All caught up!

January 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Posted in General, Random | Leave a comment
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After procrastinating for quite some time I have finally caught up on several years worth of entries.

Feel free to read some, all or none. Though the latter might be the best option given the rush to write them. You have been warned! Sorry.

London

UK

International

Theatre

Gaming

Movies

If you do then thanks for reading, bring on 2014!

Play: Big and Small

July 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Posted in General, London, Theatre, UK | 1 Comment
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Last year at the Barbican, Cate Blanchett performed in the Sydney Theatre Company’s “Big and Small“.

Much of the time spent is with the audience and a solo Blanchett, occasionally other actors break up the monologues. The story follows Lotte (Blanchett) as she seeks out true relationships with those around her.

Personally I didn’t find the character of Lotte as redeeming as perhaps I should, nor was the overall play something that would be work in less skilled hands. However Cate Blanchett’s skill and presence on stage is so strong that you easily get caught up in the experience and it was a joy to watch her be Lotte and perform. I have to wonder if it had it been another actress I don’t think Big and Small would have been as successful.

Definitely worth seeing or trying to watch Blanchett in her next performance.

Play: In Basildon

July 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Posted in General, London, Theatre | 1 Comment
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Over a year ago I watched the play, In Basildon, at the cosy in the round style Royal Court Theatre. Having some Essex heritage it seemed like an appropriate piece of theatre to go and see. Having a few drinks beforehand/throughout did help to pass the time. Was it dramatic? Pretty much yes. Did it feel like it was playing to condescending stereotypes? A little bit yes but not massively. The play is basically the story of a family coming together as the patriarch lies dying. The standard family issues dramas then unfold, it’s done reasonably well and rather depressingly no one is that pure so I found I couldn’t root for anyone in particular. Perhaps not having a cheery ending was my biggest bugbear? I guess that day I needed more Disney than drama. Overall it was decent but not a must see.

Play: The 39 Steps

July 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, UK | 1 Comment
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A play with four actors and many, many parts is the conceit of The 39 Steps, while the plot is one of a guy, a girl, as murderer and espionage. The novelty of the four actors quickly transitioning between roles (both human and prop) seems like it might get a little dull that doesn’t happen. The main plot continues to drive the story forward while allowing the comedy to flow through. It’s a charming a fun production that is definitely entertaining and worth a watch.

Musical: Legally Blonde

July 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Posted in General, UK | 1 Comment
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If you’re a successful movie you’re bound to be made into a musical. Legally Blonde is no exception. Did they do a good job? Definitely. It’s a fun musical that has an almost never ending slew of upbeat peppy songs to keep the momentum going. I’ve even downloaded a couple afterwards. At the end of the day it’s the story of a plucky sorority girl who tries to prove herself as a lawyer (as fabulously as possible) and if you enjoyed the movie then you’ll like the musical. Similarly if you can’t stand the film then the musical probably isn’t for you. Although the energetic dance routine may help.

Musical: Matilda

July 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Posted in General, London, UK | 1 Comment
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About a year ago I went and saw the smash hit musical Matilda. Was it worth the money and did it live up to the hype? Short answer yes. The energy of the performances, both the young cast and the male lead in heavy Trunchbull attire deserve praise. The set design is well crafted making excellent use of space while bringing us into Matilda’s world of learning and childhood. Even if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie you’ll quickly get to grips with the story. Definitely try and see it.

Opera: La Boheme

July 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Posted in General, UK | 2 Comments
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For my first opera I went and saw La Boheme at the beautiful Royal Opera House. Apparently it’s one of the most well known ones and is quite popular. Yes I have no knowledge of opera.

We were up in some of the cheaper seats and I should have worn my glasses as things were a little hazy, especially the surtitles.

The main thing that I learnt about opera is that not a lot happens and when it does it takes quite some time via the songs. Thematically a drawn out love story/ tragedy doesn’t work for me in a movie or a book so it was unlikely to work in opera either. The sets and performances felt epic I just don’t think it was the show for me. Would still suggest it if you like that genre and want to try opera.

We also did a backstage tour beforehand and that was great. Hearing the story of the house and seeing behind the stage and in the orchestra pit really have you a sense of the scale of the productions and work undertaken at the Royal Opera House.

Cologne / Koln

July 13, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Back in 2011 while some friends went to the massive GamesCom in Cologne (Koln in German) I busied myself with being a tourist. I didn’t get to everything on my list but I am happy with those that I did. While the hotel (the excellent Radisson) was a bit far out, luckily it was less than a twenty minute walk, with most things close together.
Cologne - Koln (101) Cologne - Koln (72)

Without further ado:

Cologne Cathedral – you can take a look inside the cathedral, it’s impressive treasury and climb to the top for a view of the city. I did it with a backpack which on some of the tighter turns up the stair well was a little problematic. The cathedral is right near the station and remarkably survived the bombings of the war so make sure to check it out.
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Hohenzollern Bridge – do you have a lover, a boyfriend or girlfriend? Perhaps you want to seal that love with a lock on the side of this pedestrian and rail bridge. There are thousands covering the entire length of all varieties, some with messages too.
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Chocolate museum – A chocolate museum (sponsored by Lindt) sounds like an excellent thing. For the most part finding out about the chocolate cultivation, logistics and consumption was alright but the number of people there made it less than enjoyable. Also I was rather disappointed that the restaurant that had a great chocolate cake didn’t have the option for mochas. While they did have an excellent hot chocolate the lack of mochas boggles this chocolate lover. Side note a German friend derided this establishment as having less than great chocolate. I only wish I could remember those!
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Museum of city of Cologne – Offers a good history of the city from ancient to modern times, make sure you stop by for a visit.
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National Socialist Documentation Centre – One of the most impressive and minimalistic museums, in this nondescript building the museum recounts NAZI activity in the lead up to, during and after World War Two. The documentation centre was a prison, detention and execution centre with scrawled messages in the cells providing poignant reminders. I would definitely recommend getting the audio tour as there is limited signage (whether in German or in English). Start from the first floor which provides all the context before heading down to the cells.
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Museum Ludwig – modern art, modern art and more modern art. Again pick up the audio tour. I didn’t get it all (ok most of it) but a lot of it was very cool with some nice views from the outside patio
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Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Koln and enjoyed it a lot. Not least due to the company I was with at the time which allowed for a few drinks and schnitzels!
Cologne - Koln (69) Cologne - Koln (70)

Pictures at Flickr

Map at Google

Paris (again) 2011

July 12, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Moving slightly ahead of the year behind we come to a return to Paris from way back in August 2011.
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This was a brief stop over on the way to Germany (coming up next) and I was mainly aiming to chill out and wander around.
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I did want to go to the catacombs but unfortunately the line was literally around the block so that unfortunately didn’t happen. Guess I’ll have to come back again!

Luckily the Jewish Museum was an alternative that offered a good background to the Jewish experience in Paris, from the earliest days to today, including modern and religious art. Remember to pick up the audio guide as there’s limited English.
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Next stop is Cologne (Koln).
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Pictures at Flickr

Leeds Castle

July 11, 2012 at 10:03 am | Posted in General, Out and About, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Take a day trip out of London and go visit Leeds Castle (and you don’t need to go to Leeds to get there).
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The castle is actually in south-east England, in Maidstone Kent and is relatively easy to get to. Although you will have to time it with the coaches that will get you there and back again.
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It is very easy to spend a day here walking through the grounds or taking in bird shows

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If you’re here during a medieval showcase you may see some jousting!

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You can also do a host of other activities like falconry and segwway tours (sadly not together) or maybe just sit around and have a picnic.
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Much of the castle was modernised during the 1920s so you’ll get a taste of the glamour of that period but you’ll also have opportunities to see other areas which highlight the 1000 year history of the castle.

There’s also a maze!
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It really is a lovely estate and one I’d suggest you try and get to.

Photos at Flickr

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