Rise and Shine

We all had a splendid afternoon yesterday at the Rise Festival – a diverse collection of musical groups that combined together to support racial tolerance in the form of a free concert in Finsbury Park. The weather had been threatening all morning, but once we got there and met up with Chris et al the weather stayed lovely and sunny for the most part. Of course none of us had brought suntan lotion so there are a few tan lines today.

We arrived in time for the Dub Pistols, who I don’t really know, but they were accompanied by Terry Hall from The Specials who I do know which meant we all got very excited when they played some Specials tracks. They also played a dub version of Peaches by The Stranglers which made me think for a moment they had some of those guys up there with them as well, but unfortunately not. And as Terry Hall reminded us, this festival is not really about music, it’s about saying ‘F*ck the BNP!’ Nice. In-between the main bands we were entertained by beatboxing from Beardyman, who is something quite special indeed with his beatbox versions of most popular dance anthems.

My personal highlight of the day was CSS – who were as strange and bouncy as ever, even if the sound was a bit off. Although they got most of the crowd bouncing, they were outdone by Jimmy Cliff who played some classic tracks that had the whole crowd swaying along. Lovely stuff, and the sunset that accompanied him was perfectly timed.

Another Pre-Failed Government Policy

The British Government in an attempt to curb the ‘increasing’ scourge of knife related violence has decreed that youths caught carrying a knife should be made to visit victims of knife crime in hospital. Genius. I mean what would really stop a young kid, scared enough to carry a knife at the thought of being attacked by other kids with knives, other than seeing how gruesome knife wounds are. Plus if you’d just been put in hospital with a knife wound then getting lots of visits from young thugs, some of whom might even be the ones who knifed you, would surely be a wonderful aid to the healing process. Not.

Perhaps a better way to fix this would be to take an approach like learner plates on cars. Until you’ve learnt that carrying a knife is not a responsible way to behave then you should be forced to wear an embarrassing t-shirt or cap visible at all times, something so ugly and patently designed by a committee of caring types that it could never become a badge of honour. In fact can I suggest the London Olympic logo committee as a good place to start for design suggestions.

The Weird and Wonderful World of London Parking

For some reason Westminster Council is trying out a new way to charge people for parking that boggles the mind. The scheme, ostensibly aimed at people on a budget, charges people more or less depending on how full the car park is – a scheme inspired by easyJet’s cheap fares for the first purchasers. So arrive first, and you get charged 20p an hour, arrive when the car park is full and be charged £2 an hour.

Will it save people money? Or is it just the most ridiculous thing ever? I mean, if I knew a car park only charged 20p an hour I’d try and park there, but so would everyone else – so most likely it will be full, and hence at the two quid an hour level. Still not bad by London standards of course, but not a bargain. With easyJet this system makes sense, as it encourages people to book early and lets easyJet keep the money and get interest – a bird in the hand and all that. With car parking when people turn up and pay it sounds crazy to me. People looking for a bargain will turn up, find it’s not that cheap, then drive somewhere else leading to an increase in fuel consumption and pollution, not to mention frustration. Crazy.

Atop O’ Primrose Hill

Yesterday we headed up to Primrose Hill for a picnic with Olwen, Sarah and friends, on a grey but thankfully un-rainy Sunday. It was, unsurprisingly, Miette’s first trip to the hill to see the dramatic views of the London skyline. More surprisingly it was also my first trip, which having sat there for a while I found pretty outrageous as it is a most splendid view. We were lucky in that the grey weather seemed to be keeping the place relatively un-crazy from fellow picnicing Londoners, just the odd hip hop possee having their photos taken.

Thanks to Olwen for giving us the excuse to head up there, and to bringing along plenty of good company to hang out with. Some photos will appear once I have a chance to upload them, as right now we’re un-interneted at home (I’m in a local pub) due to our O2 broadband not yet being installed, and our 3 broadband currently on the fritz since yesterday… come on 3, sort it out!

Blighty ho!

Not long now and we’ll be on a plane to Heathrow, ready to enjoy an English summer of warm beer, cricket and CCTV. What ho!

The Montreal apartment is all packed up and stored in various places. Our aches, pains and bruises from moving all the boxes are starting to fade. We’re enjoying some last Canadian sun so we land nicely tanned and I might even have a shave so I don’t get pulled aside for looking too suspicious. Ah, modern travel.

See you all soon…

The End of One Adventure, The Beginning of the Next

Today is our last day in Montreal, at least for a while, as tomorrow morning we begin our roundabout journey back to London. We arrive in London early Wednesday 14th May, ready for a hectic week of settling in, finding jobs and family birthdays. Before that we have to load up a 17″ U-Haul lorry with most of our possessions, drive to Toronto and Miette’s family, spend a few happy days catching up with Toronto folk and then onto a plane to London and onto another chapter in our lives.

Right now both of us are a bit tired – mentally and physically. Thankfully the Montreal sun is shining down which is keeping our spirits up, as we prepare to leave the home we’ve created for ourselves here. Our first shipment of ‘life crap’ is boxed, waiting in a Montreal warehouse, soon to start it’s own journey to London by sea. We’ve ticked most of the boxes on the ‘Montreal things we’ll miss’ list; hanging out with friends, a last yoga session, eating way too much poutine, walking around the Old Port, dinners at our favorite restaurants (Chez Jose, Stash and last night L’Express) and just enjoying the Montreal chilled out pace of life. Personally I hope we can take some of that calm and stillness that we have here to the more hectic, bustling London world.

Sitting last night at L’Express, enjoying foie gras and beautifully cooked steaks, we wrote down the things we’re looking forward to in London; seeing family and friends, jogging along South Bank, going to the art galleries, shopping at Tesco, trips around the country, watching Doctor Who without waiting for someone to upload it to youTube, cycling around and finding out how we create our home over there for a while at least. There’s an adventure ahead of us that’s for certain, and fond memories of the adventure so far to enjoy in the quiet times. Ta ta for now.

The Song Remained the Same (Led Zeppelin in Concert)

Well Led Zeppelin have just finished their one-off gig at the O2 arena in London. From the Radio 6 broadcast I’m listening to the set list was full of classic Zeppelin tracks – Song Remains the Same, Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven all featured. Hopefully soon someone will put some bootleg tracks up and we can all have a jolly good listen to find out how the old rock fogeys have held up. Some of us can’t afford £86,000 for a pair of touted tickets y’know.

In related news, the Vicar owner of Bron-Y-Aur, the small cottage in Wales near Machynlleth, has asked that Led Zeppelin fans refrain from doing the pilgrimage to his remote home. Back in my young student days in Birmingham I made that trip as part of an ill fated camping weekend. I hadn’t planned on it being a special visit, but as soon as I saw that cottage named on the Ordnance Survey map I had to go. It was dusk when I got there, so I snapped a photo of the wonderfully atmospheric, tree covered driveway then went home – happy to see the place where Page & Plant had spent a weekend creating some amazing songs.

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Something

For our last night in London we splurged out and went to see Patrick Stuart in Macbeth, at the Gielgud Theatre. There was one word for this performance – outstanding. I’ve never actually seen Macbeth, or Stewart act for that matter, but both the production and the acting from the entire cast kept me riveted to my seat the whole three hours. Great stuff, with an intense modern production, some disturbing effects and fine timing of Shakespeare’s words. Highlights, aside from Patrick Stewart’s amazing Macbeth and Kate Fleetwood’s magnetic Lady Macbeth, were the three sisters as nurses, the sheer gore of the production and the re-enactment of the dinner scene once with and once without the ghost of Banquo. Genius.

As an aside; In an attempt to be ‘organised’ we tried to get tickets yesterday, but it was already sold out as the run finishes 1st December – but they told us that at 10am every day excess premium tickets can come up, so today at 9.56am we got to the counter and got the last two tickets, much to the dismay of the person behind us. So a big thanks to London Underground for getting their act together this morning for a change {:).

Infinite Energy Eternally Delayed?

The Kinetica Museum, slated to be the site of the first demonstration of the Orbo perpetual energy device from Steorn, has now announced that the opening of this exhibit has been “postponed until further notice”...

Not only has Steorn failed to get their alleged invention working in the real world, but Kinetica themselves are now staying closed until this exhibition is working. Could be a long wait, and makes me feel that Kinetica has no viability as an entity outside of Steorn’s marketing.

The current full noticed from Kinetica’s site follows:

“KINETICA OPENING DELAYED: Due to technical difficulties the planned demonstration of Steorn’s ‘Orbo’ free energy technology has been postponed until further notice. As a consequence, Kinetica Museum will not be open to the public during this period. A technical assessment is currently underway and information regarding the rescheduling of this demonstration will be posted on the websites of Steorn and Kinetica as soon as it becomes available. We apologise for this delay and appreciate your patience.”