Saturday, December 31, 2005

Not just an ordinary church

This isn't a church you will pass, but it is quite extraordinary. Here it is on the map, a private road and cul-de-sac in the heart of London. First, it stands in a piece of London that was actually part of Cambridge until around 50 years ago - Ely Place. It is the oldest Catholic Church in London, dating from around 1200. I have been there for midnight mass on Christmas eve (not this year) and you can almost hear the monks shuffling on the flagstones, a recommended experience. Second, it was one of the last places in London where you could seek sanctuary - whatever the cause or crime, you could avoid capture by entering this church. I will try to follow up with a photo from the interior some time.

posted by Ham at 00:06 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, December 30, 2005

Chips, anyone?

Today, here is an information broacast. Many people, Londonders and people who visit London, are always on the lookout for the best fish & chips shop. Here is my nomination, The Fryer's Delight in Theobalds Road (near Proctor Street). I have been going there for over twenty years, and while the area around has changed character entirely, it is still there. You can always tell a good chippie by the number of London cab drivers in it ... this one is packed.

posted by Ham at 06:55 -- Comments here: 5

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wouldn't you like to meet him?

This photo is of the statue of Fenner Brockway, in Red Lion Square. Have you ever seen a statue of someone standing pigeon-toed? I have rarely seen a more realistic statue, and of a bloke that you would almost certainly want as your own grandad.

The story behind the man is exceptional. He started off as a conscientious objector in the carnage that was called the First World War - at a time when it was not at all easy to be one. He was one of the founding fathers of the Labour movement in the UK, but he was always too much his own man to serve long in a government.

What shows the mark of the man was that he abandoned pacificism for WWII, beleiving that fascism needed to be stopped at all costs. He died in 1988, just before his 100th birthday. Here is the Wikipedia article on him.

For me, he is always one of the most alive of the London statues.

posted by Ham at 00:06 -- Comments here: 3

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A london kiss

The sales are on but there is always time for a moment of affection.

posted by Ham at 06:55 -- Comments here: 2

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The little brother

This clock is outside Victoria Station and is called.... Little Ben! It was renovated about 25 years ago, with the assistance of Elf Aquitaine as an gesture of Franco-British friendship. Confusingly, it is set one hour in advance of GMT the whole year round, so for six months of the year.. it is the same time as in France, and for six, the same time as England. It has the insctription on it

"My hands you may retard or may advance

my heart beats true for England as for France."

Another view is on My Other Stuff

posted by Ham at 06:58 -- Comments here: 2

Monday, December 26, 2005

London Trivia

I do like a good bit of trivia, and I will share them with you from time to time on these pages.

Everyone knows that we British driver on the left side of the road (This originated from carrieage days, when it left your right/sword arm free), and that Europeans drive on the right (because Napoleon decided that everyone had to) So the question is, which public road in the UK do we drive on the right? Answer is, here, on the enterance to the Savoy because of the way they have to turn at the bottom.

The Savoy is in The Strand, which you might guess from the name was once the bank of the River Thames - now it is about 100m away.

posted by Ham at 12:11 -- Comments here: 2

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Husband & I wish all subjects....

.... a Happy Christmas!

Buckingham Palace by night, complete with Christmas tree.

posted by Ham at 06:51 -- Comments here: 2

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Carol Singing in Victoria Station

For Christmas Eve, here is a photo of some of the more heartwarming and less commercial aspects of the season. There people are enjoying themselves singing carols in Victoria Station, and making money fo their charity Nightingale's Children Project at the same time.

Merry Christmas to you all.

posted by Ham at 17:58 -- Comments here: 0

Friday, December 23, 2005

Limelight and the London Wheel

Coincidently (if you watch Paris Daily Photo, last night I was out photgraphing the London Eye. It is such a well photographed thing that I was looking for some way of showing it to you that was more, well, London. So here it is, through the trees of St James Park, in the lime light of the many gaslights that still light the area. (They may well be the subject of another day). There is a more experimental shot on My Other Stuff

I'm off skiing now, so posts may be a little iregular (today's is early, tomorrow may be late) but I'll try to keep the dose a day going throughout.

posted by Ham at 00:06 -- Comments here: 1

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Arteillery Row Bakery

These lovely cameo are all that remains from a bakery that was built soon after the first war. You can't see it, but inside, the floors used to slope to help the movement of flour. There used to be pictures of it being built hanging inside, but they too have gone. Charlie told me all about it, you can meet him on My Other Stuff.

posted by Ham at 00:07 -- Comments here: 0

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Meet the Old Lady

Today, I'd like to invite you to meet the old lady. The Bank of England is often knows as "The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street". Here is the story of how that came about, it's a great story and well worth the click.

However, if you look up, at the junction with Princes St you'll see this rather elegant lady, not old at all. Wherever you walk in the City of London, remember to look up.

There's a view of the Threadneedle Street front of the Bank on "My Other Stuff".

posted by Ham at 00:08 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lloyds of London

I should think most people have seen the Lloyds Building - this is the one by Richard Rogers, in a similar style to the Pompidou Centre in Paris; all the services are outside which allows for an open and flexible space inside. What most don't realise is that the front facade of the old building was left - you walk through a paper thin facade of the 18th Century into a building of the 21st. Because they are so different styles, even close up you wouldn't have realised that this magnificent portico led on to the modern building ... now you will!

I particularly like the Athenian Oath on Richard Rogers website ..."We leave this city not less but greater, better and more beautiful than it was left to us"

posted by Ham at 00:06 -- Comments here: 2

Monday, December 19, 2005

My seasonal offering

What would a funeral parlour in Lambs Conduit Street (Central London) put in their window? Why, a nativity scene. It's obvious really

posted by Ham at 00:05 -- Comments here: 2

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wedding march

Going through Liverpool Street Station todayI came across a wedding coach, waiting for the happy couple, so I thought I would share it with you.

posted by Ham at 00:25 -- Comments here: 0

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Been on the tube/metro/subway lately?

Then you have this chap to thank. James Henry Greathead (the original bighead!) was the chief engineeer of the City and South London Railway and inventor of the travelling shield. This was the device that permitted the deep underground tunnels to be dug. Here is a Wikipedia article on them - you will see that most tunnels built today are still loosely based on his design. When? Well, the first line opened in 1890. I'm not certain I'd enjoy a steam train running deep underground, but that's what they did.

He lives these days near Bank, at the top of Cornhill.

posted by Ham at 00:07 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, December 16, 2005

After the bombs dropped

You are looking at the strangest bomb damage repair job I've ever seen.

Very little of London carries any reminder of WW2, there are the occasional empty lot here and there, mostly concreted over and used for parking. Here, in the Mile End Road is one of the oddest remmanents. The East End was particularly heavily bombed, maybe that's why they just walled up each side, and put that funny bit in the middle.

I don't know what it was before the war, but from the appearance I would have said some sort of department store.

posted by Ham at 00:13 -- Comments here: 1

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Push buttons! Turn Handles!

Today, I came across the automata exhibition at the Oxo Gallery on the South Bank, and I present it here for your enjoyment. They are all exquisitely made and amusing. To appreciate it you need to see them move which is why I haven't published shots of them, you can see animations here or here, but just look a the faces. I've posted some more photos on My Other Stuff. If you get the chance do, do go. Oh yes, it is free entrance as well.

posted by Ham at 00:11 -- Comments here: 2

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pomp & Circumstance

Here's a shot. It's a couple of years old, it's scanned and not that brilliant quality but the story makes it worth posting. It is of the Lord Mayor of london's carriage in the annual parade in November.

The story goes that this new carriage was built in the 18th Century - you can see how ornate it is - and the horses harnessed up. It weighed so much that the sleek horses that had been selected to pull it were straining to do so. The Lord Mayor that year owned the Whitbread Brewery, based in the City of London. "No problem" he said "we'll use our shire horses to pull it." As they were used to lugging loads of beer around on their wagons, it was not a problem. Ever since, the coach has been kept at Whitbread's headquarters, and pulled around by the brewery's shire horses each year.

Now, I don't know where - or if - fact and fiction separate in this story. And do you know? I don't care.

The Lord Mayor's parade is a wonderful pageant each year using that wonderful combination of pomp and amateurism that we British do so well. Here is quite a nice page of pictures. (Better than this one which I took by sticking a camera in the air and pressing the shutter!)

posted by Ham at 00:11 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A London resident

For a little variety, here is a London resident. He lives here on a little triangle of grass in Tidal Basin Road just by the Royal Victoria Dock, about half a mile from Canary Wharf. Many people don't realise that there are quite a few nature reserves in Docklands, although this isn't one. There is another shot of Dobbin and his friend, and one of the Dock on My Other Stuff.

posted by Ham at 00:05 -- Comments here: 2

Monday, December 12, 2005

The finger in the dyke...

Todays shot is of the one thing that keps London going, the Thames Barrier.

The Thames is a tidal river, and the effect of the tide is magnified as the river progressively narrows going inland, by the time the river gets to London there can be up to about 30' of difference between highest and lowest tides. Walking along one of the Thames pathways with the river level at pavement height is a disconcerting experience.

In order to prevent London flooding, the Thames Barrier was built. When it was conceived in 1966 it was expected to be raised once every six years. It was opened in 1984, and now it operates six times a year. Climate change is real, and it is here.

posted by Ham at 00:13 -- Comments here: 4

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cants of Colchester - Warning!

I read about Cants roses or Cants of Colchester here, whose opinion as a gardner I trust, so bear that in mind if you are thinking of buying plants there.

posted by Ham at 09:14 -- Comments here: 6

A little known bridge

Today, a view of one of the least known Central London bridges - the Hungerford foot bridge. This is a bridge connecting Charing Cross with the South Bank. The staircases are favorite haunts for buskers - every now and then you'll get a good one. Although it hasn't been as much in the news as its wobbly cousin downstream, it has been longer in the making and is - I think - just as interesting. I would have liked to captur it better in the photos, and I shall carry on trying, because it is .... syncopated. The bits don't happen when you expect them to. I've posted a side view of the bridge on my "My Other Stuff" blog.

posted by Ham at 00:27 -- Comments here: 3

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Goodbye to an old friend

If you look very carefully at the photo, you will not see a Routemaster bus, nobody will anymore. Today the last of the Routemaster buses were taken out of service.

They were the classic double decker London bus, with a conductor to take the fares and a platform at the rear that you could jump on or off when the bus was moving. Well, OK, that is why they have finally been laid to rest, but it is a sad moment. In the future, you will only be able to see them on a site like this.

I remember the journeys I had on them as a child - over an hour each way to school - and the dreams I dreamt. It was on these buses I first thought that I would like to take photographs (OK, if you want to be technical it was photographs of naked women), it was on these buses I dreamt the dreams of my life to come - and now they are gone. It is especially poignant tonight, when we have a freezing fog in London, that I can remember the thick London fogs which are no more, where the conductor walked in front of the bus because you could see no more than six feet.

The skill learned over many years of how to drop nochalently off the bus at speed no has no relevance in our modern world. Requisat In Pace, old friend.

posted by Ham at 00:16 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, December 09, 2005

Not too far....

Today, for a change, a current view of a bit of London 100 metres from my house. That's all

posted by Ham at 00:22 -- Comments here: 2

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Talking of odd entrances....

This is the entrance to the Crown Court Church of Scotland. Now, it's not a crown, it's not a court, but it is a church. And yes, the entrance really is through the side of the Fortune Theatre.

This church is right in the heart of Theatreland, only 50 yards from Drury Lane, and has been there for hundreds of years. I love the thought of the Elizabethan clerics able to slide out to the local bawdy houses (because that was what there was around there) when the feeling took them, as no doubt it did. I think that it must have got its name becaue it is also around the corner from the Bow Street Court, which is what gave its name to the Bow Street Runners, who turned into "Peelers" and then the Metropolitan Police.

I think that the Bow Street Runners may well have been the inspiration for the City Watch in Terry Pratchett's books. A raggle-taggle bunch of people who ended up keeping the law because, well, that was what you did.

posted by Ham at 00:14 -- Comments here: 1

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Waterloo Station

This is one of the most curious frontages in London. This entrance to Waterloo Station is rather grand and built to commemerate the train workers who died in the First World War (So a sort of connection to what I have posted on My Other Stuff). But, it looks out onto nothing. Where it should look out onto York Road it just faces a blank wall, supporting a railway track above Mepham Street. Strange.

I love this station, it is the Eurostar terminal. So when I travel to work by tube (relatively infrequently) it's the hardest thing not to take the wrong turning and go to Paris instead. England has a wondeful heritage of the railway, but all too many have been modernised, improved and commercialised beyond recognition; for me this entrance still promises romance.

posted by Ham at 00:09 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A most British Establishment

This is Trumper's of Jermyn Street, one of my favourite London Streets. It's history dates back to the 17th Century, when St James Square and the surrounding streets were built on what had been fields. Just behind the bustle of Picadilly, it is a haven of all that is best. In this street you will find Fortnum & Mason, Paxton & Whitfield for your cheese, Lobbs or Trickers for your shoes, in fact all the shops that the Queen needs when she has to pop out for a packet of ciggys or some such.

Trumpers (also, Taylors further down the street) is a gentleman's shop. You can have a shave there, buy a razor, cufflinks and quite possibly "something for the weekend". Have a little look in the window.

We are, after all, a nation of shopkeepers... 

posted by Ham at 00:09 -- Comments here: 3

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Something fishy

was in Petticoat Lane today, supposedly London's oldest market. I say supposedly, becaue I think some of the commercial food markets are older. This site shows most of the markets open to the public.

Tubby Isaacs dates back to 1919, so has been in the same place for as long as just about anyone who is alive. Sepia seemed appropriate. Oh yes, one last thing .... jellied ells aren't nearly as nasty as they look! Posted by Picasa

posted by Ham at 23:54 -- Comments here: 2

The roof above our head....

In this case, that of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The reason for this post is to tell you that you must must must go to see "The Producers" on stage if you can, it is one of the funniest and best produced musicals I have seen. I was there today: it combines the flavour of a Buzby Berkley with the humour of Mel Brooks and the timing of Tommy Cooper. Before I went I wondered if it was going to come up to the quality of the film; I needn't have worried. On a parallel path, it matches and exceeds the film in almost every way. There is some very clever use of stagecraft and dance, and the story is subtly adapted to better suit the medium. Fred Applegate made the Max Bialystock role his own, and although Gene Wilder was looking over John Sinclair's shoulder some of the time that was no bad thing. Plenty there for the fathers, too....

If you have the chance, go. Posted by Picasa

posted by Ham at 00:04 -- Comments here: 0

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Millennium Dome

Today, I give you what would happen if you pulled up the Eiffel Tower and jammed it upside-down through a pudding basin - The Millenium Dome. Surely everyone in the world heard somehting about the shennanigans surrounding the building the dome? Here is some more info and and arial photo of it. Ultimatly, I'm pleased that it was built, even though nobidy seems to be able to find a real use for it at the moment. One of the funniest stories has to be the failed Diamond Robbery in November 2000. Never mind the reporting, just think Keysone Cops.

The Dome will ultimately be remembered for more, but right now here in the UK it is still considered a White Elephant designed by committee.

posted by Ham at 06:39 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, December 02, 2005

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

Well, today is the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz and so, here is an extra photo for the day, tipping my hat to our friends in France. It works well as a screen background, as well. Enjoy

posted by Ham at 09:54 -- Comments here: 4

The Monument

Today I present you with a photo of the monument to the Fire of London in 1666. It is built so that the height of the building (202 feet) is the exact distance away from where the fire started in Pudding lane. It is sandwiched in between office blocks now, situated just near London Bridge, but if you climb to the top viewing platform, you are rewarded by one of the best views of the city available. What's more, you don't even have to come to London to see it ... just click here. Posted by Picasa

posted by Ham at 00:16 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Guys Hospital

 Posted by Picasa
Guys, or more properly Guys & St Thomas Hospital is the oldest hospital still around in some way. Described as ancient in 1215, it is hard to imagine the distillation of pain, hope, grief and transcendance that has seeped into the ground. This shot is of the later part, built around 1700. If you look hard enough, you can almost see those old sawbones.....

posted by Ham at 00:15 -- Comments here: 3

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