Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Mystery Brew

You may remember a few blogs ago in my review of last year that I bought a tablet of tea in Glastonbury that turned out to be quite ghastly ( in case you don't, it's about half way down this blog here ).  From the same basket of tea that was sitting on the shop counter, I bought the little sachet pictured below. One fine day a couple of weeks ago, I felt brave enough to open the sachet and brew up the mystery herb, which I'm assured was tea.

Well here's what was inside - dried green stuff

Into the pot with it and pour on some boiling water.

Wait a few minutes for it to brew . Tum te tum te tum.

And pour. It doesn't look to be the strongest cuppa in the world.

A moment of contemplation while I consider the potential effects of the unknown brew.

Actually it was quite nice. Light with just a hint of jasmine about it (jasmine tea itself I find just a bit overpowering on the jasmine front). No ill effects, curious visions and I can report that I am still alive several weeks later.

When I came to empty out the pot I found that it contained almost complete tea leaves, which made cleaning out the pot easier than expected.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sculpture, paintings, glass and some bin lids

I had half an hour between trains for a quick dash round the art gallery in Wolverhampton . Not really enough time to do it justice but certainly enough time to get a taste of the place and the nice people there let you take pictures as long as you sign the register and wear a little orange dot they provide you with.

The first room I was in was mainly concerned with sculpture. Seems Wolverhampton is a bit of a centre for sculpture. This upright fellow is called A Worker and is by John Paddison in 1960. To me, from the style, it seems no surprise that it was commissioned by the Amalagamated Engineering Union. 

Young Aviator by Robert Jackson Emerson. There are a set of wings, out of sight here, on the childs ankles. By rushing round the gallery, I've missed the wings and an important part of the piece. I only read about them later.

This is Sea Fantasy by Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones who was born in Wolverhampton. He designed the Helios statue at BBC television centre in London and has already had a mention in this blog in December, right here

This is An Behearna Bhaiol - Gap of Danger by Locky Morris. Apart from being visual pleasing, it's worth a second look once you've read the blurb, so I'll type it out here for you.

"In An Behearna Bhaiol - Gap of danger, a serious of dustbin lids are presented side by side, as if to resemble the shields of a frontline conflict. Adding to the sense if imminent danger the lids bear the silhouetted outline of a row of an extended row of figures, marked in tar.
Bin lids have a particular significance and function in the context of Northern Ireland. they were used as an early warning system during the troubles, in which residents would bang on their bins to indicate the presence of police or political adversaries.
The piece also suggests a more universal experience of street violence, in which everyday objects are transformed into weaponry or armour during protests or riots."

As an indication to the speed of my visit, I only found out later that behind this glass wall was the tea room. The window was made by Sue Woolhouse in 1998

Here are some details from it.

4 pieces by Sophie Zadeh. I notice that they had brail notices - I wonder if they were intended to be touched

A closer view of Pod

And to finish off with, a few paintings.

Breton brother and sister by William Adolphe Bouguereau

The Lady of Shalott by Henry Darvel

Lady Playing Mandolin by John Phillip


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Wolverhampton witter

On the way to and back from Wales, I changed trains at Wolverhampton. Rather than sit about the station drinking tea while I waited for my next train, I dashed into town for a look. A lightening trolley dash of a look round the art gallery on the way there, which I'll cover in the next blog, and a wander round the town on the way back - I actually gave myself a little extra time on the way back and caught a later train.

It's really quite an unremarkable looking town, neither spectacular nor indeed hideous, with architecture ranging from the odd half timbered building right up to the modern day. I thought that it was quite a small town centre for a population of quarter of a million but I suppose if you've got a bit of serious shopping in mind you can hop on a tram and be in Birmingham in a little over half an hour. 

The rather grand looking church above is St Peter's and it was my intention to pop in and have a look around - unfortunately 2 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon doesn't count as open daily. It does have a rather interesting statue in front of it of Lady Wulfrun, who was captured by the Danes 943 probably for ransom and in 985 was granted land in the area by Ethelred the Unready, which she donated to the church on her death (this is as concise as I can work it out from the rather murky history of the time as available on the internet. Ethelred can't have been all that unready, he managed to stay king for 34 years (with a small break in the middle for tea)).

Also, in the unprovable past, one King Wulfhere founded an abbey in the area in 659 apparently. I don't know which of these characters gave the city it's name, maybe nobody does.

I think that this is probably the Lady Wulfrun as well but have been unable to find out as yet.

Banks brewery which I believe belongs to Marstons.

Outside the University is the following sculpture called Thinking Man by Andre Wallace. The supply blurb says, and I quote,"Is an Archimedes like figure, deep in thought and contemplation. The symbols in front of him are clues to the past occupants of the site, it's industrial heritage and discoveries of our time. The subtle engravings on his head reveal the functions and activities of the brain". Eureka! What better place to find a thinking Archimedes type figure than in the bath - he really doesn't look like he's about to leap out any time soon.

And here's another called Head by the same bloke. The sign says "Resembles a  machine in two parts which fit together perfectly to make a whole. The brain appears as a well maintained mechanical part and makes reference to an internal involute gear and spur gear, both developed by the car industry". He's obviously not had a look inside my head (it could be best sculpted by taking a ball of wool and throwing in a kitten)

There was quite a large police presence when I arrived at the station and an absolutely enormous police presence when I left. At first I thought that I was a little more popular than I had originally thought but soon realised that it was down to some goings on at the venue below. Seems in the long run to have been quite a good day for Wolverhampton Wanderers, for as I was snozzing my way back up towards Carlisle on the train, they were beating Manchester United by 2 goals to 1, something of a rarity I believe.

And finally, on the way back I passed this building. Is it the most unsympathetic church conversion ever or shrine to the god of shopping.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Dutch resistance museum

This, after a fortnight back on Blighty (or floating in the Atlantic in it's North westernmost seas would be more accurate), is the last of the planned blogs on our wee Netherlands expedition. It was a delightful couple of days and it's been lovely looking back over it, noticing how busy we'd been and posting about it here.

Our last port of call was the Dutch resistance museum. I had been concerned that it may be all about a history of Ohms in Holland but, after a little consideration we thought that this was unlikely and went round anyway (they did have the above electrical device for those who might have been disappointed when presented with a Dutch history of the second world war). There are not many photographs from here as there aren't really that many exhibits which stand out as spectacular or odd, but in dealing with everyday life from a time which really wasn't all that long ago then that is what you might expect. This is a museum where you have to take the time to read the notices that go with the exhibits - they are well written and take you from before the war right through to liberation. We spent quite some time reading our way round here and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good informative museum.

 You see plenty in pictures but I can't say I'd ever seen a concentration camp suit in real life.

A colander and a chamber pot made out of two German helmets after the war.

A liberation poster

There was part of the exhibition which related to the Dutch East Indies (Java, Sumatra, bits of New Guinea and other parts of that area) ,the Japanese invasion of 1942 and the eventual independance of the islands from the Dutch empire after the war.

75000 pouches of tea, two of which you see below, were received by the Dutch government in exile in London from the Dutch East Indies. In 1941 they were dropped by the RAF over 10 Dutch cities with the attached labels which read, "The Netherlands will recover. Greetings from the Free Dutch East Indies: Keep your spirits up!"

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A word about cheese

Quite some blogs ago I considered the frequency of certain commodities appearing in this blog, these being, tea, beer, cakes and pies. One of these, pies, is hardly important in the large scheme of things. Looking back it should be replaced by cheese, wonderful stuff and when I was in Newtown last, I picked up two rather good lumps from the local cheese stall in the market hall.

Lovely shropshire blue - if you're careful, you can just about spread it on a piece of toast, all be it rather thickly but what's wrong with thickly. Shropshire blue cheese was invented in the 1970s but Mr Andy Williamson from Inverness. Not strong on geography but if you've got a piece in your pocket and stop for too long in a shop (for example Newtown's record shop) you soon get indications that it might be a good idea to hurry it along to a fridge.

When I was down  in Newtown last year I bought a piece of local cheese made with horseradish sauce from the same stall. They didn't have any this time but instead I bought another piece from the same company (whose name I didn't note) made with mustard seeds. When I finally got to try a bit, I found it was also quite high in horseradishness - quite delicious.

Giz - Newtown's famous cheese inspector.

Goodness knows who Clifton Fadiman is but he said,"Cheese - milk's leap towards immortality."

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Anneke Kuyper

In a little room in Rembrandt's house is a delightful exhibition of mainly prints, but the odd painting, by current artist Anneke Kuyper. The internet seems to know next to nothing about her, so all I can do is show you some of her pictures

The next eight or so pictures are Ex Libris plates and you're probably looking at them larger than real life here (unless you have a very small screen in front of you)

Look at the bears hands - they're human shaped.