Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mews views - 16 December 2006

Mews near Brompton Rd There is always more to discover in London. We have done organized walks and self-guided walks from books and each book has its own slant on what to see and where to go. If you turn right instead of left you see a whole different world and so it is with these walks. Although one might be tempted to think that one had ‘done’ a particular area, each new walk brings new surprises.

False frontWe started at Paddington as we wanted to find an iconic piece of Victorian ingenuity. When the first underground lines were installed they were done using cut-and-cover, where possible along the lines of existing roads. But what happens if the road ends in a T intersection and there is a row of Georgian town-houses across the path? Simple, just remove one from the row and replace it with a matching false fa├žade and no one will know.

From the rearThis is exactly what happened in Lenister Gardens and the reason they did not ‘cover’ everything was that the original trains were pulled by coal powered, steam engines and the smoke had to go somewhere.

Albert MemorialLeaving there we walked across Kensington Gardens, past the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall and on to the Museums where winter markets and an ice-skating rink had been set up. Science Museum Rink and MarketsIt was all terribly ‘European’ but, given the current mild temperatures, did not quite have the same atmosphere.

The V&A has a rather fascinating sound-and-light installation in the courtyard this year so we paid a visit before disappearing down some of the mews that are so plentiful in this area.

V&A light showOnce the stables and tradesmen’s areas, they are now highly sought after, as they are the only dwellings in London with garaging. (In typical UK fashion, usually not with a car parked in them.)

Smallest Mews house?A local who noticed the camera sent us off on a detour to see the shallowest mews house in London. It probably qualifies as the shallowest dwelling of any sort in the UK, it is not actual clear how one would fit a bed into this home and if the bed was there how one would fit beside it to get in or out, or make it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas at the Palace - 10 December 2006

Blenheim Palace
Each year we visit one of the stately homes dressed for Christmas.

This year we went to see how Blenheim Palace had been transformed. The grand gates
Unfortunately, the usual rules applied and photography inside was prohibited so we have nothing to show of the decorations.
The dining room, with the fires blazing and the table laid for Christmas was a real treat. A 'Christmas' tree in the grounds

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The name's "Park", "Black Park" - 9 December 2006

Black ParkFrom the car park at Black Park we walked through the pinewoods to the boundary fence of Pinewood Studios, home of the James Bond series. Outside was a huge blue screen, which in real life was quite significantly different in colour from the sky behind. Pinewoods blue backdropInterestingly, in the picture the screen is quite hard to differentiate from the sky behind.

Langley ParkLangley ParkFrom there we walked down the studio’s side boundary and across the road to Langley Park, past the lake, with views to the mansion on the far shore, and back to the lake at Black Park where we had started.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Victorian Pubs - 3 December 2006

The Argyll ArmsOur historical theme continued in to Sunday when we enjoyed an English Heritage ‘pub-crawl’ around eight ornately decorated Victorian listed Public Houses. Unfortunately, being Sunday the two closest to the City of London were closed.

The SalisburyWe started at The Argyll Arms, just off Oxford St where we had a luke-warm meal which would have been much better had it been delivered to our table hot. Sampling various wares we visited The Tottenham, The Salisbury, The Coal Hole and The Princess Louise. We passed by The Cittie of Yorke and The Punch Tavern then finished with dessert at The Black Friar.

The Argyll ArmsThe cut and acid-etched glass and mirrors in a number of these establishments are quite something to behold. It is amazing that so much of this Victorian opulence survived the Blitz.

A Dickens of a day out - 2 December 2006

Each year, in early December, the City of Rochester honours one of its heroes, Charles Dickens. He lived and wrote in the city and many places are the inspiration or setting for his novels.
Rochester Dickens' ParadeRochester Dickens' Parade
Rochester Dickens' ParadeRochester Dickens' Parade
Rochester CastleThere is a parade of townsfolk dressed as in Dickensian times as well as street entertainers and the obligatory stalls selling Christmas tat and, of course, food: Mulled wine, Christmas mince pies, spiced punch as well as the usual fattening burgers, bacon rolls, patsies and so forth.

Rochester CathedralAfter the parade the Cathedral was packed for a carol service and the Castle was host to a fair with a gorgeous old chair-o-plane and an ornate merry-go-round complete with a punched-card organ to serenade the riders.

The Merry-go-roundAll in all it’s a great day out from London and with the train dropping you right in the centre of Rochester it is not worth fighting with the M25 to get there.

Happy first birthday to Te Haerenga.