Friday Fun (for a Saturday evening)

Apologies for the hiatus. When one has to hand in 8,000+ words of essays, immediately followed by a similar number of words across 3 sermons, the desire to write any other words is minimal! Still, the break means that there’s plenty of fun for this week!

[Also an apology for the fact that I wrote most of it on Friday, but then got distracted and forgot to post it. Rather than extending my hiatus further, I thought I’d better publish it now. Fun is fun regardless of the day…]

So, for starters, some London fun. Firstly, there’s been a lot of excitement on Twitter about the forthcoming opening of the Mail Rail as part of the Postal Museum due to open in a couple of years time at Mount Pleasant. I’ve mentioned the Mail Rail before – it’s a classic piece of hidden London geekery and thus the prospect of actually getting to ride is quite exciting. In case you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, Time Out have a collection of photos that takes you behind the scenes of the currently mothballed postal transport system:

Mail Rail

Moving on to the better known London underground network… Someone this week announced that they’d visited every single tube station and taken a photo of the roundel there. Excellent work Mr Mike Turnball!

Roundels...A screenshot from his Flickr stream.

This then opened the floodgates to others who had completed a similar feat. I loved this photo of a roundel made up of roundel photos:

Roundel, CottonSteve Cotton’s Roundel, via Londonist.

Other people turn their photos of roundels into videos. I liked the animation-style element of this one:

To wrap things up for this week, we return to a Friday Fun theme of old – the dulcet tones of the Swingles. This is one of their latest video offerings, a cover of Mumford & Sons After the Storm. [Warning: if you’re anti-beard, you may want to watch this from a distance as the camera goes rather close up to the epic beard sported by their hirsute tenor.]

Friday Fun from Space

Hands down, one of the best decisions I made this week was to follow Chris Hadfield on Twitter. Commander Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut currently on board the International Space Station and takes phenomenal photos of the earth from space, usually with helpful bits of info attached. It was a retweet of this photo of Berlin that alerted me to his presence:

Berlin at night (Hadfield)“Berlin at night. Amazingly, I think the light bulbs still show the East/West division from orbit.”

This morning, in an uncanny coincidence, someone else on Twitter retweeted a video of an experiment he conducted in space – presumably for a school somewhere. It sounds rather simple: ‘what happens when you wring a washcloth in space?’, but if this doesn’t make you go “ooooooh” then I give up on you!

See, proof that my idea of ‘fun’ isn’t always infantile!

Now for the obligatory London Transport Friday Fun segment. Did you know that it’s the tube’s 15oth anniversary this year? (If not, under which rock have you been hiding?) Did you also know that the London Transport Museum is currently hosting an exhibition of the best LT posters of the last century and a half? A perusal of this article reveals many gems, including this one which in many ways seems to be ahead of its times:


In fact, the article reminded me of a joyous moment while in France, when I discovered that our gite was even more perfect for me than I’d first realised (the initial joy had been the discovery of bulging bookshelves holding English books including several favourites) – when I spotted a LT poster in the kitchen:

Hunting on the tube

It has also amused me greatly that not one, but three (possibly four, actually) people have sent me the link to 17 Underground Maps you never knew you needed. Some have been shared before; some are surprisingly informational (like one illustrating life expectancy and another showing the locations of toilets); others are simply fab, like this one that shows what is actually underground…

Actually Underground Tube MapThis map ably demonstrates why I resent referring to the one-time East London Line as ‘the Overground’, because it isn’t.

Finally in this segment, check out this live map that shows trains moving around the tube network. It’s strangely hypnotising. Actually, that’s not quite the final thing – let’s move across the Atlantic and see what it would look like if you connected every subway in North America:

Thanks again, XKCD.

Lastly, in what’s becoming another Friday Fun tradition, here’s some more singing loveliness from the Swingle Singers, in the form of a cover of Mumford & Sons After the Storm:

Friday Fun that’s about 12 hours late…

Happy Friday! I do apologise – I began writing this first thing this morning, but ran out of time to finish it before heading to a meeting. Then I got caught up with cleaning/packing and now it’s Friday night. Sorry.

Lovers of hidden transport gems should be very happy indeed. Forget London’s lost tube stations – it turns out New York can beat us hollow. How’s this for a forgotten station?

Forgotten Station

Its story is similar to many in London – difficult location, too few passengers – but with the added complication of a platform/track that was too curved to make it safe for passengers to use it. The full story and lots more photos can be found here. Anyone up for a field trip over the pond?

Continuing the theme of classy, early twentieth century style, here’s a fabulous use of the last three seasons of Downton Abbey – a mash-up of One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful. I love this for a number of reasons:
1. It replaces the word ‘overwhelmed’ with ‘flabbergasted’.
2. The ‘na-na-na’ section becomes ‘ma-ma’ and ‘pa-pa’. Genius.
3. This song is currently on my motivational playlist. Don’t laugh. Should you pass me on the street and find me looking incredibly happy and confident, the chances are that this is playing very loudly in my earphones.

While on the subject of drama, this weekend is Oscars weekend – are you excited? I expect not. I for one will have just arrived in Africa when the ceremony kicks off, and will only have marked the occasion by catching up on Oscar nominated movies courtesy of BA’s in-flight entertainment. (I’ve already checked online, and Argo’s on the list. This makes me very happy.) Anyway, here’s a trailer for ‘every Oscar winning movie ever’ – genius:

Have I mentioned I’m going to a hot country on Sunday?? Also in warm climes this week were the Swingle Singers – what are the chances that I’d be able to feature one of their flashmobs on two consecutive Fridays? Instead of a cold rugby stadium, this time we have them in what looks like gorgeously temperate Dubai. It should be noted that this video includes their interpretation of Single Ladies – as heard on Radio 3’s In Tune recently.

Finally, because I’ve been told that I’ll be somewhere simply beautiful next week, here’s something beautiful to end this week with:

Yes, that’s Namibia and I’ll be in Uganda, but it’s the same continent. In fact, next week will be a rare occasion when I’m on the same continent as my good friend Ian – he’s currently interning in Namibia. (The last time we were on the same continent was last summer while I was in Texas and he was home in Vermont. We rarely make it to the same city…) But still, it’s utterly beautiful.

Antidotal Friday Fun

How was yesterday for you? Dare we talk about it? If it’s all a little bit too raw, perhaps your pain will be eased by some Friday amusement? (If not, ignore the next few items. Not everything in today’s post is love related…)

First up, we have a super cute video of pre-schoolers talking about love. Remember the other day when I was singing the praises of C. Jane? She shared this as her son’s in it. [Talking of Courtney, I had a tweet from her that made me dance a little jig. Small things!]

Secondly, an interesting YouTube project that will help you find your perfect other half – well, as long as they have a YouTube account and took part in this exercise. Turn on annotations and answer their questions. I did this while hanging out at the RFH yesterday and I chuckled to myself heartily. A fun diversion…

Next up, two things for my fellow OCD sufferers. You may mock us, but certain things make us very, very happy. Firstly, a Tumblr devoted to pictures showing things fitting perfectly into things. Does that makes sense? Would a picture (or maybe two) help?

Pen & Toilet paper holderA pen and a toilet roll holder.

His&Her ShoesHer shoes into his shoes (awwww)

The second OCD thing is a beautiful collection of things organised by colour, compiled by Buzzfeed. My friend Becki is very OCD about such things, particularly arranging coloured sweets according to their colour before eating any of them and I thank her for sending this my way. I love looking at beautiful colour arrangements – even books – but while my eyes are saying “ooohhhh pretty!”, my mind is screaming “but HOW DO YOU FIND THE BOOKS???” Anyway, here’s a couple of examples:

Concert tickets & Movie stubs Glass bottlesGlass bottles & a collection of concert/movie tickets.

Finally, a little bit of partisan, sporting, singing flash-mobbing. I know it’s not a 6 Nations weekend this week, but I’m liable to forget this next week with all that’s currently going on. Apologies if you don’t support England, but (i) it’s the Swingle Singers, (ii) Swing Low Sweet Chariot is a great song and (iii) it’s the Swingle Singers…

Fractionally Festive Friday Fun

As it’s December, I will finally allow myself to share some of the festive fun that’s accumulated over the last few weeks. (Don’t think I take this blogging business seriously, there are rules people!! Yes, they’re entirely of my own making, but it’s always nice to have structure…)

Firstly, Advent season means that it’s absolutely ok to be listening to Mariah Carey on a regular basis. There are many interpretations of her Christmas classic, but the version below is beautiful in many, many ways:
1. She’s singing live and virtually a cappella, which is an impressive feat and just goes to show that whatever else Mariah may bring to the table, she has a pretty amazing voice.
2. There are children’s instruments providing much of the accompaniment.
3. There are children singing. (And one of them is wearing cute headgear.)

Before you accuse me of being rather secular in my Christmas fun, to counterbalance Mariah, here’s the ever-lovely Swingle Singers singing O Holy Night. Regular and truly devoted readers might recall that two years ago I posted a video of this arrangement performed by the Swingles at my old church. As carol service Sunday approaches, I am grieving the absence of the St Mary’s carol service spectacular in my life, and watching this enables me to imagine for just a few moments that I’m sat on a stage, the smell of evergreen and candles all around, and that lovely singing men in lovely jumpers are right in front of me. (Plus, the video’s filmed on Hampstead Heath which was the destination of choice for family Christmas walks when I was a child. The whole thing is Christmas in a nutshell.)

Finally on the Christmas front, it would be wrong not to point you towards the 42 worst nativity sets – particularly as countless people have sent the link my way, given the family’s obsession with nativities. I did mention it last year, but this year there are a few new ones, the most notable of which has to be the Tampon Nativity…

Tampon Nativity

Fear not! You can make one yourself – full instructions can be found on the Tampon Crafts website (tagline: “for any time of the month”, the hilarity). There, you can also learn how to create a whole lot of Christmas crafts (snowflakes, bells, lights…) plus a few less Christmassy creations, like a tampon blowgun; iTampon; and truly disturbing heart earrings. Personally, feminine hygiene products are pricey enough without buying additional ones for craft purposes, but maybe if you’ve got a stash that need using (e.g. you’ve recently entered the menopause or acquired a MoonCup), perhaps it’s worth exploring?

This leads us nicely into the realm of non-Christmassy fun (after all, there are still 3 Sundays left in Advent). This morning, I’ve discovered possibly the most British corner of the internet – a combination of the tube map, the shipping forecast and a cup of tea:

Finally, some fun that is slightly more niche than usual. Many, many months ago, I had my first experience of eating snails – in fact, it will probably be my only experience of eating snails. It was at the start of our Easter trip to Chateau Duffy and four of us had a somewhat epic night out on the cobbles of Montmartre. At around bottle of wine three or possibly four, I was persuaded to sample escargot – an achievement given that I’ve always had fussy eater tendencies (though these have diminished considerably over the last three years). A friend filmed it, and I finally got my hands on a copy of the video last night, when their presence in my flat enabled us to AirDrop the rather large file. It’s a little long, because snails are tricky creatures to release from their shells, so if you just want the image of my face while I’m chewing it, go to around the 2.50 mark…

I feel I should apologise for some of the language used by my fellow diners. It’s also worth looking out for the hot beardy French man sat at the next table…

I suspect that as we draw nearer to Christmas, Friday Fun will increase in its festiveness, but for now, I think it’s good to remember that there’s more to life than Christmas insanity.