Photo of the Week – Pall Mall, London

This week’s photo is of one of my favourite spots in London, Pall Mall.

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The road leading up to Buckingham Palace is very popular during the summer.  On Sunday’s the road is closed to traffic allowing pedestrians to be able walk down the Mall.  It is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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

Steve

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Photo of the Week – Street Entertainment, Covent Garden, London

This week’s photo is of a street entertainer in Covent Garden.

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A popular tourist area in London you would always see somebody trying to entertain you for tips.  It is worth spending an hour or two watching and enjoying the free entertainment.

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

Steve

Happy Birthday to ‘The Tube’

January 10 saw the 150th anniversary of the opening to the public of the first section on what was to become known as ‘The London Underground.’  Operating as the Metropolitan Railway the line ran from Paddington to Farringdon Street via King’s Cross.  From this humble beginning the network also known as ‘The Tube’ has grown into the network that we all know and sometimes love.

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I would say that the Underground is the lungs of London.  It allows the city to breathe and function as the global capital city.  The Underground model has now been copied by other major cities around the world.  Nearly all capital cities in the developed world has some sort of underground rail network.

Throughout its history the London Underground has been the scene of some of the major events in London’s history.  During both world wars tube stations were used to shelter the public from the bombing that rained down on the city.  It has also been the scene of several tragedies.  The two that come to mind are firstly the King’s Cross fire in 1987.  The fire was ignited by a discarded cigarette under the wooden escalator.  This led to the death of 31 people.  The other one was the 7/7 bombings in 2005.  Suicide bombers detonated three bombs on the network.  The first one happened between Liverpool Street and Aldgate on the Circle line.  The second explosion happened again on the Circle line between Edgware Road and Paddington.  The third device was detonated on the Piccadilly line between King’s Cross-St. Pancras and Russell Square.  39 of the 52 victims were killed in these explosions.

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There are advantages and disadvantages of using the London Underground.  The advantages are that it is a fast method of travelling across London.  It is also an efficient way of transporting passengers.  As the rolling stock is electrically operated it is also a green option.  Imagine the number of people who would be travelling by cars if there were no underground service.  Of course there are disadvantages.  During peak times the trains always become overcrowded.  Also during the summer the lack of air conditioning can make if feel too hot during the summer.  You also need to keep your wits about you as crowded trains attract pickpockets.

Having said that I enjoy travelling on the Underground.  It gets me across London quickly.  With an Oyster card it can be cheap.  Sharing a train with visitors from around the world I feel that I am part of the global village.  In short I love it and I wish it another 150 years service.

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

Steve

Cutty Sark

This post is a follow up to a previous photo of the week.

The Cutty Sark can be found in Greenwich.  It is one of the most popular attractions in London.

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Built as a clipper ship it was the fastest ship of its type operating during the late 19th century.  Primarily its cargo was tea which was carried between Britain and Australia.  For ten years it was the fastest ship operating between these two countries.  The Cutty Sark ended up being sold to a Portuguese shipping company.  The Cutty Sark also served as a training ship based in Falmouth, Cornwall.  It became a tourist attraction when moved to its present location in 1954.

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Disaster struck the ship in 2007 when it was badly damaged by a fire.  It was fully restored and reopened in 2012.  So far there have been over 13 million visitors to the Cutty Sark.

What a visit to Cutty Sark allows you to do is to experience what life would have been like on board the ship.  There are various collections to be found on board.  These include an archive of publications that have featured the Cutty Sark.  There are also collections dedicated to the construction and working life of the Cutty Sark,  Figureheads, memorabilia, Navigational Instruments, Paintings and objects used during the working life of the ship.  Surprisingly, there is a collection dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns.  It was from his poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ where the Cutty Sark got its name.

 

 

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Entrance fee is £12.00 and that could be considered as expensive.  However, given what you get to see I feel it is value for money.  There are concessions available to seniors and students.  You do have book to your ticket online and select the time you are going to visit.  If you miss your slot you will not be allowed in.

The Cutty Sark is located at King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 9HT

Nearest DLR stop is Cutty Sark station.

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

Steve

Photo of the Week – Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh

This week’s photograph is the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in Greenwich.

Raleigh was an explorer during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.  He is famous for introducing tobacco to England.  Raleigh was beheaded in 1618 on the orders of King James I.

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

Steve

Photo of the Week – Nelson’s Resting Place

This week’s photograph is of the spot where Lord Nelson lay in state before his funeral in 1806.

Lord Horatio Nelson died in action at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.  It was decided that he should have a state funeral.  Nelson’s body was brought back to London.  It was preserved in brandy mixed with camphor and myrrh.

Nelson lay in state in the Painted House in Greenwich for three days.  The funeral took place on 9 January 1806.  Neither Nelson’s widow or his mistress Lady Hamilton attended.

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

Steve

City Walks: London – Greenwich

This walk starts at the DLR station Cutty Sark.  Once you leave the station the Cutty Sark comes into view immediately.  The former tea clipper was famous for being able to sail to Australia in less than 80 days.  It has recently reopened after being damaged by fire in 2007.  Admission is £12.00 for adults and £6.50 for children under 15 years of age.  It is advisable to book online as entrance is only by timed ticket.  In the autumn sunshine the Cutty Sark looks impressive.

The Cutty Sark

From the Cutty Sark I made my way towards the Visitor’s Centre which is housed in part of the old Naval College.  It is interesting to spend some time in there as it tells the story of Greenwich.  There are plenty of interactive exhibits inside.

The Visitor’s Centre

From the Visitor’s Centre I made my way to the Painted Hall.  The impressive painted ceilings took 19 years to complete.  It was also where Lord Nelson laid in state until his funeral.

One of the painted ceilings

I crossed the Romney Road and made my way towards the National Maritime Museum.  Free to enter the museum tells the story of Britain as naval nation over 500 hundred years.  Britannia did once rule the waves.  One of the highlights is the uniform Lord Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar.  You can see the bullet hole in the left shoulder.  It was the bullet that would eventually kill Nelson.  Sadly, I was unable to photograph the uniform.  There are several other items worth seeing.

The National Maritime Museum.

Upon leaving the museum I made my way towards the Royal Observatory.  I stopped to look at the site of the Equestrian Centre that was used for the Olympic Games.  It looked an impressive sight.  The surface was being removed but the grandstands remained intact.

It is a steep walk to the Royal Observatory.  However, once you reach the top of the hill you are rewarded with great views particularly of the O2 Arena.

The Royal Observatory is London’s only planetarium.  It is also famously the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World.  The Astronomy Centre is free.  Tickets for Flamsteed House and the Meridian Courtyard cost £7.00.  If you do not want to pay but wish to experience crossing the Meridian Line there is a spot outside the courtyard where this can be done.  I warn you that it does get crowded.

From the observatory I made my way back towards Greenwich down The Avenue.  I passed the Greenwich Royal Park Herb Garden.  A haven where you can rest your legs as your sense of smell takes in all the odours of the herbs.

Back in Greenwich I passed the Fan Museum which is dedicated to fans and fan making.  Admission is £4.00 and the museum serves afternoon tea from 3pm.

Passing the Spread Eagle bookshop I made my way to Greenwich Market.  At Sunday lunchtime the market was packed with people enjoying the autumn sunshine.  There were stores that consisted of locally made handicrafts and clothes.  There is something for everyone.  Towards the end of the market my sense of smell took me towards the food section.  Here, one could eat the world.  In fact it was too popular and the queues were just too much.

Feeling hungry I made my way towards a coffee shop called ‘Red Door’.  So called because it has a red door.  A small coffee shop it had a cosy atmosphere which was what I needed after the bustle of the market.  My ham and tomato toasted sandwich tasted delicious, mainly of the olive oil used instead of butter.  The scone, jam and clotted cream also went down well.  From the ‘Red Door’ I made my way back to the DLR station for the train back to Central London.

The walk came from ‘City Walks: London’ by Craig Taylor.  This was the first in a series of 50 walks.

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

Steve

Photo of the Week – View From the London Eye

This week photograph is of the Houses of Parliament.  As you can see it is not the greatest photo ever taken.

The Houses of Parliament

The object is of the photo is not what I want to focus.  More where it was taken from, the London Eye.  Opened in March 2000 by 2008, 30 million people had ridden on the attraction.  Once it was the largest ferris wheel in the world.  On a good day you can view all across London seeing all the sights.  The ride itself take about an hour to complete.

The London Eye is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames.  The nearest tube stop is Waterloo.

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

Steve

Imperial War Museum – London

Recently I was in London and I thought I would visit the Imperial War Museum.

It is a place that holds many surprises.  The first one before you enter the museum.  You would expect to see the guns outside but I was not expecting to see a piece of the Berlin Wall too.

The museum itself is free to enter.  There are entrance fees to temporary exhibitions that might be taking place.  Once inside it is far from the celebration of war that one might expect.  There are plenty of military hardware to view but it also looks at the problems and horrors of war too.

On the ground floor there is an exhibit decided to an ordinary family and how they lived through the blitz in World War II.  This was fascinating as it examined day-to-day living during the war.  This is something that can be easily forgotten with rationing and having children taken away to be evacuated to the country for their safety.

The first floor dedicated to the Secret Services and the role they have played in conflicts during the 20th century.  Again, this was excellent with plenty of video footage to view particularly of the SAS rescuing the hostages in the Iranian Embassy in 1980.  This was something I could remember seeing on the television at the time.  Also on the first floor there is a temporary exhibition about the soldiers serving in Afghanistan, a reminder of current conflicts.

Second floor main exhibition is the film ‘Crime Against Humanity’.  It tells of genocide that has taken place and the effects it has on the people.  Some of the images are upsetting and you warned not to bring in children under the age of twelve.  What I was left from this was the number of crimes against humanity that have taken place.  It is more than I thought.   There is also an art gallery with portraits and images from the war.

The third floor contained the highlight of the museum.  This was the exhibition dedicated to the Holocaust.  As you can imagine what you see and hear cuts right through you.  The horrors I could not imagine.  It seems so long ago yet it was only seventy years ago.  What stayed with me was the silence as I travelled through the exhibition.

The fourth floor celebrates the extraordinary heroes and the story of how they received their medals.

Overall, the Imperial War Museum was a great way to spend an afternoon.  What I found pleasing was the number of families that were visiting and the parents taking time to explain what happened.

There is currently some working taking place inside the museum and some areas will be inaccessible.  From 2nd January 2013 the museum will be closed for six months while major construction work takes place.

The nearest tube stop is Lambeth North on the Bakerloo line.  There is free Wi-fi in the museum and there is also a cafe and shop to visit.

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

Steve

A New Challenge – City Walks Around London

Recently I have been doing a spot of tidying up around the flat.  Among the items I came across was ‘City Walks: London – 50 Adventures on Foot’ by Craig Taylor.

It comprises of 50 walks in London.  Instead of being a book, the walks are on individual cards which can be slipped into the pocket.  Each walk starts from a tube or mainline railway station and usually last for a couple of hours.  The cards point out places of interest to see as well as recommending places to eat.

The new challenge that I have set for myself is to complete the walks and write posts on each one.  I will be starting tomorrow and hope to post my findings during the coming week.  I am looking forward to this as I travel to London frequently and I want to share the not so obvious areas that you may miss out on.

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

Steve