My son’s Oyster card gives him FREE travel on London Buses. He was a small amount over his funds due to earlier tube journey when he was travelling home on 264 bus, Sunday early morning when inspectors approached him.
He had been allowed on the bus by the driver. The inspectors intimidated him and ruffled through his wallet and WITHOUT his permission took £40 from his bank account. To me this is akin to assault.
My son said that his card had beeped red when he boarded, due to this small amount it had gone over, but he was allowed on. Remember, his Oyster card allows him FREE BUS TRAVEL. So, make your minds up, he’s either allowed on the bus or he isn’t.
My son thinks he was about 35p on the red, so why didn’t the inspectors just ask for the 35p that he was short on his Oyster, and let him travel FREE as is his right to do so, on London buses?
My son got home VERY upset and felt he had been robbed because the inspectors were going through his wallet like he was a criminal instead of a young person trying to get home safely. Yes, that’s all he was doing, making his way home on a bus, and he got fined £40 for that.
He wasn’t even given a proper receipt, just a piece of paper with numbers scribbled on it. He actually wasn’t sure if he had been scammed or not – because of the inspector’s manners and how they treated him. Like a criminal.
Since launching on Berwick St in May 2011, Independent Label Market has brought together the founders of over 180 of the World’s greatest independent record labels on both sides of the Atlantic to sell their fresh vinyl produce directly to the public at that traditional goods exchange – a market stall.
As the music industry embraces mp3s and a more digital strategy, Independent Label Market is proving to be a valuable reminder of how music retail can be a social affair; people hanging out together as a community and buying records.
My husband was keen to go to this, given his massive record collection and DJing history. It was a cold and windy Saturday afternoon, so I thought, why not? Good chance to take photos and go to a part of London I haven’t been to lately.
If you are a Northern liner (like me) you can get off at either Moorgate or Old Street and head to Old Spitafields Market. Believe it or not we needed GPS/map to get there, we really haven’t been East for a while! So we got a little lost, which gave me a chance to take the first photos on the set. It just felt like Camden Town, before it got gentrified to fuck. This is where all the hip(ster) people go to these days and I don’t blame them. I got two lovely dresses from london label http://goldkidlondon.com/ for £20! Annoyingly you can’t look at anything on their website without registering.
So we found the old Spitafields market eventually. I actually kinda knew where it was, as I had been around those parts to Corbet Bar recently, but my husband didn’t think the market I was talking about was the one we were looking for. Anyway, the best way to get to know a place is to get lost in it!
Beer and vinyl. Neither are my favourite things. But I don’t loathe them either. And it makes my husband happy. All good then. We had fun sampling different ales and while my husband looked at records I collected free stickers/badges and took photos. We listened to a bit music, went by the speakers whenever we wanted to have a break and danced half-heartedly, no one else was dancing…
While walking around we got chatting to Sri McKinnon, as this shirt caught my eye
It had sold out, but I ordered it online when I got home. I also got myself the cassette earrings.
At around 18:00 we had some food and then went home. I had reached my drinking limit, any more and things would have gotten ugly the next day.
I can’t quite remember how, but a few months ago I heard about this idea of making London into the first National Park city in the world. That’s pretty much all it took to get me on board. It sounded like an amazing idea and to me the whole notion was embeded in the name itself. So I was a little puzzled by some of my friend’s reactions when I mentioned it in person or via the internet.
‘Will this cause planning permission issues?’ – don’t you already need that anyway? Isn’t London full of restrictions – a, mostly, good thing? There are enough empty properties anyway!!! Reuse them first, then think about building on fresh land. Also, the answer is ‘no’, that’s not the point of this project.
‘National parks are protected areas of countryside, you can’t have one in a city.’ – eh? why not? Why can’t the concept evolve and involve cities too?
This one cracked me up ‘Absolutely not, were a city not a park.’ mmm, ok, how about being a park city – the first one ever?
I still think it’s a fabulous idea. Even more so now, after meeting the man who dreamed this up during a 16km walk organised at the weekend. The walk itself was a mega challenge for me, as I’m not a walker. Luckily I tried to be one once, so I still have the boots, in fact the boots were only worn once for a short walk. So this was to be their first real outing.
We met at Crystal Palace station, I invited some of my friends and our group consisted of seven people. Then there were other people we didn’t know – and if I remember correctly there were ten, making the group seventeen strong.
The walk route was from Crystal Palace to Southbank – across many green spaces along the way.
We started off walking through Crystal Palace
We then had to wait for about 20 minutes outside Sydenham Hill for two more people to join us. While were were there Daniel explained the concept to us. Which was more or less this, which I copied from his website:
“According to National Parks UK, the purpose of a national park is to ‘conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, and to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.’
If these objectives are central to the notion of a national park, why shouldn’t London, with all its green space, cultural heritage and diverse wildlife, be one too? I propose creating the Greater London National Park*.
To be clear, I am not calling for London to be given a legal national park designation. But I do think there would be great value and benefits if London was named as a new kind of national park – an urban national park or a National Park City.”
And then we were off and got straight into seriously muddy and mulchy woods – Dulwich Woods, which was a great start to the walk. It was very slippery and we got a little bit lost. ‘It’s not a proper walk if you don’t get lost’ sort of came out of my mouth and I’m standing by this motto as it’s a good one.
We started to get acquainted with each other – which is a is also one of the most charming features of walks: random talks with people you may or may not know.
I actually considered wearing trainers, as they are lighter, but my husband reminded me of the very real possibility of mud, and was he right! There were other people wearing trainers though. I can’t tell you how much I loved walking in the mud, especially up hills. The fear of slipping added to the excitement. I started wondering who’d be the first one to slip, but no one did in the end.
We got to beautiful Horniman Gardens where we took a toilet & food break and where I lost everyone. My husband had to come and get me after I called him on his mobile…
We walked down Horniman Nature trail then back up it again (ok, we got a little lost again, but only because the trail offered no way out). We then did a little urban walking and got into Honour Oak, and One Tree Hill, where we stopped for lunch. The image at the top of this page was taken there.
We walked through, and got to Nunhead Cementery. I didn’t know this, but apparently there were seven cemeteries built in the Victorian times: The Magnificent Seven. Nunhead is one of them. And Highgate where Karl Marx is buried is one of the others. They were built between 1832 and 1841. This hollow chapel gave me one of my favourite images of the day…
We continued walking and suddenly found ourselves back in very busy London – on a Satuday afternoon: Peckam. I had almost forgotten we were in London and suddenly it was there again. I suddenly felt very awake. All the people and noise and traffic… At this point four people left the walk to get a train from Peckham Rye station. We had walked 10.5km and some of us (me me me) were starting to feel it.
Then onto Surrey Canal walk – which was very pleasant. Another bit of London I had never been to. This was a more typical London green area: cyclists, runners, children… A narrow walkway of just over 1km leading to Burgess Park.
The group was starting to fragment a bit at this point. Someone went off to buy painkillers – and we had split into various groups. My hip was starting to hurt a bit and I wanted to walk fast as it warms the body up. Slow walks can become more painful. We regrouped at km 11.5 and then we stopped for about 10 minutes at the Burgess Park Albany park entrance, just before 13km. Once again, after that, complete change of scenery, past monolithic council estate buildings but also some interesting new builds. We were in inner London.
Two more people left at this stage, on New Kent Road, at 14.5km.
The last 1.5km was kinda hellish. Both my hips hurt, my left knee and thigh hurt. Also my boots, which had been behaving rather well so far, started to dig on a very specific point at the top of my ankles. Making each step really unpleasant and stabby. But then, just as darkness was falling (great timing) we got inside The King’s Arms, on Roupell Street. And the walk completed at just over 16km and in 5 hours and 34 minutes. Time for a delicious cold Guinness. And then another! And some pleasant chatter 😉
This really was a pretty special day out. I had a lot of fun and we got very lucky with the weather, which was amazing. Also met some very interesting people and I’m now looking forward to the next walk. More importantly – I really really believe in the idea that London should be the first national park city in the world!
I was talking to friends on Friday and they had never heard Chico Buarque. He’s one of my favourite composers/singer/song-writters ever – I grew up listening to his songs and still listen to them regularly. He has composed hundreds of songs and I don’t like all of them, but the ones I like would fill in over three hours of listening.
So I decided to make an introductory compilation for them, with a cross-section of his songs. He’s versatile and likes to experiment with different genres. I tried to keep it short, but the shortest I could manage was this, 1:15 of pure musical delight.
And like my other compilation, I used Adobe Premiere to put the tracks together, then saved as mp3.
I’m not entirely sure why they called this a Mid-Winter swim – as Winter has barely started, but anyway. This was about raising awareness to homelessness via the medium of very cold water and some very brave and/or insane people. It also gave me the opportunity to take some photos. So this became the plan ‘de jour’, given that the Lido is only a 10 minute walk away.
Turns out that today was a beautiful, mild day. I had to take my coat off! The water, however, didn’t feel warm in any way. Tooting Bec Lido is the biggest fresh water pool in the UK, and by fresh I mean *NOT* heated. I put my hand in it and it felt icy cold. It probably wasn’t, but it felt it!
It was explained, over the tannoy, that people who never swam in cold water before were likely to go into shock, suffer from very shallow breathing and so on, and that if that happened they should raise the alarm as soon as possible. This was pretty much what I experienced years ago when I failed my scuba diving certificate test after I had a major shallow breathing attack when trying to submerge in 10c water. I had to give up.
At noon everyone lined up on one side of the 90mx30m pool and jumped in. There were lots people screaming because of the cold water, but everyone did at least one width (30m width, rather than 90m length). The pool emptied out slowly, and then there was one woman left in the pool – the winner if you will. Then the winner(s) of the best outfit were announced and then we left!
August 26th 2014 – USA Photos collection on Flickr
I have spent most of my time since getting back on Saturday in front of the computer going over the photos, organising, editing and uploading. It helped me stay awake on the day we got back, as I had no sleep on the plane and I wanted to stay up and only sleep at night. Got annoying neck/shoulder pain from it, as I’ve been sat on the same position for hours on end since…
Didn’t sleep so good, wide awake at 5 then back to sleep to wake up at 9:30. The covers in this hotel are extra noisy, any time anyone moves there’s a lot of rustling, more than usual.
Also the beds were narrower than everywhere else we have been to, and the windows don’t open. Even the motel we stayed in was better. And when you have a shower the water pressure keeps playing up… This last hotel was all about location.
We leisurely finished packing, showered, had breakfast. We vacated our room at 12 and left our luggage at the hotel to go for a walk around Chinatown. We bought a couple of bits and bobs: back scratchers, a little buddha. The shopkeepers in Chinatown – of the shops we visited – just hovered over us the minute we walked in the shop, quite pushy and eager to sell. Off putting it was.
We were weaving up and down the side streets of Chinatown, when I decided I needed to have those good luck waving cats and went into a side street shop. In there we were greeted by a young, second generation, man, who charmingly and expertly explained an awful lot about which bhudda each one of us should have – based on date of birth. He had to ask his father, which one for Jeff, and we all got assigned one. I asked how much the bigger ones cost, and he said $10.99. He explained a little about Feng Shui buddhas. He was quite the salesman, well spoken, with impeccable manners and well, adorable, really. Unlike the people working on the other shops he wasn’t pushy, he was just very knowledgeable. It was quite impressive.
So, with a waving cat charm, and three little buddhas we went to pay. We had no dollars left. The mother said she would give us, as gifts, Jeff and I, two good luck amulets. She said we weren’t very lucky this year and we needed them, to carry them with us all the time. She looked at Daniel and said he didn’t need one as he’s very lucky. Anyway, all very amusing and cute and sort of magical – but they didn’t take credit card, only cash or debit. So I tried my debit card and entered the PIN twice, it was refused (strange as I’ve been taking cash out). So I said I’d get cash from the bank myself. She said no, just show I.D. and it will be fine. I thought, ‘mmmm’. Actually I’m not sure what I thought, I gave her my I.D., as people had often asked for it in other shops. She said it was $43 dollars. All very friendly… I am not superstitious, by the way, but you know, I’m seduced by manifestations of it.
We left the shop and I felt really uneasy. I had just paid with a debit card AND my ID was my driving license!!!! What was I thinking??? I looked up at the shop name and didn’t see anything, well there were a few signs, but didn’t seem to be for the shop. So I took a photo, as that would give me the exact location should anything odd happen. Here it is, the shop is called Yat On Gift Shop… https://plus.google.com/109195924180948222226/posts/NcoToXzzc54
The thing is, Jeff said he had the cash, but I remember thinking we probably need it for something else, and said it was ok, also I wanted to get this for them.
We walked around more, had lunch and before we knew it, it was 3pm and we were in the taxi to the airport.
Mobile phone photos:
We got on the plane at 6, after Daniel got some hassle, because on his passport photo he’s 10 years old and has very long hair. He looks very different from how he looks now. Also my case was 10kg above the limit. So we had to put stuff on Daniel’s case, which was already PACKED FULL and throw away some toiletries, and still 3kg above, she let us through. This woman really upset Daniel because he thought she was laughing at him, she really asked all her colleagues if they thought it was really him. Daniel said she was a horrible bitch. I suggested he’d try a less sexist word: officious jobsworth. To be fair she was only doing her job, but she did make a big fuss of it, she laughed a bit too much and said he looked like a girl on the photo, which upset him. None of this bothered me, but things that don’t bother adults often deeply wound teenagers.
The flight back was actually shorter, just over 9 hours. However it was hell flight. Any overnight flight is always horrendous. None of us got any sleep. Daniel maybe got an hour. I know I got nothing at all, as I remember every single song that played when I tried to snooze. It then took ages for the last case to come out, Daniel’s. Well a bunch of cases got delayed. Then another – what it felt like – two hours in the taxi from Heathrow.
Before that, at Heathrow the woman at passport control also asked for second opinion on Daniel’s passport, but she was more professional about it, although she also said the photo looked like a girl. When we left the check in we decided next time we will get a new passport.
I decided to stay up until normal bedtime, we got home at 14:30 and so I had about eight hours to kill. I knew that if I sat to watch t.v. I’d fall asleep, which is what happened to Jeff. So I started editing the holiday photos. Focussing like that kept me awake until 22:00 when I went to bed. Daniel went out as soon as he got home, then to party. It’s good to be home… While I was editing the photos on the computer, Rusty sat in front of the screen then bit my nose, demanding attention! I missed her so!
Well, today I checked my bank account, as this has been playing on my mind, and I was actually charged $80 for the transaction. So basically an extra £20. I have a feeling this happens often. Given that the transaction is less than £100 I’m probably not protected either, and it was done with a debit card. I stopped the card anyway, and disputed the transaction. However Lloyds bank was really quite rubbish at this, twice I got cut off during the call to the fraud dpt. while on hold!
I was actually relieved it was just that amount. I guess given the performance we got if the transaction dispute doesn’t get accepted it would be a good tip! I’d like to say thank you to the family, if they really are a family, who work at Yat On Gift Shop, for you are very good at what you do and the moments we spent together were delightful and memorable…
August 21st 2014 – Day 20, last full day in the USA…
It’s here, the last full day. I’m ready to got back, tired of living out of a suitcase, missing home, and routine. But onto the present. TODAY THE SUN FINALLY CAME OUT!!!! Which was really uplifting and much needed.
After late breakfast in our room, we finally got ready to leave at midday (I’m not saying this had ANYTHING to do with Daniel’s beauty regimen). We walked through Chinatown, which really is quite big, so we could get on a tram. Two went past and said we couldn’t get on. These trams are elusive and hard to get on. I guess we were lucky to get on one on our first day, even if it was for five minutes.
We got to Pier 39 after a thirty minute walk. We walked around for a while, saw the seals, had coffees, Daniel had food. The sun was out, it was all good.
We then walked along for a bit, it was quite hot! We got on a street car to Market Street, where we bought a few paintings from a really nice guy, John N Tunui.
He recommended for us to go inside the San Francisco Ferry station and had this rather cosmopolitan mishmash for lunch
We went out to look at Bay Bridge, walked and took photos and walked and so on, until we sat by a bow and arrow sculpture and watched a couple of people climb on it. Nice place just to hang out, and that we did.
After a while off we went again, to start heading off home, we walked along Folson Street with Bay Bridge to our left, then ended up at Yerba Buena Gardens, where we sat in the sun for a while. Lovely… Then we just walked back to our hotel and were indoors by 18:30.
Went for dinner at Puccino’s (no website for this one, tiny restaurant). We had to wait for 20 minutes for a table, outside. When we sat down, Daniel went to the toilet. When he came back, Daniel sat down and said ‘sorry’ to the people on the next table. Then the man on the table next to ours started firing off (in Spanish), rather aggressively. I could understand what he was saying, but neither could Daniel or Jeff. He was basically saying over and over again in different ways, that Daniel nearly knocked down the olive oil bottle on their table.
I looked at them and said ‘We can’t understand a word of what you are saying’ (It wasn’t Mexican Spanish I don’t think). Then the woman started saying the same thing as the husband, in Spanish. I Translated what they said to Daniel and Jeff and complained they wouldn’t shut up. Daniel said to them: ‘I did apologise’ and they carried on. So I just said ‘callate’, twice, and they did. Then I looked and felt annoyed for a bit. I was tired and had a headache. Dinner was very nice, worth the wait. That was the most unpleasant encounter we had, everyone else has been good, some people have been wonderful.
We got back and packed our cases, hopefully we won’t go over the weight limit.
Rachel Jael, the percussionist and film maker we saw in Venice is in San Francisco. Daniel linked with her on instagram and yesterday she posted a photo of Golden Gate bridge…
Then this morning Daniel went for a wander on his own nearby, while Jeff and I went for our own wander to buy some bits and bobs, also nearby. When we met again Daniel said he had bumped into her!!! She was setting up to perform on the street, he said hi and they had a chat.
We were all a bit grumpy and homesick today, so our afternoon trip to Golden Gate Bridge was a chore rather than a pleasure. Compared to yesterday today was a bit, well, pants. I couldn’t even be bothered to take my camera with me today, tired of carrying a heavy bag all the time. So all the photos were taken with my phone. Also we had to walk for AGES to find a bus stop, everything seemed difficult today. Holiday blues.
We walked on the bridge until the first tower, but the trafic noise was unpleasant and it was windy and cold, so we turned back. We had already decided not to walk the full 2 miles anyway. We walked around the presidio a bit, looking for a cafe, by the time we had found one it had closed, as it was just after 5pm. San Francisco must have the highest number of coffee shops per capita in the world.
We were exhausted on the way back from Golden Gate bridge, so we laid down for a little while in our room then went for dinner around here, at Pomodoro Gourmet Pizzas. The service was jokes, first they brought my dinner, ravioli, but no sign of our drinks. Eventually I asked where they were, there was some debate between them… Then Jeff’s and Dan’s pizzas arrived and FINALLY our drinks. They had Guinness, not the watered down stuff either, so that was good. Anyway, the food was cheap.
August 19th 2014 – Day 18, Golden Gate Park & Haight-Ashbury
Felt more energised and like myself today after good night’s sleep. We had breakfast at the hotel, which isn’t included. Then we went to get the hybrid electric bus number 5 to Golden Gate Park at around 11.
On the way to the bus stop I saw a couple of people riding fixies. This really astonished me given how hilly this city is. I feel for their knees. Seems to be another cyclist friendly town.
Annoyingly, there are Starbucks EVERYWHERE in the center of town. But i haven’t seen a single MacDonald’s yet. There are also other cafes everywhere, and they are all unique and lovely. I hope Starbucks doesn’t take over them all, but I suspect that’s their plan. I never drank so much coffee in my life, I will be an addict by the time we get back!
We got off the bus half way down Golden Gate Park, got in the park, walked around for five minutes, and concluded this had to be done on bikes. Jeff consulted the guide book, which pointed us back to pretty much where we got off the bus. There’s a bike hire place a few meters down from the bus stop. So we hired three bikes for the day for $25 each. I was the only one who took a helmet (included in the price) and I’m glad I did, as it was a bit chilly, so I wore my hat under it. It felt like being in London on a chilly day: ear covering hat + helmet. My ears hurt when the wind blows.
And so we went around the park, from end to end, saw the windmills, the sea, bisons(!), golf course. Once again no sign of the sun. Very grey. And chilly, about 17c. I got grit in my eye and we stopped for ages to try and get it out as it was painful. Jeff put water in it but in the end we gave up. It hurt less but it was still there.
With grit still in my eye, we cycled to Haight-Ashbury, as I wanted to experience the hippyness San Fran is famous for. Except Haight Ashbury was the center of counter culture a long time ago. Now it seems like a mixture between Camden Town and Hoxton. Full of hipsters and homeless people. Long beards are big here too. We walked past a guy who said ‘Buy my drugs’, jokingly but also I think he did have drugs to sell, and we burst out laughing.
Then we went back to Haight-Ashbury to explore more. Daniel wanted to go in all the shops. I took photos. One guy shouted ‘You got the shirt, nice one’ at me, as I was wearing Harry Perry‘s shirt I got in Venice (see Day Nine. I said ‘Yeah, it’s a nice shirt and Harry is a cool guy’. He said ‘Yeah, we go to the desert to medidate together, we just got back!’, we kept on walking, and I said ‘Excellent!’. Daniel stopped at yet another shop and I went back to him, to give him some dollars as he was holding a sign saying: ‘Anything no matter how little will help’.
Another guy on a skateboard also randomly said ‘that’s a really nice shirt’ to me. I have been wearing it quite a lot lately, as it’s the only shirt with long sleeves I have, plus I really like it. Possibly my best memento from LA.
We walked around a bit more. Daniel wanted to get a haircut, we found THREE hairdressers in the area, but in the end he decided to do it in London with his regular man.
The houses in San Francisco are so pretty, walking around town is a joy. It’s like a slightly alternate universe to London, where the Victorian houses were built using wood instead of bricks, and the houses look similar, but are all painted in different colours. What a good looking city!
We got the bus number 5 back, stopped at a supermarket near us to get food for breakfast. We weren’t so keen at the breakfast at the hotel, especially as it’s not included and it finishes at 10. So we’re having our own in our room.
We went out for dinner at 20:30, all the way across the road, to a French restaurant. That’s one type of food we hadn’t had yet. Cafe de la presse. Pretty decent. I made a bad joke, then a little later so did Jeff. Daniel then said “Are you two competing to see who can disappoint me the most?”, which was the best joke of the day, really.
It’s 23:00 and I should be exhausted, but I just feel nicely relaxed. We’re not sure what to do tomorrow. Maybe go over the Golden Gate Bridge and cycle around there, maybe something else… Good night! I miss capoeira so much, I wanted to do handstands today.