Friday, 9 September 2016

The First Leaves of Autumn

The first leaves of autumn are falling, beginning to drift up in the corner of the drive with a restless whisper, reminding me to hurry up with all those final summer tasks before the weather breaks and winter rain and winds return. Deadheading, scattering seeds, clearing weeds, mowing, raking, picking any hops still clinging on in the tree. The list will lengthen as the days shorten. So, just time to sneak in a quick look back at summer...

 bluetits nesting
frog visiting the pond

new rose


japanese anenome


brimstone butterfly
white rose

new pink climber rose


comma butterfly
french marigold

red admiral
snap dragon

click for short video of  bees and birdsong in the garden

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Movie review & DVD round up

Star Trek Beyond (12A)

Director ~ Justin Lin
Website ~ StarTrekBeyond

Three years into their five year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Yorktown space station for some R&R after failing on a diplomatic mission involving a mysterious artifact. When a rescue pod is picked up, the survivor claims her ship and crew are stranded on an unknown planet in a nebula and the Enterprise is dispatched to rescue them. Once there, they encounter a ruthless enemy, Krall, who will stop at nothing to obtain the artifact to create a weapon of ultimate destruction.

A high octane movie, heavy on special effects for its thrills and spills, the cast ably run around ships, planets and space stations as they battle against a hungry foe. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella all star to make this an enjoyable chapter of the Star Trek franchise.

Three out of five stars,

DVD Round-Up

The Dressmaker (12)
Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Revenge comedy set in a small town in 50's Australia. Dressmaker Myrtle Dunnage (Kate Winslett) returns to her home town to get revenge for a murder she may or may not have been sent away for as a child. Looking after her ailing mother and making outfits for the locals she tries to exact revenge while unravelling the secrets of the past. Hugo Weaving is the cross dressing local policeman, Judy Davis is Myrtle's mad, bad mother and Liam Hemsworth is the local love interest. A chick flic with unusual twists and turns, it keeps the attention and does not end up where you think it will. There are also some gruesome deaths along the way.
Four out of five sequinned spangles.

Bridge of Spies (12)
Director: Steven Spielberg

Superb portrayal of real events during the cold war when Colonel Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested and accused of being a Russian spy. He is defended by lawyer Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) who defends him successfully enough to avoid the death penalty. Donovan is then recruited by the CIA to organise an exchange of prisoners in East Berlin as the wall is being built and tensions mount on both sides. Brilliant, do not miss it.
Five out of five unofficially sanctioned stars.

The Hateful Eight (18)
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Didn't get past about the first half hour, which was slow, dull and, er slow...
Zero stars out of five.

Also recommend:

The Lady in the Van (12) ***** 
Trouble for Alan Bennett when a homeless woman parks her van outside his house. 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (12) *****
More teen distopian scifi action.

Conviction (15) *****
Solid court drama as sister tries to overturn her brother's murder charge.

Sicario (15) *****
Bleak look at the violent world of the Mexican/USA border through the eyes of a young FBI agent.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Of Norfolk

The whisper of silver leaves under wide skies
In ancient tongues asking me
Where are your dreams now
Wild lass, wild lass
 Only wreathed as silver strands in your hair
The willows are calling me
Back to the water lands
Windmills to the sea
Where river and sand flat and blue martins ply
Under the old cobbles
A shore of brick and stone
In memory of a place once we called home

Where are your dreams now
Wild lass, wild lass
Only wreathed as silver strands in your hair
Lost to the pine wind in the wild sea air

All your dreams travelled
A gathering storm
But your heart is a vaulted cathedral where angels sing
And love, ripe red and burnished
Beats to the steady drum
And here is hope, the living prayer, unfurled to the wind

The whisper of silver leaves under wide skies
In ancient tongues asking me
Where are your dreams now
Wild lass, wild lass
And I shout into the returning tide
Of the mud and salt and iron hard bone
Of barrel wood, frayed rope
And shells turned to stone
Of the stained glass and old songs
And cornfields' ripe gold
Where river and sand flat and blue martins ply
Under the old cobbles
A shore of brick and stone
Now memories of a place once we called home


Monday, 27 June 2016

The Rise of the Moderates

I voted to Remain

I voted to remain in the EU Referendum. I am a firm believer in the idea that together the EU, as a group of countries, has a strong global economic voice and that the union has allowed a shattered post-war continent to rebuild. Like most outside the political system, I was disappointed but not necessarily shocked by the referendum result. It has been impossible to ignore the recent growing disparity of wealth across Europe as a whole. A political system which only favours the elite and turns its back on the people the system was designed to help is bound to be on a collision course with disaster. Thank goodness this was only a bloody vote and not a bloody revolution.
In the UK it has been increasingly clear the huge wealth generated by the capital has not led to the regeneration of the post-industrial north or the rural south and east and frustrating to see a political ideology not addressing this but instead pushing austerity to the limits of social tolerance. In less than a generation we have shifted home ownership and job/pension security beyond the reach of the majority and seem to be in the process of removing state education and access to national healthcare. That this EU referendum became about giving the political system a bloody nose shows the level of disconnect between politics and the people. It is a sentiment Brussels should not ignore.

Partisan European Politics

'Is it time 2 automate global political treaties in order 2 remove partisan human response & compute best rational outcomes 4 next generation'

I was surprised to see the extraordinarily partisan approach of the EU commission in trying to force our government to trigger article 50 as a response to the Brexit vote. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest in the EU. This is an economic union we have decided, democratically as a country, not to be working in our favour and, as such, our government will be expected to carefully and with the full co-operation of the EU over the next few years, follow the legal frameworks laid out for an exit. It will be a complex set of negotiations to find the best result for all concerned, to limit trade damage and to make sure Europe will still benefit from having the fifth largest economy on its doorstep. It is not a quickie divorce.

New day, new European alliances...

'What new #EuroGlobal forum will the UK build as the EU looks as though it will ignore this referendum warning for reform & who will join us?'

After the PM's resignation and a weekend of political vacuum in which the Chancellor was nowhere to be seen, no clear successor anointed, the opposition staging a slow coup, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London talking of breaking up the UK, we were all left wondering who will step up and say... well anything...

Two trillion and counting...

Interestingly the #Brexit vote has effectively wiped out some of the trillions pumped in by quantitative easing measures across the global stock markets. Will a moderate rise in interest rates and a flattening of excesses between currencies help to curb excessive gambles and start to even out a volatile market ?

The rise of the Moderates

One thing for sure, this vote and the campaigns preceding it, have been divisive, negative and laid bare the political infighting and intrigue of party politics where winning, whatever the cost, is the goal. Yet it seems, if you read the press we are now all going to be losers, with a punitive budget, despite the Bank of England having planned for this event with several billion stashed up its sleeve. What is increasingly clear is the probable need for another election as the face of both the main political parties is moved radically beyond what was voted for only a year ago.

I hope the rise of a more moderate approach within the EU will be the ultimate outcome of Britain's exit. You have only to look at the treatment of Greece and the plight of the refugees to see how very unbalanced and inward-looking the system has become. I hope moderate views prevail in the UK too and the individual nations can see the break up of the UK was not what people were voting for last Thursday. And I hope America takes a good, long hard look at its own Union of States and realises, in the cold light of a Monday morning just what could be at stake with its own, very partisan election. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Analysis on EU referendum debate and why this expert is voting to remain in EU.

Well worth watching this video by Professor Michael Dougan before you vote.

“Dishonesty on an industrial scale” EU law expert analyses referendum debate