06 December, 2005

Bluewater and Dartford

Visit to Bluewater on Saturday- I couldn't get away fast enough. Dartford OK, an average Kent market town.

14 November, 2005

A housewarming party in Brighton- appropriate for a cold day!

A visit to Brighton this weekend to warm Mike and Ken's super new flat in the Kemp town area of Bighton. Many thanks to Mike and Ken for inviting me to a really great party. This is not an area I know well but the flat is near the Chichester Diocese Teacher training College (I don't know if this is 'former' or not) and a welcome store.

The flat was comfortable light and well designed with a compact and attractive garden which I bet will be a gorgeous sun-trap in the summer. (hope I don't sound like an estate Agent!) Mike is already itching to start a bit of gardening and jokes about a hot-tub! I think it's a joke.

It did seem a long way from the station but that was probably because I didn't know where I was going and got lost on the way. Going back seemed a lot shorter.

There were some very nice people at the party which kept going until about 10. Some lovely food (thanks Aref and Steve) and great company.

I stayed with (other) friends (Thanks Mike and Tony). As the weather was so cold Mike put the gas fire on which made the house so warm and cosy I didn't want to leave!

05 November, 2005

A people's celebration, a thanksgiving, a display of allegiance

Yes, it's bonfire night! A time when the people in Great Britain celebrate the deliverance of the King from a plot to blow him and parliament up (and the inevitable uprising that would have followed), give thanks for the foiling of the plot and display their allegiance to the constitutional monarchy.

A people's celebration because many people buy their own fireworks and burn them themselves rather than go to displays as the killjoys want, all in the name of safety. Obviously idiots cannot be trusted with fireworks, but can they be trusted with anything. People can go to displays but why can't they do both?

30 October, 2005

At the still point there the dance is: A productive Sunday

Today was a good day! I had a walk from home to the Thames Barrier taking some photos on the way- in all I got through two rolls of film which is a tribute to the interesting, although not conventionally beautiful riverside path.
There is a sculpture at greenwich penninsula called Slice of Reality which is a slice taken from a ship and mounted in the water. Worth a look - in fact here is a picture.
slice of reality Posted by Picasa
The Milennium Dome, which still looks rather sad and forlorn (demolish it now or do something useful with it) still has some of its attributes and I am pleased that the reed beds planted 5 yrears ago still appear to be flourishing, although they have not spread as was envisaged, and the abandoned wharves do not seem to have been colonised by wildlife as was also planned.

After the Milennium Dome, I met one of the members of South London coöp committee who was out for a walk with her husband.

The Greenwich Yacht Club is an unusual building which stands in the river.

The Thames Barrier is quite a sight to see and there is a diagram of the Thames from source to sea engraved on the concrete wall of a tunnel there.

Late in the afternoon I went to the culmination of Reap, a year long project by Cafe Gallery Projects that had been taking place in Southwark Park. A clock had been counting down the seconds over the year and it was about to end. As the clock reached zero it blew up with a puff of red smoke and set off fireworks with some very loud bangs! Eventually the smoke set off the gallery's fire alarm but there were no major problems. Afterwards there was a tour of 'the secret garden' in Southwark Park, where someone had lived, unbeknownst to the park staff, run a shebeen and bred animals. As part of Reap this secret garden had been hung with 365 dresses from Jason Perry style to ordinary day dresses. This gave the garden a spooky feel as did the workshop, aviaries and other built spaces. Other installations had been done there.

At the end of the day there was an end of Reap event in the Dilston Grove church (a derelict church at the corner of the park) where artist z'ev played music on some pieces of found metal while a lighting installation went on outside. The quote above was made in glow sticks attatched to baloons. People at the event released these into the night. I had the second 'the'!

Bramble wine and really participative arts events.

A very good day

23 October, 2005

Manchester and Salford: Coöperative Society

Been to Manchester to the Coöperative Group HQ for their half yearly meeting and Regional Board Conference. Stayed in Salford which is just across a small river in the premier travel lodge a good enough hotel.

The social aspects were very good as always with very nice lunches provided, and a formal dinner on the Saturday Evening.

Manchester clubbing not so good unfortunately with Canal Street not what it used to be- When the council takes something over it always goes downhill I'm sorry to say.

Plenty of opportunities for drinks and discussions of mutual interest with fellow coöperators though!

I even took a picture of three regional board members dressed up for halloween in the staff shop. Now there's something I couldn't be persuaded to post for love or money!

15 October, 2005

Mystery tour

Time for a few photos so went on a mystery tour round South London sorry 'sarf london'

Began at Blackheath and walked near Morden college for merchants who had lost their livelyhood (see picture) then through Woodlands Farm at Shooters Hill (the former Co-op farm) to Bostall. Then through Plumstead to Charlton House (see picture) Good but tiring day out.

10 October, 2005

Watford and Bushey- not the heart of Herts


Sometimes I think my travels are the triumph of hope over experience.


Went here to visit a pub called the Load of Hay, and walked from Watford to do it. The pub is listed as Watford but it is actually in Bushey. It is a long walk. This would not have been too bad if there had been refreshment at the end. Unfortunately the pub was closed. Looks nice from the outside though. Bushey Village is pretty

On the bus home saw some pretty villages, including Bushey Heath (complete with Welcome store) but really just went home

02 October, 2005

Eltham and Erith

I went out on Sunday to enjoy a walk along part of the South East London Green Chain with a few other bits thrown in.
Starting at Shooters Hill I walked through various parks in the heartlands of the former Royal Arsenal Coöperative Society, beginning at the former Coöperative pig farm at Woodlands farm. I walked through Oxleas and Shepherdleas woods, through Eltham Park North and South and to Eltham Palace, former home of the Courtauld family who restored the great hall into an Elstree version of a Tudor great hall.

After Eltham Palace there were some spectacular views over towards London, in particular Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome. I took some pictures as the towers looked like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz but perhaps they will not be as spectacular as that on the photo!

After a brief excursion into the tarn at Mottingham (a stretch of water that may date from the 15th Century) I walked through a small park by the railway called Fairy Hill. The Royal Blackheath Golf Club House is mentioned in my Country Houses of Kent Book as a fine example of a 17th Century mansion but alas it is ‘members only’ so I could not see it. Eventually I called in at the Coöp supermarket at New Eltham which is an old RACS branch with the date of founding the Society (1868) and the date of the branch (1931) set out in green and white tiles in the fascia. If there ever was an opening plaque I couldn’t see it but there is a sense of history where people have been trading coöperatively for over 70 years!

Back across Avery Hill Park and into a country lane near the (architectural) award winning Crown Woods School and into Riefield Road.

I must have walked down Riefield Road from Falconwood Station when as a student I came for an interview at Avery Hill College (now part of Greenwich University). I remember being impressed by the numbers of coöps in that area of South London, which must have been right at the end of the RACS, and by the front view of Crown Woods School. Earlier this year I also walked from Falconwood Station to attend a cremation. Happy days and sad days seem to attend this area.

I intended to end my journey at Falconwood Station and catch a train home but there was engineering work on the line so caught a bus into Eltham then a further one to Plumstead then another to Lewisham via Bostall woods where the RACS had their Education Centre and hotel, Shornells, and a camping site. This is now the Greenwich and Bexley Cottage Hospice.

While still having RACS thoughts and being a lot later home than I intended, I decided to go and visit the Alldays shop at Northumberland Heath on the outskirts of Erith. This is a former RACS shop that has the typical architecture of 1925, the white faience and the coöp hall above. I took a few photos on film and walked back to Erith Station. The shop hasn’t changed much in 80 years.

27 September, 2005

Elstree and Borehamwood

The sort of place where you expect film stars to be in the local Mcd's but when I called in there were only people who looked as if they might want to be film stars when they grow up or were film stars when they were younger. Elstree makes a little film history go a long way (literally) and have a studio trail. Two and a half hours of looking at where the studios were and a mound and poplar trees where Ivanhoe's castle set was built behind Tesco. Admittedly the BBC has a place there and the Gate Studios near the station can still be seen (and are still used for making cinema screens etc.) but they are the only bits of history. Some plaques recall famous British film stars of long ago...

Otherwise a rather dreary suburban dormitory.

15 September, 2005


A little island off the coast of Normandy. Quite a lot British but just a little bit French too. The mild climate, well maintained houses and new cars give the island a prosperous, sunny look and the ruettes tranquilles are great places for a country stroll. Cars have to give way to pedestrians on these quiet roads!

There are some grim reminders of the wartime occupation, but all in all a pleasant clean and friendly place to go.

Thanks to Paul for a glorious stay.

Here is a guernsey blue post box.

Guernsey post box Posted by Picasa


My holidays were spent between Southampton and Guernsey this year- many thanks to Jon and Ray for a happy stay. I went to college in Southampton and it has not changed much since then. Still very much the same as ever. Very relaxing though.
The picture shows the Bargate

25 August, 2005

Advance to Mayfair

An idle half hour near the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair yesterday led to a wander round the Shepherd Market. It is everything. Run down and upmarket with council flats and tesco near posh restaurants and Annabels night club, right near Park Lane. My guidebook from the seventies adds that it is noted for its friendly, if acquisitive, ladies. There was some evidence of this.

20 August, 2005

the historic city of London

The new camera arrived so took it out for a run round the city, especially the historic bits around St Barts Hospital. The weather was a bit dull (partially wet) but got some good shots of St Bartholemew the Great church, St John of Jerusalem gate and other historical views in the city including a good one of St Pauls framed by a narrow street. A worthwhile morning out.

St Bartholemew the great is one of the oldest churches in the city and is very atmospheric and meadieval. Worth a visit.

No pictures until I get them developed and (hopefully) scanned.

13 August, 2005

Upminster, Hornchurch, Barking and Rainham

This should have been a trip to try out a new camera but the new camera has not yet arrived…


This town looks as though it was developed in the 1930s and not redeveloped since then although there are some modern buildings. The church is very old with a tower held up by wooden beams and this contains six bells.
The highlight of Upminster is its windmill. The picture shows the windmill. This is one of the few windmills left in Greater London and is quite a sight. I imagine a good view can be obtained from the top as it is set on a hill but it was closed when I passed on Saturday afternoon!

There was a cricket match in progress on the recreation ground and I paused to think of those immortal lines- does the church clock still stand at ten to three and is there cricket still for tea?

Oh for the sound of willow on leather.


Busy suburb town with a Woolworths and olde inne (lots of new ones too). People in Hornchurch like to drink, play bingo (the Mecca Bingo Hall was open when I called) and have homeopathy, these being a few of the services on offer in the main street. There is also the Queens Theatre.


Nobody smiles in Barking.


A pleasant surprise! A little 10th Century church, the peace memorial is striking - a truncated clock tower and there are two old inns and Rainham Hall, only open on Saturdays by written appointment with the tenant. I could not get into the church as there was a wedding party when I called but the outside is a gem. There were also lots of wild blackberries but the best I saw were on the railway cutting and thus inaccessible.

07 August, 2005

Brighton Pride

An exhausting day!

I went to Brighton Pride to help on the Coöperative Group’s stall there as well as for the fun of one of the best free festivals around. The stall was decorated with nude pictures of head office staff with the words “altogether different” (geddit?) obscuring the important places and we volunteers were given a t-shirt with the same slogan. There was a free dance mat machine. This was being used enthusiastically and hilariously before we opened by head office staff (not in the altogether) and this proved a popular attraction during the day. However it was not as popular as the fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and biscuits offered for tasting samples and the bottles of orange juice for sale! There was a prospect of a protest by Christian Voice at our stall- they never turned up. I suppose, like all bullies they would not have the courage to turn up where they’re hopelessly outnumbered.

My task (in two hour shifts) was to encourage people to enter the prize draw for a holiday in Sydney at Mardi Gras 2006. There was no catch to this but getting people to fill in the form was hard work although it was easier if someone had had some chocolate etc first! We were giving out pink wristbands for Smile- the Internet Bank and these were popular too.

The festival dance tents, fairground and market areas were all very busy and I managed to make a few interesting purchases as well as get some useful information from the Police and Fire Brigade.

I saw a few people I knew including Chris from the DCA Rainbow Network- Hello everyone!

All in all a fun but exhausting day.

29 July, 2005

High Wycombe

Visited High Wycombe today, a busy market town in the Chilterns with lots of flint cottages, a large medieval church (although rather plain) and two market crosses. The town is and has been home to the chair making industry and the local history museum with friendly staff contains many examples of the work done in High Wycombe.

The high street was filled with charity muggers. Why do these dreadful people speak to you like a long lost friend? I wouldn't choose any of them for my friends!

On the way back I visited Moor Park Golf Course and had a drink in a nearby pub. I did not realise there were strippers on and nearly had an argument with the stripper collecting the money. I was not going to pay as I was not staying for the show!- And I didn't!

The picture shows a sculpture in the grounds of the museum.

20 July, 2005

potters Bar again

It seems I missed the High Street and Oakmere Park in Potters Bar. I did say it wasn't easy to navigate. I will have to revisit and see those places.

18 July, 2005

Potters Bar

Decided to visit Potters Bar today, formerly in Middlesex (according to my 1933 guide book) but now in Hertfordshire. Not an easy town to navigate. The built up area is round the station but spreads out in two directions- facilities (churches libraries etc) to the West, shops to the East. There are some nice shops including an Oxfam super savings where I bought a brass jar for 99p which has polished up beautifully (need to find out if it is a copy of an arabian rose water jar).
The Church was closed, but there is supposed to be a cross made from zeppelin metal inside it and a memorial to first world war airmen killed in the zeppelin. I did not see either.

Potters Bar is hard on the legs- Mutton Lane is long as is Church Road (I didn't see any church in Church Road). I walked to a small hamlet outside and walked back.

Rail service good- on the way back I went to Hadley Wood. I did not see much there.

17 July, 2005


Hello, welcome to my blog!

Somebody suggested I should blog my travels to places around London and give my general impressions of what I see and find. I use a guide book from the 1930s/40s, and it is interesting to note the changes. I hope I can post photographs or scans. Thanks for reading