Hello MOLIBLOG fans. As you might have noticed I’ve not updated my blog for a while. I’m having a Moli holiday. I got some feedback what suggested that most people liked my writing but just couldn’t be bothered to read it. I know that I’m still getting regular readers despite not posting for a while and that’s great.
However, I need to post to you all now. As some of you know, I sit on the board of directors for a London docklands residential development that was the former site of the Harland and Wolff ship builders. Yes, they built the Titanic in Belfast!
One of the projects I’m involved with currently is an art project to build a ship from recycled and reclaimed material, including debris from the Thames. Artist Dmitri Galitzine will start building his “Ship to Sail away” from the 8th August to the 16th September and he needs your help. He needs you to bring things that float or could be used to build his ship and help him put it together and bring it to life.
Like I said earlier, it’s going to be a ship to sail away and plans to launch the ship and sail out to sea on his and your creation. So the shipyards of the East End of London are coming back to life once more.
Visit Galleons Lock, London, E16. Nearest DLR station is Galleons Reach.
Thanks for reading and I really hope you and your families can get involved.
I’ve enjoyed writing my blog and sharing my views and experiences. I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading them too. I don’t update as much as I should and very few people ever comment on my posts but the numbers of viewers from around the world lets me know I’m getting myself out there.
At the beginning of this year I decided to embark on a photographic project that would involve me taking a photograph a day and publishing them of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The first two social media formats are for public consumption and with the right hash tags I can be sure that they get to the right audience that might actually enjoy them. Now, I use the word photograph and not picture for a particular reason. Snaps and Pics in my view are images that anyone can take of anything and often represent little more than the capturing in an instant of what is in front of the viewer. It is in essence what the world looks like at that time and place. Nothing wrong in that and I’ve taken a fair few of those pictures over the years. However, a photograph for a photographer is the capture of the world how the photographer or I see it and wants others to see it. The image can tell a story or highlight an object or character. It isn’t necessarily even the truth but it is an art that communicates a reality I want to project to the world as the photographer. Was that too deep?
The challenge I set myself has a couple of self-imposed rules. I need to take a photograph a day for year and I can only feature once in any of the 365 images. Simple really? Not really! I find myself looking around wherever I go, like a lost tourist, hoping to find that magic photograph and the reality is the daily commute is becoming fairly used up for great shots and I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m over 50 images in so far and I’m enjoying the challenge. Some places are duller than others and my inspiration on a Monday morning can sometimes be lacking. I’m finding that some people have followed me from day one and some groups and companies have started following me too.
Many of the photographs are taken and edited on my iPhone 6 which I feel demonstrates that you don’t need to have an expensive camera to take interesting images. I think it just needs thought, patience and a dash of creativity.
Hear are some of the photographs I’ve taken this year so far. Please leave some comments.
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Please leave your comments. I really appreciate the feedback.
It’s almost impossible for anyone to have missed the marketing and media that has for over a year led to the premiere of Star War, The Force Awakens. Ever since George Lucas sold the rights of the franchise to the Disney Corporation for over $4bn we all knew they wanted to get their money back and selling t-shirts wasn’t quite going to cover it. Before I continue I just want to say that this is going to be a spoiler-ridden review and if you’ve not seen the film yet I would recommend that you stop reading this, as I’m sure I will spoil it for you.
Right, now I can continue.
I want to say that I’m a Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all the movies several times and the original three films probably more times than is healthy. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of the cast including Carrie Fisher and have even had dinner with producer Gary Kurtz for the inside line on the original production. I say all this to firstly do some gratuitous name-dropping and by way proof that I really love Star Wars. I’m not keen on all the CGI for episodes 1,2 and 3 and think they were very weak in plot and character development and in particular, in comparison to the original 3 three films. The original films had their own creative problems too and I won’t spend time going into any detail about that now but I will comment on one element that of the narrative around the Death Star and the ultimate battle to destroy it with a single shot from our hero Luke Skywalker. This was amazing in 1977 and I remember cheering in the cinema when the whole thing exploded. Annoyingly in The Return of the Jedi they pretty much did that all over again with another big explosion and without the benefit of home video I’m sure we all cheered again. However, upon reflection, I’m sure they could have come up with a different story? However, we accepted this and moved on.
Now, nearly 40 years later and we are all marketed to within an inch of our lives to go and watch Star Wars 7 and guess what. Spoiler alert, they have a Death Star type planet they have to destroy. I mean, come on. Really??? You’ve had 40 years to come up with a new story and you basically copy Episode 4 that was then copied by Episode 6 and now Episode 7. If these films were produced and shown within a few years of each other the public would be screaming for their money back!!! The underling plot for each of these films is different but ultimately the premise is the same. Blow up the big killer ball to save the universe. Maybe we could have a cube or a triangle next time? Now, I honestly didn’t want to get sucked into all the media hype and I deliberately waited a couple of weeks for the dust to settle to give myself a less influenced opinion of the film and I strongly feel that most audience members that went to see the film on release date having booked them months in advance and any film critics that were wined and dined would have found the movie the best thing since sliced Bantha.
Certainly the early reviews like that of Bond movie Spectre were claiming to be as good as anything that came before but many of the US critics could see past the hype of Bond and I feel I’m seeing past the hype of Star Wars. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and nothing I’m saying here is the definitive view. Don’t get me wrong, I did find some elements really special. The film was clearly produced with love and by people that understand what made the original films so good. I loved the reduced and less obvious CGI and the imagery of a Star Destroyer crashed into the sand looked amazing, along with the classic feel of the Millennium Falcon and the attention to detail throughout the production. This was all done with care and consideration but I was concerned that the production artwork didn’t move things forward enough and given the amount of time that has passed in the Star Wars universe the ships on both the Rebellion and 1st Order side hadn’t been updated. It was like having a car chase in the Sweeny 40 years ago and then having a 21st Century remake and still using a classic Granada and a Jaguar as a getaway car. It just wouldn’t happen. Why didn’t they update anything in the last 40 years? Did the Star Wars branch of PC World close down? The new droid, BB-8 is however an excellent upgrade to the ageing RD-D2 and C3PO that I know Star Wars fans love but which I feel have served their purpose and it was good that their appearance though essential was kept to a minimum and R2-D2 barely giving a beep throughout the film.
The two new hero characters of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise but with sadly a little too much Disney comedy and sweetness for me. A majorly under used character of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) was a great shame as the greatest pilot in the galaxy was hardly seen and as an actor, Oscar Isaac was wasted.
However, I understand this is something that will be corrected in Episode 8, Attack of the Triangular shaped object. The character I struggled with the most is Kylo Ren. (Adam Driver) Dressed in black with a mask and lamenting Darth Vader’s legacy, he just appeared like a Sith Lite or Diet Darth Vader and lacked any real menace and almost coming over as a bit inept.
The biggest mistake was his removal of the mask to reveal what can only describe as a bit of a twat. He had the sort of face that you just want to slap while telling him he’s a naughty boy. If he did have any menace, it was now totally lost and the only way it could have been worse is if Franks Spencer had been revealed with an “Ohh, hello.” I understand that the books, comics and various other texts give all these characters back stories but if I pay my money to see a film it needs to stand on its own two feet without the need for me to have read around the subject first. Harrison Ford played his Han Solo character by the numbers and there weren’t really any surprises except that he was clearly there for the money and to get out as quickly as possible, which he did before the film ended. The biggest disappointment was Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill. He became the Star Wars version of Where’s Wally, and didn’t get revealed until the last 20 seconds of the film which I was stunned at given all the hype and the global premieres featuring Hamill along with all the cast. Apart from being older and having a beard I really couldn’t understand why he couldn’t be our hero again and have a more significant role in this new film.
I’m sad to say that this film didn’t live up to my expectations but it was fun, nostalgic and an entertaining film and I do actually want to watch it again but I need to give it some time. I went to see it in 3D at my local Everyman cinema in Canary Wharf, London with its comfy sofas and armchairs. I couldn’t have had a better viewing room and it’s Star Wars type tunnel leading to it.
I’ll wait till it arrives on Blu-ray and watch it at home to see if it grows on me. I really hope the future films can move things forward and make better use of the characters and maybe have a plot that doesn’t involved a sphere-shaped object that needs blowing up. Now, I remember being at the premiere of The Phantom Menace in 1999 and getting really excited about the new bad guy Darth Maul that sadly failed to transpire into anything meaningful and left audiences and myself disappointed. So, Kylo Ren being equally disappointing I really want any future films to have an evil character, shot at low angles and truly scary with a great theme tune to boot.
I doubt however that’s in keeping with Disney. We will probably end up with Darth Mickey.
Lets see what happens next in a galaxy far, far away.
There is one thing a new year and a new years day is good for. Reflection. I’ve spent the past few days thinking about the year that’s past and I can’t say that my thoughts are good. Actually, they are bloody awful. When I compare New Years Eve 2014 to 2015 this is most evidential. 12 months ago I was with a large group of people having the time of my life and this year I’m sat at home alone and thinking that I must be a terrible human being. How bad must I have been to have lost everything within a year? Have I learnt from my mistakes? Have I become a better person that people want to be around? I guess not as my NYE invites number zero.
I’m so glad to see the back of 2015 I’m not sure words can really convey. It was a year filled with so much pain, both physical and mental, and both of which I’m still healing from but now much improved. However, in my experience, some things in life can be fixed, some things will remain scars forever and some things will never ever be repaired. Sorry to sound cryptic but stupidly I’m still protecting those that hurt me and those that turned their back on me. I guess I’m also protecting those that did nothing for me in my darkest days. This must all sound very cryptic, self-pitying and self-absorbing but it’s my blog and if you don’t like it, fuck off. This helps me get things right in my head and when I read this back in 20 years time, I’ll remember how I felt about 2015, should I ever forget.
Logically NYE and NYD is just another day and nothing really changes. It is symbolic and numerical only. The symbolism for me marks the end of one life that could have been and the start of whatever I want my life to be but I don’t trust the universe enough to believe it won’t try to upset any well thought out plans I might have for myself. After all, 2015 didn’t go as planned and I put my heart and soul into it. Literally giving myself to the future and my soul almost dying in the process. What life is this? My spine failing me early in the year and the endless pain it left me with was beyond my ability to control and handle on a daily basis. I had to manage the pain and my recovery the best I could but the price was much higher than I could ever have imagined. It’s only upon my NYE reflection that I’ve come to think that maybe it could have saved me too from a far worse fate. A life that was false and emotionless, which is a slow death, as Shakespeare once said, ‘to thine own self be true’. It’s taken a long time for me to realise that. The year hasn’t been a complete disaster and the highlights are here for all to see in my blog. I’m proud of the adventures I finally managed to cram into the final quarter of the year. The trip to Texas and people I met along the way being a great memory but I’m also very aware of what’s not written here, the stories of the people in my world who’ve past away. With my new job I’ve made some new friends and I love working with this team. It’s re-energised me for the year ahead.
So, I wish you all a happy new year. The year ahead will find new ways to challenge us all and give us rewards too. A year of endless possibilities for both I’m sure. Wishing you all the good luck and strength you’ll need for 2016.
Sometimes I envy people who love sports like football and rugby as they can easily travel to watch a game anywhere in the country or at their local stadium. Being a fan of Formula 1 is an expensive, global affair and unless you want to watch it solely on TV you need in most cases to get on a plane and spend some money. This has been the main reason I’ve never bothered to watch a race, even in the UK. The cost of tickets, t-shirts and hats to support your favourite team and driver makes the average football shirt look like the bargain basket at Primark. People have always told me I should go but for me I love it so much that I didn’t want to sour the experience by camping in a nearby field and watching the race from a video screen with a ham sandwich. I wanted to do it up close, in style and why not.
A friend of mind was heading to the 2015 American Gran Prix in Austin, Texas and knowing this I wanted him to bring me back something uniquely connected to what is one of my top three tracks on the F1 calendar. I was willing to give him a small pile of money in exchange for a t-shirt with various logos and team names. To my shock he said that the trip was off due to a family dispute and that he won’t be going. I was sad for him as he is a massive F1 fan and I couldn’t imagine looking forward to such an event and then at the last minute missing out and of course losing all the flight, hotel and track money. He offered me his tickets as a souvenir and consolation for not getting my t-shirt. He then passed a comment that would change everything. “If only you could get the time off work and go?” Now at this point I laughed if off and after some very short consideration, said, “fuck it, lets do it”. I’m taking some time off for my birthday anyway. So, I found myself booking a flight to Texas but this was Monday and the race weekend is in 4 days. I couldn’t get a direct flight to Austin, so I had to fly into Houston and then get a connection across. United Airlines was the cheapest option in cattle class but this just wasn’t the case as they were using a 3 week old Dreamliner with massive windows that can be electrically dimmed to create a cool blue purple colour that changes the interior from day to night and creates a very relaxing travelling experience which I needed as my total journey time was over 15 hours. The time passed quickly as the plane was full of people heading to F1 and chatting to strangers and sharing insights into each other’s lives can be very distracting.
My enthusiastic impulse decision to go to America meant that I didn’t look at the weather report. I really didn’t look. It’s Texas for goodness sake. Cowboy’s, dust and sun. Not hurricane Patricia the worst category 5 hurricane to hit land in the western hemisphere right? The Friday I landed it was humid and a little damp but nothing to worry about. Waking up and going to have breakfast in my hotel with loads of fans was fascinating but the faces told a different story. The weather wasn’t great. It was very not great. It was terrible and things were going to be delayed until 12pm. The rain from the hotel window looked fairly heavy but I decided to take a taxi over to the track that was only 20 minutes from the hotel. The Circuit of the Americas is a gorgeous track even in dark clouds it look great. The driver took me as far as he could and I got out of the car. I believe that 20 or 25 seconds went by before the rain hit my skin. Every part of my body was soaked to the skin and given that I had several waterproof layers on, it was a bit of a shock. I remember putting it something like this. “Fuck Me!!!” Clearly my clothing wasn’t hurricane proof and I’m not sure what clothing would be. The sheer intensity of water and wind I’ve never seen in my life before. Rain was coming from above, below and to the side. It was difficult to breath and speak without spitting water out of your mouth and a question came to mind. Has anyone ever drowned in rain? As the temperature dropped the cold, wet and wind took its toll on everyone and we all ended up hiding on a big tent that served as a retail store/ refugee camp.
I should have been upset and disappointed but being in a big room with loads of F1 fans was a fantastic experience. Yes, I was cold and wet and hadn’t seen a racing car yet but I was speaking people in that tent from all over the world that had travelled all over the world for the love of this sport. I heard about other race experiences and that the weather isn’t always nice. Some people did point out that I was unlucky for my first race but I really didn’t mind at this point as I was having fun. The weather just got worse and worse and it didn’t show any signs of clearing. I was a little worried that the race itself would be cancelled on Sunday. The planned driver meet and greets for Saturday afternoon were also cancelled which was a little annoying, so I decided to call it a day in the end and head into down town Austin.
The only way to get back there was by getting on a big yellow school bus that I’ve seen in the movies. This was very cool but the windows wouldn’t close and the wind and rain just poured in. However, when you get to a certain point of wetness it really doesn’t matter any more. A nice touch inside the massive school bus that had child size seating but a roof so high I couldn’t touch it, was little cards with the names of the children who normally use the bus. I still can’t work out why the bus needed to be so big in size and still only allow such tiny legroom between the seats. Down town Austin was in full party mode and 6th street was where all the action was. I enjoyed some food, drink and soaked up the atmosphere but my body had also soaked up most of the hurricane and my arse was very cold and wet, I therefore decided to have an early night, get dry and prepare for qualification and race day which was now planned to happen all on Sunday. When I got to my hotel it was also in party mode and after I had recovered, dried off and my fingers no longer had wrinkles I joined in with the beers and chats with the others. Race Day
Race day. Today was going to be a very busy day. Qualification and race together is very rare. The weather was much better but sadly still raining and windy. This however was now balanced with energy around the track with fans buzzing with expectation. I was sitting at turn 5 that is one of the fastest parts of the track getting up to 200mph. Getting wet was no longer a problem as I sat in my seat, which was mostly a puddle, and I just didn’t care. The first part of qualification started and hearing and seeing these cars in the metal made my skin tingle with excitement. The track made things a little bit twitchy for the cars and Carlos Sainz spun off into the wall right in front of me. I just turned my phone on to video a short clip and I managed to catch it.
The third and final part of qualification was cancelled as the weather got worse again and the pole positions were decided from this point. Once more the fans and I huddled into a nearby tent for shelter while people ate massive turkey legs like it was some medieval banquet and drank beer. I appeared to have arrived on the set of Game of Thrones. As we waited for the time and weather to pass, some Texans apologised to me about the weather and that this had been the first rain they had seen since May. The truth be know, it was actually the most rain ever seen in Texas since records began.
The reality is that I didn’t care about the rain but only that after all my efforts to get to here; I might not get a race after all. I looked into the sky and I could finally see a patch of blue. Blue, Blue, Blue sky!!! The weather cleared, the tracked dried enough and we had ourselves a race.
Now I had a chance to watch my first F1 race and it didn’t disappoint. I won’t go into every turn and spin but as races go, the race was exciting and the race leader kept changing throughout. As the conditions improved things got faster and it was nothing like watching on TV. The sound of the engines was great, except the McLaren engine, which sounded like a really sick lawnmower, poor Jenson Button. As the race was drawing to an end it was a mistake from Nico Rosberg that helped my man Lewis Hamilton to pass into first place and win the race, not to forget the world championship, which is something I was very proud to be there to witness.
I had a little tear in my eye as the crowd of British fans that surrounded me sang the national anthem at full blast until we forgot the words, which was about 10 seconds after we started. Afterwards I was lucky enough to walk around the racetrack and take few pictures before heading off into down town Austin to celebrate the win, which I did to the best of my ability.
The next day I did a bit of sight seeing at the capital building and around the university before heading off for yet another Tex-Mex meal in which was now hot and glorious sunshine. Such a shame it couldn’t have been like that every day.
The most important thing is I got to see my first F1 race and I finally got that t-shirt. It just cost me more than I’d planned. However, I can’t wait to go back again.
Please leave me some feedback.
Here are some more pictures of the race if you want to see them
I’m starting to wonder if my blogging world is broken. Along with my Facebook updates I’m struggling to celebrate, lament and comment on my life. I think I know why and I need to deal with it as I really do enjoy writing my blog.
Facebook however, I’m not missing as much. It seems that its mostly videos of people popping 20 year old spots and less than inspirational memes. It’s certainly a far cry from when Facebook started out and friends shared thoughts, pictures and status updates of their own. I guess Facebook has become lazy.
So, what’s been going on with me? Some of you might be interested even if we don’t speak to each other any more or actually never met in the first place.
This year the defence show was at Excel again and as usual I took some pictures of the arrivals that included,
• Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke
• Royal Navy River Class HMS Tyne
• Royal Navy Hunter Class MCMV HMS Hurworth
• Royal Canadian Navy Halifax Class HMCS Winnipeg
• Belgian Navy Costal Patrol Vessel BNS Castor
• German Navy K130 Class Corvette FGS Ludwigshafen
• Indian Navy Talwar Class INS Trikand
• Sea Owl Naval Training Ship VN Partisan
All of these ships have to pass through the lock next to my home and some of them sadly arrived at silly O’clock that meant I wasn’t able or willing to take any pictures. I only ventured out once to catch an arrival at 3am that turned out to be a bit of a farce as the bridge that rises to let them into Victoria dock wouldn’t open. So, not very much happened beyond me being very tired and cold.
Having really got into cycling this year I’ve been slowly getting more and more distance as my strength and fitness improve. I’m not like those nutters that can do 150 miles before breakfast but I have managed to get to around 25 miles and I’m proud of myself as I’m mostly made of lard, unfit and with a broken spine. Don’t get me wrong, my legs afterwards are like jelly but I always feel great.
Recently I did a ride from my home in the Royal Docks to Westminster and back. The route used the Greenway to Stratford, Bow to Whitechapel, Tower Bridge to Southbank. Big Ben to Embankment, Tower Hill to Canary Wharf and then back home. Along the route we did get to see Christopher Werkowicz playing a tuba which shoots out fire!
I went to see a play recently called, ‘The curious case of the dog in the night-time’ at the Gielgud Theatre.
It’s a great story and the staging was very different to anything I’ve ever seen. The set was surrounded on all sides including the floor with LED lights that create movement and spaces that the performers can work within. The ticket I had came with restricted view that was fairly restricted unless I hung over the balcony in a way that didn’t feel very safe. It should have also read restricted leg room that made The Royal Court or Easyjet look like luxury. After the interval I moved to an empty seat which gave me direct views of the stage and this made things much more enjoyable. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you any of the plot but I would certainly recommend going to see this play but you really need to be careful with the seating. I would certainly argue that being higher in the theatre would give a better experience than the stalls.
I recently took this picture while walking to the station during a lovely sunset. Hope you like it?
I would love it if readers of this blog left some comments on the writing, the pictures or asked me questions. At the bottom is a little used comments section. Say something nice!
One good thing. Doctor Who is back on TV.
One bad thing, I keep stepping on snails in the dark.
Writing a blog seems more time consuming than ever. I’ve been meaning to get things up to date and failing. This blog is a little out of sequence to the previous ones I’ve written but for my own sake, it needed to get it done.
Some time ago I was lucky enough to be the first member of the public to walk through a Crossrail tunnel. Not the whole thing but the section that passes under the Thames from Woolwich. The station at Woolwich was just a hole in the ground and I had to climb down a makeshift staircase that led down to the entrance of the tunnel.
The track at this time had yet to be installed, so the tunnel was just a pathway under the river that was reminiscent of the Woolwich foot tunnel that was opened on 26th October 1912.
This simple act of being the first to walk through the tunnel wasn’t demanding but it did have the fascination that this rare opportunity would forever be part of my history and maybe that of London one day. The tunnel seemed fairly narrow considering that modern trains were going to be rushing through it in 2017. The temperature was much cooler than that of the surface and with various dips and turns the end couldn’t be seen until the last 200 meters.
The representatives from Crossrail were very informative about the challenges and details of the tunnels construction and were prepared to answer virtually any question put to them. The walk through didn’t take more than an hour and I loved it.
Well over a year ago I bought tickets to see Hamlet at the Barbican in London. As you may know from previous blogs I’m a fan of Sherlock and its star Benedict Cumberbatch. Ordering the tickets back in 2014 took skill and many computers to succeed. I understand that they sold out in a matter of minutes and I was lucky to get a pair. Roll on 2015, London and the media seemed gripped by Hamlet fever. The newspapers reviews after the first night were raving about the performance and screaming Cumber-Bitches travelling from all over the world just for a chance to see BC at the stage door with tickets to the play being a dream of course. The theatre was a reasonable size and I had stall tickets which gave me a really good view of the stage. However, things didn’t run smoothly. As the ushers left with their please don’t take pictures signs, the lights dropped and the curtain lifted. BC appeared alone on stage, looking through boxes with a single spotlight on him, ready to deliver the famous, To be or not to be soliloquy. Then the curtain closed again and the house lights came up. Well, I thought. Shakespeare didn’t write much did he?
A man appeared to explain about a technical hitch and that things would start again soon.
After 15 minutes or so it did and the set design and entire cast were magnificent. The stage and set design was vast including a trap door under a rug that sadly caught itself in the rug while being raised. As BC was once again, alone on stage and acting his socks off, the stage manager with her headset on walks up to BC and whispers in his ear that the play has to stop for a second time for health and safety reasons. BC storms off to the rear of the stage and through a large door. At the top of his voice he screams, FUCK!!! I have to say that did make my chuckle. This pause in the performance was a little longer but did result in a treat with BC coming out into the audience and apologising. He explained that it was only the 4th night and some wrinkles need to be ironed out. Certainly different.
I’m told that you can’t really judge a play till press night despite the press already giving it rave reviews. The stoppages were however a memorable addition to a memorable performance of Hamlet. I would normally say, its well worth a watch but unless you have £1500 for a ticket I’d wait for the DVD.
Living along the river sometimes allows me to see some amazing things and hear about some interesting activities.
Earlier in the week HMS St Albans paid a visit to London and today I was lucky enough to be able to go on board. The security was very high in these challenging times but they still let me walk around this Type 23 frigate. Royal Navy personnel were on hand as always to offer information about the ship and its operation and they were very approachable and informative. Here are some of the pictures I took today.