At last. The Velvet Hearts debut album, Into the World, has just been released. It’s currently available exclusively from CDBaby. It is the best of times, and the worst of times, to be trying to build a career as a musician. The online revolution is both generous in its audience and stingy in its fiscal reward; so getting to the point of releasing an album is no small feat. They’re regularly gigging, and their live shows are very good, so if you can catch them, do so. Continue reading
When, by chance, we saw The Velvet Hearts at The Edge a couple of months ago, we were left with the overriding impression that this was a band who had taken a step beyond the norm and were producing something really rather special. We saw them a second time at the sunny Portsmouth Bandstand, and were again impressed, not just by how well the sound translated from the tiny Edge venue, but also by the way the band handled (and revelled in) a stage invasion by a dozen primary school kids, without missing a beat â€“ in terms of stage rapport, think of Barenaked ladies and youâ€™re getting the picture, they enjoy what they do, and itâ€™s infectious. Continue reading
In Britain, the process of finishing a PhD involves the submission of a written thesis, followed by an oral examination called a viva voce (the literal Latin translation is “live voice”). The “viva”, as it’s commonly known, is an in-depth discussion into all aspects of the thesis which typically lasts between 90 and 180 minutes. It is conducted by a specially convened examination board, with both internal and external examiners, who typically have have four weeks to digest the thesis beforehand. In the viva, the PhD candidate must defend their thesis: if the defence is successful, the candidate is awarded the degree Continue reading
We recently spent a couple of nights in Dublin without hearing the beat of a single BodhrÃ¡n or even a hint of live music coming from any bar. So last Friday night we were spoiled, with no fewer than two concurrent BodhrÃ¡ns (and a guest washboard player), mandolin, guitar, accordion and bass thrown into the bargain, and we only had to walk for ten minutes to hear it. Continue reading
When making a pot of tea, I tend to add teabags and sugar at the same time; once the tea has brewed, I give it a stir, remove the teabags, add milk, and then with the aid of a knitted tea-cosy I get several hot mugs of tea in succession and can keep working without the need to return to the kitchen.
However, when I do return to the kitchen a recurring question bounces around my head: how much sugar is absorbed by the teabag before it is removed from the pot? i.e. exactly how much is the taste affected and how much energy is lost? Continue reading
Picture this: it’s a sunny day at the seaside and you’re enjoying an icecream. The human predilection to follow scripted conversation formats is such that you cannot fail to overhear somebody appreciatively inhale before joyously proclaiming “mmmmm, smell that sea air!”, to which a companion will invariably offer a helpfully informative “ah yes, that’s ozone“. Continue reading
Christmas cards are lovely. A small personalised message from someone you know, providing assurance that they appreciate you and think enough of you to select, purchase and deliver a card all the way to your home.
So everybody near and dear to us will be wondering where the hell our card has got to. Well, ok, we admit it, things have been too hectic and we’ve run out of time. Continue reading
Sometimes nice things come back and surprise you. Last year, just after I’d upgraded to Google Earth Plus, I was looking for some good Santa-stuff in Google Earth (so I could show my younger relatives something interesting on what is otherwise a very dull computer), and I spotted a shape: looking around Northern Europe I realised the nice crinkly edges formed a good pair of antlers. Continue reading
What are the best
alternative presents for a geek?
The typical geek has carefully selected and purchased their gadgets of choice, has a computer that’s tuned to perfection and needs no software purchased (because their entire suite is open-source) – so aside from comedy tee shirts with clever slogans that can only be understood by other geeks, buying for geeks is difficult, especially if you’re not a geek, because you can’t even understand if the tee is funny or not. Continue reading
The recent demolition of Killay House left a lot of memories without an anchor. It was a familiar shape to the thousands of people who travel on Gower Road daily, and it had been so for over 120 years. Growing up in Heol Glasnant (where the houses are tall), and going to school in Hendrefoilan (futher up the hill) meant that the old building was always in our line of sight when we looked across the bay to the view’s focal point, Mumbles Head. I understand that before NCH sold the site there was talk of getting the building protected: why this didn’t happen is not something I know. Continue reading
I had never heard of Elvis Presley when he died twenty nine years ago today; but oddly, I distinctly remember where I was when I heard that he had died.
It’s one of my earliest distinct memories. My best friend from the Bryn Nursery, James Morris (Mozz), was the bearer of the news whilst we sat in the back of my mums car, and it caused me some confusion. Continue reading
This film has almost certainly never been seen by most of the cast. It was taken during my fifth birthday party in late 1977 (a fact that I’ve deduced from comparing the guests and their clothes with higher quality photos that I have; photos that also contain a birthday cake with five countable candles). Continue reading
This cine was taken at the Hendrefoilan School Sports Day, sometime between June 1978 and June 1980… ish. Continue reading
Wimmerfield Crescent is a residential street located in Killay, Swansea. It feeds three small residential cul-de-sac roads, one of which is called Heol Glasnant where I used to live. Heol Glasnant has the unusual property (in Wales) of being flat, and the lack of throroughfare made it an ideal venue for street parties. Continue reading
Having converted my Grandparents stash of cine film to a digital format earlier in the year I’ve at last found a few minutes to extract something of general interest (as opposed to the family-interest stuff), so here it is. Continue reading
Penguin Books have come up with a rather neat little hook to get people off their iPods and curled up with a book, an open fire, and a comforting mug of brownian motion this winter; they’ve started a regular podcast in which they hope to include the latest news and extracts from Penguin Books. Continue reading
This is an an everyday lesson that I shall try to remember next time I’m at the requirements gathering phase of system design, or the next time I’m explaining to someone why common terms of reference are such an important part of Software Engineering. Continue reading
Tell me a joke. No really; please, tell me a joke. A good one. I feel the need to hear a pants-wettingly-funny story. It can be your favourite, or one you overheard on the bus. Anything that genuinely approaches bladder-failure material will receive the honour of making it through moderation and will appear for public enjoyment.
It seems like the Internet has gone quiet as everybody logs off and journeys to wherever they’re going for Dec 25th. Continue reading
Some time ago, through the miracle of the internet I got in contact with an old school friend who had moved away from Swansea when we were still in Junior School, his distinctive name played to my advantage and after searching on and off for several years I discovered a link to a wry, and beautifully disarming article, written by one Darren Chetty. Continue reading
For me, the sydney 2000 olympics beach volleyball was overshadowed by the constant references to Bondi Beach, as though somehow it was the most desirable place on earth. Pardon my skepticism but Bondi’s a tourist trap; a parody; it’s long way from paradise. Continue reading