Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Famous Londoners: 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, April 09, 2018

Viewing London

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, April 08, 2018

30 St. Mary Axe (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, March 30, 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, March 16, 2018

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, March 12, 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, March 04, 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, February 21, 2018

Famous Londoners: 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, February 08, 2018

MillenniuM Wheel

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, January 23, 2018

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

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, January 21, 2018

Piccadilly Arcade

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, January 20, 2018

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, January 17, 2018

Grave of the German Ambassador's Dog

"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, January 09, 2018

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

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, January 06, 2018

Rowbarge Gloriana

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, January 05, 2018

East India Arms

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, January 03, 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, January 02, 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, January 01, 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.

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