Rant About London

This is a photo of the Monument in London.

And this is a grouchy post about the development of modern London.

The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke and was erected to commemorate the Great Fire Of London (1666) and to mark the rebuilding of the city.

So it has been there for approximately three hundred and fifty years.

The photo on the left here is from 2011.

Now fast forward to my visit to London a couple of weeks ago.

I was on my way back to Liverpool Street from the Thames, and stopped to look at the Monument.

And like you do, I thought back to when I had last photographed it and how I climbed the stairs inside it to look over London and how I had taken a shot of Tower Bridge.

Memory banks filled, I continued on my way.

I turned a corner and saw this on a side street.

The Monument Building,
94,000 sq ft of Grade A office and retail space available 01.2016

Who allowed this encroachment on the free space around the statue?

Give it room to breathe, for heaven’s sake.

When will come the day when we all have to shuffle sideways between the buildings in London because there will be no room to walk normally?

[Click the image to see a larger version.]

monument-london-2015

Rant over.

A Week In London

kew-gardens

I took these photos with my iPhone. I also took my Fuji, but the photos are still on the SD card.

When I first read about cameras with built-in wifi that enables you to wirelessly transfer the images to computer, I thought it was a gimmick. But the truth is that in a world of convenience, everything that is even a little bit less convenient becomes a chore.

So, back to the tale of a week in London.

We spent a week there and we were blessed with good weather so we spent a day at Kew Gardens. The magnolias were in bloom and they were staggeringly beautiful.

We also visited the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre at Barnes, just four miles from the centre of London – with hundreds of wildfowl – ducks, geese, waders…

And we went to the Wildlife Photography Exhibition and to an exhibition on Greek sculpture. And to some other things like sitting out at the South Bank Centre and watching the world go by.

It was a full week and just what we needed to dust away some cobwebs.

Kew

The photo above is from near the entrance/exit to Kew and I thought it would look nice with the magnolia framing the little building.

I am not sure what the building is, probably a little folly or gazebo in classical style, built to look cute – which it does.

magnolia

white-magnolia

The next shot is a pink magnolia, also at Kew. We were all ooh-ing and aah-ing over it and you can see someone admiring it. And you can see how huge the flowers are.

And then there’s a close-up of another magnolia – a white one that was deep into the gardens. We passed it as we were stalking a green woodpecker that was flitting low and pecking on the ground.

Kew Gardens covers 300 acres (120 hectares) which is big for London and maybe for anywhere in the UK. I’ll keep my voice low because I am sure there are developers licking their lips at the prospect of all that land if it were ever to become available for development.

And Now For Some Urban Reality

heron-tower

This is Heron Tower. I’ve photographed it before and it always makes me raise my camera/phone. It, and other even more massive buildings now surround the city of London (the financial district of London), are like invaders from another planet (think Tom Cruise in War Of The Worlds).

There are lots of churches in the financial district and they are dwarfed by buildings like the Lloyds building. Here’s a shot of it (it’s the building on the left) and as you can see, it is an inside-out building like the Pompidou Centre in Paris. All the pipework is on the outside for easy maintenance.

lloyds-building

No Courgettes

I saw this van in the next photo when I was on my way early one morning to catch the inflow of people going to work in the morning across one of the London bridges. Those photos are on my Fuji – so watch out for an article about those.

no-courgettes

I like the meeting of ideas on the van. If you are not from the UK then you may not be familiar with the fact that lots of shops have signs along the lines of ‘No cash kept on these premises overnight.’ And the leading supermarkets in the UK do home deliveries. You shop on line and they deliver.

They have cute messages on their delivery vans, like ‘Freshly clicked’.

So this van in the photo has married the two ideas to produce this ‘No courgettes kept in this van overnight.’

osborne-house

And here is a period building – Osborne House – also in the financial heart of London. I wonder whether there is any relation to George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

the-pickle

And then a shot showing the building that is colloquially known by Londoners as the gherkin (which is why Tamara and I call it the pickle.)

It was occupied by the Lord Mayor and the City Of London council – or something along those lines – and is now insurance offices or something.

The gherkin was built after the Baltic Exchange was blown up by the IRA in the 1970s. On this visit to London I happened to go into a church near here. I like to see what they look like inside – many of them being very old.

The one I visited was St Botolphs Without Bishopsgate, and there was a leaflet inside that described how it survived the Great Fire Of London without damage. And how it survived the Second World War with just a couple of windows blown out. But it didn’t survive the blast from the Baltic Exchange bombing and lost its windows and its roof completely.

Finally, the last photo is the Shard on the south bank of the Thames – more about that when I I process the Fuji photos.

the-shard

Pasque Flowers

pasque-flowers

Pasque flowers – The name comes from Passover, and from their to their connection with Easter. That fits well with the festival because they bloom in early Spring – even in Edinburgh.

They grow wild in the UK, which is hard to believe with more and more wild flowers becoming rare because of lack of habitat.