Wednesday 27 December 2023

Christmas Day 2023

Unremarkable but remarkable in it's unremarkableness; as most of the Christmas days have been that I can recall - contentment, lovely family, nice stuff to eat, dog walks, fireside, and wonderful and thoughtful presents. 

 Me in 'deconstructed' and wonderful coat that Ezra bought in a super 'frip' shop in Tours

Mark opening present of hand made leather chess board and case made by Ezra

Saturday 9 December 2023

London meanderings.

I've done many, many of these over the years; sometimes to do with a writing idea, or sketching but often just curiosity over how my native city changes constantly. 

Usually I find a room at the once incredibly cheap, St Atan's, hotel in Bloomsbury but even that modest place has become unaffordable. This time I found a generously low-priced Air B and B room on the boarders of Islington and booked it immediately, partly as the owner said it could share the secret of how to make white Marmite.

Taking a place in North London - more my childhood area rather than Eastwards which has been the case for several years due to for writing scenarios - I was excited to find a whole vast area I had forgotten, or possibly never visited in any depth. Canonbury was as I had imagined - full of elegant Georgian houses, little gated parks and rows of boutiques, but I'd never heard of the New River Walkway, something I noted in the flat's very excellent 'off the beaten track' London guide books. What an oasis of calm and biodiversity within London's sprawl - willow trees and a wandering path following a man-made river originally fabricated to provide drinking water to the area.   


                                                            Early morning, Canonbury

                                                               The new river walkway

Madness of Camden - but not as mad as Oxford St

a Hampstead back lane, and pub

I walked for hours with no plan, as I do, through the West End, on to Regents park with its joggers, dog walkers and groups of well-dressed Sunday strollers; and up to Camden - a mad tapestry of colour and sound, busier than I had ever seen it - and onto Hampstead, an epicentre of chique and spare cash. I did all the charity shops which were incredible! window shopped, drank tea when the cold became too intense and finished off a perfect day with a concert of experimental jazz in a church before returning to my lovely B and B room - which the kindly guy had upgraded to the whole flat as he was away, the only downside being that I never did get to learn of the white Marmite. Next time.

Sunday 3 December 2023

Read this, and then tell a friend to read it...

I haven't read a fat tome for a while, being rather occupied with many other things, but having the chance of more free time while away in the UK I entered a bookshop and had a quick browse - dangerous place. There were about forty books I wanted to buy immediately... I was about to turn and head for the Oxfam I had noted over the road as I had begun to feel overloaded with spendism - not a word? is now - when I noted the volume pictured below and felt compelled to buy it. I'm very glad I did.

I started reading in a café a few minutes later, and couldn't stop. It's a horrifying, fascinating, enlightened read; written in a playful but certainly not irritating way, with masses of factual, scientific stuff which I will have to read at least three times to remotely understand; a book written with real passion and humility, as if the author, even though a doctor himself, was learning so much as he wrote and researched; plunging into a dark and secretive world of non-food, pushed by huge companies with only one objective in mind: money.