Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Much missed - the Bankside Frost Fair 2003 - 2008

Boat lantern

Frost fairs were an irregular feature of The Thames in mediaeval times, during the Little Ice Age, when the water would freeze and people made the most of it, selling stuff to each other and practising archery. 

This no longer happens as changes to London Bridge (it now has considerably fewer supports holding it up) means that the river now flows more quickly and is less able to freeze. 

The last freeze was in 1814 but in 2003 London decided to bring back a non-frozen version of the riverside Frost Fair with a carnival of music, theatre, shopping, sculpture, workshops, food etc. I went to an Elizabethan-themed one, or at least I spent a lot of time in The Globe Theatre's undercroft which was full of people dressed Elizabethan-ly and plenty of sackbuts. It was wonderful and it all stopped in 2008, I assume thanks to the financial crash - I'm sure it didn't help. 

Bankside still has its Winter Festival (also a Summer Festival) though this is more inland (eg in the lovely Borough Market) and of shorter duration. I hope something can come back to the river though. 

Because the Frost Fairs happened largely before "everyone joined Twitter" there aren't that many tweets about it (there's one from me in 2009 bemoaning the lack of a Frost Fair that year). Internet archaeology is a bit sporadic but good bets are YouTube and Flickr as both were in existence at the time of the Fair, and the Internet Archive has captured some of the content written about it. I'm also grateful to the SE1 website where I found loads of stuff. 

Frost Fair

Photo collections

The photos linked here are all "All Rights Reserved" so I don't think I can embed them here (the ones above have a different "Some Rights Reserved" licence so are OK.

Frost Fair returns to Bankside
(22 December 2003) 
Frost Fair brings crowds to Bankside (22 December 2003) - this was the first fair and was possibly held on one day only.

Here's what the Evening Standard said, on 22 Dec 2003 in its "In London Tonight" section, about the Frost Fair "2003 - Frost Fair - A Carnival by the Water Bankside Riverwalk (by Shakespeare's Globe), SE1. Tube: Southwark. Entry: free.
With street theatre, shopping, carols - in fact everything to get you in the Christmas mood. There are kids' events all day, but for the adults, entertainment goes on well into the evening with a Frozen Ice Bar serving cranberry-vodka shots in ice glasses, mulled ale and wine, festive music and late-night craft and food shopping at The Globe.

A giant slide made an appearance at the Tate Modern.

Badged as an Elizabethan Frost Fair on Bankside, the opening times for the 2004 fair were listed in The Independent on Sunday, 19 Dec 2004: "The event and takes place from 10am-8pm on 20 December."

Frost Fair 2005 in pictures
(19 December 2005) - lantern procession, ice slide, third fair, the river flooded its banks too. In Nov 2005 the annual Fair was nominated for a Culture Award.

Arctic explorer launches fourth Bankside Frost Fair (16 December 2006) - this was the fourth annual fair.

"Southwark Council has organised a Frost Fair on the riverside outside Tate Modern each December since 2003, reviving a tradition that dates back to 1564 when the Thames froze over during the winter months allowing a market to be held on the ice.

In 2005 the Frost Fair attracted more than 100,000 visitors."

Frost Fair 2006 15 - 17 December - archive of Visit Southwark's page - the fair took place on Riverside Bankside, SE1 - outside Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe and featured huskies, wreath-making workshops, oil blending with Neal's Yard - music, food, shopping, workshops, Thames Cutters boat procession, workshops in Mongolian yurts. Also these are the archived pages for information about the traders, music, Cutters (boat racing) and hug a husky

Opening times for the 2006 fair, from The Guardian on 16 Dec 2006: " Today 10am-9pm; tomorrow 10am-6pm. and last night."

Shakespeare’s Globe opens revamped exhibition
(11 Dec 2007) - free visit during Frost Fair 2007, 14-16 Dec

Bankside Frost Fair (2007)  - husky dog sled rides for children, ice sculptures, music, theatre, winter market, mulled wine etc, featured a Disney DVD Dream Dome and a lantern parade at 4pm on Friday, Thames Cutters boat race on Saturday and free entry to the Globe's undercroft with demonstrations of Elizabethan dressing, and I'm pretty sure I remember sword fighting too.

Bankside Frost Fair 2007: photos (18 December 2007)  - fifth Bankside Frost Fair, husky dogs returned.

Opening times for the Frost Fair in 2007 were listed in The Daily Telegraph, 22 Nov 2007: Open: Dec 14, 11am-9pm; Dec 15, 10am-9pm; Dec 16, 10am-6pm.

This is a short video taken by TV3 Televisió de Catalunya (TVC) / Spain of the 2007 event.

This is what Time Out said in December 2008 - "
Around 50 stalls take up residence on a section of Bankside near Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Modern, offering crafts, presents and seasonal drinks and nibbles over ten days. There are husky-sledding rides for under-12s (£5) and husky-hugging photos opportunities for everyone else (£4; Fri-Sun only on both weekends). Other highlights include a lantern procession involving 270 local schoolchildren (Fri 4pm) and the Thames Cutters boat procession from the City to Bankside pier (Sat 11am). Guided walks run by London Walks exploring Bankside's theatrical heritage and connection with the river depart from Mansion House tube on Sat 2.30pm, Sun 10.45m and Dec 20 2.30pm (£5;"

Opening hours listed on Time Out were Mon-Wed 10am-7pm; Thur-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10am-6pm (the Sunday in question was 21st Dec 2008).

The UK Student Life website has a great review of the 2008 event with photos.

Other posts in the Much missed series

Image credits
Boat pic -
Lanterns pic -



Saturday, 21 November 2020

Ideas for BBC Sounds - shareable playlists, timestamped clips and mixtapes

I use the BBC Sounds app and online and I'm still not a fan but hate it marginally less than I did at the start. In part I think that's because the social media team are really responsive and helpful. I suggested that I'd like to be able to share a podcast from within the app and they got back to me later to tell me I could now do it (I'm sure it was already in the pipeline, and it wasn't implement just because of me though!). 

So I like them even though I find the whole arrangement a bit... odd. For example if you're on a BBC programme page you're invited to press 'play', which then takes you to the BBC Sounds version of the page where you have to press play again. With the old system you just played within the page you were already on. Just seems weird to duplicate the system. But if you're logged in you can easily click 'bookmark' or 'subscribe' and it immediately syncs with the phone app.

Also, if you were to search for the (excellent) 15min podcast series Bunk Bed (Peter Curran / Patrick Marber) on Google the first hit you probably get is a page telling you about the very limited availability of episodes recently broadcast. In fact all episodes of all series are available, but you need to know to click on the Podcast link to get to them. Baffling.

Anyway - you can create for yourself a playlist by just adding things to bookmarks and it will play them once through continously in the reverse order you add them, last one is first. Or was last time I did this. I use this feature a lot after bleating at them that I couldn't do it and them telling me nicely that i could :)

Suggestion 1 - shareable playlists
I'd like to be able to collate and curate some programmes on a similar theme and share that (a sound-related example is here on one of my other blogs). Perhaps I could create (probably on the web version, but easier) a playlist of up to 5 separate episodes (from different series), or there'd maybe be a maximum length of 3 hours - so 3 x 1hr episodes max, or 6 1/2hr ones, or a mixture.

Suggestion 2 - Timestamped 'clips'
On YouTube it's easy to share a link to a video and specify when it starts. People clicking on your link will be taken to that very point in the video - this is great. They can then stop the video themselves or let it play to the end. I'd quite like to be able to share something similar, rather than saying 'start at 1hr 04min 23sec'. I realise it's not straightforward to create actual 'clips' because either that would involve BBC having to store additional mini copies of stuff, and there could be billions if people are endlessly clipping various sections of a piece, but a timestamp thing would help. As BBC material is copyrighted it's not practical / legal to start downloading and sharing clips yourself.

Suggestion 3 - 'Mixtapes'
If it were straightforward to share episodes or segments of episodes think of the fun we could have sharing the radio equivalent of mixtapes! Little bit of this, little bit of that.

Some online talks coming up

In normal non-Coronavirus times I go to a fair few (physical) talks so I've quite enjoyed transferring this activity entirely online. Here are some talks I've made a note of - can't guarantee I'll actually get to all of them (and some overlap so just not possible) but I thought others might like to know about them. 

I have a long list of London venues that I periodically check for upcoming talks, but I've also used the search facility on Eventbrite as it's quite good at uncovering talks too (well, only the ones it has tickets for!). 

Saturday 21 Nov
6pm - Peter Curran interviews John Lloyd as part of the Belfast Film Festival, free, donations welcomed

Monday 23 Nov
6.30pm - Plant Prints: Cemetery Park Online (anthotypes), free, donations welcomed 

Wednesday 25 Nov
7.30am - So you want a career in Scicomm? Australian Science Communicators, free.

Thursday 26 Nov
1pm - Performing music, performing medicine, Imperial - part of the Great Exhibition Road Festival, free.
6pm - The Thomas Sutton Lecture:
Eric Parry RA: Boundaries in time, place and material, suggested donation £10, Charterhouse (the actual place, not the QMUL campus next door)

Friday 27 Nov
7pm - Armchair Travel: Turin - art and architecture, Andrew Graham-Dixon, £12 (+£1.01 bkg fee)

Saturday 28 Nov
10am - Land ahoy! Talks on Maritime history and heritage, Plymouth University - European Researchers Night / Futures, free (pre-recorded).

Wednesday 2 Dec (= very late on Tuesday 1 Dec night!!)
1am - Cheryl Platz: Design beyond devices, Quarantine Book Club, $5 [this takes place in the afternoon in the US, the timing, automatically worked out by Eventbrite, is very late on Tuesday night).

Thursday 3 Dec
6pm - Life sciences in a post-truth world: A COVID-19 case study, Bristol University event, free
7pm - Just the Tonic - A natural history of tonic water, South London Botanical Institute, donation

Thursday 10 Dec
5.30pm - Data Debates: Talking about my generation, Turing Institute, free

Some 2021 events at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries include
6pm - 14 Jan - Leonardo da Vinci: Some artistic concepts
6pm - 10 March - “History of Peyote” & “The history of gigantism – from legends to genes” (Virtual)

More from the Apothecaries...


Here's my current list of venues and their events pages - most are in London, where I live, though I have started adding venues from further afield while everything's online. Sometimes they have filtered events pages so the page given below may not show all stuff happening. Have a rummage on their website and look on their social pages to hear about more / sign up to mailing list