Friday, December 26, 2008
This was a good episode. I liked the idea of David Tennant meeting his new self in the person of David Morrissey. The Next Doctor had more of an Old Doctor feel to him, as he kind of reminds me of both John Pertwee and Peter Davidson. Of course, all you really need to be The Doctor is a lot of self confidence in the face of hopeless situations. I was also happy to see one of my favorite actresses, Dervla Kirwan, playing the part of a villain. Oh Assumpta, how could you?
I was a bit surprised to see The Eighth Doctor in a flashback of all the old Doctors. Doctor Who, like many other interesting Science Fiction programs, had a chance of being a success on the American FOX network-the same chance that a snowball has in hell. FOX is notorious for airing new shows out of sequence or delaying thier airing because of sporting events, or just waiting so long to air them that everyone involved has moved on to something else. There was one episode of Doctor Who which featured The Eighth Doctor, but he seems to have had a great afterlife in comics, books, and the hearts and minds of fans.
Steampunk is one of my favorite bits of silliness. The main idea is what if Victorians invented say, cell phones, what would they look like? Knowing the Victorian love of intricate detail and the primitive state of Victorian technology, they would be both beautiful and clunky. The Wild Wild West was steampunk in that our old west heroes had all kinds of modern era gadgets. Spock made a steampunk TV in the best Star Trek episode ever, City on The Edge of Forever. Lots of people now make and sell their Steampunk jewelry and technology. The Golden Compass is filled with steampunk.
The big finish of The Next Doctor has our hero fighting a Cyber King-a dreadnought class Cyberman battleship-only it was made using 1851 London materials and techonlogy. So it is a giant steam powered Cyberman complete with glowing red eyes and giant gears and pulleys. This is a brilliant bit of steampunk which actually steams.
It would have been fun to see a Steampunk Dalek, as that is one of the first steampunk things I really noticed online. Well, maybe next Christmas.
Monday, December 22, 2008
It has been cold here in Texas the past few days. Well, around 14 degrees °C. That's pretty cold for me. I went to London once in May and it was pretty nice. We took a side trip up to Inverness to see Loch Ness and look for Nessy. It was bloody cold there. We went on a bus tour of the Battlefield of Culloden and all we saw where the fogged up windows of the bus, as no one on the tour wanted to venture topside to see what the guide was talking about. It was also raining. Had a great time though.
A quick Google for London Weather tells me that is 50°F (10°C) at the moment-not too bad, right about where I like it actually. We spent a lot of time walking on London, so the weather is kind of a big deal. Those Tube Stations are always just a little bit farther away than you expect them to be. It's always fun to window shop in Camden Town and Portabella Road. All the touristy stuff that I like seem to have a lot of outdoor components. There's a reason Dr Who wore that big coat and 28 foot long scarf. It can be pretty cold once in a while in London.
Monday, December 15, 2008
What makes for a great Christmas Pudding? That's a matter of taste, of course. Christmas Puddings have made notable appearances in a couple of my favorite shows. Bob Cratchit is scandalized at how much a Christmas Pudding cost in Scrooge and The Vicar of Dibley has to eat way too much Christmas Pudding as she eats her way across Dibley.
London Christmas puddings
Harrods only made 300 limited edition Christmas puddings, so they could put extra special attention into making them perfect. Filled with Harrod's own oak-cask brandy, each pudding contains 6 silver coins and comes in an individually numbered ceramic bowl. Presented in a velvet gift box.LA FROMAGERIE Christmas Puddings £17.00 6 - 8 servings
Made exclusively for LA FROMAGERIE to a traditional recipe, it is brimming with dried fruits including Agen Prunes, Lexia Raisins, Stout, Brandy and lots of spice. Pour over brandy, ignite and enjoy with lots of fresh cream or brandy butter. N.B May contain traces of nuts.
Selfridges Ultimate Christmas Hamper (£69.99)
Embrace the festive season with vigour this year with the mini Christmas collection in this Christmas Hamper. As a bonus, each Selfridges hamper features a festive yellow cracker, which gives you a chance to win an Anya Hindmarch handbag! Includes Selfridges Christmas pudding 450g.
Waitrose Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding is topped with glistening pecans, brandy-soaked cherries and strips of orange peel, you do not need a jolly sprig of holly to make this pudding look good. The website lists 25 different Christmas Puddings, while supplies last.
Made with vine fruits, cherries, ale and sherry, with a festive touch of spice. Comes in a bowl with muslin and a threepenny bit. The traditional recipe comes with a traditional tale – the 13 ingredients represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. On the same page is a cranberry jelly and a sherry trifle. Makes me think of London.Tesco Finest Vintage Christmas Pudding (£11.99)
A few years ago there was a taste test in which Tesco's Christmas Pudding beat out 13 other puddings from more upscale shops. The people have spoken, this is London's Best Christmas Pudding. This is a lovely moist pudding, soaked in sherry and cognac.
Marks & Spencer Christmas Pudding (£7.99, 907g)
One of the rare puddings made with beef suet (most shop-bought versions are vegetarian), this is one for those who like their pudding glossy, sticky and dense. The traditional dark appearance has an edge of bitterness from stout and treacle. High on booze, it still has other interesting tastes coming through.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
-The Ghost of Christmas Present
My favorite Christmas movie is Scrooge starring Albert Finny. This is a musical with a number of great songs and lots of silliness mixed in with the story of that old miser Ebeneezer Scrooge and three ghosts that haunt him into goodness.
Made in 1970 Scrooge was a bit past the musical heyday of 1950s, but it is still a great film. A brilliant supporting cast includes Edith Evans, Kenneth More, Anton Rodgers, and Alec Gunness. I love the melancholy feeling of Albert Finny and his one true love that he lost to his love of money.
There is a great song called Thank You Very Much in which the entire city of London seems to be celebrating the death of the wicked old Scrooge. There is also the sad and hopeful Happiness sung by Scrooge's one true love, though Scrooge is too blind to see the truth until he is brought back to the past. I also like the happy and fun December The 25th.
I've watched Scrooge every year for several years now. One of the keys to falling in love with any musical is hearing the songs over and over again. Maybe Scrooge is not up there with My Fair Lady or Camelot, but I like it. If you haven't seen, you should really give it a look.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Jane Austin was fond of Bath and set two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in Bath and made the city her home from 1801 to 1806. In Northanger Abbey Jane writes; 'They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; - her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already'.
Jane Austin's Bath is well remembered in the Bath of today.
No visit to Bath is complete without a trip to the oldest house in Bath (c.1483). Centrally located and home of the world famous Sally Lunn Bun (exceptionally light semi sweet bread) and now a living museum where visitors can experience a taste of Bath just a few minutes from the Abbey.
The Bath Abby itself is a very interesting place, with a series of angels crawling up and down Jacob's Ladder on the front of the building. An Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church dating from 757, pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England soon after 1066. The present Abbey church founded in 1499, ruined after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII, was completed in 1611.
Bath is a great place to visit, if you can tear yourself away from London.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Christmas is a time for giving and reaching out to others in need. Featuring a Links of London Purple & Pink Friendship Bracelet, the hand woven bracelets have been created in the new season colours of deep green with forest green and burgundy with plum.
To remind us of the magic of Christmas, Links of London has created an exquisite array of festive charms. Links of London has all kinds of cute and amusing Charms. Add one to your Links of London charm bracelet or create an entire bracelet full of new charms.
There are a lot of Links of London stores in London. Links of London has a good Store Locator to help you find them. Though you may have to zone around a bit to find the bit of the world you want to see.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Like all stories that feature children as the heroes, Mind the Gap opens with out hero's mother being killed by the mysterious Uncles in their BMWs. Jazz, the girl who has a heightened sense paranoia, is chased by the bad guys. She hides the best place she can think to hide-in the tubes of The Underground.
She soon enough runs into Mr. F and his gang of children pick pockets. The Artful Dodger would have felt right at home in the London Underground. One thing leads to another. Jazz becomes a good thief. Ghosts are hanging out in the many tunnels and forgotten passages of London. Jazz has special powers she doesn't understand. All kinds of strange and wonderful things happen.
The ending is a bit quick and dirty and everything is wrapped up in one fell swoop. For a while there I was dreading those three little words I hate to find at the end of a book-To Be Continued. But that didn't happen. The villi ans were all sorted out and the good guys, such as they are, carry on.
Larry Niven wrote a series of short stories about a world where The Magic Goes Away. In this reality there was a lot of magic in the good old days, and some of it is still around in certain objects of power. There is a lot of that here, with the magic of London residing in the lost tunnels of the forgotten subway lines and storage rooms.
Mind the Gap was a quick and easy read and the ending was not quite what I expected. The running around and under London was what made it a fun book.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Cleopatra's Needle is one of the countless little odds and ends that can found in and around the city of London. Statues and monuments litter the city and it is easy walk past Cleopatra's Needle and think it is just one more bit of art in a city overflowing with art.
The needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, though they are somewhat misnamed as they have no particular connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt-they were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime.
The London needle is in the City of Westminster, on the Victoria Embankment near the Golden Jubilee Bridges. Cleopatra's Needle was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Mehemet Ali, the Albanian-born viceroy of Egypt, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Although the British government welcomed the gesture, it declined to fund the expense of transporting it to London.
Cleopatra's Needle is one of those Free Things to do in London.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
One of the fun things about London is the slightly odd names that many of the foods have. Fish and Chips is pretty easy to understand-fried fish and potatoes. Bangers and Mash is a little more confusing-sausage and potatoes. Bubble and Squeak is greens and potatoes.
I made the mistake of ordering a Root Beer while in a restaurant in London and was brought a nice tall Beer. The waiter said that he had never heard of a Root Beer. A&W Root Beer seems to have made some inroads in London recently, but I am not sure how popular it will be with the locals.
I went into a restaurant in London with a deli counter and a lot of items listed on a chalk board. One of the items was Spotted Dick. There was a pretty girl behind the counter so we asked her, what is Spotted Dick?
"You want a Spotted Dick?"
"What is it?"
"It's a spotted dick."
"Yes, but what exactly is a spotted dick?"
"It's a spotted dick."
This seemed to go on for a while and even the other shop worker managed to get the girl to say Spotted Dick a couple of times. We thought this was too funny for words. We didn't try the spotted dick, but did have fun saying the name.
Being easily confused I was also at a bit of loss when asked at a fast food place if my order was Dine In or Take Away-the American version is Here or To Go. There is something a bit more classy about that whole Dine In or Take Away thing though.
The Best of British has a great page on British Food and Drink.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Saint James Park
Many of London's world class museums are free and are a great place to get out of the weather. My favorite of London's free museums is The British Museum, famous for it's mummys and seemingly unlimited catalog of amazing items. Other great free London museums include
Imperial War Museum
Natural History Museum
You can see Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and St Paul's Cathedral for free. Most tour books have excellent walking tours which will lead you by a lot of the famous London attractions. For me just being in London was a fairly exciting event, so wandering around aimlessly and taking photos of everything in site was a good, free activity for me. It is better to have a plan of action though and map out a few of the must sees before you spent too much time just walking. There is a lot to see and do in London, and it's a good idea to think about what you want to do.
A few websites to find more London For Free Stuff-
London for Free-a nice site that is well laid out and has a wealth of information on all things free in London. Walks, Outdoor Activities, Indoor Activities and London Day Trips.
London4Free-a lot of interesting information on the many free things to do in London. Also covers such things as cheap places to stay in London, cheap things to eat in London, and cheap travel to London and around London.
Free London-From Time Out London. Lots on info on free things to do and discount things to do in London. A fun site to wander around and see what's on.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Cafe de Paris-Dress appropriately, have fun, and if your good looking, maybe you'll end up on their website. I like the Cafe de Paris website-this looks like a very interesting night club. Very posh.
Cafe de Paris, 3 - 4 Coventry Street, London. W1D 6BL
Mahiki-Right, what says London more than a Hawaiian style Tiki Club? The website is a lot of fun with tons of Tropical Themed Pin Up Girls and a list of drinks such as a Zombie, Jolly Roger, or Dark and Stormy.
1 Dover Street Mayfair London W1S 4LD
Ronnie Scott's-A Jazz Club in London. Jazz is one of those art forms that seems to forever be on the way out or on the way back in. I grew up with cartoons filled with jazz music, from the Peanuts specials to a ton of Looney Tunes. Ronnie Scott's has been around since 1959 and shows no signs of slowing down. The website has a nice list of Jazz links and offers a jazz Podcast.
47 Firth St, London W1D 4HT
seOne London-London's largest night club-30,000 square feet and a capacity of 3,000. Sounds like a nice intimate place. Another website with photos of club visitors having a good time, mostly young and on the wild and crazy side.
Weston st, London Bridge SE1 3QX
Egg London-A night club that has a swimming pool in the warmer months has to a fun place to visit. Three areas hold 800 people. Playing the best in House, Techno, Minimal, Electro music.
196-200 York Way, London, N7
For more of the Best Nightclubs in London check out TruGroovez and first4London.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I've always been a big fan of odd little dodads that can be found on the web. One such bit of silliness allows you to put whatever you want-well, the spaces are limited- on an Absolut Vodka bottle. London Thoughts fit nicely, don't you think? Which got me to think about London and Absolut Vodka, so-
Absolut IceBar London
Consisting of a single chamber, guests are allocated 45 minute slots inside the Icebar, which is entered through an air locked entrance specially designed to maintain the –5 degree centigrade environment.
Inside the chamber everything is constructed of ice imported from northern Sweden. Guests mingle, protected against the chill thanks to the silver capes, gloves (and even warm shoes, if requested) which are provided at the cloakroom. The other worldly atmosphere of the Icebar is complemented with chill out music piped through speakers which are set into the walls of ice.
Absolut vodka cocktails are served in an oversized ice cube of a glass by ski-suited barmen from behind a visually stunning ice bar. Capable of inspiring a sense of wonder in even the most hardened of cynics, part of the Icebar’s appeal lies in quality drinks served up in dramatic surroundings. Guests relax on ice stools dotted around tables made of ice whilst enjoying artwork nade, of course, from frozen water.
Appropriately named cocktails include Absolut Icy River, Absolut Aurora Borealis and signature cocktail Absolut Below Zero, although non-alcoholic cocktails are also available. The only deterrant to trying the entire list is the price. Entry costs £15.00 per person and includes one free drink but after that, shots priced at £6.00 (£3.00, non-alcoholic) can quickly mount up to a sizeable bar tab-but hey, how often do you get to be in a bar made of ice?
ABSOLUT ICEBAR LONDON
Mon - Weds 3:30 pm - 11:00 pm,
Thurs 3.30pm - 11.45pm,
Fri 3.30pm - 12.30am,
Sat 12:30 pm - 12:30 am,
Sun 3.30pm - 10.15pm
31-33 Heddon Street
London W1B 4BN
Heddon Street is located just off Regent Street and is a 5 minute walk from either Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus tube stations.
what happened in London on September 7th 1859
You gotta love Google Trends-this is just the type of oddball thing that pops up from time to time. When those Recite Song Lyrics Shows were all the rage a while back, you could count on all the songs being in the top ten of Google Trends. Lots of games show type questions end up on Google Trends.
The Clock Tower owes its existence to a fire in 1834 that destroyed most of Parliament. A commission was set up to choose a new building design from 97 submissions and a clock tower dominated Charles Barry's winning plan. The clock swung into action in 1859.-UK Parliament
What happened in London on September 7th 1859, the next logical questions is who cares? Well, it seems the answer is that Big Ben started keeping time on this date. Or about that time anyway. The 1859 part seems to be fit, the September 7th-not so much. But I like the whole idea that London is on Google Trends. By the way, Big Ben is not the clock's official name, the proper name for Big Ben is the Great Bell.
What happened in London on September 7th 1859 was number two on Google Trends and must have been a trivia question on a game show or a morning show. Of course, with all the Trendy blogger such as myself looking for something to blog about-we are keeping this silly question on Google Trends and not finding any answer to the question.
What happened in London on September 7th 1859? Beats me.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
David Bowie has always been one of my favorite really odd performers. I've always admired someone that put an album out every year, whether he needed to or not. And lets be honest, there were a lot that he didn't need to. But the one or two tracks that were good, well, they were really good. David Bowie was born in London and London Boy is a collection of some of his earlier works.
Cat Power is not from London, they are from Miami. But their cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity is really well done. The new Lincoln commercial has only a snippet of the song and I have not found the full single anywhere, if there is a full single. I don't know if they are running this in London, I don't even know if they sell Lincolns in the U.K., but I like the song and thought I would share it here.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Brideshead Revisited on PBS was the first time I ever saw Jeremy Irons and took note of him. Jeremy Irons has played a thoroughly depressed fellow in most of the films I have seen him in. Maybe it's all he can play. But this somber and serious demeanor is perfect for the story of an unusual friendship in prewar Britain. There was a recent movie made of Brideshead Revisited-I have not seen it yet, but it is not possible for it to be as good as the tv show was.
In conjunction with the new movie there is a new aduio book-read by Jeremy Irons. My only complain about this audiobook is that it was recorded at inaudible levels. Even with the sound all the way up on my car stereo I could not make out Jeremy Irons deep and depressing tones over the sounds of the road. Still, I have been listening to it when not on the freeway and I find it to be brilliant.
Brideshead Revisited is one of those novels about how a man's life is over, really over, by the time he is forty. Everything of any significance has already happened and all that lays ahead in the future is death and loneliness-not necessarily in the order. Brideshead Revisited is just a light summer read. Not.
The great quality of Jeremy Iron's voice is his ability to perfectly capture that longing for the past, that painful nostalgia for what was once and can never be again. Like visiting a cherished childhood amusement park which has been closed and left to rust and rot. How could it be that this place was once so happy and now is not.
So it is that everything in the story is tainted with sorrow, even those passages which might otherwise have been happy. The recounting of the glory days with Sebastian are not so glorious as they might otherwise have been. We know, at least, that Charles-our hero, does not seem overly happy in his current life as a company Capitan in a battalion that will never see any action.
The great and powerful Flight family fall into Charles young life and change its course forever. Charles is gay/straight/frankly unlovable and totally unsympathetic. And yet, here among the cardboard cutouts of the Flight Family, Charles is the only real person. His love for Sebastian is unending, but he never tries to reconnect with him or help him with his drinking problem. His love with Julian is merely an echo of his love for Sebastian. He marries and has two children, but he cares nothing for the wife or children. Its a story filled with sorrow and lost opportunities.
Charles is not just a loser in love, he is also a loser in his many friends, and a loser in his faith and his lack of faith. He is an Agnostic, which means he doesn't have the faith of an Atheist. The two main story lines twisting through Brideshead Revisited are love and religion. Charles is bad at both. His refusal of both make him miserable, but it is hard to image that anything could ever really make Charles happy.
London plays a recurring part in Brideshead Revisited, as our heros move in a circle with London at it's core. While the Brideshead estate is not in London, the rich and insane Flight family has property in London. Charles and Sebastian met at Oxford and they spend a lot of time riding trains in and around London. There is that fairy tale quality about London between the Wars and that beginning of the tragedy that is London during World War Two. The outside world is always threating to intrude upon Charles is tiny world, but it never really does. Charles is self contained and remains so-though he clearly wants to be something more.
This is one of those stories that makes me think of London, it is a great book. Jeremy Irons does a great job of creating the feel and tone of the TV show he starred in all those years ago. Great Stuff.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Leet is a very talented artist I first ran across while using Entrecard. My favorite of Leet's works is My Kinda London. Looks like my kinda London as well. I am a fairly solitary blogger in a world of social networks and countless 'friends.' I don't often do memes. I seldom bother with those little widgets that tell me what kind of Cartoon Character I Am. And I don't usually pay that much attention to the varied and sundry Awards that are floating around. I have seen one or two awards that I thought would be cool, but that I would be unlikely to win.
So here I am in the Great Blog Spirit of Link Love and an Award Meme-at least I don't have to find out what kind of Cartoon Character I am-I have been given the coveted Butterfly Award-For The Coolest Blog I Ever Know. It's so tempting to change the wording there just a bit. . .
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Link 10 other bloggers whom you wanted to share this award to.
So now all I have to do is find Ten Worthy Blogs-hmm
2. Where the Walls are Soft
4. London Sightseeing-Ding Dong
5. A Postcard a Day
6. Here and Now-4 Angel
7. Victorian Times
8. When Things Get Dark
9. The Insane Writer
10. Molly Brogan-Author
and one more just for fun-Etsy's Dark Side Street Team
Here be some of the coolest blog I ever know. I'm sure there are more goth girl blogs out there, but I just haven't found them. Just as well, really. And no, they are not all goth girls-mainly just British Speak.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Travel Insider has a lot of advice about the treatment of Jet Lag-get a lot of sunlight during the day and take Melatonin at night. For me Jet Lag mainly means that the first day in London is pretty much a wash. Staggering off the 777, finding our way through Customs, getting on the Gatwick Express, navigating The Tube to get to the Hotel and then-well, it all becomes a blur.
Drinking lot of water is always good advice and try not to think about what time it is at home. A quick search on Amazon gets over 600 results for Jet Lag and a Goolge Search gets over 600,000 results. My own method of dealing with Jet Lag was to drink lots of water and try not to sleep until it was night time in London. I would not advise having anything really important to do on that first day. We wandered around the British Museum, an amazing place even when you are half asleep.
Do the many cures for jet lag work? I don't know. I do know that I was totally exhausted by the time our plane landed. Of course, that first flight we had seats over the wing with a nice view of the giant jet engine out the window. My advice is to get a seat as close to the front of the plane as you can and drink lots of water.
Just be aware that the first day in London could be a bit tough. The following days were better. There is so much to do and see in London that you'll be tired at the end of day. Then you'll sleep at night and feel fine-just in time to get back on the plane and head back home. I don't recall a lot of jet lag on the return home-but then, it is always good to be home.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Poets were buried or memorialized around Chaucer in what became known as Poets' Corner. These include; William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, T. S. Eliot, Thomas Gray, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Keats, John Milton, Nicholas Rowe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Thomas Shadwell, William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth.-Wikipedia
As a photographer I was a bit disappointed with many sites in London. The rules for Westminster Abby are much like the rules for other Royal or Historic Sites in London-Photography and filming (pictures and/or sound) of any kind is not allowed in any part of the Abbey at any time. Which makes it kind of hard to get those cool shots of the statue of Shakespeare in the Poets Corner. You can buy postcards with pictures of just about anything you would want. But that is never exactly the same as taking your own image, even if it is the same as a million others who have come before you.
Westminster Abby is more than a spot to take photo-its a totally amazing place with too many wonders to take in. The tagline says From 1065 to Today and that's a pretty long time. You used to be able to make brass rubbings here as well, but a thousand years of people making carbon copes has taken its toil on the brass plates. The Abby is still a working church and so there are Services here if you would like to attend one.
Westminster Abby is a London must see. The building is amazing and awe inspiring. Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year. On Sundays and religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas, the Abbey is open for worship only. There are several types of tours available-Audio Tours, Guided Tours, and Verger-led Tours. Allow several hours & include seeing St. Margaret's Church & Jewel Tower. If you love architecture as I do, then make sure you don't miss a visit to the Abbey.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There was a scene in Are You Being Served where Captain Peacock showed up to work wearing a Homburg Hat and he was only allowed to wear a Bowler. This bit of silliness went on throughout the show, until the ancient Young Mr Grace wandered by and told Peacock he shouldn't wear a Bowler-he should wear a Homburg.
Bates Hats is the kind of London shop that Captain Peacock would have gone to get either a Bowler Hat or a Homburg Hat. Hats, of course, just aren't what they once were. All we have to do is look at old photos or watch a film from the 1950s and we can see that wearing a hat used to be required. Indian Jones is about the only hat wearing hero still around-and he is supposed to be a throwback to those glory days anyway.
I've heard that JFK killed the hat, as he didn't like to wear them and everyone wanted to be like him. Of course, The Beatles didn't wear a lot of hats either. Though John Lennon was found of a number of hats, they were not exactly formal hats. The 1960s changed everything-hats were just one more casualty along the way.
My own love affair with hats has followed a winding path from Cowboy hats to Greek Fisherman caps to my latest-a sort of Sandown cap. Mine is a Stetson Cuffley Cap Made in England. The kind of thing you might see in an old John Wayne movie. Bill Cosby wore one in a short lived Sit-Com based on One Foot in The Grave. Cosby was way too nice for the part.
At any rate, Bates Hats is one of the London spots that you can wander by and feel as if you have fallen through yet one more time warp. Hats-expensive quality hats-are what you'll find at Bates. So go in and have look-you never know when a hat might be just the thing you need.
Edward Bates Ltd, 21a Jermyn Street, St. James's, London, SW1Y 6HP
Opening Times - Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9.30am - 4pm
Closed between 1pm and 2pm, Sat only.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
It's possible that you never wanted to do any magic when you were growing up-possible but unlikely. There is just something about making a coin vanish into thin air or sending a playing card flying that makes the heart skip a beat. At least, my heart anyway.
Jay Sankey is one of my all time favorite teachers of magic, his DVDs are just great. So great in fact, that watching a few of them makes you think you can do them as well as he can. It still takes practice to do an illusion correctly, even if you do know how it is done. Davenports has a lot of Jay Sankey stuff, well worth checking out.
Davenports Magic also has a Magic School, where a bit of person attention might just help smooth out the rough edges of your magic act. For me just hanging around and looking at all the different props and effects is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Lots of accessories and books and DVDs to be found at Davenports.
Of course, learning how a trick is done can take the fun out of it. But once you realize that knowing how to do it is not the same thing as doing it-well, you still have to have respect for the pros. Magic is not as easy as it looks-but it is fun trying.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Halloween is one of those holidays that I always loved. Just the idea of getting all kinds of candy and getting to dress up-well, who could ask for more? Why, being in London for Halloween, of course, would be a bit better.
There are a lot of Halloween Events going on in London. Here's a short list of the ones that sound interesting to me-
Halloween Hide'n'Freak at the London Zoo-Halloween Hide'n' Freak 25 Oct-2 Nov Learn all about animal disguise and camouflage, meet creepy seven foot high beetles and bugs, join the interactive Halloween storytelling in the giant tipi and see the Halloween themed Animals in Action shows.
Halloween at The London Eye-London's noble guardian - the eminent Wizard Belvedere - is normally on hand to watch over and protect the city, but has had one too many drinks. So the Wizard could use your help-book a London Eye Secret Spell Flight and cast your magic spell on top of the London Eye.
Halloween at London Dungeon- On October 31st, faces won’t get any uglier than during the London Dungeon's world record breaking attempt to paint the most faces in an hour. From 12 noon to 1 o’clock, the public are invited to take part and receive a disgusting Dungeon make over before they head into the darkness of the Dungeon tour.
Halloween Ghost Walk-what better way to spend the odd Halloween than walking around the old courtyards and silent graveyards of London’s oldest and spookiest quarter? I've always like walking tours and having that personal touch of a guide to point out all the cool and creepy stuff.
For a list of other Halloween in London activities check out LondonTown and View.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"Last year was a launch, this year is about the Xs and Os of converting people to being lifelong NFL fans," Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of the NFL in Britain.
The BBC has a Sport Page that explains American Football to British Football fans. American football is not a game that makes a lot of sense, but I do enjoy watching it. The National Football League hopes that people in London will like watching it as well. On Sunday 26th October 2008, the NFL is coming back to Wembley Stadium as part of the National Football League’s International Series. This year's game will see the New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers take to the Wembley Stadium turf. Tickets ranged from £45 through to £100.
The NFL London website has the story of the NFL's plans for world domination. I must say that I have mixed feelings about the whole NFL in London thing. The Dallas Cowboys are about the only sports team that I follow and outside of Manchester United, I haven't heard of any other British sport teams. So why should London sports fans want to see American Football?
London has a lot of American touches, from Krispy Kreme donuts to Kentucky Fried Chicken to the ever present McDonalds. London is an ever changing city and that is a good thing. I don't expect that the NFL International Series will turn London into Dallas or Pittsburgh, but I do wonder why the NFl wants more world wide fans. Is there going to be London NFL team? A Mexico City NFL team? Or do the plans call for whole new leagues to be created around the world? Will we see an NFL with Edinburgh vs London and the winner gets to play in The Superbowl? I can't keep up with the Teams in the NFL now, let alone a whole new world full of NFL teams.
Vast hordes of new NFL Franchises are off in the future-for now we just have the Football game being played in Wembley on Sunday. I am not a fan of the Chargers or the Saints-but I do like the idea of the Saint's Cheerleaders riding around in the London Eye.
Monday, October 20, 2008
While London may not seem the best place in the world for kids, there are a lot of things that the little ones should like about the place. The Tube is an amazing bit of business and there is something interesting about riding a train underground. Of course, those really long escalators can be a bit scary, as The Wife found out when we rode up one for close to four stories on one of our trips. But if the kids like escalators, then your set.
There are tons of parks, street performers, and just interesting people of one sort or another all over London. Riding Double Decker Buses, Thames Ferries, and other sightseeing forms of transport can be as much fun for kids as for adults. But for the kids who wants real entertainment, items on the following list should do the trick.
London's Top Ten Attractions for Kids
Legoland-Hey, its an amusement park in Windsor. Gotta love amusement parks. Legoland theme park with lots to do for children, Lego model village, rides, gold panning, car racing and lots more. The theme park has spectacular models made entirely from Lego blocks-I know shocking for a park called Legoland, but they are pretty impressive. The kind of things you wanted to make from Legos but never had enough Lego blocks laying around. Allow between six and seven hours for your visit. Daily shows.
London Aquarium-I've always been a fan of aquariums. There is just something about being in a cool, dark place surrounded by fish swimming around in tanks ranging from small to ginormous. Kids also seem to find these places fun to hang out. It's a place for kids to point out the odd little fish that adults can't seem to find. There are 50 displays with about 400 forms of aquatic life.
London Eye-the giant Ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames that brought back the fun of going around a very large circle. These rides on the London Eye are called flights and offer great views of the city and mild thrills for those afraid of heights. A flight on the London Eye will last about 30 minutes taking you to a height of 135 metres. Children under 5 go free but do require a ticket and children aged under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult aged 18+ years. Any children on a Champagne Flight will be served fruit juice instead of alcohol. No adults aged under 18 years are permitted on a Cupid’s Capsule.
London Zoo-I have always loved zoos. Kids love zoos, too. Next Easter The London Zoo will be launching its new Children's Zoo. This exhibit will provide thousands of children with the chance to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of life in the animal kingdom. Winnie the bear once lived in London Zoo and became Winnie the Pooh.
Syon House and Gardens-Described by Sir John Betjeman as 'the Grand Architectural Walk', Syon House and its 200 acre park is the London home of the Duke of Northumberland, whose family have lived here for over 400 years. Syon House is widely featured in the Robert Altman feature film Gosford Park and has also appeared in The Madness of King George, The Wings of the Dove, Emma, The Golden Bowl and The Avengers.
Tower of London-The Tower of London an amazing place filled with all kinds of fun stuff. There are Beefeaters in loudly coloured clothing and Ravens here and there. The Crown Jewels are very pretty. There are suits of armor and lots of weapons of one sort or another. The Tower of London is big-so there is a lot of room to roam around and look at all the cannons and stone walls. The Tower of London is a great place for kids of all ages.
London's Transportation Museum-London Transport Museum explores the heritage of London and its transport system, and the stories of the people who have travelled and worked in the city over the last 200 years. The Museum's collections include original artworks and posters-and more than 80 road and rail vehicles in its collection. There is also an impressive assortment of toys and models.
National Maritime Museum-The National Maritime Museum comprises three sites: the Maritime Galleries, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House. The Museum's beautiful setting in the Greenwich World Heritage Site, with its array of historical and hi-tech architecture, its stunning views over London and the Thames and its position on 0º longitude offer an unrivalled set of visitor attractions.
Natural History Museum-When I was a kid it was the Dinosaurs that always got my attention at a Natural History Museum and the dinos here are pretty amazing. Set in an old Victorian building with walkways set at Dinosaur eye level, the Central Hall helps make this a great museum. London's Natural History Museum has more to offer than dinosaurs-70 million items collected over 400 years.
Kew Gardens-Kew has all kinds of gardens and activities to keep children entertained. There is a Tree Top Walk where you climb 18 meters up and get a great view of Kew. For the kids who like insects there is a Stag Beetle Loggery, home to many of Britain’s largest native beetles – males can grow up to 50mm. The Waterlily Pond has a lot of ducks and coots. Temerate House and Palm House are great glass houses which bring back the age of Victoria.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I found this cool little BBC Video on making a Bleach T-Shirt and thought it was pretty neat. I like anything that looks like even I can do it. Of course, I want to make my own London Bleach T-Shirt. Something like MIND THE GAP spring to mind. I have an old Mind The Gap t-shirt, so it might be time to make one of my own. The usual London suspects would make nice bleach London t-shirts-Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The London Eye, a Double Decker Bus, a Phone Box.
A t-shirt with Big Ben and LONDON on large letter would be easy enough to do with the bleach method, of course, it wouldn't be in color. But I'm sure it would be easy enough to rough out the word LONDON with some kind of a marker.
I like dark t shirt and I like London, so it's a match made in heaven.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Forbidden Planet is the world's largest and best-known science fiction, fantasy and cult entertainment retailer. We specialise in selling action figures, books, comics, DVDs, graphic novels and toys and we offer all the best merchandise from the cult cream of movies and television.-Forbidden Planet
Fobidden Planet is the kind of shop I had dreams of visiting when I was a kid. My own local Comic shops were fun, but nothing like London's Forbidden Planet. Once upon a time Forbidden Planet was just a book store-a great sci fi book store. Now it is a megastore for all things science fiction and fantasy. Forbidden Planet contains a vast collection of the latest and greatest toys, DVDs, comics, trading cards, models, and lots of vinyl stuff.
The Wife is a big Star Trek fan and she has a lot of signed photos and action figures and the like. Many of Trek Nerd friends have rooms filled with posters, toys, and all kinds of collectibles. Forbidden Planet sells stuff that The Wife and her friends would love. I used to be a huge comic fan and still have a strong interest in the films made from comics. London's Fobidden Planet caters to all sides of the market with comics and DVDs and the countless other items made popular by Star Wars.
There is also a nice section on Dr Who, Torchwood, and Sarah Jane-more Dr Who stuff than I would I ever want. But it is fun to look at. They have Plush Adipose-those cute little fellows made out of human fat. Lots of Dalek stuff, as well as all the other Dr Who villains. Dr Who does seem to spend a lot of time in London, saving it, mostly, most of the time.
A London must see for all the countless Sci Fi fans out there.
179 Shaftesbury Ave
Mon - Wed and Fri - Sat: 10:00 to 7:00
Thurs: 10:00 to 8:00
Sun: 12:00 to 6:00
Monday, October 13, 2008
EliteTitles.co.uk is a place that sells British Titles-become a Lord or a Lady. The whole idea is so wonderfully silly. Do Lords and Ladies get better tables at restaurants? Does a Title get you a seat at a sold out West End Show? Do the Titled get to move to the head of the que? Will Airlines upgrade you? Well, according to Elite Titles they just might.
These Titles are totally legal and they last all your life. You can even change your driving licence, passport, credit cards and bank accounts to show your new effective Title. You don't have to live in the UK or be a British citizen (We show you the simplest way to do this when you receive the documents). Before offering the Seated Title service the whole process was scrutinised by lawyers specialising in English Common Law relating to names, Titles and Copyright as well as all aspects of Real Estate and Land Law.
Lords is London is a Cricket Club, a Hotel, and a DIY shop-that's a whole other story.
The title of Lord of the Manor arose in the English mediaeval system of Manorialism following the Norman Conquest. The title Lord of the Manor is a titular feudal dignity which is still recognised today. Their holders are entitled to call themselves "[Personal name], The Lord/Lady of the Manor of [Place name]" During the latter part of the twentieth century, many of these titles were sold to wealthy individuals seeking a distinction.
And you can become a Lord or Lady for a mere £195 when purchased singularly and £299 where a couple wish to purchase joint Titles, or £995 for "Seated Titles", includes 2 applicants.
For the person who has everything - a Title!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Shopping is one the good things to do in London. London markets have all kinds of odds and ends and whatnots. My favorite markets were around Camdem Lock-where I saw everything from books to leather goods to clothing of all sorts. Different London Markets have different items for sale, but they all that thrill of the hunt. You can never be sure what you'll find in a London Market, but it is always fun looking.
Bermondsey Street and Long Lane-Bermondsey Street lies to the South of London Bridge in a historic residential part of North Southwark. Bermondsey Market is an excellent destination to rummage through trestle tables of silver and china, with Victorian cups and saucers starting at £25. Prices are on the high side, but haggling is standard practice.
Camden Market-Camden Lock Market, by the canal, was the original craft market, established in 1974. Now the Market has a much wider spectrum of goods on sale. Both this and the ever popular Camden Stables Market - centre of the alternative fashion scene, Camden (Buck Street) Market and Inverness Street Market - which thrived on local trade long before tourists discovered Camden, are all open, at least in parts, every day, making the area well worth a mid-week visit. I really liked the whole area, but then, I love junk shops.
Spitalfield Market-London's Old Spitalfield markets is a live link to London's colourful and rich past. The markets are open throughout the year whatever the weather, with something for everyone. Don't let the winter weather put you off. There are bargains, plenty of refreshment stalls and cafes to fill the day. And in the summer there's a fun, holiday atmosphere.
Covent Garden-Open from 3 AM-11 AM, New Covent Garden Market is the largest fresh produce market in the UK. It plays a unique role in London's market provision supplying fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants and many other catering needs. Customers include leading chefs and florists, restaurants and hotels, schools and hospitals. Eliza Doolittle would be proud to see that they still sell so many flowers. It's a serious market.
Greenwich-Another great London Market established as a fruit-and-vegetable market in 1700, and granted a royal charter in 1849. The glass-roof market now offers arts & crafts Friday through Sunday-and antiques and collectibles on Thursday and Friday. Shopping for crafts is a pleasure, as you're often buying directly from the artist.
Brick Lane Market-Almost anything can be found on Brick Lane, from antique books to eight-track cartridge decks (for many years it hosted a stall selling nothing but rusty cog wheels). A large part of its charm is the possibility of such strange discoveries and it has always been popular with and much photographed by art students. Bargain hunters from across London also value it greatly.
Columbia Road Market-This London Market is in operation every Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Traders arrive from 4 am every Sunday morning to set up their stalls. A wide range of plants, bedding plants, shrubs, bulbs and freshly cut flowers are available at competitive prices. The market also has a number of shops selling bread and cheeses, antiques and garden accessories. There are also a number of outlets selling unusual international edibles, soap, candlesticks and Buddhist artefacts.
Portobello Road Market-This London Market is all about the Antiques. Market days start gradually from around 5.30am with trading between dealers from the UK and overseas. Most stall holders have arrived by 8.00am and the market is in full swing for the rest of the day, with collectors and visitors from all over the world. The shops and stalls of Portobello Road offer an extraordinary variety of goods ranging in price from a few pounds to several thousands.
Riverside Walk Market-Literature fans should make a beeline for this market in front of the National Film Theatre. It specialises in books, old and new, and is right next to the Thames for scenic value. Good for pretending to be incredibly clever and poetic as you eye up the passing talent.
Camden Passage-In the early 1960s with the assistance of local shops owners, antiques markets were created from bomb sites and arcades of small shops were built. Antique dealers soon flocked to the area creating the unique antiques village which presently boasts around 350 dealers specialising in a vast range of stock sitting comfortably in its Georgian surroundings. Main market and trading days are Wednesdays and Saturdays
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Is there anything more British than a Private Club? In the U.S. a Private Club is usually a bar with exotic dancers and brass poles here and there. The closest thing that comes to mind in America with a British Private Club is something like the Masons or the Shriners-where there are various and sundry rules about getting in-or at least, there used to be.
Home House is old-the same as the United States-In 1776 James Wyatt was commissioned by Elizabeth, Countess of Home to build a house at 20 Portman Square. But it wasn't until 1999 that it became a Private Club for discerning clientele. There is said to be a very long waiting list to become a member of Home House and you do need to know someone who is already a member to join.
Home House seems to be one of those love it or hate it kind of places. My brother is one of those people that visits historic homes and says-Well, it was just an old house. I'm more easily impressed and I like the looks of Home House and the idea of a Private Club. The Home House website is fun to wander around in and I like Royal Alligator logo. There are meals to eat and rooms to rent at Home House, though you need to know someone to use them and I don't. Seems there are a lot of weddings and the like at Home House and if you happen to Rich and Famous you can always hire the place for a private party.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
10. A Clockwork Orange-Stanley Kubrick's Sci Fi horror movie starring sci fi actor Malcolm McDonald, who doesn't like Sci Fi fans. Anyway, its a story of the near future where everything is BAD. It's one of those movies you should see once, but really never bother seeing again.
9. The Elephant Man-Well, the movie had John Hurt playing part of John Merrick and I really liked the version with David Bowie. But this was a brilliant movie as well. A nice dark Victorian London with lots darkness and lots of misunderstandings. Shot in black and white in an area of London near Tower Bridge, The Elephant Man is heart breaking and creepy at the same time.
8. An American Werewolf in London-they just don't make them like this any more. The effects of a man turning into a wolf were state of the art at the time, and are still pretty impressive. It's the story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of a handful of John Landis movies that made everyone think he was going to be the Next Spielberg.
7. Naked-the story of a homeless man and no one that loved him. Mike Leigh film about the gritty and dark side of London and how one misanthropic fellow spends a few days on the streets of London. It is a violent and pointless story which features a nice cameo by a Security Guard who is pining away for a woman he has been spying on from the office building where he works.
6. Richard III-One of the only good Alternate Reality Shakespeare films, this one set in a 1930s London ruled by a fascist dictator. It is an amazing film on a number of levels. Ian McKellan makes a great evil ruler and my favorite scene is when his jeep won't start and he yells-A horse, a horse, My Kingdom for a horse-and a solider rides up on a motorcycle and replies-You may have my horse. I just always loved that bit of silliness.
5. Sliding Doors-Gwyneth Paltrow in a sci fi flick where nothing makes sense if you miss the first ten minutes-and barely makes sense if you catch the first ten minutes. It's the story of Choices and what happens when we enter a door instead of exiting it. Is it better to know all, or not know anything? Ignorance is bliss-or is it?
4. 28 Days Later-there is something wonderful about seeing the empty street of London in this zombie style horror movie. There is blood and gore to the max and Infection can happen from a single drop of blood. Die, die, everyone die. The story of the end of the world, or at least the end of London. This was a great movie and it had incredible effects.
3. The Hours-the hyper tragic story of two people destined for a bad end. Nicole Kidman in one of the best of her many strange roles. I was deeply effected by this film because I was so like the little boy who never wanted to be away from his mother. Maybe all children never want to be away from their moms, but I could relate to the tragic child's desperation. I'm sure Virginia Woolf shows up in London here somewhere. Again, a great film, but I only needed to see it once.
2. My Fair Lady-the story of a poor flower girl who moves into a London mansion with a couple of odd old men who teach her how to speak properly. The sets and costumes are wonderful, the songs are some of the best ever written, and the cast is pretty much perfect. Julie Andrews didn't get the part as she was busy making another great London set movie-Mary Poppins. But I think Audrey Hepburn was perfect and could never really imagine the film version of My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle.
1. Notting Hill-hands down my favorite London movie, despite the fact that it has the most over-rated actress of her time, Julia Roberts, in the lead. Hugh Grant is a sappy business man who owns a bookshop that only sells travel books. It says something about the cost of living in London that Hugh's character can't afford to live on his own. This is one of the best casts I have ever seen in a movie and one of the rare movies made during my time of going to the movies that I can watch over and over again.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
American Public Television, Where The Sun Never Sets on The British Empire. I fell in love with London by watching PBS. Sally Lockhart was recently on Masterpiece Theater.
Sally Lockhart is a remarkable young woman with extraordinary strength and determination. Her upbringing was rather eccentric. Her father taught her all about book-keeping, how to fire a pistol, and how to speak Hindustani like a native. With these tools at her disposal, Sally Lockhart is ready to solve mysteries and right wrongs in the man's world of Victorian London.
The Ruby in The Smoke and The Shadow of The North were recently aired on PBS and I loved them both. Billie Piper of Dr Who fame does a wonderful job of being a strong woman in a time when women were not supposed to be strong. The supporting cast of stars is brilliant as well.
There are four books in the Phillip Pullman Sally Lockhart series and all four novels are being adapted into a TV Movie by BBC Drama for television and broadcast on BBC One-according to Wikipedia. Billie Piper is almost too pretty to be a Victorian, but I do like the way she looks in her long dresses and occasional posh hat.
One of the interesting bits of business in the Sally Lockhart stories is the issue of race. In America were all about the skin color, though not so much as we once were. So it is a bit strange to see an interracial marriage celebrated and a black man who is a Minister. The crux of the problem in the Ruby in the Smoke was an English woman having a one night stand with an Indian Maharajah-who was not a very nice fellow. There is also a Medium who is a black woman with an important part in the plot of The Shadow in the North. Were race relations really all that much sweetness and sunshine in London in the time of Queen Victoria?
Whatever the case in the real world, the world of Sally Lockhart and her adventures in Victorian London are fun to watch and I look forward to the next installment. My only real complaint was how the story seemed to jump by leaps and bounds between the two shows. There seemed to be a lot of changes and not a lot of explanations as to why. I might have to read the books one of these days and see what they have to say about it all.