Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Technophobia for fun

This has nothing to do with travel, apart from the fact that I found it in an old copy of  the French railways TGV magazine.

Lassi Etelatalo won  the 2006 Mobile Telephone Throwing competition with a Nokia-hurl of 89 metres.

Haven't you ever wished you could do that to *your*  mobile?

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

To travel hopefully...

I've blogged before about how the way you travel can be just as important as where you go. Recently I've come across some great ideas for rather different ways of seeing a city.

For instance the Times today carried a story about how to see San Francisco by buggy.  Even better, they have a GPS guided tour installed on-board.  The article is delightfully humorous, but if you want to go straight to SF without bypass, the buggies are at

Now I've never had much time for the Segway despite being, usually, your original technophile Gadget Grrl. It's not weatherproof like a car, or fast like a motorbike,  nor does it have the fitness-enhancing properties of a bicycle, rollerblades or good old feet. But just for a bit of fun, a guided trip round Paris, Vienna or Budapest on one of these things seems to have something the guided walk doesn't. Segway Tours also offer trips in Washington, Atlanta, Chicago and New Orleans. But nowhere with really big hills. I wonder why...

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Son et lumiere - Christmas lights in Paris

Christmas lights have undergone a stylish transformation - in Paris, anyway.

No garish multicoloured displays this year. Instead the code is single-colour - wonderful streamers of blue hanging from the tops of trees, or shimmering white curtains over the road. Even more fun was one we spotted in Suresnes, fingers of electric blue poking upwards like a strange skeletal plant.

Sometimes I wonder about the French love affair with modernist style. But to a palate jaded by the tweeness and representational literalness of most of the London Christmas lights, the Paris lights came as a welcome and refreshing surprise.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Food on trains 2

Some stations are just sixties boxes where you can buy tickets and wait for a train. Others take us back to a more gracious time.

Lady Foley, the woman who was largely responsible for the development of Great Malvern as a fine and leafy Victorian town, had her own personal waiting room on the London platform at Great Malvern station. There's now a tea room there instead.

Beautiful William Morris style wallpaper, gentle lighting, and wood panelling create a comfortable ambience. Salads, soup, and such staples as beans on toast are all available, together with a variety of teas and coffees. Piano sonatas play in the background and the clock ticks gently on as you wait for your train.

This is definitely a first class waiting room!

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

… and after!… and after!
‘Guerilla lighting’ - before

Guerilla lighting

BeforeI've just come across an intriguing press release. The BDP Lighting Group turned up in the middle of Manchester last week with 60 people and a load of LEDs, and proceeded to transform the centre of the city with transient lighting designs.

Apparently, Manchester is way behind the game in lighting up its architecture - which is odd if you consider the wealth of lighting talent that must have been nurtured in Madchester nightclubs... Other cities are way in front.

For instance Chartres has 'Chartres en lumieres' which lights up not just the cathedral, but other medieval churches and streets within the city. Chartres' heritage of fine medieval stained glass inspires much of the design, and there's even a recreation in light of the famous Chartres labyrinth in the cathedral pavement. Sées, in Normandy, lights up its gothic cathedral every July and August. And Amiens cathedral lights up at Christmas, with a 45 minute show hoping to show the cathedral facade as it would have been in its pristine medieval glory - painted and gilded, only this time just with light.

Well, I suppose the French did invent the term 'son et lumière'.