Photography Class in Hampstead Heath

As part of my New Year’s Resolution, went for my first Photography class (thanks to my Fiancee Shaomi) and learnt quite a bit about the basics of DSLR Photography in the idyllic surroundings of Hampstead Heath. Coincidentally my old workmate Jenny had also booked herself in to the class, so it was a double win for me catching up on old work gossip whilst snapping away at anything that seemed mildly interesting.

The trainer who did seem a tad bit hungover (a couple of cups of coffee within 15 minutes) explained to us about ISO sensor sizes, shutter speeds, apertures and composition. As they say practice makes perfect and he let us out into the park like a pack of rabid dogs armed with the latest DSLRs keen to capture anything that would classify us as being remotely creative. It was a nice warm day and there were people jogging, dogs being walked and children flying kites….so below are a few shots that I took 🙂

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The village takes over London town at the Fete

So what were you up to over the weekend? Well, I was rolling around in bales of hay, making tender sweet music on the ukulele, playing with rabbits, being kidnapped by an alien…. These were but a few of the things I was up to in the Village Fête organised by London South Bank University at the Southwark campus.

LSBU Village Fete 2009

LSBU Village Fete 2009

Me being kidnapped by an alien

Me being kidnapped by an alien

The campus was covered in real green grass and had a petting zoo with  chickens, ducks and rabbits. There were craft stalls for bunting and bag making workshops, face painting, henna tattoos, marionette/puppet shows and storytelling.

An Octopus Balloon

An Octopus Balloon

Henna Painitings

Henna Painitings

The kid in me loved the Giant board games that included noughts and crosses, chess and table tennis. I also took part in a row-athon where you had to row 100m as fast as you can, I managed to row under 20 seconds, but am sure I could have gone under 15 seconds if I really put an effort into it (that’s my excuse anyway).

Those who were looking forward to a lazy Saturday, were also catered for through deck chairs in front of the Bandstand where live entertainment included an Orchestra, Break dancing and my favourite an interactive Ukulele performance by the Dulwich Ukulele Club.

Lazy Saturday relaxing in Deck chairs

Lazy Saturday relaxing in Deck chairs

A couple joining in with the Ukulele band

A couple joining in with the Ukulele band

And for the more classic countryside seating arrangements, there were bales of hay to sit on in front of the Village Green stage where the younger audience were entertained by circus performances, puppet shows, African drumming and also a break dancing class for beginners.

Puppet masters with their puppets, you decide who is who :)

Puppet masters with their puppets, you decide who is who 🙂

Overall, The Fête was very upbeat and lively and even that little bit of rain did not dampen the fun had by visitors of all ages. It is always great to escape the urban jungle even though it was only for an afternoon.

Thanks to Tunji Bada for the pictures!

Getting lyrical at The Poetry Place

The Poetry Place cafe

The Poetry Place cafe

Not too long ago Susie aka the raw food hypocrite invited me and Louis to a poetry open mic night at a venue called The Poetry Place. Susie being a poet herself had been up on the stage numerous times at the Poetry Place and recommended it as a really good place to listen to some quality poetry and maybe just maybe if I had the courage, to go up on stage and recite my own poems. So me and Louis took her up on the offer and have to say, I really enjoyed the night so much so that I have now been there numerous times on my own.

The Poetry Place is tucked away in a side street in Covent Garden which is the Mecca for creative people of all sorts from artists, to writers, entertainers, poets e.t.c. As soon as you walk in to the cafe, you can sense the quaint atmosphere where regulars sit with their capuccionos and brownies either pondering or scribbling on pieces of paper. Everyone at the cafe are very friendly and it reminds me of the TV show “Cheers” based around a Boston bar with the catchphrase “where everybody knows your name”.

The cafe tends to get busy in the evening as they tend to have poetry readings almost every evening of the week. Each event that takes place in the basement of the cafe tends to attract a particular type of audience varying from amateurs to well established poets. Poetry Unplugged is an open mic session where people like me who have never read a poem in public can do so for the first time, it can be very nerve wracking but apart from this one regular heckler who is pretty funny the audience is very supportive. The cafe also hosts a series called In Town Tonight which showcases work by famous poets who happen to be in the city. Be warned though, the space in the basement is limited, so the earlier you make your way to an event the more likely a chance you will be able to get in.

The Poetry Place is an ideal place to take your date on a romantic night out, a bit cliche maybe, but true romance always is I guess.

So the question still remains, have I recited my poetry on stage yet…..well the answer is No. Mainly because I feel my poetry is nowhere near as good as anything that I have heard at the Poetry Place. I am working on improving my writing style and hopefully one day I will be confident enough in my attempt at poetry to share it on stage. I will keep you all updated when I do 🙂

Rubbing shoulders (well almost ) with McEnroe and Henman at Wimbeldon 2009

Who?
Me, Lorraine, Kaj and Wendy or as Kaj likes to call us “The Riff-Raffs”

Where?
Henman Hill / Murray Mount,
Wimbeldon Lawn Tennis Championships 2009
At The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbeldon

Wimbeldon 2009

Wimbeldon 2009

When?
01 July 2009

Ticket price?
Managed to get in for only £5, an absolute bargain

Wimbeldon Queue card and ticket

Wimbeldon Queue card and ticket

Snacks?
Pimm’s and Strawberries of course

Strawberries and Pimm's anyone?

Strawberries and Pimm's anyone?

Who were playing?
Quarter Final match between Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick

On Henman hill/Murray mount, watching Hewitt serve

On Henman hill, watching Hewitt serve

Wagers?
£2 bet between me and Wendy on me winning the bet if Roddick wins and Wendy winning the bet if Hewitt did

Who won?
Roddick and me 🙂

Highlight of the day?
After the end of the match as we were making our way out, we saw Tim Henman and John McEnroe being interviewed live on the balcony of the building right in front of us. Kaj sensing a photo opportunity, shouted at McEnroe the infamous lines “You cannot be serious, John”… McEnroe and Henman were both distracted by Kaj heckling John that they turned and waved down at us. Kaj was too starstruck waving at McEnroe that she forgot to take a pic. But she managed to take a pic of Henman waving at us

Henman and McEnroe on the balcony giving an interview

Henman and McEnroe on the balcony giving an interview


Henman waving at us

Henman waving at us

Afterparty?
All the bars and restaurants in the Wimbeldon “Vill-aaj” was packed but we managed to find a really nice looking bar called “The Common Room”

Verdict?
Couldn’t have been any better, everything from the weather, the Pimm’s and strawberries, the company and even the tennis was perfect

Would I do it again?

Hell yeah, but would love to get my hands on “Centre court” tickets next time

Centre Court

Centre Court

At the Flashmob in Liverpool Street – Memorial to Michael Jackson

What started on twitter as a simple pondering about whether it was possible to gather a group of people in Liverpool Street station to do the moonwalk in homage to Michael Jackson turned out to become one of the largest flashmobs London has ever seen and I can walk away knowing that I played my part in it.

We had to move the location of the flashmob from Liverpool Street Station (the original location) to the street outside the station because British Transport Police were not too happy with the large crowds converging to the station.

Me and my mate Louis arrived early around 5pm, to see Liverpool Street station filled with cops and paparazzi.

Paparazzi waiting for the Michael Jackson flashmob

Paparazzi waiting for the Michael Jackson flashmob

Outside on the street there were around 50 odd early birds seemingly lost. There were 2 lovely buskers playing a piano non the wiser about what the fuss was about but were happy of the adulation the larger than usual crowd was giving them.

Buskers outside Liverpool Street Station on the day of the Flashmob

Buskers outside Liverpool Street Station on the day of the Flashmob

At around 5:50pm, out of nowhere 100s of people showed up from all directions. The cops stopped traffic and cleared the streets and allowed the crowd to flow on to the street.

Cops herding the flashmob on to the street

Cops herding the flashmob on to the street

Everyone had their phones out clicking pictures of each other and the mob. The time was now 6pm and people started screaming “MJ…MJ….”. The speakers were set up and ready by 6:15pm…The crowd screamed in joy as Billie Jean was played out loud. White gloved hands started waving in the air to the music. There were a few tears but there was also a lot of joy as people felt connected to each other and to Jacko as the music vibes flowed through the crowd.

Part of the mob trying to get a better view of the rest of the mob :-/

Part of the mob trying to get a better view of the rest of the mob :-/

In the Twitter era, everyone is a cameraperson

In the Twitter era, everyone is a cameraperson

I positioned myself right next to the speaker as Thriller was played next. The crowd started doing zombie moves. Thriller was followed by Bad as everyone got their boogie on.

Right in the middle of the flashmob by the speakers

Right in the middle of the flashmob by the speakers

A flashmob zombie dancing to Thriller

A flashmob zombie dancing to Thriller

As Bad, the last of the three songs promised was played, the crowd wanted more. We agreed to play one last song if someone did the perfect moonwalk, a brave fan jumped in front of the crowd and did a moonwalk that got our approval. Smooth Criminal was played but 15 seconds in to the song due to a technical glitch it stopped.

We managed to appease the crowd by playing another rendition of Billie Jean, which got the crowd grooving again.

Belting out Billie Jean

Belting out Billie Jean

Getting down to the Billie Jean groove

Getting down to the Billie Jean groove

As soon as the song ended, there was a huge applause and the crowd dispersed just as fast as they had appeared.

A real well done to the cops and everyone who were there!!!

Still wondering how those lads got up those Telephone boxes

Still wondering how those lads got up those Telephone boxes