Just to let you know that I am working on taking this blog public in the next few days. I'll be tidying a few things up first. I'll let you know when I have made the change to the permissions settings.
Squidoo was first suggested to me more than 6 months ago. I never quite got round to spending time creating my first lens. I should have done because I like the idea of being able to set up a web page on a subject. A blog or a web site is a big commitment - I know some of mine don't get updated as often as they should. A Squidoo lens is different though - it's just one pay so I can afford to set one up on a subject that's a psssing interest - like Ruth Lorenzo the X Factor contestant. I may maintain it for the next few weeks, then I'll drop it. In truth, a lens gathers together various materials on a particular subject so a lens may even save me time. Of course, creating a great Squidoo lens is a lot of effort, but then I'm not creating them to make money like some people do.
I wonder if I should go back now and give Ning another try. First though I need to get Twitter and Facebook integrated. That's the thing, each new site, no matter how good, carries and admin overhead if you want to keep everthing co-ordinated. And don't talk to me about the number of user IDs and passwords I have to remember!
After months of promising to do so, I have finally started a Web site as a tribute to my late father, Terry Phizackerley. It's a photographic archive of his paintings (mostly but not entirely signed PT Phiz). Sadly we don't have photos of much of his work. My father took them and there were slides but unfortunately they were not saved in the chaos of clearing the house after my mother's death. Hopefully over time people will get in touch and offer photos of paintings in their posession. The family is still in touch with most of the people who own several. In due course, I'll also put an advert in the Lancaster Guardian advertsing the site and asking people to get in touch.
In the meantime, there is an opportunity to display some lesser known work, particularly work that has never been exhibited. There is a large body of very early work and the breadth of styles will surprise those who have only seen works he exhibited later in his life.
I intend it to be more than a photographic archive. As a child, more than my brothers, I spent a lot of time with my father when he was sketching. I was also very much a consultant while he was painting, trusted to be honest with my view as to he quality of each work. That's not to say we always agreed. He produced some strange purple works ... which thankfully seem to have gone astray because I never cared for them at all. My father, however, felt them to be rather good. (Indicentally, I can neither paint nor draw! My brother inherited that talent.)
So the site will also capture my recollection of my father at work, supplemented by anything my brothers can add, to provide a comprehensive picture for posterity of his artistic career. For the first time, I also intend to publish many of his sketches so that readers can see the transition from sketch to finished work. In many cases, "sketch" is something of a misnomer. A watercolour sketch for an oil painting can be an important and beautiful work in it itself, even if my father specifically labelled it as a sketch. But then I remember how much commitment went into every oil painting - both in terms of time but also financially as spending on canvas might have meant we couldn't afford to eat. The life of a young artist carries a high pecuniary burden.
It is going to take months, if not years, to get even the first set up. But it is a job worth doing.Once a significant number are in place, my sister in law and I plan a memorial exhibition. The exhibitions during his lifetime were themed, such as pictures of the river Lune (like the one shown). I want to display the full diversity of his talent. My first thought was to arrange it as a timeline. There is a difficulty with that in that the dates for some works is uncertain, although I can date most to within a couple of years; more importantly it doesn't achieve what I want as often very similar paintings, albeit of different scenes, are separated by many years. The new intention is therefore to organise pictures by medium - a group of oils, a group of landscape watercolours, some architectural studies and so on. Hopefully we will also be able to arrange a loan of works in private and public collections - or at least professional standard photographs of some of them.
But that is for the future, for now I need to concentrate on building the web site and ensuring that those who will be interested are able to find it.
I brought back a couple of half bottles of Charles Krug Lot XII zinfandel port from California.
Of the wineries I visited this was my favourite. Quiet, almost intimate. Just me and a young couple. The server was highly knowledge and loved to talk. I was on the $20 reserve wines flight: the couple were on the $10. Everytime her poured them a glass I got one too. At one time I had 3 different cabernet sauvignons in front of me - and it's easy to tell the difference.
Generally I don't like the heavy reds - or so I thought. What I discovered is that the heavy reds need to be of a high quality. The reserves where they may only produce 200 or 300 cases were rather good.
Generally I tend to go for softer reds - malbec, pinot noir or shiraz. Grapes which can successfully be used for cheap wines ie what I normally drink. Krug are known for champagnes. There weren't any in the tasting as they are produced elsewhere. (My champagne tasting came at House Chandon. I'm now certainly I really dislike their champagnes. Insipid, tasteless with a tart after taste. Not for me at all.) What they did have was a zinfandel port. Again that wasn't supposedly on the tasting list - but hey as usual we were talking and it was a natural progression to illustrate the discussion.
It's not a real port of course. But for something so glorious that's sheer pedantry.
I bought 4 half bottles of their Lot XII. It's made in a solera system and inludes 12 diferent vintages. We drank one bottle after dinner on the Sunday when the family were round for a barbecue. And it was every bit as good as I remembered. Sweet, fruity. Just wonderful!
Couldn't resist that title - it reminds of the song title "It's Raining Again". Anyway I've been out to Stanford to see the Rodin garden and the museum there. Great place. Stanford I think is my favourite university campus - up there with my beloved Cambridge. The musuem also had so glorious C20 glasswork - beautiful objects.
I finally managed to meet up with Loro which was nice but we've not managed to schedule dinner.
Back home on Wednesday so a proper posting sometime at the end of the week.
Well I'm back in the madness of Silicon Valley again.
I'd thought the weather would be warmer to be honest - mid to high 60's is all at present. I've not been up to SF proper - as that sits most days in a fog cloud it would probably be really quite chilly up in the city.
I have been shoppiong though. Bought a few things clothes for Liana for Christmas and something for Mia the next time I see Jess. Mostly I've been spending time witht the family but I hooked up with Lori last night for a coffee - we are hoping to do dinner next week.
I'll post more when I have more time.
Hogwarts came to Carnforth
It wasn't just the Hogwarts Express (just the latest in the long line of fictional steam trains 'brought to life'), there were a dozen or so steam engines in steam. That's more than I've ever seen together in one place.
Carnforth used to be a major railway junction. These days it's a backwater just off the West Coast Mainline (which runs express through a side of the station). When I was growing up it had become Steam Town, but that closed years ago.
It was a strange crowd. Half were families drawn by the lure of the Hogwarts Express; the rest, perhaps of the majority, were hardline train buffs perhaps as more interested in the lines of old diesel locos and carcasses of carriages as in the steam engines.
After that, after settling the little one with some lunch. We headed in to Morecambe. Morecambe is much changed: it has sand! My recollection (and it's where I was born so Morecambe and I go back a long way) is of miles of mud. Well the mud hasn't gone of course but somebody has drafted in some sand to create a beach as well. The tide was well out but in the sun it was still very pleasant.
PS for those who missed the reference, there's a famous scene in Brief Encounter beneath the clock on Carnforth station. And for those interested, the clock still exists and there is a museum on the platform. And if you are really interested click on the clock for a page on the clocks on Carnforth station!
Majorca was fantastic.
I was in Porto Colom out on the east coast about 70Km from Palma, slightly less from the airport. Porto Colom is a town/resort built around a large natural harbour. Not quite as big as the Grand Harbour in Malta but still probably a couple of square miles. So nowhere is far from the sea.
If the harbour was a big U, I was at the bottom, near the town square. A cluster of restaurants of indifferent quality - the more expensive just more pretentious rather than actually serving better food. The exception was a rather decent Italian but mostly I preferred the Chinese as it was right in the square. Most evenings there would be a 'band' on. Essentially the sort of karaoke act you see on streets the world over - backing on tape and vocals sung live. Some were average; one was pretty decent. With frequent breaks they played from about 8pm through to midnight. As usual I was late shift when most of the tourists were back in their hotels so it was me and Spanish families. And I mean families. Even up to midnight there were lots of kids. Bouncy castle and trampolines for the little ones; dancing for the older ones, and food and drink for the adults. Why can't we do it like that?
Two days I dragged myself to Palma. That was a couple of hours each way on the public bus so the fact I went twice shows I liked the place. I'd say it's my favourite Mediterranean city so far. A staggeringly beautiful waterfront. Some nice squares and shops and a lovely buzz to the place. I'll be back. Now I've been to Majorca I can't understand the lure of the Canaries. There's history in the Balearics. The villages and towns have souls and hearts. Places to potter.
I did get some time to sunbathe. Mostly topless of course - don't want nasty white lines and I'm too lazy to keep moving straps around. I'm not a sun worshiper so I have colour rather than a deep tan. But that's just the way I like it.
The photos of Palma will go up on Flickr over the next few weeks but they need a bit of work (mostly cropping) first.
... just been busy / distracted. I'll get around to posting about Majorca soon.
Sounds boring? Far from it.
My friend Grace and I went up to buy lunch. Borough Market is a farmers market on steroids. OK, unfortunate phrase - a lot of the produce is organic. The idea was to grab a drink in the George; buy lunch; come back to my flat to cook it; then pop out to the Cricketers (the local local) for a quick drink.
Grace hadn't been to Borough Market before. It's right by London Bridge station so very quick from here. A mass of stalls selling cheese, meat, vegetables, wines, cider, jams, bread and a whole lot of other produce. Nothing adventurous on the veg front - just new potatoes and spinach. Then a tour of the various butchers to find some nice steaks to grill, and we did choose steak. All to be washed down with a nice bottle of plum wine and followed by cheese and biscuits. There was some discussion on the cheese but as hostess I opted for a goats cheese gorgonzola.
Confession - I had to resort to Margaret Patten's book (old) to find out how long the new potatoes needed to be cooked!
A very nice meal with good company. All in all a good afternoon.
Some of you may not know that my aunt and cousins live in Palo Alto in California. I'm going there again later in the summer ... and I'm getting ready. I'll post about that in a few weeks. Palo Alto is also the home of Stanford and Google is next door. Many of the new developments come out of Palo Alto and one of last year's is Twitter. I'm not going to bore you with what it is but if you already know and are on Twitter, then email me so we can hook up.
All you need to know is that it means I can add short updates here from my mobile phone. I've added a sidebar to show them. It means if I can send quick updates between the main posts here - and if I'm in away I'll always have access to SMS.
OK the main batch of invitations has gone out so hopefully I should have a few more visitors soon.
I picked up my tickets today for Majorca. That was a last minute decision last week. I knew I wanted to get away but was struggling to work out where so I popped in to Flight Centre to see what they suggest. The hotel looks good, Ola el Vistamar - the usual beech hotel. Rooms a bit basic and the buffet dinner totally awful according to TripAdvisor but clean, decent facilities and good, friendly service.
Of course as usual I won't be in for the hotel buffet - I opted for R&B. (The breakfasts are reputedly good.) The main attraction of the hotel is that it is is a small, quiet resort, away from the main areas. And as usual with my choice of hotels it is 5 minutes off the main town square so I can wander out to eat at a local restaurant - and late like the Spanish do. Well I am an owl as you all know.
Anyway I fly out on 5th July, on a very early Easy Jet flight back a week later. I just won't go to bad that night. The return is a civilised middle of the day flight.
I'll remind you just before I fly.
Well even for Kate it's getting late, but here it is at last a personal blog of all the trivia in my life.