Monday, 27 August 2012

Another London

We were fortunate enough to get some complimentary tickets to the Another London exhibition at the Tate Britain, so on Saturday we made our way into London for a day out. The tubes were pleasantly crowd-free, as we made our was around on the Circle line from Paddington to Victoria. From there it was only a short walk, through what was now surprisingly warm sunshine, despite the weather forecast. The exhibition had some incredible pictures from 1930 through to 1980. Great images of "british-ness" that you simply don't see any more, for example streets filled with bowler-hatted mean going to work in the city. In fact come to think about it, most of the photos included some for of head gear, whether that be a top hat, a bowler hat, a cloth cap, or a scarf.

After the exhibition we caught a bus to Kensington where we, thanks to some more free vouchers, we grabbed some lunch (we are not normally this frugal, but following our California blow out are taking things easy this month now). The food was ok, not brilliant, but unfoftunately just as we finished eating, the heavens opened up, and torrential rain came down, all mixed in with some thunder and lightening for good measure. We were quite "museumed out" after the exhibition of the morning, so after deciding not to go to any more, we caught a bus to get out of the rain. Although I know my way around London reasonably well, the bus we caught took us to somewhere I don't think I've ever really been ... Wandsworth. I had no idea what to expect but it almost had a village feel in places, but not quite so much as Battersea did, which was definitely a surprise to me. Plenty of scope for future visits I think, if only to check out some of the restaurants in Battersea Square, which confusingly seems more of a triangle than a square.

Between Wandsworth and Battersea we walked along the Thames, apart from when we were annoying diverted back in land (one of the most frustrating aspects of the Thames path is that it often strays away from the side of the river). We did get to see the London Heliport though, which I never even knew existed, so that was a bonus. We were also treated to the sight of a freight train on the London Overground line, as it crossed the Cremorne Bridge, heading south. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo, but instead took one from the other side of the bridge after it had gone across.

Boats moored by the Cremorne Bridge (aka Battersea Railway Bridge)

Despite the heavy downpour in the afternoon, we had a great day out, and got back home to catch some of the Reading Festival highlights on BBC 3 before taking our aching limbs off to bed.

Sunday was a different story, and with a much better weather forecast I decided to embark on a bike ride, looking to get some miles under the belt, rather than gruelling hill climbs. In the end I seem to have managed both, cycling out west towards Hungerford, through to Little Bedwyn and Froxfield, and then back via Littlecote, Chilton Foliat and Kintbury, covering 36.7 miles. It was a great ride, but I think I probably need to invest in some new padded shorts as I'm feeling a little tender today.
    

Friday, 24 August 2012

Post California blues

I've now been back from California for a week, but my holiday already feels like it was weeks ago. This past week at work has been especially manic, with interminable budget planning and re-planning, multiple iterations of management reports, and of course the email mountain I returned to. However, I did manage a couple of escapes during the week, both in London and at home. My London escape took me out to the Westbourne Park area again, mainly because it's close to the office, but also because there are still some areas within it I've yet to explore. Of particular interest is that I've come across roads with Russian names ... Moscow Road and St. Petersburgh Place. Some further research is needed here I think to find out what's behind this. But for now, here are a few photos I took on the walk.

Apartments on Moscow Road, London

 I'm always amazed at how many cobbled streets there still are in London. This one, just off the Moscow Road, looked stunning and was almost like stepping back in time.

Chapel Side, off Moscow Road

Chapel Side, off Moscow Road

Below are a few books which cover more of London's less known, quirky and long gone places.

    

Closer to home I have managed to get out on my mountain bike 3 times since returning from California in a desperate attempt to burn-off all the french toast, burgers, steaks, etc. My performance however has not returned to its pre-holiday status, and on some rides I am way off my personal best time.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

California Dreamin'

Having spent the past 3 weeks in California, I must admit to being slightly shell-shocked on my return to the UK. My body clock is all over the place which, combined with the mini-heatwave we appear to be having, is causing me no end of sleeping problems. It's about 6:45 am here on Sunday morning, a time which I never knew existed, and I must have been awake since 4 am. I'm also trying to adjust my body's expectation with regards to being fed ... no more huge american breakfasts for a while, but somehow a bowl of Cornflakes is not the same.

I do love visiting the US, and San Francisco in particular which, along with Boston, are the only 2 places I have ever visited outside the UK where I could seriously consider moving to. For our first week we hired a mountain cottage in a place called Midpines near Mariposa. Temperatures reached 100 degrees most days, which meant that we had to get up early to do any form of serious walking in the Yosemite Valley. Our second week took us to a house about 10 miles from Santa Cruz, in a place called Aptos. The weather here was considerably cooler, with refreshing sea mists most mornings. Our final week was spent in San Francisco where we had an appartment in the Castro district. Needless to say I have 100's of photographs which I could share, 10's of descriptions of fantastic day trips, restaurants, etc., but for now I'll stick to the briefest of summaries and 3 of my favourite pictures, 1 from each of the 3 weeks.

 Half Dome, Yosemite, California

Santa Cruz beach

 Golden Gate Bridge, looking back across to San Francisco

I now have to face up to the reality that I return to work tomorrow. Although many of my team and colleagues have also been on leave, I am sure my email count will be in the hundreds. I also need to do some exercise and the Californian cuisine has taken its toll on my waistline.

Having said I won't go into any more detail about my trip, I will however relate the visit I paid to what I consider to be the world's best record shop Amoeba on the Haight in San Francisco. I visited it on a business trip several years ago and was a bit concerned that it may no longer be there, or may be a scaled down version, but I was not disappointed and it was still there in all its glory. I didn't have a great deal of time to browse but was very leased to pick up a copy of Dr Strangely Strange - Kips of the Serene which I'd been looking for for a while, plus a few CDs by the Charalambides.

    

More holiday tales, and various other musings in my Search for Space will follow.

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