Saturday, 6 August 2016

England again last days

Our last day in London was Tuesday. We took the Tube to Sloane Square and set off for the Chelsea Physic Garden. Our search took us through bits of Chelsea, including the Pensioners' Hospital. When we found the gardens there was an hour till they opened and absolutely nowhere to have coffee and wait. We went to the Embankment and sat looking at the river and bridges and eventually crossed the Albert Bridge to Battersea Park.
This was a nice statue of young Mozart in Chelsea

This was a sign on the bridge. It's one of the prettiest, especially lit up at night.
This is what Wikipedia says about Battersea Park:
Prior to 1846 the area now covered by the park was known as Battersea fields, a popular spot for duelling. On 21 March 1829, the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea met on Battersea fields to settle a matter of honour.[2] When it came time to fire, the Duke aimed his duelling pistol wide and Winchilsea fired his into the air. Winchilsea later wrote the Duke a grovelling apology.
Separated from the river by a narrow raised causeway, the fields consisted of low, fertile marshes intersected by streams and ditches with the chief crops being carrots, melons, lavender (all the way up to Lavender Hill) and the famous ‘Battersea Bunches’ of asparagus.
Running along the riverside from the fields were industrial concerns and wharves, including a pottery, copper works, lime kiln, chemical works, and, increasingly, railways. The site of Battersea Power Station was partly occupied by the famously bawdy Red House Tavern, patronised by Charles Dickens. Access was via the rickety wooden Battersea Bridge or by ferry from the Chelsea bank.
In 1845, spurred partly by the local vicar and partly by Thomas Cubitt, the builder and developer, whose yards were across the river in the still marshy and undeveloped area of Pimlico, a bill was submitted to Parliament to form a Royal Park of 320 acres. The Act was passed in 1846 and £200,000 was promised for the purchase of the land. The Commission for Improving the Metropolis acquired 320 acres of Battersea Fields, of which 198 acres became Battersea Park, opened in 1858, and the remainder was let on building leases.
The park was laid out by Sir James Pennethorne between 1846 and 1864, although the park which was opened in 1858 varied somewhat from Pennethorne's vision.
The park’s success depended on the successful completion of the Chelsea Bridge, declared open in 1858 by Queen Victoria. In her honour, the road alongside the eastern edge of the Park was called Victoria Road, linked to Queens Road by Victoria Circus (now Queen's Circus). Prince of Wales Road (now Prince of Wales Drive) was laid out along the southern boundary and Albert Bridge Road constructed along the western side.
The park hosted the first football game played under the rules of the recently formed Football Association on 9 January 1864. The members of the teams were chosen by the President of the FA (A. Pember) and the Secretary (E.C. Morley) and included many well-known footballers of the day.
From the 1860s, the park was home to the leading amateur football team Wanderers F.C., winners of the first FA Cup, in 1872. One team they are known to have played at the park was Sheffield F.C., the world's oldest football team, in the 1860s.
In 1924, a war memorial by Eric Kennington was unveiled by Field Marshal Plumer and the Bishop of Southwark. It commemorates the over 10,000 men killed or listed as "missing presumed dead" whilst serving with the 24th East Surrey Division. It is now Grade II* listed.
During both wars, anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons were installed to help protect London from enemy air raids. Shelters were dug, part of the park was turned over to allotments for much needed vegetables and a pig farm was also set up. Maintenance of the park was reduced as the war effort took priority.
The Festival Gardens
In 1951 the northern parts of the park were transformed into the "Pleasure Gardens" as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. As well as a new water-garden and fountains, new features included a "Tree-Walk", which consisted of a series of raised wooden walkways linked by tree house-like platforms suspended between the branches of a number of trees.

Popular attractions included the Guinness Clock, designed by Jan Le Witt and George Him, and the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway.

What we found was the Peace Pagoda:

It was erected in 1985. You can see we were under the flight path!
We had to pay more than £10 entrance for the Physic Garden. It was lovely though. Not as a beautiful garden but with interesting plants and flowers. We were taken on a guided tour and we saw all sorts of  specimens.
Sir Hans Sloane, who founded the gardens, surrounded by fragrant pots

This robin was lurking by a working gardener.
We bought sandwiches and ate them opposite the Pensioners' hospital and then had a long sit-down in Hyde Park near Marble Arch. That's about it. London is very busy and crowded with people.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

England again part 3

The third of our appointments was on Monday. We got up early and walked to Gloucester Road Station, about 5 minutes from our flat. There, we met our tour guide and the rest out the group. The tour guide had pink hair, so she was easy to spot. At eight o'clock she took us round the corner to the coach, and we set off to Bath. It took about two and a half hours. We were told to meet up at the same place in three hours, or come on a guided tour if we wanted. (we chose to go alone) First to the Abbey, a Gothic building with a wonderful fan-vaulted ceiling.
This is the only photo I took inside.
Then we walked up to The Circus and The Royal Crescent, the first being England's first completely circular street. It has enormous plane trees in the centre, maybe the same age as the street (Georgian).
From Bath, it took an hour to get to Stonehenge. I went there probably in about 1970, and nowadays there are a lot more people trying to see it. Everything is well organised. From the bus we walked over to the Visitor Centre where we got on a shuttle bus which took  us about a kilometre  up the road to the site. There were hundreds of people, on the road, on the fields, on the buses, round the circle.





We could get closer than I expected. There is a rope all the way round and people stand by it and take selfies. It's very tricky, because you can't tell which direction they are taking pictures in!

I didn't think the Visitors' Centre was up to much, but we saw some straw huts and bought a few booklets. 
The return journey to Gloucester Road was two hours. A good excursion. 


Monday, 1 August 2016

London again part 2

St Paul's was good, Shakespeare's Globe was great, the weather was hot and we still had time for more adventures. Saturday was a family day; a barbecue in my cousin's lovely garden with almost all of my English family.
Sunday our aim was to go to a service in Westminster Abbey. We arrived early so went for a long walk along the side of the Thames, crossing over Lambeth Bridge to Lambeth Palace on the South Bank and back to cross Westminster Bridge:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Really, it wasn't that early when we crossed, but I always say Earth hath not anything to show more fair when I cross. At the Abbey, the tourists were queuing to go into the choral eucharist. They were very well organised. It was a pleasant, quite simple service. Then we walked through St James' Park, past Buckingham Palace and caught the tube back to Earl's Court. We had a little self-catering apartment in a shabby old house in Kensington. It was ok once we got someone to turn off the bathroom radiator. We bought ready-made food from local supermarkets every day; mirowave curries or made-up sandwiches or wraps and punnets of strawberries. On Sunday afternoon we went to the National Portrait Gallery, where the Tudor portraits are like old friends. 
Last bit on Sunday was Abbey Road: 
Lots of students on the famous crossing! From there we went to Swiss Cottage.
This is a pub. Wikipedia says: The district is named after an inn called The Swiss Tavern that was built in 1804 in the style of a Swiss chalet and on the site of a former tollgate keeper's cottage. The inn was later renamed Swiss Cottage.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

England again

It's hot here in Jaca, up to 34℃, and it was even hotter when I left Huesca at two o'clock this afternoon after doing speaking exams in a (thank goodness) air-conditioned school all morning. It was actually hot in England while we were there last week; to the extent that we didn't need jumpers or jackets, and I wore sandals all the time apart from travelling to and from the airport. Hot there isn't the same as hot here though. I think we were very lucky with the weather-it rained on Wednesday while we were heading for the airport, and nothing more.
Our first full day we had a long walk through parks and streets.
This is Dr Who's Tardis in BBC Langham Place! 
Later we went to St Paul's Cathedral. It cost us £18 each. The very beast thing is going up into the dome and climbing to the outside gallery at the top.





Just outside the City

The wonderful St Pancras Station with the wonderful statue of Sir John Betjeman, who made great efforts to save the building from destruction.

j


I loved the name on the blackboard

This is a massive sculpture of a (wartime) couple kissing,
with wartime station scenes on the base.

We had three fixed dates: Friday was Shakespeare's Globe, booked in April. Magic! We were there by 9am for the guided tour.
 These are someone else's photos of the theatre, which is a modern re-creation of a 16th century playhouse.It's a proper Shakespearian "wooden O" and it's very exciting.
 We had a lovely, rather dramatic guide. She asked people's nationalities, and I was the only British tourist. Most were from USA or Canada.
                                                     
                       
These photos are mine! The green tubes and white balls are for the forest in "The Dream"



After the morning tour we spent a nice half hour in Southwark Cathedral, then joined the seething crowds in Borough Market. You can see the most extraordinary food there.
gooseberries

and ecological  delivery vehicles
But mostly people and more people.
The play, A Midsummer Night's Dream started at 2 pm. We had seats (and cushions) quite high up in the first row of balconies. The production was unconventional in terms of sex: Puck was a woman,  https://www.facebook.com/ShakespearesGlobe/videos/10154451610405774/ the "rude mechanicals " apart from Bottom were women and Helena was Helenus with a passion for cruel Demetrius. Mortals were modern, fairies were tatty Elizabethan. Here's a link for a little video from the Facebook page: 
It was cruel, it was funny, it was magical!
Because the play started at 2 it was finished by 5 o'clock, which was too early to finish for the day, but not early enough for much. We went on the Docklands Light Railway to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and walked up the hill to look at the view.


London from another angle.


England again

It's hot here in Jaca, up to 34℃, and it was even hotter when I left Huesca at two o'clock this afternoon after doing speaking exams in a (thank goodness) air-conditioned school all morning. It was actually hot in England while we were there last week; to the extent that we didn't need jumpers or jackets, and I wore sandals all the time apart from travelling to and from the airport. Hot there isn't the same as hot here though. I think we were very lucky with the weather-it rained on Wednesday while we were heading for the airport, and nothing more.
We had three fixed dates: Friday was Shakespeare's Globe, booked in April. Magic! We were there by 9am for the guided tour.
 These are someone else's photos of the theatre, which is a modern re-creation of a 16th century playhouse.It's a proper Shakespearian "wooden O" and it's very exciting.
 We had a lovely, rather dramatic guide. She asked people's nationalities, and I was the only British tourist. Most were from USA or Canada.
                                                     
                       
These photos are mine! The green tubes and white balls are for the forest in "The Dream"



After the morning tour we spent a nice half hour in Southwark Cathedral, then joined the seething crowds in Borough Market. You can see the most extraordinary food there.
gooseberries

and ecological  delivery vehicles
But mostly people and more people.
The play, A Midsummer Night's Dream started at 2 pm. We had seats (and cushions) quite high up in the first row of balconies. The production was unconventional in terms of sex: Puck was a woman,  https://www.facebook.com/ShakespearesGlobe/videos/10154451610405774/ the "rude mechanicals " apart from Bottom were women and Helena was Helenus with a passion for cruel Demetrius. Mortals were modern, fairies were tatty Elizabethan. Here's a link for a little video from the Facebook page: 
It was cruel, it was funny, it was magical!
Because the play started at 2 it was finished by 5 o'clock, which was too early to finish for the day, but not early enough for much. We went on the Docklands Light Railway to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and walked up the hill to look at the view.


London from another angle.


Saturday, 16 July 2016

Candanchú

Yesterday was bright and clear but not very hot. We took the car to the ski resort of Candanchú and climbed up the Pista Grande. The wild flowers were delightful. Then I spotted edelweiss flowers, which I had never seen in the wild before; climbed up a little bit to take photos and see them better. After that, we saw lots and lots of them; anywhere there was a flat horizontal place.


In general, flowers up there above 2000 metres above sea level are short and small. They have a relatively short growing season because the mountains can be covered in snow from November to as late as May or at least April. I saw white campion, forget-me-nots, lots of little yellow flowers, I think some were "lady's bedstraw" (galium verum) and potentilla but I'm not sure of the variety.
Not all the flowers are short. every now and then there were lovely irises. I didn't get a good photo; this is one I googled. 


This is some kind of Alpine primula


The blue one is Round-headed Rampion
In this photo you can see my trekking poles which were absolutely when we had to go down a steep scree slope. 
If this photo had higher resolution, you might have been able to see a "sarrio" standing sentry on the high rocks. We watched a flock of them run down one side, up the other ahead of us. They made moving around the mountainside look so easy! Sarrio is a local name for chamoix.

The last stretch of the way down.