Eel Pie Island

August 22, 2010 8 Comments

Yesterday I was down in the Twickenham area so I made a short visit to Eel Pie Island.

Fifty years ago the island was famous as a thriving venue for blues and jazz bands but in the past ten years the only thing that seems to have happened was an invasion attempt by Danny Wallace. Nowadays it’s a combination of secretive dwellings holding around 150 residents, odd studios, Twickenham rowing club and some docks – but all with a creepy and sinister undertone.

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island - click to view larger

Not having possession of a boat, my access to the island was via a footbridge (#1 on the island image above). I was met with a sign saying “Private Island’ and subtext stating there was no thoroughfare to the river, and that I wasn’t allowed to cycle (2). Now a big sign saying ‘private’ is generally an indicator to keep out; however this sign didn’t actually tell me I wasn’t allowed to be there so with a little uncertainty I continued. The path I was on wound itself around to the left and there were tall bushes and trees on my right with closed gates leading off to various houses. On my left were a few more buildings in a row, some of them shops (I think) – perhaps all of them, I wasn’t too sure. Everything was closed though, or appeared to be at the least.

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

This path followed on for a little bit before I arrived at a large structure for Eel Pie Island Slipways Limited. This is where the path ended, though within the blue painted steel walls was a blue door (3). I tried it and it was open, swinging heavily on its hinges. I stepped inside and, once my eyes had adjusted to the sudden darkness, found I was in a basic shed type structure, along with a huge boat.

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

I quickly passed through this to the sunlight I could see on the other side and found myself at the start of another thin path winding through shacks and looking a little bit like I was in a junk yard. An old guy was sat on a piece of wood with his back to me. He wore a black suit and a black hat, his left hand was on a black cane and the only indication that he was alive seemed to be the cigarette he was smoking.

Inhale.

Exhale smoke.

Inhale.

Exhale smoke.

No other movements.

Inhale.

Exhale smoke.

I started off, curiously walking down the path and winding my way through the shacks until I found myself at a little clearing where the buildings ended and the trees started. There were some chairs placed around an old drum fire, odd trinkets, lots of metal and lots of pieces of boats. There were also a lot of mirrors. It was all a bit strange (4).

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island

I was feeling a little spooked also. I wasn’t sure if this was an area I was meant to be in. Sure, there were studios here and the signs said they were open, but the place appeared abandoned. Not only that, it appeared like it was suddenly abandoned. That whoever had been here had left in a hurry. With all the mirrors and dirty windows I also had that unsettling feeling like you’re being watched, which wasn’t helped by the whistling of leaves in the trees or the flaps of canvas on nearby boats as the wind caught them.

As I was taking a few more photos I suddenly heard someone speaking, a man’s voice – deep and throaty. I froze attempting to determine the direction it was coming from; the path I had just come up it turns out. I peeked around the corner of the building I was at but couldn’t see anything; I couldn’t here anything either.

I wanted to hide. I don’t know why, as I was doing nothing wrong. I had the feeling as if I were an eight year old and was somewhere I shouldn’t be so my natural instinct was to hide away until I could find a safe exit. So I retreated a little, back towards the gathering where the drum fire was.

I saw him then, in front of me. Only he couldn’t have been in front of me, of course, as the voices had been from the path behind me. I froze again, staring at him. He hadn’t seen me, I was looking at his back. I was also looking in one of the many mirrors that were there, which is why he had appeared to be in front of me.

He turned and disappeared out of view.

‘This is silly’ I thought to myself. ‘I’m a grown man and here I am hiding from another person when I have done nothing wrong and he’s probably a lovely old fisherman. I bet, if I were to go and say hello to him he would offer me a cup of coffee from a flask and perhaps give me a Werther’s Original.’

And so I took a breath, stepped out onto the path and went to face the stranger and claim my piece of toffee.

He wasn’t to be seen though. I’m not sure where he had gone to.

I didn’t wait to find out either, and quickly retraced my way back where I had been.

The old guy was no longer sat on the piece of wood – which pleased me.

The blue door was still slightly ajar which was how I had left it and also comforting.

The footbridge was still there, though in my mind I was expecting it to have disappeared for some reason.

Danny Wallace, Eel Pie Island is all yours mate; I don’t want it.

Eel Pie Island

I don’t want to ride your bicycle

July 26, 2010 2 Comments

london

I walked by an accident scene this morning.

A cyclist was lying in the middle of the road with police and ambulance around him; though he looked okay. He was moving, attempting to sit up, no signs of blood or damage. It was a busy crossroads. I imagine it was his fault. It happens.

The problem isn’t that it happens quite a lot. The problem is that it’s likely going to happen more and more.

There are a lot of cyclists in London, and many commuters use them as a way to get to work. They’re a menace…or at least many of them are.

They go down the streets in the wrong direction; they run red lights; they cycle slowly in bus lanes; they just don’t seem to care about the rules of the road. It’s no wonder why motorists dislike them.

Unfortunately a new cycle hire scheme is going live in Central London on Friday which means 6000 new bicycles will be put onto the London roads.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it meant that 6000 drivers were suddenly cycling instead of driving, but it doesn’t.

It does, however, mean that many more people, including tourists, can simply hop on a bike and cycle to their desired destination.

I think if you go out and buy a bike it shows commitment. You are wanting to cycle somewhere, and as well as the bike you may go that extra mile to assist yourself. Perhaps making sure you’ve done a proficiency course; perhaps read up on the highway code; and perhaps even buying a helmet to wear.

Not so when it comes to this cycle hire scheme and, once you’ve quickly signed up, you can have a bike free of charge for 30 minutes.

So, here we have a lot of people who are likely to be amateurs at cycling, let alone cycling in London at rush hour, who are suddently now in charge of a bicycle.

Then we have the tourists, who are are likely in the same boat, or perhaps a smaller more rickety one because they may not be used to London at all and not know where they need to go, how to get there and how busy the roads are. It’s sometimes bad enough when they’re just walking and not paying attention let alone when they are zipping along on a bike, trying to sneak a glimpse at the nearest tourist attraction and not paying attention to the roads or the build up of irate cars and cyclists behind them.

Then of course we have the drunks, who instead of wishing to pay out for a taxi home decide they could easily make the journey on those new shiny bikes which have popped up beside their usual watering hole and, conveniently, near their house.

All of these people, taking to the streets on these new bikes.

All of them without a helmet being provided.

You can go ahead and call me a cynic, but I also feel that the condition of the bikes will lead to yet more accidents. It’s all nice and well having your own bike which is your pride and joy, but you would care less with one that you are just hiring. Sure, there are simple methods to let the organisers know when a bike is faulty…but what does that actually do, and what exactly is faulty?

At the start of the scheme I’m sure all reports will be responded to quite quickly with the bikes taken away for repair and put back into circulation within 24 hours.

That’s an easy thing to do when everything is new and there is a lot of press on the subject.

What about a year down the line when the natural wear and tear takes a toll on the bikes and hundreds are in need of repair at one time. They’re not all going to get fixed so quickly, and a broken reflector can be just as fatal as a broken spoke.

I could be wrong.

I often am.

Indeed, I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that this scheme works efficiently, and safely, and that London turns into a cycling capital with everyone gliding along happily as if they were going for a nice relaxing picnic in the countryside.

I can’t see it though.

Stay safe out there…and please wear a helmet. Or consider walking.

Cako Martin & ‘Colourful Hope’

May 30, 2010 7 Comments

On 22nd May 2010 The Elephant Parade held a ‘meet the artist’ day so that members of the public could speak with the artists behind some of the beautiful designs currently on display in the streets and parks of London.

Unfortunately I had to travel that day and was unable to meet up with any of the artists so I spoke with Cako Martin, the Brazilian artist behind ‘Colourful Hope‘ which is number 75 in the display.

Cako Martin, Colourful Hope

The Elephant Parade is a great cause, how did you first hear about the project? Were you approached to take part, or did you nominate yourself?
They approached me via the internet. We talked about it a long time ago before the parade and the guys invited me. I’m so happy to be a part of team.

Cako, can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating Colourful Hope…such as what techniques did you use and how long did the process take in total?
Colourful Hope is a parent of Cowlorida Voadora (My cow in CowParade 2010 Brazil) that i started to draw in my computer and reproduced on the elephant. I studied the body of baby elephant and started to compose the drawing. The creation took 6 days (around 35 hours) to complete.

Where do you live and do your work?
I’m an art director/illustrator living in Brazil ( im half brazilian/half spanish) working at Young & Rubicam in Brazil.

The Elephant Parade will have an audience of an estimated 25 million people, what message are you attempting to convey in the design of Colourful Hope?
I think that we need to share and help more. Events like Elephant Parade can help to share beautiful stuff with the best artists but the best thing for me is that I can help in the cause to protect our asian elephants. It’s amazing to share my art on the streets outside my country, I just arrived in London to paint this elephant and it was so nice but I’m really happy to help a cause and I tried to call the attention of everybody on the streets with something colorful, cute and beautiful.

Colourful Hope stands outside Harrod’s, perhaps the most prestigious store in London, and is certainly the brightest object in a rather dismal looking road. Did you have any say in where your creation would be displayed? If you could choose anywhere in London to display your work…where would it be?
I am so happy to be in front of Harrods, but I don’t know who chose to put my baby there. I’m so glad she is there though.

You recently participated in the Cow Parade – was the creation of Colourful Hope easier than Cowlorida Voadora? What did you learn from the Cow Parade that you could use in the Elephant Parade?
I’m an art director, and I have in parallel other stuff that exhibitions with my art. It’s so awesome; I love to paint, but to do something like these parades is more than any exhibition. It’s so cool to see people around my art, take photos….I love to see the faces of guys lookin’ at my baby. Lol….its so funny.

Colourful Hope, along with the other elephants on display, will be auctioned at the end of the exhibition. Where would you like to see your creation find a home?
Harrods can buy my baby isnt it? Lol….
I dont think about it…I wanna see my baby in a place that has people lovin’ it.

I see you work in several different mediums, be it pieces such as Colourful Hope, print or fashion. Which medium is your favourite, and where do you feel your art is going?
I love my art. I’m doing different stuff all at the same time right now and enjoy it all. I’m trying to expand more and more.

What other projects are you currently working on, or will be working on in the near future?
I’m in a creative process now, nothing concrete to say; I will love to do something in the Asia region next.

What inspires you, and which artists do you admire?
I use daily references like fashion, architecture, design,…
AnOther Mag (by Dazed and Confused Group) in LOVES section a thousand of references daily…i’ve tried to use it. (http://www.anothermag.com/loves)
I love Andy Warhol, Dalek and Kaws.

Further information:

  • Colourful Hope is on display outside Harrod’s on Hans Crescent until the end of June 2010 and is sponsored by Mr Bruno Wang.
  • If you want to purchase this elephant you can bid on Colourful Hope until 4th July 2010
  • Visit the artist’s website at www.cakomartin.com

75. Colourful Hope

Top tips for viewing the elephant parade

May 19, 2010 649 Comments

Like myself, there are some people (such as MykReeve or drplokta) who seemed to rush out and attempt to photograph all of the elephants in the London Elephant Parade in a couple of days. Let me tell you, doing this during the daylight hours that surround work and at weekends takes a lot of effort and involves a lot of walking.

It is a lot of fun though, and you will see many beautiful elephants on your travels. It’s also likely you will get to see several buildings and parks in London that you haven’t seen before, some of which you may not even realise existed previously.

So, if you’ve seen the photos or the enjoyment that others on the hunt have been through and fancy having a go yourself, here are some things you may wish to consider before setting off on your journeys.

Grab the Elephant Parade application
www.livespot.com.au have released an application which runs on the iPhone or Android and incorporates Augmented Reality technology that allows users to simply hold up their phone and view all elephants in the area – the technology makes use of the phone’s camera and onboard GPS to orientate and locate elephants within a set vicinity. Users can choose to have results displayed across augmented reality, map view or list view. Going beyond the business of spotting elephants, they have incorporated interactive functions that allow users to sign the petition and share a link to the application on Twitter and Facebook.

In central London the application is available through the Augmented Reality browser Layar or browsing to http://m.layar.com/open/elephantparade from your iPhone or Android.

(For me, I just downloaded the Layar app onto my iPhone and searched for ‘elephant parade’ within the app)

elephantparade

Grab a list of elephants and where they are likely to be located
The Elephant Parade website has a .pdf route map that you can download.
My previous post has a list of elephants in the elephant parade and their (tentative) locations – sometimes these wannabe ninjas move around a bit, especially Cloudia – she’s the sneakiest of all of them!
I’ve also created a Google Map of the Elephant Parade
Here’s another map that drplokta created as mashup using flickr and google maps.

Plan your route
You can just head out into the streets with a list of elephants and a map and see where the day takes you, but if you want to maximise the number of elephants you see in the parade in a short space of time you’re best off planning a route in advance.
Firstly, check out the Elephant Family Facebook Page and see what other elephant hunters are saying about the elephants. You’ll find out here if some elephants are missing or if an area is particularly tricky to get to for some reason.
Secondly, drplokta is providing excellent updates on the status of elephants on this discussion page. You know, I sometimes think he’s moving these elephants around himself with how up to date he is – do check back on that page on a regular basis.

Check out opening times
Did you read the excellent discussion page I mentioned above?
If you did you will know that some elephants aren’t available at certain times. I fell short of my 100 elephants in one day target when both Devonshire Sq and the Royal Exchange were closed on Sunday. 96 elephants later I should have been happy, but I was annoyed because I had mis-planned my route and fell short of my target.
If the elephant is inside you can sometimes see them through a window, but you’re best off checking with the owners of whichever building the elephant is in to see if they are open. Check out their websites and this should let you know.

Likewise with the parks, some of these will close at night time, others as soon as dusk sets in. Check out their website before you set out on a late night journey.

Wear comfortable shoes
London is surprisingly easy to walk around and get from A to B in a reasonable time. However, getting from A to B to C to D, back to B and then on to E and F followed by a detour to J and back to F and onto G….well, you get the hint – going from one place to another isn’t exactly linear. Neither are our streets and after several hours walking around your feet may start to become sore, especially if you are not wearing decent walking shoes. Believe me, I should know. And if you don’t believe me, ask the blisters on my right foot!

Plan your elephant viewing based on the results you want
I preferred to take my photos of each elephant pretty much without other people getting in the way, where possible. After a trip to Trafalgar Square one lunchtime and seeing not only tourists but many people sitting on the elephant’s bases to eat their lunch I realised that taking tourist free photos may be quite difficult.

As such I made sure to go to the really busy places such as Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden Piazza, Westfield and Hamley’s first thing in the morning before there are many people around. Other locations like Suffolk Street or Heddon Street, which are quieter locations can be left to the busier times as there is less through traffic.

Of course, you may want to take photos that have people in it, in which case you should go there during the busy times and try and catch people interacting with the elephants – though make sure they’re okay with you taking their photo if you are doing so.

Be polite to others
If you find others are in the way of your taking a perfect photo, try not to get frustrated with them. Some people see the elephants as art, some as a photo opportunity, some as a nice place to take a seat. If you have one opinion it doesn’t mean another opinion is the correct one.

If you are patient the people surrounding the elephant will likely leave, and hopefully you will have a window of opportunity to take your photos.

Some people see that you are taking a photo and will get out of your way, so thank them for doing so – though if you have a digital photo it’s not like they’ve ruined your shot by using the last of your film if they do get in the way.

Some people, unfortunately, will go out of their way to be in the photo and pull faces (or worse, as I found with a group of teenagers in Elephant & Castle). Ignore them, and wait for an opportunity to take a decent photo at a later time.

If you’re in a rush and someone is sitting in the way, simply ask them politely if they would be able to move away for a few moments. Most people are just oblivious to the fact they are in the way and will happily do so.

Ask permission if on private property
Some of the elephants are in private property and in certain places there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether you should be there or are allowed to take photos. I disagree with locations that are like this, as the Elephant Parade is supposed to be a public art display. If you are in one of these locations ask before you start taking photos. Even if the elephant is in the doorway and you have to walk past it to get to the reception desk, you should still ask first.

Selfridges staff entrance and the Olswang office were two of the places I went to that the staff member on duty did not allow me to take photographs. I thanked them for their time and left the buildings. I then followed up with emails to the correct people in charge of the properties seeking permission to take photos on their premises, and in both locations permission was granted (although Gerald did disappear before I was able to make the Selfridges appointment).

If you don’t ask the staff will not take kindly to it, and though you may have managed to take your photo of the elephant you may have spoiled that opportunity for future people who also want to take photos.

Unfortunately some places which have elephants on display may not have anticipated how much attention they would attract and may now be regretting getting them. At the end of the day you are on their property and what they say goes, so be polite regardless of the outcome and move onto the next elephant if needed.

Using your camera
There are two things I would recommend when using your camera.

Firstly, make sure the battery is fully charged. I had a nice evening walking around taking photos, and had reached 20 elephants or so with 6 more to go that night when my camera ran out of battery power. My fault for using it for a few days without recharging the battery. It did mean that I couldn’t finish my hunt that night and had to go out of my way to return to that location the next day. A little frustrating to say the least.

Secondly, I do recommend using burst mode if you are taking photos. There is so much going on in the streets of London that you may not always notice what’s happening in the background of your photos and where a person or a vehicle ruins a photo you have taken. Using burst mode will take several pictures quickly which means you have more chance of capturing a perfect shot, and also more chance of getting shots that are in perfect focus instead of finding out at a later date that your elephant is slightly blurred.

Check the weather forecast
Common sense, but if you’re out all day you will need to be properly attired for the various weather conditions. You do not want to leave the house in the morning wearing a light jacket and expecting to spend all day shooting the elephants, only to find that there is torrential rain at midday. Be prepared for what the good old English weather will bring.

Use an A-Z
If you have a map on your phone then you’re probably okay, but if you’re unsure of your way around London and don’t have one you are probably best off with an A-Z in your pocket.

The less time you spend wandering around aimlessly and are able to confidently walk from one location to another, then the quicker you will finish taking photos of all of the elephants.

Finally, have fun.
You’re taking part in a fantastic project and I hope you have fun doing so, and possibly meet new people along the way. If you do go out taking photos I would love to see them, so post a link to your images or send me a link on flickr.

Happy hunting!

The Elephant Parade

May 6, 2010 23 Comments

UPDATE: The elephants have now been moved.
Outdoor elephants are viewable at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Monday 28th June between the hours of 10am and 7pm.

Several indoor elephants are viewable at Westfield during regular opening hours between now and 30th June.

Gerald is viewable at China Whites during selective hours between now and 30th June.

The Emerald Queen is no longer viewable as she was sold in a private auction.

Happy Herds

Today my journey started.

I first heard last year that an Elephant Parade was coming to London. I remember the Cow Parade of a few years ago but was neither living in central London nor had a digital camera so looking at those consisted of just happening upon them by chance rather than by design.

A few years later and I am armed with a conveniently located flat which allows me to wander the city at night without getting home at stupid o’clock, a digital SLR and a curious desire to go out and photograph these wonderful designs throughout London.

They seemed to have landed yesterday, and today I started the process of finding them and shooting them, one by one.

It’s kind of like a one man safari, but the shooting is obviously with a camera and not an elephant gun.

I’ll be posting images of them up on Flickr as I go along, and may end up buying a mini replica once I’m done. I’ll no doubt do a top 5 or top 10 of my favourite designs also.

Hopefully I’ll get through all 258 of them before they are extinct; and I guess I should head down to Brixton quite soon before that poor one get’s vandalised or stolen or something.

View the Elephant Parade on Flickr
View the Elephant Parade Map (see below for embedded version)

The Elephant Parade runs from May to June 20th on the streets of London. 238 elephants should then be viewable on the 25th, 26th and 28th of June in one group at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The following elephants are currently indoors, but should be located to the RHC at that time: 4. Strawberry, 7. Tree of Love, 87. The Happy End of Nature, 107. Cartier, 111. Mother Nature, 115. Eco The Elephant & 159. Mason

The following elephants are currently at Westfield…
56 – love ellie
97 – Saffron
172 – Luna
224 – Eli

On 21st June they will be joined by the following elephants for viewing in the Westfield atrium until 30th June:
50 – Heaven’s Haathi
84 – Matilda
113 – Monopoly Community Chest
114 – Zambi
120 – The Singing Butler Rides Again
133 – Manasuna
165 – Untitled
184 – The Human Disease
198 – Mammoth Metaphor
217 – The Spirit of India
226 – Pearly Prince
244 – Jewel-ele
249 – Spooning Sunday
258 – Ziggy

135. Gerald – he will remain at China Whites until 30th June.
216. The Emerald Queen will not be on display as she will have been sold by then at a private event at Selfridges on the 23rd June.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Grab the Elephant Parade application
www.livespot.com.au have released an application which runs on the iPhone or Android and incorporates Augmented Reality technology that allows users to simply hold up their phone and view all elephants in the area – the technology makes use of the phone’s camera and onboard GPS to orientate and locate elephants within a set vicinity. Users can choose to have results displayed across augmented reality, map view or list view. Going beyond the business of spotting elephants, they have incorporated interactive functions that allow users to sign the petition and share a link to the application on Twitter and Facebook.

In central London the application is available through the Augmented Reality browser Layar or browsing to http://m.layar.com/open/elephantparade from your iPhone or Android.

(For me, I just downloaded the Layar app onto my iPhone and searched for ‘elephant parade’ within the app)

elephantparade

Elephants where their location is shown in blue below are moving to Leicester Square on Friday 18th June and will remain there for the weekend.

Elephant check-list: (I’ve now snapped all 258 elephants)
1. Spotty (Green Park)
2. Radja (Market Place)
3. Union Jack (Orange Square)
4. Strawberry (The Hempel Hotel)
5. Piquant (Greenwich Central Market)
6. Forever Birds (St Mowdens Shopping Centre)
7. Tree of Love (National Geographic; Regent St)
8. Ampersand (Hyde Park Corner)
9. Simply Gold (More London)
10. Pink Elephant (Covent Garden Piazza)
11. Simply Silver (Green Park)
12. Polka Dot (More London)
13. Doors (Duke of York Square)
14. Daisies (Notting Hill Gate Hilton Hotel, Park Lane)
15. Mr Stripe (Foubert’s Place/Newburgh St)
16. Mrs Stripe (Marble Arch)
17. Gaj Mani (Green Park)
18. Panda (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner)
19. Blitz (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
20. Vroom (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
21. Dart (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
22. Bolt (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner)
23. Dash (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner)
24. Whizz (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner)
25. I Miss The Forest (Green Park)
26. Spike (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
27. Chinesephant (Baker Street)
28. Cha-Chang (More London)
29. Blue Macaw (Green Park)
30. Vorsprung (Piccadilly)
31. The Swan (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
32. Little Bird (Mount Street)
33. Ganesh (India Place)
34. Little Moo (Cavendish Square)
35. Bouquet (Paddington Street Gardens)
36. Chestnut (The Hempel Hotel)
37. Woodland (Cavendish Square)
38. Old Map of London (Orange Square)
39. Ladybird (Hyde Park, Dell Garden)
40. Simply Yellow (More London)
41. Travels On My Elephant (Notting Hill Gate)
42. Lahu Girl (St. James’s Park)
43. Sherlock Holmes (Baker Street)
44. Fish & Chips (Green Park)
45. New Map of London (More London)
46. Bobby (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner)
47. Tea Roses (More London)
48. Decors (More London)
49. Ferrous (The Royal Opera House)
50. Heaven’s Haathi (Selfridges)
51. Oran (You Stole My Heart) (Notting Hill Gate)
52. Clair le Lune (Greenwich Visitors Centre)
53. Nana (Curzon Street)
54. Eli Krishma (20 Mount Street)
55. Cubelephant (More London)
56. love ellie (Westfield)
57. HELP! (Royal Hospital Chelsea)
58. Sunny (Covent Garden Piazza)
59. The Elephant In The Room (Duke of York Square)
60. Map Elephant (6 Devonshire Square)
61. Shaant Haathi (Queens Walk: Royal Festival Hall)
62. Gaia Elephant (Kings Road)
63. In Your Trunk (Turn The Base Up) (Green Park)
64. Patron (St James’ Street)
65. Burma (Holland Park Avenue)
66. Phoolan (Natural History Museum)
67. Elephant Chic (St Christopher’s Place)
68. Taxi Elephant (The Royal Exchange)
69. The Clonakilty Irish Elephant (Covent Garden Piazza)
70. Dedicated to the wonderful Chelsea Pensioners (Royal Hospital Chelsea)
71. Boodles (Baker Street)
72. Belle (Suffolk Street)
73. The Vanishing Lotus (Green Park)
74. Elephant Race (Against Time) (Bank Station)
75. Colourful Hope (Hans Crescent) – Read an interview with Cako Martin, the artist behind ‘Colourful Hope’.
76. Ella May (LMA) (Baker Street Victoria street outside Westminster Council building)
77. Pit Bingko (Green Park)
78. Noah (Covent Garden Piazza)
79. The Empire Is Not Striking Back (Green Park)
80. Ritual (St Paul’s Churchyard)
81. Marjorie (More London)
82. Grey Elephant (New Bond St)
83. Midnight Indigo (Bow Churchyard)
84. Matilda (Museum of London Docklands)
85. Sans Merci (St. James’s Park)
86. Polyphant (Green Park)
87. The Happy End of Nature (Terminal 5, Heathrow Paddington Station)
88. Ddj (Covent Garden Piazza)
89. Brambles (Queens Walk, Royal Festival Hall)
90. Twiggie (37, Davies Street (Near Couture Lab))
91. Cupcake (Regent Place)
92. Tigerphant (Newport Court)
93. Tango (The Dorchester)
94. Charmed (The Royal Opera House)
95. Elephas Maximus (More London)
96. Dandi-phant (St Pancras International)
97. Saffron (Westfield)
98. Seymour (Natural History Museum)
99. Buddy (Hans Crescent)
100. Carry On Up The Khyber (More London)
101. Layla (Berkeley Square)
102. Tattoo – Born To Be Wild (Green Park)
103. Greetings From The Jungle (31 Harbet Rd, Paddington)
104. Arthur (Knightsbridge Green)
105. Elephant Ladyland (87 Mount Street)
106. Cosmos (Bank Station)
107. Cartier (The Royal Exchange)
108. Karma (Green Park)
109. Russell (Green Park)
110. Figgy (Saint Martin’s Court)
111. MOTHER NATURE (The Hempel Hotel)
112. Tara (Hyde Park, Speakers Corner Green Park)
113. Monopoly Community Chest (Hamleys Toy Store)
114. Zambi (Hamleys Toy Store)
115. Eco The Elephant (High Holborn)
116. Hornbill (More London)
117. Untitled (Queens Walk, Hungerford Bridge)
118. Candy (Carnaby St/Marlborough St)
119. Oli (South Molton Street)
120. The Singing Butler Rides Again (Burlington Arcade)
121. James Bond (Queens Walk, Hungerford Bridge)
122. Roselephant (More London)
123. A Penny For Your Thoughts (26, South Audley Street)
124. Elfreda (Tower of London)
125. Lover (Berkeley Square)
126. Untitled (Gajaraja) (Leicester Square Gardens)
127. Gloria (Kings Road)
128. Cotee (Greenwich Visitors Centre)
129. Sally (Queens Walk: National Theatre)
130. Celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity (Natural History Museum)
131. Sidhe (Mount Street)
132. Young At Art (South Molton Street)
133. Manasuna (Burlington Arcade)
134. Will Only Words Remain? (Green Park)
135. Gerald (Selfridges China White, Winsley Street – by appointment only)
136. Julia’s Elephant (Market Square, Royal Festival Hall)
137. Big Heart Open Mind (Green Park)
138. Eleafant (Curzon Street)
139. Bertie (Foubert’s Place/Kingly St)
140. Just Joey (Hay’s Galleria)
141. Kids Co Elephant (Potters Fields Park)
142. Dead End (South Molton Street)
143. Rajasthan Royals (Trafalgar Square)
144. Kings XI Punjab (Trafalgar Square)
145. Mumbai Indians (Trafalgar Square)
146. Kolkata Knight Riders (Trafalgar Square)
147. Delhi Daredevils (Trafalgar Square)
148. Deccan Charges (Trafalgar Square)
149. Chennai Super Kings (Trafalgar Square)
150. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Trafalgar Square)
151. Wooly Mammoth (Hans Crescent)
152. Frank (Market Place)
153. Clearing (Soho Square)
154. Gilt (Golden Square Gardens)
155. ELEPHANTASTIC (6 Devonshire Square)
156. TINKLE (Bruton Street Berkeley Square)
157. Deliverance (Queens Walk, Royal Festival Hall)
158. Eeipey (Windrush Square, Brixton)
159. Mason (House of St Barnabas)
160. Kissed by Lulu Guinness (Carnaby St/Broadwick St)
161. Maureen (Queens Walk, National Theatre)
162. Gajaraj (Old Quebec Street)
163. Suraj (The Dorchester)
164. Hathi (V&A Museum)
165. Untitled (Sotheby’s New Bond St Somerset House)
166. Lunacrooner (Kensington High Street)
167. Elephish (Foubert’s Place/Regent Street)
168. Coco (Berkeley Square)
169. Nanook (Green Park)
170. Vanishing Elephant (Curzon Street)
171. Jarlo (Victoria Tower Gardens)
172. Luna (Westfield)
173. The Paul Smith Elephant (The Royal Exchange)
174. BaarsFant no2 (Green Park)
175. R (New Burlington Place)
176. No More Plundering (Potters Fields Park)
177. Utopia (Queens Walk, Hungerford Bridge)
178. Naveen (Notting Hill Gate)
179. 21st Century Ganesh (India Place)
180. Boogie Woo (Soho Square)
181. Kubella – The Seaside Elephant (St Christopher’s Place)
182. Fatima (Kensington Gore)
183. Jaidayal (the triumph of kindness) (More London)
184. The Human Disease (81 – 83 Great Eastern Street)
185. Less is Morvi (V&A Museum)
186. Around The World (Blackrock, King William St)
187. Heavenly Jewel (Leicester Square Gardens)
188. MAYUR GAJENDRA (Blackrock, King William St)
189. Elephant Farfalla (Orange Square)
190. Josephine (Sloane Square)
191. bird (House of St Barnabas)
192. bird2 (Victoria Tower Gardens)
193. Dumbow (Neal Street)
194. Iconic London (Bruton Street Berkeley Square)
195. Eko (Green Park)
196. Izzy (Lime Street)
197. Haathini (Cleopatra’s Needle, Victoria Embankment)
198. Mammoth Metaphor (Somerset House)
199. Impossiphant (South Molton Street)
200. Dickinson Elephant (Jermyn Street)
201. The Elephant Outside The Room (St Paul’s Churchyard)
202. Dazzlephant (Green Park)
203. Grayson (St. James’s Park)
204. Elhi (Park Lane)
205. Sir Percy (Park Lane)
206. Mr Bojangles (Cavendish Square)
207. Untitled (Berkeley Square)
208. Kingdom (Sloane Square)
209. Harmony (Green Park)
210. Harapan (Green Park)
211. Hope (BT Building, nearest tube station is St Paul’s)
212. Looking Me In The Eye (Berkeley Square)
213. Elefun (Green Park)
214. Vanda (Swallow St)
215. Rainforest (Holland Park Avenue)
216. The Emerald Queen (Selfridges)
217. The Spirit of India (Selfridges)
218. The Lion King on Stage (Covent Garden Piazza)
219. Cloudia. (Cloudia Roams London – check here for latest position) Sign the petition
220. Oak, Chestnut, Plane & Elm (Regent Place)
221. Cholai (Leicester Square Gardens)
222. The Princess Elephant (Leicester Square Gardens)
223. Rangoli (Cavendish Square)
224. Eli (Westfield)
225. Mr William (Green Park)
226. Pearly Prince (Coutts Bank, 440 The Strand)
227. My Gorgeous Jungle! (Cleopatra’s Needle, Victoria Embankment)
228. Mr Cameron (Victoria Embankment Gardens)
229. Blue Patch (81 Fulham Rd)
230. Mr Brown (Victoria Embankment Gardens)
231. The Illustrated Elephant (Hanover Square)
232. Whisper (Kensington High Street)
233. Topographant (New Bond Street)
234. Peony (Fulham Road)
235. Poppy (249 Fulham Rd Paddington Street Gardens)
236. Patchwork (Berkeley Square)
237. Freedom (Piccadilly)
238. The Isles of London (Kensington Gore)
239. Untitled (St. James’s Park)
240. Zabriskie (Hyde Park Corner)
241. HappyPhant (Marble Arch)
242. G-n-S (Golden Square Gardens)
243. Hope of Freedom (Green Park)
244. Jewel-ele (The Royal Exchange)
245. Jade (Heddon Street 117 Cromwell Road)
246. Never Forget (Green Park)
247. Tommy Hilfiger Red Elephant (28-31 Saint Martin’s Ct)
248. Sadhana (New Bond Street)
249. Spooning Sunday (Selfridges)
250. The Haecceity Elephant (Victoria Tower Gardens)
251. Oscar (Hanover Square)
252. Udata Hathi (Hans Crescent)
253. Flocking to the City (Covent Garden Piazza)
254. Cocoa The Elephant (Orange Square)
255. The City in the Elephant (More London) To appreciate this wonderful piece I suggest you view the video also.
256. The BODYAMR & Zara Martin Elephant (Hans Crescent)
257. Mr Clegg (Victoria Embankment Gardens)
258. Ziggy (Selfridges)


View The Elephant Parade in a larger map

Outdoor Elephant (though some are in parks which may close at certain times)
Indoor Elephant (may require the location to be open before you can view the elephant)

Thames Tunnel Tour

March 14, 2010 4 Comments

Last week I saw the following come into my twitter feed from @Spoonfed: “Thames Tunnel Reopens for the First Time in 145 Years (link)”

I can’t say that I have an avid interest in really old things with dark, damp, musty holes but this did sound like the kind of thing I may want to do on a Saturday. Brunel is a legend, and the chance to see the first underwater tunnel in the world seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so I of course wanted to go ahead and book a ticket.

Easier said than done.

The post mentions that the tour is available via the Transport Museum and left me a phone number, so the logical thing would be to call it, which I did on Saturday 6th March. Nobody picked up, and I didn’t want to leave a message and assumed there would be a way to pre-book tickets online. There was, but not a simple way.

I eventually found this ticket booking page:, though I’m actually not too sure how I even did that, it seemed to be a random combination of using Google and clicking various links on their site to try and book tickets for another event before finally seeing the Tunnel Tour coming up. Once found I had to decide from 3 different events that I wanted to go to. One was a Tunnel Tour, one was a Fancy Fayre, and one was a Brunel Tour. All were the same price and all had the same description (a safety notice which was of no real use in determining the one I wanted).

Playing it safe I opted for the Tunnel Tour, as though the other two may have been the same, or may have included a few more things for the same price, I was pretty happy to miss out on the others if it guaranteed I would be able to walk the tunnel. I think one may have even been to go down the Brunel shaft, equally as confusing as that’s something completely different.

So, I found the ticket page, established the ticket I wanted, specified the date and time I required – simple from here, right?

Wrong.

The ticket ordering page would not allow me to select the number of tickets I wanted and submit it. Was it sold out? Perhaps, but there was no real indication of this.

Eventually I resorted to that age old trick I do whenever I visit the site produced by a government in a country that has no real technological infrastructure in place, I switch to Internet Explorer.

Voila! Suddenly I could order the tickets without issue. It’s amazing that whoever has designed the page has not made it browser compatible. Chrome I can kind of understand, but surely Firefox comparability is a must nowadays?

I entered my credit card details, crossed my fingers and hit submit.

A few minutes later I received two emails. One with my ticket (or at least, a bar code that would later not be scanned), and a second email confirming my place on the tour (or so I hoped) and designating the time of my tour.

One week later I was set to go. It was about 1pm in the afternoon when I thought I should go ahead and decide how on earth I get to the Brunel museum. Looking at the TFL website I was dismayed to see that the Jubilee line was out of action, so my initial plan of jumping on at Waterloo and getting off at Canada Water was thrown out of the window. I instead contemplated a boat. It’s a rare treat when I use a boat service, but to get there I would have had to either take two boats or just one boat and a 30 minute walk at the other end. That would be okay, but not ideal.

So, taxi or bus? I looked into the bus route and was surprised to see that the 188 goes from my home in Russell Square all the way to Canada Water and only take 30 minutes or so. Result! So I hopped onto the 188 at 3:30 and arrived at the Brunel Museum at 4:10 – hurrah.
Thames Tunnel - Brunel Plaque
There were quite a few people around, and a queue forming to go down a shaft. I popped into the museum to ask where I should go to queue for the tunnel tour and a stressed looking girl stood behind a desk told me to walk down the street until I hit Rotherhithe station and queue there. During the 3 minutes I was in the museum I heard a couple of people complaining about how disorganised the staff are, one particular American raising his voice a little too much and completing about how inept the organisers were – no wonder the poor girl looked flustered if she had had two days of tourists attempting to buy tickets for a sold out event and getting angry that they had pre-booked. And so I trundled off to Rotherhithe station to join the queue, with a fellow from Ipswitch hopefully asking every passer by if they had a spare ticket (I’m pleased to say he was able to get in using a spare ticket from a party that arrived a few minutes later). Again it all had a disorganised feeling, but what did people expect? There people work for London Transport; it’s not their every day job to deal with several tour groups. It’s a shame a lot of people there just liked to complain really.
Thames Tunnel - Rotherhithe Station

Thames Tunnel - Tour Sold Out

At 4:30 I was allowed into the station where my name was ticked off a list and I was told to check my bag in. I removed my additional lens, opting to carry that with me rather than leave it in my bag, and checked it in, and then picked up a sexy pair of white latex gloves which I was told to wear at all times, though wasn’t really told why. I guess it was to prevent the possibility of Wiles disease, and then amused myself for a few minutes attempting to think of a ‘pissed as a rat’ joke that would incorporate the disease and my trip to the tunnel. I failed.

A few minutes later and we were good to go, a quick safety notice later and we were led down to the track. As a group we stood at the entrance to the right hand tunnel and were told a few facts about when it was built, how close above our heads the Thames actually was, and a few other things that I have now forgotten. and then we were off down the track on our way to Wapping. It was a leisurely pace, avoiding all of the trip hazards in the way and allowing time to take photographs. With hindsight I should have taken my filter off as it seemed to catch and reflect light which I didn’t want, but I took far fewer pictures than I thought I would, instead my imagination kicked in as I walked down the tunnel, imagining what it would have been like a century and a half ago when it was open to the public, and each archway was filled with a stall of some sort selling crappy touristy items, and where the darker alcoves hid a pick-pocket or a lady of the night. I also wondered what a horse would have thought about being down there, and how badly the whole place would smell.

Thames Tunnel - Old Brickwork

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel - Seeping

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Thames Tunnel

Before long we were at Wapping, I guess it took around 15 minutes to walk from one to the other.

At Wapping we moved over to the left hand tunnel and had time for questions, not that there were many before we started our journey back. I took the opportunity here to switch the camera into record mode and took a 5 minute video of walking down the tunnel. I had no additional light so it’s all rather gloomy and rather echoed, and my attempt to switch to portrait view later on in the video did not have the desired effect (turning the film sideways rather than changing the view – I’ve been using an iPhone too long and expected that change without really thinking about it). It’s just amazing to me to think of the tunnel as it was used in the past, with so many visitors and having 50,000 people making their way through it.

Thames Tunnel – Wapping to Rotherhithe (video)

Ten minutes later and we were back in Rotherhithe and ready to end the tour. I thought away my rat piss stained gloves, and bought a copy of the Thames Tunel book they had on offer before retreating to The Mayflower for a quick pint, and a rather enjoyable bus back home.

All in all the tunnel itself was nothing special. I mean it is a special tunnel. It is exceptional in it’s own way and what it stands for, and without someone, as it was Brunel, doing this one tunnel we would not have the Eurostar today. I just mean that the tunnel itself is similar to other train tunnels. It’s thinking about what it used to be that made it special for me; imagining a million people visiting it at a time when only two million people lived in London. Imagining the banquets that took place, the stalls that were there and the whole Dickensian imagery I get with thinking of old London and a world of pick-pockets, horses and the Victorian era.


Also enjoying the tunnel tour this weekend:
Adam Wright: Thames Tunnel
Ian Visits: Walking though Brunel’s Tunnel under the Thames
diamond geezer: Thames Tunnel Tour and Fancy Fair
853: Inside the Thames Tunnel

Meiow

December 17, 2009 2 Comments

There are some flats opposite our office; I see the windows to these flats from my desk.

Nothing interesting to see really; the blinds are always closed – there is no sign of anyone there.

Until about a month or so ago that is.

Now I do tend to see movement on a daily basis. The blinds are still closed but there is often the appearance of two cats. They sit on the same windowsill; sometimes one of them and sometimes both of them.

They look content.

When they’re not at the window I imagine they are doing exciting things within the flat; jumping from drape to drape, chasing mice, doing handpawstands – that kind of thing.

And napping, of course.

I’m hoping that they get a ‘Teach yourself semaphore’ set for Christmas.

We could communicate then.

Update to add – they are learning semaphore!
See, the cats ARE learning semaphore!  http://bit.ly/5NdPKP on Twitpic

Postal Scam

December 8, 2009 2 Comments

There’s a postal scam currently working the rounds in the UK, here’s the gist of it which I’ve received via email:

Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching – it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.

So, don’t be stupid enough to call an 0906 number as that would be a very expensive way to not get a delivery.

Tell your friends and loved ones.

New Worlds

October 13, 2009 7 Comments

A few years ago I went out for birthday drinks, and I was introduced to a world that I hadn’t known existed up until that time.

The place we went to was a bar at the end of the street I lived on, and somewhere I had been many times before. It was called the Kick Bar and when I had been there all previous times it felt normal for a themed bar – simply a place that sold alcohol, played music and, for the theme, allowed you to play on one of several fußball tables that they had.

Only this celebratory night it happened to coincide with a monthly tournament that the bar held. I’m okay at fußball, not great by any standards but I guess I would class myself as average, so for fun I didn’t mind entering the tournament – which was actually a doubles tournament and it paired you up with a random partner.

I was partnered with a French guy who said he just plays for fun, and was glad that I did also so he did not let me down or take it too seriously.

It seems we had different ideas on what ‘just for fun’ actually means, as this guy was amazing and could kick my ass with one hand. Still, against the other people in the tournament he was nothing but cannon fodder – they killed us in our first game with their abilities.

It turns out the UK #1 was there along with the European #2, and these guys can do things I never thought was possible with a few men on a pole and a plastic ball – it was amazing to watch (when you could actually see the ball other than a blur) and laughable to play against.

I had no idea such an underground world existed, with their European players, oil, spare handles and gloves to aid in control. It really did blow me away and I was easily outclassed by everyone there. “I play a little” was really translated to “I play a little every day, and have done so for the past 12 years”.

I haven’t been back to the Kick Bar since.

I have been introduced to something else that I didn’t know existed recently, due to the introduction to my life of my significant other. She’s gorgeous, understands what I want and need and, unlike those in my past, she’s always there for me when I need her to amuse, entertain, distract, whatever I need at that time really.

She is my lovely iPhone 3Gs, and recently whilst browsing the App Store I stumbled across Geocaching.

I downloaded the free app as it had a couple of good ratings in some sort of category, and played around with it without really knowing what it was.

If you don’t know what Geocaching is then take, firstly, Geohashing – basically looking at two co-ordinates to establish a location on a grid; you’re likely to use it daily in your life using some sort of GPS system.

Geocaching is the treasure hunter’s equivalent. Basically, someone hides a box, they give you the co-ordinates and a clue, and then you use this information to find the box they have hidden.

Unlike a treasure hunt the caches are not filled with gold, but more than often just contain a tatty piece of paper you can sign your name on to show you’ve found it.

I had no idea that people were secretly stuffing things around the planet for others to find.

I had no idea there were thousands of them in the very city I live in.

I had no idea there were several in between my home and my workplace.

Until a few days ago that is, when I stumbled on this app over the weekend and decided to give it a go. Monday lunchtime I scouted an area that was closest to work where they stated a cache was hidden. I used the GPS on my lovely girlfriend iPhone to find the right area (an area I know well and pretty much walk past daily), and used the clue ‘Lion’s lamp’ to notice a set of 6 street lamps I had never paid attention to before, and even more so the lion faces which were carved into each of them. Being a scouting mission I left knowing I would come back prepared later on so I can do some proper looking for it.

Later on that evening I returned, armed with a pen (to sign a log book) and a workmate (so I didn’t feel like such a twat) and started my investigations. The first lamp was the one the GPS was closest to, and where I started my search. I’ve never done this before, all I knew was that I was looking for a hidden object of quite a small size – that was the extent of my knowledge.

The street lamps were on a concrete plinth, and quite tall, and so I scaled the plinth where possible, cast my hand in amongst the iron into as many crevices as possible and came out empty handed – unless you count the thick layer of black dirt from touching central London scenery that hasn’t been washed – ever.

A little disheartened I moved onto the second lamp, closer to the main road and viewable by more people. Again I climbed the stone plinth and cast my hand in amongst the iron – again I came out empty handed. I didn’t want to repeat this for the rest of the street lamps which were in more awkward places, and so I was going to give up. Then, as I was stepping down from the plinth and giving the iron lamp one last cursive stare I noticed a strange shape silhouetted against the night sky – I knew straight away this was the item I was looking for.

It was by chance I saw it, but by delight that I reached in with my hand for the object and grabbed it. It was a 35mm film case, covered in black tape with a bump on the outside where a magnet was taped, ideal for keeping it held in place against the metal. I opened it imagining the wonderful secrets it held, the trinkets I had read about on the geocaching website, and the stories it might tell of who had been there before.

Out fell 5 strips of worn paper, signed by many people over the last 10 months stating they had been there already; they had found it before me; that there was nothing here left to find.

I didn’t care. I was in a tailspin of delight at finding a treasure I had not know was there. I happily found the last entry in the ‘log book’ that was no more, replaced by a few strips of paper, and put my stamp on finding it.

murphyz 12/10/2009

That’s the date of my first geocache. That’s the date I found the ‘treasure’ hidden near my work, and where I will give a knowing glance everytime I walk past it from here on in.

That’s also the date of my last cache, as I didn’t do any today…but my story doesn’t end there.

I clicked on the ‘Found It!’ link beaming at me from my iPhone, expecting a congratulatory tune and perhaps a message stating I must be the last in a long line of pirates or explorers and have finally found my calling.

Instead I was left with the initial search page I had been on, with a nice tick against the cache I had found, and two non-ticks – let’s call them ‘challenges’ – on the ones that remained hidden from me.

One of them, I saw, was 0.1 miles away.

Well…that’s just around the corner!

And so off I went, following the GPS to the new location around the corner in search of my next treasure.

Now, the next one wasn’t as obvious as the first. The clue was a cryptic one – something about ‘In between black and blue Rain, eye level’. I found that I stood in front of a couple of buildings – one with a black door, one with a blue door – bingo! Rain I didn’t understand, though eye level was obvious. The only things at eye level were a few bushes, and a good dig around those resulted in nothing. I looked back at my iPhone to find that the GPS hadn’t really triangulated properly – if that’s what they do – and I had overshot the mark, so I retreated back down the street and found a couple of buildings, one black, one blue – not the doors this time, the whole building was this colour. In between them was a drainpipe. Of course! Rain = drainpipe. I thrust my hand behind it at eye level and immediately touched the concealed 35mm film case which was hidden there – again this one was full of the worn paper of people who had already found it before me.

Searching around these places gave me a guilty pleasure (also a feeling of acting suspiciously as if I were hiding drugs) – but I was hooked.

Since finding these I’ve had a look on the website today and it seems there are over 800,000 of these hidden worldwide. I don’t expect to get them all, of course, not even a tenth of them; but I only have 2 so far so can happily get more.

It does make me imagine back to last month though, when I was forced to go to Copenhagen and spent a few hours wandering aimlessly around; or a couple of years ago when I was forced to go to Prague and had a weekend to do nothing. I dislike travelling, even more so when travelling alone, but with a treasure hunt in store no matter where I go surely this gives it some purpose in the future. No matter where I am, what language is spoken, I can look at a map and a clue and find things that have been hidden away just for a few people to find.

As with the fußball, some people seem to take it too seriously for my liking. They have their own stickers, or ink stamps, to place on a cache showing they have been there. For those placing these caches in secret locations you can buy rocks, which aren’t really rocks but fake ones with a space to hide the log book and a little trinket.

It’s fun though.

When mentioning it to people over the past few days I get the same response as when I mention a love of riddling. The vacant look, the not understanding, the ‘what’s the point?’ attitude.

I enjoy these things. There is something extremely satisfactory in solving a riddle that someone else has created. There is a sense of deep joy in figuring out how someone elses mind works when they think of something that is meant to challenge you, not in a life changing or meaningful way, but in a way that makes you think differently to how you normally would, to come at things from a different angle, and to look at a lamp or a drainpipe as you walk past it and smile a little inside as you know that it is hiding something.

Something of no great significance to anyone, I agree, but something secret all the same.

Not being a celeb is cool by me

September 7, 2009 1 Comment

After the not-so-recent post I made featuring Jake & Maggie Gyllenhaal (Being a celebrity – my pros for and cons against) I’ve had many hits looking for this brother and sister; mostly featuring the word topless or naked.

However, one hit I’ve also had recently and which I think is of interest is someone searching “Being a celebrity sucks”. I imagine it’s Linda Barker, who has to be one of the most pointless celebrities that exists – simply sitting there on her pristine sofa wondering why nobody likes her and blaming it on the fact she’s…um…what would she call herself? Successful? Attractive? Nope – annoying seems to be the only thing that comes to my mind.

Yes Linda, it does suck to be you I’m sure.

Though, with a place on primetime TV that was Changing Rooms, a 3rd place positon on I’m a Celebrity and a joint first on the wonderful Come Dine With Me, she’s certainly more successful, and no doubt more likable by the masses, than I am – perhaps I’m missing something (other than the Oxford comma). Perhaps she is appealing to most people; maybe the public are inspired by her creative skills in the home, and men perhaps do find her attractive and, as far as celebrities go then perhaps she is more harmless than pointless.

Not sure why I decided to break the silence with a little rant about Linda Barker – a bit odd, I know. Was just checking my stats, that search term came up in the results and she sprang to mind.

Sorry Linda, if it was you.

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