Archive for October, 2004

Critical Mass does Halloween

Last night’s Critical Mass had a distinctly spooky theme with ghosts and ghouls taking to two wheels to exorcise the city’s internally-combusting demons.  As well as London, you can turn up and pedal on Critical Mass rides in the following Metblog cities:

Los Angeles
New Orleans
New York
San Francisco
Washington D.C.

Victoria Park

Took the family for a wander through Victoria Park yesterday, with the obligatory stops for drinks at the cafe and the playground for calorie-busting fun & games.  Those who like to glimpse a micro-celebrity or two might be interested to know that the park was crawling with film crew personnel.  A quick glance at the parking permits on the location vehicles revealed that the filming is for the ITV over-the-top soap, Footballers’ Wives.

Victoria Park, the so-called People’s Park in London’s East End, opened in 1845 following a series of public meetings and the gathering of a 30,000 name petition which was presented to the Queen. It was designed and laid out by James Pennethorne, who had also worked on The Regent’s Park in Central London.  Apparently, those promoting the park hoped to emulate the type of development that had made Regent’s Park so successful but, without funding for the essential road infrastructure, the development land didn’t sell. That said, the resulting park is a great space for all to enjoy so maybe that is just as well.

Ssh – it’s a secret museum…

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is like a badly kept secret – you’d keep it all to yourself except for the fact that everyone else seems to know about it too!

Overseas visitors and those less familiar with the bits of London not served by the Tube may never have heard of The Horniman but it is truly one of our best museums. The tea trader Frederick Horniman amassed a collection of natural history specimens and cultural artefacts from around the World during Victoria’s reign. Horniman sought to bring the world back to his home in South East London and he opened part of it to the public. Soon the collections grew too big for the family home and Horniman commissioned Charles Townsend to design and build a museum to house them all. This opened in 1901 and Horniman gifted the museum and the surrounding park to the people of London. The original collections comprised natural history specimens, cultural artefacts and musical instruments. Over the last 100 years this free museum has increased the musical and ethnological collections tenfold and further building have been added in the last few years

Current additional attractions include “The Spirit of The Sufi: Troubadours of Allah”, a collection of superb photographs in and around the sufi shrines of the Indus valley taken by German Horst Friedrichs. For the kids during half term and for an additional charge (

Straightening out the crosses

I just popped over to Brent Cross which was an early Mecca for the North London shoppers when it was built in the 80s (I think). Click on the link to find out more – and if you’re that interested you can even sign up to their newsletter!

In the centre there is an area around the lift and escalators which has a massive tree at Christmas, a Father Christmas grotto and the Salvation army do a nice line in brass band carols. I rarely go at any other time so was amused to see what they were using the central location for this time. As I approached along the balcony I could see people craning their necks trying to get a glimpse of the action. Pushing my way through the clamouring throng (OK I am exaggerating now) I looked down to see those lovely people from Tefal there. You know them? They make irons. They had a load of ironing boards out and shirts on hangers etc. Dead exciting stuff.

Later on I was on the lower floor wandering past their display and I heard clapping. The audience were actually applauding someone doing some ironing. A nice young lady came up to me and asked if I wanted a leaflet to read. Did I look like I was short of something to read? I recoiled and shook with fear – I hate ironing. So that’s that then. Next time I’m off to Bluewater, or another out-of-London town shopping nightmare, for a better out-of-mind experience.

The Point is…………..

Recently I’ve had like a life shake up, since coming back to london, after a short break,its been a case of old activities out, new ones in. Kinda cool. but also pretty pointless and at times very, very amusing!!

Example…my mother decided that we were fat(thanks mum) and so decided me and her were going to weight watchers and aqua aerobics. Fabulous. This process involves long walks to the meeting place in Kensal rise, being weighed and watching ‘points’ continously, oh dear. Now Im not the dieting kind, and last week, ‘accidently’ ate one pizza, saveloy and chips from the chippie, a full english, and ‘forgot’ to add them to my tracker( a horrible thing that you have to write what you eat on). Last night I nearly had a fit on the way to be weighed. Alas I need not have worried, I had lost a pound and a half (HOW?????) and my mummy, who had followed the diet to the letter, given up her gin and tonics and walked to work, had put on a pound. Hmmm….

Toaday, I had a session of yoga. woheeee. This is enforced on me by my OT, so from the beginning I was just not going to be amused. after getting seriously lost in the back streets of Shepards Bush on my bycycle(you earn points for riding!) I found the place. For a whole hour and a half with NO fag breaks I stretched and breathed deeply and felt the ambience of my concious breath. I even let the woman put stinky oil on my shoulder.

To my suprise I actually felt relaxed when I left, that was until I cycled straight into the mess of traffic that is know as the Shepards Bush Roundabout.

Conclusion to this story is that no matter what I seem to do I have absolutely no control over the outcome. So the point is?????

Oh by the way, there is a Message Board for london, that is open to the public, but no one from london is on it…..

Identity Kits

With pinkfairycat’s Outside – 100 Doors post still fresh in mind, I have today stumbled upon Moyra Peralta‘s Identity kits – photographs of possesions, treasured and otherwise, of those living rough in London’s streets.

The 30 Second Big Nose Restaurant Review

Pizza Express Canary Wharf

PLUS: Good place to refuel after posh shopping or a walk around the ever-changing Isle Of Dogs. Family friendly, ‘kid-wise’ staff serving drinks in sensible beakers not tall glasses without prompting. Food and drinks served promptly, especially for a Friday evening. Clean and tidy loos with baby change facility. Chip and PIN payment at the table.

MINUS: Open plan design/air conditioning make it a little on the cool side. No distance or barrier between smoking and no smoking areas meant smoke noticeably drifted, though staff offered a move to two separate tables further away.

VERDICT: No frills and no fuss but does what it does well and offered good value, with two adults and five kids eating two courses each with soft drinks and

Outside – 100 doors

I watched a programme on TV last night that really got to me.
It was in one of these short film thingies that channel four does, about a teenage girl homeless in london.
I generally dont get on with these kinda things but this one was particularily good, The women was all grown up now and looking back on that period of her life. It had a lot of the people that she knew then talking about how she was, how she kept the fact she was homeless a secret and how they coped on the streets of London.

It struck a big chord with me because when I was 16 I lived on the street too, and like the girl I also had a working class upbringing and a family in London,and despite how hard it got and how much danger I was in, I never felt able to go home. There were lots of comments on the programme that I really agreed with and not many that I didnt, what struck me with this particular story though was that the girl involved, never really got sucked into that life, and destroyed by it, and that she got out, relatively unscathed. Unlike her I got sucked into it pretty bad and it took me a long time to get myself a way out.

I watch a lot of stuff on the telly about the homeless people in London and as someone who has been there, not for a day or a week, but for two years of my life, a lot of what is said is wrong, not every person out there is a junkie, but all of them are pretty stuck in the cycle of trying to survive, and stay alive. A lot of the homeless people I knew are still out there, trying to stay alive, with and without drug habits. It isnt hard to become homeless, and it definately isnt easy to get a home.

Its probably a unpopular veiw, but I think that the street people of London deserve ‘normal’ peoples respect and understanding rather than disdain and disgust. I lived on the street because like the girl in the documentry I had too, and also like her I got off them too.

I lot of what I saw last night reminded me of how lonely life can get, and hopeless and how easy it is to get used to a crappy way of living. As it gets colder this winter I think I will be a little bit more grateful for what I’ve got, and remember how hard it was to get it all back.

Driving in London

Driving in London is not something I like to do. It’s something I’ve done my best to avoid in the past. Even when we were living just outside of London, we’d aim to use public transportation before we’d even consider driving. Of course, sometimes you really do need a car. Like, to go to Ikea. Or to take someone to A&E.

I ended up having to drive out to Devon last night, and this evening made the trip home. Not mentioning the hour and a half I sat on the M4 outside of Reading, I had the most annoying time trying to get back to the flat once I got in the city.

There’s a sort of centrifugal force to the Ring Road between the A4 and, like, Marylebone Road. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re in the correct lane or not, whatever, it keeps trying to fling you off in some tangential direction. I’m toodling along, my attention wandering a bit, but not too much, and all of a sudden I’m in Maida Vale. And then, Kilburn. This is without having turned off onto a different road, or making any active decision to leave the Ring Road.

Then there’s this annoying characteristic of larger London roads – if they’re big, they don’t like to label them. You can drive along looking for a street sign for blocks and blocks before you find one. By which time you’re really lost. And the markings on the roads are often confusing or ambiguous. And, yes, the names of the roads often change by the block.

It’s completely esoteric. I often feel like you need to keep a working model of the road system in your head at all times. But it’s hard to construct a working model because in learning the road system you keep getting lost again and again. I’ve always believed (and still do, strongly) that the only way to really learn a city is to get lost in it and find your way around and back to where you want to be. This, however, is ridiculous.

I’ve always had a healthy respect for London taxi drivers and the pains they go through to do their knowledge and learn their stuff. Now that I’m driving in the city myself, that respect has reached entirely new levels.

The London Pillow Fight

Last night as usual I received a email full of weird and wonderful links, and amongst it was The Pillow Fight Club! Hmm… I thought could this be related to those flash mobbers? Well I decided to find out. I phoned all my friends and one(yes one) agreed with me that this just had to be checked out, Well he had to seing as he sent me the email in the first place! ha ha

So at 4.00pm off we went clutching our plastic bagged pillows, laughing at the silliness of the situation, and the frightened tourists staring at us on the 23 bus. As usual the traffic was absolutely awful and it did take us an hour and a half to reach St Pauls, just as I had predicted.

So at 5.30 we arrived to find another 30 or 40 people also trying to disguise pillows and not doing a very good job of it!!!The police and some reporters had managed to get a whiff of what was going on, but I dont get why the Old Bill was there, I mean what were they planning to make the charges, disorderly sleeping?? At the appointed time it all kicked off and my head really hasn’t recovered, but being a true london Chav I gave as good as I got and Im awaiting some photos of me beating nine bells out of some hippie girl and a fat geezer wearing pyjamas.

All In all a great evening out,

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