A Brisk January Walk

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

– –

It is definitely January in London: Christmas trees with dried out needles heaped in the middle of the pavement waiting to be collected, shiny pavements from incessant rain, dark walks home in the evening, sales in all the shop windows and everyone on diets. I returned from the Canary Islands quite refreshed though. It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do.

P1070985_2

But back to the dark rainy days in this city, it’s been preferable to spend my free time curled up with a travel magazine and a cup of tea than go out exploring much with my camera, hence the lack of London posts!

P1070986_2

I did head out over the weekend though to meet an old friend who was here from the States.

P1070987

We started at Liverpool street and wandered for a while.

P1070993_2

We walked up Brick Lane, past the guy selling pineapples with little pink umbrellas as if this were the Caribbean, past the mixed aromas of cuisines of so many different countries wafting out of the Sunday UpMarket, past the murals and love locks around Shoreditch station.

P1070988_2

And a few bits of street art I hadn’t seen yet.

P1070994_2

Then we walked through the City where everything is eerily closed on the weekend and along the north of the river, all the way to the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus.

P1070990

But it was more talking and catching up then exploring.

P1070992_2

I didn’t take very many but couldn’t resist a few pictures along the way.

P1070991_2

I’ve been focusing on different things since this year began: my new blog Little Observationist, where I’ve been posting much more often than here. I’d love it if you’d follow me there. It will start to include London stories soon.

P1070995_2

I’m also working on some freelance writing, learning more Spanish since it’s always going to be a part of my life now, planning our wedding for June, baking once in a while and updating my Etsy shop.

P1070998_2

So tell me, how was your transition from 2013 to 2014? Any good New Year’s stories? Resolutions? What are you most looking forward to this year? Update me…!

P1070999

Advertisements

Down by the River Thames

Have you ever taken a walk along the edge of the Thames (South Bank not counting)?

Andy Worthington contributed these six great photos of the sandy banks with their algae covered brick walls and boat detritus washed up on the colourful stones with the tides. The descriptions below the photos are Andy’s as well:

On the shore of the River ThamesPhoto: On the Shore of the River Thames by Andy Worthington
On the shore of the River Thames in Rotherhithe, just west of Surrey Water, this weight is part of the apparatus used for a solitary boat that is moored here. My son Tyler and I, fascinated by the boat, and by the shoreline that was accessible because it was low tide, spent some time exploring it. 

The power of the tide
Photo: The Power of the Tides by Andy Worthington
These chains and ropes are all used to secure a solitary boat that is moored beside the River Thames in Rotherhithe, just west of Surrey Water. Photo taken on October 14, 2012.

The river wall, Rotherhithe
Photo: The River Wall, Rotherhithe by Andy Worthington
On the shore of the River Thames in Rotherhithe, just west of Surrey Water, beside the boat that is moored here, my son and I used the ladder in this photo to climb back up to the Thames Path and our bikes. We could both easily have stayed much longer in such a beautiful place — at least until the tide came in!

The archaeology of the Thames shore
Photo: The Archaeology of the Thames Shore by Andy Worthington
I find myself amazed, repeatedly, that the detritus of the former occupations practiced along the banks of the River Thames — like boat-building and boat repairs, for example — remain in place, even though the tide has been washing in and out for decades since those enterprises were closed down, as the living river gave way to container ports and corporate greed. These various metal pins and hooks are survivors of a time when a boatyard was located here.

Tyres and wood
Photo: Tyres and Wood by Andy Worthington
A detail of a wall of tyres that is attached to the riverwall along the shore of the River Thames in Rotherhithe, just west of Surrey Water, which is part of the apparatus used to protect a solitary boat that is moored here from the power of the Thames’ tide.

A pink light looking east
Photo: A Pink Light Looking East by Andy Worthington
This is the view looking east from the shore of the River Thames in Rotherhithe, just west of Surrey Water, towards the former entrance to Surrey Basin, later known as Surrey Dock, and now, in a diminished form, as Surrey Water, one of the many docks that once dominated Rotherhithe. The round structure behind the red netting is a ventilation shaft for the Rotherhithe Tunnel, and the pier is apparently connected to the apartment blocks alongside thew river, although I have never seen it used.

Remember, Remember

City Lights at Night

Bonfire night was cold and rainy, but we bundled up and decided to wander along the Chelsea Embankment, over the nearest bridge, back over Wandsworth Bridge and home for some hot milo and a movie.

Bonfire Night 13

Bonfire Night 4

Bonfire Night 9

We stopped along the Thames here and there to watch the colourful explosion of sea urchin fireworks lighting up the sky in the distance.

Bonfire Night 6

Bonfire Night 1

Bonfire Night 8

It was quiet and dimly lit along the riverbank and the city lights shimmered in the dark water that lapped gently at the sand below us.

Thames Lights at Night

Peaceful, away from the crowds.

Wandsworth Bridge at Night

Anyone have any good bonfire night stories to share? Where did you go to watch the fireworks? Recommendations for next year?

Sinking Ice Cream Van

I was playing around with my Diana F+ camera and a splitzer and came up with this odd result of an ice cream truck that looks like it’s sinking into the river while a little girl feeds the ducks in Twickenham.

Sinking Ice Cream Truck

If you’ve got and odd and unusual London lomography to share, add it to the Flickr pool. The best results will be posted on the blog.

Exploring Eel Pie Island

If you take a short ride on the R68 bus from Richmond, alight at King Street and turn the corner, you’ll come to a narrow footbridge arching over the Thames. This leads to the magical and eccentric Eel Pie Island with an off-beat name just right for its off-beat story.

Bridge To Eel Pie Island

This mysterious little slice of traffic-free land has a musical history that tosses about names like John Mayall, Mick Jagger, Cyril Davies, Eric Clapton, David Bowie. Even before their time, Charles Dickens was said to enjoy a beer over that bridge and Henry VIII was rumoured to pop by the island to fill his stomach with eel pies on his way to entertain his mistresses.

Rainbow Shed

The island’s Eel Pie Hotel became the phenomenon that started it all with hundreds of revellers flooding the island to see The Who or The Stones in the hotel, to drink, dance, get high, sleep around. It started with ballroom dancing, progressed to jazz followed by the Mods and rock ‘n’ roll. Eventually, when the party scene got out of control, a mysterious fire burned the hotel to the ground.

England

In his memoir “Eel Pie Dharma” about his time on the island, Chris Faiers explained that the site was briefly re-opened as Colonel Barefoot’s Rock Garden where Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd took to the stage. Then the squatters took over. “200 dossers, hippies, runaway schoolkids, drug dealers, petty thieves, heroin addicts, artists, poets, bikers, American hippy tourists, au pair girls and Zen philosophers from all over the world’, who consumed vast quantities of LSD and opened a sex room for orgies”, he wrote.

Blue Eyes

Of course, that has all has changed now. The island has calmed down and is home to a mixed and creative group of just over 100 people. Some are retirees who live in sweet little cottages near the water.

Paintbrushes in Artist's Studio

Over 20 artists live and work in studios further down the island and there’s another group who work in the shipyard.

Eel Pie Ship Yard

Twice a year Eel Pie Island welcomes the public to visit the artists in their studios. Last weekend was one of those times so I went to explore.

Skeleton in Cage

Crossing the footbridge, I was already in another world. I picked up a hand drawn map pointing out the studios from a stack of papers weighed down by a smooth rock and started walking down a winding path. Lush shrubs and flowers formed the edges of the pathway which was empty besides the occasional dog-walker.

Love Shack

The first obvious sign of what was to come was the Love Shack, with colourful tiled front steps and an alligator on the front of the house about to eat a dangling gnome.

Gator and Gnome

There was a sign nearby on a tree that said “Wrong Day, Go Back”. I walked on.

Wrong Day

A green shed with old advertisements for Star Cigarettes, HMV and Punch stood next to a similar building called The Lion Boathouse.

Side of Ship Display
There are a few shops on the island selling necessities like firewood and paint supplies, but residents have easy access to Twickenham shops just over the other side of the river.

Star, HMV, Punch

The most eccentric part of the island was the artist’s community – an organised mess of colourful painted shacks, sheds and old boats where these people live and work. Barbie doll head on the ground, skeleton dangling in a cage outside a house, a broken kitchen sink, a stack of metal spoons, shipyard tools littering the ground.

Watch on the Wall

The people were lovely – chatty, welcoming, friendly, eager to talk about their work. They sold large paintings, sculptures, handmade greeting cards, jeweller, ceramics and photography.
Rosa Diaz

There’s even costume designer called Rosa Diaz famous for collecting Barbie dolls. Many of the artists have been living on the island for years and years. It’s a brilliant and supportive little community.

Nude and Mirror

After walking the complete trail, I turned and headed back under the afternoon sun. I walked slowly back down the green, twisting path.

I Can't Remember
An old man with a walker stopped to smile and nod in my direction before I headed back out of the psychedelic world across the lazy grey Thames. I bet he has some good stories to tell if he’s been living there a while. The crowds have poured out, but there are stories there, unspoken history, memories.

Home in an Old Ship

The island closed back up a few hours after I left, private once again for the rest of the year.

No Cycling

Links:
http://www.timeout.com/london/features/267/1.html
http://www.eelpieislandartists.co.uk/
http://www.eelpie.org

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine