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Bit late with this week's entries due to being out and about, so I've got two things to talk about.

First up – Hyper Japan Christmas Market. My best friend organised this trip and I went along having not looked it up much beforehand, but expecting something like the Language Show (trade show for linguists/language teachers etc) but with a bunch of anime. I possibly should have done a bit more research.

So we headed off to Shadwell, which is a really odd nothing place to be honest. I mostly use it as a place to change from the DLR to the Overground when I’m on my wanders. However they do have Tobacco Dock, which is a pretty interesting building in its own right.

Tobacco Dock is a Grade 1 listed warehouse that was converted into a shopping centre in 1990 at a cost of £47 million (OK THEN). It was supposed to be the Covent Garden of East London (which you can see in the design of the place) but it failed and went into administration (I’m not sure if it ever actually opened). It’s now used as a corporate events space, and apparently has been used in quite a few films and TV shows. I suppose with Earl’s Court being redeveloped (is that still on?) it will become even more popular. It’s an interesting building, although some of it is open to the air so it’s flipping freezing on a chilly morning.

So when we got there it turned out that it was basically just a big pile of shops and stalls selling a) anime and anime-related stuff, b) traditional Japanese clothes, c) modern Japanese design, d) all the Gothic Lolita stuff you could want, e) a truckload of jewellery, f) another truckload of soft toys and g) any random shit that didn’t fit in to the above.

There were also stalls selling food, so obviously we got a sushi snack before making our first go round. And then we spent some money. And then we spent some more money. And then we talked to a nice lady from Inside Japan Tours about the trips they offer. And then we spent some more money.

We also went to the food stalls and I had takoyaki, which I just absolutely love (deep fried octopus balls).

And then we spent some more money. BUT! I got some amazing stuff. I was going to try to post pics here but instagram is an arse to embed, so please see my actual instagram: www.instagram.com/hanlondon

It goes from the blurry gold and green earrings (my phone refused to play ball) to the cute purple alpaca <3. Also, follow my instagram if you like pictures of London, jewellery and crafts. 
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Oh. My. God, everyone, it was basically exactly what you'd want from a Spooks movie. It was RIDICULOUS. It was AMAZING. There were fights. A whooooole bunch of people got shot. People get questioned A LOT. Things went boom. London (love of my life) looked fantastic.


Also now I've linked to this on [livejournal.com profile] spooky_doings I feel obliged to say: 1) this is overexcited word vomit, not a sensible review and 2) I have a terrible memory and have probably got stuff in the wrong order/forgotten things. 

In conclusion: go see it, but go see it expecting a very long episode.

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This is really just an excuse to natter about Surrey Quays but hey, when do I ever pass up a chance to ramble on about London? NEVER.

1) Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is amazing, and sadly half of it is going to be built on because money. This includes rebuilding Crystal sodding Palace itself (WHY???). Being a public park in constant use with a fucking athletics stadium on site is no match for money, obviously (/super bitter).

(further info, which includes the encouraging information that these plans may not actually come to fruition: insidecroydon.com/category/environment/crystal-palace-park/, www.crystalpalacepark.org.uk)

The other tragedy of this redevelopment would be the loss of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs (they're not all dinosaurs, in case any pedants are reading), which moved with the Crystal Palace from Hyde Park after the Great Exhibition. They are Grade 1 listed so would presumably not be got rid of entirely but who knows where they would end up?

ANYWAY, the good bits: Crystal Palace park is obviously named after the Crystal Palace, which was moved from its original location in 1852. The Palace burned down in 1936 but the park is still there being huge and interesting and ripe for exploring.


Also in Crystal Palace itself there is a branch of Noodle Time. I have not been to this particular one but the Noodle Time chain of restaurants is amazing and cheap. 

2) Catford

Catford is a bit of a nothing place between Forest Hill (where I used to live) and Lewisham (start of the Docklands Light Railway). It does have a lot of food stores, which is nice. For some reason, however, it has two separate train stations servicing two separate lines but located right next to each other.

3) Charing Cross

Charing Cross is the station of my heart, and yes I know how that makes me sound. But consider! It is the terminus for trains coming in from SE London. It is the station I used to come to to get to my parents’ office when they were in Great Titchfield Street. It is the station I come to to get to work. More importantly, it is the station which allows me to live and work in London without getting the tube 90% of the time, therefore it is the best.

I realised recently that since my starting this fic and finishing it, the interior of Charing Cross has changed a lot, as the little unit of shops right in the middle of the station has just plain disappeared now (it is very odd to see the amount of space there now!). Also Charing Cross seems to be last on the list of stations to get loads of money chucked at them so it’s a bit beaten up and less shiny and new than the others (Kings Cross/London Bridge, I’m looking at you) and in a city that’s becoming increasingly shiny and new that is something quite nice, I think.

4) Surrey Quays

Surrey Quays is the WEIRDEST place. One day, if I ever have the money to have two properties in London (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *takes breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), one of them will be in Surrey Quays just for the weirdness factor.

To get to Surrey Quays you either have to be taking the Jubilee line (changing to the Overground) from out Canary Wharf way, or taking the overground through Forest Hill etc. When you get there you will find:
  • that the station is very close to Canada Water station
  • there is a shiny new library just over the water
  • there’s a massive Tesco with a small shopping centre attached to it
  • lots of birds
  • lots of shiny flats
  • very few people
I used to go off to Surrey Quays for walks when I lived in Forest Hill. I liked the quiet, the space and the water. I found an ecological park with amazing views of Canary Wharf and, one New Year’s Eve, a city farm. A city farm! I’d been there for four years at this point, had been to Surrey Quays countless times and then found this place by accident. Everything is hidden away which makes it a great place to go exploring. 

In conclusion, I should get myself down to Surrey Quays again and so should you. 

(for more of my London stuff, see metropolithan.blogspot.co.uk/ and emptylondon.tumblr.com/)

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I found the Google docs I mentioned when I posted about my fic! Well done me.

Having finally posted a Rivers of London fic (which took forever to write), I thought I would talk a bit about a) the bits of London I used in the fic and b) London-based UF/horror book series I love.

I’ve been meaning to do a post or seven about Rivers of London for ages but never quite managed it because I could never quite get to a stage where I was able to be objective about the books (I think writing this fic finally did it for me because it was such a slog).

The books, by Ben Aaronovitch, focus on PC Peter Grant, a mixed race copper from North London (it shows) who accidentally finds out about magic and starts training to become a wizard under the tutelage of the only wizard police officer left in the UK (DCI Thomas Nightingale).

The mythology of the books is that after WW2 magic faded away, more or less, leaving just Nightingale (who is a lot older than he looks) and a few scattered practitioners, but it is gradually starting to come back.

Peter is an entertaining narrator, easily-distracted but funny and quick with a pop-culture reference. The supporting characters are usually intriguing with a big chunk of mystery in their backgrounds.

The main draw for me is that the author is really really good at portraying London, even if there is a bias towards everything North of the river (says someone just as biased towards SE London). The city in the books is very close to the city I know, and the way Peter feels and thinks about the city is pretty close to the way I feel about it (and London trivia spotters will have a great time reading the books and thinking ‘well yes but I already knew about Leinster Gardens’ etc etc).

There are currently five books in the series (I have yet to read the fifth), and apparently the fifth book takes Peter out of London, not that I know why you’d want to /only half joking.

The ROL series is not quite my favourite London-based urban fantasy series, however. That would be the Matthew Swift series of books by Kate Griffin. In this series, most of the sorcerers in London were killed two years before the series starts, and Matthew Swift (a sorcerer, which is apparently a bit different to a wizard) starts the series being brought back to life by the blue electric angels who live in the telephone lines.

Everything in Kate Griffin’s London has some sort of magic to it, from the magic of routine and rules (such as escaping from something chasing you by going through the ticket machines on the tube when it doesn’t have a valid ticket) to pulling power from the streetlights and everything upwards.

(where dryads in Rivers of London still live inside trees, in the Matthew Swift series they have moved to lampposts)

cut for brief spoilers )
The reason I ended up liking Griffin’s series more is probably that she really covers all of London, having Matthew venture out over the sprawling suburbs instead of mostly sticking to the central boroughs. 

There are currently six books featuring Matthew, four where he is the central character and two in the Magicals Anonymous spin-off series, which focus on Sharon Li, a woman who finds out she’s a shaman who can become one with the city, and the group of people/supernatural beings who come to meetings after she puts a post up on Facebook.

Most recently I’ve read London Falling by Paul Cornell, which I think is due to become a series. I meant to write a review but never got round to it so I might as well do one here.

I didn’t like the book when I first started it - I had been saving it for months and had been expecting an instant love the same as I’d felt for ROL/Matthew Swift. I persevered, however, and by the end of the book I was really enjoying myself.

The characters in London Falling (three police officers and a data person) initially don’t get on with each other, which was one of the reasons I didn’t get on with it - I don’t expect everything to be sunshine and rainbows in my UF books, obviously, but I couldn’t work out why they seemed so reluctant to work together. By the end, though, the characters had been developed well enough that this didn’t bother me any more.

The characters in LF were all prickly and complicated in different ways, which I really liked. They only find out about/get involved with magic by accident and I thought that the ways they each dealt with this were interesting. ROL only really has to deal with Peter finding out about magic (and anyone else we hear about through him) so Cornell had quite a bit more work to do.

The plot of the book was nicely creepy, and the villian did some pretty horrific things - I think possibly this book is a bit closer to the horror end of things rather than urban fantasy (actually I’m not sure where the division would be). Sometimes the other series are a bit meandering without being particularly scary or creepy, but this book had some properly tense moments. I am looking forward to reading others in the series.

As a glancing final mention, there is of course the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey which predate all of these, but it’s been ages since I read them so all I can say is that I enjoyed those too and I’ve been meaning to do a reread (iirc they were also more down the horror end of the spectrum).

I’m sure there are others (lucky me, there’s always someone writing something magical set in London) so do let me know if I’ve missed anything.
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 For New Year's Eve this year I went up to the golf club with Dad and Lesley (as Dad is Captain this year). It was a good night - amazing food - and the club is up on a hill in SE London with fantastic views into Central London (it is very close to my old flat). 

My photos were not as good as they could have been - tbh as you'll see we were too far away to really be able to make out buildings clearly without context (luckily I have all the context stored in my head, lol). I probably could have done with taking some practice shots but I didn't get the chance (there were a lot of people there so I couldn't faff as much as I wanted). However I thought I would post the pictures as I do quite like them anyway. 

Obviously the pointy thing with a light coming out of the top is the Shard, so you can sort of get your bearings from there (most of the fireworks were at the Eye):

Pics )
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I hesitate to call this a review, because even in the version in my head there’s a lot of tangents. And it’s not quite a rec (for reasons which will become obvious). So I’m calling it a ramble. 

Crishna brought this book down to Cornwall for me, and seeing as it was a) crime b) with a supernatural bent and c) set in London, I had to read it.

A Matter of Blood is the first book in the Dog-Faced Gods trilogy (which I nearly just typed as God-Faced Dogs, which would be something else entirely), set in a very near future where the global financial crisis was far more serious than the real one, and most of the world is now in hock to The Bank, a shady organisation.

The book follows Detective Inspector Cass Jones over two investigations, the shooting of two schoolboys and a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies and who likes leaving the words Nothing Is Sacred written in blood on his victims.

At the same time, his marriage is going down the pan (although the rot set in long before the start of the book, after an undercover operation that went very bad – we find out just how bad in flashbacks).

Ok, so that’s the setup, now we get into the spoilery discussion:

spoilers ) 

Tl; dr - in reading this book I found out my limit for depressing shit is, actually, Luther. Good to know.
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 I am suuuuper behind on talking about tv, I know. Will try to do an entry this evening I think. 

I have not been updating for various reasons, mostly due to being super busy at work (and work itself being pretty horrible) and therefore not having time for anything else. 

So, outside of work: I thought I had escaped pigeons on the balcony this year but now I think maybe the weather just put the bastards off, siiiiigh.

I went with the parents up to Leicester this week to see Dear etc, which was good fun if a bit headache-inducing (due to noise levels, but I knew that going in so was well stocked up with painkillers). It was very cold too. The weather has, in general, been a massive fucking pain. I don't have any sort of SAD symptoms, generally my one requirement for weather is 'not raining while I am outside', but ugh, so fed up of it. It is sunny right now but I don't know if that's supposed to last. 

Good Friday I came home and did a big clean of the flat, so it is now very nice, except of course the rug in the living room needed vacuuming again basically as soon as I finished. I am repainting one of my lamps from the living room (will do the other too if this works out) and need to get a new lampshade for it.

I went out yesterday, supposedly to go to Camden Passage in Islington, which houses a load of antique shops. However, I had only looked at a map once before I set out, so I took a huuuugely roundabout route to get there. It was a good walk though, so that's alright. I eventually made to Isligton about 2 1/2 hours after I set off, and it's a nice place to go for a short wander but I wasn't that impressed overall (although they did have Lotus biscuit spread in their Sainsbury's, and I'd been on a hunt since C told me about it*).

I then went on another very long wander with no real destination in mind and subsequently ended up at Caledonian Road & Barnsbury, which is a London Overground stop in the middle of nowhere. I then took a stupid route back down towards Greenwich because of engineering works etc, and finally made it to Greenwich to have lunch and go to the foot tunnel, which was actually fic research. 

Obviously I ended up at Island Gardens (the north exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel) and then briefly went to Crossharbour to go to Asda, where I needed to get some house stuff and the new Depeche Mode and Hurts albums (I have not listened to either yet so no response). After THAT I think my body just sort of gave up so I came back home and attempted to do some stuff on the interwebs but really just faffed and read fic and failed to post any photos (I tired myself out, basically). 

Today I am going over to the parents' so I am going to take some wips and do a bit of writing, and tomorrow I am finally going to have the 'rec/comment on fic' binge I've been promising myself for ages. And I have read some really good fic recently :D.

*and it is amazing, btw www.waitrose.com/shop/ProductView-10317-10001-231163-Lotus+biscuit+spread+smooth
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Just wanted to post these links as I'm actually getting on with posting photos lately...

Barbican Conservatory - metropolithan.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/barbican-conservatory.html

Steam train on the tube - metropolithan.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/steam-train-on-tube.html

Empty London - pictures of London without any people (not just the big central bits, residential streets, Docklands etc) - emptylondon.tumblr.com/

I have A LOT of photos of various things. I have no idea why this is surprising to me. 

(NB in case anyone is wondering about the 2012 photos of the day, I did manage to take photos almost every day - I was without a camera for 9 days or something when my old one died - but a lot of them are on the hard drive, which is currently in a coma, so I will try to get round to posting the ones I *have* got eventually. Um.)

June 2017


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