Monday, 28 July 2014

If you like cats, read on ........

........ It was Lindsay, my sister's, birthday weekend before last so we decided to visit Blackpool Zoo for the day (haven't been in a long time), lots of good conservation work going on, a large new building for the orang utans, a lemur wood, parrot display and many interesting and fascinating animals living there - here are jusr some of the photos from the day .......

 Tapirs - taking it easy
 Penguins - in and out of the water

 The parrots loved showing off their tricks and flying prowess !
 Tree Porcupines (Lindsay's favourites)
 Lemurs - snuggled up together asleep  ........ 
 ..... and on alert at the possibility of food

 Lindsay and I enjoyed getting up close with the lemurs 

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this gnarled old tree trunk

..... And now - for the cat lovers amongst you - a real assortment ......
Firstly, the Meerkats - who can resist them?

Secondly, not very good photos I'm afraid, taken indoors through glass - the female Amur tiger has just produced two male tiger cubs and this was one of their first appearances, courtesy of mum - she's carrying one of the cubs outside though it's very difficult to tell from these shots.  Amur tigers are very rare animals (tigers are one of my favourite animals) and I believe there are only around 450 of them left in the wild so that the birth of two babies here is highly important for their survival.

Three sleepy lions (butter wouldn't melt .....) !!!

And now, for a more domesticated sort of cat, how's this for a real cutie?
Two little kittens have been escaping from next-door through the fencing, following their mum into my backyard - this is the bolder brother (the sister, a pale white-and-tabby, is much shyer and wasn't there when I took these photos) .......
Mia has NOT been very impressed by their appearance and runs away indoors but not - as you can see - before curiosity gets the better of her and she has to check him out (from a safe distance)!
Finally, photos of Mia taken today as she sat atop one of Graham's models - the Green Man mask and Mountain Climber are also some of his creations .......

Looking magnificent, sleek and dark, and planning her next bit of mischief no doubt!

Well, that's it for tonight - just thought I'd share pictures of all the "cats" I've seen this past week or so.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Crafty Call Out .........

......... "all suggestions gratefully received" !

Well, actually, last night I was having a "brainstorming" session with DC (the friend who's going to be doing the bronze casting) as to future items he/we could produce.  So far he's made some wax castings of a couple of Graham's bronzes, one a Reclining Pan, the other a Pirate Skull car mascot, which look to be fairly successful - some way to go yet before they're cast in bronze though, but we were discussing what else might look good in bronze and also appeal to people (the crafting community being included here).  We have a few ideas, but it would be good to get some input from others ...... so, folks, over to you ...... if you have any suggestions (I'm thinking maybe stuff for altered art, beads, focal jewellery pieces, for example) as to what might appeal to you or you would like to see in bronze, I would love to hear from you!
 "Reclining Pan" by Graham Fenn-Edwards
 The "Pirate Skull" Car Mascot (and three others)
by Graham Fenn-Edwards

Sorry the quality of this photo is a little "iffy", it's an old one that I didn't take, but it shows each of the four car mascots that Graham cast in bronze. Just a day or two ago, I was rooting around in the garage (a.k.a. Graham's "distinctly untidy" workshop) and - as seems to be the case every time I go in there - I found a new "treasure" - the dragonfly car mascot (minus wings) waiting to be polished.  It was just sitting there on the bench by the polishing machine, peeking out from behind a cloth, right at the side of the garage door, and I must have walked past it many times without spotting it (I sometimes think Graham is moving stuff around in there for me to find - the same thing happened with his bronze casting notebook, it was sat on a shelf staring me in the face and I could've sworn it hadn't been there before - maybe I've just got a vivid imagination)! Anyway, we do have the mould for the wings so this is likely to be one of the first productions when we get properly going!

"Icon for our Time" by Graham Fenn-Edwards

Thought I'd sign off today by showing you an image of this sculptural piece that Graham created a few years ago, an "altered art" piece, and which was exhibited in an art exhibition at the local Grundy Gallery.  I loved this piece but unfortunately Graham decided to give it to an acquaintance of his, he didn't want to keep hold of it for some reason, and I have absolutely no idea now where it is or what has happened to it - such a shame!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Ribbit! Ribbit! ....... from a Bronze one to a Green one !

....... Look what I spotted lurking behind a flower pot yesterday - I was doing a bit of plant-watering and dead-heading when I heard some scurrying sounds, thought it was Mia messing around, looked down and there was this little green fellow, trying very hard to be invisible (sorry, Chris, I know you said you didn't like frogs so maybe you should avert your eyes now)!
I wanted to take him round to the front of the house, where the pond is, but he was having none of it, so I went indoors briefly to do something else.  When I came out again, he'd vanished .... I walked up the side of the house, intent on doing a bit of weeding, and there he was, sat in the middle of the footpath just about to hop out under the gate and onto the pavement - next stop the road! (must have had quite a speed on to get there that quickly!) - so this time, I was able to rescue him and put him by the side of the pond; moments later he'd gone again, either into the pond (full of lily pads) or into the undergrowth in search of a "tasty" snack!  

Luckily, Mia was too intent on guarding the driveway and back gates to notice Mr Frog - I'm not sure quite what she'd have made of him, probably jumped six feet backwards into the air actually, she's such a skittish nervous little madam with anything new or strange! 

Today Mia was out enjoying the sunshine and I thought I'd share these photos I took of her with her (sometime) playmate, (sometime) enemy, who lives next-door but spends many hours sunbathing and sleeping in my garden.  

It did amuse me to watch them - Mia enjoyed her superior position on top of the stone slab, but then crept down and patted her "friend" on the nose, who then stretched out and batted her back with her paw.  
After that, there was a fair bit of rolling around and stretching from both of them, before Mia finally decided she'd had enough and nonchalantly strode away! 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Catch Up Time!

I thought it was about time I re-surfaced in Blogland, it's over two months since I last posted .... so time for a bit of a catch-up!

I have begun going to aquarobics - not managed every week due to other commitments - but have enjoyed it when I've been there (and hopefully it's been doing me some good).  Along with upping my general activity levels and tweaking my diet, so far I've lost two and a half stone, so I'm very pleased with that - and hope to continue improving my general fitness levels.

Been to the Grand Theatre a few times - saw "The Fureys" (a really uplifting and toe-tapping, handclapping and get-up-and-dance-if-you-dare event), Agatha Christie's "Black Coffee" (first time it's been performed on stage, Robert Powell playing an excellent Hercule Poirot) and, most recently, Joe Orton's black comedy "Entertaining Mr Sloane" (something a little bit naughty and a change from the usual plays we've seen).  Later this month I'll be seeing "Jersey Nights" - this production has toured all over the USA to rave reviews and as I do like the Four Seasons' music am really looking forward to seeing it (front row seats too)!

I had been bemoaning with a friend the lack of opportunity these days to see any bands locally, remembering back in the day when anybody who was anybody in the music world appeared in Blackpool - it was an exciting time then, checking out the music mags to see who was going to be appearing at the Opera House or on the North Pier, buying tickets, hanging around stage doors for hours during the day hoping (and often being successful) to get the autographs of all the bands and singers.  Anyway, this morning my friend Brendan rang and said did I fancy going along to the Bandstand in Stanley Park as a local band that he liked (The Monster Squad - funk music) would be playing there from 1pm.  I thought, why not, nothing else planned, so that's where we ended up - enjoyed the music, free event, a good mixed crowd from families to old rockers to hippies and glorious blue skies and sunshine.  I'd forgotten how much I loved going to live gigs in the past so hopefully I can repeat the experience some time soon.  Here are some photos ......

Just arrived ---- and TMS setting up

The Monster Squad in action

The crowd appreciating the music and the sunshine

This seagull was enjoying a grandstand view!

Between sessions we were treated to a Zumba dancing display 
(which anyone brave enough could join in with - needless to say, I didn't)!

The Monster Squad ended the afternoon with Prince's "Purple Rain" - a track I really like.  Click on the link to hear their version of this at an earlier event in Blackpool.

In other news, I have been able to acquire back from a friend of ours (he was actually the best man at our wedding) one of Graham's original Demon Head Oil Lamps, probably the most important of all the bronzes he produced - I was thrilled when it came "home" as I have so few of his bronzes. It's a bit scarey-looking, but here's a couple of pics of it anyway ......

Although Graham did specialise in creating demons, imps and other strange beings, he also occasionally made other less weird pieces, like car mascots and this frog on lily pad .....

The good news is that another friend, who assisted Graham when he was casting bronzes years ago, is aiming on starting up casting bronzes again, using the equipment and moulds that I still have - hopefully, if all goes well, at some future date some of these bronzes will "live" again - I'm aiming on setting up another blog devoted to showcasing Graham's work plus giving progress and updates on how the new bronze casting venture is getting on (I shall be the lovely - or not so lovely - assistant this time) ..... having felt like I've been in a creative wilderness for so many months it feels good to be planning and thinking about producing artwork again - so fingers crossed that all goes to plan!