Friday, January 30, 2009
Paris Hilton managed to hit the front pages of many British tabloids by doing what she does best-getting attention for being hot. Paris Hitlon went braless in the cool London air with predictable results. Of course, a semi-naked Paris Hilton is not newsworthy in America; a topless Paris Hilton is hardly news in the U.S. anymore. But in London, Paris Hilton's boobs still get a lot of attention.
Paris Hilton is working on becoming the Queen of Reality Shows. She is in London to promote her British reality show on ITV2, Paris Hilton's British Best Friend. Having watched one or two of the the U.S. version of Paris's Best Friend, it should be fun to watch. Paris Hilton seems to be one of those people who isn't acting, what you see is what you get.
Or maybe not. Paris Hilton seems to work pretty hard to live the easy life of a poor little rich girl. It's kind of hard to believe she's a closet genius when she steps out into the cold wearing nothing but an oversized nylon. It's all about getting attention, and no matter what else you care to say about Paris Hilton, she does know how to get attention.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
House swapping is believed to have developed in the 1950s, but rose to prominence in the 1970s as more people got involved and considered it to be a viable vacation option. Some estimates indicate that 15-20% of travelers are participating in some form of house swapping. Summer is traditionally the peak season for house swapping, due to families traveling during summer vacations and house swapping allows families to try out a location for a short period of time.
I've always liked the idea of saving a bit of money by doing a holiday home exchange, but my home would need some serious cleaning before I would want to offer it in a home exchange. The idea that someone would travel across the world and spend a couple of weeks camped out among my odds and ends while I was camped out among there's is kind of interesting.
It is fun to read some of the listings for vacation exchanges, a lot of people seem to want to travel to Sydney or New York, so I guess if you have a home in Sydney or New York then you'll do good on the whole home exchange front. But I also found people in London that wanted to home swap with people in New Mexico and just the USA. There are a lot of home exchanges for California as well.
A quick searches find that there are worldwide exchanges and property swaps seem possible to just about anywhere you'd want to go. Paris seems to be a hot vacation home exchange site, though the people in Paris seem to want home exchanges with people in Italy or California. There seem to be a few adventurous types who do house exchanges and want to go anywhere at any time. Must be nice to have that kind of freedom. I tend to feel a bit trapped myself at the moment.
Of course, it would be different if I had a vacation home swap, if I had that extra house by the lake or in the country. If I had enough money for a vacation home, would I still be interested in the whole house swap thing? Sure, if I had enough money, it would just mean that I could do all the holiday home exchanges I wanted and see more of the world.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
-Quirky London Tours
There are a seemingly endless array of London tours. I liked the bus tours that let you hop on and hop off, but they are not as personal as a private quirky walking tour of London. Highlights of this quirky London Tour include:The London ballroom turned into a Venetian canal, Britain's only street where cars drive on the right, The twistiest bridge in London, The corpses of left luggage, and Britain's smallest police station.
We did see London's smallest Police Station while there, it's over in a corner of Trafalgar Square and is really not much to look at. They must have had pretty small Bobbies back in the good old days.
How much: Places cost £20 and £16 for concessions, and come with a money-back guarantee.
Where: The Quirky London tour meets at Covent Garden station by Marks and Spencer), and finish around two hours later in Trafalgar Square.
Among the many odd and quirky things to do in London you'll find such items as The Camden Catacombs and The Hanging Gardens of Paddington. There is a great list of the unusual side of London at Top Quirky Sights in London. They also have Monty Python Tours of London and The London Rockstar Death Trail. You gotta love tours with names like that. Being a great fan of the BritCom I would likely take The TV Comedy Location Tour as well-most of them are a bit quirky, aren't they? Or at least, a bit silly.
Of course, to the average Tourist all of London can seem a bit quirky. Where else do you see things like a McDonald's that seats 250 people or double decker buses or an ice bar? The great thing about the quirky side of London is that these may be sights you haven't seen before, or that your friends haven't seen before. Everyone does the Changing of the Guard, but how many people do The Ubiquitous Undead Walk?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Organic restaurants, their not just for California anymore. When I was a kid eating organic meant growing your own food and reading Mother Earth News for farming tips. Now it seems that everything is organic, or at least says that it is organic. It's a lot easier to find organic restaurants in London and other cities than it once was as well. A good organic restaurant is more often than not just a good restaurant.
Here are a few of London's Top Organic Restaurants-
London's first truly environmentally sustainable restaurant is in frantic King's Cross. Using bio diesel, eco-sensitive takeaway containers, on-site water purifiers – Acorn House leaves no natural stone unturned. The food is organic as well as being inventive and absolutely delicious.
Fresh and Wild, Soho
The Soho branch of London's favourite organic supermarket is on Brewer Street. As a company, Fresh and Wild is fully committed to delivering the finest organic produce possible. The Soho branch includes a deli, juice bar, general food store and a café.
Konstam at the Prince Albert
Housed in a former pub, Konstam at the Prince Albert is the brainchild of Oliver Rowe. Oliver sources all of the restaurant's food locally, ie within the M25 motorway, the ring road that encircles London. Both the venture and the concept were made famous in the TV series The Urban Chef.
Snuggled between Monmouth Street, Shorts Gardens and Neal Street in WC2 is a cobbled enclave known as Neal's Yard. This charming little nook is packed with cafes, apothecaries, bakers and organic food sellers. The Neal's Yard Piazetta serves a variety of yummy wholesome Italian dishes and specialises in fresh fruit juices and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Previously known as The Liquid Lounge, the recently launched Bumpkin professes to being – 'for city folk who like a little country living'. And rustic and organic it certainly is. The many menu highlights include Dorset crab, a terrine of ham hock and line-caught sea bass.
Duke of Cambridge
Only organic food and drink is served at the good looking Duke of Cambridge. The blackboard menu changes constantly but always features fantastic, fresh and inventive cuisine. One of London's favourite gastro pubs, diners can eat in the bar or in the dining room.
The River Café
This restaurant is famous the world over for its use of exquisite ingredients. The owners Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, attribute their incredible success down to sourcing and using only what is in season. The River Café is stylish and expensive, but it's also considered one of the best restaurants in the world.
Visit Hammersmith for what some people call the best vegetarian restaurant in London. The approach to cooking is an eclectic one - drawing on a wide range of ethnic cuisines, selecting the best combinations and creating dishes that have earned him a reputation as one of London's finest vegetarian chefs.
Specialising in Classical French cooking and the wines of south-west France, but with a emphasis on using the best available British produce, Roussillon was the first restaurant in Britain to introduce - alongside its a la carte - seasonal Garden Menus, which offer diners an experience where vegetables are the focus of the meal. As such, the restaurant is appreciated by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.
Eat and Two Veg
You won’t find any meat on the menu at Eat & Two Veg, only tofu, soya & what’s mysteriously billed as ‘a special blend of vegetable protein’ used in cunning ways to simulate meaty favourites. Choose from dishes on the all-day menu such as Not Nicoise salad made with tofu, Lincolnshire-style sausage with mash or a good range of veggie burgers.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Chocolate is one of those things that just about everyone seems to love. The dense and creamy sweetness of that solid turning into a liquid in your mouth. That little rush you get from really good chocolate. The wonderful shapes and colours that chocolate can be formed and molded into. I am not much of a chocolate snob myself, I like just about all chocolate.
Hotel Chocolat bills itself as luxury chocolates, and I have always liked really good chocolate as well as the more common type. So I will have to check out Hotel Chocolat, I hear they are really good chocolates.
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I missed this one when I was in London, so I don't have any firsthand experience of a Duck Tour in London. But I have ridden Ducks elsewhere, namely Hot Springs, Arkansas. These are tall, rough riding, windy vehicles. It's traditional for the drivers of these amphibious tour buses to crack stale jokes, often in a delivery that is well worn and deadpan. They are still pretty funny, but may not be to everyone's taste.
The London Duck Amphibious Vehicle Tour starts from Chicheley Street located behind the London Eye. The tour then passes by London hotspots Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and the Houses of Parliament before being launched into the River Thames. Some other places that you can admire while on a Duck Tour include the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Lambeth Palace. Sounds like fun to me.
My own experience with Duck Tours has been exciting and a good way to see things from a different prescriptive. You really need to see London from the Thames to get a good feel of the city. So taking a London Duck tour sounds like a good way to see to bits of London that you might not see otherwise.
London Duck Tours have created an exciting adventure for visitors to London taking in the sights by road and river. The tour lasts approximately 75 minutes. 45 on the road and 30 on the river However passengers are advised to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure as they can make no allowances for missed departures as tickets are non transferable and non refundable.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Just saw this video and really liked it. Reminds me of my own trips to London where I would stop every three steps and take another couple of photos. There is something about London that makes you want to take a few thousand images and always remember what the city was like when you were there. I was using film in the good old days when I went, so I only took a few hundred photos of London and not a few thousand. But when I go back, I'm sure that I will be using up a few gigs of memory cards to capture all the stuff I will want to capture.
In the meantime, I like this little bit of video with it's hype active feel of that great city of London.
London (harder, better, faster, stronger) from David Hubert on Vimeo.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Happy-Go-Lucky is the story of a school teacher who lives by the motto Put On a Happy Face. We follow her around in the seemingly mundane and pointless random events that make up her life. She in 30 years old and yet still likes to go clubbing and doesn't know how to drive.
She hears a mad homeless man talking to himself and wanders over to have a chat with him-and tells him that she understands him. She takes driving lessons from a very unhappy man whose sole purpose in life is to be a good Driving Instructor.
The moral of Happy-Go-Lucky is that most people hate other people who are happy all the time. Go on and give it a try. Walk around with a smile on your face and see how long it takes someone to ask-What are you smiling about, eh?
I found this movie by reading the Top Ten List of PBS film critic David Edelstein. He really like Happy-Go-Lucky and I think it was pretty good too. It has that whole kind of slice of life feeling that Mike Leigh does so well. I really liked Naked, a wonderfully weird film about a homeless man wondering the streets of London. Would have been fun if they could have got David Thewlis to play the homeless fellow in Happy-go-lucky.
Sally Hawkins's Poppy is the one wandering the streets of London here. Her flatmate always close at hand as she goes happily about. They share a bed as well as a flat, and you can't get much closer than that. As the movie starts we have nothing but questions, most of which are answered as the movie makes it's way forward.
Poppy and her flatmate Zoe, played by Alexis Zegerman, are both teachers and spend a bit of their time doing odd teacher things. Before we know they are teachers we see them making crude bird costumes which look pretty much nothing like birds. These are projects for small children.
This is a great London film, as many of the great bits of the great city make cameo appearances. Poppy wanders around Camden Town, she wanders around the Thames Barrier Park, she learns to drive a round-a-bout and lives to tell the tale. I love seeing London in films, as it the main way that I get to see the city.
So Poppy is ready and willing to try new things-so she starts taking driving lessons and dancing lessons from two fairly unhappy people. But then, it seems that everyone the hyper happy Poppy meets is on the verge of suicide. When we first met her, she is happily riding her bike around the streets of London. She stops to go shopping and enters a bookstore where the shop attendant can't be bothered to say two words to her. She then finds that her bike has been stolen while she was shopping. Oh, well-she sings and dances down the street, her only regret is that she didn't get to say goodbye to her bike.
By the time Happy-Go-Lucky ends airhead Poppy has had a couple of sobering experiences and is not smiling like an idiot at everyone she meets. In fact, she now seems a bit suspicious of everyone. But not to worry, her frighting experience behind her, the film ends with her rowing on the lake with her flatmate and laughing on the phone with her boyfriend.
Life, such as it is, goes on.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
“David Tennant has made the role his own, brilliantly with grace, talent and persistent dedication,” Matt Smith said in a BBC press release. ” I hope to learn from the standards set by him. The challenge for me is to do justice to the show’s illustrious past, my predecessors and most importantly to those who watch it. I really cannot wait.”
Slightly mad comic Russell Brand wanted to be the 11th Doctor, but relatively unknown actor Matt Smith gets the job. I saw Matt Smith in The Ruby and The Smoke and The Shadow in the North and liked him well enough-though I was really watching those shows because they starred Billie Piper. I like the idea of a younger Doctor Who to help fill in the gaps in The Doctor's infinite lifetime.
There are always rumors about the New Doctor Who-often speculation about whether the New Doctor will be black or a woman or someone famous. Rowen Atkins and Hugh Grant both made fine Doctors in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death. Peter Cushing got mixed reviews as the Doctor. Basically, any Doctor is a good Doctor.
The Doctors over the years-
In other Doctor Who news Russell T Davies, the TV writer who resurrected Doctor Who, has received his OBE for services to drama from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. In May Davies announced he was stepping down as the programme's executive producer after a four-year tenure.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Well, I'd like a bit of time in a London Spa in a steam room and than a quick dip in a cold pool. I've always liked that whole Roman Bath kind of spa experience. Tepidarium Warm room - Caldarium Hot room - Laconium Hottest room. A series of hot, dry air rooms, which vary from moderate to intense heats. Designed to relax the muscles and relieve the pain of rheumatics.
I really like the sauna-a 'dry' heat treatment in a wood-lined room with a temperature reaching 90 C, designed to bring about perspiration to cleanse the body of impurities. I am not an expert on spas, but I have enjoyed the occasional sauna and massage.
I've always been a fan of aroma therapy as well. Some London spas aroma steam rooms giving 'wet' heat, generating temperatures of 65-70 C. The climate has a very high humidity and the steam is enriched with essence. Designed to soften the skin, cleanse the pores, calm the nervous system and relieve tension.
Spa London has something I have never tried-an ice fountain. The Ice Fountain creates ice flakes to rub all over the body, stimulating the circulation and cooling the body. Well, I guess that would do it. I think it might be fun, as long as one of those hot pools is somewhere nearby.
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and is offered at Dao today in London. I have never tried acupuncture, but I like the idea that the body can be healed with a few taps of a needle on the right spot. I think I'm more likely to stick with the hot rocks. Hot stone therapy uses smooth water-heated basalt stones and carefully applied to key points on the body. This direct heat relaxes the muscles, which means that the massage itself is more effective and intense than it would be otherwise
A trip to a London Spa would be a good way to relax after a hard day of sightseeing, or maybe before a hard day of sightseeing.
Below is a list of some of London's Best Spas, in no particular order.
York Hall Leisure Centre, Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PJ
Beauty Works West
Lambton Place, Notting Hill London W11 2SH
41 Parkway London, NW1 7AH
12 Floral Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DH
Agua at the Sanderson
50 Berners Street London, England W1T 3NG
66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
63 South Audley Street . London . W1K 2QS
The CityPoint Spa at the City Point Club
1 Ropemaker Street EC2Y 9AW
40 Moreton Street London SW1V 2PB