Search This Site

21 March 2023

On the tiles again

Another set of six images of tiles to be found taken within or or near to the ticket halls of some London Transport tube stations

Can you identify any of them?

10 March 2023

More wood black paving – Kentish Town, Brixton and Clerkenwell (Part 5 in a series)

I'm returning to wood block paving again, because I've found a few more patches that I'd like to share with you and add to the list. 

This bygone type of street surface was used on some roads, mainly busy streets, but also in areas of high use as per in a courtyards or private access ways where the noise from horses' hooves could be kept to a minimum. But horses leave evidence wherever they go in the form of wet and gloopy stuff and these deposits made the streets of old rather stinky. The wood blocks were also often stolen for use as firewood ( though consider the aroma!). 

Other forms of street surfaces superseded the wood blocks but it's still possible to find evidence here and there, mostly within man hole covers and just like finding an unusual shell on a beach, you then 'get your eye in' and start finding more – see my A-Z of London woodblocks here.

Here are two more new finds and an update...

This first one is a manhole cover I had spotted a few years ago and completely forgot about until recently. Having not made any note of it or taken any photos back then, I had to wander the streets to rediscover it. It sits in outside 111 Kentish Town Road. The wood within it is here clearly enhanced by the recent wet weather:

Similarly, in South London, near the entrance to Brixton Village covered market on Coldharbour Lane, there is another manhole cover where some of the old wood blocks are still visible. I'm sure there must be more examples of this type in the vicinity and I will look out for them when I am back in SW9 later this month.

And, finally, here are some better pics of an unusual off-road example in Clerkenwell that I mentioned in an earlier post. 

Leo Yard is a narrow alley on the north side of Clerkenwell Road, just wide enough for a small horse and cart, that leads to what would have been workshops and distribution hubs at the rear. This particular patch of wood blocks set within a maintenance access plate forms a pleasing grid pattern. The blocks are barely worn and most have have slightly domed tops. Also, the wood here appears to be a very dense type, more so than within the circular plates like the two shown above. I wonder if the wood used here was offcuts from the furniture making industry. 

No doubt I'll find some more of these on my travels and I'll be writing 'Part 6' sometime soon... do let me know if you can add to the collection.

9 March 2023

Unusual and endangered animals at the Natural History Museum

I was out and about two Sundays ago and it was really biting cold out there so, rather than go home and wait for the house to warm up, I headed for Museumland because I wanted to see an exhibit within the NatHistMuseum about the loss of the Great White Rhino due to poaching them for their horns. I just cannot fathom how some human beings still believe that magic remedies can be obtained from what is basically the same as our fingernails. 

The museum was really busy. Lots of visitors. Mainly foreign families. And after finding the CGI exhibit I really enjoyed wandering the mammal galleries, something I haven't done in a while. 

I read every information panel and pressed every button and found it quite endearing how so many of the interactive pieces in those rooms have voiceovers that sound like TV programmes from my childhood – very clipped Queen's English pronunciation. Well, I say. How jolly marvellous.

I took some square format snaps of some of my favourite animals, some of which have already made their way into my Instagram feed @janeslondon – I'd never realised before how so many of these beasts are toothless and from South America. What's that all about? 

And it had never occurred to me that 'glutton' is another name for a wolverine. makes sense really.

I am also intrigued by some of the fishy oddities on this planet – who needs sci-fi books and movies when we already have multi-toothed weirdness like this?!

Every day is a new learning experience.

4 March 2023

Colourful and creative Bermondsey – Kaffe Fassett at The Fashion and Textile Museum and Imi Knoebel at The White Cube Gallery

On a whim yesterday afternoon, suddenly finding I had a free afternoon and not wanted to spend it indoors in front of a screen (like I am doing now, oh the irony!) I hopped on a bus and headed down to Bermondsey High Street. I specifically wanted to catch the Kaffe Fassett show at The Fashion and Textile Museum because it finishes next week (last day 12th March) and I wasn't sure I'd have another window of opportunity. 

A marvellous riot of controlled colour and clashing patterns that just works. 

Interesting to note the demographic in there yesterday – mostly women over 50 and gay men...!
But even if you don't fit into those two categories, or you have never picked up a needle and thread, I think you are sure to find this inspirational in some way. 

Bermondsey has changed a lot since the first time I visited this road, its local high street, back in the early 1980s when a work friend lived nearby. The area was run down and grubby – dilapidated buildings and disused warehouses intermingled with social housing blocks. The warehouses and old factory buildings, the high street shops too, have since been snapped up at low prices, converted into offices and residential spaces, hence how large developments such as Zandra Rhodes and Jay Jopling were able to afford to establish themselves there, both creating bespoke environments. It's all very 'nice' there now. Shops full of trinkets, coffee bars, designer pizza, all the old pubs converted into gastrohubs.

And so to JJ's White Cube gallery. I really like this space. It's like The Tardis in there, as in it seems so much bigger when you walk inside than it appears from the exterior, which, to those not aware that this is a gallery, looks more like a functional space, or a distribution hub within a car park. It certainly does not shout "come on in and see some art – it's free to enter!"

What I really like in here is the vastness of it. The long corridor as you enter and that fabulous highly-polished concrete floor that reflects the artworks on display and also the light sources from above.

Here are some pics of what's on at the moment (until 26th March).

That's me bottom right. 

1 March 2023

On the tiles on London Transport

This is the first in a collection of six square-format snaps of some of interesting tiles and details within or adjacent to the ticket halls on the TfL network.

We often walk past these things and never see the patterns or reasoning behind the designs.

Can you recognise any of the stations?