Observatory

On The Move Again

Marrakech_banner

For the next few days I’ll be posting at slightly different times than usual as I’ll be in North Africa, grabbing a few days’ R&R in Morocco, which is always  a good way to chill out (or get gastro-enteritis, depending on how late you eat in the Jemaa El Fnaa, the market place in the […]

Maternal Advice

Chris and Kath001

A few days ago my mother passed away. It had not been as unexpected as her choice of music for the funeral (‘Happy Talk’ from ‘South Pacific’ – the musicals gene being carried on my mother’s side). We’re not a very materialistic family – I have a handful of photographs and memories, some of which […]

Do Fascists Ever Think They’re Wrong?

IMG_4559

I took this photograph in the headquarters of the secret police in Budapest. It makes you recall the Mitchell & Webb Nazi sketch; ‘Our caps have got skulls on them. Are we the baddies?’ Don’t Fascists ever wonder if they might be on the wrong side? Dictators come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing […]

The London Engine

Engine

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

IMG_4693

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

IMG_4540

  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

IMG_4512

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

fore

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

IMG_4367_2

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?

Cross Keys

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 […]