One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,
This old girl has dancing to do
.

Danny O’Dare, the dancin’ bear,
Ran away from the County Fair,
Ran right up to my back stair
And thought he’d do some dancin’ there.
He started jumpin’ and skippin’ and kickin’,
He did a dance called the Funky Chicken,
He did the Polka, he did the Twist,
He bent himself into a pretzel like this.
He did the Dog and the Jitterbug,
He did the Jerk and the Bunny Hug.
He did the Waltz and the Boogaloo,
He did the Hokey-Pokey too.
He did the Bop and the Mashed Potata,
He did the Split and the See Ya Later.
And now he’s down upon one knee,
Bowin’ oh so charmingly,
And winkin’ and smilin’–it’s easy to see
Danny O’Dare wants to dance with me.
~ Shel Silverstein

Alice at My Wintersong introduced me to Shel Silverstein recently, and I have had fun browsing a selection of his poems for children. Padmini, the girls will love them!

At this stage you all know that I put great store by these Friday LBC posts.

They are prepared sometimes with great thought and dedication. Mind you, there are some weeks I pace the floor while tearing my hair out, in desperation to think of a few words of wisdom to share with you, my dedicated readers.

But, and it is a big BUT – today at E N O R M O U S expense I have something special to offer……………

Real Gold Star talent…. For the very first time, in Ireland……

No, make that the very first time in the whole wide world I give you…..

Grateful thanks must go to speccy for her energy, time and patience in dealing with two extremely talented prima donnas wooden legged dancers. ;)

Our topic of DANCE came elegantly gliding across the polished floor from Will Knott and I think it is now time for you to two step along and join in the dance of our other active members: Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

Thursday Special ~ Sylvia and Wanda meet in heaven.

Sylvia: Hi! Wanda.

Wanda: Hi! Sylvia. How’d you die?

S: I froze to death.

W: How horrible!

S: It wasn’t so bad. After I quit shaking from the cold, I began to get warm and sleepy, and finally died a peaceful death. What about you?

W: I died of a massive heart attack. I suspected that my husband was cheating, so I came home early to catch him in the act. But instead, I found him all by himself in the den watching TV.

S: So, what happened?

W: I was so sure there was another woman there somewhere that I started running all over the house looking. I ran up into the attic and searched, and down into the basement. Then I went through every closet and checked under all the beds. I kept this up until I had looked everywhere, and finally I became so exhausted that I just keeled over with a heart attack and died.

S: Too bad you didn’t look in the freezer — we’d both still be alive.

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With thanks to Paul for this one

100 days

100 days to The London Olympics Games 2012.

So in 100 days from now, London will become the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games for the third time.

London is a City that happens to be the capital city of England and the United Kingdom.  I live in an outer corner of the United Kingdom, not even on the mainland. So I am supposed to be growing in excitement for this major event happening in 100 days at least 317 miles or 510.05 kms away.

Declaration: I was never a Sports Woman.

Watching sweaty grown men tossing a caber*, running to burst a gut or chase a ball around a field had as much interest for me as watching paint dry. It is one of the main reasons I disposed of my TV fourteen years ago. Wall to wall sport for days and weeks on end with the high pitch compulsory commentary (maybe those giving the running commentary should be tested from drugs, never mind the participants). If that is not enough we are force fed endless replays and repeats, the whole thing is mind bogglingly boring for me.

It is not just the Olympics, through the year we have golf, snooker, tennis, soccer & rugby football and cricket – what a load of balls! ;) Then there equestrian events and horse trials, darts, and motor sports, swimming and gymnastics and battering brains out boxing & wrestling. I am sure to have left something out. Each of these sports goes into overdrive for their season and it is impossible to get away from them unless you switch off and sit in the middle of a field with the cows and crows.

Am I alone?

Nowadays, any sport, needs special clothing, shoes, equipment, and if it is tennis – the ability to grunt!

Hours, days, months and years may be given to training, but in the world of today only first or Gold seems to be good enough.  That is the one part that sickens me. I thought it was the taking part that mattered and not the winning. Once a race, game or event is over only the winners are remembered.  We need more ‘Eddie the Eagle’s. Yet money is found not for the plodders, but for the major displays and games.

Last month the House of Commons public accounts committee expressed concern that once the cost of the security lockdown of London was taken into account, the final bill for the 2012 Games would be a little shy of £11 billion, a fourfold increase since London put in its bid in 2005. Do we REALLY need, or can we afford to spend that amount of money for three weeks of a sports show in times of recession?

In 2012 the economy is in trouble and the country up to its eyeballs in debt. Every day politicians are telling us that we the little people need to economise, we hear of new cuts in jobs, education, the health service and pensions.

People need jobs. People need money for food and in the UK we need money to heat our homes.  Sport is way down the list for the people searching for a job or wondering where the next meal will come from. Home heating oil prices have risen by 47.7 per cent since 2005 – the year the bid was made for the Olympics. The average weekly food basket would have cost £39.37 back in 2005, if bought at a supermarket. Today that same amount would not take you very far.

The Britain of 1948 was struggling to recover from the ravages of World War II. Rationing remained in force and many people had been left homeless, yet the bomb-cratered city rose to the challenge of hosting the games despite the country being flat broke and there was no question of the Labour government of Clement Attlee committing large sums of money (that they didn’t have) to a sporting event like we will see this year. Remember that this year we also have to cough up for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and freebie trips for all the hangers-on in the Royal family to swan off round the world.

Despite the air of shabbiness, London 1948 was considered a remarkable success – and made a profit of almost £30,000.  I wonder if 2012 will make tuppence, never mind £30,000.  I imagine we the taxpayers will be coughing up for more than a year or three to help pay off that £11 billion.

Oh, I forgot. We will be part of the games. Make that part of a 70-day torch relay around the UK.

Back then in 1948, Wembley stadium was converted into an athletics stadium by putting 800 tonnes of cinders over the greyhound track. Members of the British team bulked out their meagre diets with whale meat. They housed athletes in RAF camps.

A former military convalescent camp was converted and updated to provide housing for 1,500 Olympic visitors. Camps were also prepared at RAF bases in Uxbridge and West Drayton. Between them, these three sites were expected to cater for 4,300 of the 6,000 expected guests. Female competitors were housed at three colleges in the Greater London area.

Jerry Chicken has written an interesting post on this topic.

Mind you “Solar City Tower” built atop the island of Cotonduba for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, will put us all in the shade.

* Tossing the caber is an exclusively Highland event. A caber is a tapered fir pole about 17 feet (5 metres) long and about 90 pounds (40 kg) in weight that must be thrown so that it turns end over end and comes to rest with the small end pointing away from the thrower. Competitors tossing the caber must wear a kilt.

Blogging the Alphabet ~ B

Bed

Large, comfortable and comforting, the best place to relax and let the day slip away to oblivion.

or

A place for fun and games…

Well I couldn’t resist…

I do hope it won’t offend my more sensitive readers…

A pair in bed……

Maybe that should be a pair of pears!

Avocado and Conference

Food Monday ~ Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C

8 ozs Self  Raising Flour
4 ozs Butter
4 ozs caster sugar
3 ozs desiccated Coconut
1 Egg, beaten
6 tablespoons Coconut Milk

Sift flour into a bowl & rub in butter to form fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in caster sugar and desiccated coconut.  Add beaten egg and coconut milk.  Spoon into an oiled and lined 1 lb loaf tin.  Smooth surface and bake for an hour, or until a skewer inserted in centre of the cake comes out clean.  Cool in tin.

A Mystery Hand


A hand – Bronze

The sculpture stands in the grounds of the Department of Education, in front of Tyrone House in Marlborough Street, Dublin.

Well trimmed nails! ;)

Despite much searching I was unsuccessful in finding the name of the sculptor or the story behind the piece. I wonder if any of you can throw light on it for me?

Since I was unsuccessful in finding any details of the Hand sculpture I have decided to give you some background to the commissioning process for a piece of sculpture.

Usually when a potential client expresses an interest in commissioning a work they contact the artist directly with their proposal. If for example they want a life size figure in bronze as the finished work, then the procedure would be as follows:

  • Furnish the artist with the most important details of the subject to be sculpted, photographs, descriptions etc.
  • The artist draws designs for the client based on the material given.
  • The client approves of a drawing to be developed in three dimensions for which a fee is paid to the artist for conceptual development.
  • Once the client is contented with all the views of the three dimensional model, it is then enlarged to the full scale in clay on the payment of the first of three equal payments to be agreed on at the start.
  • When the client is happy with the enlarged sculpture, they will then pay the second instalment of the fee before a mould can be made of the work so that it can be cast in bronze.
  • Once it is cast in bronze and finished to the clients specifications, it will then be shipped and installed on site after which the final third is paid.

A popular procedure used for most work is the Lost Wax Method, which dates back with little change to the Ancient Greeks and beyond.

It starts off with the original artwork in clay on which a rubber mould is applied with elevated points that register in the plaster or fibreglass ridged jacket, which covers it. The rubber holds the impression of the surface and undercuts while the plaster or fibreglass holds the form.

Once the mould has been made and taken off the clay master, a layer of molten wax is applied to the inner surface of the rubber to replicate the detail of the original. Once this is at a sufficient thickness (5-7mm), it is then covered in a ceramic shell by dipping it in a ceramic mix and then fired in a kiln to melt out the wax and solidify the ceramic mould. While the said mould is still hot it is buried in sand for support and molten bronze is poured into the vacuum where the wax used to be. Once the metal solidifies as it cools, it is possible to smash off the ceramic mould and weld the bronze pieces back together for the complete work to be realized.

The piece is then ready to be shipped and installed an  the pre-arranged site.

Go Do It!

The National Trust launched a UK nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to get outside, exploring and having adventures. Among the list of activities is bug-hunting and playing conkers…..

Image courtesy of the daily Mail

Well, you guessed it. The child in me had to check out the list to see how adventurous my life has been.

1. Climb a tree – Yes, and scraped my knee!
2. Roll down a really big hill – Yes, when you are small any hill seems BIG!
3. Camp out in the wild – Slept in a tent in a field with cows for neighbours
4. Build a den – Often
5. Skim a stone – A regular game when near water
6. Run around in the rain – In Ireland? Sure it was always raining!
7. Fly a kite – A great big bright yellow box kite
8. Catch a fish with a net – A challenge yet to try. :(
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree – Yes, we had ten apple trees at the lower end of our garden. Mind you, it was not as much fun as boxing the fox* at baldy Doyle’s!
10. Play conkers – Every autumn we collected, polished, then strung them before playing the games
11. Throw some snow -Yes, but I only lasted about five minutes out in the snow as a child, it was way too cold for me.
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach – Yes, at every chance I got, and I still do when I get the chance
13. Make a mud pie – Doesn’t everyone at one time make one?
14. Dam a stream – With my brothers, it was fun
15. Go sledging – This is one I missed out on, not sure the bones would appreciate it these days. :(
16. Bury someone in the sand – We tried to cover daddy in sand, but he was over six foot long and he would get bored easily!
17. Set up a snail race – No and I didn’t eat them either like the boy next door!
18. Balance on a fallen tree – Yes, once to cross a river
19. Swing on a rope swing – Yes, and through a car tyre hung from a tree with a rope
20. Make a mud slide – Not yet, but I have slidden (is that a word?) in mud!
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild – Yes, and came home with half my face purple to prove it! Now I no longer like them.
22. Take a look inside a tree – Yes, there was nobody home!
23. Visit an island – I live on an Island. Does that count? Aran Island, The Balearics, The Canaries, Funen in Denmark and Malta. Is that enough? One of these days I might make it to Rathlin, off the coast of County Antrim.
24. Feel like you are flying in the wind – Yes. Every second day in Ireland!
25. Make a grass trumpet – Yes I have tried blowing on a blade of grass between my thumbs to sound like a trumpet.
26. Hunt for fossils and bones – I am nearly there and I did find a Fossil shop a couple of weeks ago! ;)
27. Watch the sun come up – I did in the Wicklow hills, all dressed up in my finery after a formal dance! Who was I with? If I have to think… then he didn’t matter.
28. Climb a huge hill – Cave hill right up to Napoleon’s Nose! Time I did it again!
29. Get behind a waterfall – Have to leave something for another day!
30. Feed a bird from your hand – Yes. In my garden a good few years ago.
31. Hunt for bugs – Many times with my young neighbour
32. Find some frogspawn – I did and thought it slimy. We called Tapioca pudding frogspawn.
33. Catch a butterfly in a net – No, but they often come and land on me when I am sitting in the garden.
34. Track wild animals – Do Toyboys count?
35. Discover what’s in a pond – By falling in!
36. Call an owl – Yes, but they don’t understand ‘grannymarish’!
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool – Love to do that as I scramble over rocks.
38. Bring up a butterfly – Alas they flay away.
39. Catch a crab – No! I didn’t let any catch me either.
40. Go on a nature walk at night – Short ones. Boy do you meet some rum characters!
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it – I did. Did I ever tell you about Elly and the potato?
42. Go wild swimming – Nope! Not for me. I get goose pimples thinking about it.
43. Go rafting – Water involved again? That will be a No then!
44. Light a fire without matches – Yes, using the rays of the sun (it did shine once in Ireland!!!) on paper through a magnifying glass.
45. Find your way with a map and a compass – I did. Elly, I wonder why that reminds me of Knockagh?
46. Try bouldering – I grow them in my garden!
47. Cook on a camp-fire – Baked spuds and rhubarb
48. Try abseiling – I threatened to do so down the outside of the Europa Hotel at the Blog Awards last year.
Play geocache** – Why use a machine when I have one inbuilt = A BRAIN!
Canoe down a river – Neither up nor down. Water again

* boxing the fox = Stealing fecking apples from someone else’s tree.

** geocache = A hi-tech form of hide and seek using a GPS receiver to locate hidden treasure.

So how did you do?

Openings ~ 32 The back door

Something light today.

Meet Elana

Please. Open the door and come play with me!

Note the ball behind her and unseen to you the reader, is another ball that she has placed between my feet.

This scruffy young lady is a Sheltie/Terrier mix and the camera IS lying. She looks tidy and groomed above, but even two minutes after a grooming she looks like she has been pulled through a hedge backwards. Actually very grey in colour with a coat that may be long like a Sheltie, it has the wire like texture of the terrier.

Elana lives with my sister in Dublin and like Buffy, thinks I am Minister for Play!

Travel troubles

Note to Nancy: You will need three boxes!

For several months now, we in Northern Ireland have had an unending menu of ‘Titanic’. Breakfast, dinner, tea and if you could stomach it, a fish supper as well!  Mind you not all of it was that tasty. In fact some of the information coming to the fore is actually mind bogglingly nauseating.

The Shipbuilders, Harland & Wolff of Belfast, was founded in 1861, when the original yard first opened there was one dry dock and 48 employees. The dry dock was known locally as the grave. It makes one wonder how many of the workforce gave their all in that dry dock over the years?

Belfast was to become renowned for shipbuilding and by the 1907 the workforce had grown to 16,000 – all locals, paid in cash on a Friday so efficiently that it only took ten minutes! Working a sixty hour week was normal, with one weeks summer holiday, two days at Christmas and another two at Easter.   Apprenticeships began at age 14 and lasted for five years.

There were two shipping lines vying for pride of place on the high seas. Cunard and the White Star Line. Thousands of people worked in the ship yards and demand for ocean liners was huge.

Harland & Wolff, had a long-standing connection with the White Star Line and in 1906 completed the last of the four huge liners that the company commissioned – The Celtic, Cedric, Baltic and Adriatic. The four ships were each over 20,000 tonnes. They were built in accordance with the White Star Line’s policy of providing comfort and reliability to the passengers who travelled on them. However, speed was an important factor for any sea going vessel. A high proportion of the space onboard ships was taken by large quantities of coal needed to power the ship.

Competition was already beginning with the rival company Cunard Line. They launched two ships, the Mauretania and the Lusitania. On her second crossing of the Atlantic, the Lusitania took the Atlantic Speed Record for Britain averaging a speed of 23.99 knots, nearly seven knots quicker than the Adriatic.

What is it with men and their obsession with speed and size?

The story of the Titanic began over a dinner early in 1907. The Owner of the White Star Line, Mr. J P Morgan and the Chairman J. Bruce Ismay, arrived for dinner at the home of Lord Pirrie, the Chairman of Harland and Wolff. The topics of conversation at dinner were the two remarkable new liners Lusitania and Mauritania, both from the rival company Cunard lines. Ismay’s long-term goal for the company was to attain the “Blue Riband” this would require expensive and often uncomfortable vessels to achieve the high speed needed.

That night, plans were drawn up for a new class of transatlantic liner, far larger and more luxurious than any vessel in service at the time. There were three ships planned, the Olympic (1910), the Titanic (1911) and the third was to be the Gigantic, but following the tragedy it was renamed the Britannic (1914). Whilst Ismay and Pirrie had conceived the idea of the three giants, the general responsibility of the design was delegated to Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, General Manager at Harland & Wolff and Lord Pirrie’s brother-in-law.

Work began on the Olympic with 4,000 men working on her and the ship was launched in 1910. Construction of the Titanic started after the Olympic, again with 4,000 men involved. Millions of rivets and bolts, thousands of girders and plates of steel, some of them took more than twenty men to lift.  There was no welding a hundred years ago the hull plates measuring 30 ft by 6 ft were hung and overlapped like slates on the roof of a house, then riveted into place. Low-grade iron rivets were used instead of tougher ones. The bulkhead (the height of the watertight lower compartments above the water line) was reduced by four feet to allow for a grander central staircase.

Titanic was so large it would not be able to dock in new York, so Pier 59 was built to accommodate the ship.

Once finished, it took only 62 seconds for Titanic to glide into the water. It required 22 tons of tallow and soap to be able to stand the huge tonnage of the ship. Once launched she would be ready to be fitted out for her maiden voyage. Six months before completion of the work, the Titanic was delayed because The Olympic with Captain Smith at the helm– remember that name – was in collision with HMS Hawke and at another stage the Olympic also lost a propeller. The Titanic’s fittings were delayed because of the repairs needed by Olympic, the owners wanted her back in service as soon as possible.

Finally the day came to leave Belfast, the workers lining the dock sang their hearts out. All the while even as she sailed, the painting of the interior was ongoing. One of the coal bunkers took fire and burned for six days in Southampton.

A coal strike further delayed sailing and that was only solved when coal stocks were taken from other ships in the Port waiting to sail. The daily diet of 600 tonnes of coal would be manually shovelled by teams of men working round the clock. The cost of the coal needed to fuel the ship from Southampton to new York would be covered by the fares of the third class passengers.

Eventually the engines were running and the ship ready to set sail, with Captain Smith at the helm, he was due to retire after the maiden voyage. Titanic almost rammed into ‘New York’ another ship as it rounded the bulkhead at Southampton. The ship was behind schedule when it set out, there were many empty births, especially in Second Class, so passengers had been taken from other ships and put on board.

The lifeboat drill was cancelled so the captain could attend a religious service.

The two Promenade suites each at a cost of £870 one way, included a free cabin for a servant – equivalent to £35,000 in today’s money. At that price I would want cabins for all my toyboys. ;) One was reserved for White Star owner J P Morgan who was due to join the ship at Cherbourg, but he cancelled at the last moment and his place was taken by Chairman J. Bruce Ismay. In the second suite, also joining at Cherbourg was Charlotte Cardeza and her son Thomas. Her baggage included 14 trunks that contained 70 dresses, 10 fur coats and 38 feather Boas! She managed to board a Lifeboat and later she made a claim against White Star Shipping for lost property to the value of $177,000. I don’t fancy trying that with Ryanair!!

Despite all that glamour up top, down in third class they had only one bath for 540 male passengers.

Warnings of icebergs were buzzing over the Marconi wireless – A new venture on board a ship. The radio operator employed by Marconi and not White Star, told the nearest ship, the Californian, not to send any more iceberg warning messages as he was too busy sending out messages for passengers. Iceberg warnings from other ships were either ignored or not seen by senior crew.

The lookouts in the crow’s nest had no binoculars.

Despite the iceberg warnings, on a poor-visibility, moonless night, the ship didn’t stop but continued at its top speed of 22 knots. This was because the captain was determined to reach New York in 6 days.

When the iceberg was spotted, the ship steered away from it and hit it side-on. If the collision had been head-on, the reinforced bow would have kept it afloat.

The sound of the impact was described as sounding like “the tearing of calico, nothing more.”

Each passenger was issued a life jacket but life expectancy would be short when exposed to water four degrees below freezing. Remember the clothing was cumbersome and heavy and probably held the water.

Titanic was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried only 20 lifeboats – enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. This discrepancy rested on the belief that since the ship’s construction made her “unsinkable,” her lifeboats were necessary only to rescue survivors of other sinking ships. Additionally, lifeboats took up valuable deck space.

There were 19 dogs on board with their own ‘dog walking service’!  You needed deck space for that. ;)

Some passengers were picking up pieces of ice from the deck like children collecting shells on the shore, while others sat to have drinks and play cards.  None of them realised the full state of the situation.

One survivor described the escape as follows:

“Our lifeboat, with thirty-six in it, began lowering to the sea. This was done amid the greatest confusion. Rough seamen all giving different orders. No officer aboard. As only one side of the ropes worked, the lifeboat at one time was in such a position that it seemed we must capsize in mid-air. At last the ropes worked together, and we drew nearer and nearer the black, oily water.”

Another survivor told how:

The lifeboats were being used to comply with regulations, passengers were told there was no actual danger and they would be back for breakfast.

Only 700 survived.

Can you imaging saying goodbye to your loved one as you climb on board a lifeboat…. Or as you stand on deck and watch the lifeboat being lowered below the side of the boat.

Can you imagine being in a lifeboat and hearing the sound of people drowning?

Two hours.

Two hours is all it took for the ship to upend and slide two miles to the ocean floor. It did not take long for the sea to calm and soon there was no sign of where the unsinkable ship had been.

Never say Never!

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The topic of Travel troubles was chosen this week for our Loose blogging Consortium by Padmini. Unfortunately Padmini had her own sea difficulties on Wednesday with a Tsunami warning at the coast not too far from her home and three earth tremors that shook her home on Wednesday. Thankfully all is well once more.

Now it is time to swim on over to see what our other active members have to say this week: Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

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Inspiration for my post came from an excellent BBC Radio 4 programme over five days this week. Ship of Dreams presented by Janet Winterton, each episode lasted for just fifteen minutes and it sent me off  on a wonderful journey of research.