Tourists Driven Cuckoo By Chiming Clock

Bishop's Castle UK
Shirokazan, Flickr

A tourist destination in the U.K. has brought new meaning to the term “wake up call” with fears the constant chiming of the local clock tower is driving visitors away.

While thousands of tourists descend upon the small English town of Bishop’s Castle each year, many apparently vow never to return after spending sleepless nights listening to the chime of the city’s clock.

The bells in the clock tower chime not just on the hour, but every 15 minutes — regardless of whether it’s day or night.Debate has erupted recently over whether to quiet the clock for the sake of tourists. For the uninitiated, the constant jingling from the clock is maddening, according to the owner of a local hotel. He says many of his guests love the town but refuse to return because of the incessant chiming. Although the clock has been chiming every 15 minutes since the 18th century, he’s pushing for it to be silenced at night.

However to locals, the musical clock is part of the town’s character and many say they’re lulled to sleep by the reassuring chimes. “I always sleep better when I can hear it. It is definitely part of the town and it would be a real shame to see it go,” argued one resident.

Would a chiming clock drive you bonkers when traveling, or is preserving the character of the destination more important?

Prague’s astronomical clock gets a makeover


The famous astronomical clock that is Prague’s most popular tourist attraction has lost some star players for the next two months. The four outside figures, including a skeletal Death, have been removed and are being repainted to protect them from the elements.

The clock was built in 1410 and is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. Dials show the position Moon, position of the Sun on the zodiac, and other astronomical events. Every hour there’s a parade of painted figures representing the 12 Apostles. Four other figures, representing vanity, greed, death, and pleasure, stand outside. As the bells chime the hours and the Apostles do their walk, Death shakes an hourglass to remind you that everything is transitory.

It’s quite a show, as you can see from this video by the folks at In Your Pocket: Essential City Guides. They have a free downloadable guide to Prague and many other cities on their website.

The clock will continue to function as the four figures are repainted. Legend has it that if the clock stops, disaster will strike the city.

SkyMall Monday: Clocks

skymall monday gadling irrational numbers clockWe’re a culture that’s fixated on time. We schedule meetings, play dates for our kids, parties and dates. We’re hyper-aware of the time. Here at SkyMall Monday, we have our days scheduled right down to the minute. We keep clocks on the walls, watches on our wrists and smartphones handy to check the time no matter where we are in the ol’ HQ. Our lives can get pretty chaotic this time of year, but you don’t have to let the holidays get the best of you. Stay calm, organized and precise and you’ll not only get through the holidays but also get your whole life in order. Thankfully, SkyMall has clocks for every personality and decor. Let’s take a look at some of the best options.We’ve actually covered some clocks in the past here at SkyMall Monday. You can’t go wrong with the Day Clock (unless, of course, you need your clock to tell you the actual time). Meanwhile, the Message in Time Clock allows you to haunt your family members. For coffee drinkers, the TimeMug kills two birds with one stone.

SkyMall doesn’t stop there, though. It has clocks for everyone:

Irrational Numbers Clock (pictures above): Your underachieving middle schooler will be late for school in no time!

Math Clock: See above.

skymall monday gadling target alarm clockTarget Clock: I’ll defer to the product description on this one:

To make it stop or snooze, the sleeper must sufficiently awaken, grab the laser gun, and hit a bull’s eye. Includes 2 other shooting games for target practice.

All joking aside, this is awesome. However, I think we can all agree that it should be a paintball gun and the target should be your significant other who, if hit, has to turn off the alarm for you. The welt will remind her all day that you love her.

10.5″ Reel Clock: Perfect for film lovers who like to roughly estimate the time based on the vague location of the clock hands.

Fishing Effects Clock: From the product description:

Each hour is announced with fishing sounds: line casting, water splashing, and more.

Perfect for the bathroom.

skymall monday gadling original bird clockOriginal Bird Clock: Let’s migrate over to the product description:

The 13″ Original Bird Clock features 12 of the most recognized birds in North America.

A different bird song announces each hour with live recordings provided by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Save your obscure birds for some other clock. I want to make sure I can easily recognize the sound when it’s a quarter past Tufted Titmouse.

Classic Glory Clock: Haunting. Disorienting. Capable of stealing our souls. Isn’t that how we want to describe our clocks?

Peaceful Cosmos Entertainer Clock: See above and watch this video instead.

Anthology Legend Clock: See above, add lights and you have yourself some nightmare fuel.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: Message In Time Clock

skymall monday message in time clockCuckoo clocks used to be all the rage. Clock makers earned great esteem for their craftsmanship and the owners of the chirping clocks appreciated the announcement of each passing hour. Of course, this was before watches were affordable and things like cable boxes, microwaves and, of course, cellphones filled our homes with constant reminders of the time. Nowadays, clocks in general, let alone chiming models, have fallen out of favor. Cuckoo clocks seem antiquated. Like a casino, there are no clocks in the SkyMall Monday headquarters. That’s not for lack of interest, though. The sound of a cuckoo would simply drive our dogs (and us) mad. But what if there was a clock that used messages that we recorded ourselves to announce the arrival of each hour? Wouldn’t that be creepy annoying charming? Thankfully, SkyMall knows that we’re narcissistic timekeepers. That’s why we’re thrilled that they’re selling the Message in Time Clock.Cuckoos are so 1808. In 2011, we need a clock that plays our own messages every hour. You know you’d love to be interrupted by the sound of your daughter yelling, “It’s two o’clock and I wet the bed again” Who wouldn’t want to be alerted to the fact that they’re late for work by a clock that plays a message from their boss? Even better, your clock could play the sound of your mother nagging you at 6am and 6pm reminding you that it’s both time to get up and time to call her. Clearly this clock is far less maddening than some cockamamie cuckoo.

Think that clocks should be seen but not heard? Believe that you can easily keep track of time with the myriad time pieces that you already possess? Well, while you apologize for being late to your next meeting, we’ll read the product description:

Record a grandchild’s first words, a close friend’s greeting, or sounds from a special event. Hear that same recorded message at the top of each hour. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

What could possibly be annoying about hearing “that same recorded message at the top of each hour”?

Sure, you could check your cellphone or look at your watch, but they don’t play the dulcet tones of your own voice with each passing hour. What’s the fun in that? You’d be cuckoo not to buy this clock.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

World’s oldest mechanical clock going automatic after 600 years


It’s been wound by hand for 600 years, but technology has finally caught up with the world’s oldest mechanical clock.

The duty of winding the clock three times a week, a task that takes an hour, has been performed by the same family for five generations. Before them a series of clock winders have been at the task since the clock was installed in Wells Cathedral, Somerset, England, in the 1380s.

But now Paul Fisher, the current clock winder, is retiring, and his sons are too busy to take over the task. Curators are installing an electric motor to wind it automatically.

It’s the end of a tradition that goes back to a century before Columbus’ voyage to America, and locals aren’t too happy about it. The clock has two dials, one inside and one outside. The inside face, shown above, has a 24-hour dial and shows the phases of the Moon. Interestingly for the time, it shows the Earth at the center of the universe, with the Sun and Moon revolving around it. The outside face has a more standard 12-hour dial, with mechanical knights who ring the bells and joust with one another.


Photo courtesy user Cormullion via Wikimedia Commons.