Friday, 17 October 2014

Unstoppable Spirit Exhibition, The Southbank, London

A collaboration between Italian artist Nino Mustica and Land Rover design director, Gerry McGovern, the Unstoppable Spirit sculptures incorporate full-size models of Land Rovers.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The View, The Shard, South London

The view north from the 72nd floor of the Shard on a grey day in the Big Smoke

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ellis Hotel, downtown Atlanta

In the heart of Atlanta's eerily-quiet downtown district, the Ellis Hotel is housed in a handsome brick nineteenth century building, which is dwarfed by the nearby skyscrapers. Although the rooms can be quite luxurious and comfortable (they seem to have been refitted recently), the ones at the front can be a bit noisy, even on the seventh floor. All night long, there seems to be a constant hum from the surrounding city's generators and air conditioning units. Although the bedrooms are equipped with irons and ironing boards, they lack safes.  Still, the WiFi is free and pretty good, as are the large flat screen televisions. The en-suite bathrooms boast limestone floors and walls, Kohler rain-shower heads, and granite countertops. But the Ellis Hotel needs more soundproofing. 6/10

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Atlanta, Georgia

The view of Atlanta's skyscrapers, rising out of the city's extensive tree canopy, coming into land at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The Commerce Club, the Peachtree Tower, downtown Atlanta

The view north towards Midtown Atlanta
On the 49th floor of a skyscraper in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the bar in the Commerce Club has an old school feel. As well as offering captivating 360 degree views over the city and its leafy suburbs, the Commerce Club is distinguished by its dark wooden panelling, conservative furnishings and charismatic bar staff with a entertaining line in patter. The food is fairly standard fare, but good enough.  Early in the evening, the bar seems to attract local office workers, as well as the odd financial advisor building relationships with clients.  But the views are the main draw and if you get the right table you'll be treated to a beautiful sunset beyond the shining glass cylinder of the Westin Hotel. 8/10

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Ride of the Falling Leaves, south London

Organised by cycling club Dulwich Paragon, the Ride of the Falling Leaves is a fairly laid-back jaunt over the North Downs into the verdant Kent countryside. You depart from Herne Hill Velodrome, where you are offered a timing chip, a decent cup of coffee and a pastry (part of your £20 entry fee) and you start with a lap of the recently-resurfaced track. Temporary signs then direct you out through leafy Dulwich into suburbia and south into the rural hills beyond West Wickham. After a steady ascent, you swoop west down towards Warlingham before taking on a gruelling climb up into the North Downs overlooking the M25. At this point, you can choose between the short route (approximately 80km), which takes you east into Westerham, or the long route (approaching 110km and 1,350 metres of climbing), which heads south into rolling Kent countryside.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Ullswater Steamers, Cumbria

A fleet of five venerable ships, of varying shapes and sizes, ferry tourists up and down the three legs of Ullswater, in the north east corner of the Lake District.  These ageing wooden vessels, which typically have inside and outside seating, stop at Pooley Bridge, How Town and Glenridding. It is worth braving the cold to sit in the bows and sterns, from where there are sweeping views of this nine mile long lake, the wind surfers, sailing boats and stunning surrounding fells. A day-long round-the-lake pass costs adults £13.40 and children half that, but you can also pay with Tesco vouchers. In the autumn, the steamers typically run every couple of hours, with the last journeys in the late afternoon. 8/10

Barton Hall, near Pooley Bridge, Cumbria

A handsome and substantial Victorian house a mile outside of Pooley Bridge at one end of Ullswater, Barton Hall oozes old-school character.  Spread over two floors and two wings, its comfortable guest bedrooms have very high four-poster beds, vintage wallpaper, velvety curtains and lampshades, distinguished wooden furniture and thick carpets. Some have en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths, but others rely on spacious communal facilities with lovely old brass fixtures and fittings.