Archive for August, 2003

Bridging Buildings

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

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This fantastic structure bridges the buildings on either side of Floral Street, just near Covent Garden tube. No idea why it’s there, but I’m grateful to the person who designed it :-)

Steps down to the Millenium Bridge

Thursday, August 21st, 2003

This is just south of St Paul’s, looking down towards the river where the Wobbly Bridge Millennium Bridge leads across to Tate Modern (the tower in the distance). A lovely bit of design and practical for wheelchair users and … well, and skateboarders as well. :-)

Steps to the Millennium Bridge

Great tourist photos of our time #1

Wednesday, August 20th, 2003

So I’m lucky enough to be walking past Westminster most mornings, at about 8.30 or so. It’s usually not too busy – lots of civil servants wandering around, but the odd dedicated tourist.

Today I was going to work for a late shift, so I was passing through at about 10.30. Parliament Square was packed with bloody tourists clogging up the place! Worse than the streets around Victoria Station :-)

So I thought I’d join in the fun and take this classic shot of the London Eye and Big Ben (actually St Stephen’s Tower), a top tourist favourite – enjoy!

The London Eye really is fantastic and actually adds to the landscape of London, I think...

Rope over rock

Sunday, August 17th, 2003

Went climbing with Barry at Harrison’s Rocks today. Good stuff (if a lot of driving) – thoroughly recommended to any other top-roping indoor climbers like myself!

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The crags are set in a forest so you get quite amazing scenes like these tree roots dangling down the rock:

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You get loads of people down at the rocks when it’s a nice sunny day…

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Koali

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

You do meet some interesting people in London. Take Koali, whose woolen dreads are about five years old (although the Gromit in the middle is a relatively recent addition). Oh, and her bag contains the dead mice to give to her pet snake. Lovely person, and helping to prove that the edges of the bell curve of fashion do exist :-)

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Cultured Diamonds?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

This article from Wired is a fascinating look at new technology that can produce “fake” diamonds. The word fake isn’t really appropriate, as the cultured diamonds are essentially identical to mined diamonds in molecular structure as well as appearance.

Of course, this could potentially damage De Beers’ hold on the diamond market, so they’re not very happy. However, many people think that De Beers have an artifical stranglehold over the diamond industry, and some allegations have been made over their mining operations. Makes you think twice about buying a diamond ring

Too hot

Monday, August 11th, 2003

What do you do when the weather is the hottest ever?

Answer: have a pint and read a book in the pub beer garden, while trying to stop thinking about ice cubes…

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Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to sit in front of the fan, eating ice cream :-(

RAC route planner

Monday, August 11th, 2003

The RAC Route Planner is absolutely amazing. Or, to be more specific, the interactive Java map is – it allows you to dynamically zoom in to any part of the route; shows you the road names for most obscure little towns and where you can stop for fuel. Great fun to play with – I’ve seen these kinds of maps in movies but never in reality…

Oh, and it covers the entirety of Europe as well.

[added to Travel bookmarks]

Cattle Troughs

Sunday, August 10th, 2003

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As I was wandering around New Malden I spotted another cattle trough. “A Righteous Man Regardeth The Life Of His Beast.” This caught my attention because I’ve seen one before, languishing at the end of a street where I used to live – Lyham Road, near Clapham. A fairly bizarre big concrete thing that occasionally had flowers but more often garbage in it.

I’ve been doing a little bit of hunting around the web to find about these things. It seems that they were set up in the mid to late 19th century (the first was set up in 1859) by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. This charitable organisation created hundreds of large stone troughs and drinking fountains throughout London and elsewhere. There is an excellent advertisment found in Burke’s Peerage (which asks for donations) and Dickens’ Dictionary of London mentions them:

“Drinking Fountains.?. Until the last few years London was ill-provided with public drinking fountains and cattle troughs. This matter is now well looked after by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, which has erected and is now maintaining nearly 800 fountains and troughs, at which an enormous quantity of water is consumed daily. It is estimated that 300,000 people take advantage of the fountains on a summer?s day, and a single trough has supplied the wants of 1,800 horses in one period of 24 hours. Several ornamental fountains have been provided by private munificence. Amongst these may be instanced the Baroness Burdett Coutts?s beautiful fountains in Victoria-park and Regent?s-park the Maharajah of Vizianagram?s in Hyde-park; Mrs. Brown?s, by Thornycroft, in Hamilton-place, Mr. Wheeler?s at the north of Kew-bridge; and Mr. Buxton?s at Westminster.”

And, of course, given that this is the internet and all, we have a little website devoted to them: The Horse Trough Pages :-)

Great Architecture In London #2

Sunday, August 10th, 2003

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Another fantastic building – this time some “government offices” that are the MI6 HQ (allegedly – I’m just repeating what I’ve been told!). Fantastic building that gives a great modern take on a fortress. Big spikes leading off what I would imagine as the big boss’ vast central office (but is probably the cleaning supplies room), crenellations, hard lines which give a sense of indestructibility.

Great stuff – and I almost don’t mind the fact that the residential blocks of flats opposite nicked the colour scheme :-)