28 June 2012

Bomber Command memorial unveiled today

Over 55,000 bomber pilots died during WWII and finally a fitting memorial has been erected at Hyde Park Corner to remember their loss and achievement, and a service takes place at noon today attended by the Queen.

Up until about a week ago I had no idea about today's events whatsoever until a friend mentioned it in passing, saying he would be attending the ceremony with his father. Luckily he brought it to my attention and has since written about it on his blog.
There must be many others like me, who rarely open a newspaper, and are not related to veterans or people in the services, who were equally in the dark about all this until they saw or heard a news item about it this morning. 
Had I known earlier I think I would have rearranged my diary to be able to witness the event and see these proud survivors in person. After all, these men and women put their lives on the line for us. 
At least I will be able to watch the recorded highlights on BBC TV later today.
The Bomber Command site is packed full of lots more information.
[No picture montage] 

Update: Here's Malcolm's post event post.
During the ceremony a Lancaster bomber flew over Green Park and dropped thousands of red poppies. I noticed that the wind was blowing northwards and so those poppies did not fall over the park and memorial below, but drifted all the way to the streets of East Finchley, N2. 

27 June 2012

I've been ill

This is not about London... it's all about me. Me me me!
Last Tuesday I was hit with a violent hayfever attack that felt like a bunch of daffs were being rammed against the back of my head. Odd, cos I hadn't had hayfever in about 5 years. Then the next morning it took almost an hour to get from the bed to vertical... I managed to get dressed but gave up and went back to bed in all my clothes suffering aches and pains, shivering, spasms etc... it was flu. Proper flu. 
The sneezing seemed to have exacerbated an old hip problem which meant I had problems sitting down then trying to stand up again, with shooting pains going up and down my body. I felt debilitated, old and useless. It's horrible when our bodies let us down like this; we take them for granted until something goes wrong and we find that can't do the simplest everyday things. 
I'm now seeing an osteopath. He's great. Things are getting better. Much better. And walking is good. Proper stepping out walking. So I am off out for a walk now... 
Normal service will be resumed in due course.
All these pics have ILL in them:

18 June 2012

Food waste and fat waists

Recently I was at a market and happened to notice that by the end of the day a food stall selling 'artisan' pastries and cakes had barely sold half of its stock. OK, some of it could possibly be re-hashed into other products (their bread pudding made with croissants was yummy!), but the bulk of it would surely have to be binned.
It got me thinking about how the cost of the basic ingredients is, in many cases, minimal (cupcakes anyone?!) yet the retail prices have to factor in all the estimated wastage.
Food waste disgusts me. Here, in the UK and the western world, we are paying over the odds for simple items and throwing away good, edible, unsold or uneaten food. A lot of fruit and veg available in the UK is being imported from around the world, and a large percentage of that also ends up being thrown away as either unfit to sell or, once bought, it's mouldy/inedible in a day or two.
Include 'sell by' and 'use by' dates, and the whole thing gets really ugly. One big compost heap – though I bet no one's thought of that.
And, in contrast to all this, there are still people in the world without access to the basic ingredients needed to make simple meals. Go figure.
I put the TV on this morning for a bit of homogenised BBC News and it seems some genius has suggested that the world's food shortage could be blamed on obese people!
These lardy buckets do indeed eat too much, but this 'epidemic' of families of overweight waddlers seems to me to have begun at roughly the same time as MacDonald's started to offer supersize portions. Ditto kingsize Mars Bars, buckets of fizzy drink and crisp packets containing enough calories to feed a family of four. There were no obese people about when I was at school; just one fat boy in my class, though he did eat a lot of sweets.
Here's an interesting statistic... according to the BBC item, the US contains one third of the obese people on this planet yet the country only accounts for 6% of the world's population.
I wonder if we can also blame these American obese people for the strange weather we are having this year... perhaps them being concentrated in one place like this is causing the planet to go off-balance?
On the subject of food, and particularly fast food, if you haven't already seen it, watch the fascinating 'The Men Who Made Us Fat'. The first episode was last week – find it on BBC iPlayer. Fascinating and scary.
Cafes, caf├ęs, caffs and other similar places to eat in London
Top: Archway, Oxford St, Holloway, Stoke Newington
Middle: Sloane Square, Islington, Holborn, Holloway
Bottom: Crouch End, Smithfield, Finsbury Park

14 June 2012

Jewellery week

Oops I am a bit late with this one as the week is almost over, but there's still plenty to see and do.
Like it says here, this event is in its fifth year and there are lots of things going on all over London.
Of particular mention (because I will be there!) is a jewellery-specific market tomorrow in Greenwich (Friday 15th June) where designer makers will be selling  direct to the public underneath a canopy of over-sized tiaras.
Hope to see you there.
Some jewellery-related details in London, included a beer, some tobacco, a silver fox and a diamond ring! 

11 June 2012

Moths... aargh!

Not a day goes by without me playing Moth Wars.
This means trying to watch a TV programme but being intermittently distracted by a tiny moth flailing around in my line of vision. The moth eventually gets my full attention and I start stalking it around the room, trying to 'clap' it out of existence. But this over-eager form of attack only succeeds in helping the moth to escape from me as its sheer lightness is assisted in flight by the displacement of air as I bring my hands together.
It then disappears somewhere (where? how?)... and then magically reappears five minutes later... and the whole process starts again.
Killing the odd moth here and there isn't really worth it. The little bugger has probably already dumped it's mother load somewhere I cannot see, because it's the babies emerging from their eggs that cause the damage as they munch on their diet of pure new wool carpet and cashmere cardi. 
Moths have apparently laid their eggs under my cupboards and sofa as I now have huge bald patches in my 100% wool berber carpet. Luckily, I can't see these particular damaged areas on a day-to-day basis, but a few weeks ago I moved some plastic carrier bags that had been sitting on the carpet in the bedroom as I gradually filled them with my cast-offs for the charity shop and found another bald patch, approx 6 ins diameter. Grr! I could see the shiny carpet backing glistening at me from across the room as I lay in bed. So I have had to disguise the damage by putting something else in its place. Then, last Friday, I moved a stack of old wooden cigar boxes in the back room and discovered another two inch bald stripe. 
So what to do?
It's evident that these little buggers like small warm spaces created by the large loops in my carpet, preferably with a wood or leather roof above their heads. Though the that doesn't explain the plastic bag incident. Replacing my carpets with wooden floorboards is not an option, and neither is man-made carpet.
Does anyone know of any successful anti-moth treatments that do not involve evil chemicals and/or nasty smells?
I do have some moth-related advice... I am told that you shouldn't put your clothes away unwashed as moths like those areas that contain smells and food, and this is why you find holes in the armpit areas and down the fronts where you hadn't noticed those teeny tiny soup splashes. But, if you do find that moths have attacked a favourite jumper, don't throw it away... put it back where you found it and let them munch on that as a sacrifice... after all, whilst they are happy eating that they aren't eating anything else... yet...!
Here are some pics of insects and wings and eggs:
Top row: Jubilee Bridge(s), St Pancras, The City, Ludgate Circus
Middle row: Kentish Town, Islington, De Beauvoir, Temple
Bottom row: Stamford Hill, Moorgate, my garden, The City

7 June 2012

Dandy Lion market at The Boogaloo this Saturday

I wrote about this once a month event a little while ago.
I am writing about it again because this Saturday 9th June is the market's 1st anniversary and, coincidentally, I will be there selling my own work in amongst the birthday banners and bunting.
There will be lots of cool and clever and crafty stuff available on the day all being sold by the designer makers, so please do call in and say hello.
Oh, bring your wallet too!
Here are some details I have spotted along Archway Road, including a doorway mosaic to the Boogaloo showing it's former name, The Birkbeck:

5 June 2012

Oddities of The Strand

On Saturday I joined the engaging Peter Berthoud on another of his interesting walks.
You may recall I spent Christmas Day in central London with him... well this time he showed a group of about 15 around his oddities of The Strand, most of which I never knew about, or had any idea they existed.
I won't give anything away here, but on the walk we saw and learned about bananas, a tunnel, a church, a Bob Dylan video and a royal barge... we even saw some magic! And we ended the tour having a couple of beers in one of my favourite pubs.
Here's a direct link to his walks – be sure to check out Peter's quirky pricing structure!
Below are some of my own observations in and around the same area plus a pic of one of my own strands(!).
The coal hole is in Surrey Street at the side of the now disused Aldwych Station. After the walk a couple of us were taken by another member of the group to see a shooting range that is directly underneath it – this is the view looking up.

3 June 2012

Never mind Liz...

I made a good decision before I went to bed last night. I looked at the weather forecast and decided that a day in at home would be a really good idea. A bit of rain doesn't bother me in the slightest.
But rain + crowds = no no no!
And anyone out for the day certainly wasn't going to find time to visit the market either, so I have been busy sorting photos whilst half-watching the Queen's flotilla doobrey on TV.
What a grey and wet day it turned out to be. By 5.30pm poor Liz and her immediates were the only ones left on the top deck watching the boats go by; all the others having scarpered to the warm and dry of the lower decks.
The aerial shots of the boats, especially the man-powered (rowed) boats looked great but I must admit I'd expected the flotilla to be more jam-packed and was a bit disappointed by how sparse it all looked. One thousand boats isn't really a lot when spread out over such a long stretch. Perhaps I was expecting so many boats that you could run across them from one side to the other... now that would have been worth seeing! And it could be a new Olympic sport!
Whilst watching the narrow boats I was reminded of a similar trip I took in the opposite direction. We had better weather for it too.
Here's an account by someone who was there.
And here are some pictures taken along the Thames on nicer days: