Saturday, April 30, 2005

Another week, another blog

It's been almost a whole week since I last blogged, although to be honest their hasn't been a great deal to blog about. Onto the start of a Bank Holiday weekend and I've got the whole of next week off work, so determined to make the most of it. Not sure what I shall do yet, other than I will make a point of getting out of London a few times, maybe visit the coast, dunno where yet, but Brighton appeals, and do some of those things that I just keep meaning to do. Nevertheless, the blog will be updated as often as possible, to keep you, my dear reader, in touch with what I get up to. Really have to make the most of my time, partly because there might not be much time left.....

You Will Die at Age 61

You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...

And how you'll die as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

It seems only a few days ago that I reported on spaceships just around the corner. Once again the local streets have been invaded. Yep, another film crew had landed.
I'd heard a lot of car horns beeping away outside my bedroom window, and on looking out had seen that the road was blocked by the police. I knew there was some filming going on today and guessed that there was something major going on, so popped out to have a look (and get some milk as well).
Arriving at the usual place, outside Freemasons Hall, it was obvious why the traffic had been stopped. A street scene was being filmed. Turns out they are filming Basic Instinct 2, due for release next year. There were huge crowds of cameramen, and massive lighting rigs, even a fire engine to hose the road down for a rainy scene. I hung around for a while and witnessed a few takes, (men on bikes, men in raincoats, men getting into cabs etc.) although being faceblind I can't say I recognised anyone famous. I might even have made it into the background of one of the scenes. I shall be on the credits as "Bloke in naff T-shirt carrying milk"
Click the pic for further location shots.

A village stroll

A look at a map of London will show that it is nothing more than a huge jumbled collection of villages, each with their own unique identity. I've moved around a bit over the last few years, Knightsbridge, Paddington, and now Covent Garden. Each one a village with an identity of it's own. Sundays are always delightful days for a stroll, take away the madding weekday crowds and the hordes of Saturday shoppers and the village atmosphere is revealed. Mayfair with it's history is no exception, a casual stroll shows off a number of quiet bars and bistros, tucked away from the bustle of tourists. Click the pic for a little more of an insight.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

St. George's Day 2005

April 23rd, for those of you that forget, is St. George's Day, and also the day that William Shakespeare was born and died (although not on the same year obviously). Once again Mr Livingstone has organised a day of festivites around London to celebrate our national hero. However, if you're listening Ken, how about spending some more on celebrating our day, as much as you spend on Chinese New Year, and St. Patricks day etc. Instead, going by the festivites in Trafalgar Square, you've turned it into another "Back the Bid for the 2012 Olympics". When will you learn, it doesn't matter how much we back the bid, the decision rests with the IOC and not us Londoners. Nice to see though that you have erected a giant countdown clock until the moment Paris is told it's won! Celebration photos of Morris Dancers in Covent Garden can be found here.

Friday, April 22, 2005

A viewing amongst the bodies.

One of my colleagues, Giulio Vaccaro, is a talented artist. This evening Barnaby and I went along to his private view in the crypt of St. Pancras Church. This, one of the most atmospheric locations I have visited for a gallery perfectly set off Giulio's paintings, hypnotically lit by strobes and black lighting, forcing the painted images to jump forward at you, as though the very bodies in the vaults surrounding you were reaching out, about to touch you on the shoulder. Original crypt tombstones littered the corridors as you stumbled around from one crypt to the next. If you're looking for atmosphere, and you're not epileptic, then I fully recommend popping in to view for yourself, before the exhibition ends on the 28th April. Giulio's own website with fuller details can be found here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Don't Panic!

The Secret to Life, the Universe & Traffic Wardens.

It's been a quiet few days, nothing much has happened apart from the election of the new Pope. My prediction was wrong. They picked an ex Hitler Youth member.

On a lighter note, this evening sees the long awaited premiere of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, links here and here. After 26 years since it was on TV it now makes it to the big screen, and the premiere party is being held just yards from my front door at Freemasons Hall, where parts of the film were shot a few months back. This venue gets used for all sorts of films, the local roads are forever being shut down for large vans of lighting equipment and canteens etc. Buying my morning paper whilst queueing behind someone with 2 heads, or passing a zombie on the street is no longer an eye opener for me. However, it seems that the usual Green Meanies (Camden Parking Attendents) just couldn't miss out on an opportunity to ticket a spaceship as you can see on the attached picture. And after 26 years, the answer is still 42.

Don't forget to take your towel!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A grubby back passage, a marathon and some art.

Grubby Back Passage
In a small lane, hidden behind Kings College on the Strand and the old Aldwych tube station is a little hidden gem. An old Roman Bath, although it might not be Roman at all. However Charles Dickens took a bath in it once so it is old. Would have been nice if he'd washed it when he left. Interior pics through the window were a disaster!

A Marathon
Once again, several tens of thousands of people decide to go for a run. During the week, when the roads are a little bit busy, Ken Livingstone charges us all a fiver to use them or forces us to use the tube at fastly inflating prices. Today, when all these nutters want to block 26 miles of prime London road, they get to use the tubes for free, while I am unable to use the road to drive my car on, on the days that there is supposed to be no congestion. Why?

Some Art
Eventually got to the Tate Modern again. Wanted to see the Bruce Naumann soundscape thing before it closes. Select the link to hear it yourself. Throughly enjoyed that before strapping on my MP3 player to catch up on some podcasts while wandering the rest of the gallery. The building is so overpowering, that whilst wandering around, I realised that I had never really been to look at the art here before, instead I normally tend to just wander around and get blown away by the sheer scale of the place. Today, I rediscovered the Rothko room, which I haven't seen since it was at Millbank. Now I can get blown away by the sheer scale of the art. A blissful afternoon.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Return to the underworld

Two weeks ago you may recall I discovered the delights of Canary Wharf. I was so taken by it that I went back for another visit today. Parking up in the same place as before and then wandering off into the shopping centre, I took a turning that I had noted before but had not taken. This led through more corridors and eventually into the concourse of the tube station (which we had only viewed from above previously) continuing in the same direction brings you to yet another underground shopping centre, Jubilee Place, more roomy and airier than the other. What, what a shock as I had not expected to find this here. The huge bank of escalator took me up to the small park above, supposedly the same size as Trafalgar Square! I took a few pics of the stone sculptures that are currently on display before descending back into the depths and back towards Cabot Square.

I found some more escalator that we had ignored previously and this brought me up to the most luxurious Tesco Metro I had ever seen. WOW. I shall most definitely be coming back here again. It's still only my 2nd favourite shopping centre, but only just. The rumours in the free paper talk about House of Fraser moving in with a nice big department store. Now that will be Heaven! Further pics from the day are here.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Streatham Kite Festival

A pleasant afternoon. Time for the annual Streatham Kite Festival. I've been a couple of times before as Barnaby and Carl are both into kiting and it's nice to get out the house and go and see. It was busier this year than in previous years, although in comparison to some of the other kite festivals I understand that this is more of a village fete. However, there were a few interesting inflatables, some of which are in the attached photo set.

I decided to bring my camcorder out of hibernation and do another vlog, however having taken some stunning footage of some wonderful kites, I've got home to find that Windows has decided to go on strike and refuses to do anything. Fine, it lets me import the video and do all the little edits to make it watchable, but the second I try to save it I get the dreaded "Not responding" message. I know I need to reinstall XP again, but that really is a full weekends work, as I have to then reinstall all the bits and pieces I've added since the last reinstall. Hmmm, I think I see a new PC on its way in the not too distant future.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Memory Maps

With Google's recent development of Google Maps and the rising interest in Flickr (where I host the photos for this blog) a wonderful group has emerged by the name of Memory Maps. These are satellite photos viewed with Flickrs note facility to highlight areas of interest. Indeed by clicking on the adjacent image you will be taken to my memory map, highlighting where I live and a few notable local features. At the moment Google Maps is limited to satellite images of the USA, but Streetmap will give an image where available for the UK.
Well done Hedgehunter, as I predicted earlier in the week, took today's Grand National win and saw me with a tidy profit. Also in the news, Chas & Cam eventually got hitched. The Queen was at the blessing in St. George's Chapel at Windsor, although I can't say that the cameras seemed to hold on her for too long, so difficult to see how well she was looking. I guess we'll have to wait and see if there's any truth in the rumours about her health. Now all that we need to wait and see is if my prediction for the next Pope will be correct. The conclave meets on April 18th, so we should know very soon after that.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The end of the world, some waffle and a few predictions.

Weather is a strange thing. Last weekend we were hanging around in the docklands, almost sunbathing weather. Today, the heavens open like the end of the world is about to happen! The accompanying pic is the view of the Goswell Road just as I was leaving work today. Hail stones the size of, well, hail stones actually. One hell of a lot of them, and God do they hurt!!!

So, a little news roundup. Popey died, been laying in state all this week, even though he's not yet been embalmed so I guess he's probably starting to go off a bit. Anyway, the funeral is tomorrow, then we can get on with seeing who the next one is. I've got a few quid on the Brazilian guy Hummes. Reckon he stands a good chance at 8-1. On the subject of betting, I've had a few quid also on Hedgehunter in the Grand National since mid February when he was in the running at 22-1, now favourite at 8-1, so hopefully I'll pick up a nice little earner there. My track record of picking National winners is quite good, having wagered on Miinnehoma at 16-1 a few years back and last year getting Amberleigh House at 14-1.

Anyway, this years race has been put back by 25 minutes due to the impending royal wedding with Chas & Cam (if it ever actually goes ahead). Rumour has it that it has been rushed forward due to the Queen having a "serious illness" which could well see a King in the not too distant future. Has to be said that she's not really been seen in public lately, suprising really when you consider the marriage at the weekend. No doubt we will see her on the box on Saturday, and Sunday's papers will be full of reports about how rough she looks. Pity I can't seem to get odds on her popping her clogs from any bookies at the moment. Of course if Philip outlives her then he'll be the 'King Dad', and certainly won't be as much loved as the Queen Mum was.

NOT very flattering.

My Southpark Image
This little utility seems to have ended up in my inbox too many times in the last few days. Make your own South Park character. Well I used what bits there were to try and replicate myself, can't say there was a great choice of parts so therefore the resulting image is not the most flattering of pictures. Just glad I don't look like that in real life.

Further news, I have also set up another little blog, more a photoblog actually, just to record some of my favourite photos, either ones that I find particularly colourful, or attractive, or proud of having taken for one reason or another. No commentary, just photos. Some of them I have photoshopped (I don't care what Adobe think) and some just straight from the camera.

Monday, April 04, 2005

It's Monday

Some days there's not a lot worth reporting back on, hence the fact there are a few days in this blog with very little to say. Been trawling through some of the blogs on my blogroll and had a look again at Gabe & Gabe who do an occasional vlog (video log).
Thought to myself, I could have a go at that, I'm always up for something different, playing with various little online applications etc. that I've come across (I take it you've already seen the Slideroll on Saturday) So here's my first vlog, it's a little film I made a couple of years ago at the Tate Modern when the "Weather Project" was on. Nothing special, more a tryout at this moment, but if it works, (you'll need to click on it to get it going) then I'll come back with some more vlogs in the coming months. Feedback appreciated.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The 2nd loveliest shopping centre ever.

It's been a good few years since I last took a trip down to the Docklands area. With my new found addiction for Flickr and all things photo like, Barnaby and I both decided that with the weather being as nice as it was today, that we should go and take a trip to Canary Wharf and take some nice pics of the skyscrapers. However, having arrived and parked in the wonderful underground roundabout we emerged into another world, a world of underground shopping malls. Now I recall this from my last visit as nothing more than a couple of banks, a newsagents and several coffee shops. It's changed into a complete shopping centre, somehow linking all the skyscrapers underground. If you ever find yourself in this area then it's certainly worth a visit.
We took some escalaters upwards towards the daylight to emerge in yet another world. A world inhabited by monolithic buildings and little squares of greenery with "Keep off the grass" signs.

We were very suprised at the number of people out and about, considering that this little city is so much of a Monday to Friday business arena, but we soon got into the swing of things, strutting around Waitrose with our trolleys (how many other supermarkets have a section devoted to 'Bird food'?), checking out the local talent, and there's certainly a lot of local talent around here judging by the number of single men, no doubt city traders with nothing else to do.
We took a wander around for a bit, some of the area is actually quite surreal, including entrance foyers with strange music playing from the flowerpots!!! There's a full selection of pics here if you care to click (Barnaby's pics are here) as well as the little animation thing playing above.
No doubt I shall be back again soon, if only for a trip to the nice Waitrose to sample some lovely fresh fruit, and sushi, and bread, and men and .........

By the way, if you're wondering why this is the 2nd loveliest shopping centre ever, then that's because the loveliest is Bluewater!

Has he gone yet?

Has he gone yet?
Old Popey's taking his time. I mean, he's been at death's door now for a few weeks. Woke up this morning and switched on the news, half expecting to hear that he's gone. He's still hanging in there though, obviously all that praying going on round the world is doing something. Now, I don't mean to be disrespectful at all, (I may not be Catholic, having been Christened C of E and confirmed Methodist, although completely non practicising these days), but I really wish he'd just get on and go. At least it's giving Sky News something to talk about because there doesn't seem to be any other news around today to report on (Mugabe winning the Zimbabwean election isn't news, that was a foregone conclusion....)
Over the last 24 hours, we've seen Popey go from being 'lucid' to 'serene' and as I write this, he's losing consciousness! We've had the ins and outs of his urinary tract infection and feeding tubes. Why can't the world press just let him rest and die peacefully rather than this merry-go-round that's occurring. It's not like it's not expected of a man of his age.
Of course, his imminent death brings with it a whole series of strange and ancient rituals. His body will be hit 3 times with a silver hammer to confirm he really is dead. We'll have several days of TV coverage of a chimney smoking, waiting for the smoke to change colour when a new papacy is chosen. Shame we don't get to see the proving of a pope, when someone is elected to shove their hand up his cassocks to prove the chosen really is a man!