Archive for May, 2008

Weekly Reading and Photos Coming Soon

Bus stop
Hyde Park Corner bus stop in the rain — taken on my cell phone last night

After having Evan’s parents and my friend Shayne visit last week — photos of our adventures in Bath and Kew Gardens are coming soon — this week has been relatively quiet. We went to see the new Indiana Jones (I was a bit disappointed), I hung out with the Londonist crew over in Ladbroke Grove and I started working on some new projects, which I’ll tell you about soon. Sunday, we also had a terribly extravagant brunch at Cookbook Cafe, which involved peppermint tea martinis, fresh waffles and plenty of other indulgences.

We’ve also reached the point where we only have a month left in London — I can’t believe how fast time has flown here. I’ve been having so much fun I don’t want to leave, though I am very excited about our summer trip…

And without further ado, your weekly reading from Londonist and a Workology survey for all your small biz owners, freelancers and general non-9-to-5ers to fill out.

Weekly Reading: Keyboards, Cars and Kew

It’s been another busy week and my good friend from college Shayne just got into town today. To cut to the chase, your reading for the week from Londonist and Entrepreneur.com:

Touring Cambridge

King\'s College, Cambridge
King’s College from the River Cam

Yesterday, Evan’s parents and I took the train out to Cambridge. It was only about 45 minutes away from London on the express train, which made for an easy trip, and we took a taxi into town since it was a bit of a walk from the train station.

The first thing we did was take a walking tour offered by the visitor’s center. Our guide, who knew a ton of trivia — much of it likely town lore — showed us around town, took us to a few of the colleges, including Trinity, where we got a nice glimpse of the courtyard, and King’s, where we got a tour of the immense chapel, which is strangely devoid of much religious iconography in favor of having kings’ and queens’ crests, symbols and initials around. It also had some very old graffiti from the English Civil War, which was interesting.

The tour ran a bit long — the guide sure liked to chat! And afterward we took a bit of a break for lunch.

Punting on the River Cam
Punting on the River Cam

After lunch we were on our own. We walked down to the River Cam and hired a friendly punter to take us on a river tour, which was relaxing and a lot of fun. He knew a lot about the city, answered lots of our questions and did a good job of maneuvering around the less experienced punters. We also helped two people get their poles back.

Inexperienced punters
Inexperienced punters who resorted to dragging their boat from the riverbank

And remember the Bridge of Sighs from Oxford that went over the road? Cambridge has another version, though it’s not quite as ornate, doesn’t have glass and actually goes over the river. I’m guessing that it’s a just a common bridge name at this point because though tour guides like to claim they’re replicas of the one in Venice, neither looks anything like it.

Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge
Another Bridge of Sighs — though this time over the river

Unfortunately, we were visiting during exam time and most of the colleges were closed to visitors, so we didn’t get to really spend any time exploring them. We spent a bit more time walking around town, but it was after 5 and most attractions seemed to be shutting down, so we walked to the train station and headed back to London.

See more photos on Flickr.

Evan Plays Abbey Road

Sunday, Evan and I got quite a treat — we went to a scoring session at Abbey Road Studios, the famed studio where The Beatles recorded, and got to watch a 96-piece orchestra recording. We got to sit on a little balcony overlooking the room, and I was surprised to see some instruments I’d never seen before — most notably, two large brass instruments that looked like variations on a tuba and a trombone. I didn’t get any photos of them, though.

Watching the orchestra made me a bit nostalgic for my time playing in the band and orchestra in middle school and high school. But the highlight of the day was that Evan got to test out the huge Steinway while the orchestra was on break. He gave a concert for quite a few onlookers and impressed them all with his musical talents.

Evan playing piano at Abbey Road

Weekly Reading, Creative Coffee Club and Tuttle

It’s been another fun-filled week in London. Evan got back into town on Monday, Wednesday I went to Creative Coffee Club for the first time, Thursday Evan’s parents arrived and I also met up with a new London friend, and Friday I went to Tuttle Club. I also managed to write a couple of Londonist posts and finally submitted my bio and photo to go on their staff page after just a few months of Lindsey bugging me to send them in.

This week’s posts:

Creative Coffee Club was a nice meeting of about 15 people. We discussed creating a “network of networks” to bring people together as well as a host of other topics, ranging from creativity on social networks to yawning kittens. It really got me thinking about the networks we all belong to, how we use them differently and how they converge in various ways. It also made me think about people’s anxieties while networking both online and off since I feel like I’m often a tentative connector, though I do somehow find a way to open up and make friends. Thanks, Toby, for the invitation.

Yesterday, I made a new friend in London who actually found me on my blog. Jen is a friend of the BSE who has been in London for a little while, so she sent me an email after seeing my interview with Battlecat and we met for lunch.

Tuttle Club/Social Media Cafe was nice today — it was quieter than usual, so I didn’t feel squished, it wasn’t too loud, and I was able to have some good conversations with people. I talked to some of my usual friends like Steve (who wrote a great post this week about a musician with a bad attitude) and Janet, who I also saw at the Creative Coffee Club, and I got to speak more with some new friends, like Vikki, Improbulus (who mysteriously does not share her real name), Allix and Dan.

We also booked our big trip today, so if you have tips on any of our destinations, please send them along.

And tomorrow I should be heading out for a day in Bath, so look for lots of new photos soon.

Brighton Beach Outdoor Art

When I was in Brighton, I couldn’t help but notice some very loud buildings and other outdoor art. Take a look…

James Brown
A building-size tribute to James Brown

graffiti art
Close-up of some more graffiti-style art

graffiti art
Different styles coming together on different parts of a building

graffiti art
Graffiti on a wall: Who needs actions when you got paint. Are those CCTV cameras stenciled on the right?

Take a look at the rest of my Brighton photos on Flickr.

Sunday in Brighton

It’s been a busy weekend! After my trip to Oxford yesterday, I was inspired to venture out of the city yet again — this time, taking advantage of the lovely sunshine and heading to the seaside — to Brighton.

The train was packed on the way down. I was lucky enough to get a seat, but there were lots of passengers left standing or sitting on the floor. When we finally got to Brighton, there was this huge flow of people heading downhill from the station toward the water.

old brighton pier
West Pier

The first thing I did was check out the coastline. I was surprised that there was no sand, just pebbles. I took some photos of the old, twisted metal pier frame still standing in the water (though just barely), and also photographed the current pier, with its rides and arcades and traditional piery things.

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

It seemed like every shop was hawking fish and chips, and there were signs for eels and puns with plaice and even a giant lobster by a poster that said “I got crabs in Brighton”!

brighton lobster shack
A giant lobster, lots of fishy signs and beach kitsch

I decided to do a little sightseeing before relaxing, so I went to the Royal Pavilion, the bizarre Asian-inspired seaside palace of George IV. From the outside it was striking, with its white pointed domes, and from the inside, it was truly spectacular.

Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside, but the highlights were the dining room, which has a 30-foot-long chandelier with dragons holding lotus-flower light shades in their mouths suspended from a giant dragon’s claws in the middle of a domed ceiling painted with plantain leaves. (Seriously, it’s sort of shockingly insane.) The music room was also interesting, with a similar shockingly dramatic look. And it was interesting to see the king’s chambers and some of the more private areas like the kitchen, which came complete with stuffed animals (including rats!) to make it seem like it would be used today.

After the Pavilion tour, I went to check out the Lanes, a shopping district of alleyways, which was once a fisherman’s village. I was surprised by the quality of goods there, especially their fair trade, locally made and recycled/reused offerings. I was tempted to buy a lot, though I didn’t indulge. There were also some spectacular looking bakeries and ice cream shops. One particularly cute cupcake shop even sold little felt cupcakes and other goodies.

felt cupcakes
Cute fake cupcakes!

Once I was done window shopping, I took a stroll down the crowded pier. It seemed like everyone had an ice cream cone with a flake bar sticking out of it in hand, and everyone also had a sunburn. Almost as soon as I started walking the pier, I saw some guys jumping off and even diving — a big no-no according to all the signs posted. There were some angry looking security guards around and tons of spectators.

Jumping off brighton pier
Boys jumping off Brighton Pier

Some of the guys tried to climb back up onto the pier, but I think they all ended up just swimming to shore. There are plenty more pictures, including ones of divers and the boys climbing back up on Flickr.

Once I was done on the pier, I went to North Laines to walk around a bit and see the artier side of the city. I caught an interesting street performance where people dressed as mimes were putting on a show for a person sitting in a peep-show sort of contraption that had lots of windows that someone would open to tell the story. I only watched it from the outside, but it was pretty funny and most certainly absurd. There was also lots of street art to check out, and I took some good photos of the graffiti and graffiti-style murals in the area before catching the train home.

Take a look at the rest of the day’s photos on Flickr.