Daily Archives: Sunday, 14th Aug 2011

Weight and Stuff Report – 14 August 2011

Slightly up again, tut tut.

It’s been a day of changed plans. Now originally, I was going to be working in sunny Teesside today, but we’ve had to postpone that. As I was mentally prepared to get something done today, I decided to go for a walk – I was heading in the direction of the Tyne to see if any of the Bridges Festival stuff was interesting enough to take pictures of. But I’d just got a little way down the road when it started to rain. Given the recent behaviour of rain in these parts, I decided to switch to plan B: have a walk around the park, so I could give up and go home easily if the rain got any heavier. Well, I just got to the park gates when it did just that, so I did indeed come home.

Of course, as I’d given up and gone home, the rain didn’t come to much, and it’s brightened up again now. Still, never mind. I used the time to finish off sorting out my holiday pictures and those Doctor Who DVD review thingies. And I’ve done my usual twenty minutes on the exercise bike. I think the sensor might not have been connecting properly at first. Either that, or I was insanely relaxed, as it was alleging that my heart rate was 40 for a while. See for yourself.

I was hoping to have some new pictures from the walk that was abandoned, but you’ll have to make do with a dragon instead.



Holiday 2011 – All the pictures

To save anyone who’s interested from having to search, this post provides links to all the 2011 holiday galleries:

Day 1 – Heading North on July 6

Day 2 – Heading up Snowdon on July 7

Day 2 – Bangor and Anglesey on July 7

Day 3 – Porthmadog to Caernarfon on July 8

Day 3 – Portmeirion on July 8

Day 4 – Llandudno and the Great Orme on July 9

Day 4 – Conwy on July 9

Day 4 – Caernarfon Airworld on July 9

Day 5 – Heading back south on July 10

Holiday 2011, Day 5 – Heading back South on July 10

We took a scenic route back to South Wales, stopping at Llangollen, taking a detour to view Thomas Telford’s aqueduct, then crossing the border a few times on the way to Brecon, where the weather allowed me to take some clearer landscape shots.

Holiday 2011, Day 4 – Caernarfon Airworld on July 9

Our last call of the day was to the Airworld Aviation Museum at Caernarfon Airport. There’s an interesting collection of aircraft of various ages in various states of preservation. They’ve gone to the trouble of painting murals on the walls to fit with the aircraft on show – this works very well for the crash scenes display. Once you’ve paid to get in, you’re free to wander around, climb into cockpits and take all the pictures you want. Worth a visit if you’re into old planes and you’re in Snowdonia.

Holiday 2011, Day 4 – Conwy on 9 July

After Llandudno and the Great Orme, we went to Conwy. I’ve always been fascinated by Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge, which in pictures always looked as if it ran right up to the castle. Well, it does! In fact, as you’ll see in one of the pictures below, the suspension chains are actually anchored to the castle itself – I can’t imagine anyone being allowed to do that these days. The bridge is too fragile for road traffic, but you can walk along it, on payment of £1 or a wave of a National Trust membership card. If you look at the chains, you can see that most of the load is now being taken by a modern cable set above them – necessary, but it’s been done carefully enough not to detract from the appearance of the bridge.

Once I’d got all the pictures I needed of the bridge, we had a look along the waterfront, where we saw the smallest house in Britain, and some other fun things. Conwy is on the list for a longer visit next year.

Doctor Who – Paradise Towers

Moving right along, here we are with my last classic Doctor Who DVD post for a month or so. Yes, I’ve defeated that pile of them that’s been glaring at me for the last few months. And of course, we’re less than two weeks away from the expected return of new Doctor Who episodes.  :tigger:

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We need to go back to October 1987 for this one. Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor, in his second story and Bonnie Langford is Mel, who I’m afraid remains my least favourite companion of all time.

Mel fancies a swim, and apparently the TARDIS swimming pool wasn’t available at the time, so the Doctor takes her to Paradise Towers, which is supposedly the crowning achievement of the Great Architect Kroagnon, but which turns out to be not all it’s cracked up to be. With most of the adult population away at a carefully unspecified war, the building is occupied by gangs of young girls – Kangs, elderly residents with cannibalistic tendencies – Rezzies, rule-bound caretakers, one would-be action hero, oh and some homicidal cleaning robots.

Being in a tower block offers lots of chances for running down corridors in the traditional manner, so that’s good. Richard Briers puts on a good show as the Chief Caretaker, though loses it a bit in the last episode when he’s taken over by the source of all the trouble, the disembodied Great Architect himself, who can’t be doing with all these people messing up his perfect building by breathing in it…

There’s some inventive use of slang by the Kangs, some lovely trickery by the Doctor, and Mel almost gets eaten by Rezzies, but manages to escape. Still, you can’t have everything…

Good stuff all round, really. Sylvester was getting into the part quite nicely, though without the darker, more manipulative characteristics that would emerge later. Fun.

There are some nifty bits in the extras, too. Apart from all the usual stuff, we are presented with:

  • Horror on the High Rise A nicely done look back at the making of the story, with some of the guest actors, including Richard Briers, script editor Andrew Cartmel, who was just settling into the job and writer Stephen Wyatt.
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! – The Eighties Sophie Aldred (Ace), Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) sit and talk about their experiences of being Doctor Who companions, sexism in TV, and generally seem to have a good time. Nicely done.
  • Casting Sylvester Clive Doig talks about his part in casting Sylvester McCoy.
  • Alternative Soundtrack For reasons that probably made sense at the time, the music originally commissioned was found to be unsuitable, so a new soundtrack was created. The DVD has an option to watch the story with the unused music.

Doctor Who – The Sun Makers

Right, it’s back to the Doctor Who DVDs. This one stars Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. Its first showing was in November and December 1977.

The TARDIS materialises in the moderately far future, where the human race now lives on Pluto, which is made habitable by six suns, provided by “The Company”. This company runs a rather nasty bureaucratic dictatorship, where people are worked to death and taxed to oblivion. All very satirical, and not at all inspired by writer Robert Holmes’s recent run-in with the taxman. It’s alleged by some that the real target of Holmes’s mockery was the management of the BBC…

Anyway, the Doctor and Leela get involved with the usual rough band of rebels, and sort things out with the usual level of corridor running and general fun and games. It’s quite silly in parts, and none the worse for that. Good fun, worth seeing if you haven’t already done so, and worth watching again if you haven’t seen it for a while.

There’s a small selection of extras on this one. The commentary features Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, director Pennant Roberts and guest actor Michael Keating, better known for playing Vila in Blakes 7. Then there’s the usual production subtitles, pictures, a trailer and so on, and:

  • Running from the Tax Man A slight variation on the usual look back, as it also features astronomer Marek Kukula talking about Pluto
  • The Doctor’s Composer – Part Two Dudley Simpson has even more fun talking about the music he created for the show in the 70s.
  • Outakes How many takes does it take to get a prop gun to fire? Lots.

 And that’s your lot.

Getting Social

No, I’m not going out and having a wild life. That would be silly. What I’m talking about is Social, a new WordPress plugin from MailChimp, whose main activity is email marketing type thingies. Social provides an easy way to link WordPress to Facebook and Twitter. Anyone who follows me on Twitter (I’m @lesb if you don’t, and you’re vaguely interested), or stalks me on Facebook, might have noticed that links to my posts pop up in both places. I’ve been doing this by a slightly convoluted route:

  1. Make new post
  2. Feedburner publishes it in the RSS feed
  3. Feedburner posts a link to Twitter, complete with a #fb hashtag
  4. Selective Tweets posts the tweet to Facebook

Social should cut all that nonsense out, as it’s linked directly to Twitter and Facebook. Not only that, but it will apparently look for mentions of posts and link them to the comments. I’m not sure how well this will work, but I’m giving it a try…

Update: as you’ll see from the comments, Social doesn’t seem to play nicely with my theme, so it’s off for now