Search This Site

29 January 2015

Tufnell and Dartmouth and Waterlow Parks

Out for a afternoon stroll recently, I found myself at the Tufnell Park Station junction. Crossing into Dartmouth Park Hill to take a snap of the Boston Arms looking wonderful against the crisp blue winter sky, I realised I had never walked the full length of that road, so up the hill I ventured...

Dartmouth Park Hill is actually two hills; heading northwards from The Boston, there is one ascent, then a flat bit, then up it goes again all the way to where it meets Highgate Hill opposite Hornsey Road. 
Just past Dartmouth Park Road, on the flat bit, is an old in-wall Royal Mail letter box. I stopped to take a crappy out of focus picture and wondered if the rather impressive chunky post that surrounds it was built especially to hold the red metal or was part of a pair of gateposts, as per the two larger ones near the junction of Lady Margaret Road on nearby Tufnell Park Road. I wonder if it/they could be part of the Earl of Dartmouth's original estate buildings?
I then crossed the road to look at what can be seen of the covered reservoir. There's not much visible from street level just a metal ventilation pipe, some nice sloping grass and a non-slip surface. The two tanks cover rather a large area though despite what this map shows only a small piece of land around the edges is actually parkland.

Opposite the reservoir is a house that looks like a hangover from the 1970s – the bright yellow walls and purple front door look more completely out of place. I am sure it wasn't this colour a few years ago – I may be wrong, but, being so bright I am sure I would have noticed it before.  
Looking down Chester Road I stopped to to admire the spire of St Michael's, Highgate Village, hovering like a beacon above the trees and houses.
I continued up the second hill section, past the old original buildings at the rear of Whittington Hospital and then entered Waterloo Park. 
A gorgeous little dog amused me and others as she ran up trees. She didn't appear to be chasing squirrels, just having fun. She'd get perhaps 3 metres up, turn, jump down and then run up the next one. Lovely.
I then exited the park into Swain's Lane opposite the Highgate Cemetery entrance and was half way up the hill before I realised that I still haven't walked the full length of Dartmouth Park Hill.

27 January 2015

Buy a gun for Peace One Day

If you ever fancied buying a decommissioned and customised Colt M-16 assault rifle whilst helping to raise money for a good cause, now's the time to get your credit card out.
Curated by Jake Chapman the M16: Peace One Day project forms part of Bonhams Founded 1793 sale. More information in the online catalogue – I like that adjacent to each work it reads "This work was executed in 2014".

Lower Regent Street, Three Colts Lane, Cockspur Steet.
Cannon Street (all now demolished), Artillery Lane, Beak Street

20 January 2015

Grayson Perry: Who are You? at the National Portrait Gallery

There is still plenty of time to follow the free trail around the NPG where you can see fourteen works created by the multi-talented Mr Perry in conjunction with his Channel 4 TV programmes aired last year.

Detailed ceramics, intricate sewn and beaded tapestries, maps, diagrams, portraits and prints – all packed full of ideas and observations. And Grayson's explanations on the info cards next to each piece are so refreshingly informal, caring and well-written.
The man is an inspiration.
Until 15th March 2015.

Previous Grayson Perry posts...

This image shows a few things on my mantlepiece including the lovely flyer from Grayson's excellent 2006 show The Charms of Lincolnshire, a bone that looks like a little begging beast, an eroded fragment of crackle-glazed pottery, a twisty shell innard and, just out of view, a postcard of Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper.

16 January 2015

Are these connected?

On the top deck of a bus going along Piccadilly recently I noticed this building:

So I pondered if it is in some way connected to a similar building in Upper Street, N1, which also features faces within roundels that are extremely similar:

The building also includes a portrait of Hugh Myddleton, the driving force behind The New River. 

Perhaps it was designed by the same architect or, more likely seeing as there are many terracotta buildings across London, it was just a standard style and these portrait reliefs, roundels and and other stick-on details were readily available to buy off-the-shelf from the local architectural mouldings emporium...?

12 January 2015

Drink water for free – Find-a-Fountain

I am still bemused as to why people buy water in plastic bottles from the supermarkets and then lug them all the way home. The water that comes out of out the taps in our houses passes strict health and safety tests; the bottled stuff would fail those tests immediately.
Add to that the cost of manufacturing the plastic bottles and I can't understand why many people wasting their money in this way and why they think the bottled stuff is somehow better for them. Check those 'Use By' dates!
How ridiculous! Turn on the tap.

In years gone by drinking fountains could be found in parks and open spaces and on most major junctions. Unfortunately many were vandalised or disconnected in the 1980s by agents working for Perrier, Buxton, Volvic et al (just kiddng!!) and so buying their water in bottles is now often the only option.
However, if you have a collapsible bottle in your pocket like the one made by Aquatina you can top up whenever water is available.
To make this easier, Find-a-Fountain have produced a map showing all the working fountains in Central London. I notice that there none anywhere near the busy shopping area of Oxford Street so if you do know of any just add them to the site yourself. Similary, south of the Thames also looks to be a bit dry, so let's get some more markers on the map.

A relevant aside
Also worth mentioning about whilst I am on this subject is the lack of (free) water fountains at many UK airports. I have found a couple of pathetic squirty things at London Stansted, but if there are any at London Gatwick they are very well-hidden.
Singapore airport is a marvellous example of how airports should be, with groups of water fountains every 100 metres or so (they also have free wifi terminals and lovely gardens too – you could actually live in that airport!). But airports in other countries, especially those in hot countries, are not providing fee water and are instead cashing in on their dehydrated 'customers'/travellers. Here's a tip: when I travel back from Turkey I always take an empty bottle through customs (lid removed) and fill up from the wash basins. Ta da!!

Shown at the top are some London fountains in various states of use (a couple of them were/are not for drinking water): 
Top: Blackfriars, Westminster, Finsbury, Camden
Middle: City, Soho, Hoxton, Westminster
Bottom: Bloomsbury, Kensington, Kentish Town, Holbon
Lots more pics of London drinking fountains here; many of which are still in working order.

7 January 2015

'Drawn By Light' and 'Making Life Worth Living' at The Science Museum

Wandering down Exhibition Road, marvelling at how the partial pedestrianistation has been a big success, I noticed that the boards have been removed from the wonderfully elaborate Henry Cole Wing of the V&A to reveal the recent clean up.
I don't think it looks very much different. Was this really necessary? Below are some shots of it a few years ago with a couple of shots on the bottom row showing how it looks today (thanks to Google Streeview):

I was on my way to The Science Museum to see two photography exhibitions.
Make Life Worth Living is a commissioned series of photos by Nick Hedges and illustrates the poor living conditions in major UK cites during the late 1960s. Viewing the images I found it really hard to fathom that people were allowed to live in such damp and basic 'housing' during my lifetime. Free entry.
Drawn By Light charts the early days of photography from as far back as 1820. As well as some amazing photos, there are examples of the type of kit used when a 'portable' camera was the size and weight of a second person. But the results were well worth the effort. Some of the images look really contemporary and truly ahead of their time.
An adult ticket for this exhib is £8 but here's a little tip... you can get half price entry if you pick up and fill in one of the leaflets which can be found there (I found mine on the counter of the cafe opposite the exhibitions on the second floor). The price goes down even further to £3.20 if you decline the donation fee when paying for your ticket.
Both exhibitions are on until 3rd March.

1 January 2015

Happy New Year... and a positive resolution

Whoosh!  Is it just me, or did 2014 fly by very quickly indeed?

Happy New Year from some of my favourite ghostsigns
Hovis, Haig, Dunphy, Supper, Brymay, Pring, Dowell's, Harper, Sally, Gillette, Girling and Daren

2014 wasn't that good a year for me for many reasons. And I let myself get irked by too many extraneous things – people on buses, walking blindly out of shops, talking utter rubbish, littering, being rude, insensitive, selfish or self-obsessed etc. Not to mention the phone companies and the banks.
And, as you know if you have read my rants about The Pointy Thing, the Garden Bridge and the Dubaiification of London, I have been becoming very worn down by the huge architectural changes that are happening in London leaving almost no area untouched by an 'iconic' lump of glass.
There are some very rich people with the ability to hold a pen and sign their name who are changing great swathes of London in the sweep of an arm. I don't see the extent of this kind of architectural rape happening in, say, Rome, Madrid or Brussels, and it saddens me.

But I must rise above these ugly towers; I have to stop getting so agitated.
So here is my plan for 2015... 
From now on, I resolve to [try to!] write only about the things that please me. After all, it was the little details that got me started with this blog, and that's what it says on the mast head.
I apologise if a few gripes slip in occasionally, but I will try to make them succinct or witty, or both.

One more thing.... 
People have written to me saying that they are having a problem leaving comments on here. Hence why I get so few.
I have fixed the problem now – please try again – it's nice to know you are out there ;-)

All the best for a positive and prosperous year,