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Saturday, 31 March 2007

rough trade shoot in portobello road

rough trade
Just charging the batteries this evening before heading to Portobello Road tomorrow for the Shoot Portobello event, which is some kind of treasure hunt in Notting Hill to look out for famous musical spots and celeb locations. So popular they've extended it over two days from the original one. I'm expecting an email with clues about midnight. Team rashbre will be there in force tomorrow!

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All right, I know I don't usually advertise on this blog, but I thought I'd make an exception when I saw this incoming email today.

I stayed in a rather smart hotel suite about a year ago, as a consequence of a freak room upgrade. I went from a normal room to a penthouse suite of the type that pop-stars argue about (quite literally, in this case). There was something unusual about the level of opulence in the room though, which said more to me about underworld barons than normal people.

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The suite had a large meeting area, for about eight people, a lounge area (above) with comfy chairs and sofas and one of those huge flat screen televisions that slides up out of the furniture, a big bedroom with another one of those televisions, and a balcony leading to a hot-tub on the decking outside.
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Oh, and there was a gate and if you walked through it there was another balcony with a couple of big tables and enough space to hold a party for fifty people.
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Then don't get me started on the bathroom, with its separate steam room with a special system to automatically switch on various scented oils.

Anyway, I havn't mentioned the office area, which had a stylish desk and a complementary computer. The computer was running a multiligual version of Windows and seemed to have been configured for the seamy underside of the internet. I decided it was best to leave it alone.
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And now to my point; I've thought of that room afterwards, with its amazing views as my 'Russian Mafia' room, and now I've been sent this email, I'm beginning to think I was right. The furniture in the email looks suspiciously like the desk furniture from the hotel.

Friday, 30 March 2007

mafia hitmen two timing ransom explosion

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I glanced through my tracker log today and couldn't help noticing a stream of searches for mafia hitman, a petrol station explosion, a ransom and a lascivious proposition. My advice is stay away from Canal Street and gas stations this weekend.

vid


Not much time to post today, so, keeping the week's London theme, here's one (above) I prepared earlier and also a larger, high definition here (though you'd need to wait for it to load)!

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Thursday Thirteen (V42) : trackback?

Gherkin, Tower 42 and demolition
Gherkin, Tower 42 and a mad digger. They say the Cucumber and Pickled Onion will be the next two new London buildings.

About time for another Thursday Thirteen and this week I thought I'd try a recap of a few places I've visited in the last few months.

1) We can start with New York, which I always enjoy. This time I stayed right on Broadway, in the rather splendid W.
2) A visit on the Eurostar, to Brugges, in Belgium. A city of canals and pretty streets.
3) A somewhat longer journey to Las Vegas. I'm told what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. So maybe I should delete my blog entry.
4) A brief visit to the lovely canals of Amsterdam.
5) A friendly re-fuel in the Italian in Battersea Park Road.

6) A long weekend in and around China Town in Manchester.
7) I was also found aboard a ship of fools
8) I started a walk around the tourist parts of London including by the Houses of Parliament
9) Then back to Amsterdam to admire the bicycles.
10) A decompression morning around Sloane Square

11) Before a more in Seine moment on the river in Paris.
12) Then a re-grounding in the City of London.
13) I seem to have missed out a couple of trips to Frankfurt where I didn't really take any pictures at all.

I must have been in a hurry.
yellow taxi
Add a comment, trackback or a link if you are a Thursday Thirteener!


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Tourist London Part 5

gherkin and lloyds upright correction
Back to the City of London walk, leaving Leadenhall Market and turning towards Lloyds of London, which gives a good view of 'the gherkin' as well. We are now in the area where buildings show the latest architectural thinking.
Countdown initiated
The Lloyds Building was designed by Richard Rogers and built bewteen 1978 to 1986 on the site of Edward Lloyd's coffee house (founded in 1688). All its services are on the outside, leaving a clean uncluttered space inside. The 12 glass lifts were the first of their kind in the UK. There is a huge Insurance Underwriting Room on the ground floor, which houses the famous Lutine Bell. The 11th floor houses the Committee Room, an 18th century dining-room originally designed by Robert Adam in 1763 and transferred from its prior location across the road.
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And I suppose to keep that the architectural theme running, the Gherkin across the road was designed by Sir Norman Foster and is already something of an instant icon for modern London. More correctly called 30 St Mary Axe, or Swiss Re, it could be something from another world, looking here as if it has set itself down next to the adjacent church.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

neverland

Peter PanI'd planned to describe the next part of my City of London wanderings this evening, moving to a few shiny happy buildings after the majestic old ones in the last couple of posts.

Instead, I was diverted to the television, where 2004's "Finding Neverland" was playing. A most enjoyable story of Sir James Matthew (J.M.) Barrie, the author of "Peter Pan", with Barrie played by Johnny Depp.

Although adapted from Barrie's real-life story, this tightly edited yet magical film brings imagination and emotion to the story including Peter being played as a very serious mini-adult.

The storyline revolves around Barrie's meeting with Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies (Kate Blanchett) and her four boys then becoming the inspiration for Barrie's most famous story. There's plenty of good sub-plot and because we all know the real Peter Pan story, we can feel real involvement as the story unfolds. And of course, we see Depp as a fledgling pirate of the Carribbean.

In the meantime, like a good city should, London has a fine statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Clap if you believe.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Tourist London Part 4

Havana Cigars at Pleasing Prices
Continuing the walk from the Royal Exchange, past the Cuban cigar shop with its "Havana Cigars at Pleasing Prices", towards the area used in the Bridget Jones movie. I was quite impressed how quickly Bridget walked, in snow, from the area behind Borough Market to the middle of the City, in the closing moments of the first movie.
EAT
We'll continue along the road past a few of the alleys and courtyards where all is not always what it seems. Many of the facades have been preseved and the interiors modernised. Here's a modern snack bar chain lurking in an old building.
Sun Court
And to the side of the restaurant, theres one of the typical alleys of this area. It is possible to take all manner of shortcuts around the City, through alleys and courtyards to get from A to B quickly. Unlike the grids and zones of many cities, London and the City has an organic charm about the way the often narrow roads have grown and developed.

Here's Sun Court, which in this case also offers an FCUK right there in the courtyard.
FCUK in an Alley
Not all of the shops are completely modernised, however; as an example, here's a tailor's which was first established in 1689 and is still going strong.
Ede and Ravenscroft est 1689
Of course. being situated across the road from a covered market will have guarenteed a certain amout of trade and in this case Leadenhall Market is still very much a going concern, situated in the midst of the City and close to the Fenchurch Street railway terminus.
Lamb Tavern - Youngs - Leadenhall Market
And of course, where there's a market, theres a pub or two. This time a Young's tavern from 1780. Young's is one of the two main traditional London breweries (the other one is Fullers). Time to pause awhile, methinks.
Lamb Tavern

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Monday, 26 March 2007

Tourist London Part 3

Guildhall Request StopSo this time we'll hop on a bus to the Guildhall. That puts us into the heart of the City of London, by the Bank, which is the area where the Bank of England resides.

Adjacent to the Guildhall is the Mansion House, which is a Palladian stucture where the Lord Mayor of London will hold receptions.

There's great names for the roads and alleys around here. For example, the roadside by the bus stop and the building opposite is part of Poultry and leads into Cheapside.
Mansion House
Here's my snap of the Mansion House itself. The road system outside it would normally be filled with buses and taxis and there would usually be huge quantities of streetwise business folk here between Monday morning and Friday evening, but at the weekend, the City shuts down.
Queen Victoria Street and Poultry
Not all of the buildings around here are old; here's the adjacent magistrates court and next to it a more modern confection. Again, the lack of traffic in this normally manic area is noteworthy. The yellow box junctions here are some of the first ever and designed to keep traffic at busy intersections moving.
Feed the birds
A crumbs throw away is the Royal Exchange, adjacent to Threadneedle Street, which is where the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street lives. Thats slang for the Bank of England. Most people will recognise the Exchange more from Mary Poppin; although most of Mary Poppins was shot on Soundstage Two in Burbank, this is the area it evokes and would have been one of the places to buy breadcrumbs to feed the birds.
Bank of England
Here is the reason the area is named "Bank"; the Bank of England takes an entire block, but surprisingly is less noticeable than either the Royal Exchange or the Mansion House.
Flared buildings
Other buildings in the area (like the ones in my snapshot) are somewhat prominent, but before I investigate, I suggest a look along a few alleys and into a few shops. But that can wait until tomorrow.

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Sunday, 25 March 2007

City Lights

City Lights
Out and about with camera today, but I won't have time to post until later in the week. This picture is of a cluster of lights in the City of London, which is where I have wandered.

The lights around the city look orange from the air, but the ones in the city are more of a white colour. I'm not sure if this is deliberate, traditional or just coincidence, but the Square Mile does stand out well.

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Saturday, 24 March 2007

you have 937 messages, all marked urgent

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click here
Hello rashbre central is unable to come to the blog at the moment. Please leave your comment after the phone...

Friday, 23 March 2007

the world is our oyster

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mclarkwallet_187.jpgGetting about around London requires an oystercard and I use its little plastic wallet for my credit cards.

I see the Arts Council has commissioned ten artists to create artwork on these wallets, including Tracey Emin, Jeanette Winterson, Michael Clark and Ty.
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Their idea is to bring art into daily lives and so the artists have considered how people use travel wallets – as an everyday part of life, but with the potential to be interesting, provocative and even beautiful. So the wallets tackle current issues from identity, environmentalism to rural affairs.

Others offer an invitation to enjoy a personal art experience, or write a story. There's even a 'knitted' wallet!

At the moment I have an 'original' blue wallet, but I shall look out for the new give-aways, when I'm next near a ticket office.

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Thursday, 22 March 2007

garage full of nails

NIN.jpgTrent Reznor and the other Nine Inch Nails have music that depends on tension between vast impersonal crunchy distortion and sudden moments of vulnerability. Gnashing stomp mets self doubt. With riffs.

So what about adding a few emo moments? A tinkling bell? Violins maybe? Now its time to tinker with the sound. Apple have arranged a free download of a track session in Garageband format to allow for remix. And I gather other tracks will be added later.

So time put on your black clothes and get mixing!

Unless you'd rather checkout US wiretaps or another version of the truth.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

2p or not 2p?

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Tonight, three of us had planned to meet in the Winter Gardens, which is a tranquil oasis at Marylebone. As I entered the building, there was the buzz and hubbub of London's post budgeteers getting ready to huddle in discussions about whether Gordon Brown had done anything significant or not in what is actually his eleventh budget. Some would say its a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

Mr Brown wants to be liked by the public and to dispel the stories of a long sulk related to his relationship to Tony Blair. The current manouvres are pitched towards his possible transition to the leader's role in the Labour party as Tony steps down.

So we can expect to hear all about Mr Brown the family man mixed with his own comment that personality politics are not important to the British electorate.

And then we moved on to other topics, including finding a hotel room for one of us at short notice on a night when London was particularly full.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

in seine moment

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The evening plan was to head into Paris and onto a Bateaux Mouche for a river trip. To get from la Defence, we took a metro to Franklin D Roosevelt and then changed to another line. We arrived at the plush reception by the Pont d'Alma and then mad our way onto one of the bateaux, which was set out for dining.
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We enjoyed the tour, which was accompanied with violin and piano playing and viewed many famous landmarks, including the Tour Eiffel, for which I show a couple of impressions.
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(oh and yes, I'm experimenting with making digital photos look like film!)

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Monday, 19 March 2007

la defence

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France today, just outside of Paris in the area known as la defence.

Just about all the big companies have offices here and there is a combination of glossy big buildings and some labyrinthine road systems, which also seem to operate on multiple levels, with frequent twists and turns.

The smooth looking walkways actually have quite a lot of bumps and make my wheely bag sound like an armoured division as I trundle it around the streets on the way to the office.

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Sunday, 18 March 2007

sloaner

paule ka and marlowe
I didn't include any shops in the walk from last Saturday, around central London's tourist area. Here's a few sleepy early morning shots of some of the smaller London shops around Sloane Square.
pinks and bentley
Thomas Pink has just moved from Pont Street to this new store. I see someone in a Bentley is stopping to buy a few shirts.
jo malone
And Jo Malone's clever mixes can cost a shirt or two but they seem popular enough in this part of town.
chelsea brasserie
A spot of breakfast at the Chelsea Brasserie wouldn't go amiss. The taxi drivers visit another place around the corner called Piccolo.
sloane square
And there's a taxi, probably on the way towards a sandwich and a cup of tea.
tiffany's at sloane square
For those with a little more cash, there is always Tiffany's. There seem to be a few new items arriving in those boxes.
royal court
It will be too early to grab a show at the Royal Court Theatre, and at the moment the Seagull by Chekhov is playing in the evening.
shanghai tang
But I must catch a bus, past Shanghai Tang and towards the further delights of Knightsbridge.
red light - stop shopping
Although I think this traffic light is warning me to stop shopping, here in Sloane Square.

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Saturday, 17 March 2007

bobcat

cate blanchettI see the film about Bob Dylan is being prepared for release in the UK. After Factory Girl (about Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol) where the film makers had to rename the character representing Bob Dylan, it is now interesting to see that, amongst others, Cate Blanchett will play Bob.

I suppose Cate will need some make-up to pull this one off.

So here's my quick simulation with Photoshop.
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before
catebob
after

frame

frame
Another view from Amsterdam, keeping with the cycling theme. I like the cyclist with the picture frame, forming a little piece of kinetic art.