Category Archives: Blogs

Roger Whittaker is 83!

       Happy 83rd Birthday, Roger!

Roger Whittaker in Hanover 2007

The photo is from Hannover 2007. It’s hard to believe that’s twelve years ago.

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V&A Dundee

We were under the impression we were the last people on Earth to visit the new V&A in Dundee. Or, I know some exceptionally cultured people, as ‘everyone’ had mentioned going to, or having been to, the new V&A. Even Pippi managed to fit in a trip to Dundee when she was in Scotland. And Dodo and Son celebrated his thirtieth with a trip to Dundee. As you do.

Pippi mentioned how convenient it was that it’s right next to the station, and it made me wonder how I could not have seen it being built, all those times I changed trains just next to the fledgling V&A. But I realised it was all hidden behind scaffolding and in the dark you see nothing.

The Resident IT Consultant said how it’d be good to go before the Ocean Liners exhibition ended, and I silently concurred. Which is why we went two days before the end, me thinking Friday was bound to be better than the weekend. Maybe it was, but it looked like the whole world was there. Which is odd as I thought they’d already been. Not that there is a rule against going more than once, of course.

We will probably go again.

As I said, the place was heaving, mainly with other old people, and mostly speaking with an English accent.

I hope this was why the place felt as if it could have done with being bigger. The café in the middle was definitely too small. An army of helpful staff improved things, but searching for a table at which to drink tea and eat their gorgeous scones was hard. Actually, I found enough table space. It was just that the chairs had gone walkies, and even as I watched, more chairs went off to join their friends at small tables with too many people around them.

The Ocean Liners exhibition was interesting, but I didn’t linger. The crowd effect meant I couldn’t reach to see or look in peace and quiet. But that was fine. I left the Resident IT Consultant to study it in detail and went to sit outside. Good thing I did, as it meant I didn’t miss the postman. My postman. He was there too. (He’d probably hoped for a Witch-free day…)

Lovely though they were, the scones didn’t last us all day. We had hoped for lunch in the restaurant, but it was booked solid until 3pm, so we went back downstairs, to the moving chairs. The brie croissants were nice, if somewhat soggy. (I’d have put the brie underneath the tomato slices.)

Tay Bridge

A quick look at the Tay Bridge from the balcony, and then we did the Scottish Design exhibition, which was much better than reviews had led us to expect. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Then it was time to go home, before the Friday travelling crowds made it impossible.

But I’d go back for the scones alone.

From me to you

Happy Christmas!

Postbox in snow

They got her out of there

Anne Hegerty has left – by which I mean she was voted off – I’m a celebrity get me out of here. I’m glad I didn’t start watching the programme on the basis that Anne wouldn’t last long and surely I could invest a few hours watching.

She lasted and I wouldn’t have, even from the comfort of my own living room. I’m pleased Anne did so well, and hoped she’d go on to win. After all, who wants John Barrowman to be successful yet again?

(I won’t mention the other contestants, because I’ve not heard of them.)

Never having watched these celebrities compete, I have no idea what they actually do in the jungle. Possibly neither do real viewers. There’s no guarantee what you see is what happened.

I learned of Anne’s freedom on Facebook this morning, and felt both relieved and sad. A couple of weeks is a long time to go silent on social media.

Hoping to find out more, I Googled, but the stuff I found in the tabloid press made me blush. It also left me no better informed than when I started.

What makes me especially happy, is that Anne picked up new fans for doing so well among the creepy-crawlies, and that by setting a good example she has become a role model for others on the autism spectrum. For me that was an unexpected bonus of this spectacle, but if I’d stopped to consider it, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The jungle reaches further than The Chase.

On that basis I’m terribly grateful to Anne for suffering for the many, and showing the rest of the world what is possible.

Room for art

I knew exactly where the painting was going to go. Even before it arrived in the post, planning my birthday gift to the Resident IT Consultant – who likes trains – I knew it would go on the wall, just outside the door by his desk.

Railway station by Rachel Ward

Six months on, it is still leaning against the wall, next to the television. This is less to do with me being lazy and more because I can’t bear to stop looking at it. Where it is now, I see it every time I sit down in my armchair. I like looking at it. I, too, like trains and railway stations and all that stuff.

And let’s face it, I bought the painting because I liked it. Not entirely selfless. The Resident IT Consultant generously said it could hang somewhere better [for me]. But where? In a house that really wasn’t made for more art at all, I first bought this streetscape, which I had great trouble finding space for. It now hangs next to my desk, but I had to re-home the calendar that used to live there.

Street scene by Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward, who painted both pictures, is a dangerous woman to know. I first met her in her role as a YA author, nearly ten years ago. Those books were good. Now, she paints at least as much as she writes. And she takes photos.

Where some people can barely get out of bed in the morning, Rachel takes the dog for a walk and before my Weetabix is hot, she has put that morning’s photo harvest on Facebook. They are good photos, of attractive landscapes and streetscapes. So as well as painting, Rachel turns some of her photos into cards. And Christmas cards… (You can find her art here.)

As for the railway station, the jury is still out. Where to hang it? Do I need to be able to stare at it in long daily doses?

I suspect the answer is ‘yes.’ The ‘where’ is still unknown.

Happy 10th, Culture!

How to mark the occasion of ten years of CultureWitch? Especially now that there is less action here than formerly.

The sun was shining and it was warm – for September – so we decided to drive to Göstas at Steninge for some tea and cake and a sea view.

And there was action! There is nothing quite like a bit of car park rage on a nice day. First space was taken by car coming in the way out. Second space was about to be taken by the next car coming in the way out, except I planted myself in the way. I even informed the driver he was wrong.

Silly me.

He behaved so aggressively that I said; ‘You’re going to drive into me, anyway, aren’t you?’ My survival instincts kicked in and I moved. I was quite surprised when he drove off and parked illegally at the other end of the small car park instead, not running me down.

After which we all gathered for sustenance in Göstas…

Had intended to show you one of those tiresome photos of pretty cakes, but we had wolfed them down by the time I remembered. So here are two used cake plates,

Empty plates

a  flag, and

Flag

the beach.

Steninge

Herr Ped*rsen, check the road signs next time! That round one with a horizontal bar through it means No Entry. Which means no entry. Let’s hope we are both here in another ten years.

On critics

A comment on here recently made me think. It wasn’t terribly well written (here I go again, criticising…) but I found it interesting, and it made me consider what I do on CultureWitch.

My task, as I see it, is to go on and on about NCIS and Roger Whittaker. And anything else that takes my fancy.

But then I discovered that every single blog post in the last few weeks seemed to be negative. That is all right, as not everything is good, and one should be honest. Although I do try to keep Thumper’s mother in mind and control my worst instincts.

Luckily I read Grace Dent in the Guardian. She’s their new(ish) food critic, and she had the temerity to criticise a restaurant, which apparently led to complaints.

Luckily Grace Dent had just the right words for me; ‘a critic should offer, if need be, criticism. And things closest to our hearts often get special drubbings because we know the subject backwards.’

I’m so grateful. Grace has put me back where I needed to be. I only moan about NCIS getting it wrong because I have loved them for so long and know them so well. And because they get things wrong.

That’s all.