19 May 2016

Black Cap Yard, Camden

The Black Cap public house in Camden High Street now stands empty awaiting a new future since it closed in April 2015.
The pub opened in the mid-18th century as The Mother Black Cap; a reference to a local witch. A bust of her still sits at the top of the building overlooking the street.

Pre-closure, the bust on near the roof and how the pub looks like right now
In the late 1960s the pub began to put on drags acts and so it became probably the most popular gay pub in this area.
I never went inside. I always meant to. Too late now.

Remnants of the old painted sign in the alley pointing to the yard at the rear, the No.171 doorway mosaic and the handwritten note pasted in the window
twitter: WeAreTheBlackCap

Dockers' Mistresses – something to come home to

OK, so you've been at sea and there's been nary a female in sight for months, perhaps even years.
So, how nice to come back and hook up with something curvy? After all she's been standing there waiting for you on the dockside all that time in the freezing cold, headless and naked from the waist up...!
I am talking bollards here.
Due to their shape, these bollards are affectionately known as 'dockers' mistresses' which is a wonderfully evocative description. I just love them – they appeal to my puerile sense of humour 'fnarr fnarr'. 
On our walk from the O2 to Greenwich along the Olympian Way (Thames Path) I spotted a fabulous row of metal ladies and they were not all exactly the same shape and they seemed to have individual qualities:

From top left going clockwise ending at the centre: starry, beached, chained, belted, tattoed, droopy, ropey, drippy and Brenda

And look at these colourful lovelies that I spotted waiting patiently along King's Lynn dockside:

Again, they are all slightly different. Photographed December 2015.

16 May 2016

Nerd Nite London – it's hip to be square

Rubbish pics, but you get the drift. Bottom left is the MoC shop
Last month I went to my first Nerd Nite evening at The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.
The premise is that there are three talks from three different 'nerds' over a limited time on totally random things, each followed by a Q&A session which, when I was there, thew up some amusing questions.
It's aa informal evening with the audience sat around moveable cafe tables drinking from a licensed bar. There are also nibbles available and I noticed people eating their own brought-in pizzas etc.
 I learned, or rather attempted to understand, about the lives of women in Nepal, quantum superpositions and 1950s video projection technology. Every subject was interesting even if I didn't understand half of what was being imparted. The last talk definitely winning my internal award for the most nerdy(!).
It was so good I will be plan to go the next one on May 18th.
If you have a nerdy subject that you think would benefit from a wider audience, just contact the organisers.

13 May 2016

Breast screening day – a cancerous coincidence

Friday 13th May.
This morning I will be at Whittington Hospital having a breast screening.
Today is my mother's birthday. She was born on Friday 13th May 1938 and died of cancer-related illnesses aged 57 which began with a little malignant lump above her left breast and then 16 years of treatments following different cancers around her body.
It seems so strange to me that this lovely, vibrant, intelligent, active, creative woman, pictured right at age 49, would have today reached the age of 78.
Happy birthday mum. I miss you xx

11 May 2016

Swain's Lane, Highgate West Hill, development of site

I have for many years been keeping my eye on the old garages at the corner of Swain's Lane on Highgate West Hill. It always pleased me that this sinuous low-rise 1930s building was still intact especially in the light of all the high rise apartments and modern shopping centres going up all around us.

The garages in 2008 – one expects a Bugatti to appear any minute
In August 2014 the plans for redevelopment of this site were published and businesses within the parade moved out. One lovely cafe, Forks & Corks moved to Archway but has had to close for a while during building works.
But nothing seems to have happened since then. It all looks a bit sad.
On a sunny day last month I took a few snaps for an update:

A hand car wash company was still trading at the rear of the garages. As the plans for redevelopment show, these garages will soon be converted into shops and cafes.
On the curved corner end a lovely old sign for an Ekcovision TV shop has been revealed
The Swain's Lane side of the terrace is all boarded up. I am not sure about the relevance of Liz Taylor's decorating skills; it looks like she is advertising Wall's ice cream.

9 May 2016

The Olympian Way, Greenwich, continued

Ok, so where was I?
We'd given up on the foreshore, walked around the O2, seen some dodgy art and attempted to understand the confusing development 'plans' for the area.
And so we walked westwards to Greenwich proper along the Olympian Way which is basically The Thames Path renamed. The environment changed as we walked. It feels like a war-torn wasteland near the O2. Then there are demolition and construction sites, holding areas for building materials,  various unkempt buildings, abandoned jetties and metal structures once used by lost-gone companies.
West of the golf driving range and the concrete works trees and greenery become abundant, though I suspect that the natural world is not going to be there for much longer... modern gated developments are closing in fast.
Just some nice patterns that I noticed on various walls and fences near the cement works.
The river meets the land near Morden Wharf Road. the willow trees and mossy banks are particularly lovely. And, dotted along the water's edge, we spotted some amusing signs in a seaside-style that hint at what we have now and what's to come; shown here are 'Beauty' and 'Foreshore forearmed'.
And this is what's coming... A Cruise Port. Does this mean lots of big liners docking here spilling out customers/visitors/residents by the day? The big pic at the top is an artist's impression on the blue hoardings that create a creepy tunnel for much of this stretch of path.  And, coming soon, a "New Release of River fronting Apartments". Note either a punctuation error (I suggest a hyphen is missing to make River-fronting and that would explain why only one word starts with a lower case letter), or this is written by someone who can't speak English properly. Either way, Barratt, who are the developers should have checked the sign before it went up. Attention to detail lacking – I wonder if this an omen for the kind of sub-standard buildings we might expect to see here? As you can see from the middle bottom pic, work has started. The last pic shows the forecourt/garden area outside the development sales office. Perhaps they'll set out more of these non-indigenous spiral trees in cubes to tie in with the high-rise homogeneous Lego-like cube homes?
 My final post about this area is yet to come... expect a much lighter subject matter (phew!).

5 May 2016

Terry O'Neill exhibition at Fiat Chrysler Motor Village

Take a detour from your shopping expedition and rather than turn into M&S near Marble Arch, instead turn down Orchard Street to the corner of Wigmore Street and check out the wonderful exhibition of large scale limited prints by Terry O'Neill on sale through The Ransom Gallery at Fiat Chrysler Motor Village until 22nd May.

And check out the cars too.  Though, when I was there I scrutinised the vehicles and couldn't fathom why so much mis-matched moulded plastic faux-chrome is being used these days. Ugh.
And don't get me started on the decal(?) black camouflage on the Fiat and the strange futuristic over-designed multi-headlamps on the Alfa. Ugh ugh. 

3 May 2016

Brymay Safety Matches – hints of another ghostsign spotted

A few weeks ago I spotted part of an old hand-painted advertisement for Brymay Matches seeping through the paint on the North-facing corner of Archway Road.
The name Brymay is a conjunction of the names of the founders William Bryant and Frances May who opened their first factory in Bow and sold a phenomenal eight million boxes of matches every year!!
There are now only a few hand-painted Brymay ads visible in London, most of having been covered over by subsequent ads (as in the Haringey example below), whitewashed completely, or obliterated by modern advertising systems or graffiti.
Here are some of them:
Haringey (over/under-painted with a John Bull ad) and Fulham
Shepherd's Bush Green and Goldhawk Road
The simple yet distinctive black Brymay logotype within a bright yellow ellipse on a plain blue background peeking out from behind modern signs in Holloway and Lambeth
Criterion Matches, however, implemented a different kind of labour-intensive pictoral advertising; a style also sometimes used by other companies such as Gillette:
Kilburn and Stoke Newington
Here's my last post about Brymay signs.
If you know of any others like these, please do let me know.

28 April 2016

IWA Canalway Cavalcade, this Bank Holiday Weekend, 30April–02May, Little Venice

Three days of colourful boats, entertainment, food, stalls and music.
See the website for more info.
Come and find me at my stall at the far end of the row above the towpath on Warwick Crescent where I will have a broad selection of items for sale:
Greeting cards (blank inside with envelopes) featuring some of my canal and Cavalcade images. More cards here.
Clay pipe jewellery,  Thames glass pendants,  Clay Pipe Pete and Smokey Joe greeting cards,      London landmark cards,  upcycled leather accessories,  tins and small bric-a-brac
Warwick Crescent – What a lovely location!

25 April 2016

Unrestricted View – a film festival at Hen and Chickens Theatre, 25th April – 1st May

The Hen and Chickens Theatre Pub is well-known for being the starting ground for many new productions. It's where small theatre projects have begun and comedians both new and established have honed their craft in front of a small audience. Now the H+C is showing films.
Tonight sees the start of Unrestricted View, a week of eclectic movies of varying length carefully selected from a long list of submissions. Highlights of the full programme include: Set Fire to the Stars starring Elijah Wood which will opening the Festival and Men & Chicken starring Mads Mikkelson closing the festival. High points of the festival include Bradley Walsh in The Lights, Catherine Tate & Alex McQueen in Not Sophie's Choice, Richard Glover in The John and Indira Varma in Vintage Blood.
See the full programme here. I will be there this evening so do say hello if you see me.
It's also worth mentioning that there will be special drink offers to tie in with each film and craft beers available.

22 April 2016

The London Marathon – I can't be arsed

Every now and then I open up a little book by Richard Wilson and read one of the 63 things he "can't be arsed" to do before he dies. These include such diverse things as bungee jumping, running with bulls, drinking a yard of ale, seeing the Great Wall of China and joining The Mile High Club. I expect you too can think up good reasons for not doing most of those.
Earlier this week I happened to open the book at page 141; No.57: Run A Marathon.

This year's London Marathon is tomorrow, Sunday 24thApril. More info here. And here.
I think it was last year that I watched it on the telly jeering at the healthy nutters as I slobbed on the sofa in my dressing gown drinking black coffee and smoking fags; ooh the irony.

20 April 2016

More from Greenwich Peninsula

This follows on my last piece 

Just re-found these pics taken in August 2015 after an afternoon at the beer festival when we thought it would  be a good idea to walk back to Greenwich town in the rain. Pff! What's a bit of sky water?!
Around the Peninsula, including a high-rise tower of my own towers

This shows why I thought re-visiting the foreshore here was a good idea; OK even more plastic and modern detritus, but a decent beach with potted plants and the remains of an old brick floor.

18 April 2016

A mooch around the meridian – Greenwich Peninsula and the O2

The plan was, as the tide was so low last weekend, to go and investigate the foreshore around the Greenwich Peninsula. But as we came off slip way we could see it was horribly slimy and muddy.

Jen, Brian and Malcolm ventured further along the water's edge for a bit but I decided it wasn't worth the effort as did Caroline and Liliana. We three waited by the mass of tide-swept rubbish which included far too many plastic bottles and hundreds of those shiny metal cream frothing capsules that are being used for other things these days.

We then walked clockwise around the O2 along The Olympian Way (part of the Thames Path) stopping to look at some of the "art" along the path. By which I mean most of it is rather confusing. These artworks, which are part of The Line, include some large mannequin arms that looked vaguely sexual, a sign with a big number on it, a section of a boat and an upside-down electricity pylon which, because as it's behind a fence in an area that looks like a wasteland/dump, I would have walked past without a second glance had Malcolm not pointed it out to me. Perhaps that's the point. I think it would have a better effect in a green field or in the middle of a London square. Oh, and the information plaques for most of these things are already broken/tarnished. Upkeep/maintenance lacking again.

Moving on... The view down onto the foreshore was lovely – sandy beaches, birds and grasses. Just don't turn round and look O2 and its adjacent buildings which, due to the high blue wire fence, resembles an American prison camp.
Intrigued about the plans for this area we ventured into the Now Gallery to see what we'd understood was supposed to be an exhibition showing how the peninsula will be developed in the future. The strapline is "Where Pioneers Live". That'll be the kind of pioneers who live in luxury apartments and use the Tesco Express and gym on the ground floor, rather than ones who have all their belongings on their back, clean their teeth with sticks and survive on baked beans and bad coffee.
Once inside the building we spent ages trying to work out what we were looking at. The 3D architectural forms that looked like jelly, wood and colourful perspex buildings looked like fun. I doubt that will happen in the UK. You only see that kind of vision in, say, Barcelona. Another white form  depicted the whole sweep of this swathe of land all the way to the City but I couldn't understand what it was intended to mean. It looked nice in a foyer kind of way, but why was it there? What was it supposed to be telling us? And how much had it cost to make?

We entered the viewing room and spent ages trying to get the interactive CGI film thing to work on the tablet (well done Malcolm!) but it had no sound and we spent all the time in there laughing and jeering at the over-sized badly-steered boats, the 2D buildings, the unsupported red walkways, the giant birds and the enormous trampoline! It was fun, but ultimately rather confusing.
I spoke about all this to the girl on the reception desk who explained that this open-to-the-public walk-in area on the ground floor was just about concepts, but if we wanted to know what was really being planned we'd need to make an appointment to go up to the first floor. Aha! So they are keeping it all under wraps. I'd say we can expect another maze of homogeneous high rise glass with a few "iconic" tall things thrown in for good measure.
Hmmm... we then investigated the interactive exhibits to the left of the desk which were supposed to explain the different districts within the peninsula. It was like a playground for adults. And most of it wasn't working.
So we wandered back out into reality and walked the Thames Path to Greenwich.
But I'll save that for another day...

15 April 2016

Vintage Car Boot at Kings Cross this weekend

Find me selling all sorts of bric-a-brac, tins, accessories and what-not tomorrow and Sunday at Cubitt's Yard, Kings Cross.
For more info see the website.
Here's a video of last year
And some pics:
Kev's taxi will be there on Sunday only this year
Previous events at different locations: September 2014March 2015

12 April 2016

More doorway mosaics – patterns and motifs

Last month I put together a collection of mosaic floors depicting company names. This time it's a collection of patterns of mainly flora and fauna:
The thistle in the top row was the logo/emblem of David Greig the first high street grocery chain in the UK, and will feature in a forthcoming blog post about that company once I do some more sleuthing. The third one fourth row used to be on Wigmore Street near the end of Marylebone Lane but was removed/destroyed approx 2011 (sad face).