Thursday, June 30, 2011

It Takes Two to Tango

Maybe a few more to Salsa. Spitalfields again this year have a series of outdoor events, tonight I passed the free Salsa class. Everyone looked like they were having fun, made me wish I had less than two left feet.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Make a Pig of Yourself

This study in light & shade is part of an installation called "Black Pig Lodge", part of the Countryside to the City at the Southbank (just next to the wall from yesterday). "Black Pig Lodge invites visitors to shelter within a glistening chamber of polished coal sourced from a working mine in the Neath Valley, Wales." I'd never seen coal in this light before....

A view of the whole structure is here.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Very Dry Stone Wall

On the top of the Southbank, there are a series of installations bringing the countryside into the city. Rather nice to see a piece of dry stone wall, wherever it appears.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, June 27, 2011

Empty Orchestra

Did you know that is the translation for Karaoke? Why it is that a form of entertainment where the practitioner gets to make a fool of themselves has become so popular in London pubs, I don't know. On the other hand there are those who acquit themselves more than adequately (as this chap did), so I suppose they have an excuse.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Face

I don't know why faces in architectural features are mostly scowling, but this happy face, one of a series in this street, is unusual enough to comment on. If you think this looks like a nice place to live, in Manchester Street, Marylebone, I think I would agree with you.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wisteria Hysteria, does it count?

I was quite surprised to see this wisteria still in bloom so late, but it is rather magnificent. And, it is just next door to the house where Charles Babbage lived and died in Marylebone.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, June 24, 2011


I had a bit of a mid-life crisis moment on my ride into work on Thursday. I was going through Marble Arch just after 7 in the morning, when I came across this group of cyclists. They were just starting a ride to Paris - Arch to Arc - and I was that close to turning around and joining them. I had my bike, I had a saddlebag, what more could I need? But, I couldn't help thinking of the hell there would have been to pay at work. Which somehow made it even more appealing. I didn't, though. Just. Which is just as well because a couple of miles later I realised I didn't have my passport so it would have been a damn squib, anyway.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Toast To Diana (With egg and beans)

This café claims to have been frequented by Diana, and given its location (just opposite Kensington Palace Gardens in Notting Hill) that's not impossible. If you are tempted to be drawn into its greasy spoon splendour, you might want to check out the review in The London Review of Breakfasts first.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 3

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brighten Up Your Neighbourhood

If you live in a council block of flats behind Brick Lane, you know your outside space is going to be minimal. At least decoration like this makes it a little more pleasant for the children. Interestingly, there is limited damage from graffiti/tagging, in an area where most vertical surfaces seem to get covered rather quickly.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cafe VN

London's cosmopolitan mix of cultures leads to a diversity of foods and restaurants. I have to confess I'd never tried Vietnamese food, so when I called in to Cafe VN on a whim I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was a delicious bowl of Pho and got to add the Vietnamese basil, lime, bean sprouts after enquiring what to do. I can thoroughly recommend this. The fresh and zesty flavours reminded me most of the food I got travelling in China - that Chinese food that never makes it to these shores.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 7

Monday, June 20, 2011


This fountain in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital is fascinating, I could probably sit watching it for hours. You are reminded of the Spirograph, too? OK.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 3

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Portcullis House

You might wonder what this building is, just to the north of Westminster Bridge; it is Portcullis House, built recently as offices for MPs. Those strange chimneys you see are part of the "passive" air conditioning system. What it is known for in particular, is the huge cost overrun, creating a palatial interior which cost over £1,000,000 for each MP housed. The public enquiry report into this was never published. Clearly excellent value, eh?

posted by Ham at 06:53 -- Comments here: 2

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Words Having Flown

There is an exhibit outside the Royal Festival Hall called the Lion & the Unicorn, in homage to a work in 1951. The poems of refugee children are written on the paper, and flying away. Do take the time to go and read some, if you can't make it down there, here is one: I Am The Song

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food for Thought

This is the corner of the northern entrance to Covent Garden. Time was, not that very long ago, when it was the site of a couple of restaurants with loads of tables outside. I think (no matter how good or bad they were, I never ate there but they looked ok and were always packed)that they added a lot to the cafe culture of the area, which feels strangely sterile now by comparison. Now, you can only take a byte out of an Apple. Sad.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do The Funky Gibbons

Stanley Gibbons is one of those names that resounds with millions of people, back to the time when they were young and collected stamps. This London business is apparently the largest stamp business in the world. Up to now, I haven't shown them here because I just couldn't get a decent picture. But then, I noticed the crest - they are "By Appointment"! The Queen collects stamps!! What a wonderful picture that brings to mind - do you think she prefers the ones with her own picture on them? Does she specially collect those countries that used to have her picture on? Does she have a butler to lick the mounts? Can you see it, too?

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 4

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A night at the opera

This lush looking set is the interior of a restaurant, Sarastro in Drury Lane. I've often wanted to visit, as I'd heard that it was interesting and I do like the garden they've made in the street. However, my experience wasn't positive. The incredible interior is indeed exceptional, but I was more interested whether I could gnaw it to stave off hunger.

While the waiters were ok, the food service was the worst I've experienced for a long while. The restaurant was no more than 15% full, and our starters (which needed next to no preparing) took 45 minutes to arrive, and our main course another twenty after, despite the fact we told the waiter we were going to a show. As a result we had to rush our food, which was ok but ordinary and at £60 for two courses for two (with two glasses of wine) frankly very poor value. I won't rush back, and I will make this a review of Sarastro Restaurant, Drury Lane London to help Google find it. They add a 12.5% optional service charge, which at least gave me a good laugh. At least the manager had the decency to answer my question "What reason was there for the delays" with a straightforward "none, no reason".

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ordinary.... Londoner?

The Ordinary Londoner's series has been a bit dormant for a while, but much as I like this portrait of Paul Magid, I can't really include him. He's the founder of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, see yesterday or Facebook. Very American, very talented and very entertaining.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Flying Karamazovs Brothers

They don't fly, none are called Karamzov and they aren't even brothers. When I got an invite to the show, I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out to be a thoroughly good evening of fast paced edgy family entertainment. It was: The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers meet The Muppets and Juggle Very Well Indeed. As evevr I couldn't take photos in the show, but they hung around after the show chatting to the audience in the street, not something you often see in a West End Show. I would say a good time was had by all.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Enfant Terrible Grown Up

Tracy Emin became notorious for her ability to shock and dismay the classical art world in equal measure. By staying the distance, and proving that she's actually got something to day, she has slowly been absorbed into the establishment she started out to try to shake to its roots. There's a major exhibition of here work in the Hayward Gallery, and this piece in their foyer, composed of the My Life in a Column feature she used to write for the Independent. Interesting reading, actually.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thank Heavens for Little Gulls

As you can see, London's Southbank at the moment is a particularly fun place to be this summer. I hope this gives you a bit of the feel, if you can't make it down.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 3

Friday, June 10, 2011

More for kids?

Southbank also has a carousel to entertain kids. But come on, be honest, can you ever see one and not think back to a time when riding one was the best thing ever? Doesn't a little bit of that stay with you for ever?

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Having Fun in the Sun and Sand

As I've mentioned a section of the Southbank in London has been turned into a sandy beach. That's not that unusual in big cities, Paris has been running Paris Plage for years. What seems a little different this time here, is that instead of turning it into an adults relaxation area, in London it seems to be geared to being a giant kids sand pit.

posted by Ham at 05:52 -- Comments here: 2

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


A simulated upside-down, purple cow is the obvious thing to attract people to an event. Ah hell, why not? There's quite a lot of good stuff there.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Beach Huts

Ah yes, the beach huts. Not something you often see in London, and something uniquely British. A little piece of the seaside you can call your own, click here if you are curious as to what they cost.

The huts on the Southbank are a rag-bag of everything: Art installations, decorations, this one commemorates the floods of 1953 that swept hundreds of huts away.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, June 06, 2011

Life's A Beach

Summer is always a good time on the Southbank, and this year they have excelled themselves, and I will be making no few excuses for bringing you images of the area over the next days. This scene, promoting Southend as a holiday destination, is just west of Waterloo Bridge.

(The eagle eyed among you may notice that for the first time in months I have been out with my 'proper' camera ... huzzah!)

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 4

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sally the Urban Fox

Sat on the top of the Hayward Gallery just on the south side of Waterloo Bridge is Sally, the urban fox, intended to represent the blurring between city and country that is happening these days. Foxes are rife through London, and I suspect you see more of them in the city than you ever would in the country. Sally was made in Nottingham in two parts, I believe, and shipped down to London. Urban foxes tend to polarise opinion, with many people in the So-cute-and-furry-they-can't-be-bad camp. A perfectly logical argument, then.

posted by Ham at 06:53 -- Comments here: 1

Saturday, June 04, 2011

All Strung Out

On the day that Andy Murray disappeared from the French Open, I thought I would let you know about Wigmore Sports (In Wigmore Street, natch) where you can get your racquet re-strung in 24 hours.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Friday, June 03, 2011

Million Dollar Spin-off

There are a large number of shows in London in recent years based around the idea of delivering familiar songs with a light storyline. From my experience they tend to be good, fun entertainment for all that. The Million Dollar Quartet tells the story of the night on On December 4, 1956 that Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis played together at Sun Records with the tapes rolling. And there's one point in the evening where you realise that really happened, and it sent shivers down my spine.

posted by Ham at 07:30 -- Comments here: 3

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Oxford Street

Not one of London's most beautiful streets, but all life is here. I wonder if she turned up?

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Improving The Image of Construction

The June City Daily Photo theme is construction. To my mind, the best way to improve the image of construction is for the builders to finish and go away. This scene is from two years ago when they had just started building the Olympic Stadium, go back a few days to see what it look like now.

Click here to view the way this theme has been interpreted around the world.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 6

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