Monday, 24 May 2010

Around Rutland Water

Carrot Creek

Normanton Church

Canadian Goose with young.

One of the many lovely country cottages on the Hambleton Peninsula

The weather this weekend has been scorching hot so the opportunity to go for a spot of walking and birding around Rutland was too good to miss.

My usual birding buddy Barry was in the driving seat on this occasion , something I was later to be very glad of..... After over indulging on Cider, San Miguel and Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer...

Rutland is the smallest County in England, By surface area it has the largest reservoir in England.

It was construction in 1975 by damming the Gwash Valley near Empingham. It flooded six or seven square kilometres of the Gwash valley as well as the side valley at the head of which lies Oakham. Nether Hambleton and most of Middle Hambleton were demolished. The neighbouring village of Upper Hambleton survived, and now sits on a peninsula within the lake known as the Hambleton Peninsula. This is where we parked up and planned to walk.

Photography Competition

It's lovely to escape from the desk for half an hour or so...

I have my own little Oasis where I escape to most days for some quiet and reflective space and time.

The backdrop to this beautiful walk is the Barclaycard building which I have tried to capture in the two photographs as it is always looming large.

Despite being in the middle of an industrial estate there is plety of wildlife including Deers, Foxes and Badgers.

Also I have recorded over forty different bird species so far- not bad for an urban area!

Refreshed I head back to the hustle and bustle of the IT world after my blast of the natural world.

Wonderful is the word I would use to describe my bike journey into the Barclaycard site in Northampton.

The colours, the scenery and the widlife all change with the seasons. I see the sun rise and set, the Swans, Ducks and Rabbits all become 'old' friends.

All this to a constant backdrop of the 'drone' that is the dual carriageway which runs parallel but thankfully out of sight of the cycle path.

I arrive at work invigorated and fully motivated knowing I can do it all over again at the end of the day.

The biggest irony being that it is actually quicker than taking the car !

I saw on the internet at work a competition that involved taking a photograph loosely based on a work theme.
The brief gave a lot of scope and tied in with the core values promoted. The photo/s had to be accompanied with a write up of up to a 100 words why you took the photos.

These are my two entries :

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Within Temptation - Antwerp

A true Angel

The Nun - With Thanks Stephen - Must be a story there?

With Stephen after his final gig

A tribute to the Tour Manager

Our Hotel was literally over the road from the Koningin Elisabethzaal so we didn't set off until 19:30. Also pre-booked seats so it didn't mean an early start and a long queue which was a pleasant change.
It was an extremely laid back atmosphere inside the venue more reminiscent of a night a the theatre. I suppose it was appropriate as this was an acoustic tour or so I thought??.
Not only was it to be the last night of the Tour it was also Drummer Stephen Van Haestregts last concert after 10 years with WT. He is leaving to concentrate on producing, recording and mixing other bands. Also he is involved with another musical project “My Favorite Scar”.
The first half started with 'Towards the End' followed by fantastic acoustic versions of 'Caged', 'Stand My Ground', 'Somewhere' and 'The Cross' one of my personal favourites. There were two backing musicians playing violin and Cello which fitted perfectly with the surroundings.
Suddenly acoustic guitars were swapped for electric there was a rush to the stage front and we were treated to a full out Rocking version of 'Heart Of Everything'. The crowd went wild - was this a sign of things to come for after the interval.
The second half picked up where the first ended with a pulsating version of Jilian (I'd give my heart). Followed by 'Angels' before continuing in an acoustic manner with 'Forgiven', 'Memories', 'Utopia' and 'What Have You Done'. The tempo was soon picked up again with such classics as 'The Howling','Mother Earth' and 'Ice Queen'.
We also had a giant inflatable 'Nun' dedicated 'With Thanks Stephen', although i'm not entirely sure of the significance.
This was a fantastic gig pure musical genius. Don't get me wrong I love a few pyros and extravagant light show but they were not missed tonight. Altogether we had twenty one songs and this was a tribute to the strength of Sharon's vocal power.
Stephen got a wonderful and emotional send off and was greeted on stage by his wife and young son.
It was great to have a chat with him after the show and wish him all the best for the future.
Altogether a fantastic trip and concert that has jumped into my top 3 Gig list.

Full track list as follows :

First Half :
  • Towards The End
  • Pale
  • Caged
  • Stand My Ground
  • Somewhere
  • The Cross
  • Frozen
  • All I need
  • Heart Of Everything
Second Half
  • Jilian (I'd give my Heart)
  • Angels
  • Forgiven
  • Memories
  • Utopia
  • What Have You Done
  • Hand Of Sorrow
  • The Howling
  • Truth Beneath The Rose
  • Mother Earth
  • Our Solemn Hour
  • Ice Queen

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Antwerp - Central Station and Zoo

Central Station - Antwerp

The trip to see Within Temptation started by train from Northampton to Euston. Followed by a short walk to St Pancras where I met up with Trevor to catch the Eurostar to Brussells.
From Brussells we then caught a very smart double decker train to Antwerp.
The railway station at Antwerp is stunning. Designed by Louis Delacenserie it was completed in 1905.
It has two monumental neo-Baroque facades with a large metal and glassdome with gilt and marble interior.
After a short wander around the Square which was also home to our Hotel (The Arora)as well as the gig venue we found a spot for lunch. A fine pizza washed down with a strong Belgian Beer.
After checking in to the hotel we still had a few hours to kill. Sitting in a bar enjoying the beer was not an option as the first one had sent me dizzy !!
We decided that as the zoo was right next door to the station we would pass an hour or two there.
I'm not usually a zoo lover but this one did look particularly enticing.
In fact Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest zoo's in the world.(Founded in 1843). It is home to more than 6,000 animals(769 species).
It is well known for it's high level of research and conservation work.

I have to say it was great to wander around in the sunshine and it was beautifully kept. The time whistled by and we had to be asked to leave in the end !! Strangely enough we had somehow managed to miss the giraffes and the Tigers ?? Oh well maybe next time.