Monthly Archives: June 2011

30th June, 2011

If only...

It was an early start, for a student in his summer holidays, at least. After getting the train (and catching up with The Economist) I wondered to Oxford street but, the time being around 08:30, not much was open. I went down some of the side-streets and happened upon the famous Steinway & Sons piano shop. I dared to poke my nose into the place where the pianos that the true masters use are sold. If you happen to see any famous pianist playing any time soon, take a look at the name on the piano and it’ll likely be a Steinway. Feeling quite out of place, I wondered around, flabbergasted by the sheer price of these instruments. I met a piano tuner for Steinway and had a nice chat with him. He obviously has the most incredible ear, and he told me about his job – essentially involving visiting many, many manor houses where very wealthy people keep their Steinways! He also, foolishly, said I was free to tickle the ivory. I am no pianist, with only a scattering of grades but this was an opportunity I thought I couldn’t pass up. I felt as if the piano were a towering giant, staring down at me, hoping I wouldn’t bring it shame by flailing my malcoordinated digits on its crisp, perfectly balanced white and black keys. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and, almost certainly due to my lack of skill and ear, couldn’t tell an awful lot of difference from the piano back home! Clear evidence that an £87,000 piano would be wasted on me.

After perusing some of the shops on Oxford Street, and picking up a surprisingly nice £12 chess set, I saw on the map ‘Wallace collection‘. I wasn’t really sure what to expect (please excuse my crippling naivety ), but I thought it would be interesting. Naturally, upon arrival it dawned on my instantaneously that the collection is quite something. For anyone, like me, previously unaware: A man with the grand name of  ‘Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford’ was a renowned art collector, and indeed of many other historical items (the collection has many armouries, galleries, sculptures and much else). He also owned, among other places, Manchester House in London, where some of this collection is kept. The marquess passed on Manchester house and his entire collection to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace and his wife, upon Wallace’s death, formed the Wallace collection and made it open to the public in 1900. Needless to say, the house looks stunning to this day, and the collection breathtaking. I implore you to visit it if you happen to have some time in the capital.

I then met with the lecturer for a few hours, a very nice chap. I may be able to get some work experience in a lab sorted over the summer. The only thing holding me back is that it is effectively an unpaid 9-5 job all week, and whilst I am over the moon to have the opportunity, and the job is very cool, the cost of going to London and back everyday would soon add up and, as I’m sure you’ve heard, students aren’t the most well off members of society.

Arriving back in the evening, most of my time was spent setting up my computer which I’d brought back from my halls, catching up with today’s events at Wimbledon and guiltily engaging in some Minecraft. Speaking of which, a youtube series that I particularly enjoy is a comedy duo by the name of Simon and Lewis who play minecraft and have an hilarious ‘machinima’ series going on, called the Shadow of Israphel, which can be found here.

Tomorrow I am off to Oxford, and indeed will be for the next three days, to help at an art exhibition by one of my friends, and hopefully find some inspiration!

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29th June, 2011

Guardian

A good day for Tsonga, a bad one for Federer fans

Plan: Learn the basics of Java, read my present copy of ‘The Economist’ to page 20, draw future ‘house’, enquire about artists’ pen, read Birdsong

One could say today was in two parts – I went to bed at 5am, obscenely late (or indeed early) and I don’t know why I did it, but I say this to justify my awakening at 11pm today.

I first enquired about purchasing an inking pen, since I am looking to develop a, presently distinctly lacking, artistic side. I’ve purchased some acrylic paints and would like to paint some landscapes of the lovely area I am fortunate to live in. Pertaining to this pen, I am interested in attempting to do some cartoon work and develop my own style. I’m a huge fan of Simon’s Cat on youtube as well as Mark Crilley, who is a Manga artist primarily and has written his own books. He has a real treasure chest of his trademarked ‘how to draw’ videos helping people develop their art. I don’t often follow them but still watch them because he’s a sound speaker and interesting to listen to, and see how he works. He is also phenomenal at still life and this video of ‘How to draw a photorealistic eye‘ is simply breathtaking. The long and short of it being that he uses the ‘Pigma Micron’ pen and I investigated as to whether the art shop had it, which did not – but fortunately one is on its way through the wonders of the world-wide web.

I was crippled watching the tennis today and simply gutted seeing Federer lose. I didn’t watch the whole match but most of the last two sets. Many congratulations to Tsonga, he played very well indeed and definitely had that determination. However, I hold Federer very highly indeed and was saddened to see him lose. I think he’s a real gentlemen of the sport and I very much admire that. I’m sure he will be back next year since he seems to be improving from a lull in the past few months before the French Open.

An hour or two of my day was spent on the Wii and outside in the garden, which I am not too sorry for at all. It is nice to have a break and leave the mind entirely unstimulated  for some time – as long as it is strictly controlled since it is so easy to spend more time than you’d like. I’ve also been trying to get the knack of juggling the past week or so and today it seemed to be coming together nicely, almost able to start and stop at will without them all crashing one by one onto the floor.

I’ve taken a desire to learn French this holiday, but I’ve also stumbled upon programming languages and, after a discussion with a person doing Computer Science, I have been recommended to learn Java. A man called ‘Bucky’ has done a wonderfully informative series of tutorials on Youtube which I am following. Even now it’s amazing to see how powerful it is, and it would be wonderful to have a sound command over it by the end of the summer.

From five, the evening was taken up with tennis at my club since Wednesday evening is club night. I’ve not been for months due to university and it was wonderful to be back and stretch the tennis muscles again. I met a few new members who were especially friendly, and it was wonderful being able to have a solid few hours of exercise, socialising and playing a sport you take great enjoyment in and to leave with a broad smile on your face. I shall definitely make more of that over the coming weeks. Indeed, I ought to since I am in the mixed doubles and men’s singles club tournaments and the matches will be played from now onwards.

If I am disappointed at some things today it is my lack of reading and drawing. I really want to crack on with ‘The Economist’ and Birdsong, and a book on cryptic crosswords. All of which will be excitingly discussed later!

Tomorrow I am off to the capital to meet with a lecturer to see the possibility of doing some research over the summer, it’s an early start since the train is leaving at seven, but it should be a good day and I will hopefully be able to make the most of my time there and may visit some places of interest.

Thanks for reading.