A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bit of a Mystery

The wonderful thing about digital cameras is that you can take an unlimited amount of pictures while on vacation and then sort, delete, enhance, and organize them all when you get home. The horrible thing about digital cameras is that you feel COMPELLED to sort, delete, enhance, and organize them all when you get home...or at least I do. In truth I rather enjoy it all.

This morning, as I was reliving a walk down the Strand towards Trafalgar Square (while sorting, deleting, enhancing, and organizing) I came upon one of those photos that leave you wondering exactly why you took it in the first place. This is the photo...

My first thought was that I had been amused by the Coke ad on the bus. I only know one person named Laura and I only see her six or seven times a year, so that didn't seem likely. Then I remembered - it was that narrow row of windows running down between the two buildings. Surely it must be part of one of them, but it had clearly been built long after one of them and long before the other.

I went to Google Maps and zero'd in to see if there was an entrance at ground level that would give me a clue - perhaps a walkway through to the Thames Embankment. There is a portal, but it is covered from top to bottom with metal grills, locked gates, and signs reading "Fire Exit" and "! Keep Clear". Behind the grills it is black and foreboding - I can't imagine it being any easier to get out of than to get in.

But there are books and things visible in the windows - there must be either tables or desks against them. Then I notice the railings at the top, you can get up onto the roof! Why would that be possible? Looking for any clue, I went back to Google Maps and magnified as far as I could. I found what looks to be a human figure standing behind that railing, not a real person, but a cut-out like you find in theater lobbies or maybe an Antony Gormley figure. Whatever was there when Google drove down the Strand, it's not there any more.

So now that I know why I took the picture, I find myself left with more questions than when I started. One of these days, when I have nothing better to do, I may spend an hour or two on the internet seeing what I can find...I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

London, Looking Up

My first visit to London proper was for one full day in 2007 so I had to choose carefully. I made a visit to Covent Garden (which captured my heart), explored the Tower Bridge from top to bottom (see Mixed Blessings post), and took one of the open top bus rides all around London.

Three wonderful things came from that first bus ride. Firstly, I got an overview of London's layout which has stood me in good stead. Secondly, all those unexplored brilliant bits have kept me coming back whenever possible. Thirdly, and probably least important, I discovered the upper level details of London's buildings. Sitting on the top of that double decker bus one comes face to face with the amazing ornament that decorates London first floor exteriors (that would be our second floor), and from there one can hardly avoid looking further up. Instead of seeing the whole building, as you tend to do from street level, you see the lovely little bits that Victorian and Georgian architects stuck on every possible space.

The amount of stone work in central London is mind-boggling, it must have kept hundreds,
if not thousands, of stonemasons busy for years.

And so you get in the habit of looking up, which can yield great rewards - not just carvings, but windows, brick work, and tile work.

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Near Covent Garden.

On the Strand.

The photos above were all taken in my first three days in London...there will be more.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Making up for a late Spring...

Maybe it was the late spring - not just at home in the Pacific Northwest, but spring was even later and colder in England. Maybe it was the four years of stifled longing. Whatever it was, a visit to Cath Kidston in London was my downfall. Cath Kidston is largely about florals - so many florals you can actually smell them.

Headbands, boxes, totes, sneakers, hankies, keychains...and purses.
Powder, hand lotion, baskets, baby towels, pillows...and purses.
Oven mitts, dish towels, hankies, sneakers, ribbons, mugs...and purses

Florals with a capital F...pink roses, white roses, red roses, big roses, little roses, little daisies, and to top it all off - polka dots. I'm far from the classic ultra-feminine type of woman (I rather fancy I'm more of the platinum blonds type in the black cocktail dress that catches James Bond's eye) but I do have a fondness for what I consider old-fashioned wallpaper florals.

Lots of prints to choose from.

It wouldn't have been so bad if I had stopped with my splurge in the London shop, but after maintaining my self-control while passing the shop in York no less than a half-dozen times, I lost it in Harrogate. When no one was looking, I snuck off to the Cath Kidston there. It was this shop that started me off in 2009 and this time I left with bags full of bags.

You guessed it...purses.

When I went through customs, the inspector cocked an eye at me as he scanned down my list, "Stationary" (I'm a fool for greeting cards with brilliant art), "Souvenirs" (Just a few Liverpool Football Club keychains and one - just one - mug), "Mustard" (England has such wonderful mustards), "Jewelry" (Just a few cheap pairs of earrings and one gorgeous jet necklace we'll talk about later), "Purses....Purses?". I pointed to the flowered bag hanging so beautifully over my shoulder, smiled sheepishly, and said simply, "Cath Kidston". He nodded solemnly, stamped my papers, and waved me through.

I was a bit disappointed. I had planned to show him the matching wallet.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Savoy

"To stay at The Savoy is to follow in the footsteps of Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Claude Monet and Katharine Hepburn." Other footsteps to follow in would include George Gershwin, Lena Horne, Noel Coward, Edward VII, Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Truman, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Babe Ruth, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, The Beatles, and numerous others.  The Savoy Grill is under the management of Gordon Ramsey. The British premier of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was held in the hotel lobby. Just for the record, this is not the Savoy at which there is any 'Stompin'" going on.

It goes without saying that we did not stay at the Savoy, their rates start at L450 per night. However, the moderately priced London hotel we did stay at was just across the street so we got a good look at it - at least until the scaffolding and wrap went up on our building.

This is the Art Deco main entrance to the Hotel. Somewhere in the background there hovers a doorman in full livery including top hat. The topiary cats at the front however, are fake.

The Savoy buildings cover a lot of ground between the Strand and the Thames, so in addition to the hotel there is the theatre on the left of the entrance and upscale commerce on the ground level of all the buildings.

The Savoy Theatre
The Savoy Tailors Guild - a wonderfully decorated storefront.

The hotel opened in 1889 and the style is a mix of Art Deco and Edwardian, upon which history is literally writ large.

I've never really had a taste for luxury at this level, but that may simply be because I've never had a taste of luxury at this level. Oh well, maybe in my next life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savoy_Hotel  worth a read-through

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Journey Continues

Well, we are home...mostly unpacked, but still in the throes of jet lag. But for me, the journey is far from finished.

I'll be working my photos, working my journal, and proudly sporting my various Cath Kidston bags. (Yes, I went nuts in the London Shop and then topped it off with a nostalgic visit to the Harrogate store.) As I sort, edit, and post my photos I'll be writing out my memories here - so stay tuned, I have just a few short of 3,000 photos to work.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fresh Air Feet

Every traveler knows that shoes can make the all the difference. You need two pair of comfortable walking shoes - that's the basic minimum, along with good socks that will wick moisture. Anything else (dress shoes, flip-flops, etc.) is optional.

I have two pair of comfortable walking shoes and I have switched between them as one is told. I have several pair of thick socks which have kept my feet dry. I have had no blisters, sore toes, or any other type of foot problem. Well, there has been one small problem...

After almost a month of long days in those shoes and socks, my feet are crying out to be bare - not just over night, but for days...a minimum of 48 hours...no, more than that...a week at least!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Angels of St Paul's Cathedral

As you approach St Paul's Cathedral you are overwhelmed by the majesty of Wren's masterpiece and the crowds of tourists. Eventually you back away from the crowds and bring your eyes down from the heights and look around the churchyard. The first thing that caught my eye was a series of columns topped by glorious sculpted heads. They are five angels, the work of Emily Young - brilliant counterpoint to the incredibly ornate decoration of St Paul's itself.

This will give you an idea of their placement
It is impossible to stand back far enough to take them all in at the same time and sadly, their placement is such that several of them have backgrounds that, while convenient for those of us from Seattle, leave much to be desired.


Yorkshire Dales

If we had to choose our favorite day from this trip, I think it would be a tough call between our tour of Suffolk villages and the drive through the Yorkshire Dales. I don't have the energy for a thousand words, so I'll make do with a few photos. And yes, it really is that green.