Sunday, 14 August 2022

My Icon for the Commonwealth Games 2022 is the Raging Bull ...

 

It has become the focal point in Birmingham (UK!!) of our Commonwealth Games … where other sports also featured …


Commonwealth Games Seal -
The Friendly Games and most inclusive Games
 - para sportsmen and women also compete

Perhaps before I start this post I'd better explain where I'm coming from … I was a (hockey, tennis and eventually only squash) ball player – definitely not any other sport … especially running …



but way back in the 'Ark' … I was fortunate enough to get a job working for the British Olympic Association as a clothing administrator (another no – no – clothes do not interest me) – but the lure of the Olympics definitely did … Munich 1972.


Munich Olympic Park - photo
taken in 2014
I've found my bumph on that era – so once Paris 2024 comes around I'll get my act into gear and see what's in the pile … and post some info … for example our Dickensian offices … wooden stair treads worn by 200 years of toil …


It was at this point I became interested in all sports and have been ever since … the nod back to the 1972 era will become obvious in my next post …


I enjoy watching as I can get about doing other things … while people swim, somersault, cycling, run rings round friends, bash balls about … today: move like lightning – my heart is still palpitating after watching the competitors play … way better than our day and in London and Johannesburg where we had some of the best squash players in the world at the club … I'm quite glad I lived through the slower pace of life!


Soweto Kinch - who played
at the Opening Ceremony; there
was a festival going on in and
around the Birmingham area

I wrote three comprehensive posts I 2014 on the Games held in Glasgow … so I won't belabour (a better word than bore!) you with much info here – the Birmingham Games came about, after Durban, South Africa pulled out and the UK accepted the Challenge – we compete as England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island, Guernsey Jersey and the Isle of Man – not combined under the UK/British banner.



These Commonwealth Games came very soon after the World Athletics Championships had been held at the new Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon … where only athletics was featured … following on in unseemly order due to the pandemic – the Commonwealth Games …



Concept of the new stadium and track
Eugene, Oregon

The new stadium falls under the remit of Oregon University … but I was interested in seeing the new design … also I'd never heard of Eugene as a centre of sporting achievement/excellence – I guess not living in the States allows for this omission of knowledge – not any more …



Showcasing Oregon's lumber in all
its glory - the Eugene concourse

So before another week disappears into the hot ether we're in (or I am in the south of England) – I'd better get this post finished and up … as we're into another sporting event in Munich … the European Championships …



Back to the Commonwealth Games - The Brummie Bull isn't really raging … he's a Steampunk 'concoction' for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony/(The Friendly and most inclusive Games – para-competitors too) … and has captured many a person's heart.



The not so (at this moment) Raging Bull

The Opening Ceremony gave us a ceremonial view of Birmingham from its humble beginnings as a Saxon settlement (mid 5th century), to a market town in the 12th century, until the 1700s came around …




The gathering place at the start of
the Jewellery Quarter - as it is today

when the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution began in the 'Midlands' and Birmingham became the city of a thousand trades … including its Jewellery Quarter from the early 1900s …



Imaginery industrial heartland

nearby over half a century ago … an emerging bard made his appearance ensuring that Stratford-on-Avon would remind us of our creative arts … which now includes a ten-day literature festival.



Creative image for the Raging Bull

Back to the red-eyed, steam-threatening bull as he made his entrance onto the Commonwealth Stage – a creative masterpiece …




made from re-cycled aluminium tubing, foam and plastic – painted over to resemble metal and armour …



Mike Kelt - Chairman of the Special Effects
team at Artem Design Company

It took sixty workers over five months to create and was pulled into the Alexander Stadium by a gang of female chain-makers representing the Industrial Revolution … the chains were made from very high density foam machined on a computer controlled cutting machine.



Raging Bull arriving for the 
Opening Ceremony

What next for the Raging Bull – well he'd wilt when it rained again … so for now he can be outside … then as a home has been found – he can remain in Birmingham as a cultural icon – somewhere …



The copy-cat dog ...
empathising with
the Raging Bull!

This is long … but there is more – via the links (should you wish to visit) … and I'll elaborate (I hope more succinctly) in my next but one post – as WEP has caught up due next week.




William Blake - dark Satanic world

Life ticks on … I am so glad I live at the coast! Many of my verbs should be in the past tense … days have gone by! I've been somewhat overwhelmed with over commitment this year … so these idle days are helping … everything starts up again towards the end of the month …



The plays of William Shakespeare by
Sir John Gilbert 1849

My posts … Commonwealth Games three posts from August 2014 - the first is here ... they follow on ... 

Artem Special Effects and Innovative Solutions ...

Mike Kelt - c/o BBC talking about the innovative bull ... 

History and Culture of Birmingham ... an interesting overview of Birmingham and its surrounds ... 


Forbes - the new Hayward Field ... 


PS - Apologies for length ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 1 August 2022

Go … Fly a Kite … or 10,000 of them …#WATWB Hmb#4 ...

 

or Come-Fly-a-Kite with 'me' … another wonderful uplifting story …


Alice Denny showing a kite - from
the Good Chance Theatre site

Master Afghan kite-maker and refugee Sanjar Qiam is celebrating the cultural history of kites by inspiring a festival of kite-flying across the UK and Europe on Saturday 20 August.




Many will gather for story telling, music, poetry and dance from Afghan artists and community groups to highlight the cultural significance of kites in Afghanistan's history …


Qiam Sanjir with his wife,
in their toy shop 'Rocket Science'

Some kites will be tethered to the ground through a single thread but fly free of the borders that define the land …



and which are the embodiment of freedom and play … looked at collectively, on the stage of the sky, kites represent togetherness, our difference and our shared humanity.


Flying Kites ... 

With the Taliban in power … kites are banned, along with music, free journalism, theatre and dancing – all and any self-expression.



Qiam Sanjar, Master kite-maker, says:


Fly-With-Me is a reminder to the world:

Remember Afghanistan


while in Afghanistan, kites occupy a unique space between national art form and national sport.


They are a universal symbol of expression, skill and cultural pride.


Sanjar was a successful business man in Kabul … but decided in 2011 to move away … having married a non-Muslim wife … he first went to India and then flew here to the UK … with his 10,000 kites!


This ad for the festival ... says it all ... 

He now has a toy shop in Brighton, along the coast from here, on the south coast … as well as establishing a centre for creative ideas …



offering craft workshops, story-reading sessions in different languages, 'educative' toys from various countries … France, Australia, Russia, USA, Netherlands, China and of course his homeland … opening the doors to learning while playing …



With the Good Chance Theatre (link below)

The business concept can be rolled out for others to take up the mantle of helping new settlers in our country … combining work, with family time, while broadening their and our knowledge of life in another country …



Perhaps across our South Downs, Sussex

Go Fly A Kite … with friends, contacts and family is already opening so many doors for those looking to expand their horizons …




Funds raised will go to Afghanaid and its By-Her- Side campaign to support women in rural Afghan communities.


We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light




BBC - Kabul to Brighton ... video ... 

Independent article - Escaping the Taliban and finding security in the UK ... Kite Flying

Good Chance Organisation had kite making packs for sale, but here they describe how to make a kite - simple details by the look of it ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories




Monday, 25 July 2022

Vacillating ...

 

Vacillating seems an appropriate descriptive word for so many now … a return to what was - appears to be required, yet is unlikely (especially for us here in the UK) …



though I feel the world has changed so much – and that will be impossible for present inhabitants to settle back into our old way of life … change is on the cards – which is not going away.



A lifetime is ahead … in other words twenty-five or so years … before a settled life will happen – many will continue on, many will struggle, some will forge new ways for themselves and others …


Barnack Hills and Hole Reserve
(John Clare used to live near here)



We'll adapt and life will progress, regardlesss …




John Clare's poem “I am … ” written when he had been declared mentally ill, as he was 'full of many strange delusions'



while being held in an asylum – he was encouraged to continue writing … where he 'developed a very distinctive voice an unmistakable intensity and vibrance, such as the later pictures of Vincent Van Gogh'


John Clare (1793 - 1864)



Here is John Clare's poem …








I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;

My friends forsake me like a memory lost:

I am the self-consumer of my woes—

They rise and vanish in oblivious host,

Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed


Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Where there is neither sense of life or joys,

But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;

Even the dearest that I loved the best

Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.


I long for scenes where man hath never trod

A place where woman never smiled or wept

There to abide with my Creator, God,

And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,

Untroubling and untroubled where I lie

The grass below—above the vaulted sky.




Durer's Rhinocerus ( Woodcut 1515)

Clare's work evokes a life which many will seem to be living now … but life really does come around again … continue on with life, do what we can, move on … we cannot change the world order (regrettably!) - but we can be at peace with ourselves wherever we're at …




I just need to get off my pity bad back bandwagon and move along … thankfully it doesn't stick around for long … I'm blessed and very fortunate in that way …





Right – that's me over my lethargy … I'm getting on with life – and that back will improve …



Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 14 July 2022

As I was going to Strawberry Fair …

 

An English folk song from the west country dating back to the late 1800s …


As I was going to Strawberry Fair,
Singing, singing, Butter-cups and Daisies
I met a maiden taking her ware,
Fol-de-dee!
Her eyes were blue and golden her hair,
As she went on to Strawberry Fair,
Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-li-do,
Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-dee.


I've been distracted and couldn't think how to start this post …


I thought life was meant to slow down … my life seems to speed up – my fault I like to be busy … now to catch my tail as 'our year' falls autumn to summer … so one or two groups and organisations take a break … as too the Committees …



Strawberry Fair, Cambridgeshire
I must catch those iMac, iPad, iPhone tails for my various positions I hold or 'work' I offer to do … and do some serious understanding, clearing/sorting out …


My brain is a mass of threads … and sometimes I've no idea where to stop or start …


Swifts thermalling

Last post I was talking about 'guano' – that marvellous poo … now I thought I'd mention balls – hope no-one minds …



the cricket's been on … and at that stage we were doing rather well … but I've enjoyed listening to the commentary … taking me back to early childhood days … when we'd spend the afternoon at the pub … a walk and play in the garden … Surrey (county) cricket was one of the best counties back then – and certainly it enjoyed my parents support.




The pub - the facade seems much the same

Now – they're making 'fun' of the state of the balls … as the stitching, or the leather, or the effects of Covid on staffing have 'given' the balls an issue …



The company had no idea there was an issue until people started complaining. When the balls are sent out they all look perfect. When they’re played with, if there’s anything at all wrong with them it shows up.



One of the last balls being produced
at Dukes in London

Unfortunately the production time is 9 months … with this recent batch appearing to have been a problem. The banter between the commentators is quite amusing …




The balls are no longer made in this country … so that could have something to do with the end result … something that's an endangered craft, made on a different continent, is always in the line of not being perfect …


Cricket ball and bat

Anyway onwards with this post … before this batch of heat … we've had some wonderful clouds with a healthy breeze … and as I've sat here watching the tennis, listening to the cricket, mulling life, and on occasions getting on with things …



the gulls have been coming inland on the thermals … lovely to watch them enjoying the freedom of effortless flight …



...then suddenly there were 'hordes of' tiny birds winging their way around … per the cricket commenters up north advising this southerner the Swifts had arrived … they winter in Southern Africa, and come up here to breed …


In the evening they 'have screaming parties' (believe it or not) … and it's wonderful hearing their calls – either on the wing, or as they nest … dancing around on the evening wind …


Game of serious cricket
Then just to make sure I'm totally distracted by life … an on-coming rush of politics is a-foot … we keep going … but it will be nice to have a change …


So life is interesting … it's lovely being able to get out and walk by the sea, look at the burgeoning plants – yet due to the hot hot weather … know that there will be other things to deal with …


I love the summer … beautiful evenings … happy days to you all – if you're in this half of the world …


Original company that developed cricket balls ...

This company appears to hold the history about the manufacturing of cricket bats, and then sportswear ... 


David Gascoigne has mentioned a book published by Shropshire's Wildlife Trust's Communication Officer : Sarah Gibson - here's a link to her blog ... 

David Gascoigne's post about Sarah's book ... "Swifts and Us": fabulous reading - enjoy ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Spheniscidite … Penguins' Poop is a Mineral …

 

I thought 'Clunch' was interesting enough ... but now 'I hear' that there's a catalogue detailing the origins and diversity of every known mineral on earth …


Elephant Island - an ice-covered
mountainous island

which is certainly helping scientists realise our planet's history of life, yet also perhaps predicting possible characteristics of future life …



we do live in wonderful times – so interesting to learn these snippets, even though I don't really understand … I just love the learning curve.



Talk about a bleak place ... 

Nature has so so much to offer us … and we do not, most definitely do not, know how our life is made up … so so many components …



These mineral time capsules are made up from 57 “recipes” to create more than 10,500 “mineral kinds” - through crushing, zapping, boiling, baking and more …


Phyllites near Ben Lomond,
Scotland


Each mineral holds details about the Earth from when the rock was formed, allowing scientists to gain information about the emergence of life and the evolution of the planets.





The title of this post: Spheniscidite … is a phosphate mineral formed by reaction of penguin guano and the phyllitic soil of Elephant Island, Antartica …



A collage of Penguins

The poop of the penguins causes a little bit of magic to happen in the soil … to give us the mineral Spheniscidite (named from the Penguin order Sphenisciformes) a phosphate mineral.




Tomato plant possibly benefitting from
Spheniscidite ... 


Phosphate is one of the three main nutrients in fertilizers … it can be turned into phosphoric acid, which is used in everything from food and cosmetics to animal feed and electronics …



what else can poop tell us about life? 

I thought you'd be pleased I haven't added an image of 'poo' ... ?!


BBC article - Science Environment ... making minerals

New Scientist - 'Reclassification of earth's minerals reveals 4,000 more than we thought' ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Clunch - and its origins …

 

Clunch – this soft-stone building material used in Berwick Church … was created by the inundation of much of southern England, beginning 115 million years ago during the 'Cretaceous Period'.


Beachy Head, on the edge of Eastbourne ...
the Sussex Downs stretching westwards
towards Brighton and on ... 

At that stage in earth's history the sea covered most of Britain and Europe … it is estimated that 98 million years ago the sea level was more than 20 metres (60.6 feet) higher than it is today …




Cross Section of Wealden Down - showing
the wearing away of sands, Gault clay and
chalk of the Downs

it was a period with a relatively warm climate resulting in this high sea level, as well as numerous shallow inland seas.



Global distribution of coccolithosphores
in the oceans


The world was ice-free, forests extended to the poles … while different life forms waned and new ones appeared …




False-colour scanning electron micrograph of
Gephyrocapsa oceania, showing the coccoliths


and the extensive beds of chalk were laid down from the shells of minute marine invertebrates, principally coccoliths, found in calcium carbonate in the waters.






Examples of Four Invertebrates
Different Phyla are:  a Cnidarian;
an Arthropod; a Mollusk; and an Annelid
The Totternhoe stone was formed from the Grey Chalk sub-group – this period occurred between 98.5 million and 93.5 million years ago – and is recognised as a slightly stronger stone, than the fine dusty chalk we have here on the south coast, which is purer and thus more white.



Berwick Church from the east

So in warmer times many moons ago England's white cliffs of Dover, our Sussex Downs coastline were being created … and the term 'clunch' was established.


Post on Berwick Church and how the 'Clunch stone' has been used in the restoration ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories