Saturday, June 28, 2014

UK's Local Press in crisis (despite another PIcture of the week from me)

Another week and another (number 5) Picture of the week by me published in the Ealing Gazette - this one's  about continuity if it's about anything.
The photograph was taken with the Canon SX 280HS which I bought recently.

This week's Gazette

The pre-cropped picture that was submitted

And the text

In my communications with the editorial at the Gazette I have the impression that they have an ongoing struggle with the resources to produce a paper (perhaps not a total surprise)  it's recently gone free to all readers and I'm not sure how the advertising can pay for production and distribution over the long term but I hope it continues and not just for the selfish reason of seeing my pictures published.

Some people have been suggesting that the BBC is to blame for the demise of the Local newspaper in the UK  but to be honest I think the analysis from James Harding  laying the blame at the Facebooks, Ebays  and Gumtree type on-line services is more accurate -  the problem being that  they have become the home to what was the lucrative classified sections the press used to rely on.
Not only that but increasingly readers in the wake of 'The Metro' and The Standard  tend to expect free local papers or they get the 'Pravda' council news according to what Mr 'Local minister  Pickles says.

A friend,  Simon Perry started an alternative to the traditional paper copy with a blog serving the Isle of Wight (at first the Ventnor Blog) a few years back (seven I think)  and it seems to be going well it now targets  the whole Island - it takes dedication to get a project like this going  but perhaps it's a model for local news that would work in other areas.

Be a real shame to lose the local rag as it does (potentially) serve its readers in a way that radio and TV can not, I'm doing my bit anyway with a steady supply of free (to the paper) pictures.

Friday, June 27, 2014

O2 Phone deals, PayPal Frauds and Growing Pains

Another go at Carrots 

Phone deals

I suppose yesterday my day was about phones (to an extent anyway) from the irritating calls asking me to do a survey (to my benefit) and the 'fact' that their records showed that someone at this address had been involved in an accident it went to a series of missed calls on my mobile - it seems that my present phone deal is coming to an end and I have the options of upgrading to a new handset or switching to a cheaper tariff.

One of the callers did explain quite well   a better deal with my current phone, more minutes, data and texts for about £11 per month, oddly she couldn't email me the details for me to agree, I didn't want to change my deal without this so will probably go into the local O2 shop to arrange (gives me the chance to avoid The Carphone warehouse too).

Fraudulent purchase

From that it went to an email from PayPal telling me that a suspect transaction had been made on my account - I thought oh dear a 'Spam' email  but checking my account conformed that an un-authorised (by me) payment had been attempted  for the purchase of an  iPhone.

I changed my password and called PayPal who put my mind at rest that the payment had not and would not be made - I hope that others have not suffered.

(I was of course extremely circumspect about responding to any links in the email for fear of it also being part of a scam - phone seemed best and no bank account details or similar were exchanged by phone or email.)

The details were:
Purchase of an Apple iPhone 4S - 16 GB - Black (Unlocked) Smartphone from ebay seller at £110 plus post and packing

To be delivered to

Tomas Jasulaitis
40 queens roadflat A
portsmouth, Hampshire
United Kingdom

I had not browsed the item or any iPhone on ebay and the seller and purchaser are not known to me - I'm not sure how the person perpetrating the fraud had been able to access the account.

Well I must say that I was impressed that this was picked up and if you have similar problems do let me know.

Growing Pains

Well peas have been disappointing and Kohlrabi  mainly food for Pigeons but I've decided to try carrots again despite the limited supply and deformed versions produced so far.

Blackcurrants are doing well and I've enjoyed some already.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Performance Art & seeing Marina Abramović's 512 Hours

I've fairly recently become part of Quora - to be honest I'm not too sure how it happened and what it's exact
Take note.
purpose or differentiation from other Social Web activities is - it seems to be non business but not quite as trivial as facebook - it has some topics and questions that fit into some of the nichés I gravitate towards it has a tag-line ' Your Best Source for Knowledge' which appeals to my (sometimes) inflated ego.

With respect to Performance Art it supplies a number of threads on the subject and some responses explain how it provides income to it's practitioners.

I like the definition and history here by Dr. Virginia B. Spivey.

I think it Fair to say that the leading name in Performance Art today (and for quite a number of years) is Marina Abramović  Nick Pearson at OPEN Ealing had mentioned Marina at the Art course I attended last year so I knew she was probably important in the field and worthy of attention.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Marina's almost infamous 512 hours at The Serpentine.

The 'seeing' of the art was surprisingly easy, I had anticipated long queues but in fact entered almost immediately and left my bits and pieces in a numbered locker (phone, watch bottle of water etcetera) - phones cameras and electronic paraphernalia were forbidden within the event.

Having unburdened myself I  then  proceeded into the main space where a number of people were milling around and others were sitting  the overall impression for me was slightly awkward, there were two adjoining rooms one where entrants were blindfolded and another with quite a few camp beds.

I was eventually accosted by Marina who spoke to me about  my T Shirt (a Discovery freebie and the second time recently that such a shirt worn by me has elicited an opening for talk ) she then  took me  to the camp bed room where she was assisted by an assistant who helped me to get comfortable under a light blanket with ear protectors (to cut background noise)  and suggested I should do nothing for as long as I wanted.

I noticed Marina appeared to have Nike trainers on - I thought what a  good advertisement for them - she's here for 512 hours pretty much on her feet all the time and has chosen Nike.

... back to the work - Already time had changed for me as I was without an accurate  indicator of it's passing, I did look at how people exited the space and new participants joined, it did appear that there were more women than men present (65% to 35% perhaps) and probably a similar split of under 30's (majority) to over 30's - I did recognise one other member of the Art group under whose auspices I was there but otherwise people unknown to me.

 I was able to relax on my camp bed and did enter a state similar to that which I had achieved when meditating in Yoga - I became focused and  more aware of the importance of listening to what people said to me and taking their messages on board..

Eventually I decided to leave the bed and the exhibition - I found it good  but challenging and certainly have an increased admiration for Marina Abramović still putting herself out there when I guess she could retire and put her Nike clad feet up.

The event had liberated me (and others I suspect) albeit briefly from the tyrannies of our age limited time and distanced communication.
The artist was present.

You can see Marina's Blog here.
and comments on the event are available here.

After seeing Marina  I took  a look at the Ed Atkins works in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery - Ed's work was mainly around video, not over excited by it but perhaps a little anti-climatic?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Westminster views on The Future of BBC Funding and Delonix Regia planted

Westminster-  UK seat of Government (tbc)
Yesterday evening  I attended an evening All Parliamentary Group session arranged by the Royal Television Society that sought views on the Future funding of the BBC.
The session was held in Palace of Westminster in committee room 9 and a selection of people attended  to discuss options .
On the panel  led by Lord (Norman) Fowler were:

Lord (Michael) Grade (a former ITV and Channel 4 boss and he also served time as the  Chair of Trust at the BBC)
Nick Ross ( A TV presenter of programmes that included Crimewatch)
Claire Enders the founder of Enders Analysis Limited (EAL) which specialises in the media sector
Liz Howell the director of broadcasting at City University  a former TV reporter asnd one time boss of Sky News.

What surprised me most about the short presentations from each of the four the four was the paucity of
John Hardie (left) ITN boss at RTS mteeting
 ideas on how a future BBC should and could be funded, the group basically offered two solutions one that was talked up by Grade and Enders  was keep with the non-perfect but best solution the 'licence fee' the other from Ross and Howell was to somehow supplement with a subscription (membership from Nick) to ensure that the BBC remained 'big'.

Somewhat worryingly the idea that disruptive technology was what was driving change loomed large and no view that put choice, freedom and the stepping back by the state was put forward.

Claire Enders spoke with what almost seemed like passion about preserving what to her is a near perfect Media landscape which exploited multiple revenue streams and helped ensure a successful  broadcasting  industry, to my mind her figures were used tellingly but the narrative of keep your hand steady on the tiller is one that will not lead to greater triumphs.

Amongst the audience the familiar worries about BBC training and diversity were aired and ITN boss John Hardie did make the intelligent comment about politicians talking tough but ultimately being cautious about change with respect to the  BBC's funding .

This debate as usual will continue with more hot air and the usual elevation of the BBC to British Treasure status.

Trees planted out

If you've got a great memory you might recall that I started from seed of the  Delonix regia  (Royal Poinciana) variety 2 trees - well they're planted out now ( both of them) and I've great expectations for their futures, I wonder if they're as labeled ? 

Growing from a  Cyprus seed

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More photography, Canon Test Drive and a course

The news that I'm likely to have yet another photograph published in the next week's Ealing Gazette has spurred me on to take a more active approach to my photography and I have enrolled in a 1 day course at  Westland Place Studios, the course is called 'Shooting The Square Mile' and the early booking price for the July 5th session  is just £49  which seems a very reasonable price.

A bunch of colours
I anticipate many of my cohorts will be using SLR cameras (as opposed to my point and shoot)  but I hope that the course is not just about equipment and that I can learn some new ideas along the way.

I am also expressing an interest in a Canon Test drive to be held at a London dealers (Park Cameras, London) , I remain fairly loyal to the brand having had Video and Stills photos (and printers) from them I like their build and lens quality. I am planning to see if there is a camera better suited to me than the SX280 HS - I'm beginning to quite like it particularly the GPS and ability to transfer images wirelessly.


The allotment is beginning to provide soft fruit behind the Strawberries it looks like there'll be a good crop of Currants and Apples - I think Garlic is ready for picking soon too (as the tops are dying).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ealing 's 'Lost Restaurant of Atlantis' and Osterley Gardens in the sun

I'm a big fan of Greek food particularly the Greek Cypriot version we get in many of our British 'Greek' restaurants, sadly there seem to be fewer and fewer good examples of these establishments around me.
Good value Greek food
(picture from the local data company)

Wine and Mousaka just by  Haven Green (Ealing)  used to be a good example but sine new management took over their menu has been truncated and the excellent Joseph has moved on - Retsina and Moussaka in Uxbridge Road is to my mind over generous with their helpings and somewhat under air conditioned, the only other Greek within wlaking distance to my knowledge is Atlantis (in Pitshanger Lane) and for some reason (many years ago) when we went we decided it wasn't for us and finally on Saturday evening we gave it another try and wee thoroughly delighted by the food, the service, the ambiance and the value.

Classic Kebab and salad, rice, potato  main course and a cold bottle of Retsina for two (with starters) less than £40 which to my mind is good value these days.

Osterley Gardens

Our default walk in parkland on a Sunday is generally Kew Gardens (we're part of the 'Friends of Kew' gang and it feels logical) but during the Hammersmith flyover Westway works traffic in the area for us is a challenge and parking is
A sunny view of Osterley stables.
not always easy so this week we decided to favour the other outdoors association we support (the national Trust) by visiting nearby Osterley.

Osteley holds happy memories for me as I volunteered there when I was completing my BTEC in horticulture a few years back going a three times a week or so for many weeks - working outside with other volunteers and staff.
In  fact the garden has continued to evolve and there's far more for kids to do there now - the grass does not look as well cut as when I was helping but that's to be expected.

(We had a sandwich and a drink in the café there and it was not cheap.)
Swans enjoy the pleasant weather at Osterley

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Now TV gets ITV, the (very quick) replacement camera case and Herbs out there on Plot 202

'Surprisingly the NOW TV box is still available at just less than £10 and it's just (for me) got the added bonus
Amazingly less than £10 for catchup
of ITV Player  via an automatic software update.

This means that you (NOW) get all the main UK free to air catchups on an easy to use little box for next to nothing.

This really is good value, sure if you want some Sky pay per view stuff as well it's there but for me there's more than enough good TV that I miss to make this a cheap and simple solution a worthwhile buy.

And don't forget that you can add all sorts of Plex functionality if you can manage a very simple hack that's detailed on youtube.

Replaced case

The new traditional case
The old one and belt tab
Just a couple of days I was 'whingeing on' about my camera case for the Canon SX 280 HS not being up to the mark - well I've got a new leather job at £10.99 (including free carriage), it's a snug fit but a good solid belt strap means it'll last sometime (I hope)

The case was bought on ebay 14B Black Learther Camera Case For Canon PowerShot and a smooth transaction in which the new case was delivered very quickly.

The case that I bought from Amazon has gone back via Collect+ which seemed pretty painless and only a short walk from my front door.

Herbs out there

 As well as watering and weeding I've planted some (a rather poorly looking bunch ) herbs out on the allotment - time will tell on their survival - we've got Mint Parsley, Oregano and others - fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More at CityLit and zooms

One of the things I've most enjoyed over the last 18 months or so has been   widening my knowledge in areas that I've not really engaged with before, a great institution that has enabled some of this is the CityLit.
Philosophy has been a particular eye opener and for this reason (and because courses fill quickly) I've enrolled in 'Ways into philosophy: key themes' for September 2014.
The course is described as:

'An introduction to Western philosophy explores five key themes: truth, knowledge, ultimate reality, the mind/
A window in St Mungo's 
body problem and personal identity.'- So pretty light (it's 12 weeks of 2 hours per week) but hopefully hitting the spot.

Another benefit of booking early is a discount of £10 on short summer courses costing £50 or more to do something totally different I've opted for a one day - Introduction to stained glass which is being held at The Victoria and Albert Museum in August.

I remember speaking to a retired guy when we holidayed in Cuba about his interest in this and I suppose it is something that is ripe for revisiting.


As I mentioned yesterday my new camera I thought it worth sharing a couple of examples of the Zoom which is particularly useful when capturing images of 'wildlife' a bird on the allotment and a naughty squirrel in the garden .
Nut time
Bird but not on a wire

Friday, June 20, 2014

Photo of the week (again), Photography and replacing a Camera case

Some time ago I started looking at getting a fresh camera and having been very satisfied with a  Canon IXUS
Like a child's toy model
 75 I found myself drawn to the Canon SX 280HS it having some extra facilities but still being a 'Compact' meaning I would carry it around.
I decided that the next photo' published in the Ealing Gazette would trigger a purchase of the camera, well in fact  I bought it ahead of this but a photo (from my previous camera) was published today as 'Picture of the Week (my fourth this year).
I really enjoy documenting the landscape I find myself in and I suppose Photography  is still a hobby of mine after many years.

The picture shows the continuing work in respect of Dickens Yard redevelopment.

Another picture of the week

The text that went with the picture
The replacement camera is taking some getting used to, it is more sophisticated and has a better Zoom capability as well as GPS and better video recording (it's HD video capable) I hope that the next published photo' is taken with this camera.

Drawbacks for the 'New Camera' are:

1) The battery usage (I have subsequently bought two spare batteries though and this was for only £6.00) so I am content on this.
2) Case- I bought a case at nearly £20.00  including carriage  (it's called a Crazy Case -so perhaps I should have worried about the proposition) which I have had to return as it was failing in respect of the belt loop - I have sent it back by Collect+ and have ordered another variety.
3) Slightly bigger than the IXUS.

Collect+ is a service that Amazon uses for returning goods that are unsatisfactory for one reason or another.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Northfields Avenue, Street Art or not?

A touch of the Kandinsky's perhaps - more on the subject here

Just by Creperie Cila there's a painting on the external wall, I'm not sure what it represents or who did it but to my mind it's not offensive and might even be an improvement to  a large  expanse of whiteness - here's an example from somewhere else .

Here are a couple of other connected images from nearby.

I like the Classic Art Decorating company getting their retaliation in first 'Never knowingly responsible for any mistakes' It would be a good slogan to live by.

Less is more.
A message from our sponsor?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Foootball and Nationhood

Thoughts (again) regarding Nation and Nationalism...

I was in a the Sheperd's Bush area of West London this morning ahead of what turned out  to be an abortive
QPR -The Loftus Road Entrance.
Financial Capability session and found the grounds of QPR, football is very much in the air at present and despite England losing to Italy there remains a hope that the team will progress into the knock out section of the World Cup Tournament.

Queens Park Rangers to give them their full name remains rooted in the West London ground they've occupied for nearly 100 years (they've been in Loftus Road since 1917) but the grounds must be worth a lot of money and soccer is now more about money (not necessarily making profits but long term  losses are unsustainable) .

Football used to be a working class (male) sport with strong links to the community and area the team was located in but in Great Britain now we see in football a truly Global business, it is about identity and brand  and as we see in Brazil this is also the case where the game is played internationally on the world stage.

I can (if I want ) choose to support Manchester United having never been to Manchester and many of the worldwide fans do indeed take this position.

When I was in Glasgow recently  and having spoken with others about the difference from England (and more specifically London) - I start to ask myself what it is to be nationalistic - why does it matter to me in sports that my country should do well?

Do I feel British or English?

There was a discussion on the radio this morning (Today's Radio 4 programme)  about how it is possible to become British, through time and learning the customs (some dispute that you can if you're not born in Britian of British parents).

Where does the difference lie between Patriotism and Nationalism?

Norman Tebbit famously  characterised nationality by the 'Cricket test' and Samuel Johnston  labeled Patriotism  as
"  the last refuge of the scoundrel "

Nations and nationhood are relatively modern constructs and race undoubtedly plays a part in the Nationalist agenda as the Austrian born Hitler was very clear about - for me I will resist nationalism but this is not always easy  strangely particularly when sport is involved.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pinta 2014 at Earls Court and update on Central grill

Last June I went to the Pinta modern and contemporary Latin American art fair at Earls Court and found it a really good experience so when the Saatchi gallery again provided a gratis invitation I decided to again make the visit.

I was not disappointed the show was big and bold with some very pertinent statements about the modern world.

The 'raison d'etre' for the show is to expose work from Latin Amerian countries and the Spanish peninsula, the show occupies quite a bit of the Exhibition Centre and means that with the number  of visitors there that you're unhurried and are able to take in what's on display.

Alfredo makes a point
Last year there seemed to be quite a number of exhibitors from Miami but less this year I think, there was though to my mind something of a focus on the financial issues (like that of Alfredo Jaar) thrown up by the recent crisis in the developed world.
Igor showing what can be done with carpet

There were some amazing photographic prints by Manuel Archain which reminded me of the sculptures of Isaac Cordal (in terms of their vision), also noticed a really nice work by an artist who specilaises in a sort of optical illusion strategy he's Igor Eškinja and the work I liked was called (I think) Panel Discussion in Basement .

A name that rings a bell with me Eduardo Kac had quite a retrospective thing going on, Kac is a Brazilian  Arist/technologist and some of his images and concepts hark back to an idea of the miracles of progress in an almost Soviet vibe - he even revisits the Minitel as a component of some of his works.
Santiago Sierra's work

There were some powerful works by the female conceptual artists Regina Jose Galindo and Santiago Sierra too, Santiago's works often involve the use of low paid labour to make social comments, these were documented at the exhibition photographically.

Colourful works included some wonderfully smelly spices (don't know who this was 'by') and a ' Liechtenstein -ian' homage by Dino Bruzzone  
It smelt of the Spice market

I wonder what Dino has been looking at ?

Central Grill Update

Thanks for the feedback from huxleyboy06 on the Northfields Central London Group Grill Bar post, somewhat intriguingly I now see more boarding at the windows...
More Board now

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Euronews Réunion (sort of) in London

One might  say that friendships can be be made stronger by the forging they receive in difficult or challenging
Albert and not Shaun or Graham
circumstances and although life in Lyon for a group of  broadcast expatriates in the 1990's was not a war zone but it has meant that the group of have remained in touch on a fairly regular basis.

On Thursday I met Shaun (who I saw last in November 2012) and Graham (June 2013) at the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens for lunch, a wander and a lot of of talk. Later in the day we met up with John who works at Sky News in The Gherkin for a quick drink.

Serpentine on day 2
The Albert Memorial is stunning in both the over the top nature of the theme and the execution and Central London in one of the Royal Parks can be very pleasant particularly mid week without too many visitors so the visit started well.

Strangely the previous day I had been expecting to visit the Marina Abramovic exhibition/performance at the Serpentine but due to the expectations of large crowds it had been rescheduled for later in the month - in fact the crowds looked manageable when I walked past.

Graham and John
After a bit of an amble we found a very pleasant Italian restaurant and were able to enjoy an Alfresco Lunch unfortunately Shaun then had to return to Gateshead, Graham and I stopped at the Wallace Collection  in Manchester Square before going off to meet John - who was on fine form.

After that quite a bit more walking through London's centre and a meal at Wagamama Covent Garden - a pretty good day all in all and some great London Skylines to enjoy.

A Charity run in full swing

The 'Iconic' skyline

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ealing Open to 21st June includes 'Fred The Shred'

The other day I visited the 8th Ealing Open at Pitzhanger Gallery Project (PM)  in Mattock Lane.
It might sound like a Golf competition but it's actually an exhibition  for artists  living, working or studying in the Ealing borough who are invited to submit a piece of artwork for display (it costs £10 to enter).

Local artists participate in this  large-scale exhibition, at West London’s PM art gallery. The Open this year included a thoroughly  eclectic mix of styles and media, from sculpture to textiles, there was  even a video.
Most  of the works are for saleranging from a nominal £25 to a rather stretching £10,000 (although I didn't manage to spot the £10,000 'My Darling' as being a stand out work by the Armenian artisit Artour Sarkissian Oshankantsi).

My personal favourite was Fred The Shred (it's not for sale) by Cherry Ehrlich

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Days 3 and 4 in Glasgow

Day 3

On Sunday after a  Caffe Nero breakfast we took a city tour (bus) around Glasgow - these are quite a good way  of finding ones bearings but made increasingly impersonal by the pre-recorded commentary, worked well as it was raining!
Rennie designed this

Fire damage at the Art School

Glasgow is famous for the Rennie Mackintosh connection sadly there's been a serious fire at the Art School he's most associated  but we did manage to visit the famous Willow Tea rooms and gift shop where I had a decadent Cappuccino and fairly straightforward sandwich .

I also checked out the upstairs at the Tea rooms all very much in Rennie's style as was the area we were seated in.

Dinner was at a Hard Rock cafe not as lively as some of the chain we've been to but an adequate burger amongst varied  rock and roll memorabilia which included a Bay City Rollers jumper.
Only Okay now

On my 22nd birthday I went to the London Hard Rock and really thought it was the business, subsequently visited Cancun (Mexico), Hong Kong and  Sydney ones all of which I enjoyed but   sadly the chain has (for me) lost some of its magic perhaps it's the music that's not so good?

Day 4

Quite a construction
Let's Pray
Breakfast our most expensive of the trip was at John Lewis and after this the rain really did come down.

 We made the walk (despite the rain) to Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's) which was worth a visit, plenty of beautiful stained glass windows and a strange Necropolis at the back of the Cathedral apparently modelled on the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.

Many visitors in the church from lots of different countries and generally they were behaving as one should (I suppose) in a church.

Another Stained window
Always repairs in these old buildings