Saturday, December 25, 2010

Abandoned London

I wonder if "28 Days Later" was shot on Christmas:

Angel King's Cross St. Pancrass Tottenham Court Rd Oxford Circus

Tottenham Court Rd From the Oxford street Hide park

[full set @Flickr]

As usually, all the public transport is shut down today so I had to use a bicycle, but despite the temperature outside the journey was fantastic as I could barely notice the traffic. The only problem was the chain went off the cog and not a single open shop around to buy a tissue to clean hands.

Also to notice, we found ourselves stuck between two dates as we aren't used to Christmas yet and more familiar New Year lacks proper atmosphere here. On the bright side, you can get almost a week of festive mood because of that, spread but still real.

P.S. If you're interested, there is also a more detailed report on deserted London in famous Ian Visits blog.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sketching on the train

It's a shame to sketch on a tiny QVGA screen but I keep on trying:

A girl on Victoria line train

Victoria line commuter

Friday, December 17, 2010

An ordinary life

"Nothing special about me"

Marvellous weather today. Have walked to Victoria Park leaving traces in the first real snow.

Trying to melt the snow

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A pic and a clip

Real eye candy! It was impossible to walk by without taking an another grainy picture:


Santas! Just like a year ago:

/ oh, it's been a year... "time flies when you're having fun" /

Somebody in this city has got plenty of chalk

Yesterday we went to check for any traces of protests happened the previous day over tuition fees. Surprisingly, we have found almost nothing even in university areas (tagged walls don't count).

Still there was something unrelated but not very usual we stumbled upon near the UCL:

Yes, it's long so the text version is available in a video description on Vimeo.

The poet can be googled as well as his poems, but not that particular piece. Consider that a première publication.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"UK Uncut"

In last weeks many stores all over the country were forced to close temporarily by protesters because of the tax avoidance - with cuts introduced by the government hitting public sector many people are angry about private companies as well. So as I have read about a TOPSHOP flagship store being blocked at Oxford Street today, I decided to take a look.

While walking to the place one has all the opportunities to get in the proper mood:

Tottenham Court Rd Tottenham Court Rd

The store is situated very close to the always-busy Oxford Circus underground station and the crowd was hardly thicker than usually on weekends. That doesn't mean though that the event wasn't popular - there were plenty of people, but the number of shoppers wandering around and crossing the x-junction was high enough for somebody unaware of the action and walking by to stay unaware of it.

However, it was nearly impossible to get into the particular blocked store:

TOPSHOP flagship store blockage TOPSHOP flagship store blockage

With Christmas sales fever already started, a weekend wasted is probably a punch that even the big store can really feel:

From time to time police dragged one or two protesters away to the emptier place, apparently on random basis (at least I didn't get what was triggering their attitude):

On my way back I noticed that billboards from the photos at the beginning of this post sported usual nail polish and snacks adverts on their other sides. That's symbolic, isn't it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This week summary


This week I've been to a fringe theatre for the first time thanks to my brother visiting London who dragged me out. Actually, I've watched even two shows, The Showstopper at King's Head and The Coalition at 503 theatre.

Both performances were as unusual as the venues are (full-functional pubs with a small stage behind the ordinary door) - an improvised musical and a political satire (too straightforward here and there, but for that shotgun episode anything could be forgiven). As a completely amateur spectator I am likely very easy to impress but even on that assumption I was utterly delighted in either case.

By the way this is a bad picture of Sean McCann taken outside the pub (just wanted to use it in the post but didn't know how to drive to it). He is a great MC:

So I realised that I was missing much (surprise!) and will try to get more of London culture in future. Speaking of which:


This week Home office has announced that the visa type we are living here with is due to be closed in April. It became a tradition that the initial press release doesn't reveal some important details which I hope will follow soon enough but the main thing perfectly clear: the last so-called "high skilled" visa granting the right to be hired as easy as locals will be issued in March 2011 (and before that no more than 600 visas will be issued every month which, if you considered that opportunity, makes applying even right now almost pointless).

It is not clear yet if those with already issued visas of that type will be allowed to extend their existing status or they'll have to switch to other types of clearance or leave the country. Sadly, judging on the previous HO decisions the latter is much more probable.

The new visa type accessible to most of the current holders allows employment only in case if no locals were hired in several months before for some serious reason. Also, not every company is allowed to hire staff this way and even if it is (which costs extra money to the company, of course) there is a very limited number of "slots" per employer.

One can say it looks exactly like American H-1B visa found good enough by many people all over the world but to me it looks more like slavery especially considering the intention to break the link between working and settling declared by the new government.

Some people are rushing to extend their status while the type is not yet closed (which is possible for no monthly cap is applied to extensions), but it makes little sense to me - I've got time with my current document till April 2012 and if I extend it now it will only provide me an additional year (two years is the term of extension compared to the one I've already got). It won't be enough for settling anyway so it makes almost no difference to me when to switch or to leave, in a year or in two.

So I'll just enjoy what I have and wait for more information to come (and sign a petition, okay). Even in the worst case scenario, it has been (as still is!) a fantastic experience.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

HMS St Albans at Docklands

Today public tours were allowed to the real frigate moored for a time at West India Docks.

HMS St. Albans HMS St. Albans Turret Merlin HM1 helicopter

Merlin HM1 helicopter

But what has really surprised me was the frivolous font used for various serious signs resembling the handwritings on pub windows:

Nice font Nice font Nice font Nice font

Thursday, November 4, 2010

London cycle blogs

As any newbie I'm consuming a lot of information about cycling in London. My favourite sources so far are:

Also, it is impossible to underestimate the importance of this site.

Still all of that above is no more than a theoretical knowledge to me for the time being. Right on the day before the last Tube strike I somehow managed to crack the rear wheel rim - how's that for ironic considering that on the previous strike I got the same wheel punctured. So until the new wheel arrives which may take weeks due to its peculiarity I mind the doors again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cycle Hire stations coordinates updated

By the way, I have updated Bankers Bike coordinates table I wrote about in August. The Fusion table URL is the same, so is the KML link, and if you use Nokia Ovi maps you need to download the landmarks again and follow the same import instructions as before:
  • Download updated landmarks database for Nokia Ovi maps:

Stations added:
  • Grosvenor Square, Mayfair
  • Lower Marsh, Waterloo
  • Macclesfield Rd, St Lukes
  • Oval Way, Lambeth
  • Queen`s Gate, Kensington Gardens
  • Vauxhall Street, Lambeth

Stations removed:
  • Rathbone Street, Fitzrovia

Feel free to let me know of any problems.

Update: Data was updated

Update: for an up-to-date version please see the new dynamic solution.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Economy is evil

They don't even bother to disguise that:

They don't even bother to disguise it

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The real Mini

That's what we have discovered today in the local park:

Steam-powered tractor

A steam-powered mini-tractor:

Steam-powered tractor

2 horse powers, all at your command:

Steam-powered tractor and its creator

The man proudly riding this vehicle is actually its creator who built the machine for his own pleasure in early 90s:

These small surprises are what I really like here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How can it be?

Running home: 1h 36m
Cycling home: 1h 15m

No wonder, every cyclist I see moves faster than me, so I'm likely too shy on the road yet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Open House Weekend - Linear House

The last object visited today was not an office but a private house belonging to a family. Usually when you think of Haringey the best you can remember is something like this...

Typical Highgate street we were really surprised to discover such a gem completely invisible from the street:

Open House weekend - Linear House
* clickable

It is hard to spot even from the neighbouring tower block because the building is cut into the natural slope and sports a green and grassy roof. The fenced territory around holds also additional structures like garage and garden shack:

Open House weekend - Linear House
* clickable

Open House weekend - Linear House

Of course, green energy panels (I am not sure about their real effectiveness but was almost sure to find them there):

Open House weekend - Linear House

The area was originally a historic park but no trees were harmed during the development:

Open House weekend - Linear House

Open House weekend - Linear House

Visitors were also let inside:

Open House weekend - Linear House

I can add that this object gave me a strange feeling. I mean, when visiting an office or a public service building you don't get that disturbing suspicion that you will probably never in your life find yourself in a place like this.