NYE 2013-2014

January 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Posted in Out and About | 1 Comment
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Went to Albert Embankment near Lambeth Bridge to watch London’s fireworks. As they explode from the Eye on the same side you get a partial view but that’s fine.

Overall they were decent but not breath taking. It does make me wonder why London doesn’t make greater use of the buildings, river barges and bridges to make it a real spectacle alongside other major cities.

Glad I went to them but not something I have to rush back to.

Photos on Flickr.

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Christmas in London

December 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Posted in London, Out and About | 1 Comment
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Did a few things in London over Christmas in 2012 and 2013.

Winter Wonderland – Hyde park has a large fun fair and market, Winter Wonderland from November to January. We were there on a rainy day, which meant attendance was down so walking around was easier. It was pleasant to wander and see what was happening, drinking mulled wine and eating. We didn’t go on any rides, the ones that looked most fun predictably had lines and that wasn’t enough incentive to pay and stand around for a while.

Geffrye Museum – is a museum that showcases the home through the centuries. Over Christmas the rooms are decorated as they would have been in the different eras. So if you’d like to see how past generations celebrated the season this might be a good thing to check out.

Smithfield’s Auction – on Christmas Eve morning if you still haven’t bought your turkey you can pick one up at the famous auction at Smithfields. If you’re planning on buying (instead of just watching) make sure you get there early and probably do some reserch about the etiquette/rules. I’ve no clue!

Wandering around on Christmas Day – in 2012 and 2013 I lived close enough to central London to ride in and walk around without having to worry about public transport being shut. In 2012 it was rainy and I had to wait for a friend before we could start. By then it was around ten and a few people were about and by the time we arrived at Trafalgar Square at 11 there were a lot more tourists. A quiet Sunday and not at all eery. 2013 was a later start and I started at St Pauls at 11 so by the time I arrived at Trafalgar about an hour later it was very busy. There were also plenty of shops open. If you want to try and get a quiet Christmas experience try and get things done by 10:30 at the latest. Photos from 2012. 2013 doesn’t have anything particularly different (and I’m lazy and won’t add to flickr for a while).

Lastly, there are also a quite a few markets around town.

Assorted: Royal Institution of Great Britain, Proms, Zoroastrianism & Olympics

December 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel | 1 Comment
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More assortments:

Royal Institution of Great Britain – They have a small exhibit space covering scientific discovery, particularly the work conducted at the Institution. It’s in central London and relatively fast to get through. Apparently no photos of this 😦

Proms – Went to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time and for my first Proms. This was #5 Lachenmann / Mahler. The Hall was smaller inside than I expected but it’s a beautiful venue with predictably great acoustics. The Lachennmann piece was a premiere and seemed to divide the audience (at least those near me), although got a rousing applause. Perhaps it because it had ended? From what I gather it was a piece highlighting the sounds that you normally don’t hear. I get the premise but ultimately it didn’t work for me (though all the people near me who were unimpressed made it more challenging to get into). The Mahler piece was much more accessible and crowd friendly and so a great way to end the night. Would definitely try and see more proms next year. Can’t seem to find the photos 😦

SOAS Zoroastrian exhibit – The SOAS gallery has an exhibit on Zoroastrianism, which for the uninitiated offered a good starting point to learn more about it. No photos of this either.

The 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics – I was very lucky and got the chance to go to a number of events at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics: Men’s football (including a match with GB), Women’s Gold final football, BMX riding, Judo, a sampling of paralympian events at the Excel Centre like powerlifting, judo, ping pong, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball. One of the best times was definitely being at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony. Very cool. Generally speaking all of the events had an awesome attitude that made it incredibly fun and I was happy to be part of it. Photos.

Athletes parade. After the Olympics ended there was a celebratory athletes parade through London. We walked down to Fleet Street to watch some of it. It was a fun afternoon seeing all of the athletes and the medals. Photos.

Assorted: Brighton Equality walk and London Pride

December 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, UK | 1 Comment
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More assortments:

Brighton Equality Walk – participated in the equality walk to raise money and awareness for anti-lgbt bullying. Other than one unfortunate random yelling out “bender” our group made our way along the route until we reached the end at the beach. It was a good day with nice weather and pleasant company. Not one I’ll do again but glad I did it. Photos.

London Pride – Through work got the chance to walk in the march for London’s LGBT pride march. It was interesting and cool to be in amongst it but not necessarily something I need to do again. Photos.

Assorted: Marathon, St Paul’s music, Thatcher funeral & St Patrick’s day parade

December 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism | 1 Comment
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More assorted activities:

London marathon – On the day of the London marathon I walked down to Westminster and took some photos. It was only a brief wander but the weather and atmosphere were great. Everyone was cheering on the runners and giving them plenty of support. I don’t think I could ever run that long and am impressed by those who did. Photos.

Music at St Paul’s – On 23 May 2013 I went with some friends to St Paul’s for a Beethoven concert. It didn’t touch my soul but sitting in this epic cathedral listening to music is definitely an experience and one I’d like to do again. Photos.

Thatcher’s funeral – when former Prime Minister and Baroness Margaret Thatcher died, her funeral procession came along Fleet Street on its way to St Paul’s for the ceremony. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go down to the street for the procession (BBC footage certainly showed a lot of people). I did manage to take a walk at lunch to see what was left over. Photos.

St Patrick’s day parade – Went and watched this year’s parade for the first time. It was fun, there were a variety of floats and they moved past at a reasonable rate. Probably better to watch with friends and then head off to a pub for a pint. Photos.

 

Jubilee regatta

December 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In 2012 it was the Queen’s diamond jubilee and to celebrate there was a regatta along the Thames river.

Got there an hour or so before it was meant to start with my friend. Even then we were two people deep from our chosen spot on the river. Luckily I’m tall enough to see over fairly easily. Failing that the randoms near us with their cameras out (or in one case a streaming video from BBC) helped to get a closer view of the activities.

It was good seeing all the vessels and the atmosphere was friendly and fun. I guess there was information about each section but you didn’t need it to enjoy it. As the rain started to fall we headed off to a pub for food and to watch the remainder on TV (it definitely seemed like everyone was watching it).

Now when’s the next one?

Assorted photos at flickr.

Pompeii at the British Museum

December 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, UK, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Managed to get to the acclaimed Pompeii exhibit at the British Museum earlier this year. It was pretty good though some of the exhibits (or similar ones) could have been found at the museum already. The power of the exhibit is seeing a snap shot of the world from almost 2,000 years ago and where the similarities and differences with our own world exist. The casts of the bodies and the artefacts that have survived for so long is remarkable. Having some knowledge of the period already meant I wasn’t amazed (though I didn’t buy the audio guide so that was a limiting factor) but it was still worth it.

New Year’s Day Parade 2012(?)

December 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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As 2013 draws to a close it’s time to remember the new year’s day parade from 1 Jan 2012 (at least I think that’s the one). Yes it’s been a while.

So was getting up and heading into central London on a public holiday worth it to see the parade (and limiting the new year’s eve frivolity)? No.

For starters it rained. Which is not the parade’s fault but didn’t help matters. The parade was a combination of small London floats (or people on bikes/walking etc) and American marching bands. The latter were great and even with the rain and dwindling crowds kept their energy up.

Sadly the London one’s just didn’t have anything to keep the attention but the biggest problem was the timing. There were large portions where the group in front of us had finished and gone past and the next one was no where in sight. Not really a parade in my humble opinion.

Thanks to the random who let me shelter under his umbrella too.

As I didn’t go last year it may have improved and 2014 might be super so if you’re free give it a go and let me know but I doubt I’ll be back any time soon.

Sadly it seems a change of phone and a bit of a delay in writing this has meant I can’t find the photos. Guess I shouldn’t procrastinate so much…

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.

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.
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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!
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Pictures at Flickr

Map at Google

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