Total Eclipse

I'm not going to stay awake to watch this wonder tonight, nor do I currently have the photo equipment to do it justice if I had, but here's a great composition of the phases of a Total Lunar Eclipse from Fort Ephemara's Flickr-stream (published under a creative commons license):

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It reminds me of the total solar eclipse in August 1999. We had descended on Cornwall together with a bunch of crazy Americans and found ourselves surrrounded by a rather eclectic mix of people, some of whom were expecting to see Nostradamus' prophecy that the world would end on that day fulfilled. It didn't of course, neither did we see the actual eclipse. Bad weather, you know, the world just went pitch black and this guy in the photo didn't get those shots he dreamed to get with his 1000mm lense (despite some women nearby doing 'weather work' to remove the clouds with their thoughts). Bizarre but memorable day (picture by Charles Olson):

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VIP bizarreness

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What on earth am I doing tailing Al Gore and Rajendra K. Pachauri, hmm.... not one of my days. Or maybe I should just have headlined this picture of mine 'caption competition'?

Update 21/12: the answer is that, of course, I wasn't tailing these guys at all. I'd just left Grand Hotel after an interesting interview with the head of the Nobel Peace Prize Comittee, Ole Danbolt Mjös - where he talked about the Committee's dedication to fighting what it sees as 'the root causes' of conflict, such as poverty (last year's peace prize) and environment (this year's price), arguing that this was no more controversial than when the Comittee started focusing on nuclear weapons or human rights violations - when we were shoved aside by policemen and the peace price winners walked past, and into the black car in the picture.

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Rainy days in Brighton

Did I bring an umbrella? Nah, wouldn't have been much use in the wind anyway. A raincoat? Don't own one. Wellingtons? Would've taken up too much of my suitcase...

But Brighton is pretty awesome on rainy days as well: especially when you can sit, safe behind the windows, with your laptop, looking out on the turbulent sea. The storms you get in Brighton are quite unparaIleled my third cousin, who went to a boarding school down here some 30 years ago, often says, but when I lived here, ten years ago, storms were rare, and if it rained it was mostly just a drizzle.

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I could go down on the beach, to the Fortune of War, a pub, which' interior gives you the feeling of sitting in a ship, and watch the waves hit the shore (picture below from sunny yesterday, a marvellous day in between two gloomy ones), or make it over to the Grand for some proper afternoon tea.

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In the end I opted for the latter: a pleasant walk down memory lane, crap service.

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A picture story, or why it's been a bit quiet here lately

I know it's been pretty quiet here recently, here's the explanation - mostly in pictures (note: a fair share of these are taken with my mobile phone camera, so not the best of quality, but click on them for larger versions).

Last week I was racing to get everything out of the way before I set out for a week long trip of work and holiday, and Thursday saw me getting up at 4am to catch my flight to Newcastle via Stavanger after only a few hours sleep. You can imagine my delight then, when I at last, for late lunch, was able to get this tray of delights delivered via room service to my ever so comfortable room in the west wing of the estimable Jesmond Dene House (which, I should mention, was a complimentary stay, courtesy of NewcastleGateshead Initiative):

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The good things in life

That night we had dinner at The Newcastle United Football Club and were treated a show-round of St James' Park. Many of the older women lined up to have their pictures taken next to the shirts of Owen and Shearer (yes, the tour included a peek in the wardrobes), but I was rather taken by the strange ambience of the empty stadion:

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While in NewcastleGateshead, we encountered a number of school classes making their way around town and were told that it was quite common for school classes to use the city as their classroom. Here's one of them, all the kids in deep concentration with the task of trying to draw the bridge:

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Painting the town

After Newcastle, I was off to Ireland, on yet another uncomfortably early flight. My visit coincided with that of the Norwegian Environment Minister, so I stopped by Dublin Castle on Monday for the press conference following the meeting of the Norwegian, Irish, Icelandic and Austrian Environment ministers (on nuclear energy and the feared reopening of Thorpe, Sellafield). This is not my best picture from the event, but by far the funniest as everyone seems preoccupied with his or her own affairs:

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Press conference, Dublin Castle

My real purpose with visiting Ireland, however, was to see two good friends who work as volunteers at an animal refuge there. Most notably, this place caters for monkeys who've previously been used for labratory research. The place is in the middle of the Irish countryside, so I could only dream of getting online and was cut off from the world for quite a few days, but as you see from the pictures, it was a very peaceful, tranquil corner of the world, where, frankly, the world seemed to fade into the background:

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Rory looking after his monkeys

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Monkey feeding I

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Monkey feeding II

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Buddha overseeing the Monkey delta

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Marianne and Des at Glendalough

One of our excurisons went to the impressive Glendalough nature reserve as pictured above (and in the post called Timeout).

All in all a lovely trip, full of magnificent views and good experiences, but it was cold in the Irish countryside, smoking ban and all, or maybe it just was the effect of running around like a headless chicken for a while and then facing complete peace and quite, in any case I got ill, very ill, towards end of the stay, so that's another reason why it's been a bit quiet here and I still have all those emails left unanswered...



A place of wonder

Wouldn't it be nice of Christmas was a time of wonder, peace and contemplation; a time to think through the events of the year gone by and prepare for the new adventures of the year ahead? Not realistic? Still rushing around doing all the last minute preparations for a season filled with stress, parties and noise? Well, this picture certainly took my mind off the more mundane worries of the festive season:

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The door to fairyland
One of these rare pictures that fill you with a sense of wonder and - curiously enough - a strong desire that there should be fairies. The strange light somehow promises to be even stranger when you walk through that portal; will it be like Sebastian's journey in The Never-ending story (great book but crap movie), or are Greg Bear's Sidhe waiting for the unsuspecting traveller at the other side? Or is it Mythago wood where what I meet are conjured up from my wishes and fears...

I nicked this from my friend Solan, the maths professor, as I thought it was absolutely brilliant, and I keep wishing he would write more often.... In his post, it ends with the magical 'enter and see'. Stop by Solan's blog and check it out if you are curious about the picture's origin.