Tag Archives: Fireworks

Happy New Year 2013!

Guess what?  I’m back!  I know I said Sharky Oven Gloves would be on a break until just after Christmas, but life happened (in a good way, don’t worry!) and I really just wanted to make the most of the last few days of my mum’s visit, and then Kat arrived for her visit (yay!).  And now suddenly it’s next year already.  Woah.  How did that happen?

I’d really just like to thank you all for reading Sharky Oven Gloves throughout 2012, sticking with it through its ups and downs (or perhaps I should say despite some really dull posts).  Even though some of you are still counting down the hours until the end of 2012 (catch up already – we’re 13 hours into 2013 here in NZ), I’d also like to wish you all a Happy New Year!  May 2013 be filled with health and happiness for you and your families, wherever you are in the world.

Fireworks off the Sky Tower – a fabulous combination of two of my favourite things to take photos of.

Sharky Oven Gloves will be back to normal soonish, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your day!

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Sunday Smiles: “We might fail at science, but we’re pretty good at baking”

I feel the news this week has almost entirely been dominated by Hurricane Sandy – I hope that if any of you or your families live in affected areas, you made it through alright.  Then as Sandy blew itself out, there was the news that CCAMLR has failed to come to a consensus about protecting parts of the Ross Sea.  I haven’t read the full details yet, but I doubt they’ll reveal anything particularly positive about the situation.  Not a particularly uplifting week in the news department, really (but then when is it ever?).

Hopefully to cheer us all up, on to this week’s Sunday Smiles:

  • The week started off with a Baking Competition within the School of Biology.  The theme was ‘Health & Safety’ and they managed to ambush us with a H&S lecture after having lured most of the school up to the tea room with the promise of baked goods – I can’t believe that none of us saw that coming.  We had to sit through the lecture to find out who the winners were.  The Marine Lab cleaned up two of the three available prizes: one of the technicians won “Best Looking” for her amazing marine-themed cake and I won “Best Tasting” with my ‘radioactive’ lemon macarons (I’ll post the recipe soon).  If I’m honest, we didn’t have much competition, but still, yay!  The title of this blog post comes courtesy of my fellow Marine Lab winner.

  • I randomly came across the blog Things I Want To Punch In The Face which basically consists of little rants but written amusingly.  It includes an amusing (and very valid) rant about hurricane names – I couldn’t agree more that Rizzo would be a rather more appropriate name for a destructive hurricane.
  • Last week we had a groan-worthy biology joke, this week we have a punny biology meme featuring… heterozygoats.  Geddit?  (Image source)

  • Speaking of goats, our Spanish labmate told this week that the Spanish Special Forces have a goat as a mascot.  No really, I’m not kidding, and it even has a special little coat.  They’re also clearly in a hurry to get places and march funny (the soldiers, not the goat).
  • This week I ate my first strawberries of the season.  I was too busy savouring them to take a photo – I love strawberries and these were full of flavour.  I’m looking forward to eating many, many more over the next couple of months…
  • I came across this time lapse taken over a three-month holiday in Europe.  It’s incredible and rather enthralling to watch, and quite fun to see if you can recognise where the different places are.
  • I mentioned last week that Wellington airport have put up a giant Gollum in preparation for the release of The Hobbit, Part 1 soon.  Well this week, Air New Zealand has released a new Hobbit-themed safety video on their planes.  It’s totally amazing, but equally rather on the cringe-worthy side.  I can’t actually decide whether amazement or embarrassment wins out.
  • There was a Rose Festival in the Parnell Rose Gardens this weekend.  I’ve mentioned my love of roses on this blog several times, so you won’t be too surprised to hear that I’m totally keen on anything that involves looking at lots of pretty roses (unless it rains, obviously), which is precisely what we did.  I loved it, despite the odd shower.

  • And finally, I’ve also previously mentioned my love of watching fireworks, and it turns out that, although I’m not entirely sure why, Guy Fawkes is a huge deal here.  The whole bonfire thing doesn’t seem to happen and it’s all about fireworks.  From what I understand, it’s the only time of the year that fireworks can be legally sold, so this weekend has been a bit of a firework extravaganza.  In fact, as I’m typing this I can see fireworks being set off from the roof of a nearby apartment block.  Yesterday evening we went to a firework display in Papatoetoe, which was good fun to watch, although it got a little cold waiting around for 3h before they started.

What made you smile this week?

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Sunday Smiles: From highbrow to lowbrow

On Thursday I realised that it was exactly eight months since I landed in New Zealand.  Eight months?  Wow!  It’s funny because it feels rather longer than that, and yet I can’t believe that it’s already been eight months.  I also realised that I can’t do basic maths because I spent a good hour or two thinking I’d been here for ten months.  Ya… I forgot to subtract February’s two months from October’s ten months.  Ya, hmmm.  Clearly doing basic maths before coffee isn’t my thing.  Or perhaps the fact that it was bright and sunny and warm enough to take morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea outside without a cardigan (!) went to my head.

On to this week’s Sunday Smiles:

  • I’ve previously mentioned that I find space fascinating, so I was rather excited when I came across these photos of the fully powered-up flight deck of Space Shuttle Endeavour.  Oh my gosh, amazing.  Also, I clearly could never have been an astronaut – it looks way too complicated and I only just figured out how to get emoticons on my phone (I’ve had it for eight months, ahem).  And the seats don’t look too comfortable, either.  I hope space suits are padded.
  • I got an email last weekend from Lucy at The KitchenMaid saying that she’d had to re-draw her Equagold giveaway and that I had won!  Super exciting since I rarely win things.  Anyway, so the goodies arrived this week which was marvellous – now I just have to decide what to do make with them.  Too many options!

  • Somebody sent me a link to Cookie Monster’s Share It Maybe song (his version of Call Me Maybe or whatever that ridiculous song that makes no sense is called).  I do love Cookie Monster.
  • This dissection of a spam email really did make me laugh – we all receive them, and this really is a great way of laughing at it.
  • I love Downton Abbey, so this Downton Labbey comic made me chuckle when I saw it.  (Cartoon source)

  • One of my facebook friends linked to an intriguing-sounding blog called Introvert Fairy Tales.  It describes itself as ‘What “Happily Ever After” looks like when being alone isn’t a problem to be fixed‘ and it’s hilarious.  The posts are few and far between, but I find them really funny (no prizes for guessing that I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert).  My favourite one is about Ariel.
  • There have been Diwali celebrations in Aotea Square (central Auckland’s main big square thing) this weekend and they were setting up on Friday when I was passing through on my way home and there were flower garlands everywhere.  It was so colourful and beautiful, particularly in the sunshine.  I went along yesterday and had a nosy around some of the stalls and watched the concert for a little bit, but it was incredibly windy so I didn’t stay too long.  I could actually hear most of the concert from my flat, where there weren’t 80 km/h gusts.

  • Speaking of Diwali, I’m guessing the celebrations have just come to an end since we’ve just been treated to a massive firework display over Aotea Square, which I could just see by craning my head out of my window.  Grainy photographic evidence:

  • I’m a firm believer in treating oneself to birthday presents, and so for my birthday a month ago I offered myself a ticket to last night’s performance of the Imperial Russian Ballet Company’s Swan Lake, which is touring NZ at the moment.  Swan Lake is probably my favourite ballet because the music is just so expressive, and it was beautifully danced and the costumes were stunning.  I had a few music-related niggles (namely that the music was pre-recorded), but I won’t dwell on that.  I adore watching ballet, and this performance definitely had me enraptured throughout.
  • And finally, just in case you thought I was all highbrow, here’s some lowbrow…  This restaurant is near the pool that I go to, and the name never fails to make me chuckle.  Oh, you thought I was mature…?

What made you smile this week?

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Sunday Smiles: A last Olympic huzzah!

I spent most of this week rather wiped out from the tummy bug that ambushed me last weekend – an entire day of vomiting and not eating much for two days really does floor you.  I didn’t have enough energy (nor the desire) to cook something more complicated than plain pasta until Tuesday evening, and even then my energy only extended as far as chopping up some kumara and roasting it in the oven… and then adding it to pasta.  Being ill is miserable.  And if I barely had the energy to cook, I certainly didn’t have enough energy to bake.  No baking for an entire week.  Sad times.  Luckily, in an unusual fit of organisation, I had this week’s blog posts prepared, and there were quite a few things that brightened up the week.

Here are my Sunday Smiles for this week:

  • The third season of Downton Abbey has started!  Huzzah!  Yes, it’s rather ridiculous, and yes, some of the plot points are dubious, but it’s utterly addictive and I’m hooked.  I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t watched it, but it looks like Season Three is shaping up to be just as addictive as its predecessors.
  • I’ve heard whispers that strawberries are very nearly in season here…  I’m beyond excited.  I adore strawberries.
  • New Zealand offered the perfect antidote to any Olympics and Paralympics withdrawal symptoms this week with the Gold medal ceremony for Valerie Adams (women’s shot put).  The original winner from Belarus was caught doping, so Valerie Adams, who also won Gold in Beijing, was upgraded from Silver medallist to Gold medallist.  After some delays with getting the Gold medal back (apparently) and further delays whilst Valerie Adams was participating in other competitions, an official medal presentation ceremony was finally held on Wednesday evening here in Auckland.  The Sky Tower was lit in gold for the occasion.

  • But that’s not all.  This was the first ever Olympic Gold medal ceremony to be held on NZ soil, so the Kiwis went all out and ended it with seven minutes of fireworks simultaneously in Auckland and Wellington.  Can you imagine if NZ actually hosted the Olympics?!  It would be amazing.  Not to mention hilarious – my favourite part of the ceremony, which I must admit resembled more of a school prize-giving than the very official London Olympic ceremonies, was the part where the “MC” thanks Auckland’s mayor for having an easier to pronounce name than the Tongan royals present.  I kid you not.  You can watch the ceremony here in case you missed it or just want to listen to Kiwi accents (there are several speeches at the start, so the actual medal presentation part starts around 31:30, and the Auckland fireworks at around 45:00).  I bundled up warm and went down to the Waterfront to watch the fireworks, which were beautiful.

  • On a more sobering note, I heard about Operation Sugar this week, which aims to provide birthday cakes (baked by volunteer bakers) for critically ill children in NZ.  I think this is a fantastic idea, although from what I understand (I need to read the information email properly) cakes need to be able to feed 40 people which might be a little past my abilities, so I’m not sure whether I can really commit yet.  But I absolutely do want to spread the word!!!  So if you’re a baker in NZ and you’re interested, head over to their facebook page for more information.
  • The iPhone 5 and the new iOS release seem to have been the big tech news this week.  I haven’t upgraded to iOS 6 yet (I was going to but then got distracted and forgot about it), but from what I’ve heard the new Apple Maps app is dreadful.  There’s a whole tumblr dedicated to it (of course): The Amazing iOS 6 Maps.  Whilst very amusing, I’m not sure how keen I am to update because I use the Google Maps app a lot.
  • You may have noticed that I have a slight Instagram addiction…  If you also share my over-enthusiasm for Instagram, you might appreciate the Instagram song which Craig sent me this week.
  • And finally, this meme made me laugh about 56 times more than it should have…  Don’t judge my sense of humour.  Thank you Emma for brightening up my week no end – alpaca lunch next time we go for a picnic.  In the meantime, I think I’ll be printing this out on Monday and pinning it next to my desk.  (Not sure of the original source)

What made you smile this week?

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Toothy’s Travels – Edinburgh: The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

Sunday evening saw the spectacular finale of the Edinburgh International Festival, in the form of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, which is a fantastic 45-minute firework display set to a live concert played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen the Fireworks Concert before, so I definitely wanted to watch it this year, particularly since I’d been on a super interesting behind-the-scenes tour of the preparations for it on Thursday evening (which you can read about here).

Whether I’d be able to watch or not depended on two factors, both entirely out of my control: that the weather stayed dry (I’m not a fan of standing in the rain for 45 minutes…) and that I managed to get back to Edinburgh in time (I went to Oxford the weekend and my train was due to arrive at Edinburgh Waverley about 40 minutes before the start of the fireworks).  Luckily the rain held off until the end of the concert and my train miraculously arrived on time (the station is conveniently right in the centre of Edinburgh so I didn’t have to go very far), so I was able to fully enjoy the concert – hurrah!

This year, the Edinburgh International Festival was celebrating Asia, and six pieces of music were chosen to fit in with this theme (although I feel that adding the Russian and Arab dances to the Chinese dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker may have been slightly tenuous, plus the Nutcracker always makes me think of Christmas).  Although the festival ends with the Fireworks Concert every year, I can’t help but think that it was especially fitting this year, with Asia as the theme, particularly since I found out on the behind-the-scenes tour that the majority of the fireworks for the show were sourced in China (though this is for financial reasons rather than anything else).

The fireworks are launched from Edinburgh Castle and the concert is played down in Princes Street Gardens, so we watched from Princes Street where we had an excellent view of the Castle but could also hear the concert from the speakers (well, mostly – fireworks get a bit loud occasionally).  I think the most impressive thing about the show (aside from the fact that it involves over 100,000 fireworks) is the way it makes use of the different levels of the Castle’s ramparts as well as playing around with lighting up the Castle in different ways, which makes it really quite unique and totally spectacular.

The great thing about the show being 45 minutes long is that they can really play around with and showcase a lot of different types of fireworks in all different colours.  Of course there are the standard huge ones that we’ve all seen before and Roman candles, but there were some really fun ones that I don’t remember having seen before, such as ones where, once the firework burst, the sparks zipped off in every direction like fireflies.  And of course, there’s the firework cascade that comes down the Castle wall – the resounding cheer from the spectators confirmed that it is, indeed, the most popular part of the show – though unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of it.

I shall stop rambling on now, and leave you with a few more photos (I know you’re probably bored now, but fireworks are just so pretty…) and my conclusion that watching over 100,000 fireworks explode in the sky in time to a live concert was an excellent way to spend 45 minutes of my life, and if you’re ever in Edinburgh at the end of the Festival, I thoroughly recommend that you do the same (watch the show, not explode in the sky – I wouldn’t recommend that so much).

Well done – you made it through a lot of terrible pictures of fireworks.  You should give yourself a pat on the back! Here’s one last one (of the finale, appropriately enough), just for good measure:

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Toothy’s Travels – Edinburgh: Behind the scenes at the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

Every year the Edinburgh International Festival ends with a spectacular fireworks concert, which involves a concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the Ross Theatre in Princes Street Gardens, set against the backdrop of a fantastic fireworks display timed to the music and launched from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.  This year’s Fireworks Concert is this Sunday evening (4th September) at 21:00.  This year, the event has a new sponsor in the form of Virgin Money, and in order to increase awareness of this, yesterday evening they organised a little behind-the-scenes tour of the firework preparations for interested Edinburgh bloggers.

Now, I realise that fireworks are a bit of a departure from the norm on what is primarily a food blog, but… uhm, hello, fireworks are awesome, of course I wanted to see behind the scenes!  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it was really rather interesting, particularly since I know absolutely nothing about fireworks, except that they’re pretty and can be dangerous.  The little tour was given by Keith Webb, the Project Director for Pyrovision who are responsible for putting together the display which involves over 100,000 fireworks (uhm, wow!).  Here he is showing us the set-up for a wave of fireworks that will make up a grand total of around 7 seconds of the 45-minute show.

What I found very interesting to learn about was the huge role of technology in the firework display.  Now, my grasp of electronics isn’t exactly fabulous, so here’s the disclaimer: whilst I took notes, I might be using totally the wrong terminology, but hopefully you’ll understand what I’m trying to talk about.  Keith explained that alternating fireworks on the frame above are on different circuits, in case something goes wrong, so that at least half the fireworks will still be able to go off for the show.  I’d never realised how much technology and electronics are involved in modern firework displays.  It totally makes sense, but I guess I’d never really thought about it – I may or may not have had a vague mental image of people running around with hand-lighters to light the fuses on the fireworks, kind of like you see in cartoons.  Like I said, I’d never really thought about it…

Every single firework in the entire display is set off by an electric match (I didn’t even know that such things existed) which is connected to a cable, which is ultimately connected to and controlled by a computer.  It’s totally mind-blowing, particularly when you consider that there are over 100,000 fireworks, plus spares, just in case.  That is one heck of a lot of cabling.  Obviously, there have been lots of technological advances since the Firework Concert first started, and the control of the display has moved from human fingers pressing buttons (or lighting fuses) to the use of computers to programme the display.  Keith explained that one of the huge advantages conferred by the use of computers is that it allows them to time the fireworks much more closely to the tempo of the music, particularly when the music reaches a tempo faster than a human would be able to press all the firework buttons.  Amazing!  Of course, this make it sound really easy – programme the fireworks, sit back and relax as they all go off in time to the music – but of course, the fireworks are timed to a live show and the tempo of the music depends on the conductor down in Princes St Gardens.  Therein lies the challenge – continuously monitoring and altering the tempo of the programmed display to match that of the music that the display is accompanying.

As well as monitoring the live music, the technicians (professional pyromaniacs?  Not really sure what their official job title would be) also keep an eye out on the weather and if the wind speed picks up too much (we’re in Scotland, so obviously that would never happen), they can cut off the really big fireworks from the display programme, in order to keep the display as safe as possible for the public.  As I briefly mentioned, there are plenty of spare fireworks and a lot of redundancy is built into the whole system and display, in case of technical failures and malfunctions, to ensure that the show still happens regardless.

I think Keith had planned to show us the apparatus to set up the firework cascade that comes down the North wall of the Castle, but sadly we ran out of time.  The cascade is by far the most expensive part of the whole display, but also the most popular (it is so impressive to see the sparks fall from the Castle’s ramparts and down the sheer cliff), and the timing of the cascade within the concert is a closely guarded secret.  We’ll have to wait until Sunday evening to find out when it will happen…

Which brings me onto my final note – the concert itself.  This year, the Edinburgh International Festival was celebrating the wealth and diversity of Asian cultures, and the Fireworks Concert pieces have been chosen along this theme (you can find the listing here).  Even though the Fireworks Concert happens every year, I can’t help but feel that the long history of fireworks in Asia (and I think particularly China) makes this event a particularly fitting end to the Festival this year.  Perhaps even more apt that most of the fireworks come from China (apparently it’s more cost-effective, but I’m sure they also produce really good fireworks.  They’ve been making them since the 7th century, so that’s quite a lot of practice!).

Setting up all the fireworks requires about 15 people, with an additional four on the night of the concert, supported by additional staff from the Castle.  I take my hat off to all of them for A) being able to understand all the cables and B) being able to put together such an impressive event, and look forward to an exciting Fireworks Concert on Sunday evening!  If you’re in or near Edinburgh, I strongly recommend that you try to watch the event – whilst access to Princes St Gardens is ticketed, I believe watching from Princes St is completely free, and if you’re watching from elsewhere in Edinburgh, I think that the concert is broadcast on local radio so that you can enjoy the music, too.

Thank you to Virgin Money for this wonderfully eye-opening behind the scenes tour!

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