Getting about

Ye Citie of Londonne

Come with me now on a photergraphic tour of Dickensian London, full of lovable tubercular scamps, ragamuffins, and wicked lawyers, actually that is what I would really like if I could invent a time machine, but I have not. So instead it is a tour of modern London and some of its intresting buildings if you like archie-tecture. I like it a lot.

Aerial photography

Perhaps oddly for someone who is petrified of flying I am fascinated by aviation and have always been a bit plane crazy, in fact I would love to become a pilot. A flight simulator like FlightGear is ideal as I can learn the basics, explore far-off places, and fly the latest high-speed military jets while eating crisps. This is not recommended for real pilots, as the crumbs could get into the ejector seat mechanism or interfere with avionics.

This is me creating a hazard to air traffic over the City of London, flying a Cessna 172 for a trip around the Gherkin.

Taking off in a Boeing 737-300 from Gatwick Airport, perhaps ferrying hundreds of excited holiday makers to a week in Ibiza. Some of them are drunk already. The 737 is quite easy to fly but I do not know what all the computers and stuff do, it is like NASA in there. Modern airliners are so sophistercated that if the pilot oversleeps and misses wheels-up, the plane will just take off automatically, fly itself to the destination, land safely, and then hang out in local bars all night chatting up girls.

In a Harrier over the mountains of Scotland, it is a beautiful aircraft and a remarkable air-to-air fighter, but it flies like a skittish, nervous fawn, and needs a steady hand on the stick if you are not going to suddenly flip over and crash while absent-mindedly checking your email.

Oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth. It is a shame that FlightGear does not model weapons as otherwise I could inflickt significant long-term damage on the Scottish economy, not that I would want to, as I love Scotchland and all Scotch things. Except Scotch which I do not like.

Taking off at dusk in a BO105 helicopter from San Francisco International. The helicopter is even more of a challenge to fly as the natural aerodynamic state of a helicopter is to be on the ground in 1 million pieces. Without constant rudder attention from the pilot a hovering helicopter will simply spin round and round and make everyone spill their chicken marengo. You need to balance power, collective, rudder and cyclic simply to keep the thing in stable flight, otherwise it turns into a very expensive brick.

Approaching downtown San Francisco with the Bay Bridge in the distance, Monster Park football stadium right of centre. I would like to go to America as I imagine all the girls there would like my posh British accent and think I am dead sexy like Hugh Grant, without the prostitutes. If there are any American girls visiting London that would like to help verify this hypothesis, please write to the address on your screens now and mark your envelopes ‘Like, y’know, whateverrr’.

Flying over the Bay Bridge, this is great as under any other circumstances I could get into serious trouble with the police and local civil aviation authorities. In fact on FlightGear you can connect to a multiplayer server and fly with other people, that sounds fun. Perhaps it could be connected to Second Life somehow so I could fly people around to visit places and tell them the local time is 12.15pm and thank you for flying Keithlard Airways. And get off with some virtual stewardesses, I mean, um, not that after all. Something else.

More unrelenting greyness

Well it is a different day this time, as I spent a happy Sunday afternoon with k.s. wandering around near King’s Cross looking for a good time (do not laugh it is obvious what I meant). This is in Tavistock Square where a tiny man is being terrified by a giant statue of Gandhi. Or could it be the magic that we call perspecktive.

Outside King’s Crustacean, a time-honoured symbol which to all British people means the comforting familiarity of delayed trains, badly maintained track, and signals passed at danger. Still our love affair with railways continues, especially me which still gets excited about going somewhere on a train. I think the secret of happiness is probably having quite a low excitemint threshold.

Some intresting tiles outside the station. I dare say many curious visitors’ first impression of London was a frightening looking bearded man inexplicably taking photergraphs of a blank wall.

This is more like it the amazing Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancreas, a bonkers neo-Gothic wedding cake fantasy by George Gilbert Scott, who is one of my top favourite archie-tects of all time (not to be confused with Giles Gilbert Scott who designed the red phone box and Battersea Power Station, which are also pretty terrific). I would love to go inside as I am fascinated with it, especially as it was featured in Douglas Adams’s The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul where it is a mysterious gateway to another… well you’ll have to read the book. It is posh flats now.

The perfect complement to Gilbert Scott’s obsessive-compulsive eclecticism, Camden Town Hall looks like some type of futuristic concrete pod that has been dropped from space. Inside is the gigantic computer that rules the universe. Or just Camden.

This was taken by kindred spirit in fact, but I like it so include it here in the hope that some people will not read the small print and erroneously attribute credit to me for the good photergraphy. It is round the back of the Town Hall.

Tavistock Square is rubbish, it is not though, it is really nice. There is a peaceful park with trees and Gandhi, and some pidgeons that possibly are up to something, you can never tell with pidgeons. Unfortunately some people were blown up there in a bus, which just underlines the point that Gandhi was making really.

On the way home there was some replacemint buses at East Finchley, I think it is due to Finchley Central being fitted with ornate Louis XV furniture, shag-pile carpets and gold taps in the lavvies. Still it gave me the opportunity to take this nice picture of the railway bridge.

The famous Archer at East Finchley, by Eric Aumonier. It is symbolick of the fact that we are on the edge of the ancient Royal Forest of Enfield where Henry VIII used to hunt down and kill stags, or insufficiently fertile wives. Alternatively if someone tries to get on the Tube without buying a ticket some antique machinery rumbles into life and the Archer fires a massive steel bolt through their surprised face. Either way do not try it.

Rhapsody in Black

It is more photos basically from my big day out with kindred photergraphy spirit, yes I ate’nt dead, I have just been in darkest Hampshire exploring and discovering tigers! More news on that later but here is some intresting pictures of grey things.

St Paul's Cathedral

It is one of those things which is so familiar that no one really notices what an absolutely amazing building it is. The dome alone weighs 65,000 tons and Wren was assisted in the design by his great friend, and my particular hero, Robert Hooke. In fact while it was being built Wren and Hooke used it as an astronomical observatory. It is not widely known, except by me, that the Monument (designed by Hooke) is actually a telescope. This is genuinely true and a scientific fackt.

London be my grey and concrete mistress

Well I have been having some amazing adventures, but there is not time to tell you about them all, so they will have to remain among my apocrypha like Sherlock Holmes and the case of the giant Sumatran rat. I did go out for a super photergraphic expedition yesterday in London so here are some of the pictures. My technique of learning photergraphy is just to copy people that I think are good, so I have copied kindred spirit who does beautiful black and white photergraphy, and tried to be exactly like her. In photergraphy I mean. Not in a scary way.

Photo love story in pictures!

Well it was a super sunny day so I decided to go for a bikleventure to the Lee Valley Park, looking for a shag! That joke does not work really of course, as cormorants are not exactly the same as shags, unless you believe lying poet Christopher Isherwood. But they do have cormorants there as I saw one last time I went.

This is going over the bridge where the North Circular crosses the tube line. That is a tube train full of Finchley Centralians rushing towards London! And some restful green fields next to the allotmints. Finchley is very green in general. Except for the high street outside the Chicken Spot on a Friday evening when it is the colour of teenagers’ sick.

Unfortunately before I had got very far I realised my tyres were a little bit flat. Not super flat, but about half inflated, so I thought I would top them up with my little pump that I carry with me. Memo to self: figure out how to work your little pump before you need to use it in earnest. As otherwise you will get confused about how to attach it and end up just letting all the remaining air out of the tyre and not be able to pump it up again. So if you were driving along the North Circular this Sunday and saw a cross fat man swearing into a bicycle pump, that is why.

I figured it out in the end, but I still popped home again to pump the tyres up properly with the foot pump, as I am too feeble to inflate them to 50,000 atmospheres using only my stick-like arms. This is crossing the footbridge near Friern Bridge Retail Park, where they have a Halfords and a McDonalds and all manner of other wild and exotick forbidden delights. I was awful glad I was not stuck in a car in the permanent traffic jam at Bounds Green Road (now in its 24th year!).

I wonder what was going through the minds of the people who designed these flats in Edmonton Green. It was probably something like ‘How should we design some modern, attractive, and delightful housing? I know! Let’s build a huge grey oppressive forbidding concrete fortress!’

Huzzah! I am at the Lee Navigation, at Pickett’s Lock. It is really nice as there is a big park that runs all along the canal and next to the great reservoirs. It is an industrial area of London so there are not many people, which is great for birds, as when you get birds and people together, the birds tend to end up in pies. I did not see a cormorant in fact, which is a shame, but I did see a lot of lovely coots. I quite like coots though, and I have formed my own special Coot Club, like in the Arthur Ransome stories, except there is only me in it. And some coots.

There are lots of intresting spots where people gather in their boats to fish, sunbathe, gossip, and deteckt German spies, a bit like in The Riddle of the Sands only with less war. I would like to live on a canal boat in fact, as it is quite a relaxing lifestyle, and if you do not like your neighbours you can just move somewhere else. Of course there is always the lurking worry that you might forget to do up the ropes properly or something and wake up in the middle of the North Sea, about to be run over by an oil tanker.

I stopped for a mini picknick just near Enfield Island Village and there was a field with some tiny horses in! This is a tiny horse that came up to say hello, and eat some of my chicken while I was not looking.

So it was a super day out on the canal, it was about 30 miles ride in all, what with flat tyres and such. I am a bit tired now but not too bad. In closing here is a picture of some cheery folk, probably German spies, in their pretty canal boat. Note the man driving it and his ridickulous tricorn hat.

Nimlard, the Mighty Hunter

Well in a ‘Daddy-or-chips’ moment I weighed up the relative merits of staying in and defrosting the freezer, or spending the day fishing! The thing is basically you do not need to do too much to a freezer, just let it get on with it, so I sneaked off with my fishing gear for a lovely day on the riverbank at Strand-on-the-Green in Chiswick.

I have got one of those folding chairs and set myself up for a comfy afternoon with some sandwidges and an orange and banana drink. It is nice fishing as people stop and talk to you.

Kew Bridge. I did not actually catch anything in fact but I had a few nibbles. The thing about fishing is that you have to do it a bit before you can figure out properly what you’re doing. I know a bit more about it now and am getting quite good at casting so next time I might do better.

The master angler, looking cheerful. I should have set up a bit nearer the pub though as I could have been relaxing with a big pint!


This was a lovely evening last week as we promenaded along the canal in London’s exclusive Camden! There was a quiet on the still water and a gentle blush of sunset mantled the cheek of eventide (good writing).

Walking under a glamorously lit bridge!

A magical palace of Chinese food.

Near the Lock, it is all very well this strolling in the crepuscular, verdant hush of a summer’s eve, but we were getting thirsty for a big pint!