Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Getting started with your Oyster card

"Your Oyster card is loaded with pay as you go credit and is ready to be used on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and some National Rail routes (check with the train operator before traveling). When you have used up the credit, simply top up your Oyster card."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Listening in to a nation's day

Here's a way to prepare for a trip to the UNITED KINGDOM:
Listen to BBC RADIO 5 LIVE online while cleaning the kitchen.
That's what I did this morning.
The time difference meant I was listening to afternoon news on the station.
I heard about travel problems in central London -- High Holborn was closed both ways because of a building fire at a restaurant between A5200 Gray's Inn Road and A4200 Kingsway -- near the Chancery Lane Tube station.
I also heard about a new documentary that shows -- in high definition -- a komodo dragon attacking a water buffalo -- an animal 10 times its size.
I also heard about the controversy surrounding Saturday night's broadcast of X-FACTOR, in which judge Danii Minogue (Kylie's B-list celebrity sister) attempted to make a joke about the sexuality of contestant Danyl Johnson. The joke backfired horribly, generating headlines in the newspapers and stories on the radio.
I felt like I was listening in to a nation's day.

The experience will surely give me some context during my trip. It also helped give me a clean kitchen!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The journalists' cathedral

I am reading about FLEET STREET today.
It would be fun during my LONDON trip to visit ST. BRIDE'S CHURCH -- "the journalists' and printers' cathedral."
The church boasts the largest spire of the churches designed by SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN. It is said to have influenced the traditional, tiered wedding cake.
Situated behind the former Reuters building on the site of the 16th century press of WYNKYN DE WORDE, the church also includes a small museum.
The museum includes information on the Daily Courant -- Britain's first daily newspaper -- and the Universal Daily Register -- the forerunner of THE TIMES.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The "hideous" symbol of greed I simply must see

Lunch time.
Eating cooked carrots.
I am actually reading about CENTRE POINT, one of the earliest -- and most controversial -- London skyscrapers.
Located almost directly above TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD TUBE STATION, Centre Point was completed in the MAGICAL YEAR OF 1966 as speculative office space by the property developer, Harry Hyams.
The Rough Guide refers to the building as "hideous," noting that Hyams "kept it famously empty for more than a decade, a profit-making exercise whose cynicism transcended even the London norms of the time."
The tower is now a Grade II listed building, meaning it has been designated as "being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance."
I am certain that -- at 32 floors tall -- I am bound to see it when my sister and I visit London later this year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No. 430, King's Road, Chelsea

For all its history -- King's Road derives its name from its function as a private road used by Charles II -- I would like to walk it solely to find one address.
No. 430 King's Road for several decades has been the site of VIVIENNE WESTWOOD'S fashion outlet -- successively known as Let it Rock, Sex, Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, Seditionaries or most recently, World's End -- and in 1975-77, in particular, it provided the epicenter of the BRITISH PUNK ROCK EXPLOSION.
It was, after all, the original gathering place for the musicians (more likely non-musicians!) who would form the SEX PISTOLS.
It's just a clothes shop, now.
But it's historic enough -- even for the legendary King's Road.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Little details adding to excitement

It's cold, it's raining, I'm preparing to watch a Premier League football match on television and -- finally -- I feel the excitement building for my upcoming trip to LONDON.
It has probably helped that I finished reading "BRICK LANE" by MONICA ALI.
The fine novel provides a different view of London life -- that of the immigrant seemingly stuck in a council estate.
Now, I have switched to reading "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LONDON," which is full of intricate details of the capital.
Additionally, it has probably helped that I have been watching the two seasons of the original, British version of "THE OFFICE" on DVD the past few nights.
The series broke such ground, influencing film and television in the U.K. as well as here. It really is a quality TV show.
The football on television helps, too.
To sum up: Little life details are helping to build my anticipation for London.
Brilliant, innnit?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monument to stubbornness

I just read in "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LONDON" about an architectural oddity that must be one of the great monument's to man's stubbornness.
Located along MILE END ROAD is a former department store -- a neoclassical building topped by a central domed tower built by THOMAS WICKHAM.
The perfect facade is interrupted, however, by a small, two-story shop that once housed a Jewish watchmaker named SPIEGELHALTER.
Spiegelhalter and Wickham were in dispute, so the latter -- a Gentile -- was forced to build his department store around the existing watchmaker's shop.