Mary Bryant

Posted by jerry on October 31st, 2005 — Posted in Journal

We just watched the mini series Mary Bryant – a Screentime/Granada TV co-production – a great story that really moves along and builds a terrific drama – based on the true story of a young woman convict who escaped in a small boat and sailed 3000 miles from Botany Bay to Timor… Our daughter Eve played a minor part in the Timor crowd scenes and the climactic dinner. Here are a few photos from the set:

Eve is the one on the left

With Dutch soldiers
Eve with Dutch soldiers

Eve in green dress

Eve in blue dress
The hair stylists were drawing lots to see who would get to do her hair…


Eve’s birthday

Posted by jerry on October 27th, 2005 — Posted in Journal

Well it’s Eve’s (my daughter) birthday and I guess the look of concentration says it all – the new Dube juggling clubs are quite successful 🙂

Eve with Dube juggling clubs

We had a great dinner together before Eve had to head off to prepare for the next folk festival – Maldon Festival in Victoria, where she is performing with Will-o-the-Wisp Fire Circus


London travels

Posted by jerry on October 9th, 2005 — Posted in Travel

The cobblestones glistened damply in the morning light as I set off to Covent Garden markets. They had yet to open, but the buildings alone were fascinating. “Here on this site Punch and Judy was first performed in 1648 as witnessed by Samuel Pepys” read one sign. As I approached the market, I noticed a number of bicycles chained to fences. But I knew that Covent garden couldn’t be far away when I saw this two-metre unicycle…

Unicycle at Covent Garden

I wish them luck on the cobblestones!

The concert in St Martin in the Fields was breathtaking – a fine complement to the extraordinary architecture.

St Martins in the Fields
St Martins-in-the-Fields

The National Gallery has an excellent collection – they were just finishing a Stubbs exhibition – but for me the Canaletto painting from St James Park is always worth a look

National Gallery London
London – National Gallery

From Charing Cross it was a quick tube ride to St Paul’s Cathedral – Wren’s crowning achievement after the Great Fire. The dome you see from the outside is only the outermost of three, and was inspired by Bramante’s design for St Peter’s in Rome. The outside one is more cladding than anything, and beneath it is a brick cone that tapers up to support the lantern. Finally there is an inner dome with wonderful frescoes painted by Sir John Thornhill (1716-19) against Sir Christopher Wren’s wishes, that have been newly restored.

St Pauls dome
St Paul’s Dome

St Pauls inner dome
St Pauls inner dome

The whispering gallery (above) actually works – someone across the dome sounds like they are right next to you – a bit disconcerting really! I was treated to a delightful choir practice where the music wafted up into the gallery from the floor below.

It is well worth climbing the 538 steps to the top of the dome – the view is amazing

View from St Pauls
View from the top of St Pauls Cathedral

Of course London is the place to meet Australians – well blow me kangaroo down sport – if that isn’t Rolf Harris the bloke from Bassendene in Perth Western Australia who made a bit of name for himself with a paintbrush and a wobble board…

Rolf Harris, Trafalgar Square 2005
Rolf Harris

It seems he was doing a community arts project – Rolf on Art – which involved getting hundreds of people and community groups to paint fragments of famous paintings by numbers – and the result was pieced together in enormous frames in Trafalgar Square. It was a huge event with more than 10,000 people there to see it all come together. It was broadcast by BBC and there were bands and jugglers and demonstrations of Renaissance painting techniques and models of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions and loads more. It was a great atmosphere.

Rolf on Art
Rolf on Art

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an excellent collection of textiles – including the Jane Bostocke sampler – the oldest dated English embroidery sampler

Jane Bostocke sampler
The Jane Bostock Sampler (1598)

The museum was kind enough to open the musical instruments section just for me after I explained that my hardanger fiddle was modeled on the one they have there, and that I was over for a few days from Australia. I would have been just as happy to come back later when it might have reopened, but the staff were really helpful and gave me a personal tour of that section. They explained that it was closed as they were short of staff that day.

I rounded off the visit with bit of shopping at Harrods. It was the first time I had been to Harrods, even though I had previously lived in London for a year. The decor is, well, a bit over the top… but the staff were very helpful and friendly. And although I expected higher prices, they really weren’t much higher – and the service was excellent. The food hall does spectacular food displays. And if you are from outside of the European Union you can reclaim your VAT on major purchases. This brought the ultimate price of my new mini-disc recorder down to less than I would have paid in Australia.

Harrods of London

The one place that keeps drawing me back to London is St James’ Park – I love the view from the footbridge towards the Horseguards

St James Park

And the fact you can walk through the Horseguards to Whitehall – where the Whitehall Cafe serves excellent lunches and a fine pot of tea.

Horseguards London
Horseguards, London

All up it was an excellent visit – I’ll post more photos on specific themes later


Upgrade to G5 imac

Posted by jerry on September 18th, 2005 — Posted in Journal, Music, Technology

Well, if the blog has been a bit quiet lately, it’s not because life has been quiet! After five years with the graphite iMac the technology is starting to show its age – or rather sound its age. The disturbing whining sound coming from the hard drive made us think about the way we have continually pushed our home technology until it is well past its use-by date, by upgrading RAM and buying ever bigger hard drives. So the time had come.

We actually went shopping for a big hard drive so we could back up the formerly big one and still have room for growth. That was quickly solved when we found the price of 500GB drives were down to about half what the 250GB drive had cost us before. But we couldn’t easily work out whether itwas the external or the internal drive that was the problem. Hmmm time to look at other computers.

With our interests well into the graphics and music software, there was really no comparison to make – it had to be another mac, and then it came down to which model would be right for us.

The result was a bit of a dent in the plastic fantastic but we walked out with a couple of boxes – a 20-inch G5 iMac (big flat screen) with 1.5GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive and DVD burner built in. And an Epson stylys photoR210 printer – the latter because we can use it to print directly onto CD/RW – good for the Band’s demo CDs.

iMac G5

And it matches the electric fiddle! While the iLife GarageBand software looks good, I chose to upgrade to Mackie’s Tracktion2 for recording. The screen size is great for recording – everything is a good size. And the processor is quite a bit faster than the G3 iMac – and the whole lot a far cry from the machines we started on – the 512k mac and the mac plus. Those and the color Classic and the PowerMac all still work – each year we fire them all up. I reckon we need to start a tradition of Mac Day and fire up all the old macs on the anniversary of the launch of the Apple Macintosh back in 1984!


Tightrope update

Posted by jerry on September 11th, 2005 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

After a year or so the portable tightrope is still going strong – and is still strong enough for my weight. But my daughter had managed to find a source of 10mm wire rope at Revolve – the local tip shop – so it was time to revisit the tightrope.

A close inspection revealed that extensive use had taken some toll on the tightrope structure – the turnbuckle screws were beginning to bend (due to a temporary quick and dirty attachment of 12mm wire rope) and one of the pop rivets had lost its head on one of the support legs. Also the bolt leading to one of the turnbuckles had a stretched thread due to over-tightening at some point.

So it was off to Bunnings for new turnbuckles, wire rope thimbles and 10mm wire rope clamps. And why not pick up a couple of brackets too for good measure.

I drilled and replaced the damaged rivet, then replaced the turnbuckles and fitted the new 10mm wire rope. My daughter had noted that professional portable rigs had small circular platforms at either end – more stable than garden chairs, so this seemed like a good opportunity to upgrade the rig accordingly.

I had some 300mm pine boards lying around, so I scribed a circle and cut the discs out on the bandsaw (just a cheapo hobby GMC one, but it’s enough for small job like this one). Then a quick sanding to remove the high spots and a quick spray with some undercoat and then a couple of layers of enamel to make it weatherproof. And here is the result – a definite improvement on the original design!

Portable tightrope
Portable Tightrope

And yes the whole structure fits in the van at just a shade over two metres in length 🙂