Saturday, 2 November 2019

British Museum

Interior of the British Museum
The Great Court, Entrance Hall and Glass Roof.
Thursday October 31, 2019.

With school half-term upon us, we decided to take the girls on a trip to London, for a few days. 

Our first stop, after lunch, was the British Museum. It was a museum that I had never visited, but had always been on my list of places to visit. As Erin (7) was learning about the Egyptians, at school, it seemed like the perfect time to visit. 

We entered from the Montague Place entrance, and headed directly into the Wellcome Trust Gallery, which had a display of 'Living and Dying'. From here went to the North America and then the Mexico collection. 

From here we entered the Great Court, now enclosed in a wonderful glass roof, where stone artefacts from Egypt and China could be seen. A cafe and gift shop, surrounding the Reading Room, were busy with customers, so we continued into the Egyptian Room. Stone tablets, bearing hieroglyphs, adorned the walls, while stone statues stood in silent majesty, gazing back at the throng of visitors. Sculptures, temples, pillars as a Sarcophagus were also easily accessible.

We then headed to the Middle East, beginning with Assyrian sculptures and Balawat Gates, before travelling through Ancient Greece. From the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the Lycia. From Alexander the Great to the Romans. Vases, sculptures, Mausoleums, monuments and the Parthenon were all on show, in all of their awe-inspiring beauty. 

Back into the Great Court, we caught a lift to the third floor, where we crossed the bridge, from the Great Court Restaurant, and entered the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Galleries, which showcased more of the Middle East. From South Arabia to Anatolia and Uratu and on to Mesopotamia and Levant, there was a lot to take in.

Then we were on to the highlight, for us, of the visit. Ancient Egypt.

Sarcophagi, mummies, burial offerings and much more were all on show. This gallery reached, if not surpassed, my expectations. Erin was busy taking photos and was completely immersed in the experience, while Keilyn was happy to wander around and look at everything, with an innocents mind.

We then headed up to the Mitsubishi Corporation Galleries, where an amazing amount of Japanese culture was on display. The collection dated from around 13,500 Bc right up to the present day. From pots to figures of Buddhist deities. From Samurai armour and weapons to wooden models of animals. Chests and clothing led on to a collection from the indigenous people of Japan, the Ainu. Photography and glassware from the 20th century were also on display.

We then headed back downstairs and into the Sainsbury Galleries and its Africa exhibit. After a good look around at the various art, relics and weaponry, we were beginning to flag. But, with so much more still to see, we decided that we would return again, and so we made our way back to the Great Court and out of the museum. So we headed down Drury Lane, in search of coffee and ice cream, before continuing to our hotel and the adventure that we had planned for Halloween night.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Foragers of the Foreshore Exhibition

Foragers of the Foreshore
A varied selection of Mudlarking finds, from the foreshore of the River Thames.
Sunday September 29, 2019.

It was a drizzly morning as Emma, Erin, Keilyn, my mum, uncle Martin and I headed off to London, via the Metropolitan line. Changing on to a Jubilee line train, at Finchley Road, we continued our journey to Waterloo. From here it was just a short walk to Oxo Tower Wharf, and the Bargehouse, where the Foragers of the Foreshore exhibition was being held.

The exhibition had been running since the 25th, so this was our last chance to see the largest display of mudlarking finds that had ever been displayed. There were also artists and photographers displaying their work, too, which all centred around mudlarking, mudlarks and the River Thames.

Spread across three floors of the Bargehouse there was much to see and discover. There were displays of coins, medieval jewelry, pottery, keys, skulls, bones, trading tokens, weapons and so much more. These ranged from the Neolithic period, the Roman occupation and on through the centuries to the present day.

There were short videos and talks, where experts shared their knowledge and experiences, often talking about their favourite finds and those items they hoped to find one day.

Mudlarks were everywhere, with their finds on display, explaining how they got into the 'art' of mudlarking and scouring the River Thames foreshore,

Artist Ashleigh Fisk had an art installation, on one of the floors, which comprised of ceramic aretacts and finds from the foreshore, telling the story of Genius Loci of the Thames.

Hannah Smiles was on hand, taking photographs and displaying some of her favourite prints, many of which were of Mudlarks or the River Thames and its foreshore, along with some of her finds.

Adorning some of the walls were photographic portraits by the photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, which captured the foreshore in all of its glory.

There were also artists on hand, one of whom, Nicola White, had created a piece from plastics that had been found floating in the river, While another, Ed Bucknall, had created paintings on pieces of marble, found along the foreshore.

There were many more experts, artists, photographers and Mudlarks who were easy to talk to and to ask questions of, all of which they were happy to answer.

There was an interactive area where children could make an 'artefact' from plasticine, which could then be hung, with clear nylon, in a perspex box. This simulated items being held in suspension  of the water of the River Thames.

There was also a virtual reality mudlarking box, that you placed your hand beneath. The screen then showed a hand shifting stones and such. When you were ready you 'picked up' an item and it appeared in your hand on the screen. Withdrawing your and you were given a badge, with whichever item you had discovered on it, which you took to one of the displays and the experts would tell you all they could about the item.

All-in-all it was a thoroughly informative and educational day, where much was learnt and discovered by all of us.

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Mayflower

Historic Mayflower pub, The Unfinished City
The Historic Mayflower.

It was a wonderfully warm Saturday afternoon as I, and my work colleagues, Gary and Steve, entered the historic 16th Century Mayflower pub, in Rotherhithe Village. Having heard so much about this place, it was about time that I visited it. And, I can tell you, it was not a disappointment.

Wooden beams and a small wooden bar, with various artefacts, which included books, models, flags, drawings and paintings and so much more, really gave the place a feeling of history.

The covered seating area, which was built on decking, stretched out over the River Thames, giving a wonderful view across the river to Wapping. You could see from the Thames River Police Museum, in the northeast to almost the Prospect of Whitby. Behind the old converted warehouses, you can make out the Walkie-talkie, the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

View From The Shard

View from The Shard, The Unfinished City
The View from The Shard.
Saturday, August 10, 2019.

It was a perfect Saturday morning as my wife and I made our way to The Unfinished City. 

Our first stop was Borough Market, as usual, for a look around and to find something to eat. Once fully fuelled we headed to the George Inn, for a well deserved drink, before taking a slow walk around the area, taking in the sights.

As we arrived at The Shard, the wind started to pick up speed and was now gusting at 50mph. We made our into the foyer, a few minutes early, and were ushered into the Security Area, where belts, phones and other metal objects were removed, while bags were scanned. After stepping through the metal detector, and having collected our belongings, we made our way to the first of two lifts which would take us to the viewing platforms.

The first lift took us up to the 32nd floor, at a speed of 6m/s. We then transferred to our second elevator and, within moments, we were up at the viewing platform, on the 69th floor. A few flights of stairs then took us up to the Open air Skydeck on the 72nd floor.

After snapping a few photos we decided to collect our complimentary glass of Champagne, before looking at the view properly. By now the wind was blowing a gale, which caused the structure to sway gently. As the Open air Skydeck is, well, open air, some champagne glasses were being blown from the highly polished bar, before shattering on the floor.

The views are spectacular and were, for the most part, unobscured by clouds, due to the hurricane blasting them away.

We soon made our way back down to the Indoor viewing gallery, where, now enclosed, we weren't buffeted by the wind, allowing for steadier photographs to be taken.

Before we finished our tour, we both decided to use the facilities: Using a toilet, 68 storeys up, that has floor to ceiling windows is an incredible, if peculiar, feeling.

Friday, 9 August 2019

King Edward III's Moated Manor House

Manor House Ruin, The Unfinished City
King Edward IIIs Moated Manor house.
Partial as I am to wandering and going off on a tangent, rather than sticking to a prescribed route, when visiting The Unfinished City, it is no wonder that I stumble across some interesting things and places.

Take, for instance, this Royal Residence. Had I not taken a detour then I would never have known that this piece of history existed. Obviously, there is not much left to see, and this photo does not do the place justice, but the moat and foundations are all still there.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

H.M.S. Belfast... again.

Morrissey Girls aboard HMS Belfast, The Unfinished City
Erin and Keilyn standing by 'B' Turret. 
The guns of 'A' and 'B' turrets are both elevated and targeted on the M1 Gateway Services, some 12.5 miles away.
This is well within reach of these 6-inch guns.
Way back on August 4, 2010, I took my eldest daughter, Alysha, aboard H.M.S. Belfast. She was 14 at the time. We had a great time exploring the ship and taking in the views.

This past Sunday, August 4, 2019, I took my two youngest daughters, Erin (7) and Keilyn (6), aboard. We climbed up ladders, clambered through watertight doors and edged our way along narrow gangways, taking in all nine decks.
(I am unsure as to why August 4th has played a part in both visits).

We began our exploration on the Quarterdeck, before heading inside and into the Laundry. Then off to the Sound Reproduction Room, Chapel and Mail Room, before heading down the first of many ladders to the Boiler and Engine Rooms.

A set of ladders brought us back up to the quarterdeck, where we saw the Messdeck, Bakery and Food Stores. We then carried on passed the  Galley, NAAFI, Provision Stores, the Dentist, Dispensary and Sick Bay. This brought  us to the Arctic Messdeck and the Brig.

We then doubled back and headed down more ladders to the Forward Steering Position. Then up some ladders only to go down some more, a few moments later, as we entered the Shell Room and Magazine for 'B' Turret.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Warner Bros. Studios Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter

Potions and Dark Magic.

We visited the Harry Potter Studios Tour for my daughter's 6th birthday, and she absolutely loved it.

After a quick coffee we began our tour.

Following the short video, in the cinema, we made our way through the doors and found the entrance to the Great Hall. As it was Keilyn's birthday, she had the honour of opening the doors to the Great Hall, allowing us to begin the tour proper.

The Great Hall was incredible to see in person and the props and costumes on display are wonderful to see up close.

From here we went to see some of the other exhibits; costumes, wigs, makeup, Dumbledore's study, Hagrid's Hut, the Potions Lab, the Quidditch area and much more.

We then entered the Enchanted Forest with its scary spiders that fell from the ceiling, or came out of cavernous holes.

We then found ourselves by the Hogwarts Express steam locomotive and Platform 9 3/4. We then headed to the cafeteria before heading outside to the backlot, where there was even more to see; Harry Potter's house, the Knight Bus, Hogwarts Bridge, the Potter's Cottage, chess pieces, a Ford Anglia and a motorcycle.

Soon we were back inside to see more of the prosthetics, models, costumes, artwork and more. This led us to Gringotts Bank and on to the Bank Vault, before returning us to Gringotts Bank, which was under attack from a Dragon.

Diagon Alley swiftly followed and led us to more of the conceptual artwork and models, used in the Making of Harry Potter.

Finally, we arrived at the largest model that I have ever seen.

We then ended up in the Gift Shop, where you can easily spend a small fortune as the prices are anything but cheap.

All through the tour you can play a game of 'spot the Golden Snitch'. There are 13 to find, and the last of these is the most difficult.

All of the staff were knowledgeable, helpful and really made my daughter's birthday a memorable one.

You will need to set aside a minimum of three hours, to get around the tour, but it is well worth it.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Angel

A view of The Unfinished City, from the riverside decking of the Angel pub.
It was a glorious Saturday morning as myself and two work colleagues, Gary and Steve, met up for a walk along the Thames Path, on a journey from Borough Market to Greenwich.

Gary and I ate a hearty breakfast, from the Boston Sausage stall in Borough Market, before heading across the road to The George Inn. I chose a pint of George Ale, while Gary had a lager, as we awaited the arrival of Steve.

Once the three amigos were ready, we made our way towards Tower Bridge and Shad Thames, where our stroll began in earnest.

Passing in front of Butler's Wharf, we continued along the Thames Path, until we reached The Angel public house, where we stopped for a refreshing drink. As the pub is located opposite the ruins of King Edward III's Moated Manor house, I decided that I should have a pint of Sovereign Ale, which was very refreshing.

We drank outside, on the pub's small decking that overlooks the River Thames, and took in the views.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

120 Fenchurch Street Roof Garden

The view looking south.
Back in February, 2019, a new roof garden opened, in the City of London. Situated on the fifteenth floor of a newly designed building, it offers 360 degree views of the city and its environs.

Being only fifteen storeys tall, it is dwarfed by buildings like the Gherkin, Walkie-talkie and Scalpel, but it does offer unique views of these buildings. Even on the overcast morning that I visited, I could still see the Crystal Palace Transmitter, to the south, Canary Wharf, to the east and the BT Tower to the west. Obviously, much of the view to the north is obscured by the aforementioned skyscrapers.

The planted flower beds were still to fully bloom and the creeping vines have yet to fully take hold of the upright roof supports, while the water feature, which has small fountains in a raised channel, wasn't functioning. When all of these things come together, over the next few weeks, this will be one of the most pleasant public roof gardens in the City of London.

Access to the Roof Garden is via a lift in a spacious lobby, which has an art installation in the ceiling, which shows various garden scenes and sometimes links up to a camera, situated in the roof garden, that shows Tower Bridge.

St. Dunstan-in-the-East Church & Garden

A panoramic of the Nave.
It was a cool spring Friday morning, as I took to the streets of the Unfinished City, in search of new areas to discover. Pretty soon I found myself on Lower Thames Street, heading eastward.

Since it had been pouring with rain on my last visit to St. Dunstan-in-the-East Church Garden, I decided to pop in for a look around. It was perfect timing, because as I arrived a tour guide and his Spanish entourage were just leaving, heading toward the Tower of London, so I had the place to myself.

Obviously, as it was still early spring, many of the flowers had yet to bloom, which gave the ruined church an even more sombre mood, especially with the overcast skies.

Considering where the ruins are located it was remarkably peaceful, even with the traffic zooming past.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Museum of London: Docklands

Warehouses and Docks at Canary Wharf
The past lives on.
Having visited the Museum of London, on a number of occasions, I thought that it was about time that we took some time to visit her sister museum, in London's Docklands. It was a pleasant summer morning as we approached Warehouse No. 1, which which has been fully restored and now houses the Museum.

Covering the full history of the River Thames and the docks, from the first Roman port, through the 1600s and on to the present day, all of its unique history is here.

On our visit there was a special exhibition entitled Roman Dead. This included many Roman remains that had been unearthed throughout the City. Some of them had only been discovered in the last few years, with the deep excavations undertaken in the construction of Crossrail.

Since we all enjoyed the visit so much, and with there being plenty of time left in the day, we took the Docklands Light Railway to Bank station, before making our way to the Museum of London. Thus visiting both museums, in one day.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace and Queen Victoria
Kensington Palace and Queen Victoria's statue.
After our initial stop at the Diana Memorial Playground, we made our way south towards Kensington Palace, with the shade from the trees protecting us from the warm summer sun. A few photographs were taken before we headed towards the Round Pond.

From here we continued eastward towards the Long Water, passing the Physical Energy statue, designed by George Frederic Watts and erected in 1907. 

As we approached the Long Water a gust of wind blew Erin's baseball cap, from her head, far out into the water. To say that she was distraught was an understatement! I have never seen such an upset 6 year old. 

After eventually calming her down we continued our walk, this time heading north, passing the Peter Pan statue and continuing on to the Italian Gardens.

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