Category: UK

Camera Obscura – Magic

Greenwich, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura Image on a table, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura – Magic

The lens, Photo by PH Morton

Summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard housing the Camera Obscura with doorway with black curtains, photo by JMorton

It was my second time to visit the Camera Obscura, located at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South London.

The first time we went which was the autumn of 2013, Peter excitedly insisted that we enter into this building complete with a doorway shrouded in black curtains. Inside was pitch black, as dark as the night.

In the middle of this fairly tiny room,  probably 4square metres (only 6-8 people allowed in at any given time), was a polish table which looked to me like a white marble.  We all looked at the table and thought there was nothing really special about it.  Just an empty table.  We went out of the room absolutely perplexed and disappointed, the same look and feeling on the other faces that had also went in and out with us. We were all asking?  What was that about?!!!

Yesterday was a glorious warm and sunny day.  While at Greenwich Royal Observatory, Peter, Stacey, Nathan and I went into the black shrouded doorway and on the table was a real time panoramic projection of an image of Greenwich.  People can be seen moving on the projected image.  Finally we understood what this camera obscura was about!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Camera obscura (from Latin words: camera, meaning room and obscura, meaning dark) uses a natural optical phenomenon projected from a small hole, a pinhole.  This has something to do with physical law that light travels in straight line.  When some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a pinhole, the rays do not scatter but reform to reflect an upside down image of the subject the rays were reflected from.  I wish now that I had paid attention to physics class! 🙂

The Greenwich camera obscura uses lens for a larger image projection.

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark in its heyday was the fastest ship because of hull shape and vast sail area.  It sailed for more than 957,991 nautical miles which is equivalent to going to the moon and back 2 and a half times. 🙂

Beautifully maintained ship and the information provided were entertaining and interesting. There were a lot of interactive activities and the guides were all friendly and very accommodating. The place is perfect for school children to learn about the life aboard a vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Jean Morton review on Cutty Sark Facebook page

The Cutty Sark was built in Clyde, Scotland in 1869 originally to be a tea clipper, travelling from London to China and back, until the arrival of the even faster steam ships. The Cutty Sark then started carrying wool from Australia to London.

The Cutty Sark continued being used as a training ship until the 1950s.

In 1954, it was permanently lodge in Greenwich, South London, as a public display and museum. It is now a National Historic ship being only one of the three remaining shipping vessel with its original composite construction, where the the wooden hull was framed in iron. Copper was used a great deal in the making of the Cutty Sark. Apparently the copper prevents barnacles attaching themselves to the ship.

Peter, Stacey, Nathan – our intrepid grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the Cutty Sark.  The weather yesterday was perfect to see the ship.  It was bright and glorious.  There were plenty to do and to see.

It was a wonderful piece of history. Long it may be preserved for posterity.

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

The Life That I Have

Despair, photo by JMorton

The Life That I Have

The Life That I Have (sometimes referred to as Yours) is a short poem written by Leo Marks and used as a poem code in the Second World War.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter told me to add this poem into the blog.  He said I would like it.  He is partly right because I more than like it, I love it.

The poem is about Love Eternal.  It is beyond love every waking moments, its goes on until and after death.  Isn’t that just the most romantic thing ever 🙂 !!!

But romance aside, the poem apparently was used to send code during WWII.  A message is encrypted within the poetry itself.  This short poem was sent by Leo Marks to a French agent, Violette Szabo, who was ultimately captured, tortured and murdered by the Nazi (not because of the poem!).  A film was made about Violette Szabo called Carve Her Name With Pride, where the poem was included but undergone an artistic licence, as Hollywood would often do.  In the film the poem was supposed to have been written for her by her husband, Etienne.

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

Saint David’s Day

Saint David’s Day

 

March 1st  is Saint David’s Day.

Did you remember to celebrate it yesterday?

The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David as traditionally it is believed that he might have died on that day in 569, 588 or even 589; the date is uncertain.

Stainglass picture of St David of Wales

Stainglass depicting St David of Wales

St David (Dewi Sant) was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century.  He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.

St David's own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David's Day

St David’s own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David’s Day

A  famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing and seeing him.

 He was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) where St David’s Cathedral  stands today. David was famous for being a teacher.  His monastery at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine and important centre in Wales. Before  his death, Saint David is said to have uttered these words: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”

Welsh ex-pats around the  world celebrate St David’s Day. The  daffodil  & the leek are the national emblem of Wales and badges of which are worn with pride.

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Why a leek as an emblem?  One theory is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers (fearsome for the power and accuracy of their legendary long bows,)  wore leeks at the battle  with the French at Agincourt in 1415.

The Leek vegetbale an other emblem of Wales

The Leek vegetable an other emblem of Wales

The traditional meal on St David’s Day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.

Another symbol of Wales is  the iconic Welsh Dragon  in Welsh- Y Ddraig Goch (“the red dragon”)

Welsh National-Flag

The Welsh National Flag

It  appears on the national flag of Wales. The flag is also called Y Ddraig Goch.

The Historia Brittonum(History of Britons written around 828)  records the first  use of the dragon to  symbolise Wales.

The Dragon was popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur  other ancient Celtic leaders. archaeological  literature, and documentary history suggests that  it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol.  During the reigns of the  Tudor Monarchs, the red dragon was used as a symbol of support  in the English Crown’s coat of arms (one of two supporters, along with the traditional English lion).  The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and flags are flown  by many public and private institutions in Wales and some in London too.

………………..

1 March 2014

To celebrate St David’s Day Google has this special doodle to commemorate the occasion.

st-davids-day-2014-5651391519391744.2-hp