30 October 2013

You are invited to "A Forage on the Foreshore"

People are often asking if they can join me on my clay pipe collection forays along the Thames foreshores.
The thing is, I don't tend to make plans; I either just wander down some steps if I happen to be by the river or, I have some free time I check the tide tables to see whether it's worth the trip because the tide does not come in and out at the same time every day and often my half-baked plans are scuppered.

But, having just checked the tide tables, I actually do have a plan...
Please join me for "a Forage on the Foreshore" in Wapping on Saturday 9th November.
Low tide will be at 11.48am so I will be there by 10.15am, which will allow at least three hours on the foreshore followed by lunch and beers at one of the nearby pubs.
If you would like to come along, please email me at the above address so that I can send you the meet-up details and reserve a table.
Dogs welcome.

I plan to end the day by walking back in to the centre of town to watch the fireworks at the end of The Lord Mayor's celebrations from Blackfriars Bridge. I hope you can join me for that too.

The next forage will be in Rotherhithe on Sunday 5th January. 
Here are some of my Wapping pictures:

29 October 2013

The Cheapside Hoard

Last week I went to see the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London and was totally amazed by the craftsmanship of these wonderful pieces that had been hidden under ground for centuries.
I don't need to write much more about the Hoard's history etc here because you can find an excellent in-depth review on the London Historian's blog.
My theory is that, seeing as his stock was so large and valuable, the owner of the jewellery shop that was originally located at the site, kept kept everything of value in an underground space on a regular basis. But, how come the gold didn't melt in the Great Fire of London? Was the collection boxed and locked or just wrapped up? If boxed, where is the box? Perhaps the jeweller intended to return after the fire but he, and possibly his family too, died, and having told no one about his hiding place the jewels stayed buried.
The Cheapside Hoard is amazingly good so it's disappointing to report that the layout of the exhibition does not back it up.
On entering through vault-style turnstile gates, the initial information board talks about when the Hoard was discovered, so you move into the first main room but find it is full of things from the Elizabethan period with scant explanation to why there are there. It took me ages to realise that these items were not from the hoard but were museum pieces included to help place the Hoard in context with what was happening in that period. A big heading somewhere reading "Jewels and jewellery-making in the Elizabethan period" would have been helpful. I was not the only person there who was confused like this. I heard lots of "what's this?/Who is he/she?/Where?/Why?". There was lots of milling back and forth re-reading things.
Many of the information cards are nowhere near the artefacts they refer to; one lady and I effectively made up a new dance step as we kept moving circling each other trying to find things. Items are mentioned in the text yet not visible in the cabinets. And conversely, there are artefacts with no explanation at all. It's all very confusing. In one cabinet there are street names referred to. I had no idea where these streets were and how they related to Cheapside, and I am a Londoner... so how's a man from Sweden going to know where they are? The inclusion of a map showing the location of the shop would have been extremely useful.
So it was such a palpable relief to enter the next room and be confronted with a cabinet full of beautiful long chain necklaces that WERE from the Hoard. Phew!
At the end of the exhibition, just before a really dodgy 5-min film about why the Hoard might have buried, are two information boards that, to my mind, would have been better placed near the entrance, because I said "A-ha!" out loud.
It's always wise to get someone who hasn't worked on a job to check it before it goes live, whether it's a book, a presentation or an exhibition. It's often hard to notice the mistakes when you are in the thick of it. So, if anyone out there would like any help with their next event then please do contact me because I have a keen eye for detail and a questioning mind so I make a good test dummy.
But hey.... go go go.... it's on until 27th April 2014.
Jewellers etc in London. 
At least three of the shops featured here have since closed for good. 
I wonder if there's anything sparkly buried underneath them?

25 October 2013

Blood Wedding at The Courtyard Theatre

There are three weeks left to catch this interesting adaption of Frederico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding – a simple tale about love, honour and revenge... and, of course there is a wedding and blood.
This wonderful production is on at The Courtyard Theatre in Pitfield Street, Hoxton until 16th November. More info and booking here.
Some of my photos of interesting bits and pieces shot on the streets that surround the theatre, which is itself shown top right in this collection.

22 October 2013

World Hunger and St Pancras International Station

I popped into St Pancras Station on Sunday 13th because I had heard that an orchestra would be there who make music using the unused parts of vegetables as part of World Food Day (16th October). Watch this video which explains this cause far better than I can attempt to do so here. It includes footage taken at the station.
Whilst there I also picked up some information from Action Against Hunger. It's appalling to think I am living in a country that throws away a lot of unused  food, yet there are people in the world who are barely surviving. A lot of these people are living in countries who grow and export foodstuffs to countries such as the UK. Need I say more?
Whilst the first floor of St Pancras is a buzzing with people milling about going here and there, drinking, eating, shopping or just waiting for trains, the upper level is rather quiet. And it's a shame. The "longest champagne bar in Europe" had only two tables full that Sunday afternoon, and I was the only person admiring Martin Jennings' affectionate statue of Sir John Betjeman. Though there were a few people looking at that hideous oversized statue of the kissing couple. I popped in to the Things British shop to check on my product display. Tom has written about the shop on his very inforamative site here.
Seems to me that the lack of people on the first floor is down to access from the Euston Road and KX. Many people new to St Pancras Station do not appreciate that it's actually quicker and much nicer to go up the short flight of steps at the front right which takes you to the original entrance close to the old ticket hall which is now part of the gorgeous hotel (see my pics of the interior below). From the first floor you get the best views of the whole station and it's wonderful unsupported roof before taking the stairs or escalator down to the platforms.
Contrast this with the maze as you enter from street level and then collide with tube travellers and get coralled into a shopping mall. Ugh!

20 October 2013

Bloomsbury Festival – last day today

Today is the last day of the excellent (8th) Bloomsbury Festival.
Yesterday afternoon I went to the festival in Russell Square (London's largest). There is so much to see and do in the square as the event includes some fabulous information and educational tents where you can learn about mathematics, the body, drawing, dancing, science, ecology, recycling andplenty more. Plus the usual live music performances, craft stalls, a book tent and of course, a beer tent.
You have until 5.30pm to get there... take a brolly just incase. It's not muddy, there are paths plus extra temporary plastic paths joining the tents which are carpeted inside... the organisers seem to have thought of everything, though I hope those carpets get cleaned and reused to keep inline with the ethos of the event.
Here are some of the pics I took yesterday which include a rather interesting 'female' tree. Is it just me who notices these things?

18 October 2013

Jane's London is in the short-list for the Avis A-List Awards

If you like what I do here then please vote by clicking on this link.
My chosen post is the rant I had about The Shard... all the other bloggers seem to be writing in a more positive vein... oops!
Anyway... please spread the word and vote for who you think deserves it.... you might even win a prize for yourself.
Here is a larger image of one of my aerial shots of The Isle Of Dogs (as featured in my last post). It was taken from a plane in May 2010, not from that pointy thing in Southwark:

15 October 2013

Dangerous dogs

Dangerous dogs and what to do about them is in the news again lately.
"They" are discussing the problem of mauled babies, aggressive curs, dogs bred for fighting etc. Microchipping and owner registration come high on the list of solutions.
Dog-related pics taken in, around and above London
Today's dogs don't want to be aggressive, but some have been specifically bred to be so. It seems to me that the problem of aggressive dogs comes down to ownership in the first instance.  
I have just come back from another holiday in Turkey where there are many lovely street dogs of all shapes and sizes. In all the years I have been going there I have never seen any aggressive behaviour from them. Most pet dogs are also allowed to go out on their own to mix with the other dogs. It's really lovely to see such calm friendly, relaxed animals, hanging out with their mates, or running off somewhere doggily important, coming home later for their dinner. Mostly they fall asleep under chairs or in the middle of the road! 
They have managed over the years to 'train' themselves to get what they want from humans (food and companionship) without the need for leashes or lessons. If another dog they don't like comes near, there is a raising of hackles, a bit of a staring competition and some low growling, then one backs down and wanders off.
The only mildly-aggressive behavior I have seen concerning Turkish dogs is when owners have their dog on a lead and another dog wanders over to say hello and have a friendly sniff... the owner of the leashed dog starts pulling their dog back thus sending out messages that the owner is scared and needs protecting from this invader. It's a vicious circle. The leashed dog usually barks and strains at the lead whilst the free dog stands looking confused, then wanders off to find some dog better to play with.
I watched this exact situation happen last week when a man with a beautiful big, soppy 6-month old dog sat down for coffee at a seafront café but he "had to leave" because she was "badly behaved" and was "never any good near other dogs". A good example of how an aggressive animal can be created. I tried to talk to the man to explain that his tugging on the lead was sending out the wrong messages to the dog, but he didn't want to hear me, preferring to wallow in the perverse idea that he had a difficult animal to contend with and was some kind of super hero having to deal with her. I found it so sad. Especially for the dog, who was just a big puppy and was missing out on doing dog stuff.
I have also not noticed any dog faeces on the pavements in Turkey. Nor in the roads or on the beaches. This is probably because dogs much prefer to leave their messages in special corners where other dogs will find them. Sort of canine letterboxes. The dogs who only get taken out on a lead once or twice a day have been holding onto their payload for hours and must be busting by the time it's walkies. Having had no other dogs around to learn from, they often drop it at the first sniff of fresh air which, unfortunately, might be in the middle of a pavement (don't get me started about those cruel and insensitive owners who then drag their dog along whilst the poor animal is performing an act of nature).
I like dogs.

7 October 2013

Nice things and confusing things in the V&A

I love the Victoria and Albert Museum SO MUCH! If I lived nearby I go there at least two or three times a week.
Not only is the building beautiful, but it's jam-packed full of gorgeous stuff.
Last time I went there I restricted myself to just two rooms.
The inside/outside space on Level 0 near the main entrance to the right contains many fascinating things including the carved timber framed frontage from St Paul Pindar's House that used to sit in Bishopsgate and some other hand carved doorway furniture all festooned with gravity-defying tits. I have written about this kind of thing before, here.
But the thing that held my attention for the longest time in that area was the table/desk contraptions at which two scribes were sitting. How on earth did these men squeeze themselves into these things? Did the table section hinge or flap? And why when there is so much detail on the rest of these carvings is this not made clear? It's hard to explain this without you seeing the carvings in the stoney flesh. Answers please.
Then to one of the Cast Rooms (the other was closed for renovation). These two rooms are awe-inspiring. Big things – Trajan columns, statues, cathedral and baptistry doors, all covered in exquisite little details and stories. The time and effort taken to carve the originals is one thing, but the time and effort taken to make the moulds for these casts is another.
Last year I spent a pleasant afternoon chatting with a friend on the bench in front of the very large and very beautiful Ardabil Carpet in the Jameel Gallery. The lights faded on and off every half hour. It was mesmerising.
It's possible to see a lot of the exhibits online using this wonderful map, but it's just not the same as being there and soaking in the atmosphere.

3 October 2013

More pub colours

Continuing to be inspired by Mr Paul Bommer, here is another set of images, this time the pubs feature things with colours rather than animals.
This time my apologies for colours extend to lemon and navy. It's called artistic licence.
In 2009 I produced a Christmas card featuring a collection of 12 images each with a tenuous theme to the season. If you are interested, there are still some left to purchase. I say this now because I got an email in the middle of last month letting me know when the Regent Street Christmas lights were being switched on. Apparently you can't start planning too early.
Lots more of my pub photos here.