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Monday, 30 November 2015

New Music Monday... 2CELLOS - They Don't Care About Us

I'm introducing a new feature to my blog, New Music Monday, to introduce you to songs and music artists you may not have stumbled across before or paid too much attention to.  And if you have heard of them before, then I hope you stay awhile and enjoy them.  I aim to cover various musical genres, in an attempt to expand my own repertoire of musical tastes, and hopefully introduce you to some new and exciting music!


This week it's 2CELLOS, a Croatian duo, consisting of Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, who play mainly instrumental versions of popular rock, pop and classical pieces on their two cellos.  Considering they play classical instruments, and are both classically trained, you would think they would be very formal and stuffy on stage.  This is completely not the case, as you will see in the video below, they give their all to the music and the performance, almost as if acting out the piece.  They play passionately, and what I love most about them, is they play pieces we are familiar with, and they play rocky versions of them.  And yeah, I guess it doesn't hurt that they are young and good looking too!


2CELLOS - They Don't Care About Us (Michael Jackson cover)
Youtube video
I thoroughly enjoyed this song, and I have loved everything I've heard from them.  I can't wait to hear more.  If after watching the video above you want to hear more, you can check out their other videos on Youtube, their third album Celloverse is available worldwide, and they have just announced new Tour Dates in the USA and Canada, with 41 shows!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Discover A Life Filled With Passion & Joy

"The world is a delicious and gorgeous place created for us to explore, enjoy, and protect.  I will seek out the lessons in every experience, and as I grow, I will have more to offer in return."
These are the words of wisdom I discovered in Guild Wars 2, the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) I recently downloaded and started playing.  I love fantasy or sci-fi online games that are free to play, and have just discovered Guild Wars 2 is now free.  They have put a lot of effort into making your character feel unique and have their own personal story running through the game, by giving you character choices at the beginning like the one quoted above.  

I think these words ring very true to the attitude and beliefs I would like to encourage in my own life.  A feeling of enthusiasm and excitement at discovering the beauty and the wonder of the world around me.  Sometimes we get a little bogged down with the mundane things we have to do, and can end up stomping around with our eyes down on a grey pavement, and forgetting to look up and take in the little miracles of the world all around us.  Every moment of our lives is different, the weather changes, hence the light is different on the familiar scenes around us.  There will be unique birds singing, wildlife and nature subtly change, so that no moment is ever exactly the same.  We just have to look up and see them.  

I also want to explore and discover new things, try out new hobbies, find new challenges, and further my skills.  Pushing myself to really be the best I can be.  I won't enjoy everything I try, but I am sure I will make some exciting discoveries that will stir my passion, and lead me on a new path in life, that I wouldn't have discovered, if I hadn't first tried something new.  

I hope you find something exciting and beautiful just waiting to be discovered, perhaps a new street you haven't walked down, a garden or park you've not yet visited, the stirrings of your imagination between the pages of a new book, the stroke of a pencil you never knew you could make, or the feel of wet clay between your fingers.  Whatever you discover, I hope it stirs your heart with passion, and fills your life with joy.  

Image Credit:  Image cropped from a screenshot of Guild Wars 2's beautiful scenery during actual gameplay.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Let's Have Some Fun and Save the Planet

Would you like to enjoy live music, get a little exercise, and hear inspirational words to help save the planet?  Knowing that you would be making a difference to woods and trees, and attempting to reverse Climate Change at the same time?  Well you can, because the People's March for Woods and Trees will enable you to do just that!

There are over 2000 events taking place across our whole planet next weekend, on the 28th and 29th November 2015.  In the UK, they will be taking place in all the capital cities, as well as many smaller events dotted across the country.  I've listed the main city events below, but if you would like to attend a smaller event closer to you, you can find them on the Global Climate March Event Finder (as well as those across the planet too - just type in your country, city, or zip / post code for your area).

Climate Change

It's all in aid of drawing attention to the importance of Climate Change, the damage it is doing to our planet, and to bring it to the attention of our Global World Leaders who will be deciding what action will be taken on the next global climate deal, which they will be negotiating in Paris on Monday 30th November.  

These days climate change is having a much bigger impact on the world.  Instead of the scientists just predicting it, we can see the changes greenhouse gases are having on the planet.  The rising temperatures of global warming are creating freak weather patterns, causing extended heat waves, snow in countries not used to having it (such as Egypt), and violent storms.  

These weather patterns are effecting our seasons, making them more erratic, slower to start, and causing confusion to the plants and animals of this planet.  In my own garden this year, I have witnessed shrubs that should have been shedding their leaves, instead they are flowering in October and November, confused by the milder weather we have been having.  October is the month when weather normally turns drastically colder in the UK, causing trees to shed their leaves.  This year, insects have been flying around when they should be hidden away.  Small animals that normally hibernate at this time of the year, like our garden Hedgehog, are still active when they should be sleeping through winter.

This change in the timing of natural events can cause a loss of synchrony, so species that rely on each other, are now out of step with one another.  Some animals will do much better, whilst others will struggle, breaking up the natural balance between the two.  We are also more at risk of having non-native invasive species, who are not meant to be in our country, taking over and driving out native species, due to a changed weather climate that ordinarily would not allow them to thrive here.  This is how our native plants and animals who are quite common now, can become endangered and possibly extinct in the future.

Woods and Trees can really help to alleviate this problem.  With trees storing carbon, they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are changing our climate.  The more trees the better.  Trees and woodland also ease problems with flooding, they drink up water through their roots, which also helps hold waterlogged land together, preventing landslides during periods of heavy rain (which we seem to be having rather a lot of in England at the moment!).  Trees can also provide a renewable source of winter fuel, reducing the need for fossil fuels which are adding to the problem.

The time to act on Climate Change is now.  Many people believe we are almost at the point of no return, with scientists discovering new data which suggests sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted.  If emissions aren't cut, they believe "multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable.  Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating.  It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization."

This makes me think of my own island that I live on, England.  After the Ice Age, sea levels rose that cut off England from mainland Europe.  If the ice continues to thaw now due to global warming, will sea levels rise above my country?  Will I effectively be homeless?  I hadn't thought of my own country possibly being submerged underwater, and my country's population (myself included) becoming refugees seeking higher ground on which to live.  You can well imagine that on any remaining high ground, the people already occupying that land would not be so keen to accept migrants.  Suddenly life in the movie Waterworld doesn't seem quite so much science fiction, as potentially science fact.  

Marching for Change
I believe we need to show our world leaders not only that we care, but that they must take action now, or this planet will look very different in the near future, a change which may well become irreversible.   

The major events taking place in the capital cities of the United Kingdom are:

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Sunday 29th November 2015
A rally with live music and speakers hosted by Niall Bakewell from Friends of the Earth.
Cardiff, Wales
Saturday 28th November 2015
A bike ride and rally with speakers and live entertainment hosted by Delphine.  You can choose to take part in either the bike ride, or rally, or both!
Edinburgh, Scotland
Saturday 28th November 2015
You are invited to wear your brightest colours for an inspirational rally with speakers and live music at the iconic Ross Bandstand, hosted by Rea Cris.
London, England
Sunday 29th November 2015
The People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs will be marching right up to Westminster, and culminating with a rally with live music and a range of speakers, hosted by Fatima Ibrahim.
The London People's March will be putting on coaches from various points all over the country to help supporters get there.  Check out The Climate Justice website for more informaiton.
If you'd like to take part on one of the major events above, you can sign-up on The Woodland Trust People's March page, where they can keep you up-to-date with the latest news on routes and meet-up places, and if you meet up with them on the day of the march, they will even give you a biodegradable Woodland Trust poncho and a placard to carry!

If you'd prefer to take part in a smaller event closer to you, or in your own country, don't forget you can check out the Global Climate March Event Finder, which has all the events in all countries, with details of what will be happening at each event.  

Some of the other events around the UK will include fancy dress in Southport, poets, circus acts and inspirational speakers in Canterbury, as well as many candlelit vigils around the country with words of inspiration and music to shine a light of hope for our planet.

Around the world people will be showing their world leaders they care too, in New York City, USA, they will be holding their first annual NYC World Climate Festival / March where people will be marching to Times Square with singing, dancing, talking, listening and laughing.  There will also be people marching in Canberra, Australia, where they will be having music, speeches and stalls in a family friendly Community Festival of Solutions, inspiring people towards action and change.

Whatever you do, make sure you go out there and have fun, show you care about the future of our planet, and ultimately, all life on Earth.

Photo Credits:  Images used under the Flickr Creative Commons License:  Image 1 by Annette Bernhardt, Image 2 by Susan Melkisethian, Image 3 © Peter Bowden, Image 4 by Benjamin Lyons, Image 5 by The Weekly Bull, Image 6 by Jason, Image 7 by Stephen Melkisethian, Image 8 by M Larsen-Daw/WTML, Image 9 & 10 by TCDavis, Image 11 by canopic.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Feeling Inspired To Keep A Sketchbook

After watching Scott Robertson's Youtube video Sketchbooks (embedded below) where he shows off sketchbook pages, and then a few quick sketches of his own at the end, are really inspiring me to start regular sketching again.

I used to sketch regularly in my breaks at work, borrowing a little paper from the printer drawer (copier paper is beautifully white and a great clean surface to have fun sketching on), and I would sketch something new every day.  I was lucky at the time, I got a 20 minute break in the morning and afternoon, by the end of the week I had a sheet full of pencil sketches!  

It was great freeform drawing, not using any reference images, just doodling freehand for a little relaxation and escapism, which really took my mind off work.  Focusing on the pencil line and creating something fun, I felt transported to another world.  It was also interesting to look back on what I'd doodled and see what I'd been thinking about over the course of each week, which I dated too.  

I'd like to try some of the mechs Scott sketches above too, and I love his idea for making a basic rough shape with a grey marker pen, then sketching in details over the top with a black fineliner pen.  I tend to sketch in a 2B pencil, but I could try using the side of the pencil to lightly block in a rough shape, and then use the point to define the details afterwards.  

I think this will be fun to pick up again now, and a great way to relax and take the stress out of my day.  It's bound to improve my art skills too!