London Photo Essay

I was born in England but have lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for many years. Take a tour with me around some of the best known London sights. Discover parts of the UK capital that you might not know; and enjoy the architecture, the views and the detail of this fabulous city. It is my personal selection.

Trafalgar Square, Nelson's Column
Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column
Trafalgar Square with the fountains
Trafalgar Square with the fountains, London, England.
The Ritz hotal and a red London bus in the same shot.
The Ritz hotel and a red London bus in the same shot.

The Ritz, featured in the wonderful 1999 film Notting Hill.

The Connaught Hotel - only for the rich
The Connaught Hotel – only for the rich.
BT (formerly Post Office) Tower
BT (formerly Post Office) Tower, London.
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Typical London Pubs – purveyors of fine ale – Chiswick.
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The North Star, Ealing.
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Kew Garden Station pub, Tap on the Line.
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Kew Gardens, London.
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The amazing Marianne North Gallery,  Kew Gardens, London.
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Detail, Kew Gardens, London.

Do you like green spaces? Would you like to see more of London’s lush hidden corners?

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St Pancreas Parish Church and graveyard, London.

My blog link: Camley Street Natural Park, St Pancreas Parish Church and graveyard, and Goldington Crescent, Camden.

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Hammersmith Bridge, London, England.
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The iconic Tower Bridge, London, England.
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The Shard, near London Bridge.
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The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (clock tower) from the train rolling over Hungerford Bridge.

 

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The O2 arena, London, England.
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The Emirates Airline gondolas / cable cars across the Thames, London.
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Atmospheric views from the Tate Modern Art Gallery: River Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral.
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Again, from the Tate: The Shard and East London skyscrapers.
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Through the new Tate Modern windows.
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The new Tate Modern and views outside.
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Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure on the side of the John Leiws Building, Oxford Street, London.
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Take a peaceful walk along the River Thames – Hammersmith to Chiswick for example.
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Mosque, Gunnersbury, London.
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The Geffrye Museum of the House currently closed for rennovation but the front garden is still open for picnics and games, London. Near Hoxton Tube.
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and gardens
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and more gardens.
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The newly rennovated Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing. Opening July 2018.
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The elegant St Pancreas Station – outside.
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and inside. (St Pancreas Station, London).
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The Ladies Toilets at Fenchurch Street Station, London. Using the Monopoly game as inspiration.
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Walk between Chiswick and Ealing in south east London via Gunnersbury Parkl and you will come across church. Tell me if you know the name as I have researched it and cannot find it out!
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Its graveyard.
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and contemplative garden.
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Hyde Park in winter. London.
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The Serpentine, Hyde Park, London.
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Spring daffodils – a classic feature of London’s parks – with the warm, red sandstone houses beside Hyde Park. 
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Selfridges, Oxford Street, London.
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John Nash’s Regency sweep of Oxford Street, City of Westminster, London.
Britannia out front
Institute of Directors building, Pall Mall, London.
The Union Jack flying
The Union Jack flying near the Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall, London.
St James Palace
St James Palace, London.
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The British Museum, Euston Road, London.
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Tile detail – typical of south east London residential accommodation.
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The Passmore Edwards Cottage Hospital, Acton, London.
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Sunset on the River Thams from Hammersmith Bridge, London.

Check out this lovely blog which is also about hidden gardens and churches of London.

and this one too. Some of London’s best secret gardens.

Oxford, England

A photo essay: November 2017

Oxford is very crowded with students and tourists – the pavements are narrow so allow time to walk around the centre, but at every corner there is an architectural marvel. From the Colleges and their gardens, to the River Cherwell and its fascinating bridges, there is just so much to see.

Check out the expansive Port Meadow with its wonderful views; the cafes of the Cowley area; the Museum of Natural History on Parks Road (not shown here) for the inside decoration alone, never mind the collection (there are plenty of events for children); and the magnificent Blenheim Palace (very close to the city and easy to get to by bus) is an absolute must-see.

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The Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Museum.
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The Bridge of Sighs.
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View from Magdalen Bridge.
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Detail of the underneath of Magdalen Bridge.
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Oxford punts in winter.
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Wadham College gardens.
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Christchurch College.
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Hertford College.
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Entrance to the Bodleian Library.
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The famous spires of the Oxford colleges.
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Bicycles everywhere!

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Gardens, Christchurch College.
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Ashmolean Museum, exterior.
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The Ashmolean, interior.
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The sun shows up the glorious yellow stone towers.
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Cupid’s bottom – detail on ceiling of the Bodleian.
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Standing guard at the Bodleian.
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A typical street showing residential architecture.
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Broad Street.
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Beneath this garden lies a medieval cemetery. Located outside the Botanical Gardens.
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The rain shows up the black and white architecture to perfection.
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Wadham College courtyard at night.
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Wadham College – an inner courtyard.
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Astonishing gables.
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Cute cafe on St Clement’s St.

London and Paris – Green spaces

Camley Street Natural Park; St Pancreas Parish church and gardens; and Goldington Crescent Gardens, Camden London.

The entrance to Pitzhanger Manor (being restored – it opens in 2018) and park, Ealing, London.

As I wander through European cities I find myself attracted time and again to the green spaces. Indeed a few days ago, at the advice of my walking guru, I traversed most of Paris from the Bois (woods) de Boulogne in the far east, to the Pont (bridge) Bercy.  I did not manage all the way the the Bois de Vincennes in the west due to time constraints.

Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
Pont Bercy, Paris

Today I arrived off the Eurostar at St Pancreas London, weary in body and of spirit but the sun shone so I googled parks and gardens in the area. I made my way to the St Pancreas gardens, narrowly avoiding being run over by a London taxi due to the lack of a pavement, and came across a community garden I had tried to enter twice before, Camley Street Natural Park – this time it was open.

A slice of sylvan pleasure between railway, canal, and high rise buildings, I discovered that this London Wildlife Trust funded oasis is an ideal place to picnic. Flower beds are constructed from railway sleepers and hunks of stone with bordered pathways lined with bark pieces.

There is an extensive pond with a green membrane pierced by rushes, and a wild flower meadow with rose bay willow herb. It constitutes a very brief, windy way to the other side if you use it, as many suit-clad workers obviously do, as a thoroughfare; but you may also make a circuit and take in the bug-finding, log-pile place; the ‘fairy glade’ (where if I was not mistaken a counselling session was happening); and pond-dipping where a quiet volunteer was carefully cleaning the sign.

There are rustic benches in private nooks, and luckily a few tables in the cafe clearing because it was so densely wooded that there was almost no sun this September noon.

Bring your little ones and they will have hours of down-to-earth fun – inside if the weather is inclement (there is an activities room and exhibition with nests and pine cones) or out, learning about bats and birds, recycling and natural landscaping. I saw willow, birch, brambles and cherry, and there were tourists in the Visitor Centre being helped by the member of staff.

This old coal yard is located by the waterway which once transported the fuel to Yorkshire, where incidentally the next-door sliver of a bridge was formed before being placed in its current position in 2016. Unlike the Park’s paths which absorb any sound (do not try with buggies, bikes nor suitcases), the bridge’s smooth surface resonates with and amplifies joggers’ footfall and cycle wheels.

Just down the road is the St Pancreas old church and gardens, today shining in the sun and showing off its higgledy-piggleddy stones, working mortuary, royal blue water fountain (at least I think that is what it is), and unusual monument “especially dedicated to the memory of those whose graves are now unseen or the records of whose names may be …(could not read this word) obliterated”.

They have done a great job of bringing interesting facts and people to our attention in the wee church: the relationship of Thomas Hardy to the ‘consecrated burial ground’, and memorials to Mary Wollenstonecraft, female activist, and John Soane, architect of the Bank of England whose main residence is in the area and whose ‘country’ house in Ealing (Pitzhanger Manor, see above) I coincidentally visited last week.

Under the trees sit study groups, lunching pairs and individuals reading or on their phones. What a contrast with the welcome smell of warm wax which filled the holy interior. I enjoyed the plaque ‘in memory of my dear husband Earnest Wiggins d 1975’ before drifting into my third bout of 60 winks sitting on a proud wooden chair at the back listening to the ponderous ticking of an unseen clock.

Making my way towards Mornington Crescent tube station, with its faint hints of Mary Poppins and WW2 popular songs, I come across Goldington Crescent Gardens. In the Autumn sun, causing the fallen leaves to glow and throwing strong olive green and top-hat grey shadows on the grass, there is a public sculpture. It is in three parts: one resembles a silver pile of unmentionable; the second an ant eater with its snout in the ground; and the third I know not what. It stands out starkly beside the pink and red brick 1903 Goldington Buildings opposite, its edges elegantly wrapping around whatever is in its heart. Interesting fact: in Vienna they have a word for these buildings which conceal a space behind the facade which is ‘Hof’.

Goldington Crescent, London.
St Vincenz Hof, 18th, Vienna, Austria
Behind St Pancreas station, London.
Love, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris.
Beehives, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris.

 

 

 

The New Forest, England *

I am taking a break from my regular life in Edinburgh to discover what I want to do with myself and my future. I’m walking my way into my next half century.

Ken and I were wandering together years ago by a river in Cardiff and he was telling me how walking helps the brain settle, how it gets the creative juices flowing. Simply setting one foot in front of another helps the thoughts to move along, and gets you from one place to another.

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Downton, England.

Luckily I am healthy; my beautiful daughters can now manage brilliantly without me, and so with lots of support from family and friends I have taken time off to explore. I intend to spend time sitting, resting, listening, watching, meeting new people, speaking another language, and of course walking.

 ‘Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road, and (that) life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.’ Bruce Chatwin ‘Songlines’

I started my Autumn walks in the New Forest with Angela – snake stories, practicing Spanish verbs, annual acorn-eating pigs, and some donkeys.

Our excuse was to take Polly, Christinas’s dog, out for exercise, and we roamed along grassy paths with the smell of Autumn all around us. We tried to avoid any wildlife that might readily be chased.

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Donkey foal.

As we roamed along valleys beside meandering streams, and the bracken seemed to turn browner by the minute, we got to know each other and Polly explored. Inevitably she discovered the donkeys which are free to roam as part of the peoples’ rights to graze their livestock, pick holly, and cut peat.

I recommend this gentle part of the world for walking. It will deepen your appreciation of your surroundings, and moving side-by-side with someone is perfect for meaningful exchanges. 

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Detail on thatched ridge (blurred from a distance).

*Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson 1879

The New Forest Walking Festival is between 15-30 October 2016 

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival