9 December 2009

Christmas 2009

Here's my design for this year's Christmas card, though I won't be it getting made up as a printed item this time.
Last year I did my 12 pubs of Christmas and, because I got them printed, I think people didn't realise that I'd made them myself, as in past years I had been more active with the glitter or the sewing machine.
This year each letter here is from a brand name on a ghost sign in London.
Let me know if you recognise any of them.
Joy to the World and all that!
Jane x

3 December 2009

Homeward Bound

Here we go again, the Christmas party season is upon us and the streets will be littered with vile drunken bodies and pavement pizzas. Then again, perhaps I might get some good shots of the latter for my Flickr set Textures and Patterns or be able to do an alternative set of these.
Anyway, what I want to say is, please make sure you get home safely. If you can't get a tube, bus, train or official black cab don't be tempted to get into an illegal minicab solicited by someone on the street or accept a lift from a kerb crawler. Only ever get in a mini cab if you or your company ordered it beforehand from a recognised company.
To emphasise my point TFL have released this rather unnerving video (for the over-15s only):
More info about the Cabwise service here.
Happy holidays!!

Top row: Old, now disused, entrance to Highbury and Islington tube station; taxis outside Tate Britain; Bakerloo line seats; taxi lantern, Millbank.
Middle row: Charing Cross connection tunnel; taxi cab hut, Temple; Kings Cross platform; bus stop road markings.
Bottom row: Bus on London Bridge; Holloway Road, Picadilly line tube station; Liverpool Street staion roof; 38 stock tube train, Acton depot.

19 November 2009

On reflection

I popped into the Royal Academy courtyard last week to see the Anish Kapoor sculpture, though I haven't been in to see the full show. Anyway, I took some photos (more here) and it got me thinking about all the lovely shiny reflective stuff that has been around this year such as this year's pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery and that Jeff Koons pink thing that was in St James' Square.
So here's a collection of reflected stuff. Yeah, stuff. And things.
Top row: Anish Kapoor; Rising Sun pub, Tottenham Court Road; Albert Bridge; The George & Vulture pub, EC3
Middle row: Rules, Maiden Lane, WC2; Serpentine Gallery pavilion; Ibex building, Minories, EC3; The Hare & Hounds / Albert & Pearl, Upper Street, N1.
Bottom row: Sunlight in Holloway, N7; Sweetings, Queen Victoria Street, EC4; Piccadilly Arcade, Sw1; boot scraper, Great russell Street, WC1

11 November 2009

Best London sunset suggestion – Win a 6 month Time Out subscription

There have been some beautiful sunsets of late; Monet skies, Turner clouds, mundane buildings looking all lovely, reflected in pink and gold. Here are few pics I have been lucky to get whilst on my walks, but being in the right time at the right place usually takes some forward planning.
So, apart from The Westway and any of the Thames Bridges, where would you say is the best place in London to view a good sunset?

Top row: Lupus Point, SE1; view from Tower Bridge; Isle of Dogs; Highgate from Holloway; St Katherine's Dock
2nd row: Turnham Green Station; weathervane SE1; Millennium Bridge; Blackfriars Bridge from Waterloo Bridge; The Strand.

8 November 2009

Branded metal advertising signs

There are plenty of old advertising signs featuring brand names around London. I suspect a lot of them have been put up for tourists' amusement or to make a place look old and interesting; I especially wonder if those ones in Gabriel's Wharf have been put there just for effect.
But there are others around in hard to reach places that look like they have been there for decades. I am still kicking myself that I did not help myself to the old Michelin and Pirelli signs on a tyre shop that closed around the corner from here earlier this year. D'uh!
In areas like Camden and Portobello you can buy facsimiles of some of the old classics in the shops and markets.
Whilst looking through the fab stuff available on Urban Remade I found this modern equivalent which Peter Blake has designed featuring his logo heart. Affix it to your wall and watch it age gracefully.
Palethorpe's Sausages and Pears Soap, Highgate; Craven 'A', Camden; Liptons, Martini and R Whites, Good Year, Kensal Green; Esso Blue, Finsbury Park; Coca Cola, Drayton Park; Ogden's Guinea Gold, Homerton; The Sailor's Society, Limehouse.

15 October 2009

Londonist post – Under The (Railway) Bridge

Happy birthday to Londonist – 5 years old!
I have just loaded up another post onto the site about railway bridges – please don't forget to click the 'Like' star underneath the article, if you do indeed like it.
I am now thinking that perhaps I should have made a more topical collection using images of things like cards, candles and cake... isn't hindsight great?!
Click here to see all my Urban Sightseeing posts

2 October 2009

Blackstock Road signage

This idea came about because my sister, who I keep telling should start a blog of her own to show off her own stuff, is doing a 'project' on shops signs of Holloway Road for her thesis and it occured to me that Blackstock Road is really diverse and interesting too.
So here is my (selected) showcase, but I don't have to write 2,000 words...
Oh and thanks to Yelfy too for further inspiring me with posts like this.
You can find some of these at a larger size here.

Starting at Finsbury Park end...
The wonderful Art Deco signage of Fish and Cook; hand-painted illustrations and lettering of Mix DIY and hardware, and the lovley old Esso Blue enamel sign that hangs outside the door; [an old photo of the] hand-painted ghost sign for 'I Furst, dispensing chemist', now sadly mostly scrubbed away during a recent refurbishment; a date stamp on the building next door (there are also some cute lion cubs above the shops signs on this building).
Callcut decorators hand-painted shop front; pub relief; Faded hand-painted tailor's sign; monochrome Art Deco T Bird sign and windows; recently uncovered hand-painted glass signage at No.157.
The only tiles still existing along the same parade. I expect that when this parade was first built these tiles would have been either side of every shop; TexMex/cactus effect signage, though I think it looks more like toothpaste or garden hose; Silver foil put to good use; Stoke Newington metal boundary marker on the Arsenal Tavern; a lovely blue-tiled builders merchants sign can be seen as you look down Mountgrove Road and I think this might have had neon lettering on it at some time.
On the corner of Gillespie Road this building has some intriguing faded painted shapes on the 'columns' which look a bit like pots or ewers. Perhaps this was a pub once? Any info welcome; No.160 – this pic was taken over a year ago and the shop no longer looks like this at all; it has been stripped of all personality and magnolia'd and, as I write this, it sits waitng for new occupants; look above the graffiti-style graphic on the shutters of the hairdressers and notice the ghost signs for an old travel company; nice modern carved wood signage at No.193.
One continuous piece of cut out wood for the tapas bar; old signage and frontage on the bookshop; a rural scene painted on the Little Angels Day Nursery; an old gold number.
And we finish at the Sunlight ghostsign on the corner of Conewood Road which marks the beginning of Highbury Park.

26 September 2009

The Dusk Bar, Somerset House Terrace

Last week, along with 4 other London bloggers, I was invited to Gintelligensia at Dusk, the pop-up bar on the terrace facing the river at Somerset House, for a promotional eve of gin mixology. I had ideas of being a gin-soaked DJ for the evening but it turns out we were there to learn about Bombay Sapphire gin; how it's made etc.
As we sat bouncy on Tom Dixon chairs, Sam Carter, Bombay Sapphire Brand Ambassador, no less(!) took us on a BS historical world tour of the botanicals (spices) that go into the gin, using his globe trolley wotsit, with its fancy plinth (I love that word) and sapphire pins indicating where each of them comes from.
Sam was great but, to be honest, my mind kept wandering. I kept saying to myself "This is his job; how bizarre!", "how much is this costing?", "this isn't my kind of thing*; can I go now?" and, more to the point, "Can I have a Guinness please?". I very quickly got to the point where I felt I'd sniffed and chewed quite enough seeds and bits of dry wood; I didn't really care enough and as for making a cocktail myself, I always think people look really silly shaking their shakers, and spinning the bottles about like Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail'. No. Thank. You. I am a pub girl.
According to Sam's delicate palate, my version of BS Berry Spice (as created by Marcius Dzelzainis of Quo Vadis), was the best of the four. So, seeing as we were each given a goody bag containing a bottle of BS (result!), a cocktail shaker, a strainy thing that looks like a face, a stirrer, soda water, even some little sachets of sugar and a lemon, I will be trying to replicate the taste at home. I may have to keep trying until I get it right....
But the drinks did taste good. And who knows, I may yet become a BS convert. I will ask for it next time I fancy a G&T. I did have a nice time and it was good to see Tom again, and meet Jem and Jennie.
If all this cocktails in a plastic tent sounds like your kind of thing, Sam will be doing these eves up until 18th October – just contact him through the Bombay Sapphire Site.
There you go... promotion over!

*The last thing I was invited to do that wasn't my kind of thing got the one of the longest entries on here too.

31 August 2009

Blokes and fellas and birds and babes

If I said to you "I was talking to a bloke in the pub..." or "I met this fella in the street..." you'd have no idea whether he was aged 18 or 81 or anywhere in between. But it seems to me that we are missing equivalent female words.
Please be sure that this is not some feminist 'men vs women' thing, and neither is it about age; I just think that 'bloke' and fella' are such great non-specific words. I even like the word 'geezer' too, though to certain people that word describes a certain particular type of blokey fella.
I have discussed this subject with friends and the best female counterparts we can come up with that have no equal and opposite, as in man/woman, gentleman/lady, boy/girl are [sadly] 'bird' and 'babe', both of which are bound to upset a lot of people.
So, until someone can think of a good, inoffensive, ageless word for a female between 18 and 81, here is a collection of birds.
Click anywhere on the montage to see it at a bigger size.
Row 1: Vulture(?) on a closed down pub, Brook Drive, SE1; T Bird, Blackstock Road, N4; The Eagle, City Road, N1; The Falcon (now Waxy's Little Sister) Wardour/Lisle Street, W1; weathervane, Tanner Street, SE1.
Row 2: Truman pub lantern, Coldharbour Lane, SW9; The Swan (no more), Bethnal Green Road, E1; The Old Eagle, Royal College Street, NW1; window shutter, Hanbury Street, E1; coal hole cover, Earls Court.
Row 3: Pelican House, Peckham Road, SE5; Ashmount Primary School, Hornsey Lane, N19; The Swan Hotel, Hammersmith, W6; Eagle Terrace, Shepherd's Bush Road, W6; The Swan, Vauxhall Bridge Road, SW1.
Row 4: Bird sculpture, Stoke Newington Church Street, N16; The Junction Arms (no more), Praed Street, W2; Weathervane, Holloway, N7; The Swan, Gracechurch Street, EC3; The Spread Eagle (now the Jackdaw and Stump), Homerton High Street, E9.
All of the above can be found here.

13 August 2009

Happy birthday to me

It's my birthday on Saturday, something I share with Princess Anne, Napoleon, and my friends Julie and Val.
I don't really 'do' the star sign thing but I'll use any excuse to put a collection of London images together, so here are some Leos.
There are some weird ones about. A lot of them appear ugly or confused when I think they were meant to look ferocious. Others look dim or fey. You might recognise a few of them. Here's my complete set.
Anyway, it looks like the weather is going to be sunny this weekend so my previous posting about sun motifs seems to have worked...

6 August 2009

Bring me sunshine

I have today loaded up another Urban Sightseeing post on Londonist. It's not as information-packed as some of my previous ones – it's just a collection of images featuring the sun.
Check it out here. And please click the 'Like' star at the bottom of that post if you approve. Thanks.

Click here to see all my Urban Sightseeing posts

5 August 2009

Red Lions are finally in print!

At last, over 15 weeks since submitting this to Time Out, it's finally made an appearance in this week's issue. It's all about London's Red Lion pubs. If you want to see better versions of these pics, as well as quite a few others not featured in the article, then click here.

17 July 2009

Whoah! More body parts for you!

I keep thinking of more, and better, body parts in pub names. So here's another 15. Whereas all the pics in the last post on this subject were my own, I have to admit that only three of these ones are mine. The others I have pilfered from Flickr; 10 are Ewan-M’s, and there is one from Kake Pugh and another from Last Rounds. Thanks guys.
From the top left: nail, hip, shin, arse, brow, hair, back, lobe, dick, mouth, nob, bone, colon, chest, eye.

14 July 2009

Whoah, body parts, body parts for you!

This week's Time Out fell through my letterbox today. I was upset to find the article I gave them eight weeks ago about Red Lion pubs is still not in there. Hmmmm...
But the Big Smoke section does contain 'Top Ten London... pubs with body parts in the name' written by Euan Ferguson. It's a list with just one photo of their no.5 (see small text at the bottom). And some of them are bars, not even pubs!
Well, as you would expect, anything they can do I can do better, so here are twelve of my own. Some are, I will admit, a bit silly. Only one has the same name as one on their list but it's from a different pub in a different postcode. I have put in two different kinds of arms just for symmetry, and neither is attached to a King, a Queen or a Carpenter. Plus I have also managed to avoid the obvious King's/Nag's Head because that would be too easy. Aren't I clever?! Me me me!
Old Parr's Head, N1; Bald Faced Stag, N2; Shakespeare's Head, W1; The Unicorn, N1; The Holly Bush, NW3; The Old Farm House, NW1; The Army and Navy, N16; The Crown Tavern, W1; The Cock, W1; Southampton Arms, NW1; Hand & Racquet, WC2; The Twelve Pins, N4.
Time Out's Top Ten: 1 King's Arms W1; 2 Pig's Ear, SW3; 3 Elbow Room, N1; 4 Bull and Mouth, WC1; 5 Hand in Hand, SW19; 6 Bleeding Heart, EC1; 7 Cat's Back, SW18; 8 Bishop's Finger, EC1; 9 93 Feet East, E1; 10 The Cock, EC1.

8 July 2009

Degree Show at City & Guilds of London Art School

I really should have put this on here weeks ago as the show finished on 21st June, but I just didn't have the time. I did try to tell friends that this year's degree show was jam-packed with good stuff and I hope some of you made it down there. A big thanks to my sister, who is just finishing her second year in stone and wood carving there (she's bloody good, by the way, so make a date for next year when it'll be her turn!) for telling me that the show was on and introducing me to so many of her lovely fellow students.
I bought a couple of things and one of them is hanging on my wall right now (top left by the wonderfully talented Stephanie Batiste). The other two I bought are by Alex Virji but I won't be getting them til August as he has a show on from tomorrow in Stoke Newington so, if you are in the area, why not go have a look.
I would have bought more if I had the money and walls that were big enough (Hatty). And I really enjoyed some of the installations, which don't normally interest or move me at all. So well done and good luck to everyone...
Here's a link to help identify some of the others artists shown below.
Oh, and two of the images shown below aren't art at all, just me taking arty pics. Can you spot them?

3 July 2009

I'm in Smoke!

The latest issue of the wonderful Smoke magazine came out this week, albeit two months late.
If you haven't yet picked up a copy, then you really should get with the programme, if only to read Matt Haynes's lunatic musings. Anyway, this issue has four, yes four things, contributed by moi. As well as a whole page of coal hole covers, the three photos shown here have also been found fit for inclusion; a monkey in Holloway, a Kensington lion rampant, and Normas Snorks who I am reliably informed is AKA a docker's mistress.

2 July 2009

Smoke gets in your eyes

I have today (July 2nd) posted another Urban Sightseeing piece for Londonist. The indoors smoking ban has been part of our lives for a whole two years now. How time flies. And most of Europe has followed suit. I have just come back from a holiday in Turkey and I hear it's due to come into force there too later this month.
Click here to read the Londonist piece and access all my previous ones too.
Update (19 July 2010): re the Finsbury Park 'Segars' sign in, top right: this has been filled in and painted over... such a shame.

15 June 2009

Zodiac signs

Here's my alternative take on the 12 zodiac signs:
Aries: Upper Street, N1; Taurus: Butcher's sign, Jonathan Street, SE11; Gemini: Pair of identical boot scrapers, Whitehall, SW1; Cancer: Face of a Hammersmith & Fulham cigarette butt receptacle; Leo: The Drill Hall, Chenies Street, WC1; Virgo: Art Deco relief, John Street, WC1; Libra: Thames House, Millbank, SW1; Scorpio: Scorpion Shoes, Camden High Street, NW1; Sagittarius: Connolly's, Chiswick High Road, W4; Capricorn: The Goat, Knightsbridge, SW1; Aquarius: Fountain at The Long Water, W2; Pisces: 452 Holloway Road, N7.

12 June 2009

Pub pairs

Most pairings in pub names are fairly easy to understand like 'Dog and Duck', 'Rose and Crown', 'Bull and Gate', Adam and Eve', but there are also some strange ones, some of which are shown below, such as 'George and Vulture', 'Red Lion and Pineapple', 'Fox and Anchor' and 'Hat and Tun', though considering its location, the last one might be a pun on 'Hatton'. And the jury is still out on the derivation of 'Elephant and Castle'. It's a Book About has some great info on that particular name and lots more beside. Any further feedback or info welcomed.
And lots more London pub pics here.

10 June 2009

This isn't what the Govenment

I have just loaded up my latest Londonist post and the images I have chosen to use, as shown here, are all linked in some loose way to the mess that the government is in at the moment.
By the way, the heading here is the title of a track from the album 'Baby I'm a Want You' by Bread. Mum used to have the LP. I loved it. It's also got 'Everything I Own' on it, which Ken Booth covered and took to No.1 in the 70s. But got some words wrong thus destroying the whole meaning of a fundamental and beautiful line. Then Boy George went and copied Ken's version rather than go back to the original lyrics... How we despaired! (And I still do.)
Click here to see all my Urban Sightseeing posts

27 May 2009

Gillette ghost signs

Here are my nine London Gillette signs. Some of them aren't immediately obvious as they are hidden behind other ads for newspapers, remedies and matches. 
Click the montage above to view it at a larger size, or to see each one separately click here.
Clockwise from top left: Grays Inn Road, Peckham, Kings Road, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Kilburn, Spitalfields, Acton, and in the centre, Clapham.
There are others I know of in Willesden and Southwark, and maybe a few more, but I haven't taken any photos of them myself (yet!).

26 May 2009

Brymay ghost signs

Last week I found another Brymay Matches advertisement poking out from behind a hoarding along South Lambeth Road. There seem to be more Brymay, Hovis and Gillette ghost signs than any other brands in London, and I thought it would be nice to group them together. So this one is the first of the three. 
Reading clockwise from top left: Shepherds Bush Green, West Brompton, New Cross*, Harringey, Upper Holloway, Acton. Ravencourt Park, Lambeth, and in the centre, Fulham.

24 May 2009

My latest post for Londonist: #8 Ride my bicycle

The heading says it all... this post has a 'bike' theme. Basically every pic has a bike in it or a reference to bikes. Click here to find out why, and to get the info for each image.

23 May 2009

Olympic Park tour

At 6.30pm on Thursday 21st May 2009 I boarded an official Olympic Park Tour bus for the inaugural London Bloggers tour of the site organised by Craig Beaumont of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd. Anyway, there were about 12 of us on the gaudy bus, covered as it was in colourful branding and logos designed by blind the children of people who work in Wolf Olins accounts department.

After a short film about plans for the site, followed by a rather crappy ‘quiz’ consisting of six questions no-one was really interested in or cared to guess, we were then in the capable hands of Morag, who was, despite the inner thighs of her unprofessional trousers, really competent and informative. As we were driven around the site she regaled us with information about the various things we passed, most of which just looked like a huge building site! We also saw lots of unwashed soil piled up in mounds waiting to be cleaned of arsenic and nasty chemicals. And I managed to spot a few lonely trees along the newly-cleaned River Lea.

There is only one building on the site that has survived to tell any story of the past and that’s the old Kings Yard Textile Mill. I find it really hard to believe that there really was nothing else worth saving or renovating. It’s all a bit sad. I did find it interesting to see the trestle framework for the construction of Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, but large-scale areas of new build such as this, splattered with ‘iconic’ structures, are really not for me. I got off the bus at the end of the tour feeling a bit ‘so what?’.

There was much talk about things like sustainability, being eco/environmentally-friendly and how much can be, is being, and will be recycled, yet they handed out to us some wasteful promotional material. On boarding the bus we were all given a big nasty 16-page A5 fold-out leaflet that I could quite easily redesign as a 12-pager by losing all the unnecessary crap such as the superfluous 'facts' that during the games “over 260,000 loaves of bread expected to be consumed” (how big is a loaf of bread?) and “160,000 litres of milk expected to be consumed”. Who cares?! The leaflet also has a plan of the site on it that has got a lot of relevant information missing (Craig, please call me!). And towards the end of the tour we were all given plastic Oyster Card/ travel pass holder/ wallet things. Inside these wallets on one side are 3 ‘Did You Know?’ cards. Mine relate to cycling and paralympic boules and archery. Thanks. They look cheap and nasty. In the opposite pocket is a large leaflet, which concertinas and then folds, entitled ‘join in’. (Notice the lower case ‘j’ on join here, yet there are initial caps on the cards – where is Harry Hill when a decision needs to be made?) Anyway, I think all this printed bumpf and waffle is a waste of money and resources and it makes me wonder if it holds a mirror to the whole event...

After the tour some of us went to the King Edward pub. In contrast to the Olympic site the pub hasn’t changed much over the years; it’s still only two storeys high with etched glass, stained wood and tiled walls. We discussed the tour and how it was a shame that we never got an opportunity to get off the bloody bus to get some better photos (hence the reflections and dirty windows evident in a lot of our photographs). Ian suggested they should employ an open-top bus. Genius idea.

But I am glad I went. it was really good to put faces to some other blogger’s names. And a big thanks, as ever to M@ who has loaded up some good pictures, videos and links onto the Londonist site. I have only put a few of my own images on Flickr but if you’d like to see more then you should check out Onionbagblog, Diamond Geezer, Ian Visits and, if you want to do some further reading, there's always the official Olympic Park website.

14 May 2009

Read all about it

Whilst you are looking at this and dipping into Londonist and other websites you are not reading a newspaper. Perhaps the only physical paper you look at lately is the one of the free ones thrust at you as you enter the tube station on your way to or from work. Due to these freebies, and the amount of information now available on the web, newspaper sales have dropped.
Fleet Street is now a shadow of its former self. Once the buzzing centre of the UK’s newspaper industry, busy with pubs full of print workers and drunken journalists swapping stories, it is now a quiet street of banks and sandwich bars. Though some of the lovely old pubs that still remain, such as the Punch Tavern and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, are well worth a visit.
Around London there are signs, buildings and references that allude to the heyday of the daily printed word. As usual, all of these can be found on Flickr.

Top row: Daily Mail clock on the east side of the Barkers department store building in Kensington; National News ad in Clapham; newsagent in Dean Street; newsagent sign in Earlsfield; Daily Express ad in Willesden.
Middle row: Daily News ad in Tottenham; Daily Telegraph clock, Fleet Street; Closed newsagent in De Beauvoir; Westminster gazette ad, Stamford Hill; Evening Standard clock on the west side of Barkers.
Bottom row: Daily Express building, Fleet Street; Picture Post ad, Stockwell; Dundee Evening Telegraph and People’s Friend building, Fleet Street; Daily Telegraph ad, West Brompton; the Daily Telegraph Building, Fleet Street.

27 April 2009

Do it yourself

This week’s Time Out (No.2018) has a feature about DIY. It encourages us all, in these ‘tough’ times, to save a bit of money, get out the toolbox and fix things around our homes ourselves.
Home improvement by the homeowner, whether for repair or to keep up with the latest styles, isn’t a new thing by any means as we have been building, renovating and improving our own homes since we learned to stand up and walk and clean out the cave.
The phrase ‘do it yourself’ was coined in the 1950s and quickly abbreviated to DIY. The 50s was a boom time for DIY with the fad for modernism and clean lines. Since that decade we have been discovering and renovating the paneled doors and ornate fireplaces hidden by our granddads back when he thought it was a good idea to encase them in hardboard and cover everything with wood-chip wallpaper (also known as ingrain paper). I have today discovered, that the wood-chip process was invented way back in 1864 by a German pharmacist Hugo Erfurt but not used as wallpaper until the 1920s – well, well!
Even the Victorians weren’t averse to doing it for themselves – in one chapter of the brilliant* The Diary of a Nobody, which originally appeared in Punch in 1888, Mr Pooter gets busy with two tins of Pinkfords red enamel paint. He paints all sorts of things around the house such as flower-pots, a washstand, a chest of drawers and even the spines of his Shakespeare books. He then goes on to paint the bath with diastrous results.
Anyway, it occured to me that I have taken quite a few pictures of ghost signs that relate to this subject, either on the shops that sold items for the DIY enthusiast, or as advertisements for traders such as builders and decorators. A selection is shown below and, as usual, you can find them and more at Flickr.
Column 1: G. Purkiss, Fulham; Chas B, Hampstead; H. Callcut & Son, Highbury.
Column 2: Miller Beale & Hider, Camden; John Hirst, Dartmouth Park; Magicote Paint, Chiswick; James Rugg, Earls Court.
Column 3: R.V. Amey, Walthamsotw; A. Davey, Portobello; Builders Merchants, Highbury; Claude Bastable, Willesden Junction; Brooke, Upper Clapton; Builders, Earls Court.
Column 4: Cakebread Robey & Co., Stoke Newington; Builders' Ironmongery, Shepherd's Bush; R. Hewett, Acton.

And here are three old-style independant DIY shops that are still trading today.
From left to right in Dalston, Willesden Green and Clapham:

*when I say ‘brilliant’ I mean the original book, not the disappointing BBC4 adaption starring Hugh Bonneville.

19 April 2009


April 23rd is St Georges Day so my latest post for Londonist is on the theme of dragons.
Here is a montage of some of the pics I have used:
Top: Smithfield, EC1; West End Lane, NW6; Caledonian Park, N7.
Middle: Earls Court Road, SW5; Strand, WC2, Smithfield, EC1; Upper Clapton, E5.
Bottom: Cleveland Street, W1; Inglewood Road, NW6; St James', Bermondsey, SE16.
My previous Urban Sightseeing articles on subjects such at chemists, pawnbrokers, gasometers and foreign travel are listed at the bottom of the above link, or click here

4 April 2009

Happy easter

School's out for Easter, the sun is shining and the pubs are full of drunken teachers.
Bunnies, chicks, spring, crosses, bonnets, eggs, flowers, chocolate... I think I've got it covered

3 April 2009

I love my postcode

Last month I got an email from Rachel at I Love My Postcode
She had read my Londonist interview and invited me to champion N7 by answering some set questions on her blog. Well, how could I refuse? Here's her blog
My piece is called Jane's N7 and can be found in her recent posts list.

2 April 2009

Time Out 1st April 2009 – a scottish theme

It's no joke... I've got another article in Time Out this week. Peter Watts, editor of The Big Smoke, asked me to put together the scottish theme because Gordon Thomson, the magazine's editor, is leaving and this was (is?) his final issue.
This issue is a particularly good one, not just because of my contribution, but because in the first 28 pages alone there are lots of interesting things in it including the pieces on the baroque (ooh baroque!), an interview with Wussel Bwand and a collage of articles about why London is brilliant (it just is!). And Richard Cudlip aka the cabbies capital, who I have met through our postings for Londonist, has managed to get his name in the masthead at the beginning of the Big Smoke section as an associate editor... he's put together some pieces about his observations as viewed from his black cab. Well done him!
My last article for Time Out was about closed pubs.

26 March 2009

Urban Sightseeing for Londonist

I have just loaded up my latest Urban Sightseeing post for Londonist (see right) about how to travel the world (and the Universe!) without leaving London. Read the full article here.
A montage of the some of the photos I used are shown below.

Clockwise from top left: Greece, The Netherlands, Brazil, outer space, Italy, New Zealand, Alaska and Egypt.

Lots more Art Deco pics
Click here to see all my Urban Sightseeing posts

15 March 2009

A beautiful day in Battersea

On a gloriously sunny Saturday a few weeks ago, I decided to go for a wander around Battersea.
As I walked across Chelsea Bridge I was confronted by a hideous carbuncle (thanks for that, Charles) masquerading as luxury living accommodation situated between the bridge and the power station. As you can see, in this snap of an illustration on the hoarding that runs around the site, the complex is ENORMOUS and really unsympathetic to everything around it. I went into the central area for a nose about and it felt like I was in a holiday complex on the Algarve, and there ought to be a golf course nearby. How does something as big and ugly as this get planning permission in London? It manages to make that QVC building look cute, and that's no mean feat.
Anyway, rant over. Thankfully I saw this at the beginning of my day and forgot about it until now.
Please enjoy the images below of the nicer things in Battersea...

9 March 2009

LRT Scavenger Hunt

On Saturday I went the LRT Acton Museum Depot and took part in  a 'Scavenger Hunt' organised between the museum and Flickr. I was teamed up wth 3 other people and together we became Team Feltham. Questions were cryptic to say the least and I very much doubt anyone snapped the answer to Q15 about the almost beastly 667 bus.  Tallying who got what right at the end seemed a bit ramshackle to me and somehow we were declared the winners (thanks mainly to Esther and Dean). But I now wonder if there may be a stewards enquiry. Not that I will be able to give my prize back as I have eaten them all. (That's Haribo sweets for you!).
It was good fun. Here is a selection of my photos. See them all at Flickr, either in my set or in the group pool where you can vote for and/or comment on your favourite image(s)... so please get voting...

4 March 2009

Watch where you're putting your feet!

I am always nagging friends to use their powers of observation more; to stop staring at the pavement when they are walking along the road and look up and around themselves.
OK, so they might spot and avoid the dog poo the pavement pizzas, but do they notice all the interesting they walk over on a daily basis? Things such as ironic bits of rubbish, reflections and, of course, coal holes.
I am now thinking that perhaps I could also been taking photos of the splatter patterns of discarded chewing gum at pedestrian crossings (has anyone ever seen anyone in the act throwing chewing gum on the pavement? I surely haven't). And then there are names and paw prints that were impressed into semi-dry cement, the colourful leaves in the autumn, spray painted instructions for Thames Water workmen that look like abstract art, sunlight reflecting off the broken glass from a burgled car... I could go on and on... and I usually do... so please make do with these...
Row 1: Temporary metal floor in Old Broad Street; mosaic man hole cover in Wandsworth Bridge Road; Hayward's coal hole cover designed to allow day light through; Thomas Crapper man hole cover in Knightsbridge; Donovan [Doyle] written into the cement of London Bridge.
Row 2: Thomas Pryor coal hole plate in Islington; mosaic entrance-way to an old shop in Wigmore Street; reflections in a Deptford cobbled street; directions to Tat (ha ha!) in Southwark; another Hayward's coal hole cover, this time with non-slip areas.
Row 3: Litter bag littering the street in Holloway; geometric patterns around the Gherkin; chewing gum art in Crouch End; reflection of the Astoria and Centrepoint; remnants of a tiled doorway entrance in Wandsworth.
Row 4: Square grille in Northumberland Avenue; Durey manhole cover in Stepney; rubbish washed up by the Thames at Battersea; circular grille in Bloomsbury; shadows at Islington Green

25 February 2009

Back to Boot Scrapers – the Banished, the Buried and the Broken

Sounds like a great title for a film, eh?
Though I may be the only person who would be interested enough to go and see it...
Ah, boot scrapers... What should do with one if you don't get muddy boots? Should you ignore it in the hope it might go away? Should you block up its gaping mouth and disguise the embarrassment with paint? Should you leave it festering and lonely at the end of the garden? Perhaps you could bury it up to the blade in tiles or concrete? Or, as in one case here, if half of it breaks off, upset it further by flaunting a new one in front of it. But that may be better than just leaving it standing on one leg with not even a pot plant for company. Poor little things.
To see more of my boot scraper images please click here and here.

24 February 2009

Clock towers

This is an updated post:
Clock towers used to be the focal point of a village situated at a road junction or in front of a municipal building or railway station. As well as using them to tell the time of day people often chose them as a meeting place before a night out at the cinema, perhaps. There are some fine free-standing ones still around in London, plus a few on the top of some buildings and churches too. Some of them even tell the right time, even if only on one face.

Row 1: Angel; Highbury; Crouch End; Victoria
Row 2: Caledonian Market, Harlesden; Queen Mary University; Stockwell
Row3: Acton Town Hall; Leyton; Stepney Green; Lots Road

18 February 2009

My ears are burning

Today I checked my stats for this site to see who's been looking in and I noticed that a lot of recent hits were linked to The Dissident Café. I discovered this to be a Flickr discussion group where proper photographers swap ideas and observations and, in one particular thread, my images are being compared and contrasted with Malona's who also posts her pictures on Flickr. Anyway, here is the link to the discussion and it's rather interesting; be sure to read all the way to the end. Big thanks to Evis for starting the thread.

I also spotted that Evis had included in the stream my photo of me and Mark Kermode which was taken when I was at the filming of The Culture Show Kermode Awards last week. I was there because I had entered Mark's competition to write in to his blog and, in no more than 100 words, disagree with his view on any film. Well, Mr Kermode has been banging on about Slumdog Millionare too much lately, so I wrote that whilst I think it's a good film it's just not Oscar-worthy and is full of corny coincidences that even Dickens would have been embarrassed by. Amazingly, I won, beating 64 other entrants. Though I came away with nothing but sweaty palms and stomach cramps after being on camera. For those of you who saw it, I hope you have recovered by now.
For those of you who missed it, or for some weird reason want to see it again, here's an edited version of the show, put together by the lovely Mr Al Stride:

9 February 2009

Textures and patterns

Whilst I am out and about taking photos of interesting bits of ironwork and street signs, I occasionally stumble upon (walk into?!) an old wall, a dilapidated fence or a building that has lovely effects on it created by peeling paint, scuffed brickwork, torn posters and the like. To view these images individually and find out where each one was taken click here.

31 January 2009

Ugly Beautiful

I can't believe I haven't put photos like these on here already; I started this all this photo-archiving stuff in the first place because I wanted to put together a booklet of images of the Holloway Road for my friends to prove to them that there was more to the area than an A road and some shops and pubs (I never did get around to doing that... I got distracted, as you can tell). So, on a gloriously beautiful February morning in 2007 I set out to take photos of all the things I knew were there, such as the ghost signs, the Odeon, Islington Central Library, old pub names and other bits of architectural interest. But in the process I noticed that many buildings I'd chosen to ignore before, that, on a dull day, look like they ought to be consigned to the wrecking ball, can look great when viewed from the right angle when the sun comes out.
Here's a selection taken all over London, more of which can be found on Flickr.

19 January 2009

Polythene growth

Most plastic is grown outside of London these days but occasionally you can spot a parasitic polythene variety blossoming on a tree in a built-up area.
The main and bottom left hand images here clearly show healthy buds forming in the Holloway area.
Harvesting season begins in spring when young birds peck at the buds causing them to burst open. A particularly fruitful tree in Brick Lane is shown bottom right.
Top right shows a delightful picture of a rare polythene tree monkey. These animals usually live in dark vertical tunnels or cuddle together in large groups on wasteland. Often, when they are hungry or as in this case, extremely empty, they are known to climb up into the trees in search of food. Sometimes, weak and shivery, they may get stuck in the tree for months having become too scared to let go. Sometimes they wither and die as shown by the distressing picture middle right.

15 January 2009

I am a Londonist

I have just had my first posting on Londonist on the subject of gasometers. Many thanks to Matt Brown* for contacting me and talking me through the process (*no, that's not a shade of paint, and I am sure he's heard that one before!).
I've got plenty more ideas for future posts, so keep checking in. I just knew 2009 was going to a good year!
Click here to see all my Urban Sightseeing posts

6 January 2009

Out with the old and in with the new

Here's hoping 2009's going to be a good year, no matter what Gordon throws at us.
These images illustrate how the process of construction and demolition can sometimes produce some wonderful patterns and textures. To see more of these please go to my Flickr set.