Photographing the City of London

The increasing privatisation of land and private security, especially in the City of London, is making it harder and harder to take photographs.  The Gherkin and area around it is owned by the Kuwait government, no photographs (and incidentally, no protesting outside the Mayor of London’s office), Canary Wharf is all privately owned so don’t even think about taking photos and depressingly the fantastic looking new building known as The Scalpel is not only private but all on private land and they tend to pounce on you if you even look at your camera.

Many photographers innocently taking photographs of buildings, particularly in the City, are often detained under Section 44 of the anti-terrorism act just because they took a photo with a nice looking camera (I’ve not heard of anyone being stopped while taking photos with a point-and-shoot or with their phones). So far, I security have been reasonably polite when stopping me taking photos (although favourite question “what are you doing?”…I’m holding a camera, what do you think I’m doing?!) but I’m a 4ft 11 white woman. It’s perfectly legal to take photographs of private buildings from public land but they rarely tell you the divide between public and private is.

One of my current favourite views is the view of St Stephen Walbrook church (designed by Christopher Wren) between New Court on St Swithin’s Lane in the City of London.

Observing the View by Steph Dawson on 500px.com

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New Court is the home of the Rothchild Bank HQ so I do understand why they’re a little iffy with you taking photographs but check out that view! New Court was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2012 and it’s a seriously stunning building.

Cooking for Beginners 1 – ‘Simply Cook’

I’m an okay cook, but I’m lazy. I have a few default recipes and that’s it, so I have taken interest in those recipe boxes. I’ve mentioned Earthmiles before where you earn points for being active and you can use those points to get treats. I usually use mine to try out subscription boxes.

Enter ‘Simply Cook‘.

Unlike the rest of the recipe boxes out there, ‘Simply Cook’ don’t send you the ingredients. They have these pre-mixed pots and you supply the ingredients. The big downside to this is you can’t recreate the recipes yourself and it’s more like buying those sauce mixes than actual cooking. Regardless of how well this turns out, I’m not going to be continuing with a subscription…my free trial was enough. Amusingly, I’ve recently received offers from ‘Hello Fresh’ and ‘Gousto’…which I’ll probably try out.

Anyway, ‘Simply Cook’.

In my box I got mixes to prepare BBQ Tandoori Chicken, Malay Laksa, Bokkeumbap and Thai Red Prawn Curry.  I opted to make BBQ Tandoori Chicken, as I had a lot of the fresh ingredients to had.

One big advantage I can see these boxes having over ‘Hello Fresh’ and the others, is the ability to adapt. The BBQ Tandoori Chicken recipe called for sweet potatoes to make the wedges, but I don’t like sweet potato so switched them for normal potatoes…and being lactose intolerant I chose to use Alpro plain yoghurt instead of natural yoghurt.

Step by step recipe card (including tear off shopping list) and mixes for ‘potato seasoning’, ‘smoked chili blend’ and ‘Tandoori paste’. Pretty basic.

The preparation was very, very straight forward and simple to follow.

And this was the result.

Tasty? Definitely, especially the wedges. Worth it? No, not really. I mean for one…it’s not a lot of food. I have more chicken & wedges leftover and that’ll be tomorrow’s dinner but…IDK, it doesn’t feel like much.

I thought about preparing some rice to go with it but decided that it would be a little much with the wedges. I probably should have added more salad but I had a salad for lunch so didn’t have a lot of salad leftover (and my guinea pig tends to demolish any remaining salad bits).

I’m reasonably sure I’m going to be hungry later.

 

 

 

Some thoughts on adaptation regarding Sherlock Holmes

In 2013, I attended a lecture series at the University of London called Sherlock Holmes – Between Past and Present. One of the standout lectures was from James Brown about ‘Holmes and the Moving Image’, which examined the idea that Sherlock Holmes is literally a timeless figure.

Early Holmes adaptations updated to the stories to present day but kept Holmes firmly in the 1890s creating the everlasting image of the great detective with his deerstalker, Inverness cape, and pipe. The first two Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films produced by Fox did attempt to place the stories in their original setting but when Universal took over they updated the stories to ‘present day’ but kept Holmes ‘ageless and locked in a time bubble’. It wasn’t really until the Granada series that they really tried to put Holmes back into the Victorian age, going to great lengths to pinpoint a date and stick as closely as possible to it. (Alastair Duncan pointed out that the Ronald Howard series also attempted to place Holmes in the Victorian age but I’m not very familiar with that adaptation so don’t know how much they stuck to their Victorian setting).

There is really nothing new in the idea of updating Sherlock Holmes, the majority of Sherlock Holmes have updated the stories – Basil Rathbone’s Holmes makes use of modern technology, as does Benedict Cumberbatch but these are not alien to the character of Holmes, the Sherlock Holmes of the original stories was a modern man and used up to date modern technology to aid him in his activities so there is nothing revolutionary about Sherlock Holmes searching the Internet or listening to the wireless because he is very much a man of his time, whatever time that may be.

Another panel I enjoyed was a discussion about Holmes as a social explorer in Luke Seaber’s paper on ‘Sherlock Holmes as a Social Explorer’ which linking in with Benjamin Poore’s paper on ‘Holmes as a Master of Disguise’ suggested that because Holmes is able to adopt different persona’s efficiently he does have a very good understanding of social cues and an understanding how those social cues differ in the class of society he was moving in. Seaber suggested that Holmes’s understanding of people comes from his ability to categorise people, like Henry Mayhew in his classification of people in ‘London Labourer and the London Poor’ (1851) so essentially, Holmes takes part in ‘incognito social exploration’ through his use of effective disguise.

An idea also suggested during one of the panels was that Sherlock Holmes himself was a character and that he was always acting, so did Watson really know his friend? I was especially reminded of all this with regards to the most recent series of Sherlock. Sherlock is very much part of the long tradition of adapting the character of Sherlock Holmes, rather than the stories…although Sherlock is perhaps closer than most of the looser adaptations.

Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!

When Philips first launched ‘Hue’, their smart lighting system in 2012 (I think, that seems so long ago now!) I was in love. Granted, I am a lighting technician and often wish I’d pursued lighting design rather than the electrical side of things but that’s a different story…anyway, I was really intrigued by them. At the time it was massively beyond my price range so I could only watch from afar and put it on all my wishlists hoping I’d (a) win the lottery or (b) have a sudden pay increase. B (sort of) happened as I earn a pretty good living now and can actually save money!

Over time I’ve replaced my traditional GU10s with LED GU10s, with mixed results. The first set in my living room, far too dim and the replacements you can see from space! The first set had a warm light which would have been lovely if you could actually see what you were doing and didn’t have to buy a lamp, the second were far too harsh and quite painful to the point where I never switched on the overhead light. This is why I decided to go ahead with the Philips Hue lights.

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Hello 2017

2017.

My 2017 is going to start with a lovely scan in two weeks which I’m hoping will finally reveal what exactly is going on with my ovaries, or whatever it is. I’m also going to be starting a six-week course in portrait photography with City Lit.

Managed to read 19 books in 2016, which is a little embarrassing. Oops.

Theatre-wise, I saw quite a few productions but the best of the year was without a doubt ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’. Closely followed by ‘The Toxic Avenger’ and ‘Rotterdam’.

This year, I want to read more books, watch more films, take more photographs and continue going to the theatre. I still don’t feel well enough to commit to any physical activity but here’s hoping.

 

Theatre Review: ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’, Dorfman Theatre 29th November 2016

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‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’
Book by Bryony Kimmings & Brian Lobel, music by Tom Parkinson and lyrics by Bryony Kimmings.

I recently caught the last performance of Bryony Kimmings’s A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer at the National Theatre’s Dorfman Theatre.

During the first act, we’re introduced to people with various cancers at various stages of their diagnoses through Amanda (played by the wonderful Amanda Hadingue), a single mum facing the prospect of her four-month-old son having cancer. The musical numbers are moving, haunting and surreal as each character deals with the reality of cancer. Some of the most moving moments came from Laura (masterfully and movingly played by Golda Rosheuvel) in the final stages of ovarian cancer and not ready to face her end and the young man (Gary Wood) trying to deal with testicular cancer on his own.

The twist came in the second act when Amanda stops to ask the writer (the ever present voice of Bryony Kimmings) a question and it’s revealed that the characters are real people with real stories met when Bryony was navigating the NHS with her four-month-old son. Laura, the woman facing a terminal diagnosis was an actress and singer who stopped singing but found her voice in her final weeks. The cast as themselves invited two of the people whose stories we were witnessing onto the stage to give their hopes for the future and invited the audience to name the people they wanted to remember who had been affected by cancer.

Needless to say, it was very affecting and probably one of the few times as a theatre goer I’ve been asked to face the truth. I can see why the reviews have been mixed but I found it a profoundly moving and challenging piece of true theatre

To Boldly Go…

When I was about 4 or 5, I caught an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series on early morning TV (in the early 90s). I don’t remember what episode it was and there’s a good chance it was one of the sillier ones but a bit like when I picked up the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the first time I was hooked. Star Trek would go on to be a very significant presence in my life but there was one thing I’d never done and never even entertained the thought of doing, going to a convention.

Until now.

On Sunday, I ventured to the NEC in Birmingham to attend ‘Destination Star Trek’. This being my first convention I didn’t really know what to expect, sadly a lack of funds meant that I was unable to purchase a bridge photo shoot or photographs with my favourites but I did buy tickets to hear William Shatner enthuse about the mysteries of the universe and to hear George Takei and Walter Koenig talk about their memories of working with DeForest Kelley. Money definitely well spent, especially in the case of latter. There were several free talks, the highlight for me being the look at the upcoming Roddenberry Vault release (which I have pre-ordered…) but at first I was a bit dismayed about the lack of things to do outside of talks.

There were a few vendors selling various Star Trek themed things but nothing that really stood out and there were only a few costumes and props on display. I don’t know what it’s like at other conventions but it all seemed a bit lacking…then I saw someone dressed in an utterly amazing Luxwana Troi costume (who turned out to be Misty Chance, a UK based drag artist who is utterly fabulous). After psyching myself up (social situations are difficult for me), I started asking the amazing cosplayers if I could take their photos I soon I was having a great amount of fun.

Yes it would have been amazing if there had been a ‘gaming zone’ (particularly as I have a several decks of the Star Trek Customisable Card Game and absolutely no idea how to play) and themed food & drink rather than just the bog standard burgers & beer but after a spectacularly long day (I had to leave my flat at 5am) I came to the conclusion that it was seeing several hundred people coming together to celebrate fifty years of a science fiction series which really made my day.

I look forward to attending more conventions in the future.

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(If you want to see the photos I took, they’re up on my Instagram :))