Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Coming home (gradually)

This afternoon I'll fly out of Heathrow for Helsinki where I will transit for several hours before my flight to Hong Kong. The news there at present suggests my short stay may be more interesting than the rest stop it was intended to be when I booked my travel.

The five ring circus

This morning I took the tube to Stratford to have a look at what remains of the venue for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The first thing I encountered on arrival at Stratford was a taste of home;

Westfield Stratford City
The Lowy family were very shrewd in constructing one of their shopping centres in this location. As far as I can tell you don't have to walk through the centre to get to the Olympic venue but it seems the most obvious route once you have arrived by train, tube or light rail all of which unload right at the centre's entrance.

You can gauge just how close Westfield is to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from this photo I took from the Level 1 Food Court of the Westfield centre.

It was a foggy, cool morning and not a lot of the Olympic venue seemed available for touring but here are some snaps of what I did see.

The walkway to the Stadium and Aquatic centre
The Arcelormittal Orbit
A murky view of London from the Orbit
The stadium itself is being reconstructed, I believe in preparation for its new role as home ground for West Ham United Football Club.

The stadium viewed from atop the Orbit
Having come up the Orbit by elevator I walked the 400 or so stairs down from the lower (70m) viewing room;

Here I go

The Orbit viewed from below

Monday, 29 September 2014

The V & A

Today we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. The main attraction for us was a photographic exhibition of the work of Horst P Horst mainly known for his fashion photographs for Vogue but as the exhibition reveals his range of work was much broader. Photos were not permitted in that exhibition, so the photos that follow are from other exhibitions we strolled through later.

In the theatre section;

A hat worn by Dame Edna Everage
'The Lion King' costumes
A reconstruction of Kylie Minogue's dressing room
The museum's lovely courtyard
Another exhibition was 'Disobedient Objects' essentially a miscellany of items associated with protest movements;

No comment!
Tiki Love Truck

Sunday, 28 September 2014

God save the King

No photos today.

I ventured out without my camera. Our main activity was to see a new play, highly regarded, entitled 'King Charles III' which is an account of what might happen when Charles, Prince of Wales ascends the throne on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth. It is mostly a drama but there is a fair amount of irony and political humour. The play is beautifully written and acted by an ensemble who in part resemble their characters and/or resemble their body language. If the play proves to be prescient then I suggest beware William and Cate who in this instance are far from empty headed celebrities. Well worth a viewing.

Earlier in the day we spent some time at St Martin in the Fields which has a very atmospheric subterranean cafe and made a second visit to the National Gallery.

Trafalgar Square was in a spectacularly different mode from only two days ago with a Japanese sponsored food day and entertainment display.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thank you linesmen, thank you ball boys

Today's touring was of Wimbledon; or should I say the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. That's the sort of club it is. Traditional, rule bound and very historic. Well, mostly historic, there are some nods to the 21st Century.

Centre Court
Show Court No 1
Henman's Hill or, if you prefer Murray's Mound, being mowed
Outside courts
Nobody, not even the Club's 500 or so members, can play these courts which apparently are used only during the two weeks of the Championships. No walking on the grass, not even the grass in the public areas. No photos of anyone wearing white tennis clothes; they may be members whose privacy must be protected. Despite the rules, the guided tour and the associated museum were very interesting and worth the trip to south-west London if you are so inclined.

I did come away with a photo of the current Champion at the post match interview centre;

Gosh, he looks familiar!
Following that tour - and a fish and chips lunch in Wimbledon's cafe - I travelled four stops back up the district line to Fulham Broadway which was my local station when I lived in London 1974/75.

The street where I lived
Mine was the upstairs flat

Friday, 26 September 2014

Trafalgar Square, Galleries, Theatre

Trafalgar Square remains a fine meeting and people watching place in London.

Trafalgar Square with Big Ben in the distance

The National Gallery lines one end of the Square;

National Gallery foyer
Van Gogh
Joseph Wright

The National Portrait Gallery is next door.

Much of the work there cannot be photographed but of the remainder I liked this best. It seemed like a photograph but is acrylic on linen;

Sir Paul Nurse by Jason Brooks

Back in the square I was struck by this gift from France, or was it Germany?

A cock in the Square
Not far from the Square is;


Nearby, the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt laid the foundation for a building;

and that building is now....

a Chinese restaurant
Then I went on to the Prince Edward Theatre to see 'Miss Saigon'.

Prince Edward Theatre, the Old Compton Road
As is the fashion for contemporary musicals, this steal of the Madam Butterfly plot reset against the Vietnam War relies on a series of big moments, big scenes and some technical stage wizardry. It is not a great musical but after a slow start I really enjoyed the performance. So did the huge matinee audience.

The renovated Prince Edward Theatre is a piece of art in itself. Here it is at intermission;

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

I went to see 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' at the Savoy Theatre on The Strand. The musical is based on the film of the same name and the stage musical's success in London seems to relate to the perceived charms of Robert Lindsay. He is a skilled and experienced performer but I found him to be a bit creepy at times.

Two con men on the Riviera take a bet on which of them can extract money from a visiting heiress. It is light, faintly old fashioned mostly forgettable. A couple of the support performers were the pick of the cast and I guessed the final twist long before it was revealed.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


A trip up the Thames to Greenwich.

Peaceful Greenwich
The Cutty Sark

The Old Royal Naval College;

The Painted Hall

The National Maritime Museum;

Prince Frederick's Barge

Admiral Lord Nelson's Trafalgar jacket torn where he was mortally wounded
Views of London from the nearby Royal Observatory;

Where this woman is standing is the 0ยบ degree of longitude. She has one foot in the western hemisphere and the other in the eastern hemisphere.

Walking back through Greenwich Park to catch the train for London;

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

South bank and the Tower

Today was another long walking day, hour after hour along the south bank of the Thames then across to the Tower and finally the Tube home.

The Globe Theatre
Remnants of Winchester Palace
Replica of The Golden Hind
London's changing skyline
HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge
Old and new
Converted warehouses in Bermondsey
The 'Gerkhin' and the Tower of London
Poppies in the Tower moat to commemorate the centenary of the Great War
St Paul's Cathedral