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Sunday, April 30, 2006

India or London?

Which country are we in today?

This beautiful Sikh temple is the Gurdwara Karamsar, in Ilford. The stonewok on the front is carved, and it took eleven stonemasons from Rajasthan eighteen months to complete. The craftsmanship is truly awesome - do have a look at the detail, I have posted other pics on My Other Stuff. It is based on the Gurdwara Karamasar, in Rara Sahib, Ludhiana.

Fascinating fact of the day: In the Sikh (rember to pronounce the "H") religion, women have equal standing with men.

Today's theme for City Photo Bloggers was suggested by Jenny of Sharon, CT Daily Photo: places in our own cities that look like other countries. Why not travel around the ring to see what other cities have joined this theme? You can also visit the Indian subcontinent in Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai on the Daily Photo blogroll.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 15

Saturday, April 29, 2006

All Souls, Langham Place

"Music does not become something but something may become music." I have come back to the BBC church, All Souls Langham Place, outside the BBC, because once again I'd like to recommend you listen to another bit of radio. It's the fourth Daniel Barenboim Reith Lecture, and if you only listen to one, listen to the first.

This week, he is talking in Israel to an Arab audience. Listen all the way through, including to the questions at the end and you will hear the answer to "Can we hear the music when the guns are so loud?"

This is the link to the First Lecture, this is the fourth.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Friday, April 28, 2006

Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station is an enigmatic place. A derilict site with a landmark Art Deco building in the heart of London.

So what to do with it? Pink Floyd tied a pink pig to it. the locals had plans for it. It has astonishing visual impact. And now, it is going to be an Entertainment Complex. Maybe.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 8

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Just can't find decent builders, can you?

What's this all about? Regulars here will guess that there will be more than a pile of bricks to talk about.

Today, I have come to Noble Street in the City of London. Back in 1940, the German air raids destroyed quite a lot in this part of London, but at the same time they uncovered this slice of time - the Roman Defences to Londinium dating from AD 200. They had been built over and over again as the years passed, and you can see the layers almost like rings on a tree. The bombed site remained undeveloped for a long while, and has now been incorporated into the modern office buildings on either side. They've done a good job of providing public viewing access.

I like standing on the walkway, imagining the sound of roman sandals on the ramparts.

And even if this wasn;t sufficient to merit a pilgrimage on its own, there is the excellentMuseum of London just next door.

posted by Ham at 01:06 -- Comments here: 6

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So what do you think this is?

I took today's pic on the way out of the docks. I called in to Trinity Buoy Wharf, which is a little anomaly in the glittering new docklands that rose from the ashes of the old. Here, you can still find old, ramshackle, buildings, and even the new buildings are low rise and fit in with the old: a new arts and workshop centre is being built here. In one corner, huddled together as if to hide from the scrap man, is a rag-tag collection of old dock implements and machinery, with a couple of display boards explaing their function. This was a bag chute, used in warehouses and granaries to move bags between floors.

The best way to get here is by bike - I'll be back to show you some more of this corner of unseen London.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 6

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who you gonna call? Coffeebusters!!!

Well I wouldn't normally promote this multinational chain, but the free coffee was astonishingly welcome yesterday, on a wet and miserable London marathon day. I could REALLY do with this tanker approach sometimes. Anybody else seen this?

By the way, as a coffee addict, I really enjoyed finding this blog of a London Daily Photo reader.

posted by Ham at 00:57 -- Comments here: 17

Monday, April 24, 2006

The London Marathon

Today was the day of the London Marathon, when 40,000 people thunder around 25 miles (40Km) of London streets.

I went down to see them and cheer them on at Canary Wharf, around 17 miles (27Km) into the race. The atmosphere is great, all the spectators cheer on the runners, most of whom have their names (or monikers like "Billy No Mates") on their shirts, so that people can cheer them on. I've put a selection of shots on My Other Stuff, for you to see. The fun runners, in all manner of costumes are astonishing - the ones in my shots are all up with the pace.

I am full of admiration for these runners - well done to all.

posted by Ham at 01:04 -- Comments here: 9

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm just a sweet transvestite...

The Royal Court Theatre is 50 years old! This is in Sloane Square (like yesterday) and where I saw the first run of the Rocky Horror show in 1975. The composite pic on My Other Stuff iincludes my copy of the "Time Warp" instructions which dropped from the ceiling. Don't know the Rocky Horror story? - then this is the shortest precis (performed by bunnies in 30 seconds).

BBC Radio is running a series of plays to commemorate the 50th anniversary, and you can hear the last one here.

Let's do the Time Warp again!

I'd also like to bring to mind another play I saw at the Royal Court - Bent, with Ian McKellen. It's hard to remember general attitudes back in 1979, but it's fair to say that if I thought of homosexuals in any terms, it was in a derogatory sense. The world has changed immesurably for the better since then, but I can still feel the intensity and power of Ian McKellen's performance from those years ago, and it was that experience that began the process of increasing my understanding. If you are wondering if I am exaggerating, Ian himself had not "come out" and it appears that the play was a significant influence in his life, too.

posted by Ham at 00:35 -- Comments here: 4

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Coffee, anyone?

Looking at this you could be forgiven for thinking that you were beside a Paris Cafe. Instead, we have just walked up to Sloane Square, and found Cafe Oriel. This very french style Bistro serves excellent coffee (and for that matter, citron presse). Being where it is, you have an eclectic mix of people and you can use it for celebrity spotting if you are so inclined(I'm not).

However, if you want to feel like a real Londoner, make the trek there one Sunday morning and sit with a coffee and cake, reading your paper and watching the world go by.

posted by Ham at 00:40 -- Comments here: 10

Friday, April 21, 2006

Chelsea Pensioners

If you were walking along Kings Road, Chelsea you might come across people dressed like this, with hats rather like a kepi. They are the Chelsea Pensioners, retired army personnel, with a history dating back 300 years.

I'd love to be able to sit with them and talk, to hear their stories like this.

This picture is of them in their ordinary blue uniforms, I will post one of them in their special red ones, another time.

posted by Ham at 00:27 -- Comments here: 7

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wide empty spaces

Grant and Chris both asked me here for a picture of a traffic jam. Now isn't this much nicer? Just because you have to get up at 5:00 am to take it - is that a problem? The road itself is North Circular Road and is mostly nose to tail. Oh yes, the real jam is here, and this is what I did when I got bored.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 4

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Salam Alekum!

Today I have to say hello to some new Arabic viewers, here courtesy of this article, and Mina, a journalist and London Daily Photo reader. I had a great time translating the article. I managed eventually with the help of Systran. It all started promisingly, but descended into the deep joy that is computer generated translation: "Establishing identicals of this sites requires the wide horseman some thing" is probably my favorite. (On the subject - I hope you have found Engrish before now, if not, enjoy).

This shot is at Speakers Corner, on a Sunday, of a clearly Arabic gentleman who appeared to be preaching a message of understanding and violence reduction on all sides, which I would like to heartily endorse. I visited Speaker's Corner on this post, but didn't mention then that it is also the historic site of Tyburn Gallows, where criminals were hung .

posted by Ham at 00:04 -- Comments here: 2

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bank Holiday Monday

I wanted to show you a typical Bank Holiday Monday in London. I considered a picture of a traffic jam or the queue at the checkouts in a DIY store, but ended up with a Bank Holiday Funfair.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 12

Monday, April 17, 2006

Carey Street

If I said to you "John is in carey street" you would probably know that he was bankrupt. Strangely, I seem to remember (possibly wrongly) that I first read/heard the expression in American comics in the early sixties (can any americans confirm or deny their understanding?). Which surprises me, because here is the reason for the expression.Carey Street is the back entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice (a bit more background here). Anyone can walk in (subject now to a security check) for the simple and elegant reason that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. But this Carey Street entrance is where the bankrupcy court used to be held. I love the way that they had to creep in the back way, rather than being able to strut through the magnificent front entrance.

posted by Ham at 00:01 -- Comments here: 4

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Holy week

I'm back now, but not much time to get the pictures together. But in the (very)general theme of Holy week, I'd like to suggest that when you come to London and visit St Paul's, take time to find St Paul's Churchyard and sit in the garden, where this shot was taken. In the summer, it gets busy at lunchtimes with office workers but outside of that it is a haven of calm and a great place to sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything. All you need to do is walk around the back - most people don't.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 4

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Springtime in Chelsea

I liked these magnolias in Smith Street, Chelsea, and you don't know how hard I had to work not to have one Chelsea Tractor in shot.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 7

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fish on Friday!

I was going down Essex Road, when I thought you might like to see what is probably the best fish shop in London, Steve Hatt.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A strange flower bed

These odd but colourful plants caught my eye when I was in London Wall. They seem to be growing quite well, though.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 10

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Egyptian Trail - Cleopatras Needle

Well, here we are. The end of the trail - it's Cleopatra's Needle. 3,500 years old, and brought to London in 1878. But the history of how it came to arrive, its epic journey and the lives it claimed on that journey are worth reading.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 3

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Egyptian Trail - I've found a sphinx!

Blow me down, a Sphinx in London, well I never! A lot of people will know where we are by now, location is revealed tomorrow. But can you see those chips in the plinth? They were caused by the explosion of a bomb dropped on London, from a Zeppelin in 1917.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 8

Monday, April 10, 2006

On the Egyptian trail - have a seat

I thought it would be interesting to go on a short Egyptian trail for a few days. This bench doesn't have much history itself, but it would allow us to sit and contemplate the offerings coming up. I hope you agree it is rather exotic.

I'm on holiday this week, so posting happens courtesy of Manuel at San Francisco Daily Photo

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 5

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Graffiti Sunday

For today's "Graffiti Sunday" (Sebastien's idea) offering, I present you with Hackney's Peace Mural. I can do no better than to quote you the first two lineas and point you to this link - MURALS are unfashionable, and peace murals commissioned by loony-left councillors at the height of their self-indulgent assault on the Thatcher government are perhaps most unfashionable of all.

You will be pleased that - as is obvious - the article is old and the mural has been saved.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 6

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Good things happen

London Black Cabs are astonishing. Apart from their amazing 25 foot turning circle, they now have adverts on and turn up in places as diverse as Paris and Edinburgh. But the thing that sets this one apart is the advertising message from a phone company - "Good Things Can Happen When Your Phone's Off" The British have always been in the vanguard of advertising, but I think that this campaign is genius.

This gives me an excuse to segue to recommended listening. If you only ever listen to one radio program in your life, listen to the 7th April Reith Lecture - "in the Beginning There Was Sound" by Daniel Barenboim, and you will hear in music why the Oslo Accord was always doomed to failure. If you want to have a laugh, you can always listen to The Now Show, as well.

posted by Ham at 00:07 -- Comments here: 6

Friday, April 07, 2006

Taxi to London airport?

So London Airport is in Heathrow, right? It wasn't always like that. The first London Airport was here, in Croydon. Its history goes back to the First World War, a time when air travel was new, thrilling and dangerous. The Sopwith Camel was one of the most famous and successful planes. What set it apart was the engine designed by WO Bentley which was far more reliable than anything gone before. It made it likely that the pilot would get back home, rather than fall out the sky. Oh yeah, Snoopy had one, too.

The airport is now a Business Centre, all that remains is this plane.

posted by Ham at 01:26 -- Comments here: 8

Thursday, April 06, 2006

'ello 'ello 'ello

Doing this blog, I find that I have become more aware of what surrounds me. This Police Lamp is in common use at police stations around London, but seems to evoke the spirit that was Dixon of Dock Green. Times really have changed, and not perceptibly for the better, but images like this help keep us warm in our beds.

posted by Ham at 01:48 -- Comments here: 6

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

London's Elephants - No 4 in the series

This chappie is on top of the gates to Ivory House in Tobacco Dock. He's not lonely because he is one of a pair. It is obvious what they are doing there, harking back to the 17th Century East India Company and the ivory trade.

I'm also pleased to say that the mystery of why No. 3 in the elephant series is outside a casino has been solved courtesy of Robert Elms' London program (see yesterday). Simple really, John Aspinall, the owner, has a private zoo. In this context, there is something strangely poignant about this story.

Click for No 1 in the series.
Click for No 2 in the series.
Click for No 3 in the series.

posted by Ham at 01:19 -- Comments here: 7

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This is my BBC

After your view of the transmitter, this is where the BBC started, in Portland Place. Take a closer look at the sculpture above the door - it's of Prosepero and Ariel by Eric Gill who created the font used for the first London Underground Map. (Closer shot on My Other Stuff).

The BBC means something different to each Britton, and I'd like to tell you about my BBC, which has a lot of radio in it. For example, over the last few days, Look Back in Anger, a program about Jazz legend Art Blakey, a program about abortion election issues in Italy, Gospel Music with Beverley Knight (no, I wouldn't normally deliberately listen to this!), and I can't avoid a mention for what must rank as the best London show ever - Robert Elms on Radio London.

I could carry on, but click on a few links and listen to the radio for a change - if you don't enjoy any of it, you can have your money back!

posted by Ham at 00:19 -- Comments here: 9

Monday, April 03, 2006

Intermission - a Day Out of London

Glossing over the mistake I made of posting Sunday's picture before Saturday, I'll move on to the story of what this Londoner did for this weekend.

On Friday, I lobbed the bikes onto the back of the car and Mrs Ham and I headed off to Southwold in Suffolk. Now I know that this is a London Blog, but this village represents so much of what people look for in England, that I make no excuses. This is a town untouched by chain stores, crime is not a problem, pubs abound, the gently undulating countryside is serene (Constable's Dedham lock was filmed just up the road in the 19th Century) and all is at peace with the world. If you are looking for a place to unwind from London's stress, I can thoroughly recommend the family run Blyth Hotel in Southwold - their bar spoke to me in a language I can understand.

Normal London service will be resumed tomorrow.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 6

Sunday, April 02, 2006

It all started here.....

(It looks like I published yesterday's and today's in the wrong order. Ah well. I'm on holiday) Seventy years ago..... right here in London was where the first television service began. At the top of Ally Pally, this transmitter beamed out those first grainy black and white pictures to the few that had sets to receive them.

It is commemerated by a Blue Plaque, which you will find marking many different and varied historic sites in London.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 9

Saturday, April 01, 2006

London's Vantage Points - Alexander Palace

Today I have climbed to the top of one of the highest points in London, Alexandra Palace it has probably the widest panaromic view available in London. Affectionately known to Londoners as "Ally Pally", it has a history dating back to Victorian times and has burnt down twice. However, given the levels of pollution the view is normally obscured, like this.

There is a fairly widely known, but fascinaing bit of trivia that I'll leave for tomorrow. Another image from the top is on My Other Stuff.


posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

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Name: Ham Location: London, United Kingdom View my complete profile


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