Tuesday 26 February 2013

London Bridges (3)

Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge is a lot older than it looks. The concrete utilitarianism might make you think it hails from the 60s or 70s; it is in fact much older dating back to 1945. Located at one of the many turns in the river there are very good view both upstream and downstream from this bridge; which will also take you to one of the most vibrant parts of the South Bank.
Westminster Bridge
When Wordworth wrote his sonnet 'Composed on Westminster Bridge' it was on the predecessor to the current bridge; but a clear and misty morning still gives some fantastic views looking back towards the City or enjoying the Palace of Westminster. Westminster Bridge is painted green, to match the leather seats in the House of Commons which is the nearest part of the Palace of Westminster to the bridge.

Both Waterloo and Westminster are Grade II* listed structures.

The final part of our bridge series will wrap up some rail bridges, foot bridges and a few more heading west out of London.

Monday 25 February 2013

Are we over-exposed?

One of these small girls is my Grandmother
Recently I've been going through some old family photos. I've been trying to attach photos of Victorians and Edwardians to members of my family tree. They took their photography very seriously. No doubt because it was very expensive and took place so rarely. They did have a rather irritating habit of not wondering if future descendants would wonder who the pictures were of, and therefore rarely noted on the back who was in the photos!

This isn't a problem that future generations will have with the 21st Century. The proliferation of digital photography (not just cameras, but cameras in our cell-phones) means that every moment is captured. If you have the right settings and technology then not only captured, but geo-tagged and when downloaded often the faces are auto-recognised and tagged. 

Me: age about 2 or 3
Children born in 2nd millennium AD start their public life very often before birth. Their in-utero scan photos are followed by photos taken at a few minutes old, and then most life events after. And it is wonderful. Childhood is fleeting, and when I look back at mine I wish there were more photos (yes, even in the 70s and 80s photography was expensive). Having scanned a large amount of my mother's photo collection I can attest to the relatively small number of photos.

But it is more than photos, and when it comes to this I'll be the first to admit that I'm a pot calling the kettles black; or sitting in my glass house and throwing stones. The internet knows pretty much everything I do. When it isn't photographs keeping track of my day with Instagram or Blipfoto it is reading books with me (Goodreads), watching TV and movies with me (GetGlue), playing video games with me (Raptr) or travelling out and about with me (FourSquare/Trip Advisor). A lot of these websites/apps then broadcast the content again to Twitter and/or Facebook. 

I was talking with a friend over lunch on Friday and she mentioned her recent trip to Chinese New Year at Trafalgar Square; "Yes, I know.", I said, "I saw the photos on Facebook". Life on the internet doesn't leave much new conversation!

Sunday 24 February 2013

Sunday Social (38)

Linking up with Ashley and Neely for the Sunday Social

For secondary school I went to a grammar school and was at the same school for seven years. As far as I can tell middle school roughly equates to being a junior (11-14) at the Grammar School and high school being a senior (14-18).
  • What was your biggest middle school fashion mistake?
    Happily at most UK schools, mine included you have to wear a uniform. Unhappily ours was hideous and therefore probably counts as a fashion mistake. Let's face it though, it was the 80s; apart from my penchant for dyeing my hair pretty much clothes generally were a fashion mistake.
    Hair also a mistake!
  • Who were your best friends in high school? Pics?
    I still know my best friends from that bit of my life. For the sixth form you got to request your classmates, so most of my best friends were in my 'home-room'. A few of my best friends didn't go to the same school as me, we knew each other from Church/Youth club. I'm not sure that I should post pictures of any of them - they might kill me (it's that fashion thing again)! Also some of them have kids old enough to surf the net now!
  • What was a typical weekend like for you in high school?
    Dull. I wasn't much one for going out really. I never went to any of the night clubs that were famous with the kids of our area, and only sometimes went to the pub. Mostly I stayed at home and read or practised my music (told you, dull!).
  • Did you have any boyfriends/girlfriends? Tell us about that.
    Not really. I was a late developer! I had my first boyfriend when I was in my last year of senior school. We had absolutely nothing in common and had met at a friend's birthday party. We did have some nice dates, and hopefully he found a better romantic interest! We went out for about 6 months and then when school finished so did we.
  • Did you have any secret codes with your friends? Spill your secrets!
    Not that I can remember. How dull!
  • If you could relive one day/moment/experience from middle school or high school, what would it be?
    I'm not sure that I would. I found secondary school quite a difficult period in my life. I made some life-long friends, and had a good education (which I wish I had paid better attention to) - but no moments stand out that I'd want to have back. It's more the bad ones that I can recollect, and once was enough for them!

Monday 18 February 2013

London Bridges (2)

We're back on the trail of London's iconic Bridges. Having already met Tower Bridge and London Bridge we are working our way upstream.

Next up is Southwark Bridge. Distinctive for it's green and yellow paint it looks a lot like many of London's arched bridges. It certainly looks older than it's 92 years. Southwark links Bankside (one of the arty parts of the South Bank to the heart of the City, dropping you off in Queen Street.

We already skipped over Cannon Street railway bridge to the East, we also now miss out the Millennium Bridge (which may get its own post) and Blackfriars railway bridge.

Hailing from 1869 This elegant bridge is interantionally renowned for all the wrong reasons. In 1982 Roberto Calvi chairman of one of Italy's private banks and known as 'God's Banker' because of his ties with the Vatican was found hanging beneath the bridge. The suicide investigation quickly turned into a murder investigation as ties with the Mafia were revealed.

Up next, Waterloo and Westminster.

Sunday 17 February 2013


So February hasn't been much of a month for this blog so far (apart from the amazing 'View from the Shard').

So here's my excuse. Too much work and too much fatigue. 

The year should have started with me winding down my old job at work and preparing for my new one. The fact that our office junior left and left me managing the office with no help scuppered that. In February I was supposed to start working 3 days a week. Plans were made on this basis. Then the powers-that-be realised that if the girl who sits next to me was away getting married they needed someone to do her job. Step up your's truly... still starting my new role as well.

It has been crazy busy. Every day at work feels like a downhill race to the end of the day and weekends have been full of things planned thinking I wasn't working Monday!

Throw into the mix the sudden and immediate office computer upgrade (which of course went totally smoothly) and you get why the blogging has been a bit sparse. 

Even my email is out of control!
March will improve - well, that is my hope!

Sunday Social (37)

Linking up with Ashley and Neely for the Sunday Social

  • What is the best Valentine's Day you've ever had?
  • Oddly I think this year. The first Valentine's the Better-half and I were together we both got the flu (having planned to go out) so we've never really made much of it since! This year though we had candles, lights, crackers and magnetic poetry on the fridge!

  • What is the worst Valentine's Day you've ever had?
    When I lived at Halls at College my ex- forgot Valentine's day altogether. You can imagine there was themed stuff at the Union that night and all sorts and I was really hurt he forgot.
  • What did you do for Valentine's this year?
    See above! Pizza and wine/beer and just generally enjoyed each other's company.
  • What is your best Valentine's idea if you're single?
    Get together some other singletons and have a meal some-place nice and spoil yourselves! Celebrate being you!

  • What is your favorite Valentine's candy?
    My favourite chocolates in the world Guylian do a special Valentine's edition. Closely followed by the chocolate rose (see above).

    • Favorite Valentine's memory from your childhood
      I really don't have any.
      It was never much of a big deal in our house. 

    • Sunday Social (36)

      Linking up with Ashley and Neely for the Sunday Social
      I missed last week's Sunday Social - so here, to catch you up...

      • What was your first car?
        My first car was a company car; it was a red Vauxhall Astra (I had two of them before I moved companies). My/our first (and only) car was a blue Ford Fiesta. My MS makes it very hard for me to drive, so we don't have a car any more, and honestly living in London you can do without one!


        All cars in my family have always been given names that will help you remember their number (registration) plates.

      • Who was your favorite childhood teacher?
        That is a really hard question to answer. Probably my music teacher as that was my favourite subject. I did it up to A-level, and the only way that they could schedule the classes so that all the five of us taking it could be there at the same time was to have them all day or half a day at a time - so very intense and we saw a lot of him, he also conducted Senior Choir and Senior Orchestra. I really liked my history teacher too because she intensely knew her subject (she was a PhD and the only 'Dr' at our school).
      • Were you involved in any sports/extracurricular activities? Share pictures if you can!
        Sports, categorically no. Even when I was fit and had no mobility problems I had no love of sport and was absolutely terrible at them (without exception). I did do a lot of theatre and music. I sang in the Senior Choir, played percussion in the Senior Orchestra (as well as violin - badly - in Junior Orchestra), and was Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience" and "The Man in the Bowler Hat" - for which we'd team up with the Boy's school across town.

        Senior Choir Tour - I'm middle front in the green trousers!

        Ready to be Eliza Doolittle in concert

      • What was your favorite birthday party?
        My 18th - both the one for my friends which was a picnic lunch in the garden, with legal drinks and party games; and the one for my family, a big meal with all the folks - which my family excel at!
      • Leo joining in the games at my party

        Leo and me at the family party
      • Who was your teen celebrity crush?
        Oh dear. Now is the time to show my age! At school we had exercise books for every class (they were different colours and everything). You also had a 'rough book' which was never handed in and used for taking notes about homework assignments and deadlines and so forth. Rough books were typically covered in cut-outs from teen magazines of the crushes you had, and anything else that took your fancy. In contemporary terms - Christian Slater and in not so contemporary (not least for the fact he was dead) the young John Lennon.
      • What show/movie did your parents not allow you to watch?
        What did they allow us to watch?! TV was not a big part of our lives growing up. We watched about half an hour a day after school before homework, and some family shows in the evenings. Strictly off-limits, 'Grange Hill' in case we got bad ideas about how to behave in School; for many years also 'Scooby Doo' after as a very young child one of the episodes scared me. For a few years the Australian soaps 'Neighbours' and 'Home and Away' - although those were finally relented upon; I suppose we were a bit older by then!

      Wedding plans afoot

      It was around Easter (which was late that year) 13 years ago that I met my Better-half. Football, supporting the same team, brought us together... we were introduced by a mutual friend and met in a pub after a game.

      Just after three years later my Better-half asked my father for my hand (how sweet and romantic is that?!), got down on one knee (he really did) and asked me to marry him.

      This summer, ten years later, we are getting married.

      When we decided last spring there was the initial flurry of activity; sending out save the date cards, booking a registrar and finding a venue (the football ground where it all started!) and getting a DJ. We asked our bridesmaids and best-man, and then it quieted down a bit (apart from my regrettable wedding magazine addiction).

      And then suddenly it is 2013, the wedding isn't next year any more. There are things that really need to get organised now, flowers, cake, dresses (for me and the bridesmaids) and suits for the men. Readings and music for the service need to be found, invites (and other stationery) need to be ordered. I was wondering last year why anyone finds wedding planning stressful... know I'm beginning to find out! 

      I'm lucky, my Mum is helping out with everything... and my Better-half, whilst content to give his input, is fairly relaxed about everything.

      On Friday my Mum and I went cake shopping. Randomly (considering she lives in Kent) she recommended a shop near me which had done my grandmother's 90th Birthday cake. So we popped across. The Cake Store is amazing. All the cakes on display were gorgeous and the girl who did our consultation really knew what she was talking about. We looked through the selection... I started with round and fairly plain with maybe just some ribbons... then I saw this cake and I knew it was the right one! The flowers in the display are even about the colour I want my bouquet to be! We went away with little samples to try to decide what to have in each layer, which the Better-half and I later had for desert! 

      We also went to the flower shop in Charlton village. They had a huge album of examples of wedding flowers to look through - so now I pretty much know what I want my flowers to be.

      The dress (for me) is well under-way as my God-Mother was a dress-maker, and has taken all the photos of the dresses I sent her and turned them into exactly what I want! The bridesmaids dresses are proving a little more difficult, but happily both the girls (sorry ladies!) are on the case too!

      We went to the venue on Friday as Mum had never been there, and discussed things in a little more detail, I can begin to imagine it all done up now. We still have to choose the actual menu but there is some time for that.

      So less than five months to go now, but everything is under control!

      Sunday 3 February 2013

      View From The Shard

      Waiting003004Looking upDizzyingLobby
      Going upFrom stars to weatherThe sun comes outIntermediateAnother liftYou have reached your desitination
      Nearly thereYou can just see London through the cloudsSee LondonSt Paul'sWhen I'm cleaning windows (1)London Bridge
      Looking NorthLooking downThe City (1)The City (2)Looking NorthNorth and west
      View From The Shard, a set on Flickr.
      On Friday we took our trip up The Shard. The tickets were bought back in October, and I've been waiting eagerly ever since.

      When I went to New York over a decade ago I fell in love with skyscrapers. From the ground looking at them is great enough, but to finally get to see London from hundreds of meters up is something I've been waiting for. Until The Shard the tallest building in London was One Canada Square; and London was the only capital in Europe whose tallest building didn't have a public viewing platform.

      Not any more. Arriving at the beautiful lobby at the ground floor within your half hour appointed time slot you are shown to the first lift which takes you half way up to the middle lobby.

      Here you swap lifts to go up to the 68th floor. This lobby is beautifully decorated with cloud manifestations on the glass. On the 69th floor is the inside viewing lobby - beautiful panoramas all around London.

      From here you can walk (or take a very small lift) to the 72nd floor - the outside viewing platform. There are further floors above this for plant and so forth, you can look up and see the structure of the eponymous shards.

      The staff are friendly and polite, and you are given as much time as you like to look around. We had a fantastic time - the views are amazing.

      Much to the amusement of all they were also cleaning the windows (presumably after the rain in the morning). We were lucky that the rain that had plagued the morning cleared and we got blue sky and some sunshine.

      At nearly £30 per person with only £5 concessions it is an expensive day out; but it was absolutely worth every penny.

      Via Flickr:
      01/02/2013 - Opening Day

      Sunday Social (35)

      Linking up with Ashley and Neely for the Sunday Social
      • If you were stuck on an island what are the two material items you would want to have?
        My iPhone and my iPad. As long as I had cell reception then I'd have everything I needed.
      • What are two TV shows you'd watch over and over
        Aaron Sorkin's amazing "The West Wing" and "Friends" (which I've seen so much I can practically recite some of the episodes!).
      • If your house was on fire what two things aside from family, pets, etc would you grab?
        OK so Casper, MiL and the Better-Half are safe... my laptop (although most of it is backed up in the cloud) and my 'memory box' which has all sorts of sentimental keepsakes in it.
      • What are your two most favorite articles of clothing?
        I don't really have any. I'm not that into clothes. I wear the same clothes whether I'm going to work or out with friends pretty much. I guess I'll go with my pink spring jacket; I wear it all the time and felt guilty when I bought it as I thought I'd never wear it... and my blue check shirt (I wanted pink but they'd sold out) - it is so comfortable and the material is really soft!
      Softest cotton blue check shirt

      Only the collar - my lovely pink jacket

      • What two movies that you saw in the past year would you recommend to us?
        I see a lot of movies (usually to a weekend) but they are rentals so not mostly very new. I really enjoy action movies... and romantic comedies. The ones I'm going to recommend are Avengers Assemble (totally fantastic) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It would be quicker for me to have recommended two that you don't watch!
      • What are your two biggest guilty pleasures?
        Guylian chocolates (I'm supposed to be losing weight for the wedding). Spending half my free time on Facebook and Twitter.