Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Did the Earth move for you?

Woah, that was a bit exciting!

Normally I would be fast asleep at 1 am, but tonight, well I believe I may blame TMB (too much beer) for causing a late night .

But at least I didn't miss it this time.

"I hope that's the helicopter!" said Mr TLC, as we felt the first sense that something wasn't right. That sense of an approaching vibration that you get when the police helicopter arrives and then hovers directly overhead, only without the helicopter noise.

"Nope, that's an earthquake," I responded, somewhat overconfidently, as the house, everything on the shelves and the furniture all went DRRRRRRRRRRRRRR as the vibrations shook us around for a few moments. Then everything returned to normal, just as rapidly as the odd shaking sensation had appeared.

I have to admit that years ago, when I was still working in engineering, I experienced an earthquake but didn't realise it at the time. I was working in an office whose outer wall also supported the enormous girders that supported a crane. Consequently the whole building shook several times a day - every time the crane was used. So on that particular occasion I never noticed that there had been an earthquake. Everyone else in Sheffield did, but not me. Oops.

If the words earthquake, 3.5 and Richter scale are included in tomorrow's local news then I will feel extremely smug.

If however no-one else noticed it then I will feel extremely foolish and say "That Moonshine is a bit strong isn't it?" Hic.

Originally published here on my main blog
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Monday, 25 February 2008

An Historic Discovery

I stumbled across this rather excellent site at the weekend. Actually, that's not strictly true, it's probably fairer to say that it found me.

Forum member HughW was kind enough to link from this thread to one of my posts here, which allowed me to find If, like me, you didn't know about it, go and take a look, it's full of interesting posts, questions and discussions.

Originally published here on my main blog
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Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Pit of dis Bear

BearWe took a stroll around Sheffield's Botanical Gardens yesterday, making the most of a swift return to unseasonably warm weather. Tucked away in the gardens is one of Sheffield's historical curiosities: a bear pit.

This Grade II listed structure dates from 1836 and housed two bears until the 1870s. According to an information board at the site, there is a local legend that the removal of the bears occurred after a child fell into the pit and was killed; however the official website recounts this story as historical fact: you will have to make up your own mind as to whether to believe the tale.

There are two small dens on either side of the main entrance to the pit which originally housed the bears. The first thing that struck me about these was that they are incredibly small: I can imagine that a large bear would become very irritable very quickly in such a small space, but sadly I suspect that was probably the intention. There are large metal grilles at the entrance that can be pulled across and locked to keep the occupants inside; these were re-instated during the restoration of the pit.

In the Pit of Dis BearThe pit itself is around 8 or 9 metres across (large enough to be seen on Google Earth - see below), and is topped off with elegant new railings that helpfully prevent you from falling in and being eaten by bears...

The beautifully restored modern day version of the bear pit also contains a rather splendid bear. David Mayne's 2005 "Bear" sculpture looks fantastic in this perfect setting. It is life sized, standing at around 2m high. The bear looks pretty friendly standing on his back paws with his front legs dangling down at his sides (and of course with just one bear, no fights can break out). The sculpture is made from mild steel with a rusted finish that is perfect for a brown bear's pelt.

Children (and adults) can find a clue from the riddle trail written around the base of the sculpture. The riddle is one of a series, written by well known local author Berlie Doherty, to encourage people to explore the gardens.

I'll certainly be exploring further in the not too distant future.

View Larger Map

N.B. The aerial images on Google were taken during the period when the Botanical Gardens were undergoing major restoration work.

--Originally published here on my main blog
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Friday, 22 February 2008

In Black and White

Where has this sudden obsession with graffiti come from? This one's the last (at least it's the last for now). Or is it? Time will tell...

Anyway this is at the end of Division Street in Sheffield, near the controversial graffiti competion site. I haven't managed to discover who painted it yet, but I rather like it. What do you think?

A Tribute

Originally published here on my main blog
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Monday, 18 February 2008

Sheffield Blues

The Blues

Woke up this morning,
Put on my shoes,
Strolled into Sheffield,
Saw the Constipation Blues

I spotted this painted on the side of the former Fopp shop on Division Street at the weekend. Perhaps the artist should consider eating more fruit.

There was an assembly all about graffiti and criminal damage at school today, I kept thinking about this particular example and had to stop myself from smiling. It's a serious business you know, this graffiti. Mind you, so is having the constipation blues.

Originally published here on my main blog
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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Blue Bird

Blue Bird VThere is a beautiful flock of blue birds flying up through the stairwell leading to Sheffield's Graves Art Gallery.

Textile artist (and origami expert) Seiko Kinoshita has created a beautiful sculpture from paper yarn with some other mixed media. The sculpture, called Blue Bird, stretches from the skylight on the top floor to the ceiling level on the ground floor and links the Central Library and the Graves Art Gallery, which share this four storey building in Sheffield.

It is beautiful. Close up, each individual "bird" is simply a twisted piece of fabric made from woven strands of paper yarn, suspended on fine threads so that they bob and spin gently as the air moves. Individually, the "birds" look quite pretty, but viewed en masse they look absolutely stunning.

The first view of the sculpture is from below, standing in the entrance to the library you can look up at the flock of birds which seem to be fluttering up towards the skylight. The piece is big, but looks even bigger thanks to the clever way that the colours change from a dark cobalt/indigo shade of blue at the bottom, through sky blue in the centre, to a very pale turquoise at the top.

Blue Bird I"The top skylight gave me the idea of birds flying. Also the library inspired me to think about The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck and I imagined blue birds flying up the staircase to the skylight"

Seiko Kinoshita

The view of this sculpture changes dramatically as you climb the stairs: first you look in on the flock of birds, which gradually change colour as you climb higher and higher. From the top floor, at the entrance to the gallery, the flock of birds stretches dramatically down to the foyer below.

Seiko was commissioned to make this piece, her largest to date, for this space by the Sheffield Galleries and Museum Trust.

While I was there, people of all ages stopped to look at the sculpture on their way into the libraries or the Graves Art Gallery. Younger children in particular were absolutely entranced by it. It certainly encourages people to come in to the gallery and admire the view.
Originally published here on my main blog

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Sheffield Joke

52 Bus to Crookes

Why did the policeman stop the bus?

Because it had 52 Crookes on it.

Originally published here on my main blog
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Sunday, 3 February 2008

Cocoa, Sugar and Spice

Tucked away on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield is the kind of magical little shop that normally only exists in either fairy tales or Disney films: Cocoa are purveyors of "quaint and quirky chocolates and confectionery for all sorts."

From the outside, Cocoa looks like a pretty little sweet shop, or perhaps that should be spice shop. (Native Sheffielders generally refer to sweets as spice - at least Mr TLC always does.)

Inside, the shop reminds me somewhat of the tiny shops that I loved as a child: a long counter behind which are rows and rows of jars of every type of sweet imaginable. You can choose from aniseed balls, vanilla fudge, chocolate raisins, rainbow drops, wine gums, licorice roots or pretty much any other type of confectionery you can imagine. If that's not enough, then you can choose from the many beautiful chocolates on display.

Of course the sweet shops I visited as a child weren't quite like this: they had long wooden counters, not sparkling glass display cases. Neither did they have beautiful wallpaper or a gorgeous back room filled with people sipping cups of tea and eating chocolates, but it's these things that help to give Cocoa it's slightly enchanted atmosphere.

I may not be a child any more, but I still find a little bit of magic in visiting a sweet shop on a Saturday morning.

Mmm Chocolate Cocoa Sweets and Chocolates Galore