My holiday break in London number 5!

🙂 Go’s without saying these shared photographs were taken by me during my July holiday break to London, obviously in 2020 because why else would I be standing in Parliament Square wearing a face mask?………. After a while I stopped removing them (feeling slightly stupid) and kept them on all day……….will ‘wear a face covering’ be remembered as the buzz phrase of the year? I think so, wander around a tourist attraction and the tannoy bellows instructions on how to keep me safe, ride London’s Underground and I’m reading warning signs instructing me to keep 2 metres distance from other passengers really?……. But we human’s are stoic creatures, we’ll adapt and survive 🙂 .

(Above) Me enjoying a Mint Tea (cup sitting on the table) outside ‘Costa Coffee’ and very close to Kew Gardens Underground Station……… you won’t be interested to know but the photo to the right is my favourite of all the London pictures and others viewable in four previous postings, and deep down I think we all realise obligatory face masks are and will be a common sight for years to come…………. who’d have imagined this way back in January as we were welcoming in a New Year.

Btw I have a serious mint infusion addiction.

(Below) Me standing in an empty Victoria Underground Station, a quite unnerving and truly incredible photograph for London in summertime. July 2019 and these open spaces would be packed full of commuters and foreign tourists……….. I’ve not seen the like of this desolation before and until my dying day I doubt I ever will again.

(Below) Empty city streets around central London, again quite eerie photos as if a great plague had struck London the consequence all its inhabitants were locked inside their homes………… oh that’s actually happened! Previously I have actually ridden inside a capsule on The Millennium Wheel, if you ask me this vastly overpriced attraction was a disappointment, you slowly rise then dwell 6 seconds of skyline viewing at top dead centre only drop to the ground again…………. over-rated but that’s just my opinion.

(Below) Notable statues standing in Parliament Square, both Winston Churchill also Oliver Cromwell are ear-marked for removal if the black lives matters campaigners have their way. Churchill a hero who’s destiny was to win the second world war, so loved by white Londoners is contentious because as a young man he served as a soldier in the South African Colony, Oliver Cromwell will topple because he chose to colonize Northern Ireland………… political correctness or the blackwashing of Britain’s Imperial History? You decide because lol I’m saying nothing.

(Black Lives of course DO matter however America’s and Britain’s racial histories couldn’t be more different, on the one hand African men and women were captured enslaved and transported to America working in concentration camps, living pitiful horrific lives and of course making many white folks very wealthy………on the other, Pakistani, Indian, West Indian….. citizens CHOSE of their own free will to travel to Britain seeking a better life, whether that be paid jobs or educating their children at University oh and not forgetting many sought sanctuary (and welcomed) here as political refugees, so please don’t try and tell me America’s racial problems have any connection to Britain’s multicultural history………… A great proportion of ‘foreign nationals’ made better more prosperous lives for their families and a credit to Britain’s welcoming immigration policy and good luck to them but ffs research your history and show some gratitude 😀 )

For what it’s worth, keep all the statues or topple them ALL down I don’t much care either way, and I absolutely refuse to apologise for my colonial history………. lol not my problem, nothing to do with me, not in my name! Enough Politics.

Incidentally Millicent holds a banner displaying the words ‘Courage Call To Courage Everywhere’, without Googling I guess this lady was a suffragette campaigning for equal voting rights for women…………. brave pioneering ladies one and all 🙂 and again without Googling I’m sensing Lincoln has notable British connections?

(Below) More photographs taken of empty city streets, at times I genuinely couldn’t believe I was walking around London but July was the first loosening of lockdown and I chose to risk my life lol, but still at times I did wonder if I was the only person in London! That sense of freedom was fabulous and quite intoxicating…………… AND I DIDN’T CATCH ANY VIRUS, just sayin.

(Above) A Fun Fact for you. A pair of iconic red telephone boxes standing on a pavement close to my Hotel, but don’t be deceived for you cannot make a phone call from here, no the doors are locked shut and they’re here strictly for visiting tourists to take photos of with their mobile phone cameras.

(Below) Picture to the left Saint Paul’s Cathedral ‘peeking’ in the background and again yet another Tube Station empty of passengers…… quite incredible.

(Below) Covid secure Victoria Railway Station…….. 2 pretty ladies wearing their face masks (I think they are twins), also covid secure passengers standing within a virtually empty concourse oh and 2 ladies handing out helpful ‘how to be’ covid secure literature.

(Below) One final photograph of Victoria Station, last year I wouldn’t have been able to move for the sheer volume of passengers.

(Below) Me wearing the obligatory covid secure face mask, stops the virus from spreading…….. really? Did you notice I had three different ones but I sew my own these days.

(Below) The Great Fire of London started at ‘The Monument’.

The Monument, designed by Robert Hooke in consultation with Sir Christopher Wren, was built 1671-1677 on the site of St Margaret Fish Street Hill to commemorate the Great Fire of London1666. The fire burnt from 2nd to 5th September, devastating two-thirds of the city and destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 churches and 52 livery Company Halls.

Standing 61M/202FT is equal to the distance westward from the site of the bakery in Pudding Lane where the fire broke out, with the central shaft housing lenses for a zenith telescope, with a balcony that is reached by an internal staircase of 311 steps.

The Great Plague, lasted from 1665 to 1666 and the last major epidemic of bubonic plague to sweep England, centuries-long Pandemics of intermittent bubonic plague epidemics followed ALL which originated from Central Asia in 1331……………… why are we so SO surprised?

The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London’s population in 18 months infected by Yersinia petis bacterium transmitted through the bite of an infected rat flea.

The 1665–66 epidemic was on a far smaller scale than the earlier Black Death and remembered afterwards as the “great” plague and the last widespread outbreak of bubonic plague in England during the 400-year Second Pandemic. 400 frigging years! We’re only into a six month pandemic and cannot take the mental strain any longer.

Looking on the bright side, whilst wandering around the Grounds of Kew Gardens two young ladies happened to be in front of me, with a strong breeze rustling and lifting the hem of their skirts, when near unbelievably and I still cannot now, every time the wind caught the lady to the left’s skirt she revealed two pink naked ass cheeks (shapely as well)………. she glanced behind several times, didn’t care, smoothed the dangerous fabric down against her thigh and carried on, I guess by the sheer law of average I’d be flashed at some point but imagine her self confidence having the nerve to wear NO panties on a windy day! Truly mind blowing, perhaps they were ‘off duty prostitutes’ enjoying a stroll in the sun? HOWEVER lol perverts will get 5 years in jail for taking ‘upskirt ass/vulva photos’ on their mobile phones and quite correct to……. a woman’s violation if ever there was one 🙂 .

(Below) Photos taken at Kew Gardens, more may follow.

A. Shepherdson 2020

London (long) weekend away 4

Part 4 of my long weekend visit to London late July 2020, today with photographs of both inside and outside the rather expensive ‘posh’ Hotel. Be sure to read postings 1 2 and 3 🙂 and all photos taken by me.

My plump cheeky ass has been complimented by several women……….. lol thought you’d be interested in that fact! 😀

A. Shepherdson 2020

(Go visit Booking.com for great last minute accommodation deals, Hotels slash prices if you’re prepared to take a risk, scour the internet and wait till the last day even.)

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 »

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

(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

 

 

 

 

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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