Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'Last' Night of the Proms

Tonight was our last visit to the BBC Proms. Where has the time gone, it seems only days since we attended our first concert in July and here we are at the end of August. That first concert was given by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conductor Thierry Fischer and they opened with Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. This was followed by an amazing performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto no.1 by Alexander Toradze - an enthusiastic and exciting performer who had the Proms audience cheering. After the interval we heard a wonderful performance of Shostakovich's Symphony no.7.
We felt we were pretty lucky to have tickets for the Sondheim at 80 concert as the Royal Albert Hall was packed for the evening and the audience was given a treat by all the performers. Wonderful evocative music and lyrics, and cameo performances such as Dame Judi Dench and 'Send in the Clowns'. There was definitely humming on the Tube to Waterloo!
The next two concerts involved an overnight stay, which was a lovely treat. Back to back Mahler concerts persuaded us it was the only thing to do, so our Prom visits also included visits to exhibitions. On Wednesday 4 August we heard BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles perform Mahler's Symphony no.3. Karen Cargill was the mezzo-soprano and we also heard the women's voices of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Choir. It was wonderful. The following evening we heard the World Orchestra for Peace, conducted by Valery Gergiev and with Camilla Tilling, soprano, perform Mahler's Symphonies 4 and 5. Again, a wonderful concert with Maestro Gergiev; virtually all the first violins are leaders of their respective orchestras.
Prom 34 was another Mahler concert. This time we heard Mahler's Symphony no 7 after the interval. The concert opened with Schreker's 'Der ferne Klang - Nachtstuck' and Korngold's Violin Concerto performed by Leonidas Kavakas. The orchestra was the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.
And so to tonight, Prom 52, our last. We went to see the exuberant Vladimir Ashkenazy conduct Sydney Symphony for whom he is the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor. They performed R. Strauss Der Rosenkavalier -suite; Ravel Piano Concerto with Helene Grimaud as the soloist. This was beautifully played and the Proms audience would hardly let her leave the platform with their enthusiastic applause. After the interval we heard the orchestra play Scriabin Symphony no.3, 'The Divine Poem'. Once again Maestro Ashkenazy showed us how much he enjoyed the performance and how much he appreciated our appreciation and played an encore after returning to the platform several times. A momentous evening to round off our evenings at the proms 2010.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

In the Best in Show Garden - Reflections of Thailand - at HCPFS

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garden detail at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Farnham Heath and the Rural Life Centre

The destination was Farnham Heath RSPB Reserve, Tilford, but when we arrived we found that the Rural Life Centre is right next door, so we started with a coffee in their café, promising to visit the centre after our walk. Tilford is relatively new to the RSPB and there is a huge project in process. The idea is to restore the heath, which had been taken over by a commercial pine forest. Many hectares of conifers have been cleared, and the ground is deliberately churned up to bring the heather seeds to the surface for germinating, and heathland wildlife such as woodlarks, tree pipits, nightjars and sand lizards are returning. 
By the entrance we found that there are three walks, marked by differently coloured arrows. We followed the green route, taking us all round the reserve. As it was our first visit we stayed on the designated path, but noted that there were other paths across the heath, which would be fun to explore. The path climbs up the rise giving views across the downs in the distance - lovely. We also kept our binoculars handy for spotting. It wasn’t until we came off the hill again and into a stand of mixed trees that we heard and glimpsed some little birds in the tree tops. We could see long-tailed, blue and great tits; a tree creeper and a wren, but there were others that we couldn’t get a good enough view of to identify them. We hoped it may have been the tree pipits or woodlarks that seen in the area. As we walked back to the beginning/end of our circular walk we passed some interpretation boards telling us that this area was where the nightjars would come to. We need to come back one evening at dusk to see them fly.

As promised, we returned to the Rural Life Centre and paid our entrance fee this time, so we could discover what they had on offer. We found a collection of old ploughs at the beginning that had been made especially for the Canadian market. They were called Prairie Busters – how appropriate. After this we looked at several old buildings from the local area that had been reconstructed on the site. One interesting building, the Granary perched on stone mushrooms to keep out vermin, was faced with ‘mathematical tiles’ that imitated bricks. They were used so the owner could avoid the brick tax that was being imposed at that period. Part of the old smithy area has a shed constructed using old timbers from Farnham Market Hall that still have the old handmade nails in them. The forge and the wood yard are in working order as was the wood turning equipment in one of the buildings where we saw a man working away. The Old Kiln Light Railway had been running, but we were too late to catch a ride on it.
At the furthest end of the site we found a display of beautiful vintage cars. These were all Armstrong Siddleys brought on display by the owners club. They were all highly polished and looking their best as the visitors inspected them. Many had been driven there for the weekend, and their drivers were staying or camping nearby. The backdrop for their display was the Cricket Pavilion and the Victorian School room, complete with old bicycles.
So, when we had seen everything, we stopped by the ‘by Royal appointment’ café again for a cup of tea and a biscuit before heading back home again in our distinctly more modern vehicle.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Elephant Parade 41

James Bond
Oliver Lloyd and Lucy Fleming with support of Ian Fleming Publications

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Elephant Parade 39

Another Indian Premier League cricket elephant:
Kolkata Knight Riders by Lalit Modi

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