Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Anyone for an umbrella? A very fitting display for our current weather.

Spotted near Borough Market.

Monday, 27 January 2014


Camden in North London is well known for its market at the lock on Regent's Canal but the high Street also has some interesting shop fronts.

 After walking along the high street I then crossed the bridge into Camden Lock Market. This cafe had very interesting seats - all made from old Vesta scooters.
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Friday, 24 January 2014

Islington Tunnel

This is the entrance to the Islington Tunnel which carries the Regent's Canal for 878m underneath the Angel area of Islington.There is no towpath through the tunnel so walkers like myself have to follow a trail of markers above ground which follow the route of the canal.

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Chichester Cathedral

Just before Christmas I visited Chichester with its wonderful Cathedral. The building of the Cathedral began in 1076 and was completed in 1108, although much has been added since.

Within the Cathedral there is some extraordinary  art work.

 This is the Piper tapestry, designed by John Piper on the theme of the Holy Trinity. It was woven in France.

 The Chagall window is based on the Psalm: 'O praise God in his holiness.........let everything that has breath praise the Lord.''
 This is known as the Anglo-German tapestry. Designed by Ursula Benker-Schirmer it shows the joy of creation and the Glory and Light that Christ brought to the world. The centre panel was woven in Germany and the two side panels in West Dean College near Chichester.

 There is also a painting by Graham Sutherland entitled 'Do not hold me' showing Christ appearing to Mary Magdelene on the first Easter morning.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The British Museum (London Museum #9)

The British Museum(a museum of the world, for the world) celebrated its 255th anniversary last week so I thought it would be appropriate to take you on a quick tour.

The National Museums in the UK are free and are all worth a visit but if you are only here for a short time that can be difficult.There are free 30 - 40 minute daily tours in different rooms of the British Museum but for those of you unlikely to be able to visit, here is a little peek at some of the exhibits.

Mummies lying around in the Egyptian room

The Royal Game of Ur: A popular game played in  the Ancient world for about 3000 years.
In  at least 6 graves in the Royal Cemetery  wooden game boards inlaid with shell, red limestone and lapiz lazuli were found. This game was found in grave PG 513, Ur.

Glazed brick panel showing a roaring lion. This was from the reign of NebuchadnezzarII (605-562BC) and was found in Babylon, Southern Iraq.

The Portland Vase - cameo glass possibly made in Rome 15 BC-AD 25. Cameo glass means it is made from two layers of glass where the outer layer is white and is carved away to reveal the inner blue layer. This piece is one of the finest surviving pieces of Roman glass. It is said that this was the inspiration for Wedgewood pottery made in Britain from the mid 18th cent.

Black figured Panathenaic amphora showing a boxing contest made in Athens for the Panathenaic festival of 336BC

Wine jug dating back to 420-400BC showing a two horse chariot race. My favourite piece of Greek art is the sculpture of the discus thrower but that is on loan to Glasgow, Scotland at the moment for an exhibition to celebrate the Commonwealth Games

The Lewis Chessmen.
 These chess pieces are made from carved walrus ivory and were discovered on the Isle of Lewis, Western Isles, Scotland in 1831.

Altogether they found 93 medieval  chess pieces , some of which are here and the rest are in the National Museum of Scotland.

Samurai Armour and helmet.
This display has been put together from a collection of different pieces of armour made between 1500 and 1800. Originally the armour was used as a protection against arrows but in the 1500s the Portuguese used guns as weapons and the Japanese added a  thick metal bullet proof chest plate.
Amitabha Buddha (AD581-618). This giant marble figure represents the Buddha of Infinite Light. It was presented to the Museum by the Chinese Government in 1938.

Cloisonne jar with dragons. This was made for a Ming Dynasty Emperor AD1426-35

Island statue  Hoa Hakanana circa 1400. This statue was donated to the Museum by Queen Victoria in 1869.

Throne of weapons.
Made in Mozambique, 2001
During the Mozambique civil war seven million guns found their way into the country. After the war the people were encouraged to exchange weapons for tools and machinery. Artists then turned the decommissioned weapons into sculptures

The Rosetta Stone.
This was the key to deciphering hieroglyphs

The Rosetta Stone carries an inscription in different languages which helped decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic  script. At the top of the stone the decree is written in hieroglyphics, the middle the same decree was written in Demotic, the everyday langusge of the Egyptians and at the bottom the same decree was written in Greek.

These reliefs are from Assyria and show the Royal Lion Hunts. They were carved about 645-635 BC

This room was built especially to hold the marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens. The Parthenon was built between 447 and 438 BC and was dedicated to the goddess Athena

During 1687 the Parthenon was being used as a Turkish Garrison and it was reduced to ruins when gunpowder that was stored there exploded. At the beginning of the 19th cent Lord Elgin had the sculptures removed from the ruins and brought them back to England. An act of Parliament gave them to the British Museum in 1816. Other sculptures from the Parthenon can be seen in the museums of Athens, Paris and Copenhagen. The sculptures are commonly referred to as the 'Elgin Marbles' and are a source of controversy as to whether they should be on display here or be returned to Greece.

I hope you've enjoyed this short tour. The British Museum owns approx 6,000,000 artifacts of which only a small percentage are on display at any one time. Many are loaned to Museums throughout the world whilst others may never see the light of day. The artifacts are used to tell us about the history of the world in which we live and the stories they can tell are fascinating. I have only shown you a handful of some of my favourites. Maybe one day you'll be able to visit and choose your own special pieces.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Barbican

Within the city of London is a housing development called the Barbican. Completed in the mid 70s, the estate contains over 2000 flats and was built on a WW2 bomb site.

The Barbican Estate includes an arts and drama centre, library, school, the Museum of London and the Guildhall school of music and drama. It has a landscaped area with a lake in front of the Arts centre.

Across the water is one of the few medieval churches left in The City of London that survived the Great Fire of 1666. The church is called St Giles-without-Cripplegate. St Giles is the patron saint of beggars and cripples. Although built hundreds of years before the adjoining houses and offices, somehow it doesn't look out of place.

Reflection of the estate in a leaded light window.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pink in Winter

During one of my walks in Kent with the U3A group we came across this delightful traveller's caravan. It looked in very good condition parked at the bottom of a large garden. I wonder if it is ever used.

Known as Spindle ( Euonymus europaeus), these beautiful bright pink berries made quite a statement against the bare branches.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Lloyd's shipping register

Lloyd's register is one of the great institutions of the City of London. It was founded in 1760 in the same way that Lloyd's of London began with meetings of merchants, underwriters and others associated with shipping all taking place in  Edward Lloyd's coffee house. The present building on the corner of Fenchurch Street was built in 1901 in this Edwardian baroque style

In the following 70 years Lloyd's register expanded into 4 adjacent office blocks and became a jumble of buildings. Rather than moving premises a major redevelopment took place where the facade of Coronation House was kept but the whole structure behind it was demolished. Richard Rogers,the architect, has married the old with the new and created a very interesting building. The existing outer shell had to be retained due to planner's restrictions so Rogers built two glass towers 12 and 14 storeys high with another 7 storeys of space behind the Coronation fa├žade.

The best of the original building has been retained such as the old reception hall with its marble staircase.

This is the Rose window above the staircase which has a ship at its centre surrounded by the emblems of the UK: the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the Irish shamrock and supposedly the Welsh leek (but I can't see it).

Half way up the staircase is 'The figure of Maritime Commerce'

The staircase leads to the  general committee room.

A tapestry hanging in the style of William Morris Damask pattern ( this is a copy with the original being in the V and A museum).

The barrel vaulted ceiling  inspired by Michelangelo Sistine chapel ceiling.

The room is still used by Lloyd's Registers General advisory committee and on other formal occasions.

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