Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Inflated Price of Childhood Regression for the Middle Classes, Yeah?

Wake up. Hangover, Grotty feeling in the stomach. Fry up, greasy spoon. Cafe.

Easy choice to make, wake up with a hangover in East London and you'll never be too far away from a place that specialises in making eggs on toast with all trimmings.

Venturing into Hackney Wick these days can bring all sorts of joys, you can find interesting things going on, artists having open studios, music, flea markets with Dinosaur Jr. T-shirts and warehouse parties. Basically a good place to go if you don't mind the 'creative type', being achingly cool and having a lot of good fun.

However creative areas, self confidence and a distancing from reality can lead to some bizarre choices you have to make. For instance, you've wondered up to the flea market, had a look around, decided to sack it off and find some scrambled eggs on toast. The first stop is the Hackney Pearl, a cafe / bar in the Wick that hopes to 'become a lustrous gem nestled in a rough exterior'.

I walk in, thinking eggs on toast, I walk out and start to breathe more easily. So many things were wrong with the situation, firstly there was nobody in there who was morbidly obese. To get an English Breakfast there must at least be an approximation of somewhere between 10-50% morbidly obese people sat around. Next there were two achingly cool (twice in one post!) skinny girls with enormous sunglasses sat in doors playing cards, except the cards were MASSIVE, A4 sized cards (maybe the cards had to be so large so that they could make them out with their sunglasses on?). For some reason I still hadn't realised that the only place to go from here should have been the exit and fast! I walked up to the counter and stared at what, to be fair, looked like the 2nd nicest carrot cake I had ever seen, one slice was priced at £2.70, next to this was a very sorry looking cup cake, with no icing, the size of a malnourished poverty stricken eight year old girls fist, priced at £1.70. Looking up to the board with the breakfast options listed there I spotted it, scrambled eggs on toast £4.20. Bugger. No thanks. Left. Phew!

Just around the corner The Wick Cafe.

Go inside, roughly 35% of the patrons are morbidly obese, there is a family sitting down for their Sunday roast, builders in high-vis jackets eating and reading the News of the World and lots of little notes, flyers and community news attached to a pin board on the wall. Sit down, scrambled egg £2.20, full English £3.95, Tea 50p. Winner. The food was bang on, the service was alright and we left with full bellies and a little bit less of a hangover.

During the egg fest we discussed eggs. How much does it cost to make scrambled eggs? 2 free range eggs 40p, toast 20p and probably about 5 p worth of butter. 65p what a mark up for the Hackney Pearl. What is the value of scrambled eggs, what increases the value, what doesn't? Has the Hackney Pearl become a parody of itself. Imagine one of the builders going into the Hackney Pearl and sitting down, spending a fortune for eggs on toast to be surrounded by people playing with giant cards.... It's a juxtaposition that just doesn't work and quite rightly so.

Eggs is eggs, it isn't a lifestyle choice.

Monday, 24 May 2010

My Sexy Ass Tandem

Approximately nine days ago a real beauty came into my life, it was love at first sight! And what's even better, Sophie doesn't mind, in fact she's in love too. We are now in a three-way relationship.

Myself - Sophie and :

Claud Butler Majestic Two (Nickname - Weasel Homicide)

1984 Claud Butler Catalogue

1985 Claud Butler Catalogue

1986 Claud Butler Catalogue

Here's some spec for the bike geeks!

So nine days ago we mounted our tandem and tried to cycle, we wobbled, we shouted, we suddenly remembered how bloody difficult it is to ride a tandem! After three hours of trying to find quiet roads in Cardiff (where we bought the bicycle) and get onto a road where we could start cycling to Newport we eventually started getting somewhere. We cycled through the beautiful meandering country roads along the Severn Estuary, when I say beautiful I mean semi industrial barren wasteland reminiscent of the final scenes of 'The Road', and started getting used to the bike. Phew!

By the time we reached Newport (which incidentally is where the photo in the Song of The Summer post was taken) we had to abandon our ideas of cycling all the way to Bath in favour of hopping on a train to Bristol and cycling to Bath from there. I know what you're thinking - easy option! Not so. Tandems and National Rail have a strange relationship, we bought our tickets, with the tandem in clear view of the sales staff, and headed for the train. When we got onto the empty train and placed our bicycle in the empty space for bicycles the Train Manager suddenly got all excited and started to tell us that tandems were not allowed on the train. Bugger. We thought we would have to change our plans and get a train to a different station on a service that did accommodate tandems but then decided to chance it with the next train and didn't have a problem at all. Despite this train having two bicycles and a buggy in the designated place we all managed to find space, get along fine and nobody was kicked off the train. Wooop!

So then to meet George, James and Chloe in Bristol and cycle back to Bath along the beautiful route along the disused railway track, probably the first time we started to realise the true potential of our tandem. (Before this point the most suitable nickname for the tandem was 'relate').
The Bristol - Bath cycle track.

This weekend however was absolutely magical. We cycled from London to Brighton on what was the hottest day of the year thus far. After extensive research we chose this route which I have to say was an absolute joy. Hardly any busy roads at all just beautiful winding country lanes through tree tunnels, past fields of bluebells and rapeseed with dandelion clock fluff floating past. It truly felt like being in a dream sequence.

A weasel

What's more our chosen destination was on top of the South Downs at Devil's Dyke where it felt like you were stood on the top of England with a view of the south of the entire country. Marvellous! For anyone who is considering a day ride in the countryside from London I couldn't recommend this trip more, it was mostly downhill, mostly easy, mostly quiet and mostly absolutely beautiful.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Song of the Summer?

So almost every year there are a few songs that can be touted as being the coveted "song of the summer".

You know the one, it's that song / track that comes on when you're at a festival trying to dance in wellies after being awake for 39 and three quarter straight hours and suddenly everyone goes wild, smiles and somehow finds a little bit of extra energy to jump up and down. When you trudge back to the campsite it's the beat that you walk / bounce back to the tent with whirring around your head, it's the track that every time you hear for the rest of the year you get taken back to that moment in the summer when you realised what a rather marvellous musical creation it was.

Last year (for me) it was a toss up between Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van Helden - Bonkers (particularly the 2many DJs mix) and Major Lazer - Pon de Floor.

The year before I think you'd be brave to deny the title to MIA - Paper Planes. Particularly after that video that recently came out!

I have no idea what it will be this year, you would normally have an idea by May but I'm really not sure, perhaps it's yet to be released? Maybe it's already been doing the rounds, as many previous ones have, before the summer has really started to rear it's head?

Will another 2many DJs remix get it? Crookers - We Love Animals perhaps?

Suggestions please!!!

Prestidge is suggesting: George Benson - On Broadway

DJ World Tour 2010

Having learnt that London is the only place in the world I have decided to embark on a DJing World Tour.

On the Friday 28th May I will be DJing at Noiseban in Cocomo.
FREE entry and it's on PAYDAY!
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Noiseban Blog

On Saturday 5th June I will be DJing at London Sunshine in the Amersham Arms in New Cross. This is with the Filthy Dukes and the Deptford Noise Team!
FREE before 11 and £5 thereafter
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New Cross is in South London, it is on the newly opened East London Line so you can see this as a trip on our new futuristic railway service!!

There you are a World tour, both East London and South East London.... is there anywhere else? By the way West London doesn't count!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cycling in the Rain

I partook in two cycling events last week, Critical Mass in London and the Isle of Wight Randonee.

Both were absolutely brilliant fun, and on both I got completely and utterly soaked.

On Critical Mass we set off from beneath Waterloo Bridge around about 7pm, went straight over the bridge, down the Strand and to Trafalgar Square. Thankfully my wheel survived a rather inpatient motorbike rider who decided the most sensible option is to pile through the traffic. No matter how many times I do this I'm still dumbfounded by some of the drivers and the way they react to the mass! I also love the amount of people who come up to you and say things like, "What's all this in aid of?", "Why are all you cyclists here?" the shock of seeing so many cyclists really is too much for some people. The best response I heard to this was a cyclist go up to Taxi at the front of a long line of taxis and say, "Hey, what are all you taxis doing here tonight?"

Then up to Oxford Street, along that and eventually onto Park Lane, by this point the rain was pouring, pouring and pouring, which made me wet, wet, wet, I could even feel it in my fingers, and feel it in my toes! That's how wet it was! Up through Picadilly, along through Farringdon and eventually to the familiar sight of the Foundry.

The Foundry is where the debauchery started, booze, booze and more booze! Thank you to the chap on the Brompton who poured half his bottle of rum into my cider can! That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night!!! On to Dust bar where the booze kept on flowing and I did my first dj set off a usb stick - futuristic! Think I'll be sticking with the CDs for now.

Sop then I lost my bag, then found it attached to another cyclist outside - I still have your D-lock by the way!

So next day, amazing hang over, amazing sunglasses bought at the Hackney Wick Flea Market, then amazing downpour of rain whilst cycling home. So amazing that we (Olly, Sophie and I) decided to wait for it to subside before making our journey to Waterloo Station. We eventually found a break in the rain and made our way, via a little shop and a purchase of five bottles of red wine.

The train to Portsmouth was absolutely hilarious. This was mostly thanks to a girl with a pair of fake contact lenses trying to put them on in the train toilet, taking ages and her friends having to tell people that she had diarrhoea when they were waiting for the toilet, this escalated to becoming so funny Sophie decided to spray red wine all over the train!

We got to Portsmouth so late we were forced to take refuge in a pub for an hour or so where Olly managed to confuse half the pub into thinking that we'd cycled all the way from London to Portsmouth, needless to say they were impressed!! When we boarded the ferry for the Isle of Wight we were admittedly a little tipsy. I may have at one point lay down on the floor by the children's play table and taken a photo of myself in the mirror, and Olly may have had his trousers down to show Sophie and I his leg muscles at the exact same point that a member of staff on the boat walked past. These things may have happened.

We got to the Island and found the campsite, tent already set up, thank you Putzy! Had a little sit down, shared our stories with the folks there and slunked off to bed.

We woke up the next morning to a very wet Isle of Wight. The rather psychotic / strange / vocal / welsh campsite lady ensured that everyone was out of bed at 7:30 regardless of hangover!

Started the ride, and amazingly it wasn't raining. 100km around the island and we were keeping our hopes up that this would in fact be how the weather would stay. I asked a chap at the campsite checkpoint how long we could expect it to take, he looked at me in my gold leggings and cheery demeanour and said, "ooh, about five hours or so."

Sweet 100km in five hours. We set off and got to the next checkpoint where we were served a multitude of cakes, flapjacks, scones and rolls for a miniature price - YES! Then the rain started, it poured, then it stopped, then it poured, then it drizzled, then it stopped. By the next checkpoint Olly had taken a spill, on the wet, on the wrong side of the road, at approximately 30 mph according to Putzy. Thankfully he escaped with just a bum scrape. Next check point was reached without too much trouble, with the exception of a tractor turning out in front of me with hay bail held at head height, thank god my breaks worked ok! Next check point was 20 miles away in Freshwater.

Freshwater is a quaint little seaside town which you get too just after and evil climb. When I say evil climb I mean two sharp up hills after the other, all the while face being battered by strong winds and icy cold rain. There were a few moments there where it was just me and the bike, my single gear crunching away and my legs digging deep to pull my weight up the hill. Of course there was a great downhill afterwards, but I remember the climb a lot more clearly!!

This pic has been borrowed from Braker from the LFGSS

By this point there was a suffering amongst the group, Putzy decided to plug ahead, Sophie, Olly, Katie, Caroline, John, Tim and I decided to make our way to the pub to dry off (under a hand drier in the gents) and fuel up (chips, mayonnaise and a scotch on the rocks).

After the pub stop we continued along, the rain subsided and the winds picked up. The worst bit was, what would probably be a normally lovely place to cycle, a cycle along the coast looking across to Fawley Oil Refinery with the winds really hammering against us. Eventually we got to the chain ferry and across to the penultimate check point before a rather slow last 8 or 9 km back to the campsite!

NINE AND A HALF HOURS!!! not quite the five predicted earlier.

There was a huge reward around the corner though, a big fat sunday roast served up by the lovely Vayres Farm Powellys!!