Two bits from the Sundial Conference

Fred Sawyer (he of the North American Sundial Society) spoke of something called a senelelion.  Its a rare feature during an eclipse of the moon (when the Earth gets  between the sun and the moon) when the fully eclipsed moon and the sun are both visible at the same time from a single place.  Apparently its down to refraction of the image of the sun through the atmosphere, so though it is actually below the horizon but we get to see it.

John Lester, a retired doctor, spoke of his fundraising activity which involved making wooden sundials of various types.  Some required small compasses for proper use, and he found them hard to buy at a reasonable price.  Then he spotted a tray of key fobs in a hardware store, each having a small compass in the fob.  The shop keeper said they did not sell well so John made a bid for the tray and took them all home.  He spread them out on a table and noted that the needles pointed in random directions.  He took one apart and found that the needle was made of aluminium!  He tried to sell the rest on the next charity stall as ‘Compasses for people who are not particular where they go’.

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Cardiff, Cornwall and Scilly Isles – a beer summary.

Our first beer in Cardiff was Brains SA Gold in a delightful bar probably called the Cottage, on a central pedestrian street.  But it was the Tiny Rebel bar just a short walk away that drew us twice.  Very fruity Juicy, the delicious Fubar and a stronger US pale keg called Cali.



In the Isles of Scilly I had hoped to find cask beers from Ales of Scilly Brewery, but none had been brewed for cask this season.  Settled for two bottled beers.  The porter was a little thin, but pleasant enough – I used most of it in a beef casserole.  The IPA was better, but not really my favourite US hopped type, more traditional IPA.


Both these beers are named after shipwrecks in the Isles.  The best bottled beer was bought at, Juliet’s Garden, a cafe overlooking St Mary’s harbour.  It was a wheat beer from the Padstow Brewing Company called Lobster Tale.  Delicious.


I also drank a lot of St Austell Proper Job, it being my favourite St Austell beer, and widely available on the Scillies, and a few pints of a pale hoppy beer from the Harbour Brewing Company in Killick, North Cornwall, called OTI and being the house beer of the Old Town Inn, in Old Town St Marys.

Back in Penzance I found a bar new to me, The Lamp and Whistle.  The guy who owns it is keen on US style hops so I was able to drink both Speakeasy Transatlantic Pale from the Powderkeg Brewery of Topsham, Devon and Fang from the Black Flag Brewery of Truro.  Also had a half of a keg US IPA called Longhammer.  Sadly low on US fruity hops but costing £5.40 a pint.



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Crysede Ltd – hand block printed fine fabrics.

Found a case of clothes and textiles in the Penlee House museum, Penzance from a long gone business set up locally in 1920 by a Yorkshire textile manufacturer called Alec Walker.  He was an amateur painter, and was encouraged by his friends, the Procters and the Harveys – painters of Newlyn, to use his art as the basis of hand block printed silk.  The image here was taken through the glass case, which spoils it a bit.  The background is a patchwork piece, using his fabrics.  When the factory shut in 1939 (the war, no doubt) it employed over 100 people.


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Brother Jon’s fine musical find.

Found another copy on the Guardian Newspaper site. So now it’s a link and not a my YouTube. Bypass any copyright problems. Click (touch) the little square for a full screen, press Esc to exit full screen. My Back Pages (Live) – Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Neil Young, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton…

via I HAD to save this forever.. — Jon’s Blog

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Two Cardiff Statues

Both on pedestrianised streets near to the castle, the first is lovely and has a strange semi-hidden message which I am struggling to decipher.  Its called ‘Mother and Son’, in English, or ‘Mam a Mab’ in Welsh, and was placed here in Queens Street in the 1960s.  Robert Thomas was the artist, and he was from the Rhondda, which probably helps with interpreting the curious package Mam has attached to her wrist.

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It contains a piece of coal, an industrial bobbin of thread, a baby or foetus (?) and a container which might be a miner’s lunch box or snap tin.  But I’m guessing.  Anyway altogether I see it as a burden she is carrying.  Nonetheless she manages to look proud and elegant, even with bird shit on her head.

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The second one is a little lighter, and I don’t even know who he is, its just the way he is being used that drew my attention.

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Inspiration to paint

In Cardiff we visited the National Gallery of Wales.  The special exhibition (Bacon to Doig) was a photo-free show, but the gallery’s own stuff is free to photograph, so here is my take – a very selfish one – on it.  Just three pics, and some of the words from the adjacent captions.


Mornington Crescent by Spencer Gore (c1911) was painted from his window.  He used his immediate surroundings a lot.  I have been telling myself to do a drawing or coloured sketch a day in the back garden.  OK, his is good, and not banged out in an hour, or 20 minutes more likely, but it reminds me to DO IT.


The Francois Zola Dam by Paul Cezanne (c1879) was originally known by another name.  This is explained on the caption as being the result of Cezanne’s habit of ‘openly changing the landscape to enhance the image, so the exact location can be difficult to pinpoint’.  My painting is like that too, or at least people have said, ‘Is that supposed to be this view?’.   More encouragement from the masters!


And finally we have Rain, Auvers by Vincent van Gogh (1890).  I learnt that his painting career lasted barely 10 years, and during his life he barely sold a thing.  In both those ways I am like van Gogh.  Such encouragement.  Bring on the Isles of Scilly and I’ll be ‘en plein air-ing’ with gusto.

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Longrock Bronze Age Menhir.

Yesterday set out to find a six foot plus standing stone.  Made my way to a wooded valley and set off down a well trod path. Met a woman coming the other way with a large labradorite and asked her if I was on right track for the standing stone. She looked blankly at me, so I showed her a picture of it from a Scilly guide. She shook her head, said she didn’t know it but thought it might be in the woods somewhere off to the left. We parted, and less than 2 minutes later, walking down a path with no branchings off, I found the stone, beside the path she must have walked down.

Seems I cannot put a photo in here.  There is an icon for it, and the process seems to work, but nothing appears,which rather spoils the whole exercise.  SOD!

Trying again.

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