Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paris & Bradford

The only connection between these cities is that I visited them both on consecutive weekends in 2009. Christina was in Paris for some training, so we met there for the weekend. It was a short weekend: only from Fri night to Sun lunchtime, so not a lot of time to really see much and relax with Christina and catch up with Sissi who was also there... but we did have some time to just wander around and even catch a ballet in the Opera House.

Bradford is nothing like Paris. An old center of the industrial revolution, it was famous for textiles and wool, but after all the industry died it went into serious decline. I went to check out a multimedia museum with exhibits on photography and tv and so on, and Saltair, an old wool-mill that has been converted into galleries and art space, and featured an exhibition on David Hockney.

City Hall, Bradford

More pics on Picasa - click on the link, or enjoy the slideshow


UK Last Year

Hoi Zäma!

Welcome to my first post for 2011 (despite what all the dates and the weird post order will tell you)! How did I go almost 6 months without blogging at all? Well, having gotten married on holiday in Aus in Jan, and getting married again in August, meant there hasnt been much time to concentrate on other stuff. So here we go again, trawling through My Pictures, for some old blogworthy (hopefully) stuff.

First up, I spent about 2 months in the UK in 2010 waiting for my Swiss work permit, starting from the week after the Ejafjallajoekul volcano eruption (400£ for a 1-way Eurostar ticket to London thank you very much), to the end of June (great welcome back with the Weil am Rhein Windmusic Festival on my doorstep).

I started off staying in amazing in Camden for about 3 weeks. A mixture of what was once definitely cool and alternative, now very touristy, but still a great place. Thanks heaps to Michael for letting me stay in his flat. I didn't do much in my time there but it was good to be a bit of a tourist without huge time pressure. I could go out every day and just sit in cafes and soak up the ambience, in between excursions to museums, concerts, a very contemporary opera, the Camden Crawl music festival, Bletchley Park WW2 message decoding center and so on.

The Gherkin

A Cornwall Beach - Newquay

After London I went to Brighton for 2 days where the Brighton Arts festival was happening, and caught a couple of concerts and saw the famous Brighton Pier and holiday town. I found a good whiskey bar and tried the weirdest Whiskey ever: Mackmyra 5 y.o from the Swedish distillery - oily and weird.

I also saw a very rare performance by Philip Glass, of his Music in 12 parts, which goes for over 4.5 hours, which I didn't realise at the time of buying the ticket! I just knew that I liked alot of his stuff. I have a sample here (not taken by me) to give you an idea of what I sat through. Many people find this music annoying, but it was actually far more interesting and entertaining than I expected it to be. Minimalist is the wrong term for his music because although there is no dynamic change or tension and it's very repetitive, there are constant subtle changes in the way parts overlap, which slowly warps the soundscape. And it was an amazing performance from the singer and huge feat of concentration for the other instrumentalists - it cant be easy to play. Check it out for only 4 mins:

Then it was into a hirecar and across to the west coast, to Cornwall, where Cornish pasties are called "Pasties". It is a
popular tourist spot in England due to the beautiful landscapes, beaches, cliffs, and surf. It really is beautiful, and there were a surprisingly large number of surfers there, because although the sun looks enticing, it is short lived and not hot!

But Newquay is also a prime "Stag-do" destination - that's Englandspeak for weekend-long buck's parties. When you're sober and travelling alone, a town full of roaming bands of very drunk English yobs in matching bodystockings is not the most fun place to be.

Typical Cotswald village, just a quick stop for a pint and look around on the way back to London

The Hathern Band Gang, "doing Colonial"

Following that was about 6 weeks sponging of mates back near Loughborough. I was in Hathern, staying with Bandsmen and enjoying just taking it easy in the Midlands countryside, living the life of a semi-retired country gent. Walks and bird watching, pints in the local, mum's home cooked sunday roasts... it was a surprisingly easy habit to get into, not doing much! Thanks again to the very hospitable Hatherners

Hands up who's a drongo?!

And yes, the bit of excerise I was trying to do, on a bicycle, didn't exactly help improve my health!

More pics in Picasa - click on the picture link below: