Saturday, 20 November 2010

20. Nottinghill Gate

Today I bagged Notting Hill Tube Station. It is on both the District (green line) and Central Line (red line). It wasn't until I exited the station that I remembered that I had been to this part of London before - nice memories from last summer.

Anyway I didn't go there today for a walk down memory lane - I went to visit the "world famous" Portobello Market.

I was a little disappointed with the market, for a start every tourist in London must have been there - stopping to take photographs every couple of steps. I didn't find the "Blue Door" from the movie Notting Hill and I got fed-up with the crowds. Every year the Notting Hill Carnival is held down these streets - I couldn't begin to imagine how crowded that must be but I think after today I would definitely prefer to watch it on a screen then to be there!

I took a photograph of this building because I liked the stone carvings. I wasn't tempted to buy any of the goods for sale in the flea market but I really liked the look of this vegetable. Actually I have had it before but I guessed my house guest hadn't - so we had it for supper.

Friday, 12 November 2010

19. Leicester Square

Leicester Square tube station is on the junction of the Northern Line (black line) and the Piccadilly Line (purple line).

Leicester Square is in the heart of the West End, near all the theatres and cinemas - but more importantly (for me today) one of the exits is on the doorstep of Londons China Town.

I was going to China Town for two reasons today - the first was to grab a bite to eat

the second was to buy some black beans - which are only available from the Chinese supermarkets.

I am very fond of China Town and eat here quite frequently - today I went to a restaurant I hadn't tried before; there were two doors, I wasn't quite sure which was the entrance so walked in through the open one. A stair case led up to the first floor, at the moment I realised that I wasn't in the restaurant a young lady came down the stairs - a pretty girl, very heavily made up, she smiled at me
"Oh, " I said "This isn't the restaurant is it?"
"Oh dear no," she answered apologetically and then added "This is a ..."
"Its OK" I thought, "I know what this is" ... China Town is in an area of London known as Soho - an area once famous for adult entertainment. I really ought to know better by now!

18. Westminster

Westminster is on the District (green line), Circle (yellow line) and Jubilee (silver line) Lines. It is situated right in the heart of Westminster - and even if you have never been there you will feel in familiar territory as soon as you exit the station with all the world famous landmarks surrounding you!

The Houses of Parliament are of course here in the heart of Westminster, next to it the famous St. Stephens Tower which houses the Big Ben (Big Ben is in fact the name of the Bell that chimes - and not the name of the clock!) and outside the Houses of Parliament the statue of Oliver Cromwell. The man who sealed the fate of Charles I, became Lord Protector of England and was responsible for the near-genocidal treatment of Catholics in Scotland and Ireland. It has always been a great wonder to me how few Brits have an opinion of Oliver Cromwell (or even who he was) but one day in Ireland and you will know all about him!

I visited this part of London today because yesterday was Armistice Day and this Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. Just up the road from the Houses of Parliament is the Cenotaph, where on Sunday representatives from the Commonwealth and the Armed Services will join the Royal Family in the traditional laying of wreaths for our war dead.

The streets here are lined with memorials to generals and war heroes

Although this particular statue is controversial. World War I veterans refused to march past the monument to Field Marshall Haig during Remembrance Day parades - as a mark of their disgust.

Further down the street is Horse Guards Parade. I'm not sure who was doing the honours today, the Blues & Royals or the Life Guards,

but I had wandered up to take a photograph of the clock. There is a black mark behind the number two on the clock face - this marks the hour that Charles I was executed.

On my back down towards the tube I passed Banqueting House, the only remaining part of the Whitehall Palace.

This bust of Charles I is immediately below a bricked up window, the window was bricked up as a mark of respect - it was the one that Charles I was led out from to be executed.

All of the information on on this trip was provided by my favourite London Tour Guide, my daughter Kiera Healy.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

17. Embankment

Embankment Underground Station is the last station on the North side of the river on the Northern Line (black line) - Charing Cross branch, and Bakerloo Line (brown line) it also intersects with the District Line (green line), Circle Line (yellow line). As the name suggests you exit onto the Embankment, running alongside the Thames.

I had come down today to take a few photos that I missed out on Thursday evening, it's always odd coming into central London at the weekend - it is so deserted compared to the hustle and bustle of the weekday traffic.

The first landmark I saw was the London Eye.

Just a few minutes walk away is Cleopatras Needle.

The Needle was made in Egypt for the Pharaoh Thotmes III in 1460 BC, so it is almost 3,500 years old. It is known as Cleopatra's Needle because it was brought to London from Alexandria, the royal city of Cleopatra. Britain wanted something big and noticeable to commemorate the British victory over Napoleon! Two Sphinx guard the Obelisk but they face inwards (which according to my trusted source - Kiera Healy) is the wrong way to face if they are guarding something.

I left the Embankment and walked up the Strand. Along the Strand is a memorial to Gladstone. Gladstone was a great social reformer, with particular interests in rescuing "Fallen Women".

The Royal Courts of Justice are almost opposite. Its a massive building that looks a little like a fairy-tale castle. For those that followed the Heather and Paul McCartney divorce this is where the battles took place.

In the centre of the road is this column - indicating that you are now leaving the City of Westminster and entering the City of London. Carved into the stone are the symbols of all the Crafts and Guilds of the City of London.

Walking into Fleet Street now I came to the Old Bank of England Pub - I couldn't photograph this the other night because it was too dark when I arrived. The upper floors of the pub are now function rooms and the vaults below are storage cellars.

There are a number of old buildings here including the narrowest in Fleet Street - Ye Old Cock Tavern, it's not clear in the photo but under the sign is a plaque indicating that it opened in 1549. This old tavern survived the Great Fire and was a great haunt of Samuel Pepys and Charles II. It was actually originally on the other side of the road but the Bank of England replaced it - it was moved, with care being taken to keep it as similar as possible, along with most of the original furnishings.

It was starting to get a bit cold so I nipped inside for something to warm me up.

Friday, 5 November 2010

16. Temple

Temple is on the District (green line) and Circle (yellow line). When you exit you are right on the Embankment so the River is right in front of you. It is called Temple because it serves the Inns of Court, the Inner Temple and Middle Temple.

Because its leading up to Remembrance Sunday there were two young uniformed servicemen standing with collection buckets in the entrance, selling poppies.

This area is really interesting - I visited it in the summer on a Hidden Pubs of Olde London Town tour. I will go back there (to another station) and photograph it all then.

My destination on this occasion was The Old Bank Of England pub for our company Annual Quiz Night! No details of this evening will be recorded here - suffice to say we were doing fine until the Monopoly round ... At least we weren't served meat pies, from the pie shop next door to Sweeney Todds (a fictional character whose barber shop was just along the road) although they do claim to serve good meat pies there! This building genuinely is the old Bank of England and after the Quiz we were shown the old vaults under the pub - but once you've seen one vault you've seen them all.