Archive for March, 2009

From UK Special – British Music Experience

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Back in London & I’m in need of music, modern culture & an amazing experience & that’s exactly what I got at the British Music Experience at the O2 Arena – a quick tube ride to North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line. The British Music Experience has only just opened & is a totally interactive museum featuring the past, present & future of British music. It’s built into the spectacular O2 arena – where numerous super stars perform live – Elton John performed recently & Michael Jackson sold out shows coming soon. Find out more about the British Music Experience – have a listen to my conversation with Matt Glover, Senior Music Partnerships Manager at AEG the parent company of the British Music Experience – click on the play button below..

The O2 Arena London.

Walking up to the O2 Arena.

Walking into the O2 Arena.

Entering the British Music Experience.

Going up into the British Music Experience.

My ticket to the British Music Experience. A very cool feature of the ticket – all through the experience you can swipe your ticket over the barcode reader at each exhibit & then when you get home & get on-line you’ll experience more on your computer!! Check their website for more

British Music Experience banners featuring British music icons Oasis & David Bowie.

David Bowie banner & inside you’ll see some of Bowie’s original costumes, hand written lyrics & more.

Take a trip banner.

The very cool music video production pod – where you can record a music video of yourself & take it home on DVD!!

And yes of course you can go shopping at the British Music Experience – I had to buy myself a British music airline bag!!

From UK Special – Bury St Edmunds

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

A day trip to the English countryside – started off on my return from Scotland – took the overnight sleeper from Glasgow Central to London’s Euston. Depart Glasgow 11:40pm, get comfortable & cozy in my sleeper cabin, have drinks & snacks in the dining car, back to the cabin & get cozy in my bunk bed – drift off to the clickety clack of the train track & gentle rhythm motion, have a great night’s sleep, wake up in London on arrival at 6:30am & a very civilized feature – passengers are allowed to stay onboard until 8:00am to get dressed, have a tea or coffee & get ready for their next move & I’m off to one of my favourite English towns for the day – Bury St Edmunds..

The Caledonian Sleeper from Glasgow to London. In the dining car I was expecting to bump into Miss Marple & witness a murder..

View from my cozy bunk bed.

A very sweet one car train for a one horse town!! This is passing through the famous horse racing town of Newmarket on the Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds stretch of the journey from London. Bury St Edmunds is about 80km north/east of London in the pretty pretty countryside of the shire of Suffolk where my family are from. Total journey time from London about 90 minutes.

Country life near Bury St Edmunds.

Country wild life near Bury St Edmunds.

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral & gardens.

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral, gardens & old abbey ruins.

Bury St Edmunds Abbey ruins. In the grounds of the cathedral are the ruins of the original abbey – destroyed by King Henry VIII in the Dissolution Of The Monasteries in the 16th century. It’s an amazing place, you’re surrounded by the ancient atmosphere & history – the town gets it’s name from the fact that King Edmund was buried here in 869 & later became a saint.

Abbey ruins & cathedral.

Abbey ruins & cathedral tower.

Abbey ruins – you can feel the ghosts!!

Abbey bridge.

Ducks in the abbey ruins grounds.

Anyone for tennis?? In the abbey ruins grounds.

Birds for sale sign at the aviary bird shop in the abbey grounds!!

Birds for sale.

OK time for a beer!! After walking around the cathedral grounds & abbey ruins I’ve worked up a thirst & next door to the abbey is the very famous Greene King beer brewery & I discover their beer making museum!! A very cool space with the history of beer & Greene King & the best part is you can sample, taste & buy a selection of beers. Also has an interesting interactive display showing how monks in the abbey used to each receive 8 litres of ale a day with their rations – now that would put a heavenly smile on anyone’s face..

Greene King beer brewery tour brochure.

Time for a pub lunch!! The Hound pub.. or..

The Fox pub..

After lunch time for shopping!! Bury St Edmunds beautiful old pedestrian only main shopping street.

And every Wednesday & Saturday is market day!! There’s everything from fresh food, flowers, homewear goods, clothes & much more..

Market day.

In the market place as the sun sets I’ve had a fantastic day breathing in the fresh English country air, experienced some English history, relaxed in gardens, learnt about beer (& drank some!!), had a yum pub lunch & shopped in the markets. A chilled out time in the English countryside – now I’m energized & ready for the big smoke – London here I come!!

From UK Special – Arran Distillery

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Woke up to another spectacular day on the Isle of Arran & headed straight for Arran Whisky Distillery – not a bad thing to do straight after breakfast!!

The Isle Of Arran Distillery – look at that amazing Arran mountain landscape & blue skies!!

With James Mactaggart the Arran Distillery manager & blender. James took me on a tour of the distillery – here we are by the babbling river of pristine crystal clear (& very cold!!) water that comes down from the mountain peaks of Arran. This is the source of the famous Arran water that makes Arran whisky so special. Have a listen to my chat with James – click on the play button below..

The Arran Distillery warehouse & what an amazing aroma of whiskey – we took a very long pause to breathe in the “angel’s share”!!

With Campbell who treated me & my whisky drinking partner Craig to a tasting of Arran’s finest. Have a listen to our tasting & chat with Campbell – click on the play button below.. And I didn’t even ask him what a Scotsman wears under his kilt!!

And of course after the tasting I had to visit the Arran Distillery giftshop & buy some gifts – for myself!!
If you’d like to discover more about Arran Whisky & visit the distillery check the website

2009.3.26 Tokyo Expresso at Claska Hotel

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Cool days & nights in Tokyo with reports from 2 events – a celebration of Tokyo design & “Tokyo By Tokyo” book launch at the sublime Claska Hotel in Meguro plus designers & stylish people at the fashion, art & music event Fragment organized by on-line fashion store Tokyo Made..

A newly designed Claska Hotel room.

With Claska Hotel PR Manager Akira Horiuchi.

Tokyo By Tokyo the book.

With Air Frame designers Akihiro Kajiwara & Takuro Suzuki at Claska Hotel.

It’s not a horse head it’s a donkey head!! Katrina at Claska Hotel.

With Norio & friends at Claska Hotel.

From the DJ booth at Fragment fashion event at Super Deluxe.

Fragment fashion event.

Fashion designers at Fragment event.

Pink Man live painting at Fragment event.

From UK Special – Isle of Arran

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

From Edinburgh to Glasgow by 1 hour morning train, pick up a rental car & drive 45 minutes to Androssan port & catch the 1 hour ferry to the Isle of Arran – let’s go!!

Edinburgh – Glasgow – Androssan – Arran – mapped out.

On the tracks Edinburgh to Glasgow. Jolly chilly outside but toasty & warm inside.

Androssan to Brodick, Isle of Arran ferry ticket.

Boarding the car ferry.

Onboard parking.

Onboard lounge. As you can see it’s very quiet – the end of winter is a great time to travel because in summer this journey is super popular.

Onboard lounge bar.

Cheers onboard!!

Onboard deck.

Onboard flag.

Goodbye mainland.

Hello islands.

Sailing across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran.

Sailing into Arran. The brisk Scottish sea air & wind whipping into my face!!

Sailing into Brodick port, Arran.

We’ve arrived!! And the sun greeted us. Infact on Arran I experienced all weather conditions in 1 day – sunshine, clouds, rain, hail, snow, wind, stillness & sunshine again..

Arran drive – what’s that weather doing now??

Arran drive – seaside.

Arran drive – snowy mountains.

Arran drive – the open road.

Accommodation for the night – Butt Lodge is owned by an English/Japanese couple who have converted this old hunting lodge into a very warm & comfortable guest lodge & there’s a great Japanese surprise awaiting you!! Butt Lodge is located near Lochranza on the north of the Isle of Arran – very conveniently next to a beautiful golf course & the Isle of Arran distillery!! More from the distillery soon..

Butt Lodge housekeeper Beverly gives you a very warm welcome.

Butt Lodge dining room.

Butt Lodge drawing room – the open fire was blazing all afternoon & evening – perfect to sit by & enjoy a wee dram of Scotch or two!!

Butt Lodge Japanese garden!!

Butt Lodge Japanese bath!! Boy it was a joy to sink into a deep, hot Japanese bath after a long day of travel & the brisk Scottish weather. Probably the best thing ever exported from Japan!!

My blue bedroom overlooking the golf course.

If you are interested in staying at Butt Lodge – check the website for booking details

Butt Lodge brochure.

Butt Lodge housekeepers Raffy & Beverly who are a super friendly couple – originally from Manila, they’ve lived in Tokyo & are now living a very different & quiet life on Arran!! Have a listen to my quick chat with them here..

From UK Special – Edinburgh

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Jumped on board the Edinburgh Scotland express train from London Kings Cross for a day & a night of fun in my birthtown..

Kings Cross to Edinburgh on time!!

Kings Cross to Edinburgh train tix.

All aboard!!

On the tracks bridges.

On the tracks village.

On the tracks stop.

Afternoon tea (& beer & cider) on the tracks.

On the tracks clifftops – we’re now in Scotland!!

After a comfortable 4 hour train trip we’re here!! Edinburgh Waverley train station.

Edinburgh city centre. A beautiful old town but with a young soul – loads of cool people, shops, markets, bars, restaurants, clubs & entertainment because of the universities & cultural festivals.

Edinburgh city centre & snowcapped hill in Holyrood Park.

OK time to play tourist – entering Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle ticket & guide.

Edinburgh from the castle.

Castle walls.

Castle cobblestones & archway.

Castle courtyard.

Castle cannon.


Castle residence.

Castle Union Jack.

Castle spire.

View from inside the castle.

Inside castle drawing room.

Inside castle bedroom – check the size of the fireplace – royals never had to freeze their butt’s off.

Display of King receiving sword.

Hello?? An icon of the UK.

Oh Scotland didn’t let me down – I got to see a man in a kilt & he was playing the bagpipes!! An icon of Scotland & live music on the Royal Mile. It was along this road that I did my Scotland shopping – yes I bought a great bottle of Scotch & a kilt!! But I’m not showing you the me drunk in kilt pics..

Snowy skies over Edinburgh.

Time for a wee dram of whisky & Scottish seafood dinner at Creelers restaurant at 3 Hunter Square, Royal Mile. I had an amazing meal of fresh oysters & baked fish & afterwards had a chat with the restaurant owner Tim James – have a listen – click the play button below..

Creelers restaurant postcard. For more info check their website

Creelers restaurant brochures. Creelers sources all of it’s fresh seafood from the Isle of Arran, West Scotland & they have their own smokehouse on the island. You can purchase fresh & smoked seafood products at Edinburgh Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

2009.3.19 Tokyo Expresso with Masao

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Spring has sprung with a 3 day weekend & a fab fashion event in Tokyo..

Masao of Fragment.

From UK Special – Deco London

Monday, March 16th, 2009

I love art deco architecture & here are some of the great examples I found in London on a Sunday afternoon – boy I walked a lot!!

Battersea Power Station – the powerhouse (literally) of deco design – currently sitting waiting to have it’s fate decided, but (Pink Floyd fans note) the iconic chimney’s are being restored. Taken from Chelsea Bridge – a beautiful structure itself & a great walk through Chelsea from Knightsbridge – take in fashion icons Sloane Street, Sloane Square & King’s Road.

Landsdowne House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair. The opposite end of the square has another iconic deco design as a car – the Rolls Royce & Bentley showrooms.

Claridge’s Hotel, Brook Street, Mayfair. Doesn’t seem so deco until you take in the details.

Claridge’s Hotel entrance.

Claridge’s Hotel door.

Claridge’s Hotel interior entrance.

BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place. As a child I fantasized about working in this building – as an adult broadcaster I still wonder if my ultimate childhood fantasy will be realized.

BBC Broadcasting House side view.

BBC Broadcasting House detail.

BBC Broadcasting House window detail.

Adelphi Theatre, Strand. Take in the deco design & a West End show at the same time.

Savoy Theatre, Strand. More classic deco than modern but an impressive example & houses an excellent restaurant & bar.

Simpson’s In The Strand entrance. Drop in for lunch or dinner & a West End show.

Knights Bar at Simpson’s In The Strand. Late afternoon, I’d been walking for miles & I needed some fortification – so I dropped in for a drink, hmmm a deco drink – it had to be a gin & tonic. And look – I had the whole place to myself with very accommodating bar staff.

Knights Bar doorway.

Knights Bar lounge.

Knights Bar exits.

80 Strand. Another iconic London deco landmark (used to be Shell Mex House) actually on Victoria Embankment by the Thames.

Savoy Street, Strand. Not sure what the building is actually called & couldn’t get it’s real address but it’s right next door to 80 Strand (on Victoria Embankment).

Fleet Street.

Fleet Street entrance.

Fleet Street.

Fleet Street entrance.

Fleet Street detail.

You’ll see this building on TV – it’s the location of Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot residence, Charterhouse Square, East London.

The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, Mayfair.

The Dorchester Hotel lit up.

The Dorchester Hotel lobby lounge. Time for a nightcap.. a gin & tonic or.. what else did they consume in the deco years??

From UK Special – London Food

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Konstam is a restaurant that sources 80% of it’s food from London. Yes food is grown & produced in the big city!! Have a listen here as chef Oliver Rowe tells us what he does with it in his kitchen. And for more information check the website

Konstam restaurant owner & chef Oliver Rowe.

Konstam restaurant chandelier lights made from bath plug chain!!

Mari at Konstam with a cider.

Konstam menu with beer from Greenwhich & cider from New Forest.

Konstam lunch including chicken salad with veggies & chicken sourced from London & pigeon pie with pigeon from London (but not Trafalgar Square!!).

Konstam lunch fish with mushrooms from the London Underground!!

From UK Special – London Radio

Friday, March 13th, 2009

One of the best things about London is the radio – a range of stations up & down the dial – with pop, house, dub step, soul, jazz, classical, talk & of course the pirate radio stations broadcasting from bedrooms, squats, warehouses & who knows where. Have a quick listen to Icecold 103 FM & if you’re going to be in London check out their club event Lavish at Blag Club, Kensel Saturday April 4 8pm-3am with funky, soulful house..

Turn your London radio on!!