Monday, 23 August 2010

Damn Fine Coffee Y'hear!

Oh yes, there are many independent coffee houses in London it has to be said, and indeed a lot of good ones. However every now and again you come across one that puts the others to shame, step forward the LJ Coffee House in Soho on Winnett Street behind the Queens Theatre (Les Miserables):

Dedicated and helpful happy staff, fantastic coffee, good food, comfy chairs and a great vibe, what more could you wish for? Go and get your caffeine fix!

Oh and they have a website too: excellent :)

Space Age - Museum of Childhood, Leicester

Just a quick photo montage here, we dropped by on Sunday re-lived our youth and I took a few phone-cam photos.....

Admit it, you want the glasses:

Fashion always comes full circle, things are tweaked and re-branded.... "Moon Boots?!" I hear you cry, yes, the older version of today's Ugg Boots!

Can you see influence for The Golden Compass here?:

Cool logo for a t'shirt - they missed out on some sales:

R2-D2 and Eve get a bit close:

Quick, grab ya whippets and run, run I tell ye, the Daleks are invading Yorkshire:

Disney-Geek-Alert (that'll be Phil y'know!), this is the book that Disney based their 'Space Mountain' ride on:

Am I wrong to laugh at the title of this book, fnarr fnarr:

Cool Star Wars poster:

And obviously Pigs In Space must also be added, The Muppets too:

Back to Star Wars, how many people out had the toys and figurines without realising how much they would be worth today? *Puts own hand up*

Space Age potty, sorry, chair:

I have christened this chewing gum-ball vending machine robot 'Pervert The Robot', can you tell why?

How cool?:

Ahhh, the old 80's Space Invaders, fanTAStic:

....but HOW MUCH....... it used to be only 10p, rip off Britain strikes again!

Cute robot dog:

All hail David Bowie:

This should tie up a few 'certain' movies:

I didn't realise until we left the exhibition, whoooooooopsadaisy:


Obviously this exhibition is geared towards the younger generation, it would be interesting to have a much bigger exhibition in London taking in the art of say HR Giger, and including more of the movies, 2001, Alien/Aliens etc, the more sinister side of space and Sci-Fi alongside the more gentler things, could prove to be a hit.

And finally walking back down the New Walk we came across this dilapidated building:

What the hell is wrong with the Leicester City Council? Not only are they hell bent with destroying the city's heritage - for example the destruction of the Bow String Bridge and indeed one of the best 'homely' pubs in the country: The Pump And Tap that was next to it, they are letting their big homes fall into this state, shame on you Leicester Council! Mind you, having seen their offices' square:

Of drab 60's pre-cast concrete greyness, is it any real surprise?!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hair - Gielgud Theatre, London 14th August 2010


Lissy Lovett and the Stagetext posse came up trumps when they persuaded the Gielgud Theatre to show one of the Hair performances with captions. We'd been dying to see this before it closed, it's a full transfer of the original Broadway cast transplanted into London's West End.

.....and it only took 40 years to come back!!!

Hair is in a nutshell about a group of hippies pushing for civil rights, protesting against the war in Vietnam, promoting love, peace and harmony.... and drugs, .....and promiscuous sexual freedom, .....and nudity, you get the drift, it's the full 'sex, drugs & rock 'n roll' shebang!

The cast were phenomenal, you couldn't single any one of them out as they were all superb. You are immediately transported to the 'Summer of Love' in 1967 and gain a (musical) look in (through rose coloured glasses I must say) about the East Village hippy culture at the time. Lots of people will know the songs but I feel few will know where they originate from, for example 'I Got Life' is currently on the Muller Yoghurt adverts (of all things!!)! 'Good Morning Starshine' also comes from the show, and of course 'Aquarius'.

The arty-chandelier-with-Hair-hand-graphics-taken-during-the-interval-type-picture!!:

The cast made full use of the theatre, regularly coming out into the audiences on both levels during the show, climbing over the people's seats and getting the audience fully involved with the production. They even made a point of the Stagetext captioning screen, which was placed (amazingly) centre-stage, during the show too, especially with the rather funny ad-libbed "..Say 'Raspberry!' Hubert.." segment, which was typed up almost immediately on the captioning screen - pure genius! Cue: lots of laughter across the theatre, and in the same breath it raises deaf awareness in the theatre circles, making access much more acceptable ....and that's brilliant.

The show deals with social peer-pressure, which we all go through, all of the trials, errors and judgements that go with it. It also includes several comical parental 'from the outside looking in' views too, especially with the characters Hubert and Margaret Mead. It is really easy to relate the show to today's youth, because, to be honest, it hasn't changed, it's all about growing up, social relationships, making decisions and learning from your mistakes.

The show climaxed with the whole audience being invited for a mass stage invasion and a reprise of 'Let The Sunshine In'

I have to say it was one of the best productions I've seen, I'd love to go and see it again. Sadly it's only on a short run as it's sticking with the Broadway cast. Which.... although grumbling.... is perhaps a good thing, as it is 'their' show, and a bloody good show it is too.

I gotta get outta here...!!

"...Lines form on my face and my hands, lines form from the ups and the downs, I'm in the middle, without any plans..."
'I'm Eighteen' - Alice Cooper.

I guess a good few of you know how it feels, trapped, staring at the same four walls every day, the same conveyor belt of work, the same colleagues' faces staring back at you, the same problems, the same ignorance and you just feel utterly fed up about it all. It has been like that for a good while now, just at the old day-jobs mind you, away from work, life is fantastic! So it was a great time for an out-of-the-blue weekend getaway.

Phil had hit the nail on the head booking us into The Dormy House Hotel in Broadway, the Cotswolds, it is set in some of the most beautiful countryside of the British Isles.

The Dormy House is an old farm building that has been converted into a hotel, set well back from any main roads, it's a really lovely little haven and highly recommended. The staff are all superb and will take full care of you all weekend, so if you're looking for a break why not pay them a visit yourself?

Saturday was spent just getting the bearings, we drove down to the villagey town of Bourton-on-the-Water which turned out to be a complete (and unfortunate) tourist trap. It reminded me of Barney in the summer. I'm from an old market town up north that gets very touristy in the summer months so had plenty of (unwanted) flashbacks. We had a stroll around, it was an OK place I suppose, the houses and lanes were lovely just completely spoilt with masses of tourists and tourist tat shops. It was Round Table weekend with a duck-race going on, didn't bother to take many photo's here but here's the glancing duck-race shot:

Exciting eh?! Quite!

Headed back to the Hotel to just collapse, both of us were knackered. Had a lovely meal that evening, great food, good wine and the staff were awesome. Moved to a sitting room for coffees with neither of us realising at the time how strong the coffee was....... it lead to a very restless night with very little sleep. Come Sunday morning we were more knackered than when we arrived, eeeurgh - note to anyone going to the Dormy House, take the after-dinner coffee with great caution!

Packed up the bags on Sunday and reloaded the car, it was just a short weekend break. Headed out to a place called Chipping Campden as recommended by one of the hotel staff and it was just perfect.

Now, a word of warning: I may bore you to death here as I love architecture, you can blame my art teacher forcing me to study Banister Fletcher as part of my art a-level for that!

Going briefly back to Barney here; Barney has its fair share of charming, 'olde-worlde', buildings, for example the Market Cross, alas it has also gone down the tourist pound route and as a result has lost all of its old charm. Most of the old family run independent shops have gone and the Wednesday market isn't much to write home about, a great shame. Chipping Campden however has kept its old charm, any new builds there are built to reflect the old houses, with narrow leaded windows and period correct stone masonry. How I feel it should be! As a result took loads of pictures so will run them off here.

The Market Hall:

Random selection of old buildings that caught my eye:

Architectural detailing:

The village's old Toll Listings:

I'd love an entrance to a home like one of these two *sighs*:

As you walk around the town centre there are lots of nooks and crannies, I had a look through a key hole to see what was behind a set of old wooden gates, lo and behold a path to a secret garden (rather chuffed with this photo as it was taken through the old key-hole!):

Quite a few of the buildings on the main street were undergoing renovation, I snapped this door with paint swatches on it, it looks rather funky as it is:

If it was me, I'd be tempted to paint each wooden section a different colour (as is but tidy it up), failing that would opt for the pale blue in the top right!

At the end of the high street we came to this building and I fell in love with it - does anyone want to buy me it please?

Imagine it with a rose climber, window boxes and a planted entrance similar to the ones shown before, something to dream about!

The photographs here don't do any of the buildings justice, it was an overcast day which was a shame.

Chipping Campden has a good collection of antique shops, family run cafes, potters, silversmiths, all sorts of cottage industry goods made in situ, and not one Starbucks in sight thank god! Let it be said however, thieves are not taken kindly:

And last but not least Phil managed to pick up a little hitch-hiker before we headed back to the city (which he popped back into the foliage before we left I hasten to add):

So all in it was a lovely (yet strong-coffee-induced completely knackering) weekend, definitely going back and would recommend it to anyone reading this here blog.

It's good to just kick back, take time out and relax now and again, forgetting all about life's problems.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty's Theatre, 24/07/2010

Here's Phil to take the reins:

Another theatre-luvvy day today, this time it’s The Phantom of the Opera. We decided to see the show again, partly because it’s visually quite stunning and also in readiness for seeing the sequel (Love Never Dies) in a couple of month’s time. It was also a good opportunity for Lee, now having seen the show once and knowing the story, to get the chance to appreciate the visual side to the show and the effects instead of having to intently follow the captions. (Which I add were done superbly by Stagetext).

Phantom is one of those shows I would probably never get bored of. It is very easy to get swept away by the power and emotion of the music along with the stunning sets, costumes and effects. I always look forward to the opening of the show and the great swell of the music as the chandelier comes alive. It’s a real “goose bump” moment for me.

It relies heavily on, what look like, quite simple special effects but, in actual fact, they cost a fortune to produce and the majority were specially designed for the show – the travelator, the trap door (which plummets the Phantom at about 60 miles an hour), a collapsible staircase, folding candles, remote controlled boats, the “magic” chair etc. It is also quite interesting to know that there is very little storage space backstage so the majority of the set pieces, including the full size Elephant, are hung above the stage when not in use.

Every time I see the show I am amazed by its complexity and how “tight” it still is even after 20 odd years in the West End. I think it will continue for many decades to come and probably long after the sequel has closed too.

Needless to say we will be back again and, hopefully, will be seeing the
Las Vegas version in the not too distant future.