Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A sneak preview of Rooftop Cinema in London

Rooftop Cinema has always been something that I've fancied trying. There's something about watching a classic film under the stars that appeals to my romantic sensibilities.

So I was thrilled when I had the chance to write this preview of the summer season for Londonist, and even more thrilled when I got the chance to attend the press opening night.

Set in the Bussey Building in Peckham, the venue's geographical location offers a perfect view of all of London's landmarks, from the 02 right round to Battersea power station, making it well worth getting there early in order to watch the sunset before the film begins.

The opening night film was Sunshine on Leith, a fabulous musical number set to the songs of the Proclaimers, and introduced by the director himself. Blankets and headphones are provided
 Especially for the opening night, British Airways staff were on hand to serve ice cream and popcorn throughout the film, including this special recipe "Chim chimcheree" popcorn (rooftop...chimneys...geddit?)

Monday, 28 April 2014

My weekly* wishlist 24/04/2013

Over a year ago, I started a feature on this blog called My Weekly Wishlist, where I shared items I liked in the shops week-by-week. Sadly, weekly was a tad optimistic, my last post having been over a year ago, but I revive it occasionally when I stumble across products that particularly inspire me.

This week, it's the turn of this rather lovely tiger watch on ASOS. After a rather lengthy internal debate over whether it is tasteful or tacky, I resigned myself to the fact that I do like it, and have resigned myself to the fact that I will be ordering it as soon as I have the funds (*please don't sell out, ASOS*)

The bikini is more of a long term project, as I'm looking for one for a trip to Barcelona in July. At the moment this one from Animal is top of the list!

And now on to one of my recent purchases. I've been good recently, not really buying any clothes since Christmas, but when I saw these giraffe print trousers in New Look I had to get them! They are really light, so perfect for Barcelona. Roll on summer!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

McBusted spaceship lands at the O2

When boybands McFly and Busted announced they were teaming up to create a superband, so many logistical questions ran through my head;
  • How would they decide which songs they would sing? Would they alternate between hits from each band, or would they dedicate half of the show to each band? 
  • Would there be squabbles when reassigning the lyrics of old favourites? 
  • Would they come out on stage in different colour shirts, like two football teams, allowing fans to distinguish them?
From a personal point of view, I have very little interest in music, but professionally, this is one music interview I'd love to do.

Much of the fan base of the bands has stayed the same. That is, the once 14 year old girls are now 20 somethings, worried about mortgages instead of maths homework, and the previously compulsory chaperoning parent replaced at the concert by bored boyfriends. But deep inside, the screaming teenage fangirl lives on, and 20,000 screamed their hearts out at the O2 on Friday night.

The bands burst onto the stage in a pyrotechnic explosion, making quite an entrance, and showing that they are still the cheeky chappies they'd always been. Launching straight into Busted's Air Hostess, even The Boy was forced to admit it was "quite a good start".

They hopped between songs from both bands throughout the show, covering Busted classics such as Crashed The Wedding (featuring Matt Willis in a wedding dress), What I Go To School For and Thunderbirds Are Go, and McFly favourites such as StarGirl, All About You and Room On The 3rd Floor. There was also, randomly, a cover of The Jackson Five's I Want You Back - an odd choice of song to cover, resulting in a performance that was fun, but forgettable.

And yet despite the perfectly crafted pyrotechnics, there was a definite suggestion that the choreographer/director had a nightmare trying to organise the boys into any sort of order. The energy was there - they raced around the stage never stopping, dropping in the iconic Busted scissor kicks at every opportunity. The movement never once waned, right through to the stage exit where they took it in turns to take a running leap into an offstage pit.

Despite the relentless pace, the overall effect was one of organised chaos, reminiscent of a teenage boyband doing their first ever gig, wanting to cover every inch of the stage and put their all into it, in case they were never invited back. Perhaps this was intentional, a nostalgic nod to their earlier successes when they were barely out of their teens themselves, or perhaps they'd been hitting the energy drinks a bit too hard backstage.

At one point they descended into the centre of the O2 onboard a spaceship.
Ultimately, the high energy performances, pyrotechnics and, yes, nostalgia (songs such as Nerdy, I'd forgotten even existed until I heard them) resulted in a lot of fun, but not once was there that spine-tingling, goose-pimply moment that a strong performance will evoke in every single audience member simultaneously.
Certainly the atmosphere wasn't as strong as when I saw McFly at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2009. Perhaps they have taken on too big a venue, or perhaps they're trying to flog a long dead horse. Or perhaps they were sticking to what they do best; tongue in cheek, rather than tears in eyes.

An aside: On a completely separate note, whilst walking along one of the corridors of the O2 we passed actor and all round legend Rob Brydon. We later realised that he was three boxes along from ours. My claim to fame will now always be that I sat closer to the stage than Rob Brydon did.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Camping in Sussex

How I ended up going out with someone who, of their own free will, chooses to wake up in a tent in Sussex in April, I don't know. But that's exactly what happened when we went camping for The Boy's birthday recently. (As he said afterwards "Would you rather I wake up in a tent on my birthday, or in the gutter from a drunken night out?" A good point, I had to admit).

For one night (and one night only), we pitched a tent at St Ives campsite near Hartfield in Sussex. I say "we" pitched - he built a tent, I watched. The campsite was very peaceful, only us and one other tent, so we had a whole field to ourselves, overlooking a lake.
Off on an adventure
 After exploring the area briefly, we lit our evening barbecue and cooked our dinner. I say "we" get the picture...
Doing manly things with fire and meat
The following morning, which was his birthday, we decided to head to Brighton for the way, but stopped en-route in Hartfield Village, famous for being the home of Winnie the Pooh Corner. After visiting the famous shop, we decided to walk to the Pooh Sticks Bridge. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, stop. Stop right now. Get off the internet and go and read Winnie the Pooh). Can't be far away we thought. WRONG. An hour and a half later we returned to the car, after a few wrong turns and a lengthy trek up and down some of Sussex's finest hills.

He contemplates turning *mumble* at the place childhood dreams are made of.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Drive in cinema at Alexandra Palace

I've always fancied a trip to a drive-in cinema. It looks so fun, so romantic (and yes, so cheesy) when you see it in films and on the TV.

So when I heard that Rooftop Cinema Club were bringing drive-in cinema to Alexandra Palace, I had to go. After much deliberation, The Boy and I chose to see Back To The Future, a cinematic classic which I am ashamed to admit I had never seen until this momentous occasion. The Boy insisted it was perfect fodder for a drive-in cinema experience, and so the stage was set for a rainy Monday night.

Rain did not stop play. (The film didn't start until 8pm, when it was darker than this).

When you see drive-in cinemas in films, they are always set in hot, rainless countries, mainly America, where everyone had a roofless car. In Britain, it's a very different story, so the sound is played at a certain frequency, which everyone tunes into on their car radio.

The Boy is chuffed with snacks (Ally Pally in the background).
Unfortunately the rain meant that we had to have the windscreen wipers going almost constantly throughout the film. Despite this minor, unavoidable grievance, it was an enjoyable experience, and a very comfortable way to watch a film; you can wind your seat back as far as you want, you can chat in your car without disturbing other cinemagoers (and, most importantly, they don't disturb you).

The cost for this particular drive-cinema experience in £22 per car, regardless of how many people are in the car. Whilst it's nice that they charge per car rather than per person, I imagine it would be uncomfortable/difficult for any backseat passengers to get a good view of the film.

Monday, 7 April 2014

A (second) trip up The Orbit

Don't look down!
The other day I wrote about my preview trip up The Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, before either the park or the structure were open to the public. Just three days later I returned to the park for the opening day, and went up The Orbit again (having bought the tickets before I knew about my freebie preview).

A better view than last time!
Fortunately the weather this time was much clearer, making for a great view as far as Harrow on the Hill and Ally Pally
Before going up
A couple of tips if you're going up the Orbit yourself; try to pick your spot in the lift very carefully. Although the ascent is only 34 seconds (as the staff will repeatedly tell you, with such pride as if they'd engineered it themselves), two of the four corners have little peephole windows. Great if you like whizzy views, not so great if you don't. Pick your lift spot accordingly.

Also, if you are able, it is worth walking back down the stairs, rather than taking the lift down to ground level. The entire staircase is a giant soundscape, takingyou through the entire city via iconic sounds such as the bell foundry at Whitechapel, traders at Columbia Road flower market and crowds cheering at Wembley.

Some of the first visitors enjoy the view

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Media preview of Olympic Park and The Orbit

Yesterday was the press preview of the re-opening of the Olympic Park and The Orbit, and I was lucky enough to go along.

First up on the trip was the Aquatics Centre. I'd already had a peek in here, and a swim in the pool, thanks to Sport Relief a couple of weeks ago. But this time round, Tom Daley was training on the diving boards at the far end.

Next up, and the highlight of the tour was a trip up The Orbit. Love or loathe it, it gives the best views in the East of London - or so I hear. Unfortunately London's worst smog for many years prevented me from getting great views, but I managed to get a couple of shots.
Before the ascent

 Looking out into the smog felt like another city. The faint silhouette of the skyline put me in mind of images of Beijing, whilst the large expanse of wasteland/land under development surrounding the park was reminiscent of my trip up the Carlton Tower in Jo'burg a couple of years ago.

The Orbit overlooks the Olympic stadium, and happily, it has no roof at the moment, as it is under redevelopment for when West Ham take it over in 2016, giving a great view into the stadium itself.

One particular quirk of The Orbit is that you can also see West Ham's current ground, Upton Park, although yesterday the smog was too thick for my camera to pick it up. You couldn't say that about Tottenham, who also put in a bid for it.

Londonist, where I work, is media partner to the Olympic Park, so for more cool insights, including a podcast and video, keep an eye on the website.