Daytrip to London (photos)

Several weekends ago, eagle eyed readers to this WordPress may have seen my architectural series of posts titled Trellick Tower! Well seeing as I was in London I took many photos throughout the day and thought I’d share within a post, and why not because I really enjoy looking at personal photos from bloggers I follow.

A London themed ‘photo dump’……………. as the cool internet bloggers say!

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The impressive building to the left, overlooking an ice rink! Is the world famous Natural History Museum

Is it me feeling jaded and forgetful, or do Christmas celebrations seem to arrive earlier and earlier each year? Hmm I’d guess a mixture of both or in other words I’m getting old!

Stepping out into the sunshine from London’s Underground Railway Station, and btw it takes a great deal to surprise me these days, the sight of a ‘full blown’ ice rink was the last thing I’d expected to see, oh and accompanied by gleeful shrieks of joy from skaters young and old.

……………….incidentally adorned with the most impressive Christmas Tree I’ve seen this year. (You should see the pathetic example my home Town erected last week!)

….……..and before you ask NO I don’t ice skate.

Below a typical London Tube Station, and I do love riding the Underground system of subterranean tunnels crisscrossing the city, with its interconnecting stations whisking commuters out into the suburbs, and if you’ve ever visited my Capital city then you’ll know this is the quickest and most efficient way of getting around. Just a matter of metres above lie Streets choked with traffic now travelling slower than the horses and carts of 200 hundred years ago.

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Best place to lose your wallet is on the Underground, I physically switched my wallet from back pocket to front after reading signs of ‘beware of pickpockets’.

I secretly took these photos below of unsuspecting fellow passengers with heads bowed gazing into their media devices, it’s always interesting to reading the posters and gigantic screens advertising theatre shows whilst riding the escalators.

Below modern day versions of London’s iconic ‘Black Cab’ and scarlet ‘Red Bus’, images you’ll have seen working these same streets 100 hundred years ago and even earlier by horse and carriage. And here’s a topical fact you won’t have heard of, before becoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson lying asshole and then London Mayor reintroduced an updated Routemaster bus, and I’d suggest there’s more than passing resemblance to the old one pictured beneath, they even have conductors walking the isles selling tickets to tourists also commuters.

Having time to spare also a one day all access travelcard to hand, I briefly visited St. Pancreas railway Station notable for it’s incredible gothic architecture, you’ll not see the like of this grandeur built in London ever again. (Below)

Metres away from St. Pancreas Station home of the Eurostar, you’ll walk through the entrance of King’s Cross Railway Station surrounded by cheap Hotels and rented apartments and YES prostitutes servicing horny male commuters…………. and YOU think I’m joking for comic effect!! (Below)

The gigantic red poppy inside King’s Cross Station marked the Remembrance Sunday celebrations that same weekend, the fact many hundreds of soldiers departed this Station for the trenches in World War One wasn’t lost on me………… and sadly many didn’t return home.

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Hmm….. I’m wondering how many people when they gaze to the roof will notice King’s Cross new Station ceiling? Nearly as impressive as the train hall itself.

And because I love trains, I just had to take some pictures of locomotives below!

Walking on through King’s Cross station and quite by chance a famous nameplate caught my eye, eblazoned across the front cab of one locomotive read ‘Flying Scotsman’, though I have to admit looking considerably less spectacular than its steam predecessor bearing the same iconic name. (Notice the very same roof canopy, lol interests me anyway 😀 )

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With ‘gruff’ diesel engine rumbling, ‘Flying Scotsman’ ready to depart for the City of Liverpool on Britain’s West coast mainline.
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Several years ago the orginal ‘Flying Scotsman’ revisited King’s Cross station, and isn’t she a wonderful sight on route to Liverpool and beyond, that same journey only 80 years earlier! (Google)

So there you are, photos taken by myself from a daytrip to London earlier this November.

A. Shepherdson 2019

Sandro’s Café

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A traditional English breakfast and yes tasting good as it looks 😀

Are you familiar with that British culinary tradition ‘the fried English Breakfast’? I’d suggest even if you live abroad you’ll have heard us non vegans may well start the day with a fried egg bacon and sausage, a side order of buttered slices of bread and a steaming hot mug of builder’s tea! Now be aware I don’t begin everyday eating this ‘fat laden’ potential heart attack, but if I’m day tripping in London (for example my visit to Trellick Tower) I will attempt to find a High Street Café such as Sandro’s in Notting Hill N. London.

……… and NO this post isn’t another themed Trellick Tower!

I prefer to travel light if I’m out and about on a weekend, a rucksack camera waterproof jacket and a little cash is all I require, well after several underground train rides earlier this November, I walked a short distance into the heart of Notting Hill and happened across Sandro’s pictured below. A traditional English cafeteria which has all but disappeared from our High Streets, they do survive and can be found in large Towns and Cities but more often than not these cafés have been replaced by that culinary cancer that IS McDonalds………………. you’ll never find me eating a ‘Big Mac’ in these God awful ‘restaurants’, identical neon eyesores you’ll see the length and breadth of Britain devoid of all character and tradition.

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Sandro’s Café, Notting Hill in North London

Yes I agree Sandro’s doesn’t appear the most upmarket looking establishment from the outside, though once inside, heat from cooking stoves warming the coldest customers walking in from ice cold November Streets, this ‘homely’ café with white Formica tables and London photos adorning its walls, has a welcoming ambiance befitting the average working man or woman.

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And I wonder is that Sandro himself preparing my breakfast behind his counter? No idea, lovely food though and ALL for a little over £5, which surprised even me knowing how expensive London is to live in these days! Burn every KFC and McDonalds to the ground that’s what I say, and let’s have a return to our traditional English cafeterias please 🙂 .

(I AM joking btw.)

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 My London Transport train ticket for the day, 09 NOV 19

Now I’m the first to admit I’m far from a particularly skilled photographer, but I’ll always have my small £8 eBay digital camera to hand (all the photos on this my WordPress are snapped by this internet bargain buy), and as well as taking photos of Brutalist 1970s Tower Blocks, I’m sharing pictures of London taken that same day………. not particularly noteworthy APART from I do enjoy looking at ‘naturalistic’ personal photographs, especially if taken by bloggers I follow from across the globe.

A London themed ‘photographic dump’ (a phrase the cool kids use) to follow.

 

A. Shepherdson 2019

Trellick Tower (pt3/3)

So let’s just say I win the lottery, gifted the riches to purchase the home of my wildest dreams and desires, which home do I choose? A quaint pretty cottage set within deepest rural Oxfordshire, a perfumed wild flower meadow with babbling brook streaming through long natural grasses, lazy days of watching butterflies and keeping bees or purchase a top floor duplex apartment in London’s Trellick Tower?

Hmm, I’m genuinely in a quandary deciding which to choose.

For fear of repeating myself you really should read my previous two posts if ‘this’ phrase Trellick Tower intrigues you.

(Five minutes later)

So you have returned, thank you 🙂 (oh and please note all photos taken by myself and feel free to copy if you so wish 🙂 )

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Standing 322ft high, 31 floors and housing 217 apartments, these homes are accessed via ‘streets in the sky’ connected to a service tower with lifts……… a quite beautiful building!
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………… and the iconic phrase “Streets in the Sky” was born!
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Trellick’s 217 apartment balconies face South enjoying a full days sunlight, their front doors opening towards North facing corridors. These design details, alongside quality materials, set this iconic building apart from tower blocks long since reduced to stone and rubble.
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Admire Trellick’s impressive and imposing service tower and just marvel at those ‘battlement window slits’ and castle-like watchtower.
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Two ridiculously simple security measures (originally requested by Goldfinger himself) transformed Trellick Tower’s then tarnished reputation. Once a concierge and entry intercom had been installed, the problems of vandalism, lift rapes and prostitution all but stopped, and don’t you agree a concierge makes so much sense in hindsight? He or she would be the eyes and ears on the ground, a go to for people’s problems, bar entry to people who shouldn’t even be inside! All the reasons Hotels have employed them for centuries.

So returning to my question which home do I choose? Well, as of this moment and similar to many a rich Londoner in 2019 I’ll purchase both, the idyllic country cottage for the weekend and Trellick Tower for living in Monday to Fridays……. though I have the feeling the shine and novelty would sooon wear off!

But Trellick’s renaissance isn’t a totally happy tale. Originally designed by Ernö Goldfinger as cheap social housing back in 1972, now that ‘brutalism’ has returned to being fashionable and in vogue, a sickening process of ‘social cleansing’ is taking place across London. Private equity firms are purchasing these concrete high rise living spaces from cash strapped London Councils, decanting poor renting families into cheap low level housing, then selling these Tower block apartments for millions of pounds! And here’s the irony, these until recently hated concrete homes in the sky built for the poor, are once again deemed cool living yet only affordable to the rich and wealthy. 

pre-fabricated-high-rise-blocks-flats-uk.v1476952239And now to Ronan Point where the high rise dream came quite literally crashing down! 

The now demolished Ronan Point, a 22 story tower block built as affordable housing, opened in 1968 but tragically partially collapsed soon after unveiling to residents and public. Poorly designed and shoddily constructed Ronan is the complete antithesis of Trellick built but a few miles away in Canning Town East London. On that fateful day 16th May 1968, only two months after Ronan’s completion, a gas explosion caused the collapse of one entire corner of the building (a resident lit a gas stove to boil a kettle), killing four people and injuring 17 this terrible disaster rocked people’s confidence in the safety of high rise living. A judicial enquiry soon followed leading to an overhaul of existing building regulations after uncovering design flaws associated with side wind loading, fire damage and small explosions..

Looking at the photo above I’d suggest the scars of bolted together walls also off-site prefabricated construction are clearly visible, a truly horrific photograph in so many respects leaving Britain’s housing dream in tatters, the consequence all Public confidence was lost in high rise living and has never returned even 50 years or so later……….. such an ugly building as well. 

So what fate awaits Trellick Tower? Now Grade 2 listed and deemed architecturally important by the great and the good, this once reviled building is fashionable again, now privately owned and having been made from quality materials I’d suggest this iconic building will outlive me! And truthfully speaking I’m still unsure why I love this building so? All the more strange knowing that I hate concrete tower blocks with a passion. 

I hope readers have enjoyed these three posts written from a personal point of view, if you wish a little more insight and detail then I guess the internet is the place to go!

A. Shepherdson 2019

Trellick Tower, I’d love to live there!

Theme for this week is Trellick Tower, Notting Hill west London.

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‘Trellick Tower’ is a concrete example of 70’s social housing (though several are privately owned), whether you purchase or rent an apartment you’ll then own 2 balconies, one leading from a bedroom and one other from the living room. (Photograph by me)

Brutalism, def: ‘a stark style of functionalist architecture, especially of the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by the use of steel and concrete in massive blocks’

….……… and by any stretch of the imagination Trellick Tower’s an exercise in Brutalism with a capital B!

I’ve been sightseeing in London again, though this time with a sole intention of seeing for myself Trellick Tower also for my first time, an image I’d seen in many a film, documentary and magazine photo yet had never witnessed in the flesh so to speak……………. viewing something you’ve so wished to see, but only ever seen previously via media is an emotionless second hand experience, only when you see a Cityscape (artwork) with your own two eyes do you know if it lives up to ALL the hype.

(I’d go further, add Trellick to your list of buildings to see if you ever visit Britain’s capital city and you’ll not be disappointed.)

Walking through the Notting Hill’s side streets, my eyes attuned towards the skies hoping for a first glance was an interesting experience, think for a second, how often in life are you consumed by an eager anticipation over an extended period of time? Hardly ever! You’re aware of a soon to be emotional experience, your imagination will be pricked alive yet you don’t know how you’ll react, BUT you know the reaction will be either excitement, incredulity, amazement, maybe a ‘what the fuck whatever’, or a total letdown disappointed…………. but not to worry my initial reaction as Trellick Tower loomed in to view, dominating the skyline above £2,000,000 homes was:

‘Wow, what a beautiful building………. yes I’m SO pleased I came to see!’

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Trellick’s slimline silhouette in ‘side on profile’ is one reason the building works for me and I know sweet @%£* all about architecture! (Photo by me)

Trellick Tower bewitches me, fascinates me, I’m in love with this building so much so I’d do anything to live within one of those top floor self contained apartments for just one week…………. goes without saying because the views across London (I’ve never visited mind you) must be absolutely stunning.

Designed by the architect Ernö Goldfinger in the late 1960s, Trellick Tower is one of London’s most iconic Modernistic apartment blocks, deemed architectural important, and yes his name inspired Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger of James Bond fame (Fleming hated Goldfinger with a passion.)

These concrete monolithic tower blocks were the answer to Britain’s postwar housing shortage, brutalist architecture of the 1970’s now has a notorious reputation, more often than not they were poorly constructed by cash strapped City Councils, with the worst examples populating British cities up and down the land having long since been demolished, and I’d guess both former residents and neighbours living beneath those monstrosities whooped cheered and clapped as they watched them reduced to rubble.

However today 50 years later Brutalism is being re evaluated, the most hideous examples are no more and destruction wasn’t to be Trellick’s final fate, remaining as a beautifully proportioned profile and I particually love the balconies looking across London, lucky residents although they do look extremely dangerous! Trellick Tower is preserved for the nation and according to a recent BBC documentary loved by the residents who live there, one glorious example remains to this day and to be quite honest I’m unsure why I appreciate this building so, an instantly recognisable icon joining an illustrious ‘grade listed’ club alongside notable examples such as The Tower Of London, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle……………… and I might add a worthy of inclusion.

I’ll finish this evening’s post sharing (borrowed) photographs taken from inside but alas not by me, and WE all love looking inside people’s homes don’t we?

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The phrase ‘location, location, location’ comes to mind
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View looking out from on high! (To the left and just out of shot is Grenfell Tower and I’d guess this photo was take before that awful tragedy which killed so many 😦 )
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The main walkway dividing residents front doors and the outside
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View from the balcony

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Master bedroom
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Functional bathroom to say the least
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One bedroom leads out onto it’s own balcony
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Lobby with lifts entombed inside the adjoing Tower
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Stairs if you prefer to walk, or more seriously used as a fire escape
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Dominating the West London skyline for miles around, but I’d suggest there’d be a public outcry if Trellick was marked for demolition?
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Living room leading out on a balcony and what a view!
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Dining area with balcony to the left, imagine eating coffee and croissants in the morning……….. ok yes I’m a romantic at heart.

To be continued………………….

A. Shepherdson 2019

Trellick Tower, London 09/11/2019

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Picture by A. Shepherdson

Hi 🙂

Now be honest, you’re all busy people, do you really want to read a blah blah blah blog where I list the reasons I stopped posting? No of course not, just so as you know I’ve reignited enthusiasm, there’ll be no sex and silliness (that’s a lie) and I’ll be returning with several London themed ‘photo dumps’ (that’s a term the cool kids use), in other words that’s sharing photos I’ve taken to you and I.

Been a while, so what have I been doing? Worrying about Brexit for one (sooo upsettingly depressing), reading blogs written by the (many) middle aged women writers I follow, and for the purposes of today’s post and several to follow, I visited London today, walked the City’s streets (note I’m not a hooker!) and ‘snapped’ lots and lots of photographs.

Only trouble is I’m unsure if any of you lovely people remember me since three months ago, of course you lol don’t? But not to worry as I’ve always said to myself, if at least one person enjoys reading an always original post written by moi, then I’m a happy Andrew.

So why visit London? To see for myself a British architectural icon that is Trellick Tower situated close to the Borough of Notting Hill, and yes that is the ‘Notting Hill’ movie of the same name starring Hugh and Rene, also home to the world famous Carnival. Incidentally the short video below features this 1972 Tower Block built to satisfy Britain’s post war housing shortage, Trellick is now a Grade 2 listed building, a structure recognised by people the length and breadth of Britain with a very short film uploaded onto my YouTube Channel.

(Are you surprised a concrete block of flats has preserved status?)

I’ve never seen this Tower Block for myself before today, it’s an impressive building all the more notable because every major City has been demolishing these grey concrete monoliths, poorly constructed, hated by the residents and quite rightly considered a disastrous exercise to provide cheap social housing for the masses, many have been pulverised to rubble. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing, Tower Blocks became synonymous with all that is wrong with inner cities, magnets for drug taking, physical assaults, isolation, deprivation, poverty, devoid of human scale and with a complete absence of (yes) private gardens so loved by the British public, all in all an expensive social engineering project that went disastrously wrong!

HOWEVER with London’s housing shortage now at epidemic levels, gazing out the coach window as the city scape passed by, I noticed shiny modern examples are rising lol like a phoenix from the ashes, with I guess many a lesson learnt?……… I do hope so! Yes Tower blocks are disappearing, yet Trellick remains and what’s more it’s Grade 2 listed which means the City planners CANNOT pull it down. Now for a confusing dichotomy, I for one love this important building which surprises me when I hate concrete Blocks of Flats so! 😀 

So finally, do you see beauty in this building?

To be continued………………

A. Shepherdson 2019

Visit to CHARLES DICKENS museum

(As promised I’ve a literary historical photography post for you today, yes the Great man himself Charles Dickens.)

13th APR 2019 I day-tripped to London by bus, changed onto the Underground taking the train to visit the Home lived in by Dickens for two years of his life, years later in 1925 the home was purchased then transformed into a museum, and now a ‘time capsule‘ revealing how Victorian homes actually looked inside.

The front door of 49 Doughty Street, now entrance to the museum in Dickens time owned by solicitor Henry Pickards, is a magnificent terraced residential home only 5 minutes walk from Farringdon Tube Station, comprising three floors, a scullery kitchen basement, and also a ‘loft’ we tourists weren’t allowed to ‘peek’ inside.

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London Underground ticket APR 2019, also a walking tour map beginning at Dickens home and finishing at St. Pauls Cathedral taking in many notable landmarks along the way!

Read my ticket date above, “just sayin”. The map I’m also holding is printed from the internet, a free publication describing in detail ‘walking tour’ directions from Dickens Home all the way to St. Pauls Cathedral (a British jewel of historical architecture), incidentally showing a ‘route’ considerably longer than I’d first imagined!! 

Alas virtually all of Dickensian London has been lost to years of redevelopment, both progress also a consequence of rebuilding this great City after 4 years of Hitler carpet bombing homes, buildings and factories by his Luftwaffe……….. what was the point to this monstrous vandalism? You tell me, on second thoughts please don’t! The truly surprising no unbelievable fact is Christopher Wren’s St. Pauls cathedral survived intact, incredible!

(There is a reason why, long story.)

On first walking through the front door to number 48, I was under no illusion I would be staying no longer than 1 hour, Dickens little known Museum is strictly for quiet thoughtful souls who wish to experience the Victorian atmosphere knowing this great man shared meals with his wife and children, wrote tales at his desk in the drawing room, endlessly climbed three flights of stairs the entire day (two up one down) and yes made love to Catherine in the master bedroom……………….. well come on yes he did!

Below you see a map essential to making ‘head and tale’ of today’s post, look carefully and both a floor showing three levels including the basement, also the various rooms inside 48 Doughty Street London, incidentally I was charged a very reasonable £9 entrance fee. Enter through blue door number 49, then once inside walk through a door into number 48 their family home.

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48 & 49 Doughty Street, London

1 Entrance Hall

The busy household passed back and forth on errands and social visits. Dickens often made, sometimes nightly, walks through the City he called his ‘magic lantern’. His neighbours were professionals, architects, writer and artists. yet the law courts, workhouses and slums fuelled his writing were but a short walk away.

(Remember Dickens was both a social and prison reformer, his father had been earlier locked up in a debtors prison, and Dickens would himself demonstrate outside Newgate Prison situated a mile up the road, in fact he was instrumental in having prisoner hangings moved to behind prison walls to the public’s disappointment!) 

2 Dining Room

The location and grand architecture of the house was ideal for launching Dickens socially. This elegantly curved room played a key role. As a rising author enjoying his first flush of success, he entertained many leading figures here.

Pictured above, a dining table and bowl displaying any number of ‘plastic fruit’, Dickens bust hanging from a wall, and a lovely young lady tour guide wearing a very becoming ‘black and red’ check shirt! And yes I made a point of chatting to her 🙂 because I’m very friendly that way 😛 .

Remarking “you seem very tired” as she yawned 😮 , the young lady smiling answered “yes I am”, then standing one foot on the bottom staircase, hand resting upon the banister about to climb up, I turned grinning and said “this way to the bedrooms?” Well she actually laughed out loud finding my enquiring rather amusing (or because she was Dickens bored), all good flirty fun 🙂 don’t you think? You gotta at least try and make women laugh even if SHE IS thinking ‘jeeze he’s old enough to be my father!!’ 😀

3 Morning room

Catherine Dickens used this family room to arrange household matters, spend time with the children, welcome visitors and write letters. As a Dickens travelled often, much of their daily communication was in writing. Surviving letters show their happiness as a couple then.

Stepping into the second ground floor room I’m now standing in Dickens Morning room, as I said earlier I wasn’t under any illusions, there’d only be so much to actually see wandering around someone else’s home, but standing in his writing room is quite a magical experience, standing affront Charles’ writing desk reading a page written in his own hand, knowing he possibly quill penned tales of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist and Fagin, Pip and Miss Havisham possibly three of the greatest tales ever written, I truly sensed the standing on hallowed ground feeling or is that a little pretentious?

That desk sits affront a window probably because rays of natural sunlight are considerably brighter than the gas lights hanging from the morning room wall, I can attest to the rooms gloominess and the reason why my photos are slightly grainy……….. Tourists are banned from using a camera’s flash!

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To the right, Dickens accounts book IN HIS OWN HANDWRITING breaking down servants wages.

4 Kitchen

(Descend one flight of stairs into the kitchen.)

The servants prepared the family food here, managed by Catherine Dickens, the mistress of the house. Traders came in and out with supplies. Victorian Kitchens were often low lit, home to vermin, and filled with heat and smoke from the cook’s fire.

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I photographed a bowl of plastic fruit on the kitchen SIMPLY because I was so ‘frigging’ HUNGRY!!

Above 5 photos: The ‘cast iron’ cooking range, a dresser displaying china plates, looking upwards through a window onto Doughty Street, looking back through a doorway towards the Washhouse, and glass bottles standing on a shelf.

…….. and who knows what evil chemicals they contained in Victorian times? 

5 & 6 Scullery and Washhouse

The maid washed clothes and dishes here, and cleaned around the house on a demanding schedule. Dickens’s sympathetic portrayal of servants endeared him to domestic staff around the country.

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Washhouse, who knows this basin could have appeared in any number of Novels.

7 Wine cellar

Dickens wrote about both the pleasures and harmfulness of drink. At home, he kept a good cellar to lavish his guests.

8 Drawing room

As a child, Dickens improvised performances for friends and family. As an adult, he delighted in hosting amateur theatricals. In a later home, he had a rom made into what he called ‘The smallest Theatre in the World’. From the 1850s he would take his book readings to the public stage, becoming a celebrated solo performer.

9 Dickens’s study

Dickens had a strict routine, writing without distraction from breakfast to lunch. Then he might visit his Club, work on one of his charitable projects or take a long walk. He filled this room with a vast collection of books.

Below looking out upon the rear garden, and at current London property market prices helped by number 48’s provenance, I’d suggest this home is worth 2 digit £1,000,000s?

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Above two notable and extremely famous artist prints hanging from a wall, to the left Dickens a middle aged man seated in a chair. To the right the Ghost of Christmas PRESENT seated upon an enormous pile of presents, clutching a lantern of Christmas spirit in one hand, and lecturing Scrooge as to the error of his ways!

….………….then again he could reminding Scrooge that phantom number three, the grim reaper incarnate follows sooon!!

Staircase  (Between First floor & Second floor)

Below, photos pointing upwards to the master bedrooms & looking back into the Drawing room.

10 Mary Hogarth’s bedroom

Dickens experienced one of the most upsetting events of his life here, the death of Catherine’s’ sister Mary Hogarth. She was s 17 years old and apparently in good health. The shock devastated the family. Dickens struggled to accept the loss of someone he considered pure and good. The sentimentality of death scenes he later wrote is rooted in that traumatic even.

11 Master bedroom

While living here, Catherine Dickens gave birth to Mary and Katy. She would go on to have 10 children by 1852. Dickens separated from Catherine in1858. But when they lived here, they were largely contented and shared this bedroom.

Pictured below, and standing beside the Master bedroom four poster bed could be Catherine Dickens herself looking out the window onto Doughty Street. On the bed you see laid out garments of period clothing, whether the stockings belong to Charles or Catherine I have no idea………… but I can tell you two of their children were conceived here, yes Victorian sexual intercourse!!

(I’ve often mused ‘did Charles visit local side streets and sample the infamous Victorian ‘two penny knee trembler? Don’t be tooo shocked upstanding fine gentlemen visit brothels!)

Hmm pictures above remind me of that ghostly little book ‘A Christmas Carol’ once again, remember a frightened Scrooge sitting upon his four poster bed, the curtains drawn around to keep the three spirits at bay, no? Well why not go read this wonderful novel and see for yourself 🙂 .

Incidentally, I read ‘A Christmas Carol’ on Christmas Eve every single year.

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Pictured above, is yes a reflection of myself taking a photograph towards the dressing wardrobe mirror…………  alas my youthful head of hair is a ‘long ago’ distant memory! 

12 Dickens dressing room

Dickens washed, shaved and dressed here. In 1840 the historian Thomas Carlyle described Dickens as clothed fashionably rather than ‘well’. This ‘fine fellow, Boz’, he wrote loftily, has ‘clear blue intelligent eyes’ and a ‘face of the most extreme mobility’ topped with a ‘loose coil of common-coloured hair’.

13 & 14 Nursery and Servants’ bedroom

The attic was the domain of the children (Charles Junior, Mary and Katy) as well as the servants, away from the more public spaces of the house. 

I didn’t take any photographs of either the Dressing room, Nursery or Servants bedroom, there’s only so much culture you can ‘snap’ in one day.

I hope you enjoyed my mammoth post!

©A. Shepherdson 2019

 

 

(a day trip to) Highgate Cemetery

I have a conundrum for you this evening!

Thursday I travelled to London by coach with the aim of visiting Highgate’s Victorian Cemetery and yes it lived up to my expectations. I had promised a photo blog much the same as I’ve written before after one of my daytrips, however, alas I have only 3 photos for you pictured below of the imposing Gothic gated entrance, the centrepiece 200+ year Circle of Lebanon Cedar tree and a view taken from the pathway.

So why so few photos? Well our Tour guide said camera photography was permitted, yet no one did perhaps for no other reason than taking pictures of the dead seemed disrespectful? A Cemetery after all is a peaceful quiet place of eternal rest anyways not to worry.

Which all means I’ll have to exercise my brain (with a twist) and write about the day instead.

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My photo of the imposing entrance. Imagine 150 years ago horse drawn carriages, their manes adorned with plumes of black feathers entering by these gates.
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Now I am really pleased with this photo of the ‘Circle of Lebanon’ damaged by sunstrike, AND yes I was looking toward a low spring time sun but I like the photo. Alas this dying Cedar tree’s days are numbered but I’ve given you a hint of sunken vaults in the foreground.
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My photograph surreptitiously taken from the winding snaking gravel pathways

I guess each person within our tour party would have loved to spend the afternoon roaming the cemetery’s many vaults, mausolea, statues, catacombs and other treasures, but alas our lovely ‘super efficient’ tour guide had a schedule to be kept to, wandering stragglers at the rear were given a sharp,

“Do keep up now!”

The lady sounding rather like a brusque, rather annoyed headmistress with her cut glass posh English accent…………. but there you are who can complain when her 70minutes tour blessed with many fascinating facts, dates and true tales was so interesting.

However!

Please remember if I’ve wetted your appetite for visiting and seeing for yourselves this wonder of Victorian London, please remember you CANNOT just turn up on the off chance because it’s not open to the public to wander in from the street! If you do you’ll be faced with my photo above with it’s large wrought iron gates locked tightly shut, but that does kinda add to the excitement, knowing that only a lucky few can visit each day. No you have to do some on-line preparation work before hand, and just imagine if this was open to the general public! Thousands of people walking traipsing wherever they wish, leaving coke cans and vandalising both the wildlife and structures with all peace and tranquillity disappeared.

Not to worry though, visit Highgate cemetery’s website and you can book a ticket for yourself and your partner (no under age8 children allowed), then pay £12.

Now through the wonders of Google here are several images below I’ve stolen borrowed from the net, look closely and you’ll see a photo of the centre piece cedar tree absent of sun-strike!

I quite took to our tour guide wearing her bright red shirt on a warm spring day, her tightly fitting slim blue jeans, a tall and slender lady no older than age60 and readers to this blog will know the older woman turns me on big time! Especially when she’s assertive bossy and domineering, but joking apart and being bluntly honest she was an extremely sexy specimen of aged womanhood, oh and with the hint of two gentle mounds of breasts beneath her scarlet shirt………….. that topped my day!

The lady’s most entertaining true tale, of which there were many, features the renowned Victorian anatomist and surgeon Henry Gray, similar to many of the interns beneath Highgate’s undergrowth he was a man famous of his day, and if you wish to know more then Wikipedia for other notable Victorians laying six feet under!

(Charles Dickens wife and children are buried here.)

Henry Gray’s headstone had only recently been discovered by a volunteer clearing from amongst the thousands of headstones, and ivy strewn undergrowth. Apparently as the story goes, during surgical operations he would try to cut as quickly as possible with his knife and saw because the patient was not under anaesthetic, though Gray did later discover ether would make the knifing procedure less painful. Again as the story goes, our lady guide told us Gray also holds the impressive record of most deaths in one single operation, because in his haste to amputate a man’s leg quickly, he cut three fingers off his assistant (who later died of infection), a member of the public watching (for as we were reminded this is where the term ‘operating theatre’ originates) dropped down dead, and of course the patient later died also succumbing to his injuries.

Three deaths during one operation, impressive no?

Of course the connection between infection and cleanliness of instruments hadn’t been discovered yet, much the same as Joseph Bazzalgette hadn’t yet discovered cholera was a water borne infection, the Victorians believing cholera was an airborne disease with horrific consequences, incidentally Bazzalgette invented London’s sewage system and yet another genius Victorian who shaped the modern world!

Incidentally Victorian high society was captivated by this new profession called surgery, but (apparently according to our gorgeous tour guide) surgeons were the superstar ‘must have dinner guests’ at parties of the time, but little did they know surgeons also paid unscrupulous London men to rob graves of their dear departed all in the name of practice and science, that’s until an act of Parliament allowed the dead from workhouses to be purchased and dissected. 

I guess the Anglican Church didn’t believe souls of the poor required saving?

The real irony of course is, Highgate was built a fortress with armed guards in order to keep grave robbers OUT which kinda amused me, and I wasn’t aware the vaults were fitted with bells because apparently Victorian Londoners biggest fear was waking alive after being presumed dead……….. now I can see the logic in that!

Hopefully I’ve given you a sense of how the Lady interwove different tales into one stream of consciousness, very clever and as she said sporting a rather wry grin, “Of course we did what every cash strapped charity would do! We contacted those wealthy Fellows Of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), to see if they would be interested in helping pay for Henry’s grave to be cleaned”, and again as we were reminded ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ is still purchased today by bright eyed medical students embarking on their career in medicine.

There is so much more I could write about such as foxes visiting after dusk, the catacombs are home to a rare breed of spider having found it’s home inside the damp burial vaults, bats hang from the ceilings above lead boxed coffins, still visible the wooden casket having  decomposed and rotted away, tales of how Londoners could walk from Canning Town through fields and meadows to marvel at this the poshest Cemetery in England, and for a Brit that’s an astounding vision because the journey today is walked through street lined buildings! And George Michael is buried behind it’s strong high walls I guess in an effort to keep it hidden from view or from becoming a public shrine, jeez just imagine if his final resting place was open to musician following pilgrims and their posters!! 

Yes a truly amazing Victorian splendour with heaps of history and atmosphere and THANKFULLY no stories of ghosts!

Finally why not book on-line and go visit for yourselves, however note you cannot spend an afternoon doing as you wish but does that matter anyway? Oh and if you’re lucky you to may have an attractive sexy Grandma for a tour guide. 

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The ‘Egyptian Avenue’ taken from a print of the day, I think we were colonising Egypt at the time!!

 

©A. Shepherdson 2019

 

 

I’ve been sightseeing in London again! (The Tower of London)

Strap yourselves in dear readers this is gonna be a long one but I have tried to go easy on historic detail such as ‘Kings and Queens’ names also dates! But not to worry you’ll discover lots of photos within this post and ALL taken by meee! Please feel free to copy any if you so wish 🙂 I’m a terrible one for ‘borrowing’ photos courtesy of Google imaging so fair’s fair.

The picture below might just give you a hint as to the ‘location’ I visited 20th October 2018……………. yes ‘The Tower of London!’ And I’ll tell you what, I haven’t half been lucky with the weather this year in fact all my daytrips/countryside walks were blessed with blue skies and bright warming sunlight.

Holy blank I’ve hit a story telling wall, the history surrounding The Tower of London is near impossible to write about especially when I’m little more than an informed tourist myself, William The Conqueror built the central White Tower 1000 years ago, Henry VIII lived here, he had his wife Anne Boleyn beheaded on Tower Green her body being later laid to rest in the Tower’s Church. Queen Elizabeth I (Henry’s daughter) had her arch enemy The Earl of Essex beheaded on Tower Hill, staunch Catholic Sir Thomas Moore lost his head because he refused to acknowledged Henry’s Protestantism as the one true faith. Then you move forward through the centuries and SS officer Rudolph Hess was held prisoner on Tower Green after being captured in Scotland fleeing from the Nazis. Reggie and Ronnie Kray the infamous London 60’s gangsters spent a night in the Tower at His Majesties pleasure having failed to turn up for National Service……… where an earth does one begin? Wild animals presented by Kings and Queens of Europe among them an Elephant and African Lion being housed at the Tower before being moved to London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Throughout WW1 the Tower Grounds were used to train Coldstream Guards with shooting practice in the now waterless moat. NOT forgetting the British Crown Jewels are kept for display inside the Jewel House! Oh and who could forget Guy Fawkes was imprisoned within these walls after his failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament! And had he succeeded Britain would have been in political turmoil………. hmm sounds familiar although we call it Brexit!

Perhaps I’d better stick to showing you the photographs I took on the day and let you visit wonderful Wikipedia and fill in the history detail!

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Wooden staircase taking tourists up into the central White Tower built 1000 years ago by William the Conqueror! (I’m gonna have to go easy on the exclamation marks within this post, however it’s not going to be easy because this truly is an awe inspiring London Palace.)

Below you see a panorama of three photos taken from Tower Hill which looks down upon the Tower of London and notice the waterless moat now with its carpet of green grass, incidentally Tower Hill Tube station is a five minute walk behind me!

I am a peculiar specimen of human manhood!! No don’t you shake your heads and disagree, I remember sitting on a bench overlooking Tower Green and feeling everso slightly paranoid, feelings of ‘will you believe the photos are my own’ and I know completely irrational but not to worry my ticket below reveals the date 20/10/2018, and yes that’s my packed lunch of brown bread ham sandwiches and succulent in season Conference pears 🙂 ………… incidentally I’d never really noticed before but a late October sun never really rises above horizon level.

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Photo taken 11.30am and for the whole day this bright sun’s rays never went much higher than straight into my eyes…………… such a strange late October phenonium.
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😮 I know £29.50!!

If you’ve never visited The Tower there is only one entrance pictured below, sorry I tell a lie there is a second at Traitors Gate which opens out onto the River Thames. For the past 1000 years this gatehouse has seen Kings, Queens and Tourists walk into what is now a world heritage sight, and quite possibly the most treasured building in Britain today, the 1000 year birthplace of my Country’s history. 

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How’s this for an iconic signpost? Showing directions to White Tower, Bloody Tower, Crown Jewels, Tower Executions oh and Raven’s shop

https___historicroyalpalaces.pictureparkThe magnificent Imperial State Crown, a googled image for alas tourists aren’t permitted to take photographs inside the Jewel House 😦 A shame but I guess security is paramount…….. anyways I stood looking for 5 minutes as the diamonds glisten back at me under the spotlights……… mesmerizing amazing pick any superlative adjectives and few will come close to explaining how I felt.

Below you see several pictures of the central White Tower, one of the oldest buildings in England and around which several encircling walls were built with their own cylindrically shaped Towers, each possessing their own particular history mystery and intrigue…… a truly iconic building that truly takes your breath away and I’d guess every tourist will get a tingle down the spine knowing they’re standing on the exact spot Queen Elizabeth I walked or Anne Boleyn lost her head!!

I’m afraid I bottled out at taking a photograph of my Beefeater Guide pictured below, I doubt he would have minded but you never know?

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My tour guide for the day was a Yeoman Warder who’s name escapes me, his uniform costs £1500 to make and he like every other Beefeater before him achieved the rank of Warrant Officer in the British Army before applying for a job at the Tower……….. our group listened and followed him around as he regaled tails of beheading traitors and telling us Anne Boleyn was actually beheaded on the lawn to his rear……….. the story goes the Frenchman was so swift with his swing at Anne’s head that when lifted from the basket and held aloft her eyes and lips still moved for 15 seconds after the blow.

Above left you see the Jewel House, look closely and you’ll see a queue of tourists waiting patiently to see the Imperial Crown with South African diamonds………. alas I wasn’t permitted to take photographs but all I can say we filed past near opened mouthed at the sight of thousands of diamonds and the largest rubies emeralds and sapphires I’ve ever seen.

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These wooden framed building facing Tower Green are the oldest standing Tudor buildings in London, the rest burnt down in the great fire of London 1666. Incidentally these houses are where the Yeoman Warders and their families live…………… wow what a place to call your home, just imagine sitting on the veranda looking out upon Tower Green when all the tourists have gone home!

Below left you see a memorial to Anne Boleyn (I guess the glass cushion represents the one her chopped off head fell onto? On reflection a rather pointless structure which does look out of place (my Beefeater Guide’s words) but there you are, and pictured to the right behind the rather curious looking tree you see the entrance to a Prison Tower.

Would I be correct in saying the soldier below is another instantly recognisable symbol of London? The Tower exists as a Royal Palace still to this day, hence fifteen British army soldiers stand guard inside The Tower grounds, the Regiments change throughout a year sometimes from the RAF, Royal Navy and British Gurkha Rifles but the Saturday I visited the Grenadier Guards were on duty……….. although still a Royal Palace I’m afraid our Royal Family no longer reside here.

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A Queen’s soldier from the Regiment of The Grenadier Guards looking smart in his red tunic and black bearskin hat.

To be continued……………. (lol I’m a little exhausted so how did I do?)

A. Shepherdson 2018

 

 

 

 

Sightseeing in London…….. a photo dump!

I’ve been close to pulling my hair out! This post has taken ages to write and my Dell Laptop is playing up (dying), so apologies this follow up to my walking tour around The V&A and Tate Britain is such a late upload.

I would suggest reading part 1 (click ‘here’ for link) will help explain why I made this journey to London in the first place, thank you it’ll lol save me writing 300 words and please note ALL the photos were taken by me as I walked around London’s landmark buildings Saturday August 4th 2018.

(Very quickly I’ll tell you this is a response post to a WordPress blogger by the name of Juliette Turrell, she herself visited London namely The National Gallery and The V&A and click ‘here’ for Juliette’s very own daytrip to London with photos.)

Btw the blogging phrase ‘photo dump’ is a new one on me but I like it 🙂 .

Below is a picture of me sitting on the grass in sunny London enjoying an ice cold can of coke and slice of pizza..…….. and what do you think of the shoes? Don’t answer lol because I love them!

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😀 Feeling hungry and thirsty I gave The National Gallery a miss and went to Leicester Square for coke and Pizza in the sun…………… I don’t have to remind you I love my shoes, sooo comfortable!!

London was a blue skies blazing sun and 30 degree temperatures beautiful day, tooo hot for me if truth be told but I’m loathed to complain because there were pretty ladies wearing short dresses everywhere! I ask how could I ever complain!

Tate Britain picture gallery 

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Depending on which name you prefer, this painting hanging in the Tate is called ‘May Day’ or ‘Punch and Judy’

Below are a selection of exhibits both paintings also a marble sculpture of ‘Eve’ that particularly caught my eye!

 

The Victoria and Albert art museum (better known as the V&A)

Below the museum’s entrance , ‘the cast west wall’ and central hall containing several sculptures.


I have to admit I love riding the trains on The Underground, depending on a Tube Line I choose the train will within minutes whisk me to any number of landmarks parks railways stations. It’s the ONLY way to travel in car contested London.

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A tube train pulling into a London Underground station, and remember Londoners slept on these platforms during throughout world war two. 

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I visited London yesterday……. museums and art galleries

(All photographs taken by myself A. Shepherdson 4th August 2018)

I visited London yesterday…………… here’s my photographic journey!

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The Houses of Parliament, by me

A (very) short introduction

Anyone who Follows me on WordPress knows for sure I enjoy interacting with other bloggers whether that be tags or writing challenges, well this fine Sunday morning I have a response post for blogger Juliette Turrell, oh and of course anyone who’d like to see photographs taken on yesterday’s daytrip to London.

Juliette Turrell pretty much 1 week ago (read her blog here) visited both the National Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum for her own personal daytrip, and note both are FREE ENTRY though she’s themed her post Architecture, which I’d forgotten about………… Well seeing as Saturday was such a beautiful sunny day I thought why not visit the V&A Museum and here is a photographic journey taken that day.

🙂 Thanks Juliette for inspiring me to visit London and NOT spend the morning in bed!

But first before I begin 2 pictures of the coach and underground tickets! 04/08/2018 🙂

The V&A museum Google for more detail

The 2 hour Oxford to London journey shuttled me deep into the heart of London, then from Victoria Coach Station I took the Underground directly to The V&A Museum, I’ve never visited before and being quite excited thought it would make a good start to the day!

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Entrance to the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum)
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Western Cast Wall remind me of a Victorian backstreet, must be spooky at night with just moonlight streaming in

(Above) just look at the effect bright shafts of sunlight has on the structure!

Below The Hereford Screen, I actually stood gazing at this magnificent choir screen for what must have been 10 minutes…….. loved it! (Text courtesy of that fountain of knowledge Wikipedia.)

‘The Hereford Screen is a great choir screen designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811–1878) and made for Hereford Cathedral, England in 1862. It was one of the Gothic Revival works in iron of the nineteenth century and when it was unveiled at the 1862 International Exhibition it was hailed as the “grandest and most triumphant achievement of modern architectural art”

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V&A Museum entrance Hall, more spectacular sculptures!

Juliette you visited the National Portrait, well I’ve been inside before though admittedly not for a few years! But decided on Tate Britain (picture and sculpture gallery) instead and I loved it! The paintings are truly spectacular by artists such as Turner and Constable, incidentally ‘The Hay Wain’ is displayed here……………… ok but I’m not a landscape man :/ .

Tate Britain fabulous! I loved it! Perhaps Wiki for more detail!

The Tate (note not Tate Modern at Battersea) is a picture gallery home to so many great artists through centuries past and or course many painted scenes from the Bible (loved these fables have inspired great works of art)……………. I’ll visit again simply because you could spend a whole afternoon looking at just 3 paintings……………… couldn’t you!

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Entrance, many Victorian museums had these magnificent stone structures built ESPECIALLY for them! Hmm Britain had a rich Empire back then.

The ‘Lady of Shalott’ (below & 1 of 3 versions) can be seen here, a truly beautiful image and I can assure you my camera hasn’t done the painting any justice…………. the light inside the gallery was poor and the public cannot take flash photography!

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The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

And below my favourite sculpture of the day, in fact my favourite art piece housed in Tate Britain, can you guess why? And very pert smooth and shapely she was tooo! Her name?………. I’m afraid I forgot my pen and paper sorry.

(Looking at the sculpture once again I’ve just this second noticed something I hadn’t seen at the gallery! Look closely below her feet and I see a snake coiling itself around the plinth…….…… which says to me the lady in the sculpture is in fact ‘Eve’ from the book of Genesis, she gave Adam the fruit so lol all blame should lie at her feet?)

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My favourite…… omg she’d look spectacular in my rear garden!

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