Japan – November 2017

Last month we were lucky enough to go to Japan for a week or so. Absolutely amazing place and somewhere I need to spend more time. We based ourselves in Tokyo and and had a day in Kyoto.

Central Tokyo like most cities is full of shops and offices, but the sheer amount of different shops they manage to pack into one building through vertical integration does give that feeling of claustrophobia. We were staying just outside the centre in the Hilton , which is more in the business district of Shinjuku which gave us some relaxation away from the neon and bustle.

Continue reading “Japan – November 2017”

A weekend in the Highlands – Easter 2016

To most who know me, I am an Londoner / Southerner, with an definitive accent to match. To those that really know me, I have a big ole family in the North of Scotland and that is where we ventured to over the Easter weekend, to see places old and new, and visit family and friends. To truly appreciate this area could take about a million photos, but heres some from that fantastic weekend. Also, who thought not having a mobile signal for 4 days could be so great. Click on the photos for a better view. All taken with an iphone 6

Barcelona November 2015

So part 2 of the Autumn travelogue series is Barcelona. What a place. I had been here several times but always work related not as a tourist. So this time we put this right in style.

Another first was our flight. We used Southend Airport. If they have your destination on the their flights, and you are in the South East, I would use it. So easy.

We stayed at Hotel Sixty Two which was a smallish boutique place on Passeig de Gracia. This means basically you are in the middle of everything. The main attraction in town is the Segrada Familia, a cathedral that has been over 120 years in the building and still has 30 to go. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and is still being built to his initial designs, with successive architects taking on the challenge and adding a small amount of their own ideas as well.  Hence most of my photos are from there. We also went to Casa Batllo on our last day but I seem to have no photos but it is another Gaudi masterpiece.

On with the photos.



Philippines and Singapore, Nov / Dec 2013

This is a photo heavy entry so I’ll let them do most of the talking. The trip to Manila was a long one, as i was alone (Mrs Mrben had travelled ahead) via Singapore. It was my first trip on Singapore Airlines and they were fantastic. A true 5 star airline. Once we arrived in Manila it was the usual chaos: traffic, busy, flat out all day and night. We stayed in an Air BnB apartment with a driver, and the difference that makes is phenomimal.  After a few days we went to our favourite little island, Boracay and and as usual everything was fantastic. The beach is still the best. We stayed at Joneys as usual and if anything its got better (http://www.jonysbeachresortboracay.com/)

At a quid a cocktail in the happy 3 hours every evening, the nights flew by. One evening we ventured up beach to Fridays (http://www.fridaysboracay.com/), the oldest hotel on the island and had a meal on the beach to die for. Which we nearly did on the way back as we took the beach route only to find the tide coming in right up to the buildings and not abating. A bit hairy in places, but we both feel a bit wiser for the experience. The trip highlight was taking the sunset cruise on the small 2 passenger catamarans. Some amazing photo experiences, and all was good. Until on the way back to shore we caught a big wave that soaked us. No issue. Apart from I had all my photo gear in my bag on my shoulder and didn’t have the shower cover on. Oops. Anyway we got away with no damage. Thanks Lowe Pro.

Next stop via Manila was Singapore. What a place. Just WOW. So clean, so easy to get about and full of friendly people. My view may be been skewed by the fact we stayed in the Marina Bays Sands (http://www.marinabaysands.com). Probably the most amazing hotel I have stayed in on the planet. Great views from the room, great views of the botanical gardens and then the infinity pool on the 57th floor, across the width of all three towers. Just WOW.

Another highlight was a crazy evening in Clarke Quay. Always helps with costs if your friend manages 3 bars down there ! Tied up with dinner in Raffles and The Fullerton respectively brought down a graceful end to a fantastic holiday.

Hard Rock Calling 2013

This years Hard Rock “festival” has moved to the new venue of the Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, or to give it its casual name, The Olympic Park. This event is part of the reopening events for the park.

Travel was a doddle and although not quite at Olympic levels, stewards were on hand to direct punters across the river to the venue. It was nice to see the place again and brought back great memories for me of my visit last year (see here).

The layout was a bit odd if im honest, stages 2 and 3 were no where near the main stage which made stage hopping a bit of a chore, so we stayed mainly in the main arena. The other key issue was that of queues, the beer queues were longer than the loos, which is a rarity  and something i hope the organisers take on board for future events. The afternoon was spent with a couple of ciders and introduced to me Twin Atlantic, who I have to say impressed me, with their semi new wave powerpop, which i always been a sucker for. Next up was Miles Kane. Now, here is a guy who doesn’t read weather reports, as his tight suit in the blistering heat made perfectly obvious ! But his set was spot on with his mix of 60’s style rock, and Artic Monkey moderism made the afternoon end with a bang and a few tunes spinning around my head.

Talking of moderism, next up was the man himself Mr Paul Weller. Despite his ageing years, he rocked it out as usual. nice to see Steve Craddock back on stage as well, (his second show of the day as he did a solo stint in one of the tents as well). Some classics were played and dreams were made for the young lads in front of me when he finished off with Town Called Malice. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the Jam did it better! My favourite of the day, was his cover of Start !. I say cover as it had been rearranged a little, and if I may say so even improved on what was the second number one for The Jam. For those that are interested here’s the highlights of the setlist:


Wake up the Nation

From the Floorboards up

Fast car slow traffic

Sea Spray

Ever changing moods

Kling I Klang

Baby come on

Peacock suit

That’s entertainment


Changing man

Town called Malice

So, that’s three Jam and one TSC and some classic Weller. A whole lot to beat.

Kasabian were up last, and to be fair are a bit of an “OK” band to me. They put on a good show (and came onto the old Grandstand theme tune) but the work had been already been done if you ask me. The set was pretty spectacular though (Weller didn’t even have a backdrop !).

Some piccies:

The full Saturday line up.
The new West Ham Stadium (and the wife !)
Main Arena- Note ; Astro Turf makes no mud !
All going off for Kasabian from the back of the arena
A Hard Rock hot air balloon ?
Miles Kane getting heat exhaustion.
Weller and his 2 drummers is the new Adam Ant.

Mrben09 goes professional (ish) !

Just in case you dont reach the end of this slightly self indulgent announcement, check these out

The Summats can be found here. http://www.thesummats.com/ Buy this song. Now available on Itunes. Buy it. At least take a listen.

Fractured Calm can be found here. https://soundcloud.com/fracturedcalm

This blog has been with me for a couple of years now. The main purpose of starting this was twofold. One was to improve my writing and comms skills and two to document some of my (and mrs mrben09) lives for when I’m old and frail !

This has in general taken two forms. Banging on about West Ham and publishing (too strong ?) some of my photos. It has spun out into travel and tech in places (both of which through my job, I’m lucky to experience on a regular basis).

So in short, my writing has got better, my photos have definitely got better and more structured, and this has started to open up new avenues, one of which has moved to a slightly different level this week.

Just before Xmas I did some photos for a friend. One of which now hangs on her wall, pride of place in her house . This got me thinking, that on an amateur level i could maybe pursue this further. It also proved to me that maybe there was a creative side of me that has been hidden for too long, behind tech and science and an inability to draw a straight line.

OK, enough, where is this leading us ? Well, a friend of mine who i covered in one of the music posts, is in a band, and they were getting ready to release a new track to the itunesphere, and for the crack i said, “I’ll do your cover”. He said “why not” and i thought, “uh-oh what have i done”. So my initial idea was a photo, but once i heard the back story of the song and the title I had that all too rare flash of inspiration, and went for a graphic theme instead.

Now, its very minimal, and was relatively quick to do, but it just seemed to fit. I thought it OK (alright, a little bit more than that, but no Sgt Peppers !). I showed Mrs Mrben09, she liked it. I showed Fractured Calm, the producer of said track, and he liked it. I showed 1/4 of The Summats and he loved it. So I handed it over and I believe the reaction has been very good all round.

So there you go, once the track sells millions and The Summats retire to Monserrat , you can say ” Oh that, with the cover by Mrben09, he was the Peter Blake of his generation !”

Available in all good Record Stores (and some bad ones)

The Summats can be found here. http://www.thesummats.com/ Buy this song. Now available on Itunes. Buy it. At least take a listen.

Fractured Calm can be found here. https://soundcloud.com/fracturedcalm