was probably the Rally Stage Demonstration, where for £35 a pop professional rally drivers take members of the public round 3 laps of the rally course internal to the main Oulton circuit. It was great to watch the cars doing their power slides with tyres screeching. Jonny had a go as a passenger in a Ford Escort Cosworth:
Esther enjoyed the grass best. Either eating it or throwing it over people.
Another panning shot – this time Peter Lanfranchi driving a 1961 E-Type Jag in the HSCC Guards Trophy event.