La La Land

A musical about not just one, but two people chasing their dreams. One a jazz musician the other an actress who sings. They fall in love with each other but, this is not a cliched love story. They find balancing anti social careers and maintaining a relationship challenging.

Most of the music in the film fits in naturally, because there is the background of the jazz music and she sings. There is just a few set pieces, where a scene segways into song; sometimes distracting from the plot line. However, overall the musical inserts did not spoil the flow of the drama being played out or extend the film unessecarily. I prefer films to be condensed to goodness of less than 2hours. This was 2hours and 8minutes and I was concerned it may have been padded with irrelevant song / dance numbers , but it was not and the film was the right length for the story and crucially for me there was a strong plot not just a few loose segways between a sequence of songs.

I had heard about the opening scene being a big dance number on a highway that had to be closed for two days for filming; as I had heard about it in advance it was not quite the spectacular I had thought it might be. Following the opening there was drama, heartbreak, feel good moments, twists and turns which provided a powerful conclusion making the film impressive rather than just watchable.

Sheffield Elephants vs Hull moths

Points for Sheffield

  1. Bigger scale and more 3D than moths so more area for design.
  2. As 3D and at ground level could engage with them more; stroke them, or give them a pat on the way past or children could crawl between their legs, of course it was strictly forbidden to sit on them but think there is a few people with pictures of themselves or their children sitting on them. Could even look through the bely of the Steel Elephant.
  3. Better app because recognized in locations without having to scan QR code.
  4. Better signs next to elephants which gave information about design and designers unlike minimal signs next to the moths (apart from the moth at Sheffield university that had a full board next to it).
  5. Moths had little variation on theme yes, more constrained brief but surprised not to see more about insect moths for example how a caterpillar turns into a moth.
  6. Bigger variety of locations. All moths were hung on walls insdie or outside buildings. Whereas elephants were in a walled garden, in a winter garden and in farms and more.
  7. There was a mini herd of elephants whereas no mini moths.
  8. Elephants signed by snooker players and members of Arctic Monkeys.

The mini Elephant Herd

Top 5 Large Elephants (Children’s Hospital Trail Sheffield 2016)

Top 5 Large Elephants (Children’s Hospital Trail Sheffield 2016)

Points for Hull

  1. They had a glow in the dark moth; Fly me to the moon.
  2. They had a moth covered in swavorski crystals.
  3.  The moths went national extending as far away as London and Kent.

Tips for viewing Amy Johnson’s moths

Butterfly net out; to catch Amy Johnson Inspired Moths

Result

Completely unbiased Sheffield win 8-3.

Tips for viewing Amy Johnson’s moths

Butterfly net out; to catch Amy Johnson Inspired Moths

  • Not all the moths are in Hull; there is one in Sheffield, Kent and London as well as several in East Riding Beverley.
  • The moths are insitu until end of March when they are auctioned.
  • Download the moth app to help, check them off by zapping QR codes and it also helps to navigate to them. For navigation purposes, maps of the moth trial can also be collected from the station.
  • The moths are categorised as either city centre, Hull suburbs, East Riding or national.
  • It is possible to walk around all 26 city centre moths plus the moving moth under national moths which is at the Mercure until the end of March. It takes about 4 to 4.5 hours.
  • Given another hour or two moths between city centre and Hawthorn road could also be collected on foot. Beyohbd that a car is possibly needed.
  • If you want to check off all the moths on the app in the city centre, then you need to visit Tuesday to Friday. As the the History centre which hosts one of the moths, is only open then and first and third Saturday of the month.

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Also Learn to fly is within an office car park with gates that may be locked so daytime in week recommended for this one too although I was able to visit on a Sunday. With gates locked, moth can be partially seen by QR code can not be zapped.

 

Butterfly net out; to catch Amy Johnson Inspired Moths

Armed with a net of the internet variety, also known as the moth collector app, the journey began. It was just a short hop to the first moth, within the Diamond building, which is part of Sheffield university. It was here that Amy Johnston, studied for her degree.

It was two weeks into 2017 Hull Year of culture and it was time for a train journey to Amy’s home time in Hull. The moths habitation pre dates the start of Hull’s 2017 reign. The moths arrived  01July2016 which was Amy’s birthday; she was born in 1903. 2016 marked 75 years since Amy died when the plane she was flying crashed into the Thames just of Hermes bay in Kent, hence there is a moth there. The moths are catergorised according to location as Hull city centre moths, Hull suburbs moths, East Riding moths (the area around Hull) and National moths.

Upon arriving in Hull the aim was to see as many as the 26 city centre moths as possible. Amy has become a legend in her hometown in Hull because in 1930 she became the first woman to fly solo to Australia. Following that flight she continued to break and attempt to break other aviation records both on her own and with other pilots. One pilot Jim Mollison asked her to marry him within a week of their first flight together. They married in July 1932 and continued to attempt aviation records both together and solo. Perhaps the stress of competing against each other records or Mollison’s occasional heavy drinking contributed to the break up of their marriage. They divorced in 1938.

Disembarking  from the train in Hull and walking to the end of the platform the first moth was found. it featured the flags of places Amy had flown to.

A second one is further down the train station but as it, was close to the city of culture information  point, it was that which caught our attention. We collected a moth spotting map and was advised to head to Queen Victoria Square where moths clustered around.

Across the road from the station was Product of Hull moth; it had symbols representing the fishing trade. Amy’s Father was a partner in the fish merchant trade. His success meant the family were able to trade houses up during Amy’s childhood, hence she lived in a couple of houses in Hull then later Beverley which also has a couple of moths. Also this allowed Amy to attend small private schools and attend university.

Following graduating Amy briefly worked in Hull before moving to London to seek more employment opportunities. In London she began as a hobby taking flying lessons. After 6 lessons, she wrote home “I have immense belief in the future of flying”. Indeed her future centered around flying despite, It taking her 16hours of duel flying before her first solo flight which was considered longer than average. But as the moth on Carr lane on the way to Queen Victoria Square stated; she was able to Fly High.

Upon reaching Queen Victoria Square, we entered Princess Quay shopping centre. My spirit found outlet in the air was located along the glass walkway overlooking the water of the Princess Quay. The name was inspired by a quote from Amy “Had I been a man, I might have explored the poles or climbed Mount Everest, but as it was my spirit found outlook in the air’.

The next moth could be seen from My spirit found outlet in the air, however it was the other side of the Princess Quay, so we had to leave the shopping centre into  Queen Victoria square and cross to the other side of princess Quay and process along Princess Quay dock road.

We continued straight ahead along the water’s edge. A right turn could have taken us into Zeebeedee yard to see the three moths there. However, we proceeded straight ahead and then across Castle Street to see a very sparkly moth named Cystal Moth on Humber Dock Street.

Venturing on a bridge to the right there was Amy’s Jason. Jason was the name that Amy gave to her first plane the name referenced her Father’s business trade name. Her Father helped her buy the plane along with Lord Wakefield. Lord Wakefield was a philanthropist who founded the company that became Castrol oil. He also provided funding for another female aviator Jean Baton.

Jason was a second hand gypsy moth. Gypsy moth is a type of plan designed by Geoffrey De Havilland.

Retracing steps over the bridge and winding way to the banks of the Humber and round into square on Neslon Street. This was the first moth we saw that beside as all the other’s being in the shape of the insect moth, also related to the insect moth in it’s theme. The idea was it blended into it’s surrounded during the day and came to life at night when it became illuminated referencing how moths are generally nocturnal and fly at night (whereas butterflies are generally diurnal and fly during the day). Therefore we later returned to this moth to see it in the dark.

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After winding along the banks of the Humber to the popular aquarium attraction, the Deep we entered the ticket hall to find mechanical looking moth, reflecting Amy’s interest in mechanical engineering. In 1929 as well as gaining her pilots license Amy qualified as a ground engineer.

Across the road on High Street, a small road under the flyway Airmail was situated featuring postage stamps representing Amy’s travels.

Amy became an inspiration figure in aviation hence this moth named I was only a kid but I knew I wanted to be Amy, which is located in museum quarter just off High Street. In the 30s Amy was a celebrity for example she opened Sewerby Hall which now exhibits Amy mementos and in 1936 was the guest of honour at the opening of the first Butlins in Skegness.

From there it was a bigger gap to the next moth which was across a Drypool Bridge and more walking the other side of the bridge to reach Great Union Street. 1930s avaiation poster for Amy was stylised like the aviation posters that publicised aviation in the 1920s, perhaps one such poster inspired Amy to fly.

Similarly the next moth was an an encouragement to fly. We were lucky to be able to zap it on the app, because when we turned to leave someone was just waiting to close the gate of the office car park it was in. A couple of minutes later the QR code would have been out of reach.

Despite seeing the next moth, which was just across the road as photographic evidence shows, we were unable to zap it because the QR code was facing away from the window and the building was closed as it was a Sunday.

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Stopping for lunch took us back to the Princess Quay Dock street. On the map there looked to be three moths between Whitefrair gate and Posterngate, so we ended up going a long way round and eventually realizing we could have walked up Princess Quay dock street to Postergate street and turned into Zebedees yard was three moths were housed.

The first two moths could be eyeballed as walked into Zebedees yard.

The third moth moth in the yard referenced Amy’s work as an engineer. It was coloured in browns mirroring what is typically, thought of as moth colouring although, moths can have some colour they are less colourful than most butterflies. The biggest distinguishing features between moths and butterflies are the shape of their antennae and moth caterpillars form cocoons which are wrapped in silk coverings whilst butterfly caterpillars from chrysalis which are hard and smooth.

Out of Zebedee yard a short walk along to the north side of Trinity church, attached to the outside of the indoor market.

Coming out of north side churchside and turning left on to Lowgate there was another short walk to Wonderful Amy. A lot was fitted into this moth; there is a fish pattern to reference Amy’s Father fish merchant business, gypsy moth logo, Hulls coat of arms, 1930s inspired design and covers Amy’s passions of flying and fashion. The ATA (air transport auxiliary) logo is also displayed as in 1941 Amy began transporting planes to contribute to the war effort.

Up to the crossroads and turning right on to Arther Gelder street, with Drypool bridge in sight again a moth inspired by Dehavilland metal moth. It symolises Any and other women contributed in the war.

Around the corner alongside Queen’s Park was a crest like design. Featuring symbols of Amy’s home town Hull, Croydon where her flight to Australia started and Darwin where she landed albeit it, a crash landing. She had set out to beat the record at the time for flying to Australia but with a time of 19 days, did not succeed (and people moan nowadays about taking a whole day to fly to Australia!). Nether less due to becoming the first female to fly solo to Australia she was awarded a CBE.

A walk down the road and it was back to Queen  Victoria square, across the square on to King Edwards Squate and turn on to Storey street opposite the Prospect Shopping Centre. We walked around William Willberforce health centre looking for the moth on the outside of the building, finally we found it by venturing inside. This one honoured not just Amy, but other females, predominately Grace Hopper. Shortly after the 2nd world war whilst working on a place she discovered a moth within that had caused system problems. We learned that this finding was where the common phase computer bug, comes from.

A short walk across the road then it was into the Prospect centre, after some looping around Spirit was finally found just inside the entrance from West Street. Spirit can be interpreted several ways but one reference is to the plane Spirit of Artemis. Spirit of Artemis was a plane flown by Tracey Curtis Taylor from Farnbarough, England to Australia in recognition of Amy’s flight. Tracey set off on 01OCT2015 and had several stops including at Dubai aviation exhibition and to talk to young women in Pakistan.

The walk to the next one was an unknown quantity, as it was one of the moths classed as being in the suburbs and was on the edge of the map with an arrow pointing off the map, but in actual fact was less than ten minutes walk away.

Back to the city centre down Fernsway towards the train station, to find the few remaining city centre moths. Firstly Earth Mother, located outside the Hull Truck theatre.

Along to the third shopping centre on the day; St Stephens next to the train station.

The trial for the 26th city centre moth ended where it began in the train station with one that was misssd earlier.

At the Mecure hotel which is connected to the station there was a moth under the national catergory because it is one that has traveled; two previous locations in Hull and one in Grimsby.

The trial was extended by seeking more moths in what was deemed suburbs. The first was less than ten minutes walk away at Kingston retail park.

Another ten minutes up the same side of the carriage way was a monochrome moth.

The longest walk yet ensued up to Hessle Road. However there was a gold post box there too! Again referencing Amy’s plane Jason.

Another 30minute walk would have  led to cluster to around where Any first lived in Hull on Hawthorn Avenue . However, by this time we had walked 21km (10miles plus), it was dark and drizzling.

Two of the moths  in the cluster around Hawthorn Avenue refer to letters between Amy and her older lover Hans Arreger. Their relationship began when Amy was 18years old but ultimately did not last and Hans married another women. If Amy had married Hans it is doubtful that the letters Hans kept from Amy would now be significant enough to be  held at Hull history centre. The first moth Red Letter days reproduce in Amy’s handwriting part of a letter to Han’s, on a sky blue background as if written by a plane.

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The other also features part of one of Amy’s letters to Hans where she talks about having someone to dance with.

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The other  moths in Hull are further out albeit the same side of the city.

I like the look of this colorful moth with an intricate design.

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This moth is in honour of Geoffery De Havillands and his interest in moths which inspired his plane designs such as the gypsy moth which Amy flew.

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I like this design which features different types of planes.

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Not sure I will see many, if any more of the moths as they are only in situ until April when they are auctioned. Especially as they are spread out to East Riding including Beverley and Humberside airport (15miles from Hull), which was first used by the RAF in 1941 and did not become a commercials airport until 1974 following being abandoned after the war. Then there is the one at the Science museum in London where Amy’s Jason is exhibited and the one in Kent which is close to where on the 5th January 1941 whilst working for the ATA, Amy’s plane came down in the Thames. Mystery surrounds the circumstances particularly as he body has never been found and information about it, is still covered by government secrecy act.

If all the moths are brought back together again before they are auctioned like the Sheffield elephants were it would be fantastic to get the chance to see the other moths in person.

 

Wonderwall: Looks like there is some colourful artwork on walls in Melboune from this article but I have not seen yet! Australia: Top Ten Experiences

Wonderwall: John Lennon Wall Prague

 

(This was originally posted on 27 July) In the last few days, after being back from Australia for a few weeks, I have finally found the time to write a blog post. Very delayed I know, I’ve be…

Source: Australia: Top Ten Experiences

Wonderwall: John Lennon Wall Prague

 

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The story I heard about the wall by someone, attempting to sell me a panoramic view of the wall as I crossed the Charles Bridge, started with a woman who used to sit in the doorway within the wall with a guitar singing Beatles songs. I was told She added the first art work of head shots of her self- portrait and portrait of John Lennon. Google searches about the history of the wall, has not verified the story of this. Internet pages tell of how after John’s Lennon’s death the wall became a focus for art / graffiti relating to the Beatles / John Lennon peace and anti-communism sort of like a Facebook wall in the era before internet, before people could create an image of themselves in a press of a button and post to their own wall. The panorama I was shown, showed the wall covered in colour, it included the supposed first art of the guitar lady and John Lennon and also the second which was the word Fred which means Peace in Norwegian.

On the following website http://www.absolutetours.com/blog/john-lennons-wall/ it details that the story of the wall started before John Lennon’s death; in the 60s and 70s when people wrote anti-communist messages on it, leading to it being termed the wailing wall. During communist times it was painted over at different times by communist regime including http://www.absolutetours.com/blog/john-lennons-wall/ mentions being painted green in 1981. The article goes on to describe the first time it was painted over, after the fall of communism in 2000. The article says it was painted white by art group Rafani, with just the word ‘love’ however elsewhere on the internet I have read it was painted green in 2000. Indeed I saw on this site http://www.paetau.com/downloads/Friends/Rafani.html it painted green with the Czech word for love; Laskia and explains it was painted green because the communist used green to paint over the wall.

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The internet seems to agree that On 17November2014 the wall was covered with white paint and just the words ‘War is over’ a twist of John Lennon’s Christmas song ‘Happy Christmas, war is over’. Students who claimed they were responsible for whitewashing the wall stated they did it to commemorate 25 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

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In between, the two post 1989 painting overs of the wall in 2000 and 2014 and since the wall constantly evolves with new additions, therefore it is a an attraction that is worth revisiting to see what has changed. Yes’s after painted self-portraits, selfies are now captured by tourists in front of the colorful wall or like I did photos of the wall are captured of that moment in the walls evolution. The colour is even starting to spread to a tree in front of the wall.

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I would certainly like to return in years times to see it. Plus as it is on the street is a free attraction, as long as you don’t get tempted on the Charles bridge to buy any souvenir. If I had visited prior to the Brexit vote, with a better exchange rate, I probably would have bought or if at the price it was I would have bought if the same seller had been there on my last day in Prague when I visited the wall for a second time. Between the first and the second time there was already changes unfortunately mainly just scribbles in green, but I’m sure by now there are new more edifying additions. On my second visit there was the bonus that a busker arrived singing Beatles songs.

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Food and drink delights in Prague

Top 3 attractions Prague

Best Hot Chocolate in Prague

 

The wall is less than 10minutes, from the Charles Bridge on the same side as Prague castle. The most direct route from Charles Bridge takes you past the John Lennon wall. The first time I saw it we arrived at the Malostranske namesti tram stop and it then took a while to find it but on the way we did find a café for hot chocolate. The area around Malostranske namesti tramnstop is interesting to walk around as there is Charles Bridges, restaurants, cafes, chocolate shops up the hill from the bridge wall is Prague castle. Prior to my second viewing of the wall  I had a Thai massage (ouch!) in an establishment that also had the fish for nibbling peoples feet ; other such establishments can be found around Prague. At the moment it would be the following trams to get to the area;12, 20, 22, 23.

 

Food and drink delights in Prague

  • Delicious mains include gorgeous goulash and a dish with beef in a.creamy sauce served with cranberries.
  • The city has an abundance of cafes serving tasty cakes and hot chocolate.

Best Hot Chocolate in Prague

  • A good way to change the pace from sightseeing Pragues many attractions is with a brewery / beer museum tour.

Top 3 attractions Prague

There is the Prague beer museum which has a few exbhits to look at then you go down to the cellar where you rest 4 beers.

The Starpraman brewery takes you through the beer making process, with interactive displays including hologram of former brewery owner.

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  • The hotel Adria has a beautiful restaurant in an underground cafe.

 

The good service, food quality and touches like amuse bouche makes it pricier than other options, but worth it. I had a fantastic steak with pate named after the composer Rossini as it is based on his favourite dish.

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Top 3 attractions Prague

In addition to delicious food there are many tourist attractions to visit.

Food and drink delights in Prague

In no particular order, the top three attractions for me are as follows, in unravels order.

  • Spanish synagogue: beautiful interior.

 

  • John Lennon’s wall: fantastic evoking art. Even better when a busker arrives.

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  • Climb the astronomy clock and walk around to see views from every degree of 360, from the top and as climb spiral staircase.

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Best Hot Chocolate in Prague

We had been recommended Cafe Kafico as the best hot chocolate in Prague. We stumbled upon the cafe, when was looking for John Lennon’s wall rather than the cafe. The hot chocolate was a good thick chocolate. However the next day we found better, on the road up from Maostranke tram stop up to the castle. It was called Prague Choclate bistro / Prazska Cokolada. A very thick flavoursome chocolate.

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