Photo of the Week – Beethoven’s Residence in Vienna

This week's photo takes me back to my trip to Vienna. It is of the stone plaque that commemorates Beethoven's residence in Vienna.

Though German by birth Beethoven ended living in Vienna for the majority of his life. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhoff.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



The Royal Baby and the World

Well, this has been an extraordinary week by the standards of the UK. Sporting success in the form of the England cricket team trashing the Aussies and Chris Froom winning the Tour de France. However, it is fair to say the only story in the UK has been the birth of the royal baby. You would have thought that nobody else had given birth given the news coverage.

I come to this post as somebody who is really not too bothered about the Royal Family. After all, I suspect they are not too bothered about me. It is the reaction of the rest of the world that interests me.

I received the news of the royal birth while on my way home from work. When I switched on the TV I would have expected that the BBC, ITV and Sky to be over the story like a rash. It was when I started to watch the other news networks that I got the biggest surprise.

CNN were broadcasting from outside Buckingham Palace. It seemed surreal to see Christiane Amanpour conducting interviews as though it was gossip. She was born in London so I could forgive her for that. I switched to France 24 and they had wall to wall coverage. Talk about forgotten history. We have always had a love hate relationship. Turning over to the next channel Japan's NHK World and it had the royal baby, the same with Euronews. It was only when I switched to Al Jazeera that I found a station that was broadcasting other news.

I feel this says a lot about the UK and how it is seen by the rest of the world. London is a hub for visitors from around the world and the royal family with all its history, glamour and tradition is the magnet that draws them over. Those visitors who were in London last week will have had an experience never to be forgotten. This is why the birth of Prince George of Cambridge made news around the world and mattered to a lot of people.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


London Walks – Spitalfields

This post is another based on the City Walks series by Craig Taylor. This walk took me around Spitalfields in the East End.

The walk started from Liverpool Street station. This was convenient as my previous walk from Old Street had finished there. Making my way up Bishopsgate I soon found my way up to Spital Square. From there I turned into Felgate Street and then into Commercial Street. I stopped to look inside Spitalfields. This is one of the oldest markets in London. It is very popular at weekends. There are plenty of traders selling all sorts of goods ranging from clothing to furniture. It is also a good place to come and have a spot to eat. Like a lot of markets in London you can eat the world.

Once out of the market you go past 'The Ten Bells' pub. You are now in Jack the Ripper terrority as two of his victims spent their last hours drinking in the pub. Turning left and then another right at Princelet Street I found myself in Brick Lane.

Historically Brick Lane has been home to immigrants who arrived into London. Particularly the Huguenots, Jewish and Bangladeshi communities. This is reflected with the amount of curry houses to be found here. On a previous visit I eat at the City Spice restaurant. It was delicious and you are spoilt for choice. I would also recommend a visit to the Beigel Bake. Open 24 hours a day it offers the best bagels that I ever eaten. The queues would back me up on that. Again being the weekend Brick Lane was packed with visitors enjoying the food stores and market traders. One tip I would have for you, make sure you have enough cash on you as I could not see many ATM's and the one I saw charged for using it. Also I found that the food on Brick Lane was more expensive that at Spitalfields market.

I carried up Brick Lane until I reached Osborn Street. Turning left took me into Whitechapel High Street and the Whitechapel Gallery. This is home to displays of modern art. Sadly, my visit coincided with work being done while they install new exhibits. Still it was free and I was grateful to get out of the hot sun for 30 minutes.

After leaving the gallery I turned into Gunthorpe Street. Another right turn took me into Middlesex Street. This is home to Petticoat Market. I would have say it was packed with shoppers looking for a bargain. Progress was slow and I would say be mindful of your belongings. Once out of Middlesex Street I was back on Bishopsgate and the walk finished back at Liverpool Street Station.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Photo of the Week – Brick Lane, London

This week's photo was taken in Brick Lane a couple of weeks ago.

Summer had arrived and there were plenty of people out on the streets. On Sundays the road is closed to traffic and there are plenty of traders trying to get you to sell you their products. Also you can eat the world with plenty of food stalls offering food from different countries. You normally pay £5.00 per portion. All in all a excellent way to spend a Sunday.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



It Has Been A Long Time

The title says it all. I have been a little quiet with my posts. It is true that since I have not done much travelling and my blog posts have been feeding from my trip to Vienna and Budapest apart from a couple of day trips. In reality I have not been feeling like doing much recently. I have not been in a good place as they say.

There have been recent events both at work and personally that have brought me down. I had allowed these to affect me in various ways. Not sleeping, eating properly, not having any energy and losing the passion with the things I love such as travel or music. It was only until I watched a TV program about footballers and depression that I realised what I was sinking back into.

In 1997 I had to take time off work due to depression. I was going back to that place. I am now feeling better now thanks to having that wake up call. However, this meant that I was going to have to be honest with people. My work colleagues are now aware of my past depression and I am sharing this fact with you.

Things are looking up. Today I received some favourable news which has lifted a dark cloud that has been hanging over me. Also eight weeks today I will be off on my trip to the Balkans. I cannot wait.

Thank you for reading this. Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling. (My smile is back.)



Photo of the Week – Statues of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth

This week's photo is of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth.

The parents of the present queen these statues can be found to the side of Pall Mall. King George or better known as Bertie to the royal family had not expected to become King. However, when Edward VIII abdicated he was thrown into the spotlight. They both became popular with the British public especially through World War II. When King George died in 1952 the Queen Mother remained in the public eye and affection until her death in 2002.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Liverpool Street Station, London

The hub of the walks I took part in on Sunday was Liverpool Street Station. It serves the east and south-east of England. It is also acts as the terminus for the Stansted Express. Despite over 55 million people using the station (April 2010 – March 2011) in my eyes it felt smaller than some of the other railway stations in London. The station itself does have some sites that are worth checking out.

Outside the main entrance is the Fur Das Kind Kinderstransport Memorial sculpture. It shows a group of children by a railway track. Liverpool Street Station was where many Jewish refugee children arrived into the UK.

Once inside the main entrance there is a large memorial dedicated to the workers of The Great Eastern Railway who died in World War 1.

If you can allow yourself some time just have wander around the station. There is surprisingly plenty to see.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



City Walks: London – Old Street to Liverpool Street

This is another in the series of London city walks by Craig Taylor. I started this walk from Old Street Tube Station.

Leaving from exit 4 I was greeted with bright sunshine. Making my way up City Road I came across the Wesley Chapel and Museum dedicated to John Wesley the founder of Methodism. Being a Sunday morning the museum was not open. I managed to sneak in a few photos while the congregation were making their way to the service.

Statue of John Wesley

Crossing the road I made my way toward Bunhill Fields, an graveyard that is no longer in use. It is the final resting place to the John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe and William Blake.

Daniel Defoe
William Blake

After leaving the graveyard I made my way down towards Chiswell Street. I was now in the heart of the city of London. It was quieter than normal. A right turn took me into Finsbury Pavement. Crossing the road it took me into Finsbury Circus. A pretty garden the standout feature is the magnificent looking bandstand.

Finsbury Garden

I left via Bloomfield Street and carried on until I reached New Broad Street. Crossing over I entered Bishopsgate Church Yard. I walked past the church hall of St. Botolph's.

St. Botolph's Church Hall

Once I left St. Botolph's I was on Liverpool Street. I followed until I reached Liverpool Street Station where the walk finished.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.