Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Angel of the North

When I drove back from Newcastle today I decided to take a few minutes out to visit The Angel of The North. Whilst it may not seem so from these pictures that I took, this structure is 20 meters high and 56 meters wide and weighs 200 tons. For comparison, a Boeing 747 is about 54 meters wide! It sits on a hill on the side of the A1 which is the main road leading to Northern England. When you drive from the South of England into what was traditionally the industrial engine of the country filled with hard working but chronically impoverished folks it is profoundly moving to see this imposing, industrial yet beautiful statue towering over the road and seemingly offering protection to the people of Gateshead and Tyneside.

A little while ago I ranted about what I consider to be the bollocks in the Tate Modern. Several of my friends commented that the fact that these items managed to make me angry means that the "art" had worked because it have provoked an emotion out of my normally stony heart. But they are all wrong. I was angry because of the stupidity and arrogance of the artists not their pathetic throw away "work".

The Angel of the North makes me feel really emotional about the thing itself. Every time I drive past it I feel a great pride in the folk of Northern England. Some how the Angel seem to both characterise their resilience and fortitude whilst also showing their optimism and beauty. The very idea of crafting an Angel out of 200 tons of Iron says so much which reflects the area.

Today was the first time I had actually stopped and visited the Angel rather than just enjoying looking at it as I drive past. So when I did follow the brown signs which led to a simple lay by, I was overjoyed to find there was no visitors centre or post card vendor. Even though this is the largest statue in Britain there were no burger bars or chip vans. Just a simple plaque showing how it was built and that the artist was Antony Gormley. This awesome piece of work really does speak for itself. Public Art at its very best.

If you want to know more then you could do worse then glance here

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wireless Access in a Hotel room

I have often wondered about using the Wireless services offered in Hotels and Airports but I have never bothered because I thought, why should I pay money to access eMail I can read perfectly well tomorrow. If there is anything that important they can always ring me. However, my frollegue Ed Brill has been writing about connecting from around the world on his web log for years so I thought I should join the party at last and get connected. So this post is being written from room 181 in the Holiday Inn in Newcastle. Connecting to the service was totally painless and they are only charging a quite reasonable £3 for 30 minutes. I think I may be a convert. I won't try it from the bar later though - I don't want to look like a geek :(

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Goose fat

So being a good Yorkshire Boy, I understand that there is nothing more important that a great Sunday Dinner. One of the most important aspects of a Sunday Dinner is the Roast Potatoes. Over the years I have heard loads of ideas about how to make the prefect roast spuds. Jamie Oliver says par boil the spuds then shake them in the pan before roasting. My mate Matt's mum would par boil them then "fork" them. On the other hand my mate Slippery Si always says don't bother with par boiling, just cover them with olive oil and Rosemary and they will be grand.

Well Ali and I have had reasonably variable results in our roast pots over the years. Sometimes burnt and sometimes underdone. In order to improve the situation I checked the web and found out that the secret for the perfect roast spuds is Goose fat. So I tried it for the first time tonight. It's true - I have never made such perfect and tasty spuds. The only down side is that the goose fat cost more than the King Edwards!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

All Four Sprouts Together

My nephew Jonny was 13 last week so Ali and I made the trip up to Leeds to celebrate his change from a sweet young man into a gangly, surly teenager. Sue and Kev, his Mum and Dad, have been watching the Kevin and Perry movie to see what they are in for. Obviously it was nice to see the little tyke, but it was also great to catch up with the rest of the family.

Later that night after a few of the lightweights had slopped of to bed, I noticed that it was just me and my three sisters who were still up. Its been a good few years since just the four of us have been alone in a room together so gadget freak Chris celebrated by taking this photo (using the timer of course).

So that is my twin sister Ginny, your esteemed columnist, my sister Sue from Leeds and my sister Chris from Birmingham. I guess it is odd that my Mum and Dad are still back in Hull and my elder sisters are in Brum and Leeds yet my twin Ginny and I live less than half a mile apart in Barnes. It really is just a coincidence. Although we do find it funny the number of times people ask us if we are identical twins!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The honesty of the Scots

Watching late night TV, I couldn't help noticing when a Scottish woman was asked why she had brought a painting onto the Antiques Roadshow TV show she said it was "to find out what it was worth and then to sell it". Good work fella! We have always known that this is why the majority of people bring stuff, but it is possibly the first time I can recall someone being so refreshingly honest. If you are equally fickle, the item was worth about 3 grand and she was clearly gonna flog it the first chance she got.

Personally I have always liked the idea of telling some kid bringing in their stolen grandparents Toby Jugs that they are worth a couple of million just to see their face when they make £2.50 at auction. Does that make me bad? Of course it does. But they are being greedy and it would be funny :)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Reds beat the blues

So Man United beat Chelsea one to nil in a pretty good game at Old Trafford today. This is significant in various ways. Firstly it brings Chelsea's 40 odd game undefeated streak to an end. Following their slip up in Europe during the week we are now seeing that, despite Abromoviches billions, they are still fallible.

More significant it reduces a 13 point deficit for United to a 10 point deficit with a game in hand. Suddenly an impossible gap can be closed by a couple of wins. I also suspect that Mourinho will feel under more pressure from a revitalised United than a Wigan side that is admittedly playing out of their skins.

I was especially chuffed that such an important fixture was also such a good game of football. Also nice that Mourinho and Ferguson planned to share a bottle of wine following the game. So great rivals on the pitch can still respect each other off the pitch. If Mourinho and Wenger are in a silly spat and Wenger and Ferguson don't exactly see eye to eye yet Ferguson and Mourinho share a glass or two of wine after a game, we can clearly see where the problem lies. Take note Mr Wenger.