Sunday 28 December 2014

Grantchester Barrel Race - 2014

The good folk of Cambridgeshire gathered at the Grantchester Barreldrome (otherwise known as the Coton Road) on December 26 for the Barrel-Rolling Championships. Contestants had been limbering up in the four village pubs beforehand but most of them made it to the start by 12 noon. The honorary starter this year was local celebrity Martin the Postman, who has been delivering our letters for the past twenty-five years. So lets watch the start of the first race.....

....all lined up neatly for the start....

....hey, it's not as easy as it looks....

....OK, now we've got the hang of it.... did that happen....?

Practising before the event is frowned upon so competitors have to work it out as they go along (or go wrong!). There are men's and women's races for the staff and regulars of the pubs, then an open race for any village teams which people can organise, then there are two "international" races featuring crack teams from other villages. Lets check out the various styles on display....


As it's a back-and-forth relay there is plenty of scope for things going a little awry....

This year, for the first time in human history, the team from the little village of Madingley were victorious in the County Championships....

The ladies from the Blue Ball pub won their race and can here be seen on the medal podium....("It's a builders' truck!" - whaddaya mean ?)

Money raised from the collection and the sale of programmes went to the local church and The Samaritans. Here's a video I managed to take of the Open Race, where the Cricket Club,in blue, were victorious.....

Take care.

Saturday 27 December 2014

"By Stargoose And Hanglands" - A Calendar

A calendar for 2015 made up, as it must be of course, of photos from earlier years. I've tried to get away from having all scenic shots to pictures representing the diverse subject matter you're likely to encounter on this blog. 













Take care.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas (With Some Holly And Ivy)

Just to wish you a Merry (but also a safe and peaceful) Christmas....

....and, as so many of you seemed to enjoy the YouTube video I gave you a link to recently, here's another, also showing a carol being sung to the "wrong" tune. This time it's the old favourite "The Holly And The Ivy", here being sung in a Yorkshire pub. The holly and ivy are of course pagan symbols of the old midwinter celebrations and there are those who claim that the song goes back to pre-Christian times. If so then it's a very old song indeed.

But it has always struck me that there's something very odd about these verses. The first part of each verse - and the chorus - sounds as natural and unforced as any folk song. But then comes the convoluted and clumsy versification at the end of each stanza. It sounds to me as if someone at some time has tried hard to make an acceptable church song out of a much older rhyme. 

If I'm right about its origins then it's perhaps fitting that it should be heard in a pub. So here it is echoing through the centuries in all its roaring glory.....

I "borrowed" the video from Dave Burbidge's YouTube channel which is full of excellent singing, some of it from rather unexpected sources.

Merry Christmas.

Take care.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Black And White On A Grey Day

Though it's often been sunny while I've been at work recently, as soon as I've had a day off it's been dull and drizzly. Not just cloudy, but twilight-at-noon gloomy. As a result I haven't wandered far from the glittering but gruelling treadmill of Christmas shopping and I'm better prepared for the holiday season than I've ever been. So much so that, despite the lack of new photos, I've been reappraising some older images and experimenting with a little back to basics black-and-white, courtesy of the computer.

A woodland landscape from the parkland surrounding Hatfield House. 
A yellow filter effect has brought out the dappled light
 and the contrast between deciduous and coniferous trees. 

You may remember this lady,
photographed candidly on the streets of Cambridge.
This is the same shot I showed you before,
I love the stillness and serenity
and it seems to work well in monochrome.

Flowers are not the most obvious choice for a black and white treatment.
This rose was photographed, I think, at Anglesey Abbey.
I desaturated all the colours except the red,
which has left this subtle pinkish tinge on the petals.
Not quite B/W perhaps.

Another shot from the cemetery in Cambridge.
This was just a muddle in full colour, but
now it has just a little more structure in the overgrown chaos.

A touch of sepia tone
for a shot of ivy stems elbowing their way
up an old tree trunk.

Musicians who accompany the marvellously eccentric
Morris dancers known as
"Bunnies From Hell".
They are famous for wearing shocking pink.
They were doing their inimitable thing
at Thriplow Daffodil Day back in the spring.

A gloomy day at
Fenstanton Lakes bird reserve.
Maybe I should have been out
 taking photos in this drab weather after all.

Take care.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Tuesday 9 December 2014

In Cambridge With A Camera

I often find myself in Cambridge with a camera. I am not alone in that. You'll see more cameras than shopping bags in Cambridge, particularly during the summer months. They mostly all take the same pictures though. So here are some from the archive that I've never seen anybody else taking.....

The view from Castle Hill, looking towards St John's College Chapel. All that remains of the castle in question is a big heap of earth, though there is a pub called The Castle as you can see.

Perhaps the most perfect little church in Cambridge, St Peter's. No longer in use but cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.

The city is full of nooks and crannies for the inquisitive explorer, some houses being tucked away where they can only be reached by walking down footpaths and passageways.

A floral display outside a pub. Back in the 1970s two friends and I visited all the pubs within the city boundary - all in the interest of research, you understand. I think there were about 120 pubs back then, though somehow my memory is a little hazy about some of the details. We undertook this task on bicycles and, as far as I remember, only fell off once! The pubs haven't survived as well as us - there are now only 85 of them. (If you read this, Graham or Paul, please feel free to contact me with more details!)

A shop selling college scarves and robes, with that well-known building determined to get in on the act.

On the street leading around to King's is this marvellous arrangement of windows which nobody seems to notice, their sights being set upon visiting the Chapel.

And here's an odd and unusual view of King's Parade; the side where the shops are rather than the side with all the college buildings. For those who know Cambridge this view can be sneaked from near the Senate House.

Just a door on the Old Schools building, full of character but suffering from its proximity to grander and more pompous feats of architectural achievement.

And the charm of the ephemeral.
Be Happy!

And take care.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Flowers For December

A selection of flower and garden photos taken this summer but resurrected here to brighten the winter gloom.....

Take care.