Sunday, 22 August 2010

Camp Kelly....

....On Friday morning I joined Kelly and her family down near Bournemouth and the New Forest for a spot of camping.

Small tent, big tent, van. Our set-up.

Whilst Kel had only arrived the day previous, her mum Bev and partner Tan, her sister Jodie, brother Mark and niece Leah, had been there all week.

Kelly, Bev, Jodie, Tan, Leah, Mark.

We spent a dull day, (weather wise), on Bournemouth seafront, walking the sand and watching a show of planes over head as part of the Air Festival that weekend.

Kelly, Jodie and Leah strut their stuff, with Bournemouth Pier as the backdrop.

The scene, (which attracts up to 1.3million people over three days), was like something out of a Martin Parr photograph. Classically British in every sense, from braving a swim in the sea or the wind on the beach, to the previous generation setting up shop outside their beach hut from which to survey the masses.

Cup of tea and a crustless cucumber sandwich please.

After dinner at local Italian restaurant, Alcatraz, (not sure of the Italian link there....), we retreated to camp for late night cards as the rain started to fall for the first time.

The following, (and final), morning Kel and I commandeered the travel stove and served up a fryers delight.

Hungry campers

A fitting way to end a brief but thoroughly enjoyable little camping retreat, that even the predictable British weather couldn't spoil.

Roy's Superstore....

....My retirement plan:

(Thanks for this Lorenzo)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

List my photo : update 5....

....A huge update of new photographs has just been added to my Big List of Photos blog. Click here to view.

Neil. Architect.

Going for a song....

....Last night a few of us met up together for dinner at El Camino in Soho, which was great. It quickly turned boistrous as the food and drink flowed, so we planned our next steps.

Roy, Ben, Mel, Lorenzo, Chloe, Alice, Ed

We decided to channel our gregarious nature at Lucky Voice over the road with a right good sing song.

A really fun night and great to get out altogether again. Encore une fois.

Friday, 13 August 2010


....Once or twice a year a film comes along on a wave of hype. This is one, but in addition, the hype has been increasing with each passing week. It shows no sign of abating, as our sold out performance at the Rich Mix on Wednesday is testimony to.

Christopher Nolan has both written and directed this feature, an incredible feat when you consider how mind bendingly complex the plot is and then how well and absorbingly he is able to realise it. The general, (non spoiler), plot is as follows: Inception is a psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who possesses the power to enter into the dreams of others. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) doesn't steal things, he steals ideas.

By projecting himself deep into the subconscious of his targets, he can glean information that even the best computer hackers can't get to. In the world of corporate espionage, Cobb is the ultimate weapon. But even weapons have their weakness, and when Cobb loses everything, he's forced to embark on one final mission in a desperate quest for redemption. This time, Cobb won't be harvesting an idea, but sowing one. Should he and his team of specialists succeed, they will have discovered a new frontier in the art of psychic espionage.

They've planned everything to perfection, and they have all the tools to get the job done. Their mission is complicated, however, by the sudden appearance of a malevolent foe that seems to know exactly what they're up to, and precisely how to stop them.

I thought it was a fantastic film, but it is difficult not to be slightly underwhelmed when the film had been hyped so much. (This is obviously no fault of the film itself). The cast are superb - in both their stature, but more importantly, performance. Nearly all of them top my favourites list. It's part Bond, part sci-fi Kubrick, very Hollywood and well worth a watch. A film that provokes you to engage and think about what you're watching is always ultimately more rewarding. I think it is also a film that would benefit from a second watch - giving you the opportunity to find new little 'isms' that might have been missed first time around. For example, Edith Piaf's song Je Ne Regrette Rien is used recognisably throughout the film, but it is also cut, pasted and slowed down to create the haunting, thumping, suspense score that accompanies large parts of the film.

I thoroughly recommend the film - different to any I have watched recently, big, bold and intelligent with it. Go.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

London Bike Hire Scheme....

....Or the Boris Bikes as I like to call them. Or BB, even, if you like an acronym. Well, whatever, they're here. In London. And have been for about three weeks now.

Despite my devotion to cycling, using my own bike, I immediately signed up to the scheme. I think it's great to initiate more people with cycling for health, congestion, green reasons and more. My plan is to use them as an overspill as it were - if I run to work, I ride one home. Popping somewhere I don't want to leave my bike? Jump on a BB. You get the idea.

And I have used them several times already - my only gripe is that the gearing is incredibly low, meaning you can't really build up good cadence without your legs spinning at a crazy speed. But I think this is part of the design for them to be used casually, (meaning leisurely), over short distances. Hopefully they will introduce them over a broader area too - for example pushing the scheme further East in to Hackney, (which is officially the most cycle friendly Borough in London I'll have you know). In short, a good thing. And a good thing implemented by Boris....and I really didn't think I would ever say that.

Nike Aqua-sock: A tribute....

....A post I thought I may never make and a strange one at that, but I feel compelled to talk about them. Twelve years ago I went on holiday with the Smith family throughout America. I still remember vividly to this day, the afternoon we walked in to Nike Town in Las Vegas. What, a whole town dedicated to Nike? I was beside myself. I bought a couple of things in there, including these Nike Aquasocks.

They were $30 tops. I took them back to Newcastle and wore them as a fashion shoe the likes of which the Quayside had never seen before, (regrettable, indeed, but at the time these shoes were coveted and complimented by friends). I wore them briefly after I moved to London, but soon realised perhaps they were best used as their name suggests. For water sports and such like. So, due to a total lack of adventurous water sports action over the last ten years, there they have sat, from shelf to shelf, bedroom to bedroom, home to home. Until our trip to Croatia that is.

(spot the Aquasock cameo)

The pebble beaches meant we were advised to wear this exact type of shoe, and boy were they useful. And dare I say, actually still slightly tasteful, no? I really am no hoarder, but I feel pretty pleased with myself that I kept a hold of these after all. I have no idea if they are still in production, mind. And the moral of the story? Go to America with the Smiths.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Roy & Kelly do Croatia....

....We got back from our summer holiday last Sunday afternoon, but it's taken me a little time to pull together this post. Largely because of the silly amounts of photos and videos I had to edit, but also simply working out just how to set it out. Where to start. In short, our trip was fantastic. That is because we found Croatia to be a beautiful country both naturally and architecturally, whilst (generally) it's people were also incredibly good natured.
We landed in Split and immediately hired a car to drive North East, three hours inland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Despite the torrential rain, that simply wouldn't cease, (well, typically not until we began our return journey), we witnessed the most stunning natural beauty we'd ever seen. It was worth the rain, many times over.

Once dry, we made our way back to Split, dropped off the car and took the ferry over to the Island of Hvar, where we had accommodation booked for the following three nights. Hvar is famed for it's beauty, it's archeology, it's land full of lavender and the Adriatic-fringed pebble shores with crystal clear waters. In fact, we found the latter comment is true of every Croatian Island off the mainland coast. Stunning. We were soon reminded that it was high season, with Hvar Town bustling with life - from expensive boats and show ponies, to a cosmopolitan, alfresco cafe culture. It seemed more French Riviera than small Croatian Island. But this was no bad thing, as it prompted us to explore the island further. So we spent a day on our local beach, 'hidden' down a rocky path in a bay.

Next we took a day trip to various bays amongst the Pakleni Islands, where we were afforded more stunning views, waters and food, (courtesy of a fish supper aboard our tour boat).

We also took a trip to the local village beach of Milna, which away from the bustle, was the best we'd seen yet. Three nights in Hvar proved the perfect amount, so we decided to move on to Vis. This is a smaller Island, further out in to the Adriatic, that only became part of Croatia again in 1991 when Independence was gained. An annual summer festival celebrates the Battle of Vis, fought between the Austrian and Italian Navies in 1866, which Kelly and I stepped right in to. (The festival, not the battle, you understand).

The journey to Vis wasn't as straight forward as we'd hoped. We hadn't anticipated just how busy the lone ferry that week would be. We also hadn't bought tickets in advance. Our ongoing plans we only saved by corrupt guards that took money in hand and ushered us aboard. Phew. Once on the island, our preconception of easily finding accommodation was also shattered. The tourist information were clearly taking everyone, (ourselves included), for mugs by claiming only the local, characterless (and expensive), hotel had availability. And strangely, they took the cash. Hmm. We weren't amused, but at that time of night we had little option.

We decided not to stay in Vis Town after that and went online to secure a beautiful apartment on the other side of the island in Komiza. There we stayed for the rest of our holiday. But I made Kelly get there the hard way of course - by hiring bikes and cycling. Tough, but incredible. From here we took a day trip to the island of Bisevo and to the Blue Cave. This natural wonder is unbelievable. A deep blue refracts off the water as the sun hits it from outside, and fills the cave. Pictures simply can't do it justice.

Then we went to the opposite side of the island to a rare sandy (& pebbled) beach, Porat. On our penultimate day we decided to hire bikes again to cycle to an incredible bay, Svitnja. Like something from a movie set, it was simply too good to be true. We wiled away an afternoon in the clear water and sunning ourselves.

Our last day was spent on our local beach, a bit further round the island away from the port. Relaxed and hot, it was the perfect way to end. Our journey home proved to be quite amusing too, kind off. We got to bed after midnight and had to be up at 4am to start our journey. Unfortunately this precious need for sleep came on the most exuberant and boisterous night of the festival so far.

Our early bus turned in to the 'last bus home' for a host of local revellers. In turn, our ferry, (which we also paid a corrupt guard to get on to), became a zombie vessel as the said revellers realised they were tired after all! And then that was it really, holiday over.You may have noticed very little description of food, (to which you are normally accustomed to), but we ate and enjoyed too much to write about it all, (you'll see plenty of pictures in the slide show at the end).

Essentially though, there is doubtless an Italian influence, (Croatia's relatively near neighbours), which mixed with incredible local fresh fish, speciality sheep cheeses and good cuts of meat, makes for fantastic food. I was happy on that front, certainly. I would recommend Croatia to everyone, particularly the Dalmatian islands, my only suggestion being that you visit just out of high season, when it may be a little quieter, (although it proved no problem for us). A brilliant holiday and the first time I have relaxed and sunbathed that much in about eight years. Kelly, again? Yes please.

The slide show, (click to enlarge):