Observatory

The London Engine

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I don’t sleep late in London – I’m rarely still in bed after 5:30am, but sometimes I seem to hear it starting up like a distant car engine. King’s Cross is surprisingly quiet. In the summer all you really hear first thing in the morning is the sound of the river birds below. But then […]

How To Pay Bills Abroad

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1. Receive mystery bill in Spain for huge amount. 2. Translate bill from Catalan into Spanish, then English, so it is now a Chinese whisper of the original. 3. Note that translator app is imperfect as it gives me a choice of address; ‘Attic’, ‘Basement’, ‘Canyon’, ‘Netherlands’. 4. Try to pay online. Fail because I do […]

A Walk Through Budapest

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  It’s time to celebrate Hungary’s freedom at the moment; the streets may be awash with national flags and displays of folk-dancing, but twenty four years isn’t a very long time, and memories of the Communist occupation (replacing the Nazi occupation) are understandably long and vivid. It doesn’t help that you can still see plenty […]

10 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Buying An Apple Watch

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I love Apple products. They’ve changed the way I work, to the point where switching to someone’s PC is like going from a car to roller skates. I have an iPhone 6, a Macbook Air and a regular Apple home computer – my work tools – and they’re intuitive, fast and easy to use. So […]

‘Forensics’ @ The Wellcome Collection

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I’ve yet to see a bad exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, and unlike most other shows in London (we now call them ‘shows’ I think, not temporary exhibitions) it’s free of charge. In this case the curators of ‘Forensics’, Lucy Shanahan and Shamita Sharmacharja, are to be congratulated. The gallery has been divided into a […]

Modern Days: All Work & All Play

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Being an occasional diary entry reporting something I’ve done or seen which may result in the inspiration to write. I needed to get out. It had not stopped raining – no, not raining, sifting – in London for a week. Sifting is what London in February does best, a blackening soaking mist of arrosage that […]

Are London’s ‘Secret’ Places Really Secret?

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When I wrote my latest London book round-up recently, I noticed that the words ‘secret’ and ‘hidden’ cropped up a lot in the titles. Fine, you won’t find St Paul’s Cathedral in these guide books, but you will find an awful lot of venues that could hardly be called ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ or even ‘relatively […]

Things I Learned In Estonia…

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1. When to keep the kids home from school; once it officially goes below -24 degrees Centigrade. A government ruling, apparently. -23 degrees and they still have to go. While I was in Tallinn this weekend, it was mild, just -3C. Last June it snowed (admittedly for the first time in 500 years). After a […]

No Repression Of Expression

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The appalling events in Paris are still unfolding after the Islamic extremists’ attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine, but one thing is clear; around the free world a deep sense of outrage is overcoming the usual liberal breast-beating. The attitude of ‘Why did we fail these people?’ is for once notable by its […]

Eight Trends That Shot Right Past Me

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As we enter the PBTTF period of 2015 (Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?) I am already realising that certain things are happening without my knowledge. I know this will occur at a greater and greater speed, partly because I am not hanging out with The Youngs as much as I did and partly because I don’t actually […]