Friday, 24 September 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Lisbeth Salander continues her battle against the world in the second story of the trilogy. The story contains the powerful themes used in the first book. There are several realistic characters for the reader to identify with. Lisbeth is the main character. She is clever, violent to people who deserve it and has a strong set of rules for life. In this story we learn more about her background and wonder at how she has managed to survive. The story contains elements of the cold war, sex trafficking and hacking. There are intriguing relationships and Lisbeth is left in a life threatening situation. All in all a very good read, which I found difficult to put down

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Action Medical Research – Cross Border 100 mile bike ride

When I heard about the Cross Border 100, I was intrigued. Action Medical Research descibe it as a brand new ride with a difference, offering a choice of starting points, one in Scotland and the other in England. The Cross Border Scotland stared in Haddington and a fantastic new 100-mile circular ride offered some of the best cycling terrain through the challenging Border region including some truly lung busting climbs. At the half way point you cross the border and meet with fellow riders who have started their 100-mile challenge in Alnwick, Northumberland. Further information on the site described the ride as 'Grade 7 hilly route with some testing climbs, training required!'
The group of four local people who had planned to take this on whittled down to Frank and me. We started the ride, late and in pouring rain. By the time we got to Gifford my rather flimsy rain jacked had soacked through, but I didn’t notice this because the hills above Gifford into the Lammermuirs took up all my attention. But I did notice that East Lothian Council have been busy in the hills and the roads are newly tar-macked. We cycled up through the switch back hills and on to the crossroads and headed for Longformackus. This is when I realised that the back up team were doing a splendid job. There were two motorbikes on the road and an ambulance with paramedics, plus a bike repair van. Each turning was well signed and there were other helpful signs such as ‘Pot Holes’ or ‘Single File.’ The other major attraction was the feeding stations and lunch stop, which were first class and very welcome and .

When we reached Duns the roads became a lot flatter. We took a circular route to Coldstream. This is where the riders from the south joined us and where the weather took a real turn for the better. Replenished by a fantastic lunch we set off again and had to take off our rain tops!. The circular route continued to Norham and then back to Duns. This marked the start of the trek back over the Lammermuirs, this time taking in Whiteadder reservoir. We were told by one of the back up staff that it was all downhill from there on, but I knew better, having ridden this route before. The last range of hills was over the B road to the Catholic monastery and Garvald. From there we travelled down to Morham and back to Haddington to a round of applause, a medal and a goody bag. It took us nine hours to do the route and I have to agree with the description of the route, it  has some fantastic scenery and some lung busting hills.

The charity helps to stop suffering in children. Every tmile ridden helps fund medical research to treat sick babies and tackle premature birth, to make life better for children with disabilities, and to target a group of rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children. One of the leaflets in the goodey bag described a Cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats next May, now there’s a thought!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ten kilometres and a classic car

A belated club championship 10k handicap race took place last night on the railway path at Haddington. About eleven club members turned up and Paddy worked out a handicap for each of us based on races and training runs this year. It was good to see Keyliegh back again from South Africa and a big surprise to see Jimmy on the start line for the first time in many months or perhaps years. Claire was off first with other runners chasing her and each other over the following 15 minutes. The course was straight out to the 5km mark, just past Cottyburn car park and back again. I made a late decision to run to test out my fitness, after a week of a very strange allergic skin rash, which had taken its toll. I also wanted to find out how my Achilles injury was holding up. I was given a not very generous 9.30 mins slot and set off in pursuit of Ian Murphy and the new boy John. I started off at a steady pace and I could see Ian and John having a chat and ambling along in front of me. I caught them at 1km and had intended to run with them, but Ian immediately upped his pace and I followed him. We left John behind. I felt strong and was going along well for the first 5km, although I was falling progressively further behind Ian. After the turn I had problems. I could feel my Achilles hurting and the power that I had in the first half started to fall away. A procession of runners started to pass me. First it was Paddy at 6 km, then John whom we had left in the dust. He had waited until the half way mark and then really turned on the speed. Then Frank, Sandy, and Ian Carrick all zipped past me. I managed to catch Keyliegh and Claire and came in on 48.16… not a good time considering I was 23.something at the half way mark. So the allergy thingy had taken its toll and I’m left with a painful Achilles. It was good to see Jimmy performing well after his long absence. He came in first and took home the trophy. Frank was fastest on the night in 40+ minutes. It can’t be long until he gets under 40.

On a brighter note, I picked up a painting from the framers today. It is a painting of a classic car that I bought on my holiday in Cuba. I like the painting a lot because it somehow captures the spirit of classic cars. It is painted in vibrant colours with a sort of abstract background. I met and talked to the artist a couple of times. He has been painting for 20 years and has a degree from the university in Havana. I reckon that he is a very talented man. I met a few other artists during my stay and I gained the impression that it is difficult for them to make a living, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Anyway the painting was a very reasonable price and I picked up the frame in a charity shop, so I’m pleased with the purchase.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Amazed, astonished, astounded, shocked, stunned, startled, surprised, flabbergasted, dumfounded, staggered, dazed, speechless, incredulous, overwhelmed, bowled over, staggered and taken aback

Amazed, astonished, astounded, shocked, stunned, startled, surprised, flabbergasted, dumfounded, staggered, dazed, speechless, incredulous, overwhelmed, bowled over, staggered and taken aback are a few of the words and expressions which best describe some news I received on Saturday afternoon. When I got back home, Pat sat me down and said, ‘I’ve got some good news for you.’
‘You’ve won first prize in the East Linton Art Competition.’
‘Oh, aye, who’s having some fun.’
‘No, honestly, it’s true.’
‘This is a wind up.’
‘No, honestly, it’s true..'  

After a lot of persuasion I believed Pat enough to turn up at the award ceremony today to receive my prize. The winner had been selected by Ian Paterson, an art teacher from Edinburgh School of Art. He chose my painting of St. Mary’s Church, which is enveloped by menacing clouds and a blanket of snow. He asked my if I had been inspired by Van Gogh’s painting of the ‘Church at Auvers,’ which I had to admit wasn't the case The inspiration came from a very good photo taken by Harry at Tynepark. Ian said a couple of things about painting that I will keep in mind.

• Always paint from the place in the painting that inspired you. If you start somewhere else, you might loose it.

• Don’t be formulaic, it is spontaneity that creates good art.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Harvey Here #9 - 100 Not Out

I am sitting on Ray’s lap and I am very pleased with him, woof
He has written 100 blogs and that is quite a mile stone, arrf
Ray and I have had our ups and downs, but I think he looks after me well, woof, woof.
A lot of his blogs have been about art and writing and running and I like these things too, arrf, arrf
I have to say that running is the thing I liked the best, especially at Tyninghame beach, woof, arrf

He can surprise me at times. Recently he had a birthday party with a bbq in the back garden. There were loads of people there and I went around hoovering up the tasty bits that people dropped on the floor. It was a bit of a surprise seeing so many people in the garden. Someone left a tuna steak in a basket on the floor of the kitchen, so I helped myself, woof, woof.

Ray had some good news to do with his art today, but I will let him tell you about that himself, later, arrf

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This book answers the question of what it takes to put together a good read. I have to admit that I like strong characters and in Lisbeth Salander and Carl Mikael Blomkvist the author Stieg Larsson has come up with two unlikely heroes. Lisbeth is every parents nightmare. Uncommunicative with a collection of tattoos and piercings she looks like a looser, but under the surface there is a strong woman with her own set of rules for how to deal with the world. Blomkvist has principles as well. He chases down errant financial institutions. He also gets on well with the ladies. The plot has a healthy number of twists and turns and delivers the required blood and gore you would expect when dealing with a serial killer. The reader is onside from the start, hoping against hope that the main characters will win through, even though the odds are stacked against them. And guess what… they come out on top. In describing the book, I can’t do any better than Philip Pullman of the Guardian, ‘ Several cuts above most thrillers… intelligent, complex, with a gripping plot and deeply intriguing characters.’

I may have tackled this book the wrong way around, because I watched the film first, but on reflection, seeing the film first didn’t spoil reading the book. I felt that the book gave the film more depth. Next time, I am going to read the book first even though ‘The Girl who played with Fire’ is already out as a film.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Art competition

I am taking a big step today by entering two of my paintings in the East Linton Art Competition. I have never entered an art competition before, so I am a bit nervous about the whole affair. Members of the public can view the paintings from next Sunday, 12 September’10 until 19 September. The titles of the paintings I am entering are:

St Mary’s Church, Haddington

Ellenbeich, Argyll

The way it works is that people can view the paintings and vote for the ones they like. There is some sort of award at the end for the popular paintings. If you are in the area why not pop in and take a look. You could also vote for me if you like my work. 

Monday, 6 September 2010



Friday saw Ben and me at St. Mary’s Church, Broughton Street, Edinburgh for the 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert of the Edinburgh Schools Jazz Orchestra. Ten years ago, Ben was a member of ESJO, when it was sponsored by Lothian Regional Council. This was a good arrangement because it meant that pupils from East, Mid and West Lothian could join their big city peers to make some very good music. My job at the time was to make sure I didn’t say anything embarrassing (teenagers!) and do the taxi driving. I got to know Jim O’Malley who started the band and later Dan Hallam, who became a good friend. ESJO started off my love of jazz and it has continued ever since.

The concert on Friday was very good. It started off with the current members of ESJO with some former members and special guests, conducted by Dan and they played a super set of numbers. This young group of musicians were tight, together, loud and quiet when they needed to be. There were some stunning solo slots. The second part of the first half was taken by combo’s of ex-ESJO players who have formed groups and continued to play and we were entertained to some great original jazz. The second half comprised a performance by the ESJO professional band, made up of former members who have gone on to make a career in music. They were directed by the famous Ozzy trombone player Chris Greive. The music was of the very highest order and left us all shouting for more.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

I've been reading a very good book  called - Figure: How to Draw & Paint the Figure with Impact:  by Sharon Pinsker . Her book is about drawing people and it's also about drawing people with fashion in mind.
This is my take on a drawing from her book.

Here are a couple of my attempts to draw faces and create some depth in them.