31 August 2013

Jack the Ripper – 125 years unsolved

Today 31st August 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the first of Jack the Ripper's murders in 1888.
A series of eight real-time documentaries about these unsolved crimes entitled Unmasking Jack the Ripper has been produced in conjunction with London Discovery Tours, and each one will go live on the anniversary of the day it happened.
These free to view online 'tours' include evidence, authentic police accounts, original photos and lots of historical info. Find them here.
Already online is an introduction with expert on the subject, Richard Jones, and today you can view information about the [first] murder of Mary Nichols.
There are six more documentaries to follow, spread out between now and November 20th when the main suspects will be assessed.
More info here.
Info about Jack The Ripper walking tours can also be found on the above links.
My montage of pics today shows a few specific Jack the Ripper places from the Whitechapel area, plus some Victorian street furniture and 1888 date markings from various other London locations.

29 August 2013

London's largest Living Wall at Rubens hotel

London is getting greener by the day...
Continuing on from my last post about the gardens at the Southbank, this one is about a living wall that has been created on the side of The Rubens At The Palace Hotel, a stone's throw from Victoria Station.
Designer Gary Grant has covered the whole side wall with "one of the most diverse collections of plants on a living wall in Europe". 350 square metres –10,000 ferns and herbaceous plants in 16 tons of soil.
I went along on the launch night which included a ride on the hoist so we could get up close, hear about the plants and see the watering system which recycles rainwater and helps to reduce the amount of flood water falling to street level.
Living walls don't just look good; they attract birds and insects, although I can't help but think if all the trees hadn't been pulled up and the earth concreted over there wouldn't be a problem with lack of flora and fauna and over flowing sewers in the first instance!
Anyway, well done Rubens for making such a brilliant effort to pretty up an ugly end wall. It really does look good and I am sure will be well-received.
It could look even better if a suggestion I made to the Rubens manager is taken on... it would be a good idea to paint the unplanted street level section of the wall, a dark natural green or brown to look like part of the plating. When I was there it was a nasty grey/magnolia colour. I wonder if this absolutely brilliant idea of mine was taken on... I must pop back and check... watch this space.
As someone who has been up a lot of tall buildings these days the hoist experience was a little disappointing as I has been hoping to go all the way to the top, not just the first floor... but hey, beggars, choosers, free drinks and canapés etc!
The area between the Rubens and Victoria has been flattened and it undergoing renovation. All that's left of real interest at the moment is the Victoria Palace, the old station arcade and a few of its adjacent buildings. From the vantage point of the hoist's cradle this architectural hole was as interesting to me as the plants and I took a few snaps.
It was quite an eventful evening, actually. On the way to the Rubens I had bumped into a friend; the very inspirational Deborah Henry-Pollard. As I left the Rubens and headed for the station I stopped to take some pictures of a particularly nasty cake in a cafe window (see bottom left) which was at least 3mm thick with dust – yeurch. Then I stood bemused and amused as really long lorry carrying a caterpillar thing did what I guess was a 137-point turn, moving back and forth in 20cm 1 degree increments, to get into the building site. When I got home half an hour later it turns out some bird called Kate had given birth and people were amassing near that big house round the corner from the Rubens. Had I turned the other way when exiting the Rubens and gone home via St James's Park I have been caught up in something surreal... Phew! That was close! 

27 August 2013

Discover Our Neighbourhood at the Southbank Centre

You may recall that earlier this summer I went on a tour around the attractions of The Southbank including The London Eye and The National Theatre.
Part of that day included a guided walk around the Southbank complex's garden-themed 'Discover Our Neighbourhood'. We walked through the lovely roof gardens above the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the individually curated  freestanding allotments along the river and had a quick peek in at the Beano's 75th birthday exhibition.
I have yet to revisit all of these (preferably on a sunny day so that I can make use of the beer garden!) and I hope to do so later this week or next. I am also keen to check out a lot of the interesting free exhibitions, especially Lambeth Treasures, plus many other things, too numerous to mention here.
See here for all there is to offer.... but hurry... most of these events end on 8th September.

22 August 2013

Live By The Lake – outdoor concerts at Kenwood

I must admit when I first read about this I misunderstood the word 'live' to be about living, rather than something that is in the moment. I expected to scroll down and see some nice wooden cabins situated in forests next to a lake.
But no... 'Live By The Lake' is the serious of outdoor concerts taking place over two weekends in front of Kenwood House (well worth a visit in itself, and it's free!) and it kicks off this Friday with Suede (see you there too?).
I also quite fancy 'Singing In The Rain' which will be even better if it really does rain on the night.
See the full event listings here.
Below is a montage of pics that mix live- and music-related things in London with shots of Kenwood.

20 August 2013

No no no...

No spitting in Enfield!!!!
It's disgusting.
I have been accidentally phlobbed on too many times, mostly by idiots not looking as they exited shops.   They seem to have some idea that it's better out than in. Spreading germs doesn't even cross these people's minds.
Can we please now extend this to no violent expectoration of a single nostril (particularly gross), no chewing gum and fag butt throwing and no dog poo bag disposal?  I really don't get this dog poo in plastic bag thing. Biodegradable waste matter is being preserved in plastic for our ancestors to deal with. Not nice. And what about cat poo? No one is coming round to my garden to clear up the stinky shit left behind by felines. It it not pleasant when gardening to happen upon something soft and pungent.

Which reminds me that there are lots more things I would like to outlaw...

As per the pic bottom left "Commit No Nuisances". Specifically...
No heavy perfume wearers on public transport.
No non-collapsible pushchairs on buses – recently I witnessed a lady, obviously just returning form a holiday with two suitcases and 3 bags of supermarket shopping, moving them all when a woman got on the bus with an EMPTY collapsible pushchair and commadeered the space. Grr.
No standing on toilets. That means the seats too. Also, if you really do have to hover, no dripping on the seats – if you do drip, clear it up.
No carrying of umbrellas without being in possession of a BPB (Brolly Proficiency Badge) where you will be taught the many aspects of brolly etiquette such as learning to judge width restrictions and the eye height of other pavement users.
No walking out of shops without looking to see if there is anyone coming along. Do these people drive cars?!
No ranting on and on.

16 August 2013

Pub colours

I pinched this idea from the very talented Mr Paul Bommer.
He calls them, "Coloured Inns".
Wish I'd thought of that.
This is the first of two collections on this theme.
Here are the animals.
The idea here was to come up with 12 different animals in 12 different colours. But I just can't make it work when restricting myself to London. 
There are lions in various hues all over London; red ones aplenty, plus blue, white, black and golden. And a lot of them are very comically rendered. 
And are lots of interesting black and white animals and birds out there, such as horses, harts, bulls, bears and unicorns. But I am struggling to find beige, yellow, pink, orange and even green animals, however, I have managed a cheeky purple!
Yeah, I know gold isn't really a colour; the purists say black and white aren't either, but without those "colours" I'd be stuck with a collection of Red Lions and I've done that before.

12 August 2013

Sam Roberts, King of the Ghostsigns

One of things that first got me into all these London details were the ghostsigns I noticed on my walks – faded remnants of old hand-painted signs and advertisements on walls. These were the predecessors of the back lit posters we see around us today.
Sometimes tantalising glimpses of these old ads can be seen peeking out from behind the modern ones:
Every now and then one of these is uncovered as in the case of the Redferns sign in Battersea and the Army Club ad in Tottenham but keeping a tag on these changes is hard for me when they are scattered all over London.
So, hurrah for Sam and his Ghostsigns site which is packed with info and updates not only about London signs but similar ones from all over UK, along with interesting items about other signs worldwide.
Sam has returned to London after two years in Cambodia. Whilst there he collected lots of photos of the hand-painted signs he saw there and, via email and Skype, I helped him to turn them into a book.
Welcome back Sam – I've missed your boundless energy and enthusiasm!!

8 August 2013

A house in Holloway

Sometimes the details are inside a building.
Last month I was lucky enough to peek inside a house owned by an elderly neighbour.
Layers of history. Contrasting wallpapers. Mis-matched everything. Colourful paint. Peeling wallpaper. Personal effects.
I only had my Blackberry with me to take these snaps and although much of the house has fallen into disrepair I found it wonderfully evocative and uplifting.
The house and its contents have seen a lot of happy times.

5 August 2013

The view from the London Eye

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently went on the London Eye.
For me, July was a month of elevated viewing experiences as I had already been up the BT Tower and The Shard. They say [good] things always happen in threes!
On the day I went on the London Eye the weather was not too good; it was the first rainy day of the July heatwave and I missed out on the blue skies and clear horizons. But never mind, I can't complain when the ride was free, thanks to those lovely promo people from the Southbank.
I could still see for miles but, seeing as it was rather grey in the distance, I concentrated on looking down on the buildings and bridges that were closer; the Treasury and the Houses of Westminster, the roofs of Waterloo Station and the internal buildings of County Hall. And there were still lots of people outside Queenie's House because Kate had sprogged the day before.
So what high buildings are next? Tower 42? Millbank Tower? That thing at the Olympic Park?
Watch this space...

Incidentally, I just put "London Eye" into my photostream's search engine on Flickr and found some pics of a different kind of London Cityscape from Eat London 2006.

2 August 2013

The RA (Really Awful) Summer Show 2013

There are three weeks left to see this year's Summer Show at the Royal Academy. But don't panic... it's not worth the effort.
Last year's show (2012) was disappointing enough and my friend and I agreed that it was so bad that we should enter something ourselves seeing as the standard was so low. The walls were festooned with splodges and half-baked ideas that at aged eight I would have been embarrassed to show my junior school teacher. Many of these, because they were created by established artists with RA after their name had huge price tags, in the tens of thousands.
But the year passed and we forgot to create or submit anything.
Had we done so and not been selected for this year's show we would have been even more appalled because this year has to be the worse Summer Show I have ever been to.
There's even more of the same over-sized over-priced seen-it-before churnings from RA members, pus way too much of what looks like art-as-therapy.
Add to that, some rooms don't look like they have been curated at all as the random hanging/grouping is a mess with a few competent pieces hidden in amongst all the rubbish.
I was distracted by the patterns my beaded bag was making on my arm. I looked like a plucked bird. So I took some pics and got told off for using my camera in there. (I wasn't even allowed to take pictures of the lovely metal floor grilles, which were also far more interesting that the wall art.)
Here is a montage of my beady body art pics. I might enter it for selection next year; it will be titled "RA – Rather Absorbing / Real Art":
It was cold in there due to the aircon. In these pics you can see the hairs standing up on my gooseflesh skin.
There are couple of good things on show there including Grayson Perry's lovely tapestries, a homage to Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress"  but I advise you to save your pennies... instead, go and take a look at the 'conveyer belt' art for sale further along Piccadilly on the railings of Green Park.