Thursday, April 07, 2005

Thermachromic postage stamps

I got a letter from the UK in this morning's post. One of the postage stamps bore the instructions "RUB FEZZES WITH YOUR FINGER TO FIND PYRAMID". I just had to find out more.

According to the Royal Mail, this is one in a long line of trick stamps.

It uses body temperature thermachromic ink which becomes transparent when heated to body temperature.

See more by bike

It was such a nice day yesterday that I could no longer resist the temptation to fetch my bike out of the basement and cycle to the village on errands. It's about 7km each way, and the rolling hills make for a good workout.

Apart from the exercise, one thing I like about travelling by bike is that you get to see a lot of things that would be missed by car. First thing I noticed was the four inch diameter holes that had been drilled in the road surface along the way. I'm not sure why, but maybe it is a sign that this section of the Sunrise Trail is finally going to be rebuilt. It will certainly make for a nicer and safer ride, whether by car or bike.

Birdsong and the sound of other creatures near the road go completely unnoticed when I take the car. And on a bicycle it is very easy to stop and watch the wildlife, like the woodpecker that was searching for bugs on a tree.

On the way back I noticed an odd feature on the telephone wires. I guess my interest in that will need some explaining. Well, our community has been trying to bring broadband internet access to our area. One option of course is DSL, but I was just reading that it will not work if there is a loading coil in the circuit, and I was wondering if that was what this device was. So far I have not been able to find any pictures on the web to show me what load coils may be mounted in on the power poles.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Tannahill Weavers tour Canada

Last night I had the good fortune to see the Tannahill Weavers live at the deCoste Center in Pictou, Nova Scotia. This band has been bringing traditional Scottish music to audiences around the world for several decades.

I was a little concerned when Colin Melville came on stage with bagpipes, and more so when he stepped up to a pair of microphones as I have always been of the opinion that the last thing the bagpipes need is amplification. But I really shouldn't have worried since Colin is an extremeley talented musician who makes beautiful music on this much maligned instrument. Colin also plays whistles, including one huge beast the likes of which I had never seen before, a low whistle which is an octave lower than normal pipes.

The Tannahill Weavers take their name from Robert Tannahill, a weaver and poet from the band's original home town of Paisley.

Roy Gullane is the lead vocalist, guitarist and story-teller. On flute, bodhran and whistles, Phil Smillie and John Martin on fiddle. Les Wilson played bouzouki, guitar and keyboards and sang lead vocals on Lassie wi’ the lintwhite locks. This is a beautiful love song written by Robbie Burns, who according to Roy, had a way with the women and could talk the underpants off any lassie.

My only disappointment was with the audience. Considering the Scottish heritage that Pictou is so proud of, it was disappointing that the audience was so small and so quiet.

The Tannahill Weavers tour of Canada continues this month in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario. They will be back in November at venues in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. If you get the the opportunity to see them, I don't think you will be disappointed. CDs and downloads are available from

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