Sunday Slackers

spaceProductivity: Being late isn’t all bad.

Humanity in Space: The One Earth Message Project – crowdfunding for alien communication.

Art History: Rare photos of Picasso painting with light.

Food: Bacon in all but name – and it’s healthy!

You want me to do WHAT- I'm not here forPhotography: Unexpected famous couplings, and more.

For Writers: How to deal with rejection.

Animals: The Running of the Pugs.

Sport: Brief yet delightful – junior soccer star!

Images: Pixabay Space / Pug

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Sporty Saturday: 9 chances to cheer Team GB in 2015

Ok, so things didn’t go to plan for England’s men in the ICC Cricket World Cup – but that doesn’t mean we’ve nothing to cheer about.

Lewis Hamilton. Image courtesy BBC

Lewis Hamilton. Image courtesy BBC

1. Lewis Hamilton began the defence of his Formula One world title by grabbing pole position for tomorrow’s opening race in Australia. And by some margin – it’s looking like a battle of the mighty Mercedes again this year.

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The weirdest dream I ever had

… not for those who are squeamish about snakes!

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I have a corn snake – that’s her/him (I don’t know which) above, called Sam. S/he is in the dream but is very real.

So, in the dream, I meet Lewis Hamilton, who also owns a corn snake, which, for some unknown reason, I borrow. Maybe I was in a devil my care mood, I don’t know, but I also ordered one to be delivered with my weekly shop. A bigger, more aggressive one. A Python.

It cost me £175.  That seemed to be my biggest concern.

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So now I had three snakes.

I was somewhere but couldn’t say where – there were lots of people around, somehow connected with F1 but not in the pits – which would have been apt, since the snakes were roaming around quite happily – but which is strange because a) Sam is kept in a tank (that’s her/his odd day out, in the paddling pool) for fear of her/him burrowing into a sofa and having to be cut free – as happened to the friends we re-homed her/him for – and b) no-one seemed to mind.

I did try putting them  all in the tank, but they were escape artists.

Then another, smaller but pretty, snake appeared. Lewis assured me it wasn’t poisonous (because tiny and pretty = deadly).

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Image: Pixabay

Lewis was wrong. There was much hissing and slithering as the big snakes all tried to get away from the tiddler.

And then I woke up.

Freud had a theory about the interpretation of dreams. I wonder what he’d make of this one?

I own a snake. I’d been reading about  Formula One beginning on Sunday week.

I think that’s about it.

Sunday Slackers

The internet of interesting things. Put the kettle on and while away your Sunday …

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Animals 1: (video) Everybody’s gone surfin’, surfin’ USA (Uplifting Seal Adventure)

Sculpture: Wooden transformation

For screenwriters: Download 9 Oscar Screenplays

Photography: A gorgeous view of Venice

Adult fun: Who’s with me?

Tech: For lazy people

Family Fun: Hilarious, yet also somehow creepy

Animals 2 (video): Unlikely best friends

Art: Ancient mosaics in Greece

Politics: What it means to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Britain First content

Stupidity: A lighter, totally unrelated note to the last link 😉

Extreme Sports (video): Don’t try this at home. I know it’s tempting, since we’re having a little bit of white slushy stuff falling intermittently …

Image: Pixabay

Medway: Brilliant or crap?

Freelance journalist, Sam Jordison, has just released details of his latest book, Crap Towns, a tongue in cheek look at Britain’s urban sprawls. I don’t know how you nominated which town should be included but some Medway folk decided that our town* deserved a spot inside the covers.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I know Medway isn’t perfect but find me a town in Britain that is. With the exception of the idyllic one road villages scattered across the country (and look closer, you’re sure to find even they have their less desirable spots) every town will have the same issues as anywhere in Medway – the late night revellers and other social concerns. The difference in Medway is the amount of people doing positive things to give the local community a reason to be proud. And yes, while there’s a nice line in self deprecating humour “If Kent is the garden of England, Medway is its compost heap” and we’re happy to take the piss out of ourselves, we’ll jump to the defence of our patch. There’s a huge number of individuals and groups working to make Medway a better place and it’s frustrating when some residents clearly can’t be bothered to find out about them.

No-one likes councils, it’s just a fact of life – doesn’t matter who’s in charge; But – free festivals abound for Medway’s residents, beginning with the Chinese New Year celebration in February and moving through the summer with the English Festival; Sweeps; Dickens; Fuse; Armed Forces Day; River Festival; Under Siege; Medieval Merriment; Will Adams, and then in December, we have the Dickensian Christmas. And they’re packed, not just with locals enjoying them but also bringing in people from outside the area to spend their cash in our local businesses.

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If live music is what you want, we have Homespun, ME1, TEA Concerts, Medway Eyes, Motherboy Noise, Suburban Kings, Manny’s Music and more, holding festivals and free gigs night after night in local pubs and clubs. Phil Dillon of Medway Eyes is a major fan and supporter – check out his Flickr stream.

We’re rich in art and culture activities, and having a local consortium recently awarded Creative People and Places funding, this is only going to increase, with more people engaging the community in arts activities. Aligned to those already doing  it – Rochester Literature Festival, LV21 and Creatabot to name but three – ongoing exhibits throughout the year at our galleries and other, more unusual spaces, and you’ll be tripping over arts activity from the moment you cross your doorstep. Assuming, of course, that you’re one of those positive residents who can actually be bothered to seek out them out. What’s on guides (both council and privately funded, such as WOW magazine) can be readily picked up or received through your letter box. Search on line for what’s going on in Medway and you’ll be inundated with results.

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Heritage: Absolutely no excuse to not know about our history with the RE Museum; Historic Dockyard, Fort Amherst, Medway Archive Centre, the Guildhall Museum and Medway Libraries activities. Plus, it’s all around you, living history in the walls of the castle, cathedral and other ancient buildings.

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Sport and hobbies: Loads of sports clubs encourage all ages to get involved, from badminton or sailing. Want something less strenuous? How about archaeology or Viking re – enactment?

Residents’ Associations: The community folks who, with or without funding, work tirelessly to make their area better: South Shore RA; Chatham Big Local; All Saints Community; DNA; White Road Group.

Parks and open spaces: Our landscapes are lovely, with Riverside, Ranscombe, The Vines, Victoria Gardens, Broomhill Park and so many more, most with ‘Friends of’ groups looking after them. Initiatives like Full Frontal Gardens have brought colour and nature to brick and concrete streets.

All the above mentioned are a mere snapshot of what can be found happening in Medway. Whatever your hobby, interest or work, you’ll find others like you and the means by which to meet them and share your enthusiasm. Many community activities are free, so why waste time and energy being negative? Embrace what’s on offer to enrich your life.

*Medway isn’t actually a town. It’s a river, upon which sit the five areas that make up the Medway Towns: Rainham, Gillingham, Chatham, Strood and the City of Rochester – we don’t recognize admin errors.

That was the weekend that was

Last weekend, to be precise, when I got drunk on rose wine, twice. In fact, having two bottles of wine in the space of 36 hours made me a little bit wobbly, if I’m honest. But I was held steady by the wonderful friends who plied me with said wine, so that was ok.

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So on Friday, it was over to one of Medway’s not-so-hidden gems, the Cafe Maroc. It’s small but perfectly formed and once you’ve been there, you’ll be telling everyone you know about it. Not only is it different, the service is fantastic and the food gorgeous.

The owner, whose name escapes me but I’m going to call Sweayne (on account of the fact that he reminds me of both Sean Lock and Wayne Hemingway) doesn’t bother with the trivial, paper based boringness of a menu. Instead, he sits with you and verbally runs through whatever it is he’s decided to cook that evening – much more civilised than the same set meal, don’t you think? So you can ask those questions directly: “How hot is it?” “Is it crunchy or chewy” “Ketchup or brown sauce with that?”

We hadn’t actually booked, which was a bit silly, considering there are only three tables. But Sweayne was very accommodating and let us eat in the lounge area, after sending us up the road to the offie for a couple of bottles – they’re not yet licensed at the Maroc, but you can BYO. I felt like a 14 year old, stealing out to bagsy some booze to quaff round the corner …

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As you can see, I was that taken with the delights on offer, the camera wasn’t spared a thought until it was nearly all gone. With decent portion sizes at a very reasonable price, you can still top up with lovely home made lemon drizzle or fruity Guinness cake and the most heavenly minty herbal tea I’ve ever tasted. Trust me, I even texted someone about it, I was that impressed.

Open as a cafe during the day, and a bistro restaurant in the evening, you can find Cafe Maroc at the Chatham end of Rochester High Street.

Moving on to Saturday and it was meeting up time with my bessie mate who sadly lives in Essex. Consequently, we normally meet up halfway, at Lakeside. Not today! I said – we’re going Up West … but only as far as the East. A quick stop at Chez Sue to meet the family, with new addition Robbie (the lovely Schnauzer) and then a side stop at Westfield to view the Olympic Park (I’ve now seen it from afar when being constructed and de-constructed) thanks to Sue’s friend, who rescued us at Buckhurst Hill station when we learned the Central Line was buggered (techy term, won’t bore you with the details).

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A spot of lunch thrown in (where the other bottle of rose was consumed) and we headed out on the Docklands Light Railway down to my old home, the Isle of Dogs. We didn’t misspend our youth there, really, we had an awesome time, mainly drinking and dancing and being chatted up with the same chat up line every time: “Are you two sisters?” No?! No, we’re not – I’m four inches taller and we look nothing alike. But even the waitress in Westfield asked if we were related, which cracked us up. (Sue’s the one in middle of the group shot, at the front – see for yourself!) Does everyone else get that, when you’re sat with someone with the same hair and eye colour? I think not. I can understand it when we were little because we were always together – our mums used to park us in our prams, side by side outside the shops. Now, not so much!

Our final destination was The George pub, on the corner of a street I used to live in, where my dad and brother played darts, and where I’d buy a big bottle of coke and a few bags of cheese and onion crisps for me and my mum to share while we watched M.A.S.H. Funny the things you remember so vividly, isn’t it?

One of our school friends, Jayne, decided to put a call out to our school year, thinking half a dozen of us would turn up. Cue about 50! It was rammed and great to find out what everyone has been up to and how they’ve changed. And play ‘Guess Who?’ At which point, as soon as the name was said, there was instant recognition – eyes never change, I’ve decided.

Back home the next day, for a final flurry in a busy weekend, watching my eldest in his cup final. It started so well – one – nil down to a penalty after a minute *rolls eyes* but back came the Medway Lions, with said eldest rising like a hot air balloon in a helium factory to head home the equalizer. 3-1 up with five minutes to go but he doesn’t like to let us relax – the last cup final he was in, they went 4-0 up just to be pulled back to 4-4 before running out 6-4 winners – this time, their opponents got one back to leave us all biting our nails before the whistle finally went. I still maintain it was 3-1 though, since their second goal was from their number 5 who should’ve been sent off in the first half …  don’t get me started.

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This weekend, I’m planning a quiet one. Apart from the theatre on Saturday night. Oh, and cricket on Sunday. Maybe next weekend?

New Year, New Pastime: Paralympic sport for all in Gillingham

The Royal Engineers Museum isn’t the only place worth visiting in Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham. Just opposite the award winning attraction you’ll find the Prince Arthur Road Indoor Bowls Club, where a regular Saturday morning Boccia Club is held and looks set to flourish in 2013.

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For disabled and able bodied people alike, Boccia is a low cost activity that everyone from age 7 upwards can take part in – so there’s no excuse not to work off that turkey and chocolate, together!

Just before Christmas, the club held its very first tournament – a challenge extended by the Boccia Club to the regular indoor bowlers. With seven Boccia Club teams and five Prince Arthur Bowls teams, it was a well supported event. Unsurprisingly, it was an easy victory for the Boccia Club, who posted a huge winning margin. I went along with local film maker, Mdhamiri Nkemi, to find out more about it from organiser Malcolm Clark.

 

Lynette Stock, who, along with Malcolm, began the Boccia club told us: “We started off with just a poster on the wall, asking if anyone was interested to put their name down. We had a man who came in and started us off with skittles, balls and hula hoops before being shown the proper game. Just one person came at first but gradually it took off, especially after we’d taken part in an exhibition day at Medway Park.

It’s a perfect sport for severely disabled people, a good way for them to meet others and is very inclusive. I often stop wheelchair users in the supermarket and ask if they’ve heard of it – being involved is very rewarding.

This is the first tournament we’ve held, so we’re extremely pleased with the turnout.”

Vicky Armstrong brings her son Clifford, a Spina Bifida sufferer, along to Boccia. She says: “It’s a good opportunity for him to mix with and make friends with other people; he and another member, Amy, have become firm friends since meeting at the club.”

Severely disabled Charles is helped by Emily, who positions the specially designed hand pointer ramp for him, with Charles directing her with his eyes – ‘eye pointing’, as Emily puts it. Using his communications book, he told us “Boccia is good!” From the joy on his face with every good shot, it’s clear he enjoys it very much.

The tournament results:

1st: Reeves Clan 41 points/14 ends

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2nd: Jibbering Jellyfish     30 points/11 ends

Boccia Challenge 2nd place, Jibbering Jellyfish

3rd: The Twits 27 points/13 ends

Boccia Challenge Third Place, The Twits

4th: Twinkletoes 27 points/12 ends

5th: Simply the Best 22/16

6th: The Pros 17/8

7th: Christmas Crackers 15/12

8th: Lewingtons 14/7

9th: Bayfords 8/4

10th: The Leonards 3/2

11th: The Stiffs -2/7

12th: The Plebs -9/2

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Boccia became a Paralympic sport in 1984 and is one of only a few sports to have no equivalent in the Olympic Games. This year, we had nine players in the London Olympics and won two medals: Silver for David Smith in the BC1 Individual, and the BC1/BC2 team (David Smith, Nigel Murray, Dan Bentley and Zoe Robinson) winning Bronze.

How to play Boccia:

  • Each game uses six balls: six for one player in an individual game; three each in a pairs team or two each in a triple team.
  • The balls used are either Red or Blue.
  • Red team go first; colour is decided by coin toss. Red can place the jack to their advantage, beginning from Throwing Box one. The teams alternate, with Blue in Throwing Box Two and so on.
  • Red throw the jack beyond the ‘v’ and the team skipper chooses which of his/her players have the best chance of getting closest.
  • The other (Blue) team have their chance to throw, and will continue to do so until they are either nearest the jack or have run out of balls. Then the Red team take over again.
  • Once all the balls have been thrown, the number of balls of the same colour nearest the jack wins that end and is recorded for the overall score. I.e. If a blue ball is nearest the jack but the next nearest balls are red, that would be one point to blue.
  • Possession of the jack moves to the right, so throwing box two position will begin next.
  • The winner is the one with the highest score after all the ends.
  • In the event of a tie, a play-off round will follow until a winner is determined.

Prince Arthur Road Indoor Bowls Club welcome new members, both as players or socially – give them a call and take the family along.

Holcombe and Blue Bell Hill Cricket Club bowlers impress England star Chris Tremlett

England cricket star Chris Tremlett inspired a new (and old!) generation at Holcombe and Blue Bell Hill Cricket Club when he visited their ground last night.

As the prize in a competition won by Lin Sharpe (one of HBBHCC’s U16 parents), Chris was on hand to oversee a fast bowling competition and then brave enough to face the barrage of questions from a packed clubhouse.

What’s your bowling speed?

DSCN9099 from Jaye Nolan on Vimeo.

“I’ve got to give you guys credit – that speed gun probably wasn’t quite correct and the 55mph was nearer 70mph

Winners of the fast bowling competition were: U11s Mark Robinson, 36mph; U13s Stephen Blakeman, 38; U15s Lucas Perry, 51; U17s Michael Reader, 58; Seniors James Underwood, 59.

What will you do when your career is over?

“I’m now 31 so it’s scary to think ‘What do I do next’. Property development is something I enjoy in my spare time, coaching maybe – I have the badges. Or a personal trainer. I’ve a few ideas but wanting to make it back into an England shirt is the priority for now. I hope to be fit for New Zealand and will go to Australia or South Africa in the new year. I had knee surgery four weeks ago, so I haven’t played much, just concentrated on getting fit.”

Who’s the toughest batsman you’ve faced?

“Chris Gayle (Windies) on his day; he hits everything for six. The Aussies in their prime – Ponting; Gilchrist; Hayden for one dayers and, in test cricket, Brian Lara (Windies) would have to be number one, closely followed by Sachin Tendulkar (India) and Ricky Ponting.”

You took the final wicket in the last Ashes win over Australia – how exciting was that?

“It was pretty special week; we’d already retained The Ashes and it was a nice feeling to wake up in the morning, knowing we’d be taking them home; knowing we’d be having a celebration at some point that day was exciting. We’d blended really well as a unit which showed when we got them all out for 98 on Boxing Day.”

Is your dad (former Hampshire seamer and Hants CC director Tim) still talking to you? (After you left Hampshire for Surrey!)

“I loved Hampshire but had to leave to put me in a better position to break into the England side. Surrey are the recipe for making my return. I’d love to go back to Hants someday though – and yes, dad is still talking to me!” 

DSCN9100 from Jaye Nolan on Vimeo.

How do you cope with the long tours abroad?

“You have to learn to be independent as you can be away for up to six months. It’s tough but part and parcel of the job. But you find ways to keep yourself occupied, especially in the places where you can’t get out and about for security reasons. Technology has made it so much easier to keep in touch with family, with Skype etc. You live in a bubble, forgetting how many people are watching so we keep an eye out for everyone and just support each other.”

What do you think of Kevin Pietersen signing a new England Contract?

“Kevin’s fallen out with a few players and management; they’ll be a lot of conversations to be had but as a team and a sport you have to move forward. It’ll be tough initially but he’s one of our best players and so good to watch.”

How much has fitness training helped to change the sport?

“Back in 2000 you didn’t have a fitness trainer but every county has one now – you can’t skive, they’ll find out! You have to be fit, the game is so much quicker now. And there are separate fitness programmes for batsmen and bowlers. For a fast bowler you need core strength, so pay attention to abs, core and bottom muscles.” (Ed’s note: Yes, I think I can do that *coughs*) You have to be mentally fit too. If you bowl a shocker, you just have to get over it and bowl the next one.”

The hardest team to play against?

“Australia in 2005: Gilchrist; Warne; Ponting etc – they’d been number one for years, very hard to beat.”

And tricky bowlers if you’re batting?

“Brett Lee on a bouncy wicket just wanted to hit me on the head; Andrew Flintoff was a pretty special cricketer, shame he had to retire. He told me he was going to bounce it and still got me out.”

Who’s the best captain you’ve played under?

“Shane Warne at Hampshire, he taught me a lot and is a very good man manager too. And Andrew Strauss will always be remembered for winning two Ashes series.”

Final word: Sledging?

“You can’t sledge or swear – it’ll cost you too much money!”

Chris Tremlett was brought to us at HBBC Cricket Club by Nat West, who run the annual Cricket Force days. These aim to inspire volunteers to pick up a paint brush or trowel for the local club and help rejuvenate its facilities for the coming season. This prize was just one of many offered by the NatWest Cricket Club this summer. Members have been able to access all sorts of rewards, from tickets to every NatWest ODI Series and NatWest T20 International match this summer to NatWest current account holders having the chance to enjoy exclusive experiences such as meeting and training with England players.

Chris also signed and personalised a brand new Kookaburra cricket bat for one lucky raffle winner – who turned out to be James Phillips. Nat West then presented Chairman John Underwood with cricket bat signed by the current England team, which will be raffled next season.

If you’d like to find out more about your local cricket team in Medway and Maidstone, visit the HBBHCC website here and when the new season starts,  do as Chris tells you below 😉

DSCN9101 from Jaye Nolan on Vimeo.

Chris said: “Every international cricketer starts their career playing for their local club, and the role community cricket plays in growing our love for the game is vital. I’ve had a great time here at Holcombe and Blue Bell Hill Cricket Club this evening celebrating their good season and saw some real talent in their young bowlers during the competition earlier.”

John Underwood, Chairman of Holcombe and Blue Bell Hill CC, said: “We’ve had a good season and enjoyed our cricket, so it was great to be able to celebrate all of our successes with an Ashes winner in Chris Tremlett. We’re all delighted Lin entered the competition. All of our members, young and old, batsmen and bowlers have had a night that they won’t forget.”

The club would like to thank both Chris and Nat West for making this wonderfully enjoyable evening possible.

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