A summer frenzy of fireworks

For 2 nights each summer, most of its local population descends on Plymouth’s waterfront, the Hoe, and (by boat to) Plymouth Sound to watch 2 nights of the National Fireworks Competition. This year I got to experience this delight for the first time.

Fireworks display on night 1 of the competion

I took the week off to it spend with my friend who lives in Plymouth, and also to celebrate my birthday which happens to coincide with this spectacular event (as well as the annual Perseids meteor shower, which unfortunately we were prevented from enjoying due to cloud cover).

Plymouth is a great location for the fireworks competition because the waterfront of Plymouth is large, meandering and on many levels which means there is no jostling for positions and you don’t have to worry about being stood behind the tallest-person-in-the-world. Having said that, there are definitely some prime spots for watching the fireworks display. The grassy embankment of the Royal Citadel is a prime spot.

People watching the fireworks from the Hoe

In fact on the second day I was walking on the Hoe at about 4pm and I saw people taking up their positions at the top of this embankment already, 5 1/2 hours before the fireworks display begins! Not surprising then, that they were kitted out with deck chairs, tents, tripods and cool boxes.

Photo of a grassy embankment

I’m imagining that the person who made the following video was probably one of those getting into position early. This video is a recording of the winning display which was by a company called Phoenix Fireworks from Sevenoaks. Apparently members of the public could vote online, though we didn’t. If you have the broadband speed, I recommend you watch this full screen and in HD – it’s pretty impressive. Oh and listen to the background commentary too, its quite amusing.

In this photo of one of the lower levels of the Hoe I explored earlier in the day, you can see the jetty from which the fireworks are set off. All the water surrounding the jetty is full of boats during the displays, though overnight mooring isn’t allowed so they all go shooting off to their marinas as soon as the last firework has exploded.

Lower levels of the Hoe with the jetty beyond

Here you can see the little fishing spot where we sat on the 2nd night, with our feet dangling off the edge as we enjoyed our front row seat of the fireworks displays.

Photo of the rocky surrounds of the Hoe

I know I said you don’t have to worry about people getting in the way of your view, but I took this next photo while I was still getting into position. I rather like the way the person’s head has a halo of firework though, don’t you? The big firework above reminds me of photos of jellyfish underwater.

A big blue round firework explosion

You can see all my photos in this slideshow below. They’re a bit blurry but they do capture the scale and calibre of the displays. Check out the reflection of the light in the water. That was really fab.

The glamour of independent London shop fronts

There is little bit of magic in the moment when you see a photo of your corner shop or local dry cleaners’ published on the web.  No, really! I suppose in a small way it is like those rare times when you see your local neighbourhood in the background of a mainstream movie.  At least it is rare if you live in Hackney – I’m sure those living in Notting Hill are used to their streets being used as a film set.  I can pretty much guarantee* the streets documented in www.londonshopfronts.com haven’t been used as mainstream film sets, but they are no less fascinating for it.

Glamorous Dry Cleaners - photo by Emily Webber
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Cat Power and the Dirty Delta Blues

Catpower and the Dirty Delta Blues
I went to see Cat Power playing with her new ensemble, the Dirty Delta Blues, at The Forum at the beginning of May. Cat Power AKA Chan Marshall has ditched her trademark heavy fringe for a completely different look, bizarrely, kinda like Sporty Spice or Lady Sovereign: hair pulled hard back from her face into a high ponytail (see photo on Flickr). She played a fantastic set, and then some, but I have to confess I was not as moved as I had hoped to be. From the spine-tingling music I have heard by Cat Power in session or on album, I came expecting a night covered in goose bumps, but found instead that I was warmly impressed at her musical skill rather than shivering at the passionate beauty of it all.
More photos from Cat Power at The Forum on May 1st