Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Prince Charles Cinema

London The Unfinished City
The canopy is not just for the advertising of films.

The Prince Charles Cinema is one of my favourite cinemas to visit. They show a minimum of ten films, per week, which mostly consist of cult, arthouse or independent movies, with the occasional new movie thrown in.

It shows sing-a-long and quotable versions of some films, like The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They also show movie marathons, like The Arnie All-nighter, where six Arnold Schwarzenegger movies were shown back-to-back. That was a particularly long night. They also do things like 'Beer & Pizza' nights, where a slice of pizza and a beer are included in the ticket price.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Cabmen's Shelter

London The Unfinished City
The Plaque on the Temple Place Cabmen's Shelter.

I had spotted a few of these little green shelters, on my various jaunts through the Unfinished City, and had always wondered what they were for.

I knew they were used by taxi drivers, but that was all.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Royal Albert Hall

London The Unfinished City
Memorial and the hall.
Unlike my eldest daughter, Alysha, who has not only been inside, the Royal Albert Hall, but has sung on its stage, I have yet to set foot inside.

I took this photo on my one and only visit to the hall, on a cold Saturday morning, when I was strolling through the area on my way eastward.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Lumiere London, 2016

London The Unfinished City
Leicester Square Illuminated.
Back in mid January, 2016, the Lumiere Festival came to the Unfinished City and it was something that I had to witness.

Spread across four nights there were plenty of opportunities to see all of the installations, as they were spread over four main areas: Mayfair, Piccadilly, Westminster and King's Cross.

Various artists transformed the city's streets, buildings, parks and squares into temporary art galleries, where light was the key element.

Sunborn London

London The Unfinished City
Floating Hotel on the Royal Docks.

The Royal Docks, which have gone through an amazing regeneration, are home to, among other things, the ExCeL London exhibition centre, London City Airport, The Crystal, plus countless bars, restaurants and hotels.

There is, however, one hotel which is moored in the Royal Victoria Dock: The Sunborn London Yacht Hotel.

London The Unfinished City
Sunborn at night.

I am hoping to pay a visit to this beautiful looking yacht, next year, even it is just for afternoon tea, or just a few drinks in the bar, one evening.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bomber Command Memorial

London The Unfinished City
"... who now stood thankful, in the early morning sun."
The Bomber Command Memorial, Green Park, is, by far, my favourite memorial, in the Unfinished City. There are countless others that I have visited, but there is something utterly unique about this memorial.

I don't know if it is the sheer scale of the memorial, or the detailing of the statues, or its setting at the corner of Green Park, that makes this my favourite, but there is something that keeps drawing me back to it, again and again.

In fact, I was so moved when I first saw it, that I ended up writing a poem the following day, entitled 'Morning Sun'.

London Bridge

London The Unfinished City
The latest crossing to carry the name London Bridge.

The current London Bridge is said to be the plainest of London's bridges, that cross the River Thames. It is typical of late 20th century engineering, where concrete and simple design were the norm.

For me, however, London Bridge is all the more interesting because of its simplicity. Having quite low balustrades and sitting relatively low, in the river, compared to other bridges. London Bridge offers fantastic views, both east and west, which are unhampered by obstructions like lampposts, as these run along the centre of the bridge.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

St Magnus the Martyr

London The Unfinished City
Dedicated to St Magnus the Martyr, Earl of Orkney.

St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, is one of my favourite churches, within the City of London. It is an ornate church which has an almost Palladian style to it, with its white walls, Romanesque columns and gold relief. 

But, the highlight of the church for me, besides all of its long history, is the model of old London Bridge, which shows how the bridge would have looked in the 1400s.

London The Unfinished City
Model of London Bridge.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Duke of York Column

London The Unfinished City
The Unfinished City's lost viewing platform.

I have walked by this memorial, to the Duke of York, countless times and assumed that it was a simple memorial atop a column. However, I was always intrigued by the doorway at the foot of the column, wondering why it was there and where it led. Was it to access an underground tunnel or was it simply a later addition, to act as a kind of cupboard? I needed to find out.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

'The Dickens Inn'

London The Unfinished City

It was while strolling around St Katharine Dock and Marina that I spotted this beautiful old converted warehouse. Intrigued by its name, and style, I decided to find out more about this fascinating building.

'The Grapes'

London The Unfinished City
Grape Expectations.

The first time I discovered The Grapes, it was too early in the day to pay it a visit, so I made a plan to return to it. Sure enough, two months later, I did return and I was not disappointed.

London The Unfinished City
The Grapes; A narrow pub on Narrow Street

It is a narrow space, but quite long, stretching back to a terrace, that overlooks the river. There is a spacious dining room, upstairs, where a mouth-watering selection of food can be savoured. I opted to eat downstairs, choosing from the pub grub menu; Cumberland sausage, creamy mash with a caramelised onion gravy, washed down with a pint of St. Edmunds. Beautiful.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Borough Market

London The Unfinished City
The finest food market in London.

I have come to love my visits to Borough Market, where I invariably stop off for a late breakfast or an early lunch. With a truly great selection of fresh produce, exotic meats and street food from around the globe, there is something here for everyone. It is a vibrant, busy market, where I always discover something new to try. 

Although the market is always busy, it is worth visiting on a Sunday, when the stalls are closed, as you get an even greater understanding of its size. Plus, if you are very lucky, you may just spot a Harris Hawk, and his handler, who patrols the market to keep the pigeons away. 

Science Museum

London The Unfinished City
Apollo 10 Capsule.

When I was a child I knew the Science Museum as London Buttons. It was a name that I gave it because some of the displays had buttons that, when pressed, made parts of the display move. 

When I took my daughters I found to my delight, and surprise, some of these interactive displays were still there.

Being much older, and considering how much the museum has expanded, I was surprised by many of the exhibits. Some of them I remembered, while others were new to me. The sheer wealth of artefacts, and history, on display, is amazing, making this a must on any museum list.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Orangery, Holland Park

Orangery and Gardens
Arches, Gardens and Tranquillity.

The Orangery
, Holland Park, is a unique place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, for the entire family. It is a place that I have visited on a number of occasions, but I had never truly appreciated its beauty, and history, until my latest visit.

It has always been a place that I was intrigued by, ever since I saw it used as a film location in the 1982 movie 'Who Dares Wins'.

Tower of London: White Tower

London The Unfinished City
A Christmas King builds a Norman Castle.

I have walked past the Tower of London on countless visits, to the Unfinished City, but I had only entered its historic grounds once, and that was over thirty years ago. 

This weekend I put that right by taking my family to wander around the walls and buildings. Soaking up its rich history and marvelling at its size, which even now, almost a 1.000 years later, is still intimidating, filled me with awe.

Monday, November 13, 2017

London Transport Museum

London The Unfinished City
'Old Bill' saw action in The Great War.

The London Transport Museum
is one of those museums that, at first thought, makes you think of musty old buses and trams. Maybe some stuffy uniforms and not much more. And you would be right, but, at the same time, wrong.

Yes, there are plenty of buses, trams and trains, but they are in no way musty. All of the exhibits are displayed in such a way as to show the evolution of transport in London. The majority of the exhibits are available for the public to climb aboard, while the remaining ones are too fragile. 

There is everything from Sedan chairs to an original Omnibus. Trams and Taxis. Steam Locomotives to the latest in Underground carriages. 

The museum also shows the history of how timetables, signage and posters changed throughout the years, and how transport embraced new technology. It is definitely one of the more hands-on museums that is perfect for the entire family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

'The George Inn'

London The Unfinished City
The Unfinished City's last 'galleried' coaching inn.

The George Inn
is one of those places that has existed, in some form or another, in the great Unfinished City for centuries. Unlike some other places of this age, though, The George Inn still retains all of the character that you would associate with something of this bygone era. From walking through the bars, that were frequented by Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, to walking along the gallery, with its uneven and creaky floorboards, you get a real sense of history.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Marble Arch

London The Unfinished City

Marble Arch
is one of those iconic buildings, within the Unfinished City, that I find intriguing. Not because of its design, but because of its location, which is not where it was first installed.

Natural History Museum

London The Unfinished City
King of the Dinosaurs.

The Natural History Museum is one of my favourite museums, in the Unfinished City. Housed within a magnificent architectural building, in the heart of Kensington, and with some truly unique specimens on show, it is a wonderland of discovery and learning, for all ages.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

London MillenniuM Footbridge (MillenniuM Bridge)

London The Unfinished City
Wobbly Bridge? Not anymore!

Of the nearly twenty pedestrian footbridges, across the River Thames, this is, quite possibly, my favourite. Spanning the river from St Paul's Cathedral, in the north, to the Tate Modern, in the south, the views that can be seen from its deck are incredible. When looking north, from Bankside, you get a clear view of St Paul's Cathedral, framed by the bridge supports.

Unfortunately, I never got to cross it on its opening day, nor the following two days, when it began to sway and wobble.

Olympic Park Boat Tour, 2015

London The Unfinished City
Approaching the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

I never got to visit the 2012 Olympics, due to work commitments, but I have visited the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park many times since. 

On one such occasion we took a boat tour along the River Lea, which allows you to see many of the Olympic venues, not to mention the varied wildlife, from a truly unique perspective.

Our vessel for this trip was one of the Water Chariots that had transported passengers to the Olympic Games.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Kyoto Garden

London The Unfinished City
Reflections on Tranquillity.

Friday October 27, 2017.

The Kyoto Garden, Holland Park, is one of those places that I had heard a lot about, but, considering my love for all things Japanese, had never visited. This past week I rectified that oversight. 

With the leaves, on the surrounding trees, creating a coloured patchwork of a myriad colours, coupled with the crystal clear sky, there were so many great photo opportunities that I could have spent the entire day there.

It is definitely a place that I will be visiting again.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

'Golden Hinde'

London The Unfinished City
All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

Sunday October 15, 2017.

I have often stopped to look at this replica of Sir Francis Drake's world famous ship, but still have yet to set foot on her decks. 

London The Unfinished City
Repairs are continuously underway.

Sometime soon I intend to take my girls aboard and, by so doing, will fulfil a personal dream.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

'City of Champions' by Stephen Brown

London The Unfinished City
Cast of Champions.

Cast, left to right : Amy Burke, Joel Arnold, Joe Southall, Steve Brown (writer and director), Ellie Ward, Maggie Robson and Ian McCurrach.

Saturday August 5, 2017.

I had a thoroughly amazing time watching the final night of City of Champions, at the London Theatre Workshop

The play took us through a roller coaster of emotions; some funny and humourous highs to some very dark and emotional lows. 

London The Unfinished City
London Theatre Workshop.

The cast were superb and really brought the characters to life with great dialogue and wonderful chemistry. 

I find myself fortunate to have seen this play twice and to have seen it grow from those first early drafts, some six years ago.

'Temple' by Damien Hirst

London The Unfinished City
A 'Temple' in the Heart of the City.
Saturday August 5, 2017.

This sculpture, by Damien Hirst, stands just to the east of Leadenhall Market. It is a sculpture that is gorgeously designed with amazing colours. 

It might not be to everyone's taste and may upset smaller children, but it is a beauty to behold. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Iron Maiden: Book of Souls Tour, 2017

Highlights of Iron Maiden's Book of Souls Tour, 2017, at the O2 Arena.

Saturday May 27, 2017.

Following the release of their latest, and possibly best, album, Iron Maiden were touring the world again. And, once again, David and myself would meet up in London, make a day of it and enjoy the concert.

Once again we met, ate and drank, before taking the Thames Clipper which was full of Iron Maiden fans to the Greenwich Peninsula.

Unlike 4 years ago, we made a point of watching the support act, Shinedown, as they were meant to be really good live. Now, any Iron Maiden fan, worth his salt, will tell you that the support act is there to fill the void before the main event and is usually an act being given the chance to play the big arenas. This time, however, things were different. Shinedown were electric and worked the crowd well. It was almost like they were the main act.

Having said that, when Iron Maiden did finally take to the stage, everything else was forgotten. As usual Iron Maiden blew everyone away.

Following the encore we made our way out of the arena and back to the Thames Clipper, and were homeward bound. 

Roll on the next tour.

Up the IRONS!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rendez-vous Tall Ships Regatta, 2017


London The Unfinished City
Looking across the River Thames towards the Old Royal Naval College.

Saturday April 15, 2017.

With more than 30 Tall Ships mooring up at Greenwich and Woolwich, I decided to head off with Erin and Keilyn to see these incredible ships.

Arriving at Embankment, by train, we caught a Thames Clipper to Greenwich, as this seemed the most appropriate way to see the ships. Plus, we got to sail beneath Tower Bridge, something the girls and I had wanted to do for a while.

London The Unfinished City
Looking back at Tower Bridge from the Thames Clipper.

As we reached Wapping we began to see some of the tall ships heading towards Greenwich. 

London The Unfinished City
'Christian Radich'.

From our perspective at the stern of our Thames Clipper the tall ships seemed to tower over us.

London The Unfinished City

London The Unfinished City
'Christian Radich', a Thames City Cruise and 'Tolkein'.

Disembarking from our river taxi, we headed into the Old Royal Naval College and soaked up the atmosphere. Music, food and a real festival vibe greeted us.

London The Unfinished City
'Loth Lorien'.

London The Unfinished City
'Vera Cruz'.

London The Unfinished City
'Loth Lorien'.

Suitably entertained by the various music acts and more than suitably fed we made our wat towards the Cutty Sark, before heading down the spiral staircase, of the Greenwich Foot tunnel, and headed northward to Island Gardens.

London The Unfinished City

London The Unfinished City
'Santa Maria Manuela'.

London The Unfinished City

London The Unfinished City
'Hydrogen' travelling from Woolwich.

After a great day looking at the various Tall ships and enjoying the festival atmosphere, we headed to the nearest DLR station and began our journey home.