Friday, 20 March 2009

What Day Does Spring Start?

Well according to tradition spring starts on the night of 20/21 March. However the Meteorological Office classes the first day of spring as 1 March and a bit of a row has erupted now over the official date.

Some disgruntled MPs are questioning who has had the authority to change the date. Stuart Bell, Labour MP for Middlesbrough says:

"Spring starts on March 20/21 and if the Met Office are not aware of this simple fact, it reflects a casual approach to facts, which is all too inherent today."

“Historically spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March. Vernal comes originally from the Latin word for bloom and refers to the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, this equinox marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

An equinox is a time when the nights are as long as the days and the vernal equinox is recognised the world over as the start of the new astrological cycle.

But does that necessarily make it the start of spring? After all, summer is commonly decreed to start on 21 June - the Summer Solstice - yet the following day is known as MID-summer's day.

And since when has the prevailing weather had anything to do with it? Parts of the country may be ankle-deep in snow but cast your mind back three months and the talk was why, in mid-December, the weather felt like spring.

The Met Office, meanwhile, has little time for celestial patterns and historical precedent. It picked 1 March for simplicity's sake, choosing to slot the four seasons neatly into the 12 months... June, July and August are the summer months; September, October and November autumn, and so on.“

Mmmm, a very pragmatic approach!

Extract from BBC website

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Skywatch Friday - 20 March 2009

Kalithea Bay, Rhodes.

Yes, I know there aren't any clouds. That's because I've hardly ever seen any when we go on holiday there.

I'm looking forward to our next holiday there this year. Blue skies and lovely warm weather, I'm in countdown mode.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

My Second Swimming Lesson

I’ve been so caught up in Comic Relief postings I forgot to say anything about my swimming progress. Well I needn’t bother really as there wasn't much to report. I didn’t do as well as the first week.

I did the crawl leg kick holding the float in front of me OK like last week. Next came putting my face in and out of the water as I did the leg kick. Now that was quite a bit harder to manage, but I did it.

Next came combining three actions, the leg kick, the face in the water and finally taking one hand off the float and drawing it under the water and back then up to the float and doing the same with the other arm. Needless to say I just couldn’t co ordinate the three things. If I got the arms to work and the face in and out of the water, the legs gradually stopped. Talk about mutli tasking!The swimming instructor says it’s what usually happens, that people can do the first two but the legs just stop.

Well I was worn out after four widths of this, well it is 25 metres across. In the meantime I’m too embarrassed to try it in the pool until the next lesson. Never mind I’ll be back again next week. I didn’t think it would be easy!

I'm not expecting to be able to do this....


....or this....

....but it would be nice to be able to do a bit of this if I ever go to the Caribbean or Mauritius!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Alexander McCall Smith

I saw an interesting interview this morning with Andrew McCall Smith, the author of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. What an interesting character he is. For years he was a professor of medical law, he lives in Edinburgh and he’s the author of over sixty books.

The conversation naturally turned to his most popular books about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s finest and only female detective. He was asked why they are so popular when there’s never even a murder in them. He laughed and said that nothing really happens in them because there’s enough happening in the rest of the world. The books are really about people, what motivates them and how they behave. I thought that was a perfect description of them.

What I didn’t know about him was he founded The Really Terrible Orchestra in Edinburgh. An orchestra composed of people who wanted to play in a real orchestra but weren’t good enough. He said they are terrible players but really enjoy themselves and people strangely enough want to come to hear them play. “They come expecting something to go wrong and we never disappoint!” They played at the end of the interview and he was right, they are terrible but what a delightful character he is. For anyone in New York, USA, the orchestra is performing there in April 2009. Go if you dare!

Funnily enough I had watched the first film about the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency again last night! What a beautiful film it is. It was directed by Anthony Minghella with delightful background music, beautiful Botswana scenery and wildlife, wonderful actors portraying the characters and the gentle humour and stories about people. It's a far cry from the usual films about Africa and detective stories with as many murders, shootings and car chases as they can cram in!

Precious is such a delightful character, a “traditionally built” Botswanan lady, with a beautiful smile, she’s warm, witty and has an inbuilt intuition about people. The other characters are cleverly drawn too. It’s no wonder these books are so popular across the world.

I must get to the library, his new book in this series, Teatime for the Traditionally built has been published. Love that title. He also has a book from the 44 Scotland Street series published too, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. I think this man likes his food!

The new series of six episodes of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency started tonight on BBC1. We enjoyed two hours of wonderful TV with not a murder or an advert in sight. First there was Larkrise to Candleford and then the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Sheer bliss!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Let’s Dance for Comic Relief



Celebrities have taken up dancing to support Comic Relief and some have been so funny.

The final was tonight and here are the finalists:


Jo Brand – Does Britney Spears


I love Jo Brand, she never takes herself too seriously. She wanted to be eliminated in the first programme but was too popular.




Paddy & Keith – Dirty Dancing

This one was great, they took it so seriously. The actual dance tonight was much funnier than this clip and the judges and presenters were crying laughing at them.






Robert Webb – Flashdance

This one really made me laugh. I love the bit where he tries to jump back onto his feet and can’t. As Jo Brand says he makes a more attractive woman than she does bless her!






Dick and Dom Shake Their Tailfeathers


I’m not a big fan of Dick & Dom, prefer Ant & Deck but they did OK.






Denise Lewis and Martin Offiah do Bombay Dreams

I thought they were excellent. He moves really well for a rugby player and she’s still in good shape after her Olympic heptathlon days. Well she did do Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 so maybe she's kept her dancing shoes on.






The Bill Does Riverdance

These weren’t funny they were quite good, well Lisa Maxwell was. Made me wonder whether maybe she’d done some Irish dancing before.





The BBC videos of all the dancers are on their Red Nose website.

And the winner was………Robert Webb!

Red Nose Day 2009

I really enjoy the humour of Comic Relief as well as finding out about how they spend the money they raise.

It’s really tearjerking stuff watching those children in Africa die of malaria and the high number of women who die in childbirth. No wonder the celebrities break down when they are filming. Although it's hard to watch it's great to see how they spend the money both in this country and in Africa.

On the lighter side here are some of my favourite comedy parts of the night.

Mama Mia
Loved the take off by Jennifer Saunders, Dawn Fench, Joanna Lumley and Phllip Glennister. I thought about Gill when I was watching it and her post about the singing from the film Mama Mia. There are a couple of other clips but my favourite is The Winner Takes it All! I really detested the Meryl Streep version but I do like most of the other songs from the film. I digress, anyway judge for yourself.




I Just Can't Get Enough - The Saturdays
I liked the earlier version of this by Depeche Mode but I love the official song release for this year by The Saturdays. For the Golden Oldies watch out for a brief glimpse of Muffin the Mule.




I found the Robbie Williams and Little Britain sketch really funny. I think Robbie Williams has found his niche. Well he’ll have to do something as he didn’t have the sense to go back to Take That. They’ve only posted the first part of the sketch and it was the final part that was funniest.

One of the funniest parts of the night was when they showed the filming of the video of Is This the Way to Amarillo? with Peter Kay and others from an earlier show in 2005. Yes, the bit where Ronnie Corbett fell off the treadmill. They showed you how it was filmed with Peter Kay telling how it happened and everyone trying not to laugh when he fell. It was so funny and luckily he wasn't hurt. I don't think they'll match that in a hurry! If you want to see it again here's the original.



I’m not a fan of The Office and I didn’t find The Office Opera sketch funny at all but if you’re a fan you can find it on You Tube and there are lots more clips from last night’s programmes including The Royle Family and Harry Hill's TV Burp.

Still Knitting!

I'm beginning to think I'm being a bit addicted to knitting. Normally I can just stop to do a bit of housework but at the moment ...