Thursday, October 22, 2009

75 years ago...

Ray Parer
C.W.A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black.
Captain K.D. Parmentier, First Officer J.J. Moll.

...these well-dressed young men (and several other men and women) were on their way to Australia from Mildenhall, England. What were they doing?

For more, see: Vintage Aviation Writer. Pictures from the Flight Global archive.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Underwater Camera No.1

Taken with a camera in a waterproof casing this (northern) summer. That's what it looks like from below when you are paddling, folks!

Incidentally, is the camera facing forwards, or backwards? Answers in the comments box please.


Monday, October 5, 2009


Nottingham Castle, 1990s.

Sport is war continued by other means. Unlike today when it's usually involving a ball, maybe sticks, in the good old days it involved men poking each other with very big sticks, while charging each other on horses....

It was a joust, a mix of pageant, martial training and a rather impressive time, I suspect. Today you can see jousts put on as an entertainment with stuntmen, and is intended to be a bit less bloody than the originals, where the denouement could be very bloody.

Omaka, NZ, 2007. " This one's bust."

Today it's for demonstration, and the lances have, usually, splintering ends of light wood. You can see in the pictures some shields are convex, used to glance off and for practice or war, while the concave ones were used to capture the opposing knight's lance and unseat him.

In conversation the other day, I realised I was very lucky to have seen a number of jousts over the years, including my first in the moat of the Tower of London in 1972 when I was very young. Much better than A A Milne, and a great place to start at a formative age!

Warwick Castle, 1990s. Wallop.

Ever since then, 'my' arms would involve a double-headed eagle. Sadly I have no photos from then. Nor can I currently find the photos of the joust and mediaeval pageant in Sherwood Forest, that I visited in the early 1990s. That was pretty good too, and not many people can claim to have seen archers in action at the Major Oak, Sherwood Forest...

However I have found photos taken at a joust at Warwick Castle - appropriate as it was the home of 'The Kingmaker'.

Warwick Castle.

Next was a night joust at Nottingham Castle (which isn't, but that's another story) and they are rather like the early C20 paintings of certain schools with 'all action' in them...

Nottingham Castle.

Last, but not least is the lunchtime joust in the middle of an airshow (quite bizarre) in New Zealand - about as far from where jousts took place for real, unlike the venues above which did at least have them for real in the past.

But the Kiwis put on quite the show. Note the splintered lance below...

Two above, Omaka, NZ.

It can still be quite dangerous today, but it's a lot more fun and impressive than most pointy ball games if you ask me. But then there's something about knights...


Friday, October 2, 2009

Stalin's waiting

There's something rather eerie about the idea of a holiday in Stalin-era Russia.

Poster from the Boston Public Library Flickr Set here.

Presumably people did, as well as Reuters reporters like Ian Fleming arriving to cover things like the Metro-Vickers' show trial of 1933.

The aircraft, a generic type not uncommon in advertising, looks like a rough approximation of a German Junkers type crossed with a Dutch Fokker. Junkers was one of the aircraft companies the Germans had working in Russia when they were prevented from building them in Germany by the Versailles Treaty. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but I think it was an arrangement both the Russians and Germans later came to regret.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse I

There's something about a lighthouse.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse tower, Tasmania. Details here.

In 1792, Bruni D'Entrecasteaux by an error of navigation, entered the channel and discovered Bruny to be an Island - today the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island bear his name.

Cape Bruny is the third oldest Commonwealth lightstation in Australia.