Monday, 3 September 2018

Museum of London

London Made at the Museum of London
Need any more be said?
The Unfinished City is home to hundreds of museums, the majority of which are free to enter. Currently my favourite museum is the Museum of London, which charts the history of our great city from prehistoric times right through to the present day. It is an absolute joy to explore and I always learn something new, from each visit.

Having said that, until recently I had never explored the entire museum. This was usually because of time constraints, or popping in for a quick exploratory, while waiting for the rain to alleviate.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

London's Roman Fort, Walls & Bastions

Part of the Roman Fort, London Wall
Part of the Roman Fort Wall and Bastion 14, London Wall.
I have always had a fascination with the Romans and, by extension, there creation of Londinium, so I have always looked forward to visiting as much of the remaining wall and fortifications, as I can.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Bunhill Fields

Daniel Defoe's Grave, Bunhill Fields
The grave of Daniel Defoe.
I had long wished to visit Bunhill Fields Burial Ground and Gardens, as, sometimes, these are often overlooked places that many find macabre. However, places like this offer a wonderfully peaceful place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Plus, there are always the graves of important people, mixed in the ordinary, everyday tombstone. Bunhill Fields contains many graves, but some of the more famous are those of Daniel Defoe and William Blake, the latter of which is just a marker stating that he is buried close by. This is set to change, as his actual burial site has now been found, and a new gravestone will be unveiled, soon.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Coal Plates

Hayward Brothers Coal Plate
A typical Hayward Brothers Coal Plate, that is roughly 150 years old.
While walking the streets of London, I always make sure to look down as well as up. It was on one of walks from Kensington to Baker Street, via a convoluted route, that I properly noticed these small, iron plates. I had passed them many times before, but I had never really paid them much attention. What a mistake?!

These are Coal Plates, which are fast vanishing from London's streets. Some of them are plain, while others are quite ornate. Some have no wording, which makes it difficult to identify the manufacturer, while others are proudly stamped with the ironmongers name, or company.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Cart & Horses

Birthplace of Iron Maiden
The Cart & Horses: Birthplace of Iron Maiden.
When I was just 10 years young, I purchased my first 7" single. It was Iron Maiden's 'Run to the Hills'. I have been a fan of theirs ever since, so I decided that it was high time that I visited The Cart & horses, Stratford, where Iron Maiden performed their first gig, back in 1976.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Dinosaurs in the Wild

Dinosaurs in the Wild Triceratops on the Montana Plains
A family of Triceratops, on the Montana Plains.

We arrived early, which gave us a chance to use the facilities, before we boarded our timepod, following our safety briefing in which we also received special glasses, that would allow is to see through the reinforced windows.

It took only a few seconds to travel back 67 million years, at which point our timepod deployed its wheels, converting it into a X90 CTP land vehicle, and we headed to Timebase 67.

A few scary moments as some dinosaurs took an interest in our vehicle, with one clambering over the window, as it tried to get on the roof, but, otherwise, it was a plenty journey ambling past some Alamosaurus, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Dakotaraptor and many more.

We disembarked and went into the visitor's centre, where our guide explained where we were and what we would see. Around the walls various CCTV screens showed the goings on around the base: Living quarters, hospital, canteen, dry store, various laboratories, workshops, gym and various other areas of the Timebase. After a good look at some of the press clippings, commemorative plaques and other paraphernalia on the walls we headed into a laboratory, where there were some great exhibits on show: A forearm from a Tyrannosaurus, various dinosaur brains, an Alamosaurus heart, various bugs and even dinosaur droppings!!! Many of these items could be handled, making it a real educational environment.

From here we then went on to see the autopsy of an Alamosaurus: This included the removal of some internal organs and the sawing off of the cranial plate, to expose the brain. Luckily the autopsy took lace behind a glass screen, so we were in no danger of getting covered in blood.

The hatchery was next, on the experience, where we could see various dinosaur nests. While we were there a baby Dilophoraptor hatched, which they named Keilyn Raptor, after the birthday girl herself.

The animal labs, nocturnal and daylight, were next, before we headed up to the Lookout Platform. 

With huge windows and touchscreen information terminals, there was much to see and do. While we watching the dinosaurs, in their natural habitat, a vehicle outside one of the windows was attacked by a pair of Ankylosaurus. The vehicle suffered some severe damage and its occupants were forced to leave the burning X90 CTP. Our guides, who realised what was happening, dispatched some men in Hazmat suits to rescue the stranded visitors. At this point a pride of Tyrannosaurus approached the Timebase and we were hurriedly forced to evacuate.

While some guides led us through some dark tunnels, other guides, armed to the teeth, stayed behind to buy us some escape time. We headed into a lift that took us down to sub level 4, where, we headed in to another corridor. The roof of this corridor was made of glass, giving an amazing view of an underwater world. However, we soon forced to crouch low to the ground as a Prognathodon peered down at us, no doubt thinking we were food.

Soon, though, we made our way to the emergency escape pods which, after a minor technical issue, returned us to 2018.

Dinosaurs in the Wild is part educational, part expedition, but 100% awesome. Suitable for all ages, although some very young children may find some of the expedition a bit scary, I would thoroughly recommend it as a destination.

Friday, 27 April 2018

ZSL London Zoo

Sumatran Tigers, Jae Jae and Melati
The Sumatran Tiger, Jae Jae, cuddles his mate, Melati, in Tiger Territory.
ZSL London Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country, if not the world. It is a place that is constantly evolving, which offers something new on each visit. It is a place that all of my children love, regardless of their age on each visit.

With the Snowdon Aviary being the next big regeneration project, I cannot wait to see what happens after its completion.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Famous Londoners: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Blue Plaque for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
First female doctor, first female member of a school board and first female mayor and magistrate in Britain.
Working, as I do, for the National Health Service, I have a developed a fascination with the history of hospitals, especially the buildings themselves, and of the pioneering staff who worked in them.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Viewing London

A sunset and St. Paul's Cathedral from One New Change
Sunset behind St. Paul's Cathedral, taken from One New Change.
With the Unfinished City constantly changing, as new buildings are added to its skyline on an almost yearly basis, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the perfect spots from which to see these remarkable buildings, from either up close and personal, or from an unobscured vantage point.

Thankfully, London has a number of great vantage points from which you can see some remarkable views, many of which are free, or fairly cheap.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

30 St. Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

30 St. Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin
Strange Fruit.
30 St. Mary Axe is one of the most striking examples of contemporary architecture, in the City of London, and is one of my favourite buildings in the area. With its triangular and diamond shaped glass panels it offers some truly unique photographic opportunities, regardless of whether it is sunny or overcast.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Sea Life London Aquarium

A shark at the London Aquarium
A  perfect predator.
The Sea Life London Aquarium is one of those places that I can quite easily spend a good few hours, in a calming and relaxing environment. The exhibits are changed often enough that there is always something new and refreshing to see.

With huge ocean tanks, containing sharks and rays, an underwater tunnel shark walk, smaller tanks, with their myriad of species, to the realm of the penguins, there is something to keep visitors of all ages entertained.

Friday, 16 March 2018

London Mithraeum

London Mithraeum
The Temple of Mithras.
Ever since I had first read about the Temple of Mithras, I had wanted to see it with my own eyes. Recently, the temple was dismantled from its location on Queen Victoria Street and moved back to its original site, on the banks of the Walbrook River, below the new Bloomberg building, allowing everyone to see it. And, I think that everybody should see it.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Commonwealth Day

Parliament Square on Commonwealth Day
Celebrating the Commonwealth.
On the morning of Monday March 11, 2013, my eldest daughter, Alysha, had the honour of performing a dance at Westminster Abbey, in front of Royalty, for Commonwealth Day.

As I wasn't permitted inside, I spent the morning soaking up the atmosphere, and plenty of coffee, as the temperature was hovering just above freezing. Suffice to say that I while I struggled to keep warm, my daughter was inside Westminster Abbey, dancing in front of royalty, dignitaries and celebrities.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

General Lying-In Hospital

London Maternity Hospital
A bit of an archaic term, but still a wonderful building.
Considering the amount of regeneration around the South Bank, especially close to the old County Hall and its environs, I am still amazed that wonderful buildings like the General Lying-In Hospital still survive.

Although no longer a hospital it is still part of the Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, who use it as offices and a training facility.

Chinese New Year Parade 2018

Year of the Dog 2018
Flying High.
An early start saw us reaching Charing Cross Road, in order to find a good vantage point from which to watch the parade. The majority of the route was already full of spectators, but we still managed to find suitable spot.

As always, with a parade on this scale, there was a delayed start, but it was soon underway and we found that we were had a pretty good view; On the kerb, with no one in front of us.

After the parade finished we headed through Chinatown, back through Leicester Square and down on to Trafalgar Square.

After taking in the atmosphere we headed off for some food, before heading home.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Famous Londoners: Douglas Bader

Blue Plaque for Sir Douglas Bader
Not bad for a man with no legs.

Recently I took a stroll around the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, visiting various places that I hadn't yet seen.

One of the things that I wanted to see was the English Heritage Trust Blue Plaque, to commemorate Douglas Bader, on Petersham Mews. I have been fascinated by his story since I was about 8 and thought that it was time that went to see where he had once lived.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

MillenniuM Wheel

MillenniuM Wheel, aka The London Eye
The World's tallest cantilevered observation wheel.
The London Eye has become synonymous with the London skyline, becoming the focal point of the New Year's Eve fireworks.

I have walked beneath it countless times, but did not get to take a flight on it until November, 2017.

Booking in advance we managed to get a deal whereby we got two flights on the same day; One in the morning, the other in the evening. And, it was far better than I thought it was going to be, even though the weather wasn't the best.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Embassy of the United States of America (1960-2018)

Embassy of the United States of America
Home to the Diplomatic Mission of the USA, from 1960-2018.
Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, has always held an odd fascination with me. Whether it is because of the area, or the history of the square, I do not know.

However, one of the most imposing, and I would say magnificent, buildings around the square, is the old Embassy of the United States of America, with its gilded bald eagle sitting on its roof. 

Now that the embassy has moved to Nine Elms, you can get quite close to the building and see it in all of its glory, before the developers move in.

Brief History

Grosvenor Square has been home to the Embassy of the United States of America since 1938, although it didn't move into the London Chancery Building until 1960.

Built in the late 1950s, and finished in 1960, the London Chancery Building was the largest American Embassy in Europe, and would be their home until 2018.

Designed by Eero Saarinen, the building has nine floors, three of which are below ground.

The gilded bald eagle, that sits atop the building, was designed by Theodore Roszak and has an 11 metre wingspan.

Following the September 11, 2001, attacks security was dramatically increased at the embassy. The road outside the embassy was closed to public access by car, while armed roadblocks were stationed outside the building, too.

In front of the building stand two statues, Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower, plus a piece of the Berlin Wall.

The building was granted Grade II listed status in October 2009.

As of January 2018, the Embassy of the United States of America is now located in Nine Elms, near Battersea Power Station.

Qatari Diar purchased the Grosvenor Square building and plan to turn it into a luxury hotel, with around 137 hotel rooms, bars, shops and restaurants.

Grosvenor Square, itself, is set to be revamped and restored to its former glory, too.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Piccadilly Arcade

The Piccadilly Arcade is shopping in style
The finest Edwardian Arcade left in London.
Considering the amount of times that I have walked along Piccadilly, I can count on one hand the amount of times that I have walked through the Piccadilly Arcade.

It is one of those hidden gems that so many people miss, but it is well worth visiting, even if it is just to escape the hordes of tourists, or escape from the London weather.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Lumiere London 2018

Westminster Abbey illuminated for Lumiere London 2018
Westminster Abbey looking glorious at Lumiere London 2018.
As soon as the dates were released for this years Lumiere Festival, I knew that I would be attending. Falling across four nights, Thursday 18 - Sunday 21, we decided that the Friday would be the best night for us.

Fortunately, I was allowed to leave work slightly early, thank you to my manager for that, so that I could pick up the girls, with my wife. This afforded us the luxury of being able to leave for London, earlier than expected.

As we had all had a long week, and knowing that Erin (6) and Keilyn (4) would be tired, I had planned a route that would allow us to see some of the installations, while staying close enough to transport links, should the girls become too tired.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Grave of the German Ambassador's Dog

Grave of a 'Nazi' Dog, Carlton Place
"Giro"
A Faithful Companion!
London in February 1934.
Hoesch.
I am amazed when walking around London, even if it is a place that I have visited many times before, the amount of weird or unusual things that I have previously missed.

For instance: I have walked around, along and through Waterloo Place many times. Whether going to Pall Mall from The Mall, or looking at the various statues or simply just wandering around the area. But, not once, in all of these visits, had I noticed this little grave to "Giro", nestled beneath a tree.

I had to find out more about this curious little grave.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Historic London Pub, where you can hear the River Fleet
Is that the River Fleet, I hear?
One of my favourite pubs, in the City of London, is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. I first discovered it a number of years back, when I ducked into an alleyway to avoid some freezing rain, on a cold January day. Seeing the light of the pub I wandered in.

On entering I found it to be quite dark, with wood panelling and little in the way of natural light. Spread across a number of floors, with various bars, it has a feeling of being lost in time.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Rowbarge Gloriana

HRH Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Rowbarge
A Right Royal Barge.
I was quite surprised when, walking around St. Katherine Docks, I spotted the Queen's Rowbarge Gloriana, nestled amongst other vessels of varying size and stature. Because of the crowds, which were all trying to get a good view, it was hard to get a decent shot, but I was happy with this one.

Friday, 5 January 2018

East India Arms

A historic pub in the heart of the City of London
History in the Heart of the City.
The East India Arms is a wonderfully traditional pub, in the heart of the City of London. It still retains all the charm of its heritage, even with all of the new buildings, and offices. in the area.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Waterstones Piccadilly

Well worth the wait. 
I love London, books and Iron Maiden, among other things. So it was only right that on a wet October evening I had no qualms about queuing outside Waterstones Piccadilly, to meet Bruce Dickinson, entrepreneur, pilot, Olympic-class fencer, businessman and lead singer of Iron Maiden, to get a copy of his autobiography signed.

What was peculiar was that of all the bookshops that I had visited, in London, this one had passed me by. What a mistake that was. It is massive and spreads across six floors. It has since become my favourite bookstore, especially with the views that are on offer on the fifth floor.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Royal Gun Salute

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, in Green Park.
A Royal Gun Salute is fired on numerous occasions, throughout the year, and is a marvel of horsemanship, skill and military discipline.

All of the salutes, that I have witnessed, have taken place in Green Park, but I hope to see one at Horse Guards Parade, this year.

Tower of London: Medieval Palace

The bedchamber of King Edward I.
The first part of the Tower that I visited, on entering from the Byward Tower, was the Medieval Palace. It is remarkably well preserved and with actors wandering through the rooms, dressed in medieval garb, you get a real sense of life in the 1200s.

Some of the walls, and parts of the flooring, have been left in a bit of disrepair, to show how the palace was constructed.

By far one of the most intriguing parts of the entire visit.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola

The perfect escape from the Unfinished City.
The Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead, were one of those places that I had wished to visit for quite a while. So, on a trip to Golders Hill Park Zoo and Deer Enclosure I decided to take the opportunity to visit this much talked about space.

I was not disappointed. The Hill Garden is beautifully maintained, with manicured lawns, flowers, shrubs and trees from around the globe, a Georgian Arbour and, of course, the Pergola. Unfortunately, the Pergola was partially closed as someone had hired it for their wedding, so I was unable to witness the spectacular views over Hampstead Heath.

Although the Pergola is in need of some serious restoration, it is still a remarkable, and somewhat eerie, place to visit.

Tamesis

The Tamesis floating pub.
It was during a late afternoon wander along the River Thames that I discovered the Tamesis floating pub. Intrigued I stepped aboard for a drink and found it to be cosy and welcoming. Much like the TARDIS, from Doctor Who, the Tamesis is a lot larger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Of course, there is seating available on the decks, too, for those warm London days and nights.

Popular Posts