19 July 2017

The London Library – a lovely literary labyrinth

The London Library sits in the North West corner of St James's Square.
It's an absolute delight; a labyrinth of rooms jam-packed with books, level upon level of lovely old books. I could live happily in there.

The books are filed in categories A-Z and you'll Chemistry next to Cheese. The open metal floors are both sturdy and space-saving. Editions of The Times are stored in red binders.
Some of the books are over 400 years old have been previously owned by historical figures and bear their annotations and/or signatures – it amazes me that members can freely flick through these treasures, let alone take home.
I was lost for words when I was there, which is odd for me, but I was the right place for that to happen.
Membership comes at a price; it's not expensive, but it's not cheap either.
However a guided tour is free.

14 July 2017

Exam day tomorrow – soon I will be leading guided walks of Islington

For the past six months I have been doing the usual juggling –  mixing a bit of graphic design with clay pipe jewellery making, card and print selling, taking photos and writing this blog. Somehow I have managed to also squeeze in a course to lead walking tours on the streets, specifically a course run by CIGA, the Clerkenwell and Islington Guides' Association.
It's gotta be said; I am absolutely exhausted.
Tomorrow afternoon I will be completing the final part of the 4-part exam; an examiner will ask each of seven of us to talk about two of the stops on a 14-stop route from Highbury & Islington station to Islington Green, taking in the places shown in the montage below, but we won't know which stops are ours until our name is called out at the time. 

Some of these pics aren't immediately obvious as regards their location, especially 'my ego was here' which I spotted in Laycock Street. The middle two are my two of my stripes cards/prints – lots more than shown here
The amount of research outside classtime that this course has necessitated has been extensive. My head is now full to brimming with facts and figures, names and locations. But it's going to be well worth it in the end.
For many years I have been gathering historical information about my local area of Holloway and saying that I want to lead tours to share the information but I just didn't apply myself to it properly; tomorrow, tomorrow, next month, after this, after that etc. This course has finally given me a kick up my ample derriere and very soon, after I have tested the walks out on a few brave friends, I will be announcing some dates.
I have four tours almost ready for action and these will be weekends and/or evenings. My A1 walks will take us up/down/around/along three different sections of the Holloway Road, and I have also designed a longer walk that will include a refreshment/lunch stop route from Holloway to Angel.
Other routes are also in the pipeline taking in Barnsbury, Finsbury Park, Highbury, Archway, Tufnell Park and Crouch End (obviously, not all in the same tour!).
If you have any unusual information that you think would be worthy of inclusion please do let me know – I am especially interested in stories from some of our older residents who might recall some of the things that have since disappeared; particularly first-hand experience of long-gone shops and businesses, tearooms, music halls, theatres, picture houses and transport/trams.
OK... back to the research for a last bit of bit of swotting-up...

11 July 2017

Views from the roof of Senate House

As promised in last Tuesday's post (4th July 2017), here are some pics I took from the roof of Senate House in Bloomsbury.
These views in all directions clearly show how central the site is and how it's said that one evil man thought it would be a good place for his HQ had he won the war.


You will recall that for five days in June we had a heat wave with clear blue skies. And then on the sixth day when I went to this event the sky greyed and rain was forecast. Oh well, can't have everything.

4 July 2017

Reformation – an exhibition at Senate House Library

If you are in Bloomsbury between now and 15th December do make a detour into the 1937 Art Deco magnificence of Senate House on Malet street to see this small but marvellous exhibition about The Reformation hosted by Senate House Library.

The two pics at the centre show a marvellous book about the library and a tote bag, both available there. The middle two pics on the bottom row show library rooms and the the one bottom left is of the stairwell (see more below).
The exhibition is not advertised outside but is well signposted once you enter the main building by following the motifs designed to resemble smashed stained glass and cracked stone which lead up to the 4th floor.
I was lucky when I visited for a preview of this exhibition to gain access to the roof of the tallest part and the pic at bottom right (above) shows a view from the top of the stairwell looking down approx 60metres and would have been quite dangerous for the maintenance men changing the lightbulbs etc – a potentially deadly drop. Luckily the stairs are caged on all sides now. I will post some views from the roof next week.
Anyway... where was I?
Yes, the exhibition – it's free!

A wonderful choice of exhibits are on view – fascinating old books, drawings and manuscripts, plus a very good interactive touch screen
Charles Holden's Art Deco Senate House was London's first skyscraper and is worth a visit in itself. This is where George Orwell found his inspiration for Nineteen Eighty-Four and Room 101.
I'd also recommend Yannick's Bloomsbury Art Deco walk which includes Senate House