A blog about writing, reading, travelling and great characters I meet in life. I love these things more than cheese-on-toast times trampolines times monkeys.

Friday, 30 March 2012

An open letter to Dave and his ferret Silver

Dear Dave and Silver

I met you this morning at Blackheath station in South East London. You were walking each other along Platform 1 in the morning sunshine. Then you both hopped on the 9.52 to Charing Cross.

Dave and Silver - the world needs you. Life isn't all that serious, is it?

Thanks for the reminder,


PS Dave, love your tiger shirt too.

PPS Silver, remember how you clung on to my cream Ugg boot this morning on the station platform? I just want you to know that it was hard for my Ugg boot to leave you too. Love at first bite, it was.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spot the colourful difference

I came across my double in Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern.

This is me...

And this is her...

This interactive installation at Tate Modern is one for kids and big kids alike.

You are handed a sheet of polka dot stickers at the entrance.

And you are told to STICK THEM ON EVERYTHING.

Tables, chairs. Cups, sofas. Walls, ceilings. People, cushions. EVERYTHING.

My friend Phil and I had a sticker race to see who could stick their stickers quickest on stuff.

We also stopped by the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern to watch Tacita Dean's 11 minute silent film called 'FILM' - the bright colours and dots were there too.

Over dinner at the top of Tate Modern, St Paul's turned bright blue - it felt like the whole world was turning up the colour.

Then there were colours and dots everywhere...

...it was a week of brilliant sunsets in Peckham and Blackheath...

...there were Smarties in a glass in Covent Garden...

...there were thousands of lightbulbs at a party in Shoreditch, lit up in clusters of red and yellow...

...there was a wall of colourful guitars in a shop on Charing Cross Road...

...and Marilyn Monroe turned up in lime green trousers.

She said life was good.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

An incredible adventure by Chris Senior

I went along to the Royal Brompton Hospital In South Kensington last night to see Chris Senior.

When I arrived, Chris was just finishing off his pork chop dinner, his arm connected to a drip.

Chris is a mate of my friend Wesley, who sent me a Facebook message a few weeks ago asking if I could give Chris a few travel tips as he's planning a round-the-world adventure.

'Sure,' I said to Wesley. 'I'll talk about travel with anyone.'

So back in February, Chris and I met up for the first time in CB2 cafe in Cambridge. Chris had downloaded a world map on to his Mac - and he was picking out countries like a muso picks out albums they really want to buy. We non-stop chattered for 3 hours that day about places far and wide - from India to Thailand, South America to Malaysia, Jordan to Australia.

It was as clear as Philippines seawater to me - Chris had the totally incurable and infectious buzz for travel.

When you've gotta go...

Chris is in his late twenties and runs a successful drum business in Hertfordshire and Essex. But he's decided it's time for an incredible adventure in his life. Stops on the trip might include trekking in Nepal, island life in Thailand, the hills and mountains of New Zealand and the Indonesian jungle.

Last night from his hospital bed, Chris tells me he's decided.

He's got his list of backpacking essentials to buy.

He's travelling as light as possible.

He's booking a flight to Bangkok then the rest is totally open.

He's leaving as soon as he can get off his IV Aminophylline and complete the latest round of physiotherapy to clear his lungs.

The Royal Brompton is a specialist heart and lung hospital. Chris has spent around 3 and a half years of his life in hospitals, receiving life-saving treatment for cystic fibrosis. He's on up to 4 strong antibiotics at any one time, to keep infections at bay. It's really bloody hard for him to breathe a lot of the time.

And of course the advice from his doctors is not to go...

...it's too dangerous for him.

"I'm going to live my life," Chris says to me with a grin. "I've been wanting to go explore the world for years. I love adventure and I hate being tied down. My psychology and my physiology don't really go well together!

"Over the past 3 or 4 years life just seems to have got so much harder. Both physically and mentally. It got to the point where the juice ain't worth the squeeze... it's just too much effort to live day to day for the enjoyment and results I actually get out of life.

"I'm not the sort who likes the idea of wasting away in a hospital bed over a number of months. I'd much rather go out with a bang! So, I'm gonna go experience what wonders the world has to offer. I want to find inspiration again. To enjoy being alive and like when I was younger, be able to almost ignore the fact that I'm not very well and just have some fun!

"I'm putting a few things in place before I go so that if I don't come back then the money that I am currently taking from the business can go to do good things to help people for years to come. And at at least I'm going out swinging....No one can say I just gave up!"

A doctor pops in at the end of my visit to Chris's third floor hospital room...

She says that the IV bag that's currently feeding into his arm will be the last one of this round. When that's finished, the physiotherapy will start and Chris will be able to get outside for the first time in a week.

And then it's Bangkok for Chris in just a few weeks' time.

Chohk dee kha Chris - good luck and wishing you a wonderful journey round the world :-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bollywood comes to Blackheath - Katrina and Shahrukh on set in London

"Who's your favourite Bollywood star?"

I was asked this question most days on my travels in India, a country I came to love more than any other I've visited.

And two names I heard many times were Katrina Kaif and Shahrukh Khan.

"I love Shahrukh!" people said. "And I really love Katrina!"

So the irony of returning from my travels and bumping into Katrina and Shahrukh in my local park in South East London has tickled me. They were filming for Yash Chopra's latest movie in Blackheath, outside the famous All Saints Parish Church.

Here's Shahrukh Khan, making his way through a scrum of fans waiting for a photo and an autograph next to Blackheath church in South East London.

The film crew covered All Saints Church in powder-white fake snow for the scene they were filming on 28th February.

Here are two of London Metropolitan Police's most entertaining officers - who kept the crowd of fans entertained whilst the filming was going on nearby.

For the scene, Katrina and Shahrukh walked together outside Blackheath's famous church on the heath, snow machines pouring out snowflakes like they were inside a Christmas snow globe.

Security on set were very keen to protect Katrina from photos - but here she is relaxing off set with Shahrukh in their makeshift dressing room on Blackheath. Katrina and Shahrukh looked very comfortable in each other's company, working on the latest Yash Chopra movie. It's sure to be another huge success!

Also check out The Blackheath Bugle for more on this...