Saturday, 9 March 2013

Postcard from Slovenija

My second Postcrossing postcard has arrived and this time my card is sent from the town of  Jesenice in Slovenia. It shows a painting of the old blast furnace and iron works building in Jesenice, painted by Austrian artist Heinrich Wettach (1858-1929).
This postcard took 10 days to get to me and travelled 6,879 km (4,274 miles). Thank you, Jose!  

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Sad Day for Canada

Today Canada lost one of it's iconic characters. A famous politician? Nope. An Olympic medal winner? Try again. A well known author or journalist? Still wrong.

If you are not a Canadian, you may not have heard of him. Singer / Songwriter / Country legend Stompin' Tom Connors has passed away. I'm definitely not a country music fan. In fact, I have never bought one of his recordings. I never went to one of his concerts. But Stompin' Tom meant "Canada" to me. I tapped my feet to his music and sang along with his uniquely Canadian lyrics.

He wrote songs about Canada, and only sang his own songs. He always took a plywood board on stage so he could stomp his cowboy boot in time to his music. And his gravelly voice was unique and so recognisable.

Stompin' Tom had a hard life. He was born to a teenage mother, and spent some time with her in a penitentiary before being adopted. He drifted from job to job and even spent some time living on the streets before starting an entertainment career. He won several Juno awards for his music, but gave them all back in the 1970s to protest Canadian artists leaving to pursue music careers in the USA.

He wrote a letter to his fans before he died.

Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom.
It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.
I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future.
I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.
Your Friend always,
Stompin' Tom Connors

This morning the radio is playing Stompin' Tom Connors songs. He loved Canada. And Canada loved Stompin' Tom. He will be missed.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Postcard from Finland

Today I received my first Postcrossing postcard! WOOHOO!  You've never heard of Postcrossing? Then look here. Currently more than 391,000 people from 219 countries around the world are busy sending each other postcards and making friends. Snail mail, the old fashioned way!

Postcards I have sent to Germany, Holland and Taiwan have already arrived, and five more are in transit to other countries. And as soon as a postcard of mine arrives at it's destination and is registered, my address is sent to a random Postcrosser and I can expect to get another card.

I was so excited to open my mailbox today and find my first postcard from Aune in Finland. It was posted 5 days ago and travelled 6,539 km (4,063 miles). Thank you, Aune!

 A painting by Helene Schjerfbeck.... one of Finland's most famous artists.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


The renovated Roxy theatre in nearby Uxbridge is a gem..... they show first run movies and also what they call "art" movies. So I paid them a visit on Saturday to see "Quartet".

I've wanted to see this gentle British comedy-drama for a while. It played to full houses at the Roxy the previous weekend, and there were only a couple of empty seats yesterday. Often it's hard to find these non-blockbuster films.... I mean films that don't have any murders, explosions, death, torture, and other violent forms of entertainment. That's not my thing.

Quartet In Dustin Hoffman's debut as a director, three retired members of an opera quartet—Cissy (Pauline Collins), Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Reginald (Tom Courtenay)—live in Beecham House retirement home for musicians and perform a fundraising concert every year to celebrate Giuseppe Verdi's birthday.

However, when Reginald's ex-wife and the fourth and most famous member of the quartet, Jean (Maggie Smith.... also known as Violet, Countess of Grantham if you are a Downton Abbey fan!), arrives at Beecham House, rivalries stir and temperaments clash, making it unknown if the show will go on.

The storyline is somewhat weak, but the film is saved by the bantering that goes on between the principal characters which is very funny. Other residents of the retirement home are played by retired opera singers, musicians, and actors who have reached their "golden years". This isn't a "great" movie, but I really enjoyed it, and the audience obviously agreed with me as there was enthusiastic applause as the titles scrolled across the screen.

And I'll watch anything with Billy Connolly in it!