Monday 24 November 2014


High Pressure weather and a pressure washer have been applied to many of the buildings in the area called Museum Island. Not so the cathedral  - Berliner Dom whose grimy sternness seems to have escaped the hosepipe applied surrounding classical architecture.

Unscrubbed in Berlin

Berlin is a great bicycle city and much of the city can be enjoyed astride a bike. I met up with artist friend Jo Johnson who moved here with her family some time back. She was an excellent guide for an afternoon tour  - the prelude to a much longer visit next April.

Saturday 22 November 2014


Chris, one of my premier cycling chums, and I set out for 30 miles or so along the lanes south west of Buckingham town. This is the vale of Aylesbury – comfortable peddling except for headwinds, which appeared, from nowhere on sections of the route.

We started with two minutes silence and then a coffee in Jenny Wren’s tea rooms in Winslow

Then half way round the village shop in Steeple Claydon provided hot sweet tea and generous hot Cornish Pasties, little wonder I approached the remaining fifteen miles with such relish, passing fields of sheep and red brick farm buildings.

Plans are being laid for another ride in the Vale of A.

Sheep along the way

Thursday 20 November 2014


“I’d like to be less German” said a colleague a few months back in a workshop. 

I found this hard to fathom given my great affection for a land that has given us so many artists, composers and philosophers.

Gilt Trip at the British Museum

The creativity, complexity and confusion of Germany has been tackled head on by an exciting new exhibition at the British Museum: Germany Memories of a Nation.

You’ll find gold and gilt tankards from the Hansa cities (C16) next to a wood cut of Franz Kafka.

The juxtaposition of objects and connections made take a little getting used to. The show is a must and runs until January 25 2015.

I will pop back in to discover more “From the Renaissance to reunification and beyond, the show uses objects to investigate the complexities of addressing a German history which is full of both triumphs and tragedies” as the show is described.

Sunday 9 November 2014

New York: On Lexington Avenue

It took a long time to get through Customs and Immigration which me feeling very grumpy; sentiment that is increased when I saw the line for a taxicab. 

Grumpy at point of entry: JFK New York 

Then, spontaneously, the mood diminished when Richard and his Limo Bus scooped me up. Richard, having just dropped off, spots me and three other despairing travellers who are all going to different parts of Manhattan. So for a flat fare and a great conversation en route, he delivers us to all points on the East Side.
Each morning at 4 o’clock I am up and about; after some work, preparation, and e-mail it’s 06:30am and the Pret a Manager is open. This UK eatery seems has proliferated in New York. The coffee is excellent and the croissants are fresh and fulsome.
6:30 PM Big Yellow Taxis

I am working on the seventeenth floor of the MetLife building, a fifty-eight-storey tower that sits astride Grand Central Station. 

The Golden Mile    Park Avenue New York 

Grand Central Station New York 
As I walk past the reception desk at 6 o’clock I relish this amazing view looking down Park Avenue. The trees are still green and the east side of the street is washed sunlight. Wondering out through Grand Central Station it is rush hour, everybody moves with a sense of purpose. I hunker down in a corner and soak up the cream gigantic marble-warmth of this magnificent terminus and the head back to my hotel, along Lexington Avenue.

Friday 7 November 2014


Modern architecture began here: The Looshaus in Vienna (also known as the Goldman & Salatsch Building) designed by Adolf Loos. He left all ornament and decoration behind and looking at the building it elbows it way into the Square (Michaelerplatz) in which it stands.  This is the stark counter point to all the baroque and classical, which proliferates in Vienna.
The Looshaus in Vienna (also known as the Goldman & Salatsch Building) 

Wiener Schnitzel first appeared in the end of the 19th century when Vienna was its prime. We enjoyed ours in the café Einstein like many of the older cafes, very grand and doubtless the place where espionage as once conducted.

The café Einstein like many of the older cafes, very grand.

This is arguably grandest stable block in the world; Spanische Hofreitschule.
We watch a display of dressage to dazzle. This is the winter riding school built in the mid 1700’s by Charles VI, and today riders always salute the royal box before they ride.

Another cafe in the Graben, warm sunshine and the good Burgers of Vienna
Vienna, a capital city, home of the waltz (most of them on the hotel reception’s music loop) and home also to Sigmund Freud in whose park Sian enjoyed a sandwich.

Thursday 6 November 2014


Everyday starts with a view of the view of the Votivkirche a neo gothic wedding cake, just off the Ringstrasse, as we enjoy a wonderful breakfast at McDonalds and it is warm enough to set outside.

Trams rush by and one takes us to the Belvedere to worship the collection of
Trams rush by and one takes us to the Belvedere Palace

Klimt paintings. There is a tussle with other tourists all of which are being told what to look for and what to appreciate.
Klimt paintings - There is a tussle with other tourists.

Klimt’s pieces drip with iconography and the Japanese influences that were sweeping through Europe at the end of the 19th century.
Klimt’s pieces drip with iconography