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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Sunday, 15 February 2009

Wii and Bubble Clock...

Nintendo WiiHalf Term has started in some style, especially now most of the snow has subsided - just some compacted ice remains in shady areas (evidence, perhaps, that Pykrete is a workable idea!). We drove up to Milton Keynes yesterday, to the Parcelforce depot to pick up our Nintendo Wii. I love the concept, since it's a little more physically active than those games consoles that just exercise the thumbs; I've become rather frustrated by the Eye Toy on the Playstation 2 (which has, until now, been one of few ways to exert oneself with a games console) since its sensitivity can be really poor on occasion, and it needs perfect lighting to work properly.

Right now, Eleanor's playing tennis; Christopher is becoming expert in bowling, we're all going to have a go at the Wii Fit later on in the week, and I don't think I've had so much exercise in ages (the few miles I walk as part of my commute don't really account, since that's not so aerobic, and certainly doesn't use my arm muscles!).

Of course, it doesn't stop us from getting out and about as well - I'm aware that some consider the Wii to be a poor alternative to 'proper' exercise, but at this time of year it can be quite hazardous underfoot, and it's quite nice to stay indoors!

Yesterday, though, we popped into the centre of Milton Keynes after we'd picked up the parcel, since we'd not been there for a while, and I quite like the layout of the shopping centre, since it's well lit, with wide walkways and generally a pleasant atmosphere.

The Frog Clock in Midsummer Place, Milton KeynesOne of the highlights, though - I would even call it a 'draw' - isn't in the main shopping centre, but at the far end, in an unusually laid out mall called "Midsummer Place." As well as boutique shops, an Apple Store and Lego Shop, there are several pieces of public artwork dotted around it, including one by the escalators that lead to the car park. Created by Kit Williams, I find it a most wonderful piece of civic art; it moves with mechanical patience, carrying large golden spheres from one end of the structure to the other. On the hour, though, a wonderful change takes place - a haunting, mystical tune plays, and the frog, that normally sits dormant at the top of the structure, starts to move, with a lily pad fanning out behind it, and then the frog starts to blow bubbles onto the walkway below, which is often crowded with children, keen to enjoy this.. I was going to say 'novelty' but in the nearly nine years it's been there, Christopher still hasn't got tired of it (and nor have I!)

I was surprised to see that there isn't a YouTube video of this wonderful timepiece, so took the opportunity to upload one - I'm still moved by the sheer innocent joy of the children, gathered together to witness and, indeed, become part of the performance. If you get the chance (or end up in Milton Keynes for any reason!) it's worth having a look; for now, though, I've put below the video of part of the 'on the hour' spectacle, which I recorded on my i600 (so it's far from HD!).

Over the next week, I've used up some of my remaining leave, so I'll be able to share more of the half term with the family. I'm hoping everyone's colds and coughs will subside over the next few days, but it doesn't matter too much, because we can have plenty of fun at home!

Posted by james at February 15, 2009 12:07 PM

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