rashbre central: August 2007

Friday, 31 August 2007

memory jogger

Last week when I was jogging around the Serpentine, I also diverted the short distance to the Diana Memorial, which was fairly quiet at the time. I snapped a couple of pictures and then realized its ten years since the accident, this week.

The memorial is quite a contrast to the normal statues and obelisks sprinkled around London. A long circuit of water, actually two flows that meander from a source to a lower destination like two halves of an 'O'.

I was around the palace/abbey area at the time it was all happening and remember the sheer volume of flowers at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace. Looking back at some of the photos on google doesn't really convey the scale, compared with walking through the area at the time.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Thursday Thirteen (V44)

Time to open the door on another Thursday Thirteen. I'm combining it with the tag request from Webby's world a few weeks ago, which is one of those "08 random things about me" memes. Joe asks that the rules are published first, so here goes...

The Rules (condensed) Each player must post these rules first. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write about their eight facts on their blog. At the end of your blog post, choose eight people to get tagged, list their names, and link to them. Don’t forget to contact them telling them they’re tagged. Also, point them to your blog post so they know what to do.

So here's a few random things.

1) I was out yesterday evening at an Indian restaurant with a couple of friends. One I hadn't seen for about two years and the other for about six months.

2) I'm continuing to cycle or run most days at the moment, but decided not to keep a 'blow by blow' (stagger by stagger?) account of it on here.

3) I've just installed a new Windows environment on one of the macs. To test it I fired up explorer with this blog and noticed how the formatting on explorer was all wonky. I've spent about 15 minutes hunting down the missing brackety things to make explorer work again. No such problem with Mac.

4) Three white vans are due to deliver things to home today. There's a high probability to be out when they arrive. UPDATE One arrived whilst I was in.

6) Going to see Prince at the Dome tomorrow. I don't think the rumours are true that the sponsors have painted O2 on the roof so that it can be seen from planes and outer space.

7) Next week I will be in Belgium, on business.

8) I'm operating on expressos today. There's no milk and I'm not so fond of black tea.

9) Yesterday lunchtime, I sat on the banks of the River Thames for a while. It was the first time this summer I've noticed it being actually cold when the sun was behind a cloud. On the radio, farming news is already talking about autumn.
10) There are some very noisy builders working close to where I am typing right now.

11) I usually spend about ten minutes writing a blog entry. Thursday Thirteen and memes always seem to take longer. I guess its because they become multi themed.

screenshot_04.jpg12) A couple of days ago I spotted that one of the Alien movies was on television. They are still some of the best scary movies in my opinion. It was the one where 12 aliens had escaped onto the big space ship. Best watched with the lights out for maximum effect. I think it probably affected my resting heart rate (running and cycling reference there!)

13) Still no more white van deliveries. I will have to go out soon. I really need tea.

14)I won't tag people, but please self select to either do Thursday Thirteen or Joe's meme.

screenshot_03.jpgAdd a comment, trackback or a link if you are a Thursday Thirteener!

Tag: ,

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Brick Lane

Strolling onward to Brick Lane, nowadays nicknamed "Bangla Town" by the locals. Originally an area for the manufacture of bricks, then a Jewish neighbourhood and nowadays the centre of the Bangladeshi community. Ask a Londoner about Brick Lane and they'll talk about the excellent curry restaurants (bring your own beer- the restaurants are mainly Muslim). There's also the markets in the middle part of the Lane and at night its a clubbing area with the Vibe and others open till very late. The 24 hour Beigel Bakery does good trade around the clock.

The Bangladeshis first came here as seamen in the 1920s and expanded a wide range of trading in the area. The signage is often in Bangladeshi and as well as items likw saris from the indian sub-continent there's designer fashion from the Laden Shop or vintage clothes from Rokit.
Around the middle of the Lane is the tall chimneyed Truman's Black Eagle Brewery with origins in the 1700s. Nowadays its been converted to a tourist, cafe and shopping area, although part is still open for guided tours.

The area was one of the most densely populated in the middle of the 19th century and at that time was known for slums, narrow alleyways, poor water supplies and no proper sewage facilities.
Brick Lane today is a bustling and multi-cultural area. Off to each side are other small roads with fame of their own. Chicksand Street is reputed to be where Bram Stocker stayed on his return to Transylvania. Flower and Dean Street was the address of most of Jack the Ripper's victims at some stage in their lives and Hanbury Steet was the site of one of the murders. I'm not sure about Bacon Street.
And any spare flat surface will have been postered or display some form of graphic. This varies from mindless tagging to the street art of Banksy or sometimes installation pieces that have somehow made it onto the street.
Brick Lane may have converted to being more be halal than kosher, but the area continues to cast a vivid image into east London.

Monday, 27 August 2007

...then Hackney Hoxton and Shoreditch

Emm, this was supposed to be the Saturday post after team rashbre had entered another one of those Shoot Experience photo walkabout competitions. Unfortunately it all went a bit pear shaped. We had tickets and were kind of prepared. The last one we did was, for us, an anytime start and this suited us just fine. This one had an un-noticed 'be there at eleven am' message in the email.


So turning up at two o' clock in the afternoon wasn't a bright idea. Then being told the clues took around 30 minutes each and that everyone had to be back at four thirty to upload the finished items.

So dutifully taking the team rashbre materials, including the team badges with 'I love Hackney' written on them it was time to go outside Cargo to plan the rescue operation.
That's when the pub came into view. After a Grolsch, this became a 'cut the losses' situation. So instead of hammering around the circuit snapping wildly and producing some ill-planned entries, it became more fun to abandon the competition and to simply wander around 'the area formerly known as Hackney' now called Hoxton, Shoreditch and Brick Lane.

Hoxton itself has become one of the gentrification areas in London and the small grassy Hoxton Square was filled with people chilling out for the afternoon, overlooked by various trendy restaurants and art galleries.

Indicatively, around the square, with graffiti like stencilling onto the pavement, was a series of signs for the "Cereal Killer", either advertising an Australian rock band or Kellogg's breakfast foods.

The nature of the area creates a fusion between street culture typified by graffiti at one end and posh art galleries at the other. As an example, there's a shop which has been converted into an advertisement for the recent Chemical Brothers album.
So there's a balance required here to interpret the difference between substance, pretence with perhaps a little wry humour. I'd need to spend more time in this finely delineated area to be able to make the necessary judgement. ShoHo (Shoreditch/Hoxton) is less clear-cut than the SoHo of Manhattan, yet shares some of the characteristics.
and the Hoxton snaps were on the way to Brick Lane...

Sunday, 26 August 2007

time in the garden

...well not my garden. And not really a garden, as such.

Covent Garden.

An area often featured in 'Lies Londoners tell Tourists' (because its not a garden), along with 'The Mall as a great shopping area'. And as a place to visit, for a quick buzz of lots happening, Covent Garden has it all from smart cafes, street entertainers, boutique shops and little craft market stands.
For much of its existence Covent Garden served as a fruit and vegetable market covering the whole of the square. Back in the 1600s the land belonged to Westminster Abbey and was a Convent garden, hence the name.
It emerged in its current form out of an experiment in London of town planning as the creation of a public square, developed by the Earl of Bedford, Charles I and architect Inigo Jones. It also introduced Italian style Palladian columns, some smart houses and a grids for streets instead of London's random twists and turns.

The original public square ultimately caused the residential well-heeled toffs to leave the area for Bloomsbury to escape the riff-raff and lack of privacy.
Then the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed the major markets in the City and the fruit market moved to this area where it remained for around 300 years, evolving in the late 1800s to a covering of the area with a train station style roof.
The final closure of the extensive fruit market in the 1970s was an effect of London road congestion and became the reason for the market to move to South of the river to its current Nine Elms location.

Unimaginative developers wanted to knock down the market and build a conference centre but local opposition was so strong that a renovation plan ensued creating what is, today, a major magnet for tourists and Londoners at rest. Street performers ply their amusements on every corner and there is always a big crowd by the Punch and Judy pub looking out to the end of the square where a high wire act, jugglers or a stand-up will be working the crowd (or sometimes one person doing all three together).
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the Covent Garden Opera House also operate in the area and it has a 'one way' tube station at certain times of the year (exit only) and this encourages tourists to wander the area and then find a different way back from Leicester Square or Embankment.
And of course, the spirits from many a yesteryear still inhabit the whole area.

Close your eyes, listen to the noise and you can imagine any time from the past in this vibrant part of London.

But I only took these snaps as I passed through on my way to Shoreditch.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


The Tombola stall from today's show. Fortunately the weather was extremely sunny - removing a big risk for out door events in the UK. The sun also seemed to encourage everyone to be on the move today, mainly heading out to the country and sea side.

And as I commented yesterday, there was no livestock this year, but still plenty of other exhibits, like this...

I was also double booked so after visiting the show it was across London to Shoreditch for another event...

Friday, 24 August 2007

illic est fun progressus

Britain has many traditions and tomorrow I'm involved in one of them. There's a Royal Show which I'm attending.

You've heard in the past that I'm sometimes a little shy about my title of Lord Rashbre of London, but it does seem to fit with the theme for tomorrow.

However, the purpose of these shows was originally to support the local farmers and workers, who would proudly show off their livestock as part of the event.

Sadly, with the recent outbreak of cattle disease, there has been an embargo on livestock attending the Show. Fortunately there'll be many other attractions so a good turnout is still expected, and tonight's weather bodes well for tomorrow's show opening.

17 and rising

17 teenage gun deaths in London this year, most recently Brixton this month. A gun killing of a biker on the M40 a few days ago and now an 11 year old killed in Liverpool by a BMX teen cyclist with a shotgun.

Gang culture is ascribed as a form of belonging, often with violence as entry price. Social deprivation, petty crime and the spiral to drugs and organized crime become the challenges for the projects trying to stabilize and turn the tide. A family is supposed to teach independence, but a gang seems to drive dependence.

Ethnicity is in the debate but only a few days ago a white male gang leader was sent to prison following violence based rule of Nottingham. The Krays have gone, but there is still organized money making at the edge of the law.

Pop Culture also features; number one on Billboard is Underground Kingz with lyrics about 44's, glocks and Ks (guns) and 454's (shot gun cartridges). Teens of all types face gory Playstation options as influences.

Intellectualising about missing context and cultural references being replaced by Americana doesn't do it for me. The 'only amongst themselves' arguments also seem rather convenient. Near enough to where I live we've had both a drive by shooting at a petrol station and a gang related murder (years apart but in memory).

So what to do? Socializing, Governance, Education? All have price tags and timescale implications. Heavy policing? Risks of escalation. The thing for sure is to bring this into the agenda. We all need it to be better.

Nikon D300

Nikon sent me their publicity for their new D300 camera. I frequently use Nikon cameras and think they are excellent; even the base-line D40 is a very good piece of kit. As the cameras get bigger numbers they get more expensive, except for the ones with only one number which are REALLY expensive.

I think the D300 is really the souped-up D200 with a new wibbulator to shake dust off the sensor when lenses are changed and better waterproofing than the cling-film that I sometimes use on my Nikons. There's some new LiveView preview technology for when the mirror is up, though I'm so used to SLRs that I'm not sure whether this is slightly like a consumer feature. They have also added an HDMI output for links to HD televisions, though I don't think I'd use one of the HDMI slots on my television for an SLR feed.

They also announced an eye-watering D3 (one digit, so pricey), which is really for folk of the press. To be honest, I find the intermediate cameras more useful for my type of photography. The really expensive ones have big built in battery compartments and bulk which equates to weight. Not as easy to wrap up in a T-shirt and chuck into a backpack.

I see that DX and FX are now the designations for the size of the capture areas in SLRs. DX is the smaller size used by most digital and FX is a bigger format like 35mm film. Of course there needs to be a bigger and bulkier lens for the FX format, so I guess thats where the press end of the market is headed.

The dichotomy is that sometimes its better not to look too professional when out with a camera, because it can either put people off or even prevent entry to some things (has happened to me). On other occasions, a super-duper camera is what's needed to 'look the part' like when were hyping the Warhol production in Edinburgh. Big lenses equated to 'press interest'.

I still believe its finding the shot rather than the camera, and there are some excellent people on flickr who prove this time and again.

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smiley powerbook
Yup, the plan worked. My three year old Powerbook now has a new drive. It was 80GB, its now 160Gb, with more than half free. I copied everything to the new drive using Carbon Copy Clone (2-3 hours, overnight). I then re-booted from the external clone (hold down option key during boot). It still looked like my computer. I tried safari, mail and then Final Cut Studio. All of them worked and still found my files.
So power down, remove battery, unscrew case, flap up the keyboard and track pad, unscrew and wiggle out the disk. Swap them over. Re-assemble, cross fingers. And after 30 minutes, normal service resumed but with more space.

A three year old PC could be limping at this point, but this Mac still runs like new and is ready to edit HD video.
little box holds Powerbook's old drive

Thursday, 23 August 2007


IM clients
Tonight I'm sitting here IM-ing whilst I wait for the Powerbook disk I mentioned yesterday to copy itself entirely to another drive. I found a spare 160Gb drive in a little enclosure and thought it would be sensible to swap it into the Powerbook. I've no idea whether it will work, involving mechanical derring-do (opening a Powerbook) and software technology - cloning the drive.

So here's my plan of how to dismantle a Powerbook...
technical explanation of drive swapping a powerbook
I know I may have left out a few details but it looks like a good plan to me. More fainthearted might need this. But that would just put me off.

adiumAnd all this Instant Messaging reminded me that I use a little program called Adium, which does what Messenger, AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, Bonjour and all of those other little programs do, but in one simple and rather elegant manner. And I'll admit I have it set to play the Tokyo train station notifications when people call me.

(A few more bicycle miles this evening, mainly up and down the nearby friendly hill).

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


A slight problem today, when I noticed that the powerbook I mainly use for blogging has somehow filled up. Its 80GB drive seemed immense when I very first started using it. The easiest culprit to fix seemed to be the Pictures folder which has somehow crept from a few items to about 10 Gigabytes...and I keep my main photos in Aperture on a different machine.

Lazily, I was going to copy them away to another drive over the wi-fi, when it reported it would take well over an hour, so I was forced to hunt around for a disk as an intermediate store. Then it took about 5 minutes to copy and another 5 to shunt to another home.

Of course, that gave me some time back for another run today, although it was only around 1.5 miles because as soon as I stepped outdoors the skies burst open.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


In addition to my recent bicycling expeditions, I thought it would be good try try a spot of running as a way to help get me to the point where "the hill" nearby seemed less of a cycling effort than it does at present. Not that I can't do it, but the last half hill seems more effort than it really should be.

So, I decided that the best way to do this was to set myself some goals, so that the whole thing has some point and structure. I won't embarrass myself by saying what the goals are; perhaps by the time I set the next wave they will start to sound semi respectable.
At this stage, I'm eschewing the latest running gear and simply finding old T shirts and similar, and the trainers that I use for cycling seem perfectly adequate, even if they do have a bit of paint on them.

I looked around the web for a place to stash timings and so forth and found the nike site that lots of people use. I duly signed up (free) and found that the little gadget to put in shoes seems to be a part of the way that times and suchlike get tracked. As I've already got an iPod, I thought I'd give this basic telemetry a go, and so I acquired one of the tiny transmitters. It sends radio bleeps to the iPod and the iPod records the times as well as saying encouraging things over the (ahem) running music.
Oops. Of course, it is supposed to only work with Nike shoes and special Nike+ shoes at that. Well by good luck my trainers are Nike, but they don't have the little place to put the special pace transmitter.

Duck Tape.

Yes, I discovered that a small amount of Duck tape on the tongue of one of the trainers was a very simple way to secure the transmitter, whilst limbering up for the undoubtedly sporting prices of the special running shoes.
So today, in a spare moment or two (okay or three or four), I assembled the clothes, shoes, iPod and gadget and made my first run. Not spectacular, but I can say that I ran 4.95miles and burned 825 calories without damage (according to the iPod).
And then, joy joy, the replacement pedal for the bicycle had already arrived, so I zinged a few miles on the bicycle, mainly to see whether the new pedals (I had to buy a pair) would work without falling off.
The pictures are from today's central London route in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine with more at the point where my pace slowed(!) I think they show Central London has some nice green bits quite well.

So far so good.

Monday, 20 August 2007

137 - bus of champions

137 Bus of heroes
Meetings in central London today, with Oyster card to the fore.

Main journey was on the bus of champions, the 137. Lets face it, the number 25 and the number 10 get lots of press for the areas they visit and are part of prime tourist London, but the 137 knows a thing or two also. From crossing the River Thames, to meandering through Sloane Square, past King's Road and all along Sloane Street, through Knightsbridge, Park Lane, Mayfair and finally to Oxford Street, it can show a sight or two.

And some of them seem to be new generation buses, too. Extra wide-windows and most of the cameras and general high-tech pieces look as if they were designed in, rather than added as afterthoughts. And they seem to be called Enviro, which presumably means they are good for the smog.

And the windows make it easier to take pictures, too. Here's a few snaps from the journey.
Oxford Street buses
Older version of the same bus
View from top of a 137
Oxford Street specializes in buses and taxis.
Outside Debenhams
and tourist shoppers
You can tell its the new soccer season
mainly buying Man U and Arsenal soccer shirts
Selfridges Bus Stop
Sometimes its best to know when to leave