Saturday 20 July 2013


THREE MEN LINK UP IN GODSTOW: It is nearly two months since Ratty, Mole and Badger met on the riverbank. It is a grey July day and this time we were on our bicycles to get as far as we could, the target being Goring some thirty miles along the Thames, downstream.
Three miles later, peddling along the towpath we were in the centre of Oxford and stopped for a moment Osney Bridge. Osney Bridge has the lowest headroom of any across the navigable Thames and is known (as we discovered talking to a lock keeper way up stream) as the ‘wanker filter’ as it is impossible for really large big boats, often poorly skippered, to pass this point and go upstream.

Osney Bridge!

A different river and in different weather: Once past Oxford the river is much broader than hitherto. The weather turned to rain and we became soaked and ready for lunch
Morning coffee Sandford Lock
Time to cheer ourselves up: Lunch at the Nags Head right by the bridge at Abingdon. The pub was recommended by the lock keeper, lock keepers were a continued good source for which pubs were good. All three of us had fish and chips.
Wallingford for afternoon tea; Yummy and much needed before the final push to Goring.
Broad bends.  Most of the day is spent bumping along the towpath with gates and styles designed to discourage cyclists from anywhere near these stretches of the river.
By the end of the day our discomfort with having to lift bikes shoulder height is palpable. I am fantasizing about the next leg of our journey; might it be a voyage from Goring to Reading? Might it be on a pleasure steamer if they run such a service? Dave is not keen though; fearful of whom else might be on board (where’s is his sense of adventure?)
Wittenham Clumps
We pass Wittenham Clumps. This is a hill fort and place of mystery about half way between Wallingford and Goring I guess. A place I have always wanted to see. A green enigmatic view captured by the British Artist Paul Nash in his painting from Little Wittenham. 
 We press on.
Glorious Goring: And so we ‘pull over’ and leave the river’s towpath here. This pretty town is in the Goring Gap, the geography that separates the Berkshire Downs and the Chiltern Hills. We are about 8 miles northwest of Reading.
There are grey skies still and the feel of evening.
Three tired men peddle up the High Street and find the railway station and a train takes us back to Oxford. Our fatigue is offset with the thought that when we resume our quest, later in the summer, we can catch a train back up here. No more cars are needed for the rest of this excursion down the River Thames trip.
Didcot Power Station; a field of Borage in the foreground

Sunday 14 July 2013


Seki-san prepares Tempura
Well, it had to be done, as I had to get back. So flew on Monday landed Tuesday and got back on Thursday. But Tokyo never fails to fascinate. The long train ride out from the airport gently eases you into a city of 13 million people reminds of you of the brilliance of the Japanese railway systems with its staff dressed like a guardsman in the Grenadiers.

A tide of commuters
MY TRAIN SET: I look down from room 2816 and see Shinagawa Station all laid before me as if it was my own personal train set. Red trains, lines of green trains and blue come and go through Japan’s sixth busiest station. They were all set out and ready for me to play: Where did I put the handset?

TEMPURA discovered: Fighting off the fatigue from only four hours sleep and we went to the and was pleased to see create tempura, a wonderful way of 

cooking fresh fish and vegetables in hot oil  - a batter that is so light as to almost float away. We watch the owner of the restaurant IPPOH, Masaru Seki, prepare and cook bits and pieces that will soon be on our plates. We are advised by Seki-san as those those to dip into the sauce and others best eaten plain.

DRINKS at the 7–11 store: As much as I love the Zen-like quality of The Strings Intercontinental Hotel I am stingy about the mini-bar prices. So the discovery of a 7 - 11 store on the way back from the office is a blessing and I stock up with Asahi Beer and what I later find out to be the Japanese equivalent of Twiglets and vegetable chips. Back in my room I watch the sun set twenty-eight floors up towards Mount Fuji.

WHITE SHIRTS AT RUSH HOUR: The hotel and office are both a few moments away from the station and the district is intersected by a series of aerial walkways from one building or tower to another.  One walks on the left hand side of the pavement or risk serious collision. I pause on the way to our workshop in the morning and on the way back that evening, to watch this tide of commuters ebb and flow into the Station. This site is made all the more fascinating because all the men wear white shirts and dark trousers, which leads the whole chaos a delightful uniformity.

Looking down on Shinagawa Station

When back? Well who knows?

Sunday 7 July 2013

Cannes: j'adore

Each June, around 11,000 members of the advertising business come together to be inspired and educated at Cannes Lions (and love each other, enjoy good food and wine, warmth, and a swim early in the morning).

With Maria Louisa Francoli, an advertising eminence grise, I were running the first The Cannes Lions Young Media Academy a structured programme of ‘intensive learning themed around creativity in media, specifically for young media people aged 28 years or under’. 

Across the week we had the good, the great and the really great in our classroom and attended cherry-picked set pieces in the main theatre, an exciting week.