Sunday, 31 May 2009

Big Ben's Birthday

The most popular tourist photo opportunity site on our run seems to be Big Ben - this is a Spitfire being towed past in during a parade which we got caught up in. This seems to be a regular hazard of running in London - we recently got kettled in Paliament Square trapped between the Tamil demonstration on one side and a junior charity running race on the other.

It’s 150 years ago since the first tick of the clock (although you’ll always find some smart arse to remind you that Big Ben is actually the bell, which began chiming on July 11, 1859).

Big Ben — the origin of the name is disputed but it may have been named after boxing's English Heavyweight Champion Benjamin Caunt— started tolling a few days later, but within months it cracked again and didn't resume service until 1862.

The chimes, supposedly based on four notes from Handel's "Messiah," ring out every quarter hour from the intricately ornamented belfry. The bongs of Big Ben itself are heard every hour.

You can download the chimes as a ringtone on

Would also recommend the following very clever interactive music video

Monday, 25 May 2009

One and Other - fogjogroglog

Our route through London often includes running through Trafalgar Square and over the years we have been entertained by the different temporary sculptures on the Fourth Plinth. From 1841 until 1999 there was nothing on the Fourth Plinth in the north-west of Trafalgar Square, and it was sometimes referred to as the 'empty plinth'. So we were very interested in what comes next, after the less than inspring Thomas Schütte’s sculpture Model for a Hotel 2007 ( see above).

Antony Gormley’s proposal ONE AND OTHER is that the Fourth Plinth is occupied for 100 consecutive days, 24 hours a day, by members of the public who have volunteered to stand on it for an hour at a time. 2,400 people will be able to participate. We have put our names down.

Through putting a person onto the plinth, the body apparently becomes a metaphor, a symbol. In the context of Trafalgar Square with its military, valedictory and male historical statues, this elevation of everyday life to the position formerly occupied by monumental art allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society.

Well I'm not sure about all, that but the previous Gormley scultures in London definitely allowed people to make some new friends.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Happiness is running

I was thinking about why our Sunday morning run makes us so happy ?

Some time ago there was an interesting TV programme on how to make Slough happy - not an easy task I know - sadly I had kept their following ten point manifesto :

1. Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week.

2. Count your blessings - at the end of each day, reflect on at least five things you're grateful for.

3. Talk time- have an hour-long uninterrupted conversation with your partner or closest friend each week.

4. Plant something - even if it’s a window box or pot plant. Keep it alive!

5. Cut your TV viewing by half

6. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger - at least once each day.

7. Phone a friend - make contact with at least one friend or relation you have not been in
contact for a while and arrange to meet up.

8. Have a good laugh at least once a day

9. Every day make sure you give yourself a treat - take time to really enjoy this.

10. Daily kindness - do an extra good turn for someone each day.

So the run covers off a number of these, in particular no 1 and certainly no 3 and 8 when have such a vocal and funny co-runner.

The one that seems to work particularly well when running in London is a combination of 6 and 10 - we often stop to see if we can help a tourist with directions - even if they are not lost. We also give the traditional runners' wave and smile to all fellow joggers.
And helping with group photos can also be rewarding, but increasingly they worry that you are about to run off with their camera - anyway here is a good shot of one of our more successful offers - a real image of a happy family.

I would also recommend you click on my favourite video of the week -before you know it you will be singing the song as soon as you wake up and ordering that ukelele from amazon.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Running around the block.

Strange things happen on our run . Some time ago, we befriended a guy who works each Sunday morning at the Smithfield Butchers ( not that he was looking for any friends ) - he and his team are normally busy cleaning all of the butchers' blocks and meat display counters when we splutter to the end of our run. We often ask for a good hose down when the run has been a hot one.

We heard some time ago that the shop may be moving and asked after any old butchers' blocks that may be being chucked out. We thought nothing more about it.
Last week our friend calls us over after our run and says his father has just finished crafting a real butchers' block out of old oak, left over from another building project, and would we like to buy it for £30 - the answer is of course yes.

Today we picked it up complete with a matching scraper which is designed to remove congealed blood. Before you know it, I'm on the internet looking for the meaning and origination of the phrase 'chip off the old block'.

So another eventful run - also saw filming of Spooks today but no sign of Harry - Cut!

Monday, 4 May 2009

15 minutes of fame.

Sunday seems to be the best day to film in London and whilst we are always taken with the chance to see a real celebrity, in truth we really want to be approached by the Director who is looking for a couple of jogging extras for the next scene - hasn't happened yet but we just need them to remake The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Cool Runnings or Marathon Man ...

Recent spottings include filming for Day of the Triffids in the Mall - unfortunately the Triffids are added in later. We have also seen Jude Law and Diana Rigg at close quarters. But our latest sighting of Helena Bonham Carter filming the forthcoming The Life of Enid Blyton was a real highlight and we seemed to be able to wander around the set looking at all the old vehicles and costumes without any restrictions.

Helena having a nice cuppa - could it be lashings of Ginger beer ?

No sign of Timmy the dog or Noddy and Big Ears though ...