Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Round the World Planning

Hopefully about to book ticket with Ralfy. Plan is to fly to Buenos Aires, round South America, across Pacific via Tahiti, through Oceania, up into South East Asia, the Far East then South Asia and home! Bring it on!!

Notting Hill Carnival

Went briefly yesterday to the Notting Hill Carnival. Apparently over a million people attended - what a marvellous celebration of London's multicultural mix!

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Amadeo Modigliani

Visited the Modigliana exhibition at the Royal Academy this afternoon. Fabulous! Go see, it's on till 15th October. Modigliani was an Jewish-Italian painter and sculpter who spent most of his creative years in Paris.


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He was something of the womaniser, but settled down with beautiful Jeanne H├ębuterne, an artist herself, who stayed with him despite his drinking, drug-taking and impoverished means. He died of tubercular meningitis aged 35, and H├ębuterne, despite being heavily pregnant, committed suicide shortly after. Interestingly, his only self-portrait was the last picture he created (unlike most artists of the time), which was on show at the exhibition.

I find his style interesting for several reasons. Firstly, despite his distinctive and odd way of representing his models (long necks, and eyes often left blank), they still come across as being elegant. It seems Modigliani grabs their characteristics and moulds them in his style. The colours he uses are vibrant, yet with little to distract from the main character of the painting. Here is my first effort at his style (apologies for the lighting - will try taking another picture in daylight!)

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

"Do not eat the Jaffa Oranges of Zion!!" So sayeth a loonie on the Royal Mile at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Another marvellous weekend, care of Chris and Rob. Attended shows throughout Saturday and Sunday, with a nice mixture of comedy (Jimeion), Theatre (People Can Run's Fish Story), and a whole host of stuff at Mervyn Stutter's Pick of the Fringe.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Confederate States of America

Saw the "Confederate States of America" film last night. Here's the spiel:

Set in an contemporary alternative world where the Confederate States of America managed to win the American Civil War, a British film documentary examines the history of this nation. Beginning with its conquest of the northern states, the film covers the history of this state where racial enslavement became triumphant and the nation carried sinister designs of conquest. Interspersed throughout are various TV commercials of products of a virulent racist nature as well as public service announcements promoting this tyranny. Only at the end do you learn that there is less wholly imagined material in the film than you might suspect.

The film begins with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: "If you are going to tell people the truth, be sure to make them laugh, for otherwise they will kill you."

Funny, and yet edgy given that if a couple of key battles had gone the other way, this is how things may well have panned out. I commend it to you.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jazz Cafe Picnic '06

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Another fun day at Marble Hill, with Zero 7 leading a good lineup of artists performing in occasional rain in beautiful St. Margarets, near Richmond in South West London. It has been alleged that I consumed too much alcohol. All I can say to that is that I can't really recall, my memory goes a bit hazy towards the end of the evening!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Airport "Terror" Disruption

Can someone explain to my exactly why flights are still being cancelled? I understand the whole "big queues at security" thing, but what excuse do British Airways, and in particular Ryanair and Easyjet have for cancelling flights now? Seems to be to be a way of getting out of running flights and presumably demanding compensation from the Government, i.e. us, the taxpayer. To be fair to Easyjet, they say they should be running a full schedule today. Ryanair, however, expect to cancel 1 in 5 flights! Is this their normal pisspoor service? Bastards!

Snippet from the BBC: "Confusion over the new restrictions extended into the cabin when a hostess asked passengers to switch off mobile phones and was met by loud laughter from the passengers, none of whom had been allowed to bring theirs aboard."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pokhara Nepal

Just a quick note to say if you're considering going to Nepal or the Himalayas, I have some very good friends out there who can sort you out!! I've been twice now, first time did the Annapurna region, second the Langtang valley. Both times had a lovely few days with Raju at the Pokhara Palace Hotel in Pokhara, a beautiful Lakeside town in central Nepal.

Raju can help you with everything from meeting you at Kathmandu airport, getting you around, and organising guides to trek with you, and once you've been once, you'll consider him and his family, as, well, family! I have many fond memories of my trips, many many photos which I can share if you're interested, and every intention to return when I can! It's also a very good time to go as politically it's stable now, all the unrest is over, but hopefully it's not too crowded with tourists! Go go go!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Podcasts

Have been investigating the possibilities in the arena of Podcasting. From what I can gather, podcasts are rss feeds of mp3s. The BBC has been running a trial for some time now, making available a good selection (but by no means all) of their programmes for download. I have been messing about with IE7's RSS capabilities, but they appear, to use the technical description, to be pants. Therefore last night I ended up with Happy Fish, freeware product which appears to fulfil my requirements, i.e. to grab mp3 podcasts down on a schedule, and dump them automatically on to my lovely iRiver N11 mp3 player for me to listen to on the way to and fro work. Into work is the Radio 4 morning briefing, which makes me feel happy as I hear the time announcements ("the time now is a quarter past six") however late I am running, and for the way home I have discovered a "craft" beer channel in the US which features programmes about different kinds of beer! Tonight is Episode 48: More IPA!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Freeeeeedom!





So it's confirmed! As of 6th October 2006 at approximately 17:00 I shall be leaving COLT with a big smile and hopefully lots of friends that will give me a job on-demand (!) and within not too long a timeframe (by end of October maybe) setting off on my Grand Tour. Ralfy and I are planning to do the OneWorld Explorer ticket, starting with South America and then seeing how things go. I'd like to do standard touristy stuff - Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, and hopefully some decent trekking in the Central Andes. Hasta luego!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Great British Beer Festival, Bike and Bent






Visited the GBBF on Tuesday. Always good fun. Ralfy, my father, Jens and Katrina came too. Tried 40 to 50 ales, but nothing stood out. Top Totty from Eccleshall Brewery in Stafford again potentially the favourite of the evening, as it has been most years, except when East Street Cream from RCH Brewery knocked it off top spot. Will wants me to go back tonight... well it is only once a year after all :)

Am feeling quite happy today. My baby bike is currently at Simpson's Cycles being tended to and given some decent cycle TLC. Was quite stressed going there after Google Maps sent me to the end of an industrial estate and across a fictitious railway crossing. Once there though, the chap talked me through what needs doing - replacement tyres (and inners), rear brake blocks, he's going to fix the broken spoke which is giving me a buckled wheel, and tweak the forward transmission so I can jump cog sets accurately! Hurrah!

In other highly-exciting news, the amazing Nottingham-duo Bent are coming out with a new album, called Intercept! Go to www.bent-world.com or www.myspace.com/bentworld for more details! Buy buy buy (Out end of Sept, and I can't wait!!)