Sunday, July 31, 2011

London Hackspace

Popped in to London Hackspace today as they were hosting an open day.

Logo visible from the right angle

Surprisingly, that felt a bit sad, but in a good sense. Being busy with commercial development for all those years I started to forget that it can also be pure fun and an endless source of pleasure. Those tiny things I do from time to time to explore "grey areas" are definitely not enough.

Electronics section

The place is not only about software (which is actually the most ordinary and probably least interesting bit) - as I got it, technical creativity of all kinds is welcomed. It's good even just to know there are people supporting that and sharing their knowledge.

Our guide

I'd rather not tell "yes, I'm surely joining" right now as the initial urge will go and usual routine will quickly take over. It's always not enough time, it's always "I don't know what to start with", it's always "Awkward to be a noob when you're an adult" etc. However, I'm thinking.

There are more pics in the dedicated set on Flickr.

Friday, July 29, 2011

When too much is too much

Visiting Tate Modern today I noticed that the pile of clothes in the famous Venus of the Rags installation has grown noticeably.

Trying too hard Trying too hard

The figure of Venus looks like it was pressed into the heap now, her cheek resting on a pair of crumpled jeans. The naturalness of her thoughtful pose and confused look are gone completely - to put it simply, it is no longer a witty composition with a kind of message but just random objects stacked on each other.

There is an old photo from 2003 (also, from another gallery) - see the difference.

Sometimes they just try too hard.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In defense of dog's name

A small tombstone in the very heart of London marking the grave of German ambassador's pet Giro is much more famous than could be expected. Buried beneath a tree near the massive Duke of York column, the Alsatian died in the accident in 1934 is usually called "Giro the Nazi dog".

Which is not true.

Actually, I used to refer to that grave as "the Nazi dog" as well until today I learned that Giro's master Leopold von Hoesch was actually the last ambassador of Weimar republic in UK. After Hitler had seized the power, he despised the new government's decisions and denounced the invasion of the Rhineland. His funeral in 1936 are indeed known as "the Nazi funeral" but it's hard to blame von Hoesch for that as he attended the ceremony being dead.

And by that moment poor slandered Giro had been dead for two years already. So let's remember that next time showing his grave to our friends visiting the city.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

London blogs I read

More than a year ago I posted my modest collection of links to London blogs I was subscribed to. Since that moment some of them ceased to update and some are thriving. Anyway, there is something to add to that list after all that time, so below are some more blogs I read:

London Reconnections - dedicated to public transportation, it makes a good sidekick for the famous Going Undeground.

London Street Gangs - if you don't read the tabloids but still feel the urge to scaremonger on living in the "knifecrime capital".

Look at my fucking red trousers! - fresh blog dedicated to Londoners wearing red trousers. I can solemnly acknowledge there are plenty of them.

Love London Council Housing and Bollards of London - because the architecture isn't only what is described in the guide-books. I would have also recommended Bad British Architecture if it wasn't dead (still, old posts are there).

Taxi Tales - name of this blog speaks for itself. Sadly, it's simple and straightforward, focused on everyday life and so can't beat that precious NYC taxi blog but I'm not giving up hope looking for the perfect London cabbie's journal. Also, formerly mentioned Cabbies Capital is apparently stopped as author moved to twitter.

The Anonymous Widower - this man knows much about the city and North London particularly. And luckily for us, he blogs about that.

Tired of London, Tired of Life and Fresh Eyes on London - a couple of simple blogs with nearly daily pictures, useful as sometimes you learn from them about the place you haven't been to yet.

A Man With A Moving Camera - photos made by bicycle courier on their way.

The Great Wen - using the London's nickname, this blog is written by a professional journalist covering historical but also some of the ongoing events.

And finally The Cheapside Standard - only three posts so far, but all of them very promising. If it continues, it can easily become my favourite one.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Last bob standing

I was told today that the King's Head pub theatre in Islington I wrote about before was the last place in London to abandon the old currency system for the decimal.

Every payment made by customers had been being converted twice until the cash register machine broke at 1980s and it became impossible to obtain new parts for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music to match the weather

Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

I don't expect too much from the upcoming album, but the fact they keep recording new ones allows me to think I'm still not too old.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sketching in Greenwich

After visiting Docklands yesterday I was a bit concerned about today's sketching meetup in Greenwich as I was afraid of walking through the same places once again. Also the weather was not very promising, to say at least, with low dark clouds threatening any outdoor activity.

A view on Old Royal Naval Colledge

However, everything went unexpectedly fine. Heavy showers made me seek shelter very soon and so I crossed the Thames using the underwater footpath:

Under the Thames

Last time I checked it was under restoration so today I used that tunnel for the first time. Lifts still don't work being repaired so you have to take a narrow spiral staircase on both ends, which makes numerous signs asking cyclists to dismount look a bit odd. The passage itself is significantly longer than the width of the river as it is diagonal for some (presumably geological) reason.

The building on the south bank I always thought was the Maritime museum is actually a former Naval college now partly serving as a music one (which, again I can say, is quite symbolic).

Old Royal Naval College

(also to mention, that wasn't the first turn in its history as originally the building was built for a hospital)

A view on Old Royal Naval College

If the bluish domes resting on the thin grey pillars remind you of something (more precisely, of St. Paul's cathedral), you're absolutely right as they were designed by Christopher Wren as well. It's even funny how much both buildings have in common stylewise.

Here's my poor attempt (you might as well call it "put the charcoal back, you don't know how to use it"):

Old Royal Navy College wing

Then, as the rain continued, I went to the Maritime museum right after the college. It turned out to be an another museum worth spending a whole day in without getting bored or tired.

Exhibition entrance

National Maritime Museum

One of the first pieces visitors see is the splendid Miss Britain III power boat. This silver bullet is faster than 100 mph!

Miss Britain III 100 mph power boat

Miss Britain III power boat

There are maybe not so many things on display (well, still plenty but less than could be expected from the building of that size) but the additional space is carefully organised to create the proper atmosphere. That's why you don't end up with a headache soon and can literally spend a day there.

Predictably, there are halls entirely dedicated to ship models:

And nose figures:

Plus light shadows

Many of them are too grotesque so I takes some time to pick one for sketching - otherwise you can't be sure if that's your fault or the original figure indeed has the distorted proportions.

Now back outside to ramble the streets around...

Greenwich doors

Another power station of the south bank. Smaller than the famous Battersea station and Bankside power plant now housing Tate Modern gallery, but wow, it is still operational!

Greenwich old power station

It looks like another weekend is very close to being called a perfect one:

Friday, July 15, 2011

A day in Docklands

Our main goal of visiting Docklands today was to see MS Deutschland cruise ship at the West India Dock. Well, that was a sublime view indeed, much owed to the ship size and modern buildings surrounding the dock.

MS Deutschland

MS Deutschland

The dock was packed today - besides the liner and its tugboat sidekicks there were also two Belgium military ships, snow white yachts and usual historical habitants as well.

Portwey steam tugboat

Another German ship

We were very lucky with timing as 15 minutes later after we arrived Deutschland started its way out:

MS Deutschland leaving

Then we took DLR to Royal Victoria Dock to take a look at SS Robin, the oldest steam coaster existing:

SS Robin

However, the most exciting thing there was not the ship itself which rested sadly too far away beyond the fenced zone but the unusual footbridge across the dock:

Royal Victoria Dock bridge

The Royal Victoria Dock bridge

The main thing about that bridge is that it's really high and a little shaky due to its flexible design - I couldn't look down from it without getting a bit dizzy. Also, it offers magnificent views to Canary Wharf and City westbound and to City airport eastbound:

SS Robin visible, City airport on the horison

On the Royal Victoria Dock bridge

A view from the Royal Victoria Dock bridge

The airport's runway is perpendicular to the bridge which again makes it a perfect spot to watch planes taking off:

What a great walk! And once again more photos you can find in the dedicated Flickr set.

The story of mother goose

Since May I've been taking photos of the same Canadian goose and its goslings trying to capture the progress and finally decided to publish the pictures.

Our first acquaintance, May 13th:

Clissold park

They feed on green grass and couldn't resist the temptation of leaving the fenced pond area and crossing the road:

Baby Canada geese

That made their mother anxious as people walk their dogs in that area and unlike humans dogs aren't usually amused with little cuties:

May 20th - only 4 out of 5 left. That was a sad part to witness number of them to decrease, but I assume that's a natural rate of mortality:

Clissold park, now vignetted!

June 10th - only 3 left (another one was too far away to get into the same picture, but still there). Birds no longer look like cartoon characters starting to get ugly.

Clissold park

June 18th - and by "ugly" I meant that:

Clissold park birds again

July 1st - another one disappeared:

Juvenile geese, only two left :(

Finally, today's shots:

Juvenile geese and their mother

The former helpless fluffies can be only distinguished from their mother at close range:

Juvenile geese and their mother

Good luck!