Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Friday, 23 August 2019

Lambeth Palace Library


This is Lambeth Palace Library, founded in 1610, it is the historic library of the Archbishops of Canterbury and is the principal library for the history of the Church of England. It is not generally open to the public but I was fortunate to see it when I visited the gardens on an open day. The building has that wow factor when you walk through the large wooden doors.











Reflections made photographing these books very difficult but I think still worth posting.















Monday, 19 August 2019

Lambeth Palace gardens

Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The garden at the back of the palace has been a private garden since the 12th century and takes up 10 acres of the 13 acre site. The garden is open to the public once a month during the Summer months with all proceeds going to small local charities. I have been meaning to visit for the past few years but always seem to miss the open days. So I was delighted to finally gain entry.























You can just see the top of the Houses of Parliament from the garden.










I liked that the garden was more parkland than formally planted flower There lots of nooks and crannies where you could sit quietly and enjoy the greenery. A very enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The District Line

I have completed three of the Underground lines so far on my 'Above the Underground' challenge.  I then get the posts printed as I enjoy looking at the photos and remembering the places I have visited. I much prefer to read the posts in a book than to read them online. I have now started the District Line which is the longest of the tube lines with its 60 stations. Check out the first station here:  Upminster

Monday, 12 August 2019

Day 13: Nighttime in Red Square


On my last evening in Moscow I decided to go and have a look at the Red Square at night
A few of the surrounding streets were decorated with lights.


The GUM store





Walls of the Kremlin

St Basil's Cathedral





So it was goodbye to Moscow. There were many places I did not have time to see but I felt I had managed to see some of the most important areas of Moscow. I had enjoyed my visit very much.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Day 13: Stalin's Seven Sisters

This was my last full day in Moscow and I had planned to visit a few more metro stations and some buildings from the Soviet era known as Stalin's Seven Sisters. I had spent a bit of time last night working out a route as I didn't want to be standing on a street corner consulting a map. Moscow, along with many other large cities, is well known for its pickpockets and scams on tourists. I didn't want to give the impression of being a tourist.  G asked if she could come with me. As an engineer she is also interested in buildings.At the end of WW2 Stalin assumed Moscow would receive many visitors and was concerned there were no skyscrapers. Despite the need for more housing and infrastructure, Moscow built these giants of buildings. The Soviet leaders used them as propaganda to show how much better they were doing than the rest of the world. The buildings are easy to spot as they have a tiered 'wedding cake' style of architecture.


The first of Lenin's skyscrapers was Lermontov Tower. It was built on the site of the birthplace of the poet Lermontov. The central tower houses the offices of the Ministry of Transport. On either side of the ministry are residential blocks.




We walked across the road to this Metro station which I think was called Kropotkinskaya station







Sportivnaya station which is the closest to the Olympic stadium. The station was built in 1957 but as the Olympics were held in 1980 I am wondering if the station name was change for the games. We were here to see the Olympic stadium as it was on the way to another of Stalin's buildings.
At first I didn't think we would be able to get close to the stadium as it was fenced in but I decided to see if I could get in through this building.  I showed the guard on duty my camera and he waved me through so it was obviously open to the public.





An impressive stadium.












To the left of the stadium was another fenced in area where  groups of men in military uniform complete with rifles were standing around.  We presumed as they were covering parts of the building in blue fabric that they were taking part in a film. Just in case they weren't I didn't photograph them!!


I think this building was the swimming pool or gymnasium but G was reluctant to explore the area further so I had to be satisfied with what we had seen .



We carried on to the next stop on the line looking for the State University, another of the seven sisters buildings. This station was close to the River Moskva with its cable car crossing.  We walked up Sparrow Hill, a nature reserve but couldn't find this huge university building. I asked a lady who was passing. (Well I showed her the photo in my guide book). She didn't speak much English but she told us she had studied German at the university and that  we were only five minutes away.

Probably the most famous of the Seven Sisters is the Moscow State University which was completed in 1953. The construction was undertaken using prisoners from the labour camps. The building was the largest skyscraper outside New York for a long time and was the tallest in Europe until 1988. The design is perfectly symmetrical with four wings surrounding the central tower.

The star on the top of the tower is large enough to include a room and a viewing platform and weighs 12 tons. Not sure if anyone is allowed up there though.


The outside of the building is decorated with clocks, barometers, statues and carved wheat sheaves.












Across the road at the top of Sparrow's Hill we had a great view of the Olympic Village and the business area of Moscow.






The next building we sought was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The skyscraper has 27 floors and is 564 ft (172 metres) tall. It was completed in 1953.




















Back on the metro to find the Hotel Ukraine.





The final building on my list was the Hotel Ukraine - now the Radisson Royal. Famous for being one of Europe's tallest hotels, although that is no longer the case. It was finished in 1955 but restoration of this 34 floor, 1600 room hotel was completed in 2010. The hotel has been transformed from a rather seedy hotel in the Soviet era to a five star luxury hotel with a Rolls Royce sale room in the lobby.



This was the only one of the buildings we had seen that we could go inside. It was stunning with artworks decorating most of the walls and even the ceiling.


















As this was the last building on my list we decided to treat ourselves to a cup of tea. Bone china teapot and 3 small cakes to accompany the tea. It cost £10 each but we were happy to pay and enjoy the experience.


Also in the hotel was this diorama of Moscow.. Headphones were available to listen to a simple description of the Kremlin and its surroundings.  Looking at an aerial view of the old historical part of Moscow and listening to the description was very helpful. I wish I had seen this before visiting the Kremlin and the Red Square.

The lighting changed frequently hence the strange colours on this photo.









You can't visit a 5 star hotel without inspecting the washrooms.

We left the hotel and walked back to the metro together and then G and I went our separate ways. G wanted to visit the GUM store and I wanted to visit pedestrianised Arbat street. Arbatskaya is one of Moscow's oldest streets. It was pedestrianised in the 1980s which gave the area a new lease of life. here you find galleries, museums and churches as well as shops, restaurants and bars.










Lots of interesting buildings including the metro station.




Lots of artists lined the street.

Beautiful buildings lined the streets leading from Arbat street.





I felt I had walked enough today and decided to return to the hotel for a rest. 











Another amazing Metro station greeted me on my journey back to the hotel.