A Weekend Diary

…words and images from England's green and pleasant land…

Archive for the category “London”

A rainy trip to the British Museum, and beyond…

Photography has played a major part in my life for a very long time, both in studying its history, and in taking my own photographs over the past few decades. In the course of the latter, I gradually acquired a range of good quality 35mm lenses using the Contax-Yashica mount, and with the demise of 35mm photography, swept aside by the coming of the digital photographic age, I was pretty much resigned to the prospect of some excellent 35mm lenses gathering dust and never being used again.

However, I fairly recently discovered that the digital Micro Four Thirds system, pioneered by Olympus and Panasonic, allows for the use of 35mm lenses, by means of a manual adaptor, on a digital body. So, I picked up a second-hand Panasonic GF1 body, and a Contax-Yashica adaptor, and here are some experimental shots taken with a Tessar f2.8 45mm lens.

I decided to try out the combination in the British Museum, and on a subsequent ramble down to the South Bank. I have to say there was a high failure rate, due mostly to camera-shake, and the mis-focussing of the lens (you’re obliged to use such a non-native lens in manual mode), and I also found it quite restrictive to use a fixed length lens which effectively has a focal length equivalent to around 90mm in 35mm terms. However, I’m still learning, and I’m happy with some of these pictures, so I’ll perservere for a while yet ;)…

A female statue in the British Museum...

A female statue in the British Museum…

A couple of ceramics, juxtaposed...

A couple of ceramics, juxtaposed…

Maybe Venus, maybe someone else ;)...

Maybe Venus, maybe someone else ;)…

A rainy courtyard, British Museum...

A rainy courtyard, British Museum…

James Smith & Sons, High Holborn

James Smith & Sons, High Holborn

Miniature Replica Guitars, in Cards Galore, in High Holborn

Miniature Replica Guitars, in Cards Galore, in High Holborn

Ena Sharples, in the window of Wild and Coffee Company, New Oxford Street

Ena Sharples, in the window of Wild and Coffee Company, New Oxford Street

View of the City, from the north side of Waterloo Bridge...

View of the City, from the north side of Waterloo Bridge…

On the South Bank, beneath Hungerford Bridge...

On the South Bank, beneath Hungerford Bridge…

Autumn sky above the Houses of Parliament...

Autumn sky above the Houses of Parliament…

Same bloke  (Christopher Werkowicz by name) as was busking at South Ken yesterday afternoon, now in front of the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Same bloke (Christopher Werkowicz by name) as was busking at South Ken yesterday afternoon, now in front of the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

On my way back to Leicester Square station, for a Piccadilly Line train to Arnos Grove, I passed a group of excitable screaming teenage girls surrounding a car outside the Capital Radio building, so I took this snatch shot of one of the objects of the girls’ desire. Apparently the band is called Union J, and for generational reasons, I’ve never heard of them…but then, I’d guess they’ve never heard of King Crimson, or Blodwyn Pig either ;)…

Outside Capital Radio, at the bottom of the Charing Cross Road...

Outside Capital Radio, at the bottom of the Charing Cross Road…

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A visit to the Science Museum…

There was a very specific reason for heading to the Science Museum in South Kensington on this occasion; there are a handful of photographic exhibitions that I’m intending to see in London in the coming weeks, and not least amongst them was ‘Only in England’, featuring the work of the late Tony Ray-Jones (1942-1971) and Martin Parr (b. 1952), which is currently showing in the Media Space at the Science Museum.

It cost me eight quid to get in, but it was money well-spent; there was a particular fascination for me in Tony Ray-Jones’ images taken in English seaside towns in the late Sixties, unique and wry observations of the English at leisure in a bygone age.

I’ve been revisiting ‘High Windows’ of late, Philip Larkin’s 1974 final volume of poetry. The first poem in that book, ‘To the Sea’ (completed in October 1969), seems to me to be a perfect literary accompaniment to Tony Ray-Jones’ English seaside pictures taken almost half a century ago.

The taking of photographs wasn’t allowed in the ‘Only in England’ exhibition space, so here’s another, more comtemporary, example of English quirkiness, taken in Exhibition Road on my way to the Science Museum on Saturday afternoon. I’m not altogether sure what that tuba-like brass instrument is, but, whatever, it breathed fire, as a photo I took outside the National Gallery early the following evening shows ;).

Christopher Werkowicz busking in Exhibition Road

Christopher Werkowicz busking in Exhibition Road

Front door of the V & A Museum, in Cromwell Road

Front door of the V & A Museum, in Cromwell Road

Heading back from the Museums, towards Knightsbridge Tube station

Heading back from the Museums, towards Knightsbridge Tube station

Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square…and around Charing Cross…

A rainy Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Friday afternoon, 11th October

A rainy Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Friday afternoon, 11th October

Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, opposite Portsmouth Guildhall...

Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, opposite Portsmouth Guildhall…

North side, Trafalgar Square, with The National Gallery, St Martin's-in-the-Fields, and the Fourth Plinth...

North side, Trafalgar Square, with The National Gallery, St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, and the Fourth Plinth…

'Save Rosia' an environmental Action Group...

‘Save Rosia’ an environmental Action Group…

A juggling uni-cyclist , performing in front of the National Gallery...

A juggling uni-cyclist , performing in front of the National Gallery…

A London City skyline from Hungerford Bridge...

A London City skyline from Hungerford Bridge…

Another view downstream from Hungerford Bridge...

Another view downstream from Hungerford Bridge…

Nelson Mandela statue, outside the Royal Festival Hall, on London's South Bank...

Nelson Mandela statue, outside the Royal Festival Hall, on London’s South Bank…

A glimpse into Harrods…and a step back in time…

My partner and I made an occasional visit to The Brompton Road and South Kensington last Sunday afternoon, so here are a couple of shots from inside Harrods, along with a step back into another era further along the Brompton Road….

Wandering around the cornucopia that is Harrods...

Wandering around the cornucopia that is Harrods…

Part of the Egyptian Staircase...

Part of the Egyptian Staircase…

And not far from Harrods, on the other side of the Brompton Road…

The young lady kindly posing for me outside the History Studios in the Brompton Road :) ...

The young lady kindly posing for me outside the History Studios in the Brompton Road πŸ™‚ …

Late August meanderings…

Unlike last year’s photoblog, where daily uploads were obligatory, this year’s treads an altogether less disciplined path, so here are a few images captured from the last few days’ wanderings in Hampshire and London…

The first two were taken in Fareham in Hampshire, where I sometimes stop off for a cup of tea before continuing on into work…

Looking eastwards, outside the Shopping Centre, in West Street, Fareham

Looking eastwards, outside the Shopping Centre, in West Street, Fareham

When I indulge in this morning cuppa, it’s invariably at B & Bs in Fareham Shopping Centre, and this photo is in recognition of Emily’s charity walk along the Great Wall of China, a year or whenever ago. She told me she walked about a hundred miles, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, so well done to Emily, who sometimes serves me with my cup of tea here in Fareham ;)…

Emily with her sum raised charity cheque outside Great Ormond Street Hospital...

Emily with her sum raised charity cheque outside Great Ormond Street Hospital…

Not sure precisely where I took this photo, but it was doubtless in Hampshire in the past few days…

Probably taken in Titchfield...

Probably taken in Titchfield…

I do know where this picture was taken, and it was in Titchfield. The image actually has an allegorical meaning to me, but I’ve no intention of explaining it here ;)…

Walking back to work after a lunchtime pint at The Holiday Inn...

Walking back to work after a lunchtime pint at The Holiday Inn…

Okay, so back to London, and all too often this summer, the Northern Line has been closed at weekends due to Engineering Work, and I’ve been catching buses a lot as a consequence. So it was again yesterday, when I caught an 82 bus from the Tally Ho in North Finchley to Baker Street. The following were taken during a ramble through Marylebone, to Regent Street and beyond, and onto the South Bank…

En route, nearing Oxford Circus, I passed this little gathering outside the Langham Hotel, and I was curious and bemused at first, but didn’t linger long, and settled for a few pictures, one of which was this….

Awaiting Lady Gaga...

Awaiting Lady Gaga…

Nearby, in Langham Place, is the beautiful All Souls’ Church….

All Souls' Church...

All Souls’ Church…

So on I rambled, through Oxford Circus, down Regent Street, through Chinatown, and over Hungerford Bridge to the Royal Festival Hall, on London’s South Bank…

In the Members' Bar of the RFH, there was no no Curious Brew, so I settled for Birra Moretti instead

In the Members’ Bar of the RFH, there was no Curious Brew, so I settled for Birra Moretti instead

View over the RFH Terrace, from the Members' Bar, to the River Thames and Hungerford Bridge beyond...

View over the RFH Terrace, from the Members’ Bar, to the River Thames and Hungerford Bridge beyond…

An alternative way of relaxing, by Lift 3, Green Side...

An alternative way of relaxing, by Lift 3, Green Side…

The Shanghai Ballet Company at The Coliseum – Jane Eyre

I confess straight away that I have no pretensions at all when it comes to an appreciation of ballet, and it’s a very rare event indeed for me to buy a ticket to watch a live performance of it. That said, I was intrigued by the idea of a Chinese ballet company giving an interpretation of an English classic novel. Moreover, I’d never visited The Coliseum before to watch anything, so that is just where I found myself on the second night of this brief four night season.

A newish addition to Gerrard Place, in London's Chinatown

A newish addition to Gerrard Place, in London’s Chinatown

The Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, at the southern end of St Martin's Lane

The Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, at the southern end of St Martin’s Lane

View of the theatre's stage, from the Balcony

View of the theatre’s stage, from the Balcony

And a (mono) view upwards from the Balcony

And a (mono) view upwards from the Balcony

Despite being a bit of a philistine when it comes to an appreciation of ballet, it was a very watchable performance, and I particularly enjoyed Fan Xiaofeng’s portrayal of Bertha Mason, which had an utterly compelling beauty, and was well worth the price of the entry ticket alone (Β£20 for a Balcony seat if you were wondering ;)).

The cast page in the bilingual programme, which cost eight quid, but I was always going to buy one

The Cast page in the bilingual programme, which cost eight quid (but I was always going to buy one)

This rare night at the ballet triggered the memory of a poem that I’ve long loved, Louis MacNeice’s ‘Les Sylphides’, published in 1939…

Life in a day: he took his girl to the ballet;
Being shortsighted himself could hardly see it –
The white skirts in the grey
Glade and the swell of the music
Lifting the white sails.

Calyx upon calyx, Canterbury bells in the breeze
The flowers on the left mirrored to the flowers on the right
And the naked arms above
The powdered faces moving
Like seaweed in a pool.

Now, he thought, we are floating – ageless, oarless –
Now there is no separation, from now on
You will be wearing white
Satin and a red sash
Under the waltzing trees.

But the music stopped, the dancers took their curtain,
The river had come to a lock – a shuffle of programmes –
And we cannot continue down
Stream unless we are ready
To enter the lock and drop.

So they were married – to be the more together –
And found that they were never again so much together,
Divided by the morning tea,
By the evening paper,
The children and the tradesmen’s bills.

Waking at times in the night she found assurance
Due to his regular breathing but wondered whether
It was really worth it and where
The river had flowed away
And where were the white flowers.

The Coliseum, after sundown

The Coliseum, after sundown

After the performance I wandered the short distance to Trafalgar Square, and listened to a reggae busker for a while before heading for home.

The National Gallery, looking north from Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery, looking north from Trafalgar Square

Moon through clouds, near my north London home

Moon through clouds, near my north London home

As so often happens in life, synchronicities manifest themselves at times like this, and on two occasions in the following couple of days, I found Jane Eyre staring out at me from the window display of a charity shop in North Finchley High Road. Yes, I think I owe it to Charlotte to read the original ;).

Some reading to catch up on ;)

Some reading to catch up on πŸ˜‰

HMS Warrior, and Liverpool Street Station…

I’ve now seen HMS Warrior countless times, and in a variety of climatic conditions, but the beauty of this (restored) iron-clad warship dating from 1860, in Portsmouth Harbour, is always worth another look, so here she is once more ;)…

HMS Warrior, early evening, 15th July, 2013

HMS Warrior, early evening, 15th July, 2013

By way of contrast, here’s something I can’t ever remember seeing before, though I should add that my visits to London’s Liverpool Street Station have been few and far between over the years. I went there this afternoon to collect some tickets for a journey to Norwich next week, and was drawn to this statue on the concourse of the station…

LiverpoolSt

FurDasKind

A hot summer’s day in London Town…

For those of us whose homes lie on the Northern Line of London’s Tube network, we’ve been experiencing a lot of weekend engineering work this year, and that was true again this weekend, with no trains running on the Northern Line between East Finchley and central London (on the High Barnet Branch) nor any trains running between Golders Green and central London (on the Edgware Branch). So it was, I found myself on a crowded Replacement Bus Service between East Finchley and St Pancras today, and once we’d all been disgorged into Midland Road, I decided I’d take a nostalgic ramble southwards towards the river, taking a few pictures along the way…

First stop was a visit to the courtyard of the British Library, which is just to the west of St Pancras Station on the northern side of the Euston Road. Here, I stumbled across a display by some Morris Men, as part of an event called The Full English Discovery Day…

BritishLibrary0

BritishLibrary1

BritishLibrary2

Along with the Morris Men, other displays included as part of this Full English Discovery Day, were traditional English entertainments such as Maypole Dancing, but as I was intending to pay a visit to Trafalgar Square for the day’s event there, the London Evening Standard’s ‘Readathon’, I left the courtyard soon after the Morris Men finished their performance. However, before leaving, I took a couple of photos of Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1995 wonderful statue of ‘Newton, after Blake’…

Newton1

Newton2

Then, across the Euston Road, for a photo of St Pancras Station, before continuing the journey southwards..

One of the glories of English railway architecture, St Pancras Station, as seen from the far side of the Euston Road...

One of the glories of English railway architecture, St Pancras Station, as seen from the far side of the Euston Road…

Given the day’s heat, at some point in the afternoon I would inevitably be taking some liquid refreshment, but as tempting as it was, I gave ‘Mabels Tavern’ a miss, as I wanted to make sure I got to Trafalgar Square by four o’clock or soon after…

'Mabel's Tavern' a Shepherd Neame (a Kentish Brewer) pub on the corner of Mabledon Place and Flaxman Terrace...

‘Mabel’s Tavern’ a Shepherd Neame (a Kentish Brewer) pub on the corner of Mabledon Place and Flaxman Terrace…

I must confess here that until today, I had never even heard of the man celebrated in this statue in Cartwright Gardens, but he was evidently a man way ahead of his time in his political opinions :)…

John Cartwright (1740-1824), an English political radical...

John Cartwright (1740-1824), an English political radical…

On I rambled southwards, stopping off in Brunswick Square to buy some food and water in Waitrose, before continuing on past Russell Square, to Holborn Tube station, at the top of Kingsway. Between 1988 and 1996, Kingsway was my working address, and I have many happy memories from those years :)…

The door of St Anselm and St Caecilia's Roman Catholic Church in Kingsway, London, WC2

The door of St Anselm and St Caecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Kingsway, London, WC2

When working in this area, I spent countless lunchtime hours visiting Covent Garden to the west, either for lunch or visiting the market stalls there, and the following building, is on the Covent Garden side of Kingsway, at 1, Kemble Street. It’s called Space House, and is a Richard Seifert building dating from 1962…

Space House, as seen from the west...

Space House, as seen from the west…

And in nearby Wild Street, I found this vehicle parked…;)…

Pink Limousine, Wild Street, London, WC2

Pink Limousine, Wild Street, London, WC2

And a few more WC2 places in the vicinity…

Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London, WC2

Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London, WC2

Some 'Boris Bikes', awaiting hirers...

Some ‘Boris Bikes’, awaiting hirers…

'War Horse', Parker Street, WC2...

‘War Horse’, Parker Street, WC2…

Ballet pumps, in a shop window of one of the many shops selling dance-wear in the Covent Garden area...

Ballet pumps, in a shop window of one of the many shops selling dance-wear in the Covent Garden area…

Monmouth Street, WC2, in the heart of London's Theatre-land...

Monmouth Street, WC2, in the heart of London’s Theatre-land…

I eventually wended my way down to Trafalgar Square, arriving well after four o’clock, and just managed to capture this shot of the author Kathy Lette as she was leaving the ‘Readathon’ stage…

Kathy Lette, saying her farewells after doing her bit for 'Readathon'..

Kathy Lette, saying her farewells after doing her bit for ‘Readathon’..

The following photos show the cast of ‘Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain’ (Benedict Martin and Lauryn Redding) doing their performance of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn on the ‘Readathon’ stage. The two are currently performing ‘Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain’ at the nearby Garrick Theatre, at the bottom of the Charing Cross Road…

Henry and Anne get introduced to one another...

Henry and Anne get introduced to one another…

Some kind of wooing going on...;)...

Some kind of wooing going on…;)…

...but all good things come to an end... :(...

…but all good things come to an end… :(…

Methinks it'd take more than a sparrowhawk to frighten this pigeon away from Trafalgar Square..;)...

Methinks it’d take more than a sparrowhawk to frighten this pigeon away from Trafalgar Square..;)…

Two double-deckers, one old, one new, in front of Charing Cross Station...

Two double-deckers, one old, one new, in front of Charing Cross Station…

Embankment Tube Station, at the southern end of Villiers Street...

Embankment Tube Station, at the southern end of Villiers Street…

The band performing in the 'With Love from Lambeth' festival in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, late on Saturday afternoon...

The band performing in the ‘With Love from Lambeth’ festival in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, late on Saturday afternoon…

Alas, I never discovered the band or this singer's name, but she did some good covers of stuff like 'Summertime (When the Living is Easy)' and Etta James' 'At Last'... :)

Alas, I never discovered the band or this singer’s name, but she did some good covers of stuff like ‘Summertime (When the Living is Easy)’ and Etta James’ ‘At Last’… πŸ™‚

A model of the 1951 Festival of Britain site, near the front of the Royal Festival Hall...

A model of the 1951 Festival of Britain site, near the front of the Royal Festival Hall…

Overlooking the Thames at the Members' Bar at the Royal Festival Hall

Overlooking the Thames at the Members’ Bar at the Royal Festival Hall

Another view from the Members' Bar...

Another view from the Members’ Bar…

A bronze head on a wall of the Members' Bar...

A bronze head on a wall of the Members’ Bar…

Duly refreshed, I went outside to have a look around the South Bank towards the London Eye...

Duly refreshed, I went outside to have a look around the South Bank towards the London Eye…

In the foreground, a modern sculpture called the 'Jubilee Oracle', and in the distant yonder, The Houses of Parliament...

In the foreground, a modern sculpture called the ‘Jubilee Oracle’, and in the distant yonder, The Houses of Parliament…

Susana Silva, a Portuguese singer, and South Bank busker...

Susana Silva, a Portuguese singer, and South Bank busker…

The said Susana, in her South Bank context...

The said Susana, in her South Bank context…

The work of a portrait sketch artist on Hungerford Bridge...

The work of a portrait sketch artist on Hungerford Bridge…

View upstream from Hungerford Bridge...

View upstream from Hungerford Bridge…

And finally, Swan Lane Open Space in Whetstone, London N20, which I wandered through after catching a number 34 bus to Barnet Church, from Arnos Grove Tube Station on the Piccadilly Line...

And finally, Swan Lane Open Space in Whetstone, London N20, which I wandered through after catching a number 34 bus to Barnet Church, from Arnos Grove Tube Station on the Piccadilly Line…

Eight years on, but not forgotten…

TavistockSquare

TavistockSq

HydePark

HPAldgate

MayorOfLondon

HPEdgwareRoad

LondonTransport

HPKingsCross

Red&WhiteRosesBouquet

HPTavistockSq

RedTin

RedDress

A visit to the Royal Free…

A power cut in Hampstead High Street this afternoon...

A power cut in Hampstead High Street this afternoon…

Founded in 1828 evidently...and when taking this a security guard advised me photography wasn't allowed in the Hospital ;)

Founded in 1828 evidently…and when taking this a security guard advised me photography wasn’t allowed in the Hospital πŸ˜‰

The front entrance to The Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3

The front entrance to The Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3

A great piece of modern sculpture outside the hospital, with Pond Street beyond...

A great piece of modern sculpture outside the hospital, with Pond Street beyond…

The Roebuck pub, in Pond Street, opposite the hospital...

The Roebuck pub, in Pond Street, opposite the hospital…

Rosslyn Hill, NW3, off which Pond Street lies...

Rosslyn Hill, NW3, off which Pond Street lies…

On the way back to Hampstead Tube station, this is the southern end of Hampstead High Street...

On the way back to Hampstead Tube station, this is the southern end of Hampstead High Street…

Flask Walk, off Hampstead High Street...

Flask Walk, off Hampstead High Street…

Inside The Flask pub, a welcome pint of Guinness ;)...

Inside The Flask pub, a welcome pint of Guinness ;)…

Ballards Lane, North Finchley, and the Pitman's here, is where, in one of its previous incarnations, I met my partner some ten years ago ;)...

Ballards Lane, North Finchley, and the Pitman’s here, is where, in one of its previous incarnations, I met my partner some ten years ago ;)…

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