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There is an amazing vibe in London today. The streets are deathly quiet as people stay at home to watch tv, go to parks to watch big screens, or for the lucky few, attend the Olympic venues to witness incredible performances from the British team. As we live in the East End of London, we decided to take our summer holidays over the two Olympic weeks. We spent a small fortune on tickets and crammed the family together in our little flat. I’m so glad we did. It’s been amazing so far and we have a week still to go.
As I head into another intense period of travel and work I took the opportunity to enjoy London in the spring. This was an amazing weekend of friends, family and lots of events. Here’s just a small flavour.
A lone voice with an alternative point of view in Trafalgar Square at the TUC’s anti cuts protest march.
There were over two hundred and fifty thousand marchers on the demonstration. It was good humoured and it felt like people were re-engaging with politics again in a really positive way.
Jenny gets a bargain bunch of roses for just ‘A Fiver’ at Columbia Road flower market.
A busking cellist frames a girl recovering in the Brick Lane spring sun.
At this time of year my thoughts turn towards the sea. I grew up in Greenock, a hardnosed shipbuilding port in Scotland. It was rowing that first channelled my energies away from the street. Then sailing and canoeing on the river Clyde meant that when I moved to the Outer Hebrides in my twenties, there was only one place to be, the sea. Whether it was sailing trips to St Kilda; canoeing around Orkney or screaming across Broadbay in a Sabbath-storm windsurf, being on the sea seemed fundamentally important to being me. I seriously harboured thoughts of becoming a professional sailor when I crewed a schooner around the Med for a summer. But I finally decided against it; instead I moved to London and immersed myself in film and TV again. Staying in London means I don’t often go down to the sea. I miss it, but nowhere as much as I thought, London rocks in ways I never expected.
That Calvinist streak in me is having a feeding frenzy right now. My twisted psyche demanded a guilt-laden price tag for six weeks of bliss. But despite the last month being about getting up to speed with this new job it’s not all been about work. Taking time off has reminded me how important friends are. A diary of promises and engagements made during my holidays has meant it’s taken time for the work life balance to level itself out. There have been lots of great meetings and greetings with mates and colleagues but what follows is some pictorial evidence of the importance of friends and family.
At the start of the month I had a night out in Victoria Park that was supposed to be a quiet drink with my brother-in-law, Rob. Instead I ended up meeting so many old friends I felt more than a tad nostalgic. It is nostalgia that leads to a loss of balance, third degree burns to your leg and an inside out head, isn’t it?
Highlight of the month has to be flying up to the Hebrides to Malcy’s 60th birthday party. Malcy is one of my oldest pals and fellow founder of An Lanntair art centre where his party was held. Despite the horrendous weather outside, inside I was reminded of how many good friends I have from my time in Lewis.
Be it pain avoidance, wisdom or appreciation of family, I managed to make a relatively sensible exit, which wasn’t in keeping with our past record for long nights. I knew that my grandson Drew and my daughter Laura would harbour no excuses the following day and I was right. Drew jumped on my head from the top bunk at seven in the morning, and I gave thanks at the altar of common sense.
From old friends to new friends. Mikael Strandberg is one of the world’s leading explorers and has been on some madcap expeditions in his time. However his latest plan to become the first person on record to walk unaided across the Arabian and Sahara deserts puts all his previous exploits in the shade (pardon the pun).
Jen and I saw him talk this week in the library of The Travellers Club on the Pall Mall. Now there’s posh! Surrounded by dusty first editions of Thackery, Dickens, Thesiger and shelfloads more, Mikael held the slightly worn travellers in thrall. He is an amazing speaker and a very brave man.
I’ve been flat out at work finishing the next season of ‘Locked Up Abroad’ or flat out in the park enjoying the summer sun. Here are a few images taken over the last two weekends from my neighbourhood of London. The bottom shot is of ’The Bonfire Band‘. They are a brilliant DIY Country Blues band that I listen to a lot on my iPod.
I couldn’t resist a folksy blog on the snow in London. We went to bed last night and it was snowing. We woke to soft silence and a child’s distant laugh. London was transformed. Schools off. No buses. Tubes non-existent. ‘I’ll have to work from home’, said Jen with deep concern slash delight. Today the great advantage of being a twenty minute walk from work became a temporary disadvantage. There was no way I could call off work, but most of my staff had to. Still, on the way in I managed to snap some cliched snowy London pics. And after a surprisingly productive day, I headed home early to take my Ozzy Jen to Victoria Park to make her first ever snowman, actually a Snow-woman.