Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Le patio

I apologise for the ack of updates over the past few days. I have been laying a patio, or to be precise, I have paved the outside of the back of the house. Had I not run out of sand I would also have paved the front. No. Had Jewson's been able to deliver after I had run out of sand then I would have paved the front.

It looks amazing. I know that's blowing my own trumpet, but you should see it. Ground Force couldn't have done a better job. Have some of this Dimmock!

Of course as with all matters involving hard graft building type stuff, I couldn't have done it if it wasn't for my Dad. He helped me get the levels and started me off on the bricks. That was after we spent about three hours trying to remove a tree root that seemed to grow vertically down.

The picture I'm attaching is as it looked this morning, before I added the finishing touches, like the shingle. This is the side of the house. There's a massive area round the corner. Still got to decide where to put the palm trees. More pics to follow.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Rapha three-piece suit

I can see what Rapha is getting at collaborating with suitmaker Timothy Everest on a three-piece suit - harking back to the golden age of gentleman cycling.

The difference is that in those days, around the turn of the last century, there weren't many cars around and therefore cycling was borne more out of necessity than choice.

Today cycling has become a lifestyle choice, a leisure pursuit, and I can't help thinking that, much like Rapha's splendid but ultimately useless tweed racing jacket, this is high-end cycle wear gone mad.

If I cycled to work I wouldn't do so in a three piece suit with pink flashes, because I'd have to change into something that wasn't drenched in sweat when I got there. Nice suit, granted, with some nice weatherproofing for the English weather.

I will shake the hand of anyone who dares to adopt it as everyday cycle-wear.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Bad look Broderick

Here is Matthew Broderick on his bike in somewhere like Hollywood presumably, teaming the Rapha lightweight jersey with denim jeans.

Rapha is one of those brands that lends itself very well to the part-sportswear, part casual look. Jerseys go very well with jeans, and Rapha has capitalised on this with its Fixed line.

But Broderick is just a mess. It's sloppy, basically. If you can't wear a Rapha top and look good then you're beyond saving. And what is it with that helmet? It's like he stole it from his daughter or something. While we're at it, what exactly is that bike? Is it one of those abandoned things that people just pick up and ride off on?

And to think, this is the man responsible for style icon Sarah Jessica Parker's babies. She must be beside herself with embarrassment.

It's enough to make me want to find another cycling brand.

Victorinox 125th Anniversary Airstream trailer

I never thought I would get excited over a caravan - I'd rather spend the astronomical cost of one on about a dozen luxury holidays in a hot climate instead.

But if I were forced to buy a caravan, say for instance if I decided to move to a field for the rest of my life, my choice would have to be an Airstream. These things actually make caravanning seem marginally cool with their aluminium aircraft fuselage-esque appearance and retro styling.

To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Victorinox, the Swiss Army knife maker and manufacturer of practical-if-lacking style-wise accessories has been let loose on an Airstream trailer.

Expect every edge to be a can opener and miniature saws to be built into the wheel hubs.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Cycle log 17/05

Got an absolute hammering from the weather this morning. The rain was torrential, the gales must have been at least force 20, and still I carried on, This was mainly because it let up a bit just as I was about to turn back, and then after a few minutes of dryness, enough to lull me into a false sense of security, along came the next lot.

Hardcore riding in that weather - gives you an idea of the sort of hardships the pro racers endure biking up mountains. Except the seafront is flat as a pancake.

Max speed:

Rapha clobber
Lightweight jersey
Arm warmers
Lightweight gillet
Grand tour gloves
Racing cap
Merino socks
Fixed shorts

Art on show

You can now see a couple of my pieces at the Bang & Olufsen showroom in Leigh-on-Sea, where they will remain on permanent loan until they are sold.

Actually they will be there for the next two weeks, before they are replaced by an exhibition by a photographer as part of the Leigh Art Trail, and then they go back up afterwards. Next time you're passing, check them out.

For more information about Bang & Olufsen of Leigh, click here

Cycle log 16/05

See that? The little black broken line on the horizon? No it isn't something on the camera lens. It's what I will be running out to on May 30. Me and a few thousand others.

It's called the Mulberry harbour and it is basically a floating concrete pier, built during the war. It should be in France, along with all the other Mulberry harbours floated over to Normandy for the D-Day landings. Trouble is, this one broke and it's been sitting a mile and a quarter out in the estuary ever since.

You can walk out to it at low tide, when all the blue sea you can see is brown mud. It would appear that one day someone who walked out there decided it would be a splendid idea to organise a run out to it and back. And so we shall.

It's been a bit windy to say the least over the past few days, and this being only the second or third time back on the bike made it seem all the more difficult. At least it wasn't in my face, but it gave me a good broadside on more than one occasion.

Still loving being back on the machine again though.


Rapha clobber:

Lightweight jersey
Fixed shorts
Merino gloves
Grand tour gloves
Racing cap

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Lazarides Rathbone Place opening

New gallery opening in London, Rathbone Place. James has just bought a new piece of art and it's the centrepiece of the show, so he wants some pictures.

My name isn't on the list. Then it is. Stacks of luvvies in there already, and it's only half six. Check out the pictures. Nice. Lucy McLaughlan's been painting on riot shields, Anthony Micallef's done another massive one and Conor Harrington has been busy with his spray paints and acrylics. The others aren't bad either. All dark and freaky urban art. The sort of stuff that tries to say something about how bad the world has become.

Not allowed to take pictures inside. People might walk out. No sign of James' piece anyway. The beer isn't going down well. I've done a lap of the exhibition. Too many people. There's Jude Law and his mates. Less people on the first floor, nice piece by Miranda Donovan. Another of her vandalised walls in miniature. She should get together with Hornby and do some graffitied railway buildings.

Seen it all before I've finished my beer. Everyone else looks like they're just getting started. Daisy Lowe is at the door on the way out, trying to get in. Her name doesn't seem like it's on the list either. Consider suggesting she ask them to check again. Don't.

There's James' picture in the window. David Choe. No one's looking at it. They don't know what they're missing.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dunhill desert boots

Dunhill has a great nack of producing classic pieces very well. They have just released their version of the desert boot - a true summer perennial.

In true Dunhill style it's all in the detail. Soft nubuck leather, neat stitching details, wax cotton laces, Dunhill branding to the tongue and the all-important natural crepe soles.

Evokes daydreams of lazy days by the beach, having arrived by Vespa with a picnic on the back, although considering I already live by the beach, I guess the Vespa bit doesn't really count.

Find them at in pale stone or navy colourways.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Murakami show

I get lost in Takashi Murakami's work, in between all the smiley flowers and rainbow colours. His art looks like it's been created by some kid let loose with a few marker pens.

If you're around in Paris on September 12 you can catch his new exhibition at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin . It runs until October 2009.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Jump and mow

One would expect Lawnmower sales to follow a fairly predictable trend, possibly ticking up at this time of year as older machines that have been neglected all winter expire on their initial outings.

That could all be about to change now a Suffolk man is breeding wallabies, which, it turns out, are particularly suited to cutting lawns. What you rather have? A coughing, spluttering, deafening, engine-powered monstrosity with sharp blades in a day-glo colour, or a miniature kangaroo? The competition is so biased on the cute factor that it isn't even fair.

The price, at £150 for a male and £600 for a female, is even competitive, when you consider some mowers can cost upwards of £1,000.

I would have thought the only reason that the entire gardening population isn't off to get a wallaby to replace the lawnmower is that there is a minimum lawn-size required, of half an acre, to sustain a pair (they're social little things and have to be sold in pairs).

So the lawnmower isn't totally dead yet. But wallabees are definitely a growth industry.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Mark Dean Veca, graff artist extraordinaire

I've just come across this little Youtube video about a graffiti artist called Mark Dean Veca. It's interesting seeing how he's taken cultural symbols and messed around with them.

I also like the line that he wants to make art "accessible to those who don't necessarily have an art eduction." Too right - I for one get too hung up on the fact that my work doesn't stand up to those by fine art graduates and the like, so it's nice to think not everyone who produces amazing stuff went down the graduate route.

Nice day, shame about the soundtrack

Look at this. It's what I'm looking at right now, sitting at the bistro table, with a perfect vista of the garden. From this angle you can't even see the building site next door. It looks like paradise.

But it doesn't sound like it. A minute ago I got an earful of some bloke shouting "Ronnie! I love you!" I have no idea who Ronnie is, nor do I have any inclination to find out. But I could, just from looking at the TV. because judging by the duff duff-duff-duff duff duff that signals the end of EastEnders, that must be exactly where I will find Ronnie and the person who loves him/her.

Thats the great thing about neighbours (the real life versions, not the soap). You can't live with 'em... On the one side I've got a couple who seem to want to double the living accomodation in their cottage with an extension and even a cabin at the bottom of the garden.

On the other side of the fence next to me, I have someone who has clearly decided to make it her aim in life to faithfully follow every soap opera ever made. Even on a sunny Sunday afternoon, with the temperature in the early seventies and her windows wide open.

This afternoon alone I've endured the Emerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders omnibus editions. I wouldn't mind if I was deaf.

I would tell her to get a life, but she's probably too wrapped up in the lives of fictional characters to hear me. I feel like I know them already, and it's only been an afternoon.

Cycle log 10/05

The bike is back on the road. Picked it up yesterday, complete with a whole new front end. Easton EA 90x forks, handlebars and stem.

I had planned to replace like for like, but Bianchi don't seem to want to sell replacement parts. It took a few painfully long phone calls before I discovered this. They wanted me to wait 10 weeks for them to ship the forks from America. Yeah, right. With service like that you don't deserve customers. Easton forks are better anyway.

My first run was a reserved affair. Barely put any effort into it at all, but that was the plan - it was all about getting myself back on the bike. It might have been a minor incident in terms of injury, but I still felt a little nervy riding again, and spent most of the time expecting anothe car to pull out in front of me.

I did the run I usually reserve for evenings when I'm short of time - along the seafront to the Kurrsal, then up to Woodgrange roundabout and looping back past the Royals, along the top of the cliffs and dropping back to the seafront. Made it home in one piece, of course.

There's a massive 60-mile bike event next week for the Little Havens childrens' hospice. Wondering if it'll be a case of 'too much, too soon' after having a couple of weeks off. Tempting though.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Orange women

I don't like to be the one to criticise anyone for trying to look their best. Far better that than letting oneself go, by any measure. But some people really should take a good look at themselves before they go out in public.

Take the runner I encountered while out on my evening lap last night. She probably didn't realise that her skin had taken on the radiance of an umpalumpah thanks to some over-eager self tanning. I would bet she certainly didn't know that the backs of her legs looked like she'd lost control of a certain bodily function after a particularly orange-looking curry. The streaks indicated a badly applied fake tan. But it was the colour which stood out.

On the off-chance of anyone reading this being new to the fake tanning craze, it should be known it is available in varying shades. They have been developed to suit all kinds of skin. The idea is that you pick a shade that looks like you might have caught a bit of sun rather than taken a dip in a vatt of creosote.

There is a difference between a healthy sun-kissed glow and glow-in-the-dark radioactivity. Unfortunately, these days one can achieve both by way of a lotion or a spray.

Good taste and judgement is not included.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

These boots ...

There's been a gradual shift over the past few seasons back to that whole lumberjack look that had a bit of a turn around the early nineties when everyone was wearing checked shirts and dodgy Caterpillar boots.

But Caterpillars are, like, soooo over, and instead we're seeing some innovative trainer - hiker hybrids instead. This started in Japan with the preference for high-end hikers and now the likes of Nike and Adidas have offered us some interesting little numbers.
The Adidas ObyO MT Boot in collaboration with Kazuki and Nike's new HT Dunk are both essentially trainers with hiker eyelets, but the result makes you feel like you could tackle the toughest gradient, or alternatively hack down your neighbour's tree. Whatever takes your fancy.

Monday, 4 May 2009

It's just a tickle you swine!

I don't know where it came from but given the recent hysteria, it couldn't have happened at a more inconvenient moment. One minute I'm surveying the lack of Braeburn apples in Waitrose, happily nattering on the phone to Lizzie, and the next I have an irresistable urge to cough.

It was one of those tickles that you just know nothing short of a lung-busting hack will shift and despite my best efforts to surreptitiously cough into my sleeve, the tickle remained.

I had already awakened the interest of an obviously news-savvy customer base. People started looking in my direction with disdain. I could have ran into the store naked and painted from head to toe in lime-green paint and I would have attracted less attention.

By the time I'd made my excuses to Lizzie and pocketed my phone to enable a full-on, sustained throat clearer, there wasn't a fellow shopper within ten feet of me. In the distance I could see looks of abject terror etched on faces. Here was living, breathing swine flu, IN THE SAME BUILDING! A SUPERMARKET NONETHELESS!

You might be relieved to know that I have exhibited no oinking or preferences for snuffling around in the mud, and I have put my coughing fit down to a rogue particle which must have lodged itself in my windpipe.

Not that the patrons of the St Katharines Dock Waitrose would believe that. They're most likely besieging their doctor for a dose of Tamiflu as I write.

On the plus side, at least I got a clear run to the checkout.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Flu protection, Japan style

As if the threat of a swine flu pandemic wasn't enough, you can now buy a surgical mask which will scare the living daylights out of anyone who catches sight of you.

The Japanese masks by Yoriko Yoshida are available with a freaky smiling human face or something that looks remarkably like one of the very pigs that could have started the whole thing off over in mexico.

Which brings us to another suggestion - why not simply slip a mexican wrestling mask over your surgical mask and do your bit for society by giving a coronary to passersby with a weak disposition? Let's face it, if you hadn't got them the fever would, so you'll be doing them a favour.