Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Winter Lights

Sunday 20th January 2019

From Tropical London to decidedly not tropical Canary Wharf. Wrapped up well to see the Winter Lights exhibition of art installations in and around Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf Shopping Centre, and Jubilee Gardens.

It was a tad nippy down the docks under the full moon.

Last Parade - Alexander Reichstein

Submergence - Squidsoup

Floating Islands - Mürüde Mehmet

Flow - Squidsoup

Floating Islands - Mürüde Mehmet

Prismatica - Raw Design

Everyone's photo op.

Two Hearts - Stuart Langley
More photos here Flickr Album but photographs don't really capture the exhibits as well as video:

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Tropical London

Sunday 20th January 2019

The Barbican Estate in the City of London, Grade II listed fine example of British Brutalist architecture or concrete carbuncle depending on your taste (it's the former obviously) was built in the 1960s and 1980s on an area of Cripplegate Ward levelled by the Luftwaffe in World War II.

Within the estate is the Barbican Centre, Europe's largest performing arts centre. This contains spaces to host classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses a library, three restaurants, and the subject of this blog post, a 23,000 square foot  conservatory containing a couple of thousand species of plants and some Koi Carp and terrapins.

The conservatory is open to the public but only on limited occasions - mostly Sunday afternoons and some Bank Holidays. There's no charge to enter though, which is a plus. Opening dates and times are on the Barbican Website. It's not immediately obvious when you get inside the Barbican Centre but the conservatory is on level 3, take the stairs or the lift. 

Inside the conservatory is divided into two main tropical sections plus a smaller arid zone on the upper level. It's an impressive green tangle of plants and trees with narrowish walkways between the beds and fishponds and even an area of tables where you can take Afternoon Tea for a mere £35 a head - including a glass of prosecco. You have to book in advance. I gave afternoon tea a miss and joined the poorer visitors wandering amongst the vegetation.

Tables for Afternoon Tea if you're feeling flush.

Carp pool.

The arid section - cacti and succulents.

Winter colour.

Hot stuff, chilli peppers!

The big fish.

Single bloom.

Big bamboo.

The conservatory is tall enough to accommodate full size trees.

The Barbican Conservatory is a bit of a hidden gem, a little bit of tropical "jungle" in the middle of the city. If you can make it on one of the few open days it's worth visiting - especially if it's January and bloody cold outside as it was on this Sunday.

There are more photos here in this Flickr Album.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Cistercian ruins and a Surrey ramble.

Waverley Abbey was the first Cistercian abbey in England. It was founded in 1128 by William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester. Located in Farnham, Surrey, about 2 miles (3.2 km) southeast of the town centre, the abbey is situated on a floodplain, surrounded by current and previous channels of the River Wey.

What's left of it, which is a few fragments of its former extensive self, is in the care of English Heritage. Entry is free and there is a small car parking area off Waverley Lane about 350 yards away from the abbey ruins.

The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536 and subsequently the buildings largely demolished and used as a source of stone for other local buildings.

A small part of the ruins still has a ceiling - might be useful if it rains when you visit though today it was dry and quite mild for January.

Nearby is Waverley Abbey House, a Grade II* listed mansion which now offers business meeting and function facilities. The house was built in 1723 and replaced an earlier dwelling on the abbey site which had incorporated some of the former abbey buildings.

So having had a good look around the abbey ruins it was time for a ramble down to Tilford and back, mostly following the public byway that leads through the woods and past Sheephatch Farm.

See the route on OS Maps

Apart from a short section at the start along Waverley Lane the walk is mostly off road (although the byway is open to all traffic so you might meet the odd trail bike rider) it crosses one minor road, Sheephatch Lane, and at Tilford where you join the road there is a footway down into the village by way of the old bridge across the River Wey.

When you get to Tilford I recommend you pop into The Barley Mow pub where a nice pint of real ale may be obtained. The many people tucking into a late Sunday lunch seemed to be enjoying it as well. If you go in the summer you might be able to watch the cricket on the village green - though there are several signs on the outside of the pub warning of possible incoming stray cricket balls!

You could carry on through Tilford and follow the road back to Waverley Abbey, maybe cutting across on a footpath but the roads are narrow and the manic cyclists and SUVs tear along them so better to recross the Wey and take the bridleway on the left up the hill to rejoin the byway and retrace your steps back to your starting point.

 Wartime defences in a field next to the river in Tilford. This area lies on one of the "stop lines" constructed during the second world war in preparation for the expected Nazi German invasion. Fortunately they were never needed to be used. Also in the car parking area for Waverley Abbey is something that looks very like a fortified gun emplacement. Look to your left as you go through the gate onto the path to the ruins.

Little tower in the woods by Tilhill House. Former dovecote maybe?

The byway through the woods.

The River Wey through the trees near Waverley Abbey.

Flickr Album of photos at Waverley Abbey.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year's Eve

Choose going to the pub, which will be full of strangers (some of them very strange indeed), drinking too much and walking home fed up and depressed to a new year beginning with a hangover.

Choose sitting at home watching the mindless TV, overdosing on snacks, toasting the new year in alone, and then watching Jools Holland long after you should give in and go to bed.


... choose a mini-adventure to watch the fireworks over London, with a mini-picnic, from the top (well half way up at least) Primrose Hill.

The last one, for a change.

Dead Pool 2019

Nine survivors from 2018 plus one addition who didn't look especially well on the TV recently:

Marvin Lee Aday (Meat Loaf)

Neil Percival Young (Musician)

Eddie Large (Comedian)

Doris Day (Actress & Singer)

Gina Lollobrigida (Actress, Photojournalist, & Sculptor)

Kirk Douglas (Actor, Producer, Director, & Author)

James Earl Carter Jr. (39th POTUS)

Vera Lynn (Singer, Songwriter, & Actress)

Philip Mountbatten (HRH The Duke of Edinburgh)

Michael Caine (Actor)