Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Inspirational wrapping

Make that boring pair of socks into a parcel that begs to be opened. Plenty of inspiration at here at Wrap Art (also damned useful if you run out of conventional wrapping paper and the shops have shut!)

The scientific guide to gift wrapping

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sprouts with bells on....

750g Brussels sprouts , trimmed
1 garlic clove , crushed
70g sliced chorizo , cut into strips
olive oil
3 tbsp flaked almonds , toasted until golden

Steam the sprouts until just tender, about 5 minutes. Fry the garlic and chorizo in 2 tbsp oil for a few minutes until crisp.
Stir through the sprouts then put in a warm dish and sprinkle with the almonds.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Damp hankie time

OK, so I'm supposed to be festitivating(?) the house, but it's lunchtime....I look for a quick festive fix, remember I've got 'Miracle on 34th Street' (the 1947 version....none of that modern/remake crap in MY christmas kitchen!) sitting on the hard think, the way you do, 'maybe I'll watch just a little bit of that now' while I eat my bacon buttie..........

And sometime later (ie however long it lasted plus, maybe, 30 seconds) and I find this pile of damp paper tissues on the floor by the kitchen idea how they got there!

EVEN LATER....I just couldn't let it lie.... 'Holiday Inn' with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, now comfortably under the belt. 'Scrooge' with Alastair Sim, no problem, just the odd sniff (OK....3 tissues!) But still sitting there.....(deep breath) waiting to be watched is......(another deep breath) 'It's a Wonderful life'.....wish me luck, I'm going in!

3 HOURS LATER....I'm officially now just a sucked-out husk, emotionally drained and only fit for a hot bath and a stiff drink. My advice?.....don't try this at home unless you've discussed your intentions with a qualified medical practitioner!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Memo to self....must buy a tripod

Out of the 76 photos I took tonight at the Sage (Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band...not bad but not as entertaining as The Ukulele Band of GB on Monday) there were only half a dozen that didn't look like they'd been taken by a dipsomaniac on a bad morning....this is one of the least shaky. You can just about make out the Tyne Bridge through the windows if you try very, VERY hard.

Ladies....the perfect excuse to overindulge

Found at ModernMechanix

Festive fun

Improve your mouse control (just in case you need an excuse!) by dragging Santa's sleigh around the track without hitting the sides....strangely addictive

Play Reindeer Racer

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's a wonderful world

My current 'kitchen table laptop' desktop wallpaper (courtesy Vladstudio), which I'd assumed for months was imaginary.....but I was so wrong! Check out what you can find growing on the island of Socotra here at Dark Roasted Blend

Sew old

I wish they had scans of the actual patterns too, but never mind there's 600+ envelope illustrations to feast your eyes on (and some of the ones from the 60's/70's look embarrassingly familiar!) at VADS

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Print your own wrapping paper....

...assuming you've got a colour printer and some small-but-perfectly-formed 'things' to wrap of course.
A4 sized pdfs to download here
But I recommend a voyage of discovery round the whole site if you're short of (papercrafty) things to do over the holiday season....just make sure you've laid in supplies of glue before the shops close!

Simon's Sister's Dog

Made for the RSPCA.....and probably also true for christmas cats, gerbils and anacondas!

iPod fodder

"Audio drama lives! We are the Wireless Theatre Company and here you will discover an exciting new world of radio theatre. We produce a great selection of audio downloads - from full length radio plays to audio comedy sketch shows, poetry, short plays, stories, satire and even quirky audio guides! And the best news is that every single download is completely free."....UK based, and they've got Prunella Scales on the cast list!

Link to the Wireless Theatre Company homepage

Monday, December 15, 2008

It'll be a bit of culture at the Sage tonight....

....for Chris and I

Sometime later....fantastic concert, their rendition of 'I'm just a teenage dirtbag' brought me out in goosebumps! If you get the chance, go and see won't be sorry.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Scrambled legs

You try and work it out!

Found at Photoshop Disasters

A musical argument

"No cue cards, no teleprompters, and no second takes--legendary funnyman Sid Caesar pioneered live television sketch comedy with his 1950s sitcoms Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. This classic sketch is "Argument to Beethoven's 5th," Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray play a married couple in a argument with pantomimed action and the dialogue is classic music."

Found on Neatorama

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some local pictures

And the story....... (click on the image to enlarge)

From "The Illustrated Police News", June 8th 1878.

"The Illustrated Police News , Law Courts and Weekly Record was founded in 1864. It was the first, and most long-lasting, Saturday penny newspaper that combined two hugely popular Victorian genres: the police newspaper and the illustrated journal.
Its founder, George Purkess, was a London publisher who already specialised in the publication of cheap "true stories" of crime, accidents and domestic disaster. The subject matter of his newspaper was very similar. It collated sensational or unusual stories, often drawn from the London Police Courts, but also reports of mishap from elsewhere in Britain and the world. While repeatedly emphasising the "true" nature of the stories, it was their entertainment and curiosity value that was crucial to the success of the News.".....
19th Century British Library Newspapers (it's a subscription service....and one of the fringe benefits of working at a UK university!)

On the same page there's stories of:
  • Cruelty to a sheep
  • A determined attempt to commit suicide
  • A dangerous lunatic
  • Two children drowned in a perambulator and
  • A bull and lion fight Daily Mail, eat your heart out!

PS....I wonder whether there's still any visual sign of the funeral in the brickwork of the Duke of Wellington, because it's still there.....I feel a lunchtime walk coming on!

RIP Oliver Postgate

.....and long live the soup dragon!

Glittering Fashions for the Festive Season

I had to find out how Windows MovieMaker worked this here's a seasonal edited highlight from the "Gaumont British News" clip I was playing with.

Seasonal gameplay

Enough said.....

Go play

And in the same vein

Attack of the Sprouts

BAD Santa!

I've a feeling this wouldn't get past the advertising standards people these days...

PS....LOVE those boots!

Friday, December 12, 2008

BetaMax Christmas

Watch grainy YouTube festive's Christmas like it used to be....pass me a mince pie.


Christmas Radio

Looking for wall-to-wall jingle bells? Check out Christmas Radio Stations 2008 for a nice long link-list to feed those festive cravings.

Popular Science

Read every issue of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics since the 1870's that's your holiday reading sorted then!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mental block

Apologies for recent silence....the situation might continue for a wee while longer. Another week before the end-of-term, currently coming home brain-dead and only fit for staring blankly at the kitchen wall accompanied by a stiff enough said.....later!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A warning to all young ladies.....

......on the dangers of novel reading. (Click the image to enlarge)

From "The Domestic World, a practical guide in all the daily difficulties of the higher branches of domestic and social economy" by the author of "Enquire Within" (that's as precise as it gets!) Published in the early 1870's........and my favourite 'Bathroom Reader' of the moment

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No reason

Henri...the haunted angst of the house cat

National Archives podcasts

Check out the weekly National Archives podcast here....there's a wide range of subjects covered for anyone with an interest in the historic (currently 68 available), so I've just downloaded half a dozen to feed the ever-hungry iPod. of which was "Victorian Women Prisoners", 40 mins, 18mb download, and very interesting!

Background listening

30 plus ambient sounds to listen to while you work or woolgather....everything from bird song to a howling hairdryer (it takes all sorts!)


Kamikaze Cookery

Take three geeks, blend with assorted foodstuffs and kitchen utensils, simmer well and serve. Enjoy! Kamikaze Cookery

A`taster from YouTube (more episodes on their website) NSFW language

"Can geek Johnnie cook Gordon f—-ing Ramsay’s Brussel f—-ing sprout souffle? We put the sweariest of all celeb chefs to the test."

Part 1

Part 2 no longer available, you'll just have to visit their website for the cliffhanger conclusion!

Saturday timewaster

Direct the flow to fill the containers with music to complete the levels. Very calming!
Play Auditorium
(walkthrough at JayisGames)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Found slide

Does the man from the water board still wear an official looking cap as he wields his mega spanner thingy these days? No idea where or when this was taken (but probably in the north east in the 60's/70's), but I love it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

LIFE photo archives online

"Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1850s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google."

LIFE photo archive

Short term memory checker

My memory being what it is I luckily can't remember how badly I did.......
Start worrying about your failing mental faculties here

Vintage Geisha postcards

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

And now for something completely different...

The Monty Python channel on YouTube

Frost Fair

"Gateshead's Nordic Festival features a Frost Fair from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th November, taking place on Performance Square and in the Gateshead Heritage Centre, both adjacent to The Sage Gateshead. The Sage Gateshead plays host to some breathtaking street theatre and music on the Saturday and Sunday - but there will also be outdoor music from folk degree students, food and gift stalls and some very special reindeer! At 1pm and 6pm, look out for Los Kaos Theatre Company's Bjorn and Ursula: Bjorn is a very realistic polar bear, and with his Inuit herder Ursula, you'll learn lots about polar bears in their own icy landscape. At 3pm and 5pm, Pipers Wyrd will charm and captivate you with their three Northumbrian pipes in harmony. At 4pm, Swedish duo Fidola performs a magical fusion of Scandinavian, Estonian and British music."

More details and a downloadable programme here

Friday, November 21, 2008

Currently at the Laing

Two temporary exhibitions are well worth a visit if you've half an hour to spare, a perfect break from all that frenzied christmas shopping.....

"A dramatic new video installation by innovative British artist Catherine Yass will be on show at the Laing Art Gallery from 1 November 2008 to 11 January 2009.

HIGH WIRE draws on Yass's filmed footage of high wire artist Didier Pasquette, walking between three tower blocks in North Glasgow's Red Road, more than 90 metres above the ground.

The work explores the relationship between the enclosed psychological space inhabited by Pasquette, the architecture surrounding him and the open space through which he is moving.

The piece includes footage shot from a head camera worn by Pasquette, along with three other viewpoints, as he undertakes the walk with no harness or safety wires." (more)

....perhaps not for those of you who suffer from vertigo!


Sir Stanley Spencer

"A major exhibition of work by one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century is on show at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.

Stanley Spencer, which is organised by Tate Liverpool, brings together sketches and paintings which span Spencer's life as an artist, including early sketches, visionary biblical scenes, and portraits from the Tate collection.The exhibition includes a number of self portraits, from Self Portrait, 1914, when the artist was in his early twenties, to a final self portrait painted in 1959, the year Spencer died." (more)

Runs until 11 January 2009

Party tricks

With the festive season fast approaching you're going to need some of the above tricks to keep those parties going with a really! Click the image to enlarge.

Found at ModernMechanix

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where on earth am I?

Well, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm I'm precisely here. does the number crunching, you just drag the marker.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(Christmas) the great outdoors

(the picture came from here)

The festive season is almost upon us so here's some dates for your diary....
Newcastle Continental Market (looks like it's happening in Old Eldon Sq this year) runs from Monday 24 November until Saturday 6 December
Newcastle Christmas Market takes over from Wednesday 10 December till Sunday 14 December
Newcastle Christmas Arts and Craft Fairs (Grainger Market) 13 and 20 December
Whitley Bay St Nicholas' Festival 5-6 December (flyer can be downloaded from this page)
North Shields Victorian Market 13-14 December (link)
and don't forget the......
NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival (webpage and brochure)
Glow looks good this year!
Thursday 11 to Monday 15 December
"This year Glow will highlight some of Newcastle's medieval town walls using large scale architectural light projections to present and join together sites both grand and intimate that are rarely seen by tourists or known to local residents. Several phases of development have radically altered Newcastle's visual landscape, and the trail aims to reveal buildings, spaces and views largely lost to the public, tucked away and "hiding" amongst late 20th century roads, buildings and development."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Doves of Cullercoats

Some local (Cullercoats) history for you..... 10mb pdf available to download from or you can read it online using their flipbook viewers here and here (beta version with more advanced features)

Bunny Concert

Watch with'll be humming the tune all day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where's the Path?

Google aerial photos alongside Ordnance Survey Maps.....nice! (warning for evening users....there's a 30,000 cap on the number of daily OS images displayed, morning use recommended)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Europa Film Treasures

Europa Film Treasures is a vintage film archive and well worth a click. The above screengrab is from 'Butterflies' (there's a link to watch the film at the bottom of the page) Currently there's 50+ short films to view, with documentation and teaching materials in the pipeline

1832 - Cholera in Newburn

Text not available
Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal Exhibiting a Concise View of the Latest and Most Important Discoveries in Medicine, Surgery, and Pharmacy

Click on the link above for the full story

Thursday, November 13, 2008

German gargoyle

So this specimen (looks like he's got a bit of a cold!) was the nearest I got to a germanic the main they tend towards heroic/religious figures or the empty helmet motif, but maybe that's just Berlin.

Cold War Classic

Jested Telecommunications Tower and Hotel - Cold War Modern from Victoria & Albert Museum on Vimeo.

"Designed in 1963, the hotel and telecommunications tower on top of Ještěd mountain are one of the most extraordinary architectural achievements of the entire Eastern Bloc. A piece of bravura engineering on a very difficult site, the cone-shaped tower continues the profile of the mountain to a perfect vertical point. The theme of space travel is reinforced by decorative meteorites set into theconcrete core inside."

I've added this to my list of 'places to visit before I die'!

Feelgood timewasters

Sometimes you need to justify your timewasting activities (even if it's only to yourself)'s 4 possibilities.....

"Galaxies evolve over billions of years, which is why like evolutionary biologists, we can't just sit there and watch galaxies change. Instead, we need to look at the fossil record contained in the galaxies around us which provides only *one* snapshot of the universe.
The way scientists get around this problem is by analysing pictures of galaxies with up-to-date technology in as much detail as possible. Astronomers have spent many decades trying to measure basic galaxy properties such as age, mass or dustiness that may give us some clues as to how they formed and evolved and what precisely the connection between spiral and elliptical galaxies is. However, most studies of galaxies so far have only looked at a few dozen or hundred galaxies in the nearby universe and many aspects of galaxy formation and evolution are still a mystery.
However, with the advent of the 21st century the age of large-scale astronomical surveys has arrived! The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is taking images of a large portion of the sky and will eventually find a million galaxies. With such a large number of galaxies, astronomers can finally begin to understand how they form and evolve by comparing various populations to each other with large enough numbers to draw real conclusions about their origin.
But out of these million galaxies, how do we know which are spirals and which are ellipticals? The answer is simple: look at them! Indeed, until now galaxies have been classified by visual inspection of their images. And in fact, technology is of little help here. It turns out that the human brain is far better than a computer at recognising the patterns that divide ellipticals from spirals. So visual inspection works well for a handful, or even several hundred objects....but one million? There are just too many galaxies for even the most dedicated of astronomers to look at. We need thousands of people to inspect galaxy images and to classify them as spiral or elliptical. We need you to help us."

Give the dedicated astronomers a break at Galaxy Zoo

Foldit is a revolutionary new computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research. This page describes the science behind Foldit and how your playing can help.

Now this one needs a bit more focus, involving transcribing scans of vintage (UK) data for the greater possibly not for the faint-hearted (I've done a few stints, enjoyable but hard on the eyes!) They say "FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records."

Find out more at FreeBMD

But let's just say you can't be arsed with all the above but you're quite happy for your computer to search for extraterrestrial life while you're having a nice cup of tea and your screen saver kicks problem.....

"SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.



From The Gertrude Bell Project at Newcastle University, an archive of her diaries and photographs

"Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was born in Washington, in what was then Co. Durham, but, when she was very young, she moved with her family to Redcar. She was educated first of all at home, and then at school in London; finally, in a time when it was not at all usual for a woman to have a university education, she went to Oxford to read history, and, at the age of twenty and after only two years study, she left with a first-class degree. In the years immediately following, she spent time on the social round in London and Yorkshire, she travelled extensively in Europe, and visited Persia. Her travels continued with two round the world trips, in 1897-1898 and in 1902-1903. At about this time too, in the seasons1899-1904, her climbing exploits in the Alps earned her renown as a mountaineer.

But from the turn of the century onwards, her life was governed by a love of the Arab peoples, inspired, it seems, by a visit to friends in Jerusalem in 1899-1900. She learned their language, investigated their archaeological sites, and travelled deep into the desert, accompanied only by male guides. Her knowledge of the country and its tribes thereby gained made her a prime target for recruitment by British Intelligence during the First World War, later, as a Political Officer, and then as Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner in Baghdad, she became a king-maker in the new state of Iraq, which she had helped to create. Her first love, however, was always for archaeology, and, as Honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq, she established in Baghdad the Iraq Museum."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pretty Polly

Edward Lear was better known for his 'Owl and the Pussycat' genre of nonsense rhymes....well, I certainly didn't know he was a talented illustrator anyway. The above from an interesting post about his life and work(with links to lots more large scans) over at BibliOdysey
But if you're just up for nonsense, click through his book of the same here (Hint: click on the images to enlarge)
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