Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dead Can Dance in Concert

Off to London for the one UK show by Dead Can Dance on the current world tour.  I have possibly lost count of the times I have seen DCD, but this makes it just 3 in the last 16 years, maybe 35 in the 10 or 12 years before!  I had thought that the 2005 tour was definitely going to be it, and am really surprised that there has been the new album and the 7 month tour to promote it. 

I have heard some shows from the tour already, downloaded from various ROIO websites, and was really looking forward to hearing Kiko especially.

I have seen a few shows at the Royal Albert Hall and I have to admit it is not my favourite venue from the point of view of sound quality - there are often boomy noises off the side and end walls.  Support was one of the DCD percussionists playing some pieces on a Han steel drum.  Not bad, and the sound was pretty good where I was

And so to DCD.  Basically the same tour set as the shows I've heard but with some slightly more aggressive singing from Lisa.  Kiko was as good as I had hoped and, perhaps surprisingly, I thought Brendan's version of Song to the Siren was the other highlight. 

After 28 years of enjoying their music, this was as good as any of the other shows I've seen - I have long ceased to be particularly objective about them!

Lisa looking typically Goddess like in her black velvet dress and gold cloak

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Furniture project number 5

Project 5 is another china cabinet, looking rather the worse for wear after its many years in the loft.  I have no idea what the strange white stuff is that coats one end, but it seems to come off reasonably easily. 

The overall plan is broadly the same as Project 4.  The inside is painted grey and is then lined with the remaining material I have left from that other project.  New wooden shelves have been carefully cut and painted.

Finally the outside is painted charcoal grey and this time is not distressed afterwards.

Below is the "before" illustration from the Annie Sloan book that I am using as the basis for these projects - roughly the same sort of thing as I worked on
And below is her "after" picture.  She has a nicer pattern on the front than my china cabinet, and she has kept the glass rather than use wooden shelves.  But overall, my version is pretty similar

At the moment, I am planning that this might go in the main lounge in France and have wine glasses in it.  I thought it might be nice to acquire some old wine bottles - say Bordeaux, 1980s vintage.  But ebay just has one seller and they are selling 1,000 vintage bottles as one collection.  I emailed him and asked if I could buy a dozen, but he is not keen to split the collection.  He does have some rather nice wine boxes for sale at £10 each and I might buy some of them, for storage in the garage perhaps.

More furniture buying . . . .

So I have been visiting various junk yards, antique centres and my mother's garage, and have acquired several new pieces to work on.

First up, a marble-topped wash stand - £55 from a local junk yard.  Not sure what colour to do this - the current favourite is a grey with an Antoinette pink underneath.

Next, a small oak table - £45 from an antique centre and currently unpainted.  Maybe another grey item, or perhaps a blue with a white wash over the top so the grain shows through.

Then a kitchen shelf unit - £45 from the same antique centre.  This should just about fit in a space in the kitchen in France. 

The oak table, marble-topped washstand and the kitchen shelf unit

 And a shelf / coat hanger - £55.  This has already been painted in some sort of chalk paint and might only need a thin white overlay and some new waxing.

The shelf / hanger sitting on top of the other new stuff - already quite a nice colour

I had also bought a French mirror that I planned to paint in a two-toned grey.  However, I forgot to take a "before" photo of that and mirrors are really quick to paint, so this piece is already finished!

I have also finished a small mirror that I brought home from mum's the other week.  What was dark wood is now a rather attractive grey/white/dark varnish mix.

The original mirror on the left.  Next to it is a smaller mirror with a cupboard underneath.  This doesn't need any work other than a clean up as it has really nice inlay in the wood. 

The mirror post-painting

Triathlon training - two new personal bests

Much to my surprise, progress is being made on my triathlon training, despite it being about 9 months till my planned first race.  Last Friday, the pool was out of order due to some technical prpblem with the alarms - the pool has alarms?  So it is time to face the challenge of running for only the second time since this mad idea first came along.  Yet I was able to run 5km.  True it did take 33 minutes and there were occasions when I had to slow down for a bit of a breather, but nonetheless, 5km is half the Olympic triathlon running distance.

And then on Sunday I was able to swim 80 lenghts of the pool.  Moreover, I felt pretty good at the end of it too and could probably have pushed on for the elusive prize of 100 lengths.

So two new distance PBs in the last few days

Addendum:  The Sunday swim was followed by swims of 60 lenghts two days in a row.  So 200 lenghts in 3 days.  Quite remarkable.

A blogging landmark - 100,000 page views!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A crazy triathlon plan?

I have been going to the gym several times a week for the past few weeks - physiotherapy for my knee and for general health reasons.  Daughter has been reading books on ultra running, and the bizarre thought has occured to me that I should aim to do an Olympic length triathlon some time next year, perhaps after my birthday in June.  It seems a good idea that my first ever triathlon should be undertaken when I am 50.

So I have acquired a book on triathlon training subtitled "20 weeks to success in 5 hours a week".  My version will be "45 weeks to success in 10 hours a week". 

So far, I have been mainly swimming at the gym.  Rather surprisingly, I am now up to 50 lengths in one go - a marked contrast to a few weeks ago when I was struggling to do 20.  But that still leaves running untouched and that will be the main issue I think.  I do have some rather snazzy, adidas team GB running shoes that I acquired just after the Olympics.  The family has decreed that I must never be seen in these trainers anywhere other than the gym.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Pete Hook's book on Joy Division

I have been reading, and very-much enjoying, Peter Hook's book on Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures.  This is his second book, the follow up to his book on the Hacienda, which I also enjoyed a great deal. 

I remember we thought about going to see the Buzzcocks on tour in late 1979 and they were supported by Joy Division on that tour, but somehow we decided against it.  The closest I came to seeing them live.  But I remember quite vividly hearing about the death of Ian Curtis - it was just before my end-of-year exams in the lower sixth and I was staying up late most nights revising and heard the news on Peel.

By that time, myself and a few friends had heard the album Unknown Pleasures and views were very mixed.  I was a huge fan of the track, New dawn fades, but found some of the other songs a bit odd, especially given Ian Curtis's vocal style, which I was not really a big fan of.  But within a few months, Joy Division's Atmosphere would be voted number one in Peel's festive 50 and the canonisation of Ian Curtis would be well underway.  For much of my time at university, I wore a donkey jacket or great coat - very much the post-Joy Division look!

I have been listening to the complete works of Joy Division for the past few days.  My favourite track has always been Dead Souls.  I bought the book of that title once, but didn't read it!

I wonder if Pete Hook will write a book about New Order next - especially now they are back together without him!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Furniture projects 3 and 4

Project 3 is a large chest of drawers that I have purchased new from a local junk yard.

As bought, but with the top drawers out for painting

The first step is to paint the inside of the drawers, for which I use "Primer Red"

The shell of the book case is then painted grey

At this stage, I had decided to paint some of the front of the drawers in the same red as the interior

But then changed my mind and thought a white might look nice over the red

Which I decided it didn't

Even after a coat of clear wax

The frame was distressed with dark wax

And I finally decided to paint the front trim in white rather than the red / white as above

So this is the final version

Versus this, which is a shot from Annie Sloan's book: Quick and Easy Piant Transformations

Project 4 is a 1920s china cabinet that had been up in the loft of the garage for many years.  I think it originally belonged to my great-grandfather.

The interior was painted grey

And some cloth trim was attached to the back and bottom of the interior.  New, wooden shelves were put in, painted the same grey as the rest of the interior.

And finally the outside was painted Charcoal grey and lightly distressed after waxing

I'm very pleased with this piece indeed

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Computer Crash!!!

An ominous message appears on the dreaded blue screen.  Apparently a hard disk crash is imminent and I need to back up everything before it happens and then, basically, buy a new hard disk.  I was about two-thirds of the way through the back up when the disk gave out.  Of the things I may have lost, the main one, now I think about it, is the collection of photos from the past four or five years.  I had thought most of these were backed up, but it seems not.

So the PC has been shipped to a guy in Oxford who works from him home and which is the traditional geek house containing dozens of PCs and computer kit, plus some books on philosophy.  He has a very refined voice and could almost be an Oxford don, but probably isn't.

Anyway, he will see what he can recover.

This is actually my first ever hard disk crash from what is perhaps the twentieth PC I have used.  Is that a good average? 

Addendum: Computer guy has managed to recover well over 90% of the hard drive, though it took nearly a week.  I have a new hard disk in the old PC with the data included on this.  So my photos have been saved!  Now all I need to do is reinstall all the programes that I have accumulated and need going forward.  I expect this to take a few days.

Monday, 1 October 2012

First furniture projects

So armed with Annie Sloan's two books, 6 cans of her chalk paint and two tins of her wax, I have embarked on several furniture projects inspired by her books.

First up is a relatively easy project - a small dressing table bought for £30 from a local junk shop.

The table isn't cleaned of the existing varnish.  Instead, it is just painted with a coat of "duck egg blue" paint, one coat being sufficient.  The white beading was done by marking the lines with masking tape and then painting over the gap left with "old white". 

After this picture was taken, the table was waxed with clear wax and then sanded down - this has given the piece a less uniform look.  Now all we need to do is buy a new knob for the drawer.  We figure the french project might require five such tables

The second project was a little more complex.  First our standard, orangey-coloured pine bookcase was painted with a country grey paint which was then rubbed down while still wet so only a fairly thin layer of paint remained.

Then I took strips of masking tape and attached them to the bookcase, then carefully teared down the middle of each strip leaving a rough edge one side.  I then painted a second coat just between the rough edges of the various strips of tape.

Just after painting between the strips of masking tape

Then when the paint was dry, I removed the masking tape leaving an irregular pattern of fully painted and thinly painted strip.  Overall, a very nice effect.

The back panel of the bookcase after the masking tape treatment.

As I write this, I still have to paint the the shelves of the bookcase the same way, then a coat of wax to protect it.  We are really very pleased with this.