Monday, September 24, 2012

An Interview & 1,000 Words A Day on The Côte D'Azur

There's an interview with me at Deidra A Eden's beautifully-designed A Storybook World blog today.

I'm also at Author's Electric writing about the weird writing habits of famous authors. And my serious lack of any writing habit at the moment.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hidden London: Derelict Art Gallery on Richmond Hill

It's London Open House Weekend, an incredible initiative where many of the capital's most interesting buildings are opened up to the public for free. Avoiding the obvious, popular ones that threatened queues, a friend and I went to have a look at a building whose driveway I'd often driven past but had never known what was beyond the gates: The American International University, Richmond. 

It's an old Victorian gothic pile on top of Richmond Hill. Students study to the American system, a broader curriculum than the European model. They're not all American students, which I'd imagined, but come from all over the world.

The grounds were beautiful on that warm, autumn evening, with some fantastic, mature trees. But, most interesting of all to an old building junkie like me was this:

A derelict art gallery next door. Like the University, completely hidden from the road. In one of London's most prime property positions imaginable, quietly crumbling away. Our guide told us the University had tried, without success, to buy the building. She didn't know who it belonged to. It looks like it's been tagged on to the back of a house, also not visible from the road. What's inside? Who does it belong to?

I'm off to see another hidden house close to my home this afternoon, this one a tad smaller.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hidden London - Behind The Scenes At The Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Yet another summer of no hols for the carer but at least it was a more than interesting one. Moving to a local hotel for 5+ weeks whilst the structure of the building our flat is in was made safe gave me a break from domesticity and refreshed the senses. The biggest joy was escorting my friend, wheelchair dancer Diana Morgan-Hill, to rehearsals for the paralympic opening ceremony and then to the event itself.

c. Diana Morgan-Hill
Diana Morgan-Hill dances with Mayor of London Boris Johnson

c. BBC

Diana and her dance partner Olympian Mark Foster were runners-up in BBC3's Strictly Come Dancing spin-off Dancing On Wheels

Rehearsal day, before the security clamp-down. Wheelchairs and rollerbladers, perfect combination.

 Di and her beautiful roller blader partner Dolce aka Sugar

With the fantastic paralympics medics

Team USA

I spent most time in the athletes' tunnel sucking up the incredible atmosphere as they paraded down from the athlete's village to the Stadium.

Di and top team Gavotte 1. Unfortunately the TV coverage was so patchy we didn't get to see more than a distant glimpse of the dance they'd rehearsed with so much dedication for weeks on end, the cameras choosing to stay pretty much on the central Maze & Miranda throughout. All the weaving, spinning wheelchairs and roller bladers didn't get a look in.
As Viktor Vadolia explained to his local paper

The mind-blowing Sway Pole team barely got to be seen either. A shame, after the fantastic effort  Channel 4 made with their pre-Games ads

 Peter Norfolk leads Team GB

Waiting to go on. This is where we got our sightings of Sir Ian McKellan and Prof Stephen Hawking.

I pushed Di out into the stadium over the bumpy cable ground then snuk to crouch at the edge whilst they danced.

At the end all the performers (& a few of their helpers!) raced into the stadium for the finalé song I Am What I Am. Again, the coverage was dire, staying on the stage and barely a shot of the stadium filled with thousands singing in sign language. It's hard to get everything in but the cameras missed quite a few massive key moments like that.

Then the fireworks went off - extraordinary moment followed by beautiful text from daughter saying happy birthday. I'd totally forgotten. But not a birthday I'll forget. Thanks Di...


Team Chile

More on Di and wheelchair dancing at Diana's blog here.

Her autobiography is nearing completion and coming soon. It's an incredible read, simply turbo-charged with emotion - passion, tears and laughter in equal measure.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.