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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday, November 30, 2006
     Uncle Jack is probably beginning to sound like a broken record but it's another gorgeous day on the Outer Banks.  All the salubrious conditions that have prevailed for the past three or four days are back again this morning and it's even warmer. It's almost like Mother Nature is trying to apologize for her atrocious behavior of last week.


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6:45 a.m., ten minutes before sunrise.

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These guys were not catching any fish but they didn't seem to mind.

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A close-up of this morning's incandescence.

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Not a bad way to start the day. This group of fishermen all seemed to be from Virginia and were traveling together in a caravan of 4WDs of various types.

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This opportunist let somebody else provide his breakfast for him.

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Babysitting is easy when you have a sandbox like this at your disposal.

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Do-it-yourselfers will find this trove at the corner of Ciltvaira St. and Old Oregon Inlet Road.

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This misplaced sign wound up on the west side of Old Oregon Inlet Road during last week's storm.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:06 AM

Comments [3]



Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday November 29, 2006

     The penultimate day of November 2006 started out in fine fashion this morning.  Uncle Jack got to the beach just in time to catch the peak of the sunrise colors at about 6:45.  Looks like another lovely day in store with temperatures in the low 60's, very little wind and a wide, flat beach to walk on.  How lucky can a person get?


     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have volunteered to babysit some grandchildren this morning so he doesn't have time to bloviate about anything.  Here's a tidbit from the archives in case you run out of stuff to do at work today:


                                Cereal Cynic


Uncle Jack is not sure why he bought a box of Wheaties a couple of weeks ago but he did and he is working his way through it at a fairly good clip. He used to eat a lot of Wheaties when he was a kid but to tell the truth he never liked them all that much because if you ask him they got soggy too quick. That is the main reason that when he grew up he switched over to those nature cereals which are full of hard stuff like nuts and seeds and dried coconut husks which are still crunchy enough to break your fillings an hour after you pour the milk on.


The main thing Uncle Jack liked about Wheaties when he was a kid was the boxes. He was always a great reader even at a very early age and the Wheaties boxes always had plenty of interesting stuff to read such as testimonials from famous athletes who always said they wouldn’t have amounted to much except for eating a bowl of Wheaties every day.


Uncle Jack suspects that was the main reason he kept on eating Wheaties even though he wasn’t too crazy about them and he did wonder sometimes how that mushy mess in the bottom of your bowl could turn you into a superstar like Joe DiMaggio who could win the hand (and everything else attached to it) of somebody like Marilyn Monroe.


Later on he found out that those famous athletes actually got paid for saying they liked Wheaties and right then he turned into the cynical, doubting person he has remained to this day.


Like he said he does not know what compelled him to buy a box of Wheaties after all these years but he can tell you that after reading the box every morning for the past couple of weeks they have hardly changed at all. They have this picture of a smiling football star on the back and on the inside there was a nice picture of another football player who is one of the 25 “Hot Superstars” he can get if he buys 24 more boxes of Wheaties.


Also the box had a coupon which he can send in with $19.95 and get a videotape called “Learning Football the NFL Way” where these superstars will teach you the fundamentals such as how to pick a good agent, how to beat a urine test, and how to set up a deferred payment plan that will keep you in Wheaties long after the ligaments in your knees have turned to tomato aspic.


Uncle Jack is just kidding. They probably have some stuff in there about blocking and tackling and being a good sport, too, with demonstrations of how to help the opposing quarterback to his feet after you have broken both of his legs.


The side panel of the Wheaties box is still the same, too, with all that stuff about nutrition such as how one bowl gives you 4% of all the protein you need for the whole day (as long as you go right back to bed and stay there). Uncle Jack is not sure how that compares with one regular Krispy Kreme glazed but he did notice that the second main ingredient in Wheaties is sugar which is what they are probably talking about when they say that Wheaties give you “Energy that you need to get going“.


Anyway Uncle Jack really did enjoy his box of Wheaties and he was happy to learn that some things in this world never change. Next week: What Joe DiMaggio really liked for breakfast.



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6:45 a.m. This didn't last very long but it was something to behold for a while.

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Looking south toward the Outer Banks pier.

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The sun appeared briefly at about 7 and then disappeared behind the clouds again.

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A last look. Lots of clouds all over the sky today, unlike yesterday. We may be in for a change in the weather.

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The concrete guys should be busy for a while, too, replacing uprooted parking slabs. Every cloud has a silver lining? It's an ill wind that blows nobody good? Pick your favorite cliche.

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The owners of this stairway just north of McCall Court wasted no time in getting a crew to work on repairs.

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This towering cliff, the tallest we have seen in South Nags Head, is also just north of McCall Court. Note the large concrete slab in the foreground.

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This house has an address on McCall Court but in fact it has been on the beach for years. The septic tank reappears after every storm and then gets covered up again until the next one.

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Last night's sunset was lagniappe after a spectacularly beautiful day. (That's a handy word Uncle Jack learned in New Orleans some years ago. Google it if you have never run across it before. Neat word.)

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:40 AM

Comments [10]



Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday November 28, 2006

        Looks like another spectacularly beautiful day is brewing on the Outer Banks.  If it turns out to be as magnificent as yesterday nobody should have cause to complain.  The beach in South Nags Head is as wide and flat and beautiful as Uncle Jack has ever seen it in spite of the layer of marsh grass that floated in a couple of days ago.  No doubt the bulldozers when they resume their sysiphussian labors will remove a lot of it if Mother Nature doesn't dispose of it first.


     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took a walk in the area north of Jennette's pier yesterday afternoon and took a few pictures.  If you can't be here yourself perhaps they will help to assuage the pain a bit.  Try to have a nice day wherever you find yourself.



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6:45 a.m.

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Sunrise #1, a few minutes later.

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The sun disappeared behind the clouds for a while and then came sunrise #2.

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Looking north from Whitecap. The most beautiful beach in the world.

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Ditto, looking south. Soon to be despoiled if the beach renourishment mavens get their way.

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A great afternoon for fishing whether you caught anything or not.

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The Currituck county clay/sand used to build the FEMA berm last year is an excellent medium for sculpture.

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Pueblos in Nags Head. Who woulda thunk it?

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Old and new stairways at the Islander Motel.

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Literate readers will immediately recognize the name. For others there is Google.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:23 AM

Comments [9]



Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday November 27, 2006

   First things first this morning.  A couple of major musical events will occur in Manteo and Nags Head this coming week-end and Uncle Jack wanted to pass on the information to all readers who might be able to attend one or the other (or both) of these concerts. 


The Beachcomber Museum in Nags Head is sponsoring these once-in-a-lifetime concerts of world-class quality jazz. How it came to pass is explained in the various links below.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have their  tickets for the Saturday night performance already.  They hope to see you there.


                                ***********


If you haven't seen this article about the museum: http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=113474&ran=184268


it has a great story about a chance meeting at our Open House in August that has led to a great show at Roanoke Island Festival Park on Friday, December 1, 2006. Chuck and Robert Redd, formerly of the Charlie Byrd Trio, will be presenting :


THE CASINO REMEMBERED: Chuck and Robert Redd will perform a program of music associated with the many great artists that graced the stage of the legendary Nags Head Dance Hall, The Casino. The program will include the music of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong,Glenn Miller,Fats Domino,Woody Herman,Artie Shaw,Gene Krupa and more! Please come out and share your Casino memories with us. Contact the Roanoke Island Festival Park Visitors Center at 252-475-1500 to reserve your seat. Admission is FREE, donations suggested.


Information from our web site: http://osob.net/_wsn/page2.html


The Beachcomber Museum will be presenting the first public performance of the Redd brothers in Nags Head the following night, December 2, 2006, at the Red Drum Taphouse.


from: http://chuckredd.com/schedule.htm


Date/Time: Saturday, December 02, 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Location: Nags Head, North Carolina- The Red Drum Taproom 2412 South Virginia Dare Trail.
Description: Chuck playing vibes and drums and Robert Redd on piano will present their first public performance in Nags Head. The Redd Brothers will feature a program of elegant and exciting jazz standards, bossa nova and a Nags Head historical music timeline. Also a special tribute to the great Charlie Byrd. The beach is beautiful any time of the year! Contact the museum at 252-441-6259 for tickets: $25.00 in advance, $30.00 at the door.


For more information on Chuck and Robert redd, visit osob.net at:


http://osob.net/_wsn/page3.html


We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you next weekend!


                          ***********************


    Uncle Jack explored the battered Seagull Drive area this morning.  Pictures follow.



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6:45 a.m. Looks like another gorgeous day in store. Not a cloud in the sky and little or no wind.

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6:55 Nothing fancy this morning but a welcome sight anyway.

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Seagull Drive is about 30 feet shorter than it was last week. Storm waves topped the sandbags and tore up the asphalt.

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Lots of sand and debris in what is left of the street. The first six houses on the oceanfront, heavily sandbagged for years, are all condemned at the moment but this has happened before and the town has allowed them to be put back together again.

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For several years this row of cottages has occupied the public beach, blocking beach walkers and emergency vehicles even at low tide.

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Bit by bit Mother Nature is widening the beach in the Seagull Drive area at little or no cost to the taxpayers.

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Seagull Drive aficionados will remember that KooKoo's Nest once stood in front of this house. It was fortuitously moved to a new location a couple of years ago.

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Looking south from Seagull. This place would look to be a candidate for removal, too, inasmuch as it is occupying what is now the public beach, septic system and all.

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Ditto for this one which has been on the beach with its entire septic system for several years.

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Shades of Isabel. A pedestrian walkway is serving as a sand repository.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:54 AM

Comments [1]



Sunday, November 26, 2006
Thanksgiving storm---miscellaneous pictures-November 26

       Here are a few more pictures taken in South Nags Head in the wake of the Thanksgiving storm.


Scroll down to the next entry to see Sunday morning's sunrise and some more pics.



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The gull in the middle caught a fish which immediately attracted the attention of two other gulls who tried to take it away. Very similar to what happens at the mall sometimes on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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And the winnah is....!!!!

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Mother Nature displays a delicate touch sometimes. She removed an entire exterior wall of this house without disturbing the dishes in the kitchen cupboards. Do not try this in your own home.

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Built on the cheap with no support in the middle.

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Built to last. Who knows which is best?

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Quick, Ma. The bulldozer!

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This oceanfront house at 111 East James has taken a beating over the years. Isabel dropped the fireplace to the beach and took out the concrete parking slab and ripped off the decks. This is the two-year old driveway after this week's storm.

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About 20 feet of newly paved James Street was also torn up and floated down toward Old Oregon Inlet Rd. This house, which is now condemned again, was built about 90 feet east of its present location but was moved back 20 years ago.

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Pushing sand off James Street and moving it back to the beach where it belongs. A primitive form of renourishment.

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The asking price of this house was reduced $100,000 just before the storm. Now that renters can fish off the deck it has probably gone up again.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:10 AM

Comments [6]



Sunday, November 26, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday November 26, 2006

     It would appear that another beautiful day is in store for the Outer Banks today.  The sun appeared as scheduled and has the sky all to itself this morning.  The surf has continued to diminish while at the same time manufacturing billows of foam which tumble along the beach driven by soft breezes from the north.  This will be an ideal day for Uncle Jack to give the Mini a bath for the first time in months and also to take a long walk along as yet unexplored post-storm parts of South Nags Head. Others will no doubt choose to fight it out at the malls.  Chacun a gout as they say in France.


    



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6:45 a.m.

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Ten minutes later.

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Foam city.

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No it's not the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

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Another interesting juxtaposition of old and new stairways.

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This one appears to descend in the general direction of hell.

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This house sold a few months ago for about $1 million. Of course it had a dune in front of it then.

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Lots of pelicans out and about this morning.

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Another prospect for the bulldozer guys.

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Another little oddity.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:12 AM

Comments [0]



Saturday, November 25, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday November 25, 2006
    It's a beautiful morning in South Nags Head for a change.  The sun arrived on time and is climbing through a cloudless sky and the temperature is supposed to reach 60 later on.  A perfect day to get out on the beach and survey the carnage wrought by Mother Nature during her little rampage on Wednesday and Thursday.  Uncle Jack strolled up to the Comfort Inn and back at dawn this morning and he plans to do some walking in other parts of town later.  According to official sources over 50 oceanfront houses, most of them in South Nags Head now sport "condemned" signs for one reason or another.  No doubt most of them will be back in action before long as was the case after Isabel and other past storms.  In the meantime they will help strengthen the town's plea for new help from FEMA.  The post-Isabel berm built largely with FEMA money is gone already so perhaps they can be persuaded to build another. Then again maybe they have had enough.


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6:40 a.m.

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Not spectacular but welcome nonetheless.

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These two houses at the end of Whitecap where Uncle Jack usually descends to the beach each morning are both condemned for the moment. They look repairable.

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This walkway can be shortened substantially before rebuilding. The beach in this area appears to be about 30 feet wider than before.

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A post Isabel stairway superimposed upon a pre-Isabel walkway. Where does it end?

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The poor man's Home Depot.

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Bodie Island Beach Club is about back to where it was post-Isabel. Vulnerable.

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This former swimming pool protected the condo behind it from even more serious damage. It obviously needs a little work.

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Several generations of sandbags have kept the Comfort Inn in place through many storms.

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The next big waves go through the living room window of this condo. Building living units at ground level on the ocean front does not, in retrospect, seem very smart.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:06 AM

Comments [4]



Friday, November 24, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday November 24, 2006
     The sun had to surmount some ugly black clouds on the horizon before making an appearance this morning but it did show up a little after 7 a.m. and it looks like it's here to stay.  The ocean is still pretty wild but it has calmed down a lot from yesterday and beachwalking is possible in many parts of South Nags Head as the pictures show.  Uncle Jack will try to get out on the beach again later but these pics will have to suffice for this morning.


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The last remaining section of Surfside Drive has been rendered into small pieces. Once the asphalt and the remains of the old "Great Wall of Sandbags" have been removed there will be a lovely wide beach in this area.

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This wall of sandbags protecting a private driveway and septic field served perfectly to channel overwash and its accompanying sand right down the middle of the east-west portion of Surfside Drive.

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The wind was tough on vinyl siding.

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A measure of how much sand was moved in a couple of days. This is at the end of Pelican Street.

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Sparky got lucky.

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His next door neighbor on Pelican was not so fortunate.

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The remaining section of Seagull Drive picked up a load of sand and a number of the ocean front houses were condemned---again. The prices might come down even more after this blow.

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Dunes South seems to have survived for the most part.

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Except for a few missing shingles here and there.

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Nice to see the sun again.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:00 AM

Comments [6]



Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thanksgiving Day in Sonag, 2006

     This will be a Thanksgiving Day long remembered by those who were here.  Uncle Jack went up to the beach at 7 this morning and did manage to get down on the beach for a few minutes before a huge wave sloshed over his shoes and the rain started again.  The worst of the storm seems to be over but the surf is still way up and the sky is completely overcast.  He has heard dire reports of the damage up and down the beach in South Nags Head but it looks like it will be a while before he will be able to go for a walk on the beach. In the meantime a very Happy Thanksgiving to all. 



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The beach in front of Dare Court near the 18 m.p. in South Nags Head appears to be about 15 feet wider than it was a few days ago.

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The stair builders will have their work cut out for them next spring. Mother Nature's solution to unemployment in the building trades.

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The same is true for the heat pump installers.

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This house will need extensive repairs. Mother Nature finally caught up with it after 50 years in this location.

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Looking north from Whitecap street.

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Near Dare Court.

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Ditto.

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Mother Nature did an end run around these sandbags. She is tough to stop.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:41 AM

Comments [6]



Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Lights Out in Sonag, Wednesday November 21, 2006

Exciting morning on the Outer Banks. Strong winds and heavy rain all night. Mountainous roaring surf. And then to top it all off the power went off all over Dare County at about 5 a.m. Uncle Jack is writing this on his battery powered laptop at 8:30 and the power is still off in South Nags Head although it has been restored in Kill Devil Hills.


There was a lull in the rain and wind and the sun actually broke through at 8 a.m. for a short time so he and Mrs. U.J. walked up to the beach on Ciltvaira Street near the 17 milepost. Foamy overwash was streaming down the street and a neighbor’s car was stuck in sand that collected around it during the night. The ocean is as wild as they have seen it since Isabel with huge breakers all the way to the horizon. The pictures show that major sand removal is taking place and beaches in our neighborhood are going to be at least ten feet wider than they were a few days ago except, of course, where sandbags are preventing Mother Nature from doing her job.


One of the major hazards of a storm like this when it is accompanied by a major power outage is that the only source of information is a local radio station which specializes in country and western music. Uncle Jack can testify that serious brain damage can result from listening to this station for more than ten minutes.


The Nags Head commissioners can breathe a sigh of relief that the proposed $32 million beach renourishment project was not completed recently because this storm would surely have undone much of it.


Power was restored in South Nags Head at 3:45 p.m. Uncle Jack will go out and see if he can get some more pictures for tomorrow’s blog. Who knows, we might even have a sunrise tomorrow.



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Looking east. Huge breakers as far as the eye can see. The noise is deafening.

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Looking north from Whitecap street. The surf is carrying a heavy load of wreckage from stairways, gazebos, etc.

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The house on the right sold earlier this year for over $600,000. It's nail-biting time for the new owners.

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Waves were coming up and over the sandbags for the first time since Isabel.

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Some of the overwash wound up in Uncle Jack's back yard along with several of the neighbors' trash cans. He will have to buy some waders to deal with this mess.

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There was a large dune behind these sandbags a couple of days ago but the bags are now out on the beach, far from the house they are supposed to protect.

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Lots of sightseers out this morning. They got an eyeful of Mother Nature's colossal power.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:28 PM

Comments [4]



Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Unrise in Sonag, Tuesday November 21, 2006

    This will not be a nice day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Uncle Jack knows because he just returned from a very brief trip to the beach in South Nags Head where all hell is breaking loose. He has not seen the ocean so riled up in a long time and a nasty wind is propelling foam and sand onto every object within 50 feet of the beach.  He took a couple of hurried pictures and beat a hasty retreat to his warm house whence he will watch the rain fall later if the weatherman is correct. 


    These conditions are predicted to obtain for the next couple of days which is certainly going to bring overwash to Route 12 on Hatteras in all the usual places.  This could mess up a lot of Thanksgiving travel plans, especially for those who do not drive high-riding 4 WDs.  It's "I told you so" time for the gas guzzlers.


    For sure, a lot of sand is going to get moved around in the next couple of days.  Pictures at 11.


    


 



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Stairway at the end of Whitecap Street. 6:30 a.m. Conditions are not conducive to beachwalking.

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Looking south from the same spot.

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Looking north. This is just about at high tide but the way the wind is picking up it probably won't look much different at low tide.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:09 AM

Comments [7]



Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunrise, sort of, in Sonag, Monday November 20, 2006

      Uncle Jack hiked dutifully up to the beach at 6:30 this morning and he did hang around for 15 minutes waiting for something to happen in the sunrise department.  As you can probably tell from the pictures nothing much transpired because of the thick cloud banks on the horizon so he gave up and went home to a mug of Twining's Earl Gray tea.


     Yesterday metamorphosed into a lovely fall day on the Outer Banks, ideal for beachwalking which is what he and Mrs. U.J. did for an hour  in the late afternoon.  They walked in the area from the bottom of South Nags Head up to Pelican street which is a very interesting neighborhood because it demonstrates so much of what is happening to the beach everywhere on the Outer Banks.  The good, the bad and the ugly, so to speak.


      He also watched the Town of Nags Head's video presentation on the subject of beach nourishment which is currently running three times a day on Channel 20.  The stated purpose of this presentation is to "educate the public" as to why  a $32 million beach nourishment project affecting 10 miles of the town's beaches is imperative.  


     The video was certainly informative in spelling out how the proposed renourishment project would be carried out and exactly where sand would be dumped and in what quantities and also where the sand would come from.  To that extent it was "educational" in a limited sense.


    Unfortunately it is woefully short on other kinds of information that might cast doubt on the wisdom of proceeding with such a plan.  There is a vast amount of evidence suggesting that beach renourishment of the kind described in this video will be a waste of effort and money in Nags Head but none of it is mentioned. (At one point the presenter does admit that the area to be nourished is one of the most volatile erosion areas in N.C. and that past experience on other beaches may not be a guide to what will happen here but he then proceeds to predict that the project will provide ten years of protection for our beaches---meaning beachfront property).


     What the town is providing in this video is more like an "infomercial" than a genuine attempt to educate the public so that it can make an informed judgment about the wisdom and feasibility of the proposed project.  In other words it is an effort to sell a product, the value of which has already been assumed by those who are attempting to sell it.


    Is this "education" or is it "propaganda"?  Uncle Jack turned to Wikipedia for a definition of propaganda:


Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of people, rather than impartially providing information.


    You decide. 'Nuf said for today.


     


 



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6:30 a.m. Not too promising.

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Fifteen long minutes later. Not even the 3x zoom helped. At this point Uncle Jack gave up.

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Looking north toward Seagull Drive. Many houses have been removed from the beach in this area leaving a lovely expanse of sand. It ends at Seagull where a number of houses have been allowed to encroach on the beach and are anchored in place by sandbags.

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Looking north from just above Seagull to Surfside where the next group of houses have been allowed to encroach on the beach. Obviously there is more than one way to widen a beach but you would never know it from the town's infomercial.

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Here are some more of those overgrown sandpipers. Can any of the bird brains out there make out what they are from this picture?

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So far so good, Sparky. Of course it's only November.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:01 AM

Comments [5]



Sunday, November 19, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday November 19, 2006

          Uncle Jack got to the beach right at high tide this morning so the waves were lapping at the steps at the end of Whitecap street.  (This is a heavily sandbagged area so Mother Nature has not been able to carry out her normal beach-widening activities at this spot). He wasn't able to take his usual stroll down the beach but he did hang around long enough to watch the sunrise develop and it was well worth the wait as the pictures show.


     Lots of pelicans and seagulls working the surf this morning but nary a cormorant in sight.  He did see a couple of flocks yesterday so at least some of them must be hanging around here for a while.


       He never did get around to watching the Town of Nags Head's "educational" video on beach renourishment yesterday but he did run across an interesting article on the results of last Tuesday's referendum on fund-raising for renourishment in Topsail Island, N.C. which is a couple of hundred miles down the coast from us.


    After taking a hard look at the cost the voters of Topsail Island decided that locally funded beach renourishment wasn't such a good idea.  Obviously those folks need more "education" on this subject.



NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH — Another tax sounded like too much for North Topsail Beach residents Tuesday as they soundly defeated a $34 million beach nourishment referendum.


Townwide the referendum was defeated 277-73, according to unofficial results from the Onslow County Board of Elections. In the oceanfront tax district, the referendum lost 100-32.


For the bond to pass, it needed to receive a majority of “yes” votes both townwide and in the oceanfront district. Had it done so, oceanfront homeowners would have been slated to pay back 80 percent of the bond to widen the town’s 11-mile stretch of beach.


Opponents of the bond say that is ultimately what killed it.


“A friend of mine said today that it was basically designed to lose,” said Rusty Brashear, an oceanfront homeowner. “If you look at it we had so little support from federal and county sources, it was just too much money. It was more than this community could afford frankly.”


There will now be no immediate relief for oceanfront residents facing eroding beaches. But town officials say they won’t stop trying to implement a plan.


“We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and find an alternative financing plan — a way to make it more equitable for everyone,” Mayor Rodney Knowles said. “We also need to get a way to educate the people a little bit more on what beach nourishment really does.”


Dredging sand and placing it on the beach has been a proven method on other nearby beaches and is a “necessity” in North Topsail Beach, he said.


“Just about every area that has already had beach nourishment has gone very well through storms and has had a lot less damage than if they have not had,” Knowles said.


Beach nourishment committee chairman Dick Macartney, who hosted an Election Night gathering of pro-bond residents at his oceanfront home, said the group was disappointed with the results.


“We’ll just have to explore other options,” Macartney said. “But those are pretty overwhelming numbers that people don’t want to spend their tax dollars for sand.”


Oceanfront homeowner Gary Rowland said the loss means the town needs to simply “redouble (their) efforts.”


“This does not preclude the need for beach nourishment, it just means we’ve got to find another way and get it to pass,” Rowland said.


But Brashear doubts that will happen.


“I think the answer is no matter how you parse it out over what percent pays what percent of (nourishment), it’s going to be difficult to find very many people who want to pay that kind of money that is of questionable value in the first place,” he said. “It’s comforting to see I think good sense come out in the end.”



Contact staff writer Chrissy Vick at cvick@freedomenc.com or by calling 353-1171, ext. 239.













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6:30 a.m. Chilly and dark.

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Ten minutes later.

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The same, with zoom.

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It kept getting better but Uncle Jack got too chilled to wait for the sun to appear from behind the clouds on the horizon.

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One last close-up, at 6:45.

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Last night's sunset was kind of nifty, too.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:21 AM

Comments [3]



Saturday, November 18, 2006
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday November 18, 2006

         It took Uncle Jack about 30 seconds to decide that the beach in South Nags Head was not where he wanted to be at 6:30 this morning.  There is a biting wind blowing out of the north, the surf is up and there was no prospect whatsoever of a sunrise photo op.  Lucky for him and Mrs. U.J. they were able to take a long ramble on the beach south of the Outer Banks pier yesterday afternoon because it doesn't look like beachwalking is in the cards for today.


    He is planning to spend part of this blustery day being "educated" about beach renourishment on the Town of Nags Head website and also by watching the "educational" film on the same subject which is running three times a day on the local government cable TV channel.  He will try to keep an open mind but something tells him he will probably not be completely won over to the town's point of view by this multi-media barrage of information.


    He will let you know tomorrow. Have a nice weekend couch potatoes, wherever you are.



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6:30 a.m., looking east from the Whitecap street access.

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Ditto, looking north. Mother Nature is ticked off about something this morning. Maybe she watched the Town of Nags Head beach renourishment video.

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Ditto, looking south. You wouldn't want to walk on the beach anyway, even where there is one.

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This cliff has developed at the foot of James Street near the 19 milepost in South Nags Head for some reason. After today's surf assault it could either be a lot steeper or completely gone. Mother Nature will decide.

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Anybody know what these are? They look like sandpipers on steroids and there are still quite a few of them around.

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The end of a pier is a great place to shoot the breeze on a sunny November afternoon. Didn't seem to be much fishing going on, though.

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Another approach to fishing. Drag a net behind the boat and see what turns up in it.

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If you enjoy having the beach to yourself this is the time of year to be here.

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This one is for Mr. Steketee who misses his old cottage at the end of Whitecap street. By the grace of God and the Acme Sandbag Company it's still there.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:19 AM

Comments [4]



Friday, November 17, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday November 17, 2006

    What a difference a day makes.  In the 24 hours since yesterday's sunrise spectacular a fast-moving front passed through Nags Head dropping several inches of rain accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning.  This appeared to be the same storm that had already caused death and destruction in the Wilmington, N.C. area earlier in the day.  The rain ended during the night but the front was still visible out at sea as the pictures show.


    This morning's sunrise was rather prosaic compared to yesterday's.  Because of the thick band of clouds on the horizon the sun did not actually appear until 7 a.m., twenty minutes after official sunrise.  It was a crisp, clear morning with little or no wind and the flat beach was ideal for walking.  Uncle Jack did not see a single cormorant this morning (except for the deceased bird pictured below) so presumably the mass migration we have watched in awe for the past few days is over.


    The forecast for today is sunny with a high around 60 so he is looking forward to a long walk on the beach this afternoon.  Have a great day wherever you are.



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6:30 a.m. looking east.

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6:55 a.m. Just about over the cloudbank.

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7 a.m. Here to stay for a while, one hopes.

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A road less traveled---at this time of the morning anyway.

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Mother Nature left her calling card in Whitecap street last night. She did much worse in other parts of southeastern N.C.

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Looking for a great family car? This one's available at a very reasonable price. 2003 Voyager with only 25,000 gentle miles on the odometer. Like new inside and out. No rust. Call Uncle Jack at 252-441-7460.

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This poor creature washed up on the beach in South Nags Head yesterday. Monty Python would probably refer to it as a defunct cormorant.

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Here's another look at yesterday morning's sunrise. Incredible.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:35 AM

Comments [2]



Thursday, November 16, 2006
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday November 16, 2006

     Uncle Jack was hoping for a pretty sunrise this morning after a month away from South Nags Head but he didn't expect a spectacle like the one that greeted him when he reached the end of Whitecap Street at 6:30 a.m..  He will let the pictures speak for themselves. 


     They got back to Nags at 10:30 a.m. yesterday having left Baltimore at 4:30 a.m. which was actually 9:30 a.m. on their biological clocks due to the five hour time difference with London. They breezed through the relatively sparse traffic around Washington and stopped only for gas and a pecan waffle at a Waffle House near Occoquan. It was their fastest, least eventful Baltimore-Nags Head trip ever.


    They walked up the beach to Jennette's pier late yesterday afternoon and wallowed in the fresh air after a month of trying to cope with London's diesel permeated miasma.  The most interesting natural phenomenon on display was the annual migration of cormorants which are streaming south by the millions, flying right along the edge of the beach and very close to the water for the most part.


     Uncle Jack Googled "cormorants" and learned that they are undergoing a population explosion after becoming nearly extinct in the Atlantic flyway back in the 60's and 70's due to water pollution, mostly due to insecticides.  Like the pelicans they have come roaring back after certain pesticides were banned and have now become a major problem because of the vast numbers of little fish they consume. 


    It's supposed to rain today but fortunately he has a month's worth of Coastland Timeses, New Yorkers, and miscellaneous other publications to keep him amused for a few days.  It's great to be home.



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6:30 a.m., looking east.

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Ditto, looking south.

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ditto, looking southeast.

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A little bit later.

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Cormorants.

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More cormorants.

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Still more cormorants.

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This has been going on for days.

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The biggest moon jellyfish Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have ever seen.

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Adorable twin brothers make their first acquaintance with the ocean. They loved it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:12 AM

Comments [14]



Monday, November 13, 2006
Last from London, Monday November 13, 2006

We are off to Heathrow tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and if the terrorists don’t mess things up at the airport we should be back home by Wednesday night.


Our last big cultural event was the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday which has taken place annually for the past 800 years and draws a gigantic crowd every time. It is a combination of the most refined and elegant pageantry you will ever see, complete with golden carriages and liveried horse guards, juxtaposed with humble farm tractors and costumed peasants. We have missed Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s day parade for several years running but the Lord Mayor’s extravaganza has helped make up for it a little bit.


Lord willing, a Sonag sunrise on Thursday morning!!.



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Costumed peasants on a fanciful float. (The word float derives from the time when the parade took place on the river. No kidding)

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The Worshipful Company of Farriers parades (one of the many ancient guilds that are still active today).

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More costumed peasants.

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An old steam-driven farm tractor. Inspiration for "Thomas the Tank Engine".

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Entrance to the Law Courts on Fleet Street. The Lord Mayor will stop here and go inside and swear his allegiance to the Queen and Parliament. What a fabulous building. It extends another long block to the right.

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Waiting for the Lord Mayor. The red carpet is rolled out and all is in readiness.

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He be here!! The magnificent 300 year-old gilt carriage is kept in the Museum of the City of London and is brought out once a year for this ceremony.

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A close-up of the carriage. Amazingly the Lord Mayor arrived at this spot within five minutes of the scheduled time. The Brits really know how to do pageantry after 800 years of practice.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:08 AM

Comments [3]



Friday, November 10, 2006
London 10, Friday November 10, 2006

This week’s cultural pursuits have included two return trips to the British Museum, a visit to the London Cartoon Museum, a hilarious play called “The 39 Steps” (a spoof of the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name) and a musical called “Billy Elliott” (based on the play of the same name). At great cost Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have reconfirmed their lack of enthusiasm for musicals as an art form. They left at the intermission, bored to tears.


They have four days left in London and he has to say they will not be unhappy about having to go home. The weather has been very nice for this time of the year but the air pollution in London is relentless, as it has been since the middle ages. It will be therapeutic to get back to the fresh air of the Outer Banks after four weeks of fighting for every breath.


Remaining events include a performance of Ben Jonson’s “The Alchemist” about which they know nothing but which has received rave reviews from most of the critics. Needless to say it is not a musical. Also on Saturday they will watch part of the Lord Mayor’s Parade, an annual event in the City of London since about 1250. On Sunday they will take in the monthly gathering of antique print and book dealers at the Great Russell Hotel on Russell Square. The high point of this event is lunch in the King Edward Room of the Russell which is a Victorian era bar furnished with huge leather chairs and sofas in which to quaff a beer or two and munch roast beef sandwiches. Heaven on earth.


This could be the last blog from London but rest assured Uncle Jack will be back with a Sonag Sunrise in a week or so. (Wouldn’t you know that the cable guys arrived at their apartment today ready to install the new wireless internet system. It should be ready in a week or so they say. Sigh.)



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Two Samoan artists working at the British Museum as part of the South Seas exhibition. They are both tattooed from head to foot.

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This is part of the work they have created from styrofoam panels during the past few weeks. Very intricate.

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It is almost crude, though, compared to this sculpture being examined by an American tourist. It was carved out of some kind of Indian reeds by artists from Bangladesh at the Museum about 25 years ago. It is in a show called "Myths of Bengal".

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These grotesque figures were made by Indians in the Peruvian Andes. They outdo anything we have ever seen at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

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Ubiquitous American tourist poses prettily in the Reading Room of the British Museum. Karl Marx wrote "Das Kapital" in this room. (His nearby house was unheated).

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Main entrance of St. Paul's Cathedral. Built by Christopher Wren in the 1670's to replace the old St. Paul's destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

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This is where your last contribution to the Salvation Army probably went----their sumptuous new headquarters in London near St. Paul's.

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The College of Heralds near St. Paul's, built right after the great fire of 1666 to replace the older building. When a person (like Mick Jagger for example) gets knighted he has to come here and devise his own coat of arms. God knows what is on his---may

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:31 AM

Comments [5]



Wednesday, November 8, 2006
London 9, Wednesday November 8, 2006

When Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. first vacationed in London about ten years ago they rented a flat in the east end near the Tower of London which was also within a short walk of the Spitalfields market which has provided east enders with fresh fruits and vegetables and much more for well over a century. The market is essentially a large shed, much like a train station with a glass and steel roof, and it is filled with stalls operated by small merchants who bring their wares to Spitalfields every weekend and now attract crowds of buyers from all over the city.


We have made return visits to Spitalfields (and its sister attractions, the Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane markets) every year since we first discovered it and we did it again last Sunday. For the past several years we have viewed with alarm the relentless encroachment of “progress” in the form of new office buildings which are gradually taking over much of the area around Spitalfields. A couple of years ago part of the old market building was torn down and barriers went up around the construction sites so you couldn’t tell what was going on. All has now been revealed and it is not a happy sight except to the megabucks developers who have turned half the charming old market into just another glitzy glass and marble shopping mall full of the same chain shops (starting with Starbuck’s) that fester everywhere else in London.


Uncle Jack talked with a man named Jon Helberg from Baltimore who has operated an American-style BBQ restaurant in Spitalfields for the past 20 years who said that he is being kicked out by the new owners of the market who say that his funky eatery would lower the tone of the “new Spitalfields” they are developing. His lease is up next summer and he will be forced to move. Needless to say he is not happy about it and neither is Uncle Jack who is saddened by the increasing homogenization of London as the national and multi-national chains crush the small shop owners and bit by bit destroy what is left of the city’s commercial heritage. What the blitz couldn’t do the developers will, eventually.


Monday was a lovely day so they walked over the Thames on the Millennium Footbridge to the Tate Modern gallery, a former power plant, to see the installation of “slides” by a German “artist” whose name Uncle Jack has repressed which now partially fills the huge turbine room space. What this has to do with art escapes him but it was a lot of fun to watch kids slide down the twisting tubes, screaming their heads off all the way.


They also took in a show of sculptures by an American artist named David Smith who was a pioneer in the use of scrap metal and other found objects like farm implements which he fashioned into “art”. Uncle Jack has to admit that some of the sculptures were really interesting and the show was much more rewarding than some he has seen at the Tate Modern which have included such “works of art” as a cow’s head crawling with maggots (which recently sold to a private collector for several million dollars) and an unmade bed. Needless to say a trip to the Tate Modern is always amusing if nothing else.






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Old Spitalfields market from the front.

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Interior of the old section of Spitalfields.

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Part of the new, improved Spitalfields.

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One of the upscale galleries in the "new" Spitalfields. The inflatable man on the floor is a "work of art".

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London's own "Dirty Dick's" on Bishopsgate Street.

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St. Paul's Church from the Millenium Bridge. After 5 years of cleaning it looks great.

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St. Paul's and the Millenium Footbridge from the Tate Modern gallery.

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The great turbine room with installation of slides. Is it art? Apparently.

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Schoolboys on an outing from the London School for Boys, one of the finest schools in London.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:49 AM

Comments [4]



Monday, November 6, 2006
London 8, Monday November 6, 2006

Saturday was a glorious fall day in London, a perfect setting for two major outdoor events. The first was the run-up to Sunday’s annual London to Brighton rally in which over 500 “Veteran” cars will participate. About 150 of these vintage vehicles (all pre-1910) drove through central London this morning and then parked in the middle of Regent Street where passers-by could examine them and take pictures and talk to the owners. Many of the owners are Americans (obviously wealthy) who had their cars shipped over just to participate in this event. Mrs. U.J. spoke to the wife of one of them who said her husband owns 18 antique cars at last count and she is giving serious thought to divorce. On Sunday morning all the cars will assemble in Hyde Park before 7 a.m. and then set out for the seaside resort of Brighton about 50 miles south of London. Most of them will make the whole trip but a heartbroken few won‘t even get out of the park. Uncle Jack watched the start of the rally during his first visit to London in 1971 and he has never forgotten it. (For this reason he will sleep in on Sunday morning instead of getting up at dawn and taking the bus to Hyde Park).


The other big event of the day was a rally in Trafalgar Square to demonstrate public concern about the perils of global warming. Police estimate that the crowd Saturday afternoon reached nearly 15,000 but all was peaceful except for the raucous rock and roll bands that performed for assembled throng. How much good it will do is anybody’s guess given that Britain is estimated to produce only about 3% of the world’s output of carbon dioxide.


On Saturday night Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. returned to Trafalgar Square for a concert of works by Handel, Vivaldi, Bach and Pachelbel in St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. Sir Neville Marriner would have been pleased by both the turn-out and the program. Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he managed not to kick over a kneeler this time as he did during the last concert they attended in St. Martin’s.



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On the way to Regent Street.

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This 1904 Oldsmobile had a bit of bad luck. He got it going again after a while.

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This one was steam driven. The way things are going this could be the car of the future.

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Mrs. U.J. in conversation with Gail Shavitsky of Philadelphia whose husband owns 17 antique cars in addition to this 1904 Packard. She thinks he's a bit of a monomaniac.

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This tiny car is a hundred years ahead of its time. It makes the Mini look like a Hummer.

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Part of the global warming crowd in Trafalgar Square. Our president came in for some criticism for his lack of support for the Kyoto accords.

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Interior of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields during Saturday night's concert by the Belmont Ensemble.

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Handel played this organ in St. Martin's which was only a short walk from his house.

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Scary business when you have only two cylinders and six h.p.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:20 PM

Comments [0]



Friday, November 3, 2006
London 7, Friday November 3, 2006

Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have continued their headlong pursuit of culture for the past several days with the complete cooperation of Mother Nature who has shone her face upon us generously for a change. Tuesday’s major entertainment was a matinee performance of Tennessee Williams’s “Summer and Smoke” at the Apollo Theater on Shaftesbury Avenue. It’s always fun to listen to English actors grapple with American southern accents but we have to admit this group did very well. On their last visit to London in January they saw Williams’s “Night of the Iguana” starring Woody Harrelson of “Cheers” fame whose southern accent was not nearly as convincing. The only American star currently performing in the west end this month is Patrick Swayze who is starring in a new production of “Guys and Dolls” which we have decided we can afford to miss. Or can’t afford to attend. Whatever.


We strolled through the dazzling sunlight TWednesday morning over to the British Museum and spent a couple of hours ogling a wonderful show of artifacts from the museum’s South Seas collection. As a former serious student of anthropology (M.A., University of Virginia, 1957) Uncle Jack was bowled over by some of the items on display, a few of which he was able to photograph clandestinely without getting caught. Further trips to the museum will be necessary in the next two weeks in order to check out several other special displays now on view. (All free to the public courtesy of the fools who buy National Lottery tickets.)


Perhaps their most exciting theater experience of this trip came Wednesday afternoon when they attended a matinee performance of John Mortimer’s autobiographical play “A Voyage Round My Father” starring Derek Jacobi who is perhaps England’s finest living stage actor. Uncle Jack saw this play at the Haymarket theater about 35 years ago with Alec Guinness in the starring role and he has to say Jacobi was every bit as impressive. His character died so convincingly on stage this afternoon that Uncle Jack doubts they will be able to revive him in time for the evening performance.


Thursday was spectacularly sunny and almost warm so they wandered down through Chinatown to the National Gallery again to take in a couple of special free shows that they learned about while perusing the Velazquez exhibit last week. One was called “Cezanne in Britain” which title was a bit misleading because Cezanne never actually visited this sceptered isle. All of the paintings on display are owned by the National Gallery, however, so they are “in Britain” whether they want to be or not.


The Cezannes were lovely but they were somewhat eclipsed by the treasures on view in the other show entitled “Manet to Picasso” which featured several dozen of the National Gallery’s finest paintings, most of which were purchased back when they cost hundreds of pounds rather than the millions they are now worth. Uncle Jack got to see his all-time favorite painting again, Seurat’s huge pointillist masterpiece usually known as “The Bathers”. It shows a group of totally indolent people sitting and lying in the sun on a grassy riverbank just enjoying doing nothing whatsoever. He has always found it to be one of the most inspiring works of art ever created.


Friday morning was sunny again so they took the bus to Bermondsey to see what they could find at the famous flea market (hours: 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday for the past couple of hundred years). They were slightly surprised to find that half the area traditionally devoted to the market is now fenced off and a large construction project is underway. Nevertheless there were still many dealers set up with their bewildering variety of small antiques, most of which are priced far out of our range because of the extremely unfavorable exchange rate with the pound sterling which now stands at nearly two to one, the worst ever.


If this weather holds up it’s going to be hard to leave London. So much to see and do, so little time.



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Entrance to the British Museum, one of the world's great repositories of priceless stuff, much of it stolen from other countries.

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A ceremonial mask made of feathers from the South Seas collection.

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Matching robe made of feathers.

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This carved wooden totem was stolen by missionaries after they converted the natives to Christianity. (Thou shalt not steal.....)

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Proscenium decorations in the Apollo Theater. About 150 years old.

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Uncle Jack's communication hub---an internet cafe on Charing Cross Road.

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One of the lovely old buildings near Westminster Cathedral.

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How much is that duckie in the window? A Chinese restaurant in Soho.

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Uncle Jack's all-time favorite painting.

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The ancient Bermondsey fleamarket is slowly being squeezed out by development. Another 100 years and it will be just a memory.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:57 AM

Comments [3]




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Uncle Jack lived in Nags Head for 35 years before he moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. He still has a house in South Nags Head which he and Mrs. U.J. visit every chance they get.
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