Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Brutality against Brutalism....

....I'm really in to Brutalism. Architecturally speaking of course. There is London's South Bank where it stands proud, (but still often ridiculed), and oop North, near my family home, is the Trinity Square car park in Gateshead.

Alas the latter structure is being demolished this week, rather cruelly I feel. Perhaps more famous, (certainly locally), for being used for filming in Get Carter, this building is iconic rather than a blotch on the landscape.

Newcastle / Gateshead councils have done a tremendous amount in recent years for the arts and architecture in the area, so I am somewhat surprised that they're going through with it. There is a good article here referring to the 'unlucky' architect in question too. Shame. Real shame.

'You're a big man, but you're outta shape. With me it's a full time job. Now behave yourself.'

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Mum & Dad in London....

....My parents were in town this weekend and, as ever, we had a great time. On their arrival on Friday evening, we kept it simple with a Turkish meal from local Tas Firin. Come Saturday morning we went to breakfast at Albion.

We had a fantastic breakfast - dad ate kidneys, whilst mum and I went cold with poached fruit, yoghurt & granola. The prunes, apricot, gooseberries and pear were superb.

We went via the newly refurbished Arnold Circus, before meeting Kelly and heading in to town.

We dropped past the Hot Shoe Gallery in Clerkenwell for the Edgar Martins photography exhibition, then via Rapha for a coffee and some of le Tour.

It was the perfect pick me up before visiting Darkroom, a beautiful shop on Lambs Conduit Street, (itself, the shopping street to be seen on. Apparently), where the stocked products are exquisite, including our very own Lynn and Nick.

After somoething to eat we went to the Tate Britain to see Rude Britannia, a great show documenting British comic art from past and present, showcasing the likes of Gerald Scarfe , Ralph Steadman, The Viz and contemporaries Sarah Lucas and Bob & Roberta Smith. It was a good accumulation of some brilliantly witty, often political humour, at times vulgar, but always funny. From there we walked down to the South Bank to see the model Favela and enjoy a late afternoon drink.

After returning home and a brief change, we stepped out again for dinner at Laxeiro on Columbia Road. Mum, Dad and I have eaten here before, but many years ago, so we were reminded just how good this Spanish tapas is.

A great first day was had, but plenty more eating and drinking to be done!
On Sunday, we had breakfast at home together before exploring the best of East London in Columbia Road and Spitalfields Market. At the former, the flowers were resplendent and the music was superb.

Kelly, mum & dad.

At Spitalfields, the sole purpose of our visit was to find dad a pair of glasses from my favourite stand, Klasik. We succeeded and he walked away with a beautiful pair of 1960s frames that had just been put out that morning.


We decided to cook up a roast, so set about buying in the goods from Brick Lane market. Roast shoulder of lamb, with veg and tatties. Get in there.

Oh, we started with a bit of hummus and that.

Cooked, served and ready to go.


Tucking in.

After wiping the grease from our very own chops, we got on the bus back in to town, to the cinema to see Toy Story 3. It was fantastic, (see mini review here). We came back home to finish the weekend with cheese and biscuits from the French stall on Brick Lane.

Perfect. A great weekend had by all. x.

Monday, 26 July 2010

AMV football: Suits Vs Creatives....

....This was the seventh match between rival departments at work. For the second year running, the spring match was played at Brentford F.C. - a wonderful setting for us to play in and an opportunity to play out that life long fantasy of the pro footballer. For the first time in four games, the suits, (my team), beat the creatives. And convincingly at that. A great day out and one it seems everyone knew about......

Stuart Hall sets the scene.

The game. Kind of.

Ben Paxman, Suits goalkeeper, post match interview.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Toy Story 3....

....I saw the final part of this wonderful trilogy on Sunday night with Kelly and my parents. None of us were disappointed.

In what is surely the most adult of the three, (in terms of humour, references and at times even relatively scary moments), the story is concluded as Woody, Buzz et al find a new home after Andy leaves for college. It is superbly written, incredibly animated, (Pixar will never fail to blow my socks off) and in case you wanted any more, it is showing in 3D. Although admirably, unlike, say Avatar, the picture isn't filmed to take advantage of this effect, in fact it can be just as easily enjoyed in 2D.

I would advise you to go and see at soon as possible, for the feature, but also the phenomenal and totally original 'Night & Day' short that precedes the main event. Truly, truly brilliant. I'd own & watch this trilogy a thousand times over before something like the Godfather. Fact.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Red wine gums....

....Good friend, Red, told me a little while ago that she'd landed a TV ad for Maynard's Wine Gums. Most people still remember the, "Hoots mon this joose, loose, aboot this hoose" version from the late 80s. Well this iteration has set upon a more hypnotic theme by way of memorability. And Red plays off her kookiness perfectly.

Great stuff Red, here's to more of the same. Oh, and did you get a life times supply or anything?!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dinner with Ian & Susie (once more)....

.....They're a regular event now, so I have forgotten what number we are up to. But they certainly never dissappoint. As we arrived, Ian & Susie's front patio was resplendent in summer bloom, welcoming us in.

This time, Susie began proceedings by whipping up a beautiful summer cocktail: gin, watermelon, root ginger & mint. Strong and delicious.

Ian then presented us with roast belly of pork with vegetables and incredible crackling.

The meal and evening ended with cheese and biscuits and a digestif (or two) at their lovely local The Crown.

Brilliant food and company as ever, thank you.

LoveBox, Saturday....

....A few of us had bought tickets for this a while ago and excitement was building. Largely because Roxy Music, (oh how I made mum & dad jealous!), were headlining the Saturday night. I had never been to the festival before, but others had, claiming it was good fun. I suppose it is subjective - if you like who's playing, then you're in for a treat.

With my only other festival experience coming at Glasto three years ago in cruel wet, muddy weather, this was a sharp contrast. The sun was out and so was a much more hardened crowd, in that an East London festival brought more locals, lads and over make-upped girls, looking to be seen rather than see the music. I tried not to let this put me off, particularly as I was amongst friends and watching bands I expected those very people not to be. Snobby? Yes probably. But I wanted a good time.

In reality I (really) watched three bands. Starting with the Invisible, who I thought were excellent. They have an underlying rhythm which is infectious, whilst they can hit you with punk, prog, indie...whatever. And it works. We then sat and relaxed in the sun as Wild Beasts played, (very well), in the background, before heading over, very excitedly to Yeasayer. I have wanted to see them live for some time, (and have even booked a gig at the Roundhouse in a few months too), and they didn't disappoint. A danceable, intoxicating mix of tribal, pop and indie songs that had the crowd in a frenzy as the sun set overhead. Brilliant.


We all then scurried over to the main stage for the main event. Roxy Music. I have albums, but naturally lean toward the more classic songs. Bryan, Phil, Andy & Paul all looked hugely dapper up on stage, but, (for me), were slow to start. Whilst note perfect and Bryan throwing some shapes the old boy should be proud off, the more slow burning songs were failing to ignite the increasingly impatient crowd.

But that soon changed as the band rolled out the classics - Jealous Guy, Virginia Plain and Love is the Drug to close the set, before returning to encore with Bryan's solo effort, Let's Stick Together and finally, the Strand. In the end it was fantastic, danceable, enjoyable - Bryan making the girls swoon and the boys wish they can look and sound that good in 25 years time! LoveBox is a festival I'm pretty sure I would never return too, but I'm glad I got to see and enjoy who I did.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Andrew & Alice in town....

....Andrew & Alice came to London on holiday last week and spent the evening and night with us on Friday. We went to local favourite Stringray Globe on Columbia Road for pizza, meeting Robin & Hannah, before having drinks in the Royal Oak.

Hannah, Robin, Roy, Kelly, Alice, Andrew

The following morning saw us wander over to the Premises Cafe for breakfast al fresco, before Alice & Andrew had to move on. I couldn't help feel there was so much for them to see, even just in my part of London, but that'll have to wait! Lovely to see you both.

Florence + the Machine, Somerset House....

....Last Thursday Kelly, Lou, John and I went to see Florence + the Machine outside at Somerset House. I love these outdoor gigs - such a beautiful setting, made more wonderful by the type of act you're seeing.

Tonight was no different and we were lucky the evening stayed dry throughout. If I am totally honest, I have never completely warmed to Florence Welch. I have her album, on which are some good songs, very good in fact, but my problem lies with her voice. On record it's not too over powering, but on the occasions I have seen a live performance, (on the telly box), she sounds much too shrieky.

Lou, John & Kelly

It's almost like the song is beyond her. Tonight, that wasn't (quite) the case. She appeared on stage in an all white, ghostly hooded gown, her red locks flickering from beneath. The set was immaculate, running through the best of their debut album and also a couple of new, unreleased tracks that sounded very good too. As the euphoria built around the encore, that's when, (I felt), the shrieking returned.

But such was the fever of the crowd and the dancing to the beat, you couldn't really hear the misplaced vocals. So in the end it didn't matter, or detract from a great gig. I think the smaller, more intimate venue helped her reign in that projection she may feel she has to belt out at larger venues. The restraint made me like her again. I think.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Dalston Lane Cafe....

....I was reliably informed that this innocuous, greasy spoon-looking caff is in fact run 'by the bloke that used to run Bistrotheque'.

Now, I don't know exactly what that means, but when I suggested that we meet there for breakfast, Joss, Kelly, Rich & Lynn agreed.

To be honest, I can't quite see what this 'bloke' has brought to the table, so to speak, because the menu and setting is pretty basic. Joss, though, raved about the brie & bacon sandwich, but it's hardly avant garde.

But then I realised they were making just what I wanted. A slightly better than average breakfast, at slightly better than reasonable prices.

So perhaps it's worth forgetting the Bistrotheque reference and just treating this cafe as it should be - a local, with friendly service, decent food and a good alternative to nearby Mess Cafe, if you're in the area. Pop along.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Alex is 30....

....Well, actually he is 8 months past his 30th birthday. Nearly 31 then. Still, on Saturday the celebration took place belatedly. And it was a typical Morton spectacular, with a black tie dinner (with a country twist) for 100 people. Roll on the slide show:

And a token video of course:

A brilliant weekend, thanks Alex.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Rapha Cycle Club....

....Not just a 'Gentleman's' cycle club, but a fully fledged brand that oozes style and exclusivity whilst somehow managing to steer clear of complete snootiness. Rapha's heart and soul is in cycling - for that is how they began, but now they are so much more.

It seems a brand is nothing nowadays unless you've had a pop up shop. Rapha's Cycle Club is their take on this theme, found on Clerkenwell Road, a huge cycling thoroughfare.

The space acts as a club house, in a way, for riders to use as a pit stop, but it is also a gallery, coffee shop, book shop and a place to watch Le Tour live.

Tonight was my first visit - the screening of Ben Ingham's 'D'acciaio', a documentary about Dario Pegoretti.

Firstly, I was able to form an opinion of the shop first and foremost - which I loved. I like the clothing, the huge Citroen H Van parked in the middle of the floor and that during this Private View they brought out incredible cheese platters and wine.

It is and feels classy. Yet homely. The film itself was lovely - a 14min abbreviated version of a forthcoming longer feature - the debut film of photographer Ingham. As you'd imagine, therefore, it was beautifully shot and edited, but what came across most is the warmth and passion of Pegoretti. It is a humorous and ultimately endearing piece and to have him standing right alongside us at the premiere made it all the more appealing.

Pegoretti at work

I am going to go back to Rapha Cycle Club as often as I can before it moves on. Sadly it is only temporary, but a good excuse to buy a piece of their lovely clothing, if only to serve as a memory!

Look Mum No Hands....

....This cycling cafe & workshop has been open for a couple of months now and I have stopped briefly for a drink before, but this time I wanted to make fuller use.

Liam, Richie and I decided to go there after work on Thursday to watch the highlights of Le Tour from that day.

The bar and cafe is fantastic, clad in memorabilia and plenty of French bunting in homage to the big race.

The coffee is good, (reputedly), and the home made goats cheese and broccoli pie that I had was wonderful.

They even have a license to serve alcohol too. We sat back and watched Mark Cavendish live up to his reputation as one of the most fearsome sprinters in the pack and then watched him break down on the podium after quite a tough year.

We stayed there for a few drinks more, then cycled off, but it is definitely worth a visit if you're pedalling in the area.