30 September 2014

Walking through the Rotherhithe Tunnel

Jen had been on about doing this for months. We finally agreed a date and met at Rotherhithe station on Sunday 14th September – a Sunday being chosen because the tunnel would be less trafficated*
There is pedestrian access to the tunnel opposite the station. We walked down the stairs (there is a similar set of stairs further down the soft slope on the opposite side and a similar arrangement at the north side) but then we turned right/south so that we could walk the full length, stopping to admire St Olav's Norwegian church with it's lovely long boat weather vane and the BRUNEL artwork near the mouth of the tunnel by Kevin Boys and Steve Cornish.

And so we set off for our march through the tunnel. I walked on the east side and Jen and Malcolm were on the west side. J+M got to briefly examine the old ornate Victorian access stairs that come up next to the Brunel Museum on the south bank and within King Edward Memorial Park on the north. These now house the extractors and there are signs saying not to loiter due to the fumes. Ugh.
On my side I had the green signs indicating how far there was to go in either direction and I also spotted that there were evenly-spaced rectangular metal handles about six inches wide all the way along at shoulder height. I am guessing that perhaps these were used to tie frightened horses to, or something similar. Answers please.
"Beer" said Malcolm as we exited. Being a Sunday we had to wander the Limehouse streets for a while until the pubs opened at noon. I took them over to York Square Gardens and we investigated a gorgeous little row of Georgian house in Flamborough Walk where front gardens must have been truncated when the railways arrived.

Hurrah. Noon! Beer o'clock!  I'd spotted the The Old Ship on the corner of York Square Gardens when I was in the vicinity a month before – it's got a Mercer's maiden on it.
Lovely pub, lovely people. Good cheap ale and proper hand-made fresh sandwiches. They do cabaret nights, open mic nights, there's a beer garden (not needed really when it's a corner pub with street seating), and the place is festooned with amusing and interesting knick-knacks. I can't recommended this place highly enough. I'd be more than happy to have it my local.

Read Malcolm's account here and be sure to scroll down and see me imitating a breakdown.

*a word another friend invented which I think should be in common use

23 September 2014

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

On Saturday 23rd August I needed to go to the Old Royal Naval College to supplement my stock at the shop and, because I'd arrange that month's forage for later on that day in Wapping, I thought I'd walk there via the foot tunnel and the Thames Path.
I sat with an ice cream near the flower beds of soft grasses and watched the world go by for a while before setting off.
Sir Alexander Binnie's 1217ft foot tunnel was constructed in 1902 so that people living on the south side could get to work in the docks on the north side. It runs 50ft under the Thames and is accessed by a circular staircases around lifts (that's elevators to you guys across the pond!) within distinctive domed shafts.
And it's free.

Considering it was a Saturday and how busy Greenwich was that day (it was tourists a go go!) I'd assumed the tunnel would be rather busy. But as you can see by these pics it was fairly empty. I walked briskly through it, narrowly dodging a lunatic cyclist who either was unable to read all the No Cycling signs or was intent on flaunting the rules.
At the north side I met my friend Jen in Island Gardens and we admired the view as we waited for some other foragers to join us for the walk to Wapping.
The pic below is the view looking back at Greenwich just to the east of Island Gardens at the most southern point of the Isle of Dogs where the Thames Path  restarts along the wall at the river's edge. I've just about managed to get all the key Greenwich landmarks into the shot...
L-R: The Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich, Naval College Gardens, the National Maritime Museum (hidden by trees), the entrance to the foot tunnel, The Cutty Sark, Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory and Planetarium

Coming soon... another way to sub-navigate the Thames on foot...

19 September 2014

Classic Car Boot Sale this weekend at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

You'd have probably thought I'd be banging on about this being Open House weekend, but I'd booked up for the Classic Car Boot Sale before I realised the clash.
And anyway, I have worn myself out in previous years chasing about London looking at interiors.
Tomorrow and Saturday you will find me and my friend Kevin outdoors selling all sorts of bric-a-brac from the boot of one of his cars – a black 1965 Zodiac (see bottom right) as used/featured in Endeavour, a Dr Who special and a Dizzee Rascal promo.

Pics from the March 2014 event along the Southbank

16 September 2014

Rotherhithe and Bermondsey

Following on from a post earlier this year about Surrey Docks, here are some more of my photos taken along the riverside near Rotherhithe and Bermondsey.

Boats, old signs, river views... even cormorants and stalactites. 

12 September 2014

Hanway Street and Oxford Street renovation

I recently went to check out the Veno's Lightning Cough Cure ghostsign that has been revealed due to some renovations on the triangular site bordered by Hanway St at the eastern end of Oxford Street.
It is, at the moment, possible to stand on the southern side of Oxford Street and see almost straight through to Tottenham Court Road, as there is now almost nothing left but a few propped up facades.
I have great memories of Hanway Street. It was my favourite road for late night bars in the 1990s. I fondly recall that a few after work drinks in Bradley's would transmogrify into a 3am taxi after the Mia Seville/Titos/Troy Club bar crawl and then more drinking and dancing at Costa Dorada. And I fondly recall The Angus Steak House – a place I never went inside but found great amusement when the backlight on the G was not working for a few days.

I am now wondering how and why that Veno's sign was placed on that site in the first instance –  it looks to me as if the building that abuts it was built in the same period so surely it would have blocked the ad? Also, I am guessing there must have been boarding down the middle of the sign to bridge the gap between the chimney breasts. Perhaps the building next door was constructed later than the sign was painted? but that doesn't make sense because the ad does not appear to be as old as either of the fascias. Oh, I dunno. My head hurts.

On the corner of Soho Street, where the lovely angled corner and cupola of Walton's Old Queen's Head 1880 used to be, a sort of fantasy building being constructed. It looks like a lot of shower curtains with a Christmas tree attached to the top (see second pic, above). Need I say more?!
I am just hoping that two of the oldest buildings in Oxford St, on the same side of the street nearer Tott Ct Rd Station, which were both tagged by an insensitive street 'artist', are listed and won't also be lost.

9 September 2014

Richard's got an allotment

Lat month I went to East Finchley allotments.
Let's keep this short....

It's bloody lovely up there.
We dug up things, we picked things, we raked things, we chatted with the neighbours, and we came home with heavy bags full of lovely crunchy and juicy stuff which, in contrast to the crap you can buy in the shops that goes floppy or mouldy within days, kept fresh for weeks and probably would have done so for even longer had I not eaten it all.
Yum yum... I especially liked the golden beetroot.
Thanks Richard.
Just like Arnie, I'll be back :-)

5 September 2014

Angel Canal Festival, Sunday 7th September

This Sunday come and find me at my stall on Danbury Road bridge at the Angel Canal Festival. The event takes place around the the local streets bordering Regent's Canal, Graham Street Park and City Road Basin.

Top row: Danbury Road
Second row: City Road Basin where some large developments are being constructed at the moment. I am intrigued by 'Canaletto' as a choice of name as this rather infers he lived here. This is also the first time I have seen the use of the phrase 'limited edition' in this sense. Lexicon is the name given to the huge tower being constructed next door. Lexicon means 'a wordbook or dictionary' or 'the vocabulary of a certain language'. I can think of lots of word to describe it in a very colourful language.

Some more interesting things in the vicinity

2 September 2014

The regeneration of Finsbury Park

It has recently been reported in the Islington Gazette that the area behind Finsbury Park Station, between Fonthill Road and Wells Terrace is about to be 'regenerated' with a £220 million development.
If you fancy having an apartment in one of the two [iconic] towers with views over Finsbury Park then expect to shelve out between £632,000 and £1.5million. The beauty of it is you will have underground parking for the car you use to get out of London at the weekends, and immediate access to the 120,000 sqft of retail and restaurant space below meaning you won't have to go outside and mix with or relate to the people who actually live in the area.
Apparently the architects, Benson and Forsyth, won 'Housing Project of the Year 2014', at The Sunday Times’ British Home Awards before the build had even commenced. Who judges these things? Probably the same people who gave the go-ahead to The Pointy Thing and The Dubaiification of Nine Elms.
I was a little concerned that this would mean the demolition of the old Royal Mail building in nearby Goodwin Street, but having checked it seems the area for the new development falls just short of it.

As you can see from the pics above this lovely, solid, functional building of red London Stocks is now 110 years old. At the moment area around it is being run as a private car park by a very nice Albanian fella who, when I chatted to him, turns out to also be rather concerned about what the City North development will mean to the area. After all, this is only a stone's throw from a road once considered "the worst street in London" which was completely demolished in the 1950s and replaced with a large council estate. We discussed the possibility of a "them and us / haves and have nots" situation as Finsbury Park has never been an area for millionaires (though a million doesn't really get you that much these days).
Across the road from the Post Office building is a small locals cafe and just two survivors from the 19th century that are currently being braced by metal. I hope these can be rejuvenated.
And, if this artist's impression is anything to go by, it looks like Tower House, just around the corner in Fonthill Rd will remain for a while yet.
The view shown is looking north from Endymion Road across to  Fonthill Road. The white building on the left is the Astoria/Odeon/Rainbow.
Read more about the Finsbury Park development plans in City North's online brochure.