30 June 2011

Well well well...

Many places in London have the name well in their name. Most are so named because there was indeed a well there in times past. Some have changed their name or been lost completely, as in the case of New Tunbridge Wells, which became Islington Spa and was buried underneath Lubetkin's Spa Green Estate.
But The Clerk's Well can still be seen in Farringdon Lane to the south of Clerkenwell Green which, despite its name, isn't green and has no grass. Clerkenwell is rich in history so click here for more.
Top: Amwell St, Benwell Road, Camberwell, Chiswell St.
Middle: Clerkenwell, Cromwell Rd, Goswell Rd, Muswell Hill.
Bottom: Newell St, Stockwell, Wellclose Sq, Well Court.

24 June 2011

Cruising the Canals

No that's not part of a Carry On or a porn film!
Though you all know I do like to be puerile every now and then!
Continuous cruising means a boat owner can avoid paying for moorings as long as he doesn't stay in one place for more than 14 days. But I just read that British Waterways, who manage 80% of the UK canal system, are reviewing this practice, and along the River Lea the period may be reduced to just 7 days. Ooh dear, those cruisers won't be happy with that! There is definitely a "them and us" thing between the cruisers and those with fixed moorings; the former thinking the latter aren't doing it properly.
A friend recently pointed out to me that a lot of people who live on boats think they are so damn special. He's right; they do! Many of them will tell you, within minutes of meeting you, that they live on a boat, as if it's some kind of badge. You don't get someone at a party introducing themselves by smiling smugly and saying, "Hello I'm Fred, I live in a bungalow/house/converted shop" do you?
A case in point: I gave my business card and an A6 postcard to someone, and he gave the postcard back to me saying he lived on a boat. Eh? I am assuming it must be a really teeny tiny boat.
And what's with all the waving? When I go out of my front garden gate I don't wave at other people in the street, even though they must thinking "ooh look, she lives in a house; wave George, wave!"
Where was I?
Ah yes canals... I love walking along the canals in London. It's so peaceful. It's like another (under)world. Lovely.

20 June 2011


This is inspired by a comment on a post I did recently.
One little word and I've got another picture collection...
Clockwise from top left: St Peter upon Cornhill; Battersea Village; St James, Clerkenwell, shadow of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside; St Mary's, Upper St (one of my favourite spires); St Barnabas, Pimlico; St Giles in the Fields (now surrounded by plastic rather than fields, and what's with the different coloured clocks – does anyone know?), and St George's, Bloomsbury.

16 June 2011

Lend Me a Tenor

Last week I went to see Lend Me a Tenor at the Gielgud Theatre.
What fun! I really enjoyed it and, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I can sometimes be hard to please, noticing, without hunting for, little faults all over the place. On this occasion I can only complain that a couple of numbers went on too long so I started to look around at the theatre's lovely ceiling... but even that was a pleasure.
The production is a joy... the stage set, created with pages and pages of gold leaf is gorgeous, and the costumes are wonderful, especially the ladies' bias-cut dresses.
Oh, and the singing and dancing and acting and all that stuff was very good aswell!
I think I liked it a lot. It put a huge smile on my face, so thanks to London Theatre Guide for the tickets.
The Gielgud is offering a special 'buy one get one free' ticket offer for Monday to Thursday performances at the until August 11th – just call the Box Office on 0844 482 5130 and quote '2 for 1'.
No pics, sorry.

12 June 2011

Hugenot houses and hidden gems

Spitalfields is a constantly-changing layer cake of London history. Over the centuries many different ethnic groups have lived in the area including Hugenots, Jews, Irish and Bangladeshis. Today the area is buzzing with markets and bars and is also known as Banglatown.
Back at the end of the 17th century the Hugenots fled from their native France, settled in Spitalfields where they built some wonderful houses in which they created and sold their much sought-after silk textiles.
Centuries passed and by the 1960s these marvellous houses had become very delapidated and were due for demolition but, thanks to a group of conservationists which included Dan Cruikshank, a few streets of these old terraces were saved and still remain today.
One particular house, 19 Princelet Street, is not just a Hugenot survivor, but also has a Jewish syangogue 'hidden' within it. The story goes that the synagogue, which occupies the garden area at the back of the house, was boarded up around 1960 and subsequent tenants didn't even know it was there. I find that hard to believe, but hey. The building is now a kind of time capsule and it is managed by a team of volunteers who open it up to the public for a few days every year. I went there last month and found it to be an amazing place. Future opening dates here.
The pics below show some of the wonderful details to be found on these Hugenot houses. Most are probably reproduction/replacements but they are still lovely. Note especially the lovely little window shutter fixings – I found many more similar ones in western France.

8 June 2011

Holloway Arts Festival

Like it says above, there's an arts festival Holloway happening in Holloway 8-17th June organised by Rowan Arts.
Lots to see and do. Shame I will miss it.
Here are some pics taken along the Holloway Road.

5 June 2011

The Fabulous Mr Bridges

Ooh... I should have noticed this earlier... The British Film Institute is putting on a retrospective of one of my favourite film actors.
Not only is the man gorgeous and talented (yes please!), he has been in some brilliant movies... he acted Clint off the screen in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, was superbly understated in The Fabulous Baker Boys, survived in the wonderful Fearless, managed to make pony tails acceptable in The Fisher King and turned dressing gowns into daywear in The Big Lebowski.
I've only just discovered Jeff's website... it's fab... full of music and photos and clips... he just gets more appealing by the minute!
I could have easily put together a collection of bridges but I decided to have more fun with this one... see if you can get identify these 12 films he's been in...
Top: Edgware Rd, Billingsgate, Essex Rd, Millwall Docks.
Middle: Stroud Green, Leytonstone, Crouch End, Walthamstow Village.
Bottom: Kew Gardens, Camden, Westminster, Hackney.

3 June 2011

Electric cars – are they our friends?

See what I did there? Two Gary Numan songs for the price of one.
But to the point... what's all this nonsense about electric cars needing a noise? Are we all expected to go blind some time soon?
Do humans have motion noises? Ditto dogs and cats? Do pushbikes make any sounds? Well, yes, riders are supposed to have and use a bell, but they don't.
We have eyes at the front of our heads with which to see if there is traffic coming – has no one learned how to use or cross a road?
So who are we/they 'protecting' this time?
Oh yes, those jaywalking numpties who are far too busy twittering and listening to their iPods to be arsed to learn the difference between road and pavement.
Whatever noise is chosen it's going to be awful... nee-nah nee-nah, ding-a-ling, whoosh, parp parp, vehicle reversing, vehicle reversing... ker-thump!
And where do people think all this electricity is going to come from? Will it be magic'd out of thin air? A lot of energy goes into making energy, you know.
Top: Bermondsey, Bloomsbury, Lambeth, Brompton
Middle: Southwark, Hoxton, Dalston, Bloomsbury (RIP)
Bottom: Lambeth, Battersea, Hackney, Vauxhall

1 June 2011

The Foundling Museum

Ooh, should have posted this months ago... just found it in 'drafts'...
I had been meaning to go to The Foundling Museum for years. But when I finally did go there towards the end of last year, I found it to be really disappointing in many ways.
First of all the admission fee is a whopping £7.50. So good job I am an Art Fund member and can get in for free.
The museum is lovely, but it's a mess. It's badly laid out and confusing. Visitors really do need some prior knowledge of the history of the building and its patrons before they go there or else they will be flummoxed. A good idea would be for the museum to install an introductory welcome board with basic info on it for the uninitiated, somewhere near the main entrance/ticket booth. I was well-aware of the building's history but still found I needed to ask questions that really should not have been necessary.
Basically, in 1741 Thomas Coram set up an institution, funded by patrons such as Hogarth and Handel, where unfortunate women could bring their unwanted babies. Spaces we limited, so if they chose the right coloured ball out of a bag, their child could be schooled and cared for. The house has changed many times over the centuries, and these days it is used for a variety of things including recitals, concerts, workshops and talks, plus some of the lovely rooms are available for hire.
On the day I went to the museum we were advised to start out tour in the first room on the ground floor to the right of the entrance. This room attempts to be an historical overview – it contains a mish-mash of interesting items but we really had to search hard to work out what we are looking at. For instance, there is a collection of charms and objects left by the mothers, but there is no explanation or information card to explain this. And a wall of strange and silly names meant nothing to us until we found the caption buried within it, in the same typeface! – we would have been none the wiser had we not overheard someone else pointing it out to a friend.
After wandering around the upper floors, we ended up in the 'Threads of Feeling' exhibition in the basement room (this is now finished) where we finally started to understand and piece together the full sad story of these poor woman and children. This exhibition was also badly thought through... we entered the room to be confronted by the backs of all the cabinets, and the explanatory information was scattered all over the place.
Oh, and architecturally, the whole building is confusing.... demolition, rebuilds, extensions – it made no sense! We had to ask the staff about so many things. Again, some information explaining that many of the rooms are actually reproductions of Georgian interiors within a 1936 house would have really been helpful.
So my advice is... it's full of lovely interesting gems, but read up on everything you can about the place before you go... here on Wikipedia!

Sorry, no photos this time.