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2 January 2012

Posted by DMC on 3 January 2012 in Diary |

With all the doom and gloom of yesterday’s entry I deliberately avoided highlighting some of the excitement we can look forward to this year. For example, the Queens (65th) diamond jubilee celebrations and, of course, the Olympic Games.

It’s extraordinary thing that the last time the Games were here was in 1948 (at least I cannot recall being here since then), immediately after the end of the Second World War. How on earth we managed to mount such an event in a heavily blitzed London was pretty amazing but then the whole thing has grown like Topsy, beyond recognition from those earlier, simpler days before the incredibly lavish opening and closing ceremonies that we are now expected of the host country. We accepted that there is no way we could compete with the two ceremonies mounted by the Chinese which were absolutely incredible but relied upon something in the order of 200,000′ volunteers’! In many ways this was a good thing from our point of view as it means that we could bring back some sanity to these events. For example, we could incorporate something on the lines of the Royal Tournament with our British Bands and soldiers going through their paces, which nobody does better than us. -,something uniquely British, rather than someone like Mr Beckham kicking a football, despite of the country being besotted with the game and no doubt Mr Beckham is a charming ambassador. Having said all that you can imagine that I was none too pleased to learn, only a day or two ago, that Cameron has now allocated a further £45 million for the opening ceremony, ominously, in his own way, seeking to compete.

I certainly don’t remember the 1948 Games, although I must have been around 15 at the time. I suppose they were quite expensive and I probably watched them on some little 14 inch black-and-white television. The Games I do remember were the 1956 ones in Australia where I happened to be at the time. My regular readers will recall that as there were so many planes coming into Australia and leaving empty I took advantage of the situation and the cheap fare on offer went to New Zealand to 3 weeks.

As to the Queens Diamond Jubilee this should be a magnificent affair with all the brilliance that we are capable of in organising it. I’m sure the two events will attract millions of tourists to this country which is precisely what we need perhaps to kick-start the economy. The doom and gloom we have suffered from over the past couple of years and,, in particular,, the prognostications by many of the leading world economists could well become a self-fulfilling death-wish unless we are very careful. Let us be satisfied with our lot, and those who have a job be thankful, and forget all about striking for improved conditions, instead have confidence in the future and build on this confidence to restore economic growth.

Switching the subject to the mundane, one of my international readers has written and told me that her partner uses ‘ tart cherry juice mixed with water’ to ease his pain at night. I assume he drinks it and doesn’t rub it on!     Although this remedy does not readily appeal to me I don’t even know what ‘tart cherry juice is) I thank the reader for letting me know about it, which leads me to wonder whether any other reader has experience of this particular remedy, or any other, that has been particularly efficacious for painful joint?

I have had a flurry of e-mails from various friends, wishing us a Happy New Year and suggesting they come down and give me lunch at the Cricketers. I have optimistically suggested waiting until the weather is warm enough for us to sit outside so that I can enjoy a cigar. Something to look forward to.

Talking about how well the Chinese do things when they put their mind to it, for example. the Yangtze River Project; the longest bridge in the world between the airport and the mainland (pictures of which I will show you later) reminds me of the most staggering model I have ever seen and that was in Shanghai. From memory, I guess it covers an area of 30 to 35,000 ft.² and included an accurate model of every single building, including those in the suburbs, to a scale of (I’m guessing now) 1/250. When a building, or it’s environs, is changed in any way, similar changes are made to the model. I guess there is some sort of ordinance that imposes an obligation on all building owners to send details of the changes to the city authorities.

I can now show you something which in its own way rivals the dedication to detail (sadly. German, not British) I suggest you click the URL below and look at the video first before letting your mind boggle over the statistics.

This train set, which is the world’s biggest, covers 1,150 square meters (12,380 square feet), features almost six miles of track and is still not complete.

Twin brothers Frederick and Gerrit Braun, 41, began work on the ‘Miniatur Wonderland’ in 2000.

The set covers six regions including America, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Germany and the Austrian Alps. The American section features giant models of the Rocky Mountains, Everglades, Grand Canyon ..and Mount Rushmore. The Swiss section has a mini-Matterhorn. The Scandinavian part has a 4ft long passenger ship floating in a ‘fjord’.

The model is expected to be finished in 2014, when it will cover more than 1,800 square meters (19, 376 sq ft) – probably around the same size as the Shanghai, model I mentioned earlier. It feature almost 13 miles of track, by the time detailed models of parts of France, Italy and the UK will have been added and comprises 700 trains with more than 10,000 carriages and wagons.  The longest train is 46ft long.

The scenery includes 900 signals, 2,800 buildings, 4,000 cars – many with illuminated headlights – and 160,000 individually designed figures.  Thousands of kilograms of steel and wood was used to construct the scenery. The 250,000 lights are rigged up to a system which mimics night and day by automatically turning them on and off.

The whole system is controlled from a massive high-tech nerve centre. In total the set has taken 500,000 hours and more than 8 million eoro to put together, the vast majority of which has come from ticket sales.

Gerrit said: “Our idea was to build a world that men, woman, and children can be equally astonished and amazed in”.  Frederik added: “Whether gambling in Las Vegas, hiking in the Alps or paddling in Norwegian fjords – in Wunderland everything is possible”.

The world’s biggest model train set is on display to the public and is so big that they employ more than 160 people to show visitors around their creation.

7 Comments

  • Maureen Jones says:

    Absolutely mind boggling…. Thank you for sharing this Mark…

  • Penny de Quincey says:

    Hello Mark

    I just wanted to share with you and any readers who might be interested that our lovely occupational therapist yesterday brought some wonderful ‘slippery sheets’ for us to try, as she thought it might make it easier for Stuart to turn over in bed. We had a demo, and indeed, they helped him tremendously not only turning over but also getting in and out of bed. She only had a demonstration set, but has ordered them for us. Anyone having this problem should ask for them, as they also make it easier for the carer to help with turning. I expect you already have them, but the information may benefit someone else. Indeed you may have mentioned it in your blog, but I haven’t seen any reference. Kind regards, Penny and Stuart.

  • Penny de Quincey says:

    Hello Mark
    I just wanted to share with you and any readers who might be interested that our lovely occupational therapist yesterday brought some wonderful ‘slippery sheets’ for us to try, as she thought it might make it easier for Stuart to turn over in bed. We had a demo, and indeed, they helped him tremendously not only turning over but also getting in and out of bed. She only had a demonstration set, but has ordered them for us. Anyone having this problem should ask for them, as they also make it easier for the carer to help with turning. I expect you already have them, but the information may benefit someone else. Indeed you may have mentioned it in your blog, but I haven’t seen any reference. Kind regards, Penny and Stuart.

  • DMC says:

    Dear Penny and Stuart
    thank you for your comment about the slippery sheets. You are quite right, I did mention them about a year ago on my blog but the ones I purchased were not that successful. So I went ahead and made my own out of Satin. However, these are only a minor help in me shifting my wage in bed-I cannot turn over. Now you have reminded me it might be worth me asking
    my own OT about what they call draw sheets. If you have the precise details of what you’ve got and could be helpful when I’m asking for the same thing from my OT.

    I assume Stuart is doing okay but has not yet had the urge to give me a ring!

    Best wishes

    , Mark

  • Penny de Quincey says:

    Dear Mark,

    These come in sets of two, one goes over the other, although you can use just one. They have a wide satin strip down the middle and cotton at the sides. The idea is that the cotton has grip, but the satin doesn’t, so they stay (partly) in place when you turn. We haven’t had ours delivered yet, just had a demo, but when they come we will see what more information we can give you. I think Lucy called them ‘slip sheets’ but I will ask her for more information when I see her again shortly.

    Stuart is OK, thanks, but gets very tired these days and is reluctant to use the phone as his voice gets very weak if he uses it much…..you don’t seem to have that problem? He is happy here watching the birds in the garden and listening to music. Fortunately he is of a contented nature and not too frustrated, though I do need to help him a lot now. He goes for an assessment for a motorised wheelchair tomorrow, and we are having work done shortly to make some ramps etc ready for the spring when I hope we will get out more.

    With very kind regards

    Penny

  • DMC says:

    Dear Penny
    thank you for the information concerning these Wendylet sheets. I tried these and did not find them particularly satisfactory. They were simply not slippery enough for me. I tried two different types. One with a single satin panel in the middle part of the sheet and another one which was a three-quarter sheet. In the end we went to the local haberdasher and purchased enough satin cloth and made our own modified sheets. May I suggest you read my blog March through June to see what my experience threw up. I still cannot turn beyond a certain point and have to rely upon my lovely wife to do it for me. I am however looking into the possibility of using what they OT Calls Draw Sheets which the professional ruse for turning people. I understand the any problem with them is that they might be too slippery. I am literally awaiting a phone call from my OT about them today and can keep you informed. If you do not wish me to use the blog as a means of communication, then by all means send their telephone number. You have my e-mail address

    As to the electric wheelchair-good luck. I have had by now for over a year and it is wonderful but to cold a: this time of year to go out. I don’t know how good Suart’s hanfs are.mine are very weak but I can still operate the chair with my hand but for how long?. I now have a chin operator which does exactly the same as my hand and will start to acclimatise to this when I believe my hand is giving up. I also have a wonderful spoke made Perspex tray which makes eating and drinking or even reading from my laptop, a lot easier. The problem with all of these things is that it seems to take weeks for them to come after they have assessed. And who knows how many weeks we had left! So may I suggest that you get assessed for a chin controller and a tray at the same time.

    Best wishes to you both.

    I look forward to hearing from you if you wish to give me a call.

    Mark

  • Dear Mark,
    We did correspond some while ago regarding our hands free drinking system. Useing the same technology we have now developed a wheelchair version named DU Travel Lite details of which are on our website.
    Kindest regards,
    Trevor

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