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Time for a Change, some Oxo and a secret!

Time for a Change, some Oxo and a secret!

The change in question is New Change and if you want to be precise – 1 New Change. For those of you that don't know, New Change is a short street on the eastern edge of St. Paul's Churchyard in London and there is a large shopping centre there that takes up the whole street. As it is the only building in the street it's number must be 1 mustn't it?

A sunny day saw us arrive at Liverpool Street Station from where we walked the short distance to Wormwood Street to catch the number 100 bus. That was a surprise because it turned out to be a single deck bus which is unusual in London. We alighted near St. Paul's Underground Station and walked the short distance to 1 New Change.

We have been here once before (A Later Date), late in the day, when the weather wasn't so good and the sun was in the wrong place. This time the weather was good and the sun was in the right place.

A lot of people don't realise that 1 New Change has a roof terrace which is freely available to the public. There is a restaurant up there too but you aren't obliged to use it. There are lifts up to the terrace and they are outside the building and the walls are made of glass. Why would the lift walls be made of glass? Because you get a nice view of St. Paul's Cathedral on the way up and down together with some interesting reflections.

The roof terrace is quite large and you get a good view of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye is just visible on the left-hand edge.

You can even see visitors on the Golden Gallery at the top of the dome.

Looking in the opposite direction the Shard is rather obvious.

It was now time to move on so we went down in the lift and back to the bus stop where we caught the 100 bus once again to continue our journey across Blackfriars Bridge to the south side of the River Thames. This is where we were going.

The Oxo Tower is another shopping centre on the edge of the Thames and it has a publicly accessible viewing gallery looking out over the river on the sixth floor. This is the view east towards St. Paul's.

This is the view west up river showing the restaurant terrace on the left over looking the river.

This interesting view shows the river apparently choc-a-bloc with boats and the bridge choc-a-bloc with buses. I've never seen so many London buses in one place before.

We left the viewing platform and went back down to earth. Just behind the Oxo Tower is a nice little park.

Back on the 100 bus and we're off to Barbican for lunch. Reasonably good food for a very reasonable price – a main course for £9.50. After lunch we walked to Finsbury Square to catch the number 271 bus north. At Archway we changed onto the 210 bus for the last leg of our journey to visit somewhere secret.

As it's secret I'm not going to tell you anything about it except to say that it's on Hampstead Heath near Inverforth Close and it's known as London's Hidden Garden. It is actually called Hill Garden or the Hampstead Pergola but it's called the Hidden Garden because so few people seem to know about it even though it's free. There were only relatively few visitors there when we were there.

There is a lovely ornamental pond.

Then there is the Pergola.

We thought 'goodness that's a long pergola' as we could just see the cupola at the very end. We wandered along slowly until we reached the little building.

Amanda reached it just before I did and that is her silouette in the doorway. I can remember, as I was climbing the steps, that I thought that the pergola was very long indeed until I reached that doorway. Then I realised that there was more – lots more.

The house beyond the pergola is Inverforth House once a single private residence it is now converted to apartments. The original house was built in 1807 but was rebuilt in 1905 which  greatly altered the original structure.

The pergola went on ahead to a junction where it branched both left and right. We looked back to the cupola.

The branch to our left was a cul-de-sac but the branch to our right went on, and on.

What an extraordinary place this is. We left, finally, back past the ornamental pond. This garden is one that you really should not miss especially as there is no entry charge.

Oh, I forgot. It's a secret and I haven't told you anything about it so you won't be able to go after all. What a pity! You don't know what you're missing.

We headed off across Hampstead Heath with a printed copy of a nice map available on the Hampstead Heath web site showing the various paths which criss-cross over the heath. Unfortunately the paths on the ground don't always match the paths on the map and you will get lost especially in the wooded parts which are extensive and plentiful. Now that's an order. We got lost so I don't see why you shouldn't.

We did, eventually, find our way to the Highgate Ponds of which this is Highgate Men's Pond.

Now that we actually knew where we were we were able to successfully navigate to the top of Parliament Hill for the view. We could see the top of the Gherkin, the dome of St. Paul's and the Shard.

It was getting late and we had yet to find our way back to Liverpool Street Station and thence to home so we called it a day. One thing we've learned is that there is a lot more to see here so we plan to return some day.


It’s Friday – so it must be Paddington to St. Pancras

It’s Friday – so it must be Paddington to St. Pancras

Just over 4 weeks ago Amanda and I were planning a day trip to London as the weather forecast was good. However one evening about 5 days before that planned trip Amanda started to feel nauseous and then spent most of the night vomiting into a bucket by the bed followed by a bad cough the next day.

Nice! smilies

A day or so later we realised that Amanda wasn't going to be well enough for the day trip and discussed the idea of me going on my own.

However (yes, another 'however') a few days later I suddenly developed a bad cough too but without the vomiting. It was now patently obvious that neither of us would be well enough for the trip so it was postponed until another time. smilies

We both spent the next four weeks doing very little except sitting around feeling unwell which is why there has been nothing posted on the Blog. I still have a cough but am slowly beginning to feel better so I planned to meet Marie who had been staying on the Isle of Wight and was spending her last day in London before flying home the next day. I say 'I was' because Amanda still wasn't feeling well enough to tackle the trip to London. smilies

Marie and I were going to walk, along the Regents Canal, from Paddington Basin next to Paddington Station to St. Pancras Station.

I did manage to get myself out of bed at 6:15 AM and was on the train 3 hours later heading for Liverpool Street Station. Thirty minutes after arriving at Liverpool Street Station I was at Paddington and walked to Sussex Gardens, in the rain I might add, where Marie's hotel was.

Luckily the rain didn't last very long and we set off for Paddington Basin along Sussex Gardens and turned left into Sale Place. At the end of that was the entrance to Paddington Basin. We went in only to find that part of it had been drained for building works but a short walk along the basin soon left the building works behind and we were beside the water.

Out of the far end of Paddington Basin onto the canal and it's only a short walk to Little Venice. Having been here before on a sunny day I must say that it looks far more attractive in the sun than it did today under cloud.

If you want to see pictures of Little Venice then you can see that Blog post here or the web site pictures here.

We made our way through Little Venice onto the arm of the Regents Canal which took us, believe it or not, through Regents Park to Camden Lock and the markets with another rain shower on the way. In our blog post about our previous trip I wondered whether the market was alway seething or whether it was because it was a Saturday. This time it was a Friday and it was still seething.

One useful fact we discovered this time is that there are public toilets in the Market Hall building.

We had lunch here leaning on a rail overlooking the little canal basin in the market. Our choice was from a stall selling Caribbean food but the range of food here from different countries is nothing short of astonishing. We wandered past Camden Lock and down the canal path which went past the eastern arm of the market with yet more food stalls.

We were now on the home stretch from Camden to St. Pancras and as you can see the weather was slowly improving.

Marie was fascinated by the canal locks and stopped to take a photograph of this one.

Although this part of the canal wasn't especially picturesque it was interesting, just the same, with many different features along the way.

That path on the left is the one we are following and this photograph was taken from that path which should give you an idea of how it changed direction.

The final lock that we passed was St. Pancras Lock shown here with a narrowboat emerging.

Shortly after this we left the canal where York Way goes over it and found our way to Battlesbridge Basin.

This where you will find the London Canal Museum. That's the building between the two bow-ended buildings in the left half of the picture. It has a blue board with lettering in white.

From here we walked along York Way to Kings Cross with St. Pancras next to it. We were both pretty tired now, me especially, and Marie wanted to go to Seven Dials to do some shopping so we parted company in the Undergound at St. Pancras until our next meeting.

I need more exercise. smilies

Off the Wall and Mind the Gap

Off the Wall and Mind the Gap

'Off the wall' is an expression used in the UK and, I believe, in the USA which means unusual or bizarre. In this particular case 'Off the wall' is on the wall! But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here so lets go back to the beginning shall we?

Yesterday, Wednesday, we hopped on a train once again and ended up at Liverpool Street Station in London emerging onto Bishopsgate at about 10:15 AM in sunny weather. The temperature was around 46 F which was a little cool but is pretty good for February. We could have been up to our knees in snow.

We were intending to spend the morning wandering the streets so a bit of sun is nice and not having to dress up like a couple of Arctic explorers was also nice. You can join us if you like.

Turn left along Bishopsgate, right into Middlesex Street ( used to be Petticoat Lane until the Victorians renamed it) then left into Wentworth Street where the Petticoat Lane Market is now held.

Down Wentworth Street to Brick Lane and turn left along Brick Lane.

It does feel, when wandering along Brick Lane, that this is part of Bangladesh and we did see a sign referring to the area as Banglatown. We also saw signs in what I belive may be Bengali.

Wanna buy a Saree? This is not really about the shop but the decoration on the boarding filling the window. Yes it's street art again.

If you take the trouble to look there's a lot of it about.

Some of it is fairly conventional.

But some of it is definitely 'off the wall'.

We couldn't leave without showing you this little chap. Well, maybe not so little.

I am given to understand that it is supposed to be a hedgehog. The general shape is about right but the poor thing's spines seem to be a bit sparse. The artist is known as 'Roa' and is from Belgium.

I took far more photographs than I could show here and we decided to stop at this point.

Right! Keep up! Don't lag behind or you'll miss the bus. We have a number 26 to catch. We didn't have to wait long and we were off to our next destination. On the way we saw this old shack, from the top deck of the bus, which you may recognise.

Then we made our way up Fleet Street.

Past the Temple Inns of Court and the Royal Courts of Justice.

Finally arriving at Aldwych where we get off the bus. Still with us? Good.

A short walk up Wellington Street, turn left along Tavistock Street, turn right into Tavistock Court and we're here – Covent Garden Market. Why are we here? Well that will have to wait for an hour or so because it's time for lunch and our intrepid travellers are famished.

Some time ago we visited Docklands and had lunch at a cafe called Henry's which we quite liked although they blotted their copybook by taking 30 minutes to bring our dessert. Remember? There is another branch of Henry's here in Covent Garden and we thought we'd see if they could do any better.

We arrived at about 1:10 PM so we expected it to be busy but they found us a table and left us to study the menu. We were on the same level as the street but there was a lower floor in a large well which gave us the impression that we were on a balcony. This was our view.

We gave our order for our main courses about 10 minutes after we arrived but it took about 20 minutes for them to arrive. I ordered a Chicken and King Prawn Jambalaya and Amanda ordered Blackened Chicken Breast & Avocado Salsa which were both very nice and quite filling. We both decided to have a dessert and I had a Sticky Toffee Glory which is described thus:

Fresh bananas, vanilla ice cream and broken meringue,smothered in toffee sauce.

I had that when we ate in their cafe at Docklands and I remarked at the time that although it was very tasty I could not detect any meringue so I decided to try again here and I have to say I could not detect any meringue in this one either. Perhaps the meringue is broken into such small pieces that it's undetectable but that would seem rather pointless.

We both did enjoy our lunch however and we would go there again but not if we were in a hurry as they are rather slow. If you have plenty of time we would recommend it especially as, for London, the prices are very reasonable. It cost us £44 for two including a tip.

Time to move on to our next destination and we had to walk only about 100 yards to here:

This building, so I understand, used to be the old Covent Garden Flower Market and is spread over three floors. On entering the people at the desk suggest starting on the top floor (there are lifts and stairs) and working downwards. I can see the logic in that as it means starting with the earliest transport and moving towards the present day.

The first area one encounters is this:

It certainly looks striking. The light grey ramp on the right is the way on to the main displays. This next picture gives an idea of the main space with galleries on each side. It certainly is big enough for a bus or two and some trains.

We started at the top where there are some examples of horse drawn buses and trams.

I suspect that those vehicles wouldn't provide as much comfort as we expect today.

The horse drawn trams don't look particulary luxurious and look rather similar to the horse drawn buses except that the trams run on rails and appear to be able to carry many more passengers.

We moved down to the floor below and forward in time to when underground trains started to run although these were hauled by steam locomotives.

You may notice that there is no cab on this locomitive so the driver and fireman had no shelter. They may not have needed it underground but there would be times when the train was running out in the open and in all weathers.

The old style carriages had separate compartments along the length of each coach with each compartment arranged across the coach with bench seats along each side. You can see, in the photograph below, that although we were prepared to 'mind the gap' there wasn't any gap!

If Amanda is waiting for the train to start she may be in for a long wait unlike this old buffer (notice the manic look in his eyes) who decided to try one of these individual shelters used during the second world war for people who would be working in the open, such as a railway yard, and not near a normal shelter when there was an air raid.

Then we get to the time when electric locomotives were introduced which didn't fill the tunnels with smoke.

The London Underground has been running for 150 years this year.

There were taxis, buses and trams in fact far too many vehicles to go through here and many more photographs will appear on the main web site in due course.

When we had finished looking around, and there is an astonishing amount to look at, we retired to the cafe for some refreshment. I had coffee but Amanda decided to have hot chocolate and this is what she had:

The cafe is situated above the shop and the shop is stocked with a wide range of London Transport items.

This is a really interesting museum and certainly worth a visit. It is run as a registered charity which is partly funded by donations from Transport for London but the rest must come from the general public. Your visit will help to support them and it will keep you happily amused for some time.

We finally decided that we'd had enough for one day and caught the No. 26 bus back to Liverpool Street Station and thence to home.


An elephant’s tentacles and some pickled moles.

An elephant’s tentacles and some pickled moles.

On Tuesday the weather forecast for Wednesday was sun and clear skies up until lunchtime and then sunny intervals for the afternoon. Sunny intervals can be anything from one quick flash of sun in the whole afternoon to frequent sunny spells. However I planned to be indoors for most of the afternoon so that didn't matter. I decided to go.

Amanda wasn't coming this time because she had a dental appointment and wasn't particularly interested in some of the venues I was planning to visit.

When I left for the railway station I made allowances for some minor traffic hold-ups. There weren't any! So I arrived at the station much too early which, as it happened, turned out to be a boon.

When I went into the ticket office I discovered it was shut. The shutter was down and padlocked. Nothing to say why. I went around the corner to the automatic ticket vending machine to find an extraordinarily long queue. One look told me I'd be very lucky to get my ticket in time to catch the train.

I joined the queue which was moving very slowly and, as we got nearer my trains departure time, I heard an announcement over the station speaker system that said the train was running 10 minutes late so there was still hope. I did get my ticket and got onto the platform just in time to see the train appear in the distance which then pulled in a few minutes later.

Missing that train wouldn't have been a disaster but it would have chopped 30 minutes off my day.

I arrived at London Liverpool Street Station around 10:30 and went out into Bishopsgate and turned left. A little way along Bishopsgate I turned right into Middlesex Street. Middlesex Street, as you probably know, used to be called Petticoat Lane and the market there is still known as Petticoat Lane Market but the name was too much for the prudish Victorians who thought that streets shouldn't refer to undergarments and so changed it.

A short way along Middlesex Street I forked left along Widegate Street which brought me to one end of Artillery Passage; my first 'target' of the day. The sun is shining brightly off to the right but there isn't going to be much sunlight in this narrow passage.

I walked through and out into Artillery Lane, on to White's Row, across the busy Commercial Street and into Fashion Street. I was now in my next target area – Spitalfields/Shoreditch – and I was looking for 'Street Art'. This is becoming very popular with tourists looking for something different from the usual run of things and there are walking tours which go for the street art. I did come across one of these tour groups whilst I was walking around.

This was one of the artworks that I first saw.

I continued along Fashion Street and emerged into Brick Lane. I had heard that Brick Lane was known for its Curry Houses and I must admit that I have never seen so many Indian Restaurants in one street. Unfortunately I had also heard that most of them are overpriced and mediocre. I haven't been in to any of them so I cannot say if that is true or not.

Continuing north along Brick Lane I soon arrived at Hanbury Street and turning east into Hanbury Street I found this:

Someone has a vivid imagination.

I saw quite a varied selection of these artworks more of which will appear on the main web site in due course.

I went back into Brick Lane and crossed over into the western part of Hanbury Street which brought me to Spitalfields Market. We did visit Spitalfields Market on our last trip to this area but there were some large empty areas with hoarding around them. However, this time, there were lots more stalls.

You want stalls? We can do stalls!

After look round I made my way into Bishops Square and thence into Folgate Street to see Dennis Severs House at number 18.

Dennis Sever was an artist who lived in this house in much the same way as the original Huguenot occupants might have done in the early 18th century. It is not open every day so you should check their web site before you go. It wasn't open when I was there but then I hadn't intended to go inside.

I walked to the western end of Folgate Street and turned right towards Shoreditch High Street, which is effectively an extension of Bishopsgate, where I intended to catch a No. 8 bus to High Holborn near Tottenham Court Road underground station. I arrived after a 30 minute ride and headed south down Shaftesbury Avenue. After a short distance I reached a 3-way split. Fork left for Neal Street, fork right for Shaftesbury Avenue and the straight on, my intended route, for Monmouth Street.

This brought me, very quickly, to Seven Dials. I visited Seven Dials once before but was unable to take a good photograph of the monument because it was surrounded by hoarding as it was being cleaned. So I rectified that.

You should be able to see three of the seven roads that converge here and you should also be able to see the cloud appearing which now doesn't matter as I've done most of the exterior photographs that I had planned.

Now it's time for lunch so I walked off along the eastern part of Earlham Street towards Cucumber Alley. I was heading for the Euphorium Bakery in the basement of the Thomas Neal's Centre who provide sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks in modern pleasant surroundings. I had a nice sandwich and coffee but certainly not cheap at £5 for the sandwich and £2 for the coffee.

Now that I was re-fortified I headed up Bloomsbury Street and then Gower Street just north of the British Museum. I was first planning to visit the Grant Museum of Zoology at the junction of Gower Street and University Street.

The Grant Museum of Zoology is the only remaining university zoological museum in London and houses around 67,000 specimens, covering the whole Animal Kingdom. The museum consists of just one large gallery.

There are numerous cases so most of the specimens are relatively small.This jar of pickled (preserved) moles illustrates the point.

Why would someone want a jar of preserved moles? Ah, well, I'm glad you asked that question because I can tell you the answer. As this is a teaching establishment it was the case that many years ago students had to learn dissection in order to observe how animals were constructed so numerous specimens of particular species were required. Hence the jar of moles that were never used for their intended purpose. I also remember seeing a similar jar of lizards.

Some of the specimens were, shall we say, a little bizarre.

However all of the specimens were interesting. Being a half-term holiday for schools it was obviously interesting for children.

Being fairly well preserved I thought I fitted in rather nicely. It was, however, time to move on to the Petrie Museum of Archaeology nearby. This museum houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. It illustrates life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through the time of the pharaohs, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period.

 William Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) excavated literally dozens of sites and most of these specimens are the result of that work.

There are a number of galleries with many cases of artifacts.

One could be driven potty in here.

More pictures in this museum and of the Grant Museum will, eventually, appear on the main web site.

That was the end of what I thought was an interesting day and all I needed to do was to get myself home without incident. Yes I did manage that.


The view from Platform 1

The view from Platform 1

It is true that when we travel to London by train we use platform 1 at our local railway station but that's not the one I'm talking about. We'll get to that later.

We decided to go to London on Wednesday but we weren't going to visit any, what might be called, 'meaty' sites but ones which would require only a relatively short visit. It turned out to be interesting nonetheless and I'm pleased that you have decided to join us on this trip.

We got off our local train at Stratford, as we do sometimes, and changed onto the Picadilly underground line which is the starting point of the line at this end and, consequently, the train was virtually empty when we got on. I don't think that I have ever seen an underground train this empty.

It didn't stay that way for long and eventually took us to London Bridge Station which is where we wanted to get off. London Bridge Station is, rather obviously, near London Bridge and just south of the River Thames but you didn't know that did you? There's no doubt that you'd get lost if you were on your own so you'd better stay close.

We left London Bridge underground station at the St. Thomas Street entrance and turned left to reach Borough High Street where we turned left again and, after a very short walk, we arrived at our first destination. This is the entrance, on Borough High Street, to the George pub courtyard.

Inside the courtyard we see the only remaining original galleried pub in London dating from the 1600s. There is another 'galleried pub' in St. Catherine's Dock near Tower Hill but that is a reconstruction and not a genuine original.

The timbers aren't very straight now are they? It is now only half the size it originally was as the Victorians demolished half of it to make way for new warehouses. Nice people!

We went back to St. Thomas Street a little past the underground station where we saw this view.

We were looking for a tower. No, no, no not that ghastly Shard thing at the back but the brick tower. Going through the doorway we see another small door over to the left which leads us up a small (very small) spiral stairway.

When we reach the top we are in the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret Museum. This was part of the old St. Thomas Hospital and is the oldest operating theatre in Europe. It is, oddly, found in the roof space of an English Baroque Church. It makes a little more sense when you realise that the wards of the old hospital were built around the church. The Operating Theatre would have been built in the first half of the 19th century when operations were still being carried out without anaesthetics.

The rest of the roof space was used by the St Thomas's Apothecary to store and cure herbs which is all they had in lieu of drugs.

There were a lot of displays relating to medecine and surgery of old including some of the old surgical instruments.

After having had a good look round we went back to Borough High Street and crossed the road to this archway.

Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral are immediate neighbours. There was a small outside market when we were there and although it looks as though the stalls are up against the cathedral they are not on cathedral property.

The covered part of the market is really quite spacious with lots of stalls some of which weren't open when we were there. Our only disappointment here was that it really was too early for lunch.

Traders in the 13th century started the market in Borough High Street although it was then closed by parliament in 1755. However a group of Southwark residents raised £6,000 to buy a patch of land known locally as The Triangle, once the churchyard of St Margaret's, and reopened the market. It has been going ever since and is renowned as a food market.

I should warn you that there are some funny people around.

I'm saying nothing.

We left Borough Market going past Southwark Cathedral and along Clink Street.

At the end of Clink Street we reached the Thames with the Golden Hinde nearby. Along the riverside past Southwark Bridge and the Millenium Bridge.

It wasn't long before we were in sight of the Blackfriars railway bridge. A few years ago it was decided that Blackfriars Station (the overground railway not the underground) needed an upgrade. The problem was that where could a new station be built in such a crowded area? The answer was, of course, that you build it across the river so that the station replaces the bridge and that is what happened.

You can probably see a small part of the road bridge through the nearest arch.

As one can use the normal overground railways in London with a travel card for travelling within the London Zones our travel cards let us through the barrier and into the station. We went up the stairs onto Platform 1.

We are walking from south to north and you'll notice that the railway lines are to our left and on the right instead of the usual wall there is a glass screen. This is the view from Platform 1 looking east through that screen.

Just out of the left of the picture we could see the dome of St. Paul's together with the top part of the two towers. The nearest bridge downriver is the Millenium Bridge but, unfortunately, it does tend to merge into the background.

We went out at the north end of Platform 1 and down into the Underground where we caught a train to South Kensington.

We went into the Victoria and Albert Museum just to have lunch. Amanda didn't enjoy hers as much as she did on the previous visit but mine was nice. Whilst we were sitting at the table I took this picture of the rather ornate Gamble Room in which we were having lunch.

After lunch we took a short cut out via the courtyard which today seemed more like the local swimming pool except that the water is only ankle deep but the children were certainly enjoying it.

We left the museum and headed north along Exhibition Road then turned left into Prince Consort Road. It wasn't long before we caught site of our next locatioon.

You may recognise it as the Albert Hall. Walking round one side of the building we came out opposite the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens and I must say it was an astonishing site with all the gilding glowing in the sunlight.

We walked across Kensington Gardens towards the Round Pond and Kensington Palace. We had no intention of going into the palace but we did have a look at this.

The Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace grounds. The grounds, including this garden, seem to be freely accessible.

We were about ready now to head home so we aimed for Gloucester Road underground station, being the nearest, and we went via some of the backstreets.

Kensington is the sort of place where one sees roads lined with large, grand and very expensive properties.

This means that, as they were built in Victorian times, there would also be some mews nearby where the coach and horse were kept together with the coachman and his family.

So it proved to be.

That was a few of the mews we found and we were now worn out. I hope you enjoyed your trip – we certainly did and now it's time once again to go home.


Bright, Brighter, Brighton – Day Two

Bright, Brighter, Brighton – Day Two

We got up this morning to find a cloudy sky but it is supposed to get brighter later. After breakfast we paid our bill and booked out but left our luggage until we were ready to leave Brighton later in the day.

We went down the road again to Marine Parade to have another look at the little electric railway. I went onto the platform to take this picture.

In this next picture you may get a better idea of the railway's location. The beach and pier is on the left with the road to the right. The Brighton Wheel is visible above the roof of the train.

Notice the patches of blue sky that have started to appear. Without the sun it was cool enough to give Amanda goose bumps. I didn't feel quite so cold so perhaps I had duck bumps. We walked along Marine Parade away from the pier until we reached the Madeira Lift. Built between 1830 and 1840 the lift was originally hydraulically operated but now uses electricity. It saves a climb between Madeira Drive and Marine Parade and is free so we went for a ride.

Amanda photographed this old Victorian relic at the top of the lift.

We stayed at the upper level and walked back into town to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery which is in the Royal Pavilion grounds.

We were, originally, planning to visit the Booth Museum in Brighton until we discovered that the one day each week that it closes is a Thursday – today. The Brighton Museum building was originally the stables for the Pavillion which is why it is built in the same style.

It has an eclectic collection with numerous exhibits. When we arrived we went straight to the cafe for coffee and this next picture, of one of the galleries, was taken from the table at which we were sitting.

When we had finished our drinks we went back downstairs to start looking around. You may notice that even the archway in this gallery has the 'Eastern' theme and, remember, this was just the stables.

One of the first galleries we visited was dedicated to ceramics.

I noticed the piece in the lower picture particularly because it reminded me of Tipoo's Tiger that we saw in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and on the label its said:

"Commemorating the death of a young Englishman mauled by a tiger in India in 1792. The popular Staffordshire figure group (1810) was probably inspired by a wooden hand-organ, which was carved and painted to look like a tiger attacking an Englishman in uniform. Displayed in London from 1808, the organ was known as "Tipoo's Tiger" and is now on display in the V&A."

They also had an Egyptian Gallery of which these mummies were part.

There was a gallery about the Ice Age.

Numerous other galleries on varied subjects so there is plenty to see.

It was getting near time for us to leave so we walked back to our B&B to collect our luggage and then caught a bus to the station. So what was our final impression of Brighton? It hadn't really changed from our initial impression in that Brighton did look generally shabby and uncared for although that could not be said of the buses. They have an excellent bus service with frequent buses and the buses themselves are modern, bright and smart with electronic displays on board.

Brighton is not one of those places that we would be keen to see again but it probably would make an interesting day trip from London.

When we reached the station we were really pleased to see that our train was eight coaches with very few people on board, so that we had our pick of the seats, and that it was a modern unit with air conditioning. A relief from the journey up.

The journey was about an hour and we arrived back at Farringdon at around 3:30 PM, caught the Undergound to Liverpool Street and decided to have a slight detour. When we went to Spitalfields last we missed a couple of things which we decided to find this time.

We went back to Bishops Square next to Spitalfields Market.

Although this is a modern development it's not all new round here. If you walk to the north end of Bishops Square farthest from Brushfield Street you will see a large stairwell going apparently nowhere.

You may notice that in the farthest right-hand corner in the above picture there is also a small lift for those that cannot easliy manage stairs. So, what does it all mean?

You'll see that in the left-hand wall there is some glass. This is a window to the ruins behind.

You are looking at the remains of a Charnel House, dating from about 1320, which was discovered during excavations in 1999 and it is thought that parts of the masonry may date back to the 12th century. For those not 'in the know' a Charnel House is a store for human bones disturbed during the digging of graves within a cemetery.

Long before the Charnel House was built, the Romans used the area as a burial ground and a Roman lead coffin was found near this site which contained the body of a woman.

It explains onsite:

"The crypt of the chapel of St Mary Magdelene and St Edmund the Bishop built in about 1320 and sited in the cemetery of the priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital. In the chapel above, services were held to dedicate the bones beneath. After St. Mary Spital was closed in 1539, most of the bones were removed, and the crypt became a house until it was demolished in about 1700. The crypt lay forgotten beneath the gardens of terraced houses and then Stewart Street until it was found in archaeological excavations in 1999."

If you now go back to the other end of Bishops Square, across Brushfield Street, along Fort Street into Artillery Lane, turn left go round the first bend, past Gun Street to the second bend and you will see these:

These are Georgian shop fronts surviving from the 1750s.

Now that was a worthwhile diversion but now we go back to Liverpool Street Station and catch a train home.


Medieval, Monumental and Modern

Medieval, Monumental and Modern

8:30 PM Wednesday 1st May 2013.

Just back from our day trip today and this comes under the ‘Modern’ category.

Before I continue with this post I’m going to get you to guess what/where this might be. I’ll give you a few days and I’ll also give you a clue. It’s in London. There, that narrows it down a bit doesn’t it? smilies

9:30 AM Sunday 5th May 2013.

Clever-clogs Annecyborn was the first with the correct answer. It was, indeed, the Gherkin and this shows the whole width of the base.

Another sunny day forecast, another trip.

We arrived at our London terminus, Liverpool Street Station, and went out into Bishopsgate where we turned north and walked until we reached Brushfield Street on the east side of Bishopsgate. Walking along Brushfield Street we soon arrived here:

That is one of the entrances to Old Spitalfields Market. The area belonged to St Mary Spital, a priory or hospital erected on the east side of the Bishopsgate thoroughfare in 1197, and the name is thought to have been derived from that.

By the later 19th century inner Spitalfields had eclipsed rival claimants to the dubious distinction of being the worst criminal area in London and it is this area that is associated with Jack the Ripper.

The market building is 19th century and turned out not to be particularly interesting architecturally unlike, for example, Leadenhall Market. There are plenty of shops including cafes which seem popular but we weren’t really interested in those so we moved on.

We came out of the eastern end on Spitalfields Market and walked south along Commercial Street, turned right into White’s Row, left into Bell Lane until we came to Frying Pan Alley. There is nothing special about Frying Pan Alley except it’s name and with a name like that we just had to walk through it.

It is an old alley although, sadly, all the old buildings have been razed to make way for modern buildings. However this alley once housed numerous Ironmongers who identified their premises by displaying a frying pan outside.

On the map above Spitalfields Market is top right and Frying Pan Alley is marked with an arrow.

We came out of the west end of Frying Pan alley, turned left into Sandy’s Row, right into Middlesex Street, forked left into Catherine Wheel Alley (named after the Catherine Wheel Inn which was demolished in 1911) then left again into Cock Hill. It’s a maze of narrow streets and alleys round here. That took us, via a dog leg, into New Street and after turning left into yet another alley we found ourselves in Devonshire Square. You may be able to trace our route on the map above in the darkened rectangle.

Devonshire Square is area enclosed by buildings and accessible only via alleyways. All these alleys and squares are old but the buildings have obviously been replaced.

Devonshire Square is actually a number of individual squares connected by alleyways and as we wandered through we came across this life-size sculpture of a knight on horseback.

King Edgar (944-975) made an agreement with a group of 13 knights that he would give them land near to this spot on condition that they would each engage in three combats, one on the ground, another on water and the third below ground.

We did wonder how they could have fought below ground but after thinking about it we decided that they could have used a cellar or crypt.

We made our way out of these squares and alleys and headed south towards the Gherkin.

We couldn’t really miss it could we?

Nearby is the medieval church of St. Helen’s dating from the 11th century. It is the largest surviving church in the City of London and it contains more monuments than any other church in Greater London except for Westminster Abbey.

It is unusual in that it was designed with two parallel naves, giving it a wide interior.  Until the dissolution of the priory in 1538, the church was divided in two by a partition running from east to west, the northern half serving the nuns and the southern the parishioners. That partition has since been removed. It is the only building from a nunnery to survive in the City of London and one of the few churches to survive both the Great Fire of London of 1666 and the Blitz during World War II.

You can see that they have cornered the market in monuments and there were more all over the floor. This church was William Shakespeare’s parish church when he lived in the area in the 1590s.

Heading south down St. Mary Axe towards Leadenhall Street we passed another medieval church – St. Andrew Undershaft dating back to the 10th century although the current building is mainly 16th century. This is another city church that survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and the Blitz.

The church’s curious name derives from the shaft of the maypole that was traditionally set up each year opposite the church until 1517 when the custom ended.

We were now headed west to the Guildhall where I was hoping to get a photograph which is better lit than the last time we were here. We went via St. Michael’s Alley, which we previously visited when we went to Leadenhall Market, and I took a photograph of the Jamaica Wine House. This was originally London’s first Coffee House.

We soon arrived at the Guildhall where I took my photograph.

The last time I tried it was late in the day when the sun was low and there was a large dark shadow across the courtyard and across part of the building. Much better this time.

We now headed for the Barbican and arrived at about lunchtime. This is the Barbican Centre Terrace and that low building ahead on the left is the Barbican Food Hall (not a particularly imaginative name) where we were going to have lunch.

It was not at all expensive at around £9.50 for a main course and the food was beatifully cooked and very tasty. We both had Thai Red Curry of Duck Leg with saffron rice, vegatable rolls and Coconut Dip. The duck meat just fell off the bone and we thoroughly enjoyed it. To be recommended if you are ever this way.

After lunch and before we left we went up 3 levels to where the conservatory is situated. It was not open today as we expected but I took a photograph from the outside of part of it to show what the construction is like.

We left Barbican and emerged into Aldersgate Street a little north of the Museum of London where we caught a bus going north to the Angel, Islington, where another bus took us west along Pentonville Road to St. Pancras.

For a railway terminus that is a pretty impressive victorian building. However we hadn’t come here to see that specifically we had come to visit the British Library.

That’s St. Pancras Station peeping over the wall in the second picture.

This is a large, impressive modern building with a very interesting construction. This is the entrance hall.

The library holds over 150 million items from many countries, in many languages so it may take you a little while if you want to read them all. It also includes the King’s Library; a collection donated by King George III and housed in the King’s Library Tower, a six-storey glass and bronze structure in the entrance hall. This shows just part of the King’s Library Tower.

A number of books and manuscripts are on display to the general public in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery which is open seven days a week at no charge. Some of the manuscripts in the exhibition include Beowulf, the Lindisfarne Gospels and St Cuthbert Gospel, a Gutenberg Bible, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (King Arthur), Captain Cook’s journal, Jane Austen’s History of England, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and a room devoted solely to Magna Carta. That lot should keep you amused.

They also hold copies of all web sites and blogs which have the suffix .uk which will include this web site and blog. In that copy of this web site there will be a picture of the British Library and in that library will be a copy of this web site and …. ad infinitum.

We decided it was time to leave and so went out into Euston Road. Walking south-west along Euston Road we turned left at Dukes Road which led us to Woburn Walk.

This attractive pedestrian street features beautifully preserved bow-fronted buildings that were built in 1822. A plaque on one of the buildings marks the house of W. B. Yeats, who lived here between 1895 and 1919 and the street is home to restaurants, bookshops, and galleries.

Our next, and last, planned stop was the Charles Dickens Museum just off Grays Inn Road in Doughty Street. We planned to walk through a number of what we hoped would be attractive squares on the way. It turns out that they were.

Starting with Tavistock Square:

and finishing with Russell Square.

We soon after arrived at the museum. The entrance door is the one on the right.

There is a sign on the railings giving opening times and it closes at 5:00 PM with last entry at 4:00 PM. So what’s the time? 4:10 PM. Oh #@**&^!! smilies

So we didn’t get to see it after all that. Next time perhaps. We caught a bus to Holborn, changed to a bus to Liverpool Street Station and caught the train to go back home.