28 May, 2013

Princes Risborough and High Wycombe

The chicken pie contest hots up with another entry from The George and Dragon at Princes Risborough.  Lots of meat in this one but the sauce was a bit thin. The pastry top was flaky.  The heavens opened as I was leaving london so not too thrilling a day out.  There was an old churh (locked) and an old manor house.  I simply left and went to High Wycombe in the downpour

25 May, 2013

Reading, Berkshire: Biscuit city.

I lost a packet of biscuits in the great biscuit city of Reading.  Possibly in the Reading Public Library, which caters to the reading public of Reading.

Reading was home to Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory, allegedly the biggest biscuit factory in Britain although I'm suspicious of superlatives.  The Reading Museun has a whole gallery devoted to the history of Huntley and Palmers. The rest of the museum was quite good too although they have gone down the volunteer route. A volunteer accosted me as I went in, rather like a shop. 'Can I help you?' was the cheery greeting, and my reply 'No thanks I'm just looking' which if you think about it is all you can do in a museum. I quite enjoyed the museum visit although there was no self guided town heritage walk. I did eat my lunch in Forbury Gardens in the shadow of a huge cast iron lion, reportedly the largest cast iron sculpture in Britain, those superlatives again. It's a memorial to those men of the Berkshire Regiment who lost their lives in the Afghan campaign although not the one that's still ongoing but one of many years ago in the nineteenth century. Reading Abbey ruins has been closed to the public as it is unsafe but the gateway stands outside surrounded by scaffolding. The Abbey is where the earliest secular song was written down. Sumer is icumen in with its musical rhythms and barnyard humour, Bullock starteth, Buck now farteth Merry sing cuckoo, comes from the 1200s.  But nothing much in Reading coes fromm the 1200s these days.  The town really grew in the nineteenth century around the railway, biscuits and Suttons seeds.   There are some old buildings but not many and some pretending to be old.  There are some artworks too.

12 May, 2013

Mass Observation diary

It's the Mass Observation Diary Day today so here is an edited highlight of my diary for Mass Observation.

I got up at about half past seven and made my breakfast.  My toast was burned.  I fired up the computer and looked for suitable film editing software – it is not easy to find.  Microsoft Movie Maker does not do colour correction or chroma key. I also worked on my blog – mylondontravels.blogspot.com – which took up a little time and answered some emails. 

I went out at about 10 o’clock to travel into St Giles in Holborn to meet somebody (TB) to make a film with.  I took the Number 1 bus which takes me directly there as it is the last stop on the route.  The journey was uneventful but I reflected on how much time I spend on public transport and how full the bus was.  I arrived at TB’s flat and phoned him.  He came and met me and we went to wait for the actor who would meet us outside the Dominion Theatre.  The theatre was being used for a religious service – Hillsong – that day so we could wait inside out of the wind.  There were lots of greeters and lots of people coming into the service.  It’s not really my kind of thing.  We met our actor (M) dead on 11 and went for a coffee to discuss what we would do.  We wanted to show the actor enjoying life as it was for a promotion film for a health education charity to be shown at a major event in London.  We discussed what we were going to do and what filming we would do also.  M said he enjoyed shopping so we thought we would get a shot of him doing some shopping.  We also wanted him walking around and sitting outside a cafe a mixture of stills and video.  Just enjoying life really.  The film is supposed to be upbeat.

As we passed a cafe with tables on the pavement we asked M to sit down and have his photo taken.  We took the first lot of video footage in St Giles’s churchyard.  We tried to find a flower garden but a small garden nearby was locked so we returned to the churchyard where we took footage of M walking round a crescent path with palm trees next to a hedge.  We had about four takes of this as he kept speeding up on the way round.  Eventually I said I would gesture to him to slow down if he was speeding up, so we got the takes right eventually.   After this we went to Seven Dials where we took a still of M sitting on the base of the monument.  We went into another street and took footage of him coming out of a cake shop and a still of him sitting at a table outside.  We also took footage from behind of M walking down the street looking in shop windows.  We were not sure what to do next and I spied a small entry with an elaborate metal gate to what had been a school and was now a block of flats.  I suggested that M meet a friend by surprise who was coming round the corner.  I was to play the friend.  We took about four takes of this with me coming round a corner, meeting M and giving him a hug before walking off into the distance.  This was a very effective scene as it is upbeat and uplifting.  This was the final scene involving the actor so we parted and went back to TB’s flat to edit the footage.  TB has an apple computer with a good video editing suite.  He’d started doing the film with some stills and intertitles and we started editing the footage and compiling it into a useable film.  We got a long way in to doing it and made a fairly useable film with it.  He had booked a training session at the apple store to iron out any problems in the editing.

I took a Number 8 bus to Bethnal Green and walked down to Whitechapel to the Ideas Store there, calling in at Sainsburys to pick up some ready meals to take to work and a packet of biscuits.  I used the self checkout. 

I went into the Idea Store and had a look around.

The East London Line was not working today so I couldn’t get home that way.  I decided the best thing to do was to walk over Tower Bridge and take a bus from there.  As I got halfway down Whitechapel High Street I remembered I could have taken the district line to West Ham and changed there.  I felt foolish especially as what had been a sunny day was now a wet one.  I called in at the Whitechapel Gallery and had a look at some of the displays there.  The one I liked most was called  Black Eyes and Lemonade and referred to popular art and an exhibition of design held at the Whitechapel Gallery as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations.  In the exhibition there were all kinds of objects that had been designed including book covers from the fifties and a model rocking horse head.  It was generating some interest.  In another gallery there was a bronze tree trunk with branches that was hollow and gilded on the inside.  Nice.

I continued my walk down Leman Street past the old Co-operative Wholesale Society buildings and through St Katherine’s Dock.  Gloriana the royal barge was in the dock and I took some pictures of it.

I crossed Tower Bridge and took a No 47 bus home.  Again an uneventful journey but the bus was full.  When I came home I wrote up this diary.

06 May, 2013

Hampsfell Hospice, Grange over Sands.

There was something mysterious going on in Eggerslack Woods. Twice I tried to take a picture of my friend and twice the camera failed. A change of batteries was no help. We were walking from Grange to the Hampsfell Hospice, built by a vicar of Cartmel so that travellers could rest on their way over Hampsfell. I suppose it's really a tourist attraction. Notices inside give a plea in verse for observation of certain rules of conduct in the hospice, ending with 'Kind reader freely take your pleasure But do no mischief to my treasure' An answer is also made in verse asking for a handrail on the precarious stair. And it was precarious too!
The views from the top were fantastic right out to the Lake District and across Morecambe Bay.  All from a tiny stone tower built by a clergyman a long time ago.