Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Magic Of Seven Dials

By far two of my favourite parts of London are the streets of Covent Garden and Seven Dials.

Seven Dials offers the chance to get away from the hoards of people in Covent Garden and to enjoy a bit more time to yourself, wandering the boutiques.... and as I love to do, just sitting and doing some good old fashioned people watching!

I remember one time I saw this stereotypical blonde haired Texan lady coming out of a hotel and getting into her car. I heard her before I saw her with her loud American drawl and she reminded me of someone who might have made her money out of gold mines back in the day.

Seven Dials is full of great characters and with the large range of clothes shops, salons, and yummy food shops around you'll be sure to see some smart and eye catching london fashion! I've seen Louie Spence too about three times too, always good fun spotting Louie!

The thing i like the most about Seven Dials though is it's small streets which entice you to look round the next corner, or make you want to look up at the beautiful architecture, or even into an eye catching shop window.

One thing is for sure I thought the Christmas Lights were brilliant this year, gorgeous colours and lots of them sparkling above your head and they'll definitely catch your eye.

I suggest grabbing your loved one and take a romantic stroll one evening under the lights, or if that's not your thing, put on your comfiest pair of shoes, cus once you're there you won't want to leave and you'll keep wandering around taking in everything you can!

 Seven Dials is definitely the place to go with it's bars and cafes and fairly recent addition of the newly opened St Martin's Court where I came across a gospel choir singing some Christmas songs, it got me all festive and cheery. Gosh I love London!

Seven Dials will always give you little gems... it's made of festive magic at Christmas!


Monday, 28 November 2011

Aldwych Tube Station

On Saturday I got the chance to go down Aldwych Tube Station and it was rather intriguing! You can see my photos from the day on flickr

I have always had an interest in that area of London, knowing about the 'hidden' tram tunnel under Kingsway and this closed tube station too. When tickets came up to go down the station I jumped at the chance as it's quite rare to be able to go down!

I was quite surprised that i wasn't surrounded by older men and train spotters while queuing to go in, but rather plenty of people my age and even a lady in a faux fur hat and boots! Obviously the love of the underground is shared by a large variety of people!

The station was opened in 1907, first called Strand, which can still be seen in the tiling, but then it was renamed to Aldwych when the nearest station on the Northern line at Charing Cross became Strand, (later renamed Charing Cross).

Aldwych tube station is on a short spur / branch line from Holborn coming off the modern day Piccadilly Line. The Piccadilly Line was created by the merger of two seperate tube projects. They were linked at Holborn to create the great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, which was opened between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park. This left the short spur from Holborn to Aldwych, the southern terminus of one of the tubes as originally planned.

The station was designed along with 35 + others by Leslie Green. They all have the dark red glazed brick and terracotta frontages. Each building is on a load bearing steel frame which made it strong enough to take the weight of the lift winding equipment.

Both old Otis lifts are still in Aldwych, but no longer operational, and they are the reason it closed in 1994. It was estimated to cost £3 million plus to replace them! Aldwych was also never busy enough to justify putting in escalators or new lifts.

Aldwych did have two tube tunnels and platforms but only the western platform was used by a two car train, as a shuttle service to Holborn. The problem was trains used to run every 9 minutes plus and you can walk to Holborn in that time from Aldwych!

During WW2 the disused platform was used to store 300+ paintings from the National Gallery and The V&A and the British Museum also used it in 1939/40 to store artefacts including the Elgin Marbles!

You can read more here: Aldwych tube Station

Some video I took can also be viewed here: Thelandofjonny

It was very damp down there, and water was dripping in places. The old posters were of particular fancy and some gave us a laugh due to the current economic climate! It was also really cool to see where they had tested out new tiles for new tube stations such as tiles for Piccadilly Circus and I recognised ones for the Central Line too.

Nowadays the emergency services use it for practice drills and the station is also used for films.

It was well worth the visit and to see it and I did like the part where they told us that if there was a fire or a problem at the top of the stairs, we would have to be evacuated by walking along the track and dark tunnel to Holborn! Now that would have been a story to tell.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lady Gaga - A real person in a world of fake!

My title for this blog I am sure is contradictory in many minds, Lady Gaga is often accused of being a fake, a copycat, and in it for the fame and attention. However tonight she proved she is a humble human being who values everyone in life she comes across, and even those she doesn't.

I have been a fan from the beginning, her voice, what she stands for, I surprised by flatmate Becky back in uni in 2010 with tickets to go see her. Best concert I have been to!

Tonight on the British X Factor, Kitty Brucknell was voted out. Kitty was on stage having her farewell interview and they'd almost come to the end and Gaga ran on stage like lightening, in her high heels and embraced Kitty in a full on, wholesome hug!

The presenters tried to get Gaga to talk, and asked her what would you like to say to Kitty, but Gaga shook her head, showing how she wasn't doing this for press and PR, still hugging they then came apart, and Kitty said a few words, and Gaga said: "let's go for a drink," and they walked off stage!

I was very touched by this display of affection by the superstar. I have been to see Lady Gaga in concert at the O2 when she had released the Fame Monster and what she said then to the crowd struck a chord within me, she is very much about helping everyone, and bringing out the best in people.

Whatever critics and haters say about her music, style and character, she has done so much for gay people struggling with their sexuality, and anyone who listens to her message! She is truly humble, and a truly caring person of her fans!

There is so much more I could write, but I think video will speak louder than my words....  but I do want to say that I am very proud of her for all the hard work she does and how she uses her position in the world for such good, fighting DODT, equality, teen suicide, bullying... and for just being a friend :)


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Designing my own house, spiders, and the ruins of Detroit!

Tonight I was laying in front of the log fire in the lounge and taking in all the pictures of my ruins of Detroit photography book. I have such a fascination with abandoned buildings and I think it shows in my photography of architecture! (previous post on the book)

As I opened the front cover I got a bit of a shock! When I had  previously closed the book a spider had somehow got into the book and I was now looking at a 'as flat as a pancake' spider.... EWwwwww! 

You know when you used to press flowers as a child, it was like that, and it had sort of ingrained itself into the page slightly, I managed to get it off with a tissue, and it all flaked apart..... shudders.....

Anyhow, back to the point of the blog....
I was looking through all the photos and I adore that old style American house with a porch and turret. I have always wanted a house with a tower or turret! Something to do with reading all the Famous Five books as a little boy :)

This got me thinking, I really don't like English houses in some ways, modern ones are so boxy, tiny, and you couldn't hang a thing on the plasterboard walls. There are some gorgeous old ones, but too expensive for any young person to realistically afford, so with my arty skills I thought I would design my own home. I was sketching some very rough drawings of how to shade things for a video this week and it brought back my love of design, so I'm going to get my sketching on this week!

I've ALWAYS wanted a house with a turret or small tower, and that will deffo be included in the design, plenty of light, and a mix of old fashioned comfy-ness and modern style. I'll also need a trainset room for my electric train set!

So I'm going to get sketching my dream house and laying out it's floor plan! 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tintin - The Secret Of The Unicorn

Tonight I went to see Tintin at my local cinema. Though younger children may not be familiar with the character and I being in my mid twenties I was really looking forward to seeing it, having watched the cartoons as a child, and it didn't disappoint! Memories of the cartoon character's mannerisms came walzing back into my memory when they appeared on the big screen and the film was filled with a plethora of qualities that make a Tintin episode so quintessentially Tintin.

Produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Steven Spielberg it had to be good, and believe me it didn't disappoint! With their clever decisions to film it with performance capture animation where the viewer can see every little hair on Tintin's face and hairs move with the wind, it brought the whole film to life and made it so believable you almost forget that you are not watching real people.

We meet Tintin as he is having his portrait painted and when the artist turns the canvas round for use to see, we see it is the Tintin as the original author Hergé depicted him in the comics. It is a clever moment and sets the scene for the film where we first discover the ship the Unicorn and the story unfold from there. I won't spoil it for you all :)
With epic sea plane scenes, battle ships on fire, motorbike and car chases, scenes in the Sahara desert, mirages, flashbacks, mystery, hidden treasure, crane mauling and plenty of humour, what more could a guy ask for?

Putting all those different scenes together in a list like that might make you think; "wow that storyline jumps around a lot," true it does but it works so well and everything flows like it should and leaves you in suspense, and wanting to find out more.

The two main characters; the intelligent and quiff wearing Tintin and whisky loving Captain Haddock are visually perfect to the original cartoon characters and their witty lines, and interaction with Tintin's faithful dog Snowy make an enthralling film you definitely wouldn't want to miss a second of. Don't even think about getting up to go to the loo!

Even Captain Haddock's flashback scenes were well executed and the whole quality of the truly inventive transitions between scenes were superb.

The film is a refreshing break from the cheesy, staid and countless sequels that litter our cinemas screens much like popcorn scattered over the aisle floor. It incorporates superb creativity, action, mystery with humour and really is a well deserving and enjoyable must see movie of the year!

P.s. The music is brilliant, the soundtrack being written by John Williams who also worked on the Harry Potter soundtracks, and though not very similar both have John Williams' stamp on them, and I came away absentmindedly singing the Harry Potter theme tune :)