Month: July 2019

OTD: We’ve landed on the moon!

Today (20 July 2019) we celebrate that “Giant Leap for Mankind” that happened on 20 July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC.  Conspiracy lovers please leave now as this post may offend. 

It is hard to believe that 50 years ago Neil Armstrong trod boldly where mankind had never been before, and since the cessation of the Apollo program we have never been back. 

I was 8 years old when this amazing event happened around me, and unlike most of the world we never saw it happen live due to the “verkrampte” policies and mindset of the National Party who “governed” South Africa at the time. TV had still not arrived in the country so we really had to rely on the print media and the newsreels at the bioscope if we wanted to see footage. Like most kids back then I wanted to be an astronaut (Actually I wanted to be a sailor but that’s another story), little knowing what an astronaut was or did. All we knew was they rode in ginormous spaceships and popped into space and occasionally rescued scantily clad women from tentacled aliens. That was the theory at any rate, and poor eyesight, mathematics and citizenship ensured that I stood zero chance of making it anyway. 

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From a technology point of view the moon landings were one heck of an achievement, and I think global citizens thought that colonisation of the moon and outer space would follow in short thrift. Unfortunately the Apollo program only ran until December 1972 and once it ceased so our exploration of the lunar surface ceased too, and the success of the Space Shuttle was almost an anticlimax.  Apart from the men who were killed in Apollo 1 (Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee) and the near disaster of Apollo 13,  it was a successful program, albeit a very expensive successful program.

Apollo 11 crew: left to right are: Neil A. Armstrong, Commander; Michael Collins, Module Pilot; Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot

The list of things that could go wrong is a long one, and we are fortunate that everything worked and that we are all alive here to celebrate. There were schools of thought that considered that the moon would crash down on earth if we landed on the moon, or that we would bring back some strange microbe from space and let it loose on earth by accident. Science fiction is a wonderful genre to read and watch, but nothing like our reality. We never did colonise our moon or launch manned missions beyond the moon, although there have been many successful unmanned missions that have exceeded their original parameters and continue to provide tantalising glimpses of our galaxy. 

The question is often asked whether we would/should go back to the moon. Personally I think we have more important issues to solve on our home planet, and climate change is the biggest of these. Our spaceship Earth is a  small fragile place  when viewed from the “magnificent desolation” of the moon, and we really need to concentrate on fixing it for the billions instead of expending vast amounts of money to send a few men or women to the moon.

View of Moon limb with Earth on the horizon, This image was taken before separation of the LM and the Command Module during Apollo 11 Mission.

Technology-wise we could probably build the hardware but the paperwork, risk assessments and amount of managers and bean counters needed would make the Apollo program look small.  Besides, it is easier and cheaper to send probes and drones to do the dangerous work for us, piloted by some hotshot gamer geek who can “make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs”. Let’s face it, landing man on the moon in in the 2000’s just does not have the same impact as it did 50 years ago. 

Let us remember this achievement for what it was and ignore the conspiracists who say it never happened. Let us remember the courage of those 3 men who were so far from home and help that they were certainly doomed had too many things gone wrong. Let us remember the day the world stood in awe as we took that giant leap. And let us hope that one day long in the future people will see that landing site once again and I suspect that selfies would happen, like buttons would be pressed, statuses would be updated and vapid celebs will realise that in the grand scheme of things their contribution to our planet is zero, and that walking on the moon is way, way cooler. 

DRW © 2019. Created on the 50th anniversary of the moon landings.  Images are property of NASA and are not copyrighted but freely available for use. Images from https://www.nasa.gov/specials/apollo50th/index.html More information from  https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/guidelines/index.html


Ye olde Medieval Festival Parade

Continuing with our Medieval Festival…

Day 2 starts off with a parade through town, usually just before midday. It is quite a festive occasion and kind of chaotic too, but the town turns out and the munchkins hopefully have fun and items of clothing go missing as do various reproduction swords, helmets and body parts. Its that kinda day! I parked myself not too far from the Town Hall, just looking for the odd scene worth capturing. It is in the nature of this sort of thing that participants get photographed, there is really no way around it. And, because the parade moves and photographer doesn’t many images look the same.

Things start off with the king/knight on his horse.

followed by a group  probably affiliated with him.

The sign of the wagon certainly confirms their allegiance.

Followed by the Tewkesbury Town Band. They are really very professional and do a great job.

I was watching this tall fella walking to the assembly point and I could see by the way he was walking that it was heavy going. He must be exhausted after the days events.

A number of large puppets and floats were also in the parade and kudos to those who carried and moved them.

Local schools also had individual floats or displays and it was great to see the kids included in the parade, at the end of the day they will be the ones who will have to ensure the success of the festival 20 years from now, and while some may have been bored out of their minds (and suffering from cellphone withdrawal) others were enjoying themselves.  

Mythago also appeared at the festival, and they are quite regular attendees and really good at what they do. Morris dancing with a twist is the best I can describe it.

This large dragon was awesome, and really quite labour intensive for the people moving it.

There was also a party from the Abbey, and they were covered in clouds of incense from the two incense swingers who seemed to have mastered the art of synchronised incense holder swinging. Out of curiosity,  the burner is a metal censer suspended from chains, and it is called a thurible (via Old French from Medieval Latin turibulum) and the altar server who carries the thurible is called the thurifer.

and then there was this fine vessel replete with figurehead…

and one of my personal favourite people: The Wild Man of the Woods, he is the widest travelled and longest running Green Man in Britain (accompanied by a friend)

with the Pentacle Drummers bringing up the rear. They are loud, energetic and their vibe has to be seen to be believed and standing up close to them is quite an experience. 

There is some footage of them performing at the parade in 2017 on Youtube

And then it was all over bar the shouting, with people following the parade towards the end of town, scattering in their different directions as they reached their turning off points. The Medieval Festival would still continue till later tonight before wrapping it up for another year. Some however seemed to have slept though it all…

Special thanks to all who participated and who worked so hard to make the festival a success. See you next year? hopefully. 

Random Images

DRW © 2019. Created 14/07/2019


Ye olde Medieval Festival 2019

It’s that time of year again when Tewkesbury dons its finest medieval garb, hauls the codpiece out of ye closet and goes gaga at the annual Medieval Festival.

The official website says:

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is widely regarded as the biggest free Medieval gathering in Europe with over 2000 re-enactors and traders travelling from as far afield as France, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Germany. Many live in full Medieval style for the weekend and welcome visitors to the living history camps around the battlefield, King Edward’s camp on Windmill Hill, and Queen Margaret’s camp in Bloody Meadow. The re-enactors cook over open fires, fettle their armour ready for battle, weave, sew, play Medieval board games, whittle spoons, and a myriad of other things. In our large Medieval market you can buy anything from a full harness of armour or cooking range to a bottle of mead or a leather belt. We also have a large exhibition tent where you will find displays from historical societies and an exhibition of Graham Turner’s wonderful paintings which have featured on our posters for over 20 years. In the Bright Knight tent you will find Medieval inspired crafts and shows for our younger visitors. Medieval minstrels, jugglers, stilt walkers, friendly dragons, and bears wander around the festival site and there is a varied programme of events in the beer tent. On Sunday, join the people of Tewkesbury in a vibrant parade through the town. If you are a visitor to Tewkesbury, please take the time to look around.” 

For a few weeks the banners have been appearing in the town and I did a post about those last year and am not going to do another this year, however it really seems as if there are far fewer banners around than last year, but it could be my imagination. 

Ye weather outside is for 19 degrees with light cloud and a gentle breeze. and hopefully it will improve because I am heading out there after 12. I like to rubber neck the market and attempt to look at the many tents selling various goodies and of course admiring the ingenuity and fervour of those who go all out to make the day a success. 

Map from official website

I got to the festival site after 12 and it was not as full as usual, but that may have been because I was running early. As you can see below it was generally overcast and not very warm either.

This is the area of the Medieval Market and where you can buy everything from dodgy curry to a hand or two.

Many of the tent/shops were packed with interested festival goers and rubber neckers as well as the stalled dog walkers and selfie mob. I was considering buying a sword but very few had prices on them and some were just not viewable because of the crowd. Maybe next year?

Of course part of the fun is seeing the many costumes that people are wearing, and some are really fantastic. 

What I like this that there is a crossover of styles in a festival like this, and almost anything goes. 

The food stalls were chocabloc once again but I did manage to get myself a crepe for lunch, and this is something I always look out for because they are delicious.

The area where the battle was to take place was devoid of crowds and you could get some idea of the space involved, and from 3.30 this space becomes jam packed with people.

The battlefield (1500×710)

At the moment all was quiet as future participants wet their whistles or enjoyed some time in their tents and around their fires. 

Actually I enjoy this area because there is a “normality” about it; a glimpse of life in a tented camp while fighting wars for the king.

Somebody has not been doing maintenance on their armour…

My meanderings took me across to Queen Margaret’s Camp and the Kings Camp. This area is really where you get to show off your crown and goodies.  It also has tents where family groups are living while the festival is going on, and it is quite interesting too.

I am however looking for that definitive pic of a knight on the phone! 

and then I was done and dusted and was about ready to go home. I was tired and was not ready to hang around till 4 pm for the battle, the huge crowd kind of gets to me after awhile and I get tired of dodging dogs, people on phones, prams, and groups of people who are having a  convo in the middle of the aisle. Yes the festival is interesting but the irritation factor is high too.  This is the queue of cars near Aldi all trying to get to the festival…

That was it for the day. I may go see the parade tomorrow morning, depending on how I feel. 

Random Images

I suspect though, when the festival ends for the day this is how everybody will feel….

This way for the parade…

DRW © 2019. Image of map from the official Festival website Special thanks to everybody that put in so much effort to make the day a success.