Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lovebox Festival 2005

With so much happening with my new job just starting and Carly desperately waiting to get back into work after the break caused by our trip back to Australia, this festival seemed to suddenly arrive on the calender..

The Lovebox festival started off as a summer festival event organised by Groove Armada a few years ago, but over time it has grown and progressed to be a highlight on the summer dance festival program. The main stage, bars, food stalls, and surrounding doof-doof tents filled up the large area in the southern part of Victoria Park in East London, and the crowd was certainly building by the time we got in around 3pm.

Our group of Dan & Sophie, Brisbane visitor Renee St J W, and regular dance festival junkies Workman & Wilkie went around to the different tents listening and dancing to some amazing DJ's. Honestly, even when I looked at the playlist the next day to figure out who they were, I had no idea who'd we'd seen!!

When the time drew nearer we crowded around the main stage to hear Plantlife (first time for me - loved 'em!), followed by an amazing set from Groove Armada. This was the higlight for me as it was the first time we'd heard them live, and to hear (the very tall) Andy Cato play the trombone in the lead-in to 'Superstylin' made my night in a few short notes from the slide! They pumped out an excellent 'I see you baby', fronted by a troupe of can-can girls who new how to shake it - this turned what could have been a pretty dull performance of the track into a crowd-shaking moment. Carly and I were in the very front jumping around to the whole set, especially favourites such as 'Madder' which brought back memories of it being the theme song of our French winter ski trip. Cato's trombone in 'At the river' was fantastic, and after hearing it live you'll never listen to the track on CD the same way.

Following on the main stage was Mylo. Now, this is the 2nd time we'd seen him and his group live. And firstly let me say that there is no doubting the guys talent. But, his live shows are as boring as batshit. At the Wireless festival at Hyde Park, he'd simply rattled off the best of his album 'Destroy Rock and Roll', and, granted he does do part of each track on guitar with little reliance on the synthesiser, they are simply performed as just that - tracks off an album.. The same thing heppenned here, track after track, performed in successsion, with little imagination or interest in mixing it up a bit. Again, dissapointed. Two strikes and you're out Mylo.

Despite the dissapointing end, overall it was a great afternoon and night with our friends, finished up with a long tube ride home from the East of London, through town on the District Line back to West Ken.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Softball in the Park with Willow

I've just returned from the park near Fulham Broadway, where Renee and I had the first of our long-awaited Softball throwing sessions, with the gloves she had sent here, all the way from her parents in Brisbane!!

This may not seem like a big deal, but considering the dramas encountered in trying to purchase a softball in London over the past 8 weeks, today was a milestone!

The ball we used came courtesy of her good friends Ryan & Vanessa, who recently moved back to Australia after a lenghty stint here - they kindly sent Renee a Disneyland Resort-themed softball, which, after a few scrapes with the bitumen paths and a hard strike on a nearby fence, is now looking a bit worse for wear.. see the photo below:

One of the Disney Princesses takes a scrape!

But you can be assured Vanessa, it works like a treat! Thanks heaps!!!

My glove hand is still a bit sore though, it would seem that Ms Wilson (ex-Qld softball player etc etc) doesn't throw like a girl..


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Goodbye Ealing, i'm off to the City!

Wednesday is my last day working for the London Borough of Ealing, and from this Thursday i'll be back in town planning working for the London Development Agency.. Until then i'm not sure exactly what I'll be working on, but with the Olympics in 2012 now awarded to London, there's a good chance i'll be sinking my teeth into some pretty exciting stuff.. I'm so excitied to be back in town planning and development, after my short stint as a transport planner in the world of Local Council.

Here is a link to a satellite map of my new office, in St Katharine's Dock, next to Tower Hill and Tower Bridge in the City.

This is a photo I took earlier tonight of the view of Tower Bridge from the waterfront-side of my office building!!

More to come soon once I get started in the new job.. I can't wait!


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A photo of my new roof in Brisbane

Finally I got someone to take a photo of the new roof that was put on my little house in Brisbane, which I have left behind in the hands of some fantastic tenants who have been enjoying all my new renovations that I finished especially for them!!

My house on the northside in Brisbane

Apparently it had sprung a leak above the bathroom earlier in the year, which was a good sign that it was time for it to all be replaced. I also had a whirly-bird installed and insulation put in at the same time, to try and keep the temperature down over summer.

I saw the place a few times when we were back in Brisbane in March, and the yard and gardens were looking great.. so with the new roof on it will still be going strong when we eventually return there.


Monday, July 11, 2005

One-Day Cricket at Lords

Karen and I take in a one-day international at Lords, the home of cricket, and watch Australia give the poms a touch up in what looks like their return to form after a poor start to their UK Ashes tour..

More to come soon.

A panorama shot I took from our excellent seats in The Grand Strand stand

I thought of Gavin when I made Karen have a pie with me at the cricket!

The team celebrates as they claim another few wickets during the English innings

(Right) During the Australian innings, the team watches their batsmen from the verandah on the visitors side of the members pavilion, where the teams dressing rooms are

Ricky Ponting leaves the field after scoring 111; and, a picture of the beautiful members stand

An english bowler letting fly with a delivery to Symonds; and, a few balls later, Symonds plays at the ball sending it to third-man

The Australian batsmen are congratulated by the fielding English as they reach the English total and win the match


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Big news from home!

Got some big news from home this week, that my parents had finally (and when I say finally, those of us who have watched them searching for a new house or land over the years will attest that finally is a fair and accurate description!) purchased a block of land, to build a new home on for the next stage of their life now that almost all the kids have moved out..

The view of my parents new block of land at Geebung, taken from the street frontage

Located at the end of a cul-de-sac in a beautiful leafy suburban street in a suburb in Brisbane called Geebung, the parcel will give even a single-storey home views across the northside all the way to the city high-rises!

The views they'll have from a single storey house, all the way across the northside to the city skyline!

Now, if only I can stay in England long enough, I might miss out on all the fun that will come with having to design a house for the site and get it built!! Then there's the painting and landscapingwhich i'm sure mum is looking forward to doing after just finishing the current house!!

We're all so very happy for you guys, and Jay is pretty excited about it too - read his own blog entry on the purchase and settlement here..


Friday, July 08, 2005

London attacked by terrorists!

What a difference a day makes.. only yesterday the whole city was riding high on an amazing wave of both surprise and jubilation at being awarded the right to hold the 2012 Olympic Games, and then this morning during the peak-hour rush, the city's transport system was brought to a stand-still by a coordinated terrorist bombing attack on a double-decker bus travelling through the city, and on three London Underground trains in the City & West End.

I had just arrived at my station, just down the street at Barons Court tube where I was met with the coinciding closure of the station, with LUL station staff telling all passengers that the entire network (which carries 3 million people a day) had been shut down because of a power failure or power surge, at that time being described as the result of a 'major incident' in Central London..

I immediately called Carly at home down the street as it all seemed very suspicious that the whole network was shutdown, and they were evacuating all stations... She couldn't see anything was on the news at that stage, nor was the web reporting any 'major incident' besides reported delays on the Piccadilly line. I continued my journey to work, as I can fortunately catch a few connecting buses to get me there. When I arrived I was met with the developing news reports of the series of terrifying terrorist bombings on the tube at various points around the City, and on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square..

The bombed No. 30 double-decker bus in Travistock Square

While the entire city seemed in shock that it had actually happened, the british media showed a continuous stream of live scenes of organised emergency services personel simply dealing with the confronting scenes of destruction both underground in the stations near where the carriges were blown apart. All the while the city was calm, but on edge. Know one knew if there were more bombings planned, or what the commute home would bring..

Our flat is just at the bottom-left edge of this map - not too far from the chaos in Central London

A map of the coordinated timing of the bombings at critical points in the rail network was confronting

Our group of friends over here, the majority of which either live, work, or both in Central London, promptly sent around an e-mail roll-call, to make sure everyone else was accounted for. I had already sent text messages back to our parents in Brisbane telling them we were all O.K. because, as you can imagine the phone lines were soon overloaded with calls into and out of the Capital, and from many people outside London trying to call in.

As paramedics and other medical personel began treating the hundreds of injured people in nearby hospitals, the entire city began to work out what the impact of these attacks would mean for their journey home, in that the entire Undergound network was shutdown, the main overland railway stations closed for the time being as a precaution, and no buses were running in Zone 1, which covers the centre of London. Lucky for me I work out of town, so I was planning to catch the buses that were still running out my way back in to West Kensington, however, for those people working in Central London, many faced the prospect of a walk across the city, taking hours for some, to their respective overland main railway stations to travel home to destinations outside of London. Many of these scenes were on the news, showing people taking 2-4 hours to walk home.

Repeated many times in the print & web media, this photo was taken by a passenger on their camera-phone, as they were led from the Piccadilly Line train, along the underground tracks, back to the station platform at Russell Square

Tonight London is very quiet indeed, with the Tube lines still closed, and buses beginning to return to normal. The TV is showing scenes of empty streets, and a strange eerie calm as people still slowly make their way home. But Londoners interviewed in the city all afternoon and evening kept saying the same thing, that people must carry on with life, otherwise the instigators of the attacks will have acheived their objectives - it seems that being stoic is one of the poms best traits!!

I'll be going to work in the morning, as will most people who can..

This is definitely one journal entry I never wanted to make while us or our friends were living here, but what has been called by many as 'an inevitable event' has occured not far from us..


Thursday, July 07, 2005

London wins the 2012 Olympic race!

Since we arrived in London last September, we were always dubious as to whether or not this city really wanted to hold an Olympic Games - having been down to Sydney in 2000, we knew ourselves how exciting such an event makes a city, but London just didn't seem to be getting in to it..

All that changed this week as the countdown to the announcement by the IOC approached..

The announcement was at 12:46pm today, broadcast live on TV from the IOC meeting in Singapore.. and the media had been following all the developments of the voting process and how the decision is made for the previous few days. Finally, the city seemed to be getting into it!!

The London bid team vying for the right to hold the games was lead by Lord Sebatian Coe, England's greatest male middle-distance runner, and flanked by a large contingent of famous British Olympians and sports people. They presented an inspirational final presentation to the IOC delegates in a last ditch effort to sway the voting members.. Whereas other Cities such as Paris and New York simply played a flashy video, London chose to present their case by talking about the opportunities it would create for parts of the city, and how the games would inspire children in the UK to get involved in sport and be inspired by the Olympic dream.

and... it worked!!.. dead on a quarter to one, Jacques Rogge, IOC President, announced that the final vote between London and Paris, had been won by "the city of.. London"!!!

Trafalgar Square was filled with a large lunchtime crowd fixed to big TV screens showing the announcement, and when the result came through, shock gave way to jubilation as the city celebrated what will be happenning in 7 years time out in the soon to be regenerated East London and Lower Lea Valley areas where the Olympic Park will be developed.

The works programme for London to get things ready to host the games

While Carly was at home watching it there, I watched it all on a plasma TV in the lobby at work where the response from colleagues was the same as in Trafalgar Square. It wasn't that Londoners didn't believe they could win, it was more a case of them not beleiving that they had beaten the apparently unbeatable bid from Paris..

Yet another win for the Brits over the Frenchies.. All I need to do now is get myself a job in Regeneration & Development Planning in London to take advantage of all the forthcoming spin-off development.


Monday, July 04, 2005

LIVE 8 in London

Yesterday, after missing out on tickets to the main event inside Hyde Park, Dan and us decided that we'd go to the next best thing, a nearby park showing the Live 8 concert on a big screen, and enjoy the day with company of another few thousand Londoners, rather than watch the even on television at home..

The following fantastic day was the result.

Sophie & Dan at the start of our picnic in Regents Park

Daniel and girlfriend Sophie, and Dan's brother Ben had headed into Hyde Park ahead of us, with the hope of somehow getting into the locked-down park - no luck though, so they headed north to the other side of the West End to Regents Park, where they had a large screen and a fantastic sound system for the thousands who had heard about this unadvertised showing of the concerts.

After watching the much-awaited start of the concert, a duet of 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' by U2 and Paul McCartney, we dashed from our flat and headed there on the tube as fast as possible, hoping not to miss too much of the middle part of the show.

The crowd watching the concert on the big screen; and Me and Carly

We got there very quickly - within 45 minutes - and perfectly timed too, just as ex-Boomtown Rat and Live Aid/8 organiser Bob Geldolf was belting out one of Carly's favourite songs - I don't like Monday's - and the crowd was just getting into it. We found the other guys in the relaxed picnic-style crowd, and settled in to watch amazing groups like the Scissor Sisters, The Who, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Sting (as good as ever!!), Snoop Dog (he was awesome), (a very terrible) Mariah Carey, and eventually a fantastic short set by the specially reformed Pink Floyd. There were so many more, I just can't remember them!!

As you can see from our deterioration in the photos as you scroll down, the big advantage of being in Regents Park and not the secured Hyde Park, was that you could bring in drinks with your picnic!!

Snoop Dog from Hyde Park; Sophie atop Dan's shoulders for a better view

Ben and his new 'friend'; and the phone that just wouldn't let him get through to Mr & Mrs Coxen

Photos of all of us in the park, as things were starting to loosen up!!

Some of the funniest moments of the day, Ben and Sophie are allowed to get photos wearing a Met Officer's bobbie hats, radios, and batons!! Brilliant! The crowd around them couldn't beleive it!

From the photos below you might notice an abundance of 'orange'!! No, it wasn't a promotional event that we were involved in, or anything else especially organised. Myself and Ben were both wearing orange coloured shirts, and thought it would be funny to get a photo with a guy sitting nearby who was also wearing orange.

(Post-edit: The 3rd Orange shirt guy has come forward! See below, Rob Marshall - the blond guy in this photo and many more after it - has added a comment to this post to say hi!!)

This gave all three of us a laugh as we did it. This guy then decided it might be funny if ran over and ambushed another orange shirt wearing concert-goer, and get another 'orange' photo, so the 3 of us tore off through the crowd with photographer Daniel in tow, to get a photo with our next victim.

This fourth person thought it was a great idea also so he joined us for the ambush on the fifth person, and then that person joined us to run over to the sixth person, and so on,

and so on,

and so on,

and so on,

the pic on the right includes Dave (second from left)

and so on,

and so on..

apparently by this stage, unknown to us and our group of some eight orange-wearing people, we had a large group of London 'bobbie' police following us as we tore through the crowd ambushing unsuspecting orange wearing people for the next photo.. but we continued onwards..

and there were more,

and more again,

and a few more in another direction,

and some more here, including an orange picnic blanket

and a few more here, including a small child we spotted and probably scared the hell out of!

until we had met every person wearing anything orange in the whole park!!

The four of us dancing the night away in the park, by this stage the whole crowd was up dancing..

Dan and Sophie, with Canadian Dave and family

At about the 7th or 8th person, we met a lovely Canadian family of which the husband/father, David, was unfortunately wearing an orange polo shirt, so he joined in for the rest of the orange run-around, and then they all joined us where we were sitting/standing/dancing for the rest of the evening to watch the grand finale of Pink Floyd followed by Paul McCartney performing Long and winding road, and with all the other artists, Hey Jude..

The crowd at Hyde Park as shown on our big screen; and Canadian Dave rockin' to his favourite, Pink Floyd

The McCartney finale, and Carly with her Make Poverty History pointer finger

The four of us at the end of the night!

The friendly crowd was well and truely getting into it by the end and there was a fantastic atmosphere as we all danced and carried on throughout the final acts as the concert ran over time by more than 2 hours, and we all pondered our long trip home if we missed the last tube. Luckily we got one of the last trains, avoiding a walk across the city..

I could write so much more about this fantastic day, which was designed to bring people together to highlight the problems of poverty still plagueing the African continent, 20 years since the original Live Aid at Wembley - we certainly got the message, and so we now wait to see what will come of this weeks G8 meeting in Scotland where world leaders will ponder how they can contribute with the cancellation of third-world debt, increasing aid and assistance programs, and fairer trade.