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I went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Prince Charles Cinema with Emily and Tim at the start of the month. Emily had never seen it before, while I was excited to see the film on the big screen for the first time. The chimps at the start were less tedious than I remembered, and the portal to where-ever the hell at the end looked fantastic. Half way through there was an intermission, possibly because the PCC had acquired an old copy of the film with the Intermission card edited in!



Emily had discovered that a museum in Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly, had a modern Australian Aboriginal art exhibition that was finishing soon, so we decided to visit Paris for a long weekend.

We visited Musée du Quai Branly on the Saturday afternoon after arriving. The artwork there was really interesting, especially after the symbols that the Aboriginal artists used were explained on an information board. We both saw a few pieces we really liked. Afterwards, we went to Montmartre to see the Sacré Cœur and the market square there. We ate at a small restaurant near the Metro station that served Raclette on a huge desk lamp-like heater, which was awesome.

On the Sunday we visited the Panthéon, where inside a Foucault Pendulum hangs, apparently a replica of the original one used in 1851 to first demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. It was telling the correct time. Underneath the Panthéon we explored a cavern of crypts, including those of Pierre and Marie Curie.

We headed out of the city centre to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a really nice park with a lake, cliffs, and lovely stone-edged pathways. It was originally a quarry but was converted into a park in the 1860s.

Taking an early dinner in order to beat the queues, we ate at Chez Chartiers, a restaurant and Monument Historique famous for people queueing out onto the street to get a table. We got there while it was still quiet; Emily had spaghetti with tomato sauce and I have confit du canard. It was very tasty.

Next up, we visited the Pompidou Centre, a distinctive-looking building that seemed to be mostly used as an arts centre - there was a Dali exhibition ongoing and it also featured a cinema and public library. What caught our attention, however, was the escalators on the outside of the building taking people to the top of the building and back down again. We paid our €3 to do so as well, taking in the sights of Paris. We conveniently missed being out in the rain while doing so.

Lastly, we stopped by the Pont des Artes, a bridge famous for carrying padlocks engraved with the names of people in love. We added our own padlock to it, which we had engraved ourselves the week before.

On the Monday, we checked out of the hotel and, leaving our baggage in storage there, immediately went to one of the outlets of Eric Kayser, which we had discovered the previous day did excellent pastries. We then went to the Promenade Plantée, a managed garden walkway along an old viaduct that used to host a train line. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine. Half-way along is the Jardin de Reuilly, a small park area that contains a sparking water fountain! We filled up a bottle with fizzy water to keep us going for the rest of the day.

Popping back past the Pont des Artes to see our padlock in the sunshine, we walked past the Louvre to Palais Royal, whose courtyard contains a lot of black-and-white-striped columns to climb on.

We also spent some time in Montmartre in the daylight. Seeing all the artists out in the market square reminded me that I had indeed been here before with my family, perhaps as long as 20 years ago.





During the next week, my place in Dartford finally got an offer on it, and by the weekend the sale was confirmed. I was looking at houses on Rightmove from then onwards, but there wasn't much listed that I liked the look of.

At the weekend, I decided to go out for a walk somewhere to make the most of the snowfall, and decided to walk part of the Green Chain Walk, a connected series of woods and open spaces in South East London. I decided on the stretch from Elmstead Woods station to Mottingham station, through Elmstead Wood and a few other parks and places.



It was very nice walk, and I made a little snowman!



Seeing the area so piqued my curiosity about what properties were available nearby, after finding out that Elmstead Woods station would be a viable commute option that I'd missed when considering only the three lines to Dartford. As it happened, there was one place for sale that caught my eye. And I have now bought it! No contracts signed yet but the survey's being done on Tuesday. Apparently these sorts of things take about two or three months to progress to the moving date. So, that's exciting!

Today I did another stretch of the Green Chain Walk, this time from Eltham railway station to Abbey Wood station. Abbey Wood (the actual woodland) is much nicer than I was expecting, and I only got a little bit lost trying to get from one end of it to another. In the middle, at the top of a hill, is some ancient heathland, which was really pretty.

At 7km, it's about the longest walk I've done for a while. I have been having another round of physiotherapy after deciding that the previous physiotherapist's advice wasn't doing anything for me. The physio I'm seeing now seems to be much better, and has given me 5-10 minutes of exercises to do each day to build up muscle to help my kneecap track properly. I'm optimistic that it's making a difference. At the very least I've been able to scrap the annoying patellar bands (knee straps) that I've been wearing out for the last year.

Aaaaand finally:

Malis, in The AwakeningI've finished watching the last of the Fifth Doctor's stories now. In fact, since I've also watched the first Sixth Doctor story, I've also watched all stories (bar missing or unavailable on DVD) made before I was born. That's a scary thought.

Peter Davison was the first Doctor to have been chosen by John Nathan-Turner, the producer who took over near the end of Tom Baker's era, as demonstrated by his odd costume. My opinion based on all the documentaries included on the DVDs was that good episodes now tended to happen despite the JNT's input, rather than because of it - John Saward, the script editor, did the series a great service by, for instance, insisting the Robert Holmes write The Caves of Androzani, still considered the best Doctor Who story - including the new series - as of a 2009 Doctor Who Magazine poll.

As always certain episodes stood out for me:

  • Kinda - Companion Tegan is taken over by an evil snake spirit when the TARDIS lands on an Earth exhibition base. Fantastic acting from Janet Fielding as well as Simon Rousse who plays a leader having a nervous breakdown brilliantly. Watch the DVD with new effect sequences to avoid disappointment at the end.
  • Black Orchid - half the length of most series at only two episodes meant this one was a bit faster paced. It also featured no monsters, which is usually an improvement in any Doctor Who serial from the 80s.
  • Snakedance - a follow-up to Kinda commenting on the commercialisation of myths and legends. Featuring a young Martin Clunes as the son of the planet's leader.
  • The Black Guardian trilogy, in particular Enlightenment - featuring the Brig in Mawdryn Undead, a solid but otherwise unmemorable story in Terminus, and finishing with the impressive finale Enlightenment which had immortal beings in cosplay racing replica period boats around the solar system - what's not to like about that?
  • The Awakening - another two-parter showing what happens when you take LARPing too seriously.
  • The Caves of Androzani - the Doctor gets caught up in a war over the supply of a life-extending substance. It features genuinely and uncomfortably chilling scenes between Christopher Gable, who played the unhinged recluse Sharaz Jek, and new companion Nicola Bryant (Peri). It's one of the rare occasions in classic Doctor Who where the writing, direction, casting, costumes and sets are all at the top of their game.

Honourable mentions to Castrovalva (the Fifth Doctor's first story), The Five Doctors (good, but spoiled by Richard Hurndall's interpretation of the First Doctor), and Resurrection of the Daleks (Daleks).

I really enjoyed Davison's Doctor. I think my ordering of Doctors now sits like this:

  1. 1. Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee)
  2. 2=. Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison)
  3. 2=. First Doctor (William Hartnell)
  4. 4=. Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)
  5. 4=. Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

Given that I seem to be enjoying every other Doctor, it's a good thing that Colin Baker was only around for two series as the Sixth Doctor! But we shall see…

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