Oyster Preserved

There was a problem last weekend with the Oystercard system on the London transport network. Aparrently, around 65,000 people who attempted to use their cards during the system outage, had to have their Oystercards replaced with new ones. I’m really glad that I wasn’t one of those, ‘cos my Oystercard is one of the originals.

I’d be gutted if I had to have my Oystercard forcibly replaced.
(Taken with my cameraphone on the Southbound Jubilee Line platform at Kingsbury Station.)

You can tell I’ve got one of the original cards (circa 2003) because the London Transport roundel is coloured red on my Oystercard. They’re coloured white nowadays you see …

Baker Street

It’s amazing how enduring to the consciousness an entirely fictional character like Sherlock Holmes can be. According to Wikipedia:

Consciousness defies definition because it is nonexistent in the Nature phenomena. It descriptions may involve thoughts, sensations, perceptions, moods, emotions, dreams, and an awareness of self, although not necessarily any particular one or combination of these.

So when you’re waiting for the train doors to close after you’ve just boarded the Bakerloo Line tube at Baker Street you just can’t but help wonder at how they’ve managed to ingrain Sherlock Holmes into our consciousness here forever.

Image of Sherlock Holmes on the wall at Baker Street tube station
(Taken with my cameraphone on the Northbound Bakerloo Line platform.)

It’s elementary when the dear elements of such images are themselves made up of miniature Sherlock-shaped sillhouette elements. (Apols.)

Slough in Pictures Part 7

It’s been AGES since I last posted about Slough. Which for those who don’t know has been the most exciting town in the UK for quite some time now. Unfortunately I only work here, so I only really get to experience the place properly during the occasional lunch break etc. And so, on a lunch-break yesterday I took a walk into the town centre from my office on a mission to buy a cheap telephone “splitter” from the local “pound shop”. But whilst I was out I realised how bright and sunny it was. In total contrast to the few hours earlier when miserable dark clouds unleashed heavy rains on the place.

Slough Town Centre during a break in the weather.
(A kind of surreal picture taken with my cameraphone.)

There is something very weird about this photo. It looks like a computer-generated image from a scene in computer simulator game or something similar …
I think it’s a combination of the blue sky, the tiled floor, the over-saturated colours of the Nokia N95 cameraphone, and the bloke with a mobile phone who looks dressed like an avatar floating a few centimetres above the ground – a la Second Life. Strange.

Halfway house

Halfway into 2008. Where did June go? I had to look back through the month in my Flickr photostream to try to work that out. Click on the green button below for a slideshow of my favourite images of June from the few that I have.


As usual, all pictures were taken with my cameraphone; at the 2 megapixel setting. Musical accompaniment is “Maar Sutiya” from a 2005 “Bollywood” film called Deewane Huye Paagal.

Mozarella di Campana

The Euro 2008 football match between Netherlands and Italy last night was class. I have to say I was quite amazed by the Dutch team’s comprehensive defeat of Italy, and even more amazed by the style and flair of their achievement against the current world champions.

Well, at least there are many other things that the Italians are world class at, even if their football might not be of late; and this is one of them:

Mozarella with tomato and basil. The colours and taste of Italy.
(Taken with my cameraphone just before indulging in this taste sensation.)

Easy to prepare: Marks & Spencer are carrying imported Mozarella di Bufala Campana in a small hand-separated ball for around two quid (4 bucks). Slice it up into 8 rounds, and do the same with a large, chunky “beefsteak” tomato. Drizzle the tomato slices in extra-virgin, organic olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Lay out the tomato slices on a serving plate and arrange the mozarella slices on top. Garnish with large, well-formed, leaves of a bunch of fresh basil and serve as an appetiser to the next football match.

Dorney Lake

About two years ago, someone asked me to describe the five best things to do in London. And one of them was Dorney Lake. And I still stick by it.OK; it’s not quite London Town, but it’s not too far away, and on a nice sunny day like today (well it was before it rained), this is an absolutely fantastic place to a) have a picnic b) go for a bicycle ride c) just sit by the water’s edge and contemplate. Or any combination of the above.

Dorney Lake is a superb place to spend a few hours peacefully on a nice day.
(Taken with my moby at the end from which the TV cams will watch Olympian rowers win in 2012)

I have a little regret mentioning it now. As it’s probably best kept secret or else everybody will want to go there …

A wall

London’s equivalent of the feeling you get when you exit to the street from Penn Station in Manhattan for the first time on arrival to the heart of New York City can be had at Canary Wharf. The ascent up the escalators in the fabulous Canary Wharf tube station is definitely something every visitor to the city should do. I wouldn’t say it’s as breathtaking as Manhattan; but it’s definitely spectacular. London’s Docklands is still very new; and because of that the architecture is a lot more clinical; and in the early days (when the landscape wasn’t so filled out) it was actually quite cold and bleak. But now it’s “matured” and feels like a city.

But there’s one piece of civil engineering genius that really integrates the human being into the architecture of Canary Wharf; and it’s a low wall that spans most of the width of the square in front of the tube station entrance. The two powerful ingredients of a) sunshine and b) a low wall will have human beings attracted to it like ants to honey.

Provide a wall and sunshine. People will sit.
(Taken with my cameraphone outside Canary Wharf tube station in London’s Docklands)

Canary Wharf in the sunshine rocks.

MP3 Dreaming

My mobile phone plays MP3s. Drifting off into daydreams staring at the nothingness of the Metropolitan Line on standing-room-only commutes into London town.

Wars on terror, mayoral elections, missing toddlers.

The headlines on the front pages burden upon the soul when haunted by music so sad and so loud in your personal space. But staring at the ordinary can often become extraordinarily and hauntingly beautiful when doing so.

Lost in music staring at the nothingness of London commuting.
(Taken with my cameraphone on the Metropolitan Line towards Baker Street.)

Click on the green button below and while it’s loading (be patient; it’s a high quality MP3 but should only take a couple of mins on broadband) put your headphones on and when it’s loaded turn up the volume really loud and click the “play” button and stare intently into the picture; focussing on infinity.

Music is the beautiful voice of Alyssia singing “Tera Pyar” (“Your love”) produced by London’s own Punjabi Hit Squad. This track has dominated the desi music charts in London last couple of months. Enjoy.

Car Park Ramp

It’s been a while since my last update here. Busy busy. In the meantime I discovered that Flickr now does video! And I’m actually getting the hang of it. At first I was a bit hesitant at the idea; I mean: why try to compete with YouTube etc. but now I’m beginning to realise the genius of it: a) max 90 second clips: b) perfectly integrated with the way in which stills are handled; c) email upload mechanism preserved for us cameraphone junkies – the net result is that you won’t get pirated videos or user-generated karaoke-diatribe there; instead you’re more likely to get stuff that complements stills very well; and more likely to get cameraphone footage: which, of course is all about real life. We love real ife!

Sometimes I have to drive to work instead of taking the buses and trains. If I do this, I have to park in a multi-storey shoppers car park in Slough near my office. The drive up the ramp can seem boring and mundane, but there is something quite exhilerating about it. You get a slight feeling of power as you hit the gas to get to the top and then command the barrier to raise:

Driving up the ramp into a multi-storey car park in Slough.
(Taken with my cameraphone of course.)

For those new to Flickr, you can get an insight into the Route 79 Flickr lifestyle here.

April snow

When it snows you can guarantee that there’ll be loads of Flickr people checking in with pictures of the scene from their windows. North West London is rarely graced with such sights, and even rarely in April, so I could not resist doing the same. By the early afternoon a razor-sharp spell of fierce sunshine caused this spectacle to vanish completely. A classic example of the craziness of the weather systems here in the UK.

Morning scene of surreal quality in North West London.
(Taken with my cameraphone.)

Enjoyed while it lasted. (You can see my beloved Route 79 bus in this picture; a blaze of colour in an otherwise greyscale frame.)

London è la Primavera

No, not a type of pizza, but Italian for Spring. You wouldn’t believe it from the crazy weather we’ve been having lately, but Spring has arrived. (Of course, the further-out suburbs of London that occupy the southern hemisphere will be experiencing quite the opposite.) And so with it an exceptionally early Easter Bank Holiday weekend here in UK meant that my lunch on Friday 21st March (yes I know that Spring officially started on the 20th this year) was not spent having the usual Friday fish’n’chips in the office canteen. Instead, the Route 79 posse took advantage of the day off to trip it into town to visit our all-time favourite “chippy”: Mr Fish in Bayswater. And since Friday was the 21st of the month, I selected 21 of my favourite cameraphone snaps of that day and assembled them into a simple musical montage to record the sights and sounds from our quest for quality fish’n’chips – London-style. Click on the green button to get loading, turn up the volume as loud as you can and then use the green button to step through the pics with an imaginary fork in your hand waving it about like an virtuoso conductor and enjoy the trip.


Music is Op. 8/1, RV 269, “Spring” – 3. Danza Pastorale from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” performed by Venice Baroque Orchestra lead by virtuoso violinist Giuliano Carmignola in what has to be my favourite interpretation of this all-time classic set of violin concertos.

Pad Thai Noodles

Just about everybody who goes to a Thai restaurant at some point in their Thai-food-eating life orders a dish called Pad Thai. It’s Thai street food that’s made it to the tables of the foodies all over the world, and like most noodle dishes is very quick and easy to cook.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that if it’s too complicated to cook, then it’s probably not how Pad Thai was meant to be. This stuff is made in minutes from food stalls in marketplaces all over Thailand, and in some cases even by vendors in tiny little boats on canals! So it’s got to be easy.

Pad Thai Noodles! No excuse not to make it yourself now.
(Taken with my cameraphone as I served it out ready to eat)

The complexity is in the flavour and texture of the end-product, not in the cooking. So try it OK?
Click here to learn how to make this really tasty dish.

Meme

Someone left a message in these pages the other day requesting that I say seven things about myself. It’s a “meme” you know. A viral “I’ll answer some questions, and then pass it on” sort of thing. Now, the brief is a bit open-ended, but I kind of like that. So, here are seven things about me, some of which some of you will already know, and some which you might not.

1. I live in suburban London. A neighbourhood called Kingsbury. London NW9. And, naturally, my ‘hood, and lots about it, feature in these pages from time to time.

Kingsbury Road, London NW9. My local High Street.
(Taken with cameraphone.)

2. I work in the telecommunications industry. Mobile communications mostly. Wireless. I’ve had loads of mobile phones over the years. Click here for an article I wrote last year which features a musical photo montage of the last ten year’s worth of my mobile phones. Mobile phones are everywhere you know.

3. I love cooking. And I love to share my cooking. Over the years, hundreds of people have written to me thanking me for sharing my recipes. How I have saved their marriages, or how I’ve made their student lives more bearable etc. I have to thank my Mum. Google search index ranks some my recipes very highly as a result. I’m proud of my Mum for that. Thanks Mum!

4. I travel a lot on the buses in North West London. I love London buses. So much so that I name these pages after my local bus route. I have a lot of respect for buses and those who travel on them. Except those disrespectful people who put their dirty feet up on the seats. Sometimes I feel that it is my personal duty and mission to expose this selfish, disgusting habit. Click here to see what I mean.

5. It once took me 9 hours to get home. I used to work in Hammersmith in West London. And one January about five years ago it snowed in London. Only a few centimetres fell, but it brought the country to a standstiil. Anyway, to cut a long story short I ended up going round and round in circles on the Underground trying to find a suitable way out of town so I could get home. I wrote about my story on a website (that no longer exists) and it got spotted by a documentary researcher for Channel 4 TV here in the UK. A year or so later I was asked to take part in a film reconstruction for the documentary, and this was aired on UK national TV in 2005. One of the tube stations I ended up at time and time again after a wild goose chase trying to find any way in which I could get home was Edgware Road, and this formed the basis of my story in the TV documentary. It was screened on 6th of July 2005. The very next morning a Circle Line train at Edgware Road was blown up by a man detonating a ruck-sack full of high-explosives. Travelling the London transport system would never be the same again for quite some time.

6. I love experimenting with words, pictures, movies and sounds on these pages. I’ve produced loads of multimedia, pretend-arty stuff over the years. Here is an example: The other day I had to travel to a borough in the outer suburbs of London called “Prague”. And I had a particular tune in my head whilst doing so. All day; there and back, I could not get that music out of my head. Click on the green button below to experience a musical slideshow that summarises my daytrip to the outskirts of London:


To the outer suburbs and back again
(All pictures taken with my cameraphone.)

(Musical intro from Blue Monday by New Order, 1983.)

7. And finally: I love Fish’n’chips! Every Friday I make a point of eating this traditional lunch in my office canteen. And every Friday I take a picture and upload it my Flickr photostream. It’s kind of become my way of saying “Have a great weekend” to all my Flickr friends.

That’s it. Hope you had a great weekend, and (for those in the UK) have a safe week, what with the predicted storms and so on. Cheers!