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.

How I am learning to fly

I’ve been practicing yoga for 5 years now, starting seriously with a couple years of regular Bikram practice, then switching to do a meddley of ashtanga and Iyengar and Hatha yoga. Then I discovered AcroYoga.

Inverted Thai MassageAcroyoga group formationAcroyoga pyramidFlying acro yogis

London AcroYogis doing a demo at The Yoga Show in 2008

Though I practice yoga regularly I’ve never really been part of the community, so it was actually through work that I ended up going the The Yoga Show last year (thanks to Paul of Yogamatters for the ticket!). There I saw a demo by the London AcroYoga team and I walked away thinking “I am going to try that!”.

Acroyoga basing and flying

A little later than than I’d have hoped, due to a strained tendon and some time away, I attended my first AcroYoga workshop (every 3rd Sunday of the month at Globe House near London Bridge). There has been no looking back.

AcroYoga is a combination of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage. You don’t really need experience in any of the above, but it will help. It shouldn’t replace your yoga practice (I still practice ashtanga/hatha at home) but it compliments it nicely. AcroYoga is different to yoga because you work in pairs or in larger groups, so it is requires you to put your trust and confidence in – and have fun working with – others.

What has really amazed me is how much you can achieve, even when you are new to the game. The teachers are constantly demonstrating a formation which I look at and think “yeah, right!” and 10mins later, with the careful and attentive assistance of a spotter, I’m in the middle of basing or flying it. For that reason it is incredibly rewarding and very addictive! Doing AcroYoga regularly will build up your core body strength, as well as strengthening your arms and legs. I come away from the classes feeling exhilarated.

I urge you to try it.

The video below is a beautiful demonstration of AcroYoga and one which proves that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are – you only need to build up the strength and confidence to be able play.

Related Links

Official AcroYoga website
Jesse Saunders – London AcroYoga teacher Jesse’s website
What is AcroYoga? – on teacher Jaqui Wan’s website

Plaster impressions of real life

I saw this brilliant artwork by Daniel Arsham on the fabulously inspirational Swiss Miss blog.

Daniel Arsham sculpture "Curtain"

If you are familiar with my sculpture making past you’ll instantly know why this caught my attention, but if not, this piece will give you an idea.

Photo of plaster sculpture by Emily Heath

I’m not saying my work matches the level that Daniel Arsham is working on – I am comparing my student work – but I do feel it kind of demonstrates the direction I might have taken my sculpture had I pursued it further. Having given up making art, I do rather love it when I see work like this that makes me think “There. I didn’t need to carry on cos someone else is doing it for me. Good!”