Category Archives: UK

“Always there have been six ravens at the Tower. If the ravens fly away, the kingdom will fall” -John Owen Theobald,

I read a smart book by Julia Stuart that has been published as “Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo” in the UK and as “The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise” everywhere else. I don’t like to sum up plots, because mine are only honest personal opinions and not reviews, I can only anticipate that it describes the life of the little close community living within the gates of the Tower of London: the Beefeaters (particular Mr. Jones and his wife Hebe), the mean Raven master, the Rev. Septimus Drew who writes erotica under a pen name and has a secret passion for the barmaid of the Tower’s Rack & Ruin pub. The novel is also set in the “Underground Lost Property Office” where Hebe works and That is a continuous parade of odd, unusual objects and weird people. All the characters are well rounded and sometimes absurd, but here it lays the best feature of the novel that is a hallmark of British humour: despite of the tragic event in the background (the death of the Beefeater’s son), the novel is enjoyable and interesting. Here and there you can read facts about the Tower or about its prisoners.

The part describing the animals are really enjoyable, but my favourite parts were the ones at the Underground lost property office, not only because Stuart makes the history behind each lost object interesting and endearing, but mainly because I figured in my head the amount of the bizarre things that people may forget on the Tube trains. How cool is imagining the history behind them and how hard must be rejoining them to their owner, I think it’s job more interesting that it looks.

And at last, a thing that I really loved about this book is the hate that the people working in the Tower, have towards dumb tourists. I used to shake my head while reading, approving every single nasty comments and laughing.

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You know how much I hate tourist traps, so I can’t write any useful guide for Tower Hill, I only hopped off at the homonym tube station and had a quick look around the Tower of London before heading to Shoreditch that is a place where I’m more at my ease.

It’s worth a visit, anyway. I like to take unusual pictures, so I tried to capture the contrast between the ancient Tower and the shiny Shard. And, to be frank, the Tower Bridge is always a good model.

TRACK OF THE DAY: You’ve got time- Regina Spektor

 

 

“Music can change the world because it can change people” ― Bono Vox

On Sunday the Old Trafford Stadium hosted the “One Love Manchester” tribute concert made of the performances from some of the biggest artists in the world. This benefit concert generated around $2.6 million in donations for the “We Love Manchester Emergency Fund”, to help victims of the terrorist attack on Ariana Grande’s gig.

I saw this show also as a statement of people saying “you can hurt us, but we’re still stand together supporting music and the right to have fun without fear”. Because the aim of assaults is to scare us, to bash everything that generates fun and happiness, to force us living in the constant fear of being attacked. What happened in Turin, where thousands of people who were watching the final match of Champions League, panicked after hearing the noise of some shots and turned into a human avalanche that generated over 600 injured, is a consistent example of the constant tension that lingers in our countries.

The best answer is keeping on travelling, on attending concerts and sport events: all the smiles and happy faces I saw last night are the best answer to hate and the reason why  my favourite part (in addition of Coldplay, of course) was the Parrs Wood High School Choir exhibition. Not only because the young and talented soloist (she is only 12 and has an incredible voice) was overwhelmed with emotion and calmed down only after being hugged by Ariana with whom she was duetting, but mainly because those kids represented the new generations who stand together and aren’t afraid to live their lives.

As regarding myself, I have experienced once again the healing power of music, because while I was singing out loud Coldplay and Oasis’ songs, I forgot my miserable condition and my sick sad life.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Fix You – Coldplay

 

“I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill”- William Blake

One of the London spots I love the most because it’s the set of some romantic memories of mine, is Primrose Hill, the highest point of the eponymous district. You can get there after a 10 minute walk from Chalk Farm tube station, there’s a well kept green area whose summit is almost 63 metres above sea level and where the trees are kept low so as not to obscure the view. It formerly belonged to Eton College, but became Crown property about the middle of last century and it’s a stunning sightseeing spot above all on clear sky days.

The summit features an inscription on York featuring the quote from William Blake I used for this post. The poet believed that Zoroastrian rites were performed on Primrose Hill and affirmed that this place was sacred to the sun without without giving any explanation as to why that particular site was appropriate.

Another literary reference is an oak known as “Shakespeare’s Tree” that stands on the slope of the hill, it was first planted in 1864 to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.

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If you feel hungry after climbing the hill, there’s a lots of nice places to eat around there. We settled for Manna in Erskine Road because it offered a large selection of gluten free options. Here’s how to get there.

We didn’t eat in the end, but we had a lovely glass of wine (mine was a lovely, rich, Argentinian, red wine). They serve organic wines, free of synthetic chemicals and often hand harvested that are also vegan. They also have a large variety of delicious food, so I planned to go back there for a pleasant lunch or dinner as soon as I go back to London.

Primrose Hill is worth a visit if you want to have a stunning view, a romantic stroll or if you’re a simple bench warmer who needs quiet. Oh, if you go there, give my regards to “my” bench: if you listen carefully you can still hear my sighs.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Running up that Hill – Placebo (cover)

 

 

 

“I say I am stronger than fear”-Malala Yousafzai

I’ve thought a lot about the necessity of this post since I never talk about what happens around me or in the world. Honestly I hate those who feel the urge to comment on every single fact, just to show they are concerned in society, politics and so on. To be frank I never post anything about this issues, not for a lack of interest, but because I don’t feel the need to add my voice to the amount of opinions we can find online, I think we should talk when we really have something to say, if not, silence is way better.

What happened in London yesterday overwhelmed me, when a friend reported to a totally unaware me the sad  news, I stopped breathing. I thought about my friends, about the special person who lives there and I hadn’t been ok until I checked that they all were fine.

And please, if you’re up to comment that I’m one of those people to whom European deceased people count more than those in Siria, stop. It’s not a matter of distance or importance, it’s about worrying first about family and friends. I know it’s selfish, but it’s something we all do and don’t try to deny it. It’s human to think of our relatives affected by cancer before of the other people fighting this beast, it’s human to worry because we are unemployed before thinking of those who don’t have a work.

I don’t want to comment what happened in London, I just want to spread how most of the people living there, feel.

Immagine

(Credits for this edit to: Rishi Metha)

TRACK OF THE DAY: Human-Rag’n’Bone Man

“Climb mountains not so the world can see you but so you can see the world”-Unknown

My trips are always on budget and distant away from tourists traps, so instead of paying 30€ to enjoy a 71st floor view from the well known Shard, I enjoyed an extra cool view of the City from the 35th floor of the Sky Garden for free. You just need to go here https://skygarden.london/booking and book your visit, please be aware that a limited number of tickets are available each day. To get there I took the District line and got off at Monument station. On the way I enjoyed the view of the Monument that stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill. It was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City and if you’re brave enough you can.climb the 311 spiral steps to the observation gallery and enjoy a pretty good view of London, but why getting tired if a few steps away there’s the Sky Garden? You need to queue, show your ticket or the screen of the booking confirmation, show your documents and after an airport alike scanning system (they laughed a lot seeing the banana in my bag), you’re allowed to the super fast lift that will bring you in seconds to the 35th floor.

The view from the outside terrace is breathtaking and you can have a 360° view of the whole City simply going around the garden. On the windows there’s the name of the monuments, so you can know what you’re looking at. The location is amazing because it’s not only a panoramic site, but also a garden. The roof is made of glass as in a greenhouse, I was lucky I went there on a sunny day so I had a lovely natural light for my pics.

There are bars and restaurants (you need to book a table in advance even if you may be a lucky walk in guest) where you can have a drink or something to eat. And at night you can enjoy some good live music. I can tell if they serve gluten free food; I saw some gf muffins, but since my visits were only alcohol oriented I simply told the waiter about my intolerance and had a lovely visit.

TRACK OF THE DAY: High-The Cure

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours”

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours” this is something I’ve been always supporting and I’m proud of my choices for there’s no day in which I don’t learn something new.

Let’s talk about the bidet, for example, that for us Italians is an inamovible piece of our bathrooms, but that for many foreigners it’s a mysterious object, so that it happened to me to receive a pic of it from my best friend with the caption “What is it?”. So he discovered it is used for washing private parts and I found out they used it to rinse their feet after the beach.

So, my British friends won’t never understand why I don’t have a shower every morning as I won’t never get how that morning ablution can keep them fresh and clean throughout the day. Anyway it’s funny explaining to such an astonished audience that, no, we don’t use big towels, but we have little ones for that purpouse and that we even have dedicated soaps.

The funniest part for them is getting to know about my thousands contortions in order to find the best way to obviate the absence of the bidet when I’m in the land of Albion, but, if you don’t mind,  I prefer drawing a veil over this issue.
TRACK OF THE DAY: Little Friend- Intensi-T feat. Ollie Green