An evening of Flamenco music at the National Centre for Early Music in York – Rebecca Radford writes:

I was excited to be going to my first YTI social event.  A small group of us met for pre-concert drinks in the Spread Eagle pub only a short walk away from the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM).

This was my first visit to the NCEM and I was struck by the tasteful adaptation of St Margaret’s Church as a venue for world-class music.

Flamenco guitarists Juan Martín and Chaparro de Málaga were playing at this beautiful York venue as part of their Two Guitarras Malagueñas tour.  Juan Martìn is a renowned Flamenco guitarist and composer who has teamed up with virtuosic and prize-winning guitarist Chaparro de Málaga.

It was a joy to see such great communication between the two musicians as they interpreted a mixture of magical and reflective numbers interspersed with more vibrant and energising music.  Some of the pieces were based on traditional melodies while others were Juan Martín’s original compositions.  They took inspiration from the conventional Andalucian style as well as featuring influences from Moorish culture and Galician melodies.  However, all of the pieces evoked the colour and feeling that Flamenco music is so famous for.  My personal favourite was a piece that was more improvisational in style, as it really showcased the players’ skills and musical dialogue.

During the interval there was time to catch up with other members of YTI, to discuss both the music and the world of translation.

Everyone commented on how great the performance was.  I left the concert feeling positively energised, having learnt a little about Flamenco music as well as having had the chance to meet and share experiences with fellow translators and interpreters.

Sèvres porcelain at Harewood House – Kirsten Coope writes:

Twelve translators and interpreters, together with family members turned up on a blank-white autumn day, by a carefully orchestrated convoy of cars or by bus, to Harewood House. This was an outing that attracted the full age range of YTI members and family – the youngest at just about six months. After a picnic lunch, thankfully unmarred by rain, the group split – for playgrounds, penguins or porcelain.

As I ended up in the porcelain group, I’ll focus on that. We shuffled round the house in a hushed reverie, as though afraid that too many reverberations might do damage. Maybe so – the older Sèvres porcelain is made of soft paste, which takes its glaze very well but is especially brittle. In its extravagant exuberance, it is all ancien régime. And why not combine pea green, rose pink, cobalt blue, turquoise and gilt edgings? Or make the handle into a foot that then turns into a scaly head and then comes back to bite the tail of the other handle? And where would you be without an ornamental clothes brush? After all, an early patron of the Sèvres factory was Madame de Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV. Madame de Pompadour wore the most impressive gowns, foaming with frills and laces.

Her favourite food was amber chocolate with celery soup, so she’d need her little cups and tureens. The “amber” here refers to ambergris, which was supposed to be an aphrodisiac – though before you rush out to your local deli, it’s made of a secretion from sperm whales’ intestines. Perhaps it only works for Louis XV. Why the celery soup is less clear, though it sounds like an anti-aphrodisiac, for those days when she cared more for the gown. I think there must be an international convention somewhere about not taking secretions from sperm whales’ intestines, so we’re left with the celery soup – modern drab! The bits of Sèvres that ended up in the hands of British aristocrats (later, American bankers…) fleeing all that liberty, equality, and fraternity, at least fared better than the original owners, some of whom met a less than fraternal end.

As for us, the agreement was that people would gather again in the cafe at the end of their various pursuits. There, over impressive cake and crockery bound to seem a little lacklustre, the talk turned to rather more modern regimes (tax…)… though I think we did venture onto some other topics, before the eyes of accompanying family acquired a glazed look to rival that of the Sèvres. Thanks to Charlotte for organising the outing so effectively and managing to get us in at a group rate!

Visit to Veolia Energy Recovery Facility, Sheffield – a “rubbish” day out, Chris Thompson writes:

The open day at the Veolia Energy Recovery Facility on the edge of Sheffield city centre, on 27 September 2014, generated enough interest for 14 intrepid YTI members to attend. As tours were limited to groups of 10, we were separated across two tours.

An initial safety briefing was followed by a very informative explanation of what the plant does by an enthusiastic staff member. I’ll skip over the details, but in short, the plant takes non-recyclable waste, burns it, and converts the heat into either district heating for about 140 large and small buildings across Sheffield (including the Grade II listed Park Hill Flats), or electricity which is fed back into the grid. The split varies according to district heating demand. It’s the largest district heating scheme in the UK, but such installations are more common elsewhere in Europe.

After the explanation (and a stack of questions), we donned hard hats, high-vis jackets and safety specs for a guided tour. Unfortunately, as there were no children in the party, we were refused the chance to drive the crane from the control room. Much disappointment all round. The plant can be controlled by just two people, with automatic control of crane operation and emissions monitoring. The latter is very strict indeed, and we were told that they have never had to shut down because emissions exceeded their limits. They’re also obliged by Sheffield Council to hold open days to improve “transparency”, since incinerators (as we used to call them) have a pretty bad reputation from past practices, and are still a burning issue whenever a new one is proposed.

The rest of the tour consisted mainly of pointing and shouting at various bits of engineering that had previously been mentioned when the processes were described. One highlight was peering through the boiler inspection port at the raging inferno within. Noted on the tour was equipment made in Germany, France, Spain and Birmingham, so we can only imagine the translation required for the installation manuals.

Was it smelly? Yes, but not enough to turn anyone ashen-faced. It was noticeably smellier inside the buildings than out – they do a good job of containing any odours.

After we had dumped our safety equipment, around 8 of us wasted no time in transferring to the city centre and Andrews Tea Rooms, where we disposed of tea and cake in short order. Heated discussions ranged from the price of wedding cakes to the utility of the afternoon’s visit. Professionally speaking, “useful but only indirectly” was the general verdict: as an office worker, it’s good to get an idea of the scale and working environment of industrial plants, as well as to collect, perhaps only passively, some of the English terminology used.

So all in all, not such a rubbish day out: time just flue by. Personally, I’d definitely go again to similar events.

More info on what you missed: