Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wishing For Snow

Winter has arrived in style in the UK, people stranded in Cornwall, caught out by the weather that had been advertised for the past few days(don't they watch TV?), but still no sign of snow in London :(

London covered in snow is such a cool thing. Something that I really look forward to it. It covers up all the crappy bits (and until it all goes slushy) it makes everything look clean and conjours up visions of Christmas and cheery thoughts in me.

Loads of people nowadays moan about Christmas. It's too commercial, doesn't really mean anything, too many crowds, who cares, bah humbug, blah blah blah.

Well sod them! I love Christmas! Okay, so I don't really have a family to buy presents for or stay over with, so I can do whatever I like, so that may be a big factor and it can be lonely time too but just putting up my tree, cards and a few decorations still warms me more than I can explain why.

Perhaps I'm filled with fantasy-fueled visions of Christmas from old movie classics like "It's A Wonderful Life," or else like the time off work, our office shuts down for almost two weeks, though I'm working three half-days before the new year to get back as full-day holidays. Who knows?

The loneliest I get, I guess, starts at midnight mass. I used to do this with my mum and then stay over at her place on Christmas day for a nice stuffed turkey and all the trimmings and then a nice nap with a full stomach :)

That I miss the most...I guess but I try not to think about it too negatively. It's a good time to remember my folks over a few drinks. I still stuff myself (though not a turkey) and have a nap in the afternoon :)

So, I bought myself a new camera on the internet on Friday. It's a compact 8 Mega Pixel jobbie. Only 140 quid, so cheap and cheerful, really. (By a company called BenQ...Who?) It's not really a replacement for my trusty old 5 Megapixel Nikon but is a lot easier to carry around and will come in handy to smuggle into gigs. I wish I had it last week for the Natalie Imbruglia concerts where everybody and their next door neighbour had a camera.

I got thrown out of the same venue a couple of years ago for taking a camera and refusing to give it up. I showed the bouncer how crap my photos were, "Look, I'm not a professional!" but he wasn't having any of it! And it was only a Cowboy Junkies gig where I found out that the band posed for photos after. Sodding over zealous bouncer!

Oh...and I even bought a frigging lightweight tripod so that I can take night shots without the Shakin' Stevens special effect that I normally get, even with my Steady-Eddie hands.

Anyway, I've attached a few shots taken with the camera taken using the tripod. The top one is of Trafalgar Square and the second a close up of the signage(is that a word?) at Piccadilly Circus. Will probably go and take a few more with the Nikon next time to get a decent comparison.

Oh....And I saw the Harry Potter film earlier on in the week. If you like fantasy films you'll find that it's bloody good. 9/10 from me!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dreaming Of Natalie

So what have I been up to in the last week? Well, shiver me timbers if I didn't just go a whole nine days without going to the cinema! Wow! Feeling dizzy. Withdrawal symptoms kicking in. Arggggghhhhh! Calm down....Watch DVDs...Watch DVDs....Watch DVDs....Phew, that's better. Truth is, it's been so bloody cold in London that I went into hibernation over the weekend. I did make an attempt on Sunday evening to venture out and try and see the new Harry Potter film but it was sold out through to the last showings. That was a quick trip into the city but I didn't care. Needed the fresh air... During the week I've mananged to go to two gigs to see Natalie Imbruglia twice! Nah, never done this before, even if I really like an artist or band, I'll settle with just one gig. Most people do.

I've always looked on those fans that follow an artist around on their tour or go to every night at a particular venue as weird. But hey, I can be weird too and fuck me if my reasoning wasn't perfectly sane:

Number one, I only bought a ticket for the first gig, on Monday and it was crap! Well, Natalie and the band were great but the crowd was the biggest bunch of duffers/muppets/zombies that I have ever come across at a gig. They just stood and watched with no reaction. Truly bizzarre!

There was me and a few around me clapping and bobbing around and then there was the rest, decomposing with body parts falling off. That's really how it felt.... Poor old Natalie. Imagine performing live and having an audience like that!!!

So I decided, I've got to see her with a better audience. It just had to be better on Thursday....IT JUST HAD TO BE! PLEASE!

Number two, the venue is a quick quarter of an hour bus ride away. So bloody easy to get to. If I'd have had to travel across the city, I may not have bothered with going back after Monday's Mogadon crowd.

And finally, I didn't want to read the forums on her website and hear that the Thursday gig was awesome and I'd be kicking myself that I got the night of the living dead audience instead!

So along I went tonight and thank God, the gig WAS awesome! The crowd was brilliant and Natalie's performance reflected it. No doubt, although she was excellent on Monday, even with the dead muppets watching(!) tonight she took it to another level. I even got a good standing position and bopped along all night with a big smile on my face. She pointed to me along with a few others around the venue, later on, to say thanks. SO FRIGGING COOL!

To top it all off, I managed to get a ticket from someone with a spare, deperate to get into the gig, outside the venue, for a fifth of the regular ticket price!!! The nearest tout looked really pissed off that I'd bought one off someone else but screw you! Nobody likes a tout. Ha!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mostly Normal

You Are 40% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

Your Personality Profile

You are funky, outdoorsy, and down to earth.
While you may not be a total hippie...
You're definitely one of the most free spirited people around.

You are very impulsive - every day is a new adventure.
However, you do put some thought behind all your actions.
Still, you do tend to shock and offend people from time to time!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Night Walking

Boy has it been cold the past few days! So when someone asks, "fancy going to the pub?" or cinema or whatever, I shiver and think, "Wow I'll have to drink loads so that I won't feel the cold on the way home" That's my excuse anyway!

Today I was too tired to stay out long but then found a sudden reservoir of energy and walked all the way from the top of Baker Street to South Kensington!!! Normally a quick journey across Hyde Park, now takes a bit longer as obviously it's dark by the time I leave work and the park is closed to all but the strange ones that hang out in parks at night.

So walked all the way around. *phew* It took me over an hour (much longer than usual!!!) but I got to check out the latest ice rink to open over Winter in London, in front of the Natural History Museum. I don't think that many people know about it (I think it only opened this week?) so it wasn't too packed. I'll have to grab a few friends and pop along before it takes off too much.

The Christmas lights have all been switched on the main shopping streets in London and I took a few more photos as I walked home yesterday down Marylebone High Street. It was closed off to traffic for the switching on of their lights. Unfortunately, I just missed Nell McAndrew who switched them on. They had snow machines at full blast setting the scene, though according to the weather-people we're due to have a really cold Winter with loads of snow this year. Last year we had about half a day of snow in London. I'm starting to forget what it looks like!

Plus then I walked past Burlington Arcade (by the Royal Academy of Arts off Piccadilly) and wondered what the big crowds were about there too. It turns out that the Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charlie's other half) was turning on the arcade's lights! Thought it would have been a bit beneath her personally *meow!* Haha!

Trouble was, none of my night time shots came out. I thought I had a steady hand but obviously not steady enough. I'm off to hunt for a tripod tomorrow, so hopefully some better London at night shots in the next few days.

Popped out after work on Tuesday to see my 56th(!) film of the year, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." It's directed and written by the guy who did the Lethal Weapon movies but has a lot more swearing and violence. Well it is a 15 certificate! I liked it. 8/10. It was a fun movie and Robert Downey Jr. makes a great film comeback after all his problems.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Annoyed but still happy

Things that REALLY annoyed me this morning:

Missed a tube train at Acton Town by an inch. The doors shut in front of my nose as I raced down the stairs. It was half empty too!

The next train was packed but I squeezed in and enjoyed the scent of eau de unwashed masses. Why are there still people in this world who don't use deodorant?!

The woman who insisted on sitting crossed legged, kicking my shins with her outstretched leg as I stood in the aisle in front of her.
"I don't have anywhere else to go. I have to stand here!"

Missing my second train at Green Park by an inch because people insisted on using the stairs, reserved for people entering the platform, to leave it!
"Don't you know what "For emergency use only" means !!!"

Finally getting a seat on the next train only to find that the two suits on either side of me insist on stretching out their legs and arms as they read their respective newspapers.

Getting to the exit at Baker Street to find a bunch of French school kids blocking the way out as they don't know how to use the ticket barriers!
"Because ticket barriers in France are soooo different, n'est pas?"

So that great start to the day put me in a great frame of mind, as you can imagine!

Things that made me happy this morning:
It wasn't as cold as the day before.
It wasn't raining.
A girl smiled at me as I came out of Baker Street station.
(She must have been high on drugs or something!?)
Blogging to let off steam rather than taking it out on those around me.
I'm still healthy and alive!!!

PS: Spell-checking at continues to bring a smile to my face. It insisted that 'Blogging' was not a valid word and suggested 'flogging' as its replacement!
So you can do the replacement yourself above and have a free grin on me :)

The photo is another one taken in one of my favourite parts of Regent's Park by the bridges at one end of the lake.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Kashmir’s earthquake: don’t care or don’t know?

Cor Blimey. Two blog entries in one day! But no, wait....This is important!!!

We're all familiar with the tsunami appeal. It raised billions. Hurricane Katrina got even more. The Kasmiri earthquake appeal is struggling to raise even a fifth of the money needed.

Really struggling!!!!!

It's cold out at night. You thought the streets where you live are bad. Over 3 million are homeless in Kasmir. Children are dying as the cold sets in.

Don't think, bloody foreigners, who cares about them! Don't think a little won't help. Don't think, I've already given money to Asia last year...


Make it your good deed of the day

The Kashmir death-toll is rising yet aid remains a trickle. Beena Sarwar asks why and calls for action.


Well I guess that Autumn is in full swing. So here's a picture of a very red looking Autumunal tree in Regent's Park to prove it. It was weird coming back from Peru (especially from the jungle) where everything was so green to land back and find most of the leaves fallen back in old blighty.

Plus it's f-ing freezing in London today.

When does Winter officially start(?), 'cause I think it's bloody well here now!

We're going to be lucky if the temperature makes double figures, so my woolly hat is well and truly required! Plus I got a haircut on Saturday, so that's not helping!

I've had a nice weekend. On Friday I went along to the inaugural LU bloggers meet. This is a bunch of people who either blog or comment on blogs linked in one way or another (tenuously, sometimes) to the London Underground or are just interested in seeing what a bunch of weirdos we are :)

Well, thankfully I can say that there weren't any weirdos (well no more weird than usual) at the meet up!

It was a bit strange though. I turned up at the pub where we had arranged to meet only knowing what two people looked like from pictures they had posted on their blog and the pub was packed! So, I walked around looking at groups of people thinking "is that them?", not really recognising anyone.

But hey, since I was in a pub, I thought I'd get a drink (not something I would normally do when on my own, mind) and decided that if I hadn't spotted anyone that I'd recognise by the time I had finished it, I would head off.

So I settled down in a good vantage point, wedged by the cigarette dispenser and leaning on the fruit machine.

Today was Rememberance Day in the UK and the pub being near where lots of the main government departments are based and just down from Horse Guards Parade and Trafalgar Square was packed with civil servants and military types doing their reunions (lots of singing!)

So this is how the dialogue in my head went as I scanned the pub:
"Hmmm, what about that group?", "No, too old", "and that one?", "No too dressed up", "Hmmm, they look about right over there but it's a huge group! I didn't think that we were expecting that many." :( "I wish that I'd got someone's mobile number!!!!"

And then, just as I was about to reach for the last gulp of beer. Ta dah! I spotted someone off in the distance to my right. "Yep, that's him. Seen his picture. Phew!"

Well, it all ended happily ever after, as the group of bloggers and their familiars :) was a good gathering and we had all sorts of things to chat about (helped on by liquid lubrication, no doubt.)
Just have to wait for the next gathering now. Blimey, I'll have to think of something new to talk about!

On Sunday afternoon I popped along to the flicks to see The Constant Gardener. It was an excellent film 9/10 and a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Interestingly, the film was completely subtitled, so must have been a showing for the hard of hearing! Didn't say that when I bought my tickets though. Oh well. You could ignore the subtitles after a while.

And finally, for those travelling, working or just interested in the origins of the London Underground, check out this book: The Subterranean Railway. It tells of how the Underground came to be and has some good reviews. I'll be popping along to the bookshop tonight to buy mine. It'll probably be an appropriate thing to read on the tube too!

PS: Spell checking, before I sent this, came up with "Brouhaha" in place of "Brrrrr." Does anyone actually use that word????

Also, rather bizarrely, "blog" is an unknown word in's spell-checker. Duh!!!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Busy / Lazy

Hey all. Sorry, I've been either really busy or really lazy over the past few days to update this blog. *sigh*

Well, what have I been up to? Ermmm, I walked on a lot of graves in Abney Park Cemetery last week. It was all part of a voluntary work program my company sponsors. A group of us cleared briars and other prickly things away in sections of the cemetery so that they can use them for nature talks etc for the local school kids. Sometimes you just had to step on the graves to get to the bits you needed to clear out! It was a good day's work (though muddy) and the weather was nice too!

Then I managed to see Sheryl Crow live and as a bonus found myself in the fourth row at the Hammersmith Apollo. My crappy mobile-camera didn't like the dim light though and none of my pictures came out particularly well, despite her being just in front of me :(

Plus I've managed to see two films over the past few days (well, I've got to keep my quota up!.)
They were "The Brothers Grimm" which I'd give 7/10 because I like Terry Gillian films and fantasy type stuff and "Broken Flowers" 8/10 which is the new Bill Murray one. I've liked his past few films when lots of people I know have hated them. Lost In Translation, in particular is one of my favourites but some people just didn't get it and fall asleep watching it!

Oh well. The whole jet lag, living from a hotel in a country where the culture and language is so different is captured so well and is something that I can understand from my few travels that I just love the film!

Oh, and finally, whilst I haven't actually written a hell of a lot about my Peru holiday here, those that are interested can check out the site that I've knocked up for photos and a brief synopsis of what I got up to when I was over there.

Find it here.
PS: Don't look to closely at the picture of a roast Guinea-pig that my mate is about to eat if that kind of thing is likely to disagree with you!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jet Lag

Despite having travelled a lot over the past few years I have been lucky never to have got jet lag...Until now that is.... :(

Waiting at the traffic lights outside Baker Street tube on my way out for lunch, my legs suddenly felt like jelly and I felt numb all over, like I could just fall asleep on the spot.

Well, it was either jet lag or narcolepsy!

I felt a bit better after having eaten something but it caught up with me again on the train on the way home. Granted we all feel tired on the way home but again it was all I could to do stop myself dozing off and ending up in a different county.

So sorry, no Peru update yet, just a taster picture taken on the edge of one of the pre-Inca ruins I visited. Around the corner was a path four feet wide with a sheer drop hundreds of metres down on one side!!!!

Well, I'm off early to bed again!