This blog is mostly about travelling in its various forms, and so I have to say I was impressed by this chocolate London Transport symbol on my cup of coffee at the London Transport Museum. It's the best travel-related museum I know and we took S and Young A there for an outing the other day. They hadn't been there since Young A was four and got so fed up at hanging around Victorian omnibuses that he started sobbing and had to be taken home.
It went much better this time. Young A (now 11) agreed that the omnibuses were actually great - and don't you love the detail on this model bus, down to that moleskin jacket and the Scotsman's glowing pipe?
He was particularly fascinated by the creepy dummies in the old-fashioned tube trains. I didn't tell him that I remember going on trains a bit like that in real life (not in the Tube, though). I suppose they were at the end of their life when I used them, and I don't remember my fellow passengers looking as elegant as these ladies.
Nor, I'm glad to say, did I ever see men like the one below, another dummy in an old railway carriage. Could it be Stan Laurel taking a ride to the West End in 1922?
The museum is full of variety and very well designed, so there's something for everyone. I specially liked looking at the design plans for how the new Crossrail trains will appear. That patterned moquette on London buses and trains always gives you something to stare at while you're travelling, and Crossrail is getting a very superior moquette. I'm sure I'll spend many happy moments trying to work out how this design repeats, as I speed on my way.
I also looked in their shop for ages, seeking gifts to take on my trip to Japan. I fell in love with this willow-pattern tube train design, but honestly, do I or any Japanese people I know really have a need for a three tier cake stand? Sigh....
I love it when people do variations on willow pattern. When I lived in the Potteries I bought a Potteries willow pattern plate, with bottle kiln, canal boat and steam train, and it hangs on my wall to this day.
...which reminds me, that later this year or early next, I hope to visit some of the places in the Midlands that I haven't seen for ages or never knew at all. So if you have any suggestions of places roughly north of Oxford and south of Sheffield, please let me know! (I've already found quite a few on Mike's excellent blog, A Bit About Britain - which I recommend if you like buildings with a bit of knowledgable and often quirky history attached.)
In general, I've mainly been staying home, and my writing has been Lewis Carroll-related. This aspect of my writing life usually ticks over steadily. Travel writing, though, has definitely been dwindling. The other day a friend's son asked me the best way to become a travel writer, and to be honest, I wasn't sure how to reply.
And that got me thinking, because even in the few years I've been writing this blog, travel writing has changed. A lot. Not that I'm complaining - travel was always time consuming compared with other writing. But now it's much more so, and the rewards are less. Travel writers edit and write for print magazines, self-publish their work, review, blog and write for online magazines,(often for little pay, but it raises their profile). They do paid copywriting, write blogs for travel companies or get publishers to issue their books, and pop up everywhere on social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube. They run events, give talks and teach. That's apart from the actual travelling.
I don't want to be doing all that, I don't feel I have enough time to do everything as it is, so I have found other ways to get by. But I am impressed by folk who tackle all this stuff, so I think that in future I'll recommend would-be travel writers to look and learn from the websites of people like Andy Jarosz or my pal Mike Gerrard. Both are first rate writers and it's obvious from their sites (take a look) what the work they do is all about.
I'll probably also point out that good travel writers also need to be accurate, yet have an eye for something unusual .....
...not to mention an ability to get people to feel a bit curious...
And so, with this huge White Rabbit (yes, that's what it is) dominating the space ship, it's back to Lewis Carroll.
"Alice in Wonderland" is popular in Japan, and I thought you might like to see one of my favourite Alice clips, which I'll be using as part of a lecture. This is a little film by Pogo, a musician who uses fragments of soundtracks (often from Disney movies) as his raw material. His short films also use scraps of imagery, and I think he's wonderful at extracting the underlying messages the original film maker was trying to give. Walt Disney, like Carroll, was particularly good at combining sweetness with humour and menace, and I think Pogo has done a good job in conveying the charm,vulnerability and anxiety of Alice against the disturbing unpredictability of her journey through Wonderland.