Pale Blue Dot

As NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft was about to leave our Solar System in 1989, Carl Sagan pleaded with officials to turn the camera around to take one last look back at Earth before the spaceship left our solar system. The resulting image of the earth from 3.7bn miles away became known as ‘the pale blue dot.’

If ever you need perspective, just think; pale blue dot.




Formula 1 Wall of Champions

Formula One World Champions since 1950I finally completed a little home decorating project; my F1 Wall of Champions.

Every formula one word champion since 1950 proudly displaying their year(s) of victory (Schumacher was a bit of a squeeze!). Stitched together on Photoshop, I had this printed on a large canvas which now graces my living room wall.




The Lady of Shalott, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Lady of Shalott
Lady of Shalott

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower’d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers “‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.”

Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

I Am Half-sick Of Shadows Said The Lady Of Shallot by Sidney Harold Meteyard
I Am Half-sick Of Shadows Said The Lady Of Shallot by Sidney Harold Meteyard

And moving thro’ a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

John William Waterhouse - I am half-sick of shadows, said the lady of shalott
John William Waterhouse – I am half-sick of shadows, said the lady of shalott

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

William Holman Hunt's Lady of Shalott (1905)
William Holman Hunt’s Lady of Shalott (1905)

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot, 1894
John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot, 1894

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

John William Waterhouse - The Lady of Shalott
John William Waterhouse – The Lady of Shalott

And down the river’s dim expanse –
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Thro’ the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song.
The Lady of Shalott.

The Lady of Shalott, 1858 by Arthur Hughes
The Lady of Shalott, 1858 by Arthur Hughes

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken’d wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame.
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

G.E. Robertson’s “The Lady of Shalott”
G.E. Robertson’s “The Lady of Shalott”

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace.
The Lady of Shalott.”

Belgium F1 at Spa-Francorchamps 2014

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Felipe Massa, Williams
Felipe Massa, Williams
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari against former teammate Felipe Massa, Williams
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari against former teammate Felipe Massa, Williams
Jenson Button, McLaren
Jenson Button, McLaren
Marshals doing a good job!
Marshals doing a good job!

Bronze Age Barrow Cemeteries of Ashen Hill and Priddy

Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery
Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery

The area of north east of the village of Priddy in Somerset contains an extensive Bronze Age ritual landscape containing several barrow cemeteries rivalling those seen in Wiltshire surrounding Stonehenge. It includes the recently partially-demolished Priddy Rings, the Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery and Priddy Nine Barrows Cemetery.

Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery

Ashen Hill and Priddy Nine Barrow Cemeteries
Ashen Hill and Priddy Nine Barrow Cemeteries

Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery consists of six bowl barrows and two bell barrows aligned west to east ranged across the ridge line of a pasture field. They date to the Bronze Age (c. 2000-700 BC) and early excavations showed them to contain a variety of cremation burials and some other finds. It can be easily accessed by public footpath from the village of Priddy.

The barrows here were partially ‘excavated’ in September 1815 by Rev. John Skinner, a parish vicar and amateur antiquarian and archaeologist operating mainly in the area of Bath and the villages of northern Somerset.

The Finds

Most of the finds from Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery came from the partial excavations of Skinner in September 1815. Going from the westernmost to the easternmost barrows, they included:

  • Barrow #1: A cremation burial but no finds.
  • Bowl Barrow #2: A central cremation burial with part of a bronze blade.
  • Bowl Barrow #3: A cist containing a possible primary cremation and a large broken decorated urn.
  • Bell Barrow #4: No finds were reported from Skinner’s excavation but a subsequent excavation in 1894 by the Wells Natural History and Antiquarian Society uncovered four cremations as well as finds of worked flint blades and a barbed and tanged arrowhead.
  • Bowl Barrow #5: A cist or stone grave containing a cremation burial and a bronze spearhead.
  • Bowl Barrow #6: A cremation burial located in a cavity covered by a flat stone within 15cm of the summit of the mound. An earlier cremation burial and inverted ceramic urn located in a cist was also reported.
  • Bell Barrow #7: A small cist covered by a flat stone which contained a cremation burial and five amber beads. Other finds reported included part of a bronze spear or arrowhead, a bronze ring, and a perforated blue opaque glass bead.
  • Bowl Barrow #8: Two cremation burials located just below the Bronze Age ground surface, set in an oval cist and covered by a flat stone as well as a broken ceramic urn.
Priddy Nine Barrow Cemetery
Priddy Nine Barrow Cemetery

Priddy Nine Barrows

Priddy Nine Barrows is a group of 9 bowl barrows in a wider cemetery of around 30, dating to the Bronze Age (c. 2000-700 BC). It is located just 200m south of Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery.

The areas between the barrow mounds appears to survive undisturbed and is believed likely to contain further burials in the form of flat graves and urnfields in addition to evidence for Bronze Age occupation.

As with Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery, Rev. John Skinner also conducted partial excavations of Priddy Nine Barrows though nothing is known about the finds which may have been uncovered.

These barrows are on private land, but a footpath runs along the field boundary allowing a good view of them all.

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If you want to visit the barrows, park on the village green in Priddy and follow the footpath up Nine Rings Lane. There in a stile into the field containing the Ashen Hill barrows, though you won’t see the line of them until you’re on top of the first. There is a good circular walk here which also takes in the nature reserve to the east of Priddy Nine Barrows.

Further Reading

Lewes, Jodie (1999). “The Ashen Hill and Priddy Nine Barrow cemeteries: A consideration of the Significance of Location

Scheduled Ancient Monument, Priddy Nine Barrows:

Scheduled Ancient Monument, Ashen Hill Barrow Cemetery:

The Megalithic Portal:

The Great Court at the British Museum

The Great Court at the British Museum
The Great Court at the British Museum

The largest covered public square in Europe, the British Museum’s Great Court was originally intended to be a garden. However with the creation of the reading room in 1852, the courtyard became the museum’s library and it wasn’t until it’s move in 1997 that the courtyard was opened again.

The Great Court at the British Museum
The Great Court at the British Museum

A competition was launched to find a new way to open the space to the public, eventually won by Norman Foster who took inspiration from the Reichstag’s domed roof in Berlin.

The Great Court at the British Museum
The Great Court at the British Museum

It is made of 3,312 uniquely sculpted panes of glass which were designed on computer and covers two acres. It increased the museums public space by 40%.

The Great Court at the British Museum
The Great Court at the British Museum

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Eye

TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Continue reading “The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe”