Tag Archives: London

Two Minutes Silence

Today, as all over the country, myself and the people on the course with me took part in a two minutes silence to remember those who were killed last week in the terrorist bombs in London.

2 Minutes Silence

Unlike other silences, for example for Rememberance Sunday, everybody was asked to go and stand on the street to give a visible indication of the numbers, and I have to say by doing that it made it a much more moving experience – seeing a major London road come to a complete halt, and thousands of people standing in total silence was incredible, and I hope sends a very visible message.

Of course it wasn’t without difficulties – trying to fit all the people in the four eight floor office blocks onto the pavement was a bit of a squeeze, as somebody said, a bit like trying to squeeze onto a tube train – in a strange way rather fitting.

On Yer Bike

For the past few weeks, our notice sheet at church has been highligting that Andy Witting and Jackie Lawrence are doing the London to Brighton Bike Ride for the British Heart Foundation. Having said that, most people know already as it has become quite common to pass one or other of them around the local area training (last time I spoke to Andy he was concerned that he’d only managed to get a block of time so far to do about half the distance so he’s not sure how he’s going to cope on the day!).

Bike Ride

It is worth saying that it is quite a challenge, so I am genuinely impressed at anybody willing to do the ride. I always remember when some workmates did it many years ago, especially the comments on what the final uphill stretch just before Brighton was like!

Anyway, I got an e-mail through from Sarah saying that she’d been asked to do it at the last minute and has just ten days to gather sponsorship and get prepared. If you’re not sponsoring anybody else on the ride, or even if you are, Sarah is taking e-mail pledges of support on her blog.

London Geek Dinner

So despite the efforts of South West trains, we made it to the Geek Dinner!

I met Howard on the train at Basingstoke, and it turned out that Sarah was sat opposite us on the train. Dave met us at Waterloo.

It was great to meet Robert Scoble, and also to hear some of his opinions as to the effect that blogs are having on the world. He seemed genuinely chuffed by the number of people who had come along (about 120, double the largest geek dinner held in the USA). It was a great opportunity to meet a load of other techies, and just generally chat.

Probably the funniest moment of the entire night, was Ian, who was convinced that Sarah couldn’t be a geek, until she pulled out her binary watch! You can read both Ian’s version and Sarah’s version on their respective blogs.

Aside from the good food, and general geekiness, it was great to be able to catch up with Howard now that Locutio is really taking off. Howard did make a bit of an impression on Dave however, with his Frankenstein style surgery to produce Zaphod Beeblebrox Channel 9 Guy!

There is a page up with loads of blog entries describing the night, and links off to pictures, plus pod casts of the night and Robert Scobles speech itself – well worth a listen if you have an interest in blogging. (Incidentally, I do pop up in the pictures, just to prove I was there!)

I only had my Nokia 3650 with me, so my pictures are not the greatest (roll on the arrival of my new phone), but I’ve added a few below.

London in June

So after our trip to Windsor earlier in the week, yesterday we took a trip up to London.

The journey up was a somewhat quicker than usual. In the past we have tended to go from Winchfield station, where it is usually possible to find a parking space, and it takes about an hour. However a friend pointed out that under the revised timetable (which results in the trains from Winchfield stopping at Walton on Thames) there is now a fast train every hour from Fleet, so we decided to give that train a go.

We got one of the last few spaces in the car park, and managed to catch the fast train, and get a seat too! The fast train takes almost twenty minutes off the journey time as it doesn’t make a stop between Farnborough and Clapham Junction, so is a definite improvement.

Anyway, first stop in London was a trip on the London Eye. As it was the summer half-term there was a queue even first thing in the morning (according to one of the staff the summer half-term is their busiest week of the whole year as the numbers are more spread over the summer holidays), however we got on pretty quickly. The only problem was that they appeared to be having problems with the airconditioning. We had a portable unit hooked up in our pod, and one of the other pods was out of action with an air conditioning engineer working on it as it went round – probably one of the more interesting jobs he has I guess, but a bit of a problem if he’s left a spare in the van!

After our trip on the Eye, we went straight for the open top bus tour, picking it up on Westminster Bridge. We did part of the tour as far as St Paul’s, where we jumped off to take a look at the cathedral.

It’s a while since I’d been there, and the Canadian contingent hadn’t ever visited. First order of the day was to have some lunch, so we went to their excellent cafe down in the crypt. If you’re ever in the area and want a good place for soup and a sandwich, the crypt cafe comes highly recommended (and you don’t need to pay the admission charge to get to the cafe either). When we arrived at St Paul’s they were holding their regular lunchtime eucharist, using a straight order one modern language service. As with St Georges in Windsor that is alternating order one traditional and modern services it is good to see the new services in regular usage in our most high profile churches. It is quite interesting to look around St Paul’s, as to my mind it is pretty atypical of a Church of England Cathedral, although that is perhaps as much to do with it’s age as anything else. Oddly enough Beth said that whereas she usually finds going to a cathedral a calming experience, she didn’t get the same feeling sat in the knave of St Paul’s.

After our visit to St Paul’s we picked up the bus tour again, taking in the rest of the sights on the tour, and also a large dose of London gridlock – the tour taking nearer three hours than the scheduled two. We jumped off again when we reached Picadilly Circus, and went over to the Odeon Leicester Square to see the new Star Wars film on the screen there.

The Odeon has one of the few full digital screens in the UK, basically the cinema equivalent of a DVD, so the picture quality was excellent. However whilst they replaced the seats in the most recent refurbishment of the cinema, they didn’t bother to make them any bigger, so seeing a film there is a decided squash compared to some others. Now if I could get a combination of the screen at the Odeon with my armchair at home…

Star Wars III

In terms of the film, I enjoyed it, and it wasn’t quite as cringe making as say the Phantom Menace. However, as with Attack of the Clones, I think Lucas has gone rather too far towards using computers, to the point where parts of the movie are just plain unbelievable. It is also pretty apparent in parts that computer technology is not up to it, particularly laughable being the computer generated Governor Tarkin (played in Star Wars by Peter Cushing) that is no better than you get in computer games. There was a sterling effort in trying to stitch the prequels together with the older films, although there are still a couple of plot holes and apparent continuity gaffes that may have me watching the original trilogy again to check out, and also taking a look through the list of changes between versions. In terms of the film overall I think that computer technology hasn’t come nearly as far as George Lucas seems to think. The computers can be great for enhancing scenes, but you still need real sets and real actors. Computers still can’t accurately render things, human beings especially. For example take a look at the older Star Wars movies, with real sets and real people in many places it looks a lot more impressive than he slightly unbelievable computer generated stuff in the new movies.

Anyway, after the movie we had dinner in the nearby TGI Friday’s, and then took the fast train back to Fleet. Definitely an enjoyable day.