benicek: (sunset)
There's a single retired man who lives on our road who is always smiling and happy. He knows that I have a passing interest in sea fishing, which is a big hobby of his, and so he always stops me and relates his latest angling adventures. These are never 'the one that got away' stories, oh no. He always hooks an enormous abundance of fish. The English Channel is a like an endless magic food locker for him. He catches so much he doesn't know what to do with them all. One day he turned up at our door and gave us a bucket of Dover soles and a massive sea bass. They were delicious.

He stopped me in the road today with his usual gleeful expression and said "I had a bit of luck yesterday". I enquired how many he'd caught this time, but no, he explained, he hadn't caught a thing. In fact, he'd given up fishing for the day, packed up his rods and went and had a look in a nearby charity shop where he saw a nice teapot for sale for £3.50. So, he bought it and, on a whim, took it to an auctioneers to see if it would sell for more. It sold for £850. Some internet bidders in China recognised it as one of a set of which only six exist in the world.

"So, that's a nice present for Christmas!" he observed, cheerily. Nice for the charity shop too, because he went straight back there and shared his profit with them.
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President Assad must be the luckiest mass murderer who ever lived. Not only Russia but now the US, France and Britain waging war for him too. Not so long ago it looked like he was going to end up with a bayonet up his rectum like Gaddafi. He must feel like he's won the lottery.
benicek: (sunset)
Knights at Hever Castle.

Four glorious nutters hamming it up for the crowd at Hever Castle last weekend.

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Filipino healthcare workers and supporters protesting against derogatory xenophobic articles published by the Daily mail. Outside the Daily Mail's HQ, Northcliffe House, London.

I joined Filipino healthcare workers yesterday protesting outside the London HQ of the Daily Mail, after that newspaper published a derogatory, xenophobic article about Filipino nurse recruitment to the UK.
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Splendid, large, mostly 14th century.

Must be really, really annoying to have worked your way up to the position of Admiral, sailed all over the Med and the Caribbean, supported both sides in the Civil War and somehow got away with it, fought the Dutch and even killed the commander of their fleet, become a member of parliament, been knighted, featured in Pepys's diary, and then after all that tourists only come and photograph your grave because you have the same name as your kid who got famous in America.
benicek: (sunset)
A colleague at work was telling me that her father attended a posh boarding school when he was a boy and that at this school it was a strict rule that all pupils had their full initials stencilled onto their PE kit bag in big letters. His name was Steven Howard Ian Thompson. 

Golf

5/10/14 10:18
benicek: (sunset)
A young doctor at work was telling me she tried palying golf once but about halfway through her ball somehow landed right on the head of a female duck that just happened, at that very second, to be leading her ducklings across the fairway, killing her instantly. 
benicek: (sunset)
Fireplace with antique Benin bronze leopards and ivory.

I found this photo, with the stamp of photographer J.Cecil Gould (of Weybridge) on the back, in the flea market in Brighton and, Googling around, found the same pair of Benin bronze leopards in a Royal Academy exhibition two years ago. They are now back in the national museum in Nigera. The altar piece in the centre is in The Fowler Museum in L.A. and the central plaque is in the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. They are Benin artefacts originally looted during the 1897 Benin expedition. This is almost certainly the house of George W. Neville, who lived at Wey Lea, Weybridge (see recent photo below). Photographer J. Cecil Gould was also situated in Weybridge, so that provides a tantalising link. Neville's collection was sold off in 1930 after his death and a specialist at the British Museum believes that the leopards, the two plaques and masks on the fire hood are described in the catalogue of this sale. George Neville accompanied the Benin expedition and later a Captain Shelford wrote about him returning with a remarkable collection of curiosities; ‘They are in his house to this day, and include ivory tusks, carved and plain, two magnificent bronze leopards’. I can see this photo is going to be entertaining me for months....

Thanks to Susan Kloman, Hermione Waterfield, Tim Teuten, David Noden and Bruno Claessens for taking an interest in this.
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Purple Cherokee tomatoes

My purple cherokee tomatoes didn't turn our quite as purple as I'd hoped but they're very edible. A small greenhouse in south east England probably isn't their optimal environment. 
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benicek: (sunset)
O2 / Millennium Dome. London.
The venue. Renamed after its current sponsor but I still think of it as the Millennium Dome. I last visited it when it was a shiny new rather eccentric white elephant of a previous government. It's faded a bit now, like me, and its neo-modernist forms are almost weather-beaten enough to pass as actual decayed 1960s modernism. There is a newer cable car over the Thames next to it, which has also proved a commercial white elephant. I couldn't resist it, of course. So, with a few hours to spare I crossed over industrial wastelands and the old Golden Syrup factory to what used to be docklands and is now a sterile, expensive housing estate, mostly devoid of people. It made me feel sad. An experiment in wealth attraction that has failed to attract anything other than wealth. I rode back over to the Dome in search of human life and found it heaving with 20,000 fellow Monty Python fans queuing for food and beer, and giant neo-Victorian Terry Gilliam sets. Yes! Then it began.....
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Southwark cathedral, London, viewed from the Shard.

An afternoon well spent within a small area around London Bridge railway station.
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Intro

15/7/14 16:23
benicek: (sunset)
Hello,

A frequently updated personal blog, but mostly friends-only. Please feel free to add me, however. 
benicek: (sunset)


I love Mr.B. I can't stop watching this. Never has toilet humour been executed so well. I am seriously considering regrowing the Hindenburg moustache I had 20 years ago.
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Flash

26/3/14 18:48
benicek: (sunset)
Gerbil

Experimenting with my new flash. The ancient three-year-old gerbil was very tolerant. 
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Fried

17/3/14 16:11
benicek: (sunset)


Cute new BHA video series with Stephen Fry narrating. 
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Neville

13/3/14 09:31
benicek: (sunset)


It's silly, I know, but I was browsing IMDB last night and discovered that John Neville died more than two years ago and I hadn't been aware of it, and I felt rather sad about this. He'll always be the Baron to me. A surprising number of the cast of Baron Munchausen are dead now. It seems only recently I was watching it at the cinema when it first came out but it was actually decades ago. Kid actress Sara Polley is the same age as my wife! I feel old.

I'm looking forward to seeing the surviving Pythons this summer before they all die too.
Neville interview.... )
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