Song for Coal

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This year sees the 30th anniversary of the miners strike, an event that is still etched in the minds and consciousness of many, and which did so much to change the political and social landscape of Britain – whatever side of the political fence you happened to be on, things would not be the same.

To mark this event Nick Crowe and Ian Robertson have produced an amazing audio visual piece that is currently showing in the chapel at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  You enter through what at first appears to be total pitch black, you can hear haunting singing and monk like chanting while projected up on the wall is what appears to be a stunning visual representation of a stain glass window.  As your eyes slowly adjust you can find a bench and sit down and let yourself be immersed in sound and visual.

The ‘window’ is an astonishing thing, firstly that it looks so right projected as it is inside a church but it takes a while to get used to as it is moving and flickering as you watch it.  The colours are incredibly vivid and your eyes try to work out what is happening.  The window is comprised of 152 panels and each panel contains a film that looks at the history of coal, from it’s origins before mankind through to it powering the industrial revolution and beyond.  As the films play in the panels it creates a hypnotic kaleidoscopic effect that is enhanced by the music and singing (sung by Opera North) that accompanies the visuals.  You see flickers of plants, cars, flame, sculptures, Davy lamps, miners faces morphing constantly across the window to a mesmerising effect.

As I sat in the darkness, eyes transfixed by the visual and sound surrounding me you could hear occasional words like ‘it made us strong’ but it brought memories to me of the coalman delivering sacks to the house, of lighting the fire that heated the house, through to the strike and it’s devastating consequences and then made me think of our need to move beyond fossil fuels so that what once powered our world remains buried below the surface.

 

 

December Photo Fun – Week 5 – 2014 – Light

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We finished off this years #Decemberphotofun with the theme of Light picked by the kids.  What I didn’t realise when they picked it is that we’d actually done light before, when we did random Weekend Photo Fun back in October 2013.  However by the time I realised this photos were already starting to come in so I thought let’s just go with it and I’m so glad I did as this week has seen some truly beautiful and clever interpretations of the theme.  Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment don’t see as much of the light as we would perhaps like but when we do see it it casts such a brilliant glare due to the lowness and sharpness of the sun at this time of year.  I’ve been lucky to have been out riding a bit over the Christmas holidays and to ride up on the snowy moorland tops with sun bouncing off the brilliant white countryside has been a source of real pleasure.  Whilst I look forward to the warmth of spring and summer there is something amazing about the light at this time of year.

We have two real sources of light, the sun and that which we have managed to create ourselves, electric lights, flames, matches etc all of which are brilliantly captured as well as the light from distant stars which of course when it set out on it’s distant journey to our eyeballs there were no humans on the planet when it began, something I find quite sobering in it’s enormity.  It was a hard task this week to pick the picture to go at the top as there are so many that we liked, the young boy creating horns in the sunlight, the rugby pitch, gig, striking a match, light refracting through ice and lots of great landscapes.  In the end we thought the pic of Dent station was gorgeous, natural winter dusk light and the illumination from the station lights creating a pool of wintery warmth.

As always thanks to all of you who play along with the themes that the kids pick and make it so much fun, we had a lot of photos this week so I hope I’ve not missed any out.  Click on the gallery below and you can then scroll through the photos in all their loveliness.  We’ll carry on with our photo themes during 2015 in the school holidays, half terms etc and will also through in the odd random weekend one.  If you want to play along with us keep an eye out for the hashtag on twitter or give me a follow @ianstreet67.  Do let us know which pictures you liked, hope you enjoyed playing along with us and hope you all have a great 2015.  Thanks.

Year of the Snail – 2014

 

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I’m now two years into my Project Snail idea, which in a nutshell, was to have more fun on my bikes and to do this by trying to improve my fitness, skill and confidence – all of which when I looked at myself I realised were areas where I was lacking quite a bit.  At this point last year I looked back over my first year and realised I had moved on quite a bit through a combination of riding more, riding with different people in different places and having some coaching from the marvellous Ed Oxley.

This year has very much carried on in the same vein and whilst I still have pretty major confidence issues I do feel like I’m improving slowly and I have definitely had a huge amount of fun over the year which is the whole point for me of riding my bikes.  As well as simply trying to ride as many days as I can, which hugely helps on the fitness front – little and often, I actually bought myself a proper full suspension bike which has brought me endless smiles, I simply love it.  It was great to have another session with Ed shortly after I bought it when the picture at the top was taken.  That section was a classic for me, I looked at it and bottled it numerous times but with Ed’s gentle encouragement I finally made it and I actually look like a proper rider I think on that photo.  Later on in the day we rode the section at the end of a run with Ed following me down, as we approached he veered off on another route whooping through the woods and when we got to the bottom he just said I knew you were going to be fine and would ride it so left you to it.  It was one of many small steps I took during the year each one of which, while nothing for many people, filled me with a huge sense of achievement.

I also rode in a couple of events, the Morvelo City Cross in Leeds which was huge fun and attempted to ride up a steep hill which was quite frankly silly and fun at the same time.  Although it did not involve riding I did put on an event which combined books and cycling with a couple of authors coming to talk about their adventures.  Having never done anything like this before I was worried it would be a shambles but it actually turned out to be a cracking night in front of a packed house.  I’ve got some ideas for some similar events this year as well.  Talking of events I guess the main one was witnessing the Tour de France take place in Yorkshire a weekend that will live long in the memory.  Seeing all the events that took place around the tour as part of the Yorkshire Festival and seeing different people on bikes in and around Leeds on a daily basis I’ve set up Leeds Rides which aims to show the human side of cycling in the city.  I’m hoping to try and get a thousand people on it in 2015 and then have a bit of an exhibition and a party.

Perhaps the most exhilarating step I took this year was to venture into night riding, something that genuinely terrified me but which is something that I have hugely enjoyed doing and which created some amazing memories and pictures. It also enabled me to ride much more over the winter which I’m hoping will pay dividends as the weather and the light improves and will have helped me considerably on the Project Snail plan.

Without doubt though the most important thing for me in my riding has been the people who I’ve ridden with who have helped, coached and cajoled me along.  Thanks to all of you it’s been genuinely humbling and loads of fun.  There are too many to mention in person but the Garage Bikes community in particular are a special group of people and riders who are great to be around and who make my world a better place.  I’m not a competitive person on a bike, for me it’s all about the social side of things, riding, having a chat and finishing with a beer (or occasionally having a cheeky swig from a hip flask on the ride) and this side of things has been the real highlight of the year for me.  The day before yesterday was a classic case in point, 3 of us on an amazing ride around Hebden Bridge, me out of my comfort zone but being encouraged by better riders, all of us enjoying one of the best rides of the year chewing the fat as we rode and finishing with a cracking pint.  If I have more rides like that in 2015 I’ll be very happy indeed.

Rob finished the the ride and tweeted the following.  I still think Project Snail is ongoing but who knows maybe I need a new nickname.  Any ideas ?

 

 

December Photo Fun Week 4 – 2014 – Mix

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A somewhat quieter week this week for the Mix theme set by the kids, which was of course totally understandable with it being Christmas week.  Nevertheless there was still a nice collection (or mix) of photos sent in depicting various interpretations of the theme, drinks, food, play, bikes, people, presents etc.  I particularly liked the photo above which has all sorts of mix within it, old and new, different styles of architecture, graffiti, rubbish and tidiness.  It in many ways encapsulates the jumbled chaos of much of our towns and cities where different styles and periods mix in different states of harmony.  I find it fascinating to wander around looking and alternating between wonder and bafflement often in the same street.  I suspect that it has always been thus though as society changes and different interpretations on how we want to live and work get built upon the ruins of the outdated / defeated.  Where I grew up there is easy evidence of iron age hill forts, then Roman ruins right through to industrialisation engineering features and onwards to glass edifices and everything in between.

That was my take on the mix week but as always I’d love to here what interpretations you liked.  As always huge thanks to all who took part.  We have one final week which will run through into January but because the week starts in December then we will cover the whole week.  Click on the gallery below to open it up so you can scroll through the pictures.

December Photo Fun – Week 3 – 2014 – Create

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The kids picked Create for the week 3 theme which I loved the idea of as after all the whole idea of our photofun projects is to create something from an idea.  When the themes are put out on twitter you just never know whether or not they will take hold, often you get a flurry right away and then nothing whereas this week it was the reverse a slow start that gathered momentum throughout the week.

I’ve never, perhaps until recently, particularly thought of myself as a creative person as I tend to think of creative people as those beautifully talented people around us who draw, paint, write, photograph etc in a way that makes us think or brings happiness into our lives.  A few years ago I was made redundant, and for anyone who has been through that it can be a tricky process to say the least.  I was fortunate in that the place where I was getting made redundant from paid for support for us to do some assessment of our skills etc.  Now I’m usually very reticent of that sort of thing but seeing as I was facing a big challenge I went into it with eyes open.  The person that I worked with for a few weeks after talking to me looking at my career etc said that I should describe myself in one way and that was as a creative thinker.  It sounds a bit bombastic but it was perhaps the first time when I’ve looked at the way I approach things and on reflection it felt right.  It’s not something that I feel comfortable saying about myself but it is perhaps a strong part of who I am I think.  Still can’t draw for toffee mind.

I thought about this while this theme was going on and how much creativity there all around us, perhaps particularly at this time of year, but also how we don’t celebrate creativity enough and encourage it within our children, it’s not just about drawing but it’s about how we see the world.  Rigidity of thought is not going to provide the solution that we require to improve the world we live in, creativity is.  Be that in maths or science, art or technology the ability to have a blank sheet of paper (either physically or metaphorically) in front of us and create something that did not exist before is perhaps the human races most unique trait.

All of that is I think captured in this beautiful gallery of people (and animals) creating things, food, art, pictures, sounds, a home, toys, all the things that nourish us.  Huge thanks to all who took part as always, apologies to anyone who I’ve missed out.  Click on the gallery to open it and scroll through the pictures and do let us know which ones you liked, there are some lovely interpretations.  Two more weeks to go so either follow me @ianstreet67 on twitter or follow the twitter hashtag #decemberphotofun for the remaining themes.  Be great to have you on board.

December Photo Fun – Week 2 – 2014 – Squash

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After last week’s Twist theme the kids picked Squash for week 2 and when they picked it I must admit I was a bit stumped for a while wondering what I would do other than take a photo of an actual squash of course.  I think for many they also found it hard this week but as well as a few squash we had some fantastically creative interpretations which have made me smile and marvel in equal measure.  Click on the gallery to see the pics in full and do let us know which ones you liked.  If you want to play along with us during the rest of the month then follow me on twitter @ianstreet67 or keep an eye on the hashtag #decemberphotofun, you’ll be welcome and it will be great to see how you interpret the next theme.  Massive thanks to all of you who played along with us this week.