Tuesday, April 29, 2008

London Hotels

Looking for London Hotels? Hotel Club has a good site with a long list of London Hotels with their recommended London Hotels at the top of the page. They have 3 star London hotels, 4 star London hotels, and 5 star London hotels listed.

Among the list are some of the best hotels in London, including the Savoy Hotel, The Four Seasons Hotel, and the Ritz Hotel London.

There are also many discount London hotels listed, and while there are really no cheap hotels in London, there are less expensive hotels to be found on Hotel Club.

The hotels in London I have stayed at have all been very nice, and I have always enjoyed my stays. I have never stayed any of the luxury hotels in London, but I have walked by a few and they look very nice.

Hotels in central London are near most of the touristy stuff, and many of them are discount hotels as well. As always, it's a good idea to get a London hotel reservation before you head over there. I have never traveled during the high season so I had no trouble finding a hotel in London, England.

Hotel Club is a well ordered site where you can browse the hotels in London with ease and at your own pace. One of the London hotels that I have stayed at and liked was The Royal National Hotel. It is a short walk from The British Museum and just around the corner from the Tube Station.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is a fairly small affair. But since the address is 221 B Baker Street, there must have been a 221 A Baker Street as well. Of course, this was not a real address at the time Arthur Conan Doyle was writing about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Sherlock Holmes was a regular feature of The Strand magazine where his adventures as a consulting detective were recounted.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is true to all the many details of the apartment at 221B Baker Street, from tobacco in the slipper on the mantle to a bust of Holmes that was shot during one of his many adventures. The Sherlock Holmes Museum Shop features all kinds of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson items, I think I still have a leather bookmark floating around here somewhere from my own visit.

It is a fun place to visit and take a few snapshots and it won't take too much time out of your busy London schedule. It's the whole idea of Sherlock Holmes that is appealing though and visiting the flat at 221b Baker St is like visiting a shrine to the Great Man. I still read the new books which are always coming about about Sherlock Holmes, many of them in which he has found his true love and gotten married, or is an old man walking around with two canes and still solving puzzling crimes. Sherlock Holmes can never really die and a trip to Baker Street is well worth the detour.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

London Loves Leather - Alkara Designer Handbags

I am not an expert on Designer Handbags, in fact, Prada handbags are about the only designer handbag that springs to my mind. But I do like to keep an eye out for interesting things with a London tie in, so Alkara handbags from London fit my bill.

Alkara's exclusive collection of both day and evening bags exude style, elegance and panache. Alkara is committed to creating handbags for the discerning lady who loves and cherishes her handbags - Alkara's collections allow its clients to enrich their wardrobes with some truly luxurious and exquisite pieces.

Alkara's latest Collection in keeping with today's ever-changing styles, colours and trends, incorporates contemporary designs in vibrant colours - Reds, Purples, Greens, Oranges, Pinks and Blacks (always with bright linings - making it easier to see the contents of the bag). Pewter Rings and Chic leather and semi precious stone tassles add glamour and style.

Alkara's handbags & accessories are designed in London by Camilla Daubeney and are made from the finest luxurious Napa Leather, sumptuous Suede, pure Silk, Ostrich Skin, Eel skin and Cotton. Each piece is individually made by our talented craftsmen, meticulous attention being paid to every detail during all stages of production to ensure superior quality.

With names like Pluto Alkara's designer handbags do have a bit of style. They may not be Gucci or Francesco Biasia yet, but I think they have a shot. All they need is for Paris Hilton or Oprah to be seen carrying one next time they are in London and Alrara designer handbags will be on their way.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Showtime's The Tudors Season 2

The Second Season of Showtime's The Tudors picks up where the first season ended, except that Henry the VIII is a bit older and has grown a beard and mustache. It also very dark, as in a lot of candlelight and a lot of shadowy figures lurking about in London. After two episodes it is shaping up to be just as good as last season.

Last season the general theme of the show was that the world would have been a better place, or at least England would have been a better place, if Cardinal Wolsey could have somehow taken control of young Henry the VIII and shook some sense into him. Which didn't happen, by the way.

So our older and not much wiser Henry the VIII is well on his way to getting rid of the Catholic Church and replacing it with the Church of England, where the Clergy can marry and Vickers will be the stars of British sitcoms of the future. Before they are all the fun and games, Henry will have a scorched earth policy against The Church. Thomas More, who was made Saint for his efforts, hates what Henry is doing but is powerless to stop him.

In the first couple of episodes Henry is sort of nice, he has yet to realize that the best way to deal with your enemies is just to kill them outright. It's hard to watch this show about a happy Henry and Anne Boleyn and not think about the future. Death and more death lies ahead.

But until such time, everything is lovely. The clothes are amazing and the sets are wonderful. The writing a pretty damned good as well. And there is a bit of nudity and wanton lust. The term bodice ripper comes to mind here. I wonder if anyone is watching Showtime's The Tudors instead of studying history? I think it's close enough, don't you?

The Tudors

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Watch a Film or Read a Book?

Some books just don't translate well into film anyway-Moby Dick is an amazing book, but the film versions are pretty bad. Like the Harry Potter books, there is too much information in most books to be put into a two hour movie. So it is wrong to watch a film instead of reading a book?

New findings from Blackwell have revealed what teachers have suspected for years. One in ten Brits confess to watching film adaptations of classic novels instead of reading the original books. Londoners were exposed as the most underhanded, with 16% pulling the wool over teachers' eyes by watching Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet and BBC's Pride and Prejudice; and Northerners were revealed as most honest with 93% preferring to study the traditional way.

The research, by leading book retailer, Blackwell, shows that in spite of some people taking the easy route to revision, the majority still favour a good read. Results mark the launch of a redesigned range of classic books by Oxford World Classics, available exclusively at Blackwell stores until the end of April.

Phill Jamieson, Head of Marketing at Blackwell, commented: "While there will always be those who choose alternative methods of studying, people still love reading classic books and many revisit them in their adulthood. We are delighted to be partnering with Oxford World Classics in bringing the great novels back to life and are inviting people to visit any of our 60 Blackwell stores to choose from over 700 classic titles on offer. There's something for everyone."

Other findings from the Blackwell survey show:

Film or Fiction? - 67% of Brits are unaware that popular films such as Ten Things I Hate About You, Clueless and Cruel Intentions originated from classic book titles.

Venus vs. Mars - 16% of women voted Pride and Prejudice as their favourite classic novel, whereas 9% of men chose Frankenstein, a story of guts and gore, as their best loved tale

Life Imitates Art - despite 27% of adults admitting they do not read classic books, 'modern' British society is becoming a real-life take on fiction:
- 54% believe we are descending into Dickensian Britain with binge drinking on the rise
- 30% see the WAG culture of trying to find a rich husband, similar to Jane Austen books
- 47% think young adults suffer from Peter Pan syndrome, living at home, refusing to grow up
- 61% agree people today are overly concerned with looks and possessions like in the classic book, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Jamieson concluded: "Classic books are timeless. You will find contemporary themes such as love, sex, murder, mystery and high octane drama in all the great novels, which is why they still to this day appeal to the masses through films and have parallels in our daily lives."

Blackwell has now been trading for over 125 years from its world-famous London flagship store at Broad Street in Oxford. Its staff continues to be renowned for their expertise, depth of knowledge and love of books since the first Blackwell shop opened its doors.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Season Four of Dr Who

Dr Who is very much a love it or hate it kind of thing. I pretty much love it and have for lo these many years. The new, new Dr Who has been fun to watch. This season we see the return of the runaway bride from a couple of Christmases ago that didn't want to run off with The Doctor. She has changed her mind and has been following every strange event she can find to track him down.

The Doctor is tired of people who just want him for his body, like Martha Jones and Captain Jack, and claims that he just wants a Mate. His new companion has not romantic interest in The Doctor at all and makes retching nosies at the very idea of mating with him. This is fine with The Doctor, as it is what he wants.

We see that dark side of the Doctor twinkle in his eye, but then he goes back to being all happy and sunshine-the villains in the story are children who don't deserve to die, even though they killed a few people being born. The real villain is a super nanny who looses the support of her charges parents.

The story was sort of funny and odd and the effects of the little aliens were shockingly good. But all that is small potatoes, the real shocker of the show was a glimpse of Miss Rose Tyler-apparently in some kind of transitional state of being. Rose looked anything but happy, what can her strange appearance mean?

Otherwise the show was fun, one of the many sight gags involved a man with a telescope looking the wrong direction when a huge flying saucer passes by. The plot was the same basic story of all the Earth bound Dr Who episodes, some evil something is here and the Doctor has to save us.

The new Doctor Who website has some fun stuff, like Captain Jack's Monster Files and clips from the first show and trailers of one sort or another. They have a bit of blurb on the site that they had some technical difficulties as the site has proved so popular. Lots of images and videos and games and the like.

This looks like it is going to be a very good season.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Routemaster-Double Decker Bus

There are a number of website devoted to the Roadmaster, all of which lament the passing into history of this London icon in 2005. There are still a couple of Heritage Routes which employ Routemasters, but the general feeling is that is it not enough. Government legislation requires full accessibility by 2017 under the Disability Discrimination Act. As a consequence the Routemaster was officially withdrawn from general service on December 9th, 2005.

Routemaster-Last Stop is one of my favorite Routemaster sites, as it plays a sad little song over and over as you flip through images of the Routemaster and it's many drivers and fare collectors.

The Routemaster Association has news, photos, faqs, and listings of Routemasters for sale. They also have a ton of links for everything to do with AEC Routemasters from its history to what the site of the AEC factory looks like today.

The Routemaster Owner's Club as its own magazine as well a pretty neat website, though I could do with out the musical intros myself. There seems to be a lot of club business here, but there are a few bits of history and photos worth looking at.

The Wikipedia page for Routemaster is pretty good as well. There are hints that a new and improved Routemaster is on the horizon, but no hard facts about it happening anytime soon.

Paul Atchinson makes very nice oil paintings of Routemaster buses and other forms of transportation.

I also kind of like One Old Green Bus, a blog about a green Routenmaster and The Dream. It's a blog, like many others filled with random nonsense and kind of common theme. I like the idea that Dr Who is a blessing, and I agree with it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic is the story of a book of The Great Eight Spells and the poor Wizard that has one of them stuck in his head. This wizard is played by David Jason, best known to fans of PBS in the U.S. as Granville from Open All Hours, though he has been busy with countless projects since then. He was also a star of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, another Skyone Production about The Disc World.

Sean Astin stars as a tourist-he is best known as the reluctant adventurer Hobbit who followed Frodo around and eventually saved the world, though he too, has many more credits to his name. He plays the part of a rich and stupid traveler who just wants to look at things-a totally baffling idea to everyone else on the Disc World. David Jason is his unwilling guide and together they have many near death experiences, with several very funny bit involving the legendary Christopher Lee as the voice of Death.

There is also the sinister presence of Tim Curry, looking a little plumber than he did the last time I saw him, but just as evil. He is a wizard that lusts after power and proceeds to kill anyone that stands in his way. It is the will of the Eight Spells that they all be said at the same time, but preferably not by the Tim Curry.

This is a fun and funny story with great special effects and all kinds of small gags. For example, when the Disc World is threatened by a giant red star, The Tourist decides that it needs a name, so he suggests The Death Star. The hapless wizard scoffs at him, what kind of stupid name is that?

There are dragons, heroes, villains, and mobs with torches and pitchforks. While Death does not have nearly as large a role in The Colour of Magic as he did in The Hogfather, he does make rather a lot of cameos and a lot of jokes. The story is silly and seemingly random, but the ending is great and surprisingly touching. I really liked The Colour of Magic and highly recommend that you see it as soon as possible.

I know this wasn't really about London, but that doesn't mean I can't still mention London once or twice here at the end. I'm sure the people of London liked The Colour of Magic just fine.