Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish – the Pride of Chiswick

With the cherry blossom season drawing to a close, in London at least (though I was in Nottingham last week and the blossom there is still in full flower and looked fantastic), I thought I’d do a final cherry blossom post about Chiswick’s famous Cherry Blossom shoe polish. Continue reading

Temporal Measures at White Rainbow

Takahiro Ueda‘What’s this exhibition about then?’ Yannick asked me when I suggested opening our 2015 art season with a trip to the White Rainbow. ‘Time,’ I said. But actually, it’s not so much about time as measuring time, and the different ways in which measuring it can make it seem as though its going faster or slower. Here’s what I mean. Continue reading

Bletchley Codebreakers and Japan

Bletchley ParkYou probably know the story of the codebreakers of Bletchley, whose top secret work to decipher the Enigma system the Germans used to encrypt their wartime communications did so much to help the Allies win the war, and which also laid the foundations for modern computing. Bletchley Park, the country estate where they worked, is open to the public and has been given a major upgrade, so I joined some Twitter friends for a look. Continue reading

The Truth about Japanese Knotweed

As far as I know, there isn’t any Japanese knotweed round our way. Which is good news, as the scare stories about what it can do to your garden and even your house are legion. It’s commonly called the modern-day triffid; it starts out as a rather attractive bamboo-like plant sitting neatly in the corner of the garden and ends up taking over the universe. It’s seriously scary. Continue reading

High Speed Trains

Shinkansen O Series

With HS2 (the proposed high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, reputed to cost £80 billion and the subject of considerable opposition from local people) in the news again, I thought I’d take a look at high speed trains because – guess what – that’s something the Japanese are rather good at.  Continue reading

Measuring Time at the Science Museum

Science Museum clock faceTime moves at the same speed wherever you are, doesn’t it? Well, not if Einstein’s theory of relativity is right. And maybe not if you measure it differently. There’s a fascinating free exhibition at the Science Museum about the many ways in which we’ve measured time over the years, starting with hourglasses and sundials and moving on through the very first clocks to the digital world of the present day. And guess what? One of the things it explains is how in Japan they used to measure time in a totally different way. Continue reading