Saturday, February 28, 2009

Energy Endeavour

The Energy Endeavour, jack-up type drilling unit under tight tow to stand off position at new location Halfdan Charlie in the Danish sector of the North Sea. The rig personnel jack down the legs to pin spudcans - to seabed. Then, the tugs run anchors to enable the Tow Master to maneuver the unit into final position alongside the unmanned satelite platform - when the spudcans are over the desired foot print, the legs are jacked down once again to make contact with the seabed and raise the hull out of the water until they have +/- 3 meter air gap. The rig is then loaded up with pre-load ( seawater ) pumped into tanks - this weights up the legs evenly to establish if the spudcans / footings are stable with minimal penetration. When the OIM / Tow Master are satisfied that all is well - the pre-load is dumped and the hull structure is jacked up to final elevation. To enable a rig to be move from one location to another the weather conditions have to be favourable, minimal sea swell and wind - over a period we call a weather window. Rig moving is regarded as a "High Risk" operation - many units have been lost because of changing weather conditions or failing to remain water tight throughout the voyage. As you can see from the picture the legs are extended to maximum height to reduce drag through the water but this also makes the unit more susceptible to listing and possible turn over. See title link for disasters over the years. Before & After shot below is the Adriatic IV jack-up and the Temsah ( TheTamshee ) gas platform off the Egyptain coast in August 2004

Knysna Heads

Tamshee's travels Continued -Knysna Heads is without doubt one of the most striking geological features along the entire southern African coastline. They flank a deep but potentially treacherous channel through which the sea pours in to flood the wide and breathtakingly pretty lagoon at the mouth of the Knysna River. Knysna's history began in the year 1804, the year that saw the arrival of George Rex, rumoured to be the illegitimate son of King George lll. He purchased the estate known as Melkhoutkraal on the shores of the lagoon and moved his entire family and considerable entourage down to Knysna to settle. Knysna is one of the Southern Cape coast's best known holiday destinations, situated between lush forests and the shores of the peaceful lagoon. The most well known attraction being the heads - two great sandstone cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon which connects the estuary with the sea. A lookout has been erected on the Eastern Head, commanding spectacular views of the lagoon, Leisure Isle and Knysna. The Western Head is a privately owned nature Reserve - Featherbed Bay. The Knysna Lagoon is one of the few places along the coast and in the world that supports a oyster hatchery.
And the Knysna Oysters are reputedly among the tastiest in the world - and having spent a considerable number of Rand on the Cultivated Pacific Oyster - and enjoying the lean, crisp flavour characterised by a nutty undertone - at the Oyster Tavern on more than one ocassion, I must confess that restaurant setting combined with the finest food and wine - life does not get much better. Next day with compulsory hang over - I visited the Millwood House Museum which houses material relating to the history of the town, and includes artifacts once owned by George Rex. It was built from yellowwood at the end of the previous century during the gold rush. Knysna has many attractions in the surrounding area as well, one of the most spectacular being the Knysna Forest, which is still evident in many places within the town as well. It is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa comprising of tall and ancient trees of local and exotic species, including stinkwood, yellowwood, blackwood, ironwood, white alders and Cape chestnut. Not forgetting the ferns, creepers and wild flowers which add colour to this endless green collage. The forest is vast and extremely dense in places making it impenetrable. Animal life is limited to a few small antelope and a large variety of birds, such as the famous Knysna Loerie. Home to the once great herds of Knysna Elephants, it is believed that only one lonely cow remains today. Another historical attraction are the Millwood Gold Mines. Alluvial gold was found here in 1885, which caused a rush to the area. At Jubilee Creek, the exact spot where gold was found, provides a tranquil and beautiful picnic area, with many enjoyable forest walks in the area. Buffalo Bay is the closest beach to knysna, one of the safest for swimming along the coast and enjoyed by many holiday makers every year.

To be continued - Outenique Choo Tjoe to Mossel Bay and back to work !!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Edgar Muller "Ice Age"

Edgar Müller and his team took five days to create the optical illusion in the town of Dún Laoghaire, near Dublin in Ireland. Photo by REX
Perspective lines drawn away from a single viewpoint give the painting the impression of being three-dimensional.
Müller, 40, said that this type of street art had not been around for very long, even though the technique had been used by artists on other surfaces for centuries.
The German explained: "Three-dimensional street painting itself is a very new art form which only a handful of people do worldwide. Its nature is to trick people's eyes and show them a new 'reality'.
"The technique itself is called Anamorphism and has been known since the Middle Ages. It was used by famous painters like Michelangelo, da Vinci and others in their murals."
The work, called Ice Age, was created last August for the port town's Festival of World Cultures.
A video clip that Müller put on YouTube just over a week ago has already received almost 50,000 views.
The artist's previous works include a German high street apparently riven by a lava chasm and a walkway transformed into a rock-strewn waterfall.
TheTamshee says: Amazing, how of earth did this German manage to persuade the Irish rain gods to with hold the droplets of frozen crystals, yes rain - that seem to be cascading from the skies every time I visit the Emerald land.

Breaking Waves


Photographer Clark Little has dedicated his life to film the world's ultimate waves and has now published his favourite shots of all time.
Clark, 39, swims in terrifying seas and crouches on shorelines with his waterproof camera to capture rarely seen views from inside a 'tube' - a breaking wave.
He has now unveiled this set of images which he says are the best he has ever taken and epitomise the world's deadliest surf.
Many of his photographs are shot at Waimea Bay in Hawaii - the home of surfing and immortalised in the lyrics of the Beach Boys song 'Surfin USA'.
They show perfect arcs of water and crystal "caverns" which are turned into a kaleidoscope of colour by sand and rays of sunlight.
Father-of-two, Clark, from Oahu, Hawaii, says he often risks his life to capture the "perfect wave".
He said: "I love the ocean - I am addicted to the waves. Especially places like Waimea Bay. I started surfing there in the 1990s and now I like to photograph it as much as possible.
"I'm always in the water before dawn to try and snap that perfect picture as the sun rises.
"I try to capture the beauty and power of these monstrous waves from the inside out. I enjoy the power and beauty of the huge waves that roll through.
"Thanks to experience I can capture some of those heavy moments without getting slammed about myself. Well, most of the time."
TheTamshee says: Big respect to Clark, this bloke can take these awesome shots while standing on a surf board, shooting the tube of all things. Photography at it's best, master of the board & lens. I have had the pleasure of trying his fun sport, it was on one of my visits to South Africa, when we started our adventure at Cape Town working our way around the coast until reaching surfers paradise at Jeffreys Bay

the gem of the Kouga Region, is also the gateway to the Garden Route. It boasts with endless unspoilt beaches and at some places quite a variety of shells are washed up the shore every day. Before you start your own collection, first visit the Shell Museum! Jeffreys Bay offers a variety of activities. You can go horse riding on the beach; you can watch the dolphins and the whales play between July and October to name a few. If you’re a surfer Jeffreys Bay is the place. Be sure not to miss the Billabong Pro competition in July every year. If you’re not a pro there are surfing schools for beginners with excellent training. If that still seems above you, there are even places ideal for paddle skiing and knee boarding - or you can go all out and just experience - what TheTamshee calls the tumble drier option, but believe me this is not the safest approach. My young coach on that eventful trip was born to balance on the board - glideding on the crest of the waves like a professional ice skater but he failed to prepare me for the wipe outs - some would say spectacular - while others felt the pain. O how the crowd laughed.

To be continued ---- the delights of Knysna

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Killers

The Killers, by Neil McCormick - come out all guns blazing in their show at the O2 Arena.
Relentless in their ambition to land the knock-out blow: The Killers
If The Killers really lived up to their name, they would make particularly brutal hitmen. Despite their sleek, sci-fi look and expressionless faces, their set exhibits little of the studied cool of professional assassins.
This is more like a full-frontal assault, with one rocket-propelled hit after another, a sonic battering ram pummelling your ears into submission. Just when you are picking yourself up from a devastating hookline, here comes another, with no respite and no mercy. Even with a line up augmented by sax, percussion and extra keyboards, the default setting for their cheesy, synth-driven pop rock is still full-on, everything turned up to 11. They are pop’s Terminators, relentless in their ambition to land the knock-out blow.
Featherweight frontman Brandon Flowers has the sensibility of a rock nerd: he has studied all the moves but has no natural grace. At times his body language is so constricted, he is like Mr Bean impersonating Bono. Yet this comical intensity is part of his everyman charm. As crescendos build, he cannot contain his excitement, hopping around like a hyperactive geek.
The 20,000-strong audience prove lambs to the sonic slaughter, singing along to lyrics that are effectively indiscernible unless you already know them by heart. There is a sense that everyone is willingly suspending disbelief to participate in much loved rock rituals. In the middle of Neon Tiger, Flowers stands on a sound monitor like a little dictator, commanding “Come on girls and boys, everybody make some noise!”. And, of course, they do, roaring their approval and punching the air in a blaze of exploding lights.
It would be an effective climax to most shows but it is not even the climax to this song, just another mini-crescendo. Flowers packs his songs so full of incident that some of the most stirring passages (like the singalong “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” in All These Things I’ve Done) suddenly blow up and self-extinguish like flash fires. The same model serves for a Killers gig, which detonates like a series of climaxes, and finally ends with backlights blazing and cannons firing confetti.
At some point, if the Killers want to achieve their ambition of shooting down U2, they are going to have to factor in subtlety and nuance, a little more soul, a little less storm trooper. But just three albums into a thrilling career, The Killers come out all guns blazing, determined to knock everybody dead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Damien Hirst "Chess"

World famous artists including Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread have designed unique chess sets for a special exhibition currently on display at the Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland.
Hirst explores the world's obsession with mortality by casting medicine bottles in silver and glass with engraved labels on a mirrored glass board upon a surgical trolley. TheTamshee says:
I am no Grand Master at the thinking man's game but I consider myself a player of a very high standard - having learned the complexities of this noble game at the cost of £1 per game - winner stayed at table to take on next challenger. This all took place at the local youth / chess club, in my home town of the border Souters. But I digress, Hirst's chess creation is worthy, a real touch of "Glass" sorry class.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rig Art "Georgescu Bogan"


TheTamshee says: Believe it or not but there is some talented arty folk working on board the NBW - these Black on White images have been skillfully pencil sketched by Georgescu, a young Romanian data engineer working for Datalog. The no colour theme gives observers the opportunity to imagine the curvy ladies posing in their favourite pastels. Enjoy !!

Andy Goldsworthy


Andy Goldsworthy (born 26 July 1956) is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist now living in Penpont Scotland who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. His art involves the use of natural and found objects, to create both temporary and permanent sculptures which draw out the character of their environment. He has been quoted as saying, "I think it's incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals. But I have to: I can't edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole." Goldsworthy is generally considered the founder of modern rock balancing for his ephemeral works. Andy was also the subject of a 2001 documentary feature film Rivers and Tides, directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer. TheTamshee says: I admire the talent of this earth sculptor with a particular liking to the photography. "Goldsworthy's approach is to keep it simple, almost routine. All work, good or bad is documented. He uses standard film, lenses and no filters. Taking the photograph is not a casual act. It is very demanding and a balance is kept in which documentation does not interrupt the making. Each work grows, stays, decays - integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expressed in the image. Process and decay are implicit in that moment. A drawing or painting would be too defined. The photographs leave the reason and spirit of the work outside. They are not the purpose but the result of my art" As Yves Klein said of his monochrome paintings: 'They are the left-overs from the creative process, the ashes. Andy's pictures, after all, are only the title deeds to his property which he has to produce when asked to prove that he is the proprietor. See title link to view some creative work with -Green patch (Elm) Leaf patches made by finding leaves the same size tearing one in two spitting underneath and pressing flat onto one another, Middleton Woods, Yorkshire

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari Park is Scotland's only Safari Park. Located near Stirling the park opened its gates for the first time in 1970. The safari park is overlooked by Blair Drummond House, built in 1868-1872 by J C Walker and is spread over 120 acres. There are a range of species to visit including, elephants, lions, tigers and Sea Lions
Since last summer, New attraction. The Lemurs have been enjoying living in their new homes over the water at Lemur Land. The area can be accessed by the blue footbridge beside the Boat Safari. There are Ringtail, Brown and Red-Ruffed Lemurs all loving their new homes. Lemur Land is perfect for them with loads of tall bushy trees and a massive network of thick ropes for them to play on. Several feed tables around the walkways mean you can get close to them, as they are all free roaming.Make sure you look carefully in the trees as they can sometimes be difficult to spot! If you can't see them, the keepers are on hand to point them out and answer any questions you have about these fascinating animals. Hand wash stations are located at the start/end of the walkway loop along with pram parking.
Leonardo ( one of the Ring Tailed Lemurs ) was born a month early which posed a series of problems, not just for his mum, but also for the Pets Farm team. His mum did not know what to do with such a premature baby and thus shied away from him. This meant he was not getting the essential antibodies and goodness from mums milk which he needed to survive. The Pets Farm team then hand reared him and began the long task of integrating him back into the group and to his mum. As you can see he has come a long way and is as mischievous as any youngster should be!
The Brown Lemurs below enjoy climbing the large trees and don't seem to mind their audience.

The Indy Kids love to get close to the Red-Ruffed Lemurs and TheTamshee has to admit they are very impressive indeed,

but pride of the park for me is the retired actor "The Ruppells Griffon Vulture" found in Central and Northeast Africa, where they roost and nest on steep cliff faces. The Rüppell’s has no actual vocal chords, however, they can make a variety of sounds, including screeches and hisses, usually when angry or when fighting over food. In some regions, it is the dominant vulture at a feeding site, though in other areas it is out-bullied by the much larger Lappet-Faced Vulture.
Güppell’s Griffons begin a search for food two hours after sunrise when the thermals have formed enough to give them needed lift. With their particularly keen eyesight this bird looks for the carcasses of large animals. Unlike some vultures, the Rüppell’s Griffon has a particularly strong bill and though it will start feeding on the soft parts of a carcass it soon moves on to eat even the toughest hide and bones.
Very occasionally it will kill young antelope and catch snakes, large insects and lizards, but feeds most of the time on carrion. Like many species of vulture these birds gorge themselves at a carcass until they can barely take off. The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture is currently on record as the highest-flying bird ever, one of these birds collided with an airplane flying at an altitude of 37000 feet! This bird can soar for hours on end, searching out fresh carcasses.

Moonrise Hernandez

Ansel Adams 1902-1984 Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941
The riveting Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is perhaps the best known and most sought after photograph in the field of fine-art photography.
The story of the making of the photograph Moonrise, Hernandez , New Mexico is legendary. Ansel's description in Examples: The Making of Forty Photographs is oft repeated, and quite dramatic. We have brought together several vignettes that put a little more perspective on what lead up to the dramatic moment on a lonely highway at 4:05 PM (local time), October 31, 1941.
TheTamshee says: click here to continue this fasinating account by Ansel's son Michael who was only eight on that fateful day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joint Ventures

A koala is sitting up a gum tree .... Smoking a joint

When a little lizard walks past and looks up and says,

'Hey Koala! What are you doing?'
The koala says: 'Smoking a joint, come up and have some.'
So the little lizard climbs up and sits next to the koala and They have a few joints. After a while the little lizard says his Mouth is 'dry' and is going to get a drink from the river. But The little lizard is so stoned that he leans too far over and Falls into the river.
A crocodile sees this and swims over to the little lizard and Helps him to the side, then asks the little lizard: 'What's the matter with you?'
The little lizard explains to the crocodile that he was sitting smoking a joint with the koala in the tree, got too stoned And then fell into the river while taking a drink.
The crocodile says he has to check this out and walks into The rain forest, finds the tree where the koala is sitting Finishing a joint, and he looks up and says ' Hey you!'

So the koala looks down at him and says:
'Fuuuuuuck Dude ... How much water did you drink?!!'


TheTamshee says: this reminded me of days gone-by when a few spliffs were shared with some of the animals i raked around with.

Stories of the Sea






Lovers of all things maritime have a treat in store in 2009. Old Pulteney - distiller of fine single malt whisky - is hosting a series of free talks in association with the Telegraph, given by some of the most inspirational maritime adventurers and explorers of our time. Stories of the Sea will take place at venues around the country and at each one an intimate gathering of 100-150 attendees will hear real-life tales of experiences on the high seas, ranging from the daring and heroic to the wacky and idiosyncratic. Ticket allocation will be by prize draw one month before each talk (with the exception of the first talk for which tickets will be allocated on December 31), and all you need to do for a chance to win two tickets is enter the draw at telegraph.co.uk/partnerships. The series began with a talk from Jasper Shackleton - a relative of the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton - who recounted his re-enactment of the extraordinary 3,600-mile journey that Lieutenant William Bligh survived in an open boat, when he was cast adrift by Fletcher Christian from his ship The Bounty in 1789.
Meanwhile, ex-SAS soldier Tom McClean inspired would-be sailors with tales of maritime challenges, including his world record for rowing 2,000 miles across the Atlantic solo.
In March, Mark Horton, a presenter on BBC’s Coast and a keen sailor, will talk about how the television programme was set up, the amazing discoveries they made and his interest in maritime archaeology.
Another SAS veteran, United States Navy SEAL-trained Martyn Helliwell is a professional survival expert. His talk in May will cover his time in the SAS and extreme climatic survival experiences.
Wildlife specialist and TV presenter Chris Packham has travelled widely and studied many deep-ocean habitats. He will look at the range of fascinating creatures in the sea, while dashing Spanish aristocrat Alvaro de Marichalar will describe the trials of crossing the Atlantic in a twin-engined jet ski.
After each talk there will be a tasting of Old Pulteney single malts, which come from a distillery with a heritage inextricably bound up with the sea. Its 12-, 17- and 21-year-old whiskies owe much of their complexity to the use of traditional distillation methods and local sea air.
Situated in windswept Wick in Caithness, Old Pulteney is the most northerly whisky distillery in mainland Scotland and one of the oldest in the country. Its long history mirrors the fortunes of its home town. Founded in 1826, the distillery takes its name from Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, who, in the era before roads, commissioned the new harbour, creating opportunities for the subsequent herring boom, and providing the means for barley to be shipped to the distillery - and whisky to be shipped out. Soon Wick became synonymous with its barrels of “silver” and “gold” (herring and whisky).
By the mid-1850s Wick was the busiest fishing port in northern Europe with up to 7,000 workers arriving each season to work at both the fisheries and distillery. Eventually, the herring boom ended, and the First World War and Prohibition era changed the social fabric of the area. However, with the repeal of Prohibition in 1947, the distillery’s fortunes revived.
Today the distillery’s owners remain true to Old Pulteney’s origins. Whisky continues to made in Wick, using a unique flat-topped still, and the spirit is condensed in worm tubs before being aged in oak casks, ensuring its taste is of the same quality as when the distillery was founded.
• If you are interested in attending one of these free talks and Old Pulteney whisky tastings, simply
click here to log on and register for tickets. TheTamshee says: Many moons ago, when I worked on the survey ships chartered by British Geological Survey - we used Scrabster Harbour as a port of call on many occassions. Visits to the Old Pulteney distillery at Wick to sample a top quaulity single malt was indeed a treat. If you are partial to a dram and the wildness of the Highlands then get yourself travelling up the A9 to all things spectacular, views included for free.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dr Who "Lost Tapes"

LONG-lost Doctor Who episodes thought to be hidden away in Zimbabwe may never be recovered because despot Robert Mugabe hates the UK. Article by Colin Robertson.
BBC investigators believe the troubled nation holds some of the early episodes of the cult series which are still missing.
But tyrant President Mugabe has banned the Beeb from setting foot in his country. And diplomatic relations are also extremely tense — meaning researchers are unable to get into the nation’s TV vaults.
The BBC destroyed early episodes of the sci-fi series in the late Sixties and Seventies to make room in its film library for new programmes.
But Zimbabwe is understood to have bought the first season of the show when it was still a British colony known as Rhodesia.
It starred William Hartnell and ran from 1963 to 1964. The Beeb suspects the historic series, together with later episodes not held anywhere else in the world, may still be locked away.
Original doctor ... William Hartnell
Despite years of searching, the broadcaster is missing 108 of 752 episodes of the television classic.
Over the decades some previously lost episodes have been uncovered by archivists in places as far flung as Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Others have been unearthed from early home-made tapes.
Collector Gordon Hendry discovered the second and third episodes of the first series selling for £8 each at a car boot sale in 1983. Another four episodes featuring Hartnell, the first actor to play the Time Lord, were recently retrieved from Nigeria.
That led to corporation chiefs setting up a new task force to scour the rest of Africa for missing episodes.
But they have been unable to get permission to visit Zimbabwe — where Mugabe still blames former colonial ruler Britain for its economic chaos.
Last year the leader even called the British Government “thieving neo-colonialists”.
Last night a BBC source said: “We have looked all over the world for missing Doctor Who episodes but there are still some broadcasters we have not spoken to. Zimbabwe could prove a problem as there is so much red tape.
“There is a fear that we may never get our hands on the footage and that would be a real shame for fans.”
Archivists are trying to find the missing episodes to release them on DVD.
The most sought-after lost show is episode four of the last William Hartnell serial The Tenth Planet, which was broadcast in October 1966. It ends with Hartnell regenerating into the second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Olympic Hero 1936

Britian's oldest surviving Olympic medal winner has died of pneumonia at the ripe old age of 92.
Cyclist Harry Hill won bronze in the 4,000 meters team pursuit at the 1936 Berlin Games. He rode 200 miles to London before setting off for Germany because he could not afford the train from Manchester. On his return, Harry had to cycle home after spending all his cash on an Olympic jacket. He became the first person to do 25 miles in one hour on an indoor track, netting him a world record in 1937. Aged 80, the married dad of five from Bury, Greater Manchester, failed to break record by just 1.5 miles. Son Hedley, said "Cycling was his life. He was never happier than when he was on a bike. It was only in his later years that he was honoured for his great achievement at the Olympic games. In March, 2005, he met the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace at a reception celebrating 100 years of the British Olympic Association. The Tamshee says: Respect - "cycle the clouds in peace"

Eugenio Merino "Sculpture"

Spanish artist has sparked controversy by exhibiting a sculpture of British artist Damien Hirst shooting himself in the head. Eugenio Merino's sculpture of British artist Damien Hirst article-courtesy of the Telegraph
Eugenio Merino's sculpture, which depicts Hirst blowing his own brains out, complete with blood dripping off his lip, was created as a comment on the British artist's £50m diamond-studded skull, For the Love of God.
Merino has called his piece "4 the Love of Go(l)d", suggesting that the value of Hirst's work would only be enhanced by his own death.
"I thought that, given that he thinks so much about money, his next work could be that he shot himself. Like that the value of his work would increase dramatically," he told The Guardian. "Obviously, though, he would not be around to enjoy it."
Merino's work, displayed in a glass case like the ones Hirst is known for filling with formaldehyde and dead animals, has been on display at Madrid's ARCO art fair.
"It is a joke but it is also paradoxical that if he did kill himself his work would be worth even more," said Merino. "That is a metaphor for the current state of the art world."
Merino denied he hated Hirst, and said he was a great fan of his work.
"I am a fan. I studied him at art school. I'm just adding my own little grain of sand."
The artist has devoted the rest of his ARCO show to parodies of Hirst's work, including a football split in half to expose the inside of a skull and brain called "Hooligan's Anatomy".

TheTamshee says - There is no denying that Hirst is a talented artist but where does it all end - is it real Art or some twisted mind that commissions bounty hunters to track down and kill some tiger shark for the purpose of preserving the beautiful creature in Formaldehyde. This warped practise is Not Art but some form of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde behaviour. Merino's sculpture hits the right note, we can always preserve the gentleman concerned in my tropical fish tank if Saatchi is not willing to commission a more fitting display cabinet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heli-Copter Crash UK

Sixteen oil workers and two pilots who survived after their helicopter crashed into the North Sea were "thanking God for a miracle" as they were reunited with their families. Article by Telegraph Scottish correspondent Auslan Cramb.

TheTamshee says - having worked in the oil industry for many years, there is always concerns at the back of your mind that such a situation should arise. Thankfully on this ocassion it was what seems to be a text book escape - all offshore employees are well trained in helicopter escape techniques and sea survival but this is small comfort to the family left at home wondering if this could be there last flight.

It also reminded me of the pain / grief etched on the face of a work colleague while travelling home by helicopter the day after the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 - the brother of my workmate, sadly perished in what Lord Cullen later discribed as a catalogue of errors.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Polar Saga 1893 - 1896

1,000 Days in the Ice, Norway's Fridtjof Nansen was a pioneer of polar exploration.
Article by Hampton Sides - writing for the National Geographic. The Tamshee really enjoyed reading this article on the exploits of the true pioneer of polar exploration. To survive so long in such a barren wilderness was a remarkable feat of endurance.
Photograph by Fridtjof Nansen
Photograph courtesy National Library of Norway Picture Collection
Out in the cold fjord, on a spit of rocky land just a short ferry ride from the city center, Oslo has created a kind of national cemetery for famous ships. It's a Norwegian thing—what other country would build public crypts around its most beloved boats and enshrine them for the ages? Out here on the Bygdøy Peninsula, visitors can spend days rambling through splendid museums that house ancient Viking longships, 19th-century fishing vessels, even Thor Heyerdahl's famed balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki.
But the most striking of Oslo's nautical temples is a pointy glass-and-metal structure that rises from the waterline in the shape of an enormous letter A. Inside, basking in the filtered light, sleeps a sturdy wooden schooner, built in 1892, called the Fram.

Continue »

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tropical Fish "Discus"

New additions to TheTamshee's tropical tank this week are the Ocean Green & Leopard Discus.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Bird Watch

Indy kids winter bird watch from the deck with spectacular views to the hills beyond

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Things to Ponder


Will you die if you get scared half to death twice?

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Quiet Adjustment




A Quiet Adjustment, By Benjamin Markovits
Reviewed by Emma Hagestadt.
The second in Benjamin Markovits's trilogy on the life of Lord Byron concerns a scandal that rocked the poet's reputation early on in his career. Annabella Milbanke, 19, is introduced to Bryon. Attracted to the feted author, she agrees to his proposal of marriage, suspecting his libertine ways will force her "to draw new breath".
As Lady Byron she does indeed, when not long into the marriage she is schooled in one of his pecadillos. Markovits dazzles with his storytelling and elegant psychoanalytical salvos. "I fear very much you will find out you have married a devil," Byron confides during their honeymoon from hell.


Tamshee says - Markovits is a very talented writer who has followed up the first of the trilogy "Imposture" with a sophisticated and intelligent insight into the psyche of Lord Byron while focusing on the women in Byron’s life, it presents a psychological angle that is genuinely engaging. A good read on those return to work flights.

Car Bingo "Travel Fun"

Yes folks, have you ever had the challenge of keeping the kids amused while on that two hour car journey - how much longer? when will we be there? well here is the answer "Car Bingo" something the missus "Captain Map" put together to keep the Bell's occupied en route. This is great entertainment but a little worrying when the car driver is looking out for the bird of prey.
Note: Click on image to expand and read concept / rules.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 104th K.W.C. Quiz

Alex Massie - that astute political blogger chap "The Debatable Land" now blogging at the "Spectator" alongside the incredibly impressive "Melanie Phillips" (her article on Geert Wilders was spot on) first put me onto this impossible 104th King William College quiz. Dr Pat Cullen certainly challenged my grey matter during the month of January with report card stating "failed to make the required pass mark" ( see here for answers )

Charles Darwin

February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. His defining work, On the Origin of Species, has become perhaps the most significant and influential scientific study of modern times.
Here, we round up the best of numerous events and exhibitions, scheduled across the country, which celebrate his life and work, courtesy of that excellent read The Telegraph

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fly Agaric

Our first trip of this year to CenterParcs Whinfell Forest in the Lake district - fabulous relaxed family environment. The facilities are first class in my opinion with all sorts of activities for the kids. The Fly Agaric found by the Indy Kid on a previous visit was something special, it has nurtured his desire to explore the surrounding forest in search of mushrooms. Will keep you posted with more exhibits to come in future.

Golfer goes to Emergency

A man staggers into an emergency room with two black eyes and a five iron wrapped tightly around his throat."I was having a quiet round of golf with my wife," he tells the doctor, "when she sliced her ball into a pasture of cows. We went to look for it, and I noticed one of the cows had something white in its rear end. I walked over and lifted up the tail, and sure enough, there was my wife's golf ball stuck right in the cow's butt. That's when I made my mistake.""What did you do?" asks the doctor."Well, as I was standing there holding up the tail, I yelled to my wife, 'Hey, this looks like yours!'"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snowy Hike

Today was good - dropped the Indy kids off at school then headed off for what was supposed to be a gentle stroll around the Pot Loch to see how the ducks were dealing with their frozen domain but we ended up at the Lindean Mast, Half Crown corner and onwards to Sunderland Hall which turned out to be rather interesting when we came across what seemed to be an emergency situation - with police sign and fire tender vechile parked on the old bridge across the river Ettrick. This used to be the the first of the two bridges on the old A7 road to Galashiels. Anyway, the missus and I approached with caution expecting to see some vechile or other wedged into the hedgerow or through the parapit but as it turned out it was not as dramatic. We watched as half a dozen fire crew busied themselfs with a Tirfor type winch assembly. Being the curious kind, I caught the crew chiefs eye and asked what was going on ? the good chap proceeded to explain that their planned excerise had gone a bit Pete Tong. The tender was infact a transporter with hydraulic arm arrangement to offload a portable emergency triage unit. The first stage of the task seemed to be going according to plan but the icy conditions had resulted in the heavy unit sliding off line and becoming impossible to recover. Much huffing and puffing later we continued on our hike through the estate, up the North side of river all the way to the lower - what used to be called the Green bridge crossing and into Baxters for some lunch. Great walk, the only negative being that I did not have the videocam on hand when we came across and disturbed the magnificient Heron.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tropical Fish

There's a new addition to the Bell household - namely a 200 litre tropical fish tank. Spent the last few weeks getting the plant life (see here ) established with optium water conditions for the arrival of the first fish.

Zebra Danio (7)(Brachydanio rerio): This fish is covered in alternative horizontal stripes of dark blue and silver. The fish is very hardy, and is often a exciting fish as they are very active. Origin, Eastern India.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows (7)(Tanichthys albonubes) is a hardy species of freshwater fish It is a member of the carp family (family Cyprinidae) of order Cypriniformes,[1] native to China. The species was discovered at White Cloud Mountain (白雲山; Pinyin Bái Yún Shān) in Guǎngdōng in the 1930s by a Boy Scout leader called Tan—hence the generic name Tanichthys ("Tan's fish"). The specific name albonubes is from the Latin alba nubes (white cloud).

Angelfish (1)(pterophyllum scalare): Angelfish has black bars on a silver-coloured body. However many new varieties have been developed. They are very graceful, slow moving, and are quite aggresive at breeding times.

Hypostomus Plecostomus is the scientific name for a type of freshwater tropical Central and South American fish belonging to the family Loricariidae. They are large algae eaters, and to differentiate them from small algae eaters, they are often referred to as plecostomus, often abbreviated as plecos or plecs. They are extremely popular in aquaria for their ability to clean tanks by eating algae growth. In Malaysia, this fish are called 'ikan bandaraya' or 'municipal fish' in English because their ability to clean fish tanks. These friendly-natured fish can typically be purchased when about 8 cm (3 inches) and may grow up to 60 cm (2 ft) if there is adequate room, although a relatively new, hardy species grows to a maximum of 10 cm (4 inches)
Plecos are omnivorous but, in the wild, feed mostly on plant material at night. During the day, their unusual omega irises block a lot of the light out of their eyes, but they are usually open at night. They can roll their eye within their sockets.
As they age, their foreheads enlarge in a peculiar manner. Plecos may become more territorial with age and are best kept individually in tanks. Because of their potentially large size and territorial behaviour, it may be advisable to procure a less aggressive catfish. In a suitably large tank, a solitary plecostomus will live amicably enough in a community alongside other tropical fish. These catfish may survive in tanks with "cold-water" species like goldfish, but it is genrally not advised due to the different temperature preferences and the fact that some plecos will suck the protective slime coat off the goldfish.
No casualities to date, all living in harmony at the moment, can't wait to stick a Ruby Shark alongside the first batch.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

West Ham versus Man"U"

Giggs'y does the business, the red devils maintain the momentum. West Ham 0 Man"U" 1 Giggs killed the ball’s momentum instantly, and then embarked on a run that, echoing Scholes’ contribution, the old ones can still be the best. ( see match report here )
Giggs cut inside the sliding Cole, who resembled a bull deceived by a master matador. Parker then came charging in, attempting to extinguish the fire lit by Giggs.
No chance. Giggs just dummied inside and shot right-footed, the ball racing past Green.
"Giggs will tear you apart again,’’ came the familiar chant from the United fans.

Things to Ponder

Why do scientists call it research when they are looking for something new?

"Balchin's" HMS Victory

HMS Victory vanished with 1,100 men and gold worth £700million.
Her disappearance caused more of a shocked sensation in her day than that of the Titanic.
When she was launched in 1737, armed with more than 100 shiny bronze cannons, the warship was considered to be the most technically advanced ship in the British Navy.
The great warship, the immediate predecessor to Nelson's Victory, had been 11 years in the building. She weighed a mammoth 1,921 tons and measured 174 feet from prow to stern, so large that 'on board it was like being in a floating village', according to one military historian.
And then, one autumn night in 1744, during a terrible gale in the English Channel, she simply vanished.
The screaming winds, the stinging rain and the towering storm-waves were remorseless: every one of the 1,100 officers and men on board drowned. The cold, grey waters closed over their bodies and over the wreckage of the ship, as if they had never even been there.
With no survivors to tell the story of the shipwreck, the sinking of HMS Victory has for hundreds of years been one of the great unsolved maritime mysteries. Where had they gone?
Speculation in the 18th century was especially fevered, and not just because of the enormous loss of life. For this was a tale in which treasure was involved. Filthy gold lucre - and masses of it. HMS Victory's hold was said to be stashed with gold when she went down.
Contemporary reports suggested she was carrying as much as £400,000 of gold coins, en route from Lisbon to merchants in Holland, which could be worth as much as £700million today.
The ship was the predecessor to Admiral Lord Nelson's own Victory
And now, 265 years after she was claimed by the sea, the wreckage of the great warship has been discovered by the world's most successful marine treasure hunters, Odyssey Marine
Exploration, sparking huge controversy from marine archaeologists, who are concerned that Odyssey may put their commercial interests ahead of a thorough and responsible salvage operation.
The American company happened upon the ship last spring and have since spent some months investigating the underwater remains - understandably, in conditions of utmost secrecy.
HMS Victory was the fifth and penultimate warship to bear this illustrious name, and she was returning home from a successful trip to Portugal when she disappeared.
In March 1744 she had been sent to liberate a convoy carrying supplies required by the Mediterranean fleet fighting the War of the Austrian Succession and which had been blockaded by the French down the River Tagus in Lisbon.
HMS Victory saw off the French, escorted the convoy as far as Gibraltar and then set sail for England.
She was under the command of Admiral Sir John Balchin, a highly respected figure who was brought out of retirement to make this, his last and fateful voyage. At 74, he had notched up 58 years of service, been twice captured by the French and appointed to Admiral of the White, the second highest naval ranking.
But what happened to the Victory meant that some believed he was partly to blame for her loss.
Parts of wreckage - fragments, furnishings and so on, said to be ' unmistakably' from the ship - were subsequently washed ashore on the Channel Islands, which meant people assumed she was holed on the Casquets, a lethal group of rocks north-west of Alderney, which in sailing circles are known as 'the graveyard of the English Channel'.
HMS Victory should not have been in these waters, so this theory called into question the competence of her navigator and the Admiral - as well as local lighthouse crews.
Significantly, Alderney's lighthouse keeper was court-martialled for supposedly failing to keep the lights on during those first days in October. Ever since she sank, the search for her remains have concentrated on this area of sea off Alderney.
But now Odyssey says the Victory is actually lying on the seabed some 60 miles away from the rocks - exactly where they will not say, for fear that looters will move in.
The discovery is not only exciting treasure seekers, but also military historians eager to see what secrets HMS Victory will give up.
It was during an exploration of the Channel last April that the company first identified the site when their magnetometer - an instrument that locates deposits of iron and thus shipwrecks - gave an interesting reading.
More investigations using a remotely operated robot found that the seabed was strewn with wreckage that included wooden planks, iron ballast, two anchors, a copper cooking kettle, rigging, two gunners' wheels, bones, part of a skeleton including a skull, and 41 bronze cannons.
It was these cannons, with dolphin-like handles and emblazoned with the royal coat of arms, that gave the strongest suggestion that the lost wreck of the Victory had been discovered. In October, two of these, a 12-pounder and a huge 42-pounder, described as 'the nuclear deterrent of its day', were recovered.
Because the Victory was the last British warship to go down with a full complement of guns, the cannon are a significant discovery. But a more detailed exploration promises to reveal even more about life on board the flagship.
'The most important find of the 20th and 21st centuries'
Sean Kingsley, a marine archaeologist and director of Wreck Watch International, says: 'For English maritime history, Odyssey's discovery of the tragic wreck of HMS Victory is the most important of the 20th and 21st century.
No other first-rate Royal Navy warship of 100 guns and three decks has ever been scientifically studied. She is the naval equivalent of the Titanic.
With her loss, the Royal Navy ushered in a broad suite of nautical revolutions from swifter coppered hulls to 100 per cent more efficient chain pumps, and even lightning conductors on masts.
It is one of history's great ironies that if Balchin's Victory hadn't been wrecked in 1744, we wouldn't have had Nelson's Victory, military supremacy at the Battle of Trafalgar, or perhaps even a Britain that was great.'
Adds one of Odyssey's archaeologists: 'There are millions and millions of artefacts, buttons, tools, navigational instruments. It will be a time capsule, a slice of life in the Georgian navy.' Perhaps a careful examination of the wreckage will also reveal the reason why the ship sank.
We already know that compared to Nelson's HMS Victory, which was similar but not identical in build, this Victory was not only highly ornate but also very top heavy.
She protruded farther out of the water, giving her a higher centre of gravity and making her unstable. Might she, then, have keeled over after being battered by a heavy storm?
It has also been suggested that the wood from which she was built in Portsmouth was not properly seasoned - some of her deck supports had to be replaced at a later date - and that rotting wood may have been partly to blame for the tragedy.
As for the presence of any gold and what will happen to it; that remains to be seen.
Odyssey say they have been negotiating with the Ministry of Defence over whether they can continue to examine the site and, if so, whether they will be able to reach a deal like the one made for HMS Sussex in 2002, when it was agreed that Odyssey would finance the costs of excavating in return for a share in the profits. The cannons alone are thought to be worth around £30,000 each.
Investors certainly think there could be a lucrative deal in the offing - shares in the Florida-based company shot up by 32 per cent this week after they revealed news of the find.
To many historians, who believe that such finds should be left undisturbed, all this is sacrilege - but either way, the site should throw light on one of the greatest tragedies in our naval history.
Treasure Quest: Victory Special begins on Sunday on the Discovery Channel at 9pm. Not to be missed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Birthday Treats

Birthday treats are great, the wife sprang a little surprise. Indy kids farmed out to our good friends Neil & Lisa while we eloped to Edinburgh and The Roxburghe Hotel situated on south Charlotte Square at the end of George Street. it doesn't get any more central than this if your desire is to explore the delights of the capital city. Spent a couple of hours doing the compulsory shopping before homing in on the La Tasca spanish tapas restaurant for some exquisite chorizo frito al vino, patatas bravas con ensalada de la casa on the side, awesome scoff washed down with a fine bottle of Faustino V Rioja Reserva 2005, Silky smooth Rioja with crushed red fruits elegantly mingling with vanilla and creamy spice, that's what is says on the bottle anyway but my warped pallet failed to pick up the vanilla. The good lady declined the "Postre" but having a sweet tooth myself, the Tarta de Naranja y Nuez hit the right note. Fine cuisine indeed, with some reminiscing about our times in Mexico City & Acapulco, those cliff divers have balls of stone believe me, the only option left was the compulsory Siesta.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Temple of Jupitor Panellenius

The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored is only one of three oil landscapes made by Joseph Mallord William Turner depicting ancient Greece.
It was picked up by an anonymous bidder during a sale at Sotheby's in New York. The price paid includes auction house commission.
The Turner piece was sold as part of Sotheby's Old Master sales, which are projected to tally more than more than £56 million.
Art dealer Richard Feigen, who sold the piece, said: "It's a dumb thing to sell a great painting. I didn't want to sell it."
He added: "Normally I wouldn't sell any of my paintings. I finally succumbed."
First exhibited in 1816, Mr Feigen has had the painting in his private collection for the past 25 years.
He said that Sotheby's offered him a guarantee, a secret minimum price the seller is paid regardless of the outcome. He turned it down, unwilling to share the upside of proceeds.
Last year, the painting was featured in a Turner retrospective exhibition, which displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In a separate sale at Christie's in New York, a quartet of Turner paintings sold for close to £1.3 million ($1.8 million).
The record for a Turner was achieved by Christie's in New York in April 2006. A Venetian landscape by the artist sold for £25 million ($35.9 million).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar's hopes of breaking the British record for minutes without conceding a goal at West Ham on Sunday have been plunged into doubt with the record-holder, Chris Woods, disputing the Manchester United goalkeeper's claim to the milestone.
Having eclipsed Steve Death's 31-year-old English league record by extending his Premier League shut-out run to 1,122 minutes during United's 1-0 victory against Everton at Old Trafford last Saturday, Van der Sar apparently edged to within 75 minutes of breaking the British record set by former England goalkeeper Woods with Rangers in the 1986-87 season.
Woods, now working as goalkeeping coach at Everton, had his 1,196 minute clean-sheet run ended by policeman Adrian Sprott in a 1-0 Scottish Cup humbling against Hamilton in January 1987. But the 49-year-old insisted that his British record will remain intact for at least another four games after citing Hideo Hashimoto's injury-time goal, which was conceded by Van der Sar during United's 5-3 victory against Gamba Osaka in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final in Japan on Dec 18, as the key factor. Woods said: "Edwin's achievement in breaking the Football League record last week was an unbelievable feat but, as far as I'm concerned, he is still quite a way from beating my British record. "Nobody seems to be counting the goal he conceded in Japan, but if you take that into consideration, then his run in all competitions stands at nine games or 810 minutes. "It was obviously a Fifa-recognised fixture, so I would have thought that any goals conceded in that game would count towards a British record. We are not just talking about league fixtures because my record covered both league and cup games." Domestically, Van der Sar's unbeaten run stretches back to Samir Nasri's strike in the 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Nov 8 and bookmakers have been offering odds since early last week on the Dutchman breaking not only Death's English record, but the British mark held by Woods and Abel Resino's world record figure of 1,275 minutes.
But with Woods's record relating to aggregate minutes without a goal in all competitions, he is confident that he will continue to hold a place in the history books. He said: "I should have had a bet on Edwin not breaking my record when the odds came out because he is still more than four games away from my total if you take into account the game in Japan.
"He might actually go on and beat it and, if he does, then I will be the first to congratulate him, but he is still some distance away from achieving it."

Practise Laps

The Tamsh is determined that 2009 is going to be my break through season and finally give Rossi, Stoner and the also rans on the Moto GP grid a run for there money. As you can see from the photo, I've been putting in the practise laps, wet track, no problem.

So Fucking Rock

Tim Minchin is an Australian musician, actor, comedian and writer.
Originally from Perth, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre at the University of Western Australia in 1995, then an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music at the Conservatorium of WA – part of the WA Academy of Performing Arts – in 1998.
In 2002, he moved to Melbourne, where he began to develop the solo comedy shows which have gained him public and critical acclaim in the last three years. He developed his unique style during an 18-month period when he played regularly in the famous 40-seat cabaret room of
The Butterfly Club in South Melbourne, before producing his break out show, Dark Side, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2005. This show won the inaugural Festival Directors’ Award and was picked up by legendary Edinburgh producer, Karen Koren, matriarch of the Gilded Balloon .
At the Edinburgh Fringe, Tim became one of the most successful ever debut acts, selling out the 300-seat Debating Hall and winning the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer. He subsequently went on to perform Dark Side at the Soho Theare and the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End, and also appeared on a bill with Mariah Carey and Westlife at the Royal Albert Hall.
He appeared at the Montreal
Just For Laughs Festival in 2006 and the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado in January 2007, where he won the award for Best Alternative Comedian. In November that year, he performed at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and sold out short seasons at Ars Nova in New York and the ACME Comedy Theatre in LA. He is booked for a six-week run at the New World Stages in New York in March 2008.
In Australia, he has performed sellout shows at the Sydney Opera House, the Brisbane Powerhouse and His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth, and has performed at the Adelaide Fringe, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Big Laugh Festival in Sydney.
Television credits include Comedy Shuffle (BBC),
Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC),
The World Stands Up (Paramount Comedy), Comedy Cuts (ITV), Spicks and Specks (ABC) and The Sideshow (ABC).He has appeared on British and Australian radio and has recorded two specials for BBC Radio 2: “Tim Minchin and Friends” and “Tim Minchin’s Loving and Peaceful Yuletide Half Hour” .
He has released two live comedy albums,
Dark Side(2005) and So Rock (2006). His debut DVD, So Live, was recorded at the Sydney Opera House in May 2007 and was released by Madman Entertainment in November that year.
Tim has played the title roles in Hamlet and Amadeus (Perth Theatre Co), Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and the writer in Reg Cribb’s The Return. In late 2007 he made his feature debut in Two Fists, One Heart, a drama filmed and set in Perth, WA. He also contributed to the script and soundtrack of the film.
He has written a musical play, Pop – a Tragically Musical Romantic Black Comedy, and in 2001 recorded an album, Sit, with his band, Timmy the Dog. He has composed and written songs for theatre and documentary, most recently This Blasted Earth (Tamarama Rock Surfers), Somewhere (Q Theatre) and the soundtrack for The Kindness of Strangers (Prospero)– an award-winning documentary by Rhian Skirving.
Minchin is a genuine musical virtuoso, whose songs are constructed and sung with an attention to detail that would make Rufus Wainwright sit up and look nervous. He's dark, hilarious and more entertaining than pretty much anyone one else around. Get those tickets booked, you won't be disappointed folks. When not on tour, Tim lives in London with his wife and young daughter.