My weekend in London! (2)

(After reading the brilliant comment thread on lady LA’s irregardless blog, I’d be amazed if I can write another posting ever again.)

#Accommodation

Hmm so where’s my train of thought taking this posting? I always try so hard to keep these brief and to the point but I guess if after reading you have an idea that booking late saves you money, then I’m happy, oh and as for sharing a photo of my ass in the shower I’ll leave the explanation for a later posting, NOW lady/male readers don’t lie that captured your attention!

(Whether travelling to London in the middle of a pandemic was irresponsible I’ll leave for a later post)

The past weekend I enjoyed a 4 day city break in London, sleeping 3 nights in a rather posh Hotel (prices reduced by half due to the pandemic) so be under no illusion I most definitely, without question never usually stay in swanky expensive accommodation, they’ll always be out of my price range ok…… now’s a good point to perhaps read the introduction posting What could possibly go wrong? 🙂 .

I’d suggest the Hotel accommodation website booking.com is familiar to you? If not, the clever premise behind this digital business is brilliantly simple (as good ideas always are). Competing Hotels are desperate for customers, bedrooms empty of holiday makers also weary travelers and they’re hemorrhaging cash by the £1000, consequently if you leave booking as late as possible prices plummet and you can save yourself a lot of money.

Well curtailing a short story even shorter, late evening on the 23rd of July I booked the 25th through to the 29th at the ‘Hotel with no name lol’ in central London, we’re talking the borough of Westminster where houses sell for millions and Hotels are in-affordable to the great unwashed public like myself to ever contemplate staying at, then covid-19 decimated the holiday booking market and prices were slashed…….. I paid £168 for 3 nights at a frigging 4 star Hotel in swanky Pimlico, the lovely receptionist looking classy in her navy pencil skirt and nude shear stockings said “you can triple that for last year”.

Hmm as always I wondered if she wore any knickers, just saying 😀 (I’ll be returning to this question another time)………… can’t lie dreams of her calling by room late one night did cross my mind, yeh dream on Andrew.

(Blah blah lol, you all play this game of hunt the cheapest whether ‘rental cars trains air-flights ovens whichever’… thank god for the internet we say!)

If you’re interested my second floor bedroom had a balcony, only trouble being the gazing out at a row of identical houses opposite……….. I’m not showing off BTW, I got lucky with the pandemic because the risk of catching covid-19 was recklessly high, the phrase ‘you pays your money and makes your choice‘ come’s to mind. But after 3 months legally enforced home detention I’m prepared to start leaving my home again, we’re all living a life of assessing risks and taking care with PPE precautions, we’re all crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, agreed?

I’m probably getting a little over excited retelling my urban walkabout tale because my usual accommodation is always in cheap Motels, drab red brick buildings populated close to soulless motorway stations, you look out a window (if there is one) and you’ll see noisy rumbling lorries hauling their Chinese manufactured cargo the length and breadth of England…………….. still on the upside when you’re in bed with a 50 year old lady (with a dodgy knee) who cares you have to keep the bathroom lights switched on because the bedroom’s doesn’t work!

(Below) The view from my balcony, as an aside the Hotel room was spotlessly clean however ridiculously SMALL no word of a lie with only a 5 inch gap between bed edges and the walls all around.

Anyways where was I?

(Above) And yes that’s my glasses edging into view as I take a selfie, I put off purchasing a smartphone until recently but now I love this amazing smartphone with interactive maps and digital ticket apps, this device can be found glued to my hand similar to any teenage girl………….. I now see the attraction, I understand the obsessions, I’m aware addiction is but one ‘swipe’ away still on the bright-side google street maps is a godsend to someone (like ME) with zero sense of direction!

No word of a lie, I studied my trusty well thumbed ‘London street-map’ for five minutes, walked straight out of Victoria Railway Station then returned 5 minutes later having walked 200 metres in the wrong direction……….. my spacial unawareness amuses my brother but is more than a little worrying, hmm the beginnings of dementia?

More about the bedroom and walk-in shower below in the following posting 🙂 ,

Yes I’m aware I look ridiculous backed into a corner what’s with the odd shadow on my neck? After setting the camera’s 10 second timer I hopped inside the cubicle and the water was f****** boiling hot! And note the high hands! As for rating my ass feel free all comments are welcome.

(…………………….and if you’re feeling envious don’t be, I’m conscious this appears showing off, so yes travelling on your own can be fun and the freedom liberating, but the downside is living with ones own company can be lonely a place and a little depressing at times, you know shared experiences like the simple pleasures of holding a partner’s hand, 1 2 3 ahhh!)

A. Shepherdson 2020

My weekend in London! (1)

We just have to start leaving our houses, hopefully enjoy living a normal again? Spend a little money or we’re all f*****!

(For the ‘intro’ post click here)

Maybe a little foolhardy of me to visit London last weekend seeing as we’re in the middle of a pandemic, perhaps sleeping in a Hotel for 3 nights could be seen as reckless with an R rate rising, but lol I appear to have survived ‘for now!’ (btw I’m going to isolate myself from people until Monday).

I guess the key to sharing photos on WP is NOT repeating myself over and over again, so if you’re (hopefully interested in my tale please read earlier postings)……….. I’l try my utmost to keep the text ‘light and fluffy’, don’t you just hate travel blogs where the writer keeps telling REMINDING you what a fantastic time they’ve had in Bali.

Last Sunday until today was little more than an urban city break we ALL can enjoy.

Hmm I’ll try to explain why we should try to live some sort of ‘normality’ again, yes take safety precautions, but I’d suggest visit places of interest because the attractions I visited really have taken covid precautions seriously! (Very seriously).

Blah blah blah 😀 .

So let’s begin with a photo teaser showing 3 places visited, St. Paul’s cathedral, an exquisite church I hadn’t seen in side for 30 years, the world famous Botanical Gardens at Kew, and London’s newest attraction Sky Gardens a tropical plant oasis situated on the top floor of a skyscraper, incidentally I was a virgin visitor to the last 2…… so go visit, they were truly spectacular.

I ONLY wish I’d photographed used my trusty Fuji camera instead of the phone, but hey things don’t always work to plan………. 😀 anyways you get an idea.

Doesn’t the saying go ‘pictures paint a 1000 words?’ 🙂

And of course they’ll be anecdotes a little sexy or it just wouldn’t be me lol.

Below you see 2 young lady’s both happy and cheerful (supposed to be a pandemic according to the press?) striding across Victoria railway station, note I’m only using the photo to demonstrate we have to wear masks by law now.

Finally I’ll try my best to avoid my usual 1000 word postings, more photos to follow.

A. Shepherdson 2020

Guarding the Tower of London

🙂 A reminder of happier days.

I hope it goes without saying these photographs were taken by myself, ‘snapped’ during a daytrip visit 2019 to the Tower of London, incidentally an earlier posting tells the tale of how ravens came to be residents at the historic ‘Tower’.

Hopefully one day we’ll adjust to a New Normality, I don’t think life will ever return to the happy carefree days before this awful pandemic, however we human beings have always adapted to our surroundings, through out World War 2 my four Grandparents became accustomed to food shortages restrictions and hardship, they grew their own fruit and veg, my Grandmother pickled perishable produce to extend it’s life well into autumn and winter and COVID-19 is no different. Both young people and the young at heart will adapt to the New Normal whatever that may be. 🙂

On a more personal note I’ve set myself a goal. As of yesterday our Government is beginning to loosen its grip on ‘lockdown’, people are tentatively returning to work, social distancing remains and probably will for the foreseeable or possibly for evermore, and everyone is nervously hopeful there won’t be a second spike………… finger’s crossed but I’m far from hopeful.

🙂 I’ve set myself a personal goal, on the first day restrictions are lifted to visiting The Tower of London, I’m going to take a day’s holiday from work and have myself a daytrip to our wonderful capital City……….. oh and without forgetting my face mask!

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Guarding the Tower today are soldiers from The Grenadier Guards (lol says so on the sign!)

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These bronze 6- pounder guns were fired at the ‘Battle of Waterloo’ commanded by The Duke of Wellington, they’re individually named and saw action in various parts of Napoleon’s Europe 1813….. yep the ‘Battle of Waterloo’ no less!

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Grenadier Guardsman resplendent in robin red tunic and rich brown bearskin…. which incidentally are now made from fake fur, damn vegans!

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Sentry boxes such as these can be seen ‘dotted’ around the Tower grounds….. I guess they’re good cover because did you know it rains a lot in the UK?

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I was pleasantly surprised to see the Grenadier Guards were on duty, resplendent in their scarlet red tunics and probably the most recognisable regiment in the British Army.

 

A. Shepherdson 2020

 

‘Tower of London’ ravens

Our tour group was assigned a Yeoman Warder (above), a lovely guy his humorous and fascinating tour lasted one hour and interestingly they are ALL serving soldiers in the British army…. if you wish to upset a Yeoman Warder lol call him or her a tour guide, being an entertaining story teller is a prerequisite and you know how children love tales of murder blood and intrigue! 

I wouldn’t imagine these photos taken during my 2018 summer visit to the Tower of London will be of terrifically great interest, but I feel passionately about the Tower’s 1000 year royal history and cherish the wonderful stories that it holds because I’m unashamedly proud to be British…. sometimes I wonder if I can admit such a ‘heresy’ within present day multi cultural Britain? Not to worry 😀 tonight’s post was as much an exercise in historical research for me, as well as an excuse to ‘show share’ my photos somewhere!

(Please note ALL the unpublished photographs below were taken by me.)

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Clear blue skies… I’d forgotten how lovely the day was.

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Raven facts written in many different languages for the benefit of tourists.

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A raven looking at the central White Tower which seems pretty apt for a Castle that’s recognised the world all over, an image that defines England and what it is to be English.

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Enjoying the warmth from a late afternoon sun.

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Perched precariously on one leg… now that’s what I call a clever raven.

Our Yeoman Warder Guide would pause at points of interest throughout the Tower grounds, address the assembled group of tourists with captivating facts and lurid tales of murder intrigue and English history anecdotes I’d last studied 40 years ago!

One of the many legends to have grown around the Tower of London, is that of the Tower ravens. The legend states that if the ravens, which can be seen dotted around the grounds or perched on walls, should ever leave then the iconic White Tower would fall along with the entire kingdom (happened 2016 after Brexit!), incidentally it’s said to be King Charles II (1660-1685) who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected. 

Long before the conquest, ravens had been a familiar sight in the streets of London, where they were welcomed as natural scavengers who carried away bones and edible refuse from the gutters. The legend of the ravens, and no one is quite sure by whom it was started, has become of such importance that for hundreds of years royal decrees have been issued protecting the birds…  our Yeoman Warder said they can never leave, they cannot fly away because a vet has clipped a single flight wing.

I guess the saying ‘better safe than sorry applies’!

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Apparently this is the brand new raven enclosure, housing 6 birds.

One Yeoman Warder is tasked with caring for the ravens and is termed ‘Raven Master’. Up until just recently 6+ birds were caged by the Wakefield Tower but have since been rehomed, and I guess rather than name the birds each Tower raven has a different coloured band on one leg, interestingly captive ravens in the Tower grounds have reached the age 40 years…… I imagine the lack of predators helps!

Click here I’ve been sightseeing in London again! (The Tower of London)to view ‘loads more’ gloriously colourful photographs.

A. Shepherdson 2020

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!

Read More »

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

 

 

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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