Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Neighbour

Henrietta sold her flat and we now have a new neighbour downstairs. As I might have mentioned before, ours is a rather small and intimate development. We are 4 flats in the back building, and there are 6 flats in the front building.

We have been invited downstairs to have drinks with our new neighbour D. this evening.

This means that our rear building community now consists of M. & A. (the gay boys who run the model agency), C. & me (more gay boys), M. (straight professional girl) and D. (status not currently known, but a great improvement on his predecessor).


Today mon C is looking supercute, despite his overnight "piercing malfunction". It seems, alas, there will be no replacement for fear that he could swallow it again and choke.

Here he is doing the housework.

Me: "You're not wearing any underpants today, are you?"
Mon C "Yes, I do."

...supercute, or what!

Swallow This

...bizarrely it appears that sometime in the night Christophe swallowed his tongue piercing. We have only just noticed.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

This Melrose Space

Yesterday there was some kind of incident, just down from our flat, necessitating the closure of more than a third or our street.

As ever, the police were rude, unhelpful and aggressive, when evacuating the area. Just as I was leaving to meet mon C.

Apparently the area evacuated stretched right up beyond our place, but by then we were in Hoxton. By the time we got home, it was all over. I am told there was some kind of hazardous chemical spill, on asking, as I was being told to leave the area for my own health and safety...which seemed unlikely as *none* of the tens of police and tens of firemen in attendance were in biochem suits.

Still, home is where the heart is, and here is our very own Melrose Place.

Does that make me some kind of Sammy Jo/Locklear/Amanda? I do hope so!

But watch out for the neighbours pants...

...which belong to a straight boy (ok, and his girlfriend).

these belong to C, though. They are alpine and french, a little home from home.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Edward Scissorhands

In December I went to see Edward Scissorhands at Sadlers Wells. I posted a short note about it here.

I just looked at their website to see if DVD was available yet. There are some vid clips to view on line. Go look.

Navigate to the video clip link. Once there look at the Ice Dance. That's the bit that made me cry!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Punting On The Cam

On Sunday we visited Cambridge.

Cambridge is best known for it's University, the second oldest in the English speaking world.

One of the favourite student past times there is punting, so we took the opportunity to take a relaxing river ride along the Cam, which runs through the city, and to enjoy the scenery to be had on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water.

The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole, thus:

but, it's certainly not as easy as it seems. You have to twist the pole as you raise it to avoid it sticking in the mud and pulling you off the boat. You also have to watch out for the bridges-to avoid jamming your pole leaving you and your punt without propulsion:

The historic college buildings are lovely. This is Clare College, just behind King's:

and there's plenty of greenery around:

The bridges are many and varied. Many are for the private use of the students. This particularly low hanger connects two buildings on either side of the Cam and offers attractive views front and back:

Punting is not as easy as it looks. Fortunately you can hire a punter to guide you (I'm told that the student punters often make up facts about the buildings/Colleges/City as a means of amusing themselves). They even come in traditional boating attire:

though in the heat some were a little less formally dressed:

But if you are brave enough to have a go, you can do so without any prior experience.

This punt seems rather overloaded:

they did need an extra help steadying the boat to help them all off:

A big thanks to our friend P who did most of the punting for us. Here he is looking a little tired, in between taking us there and back:

One final scene of beauty:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Too Darn Hot

It's just after 11.30am Saturday morning. Inside, it's 29.4C, although our bedroom is showing a cooler 28.7C. Outside in the shade it's 31.6C and on our balcony (where it's too hot to sit out) it's 33.9C with 38% humidity.

The problem with these temperatures is that we're not geared up to suffer them. Our homes-and most notably-public transport where ambient temperatures were 47C on the tube and 52C on London buses this week, have no air conditioning (FACT: It's unlawful to transport cattle at less than half these temperatures). It's such a serious problem that the tube could be forced to close in the future in the heat.

Our trains have to go slow because on trouble spots the rails expand and buckle in the heat. Tarmac pavements melt.

In fact, as far as public transport is concerned, we always have the wrong kind of weather. The wrong kind of snow, rain that's too wet (well ok, I imagined that but it won't be long before it's used as an excuse no doubt) and leaves on the track have all defeated our railways.

Anyway, for anyone non-London based-and especially for those of you who live in places where it gets much much hotter more regularly and simply cannot conceive how London suffers, here's some useful guidance:

from TfL (Transport for London)...

"Stay cool in the heat

We are aware that it can get hot and uncomfortable on our trains during the summer. London Underground is working on a solution to this problem but it is not as easy to solve as it might first appear.

The fundamental issue is that the Tube network was built long before air-conditioning was invented and consequently no provision was made for its installation.

In the meantime, here are some travel tips which will make things a little easier if you find yourself feeling faint.

Preserve your comfort levels

Always carry a bottle of cold water with you.

Don’t board a train if you feel unwell

If you feel unwell get off at the next stop and seek help from our staff.

Please do not pull the emergency cord between stations. This will cause major disruption, delays and further discomfort for everyone. Help will arrive sooner if you wait until the train has stopped at a platform.

In connection with the previous point, if trains are stopped in the tunnels for whatever reason on a hot day, it is our utmost priority to get passengers out and above ground as soon as possible.
Cooling the Tube

For some Tube lines, air conditioning or cooling systems are a realistic, if difficult, proposal and we will have air-cooling units installed on our new sub-surface train fleet for the Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines, which is being built by Metronet.

The first of these new trains is due to start running in 2009.

On the remaining deep-level lines however, the solution is not so easy - this is particularly true when it comes to refitting our existing fleet - because of the combination of the following reasons:

air conditioning units will take up valuable customer space in already crowded carriages.

the heat will be displaced from the carriages into the tunnels and stations. Large ventilation fans and with shafts leading up to already cramped London streets will need to be installed to expel the hot air above ground.

air-conditioning units are environmentally unfriendly due to the amount of energy they consume. They will dramatically increase the power consumption of the Tube network.

London Underground has created a specialist team looking into ways of removing the heat. The team is investigating the use of innovative sustainable technology to help solve the problem, including trials of cooling systems that use some of the groundwater that would otherwise have to be pumped out of tunnels and stations, and measures to improve airflow."

And some helpful advice from the guard when we were on the train to Newcastle earlier this week:

"We apologise to customers travelling on coaches D and E where the air conditioning is not working. Generally customers are reminded to drink plenty water to help stay cool in the heat. Bottled water is available from the buffet car in carriage H..." two pounds a bottle, and with no ice available.

This Weekend

This afternoon we'll be taking in Sadler's Well's Brazillian Carnival. It's part of their Big Dance week, with capoeira, crafts, samba and of course, the procession.

Sat 2-6.30pm at Sadler's Wells, Rosebury Avenue, EC4. 38 bus or Angel Tube.

Then we're off out of town this evening to stay with friends from the Czech Republic, and to pass a relaxing day tomorrow, by the pool.

No dancing.

The Space-Time Tunnel

When we were in Newcastle this week, we visited the BALTIC, a contemporary visul art gallery housed in a converted flour mill. It sits on the south bank of the river Tyne, in Gateshead. It's an impressive building and space, with great viewing spaces and galleries. An obvious comparison is with the TATE Modern, but unlike the Tate, the BALTIC has no permnent collection. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (to give it it's proper name) opened in July 2002. The inaugural exhibition, B.OPEN, featured work by Chris Burden, Carsten Holler, Julian Opie, Jaume Plensa and Jane & Louise Wilson, and attracted over 35,000 visitors in the first week.

Since then BALTIC has presented over 40 exhibitions and welcomed 2 million visitors.

Currently the entire 4th floor is given over to Chinese artist Wan Du's first UK solo exhibition, introducing the Space Time Tunnel. It is described as a large scale sculptural installation which submerges the visitor into a giddying media flow. Exhibition visitors are invited to journey through a mass of newspapers and magazines combined with more than 66 TV-screens, incessantly broacasting programmes from global television networks.

Giddying indeed! In the middle of the tunnel there is steep descent and a steeper ascent. I have never felt more unbalanced and disoriented on my feet. I had the compelling feeling that I needed to get on my hands and knees and crawl. It felt cramped, claustrophobic and very uncomfortable passing through. I thought I was going to fall. I needed to reach out and cling onto something for stability. Presesentative of meddling reality and representation, it provided none. I didn't tumble however.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Where's Who

Here is a slightly geeky posting. I can't help it. As a child I loved the original Doctor Who, and I do enjoy the Russell T. Davies version!

BBC Cardiff produce new Doctor Who, and most of it is filmed in and around Cardiff (often pretending to be London), with a few days only shooting actually in London.

It was fun wondering around and realising what had been are some of the locations I came across.

(From "Boom Town": a rather tiny TARDIS in front of the Millennium Centre, soaking up some of the radiation coming from the cosmic rift that Cardiff just happens to be sitting on)

(and the real thing, without TARDIS or rift)

Here's the House of Fraser store which doubled as Henriks in "Rose", where Rose was working when she first met the Doctor.

The place ended up exploding.

Pretending to be London, as was this scene of devastation...

...following an Auton attack

...which is really the much more peaceful Queens Arcade.

And, finally, some DVD extras:

Auton Bride


(t)rusty k-9; a girl's best friend



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

aussieBum snug fit

With reference to my own and GBD's earlier postings about aussieBum's snug fit, I note from the new brochure that accompanied some recent purchases that their footy shorts are designed for a snug fit and that for a classic baggier look they recommend a size larger than normal.

I think it's the same for their briefs. I think mon C better suits his medium briefs than the small...don't you think?

Cardiff Castle

Here is a selection of pics from Castell Caerdydd.

The Castle, in the centre of the city dates back to Roman times. The Castle fell into the possession of many noble families, until, in 1766, it passed by marriage to the Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world's greatest coal exporting port. The Castle and the Bute fortune passed to his son John, the 3rd Marquess, who by the 1860's was reputed to be the richest man in the world.

From 1866 the 3rd Marquess employed the architect William Burges to transform the Castle lodgings. Within gothic towers he created lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings. Each room has its own special theme, including Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian decoration. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside...

The Welsh dragon, inside Cardiff Castle.

Looking from inside the castle over to the civic centre. The buildings in the civic centre are all made of white portland stone.

Looking from inside the castle over the castle walls to the Millennium Stadium, where the FA cup has been played, whilst Wembley readies itself. It was also host to the rugby world cup in 1999. The stadium is in the centre of the city. In front, you can see the turret of the inner wall of the castle.

More of the castle's inner wall, from inside, again looking out over the stadium.

Moving around anti clockwise...Looking south down towards the bay area. You can see the entrance to the castle. The castle was home to the Bute family, until the 1950's when they returned to Scotland.

Still moving anti-clockwise, towards the north. The white building right in front of the towerblock is the Hilton Hotel where Christophe and I were staying. You can see our suite on the top floor (it's the 3rd and 4th windows from the round corner). I think it's made of slightly less expensive portland cement rather than stone...but I might be wrong!

Here is the inner castle (the Castle's Keep), from where the other pictures are taken. The Castle's Keep was built after the Norman conquest.

And back to the civic centre.

Monday, July 17, 2006

We, Who Sparkle

Just back from Cardiff, which actually surprised me. It's a beautiful, though compact, capital. I think the glorious weather might have helped, somewhat. Bi-lingual Caerdydd (which means castle on the [river] Taff) is a mix of modern and victorian. It's had massive regeneration, and no more so than Cardiff Bay, where the Millennium Centre is. We went there on Friday. For me...well, I wanted to see some of the Doctor Who locations. It looked much smaller, of course. But, as I approached the fountain I felt the rift! [In "Boom Town" it was revealed that Cardiff is built on the centre of a cosmic rift, a rift that was revealed previously in "The Unquiet Dead"].

Anyway, I will maybe do another posting about the Doctor Who trail separately!

We went over Friday morning, and spent most of the afternoon at Mermaid Quay down at the bay. There was a food festival on, and bands playing in the grandstand. So, no complaints on our part as we basked in the sun, feeling the breeze of the bay, enjoying the scrumptious food and delicious french muscadet.

In the evening we went to see Cats. Now and forever (I"m such the musical fag, as many of you will already know). We had great seats, right on the front row aisle. I certainly liked. Even if it was the 16th or so time I've seen it.

Saturday was another glorious day. We woke up earlyish, took advantage of the rooms excessively large bed, went to the hotel spa for a swim, sauna and jacuzzi. Back in the room I watched some telly while mon C readied himself for the day. I hadn't realised it was Sport Relief. It was interesting seeing the feed from London-the races were starting right outside my office. It fed to Cardiff too.

Eventually we left the hotel and lo! Did it just not happen that the Sports Relief Cardiff races were happening just 5 minutes from the front of the hotel. So we took a wonder over, and saw what we had just seen a few moments ago on the BBC-including the racing Dalek.

However, that wasn't to be the only Doctor Who connection of the day. For taking part in Cardiff's second race was Fraser Hines, the second Doctor's longtime companion Jamie McCrimmon.

Time to move on, some fine lunch and then for me it was time to do my Cardiff business, which passed satisfactorily.

Sunday was another beautiful day. Time for the tour bus, which took us back to the bay. Imagine my delight when I realised there was a Doctor Who exhibition. Which we duly visited. Lunch was going to comprise moules, lobster and veuve cliquot, until mon C told me he'd prefer some fish and chips from Harry Ramsden's.

After lunch, more touring. We passed a London cab with a "Henrik's" logo on the side of it (the fictitional store where Rose worked before meeting the Doctor), then took the rest of the tour and ended up at the castle which we toured. Gifted to the people of Cardiff by the Bute family (a Scottish family who had made a fortune from exporting coal in the 1800s) in the 1950s, it's rather sumtuous.

More spa therapy then a late dinner before more fun 1 on 1 in the hotel room!

Final spa session this morning before breakfast, some shopping, a long cocktail lunch and the train back to London.

Anyway, rather beautifully, I found out that the Welsh language officialdom that be have finally settled on the word which they will use to describe homosexual people as "gay". It's the Welsh word for "sparkling"! Sorry, I can't remember it though.


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