Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things I Love About England

Mmmmmm... These little bundles of deliciousness are the best. I'm not really sure if they're a biscuit or a cake. Whatever they are, they're the best. Has anyone seen them in Australia? I've done the necessary research and come to the conclusion that the Marks & Spencer version is the best.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Pitt Rivers Museum

Housed in a building directly behind the Museum of Natural History, The Pitt Rivers Museum is Oxford University’s Anthropology and World Archaeology Collection. It’s an impressive building, and an impressive collection, but it made me feel more than a little uncomfortable. 

The whole thing reeks of imperialism. There really isn’t enough room for all of the objects, resulting in jam packed cabinets that give the impression of ‘hey, look at all this cool shit we brought back from other countries.’ I have no doubt that all recent objects were ethically acquired, but I'm also sure some of the items on exhibition would cause offense to the peoples whose history they represent. I mean, there's a cabinet of shrunken heads! Surely that's not OK!

The third floor is an extensive collection of weaponry and armour. My inner Shannon was very excited by it all.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Things that suck about England

Paying 150 Pounds for a T.V. license and only being able to pick up 2 of the 5 main stations.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Despite its proximity to London, Oxford holds its own when it comes to museums. Housed in a fantastic neo-gothic building, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is home to the University's zoological, entomological and geological specimans. There's a fair bit of focus on fossil finds from the Oxfordshire area, and a rather entertaining Alice in Wonderland display featuring a stuffed rabbit holding a pocketwatch.

Part of the Ghost Trees exhibition

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Things I Love About England

200 Denier tights. It's getting a little warm to be wearing these, but I've been living in them since I arrived. So toasty. Standard 60 denier opaques officially suck. These are where it's at.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Weirdest Thing I've Seen This Week

For sale in the shop at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. Best part? 'scorpion' being listed in the ingredients and the sharp parts warning. How would it be ok to eat this?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring in Oxford

This town is ridiculously beautiful. I'm planning a few trips over summer, but I know that it's going to be nice to keep coming back to Oxford.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin

The University Parks

Holywell Cemetery

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We'll cast some light and it'll be alright

Jose Gonzalez and The Gothenburg String Theory - Barbican Centre, April 11th 2011
Years ago Meg sent me a Jose Gonzalez song called Crosses and I've liked him ever since. Veneer was my default 'quiet' album for years, so I'm not sure why I didn't manage to make it to his solo shows in Sydney a few years ago. My favourite work of his is the E.P. he put out with his band Junip back in 2005. What makes Gonzalez special is his voice, and I thought it was at it's best with a full band backing him, and when covering Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad. I was lucky enough to catch Junip in Melbourne at the beginning of the year. What struck me most about the show was the vocals. There's this smooth, alien quality to his voice that I always thought was at least partially the mixing process. Something that was at least partially fabricated during the album's production. Gonzalez took to the mic, and the voice that came out had the exact same unearthly sound, but with added depth and texture. I'm amazed that the sound can come naturally out of a human being.
Fast forward a few months and I find that he's playing a solo show in London accompanied by the Gothenburg String Theory, a 20 piece orchestra. I struggle to put into words what the show was like. I would never use the terms epic to describe Gonzalez's solo work. Sparse, yes. Understated, definitely. The original arrangements went out the window and his work was turned into this immense and complex mountain of sound. Towards the end of the night the musicians launched into Teardrop (a Massive Attack cover). Both the original and Gonzalez's recorded version are gentle, ethereal songs. The orchestra provided the constant, slow beat and it began the way the audience was accustomed to, but it built and built. I can't recall ever seeing a mid-set standing ovation at a seated concert, but the power of the sound in the last 2 bars made me physically shake, and the crowd responded by getting to their feet.
I left with that buzz that happens when you know you've see something truly special. I can only compare it to Came So Far For Beauty,  (a Leonard Cohen tribute at the Sydney Opera House) and the first time I saw Brand New at the UNSW Roundhouse. It was the only U.K. date on the 3 week tour. I hope that one of the nights is recorded because these alternative versions need to be heard.

The audio quality of this recording really doesn't do it justice, but it'll give you an idea.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Whitecross Market

What I love about London is you could live there your whole life and still discover new things every day. Wandering around The City on Friday, I came across two food markets, Exmouth and Whitecross. Since I had an early dinner planned, I'd intended to grab a snack, but my intentions soon went out the window. My downfall? It's always sauerkraut.
There's no way to eat this gracefully

I've had sweet pretzels before, but not the proper savoury ones. Delicious, salty bread. My theory is that they'd be perfect hangover food.

Saturday, April 2, 2011