Wednesday, January 30, 2008

sunshine !

I walked across the park in the dry and light and felt so much better.

I did one of my resolutions last night for this year. I emailed all my friends and asked when their birthdays were and wrote the replies down in my diary. We don't do nearly enough celebrating. I forget these things very easily. Though one friend very kindy said that I was good at the 'random present' thoughout the year!

Meeting tonight to try and save the old town of Edinburgh from hideous development - 7pm Old St Pauls Church Jeffrey St.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sir John Soane Museum

Forgot to mention this wonderful house on Lincolns Inn Fields in London. Packed to the gunnels with Hogarths, Roman & Greek Statutory, a fantastic OTT memorial to Fanny his favourite dog etc. Well worth seeing and free!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Making our own celebrations

Saw a friend on Sunday. I've done my back in so hobbled there and I lay on her sofa. She was telling me about her alternative Burns Suppers she does with a friend. Instead of the traditional meal, haggis, neaps & tatties they do fusion. This year it was Moroccan. A tagine of haggis meatballs in a prune spiced base... couscous, neeps and carrot salad, baklava with a whisky syrup. I'm hopelessly in rut as far as cooking goes time to make some effort to get out of it.

Went swimming to try and help the back - first time in 1 1/2 years - nice once the hurting stopped. Time to try new things again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." -Anais Nin

Thursday, January 24, 2008

London Trip II

Just back last night I had a wonderful time. Highlights include the Denis Severs House in Spitalfields. £12 entry but worth it. I'd hoped to make my acquaintance with Verde again but I arrived too late and they were shutting up shop.

I met my friend R in London on Tuesday - she was at a photography conference in the big smoke at the same time as me. We met at the Photographers Gallery - 2 really interesting FREE exhibitions there. The Harry Price photies are really weird. Afterwards I marched her to Foyles to have lunch and we nipped to their photography book section. Then to Chinatown to take photos, nipped up to Libertys for old timesake, then back down towards Foyles and she went off to her friends place at Watford and I went to the Hari Krishna restaurant in Soho St just off Soho Square to meet a friend - the small Thali is a very reasonable £4.95 for dinner and vegie/vegan. Then friend insisted on a trip to Top Shop in Oxford St to find jeans. If going to London with a youngish person this flagship store is a must - includes dog fashions and vintage but hell mend you if you are over size 14.

Other highlights include Meade St - pretty 18th C houses in Soho with ominous plaques bolted to door 'There are no Prostitutes here'. A bench dedicated to Kirsty Macoll in Soho Square. Oh and I saw Peter Davidson outside Cambridge and Julian Barrett of The Mighty Boosh in Swaines Lane - he seemed to have been playing tennis on Parliament Hill - how bourgeois...

Also went to Berwick Silks to get proper silk velvet for a scarf.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to visit London

(This blog post prompted by conversations with C & R regarding how to have a good time in London – please note this is a partial and prejudiced view – so there. TH White said that learning something was a cure for sadness. My friend Rachel who died suddenly just after New Year believed that travel was the cure for sadness I’m going to take up her example)

First of all travel by train if you possibly can. Flying is morally dubious, hideous experience, coach is morally superior but a hideous experience. Either get your train ticket via the internet thingy at least 12 weeks in advance – then one can get a really good deal ie I’ve travelled for £50 and due to a super good deal a friend told me about in November I’m going down for £10 return on Thursday! I often buy my tickets face to face at my local station – requested to find the cheapest deals they are very obliging and often get me a seat on the coastal side of the Edinburgh-London route.

At the station obtain an uptodate London Time Out for reading matter on train. Plus whatever glossy essential you need for a long journey. If not flush buy something from M&S for the journey. If flush and it is a weekday make a dash for the restaurant car as soon as they say its open. This gives you a) the pleasure of travelling first class while paying standard fare for a few hours and b) have a leisurely meal with dinky bottles of wine as the British countryside zips by. Be warned breakfast is about £13 and lunch or dinner about £25.

After breakfast/dinner/lunch take out the Time Out and read from cover to cover. Note any interesting exhibitions, events, talks, films, building openings and start planning an itinerary. I found a note that 19 Princlet St a Huguenot Weavers House / Synagogue was open on one trip I was in London for one day in the year and was able to go and see it in the East End. Another time I saw an ad for Leighton House and had the pleasure of our bus driving through a naked bicycle protest on our way back. I’ve visited places in London just because the name fascinated me – Little Venice anyone. Primrose Hill was more of a stalking expedition to see where all the famous people lived but I found a fantastic independent bookshop at the same time. Distances are vast in London and transport … variable so don’t expect to do a lot in a day – one thing in a morning one in the afternoon and something in the evening is plenty. Also leave space in-between stuff for serendipity. Enough time to walk between museums or shops seeing unexpected pleasures or just plopping into a café for coffee to rest feet and perhaps dash off a few postcards. I often find my most interesting photos in-between places. Tubes are easy to learn how to work with the marvellous famous map but avoid at rush hour. Buses if you can get the hang of them are wonderful and faster with the congestion charge and I like seeing where I’m going.

I rarely if ever visit the known tourist sites of London – I’ve been to the Tower as a child – never seen Buckingham Palace, and thought Harrods the place that taste forgot when I was a teenager.

London is expensive. I rarely think you can get away with spending less than £30 per day on tea, coffee, lunch etc not including accommodation and exhibitions are often £10 or more for entry and quelle horreur the time I went to a film in Leicester Square and was charged £12.50! Even in Camden the tickets are £10 (and I was so horrified I had an argument with the man at the counter and that was when tickets in Camden Odeon were still only £8.99). I have however got standing tickets at the National Theatre very cheaply in the past. I’ve even got tickets for sold out shows by going to the theatre on a rainy night and queuing. The best time to get tickets rainy nights according to my theatre mad uncle who lived in London for many years.

Free and fabulous is walking in London buy an A-Z at the WH Smiths in Kings Cross the small book kind that can fit in a pocket and take long meandering walks between places. Along the river is good too both sides. The British Museum, British Library, Tate Modern and Britain (special shout out for the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain) all are free or mostly free. My secret pleasure – the National Portrait Gallery off Charing Cross Road. Again mostly free except for special exhibitions, good place to meet up with friends and a fantastic restaurant on the roof with a wonderful view across the roof tops. Really do go there even for a coffee - just for the view.
Newbolt St just off Charing Cross has the Photographers Gallery in two separate locations, great shop for photo people, great postcards and really interesting exhibitions also free.

Foyles Bookshop – Charing Cross Rd famed now somewhat cleaned up and the strange buying system reformed. The Jazz Café is a nice almost reasonably priced café in London. Gluten free and vegan options.

For shopping if that is your bag you must must go to Liberty’s of London ‘Nothing bad can ever happen at Liberty’s’ Started by Arthur Liberty at the height of the Aesthetic movement it is a wonderful Arts and Crafts revival building. I’d leave an hour or two to walk around the entire shop. Delights include, bags, scarves, jewellery, the liberty print fabrics, wool dept, (very helpful), chocolate, soap, kitchen, rugs. Filled with the unusual. I eye shop the entire place even the designer clothes which will never come in my size! They also have a very expensive tearoom and café.
Otherwise I’d look out for unusual non-chain places. Like the London Review of Books Shop, (I shall hunt for the cakeshop they are apparently opening ) and a few doors down a photographic shop I can’t remember its name.

One of my favourite things to do is to go on a London Walk. These are guided tours of London done by Blue Guides. I love learning things anyway but these tours are great because they can take you down a seemingly ordinary street and bring the past alive. Tours last two hours and are only £5 or £6 which is great value. I’ve done, A Shetel Called Whitechapel, Clerkenwell, Old Westminster, Shakespeare’s London and one on Christopher Wren. I’ve found that Londoners enjoy them as well.

When leaving London over estimate the time needed to get to Kings Cross. If you do arrive with an hour or two to spare you can wander around the British Library 5 mins up the road or be a tourist in the new Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras but do NOT leave it too fine. One of the most horrible return journeys I had back home involved being on a tube train which suddenly stopped outside Kings Cross Station roosted for 20 mins – I missed my train back to Edinburgh and had to take the overnight coach home.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Creativity is like a water table under the earth. It's not limited to writing or to painting; it's everywhere. It's a life force: You tap it with energy and effort, and it wells up through you. No matter what you do, the first step to tapping creativity is showing up. If you're a writer, you tell yourself that you're going to write for 10 minutes, and then physically move your hand across the page for that amount of time. Maybe you'll produce only one good line, but that's a lot more than you would accomplish by just sitting there. When you're pursuing a particular objective, you have a mind like a pistol. But the harder you chase something, the faster you go -- and the less you're able to let life meet life. If you're having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up -- to know that there's life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can't find it anywhere else.

Natalie Goldberg

Sunday, January 13, 2008

what do you no longer believe?

" I no longer wanted to see radical change dictated from the top — even if that top claimed to be the bottom, the 'voice of the people'. I lost faith in the idea that there were quick solutions, that everyone would simultaneously see the light and things would suddenly flip over into a wonderful new reality. I started to believe it was always going to be slow, messy, compromised, unglamorous, bureaucratic, endlessly negotiated — or else extremely dangerous, chaotic and capricious. In fact I've lost faith in the idea of ideological politics altogether: I want instead to see politics as the articulation and management of a changing society in a changing world, trying to do a half-decent job for as many people as possible, trying to set things up a little better for the future."

Brian Eno in World Changing

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Summer Pierre on blogging

David Byrnes survival strategies for artists in the music biz via 52 projects.

Bits & Bobs

A friend called me from London on her way to view the refurbish St Pancras Station - she's going to have coffee there and then go to the British Library. Isn't it weird that we are able to have these conversations across time and space...

Making Happy has some great photos from a holiday in Cuba.

I've got today off meeting a friend for coffee then to see Lust Caution at the Cameo.

I should do some housework before I go but suspect that all I'll manage is some journalling with a cup of coffee... I'm addicted to coffee.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I've just been to see the Joan Eardley exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy There were beautiful illustrated letters and a sketchbook on display but I can't find images for them. It was great seeing her work out on display in rooms in a mass. I've seen a lot of her work over the years. She is a great favourite of my mother's and I've also been lucky to see a few works in private collections never shown publicly. She died tragically in her early 40's but racked up an impressive body of work including huge seascapes done en plein air.
Naturally what one does in a lifetime is really pressing on my mind at the moment. What to do myself in the next stage of my life etc etc. I saw two friends today and visited kittens yesterday - I'm anxious to spend time with the living and those I care about.
On my way between friends this evening I bumped into an ex student and told him of my friend's death. He was so kind and has promised to get the monks at Same Ling to pray for her. She was slightly Buddhist minded and certainly very interested in Buddhist ideas so this feels entirely right.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Blindsided by the new year. A friend of mine died unexpectedly - I'm hoping I post once I've sorted myself out.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I love this - images made out of spam mail by Linzie Hunter via Jen Leman.