Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Lorax at the Old Vic

It seems rather sad that on the very day our parliament would approve fracking in our national parks, we would be sitting in the magnificent Old Vic watching the Lorax presents his passionate case for the environment. And boy would you get fired up, especially when you read the next day the government is also cutting subsidies to renewable solar energy.

Adapted for the stage by David Greig and directed by Max Webster, The Lorax is based on Dr. Seuss's classic tale of the eponymous cranky mustachioed grouchy critter out to protect his woodlands from the businessman and Thneed-knitting industrial businessman, Once-ler, whose greed ultimately caused the destruction and deforestation of the Lorax's forest. A fable if you will, about the dangers of corporate greed versus the need to preserve nature.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Apple iPhone 6S digested review

Say what you will about Apple, they really do know how to design a lovely looking phone. The iPhone 6S is the latest iteration in their never ending quest to change everything, again.

The 6S follows through Apple's previous strategy of reusing the design of its predecessor. The 'S' moniker is there to indicate a performance update (Speed, see what they did there?), and boy does it perform. The Apple A9 CPU is a beast. Its single core performance is blazing fast, and its multi-core's none too shabby either. Without getting technical, the 6S is the fastest phone you can get on the market today.
iOS9 comes preloaded with the 6S and is optimised for the larger screen. I had been testing it on a 4S previously and found it highly unusable on a small display, but on the 6S - it works just fine. It just isn't for me. As someone who loves the design of Windows (Metro) or the fluidity that Android provides, iOS's garden wall restriction hampers my enjoyment somewhat. Still to some, it is perfect, understandably, and I won't slate anyone who prefers it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Rising Tide

The Rising Tide by Jason deCires Taylor is a temporary installation situated beside Vauxhall Bridge on the beach below Albert Embankment.
Located a mile away from the House of Parliament, the four horsemen of the apocalypse is a political statement on the impact of fossil fuel and the reluctance by our leaders to tackle climate change. The sculptures, which features horses with heads modeled after oil well pumps, are only visible during low tides. Two of the riders in business suits looks away in defiance.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Charles Pétillon's Heartbeat, Covent Garden

About 100,000 white balloons are currently suspended over the south Market Hall in old Covent Garden, Central London. Officially titled Heartbeat, the sculpture earns its namesake thanks to the a series of lighting installation that pulsates.

The inflatable installation by Charles Pétillon was unveiled two weeks ago and will remain in place until 27 September 2015, so better get going before they all pop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Club Rouges at the Rivoli Ballroom

Club Rouges is a new club night format at the fantastic Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, Crofton Park, South East London.

The first night was 25 July 2015 and featured music from the 1970s and 1980s via DJ Kobayashi Doron. Judging by the energy by those who attended (both young and old) it was a huge success. I am already looking forward to their next themed evening 'Hollywood' on 25 September, and this is coming from someone who hasn't 'danced' since his college years.

A Grade II listed 1930s art deco building, the Rivoli is the only intact 1950s ballroom to remain in London. It has hosted plenty of epic music nights, including gigs by Florence and the Machine, music videos by Lana del Ray and appearing in blockbusters such as Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Rivoli Ballroom
350 Brockley Road
Crofton Park SE4 2BY
Transport: Crofton Park, Brockley

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Carsten Höller Decision

Carsten Höller: Decision
Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre has always hosted some pretty amazing and immersive exhibitions such as Martin Creed's What's the point of it? and Lights. So it was pretty exciting news when they announced that they will be hosting Carsten Höller latest exhibition - Decision, featuring some of his best installations and more.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

RipCord by iFLY skydiving demonstration on board the Anthem of the Seas

RipCord by iFLY is the first, according to Royal Caribbean, skydiving experience on cruise ship. Located on the stern of a Quantum-class ship, above the FlowRider surf simulator, guests can finally learn how to fly in the safety of a skydiving simulator.

Last weekend we were given the opportunity to participate in a teaser course on board the Anthem of the Seas. Unfortunately, yours was unable to participate because he has had one too many cocktails. However according to other guests, they are first outfitted in a skydiving gear (minus the parachute obviously), jumpsuit and all before being a 30 second go on the 7 meter tall wind tunnel. On a typical cruise, each guests will be allowed two, one minute flights with an instructor.

Embedded is a video of a truly awesome (and terrifying to me) of a flight instructor showing off his mad skydiving skills.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Anthem of the Seas balcony stateroom tour

Last weekend we were invited to sail on Royal Caribbean's most technologically advanced cruise ship yet, the newest Quantum-class Anthem of the Seas. The pre-inaugural sailing was held from the port of Southampton.

During our trip, we stayed on one of the superior ocean view stateroom with balcony. These staterooms are typically about 198 sq ft in floor size and comes with an additional 55 sq ft ocean facing balcony. Our room, 210, was located on deck 7 (7210).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Visiting the Quantum-class Anthem of the Seas bridge

During our visit to Royal Caribbean's recently launched Quantum-class ship Anthem of the Seas, a number of guests were allowed to visit the bridge to join a Q&A session with the captain. We were one of the lucky few to be allowed access.

The bridge is a nautical term for where the ship is commanded. Typically, on a cruise ship at least, the bridge is located on one of the upper deck levels on the bow of the ship, and is strictly accessible to crew members only. On a Quantum-class ship, the bridge platform provides the crew members with an almost 360 degree vision across the ship.
The wheel
The Quantum-class cruise ships are currently one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world. So it was important for the ship of this size (it is the second largest cruise ship class in the world) to get the bridge right. The bridge itself has been designed by Royal Caribbean captains to allow them more freedom to do their jobs.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"We Will Rock You" rocks Anthem of the Seas

Radio Ga Ga
Last weekend, I've had the opportunity to attend the pre inaugural sailing of Royal Carribean's newest ship, Anthem of the Seas. While I prepare a post about our experience on Anthem, you can read about my experience on Quantum of the Seas, the lead ship of the Quantum-class cruise ships of which Anthem of the Seas is part of (and therefore is almost identical).

During our weekend stay on board, we also attended the dress rehearsals to We Will Rock You, the popular musical based on songs by Queen. As someone who has always wanted to watch the West End musical but unable to do so, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. There were two live dress rehearsals held on Sunday, and we enjoyed the first one so much I insisted we went to watch the second one a couple of hours later!
We Will Rock You tells the story about a group of Bohemians outcast stuck in a future Orwellian world now dubbed the iPlanet where people listen to computer generated music. Free thoughts are not only frowned upon, but are also forbidden. Rock music, and the concept of rock and roll (free thinking, fashion) itself has been lost.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Bakerloo Line extension

After a consultation period that can be measured in decades, Transport for London has published a mind blowing report that dwellers in the neglected part of South East London wants better transport infrastructure. Shocking, I know! (You might also notice a distinct lack of bridges in this part of the capital).

Just how much money did Transport for London spend on this consultation just to get this very obvious answer?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Android 5.1 memory leak bug persists on Nexus 5

Android 5.1
For four months since I updated my Nexus 5 to Android 5.0 Lollipop, my phone has been suffering from severe memory leak. A memory leak happens when the system doesn't release RAM back for the user. In this case, after several hours of uptime, Android 5.0 was reserving 1GB of RAM for its use and aggressively killing off apps.

Yesterday I applied the latest Android 5.1 update on my Nexus 5. I declared, prematurely, that my phone was finally usable. It was true, at first. With a fresh boot, the phone was quick off the mark. It may be placebo (or wishful thinking), but it felt like what a Nexus phone should be. Soon after (and I mean roughly 6-8 hours later) however, the dreaded memory leak bug reared its ugly head.

Since 'upgrading', I have rebooted my phone twice. Like Android 5.0 and 5.0.1 before, 5.1 requires me to reboot every 8 hours in order to force the OS to release RAM. It means that the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and before I go to the bathroom is to turn off my phone, wait for it to turn off, and then switch it on again. And then do it again later in the evening. And again. And again.

A first world problem perhaps, but one I have paid good money to enjoy.

While 2GB of RAM is plentiful for a phone (Apple and Microsoft can get away with 1GB!), I can see why Android apologists are demanding 4GB of RAM on their newest gadgets. It may be powerful and filled to the brim with more features we do not need, but Android is the very definition of inefficient.

With Google's inability to do a very basic job, their reluctance to fix critical bugs (so they can sell new phones and fill their landfills with still pretty decent phones), I think I am done with Android. Time to look into this Windows 10 phone thingy I've been hearing about lately.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Casa Howard, Florence

Casa Howard is a guest house in Florence, Italy. We stayed there for two nights when we visited the city in December of last year.

The guest house is located on Via della Scala, a street just behind Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Its location, just five minutes from the main SMV railway station, and the value for money was what drawn us to book here after a failure of a Airbnb host to confirm a booking. Florence city center is small, but it was still neat to find that the guest house was less than ten minutes walk away to the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. A far cry from the dreadful Airbnb flat we had in Rome.
Casa Howard is located in a very old house (I can't put a date on it but the architecture style is renaissance) with a grand staircase and old fashion lift. It was a delight to find something with character, as most value for money guest house and hotels are lacking in this department. The guest house occupies the first two floors of this building.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Crooked Well review

The Crooked Well is a local gastropub in Camberwell. Five minutes walk from Denmark Hill railway station, it isn't too difficult to find. Its location in a neighbourhood, rather than on busy high street of Camberwell Church Street, ensures that it has a quiet ambiance, quite unlike what you would find in most pubs.
Gastropubs are not special to write about, and The Crooked Well isn't particularly special. But what they do, they do it good. We first visited on a Sunday a couple of months ago to sample their roast. We are particularity fussy about our Sunday roast, so it was delightful to find that the roast did not disappoint. The beef roast was delicious and served with appropriately thick, but not too thick gravy. In terms of my own personal Sunday roast ranking, it sits just behind Hawksmoor and Princess of Shoreditch, but The Crooked Well's take on traditional roast takes the crown for south of the river.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Brockley Market

Brockley Market is a weekly food and farmer's market held on the outskirt edge of Brockley close to Deptford and Lewisham Central. We've been living in Brockley for 1 1/2 years now and visits them at least twice a month. South East London hasn't been getting plenty of love by the media, local and regional government, so it isn't like we have a high street that is worth shouting about. We do not even have a none-chain groceries shop selling fruits and veggies. So something like Brockley Market has become crucial to the community here.

Brockley Market is divided into two distinctive bits - one which sells locally sourced market produce - meat, veggies, flowers, wine, cheese, fish and all sorts, an another half where street food hawkers sells hot food and drinks.You know, the kind that are despised by some top chefs in Soho because it is totally wrong to pay £5 to stand and eat something you can see cooked before your eyes, but it is totally okay to pay £40 for something previously frozen and heated in an oven.

The Miles Stairs at Somerset House

Somerset House hosts a ton of amazing spiral staircases, most of which dates back to when the building was build. Not only are they an architecture success that has withstood the test of time, they are also an engineering marvel.

Joining them is the Miles Stairs. Designed by Eva Jiricna, this amazing new spiral staircase is located in the West Wing of the Grade I listed Somerset House, and features a lightweight steel mesh tower core and ultra performance concrete cantilevered stair threads made of a new material called ductal. Ductal is said to be a thousand times stronger than concrete. Unlike the older staircases in Somerset House, the threads on the Miles stairs are connected to the central tower and not on the walls.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Knyttan is a pop up concept store currently located on Somerset House. Since November 2014 they have been selling scarves, jumpers and throws. There is nothing exactly interesting in doing that by itself, but what sets Knyttan apart is you can design (or at least customise) your goods and watch them get knitted instore,

The store itself can be found on the New Wing section of Somerset House, accessible through Lancaster Place near Waterloo Bridge. We've only stumbled upon it by accident last week whilst checking out PJ Harvey residency at Somerset House. At first glance, it looks like yet another typical wool shop, that is until you see that big Stoll flat knitting machine.
Four Microsoft Surface tablets are fixed on one side allowing you to customise your own scarf, jumper or large scarf via a web browser app. Here you select from one of several of pre-defined patterns or designs, allowing you to carefully 'customise' them by creating effects or changing the colour. Once you are done, you can order it. It takes 4-5 days for an order to be fulfilled and send to your address, but you can also make an appointment to watch your order made in that Stoll machine instore.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Wellcome Collection's stunning new spiral staircase

Anyone who has followed my Instagram account will know how much I love spiral staircases. From traditional 17th century cantilevered stone staircases like the beautiful Tulip staircase in Queen's House to the majestic Brewer staircase at Heals and modern classics like the one in City Hall. If there's an interesting staircase, particularly the spiral kind, you will bet I will be there photographing it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Peckham Bazaar review

Hands up if you ever believed that there's no such thing as a good restaurant in the south east region of London? Yep, we've all thought about that at least once. But not only are there good restaurants down here, there are loads of hidden gems. One of them is Peckham Bazaar.

Peckham Bazaar started out as a pop-up restaurant in an old pub on the boundary of Peckham and Nunhead. Its location within modest rows of Victorian terraces, low rise council flats and a Grand Design house, might not be an obvious destination for culinary fans, but trust me, it is worth trotting up here (as we so occasionally do from Brockley).
They have since become a permanent fixture at the same location. Peckham Bazaar describes themselves as a pan-Balkan restaurant, and you can tell by the eastern European influences that goes into their innovative dishes, primarily cooked on the grill. The menu changes daily and seasonally, depending on what ingredients their chefs can lay their hands on. This ensure that at least each visit will be a unique experience.