— Chris Aylen

Places I’ve been

Open heathland and marsh areas

The hot spell over Easter meant that I didn’t want to spend time inside for once. Off to Ashdown Forest and Thursley Common on a few different days, just for a walk around to see what was there. Without much effort, we saw plenty of amazing things. Those less interested might turn their noses up, but seeing grass snakes, various lizards and cuckoos was enjoyable. And it cost nothing.

Natural lake with ducks and geese

Bombus terrestris - the buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee

Common lizard


Speckled wood butterfly

Larger common lizard

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adidas Questar

Malawi cichlids


Fenced off



Getting there with the reef tank...


My future penthouse block...

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It’s all very well saying, ‘Yeah – I’ve been too busy to do an update because I’ve been going out everywhere‘, but without any proof that sounds like a stinking lie. In place of some lengthy and useful content, here are a couple of snapshots from the past two or so weeks.

Dave White Size? exhibition

First up, was an evening with Nike, Size? and Dave White, over at the Air Gallery, Dover Street on December 2nd called ’10 Years of Obsession’. I had lent my Air Flows and 180s to the show, so I managed to sneak onto the guest list courtesy of Phoebe Lovatt (thanks Phoebe!). It was nice to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a while – Mubi, Magdi at We Are HQ, Fats and Dave White himself – and the chopping-up-and-handing-out of Dave’s artwork at the end of the night was pretty cool. Snow had made everything in the UK grind to a halt, but we somehow managed to get there and back without too much trouble thanks to the winning combination of trains, Tubes, buses and trams.

Sneakerpedia launch

Next up was the launch night for the beta version of the Sneakerpedia website. A very swish evening over at the Queen of Hoxton was complimented by the sounds of Bobbito and Clark Kent. Lots of nice drinks and smart agency types running around with laptops made for a pretty unique evening. Wearing a damp sweatshirt was my bad move of the evening – I was frozen solid. Lesson: always check that the tumble dryer has finished its cycle before stepping outside.

DJ Format

It’s always nice to catch up with my friend Matt – that’s DJ Format to you and me – so a quick trip down to the coast to snap a few shots for a forthcoming interview on Diggers With Gratitude was a good way to spend a day. The new single ‘Mr. DJ/Dope Pusher’ featuring good friend and top-class MC Sureshot La Rock is out on the 31st January: an early contender for the release of 2011. Watch this space.

Chris Law AKA C-Law

And, finally for now, I went with my friend Errol up to the wintery wastelands of Bedford to help/hinder the shooting of my buddy C-Law’s massive and unique hoard of sneaks. With a house full of excited kiddies, the day was hectic and good fun. I came back armed with a bag full of one-off samples as well: cheers Mr. Law.

That’ll do for now!

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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

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