Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thames Festival - Sunday - Night Carnival and Fireworks

Second day of this busy weekend and I needed a rest. Got up a bit late and as I hadn't planned on much for today I took it a little easier and decided to go and visit the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn Field. No pics of this as no pics where allowed, but suffice to say this is a small and fascinating place, if you are into looking at bits of bodies in glass jars. This museum has only been open a year or so, and so everything is very fresh and new looking and the huge amount of exhibits is well presented in a smallish space.

I decided I'd want to go and see the final part of the Thames Festival this evening and get some great pics of the photos and other events going on, but great pics are not something I can manage with my little camera. A trip to Jessops corrected that and I now have a pretty decent camera at last, and some successful haggling and price matching I walked away a very happy man. A quick read of the manual and a charging up of the battery and I was back on the South Bank, taking some decent pics of the various events and some fabulous pics of the fireworks.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Alight Night

I said earlier that it was going to be a busy weekend and it certainly has been so far. As part of Uncle Ken Livingstone's attempt to get people back into London, the Thames Festival this year had had a huge cash injection to put on some spectaular events. I wandered down around 7pm to go have a look at what he had planned for this year. Starting at the Tate Modern, the gardens outside had been converted into an outdoor sort of rave. Robert Miles was playing live with some cool projections onto a huge helium filled balloon suspended outside. Further along in the garden by the Oxo Tower, was a geodesic domed tent with yet another rave type event inside, complete with some great projections. All along the riverbank where various market stalls, lights, buskers, packed out with families having a great time out. Further along beside the Jubilee Bridge, a barge in the middle of the river was playing more music, with video projected onto a huge screen of foggy mist. I wandered back over the bridge, struggling past the crowds to watch the end of the event before heading on home. The pics are here, however due to the camera not being so good in low light, apologies if they are a bit crap.

Open House Weekend - Paddock

And so onto the next venue. Simon, the IT guy at work had arranged to come over this afternoon. Despite not being able to find my flat and a mad dash up through to Cricklewood, we made it with seconds to spare. This was a special venue, one that had been booked weeks ago when the Open House catalogue first came out. This was a trip into the underworld, otherwise known as Paddock. Paddock, was Churchill's secret Cabinet War Rooms, the one that was so secret that even the King had no ide of it's whereabouts. The main Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall is now a tourist attraction, done up to please the crowds of tourists. This one in Dollis Hill is pretty much as he left it in the 1940's, after deciding it wasn't up to his standards due to the amount of damp. Built beneath a housing estate, which at the time was the GPO Research centre, we descended a number of steps from a small brick built building at the side of the road, into the complex of damp and dark rooms below. This tour was arranged by Subterannea Britannica, who with a couple of very knowledgeable memebers, gave us an interesting and insightful tour of this secret bunker. We visited the air conditioning plant and the generators, splashed through muddly puddles and avoided the various stalagtites that hung from the ceilings. We saw the map room, withthe three windows that the various forces would peek through to see what was planned and we visited the Cabinet Room itself, with it's own separate aircon designed specifically for a certain persons cigars.
This was one of the best little tours I have been on, mostly due to the fact it was like being let into a secret that only a few have seen. Tours here are only organised on 2 days a year. Click the pic as ususal for all the other pics in this series.

Open House Weekend - Royal Courts of Justice

A busy weekend ahead. Once again it's time for the annual Open House Weekend, the weekend whre private parts fo the city are opened up for Londoners to see behind the scenes. So, an early start to avoid the crowds and queues, Barnaby came over and we went straight out to visit the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand. As you probably know, court houses are normally out of bounds to photographers, but this weekend we were allowed to wander the hallowed corridors of justice and take as many pics as we desired, despite one of the officious security guards seemingly unaware of this.
The RCJ seems to have around 70 courtrooms, ranging from the spectacularly gothic to the unassuming and more modern. A demonstration case was in progress, although too crowded to get into, we found ourselves on a tour of the cells. We had missed out on the previous tour, and, after a few minutes of waiting, a rather cute prison guard decided he would take the two of us on a private tour of the cells and custody suite. This finished with a tour of a prison van, complete with 14 individual and tiny cells, no seatbealts due to the possibility of hanging. We finished our tour, said thanks to the cute one and made our way out, taking more photos as we went. Barnaby had a little bit of time to kill so I took him across the road to visit Temple Church where I have blogged previously to show him the delights I had encountered before. A quick lunch of McDonald's toasted deli sandwich, highly recommended and probably a little bit healthier than a burger, then we separated and I made my way home, ready for this afternoons trip to the next venue.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Do walk on the grass!

And none of your tacky Astroturf either. Today, as part of Ken Livingstones' attempt to get tourist back into London after the recent bombings, Regent Street was closed to traffic and a layer of real (if very thin) turf was laid, cafes were doing a brisk trade and fairground rides and attractions filled the normally traffic filled street. The weather remained hot and dry and I had a very pleasant afternoon, wandering and watching all that was happening. Once again I have used YouTube to bring you a flavour of the day.
Ken has more going on this month, and I am sure I shall bring you more little vloglets of what I get up to.