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The Aviator hotel, Farnborough

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Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to stay in a few of the world’s nicest hotels. Personal blogs are allowed to be self-indulgent, so I might as well list a few of them here: the Park Hyatt (in Tokyo, as seen in ‘Lost In Translation’), the Blue (Sydney), Sails In The Desert (Ayers Rock), The Paramount, Hudson and Four Seasons (Manhattan, New York), The Sanderson and St. Martins Lane (London), The Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons (San Francisco), The Kempinski (Bulgaria), The Westin (Zagreb)… I’d have never experienced most of those if it wasn’t through my work – pre-recession, when adidas flew you around the world for work, you used to travel strictly First Class throughout – and, much to the frustration of my credit card, it’s raised my standards accordingly.

When it comes to hotels closer to home, there haven’t been that many that have really stood out. Aside from the overpriced luxury hotels of London, there aren’t many that I’d book myself into just to relax (but I recommend The Hoxton at Old Street if you want true value for money in the centre of town).

I discovered the Aviator in Farnborough a couple of years ago. Technically, it’s not in London at all (it’s just south of Junction 12 of the M25, to be precise), but it’s definitely worth the trip. Built in the grounds of Farnborough Airport, the architecture is amazing. Art Deco details are contained within a modern and slick shell and if you book an airside room, you can watch the aircraft take off and land on the runway (and the soundproofing is incredible, so you’re never disturbed if that doesn’t appeal to you). It could read as a gimmick, but the reality is that it’s the crowning touch on a hotel that already passes expectations. The rooms are big and spacious, with great bathrooms (I love a bathtub that I can stretch right out in) and the AV set-up is perfect. Free films on-demand, including several brand new releases, and a Bose speaker system mean that you can spend hours doing what you’d be doing at home, but in more comfortable surroundings.

Facility-wise, there’s a first-class bar featuring a menu of well-considered cocktails, a fantastic restaurant (worth the visit in its own right), friendly and efficient staff… the list could go on forever. And you can book a suite here for half the price of a standard room in the West End. We stayed for two nights this weekend and will be returning (for the fifth time) before Christmas for another sneaky weekend away.

Do yourself a big favour and book yourself in. The Aviator is a destination in its own right rather than a stop-off on your way to foreign lands. www.aviatorfarnborough.co.uk

Errol Photography

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I promised myself that I’d never do this again…

Errol’s cool photography project had registered with me before, and when he called up and asked if I’d be interested in being included, I found myself saying ‘yes’ automatically. I’ve done this a few times before for different articles and interviews, but pulling out all my shoes to be photographed is a mammoth task. Three hours of reaching into the attic and crawling around in the wardrobe resulted in a five-hour photo session… and three hours of putting them away again.

On a brighter note, it gave me the perfect opportunity to rotate the current selection of shoes I’m wearing. Winter’s coming, so away with the runners and out with the ACGs, Gore-Tex hikers and other things I’d forgotten about.

The results of the shoot will appear on Errol’s Flicker account soon and then in an exhibition (and perhaps book) next year. Cheers Errol!

Nike Air 180 Opium

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Nothing like a shoe that highlights my stupidity and fickle nature. I bought a pair of these when they came out in 2005, kept them shut in a box for years – and then sold them. I’ve no idea why, because I always really liked them. I ended up replacing them earlier this year and I’ve been wearing them a lot recently. Great colours, premium leather and some other nice details, like the laser-etched camo heels all came from the minds of the guys at the Opium store in Paris. The Hyperstrike version with the faux snakeskin was pretty cool as well.

The first pair I got came with three different colours of laces – black, fluro yellow and purple – but my replacements were missing the purples, which is why there are some Mr. Lacy replacements in these at the moment.

Croydon Skies

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Don’t get me wrong, Croydon is disgusting. But the view from my desk at home is pretty amazing. The skies are often dramatic: I can’t resist taking regular photos.

And the police station nearby provides a lot of entertainment in the evenings, but that’s another post altogether…

Nike Dunk SB Low Dia De Los Muertos

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I’m not a particularly big Nike Dunk fan and, in writing, a garish shoe with cartoon characters sprinkled all over it doesn’t really do it for me. But in the flesh, these are a lot better than I imagined. Released as the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Dunk in November 2006, this isn’t a George A. Romero pro model, but a shoe to celebrate the lives of friends and family members who’ve passed away. It has the usual Nike SB comfiness, but is a bit more lively on the colourway than many other models.

This isn’t going to turn into a pointless shoe review, but these were quite interesting to me. I finally got a pair from the sample cupboards and was surprised at the level of detailing: stitched purple fabric edging, clear gum sole with an underprint and silkscreened nubuck uppers. These got faked and strewn over eBay the day after their official release, which was pretty incredible (for those wanting a pair, the ‘monster’ character should only be on the outside of the right shoe – never on the left – and positioned up from the midsole slightly).

Asics Gel Lyte III (A.R.C.)

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Asics Gel Lyte III (A.R.C.)

The guys at Alife’s Rivington Club have created a few of the best collaborative models ever. I’m not an Air Force 1 fan, but their subtle embossed application on a basic colourway got me interested. Likewise, their adidas EQT series with IRAK still look good enough that I now wish I’d doubled up on my original purchases. Asics never really made much of an appearance in my wardrobe, but I couldn’t ignore these A.R.C. remixes of the Gel Lyte III model.

I had the grey ones as well, but I messed up on the sizing somewhere and they’ve relocated to a pair of feet in Australia now. Thanks to Ry(ouki) for making sure I was able to pick them up.

Asics Gel Lyte III (A.R.C.)

Nike Air Footscape Motion: Climbers Pack

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Nike Footscape - Climbers Pack

I’ve been a big fan of the Footscape since the grey and blue ones dropped in 1995, but it got hard to keep up in the past few years. Aside from special Japan-only colourways (including some lovely monotone editions from Hiroshi Fujiwara at Fragment), once Nike decided to adapt their Flywire technology new models dropped every few months. I’m currently broke, but I couldn’t resist these ‘Climbers Pack’ Footscapes. Excellent colours (although the orange accents get a bit lost if you wear them with jeans), lighter than before and as comfortable as ever.

A Tier Zero sureshot, even if I don’t really buy the loose ACG tie-in I’ve heard mentioned when talking about these.

Nike Footscape - Climbers Pack

Nike Footscape - Climbers Pack

Aquariums

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Our African Malawi cichlid aquarium

One of the best things about working from home is that I get some quality time to enjoy our big tropical aquarium. Now, that’s the sort of thing old people say, but I don’t care: I am old. I’ve had fish tanks at various stages throughout my life (coldwater from ages 8-12, then again at 16-18, then a tropical freshwater puffer set-up and now a tropical cichlid habitat) and they’re a good way to switch off after sitting in front of a computer all day. I just don’t get that same satisfaction from watching the TV.

We started with about 10 different fish (cichlids, a few bristlenose catfish, some plecos), but the yellow Labs (Labidochromis Caeruleus) decided to multiply and we’ve had about three or four broods a year so far, bringing the total to over 50 fish. As a result, we’ve had to give a few to Jamie over at our friendly local aquatics store, Aquazoo in Croydon. If you pass by their shop in the Whitgift Centre, you’ll see some of them in their display tank.

Gavin - a Psuedotropheus Demasoni

We’ve got a few nice catfish that hide in the tank until it gets cleaned out every four weeks. There’s Barry (a snowball plec, who’s covered in white polka dots) and Catty and Catford, the two leopard-print multipunctatus that hang out together once the lights go off at night. There’s something wrong with spending £50 on a fish that only ever comes out at night, but they’re hard to resist.

Barry - a snowball pleco

Catty and Catford - the multipunctatus catfish

We’ve just invested in a very small coldwater tank for our kitchen area, which Alanna is going to maintain. It’s very easy to care for, but that doesn’t mean the fish aren’t exciting: I’ve never kept White Cloud Mountain Minnows before – or Peppered corydoras – but they’re nice little things. No heating required, just a little plug-in filter and a light on a timer. I’d recommend them if you want to start small.

Coldwater tank

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

adidas DQM ZX 90

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adidas DQM ZX 90

I worked on the adidas aZX Consortium project: I conducted several of the interviews for the film side of the project while I was still at U-Dox. The product range came out almost a year after completing the background graft and I picked up as many of the shoes as I could. DQM’s cycling-intended model was one of the most unique in the series.

One of a few pairs of shoes I own that look even better from the wearer’s point of view. Excellence from Dave Ortiz and the crew, yet again.

adidas DQM ZX 90

adidas DQM ZX 90