Montreal and London

Montreal was really quite cool. Lots of restaurants, cafes, bars… good museums, live music. I met some ace people, and had too many late nights. The nicest (i.e. shabbiest) cafes are the ones with free wifi, and I basically spent my first two days there soaking up the sun. Later the weather turned cold but that sun was worth it.
I’ve come back to lots of grey London skies that are barely distinguishable from the grey buildings, and news of the mole man. At different times that place has been on my route home, and I always hate walking past that house. Not because I think the footpath is going to cave in, but there’s something about the intensity of his life that hurries my steps.
Walking home one night this week, I saw three homeless men on a bench. The one at the edge was cradling a man sitting on the ground like a pieta with added Red Stripe.

Montreal so far…

Not that I’ve done much – I’ve realised I probably can’t get any more cash out for a few days while a bank transfer goes through, so it’s places that take credit card or very cheap things only for me! I’m uploading photos to Flickr from my phone as I go so check there for stuff too.
From my phone yesterday: “First impressions of Montreal – I thought the airport was a construction zone, with loads of sand heaps, but it was old snow.
Not the most glam people so far, but earthy and good humoured. Not sure where I got earthy from after only five minutes, to be honest. Maybe the [arrivals area] reunions and slight roughness of aspect?”
I managed a quick dinner last night before passing out – every time I fly, I hate it a little bit more. I had to leave home five hours before my flight to get to the airport on time – ridiculous! Give me a train anyday.

Fictional cities

I randomly came across ‘Fictional Cities‘ while looking for something else.

We all have our favourite places and favourite stories about them. Our idea of these places is usually a mix of experience and imagination, and fiction is usually no small contributor to our mental maps.
I love London, Venice and Florence, so I made this site, with lists and reviews of all sorts of fiction set in these three cities.

Two different views of Melbourne

Monstrous Melbourne presents Melbourne as the city that just keeps growing, and Melbourne dreamtime a reality looks back to the people, flora and fauna that was there before white settlers.
Melbourne seems both utterly familiar and completely strange to me now. It’s ‘home’ and yet it’s also a city I’d have to get to know again. I could live here again, but it would be an adjustment.
At least I don’t have to feel ashamed of being Australian now Howard is gone. Such a simple thing, but it’s such a big change.

Oh yes! Australia signs up to Kyoto

Australia pledges to sign Kyoto protocol on climate change

Australia won applause at the start of UN-led climate change talks in Bali on Monday by agreeing to ratify the Kyoto protocol, isolating the US as the only developed nation outside the pact.
Soon after an Australian delegate promised immediate action on Kyoto, the new prime minister in Canberra, Kevin Rudd, took the oath of office and signed the ratification documents, ending his country’s long-held opposition to the global climate agreement.

In a piece of funny timing, I’ll be in Melbourne by NYE, so I’ll have a chance to see how Rudd is going for myself.

Tokyo so far

Lots of shopping around Shinjuku – fetish items like stationery, a Hello Kitty camera (that I had to return cos it was crap), and generally enjoying the randomness of the shops and the shinyness of the roads that take you to them.
The shops around Harajuku are a bit like Camden’s Electric Ballroom or stable markets, and the people shopping there are perhaps more interesting than the show-offs on Jingu-bashi.
We accidentally found a lovely friendly lesbian bar – the Anchor. The scene seems small but decent.

Some random travel/hippy articles

US immigration ‘worst in the world’

Entry requirements in the United States are the “worst in the world” and visa rules are “cumbersome”, causing tourists to steer clear of America, according to a leading figure in US travel and tourism.

It’s certainly one reason I’m not going to or through the US.
In other news, organic food really is better:

The biggest study into organic food has found that it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help to lengthen people’s lives.
The evidence from the £12m four-year project will end years of debate and is likely to overturn government advice that eating organic food is no more than a lifestyle choice.
The study found that organic fruit and vegetables contained as much as 40% more antioxidants, which scientists believe can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease, Britain’s biggest killers. They also had higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.

Call to use leftovers and cut food waste

Research by the government’s waste reduction agency, Wrap, found that one third of all food bought in Britain is thrown away – of which half is edible. Wrap will claim that this discarded food is a bigger problem than packaging, as the food supply chain accounts for a fifth of UK carbon emissions and decomposing food releases methane, the most potent of the greenhouse gases. Wasted food is estimated to cost each British household from £250 to £400 a year.
‘If we stopped the amount [of food waste] that we could stop, it would be the same as taking one fifth of cars off the road