Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review : December

Finally December to conclude my review of 2011. First of all a note on why i did this, apart from instant nostalgia of course. All the information i have used for these reviews is available from my Facebook and Flickr accounts and my blog. Thus it shows just how much information you can put about yourself online. Now of course a lot of these data on the likes of Facebook require context and memories to make any sense of them but someone who didn't know me could probably put together a reasonable review of my 2011 too, i hope this will therefore be of use to future historians.

December involved a third trip to Worcester this year, this time taking my Mum to do some Xmas shopping. I also attempted some Xmas crafts using pine cones, they didn't turn out quite as well as i hoped but at least it wasn't as weird as last year's nativity scene with dinosaurs. After Xmas i paid a trip to Wilmcote and retraced the steps Mary Arden might had made down to Stratford. Well i walked along the canal of course, which didn't exist when Mary was around, she probably took the bus or train. I also paid a short visit to Whitehouse Common in Sutton Coldfield.
Star Wars Lego Advent Day 18
December was marked by a rediscovery of Lego. I bought a Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar and also bought some (and was bought) other sets from the City and Star Wars ranges. Lego is a key aspect of geek-dom after all.

Song of the month was "Magic" by Ladyhawke. My music blog has a review of music in 2011.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wilmcote to Stratford

Needing some exercise to get over the Christmas excess i headed down to Wilmcote today for a canal walk. I headed along the canal towards Stratford and after awhile decided to walk all the way down to the termination point of the canal where it meets the River Avon in Stratford. It was a 3 and a half mile walk down there which did me good. It was nice to visit Stratford again of course and i had a short walk down the river Avon in the opposite direction to where i usually go, this will be something i will be aiming to explore again next year.

Wilmcote is such a nice part of the country, South Warwickshire itself has a beauty even in the depths of Winter (OK its mild this year). This is where i hope to live one day...
Wilmcote to Stratford DSC_0068

2011 Review : November

The penultimate month of the year saw me travel to Milton Keynes (for the first time, as opposed to just travelling through to and from London) for the first day school of my current Open University course. Both MK and the OU campus are rather strange places to be honest, naturally i got lost. The day school was an interesting experience however, once i found where i was supposed to go!

I also returned to Worcester, this time walking the canal there and went to Stratford for what i thought would be my final visit of the year (though i went there again today so obviously it wasn't).
Worcester DSC_0064
I launched a new blog, spinning my comic reviews from my music blog to their own dedicated home. Take A Clean Sheet Of Paper is the new blog and hopefully it will also be a success. I completed a Bristol F.2B kit and then called an end to my 2011 Airfix modelling campaign. The outhouse where i do my kits is just too cold in Winter to sit there and hold a paint brush steadily. I shall begin the 2012 campaign in March perhaps.

Song of the month was "I love boys" by Amanda Applewood.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Review : A-Z of 2011 Pop

I put together a playlist on Youtube bringing together an A-Z of bands i liked in 2011. I drew a blank on Q, U and V but the other 23 letters stand for some pretty good bands and songs. Check them out!

2011 Review : October

October was the month i had been awaiting all year with trepidation. Why? Because of my 40th birthday. I officially became an old man. I could have taken stock i guess, but didn't. Or had a mid-life crisis, this i did but of course my crisis was in my own unique style. I bought a record player and some 7" singles.

For my birthday i went to Oxford for a very enjoyable break, there i took many photographs of the dreamy spires and the canal using the new Nikon DSLR camera my wife bought me for my birthday. Later in the month i also went to Hatton again.
Oxford Museum of Natural History
Other highlights of the month included seeing the Tintin movie (in 2D natch) and seeing my first ghost. My house is haunted and for years i have felt a presence and sometimes also heard things, one night in October however i saw what looked like a Victorian lady in a bonnet by the side of my bed out of the corner of my eye. When i turned my head she was gone though. Later on i saw her again. Luckily there haven't been many hauntings since.

I had my first eye test for a couple of years, once again i came away without needing glasses though the optician told me i might need some after i came again in a couple of years time. Getting old see?

Song of the month was "Helas" by Young Michelin. Completed kits were a Hurricane I and a Hannover Cl IIIa, the latter had wonderful paintwork which took ages to do but it was worth it afterwards, more or less.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Star Wars Advent

As i mentioned earlier in the month i had a Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar this year. Well all the items were opened before Christmas of course but i took a photograph every day and you can see them in this Flickr set here. My favourite was the mouse robot on the Death Star which Chewie so memorably scared away.
Star Wars Lego Advent Day 14

2011 Review : September

September began with my first visit to Worcester (that i can remember anyway, i may have come before as a kid). A very nice city Worcester is too which i like indeed, so much so in fact that i returned twice later in the year! Another trip was further afield, this time up to Wigan for my cousin's wedding. While i was there a horse in the field outside the hotel window looked me in the eye and then had a poo. I consider this horse the most honest creature i have ever met.
Lancashire P9170008
At the start of the year i made for myself a (short) list of three targets for canal walks in 2011, on one day later in September i managed to cross off two of these targets by completing the Tame Valley Canal (it is the canal neared to my work so i walk along a short stretch of it very frequently but had not yet walked the stretch from Great Barr to Walsall - well until September 24th anyway). In doing so i was also able to walk the Walsall Canal and cross that target off too. The other target, the Dudley Canal, can wait until 2012...

I received my MA materials ahead of the start of the course in October. After nearly a year off study (my final exam on my BA was back in October 2010) getting started again as a student was a bit daunting. Analogue TV came to an end in the Central region, thus the teletext age ended for me. Although i only read the letters page on P145 at the end it was still a sad loss. Completed kits in September were a Grumman Gosling and a Spitfire Vb.

Song of the month was "Careful what you say" by Class Actress. I discovered the joys of neo-synth pop, a genre i would be listening to a lot more in the months to come.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas world

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year and i hope you will continue to come to my blog in 2012.  As i am such a weirdo geek i photographed my Xmas dinner of course to upload to teh intarweb.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Review : August

The month of rioting, i did not of course as i'm not a gimp. Instead i discovered the joys of Wilmcote which became my new dream place to live. Not far from the station along the canal i came across a spot of total tranquility, no traffic noise at last! For someone who has grown up within earshot of the Spaghetti Juncrtion all his life that is a big thing. Another place i visited was Warwick and its canals, another nice place. I managed to fit in trips to Curdworth and Stratford-upon-Avon too!
Wilmcote P8130048
After my wars against the moths in July (which still rumbled on into August) i was called upon to deal with another infestation, this time of mice at my Mum's house. I had to kill a mouse which was running along her bed, i felt so bad afterwards to be honest but it had to be done. Mum found 2 more dead mice in the weeks afterwards but none since so hopefully that has been sorted out now.

I completed a Fairey Fulmar kit and my song of the month was "A key turns" by The Depreciation Guild.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TOTP (25/11/1976)

Jimmy Saville (RIP) is here with the hottest pop sounds and lo we have a new number 1 but first...

Kursaal Flyers - little does she know
This song was used later on by a cough mixture brand for its advert. We get a not unpleasant syrupy (ahem) pop song and they have some washing machines on stage, no doubt an inspiration for Vic Reeves many years later. The singer also has a quiff so big it interferes with the studio ceiling lights.

Dr Hook - if not you
Dr Hook wonders who is going to mend his pants, well its not me thats for sure. The director displays a burst of genius when the camera fixes on an electric guitar during the pedal steel guitar solo. Still all the same of course, strings and stuff.

Billy Ocean - stop me
Stop me if you heard it all before, oh please because i have.

Legs & Co (the show where they were officially named has been lost alas) are here to interpret Be Bop Deluxe’s “maid in heaven” through the medium of dance. Keen to win over bitter fans of Ruby Flipper the Legs have gone for the nearly naked look, oh and the usual dodgy dance.

Jimmy has an uncanny knack of collecting sailors when he is on TOTP.

Cliff Richard - hey Mr Dreammaker
Not my favourite Cliff song (not that i have many) but not a bad music video to be honest, for the time anyway, which looks like a bit BBC Sci-fi horror. Only sans cybernauts or daleks.

ABBA - money money money
Another ABBA anthem, we get an intriguing video full of meaningful looks and 70s frocks.

Elton John - sorry seems to be the hardest word
Well its a great song and he wears great specs.

Jimmy is surrounded by ladies, one of whom seems to be being goosed or nearly falling over anyway.

Chicago - if you leave me now
So Pussycat are no more, we got AOR city instead with the same MV used on an earlier show.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Review : July

The heat was on, especially at home where i had a moth infestation in my living room! I spent all of the month hunting the things down, luckily by the early Autumn it seemed like they were all gone. I ended up breaking my vacuum cleaner during the early battles but it was an ill-wind (sorry) as i was able to purchase a Henry as a replacement!

One experiment in July was to take a photo every day during the month, the results were mixed with some days i was finding it hard to think of something interesting to photograph (and it makes it look like my life revolves around canals and coffee which is probably true) but you can see them all here. July was a busy month for going places and hence for photography, i took 932 photos (the most ever in a month) including photoshoots in Leamington Spa, London (including the Imperial War Museum), the Soho Loop in Birmingham and Hatton.
Imperial War Museum P7160079
I also went to a few cricket matches including T20 and 2nd XI action at Edgbaston and Walmley, the former was a televised match and i was able to spot myself in the crowd later on when Sky replayed it, the first time i've ever seen myself on TV, mind you i was just a blur in the crowd which is probably a good way of summing up my life.

Model building continued, i finished a lovely Spitfire Ia and started a Fairey Fulmar. Song of the month was "Cold colours" by the Trembling Blue Stars.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Around Mere Green & Whitehouse Common

On my last day of annual leave for 2011 (apart from the days i have already allocated next week as the uni is closed) i decided i should go somewhere. I did think about Wilmcote but the weather was pretty poor so instead stayed a bit closer to home and explored a bit of the public footpath on Whitehouse Common in Sutton Coldfield that i haven't yet done yet (it seemed to end at a farm, i decided to not go any further incase the farmer released his bulls after me), as well as some wonderfully bleak Winter landscapes along Fox Hill Road.

Afterwards i went and took some photos of an interesting church i've seen in Mere Green near the supermarket i always go to, i find its pink look intriguing so took a few photos of it too! Here you can see the photo set.
St James' Church, Hill. Mere Green

2011 Review : June

The midpoint of the year was marked by two genuinely life highlights. During the month i saw the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in concert (my review here) thus marking the first time i had actually seen whom might be considered my favourite band at the time live (and not cheap has-beens as usual). I also was able to finally attend a graduation ceremony when i was awarded my BA History. For various reasons i never attended a ceremony when i got my BSc Software Engineering at BCU but now finally i was able to don the gown!

It was a good month for canal walks and photography, i took no fewer than 623 photos this month including walks around Curdworth, Stratford, Whitehouse Common and up the Tame Valley Canal in Perry Barr.
Whitehouse Common
I bought a new electronic toy at the start of the month, an iconic HP-12C calculator. Reverse Polish Notation, natch. I developed a new way of budgeting using post-it notes on the wall, and it seems to work quite well. I continued my model making and completed a rather unwieldily Supermarine Walrus.

Song of the month was "Heaven's gonna happen now" by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mr Pump's Legacy (Stratoship H.22 Part 1)

Herge's Tintin is world famous of course and rightly so, especially with the new Hollywood movie now out (which is very good by the way) but Herge drew other comic strips too including Jo, Zette and Jocko. Jo and Zette are two children who get into adventures with their pet chimp Jocko, though usually by way of their engineer Father.

In this adventure they end up flying an advanced new aeroplane that is trying to win a prize by crossing the Atlantic in the fastest time yet.

The comic strip is truly beautifully drawn, and wonderfully reproduced here with some of the cleanest lines i've ever seen in a ligne claire strip. It is a true period piece set in the 1930s with a heavy dose of art deco, especially in the aeroplane the Stratoship H.22.

There is a good plot too with other powers trying to sabotage the record attempt. How the children manage to end up flying the plane is a bit contrived maybe but sets up part 2 of the story as they fly off lost...

The only criticism i have is that Jocko is a bit annoying though does provide some excellent comic relief at times. Its not Tintin but its an excellent comic adventure in its own right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Review : May

The weather improved and the cricket season properly got underway. I am a member of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and try to get to the Edgbaston ground at least 6 or 7 times a season (plus a 2nd XI game at Walmley) my first match being a CB40 game against Leicestershire. I also attended a day of the county championship match (my favourite competition) against Durham.
Warks vs Leics 01/05/11
I conducted a foodtography experiment in May, for a week i photographed every breakfast, lunch and dinner i had and uploaded to a Flickr set. I might do the same next year and then i can compare if anything much has changed food wise but i doubt it. I went to Stratford-upon-Avon at the end of the month, the first of 4 trips to the town this year. Its become a bit like my second home i guess. I also paid a trip to the Kingfisher Country Park in east Birmingham, not far from where my Nan used to live.

During May i finally got some Flash training after years of asking work for it! Better late than never i guess but i haven't actually used my Flash skills (careful) since attending the 2 day course. Its all HTML5 nowadays of course, well not quite but it will be soon. Perhaps the training was simply a present from work as i passed my 10 years of being a BCU employee in early May.

My Airfix model planes continued to roll off the production line, i completed a Gloster Gladiator and a Fairey Battle. Song of the month was "Welcome to infinity" by Hyperbubble.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Movie serial fun

Years ago the Christmas TV schedules were a lot more innovative and fun (of course by law everything in the past was better than it is today, except for equal rights for women and internet speeds of course, everything else nowadays is rubbish) and usually the BBC showed something like Flash Gordon (as in the 1930s movie serial) every morning in the run-up to Christmas. Not nowadays of course, basically the same pap is shown as is the rest of the year. It just shows a lack of imagination and edge by the schedulers. What would you rather see in the morning? Homes Under The Hammer or Buster Crabbe battling a man in a rubber monster suit?

Well i do have the latter on DVD... so i have begun watching the serial, an episode a day, in the run up to Christmas. Watching the evil Emperor Ming, rooms full of crackling electrical equipment and men in unconvincing armour puts me in the Christmas mood unlike anything else!

Happily a number of other serials are in the public domain and are available to download off the internet so i might just do that over the break...
"What can you see Flash?"
"Rip Off Britain? What's that all about?"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Review : April

The Spring was here and the walks began in earnest, i walked a few footpaths around Curdworth and Sutton Coldfield and visited Coleshill a couple of times. I also managed to fit in a canal walk along the Tame Valley Canal (for a change). 317 photos in total were added to my Flickr account, including some of an airship that flew over my house. I did wonder if we were at war with the Kaiser again.
Blimp over Erdington
A notable thing i did in April was register for my Masters degree with the Open University, that i finally began in October. Apart from that though it seems a pretty mundane month. I built 2 kits, a Canadair Sabre and a Gloster Gladiator. The latter my first biplane for some time.

Song of the month was "nothing new" by April March.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Making Lion look like... well System 7.5-ish

Great as Mac OSX is i do miss the old Finder and UI from pre-OSX Mac days. Of course it crashed a lot, didn't have very good multitasking and less toys than OSX but some charm and fun was lost when Apple transitioned. I miss the days of trying a funky extension (remember the one that rendered your desktop in ASCII characters?) and Resedit to do weird (and dangerous things) to your Mac.

Well we can't go back to those days on a modern Mac (though maybe i'll boot up one of my relics one of these days) but we can do a few things to make our uber-modern Macs more classic, more retro, only without da bomb. One thing i have done is use the excellent to give my desktop rounded edges, as Steve insisted rounded rectangles are everywhere ok?

Another thing is to use a retro wallpaper. I used to like the green tartan wallpaper, luckily some other people had a yearning for the old wallpapers too and they are available to download. Now all i need is Chooser and i will be in retro-Mac hog heaven.

2011 Review : March

As the Winter receded and Spring approached things picked up on the activity front. I did my first canal walks of the year, visiting the Titford Canal in Oldbury early in the month. I also visited the Plantbrook Nature Reserve. After just a handful of photos uploaded to Flickr in February there was a whopping 228 uploaded in March!
My wife Arlene became a British citizen in March, attending her citizenship ceremony was interesting. It was all very New Labour, smiley and friendly but with strict rules and little tolerance if you deviated from them. Other highlights of the month included setting my mortgage on a new fixed rate for 5 years as i thought the base rate was long overdue a rise, now in December the base rate still hasn't risen and analysts reckon it won't rise for a while yet. Ho hum!

I resumed model building after the Winter break and completed an Bf109 and a DeHavilland Comet. I applied for Olympic tickets (though was ultimately unsuccessful) and tried to change the toilet seat in the bathroom. Problems with the screws meant i gave up for the moment... unfortunately the moment to resume has not come yet!

This blog was created in March, another attempt to create a personal blog and its still going so maybe this one will finally work.

Song and artist of the month was Susan Fassbender and her hit "twilight cafe".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Xmas crafts

I enjoyed making Xmas decorations last year so was keen to do so again, though this year i wanted to do something a little different. I collected some pine cones at the weekend and this evening i created these decorations. I put some glue on the cones and then shook them up in a bag containing cinnamon and glitter stars. After the photo was taken i also added a felt accessory and will consider adding some tinsel too. I could have done with some proper glitter to be honest i might get some if i make a second batch.
Cinnamon and glitter star pine cones

2011 Review : February

February was a busy month work wise, the University held its graduation ceremonies and i joined the PR team there to take some atmosphere and additional photographs. I was able to meet a pop star, a Lord and a film legend. I won't say who they are as i'm not a showbiz namedropper!

I went through a Gerry Anderson phase and bought the complete Thunderbirds and Stingray boxsets and then proceeded to devour the Supermarionation action within a couple of weeks. I'm unable to answer the vital question of Penelope or Atlanta though. The Killing also kept me gripped.

Photography wise it was a very poor month with just 7 photos added to my Flickr (for comparison in July i added 932!) The best of the lot was probably this one of a narrowboat on the canal.
Tame Valley Canal
The Depreciation Guild was my band of the month with their "Crucify you" my favourite song.

Tintin : Flight 714

The penultimate (completed) Tintin adventure is maybe one of the darkest of the lot, thus it maybe is an unusual way to start a retrospective review of all of the Tintin books on this blog but i've got to start somewhere!

Tintin, Snowy, Haddock and Calculus end up on a private jet which is hijacked and landed on a remote island in the West Pacific by a group of hoodlums intent on relieving one of the world's richest men (a superbly arrogant and vile Carreidas) of some of his fortune. The island they land on has more secrets than even the bad guys banked on though...

Flight 714 is a dark story though not without much of the humour that you often get with later Tintin and its ensemble cast, it is even a bit post-modern at times with recurring jokes from earlier in the series. The violence is rawer, less comical than the early Tintin days but i find the emotion that brings up makes Flight 714 a very engaging read.

Flight 714 has been criticised though for its deus ex machina resolution involving extraterrestrials but i have no problem with this, the story was written at a time when ancient astronauts as popularised by Erich Von Daniken were very popular and alien abductions and sightings were very common. This book really caught the late 60s zeitgeist but in subsequent years Von Daniken's ideas have become discredited though this doesn't detract from the excitement such fantastic ideas cause if they were true, nor indeed the quality of Flight 714.

It has some of the best examples of artwork in any Tintin story, some of the scenes such as the jet landing, can only be described as cinematic and breathtaking. It is not perfect though, some of the small universe syndrome Tintin suffers from crops up again, as bad guys we've seen quite a few times already in early books return again. The story also seems to finish fairly abruptly. These are only minor points, while it might be less accessible than some earlier Tintin books Flight 714 is truly a high point...

This review originally appeared on my Take A Clean Sheet Of Paper comic blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 Review : January

As i live such a varied and exciting life i have decided to do a monthly review of 2011 to show off just how cool i am. That is irony of course but i am indeed embarking on a review of my activities in 2011 of which this is the first part. Mostly this is for myself as an aide memoire, this blog is my new media diary after all, but maybe it will be of interest to others too...

January was cold, the cold snap continued over the Christmas and New Year break which meant we were not able to go up to Lancashire and exchange gifts with our relations up there until late in the month. In hindsight this was a good thing as it meant there were a couple of presents left to open a couple of weeks after all the others.

Early on in January though i was adjusting to life as the owner of a shiny new iPad (Xmas present). I can't emphasis how much this changed my life to be honest. Its one of that small elite group of technological toys which generally did make a difference. Its never far from my side at home, which means i can write rubbish on Facebook much easier of course. I also got a Kindle in January and this was another wonderful toy.

In the mid-part of the month i went down to London to see my in-laws and enjoyed some strong wind assisted fun around Canary Wharf on a Saturday night. Luckily i didn't get arrested and executed as a terrorist.
Canary Wharf
Looking back at my Flickr archive it was a quiet month on the old photography front, probably mostly because it was so cold. I did capture one of the British Waterways service boats on the local canal, i remember the crew told me they were on their way to clear a blockage in Saltley! I also took a photo of one of my cookery experiments, this was supposed to be red cabbage with blackcurrant which i believe actually turned out not too bad! One highlight (?) in the month was joining my PR colleagues in the Brains of BCU Quiz, i believe we came third.

I broke my 3D movie virginity by seeing Tron (though this also remains my only movie experience avec les specs) and also saw The King's Speech. Tron was a good film though when i saw the 2D version on DVD later in the year the lack of the extra dimension it did not spoil my enjoyment much at all and i remain to be convinced of the benefit of 3D in movieland apart from the makers' bank balances. On TV i began my love affair with The Killing and Sofie Gråbøl.

Harper Lee was my band of the month with their sublime "I don't need to know about your wonderful life" my pick of the pops. How is that for irony?!

Monday, December 5, 2011

TOTP (04/11/1976)

Noel Edmonds is in front of a sack, and he of course makes a hilarious joke about getting the sack. No one could have predicted that of course. Pussycat remain at number 1 but to start off...

Showaddywaddy - under the moon of love
The faux 50s rockers are here, cutely their “live” performance is interspersed with a recording making earlier when they are wearing different coloured suits. Doo wah wah et cetera. Its inoffensive fun.

The Manhattans - hurt
This earnest video again, every single ounce of emotion is drawn out. The sort of song you listen to when you’ve had a break-up, a row, or broken your lava lamp and especially if all three.

Noel has all the entries for the name the dance troupe competition in a sack. He says there have been so many entries they’ve got to delay the naming until next week.

The nameless dancers are here to dance to “All right now”, that is a bit old isn’t it? Oh wait its another song that rips it off rather blatantly, in fact its the Steve Miller Band with Rock and me. The dancing looks like a rip-off too of the kind of formless shuffling Ruby Flipper mastered.

The Who - substitute
My favourite Who song is in the chart at #15 for some reason, not that i am complaining obviously. Here is some live performance from The Who. Oh yeah. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth too. This a bit better than Showaddywaddy eh?

Bonnie Tyler - lost in France
Its not bad if your second single makes the top 30 according to Noel, of course in the 1970s it indeed was good going. A jolly tune with a bit of accordion in the background just to hammer home this song is about being lost in France. Next week Bonnie wears a beret and an onion string.

Tavares - don’t stop the music
The Tavares have stolen the world’s entire supply of dry ice. And have dressed as matadors too, they are spoiling us.

The Climax Blues Band - couldn’t get it right
A singing saxophonist! This is cool, especially as singing sax man has an appealingly low voice. As a bit of late 70s boogie woogie rock it can’t be beat.

Noel is on stage with Chicago who he thinks should be at number 1 but they arn’t so ner as its still...

Pussycat - Mississippi
We’re back on the river boat!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pine cones and craft

I was out collecting pine cones and needles this morning. This isn't something i normally do on a Sunday morning but i am feeling like i should be doing some proactive creative things this Yule and not settling back to just eat endless mince pies and watching bad TV. Last year i created some candles and a nativity scene, this year i have decided to take some inspiration from this website on Yule crafts. What i am going to make yet is undecided but i thought i'd get some raw materials anyway.

The pine trees are on a corner of Spring Lane Playing Fields which is near where i live and was the playing fields of my Primary School (i guess the school don't use the fields anymore as its too dangerous?) I wonder how big these trees were when we used to go on nature trails and the like on the field back in the early 1980s? Were they even around then?
Spring Lane Playing Fields

Worcester and canal art

I returned to Worcester yesterday, only a couple of weeks after my last visit, only this time to take my Mum there and didn't go on some canal exploration epic. Since my Dad died a couple of years ago she doesn't go to that many places mostly because she doesn't know how. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted how easy it is to travel around, use the train et cetera but when you have spent decades letting someone else make the decisions and doing the organisation when you then have to do it yourself i guess it is pretty daunting. I took her to Stratford for the same reason in the Summer, though she hasn't yet made the trip herself as she said she would, i guess inertia is also another factor.

There was a Winter Fayre in the city and i bought a nice vase at a stall selling hand painted canal style goods. I did want a watering can though but someone beat me to it! I might just get it off their website instead.
Worcester 03/12/11

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent calendar Star Wars Lego style

Its been years since i last had an advent calendar, in fact i can't remember the last one i had. No doubt i was at primary school and probably opened all of the days early so i could scoff all the cheap chocolates! Well i have more will power these days and won't cheat with my Star Wars Lego advent calendar. Every day there is a new toy to build and here is the first. It looks a bit like a Rebel Alliance blockade runner to me but then again i do have a good imagination. I will be photographing each days new toy up until Christmas Day, and uploading them to this Flickr group.
Star Wars Lego Advent Day 1

Asterix in Switzerland

A key part of this comic blog will be reviewing the books of the 2 titans of European comics : Asterix and Tintin. The question that springs to mind is, where to start? I could start with the oldest books and work my way to the end, or conversely start with the latest ones and work backwards. I thought it would be more fun to review these books in a random sequence though so lets begin...

Asterix in Switzerland is one of many of the indomitable Gaul's adventures where he and Obelix frolic around in a foreign country steeped in national stereotypes. Goscinny and Uderzo do the ancient Swiss (or Helvetii) proud here by portraying them as a nation obsessed with cleanliness, time keeping, banking, yodelling and melting cheese. Unfortunately ancient Rome predates the arrival of cocoa beans into Europe so we couldn't have the chocolate stereotype too.

For a change though Asterix and Obelix are doing a good turn for a Roman, a tax inspector who has been poisoned by a corrupt governor, the awesomely evil Flavus. Getafix sends them to Switzerland to find a rare Alpine flower which is vital for the cure but Flavus sends word to his fellow governor to stop them at all costs...

This is a high point in Asterix with an excellent plot and hilarious charactisations especially the main villan Varius Flavus who is a truly odious individual. It is also good to see the usual Asterix universe turned upside down a bit with a Roman as good guy.

The humour in this book is also among the best, including Obelix's complaining about having to eat cheese with holes in it when he is hungry. As he says, holes won't fill a hole!

This review originally appeared on my Take A Clean Sheet Of Paper comic blog.