Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Monday, 28 July 2014

Eel Pie Island

There are a number of aits (islands) in the middle of the River Thames, the majority of which are small and uninhabited but there is one inhabited island that has always fascinated me and that is Eel Pie island in Twickenham. I went to College just outside Twickenham in a place called Strawberry Hill and it was during my time there in the late 60s early 70s that I first heard of the island. It is a private island and so I never managed to get onto it which just added to its mystique..



Whilst walking the Thames path last year I was reminded once more of the tales we used to hear about the drink and drug fuelled parties that took place there. There was a hotel on the island that attracted the likes of Charles Dickens during the 19th C who, along with other Londoners, would arrive by steamboat to spend the day in the grounds of the hotel. In the mid 20th C it became a venue for the jazz community and later in the 50s and 60s, the British music scene with groups like the Rolling Stones, The Who and the Yardbirds performing there. 





What I didn't know was that the island was owned by a former soldier and social researcher who wanted to set up his own world to see how the post WW2 generation would develop if given an opportunity to be themselves and meet influential people. I don't think the out come was quite what he expected but by giving a stage to those young British artists in the early 60s such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and many, many others he certainly had  an impact on the music world. In 1967 the hotel was closed as the owner couldn't afford the huge cost of repairs that the police said were needed to maintain the building's safety. A mysterious fire destroyed the hotel in 1971 bringing to an end any ideas I might have had of going to a music event there.


Nowadays the 500m long and 120m wide island is home to a sailing club, boatyard, nature reserve, lots of art studios and apparently 50 houses. The studios have an open day twice a year to and so finally a couple of weeks ago I got to step onto the island. It now has a bridge to take you across instead of a ferry.









Once across the elegant bridge you walk along a narrow path between small bungalows, sheds and houses. Flowers and greenery overflowing the white fencing,














There are 26 artists' studios scattered around a working boatyard.


























There was a variety of ceramics, watercolours, oils and prints on show in amongst the other strange artefacts such as the skeleton in the cage and lego men playing in the mud.














The old machinery still lying around


I was pleased to finally step foot on the island but disappointed not to be able to explore the nature reserves and other parts but they are strictly off limits to the general public. And if you're interested the name of the island is said to come from the days when Henry VIII stopped here on his way to Windsor to consume an eel pie.







Sharing with  Our World Tuesday



Friday, 25 July 2014

The Gloriana

This is the Queen's Barge, the Gloriana, moored at St Katherine's Dock near Tower Bridge London





 Sharing with James at weekend Reflections

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

St Paul's Cathedral

I have visited St Paul's on a number of occasions but  I have never been up to the viewing gallery so I decided to go and have a look. The Whispering Gallery at the base of the dome is self explanatory. You can whisper at one side and it can be heard at the opposite side of the dome. At the top of the Dome is the viewing gallery.


On my arrival everyone was leaving the Cathedral. Apparently a fire alarm had gone off so the building was evacuated. Not the greatest start to the day but went for a walk  and returned an hour later.
The vast majority of churches and cathedrals are free to go in and look around but St Paul's and Westminster Abbey make an entrance charge but not if you are attending a service. So if you just want a quick look at the nave then I would suggest attending a service but I wanted to look around the crypt, whispering gallery and the viewing gallery at the top of the dome so I paid the £13.50 fee.


 No photos are allowed to be taken inside the Cathedral so this one was taken when I had climbed the 242 steps up to the whispering gallery and then walked outside the Dome
It was another 200+ steps to get to the top of the dome. It was a narrow winding iron staircase and not easy for someone large or uncomfortable with heights. Once you reach the top there is a thick glass window looking down directly over the centre of the nave.

Then you are outside looking at some of the best views of London. St Paul's is such an iconic symbol of London that no other building is allowed to overshadow it or obscure its view.
There are two bridges next to one another. The first one is Blackfriar's rail bridge with solar panels running along its length. The second bridge is Blackfriar's road bridge. In the distance you can see the wheel of the London Eye.
This is looking towards Fleet street and the Strand but difficult to pick out any features such as the Monument with its golden top.


Looking into Paternoster Square with its temporary Bowler hat events tent.

Looking to the left in the middle of all these office blocks you can see the remains of Christchurch Greyfriars church which I featured in my previous post.








Looking East to the new buildings in the City of London. In the foreground is a new shopping Mall with its rooftop garden.






Standing on the rooftop garden this is the view you get of St Paul's ( but it is free to go up there).







To the left of the picture is Tower42, the Gherkin and then the Cheesegrater. Whilst on the right is the Walkie-Talkie building. In the distance in the centre you can see the 3 tall buildings at Canary wharf, Docklands.







Moving to the right the tallest building in Western Europe - the Shard.


Close up of the Shard with Tower Bridge to the left.



This is the pedestrian footbridge - The Millennium Bridge taking you across the River Thames to the Tate Modern art gallery.
A close up of the bridge and the gallery, which used to be Bankside Power station. The tall building behind is an office/apartment block at the Elephant and Castle. It is distinctive because it has 3 wind turbines on the roof.








Monday, 21 July 2014

Christchurch Greyfriars Garden

This week I am focussing on the area surrounding St Paul's Cathedral in London.


Visiting the sights of London and want a sit down or fancy a sandwich outside rather than a restaurant. Well if you are near St Paul's here is a peaceful place to go. It is just a couple of hundred metres away from the Cathedral but you would be surprised how many people don't know it exists. There has been a church on this site since the 13th C. It was rebuilt and consecrated in 1322 but this medieval church was destroyed in the Great fire of London in 1666.




The name Greyfriars originated from the grey habits worn by the  Franciscan monks.
Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the church after the Great Fire but sadly it was bombed during World War 2.



Now the Church is a beautiful garden with the garden beds laid out where the original pews were.


Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 20 July 2014

St Lawrence and Mary Magdalene Drinking Fountain

Across the road from St Paul's Cathedral is a large monument but on closer inspection it turns out that this was a drinking fountain.

It is known as the St Lawrence and Mary Magdalene Fountain. I have walked past this monument many, many times and wondered what it was but today I stopped and photographed it so I could research it a little more when I got home.




The fountain was originally erected in 1866 outside the church of St Lawrence Jewry near Guildhall as a gift to the City of London from the Metropolitan drinking fountain and cattle trough Association. When the Guildhall was redeveloped in the 1970s the fountain was dismantled into 150 pieces and put into storage. It was restored and rebuilt in its present position in 2010. So now I know and if I could remember all these interesting facts I could really impress all those people who stop to look at the monument.















The water fountain was designed as a sculpture that produced drinking water into a bowl  when a metal knob was pushed.






Above the large drinking bowl is this relief which  shows Moses striking a rock from where  water still trickles down into the bowl beneath. To the left of Moses a woman holds a small drinking bowl to the lips of a small child. 





 So the next time any of you are in London, take a minute to look across the road from St Paul's Cathedral and have a look at the fountain yourself.