Monday, 20 December 2010

Some time to clear the mind.

Between being home and the entire country being shrouded in snow I could not resist a wee ramble into the fields this afternoon. It's at times like these that I really do appreciate the technology we have otherwise I wouldn't be able to share with people what a great place I live in and how fortunate I am to be here (I've taken some photos on my phone which you will see below). To just walk out into space where there is nothing around you but near silence and nature , or what you could call complete peace it really is better than any spa or therapy you could have. I advise to everyone at Christmas time to just go on a wonder and enjoy the calm that's all around. Because it really is good for the soul. 

Once upon a time there was a drovers road going along that fence from Powmill to Saline, the road cut right through our garden which at that time was a farm and there was a well, which still exists, for the cattle to drink from. Miscellaneous little fact there. 

 The neighbours.

Neil Young , Rocking in the Free World. A lot of people need to listen to this song. He Hey, My My is also worth a listen. Well most Neil young songs are worth a listen. But this in particular is an all right follow up to my previous post.

My Generation !

I am sure everybody knows about the increase in university's fees and the student protests that have been going on across the country. This post isn't really about the fee situation per say but the protests that have been going on, yes I am a victim of the media and yes I pay more attention to the loud extravagant "interesting" looking things on the news. To be honest I've found the protests, particularly in London, rather disturbing and upsetting for a few reasons, the behaviour of these "students" that are protesting and also they way it has been reported on the news. 
Now this male/female/pink floyd offspring or whatever is an idiot if there ever was one, and if you ask me any university that would accept this individual on a course should review whatever process of recruiting students they have. 

I think protests are great, through the summer I worked in a very small plant nursery called Lady Helen Nursery in Fife for a real character of a guy who said to me "when you're at uni protest when you can, because its the only time you will ever care about anything enough to do it.". But I don't think my idea (and many other people's) of a protest is the same as these kids down south. I've found the violence and the organisation behind it all really very disturbing. The fact that they even defaced a the Cenotaph in London disturbs me even more. I just do not understand it. I can understand why someone would feel passionate or even really angry about such a topic and want to protest but there is something worrying about the way they have conducted all of this. To think if these people are students and studying sciences, law, politics and so on they would expected , at some point , to be some of the most privileged and well educated people in society and maybe even running the country. how could our society really work in the future when people being so destructive and self destructive at this age. Which makes me ask the question what is it that has made this generation like this. I don't really like the idea of living in a community with such people, people who can protest on the streets attacking police (now the police are a different story, some of them appear to be slight deviants as well which could be another blog in itself), and even royalty but when questioned by a news reporter can barely string a meaningful sentence together.

This brings me to my second point. Maybe I have got all of this wrong, maybe it is just the media which is giving me this impression. I am a student, I know lots of other students and i don't think i could imagine any of them doing a thing like that. But almost all of them I am sure could give a you a pretty good reason for why they should be at university or college, and also tell you about how poor they are too. But I haven't seen much of this on the news. Just yobs. Surely all these well educated news reporters, researchers and editors are aware of this too ? why are they not talking to them ? instead they just appear to pick random thugs off the street and ask them questions completely out of the blue. 

Now these girls have the idea, something a bit more original. 

So what does that result in? People like my Grandfather, or my Father who are very highly opinionated now just think well if these are the idiots getting into university why should they have to pay less to be there? Maybe they shouldn't be there at all and go through life the old fashioned way, then they may have a hard time, and then they may have something to protest about. But they have the completely wrong impression, they dont think, why are these people driven to such a state that they feel they must act like this?  The media are a huge part of the problem because they are controlling what some people know and don't and their opinions.  All in all its made me very worried that you cannot trust the media and that society is far too touch and go with what facts they will take on and what they wont and how peoples judgement can be so easily hazed. We are so fortunate to be in a society where we can learn more and more and see more and more of this world, it is time that we took a step back, calmed down, opened our eyes and looked at the BIG, picture. Because there is a lot there to see and not many people appear to be really looking at it. 

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A day of Madness.

Its's Christmas time, the time of year where selflessness comes into the fore ground and people come together spreading joy and happiness. My insane parents have decided to become one of these people. My Mum being part of Dunfermline town centre management organises all the festive activities in town such as Christmas lights and fire work displays. So my Mum needed a Santa's grotto for the town centre this year. And being such considerate citizens instead of the town having to hire a grotto  my dad offered to convert what was once our summer house, then pigeon loft then shed into Santa's home for a few weekends. 

With a few weeks or so of painting, and refurbishment my dad squared up the doors at the front , fitted a (rather over sized) fire place, as well as some coasters. The idea of the coasters is to allow the shed to roll (not necessarily with ease) onto and off of our old bike trailer. All in all this makes a very nice gypsy wagon type construction. 

So the last few images are of prior to leaving the house, i wish i could have taken more pictures of the process of setting up the whole thing but my dads a bit of a stress head and doesn't like work to stop for something like picture taking. We set of from Powmill at 2pm, driving up Knockhill road toward Dunfermline , no problem at all really , the shed tows pretty well. The views were rather nice. But then as we passed Queen Ann Highschool I noticed sparks in the rear view mirror. The hitch of the trailer snapped from the main frame. You can see in the image below where there are two rectangular plates there should have been a hitch , which just snapped off , probably due to the weight but also because the trailer was pretty knackered in all honesty.

So we made our way to a blacksmiths to see if they had a welder which could be transported down to the road side to weld the hitch straight back on , but there was no generator big enough to power the welder. So I came up with the idea of burning out the existing bolts which would have gone through the hitch and into the two plates , and replacing it with new bolts and a new plate underneath. To stop the entire thing from sliding we still had the two existing plates to hold everything in place. The only problem being when we were fixing the hitch back on the chool emptied. Making for a lively session of Fife banter with a continual stream of school kids, a few of which i knew, shouting comments such as "where's yer reindeer!" or to my dad "oi santa go call your elves!" and others which are suitable for a young Fifer to shout in public but not for this blog.

 Eventually we reach the glen gates despite it taking 3 hours to travel what would normally only take 20 minutes.The shed simply rolled off of the trailer and into position, propped up on stilts using a stone henge style cantilever system with lengths of 2x4 so no children could roll away with Santa and then we left the elf's to decorate in preparation for Santa's arrival the following day.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Lee Shore

Some people say David Crosby makes some "weak" music. I've seen people write about this song and say it is just a "pretty song" and so on. But personally I just love it. David Crosby's vocals are great and Stephen Stills on guitar is so chill, almost entrancing in places. Although the lyrics aren't particularly strong I still think there is some real nice feeling in this music and you don't have to think too much. Very good song to listen to when needing to de-stress, sends me to a completely different place.

Friday, 17 December 2010

For the Record. Part 2

So you may wonder why these last couple of blogs have been called "for the record". Most of the broad range of music I listen to is pretty old as you may have gathered which is the reason I started collecting LP's. A couple years ago my parents bought me a Denon amplifier a couple of H&H speakers and Goldring record player as well as giving me all of their vinyl collection (how sentimental of them) so that kind of sparked off the obsession. If only they knew what they let themselves in for, for 2 years they have had to listen to very loud, often squeaky and a bit crackly old music. But since moving to uni all is well, Mr Groucho's has a new regular squandering money he doesn't really have and my parents hearing and sanity has been saved. Although I did bring all of my sound system home for Christmas, well a mother wouldn't leave their child in a strange flat for a month would she!

Some of my favourite bands and singers consist of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young (never know how to talk about that bunch , they just cant decide if they are a band , individual artists or what), Simon and Garfunkel (the have a similar sound to Bob Dylan I think but i get bored of Bob Dylan a bit more quickly than these two) The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Chuck Berry, Duane Allman and The Allman Brother (Duane Allman , now that dude can play guitar as good as Hendrix or any other man if you ask me but you never hear about him, upsetting), James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and the list could go on forever. Anyway to end this little musical phase of blogging I have some images of a couple of record's I enjoy , I don't have many albums with "classic" or "popular" artwork but these are my favourites which I own (they do sound better than they look). You can safely say an I tunes screen looks no where near as nice as an album cover. Visualisers do not count, and the ones that move too quickly and flash just give me a sore head.

A brilliant album, takes the sting out of a day at the drawing bored or on autocad no problem at all, one of those albums where you never care to change a track.
Again track after track of complete and utter bliss and I love the little chats they have between songs (being live) asking the audience to hush up when they are playing acoustic or wooden music as these old hippies like to call it. Mr Groucho's said I had a good eye to pick out this one, the cover may have been tatty as a raggedy horse but inside there are two perfect chunks of Bakelite holding some real music that has clearly been loved and probably seen some crazy things!

 Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell. I think most people who bought any music in the 70's had this album. I love how everything about it, music and album cover, is so . . . Mr Loaf. You can look at some album covers now and those wacky kids who do illustration create something that is like decrypting some sort of impossible puzzle. But oh no not with Meat Loaf and who cares if it's OTT, it's FUN!

And last but not least , Deja Vu, a great all rounder for CSNY but i hate to say I do like a little bit more of Neil Young, he just knocks me out. Note how David Crosby is the one holding a gun despite this the images inside the cover just make me want a fringed jacket like his.  

For the Record. Part 1

So i've already ranted about one aspect of my music taste but that's just the tip of the ice berg. I suppose your taste in music is heavily influenced to begin with by the people around you as i kinda mentioned in the last post. My Grandfather on my Dad's side is very into Jazz and plays the piano (he's getting pretty good at it now he's in his 70's). He owned a hotel in Perthshire called Auchterarder House. A pretty  amazing place in every sense,  architecturally too, which hosted a multitude of people in the 80's and early 90's from Ronald Reagan when he was president of the US to well known Jazz musicians such as Dave Brubeck. I spent much of my childhood there with lot's of  - sometimes mind bending- Jazz. This has resulted in me being the pretentious first year tosser who listens to Bill Evans, Stan Getz or Chick Corea whilst working in the studio, getting all sorts of ugly looks from 3rd and 4th year students - not fair !

The Above image is of Bill Evans, he has inspired and still is inspiring a never ending list of Jazz musicians. He loved what he did so much that even when crippled with arthritis he injected pain killers directly into each knuckle just to be able play the one thing that he loved. I like Miles Davis' music but I really do not like him for introducing this man to heroin. 

Ive also been really influenced by my Dad when it comes to music, with every family holiday having  an ELO , Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins or Genesis sound track, just to name a few, oh and cant forget the Lighthouse Family and Simply Red. My Mum  is to blame for me liking all the all the Cheesers like REO Speedwagon, George Michael, Billy Joel, Conway Twitty, Dr Hook and what have you. 

I always think Fleetwood Mac have the weirdest images for their albums, love it. 

Then it comes to my old slightly eccentric child minder who bought me albums from of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen and The Who (as well as pan pipe and African music , very chill but didn't really tickle my fancy). She even had me and my brother watching the movie of Woodstock, at that age I kinda saw past the fact everyone was on acid and just realised that the music was nothing other than spectacular. 

Woodstock, 3 days of Peace and Music, half a million people listening to legends such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, Sly and the Family Stone, Credence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix. If I was there I would just have thought I'd died and gone to heaven. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A blog about some of my musical interests.

From a very young age I was surrounded by all sorts of different musical tastes. Spending weekends with my Grandparents on my Mum's side of the family (who come from the North East and the Isle of Lewis) I would be forced to spend my Saturday night's listening to "Take the Floor" with Raaabbie Shepherd, well maybe not forced, I was quite the choochter actually and rather enjoyed listening to bagpipes, accordions and Gaelic singing. (That picture is Robbie by the way)

In fact it got to a stage where I even had my own set of mini bagpipes which I played at my uncles wedding when I was around the age of 6 although the actual bagpipes made absolutely no sound. There is in fact a video of the occasion - somewhere - which inspired a composer from the Isle of Lewis called Ian Crichton to dedicate a pipe tune to me called Master Cameron Mathieson Brown. God I must have been a right wee tosser in that video - "Master". Believe it or not I got the shock of my life listening to Take the Floor and actually hearing it on the radio, all be it not a particularly popular radio program. Anyway, this led to me eventually taking up the chanter at the age of 9 and then moving onto the bagpipes when I was about 11. I can safely say instruments open up all sorts of opportunities for people to travel , socialise and experience new things, but the bagpipes are in a league of their own providing the musician with an abundance of conversation and alcohol (maybe i've got that the wrong way round) . I've travelled to Bulgaria and France with the pipes and its quite a good way of saying hello to people , well maybe not so much the French, as well as travelling all over Scotland playing at festivals, highland games and even . . . sheep shearing festivals in places as normal as Auchtermuchty to the stunning mountains of the Applecross Peninsula (easily one of the most jaw dropping places i have ever been to). 
The Applecross festival trip was quite an event, I was playing with a battle reenactment group known as Clan Alba ( they were kind of like a Scottish take on hippies but with less weed) and we made the lengthy journey on a road which only first saw tarmac a decade or so ago. Not to mention we were travelling in a converted Royal Mail van fitted with a variety of old car seats bolted to . . . something and a collection of spears, pikes, battle axes and claymores at our feet. Anyway that is a brief overview of why I play the bagpipes and a taster of some of the great experiences I have had playing the instrument. Not even spoke about the music yet !

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. - Hanna Rion

One thing I have struggled with since moving to Dundee is the urban environment. Back home I'm used to the rolling fields, trees, endless space with nobody in it. Outside the front door rather than the concrete jungle you would enter the garden and have the opportunity to relax and free your mind a little in search of relaxation or inspiration. Although there are parks and gardens in Dundee none of which really compare or provide a real feeling of privacy and time to be alone with your thoughts. A room in halls doesn't make for the most stimulating of environments either. Its rather strange how what would seam a small factor in someone daily routine can have such an affect when it is changed. 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A Wander Around Magdalen Green

A few weeks into University I decided to wander around town taking photographs for an Inspiring place project. I had been to the docks, the road bridge, the Law hill so thought it would be appropriate to have a look at somewhere in a different area of the town. Oh and also try out my new eos 450d which I have absolutely no idea how to work!!! So basically this post is just a collection of pictures I took of some things I thought were rather interesting and inspiring. 

These are a couple of images of the Tay Rope Works. Which I think is in a concervation area and was going to be demolished. I thought it was a rather interesting wee building as this facade suggests its really a rather small place. Would be interesting to go inside and see if it opens up into an expanse of workshop space or something. I also the the windows were rather interesting and would possibly create an interesting light quality inside the building.

 These two images were taken along "Strawberry Lane" a rather impressive narrow lane that stretches all the way up to Perth Road, there were some nice old houses along the way and also the road surface was rather interesting. Constantly changing from cobbles to patches of tar, brick and all sorts of various materials. The image on the left is of a house about half way along the lane, cant imagine it would get much in the way of light at times but I found it rather interesting and "quaint". 

The above images are from the allotment at the end of the magdalin. I've always been fascinated by gardening since a very young age, not very "cool" I know but being brought up in the countryside the garden is a place where you spend allot of time. It was rather nice being in the peace and tranquillity of the allotments and i must say the architecture and engineering was rather remarkable as i am sure you can see in the above right hand image. I think gardens and outdoor space is something I may incorporate into allot of my ideas when it comes to me designing a building. 

The two above images are of a stairwell in a block of flats, the sky light at the top of the stair well creates a really interesting effect with light and gave the space a really interesting atmosphere , it wasn't a particularly "nice" place. But the effect was interesting none the less.