Monday, 21 December 2009

Avatar movie review..

Avatar 3D (12A)
James Cameron (Writer and Director)

With the much talked-about budget in the region of $300 million dollars and at 161minutes in length Avatar 3D is clearly epic in it's aspirations. So, in order to prepare for this cinematic odessey, I thought it best to refamiliarise myself with some of James Cameron's earlier work and revisited Aliens and Titanic. Aliens is a favourite movie of mine and I think I'm probably alone in the world by saying I don't like Titanic but I wanted a sense of balance and a big budget vehicle to judge Avatar by. Where Aliens has a taut storyline and superb alien special effects, Titanic still seems to wallow in unecessary self-indulgence to the detriment of the cast and plot, something I've always found distasteful considering the horrific tragedy that the real Titanic was. So, would Avatar 3D be an Aliens or a Titanic?
By the time we were due to see Avatar 3D, two things had happened. One, people were talking about it being 'Dances with Wolves' but with 'nine foot smurfs' and two, half a foot of snow fell followed by a whole load of freezing weather. So, digging the drive to try and get to the cinema on time for our pre-booked tickets, while making sure the car had necessary provisions should we get stuck in a snowdrift did seem slightly OTT just for a film. This is the first time I've ever taken flasks, blankets, wellingtons and a shovel with me to the cinema and so the movie didn't just have to live up to all the marketing hype but be worth all the effort expended to get there as well.
The central character is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former Marine, now in a wheelchair who, after the death of his twin brother, is recruited to the Avatar Program on the distant planet of Pandora. Here he is to become an Avatar controller in order to help persuade the Na'vi, the indigenous population, to leave their forest dwelling and allow the mining of a precious mineral needed back on earth. What follows is a story woven around the good guys, Jake and the Avatar science team befriending the Na'vi and battling against the inexorable, faceless corporate machine, rapacious for the precious mineral and prepared to destroy the forest and all who dwell in it.
The plot is solid and though it may meander slowly through the first half, it is easy to become totally engrossed in the superb visualisation of Pandora. A whole new planet's ecosystem has been created to make the depth and detail afforded by 3D a real treat. The second half of the movie gains momentum with epic battle scenes and a love story crossing boundaries of culture, species and technology. The cast is great, headed up ably by a cigarette smoking Sigourney Weaver and featuring Wes Studi, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang and Zoe Saldana. It is clearly aimed at the teen eco-warrior/gaming market but certainly as a family movie (ages ranging from 9 up) this is without doubt a Christmas treat. As to whether it's another Aliens or Titanic I shall sum it up, in the words of our eleven year old ...'It has love, courage, cowardice...and weapons!'

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

United Nations Climate Change Conference COP15

Dear World Leaders,
The tipping point 4 climate change is today, in your decisions. If humanity is to have a sustainable future how hard a choice 4 your heart can it be?

United Nations Climate Change Conference COP15

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

2012 movie review

2012 (12A)

Roland Emerich's (Stargate, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) latest movie, 2012 is on a global scale. The premise is simple, in the year 2012 there will be a solar flare of such magnitude it will rip apart the world as we know it. The story follows various individuals trying to survive this event and interweaves their destinies along the way. There are vague references to Mayan calandars and Dan Brown-style conspiracies but these are really red herrings for what is simply a good old fashioned disaster movie.
In order to achieve the astounding special effects, the Yellowstone caldera exploding, cities collapsing, earthquakes and tidal waves, computer generated imagery is seamlessly integrated with live action and hats off the the actors for making it feel believable. The cast is headed up by John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity, War Inc.) who plays an everyman by the name of Jackson Curtis, a little known author ( just trying to keep his dysfunctional family alive. Chitwetel Ejiofor plays the government geologist with a conscience and the rest of the cast include Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson (Woody Harrelson manages to salvage his over-the-top acting of a conspiracy theorist DJ by the seat of his pants!). While the science bits are well and truly dodgy, so numerously dodgy that I'm not even going to go there, the fast-paced action is right on track and the 158 minutes fly by in jaw-droppingly spectacular style. This is a movie that needs a big screen and suggest you see it at a cinema while you can. If you liked 'The Day After Tomorrow' then 2012 is it's bigger and eye-poppingly bolder brother.  

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Love Not Hate

To mark the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I thought I'd post up a poem about walls. This wasn't written about the Berlin Wall but does cover the themes of freedom and liberty. (Please feel free to add links in the comments to your own poems/thoughts/memories about the Berlin Wall.)

Sometimes the news is hard enough to hear
Let alone live through
We have let hate win
If we allow for one minute these borders of hate
To run among us
Dividing our hearts, separating our minds

The truth is this
The medieval mindset that brings violence, distrust
Fear and hate to every doorstep is no weapon at all
Against love
The sanctuary you crave is the human heart
And it beats in every one of us

Violence cannot win
Because it cannot see
How blind it is
To the truth
The walls of hate it builds
Only serve to imprison it
The human heart will always fly free

Friday, 6 November 2009

Truck Racing at Brands Hatch

Last Saturday was spent at the Delphi Truck Superprix at Brands Hatch watching 1000bhp turbocharged five-tonne monsters thundering round Paddock Hill Bend, charging up to Druids and, occaisionally careering off at Graham Hill Bend. Despite the chill and misty start to the day the sight and sound of these trucks is truly spectacular and it was great to see Brands Hatch looking immaculate and well-cared for.
Among those racing was Andy Akinwolere from BBC's Blue Peter who, having passed his driving test 2007 was set the challenge of gaining his HGV licence, racing licence and then competing in competition. You can find out how he fared on Tuesday 10th November at 4.35pm on BBC1.
Also racing were Ginettas and Mazdas, the Dunlop Motorsport News Saloons, Pick-up Trucks and Legends Cars UK. Don't ask me how the Legends work out the points for their races, it's very complicated with ballots, reverse grids and points for various heats but I can tell you that these 5/8th scale cars are based on 1930s American NASCAR models.

The Legends racing towards Graham Hill Bend.

Nippy and suprisingly easy to park, driver and truck OK, barrier totally totalled. Time for an early lunch as repairs take place.

Blue Peter truck gets overtaken on Paddock Hill Bend.

Race time ~ charging round Paddock Hill Bend.

Blue Peter's Andy on Paddock hill Bend.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

European President?

Mark Steel's article in the Independent today about the post of European President is worth a read.
Here's an article in the Guardian about Nick Clegg's views on the issue.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

It's blog action day ! - Tackling Climate Change with the Liberal Democrats

It's blog action day today and this year's topic is climate change. I thought I'd put up some links on the action the Liberal Democrats are undertaking to secure a fairer and greener future for us and our families.

"Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to set the example and make a commitment for a 10% reduction in public sector emissions in 2010," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary
Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat website.

The Liberal Democrats have been praised as the only political party "that gets it" by one of the country's leading environmentalists. Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat website.

Nick Clegg launches 'One Planet One Voice' Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat website.

'A healthy natural environment is crucial not only to our quality of life but also to the sustainability of life on the planet. Liberal Democrats recognise that the threat to biodiversity and the depletion of our natural resources are as great a threat as climate change.' Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat website.

Energy prices should be fairer and simpler. Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat website.

As an individual, it can be hard to know what actions will help with climate change and whether those actions really can have any effect at all. At the next general election there is one simple action you can take to ensure a fairer and greener future for us all, vote Liberal Democrat.

Have a look at this page on the Liberal Democrat Economic Recovery Plan.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Ripplestone Review Biennial Awards 08/10

Hurray! It's that time again when the Review trawls back through a couple of year's worth of reviewed stuff and tries to decide who deserves a lovely Ripplestone Review certificate for glorious music, outstanding cinema, great family entertainment or simply a nice day out. The nominations can be found here and results will be posted on The Ripplestone Review in January 2010.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Kelpie

In ink-deep water dwells
The Kelpie and its fearsome spells
Lost in those moor-locked pools
Ripples running from its hooves

It waits in a weed-choked lair
For passing fools and maidens fair
To ride away with, free and high
Across the lake, beyond the sky

They'll realise all too late
What's to be their awful fate
As the Kelpie dives below
Plung'd to icy death they go

The water horse gallops, see the waves
While mortal bones waste in watery graves

The miller's daughter wanders near
The millpond, up beyond the weir
And there, reflected in gleaming deeps
Her beauty shines, her radiance keeps

The kelpie lost in lustrous sighs
Enchanted by her wildling eyes
While she waits for her sweetheart's call
The Kelpie watches her enthralled 

And in its heart is a plan
To shapeshift into a man
And steal her swift away
Till she's lost beneath the waves

The water horse all clothed in flesh
Calls out, as though his life's last breath

The miller's daughter hears the cry
And rushes to the Kelpie's side
Finding him in half-drowned distress
She lays his head upon her dress

The Kelpie, fluttering his eyes
Sees she's fallen for his disguise
And moaning as if with mortal pain
Asks to know his angel's name

She bends low so he'll hear
And whispers 'Morag' in his ear
But his cold eyes cause alarm
And belie his distress'd charm
A water horse to steal her to his lair
The miller's daughter shivers at his stare

With fearful care she strokes his brow
And hopes and prays that somehow
She can escape the Kelpie's spell
And not be lost below the swell
She sings a soothing lullaby
And the Kelpie drops his eyes
Until he falls, deep and sound
Fast asleep upon her gown

Morag watches as he sleeps
His hair all wound with water reeds
King-cups and lily-flowers
As though dressed for a funeral bower

The water horse dreams on without a care
Cradled in the lap of this maiden fair

At last she dares to slip away
And the Kelpie, left where he lay
Sleeps alone on the millpond bank
Amongst the reeds, cold and dank

Heart pounding with the hope of escape
She runs back along the millpond race
Running fast and faster, lo!
She runs into the arms of her beau

And there in torn and sobbing breath
She tells of her escape from certain death
Her skirts all waterlogged and worn
From the Kelpie's frightful sojourn

When the water horse wakes he finds his prey
Has long since vanished along the sunlit brae


In ink-deep water dwells
The Kelpie and its fearsome spells
Lost in those moor-locked pools
Ripples running from its hooves

It waits in a weed-choked lair
For passing fools and maidens fair
To ride away with, free and high
Across the lake, beyond the sky

They'll realise all too late
What's to be their awful fate
As the Kelpie dives below
Plung'd to icy death they go

The water horse gallops, see the waves
While mortal bones waste in watery graves

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Star of the Week! Eddie Izzard for Comic Relief

Haven't done a star of the week for a while but surely no one is more deserving than Eddie Izzard and his 43 marathons up and down the UK for Sport Relief.
If you didn't get to sponsor him, you can still donate here, read his blog here, read about the event here. What a star!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009

Caption competition...

Found this spider with freshly-caught fly in the garden, feel free to add captions in comments, no prize, just the fun of taking part...

Saturday, 5 September 2009

I've been tagged - For an internet meme...

To participate in the Meme Award, you need to:

- link back to the person who gave you the award;
- reveal seven things about yourself;
- choose seven other blogs to nominate and post a link to them
- let each of your choices know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog;
- and finally let the tagger know when your post is up.

So thanks to HappyMouffetard at The Inelegant Gardener for tagging me for this... I'm in two minds as I'm not sure I know seven other bloggers to link to so might well throw that part open for people to nominate themselves through the comments section. Which probably disqualifies me from the whole meme thing...but never mind!

So here's seven things about me that you might or might not already know:

1) Raw pineapple gives me mouth ulcers.
(Note about link: Not sure if it's the same one I visited as a kid, but as pineapples go, it's pretty big!)

2) I've swum with sharks (but didn't realise it at the time).

3) I really liked physics at school but my maths wasn't good enough to take it as an option. Now, in my daydreams, I invent spaceships.

4) We were given a reading list at school for English Lit. I threw it away and read sci-fi instead.

5)I can wiggle my little toes independently of the others.

6) Occasionally, I like to meditate and have done so since I was ten.

7) If I ever win big-time in the EuroMillions, I'd buy Apethorpe Hall, now there's a project which would keep me and the boys out of mischief for the rest of our days!

Will post this for now and try and sort out links to other blogs and notifications later. Should anyone want to participate and be one of the seven blogs I have to nominate, please leave a link to your blog in the comments section!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New Labour's legacy, back to the 70's... and 10:10

Report here on Government's own predictions for power shortages by 2017.

Another tax on the poorest sectors of society.

Rural communities are still not being addressed by Labour's centralised government.

10:10 a small green change for good.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Constant (plus don't forget..)

Finding a rhythm through the changing seasons
A wider view from within
Beyond here and now
But still a part of it

The tide flows out and returns
Leaves fall, blossom to fruit
All is change
Yet remains constant

Don't forget: International Peace Day September 21

And The Daily Politics returns on same day

Friday, 21 August 2009

Pictures from Cornwall

Pencarrow House

The Seed at the Eden project

Bodmin Jail

Waterfall at Tintagel

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Field Tree

In time and only in time
Will my grand design be revealed
In leaf and bud and spreading bough
My arching triumph of shade and light
A patterned tapestry on the floor below

My leaves, soft and green in Summer
Are soon set ablaze by Autumn
One moment crimson, the next gone
As laughing in the wind I let go
And they spiral down, out of control

Through Winter I keep the sky above
Taut and stretched with brittle fingers
My bark reveals the patina of my age
Lichen on the north and up above
A sprig of mistletoe clings

But when the sap rises
And the birds return
When breaking buds burst open
And the frost melts into Spring
Then I am glorious and reborn

And you may carve your name on me
As a reminder should you forget your love
I will not forget in time, like you
As here I stand
In leaf and bud and spreading bough

Monday, 6 July 2009

Trafalgar square fourth plinth, 'One & Other'

Anthony Gormley's 'one & other' gets underway in Trafalgar Square today. Check out live feed from participants here

Thursday, 2 July 2009

keepsafe angel mugs

Look! Not only nice t-shirts but also keepsafe angel mugs too, click on link in sidebar to go to shop...

Friday, 19 June 2009


Rookery Tree (on the road near Stonehenge)

Around the stones
The rhythm runs
And in the west
The dipping sun
Sears the sky
A bloody hue
As the rook sings
For you

High tree, branch and wind
Feathers ruffle, song begins
Silver seals the soul from guilt
Moonlight gilds the restless flint
In his eyes unwinds the night
So the rook sings

Harsh song
From claw and bone
Calling all those winged home
Chatter, hop and quarrel join
His gregarious chorus line
Harsh song
From claw and bone
He calls you home

Around the stones
The rhythm runs
And in the west
The dipping sun
Sears the sky
A bloody hue
As the rook sings
For you

Feathers ruffle, song begins
So the rook sings

Summer solstice weekend, Wimbledon and British GP (don't forget Father's Day!)

English Heritage is providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the summer solstice, details here.

Will Nadal's knees be OK? Will this be Murray's year to triumph? Wimbledon starts next week, details of draws etc here.

British Grand Prix at Silverstone, details here. Both Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton have special one-off helmet livery for their home race.

(Don't forget Father Day on Sunday!)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Celebrating community festival, RSPB and marine bill

Celebrating Community Festival 2009
There is a local festival celebrating community running from 13th to the 28th June. For more information and a programme of events check here.

The RSPB is asking people to support strengthening the Marine Bill in it's second reading so that highly protected sites can be preserved without the risk of future disturbance.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

How women won the right to vote in the UK.

I was sad to see tv interviews this week with women saying they wouldn't be voting in last Thursday's local elections. Women in the UK have only been able to vote for just over 100 years and it was such a hard won privilege, a battle fought by women regardless of class and situation and with it, it paved the way for equality in so many aspects of our lives. I have trawled around the internet to find some links about the suffragettes and what they achieved for us, especially in the context of being a free and democratic society.

Without this hard won right to vote, this country could not call itself a democracy and if we don't vote, then we are in danger of throwing away one of our basic principles of democracy, that we all have equal access to government. I would urge all women not to be turned off by the political process and the scandals of recent times but to understand how being part of this process will ultimately bring a fairer and more equal balance to our society.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Crater (sci-fi)

Crater - Science fiction story following the crew on board the 'The Gybe' is being serialised over at Oola's Intergalactic Tuneship Eerie.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Nick Clegg on BBB Breakfast ...Why Europe matters more than ever... autism and asperger syndrome petition

Nick Clegg being questioned over MPs expenses on BBC Breakfast this morning.

The Lib Dem manifesto for Europe.

Please sign this petition for 10 Downing Street to show your support for Gary McKinnon, a man with Asperger Syndrome facing extradition for allegedly hacking into US Defense systems.

Monday, 11 May 2009

May I have some more please?

Hey diddle, diddle
MP's in expenses fiddle?
They've got clean away with the moon
The public's aghast
To see such sport
An apology won't help them in June...

(Gordon Brown's apology. )

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Ballad of Blue Bell Hill

Finally! The Ballad of Blue Bell Hill, (along with footnotes) is up on the Ripplestone Review...just in time for the Sweeps Festival 2009 in Rochester over the May Bank Holiday.