Posts Tagged ‘park’

If I were the Queen

A few days ago was my 600th blog post. I feel quite strongly that this makes me some kind of member of the royal family. Obviously. So soon I will be the queen? I would hate to get the call and be unprepared for my duties as head of the country/world. Therefore I have made a plan for how things will be when I am queen.

1. I will build loads of castles. I feel that we are sadly lacking in new castles.

2. I will say to people, “Bring me truffles from the deepest darkest woods in the Italian countryside – now. Right now. Immediately.”

3. I will order Michel Roux Jr to cook them for me but I will tell him to stay away from that crazy boiled veal’s head dish he made on TV the other week.

4. I will have a holiday home on Capri. This one, in fact.
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5. I would not have those silly dogs that the queen has. Or at least, I would not have anything to do with them. I would just let them run around next to me if I had a photo shoot so that the public thought I was all soft and lovely and animal-loving.

6. I would sleep a lot. My goodness, I would sleep a lot. And alarms would be forbidden.

7. Danda would like to request a golf course and a Chelsea season ticket. I have told I will look into it for him. I can’t go around acting as I please and spending the country’s money on just anything. I have a duty to the public, don’t you know?

8. I would close Richmond Park to the public and have it as my back garden. I would make my gardeners plant all the things I wanted to eat, like fig trees and lemon trees and bay leaf trees.

9. Every so often, for publicity purposes, I would let a poor person come and talk to me and I would be nice to them and everyone would think, “Gosh, that queen sure is nice. I saw she was talking to a poor person the other day and being nice to them.”

10. I would make everyone give me any new books they had written so I could read them first and if I liked the book, I would send them some chocolate. If I didn’t like it, I would throw it on the floor and stamp my feet. That’s how they would know. By the foot stamping.

So I’m waiting for them to call me. Maybe I should send them this list so that they can rest assured I’ll do a good job. Maybe they’re waiting to see my plan before they get in touch?

London trip (part 2)

Good morning all. It’s time for the second part of last week’s brilliant post ny my guest blogger about walking in London. Enjoy!

Just to recap – last week I did the first part of my walk around some London sights (and sites). I covered the oddly named St. Andrew By-The-Wardrobe Church, The College of Arms, St Magnus the Martyr Church with the London Bridge (1176-1831) sign, John Donne’s bust near St Paul’s Cathedral, the YMCA sign showing its origins and the very unusual Postman’s Park which became the Memorial To Heroic Self Sacrifice celebrating those who gave their lives in saving others.

 

For this second part it’s important to understand something of the history behind the next few pics so I hope you will bear with me. This week we’re starting with a visit to the Smithfield area and the front of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

The first thing to notice is this sign:

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As well as the info about public executions which we’ll come to in a moment notice the bottom 5 lines of the sign. Society must have sunk to a very low level at this point!

 

There’s a memorial to 3 men (3 Johns) who gave their lives, not to save others like the ones in Postman’s Park, but because they refused to change their beliefs. I wonder how many of us would be prepared to die for something we believe in or would we just change our minds to stay alive. What if the government asked us to sign a piece of paper saying we definitely believe in the existence of aliens. Would it bother you? Would you sign? Maybe not? However what if they then said unless they had this piece of paper with your signature on you would not be eligible to apply for any jobs or any benefits if you are out of work. That’s a lot harder now isn’t it? Are you going to sign? What if the next step is that all who sign have to undertake not to speak to any who haven’t signed? Then ultimately what if they say if you don’t sign you no longer have the right to live? Do you sign now? Probably you do because you say it doesn’t really make much difference to your life and that’s probably right. What if though it’s not aliens but a particular belief system be it religious or secular (cult of the leader like in North Korea for instance)? There are a number of countries around the world where Christians are persecuted just because they believe Jesus died on the cross to save people from their sins. For them it’s not just a matter of changing their belief to suit the current government requirements it’s about a daily life lived a different way. This plaque is really about men for whom it was more important to stand for what they believed in rather than simply change to stay alive. Apologies for the picture being slight obscured by the railings in front of it but when I held the camera inside the railings I couldn’t get the whole thing in.

Here’s the picture:

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The three men are John Rogers, John Bradford, John Philpott. Let’s take a brief look at each.

 

John Rogers (1500-4.2.1555) was born in Birmingham and became a minister and Bible translator producing the second complete Bible translation from the original languages in 1537. He was the first Protestant Martyr (English) to be executed under Mary I. The last reported conversation JR had went something like this when Mr Woodroofe, one of the sheriffs, came to lead him out of Newgate Prison to be executed. He asked if JR was willing to revoke “his abominable doctrine”:

 

John Rogers: “That which I have preached I will seal with my blood.

Woodroofe: “Thou art an heretic.”

John Rogers: “That shall be known at the Day of Judgment.

Woodroofe: “I will never pray for thee.

John Rogers: “But I will pray for you.”

 

Remember Woodroofe had come to lead the man to the stake to be burned alive; I guess I know which man’s character speaks of goodness & compassion and which one doesn’t.

 

John Bradford (1510-1.7.1555)

He was born in Manchester and became a law student at the Inner Temple (a professional association for barristers and judges) in London. When he became a Christian he felt called to the ministry and was later ordained by Bishop Nicholas Ridley; he would later share a cell with this man in the Tower of London. He is famous for the saying (when he saw others being led out to their execution): “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” Many of you will be familiar with the saying in its modern form when people reflect on their situation which could easily have been a lot worse if something which could have happened didn’t. They look at someone for whom it did go badly and they say: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”, or just “There, but for the grace of God..” Perhaps you’ve even used the phrase yourself. Well now you know it comes from John Bradford. Before the fire was lit he turned to the man alongside him and said: “Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night!” A very strong faith indeed!

 

John Philpott (1511-18.12.1555)

He was born in Hampshire and the son of a knight. He studied civil law and the Hebrew language. He became archdeacon at Winchester. When Mary came to the throne he was called to account for his beliefs. Amazingly he was interviewed/examined 14 times before the final one which condemned him to death. On the appointed day the sheriffs took him to Smithfield. As they approached the stake the ground was very muddy and they offered to carry him. His reply: “Would you make me a pope? I am content to finish my journey on foot.” When he got to the stake, he said, “Shall I disdain to suffer at the stake, when my Redeemer did not refuse to suffer the most vile death upon the cross for me?” He then recited the Psalm 107 & 108. When he had finished his prayers, he was tied to the post, and the fire lit.

 

All three died in 1555. The other years mentioned on the stone plaque must refer to the many anonymous ones who died in the following two years.

Now in the hustle and bustle of the day, with people scurrying about their daily business around me in the street, I stood for a few moments thinking about how seriously these guys took the way they lived their lives and the God they believed in to such a degree that they would simply not change to save their own lives.

 

Just along from this plaque was another one – this time to Sir William Wallace.image

He was born nearly 300 years before the men above were burned at the stake. In 1296 Edward I of England had forced the King of Scotland, John de Balliol, to give up his throne. He then put him in jail and declared himself King of Scotland. In May 1297 Wallace and others began their resistance and a few months later the English army and the Scots met at the Forth River near Stirling. Because of the narrow bridge which the English had to cross, the outnumbered Scots actually massacred the English forces. Wallace and his men then crossed the border and, in Oct 1297, began attacking the counties of Northumberland & Cumberland. Wallace returned to Scotland in Dec 1297 and was proclaimed guardian of the realm ruling in the deposed king’s name. 8 months later in July 1298 Edward I went back to Scotland and defeated the Scots. However it was not until 1304 that the Scots actually accepted (recognised) Edward I as their king. However Wallace refused to go along with this and continued to rebel. He was captured in 1305 and taken to London where, after being condemned as a traitor, he was hanged then disembowelled, beheaded, and quartered.

 

The 2-line Latin inscription at the bottom Dico Tibi Verum, Libertas Optima Rerum: Nunquam Servili Sub Nexu Vivito, Fili translates to: “My Son, Freedom is best, I tell thee true, of all things to be won. Then never live within the Bond of Slavery.” He is reported to have said this at his trial (23 August 1305). Underneath it, the phrase Bas Agus Buaidh means “Death & Victory”.

 

So if England, or the country you live in, was invaded would you be willing to do the same? It’s a tough call isn’t it?

 

(Interesting to note that it was a similar story in Wales where in 1400 Owain Glyndŵr started resistance to the English king Henry IV. However even after being defeated in 1408-9 he was never captured and never betrayed. His fate is unknown but Shakespeare wrote him into Henry IV Part 1.)

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Literally, on the corner of the front wall of St Bart’s Hospital.

 

And just a few steps away from it is the entrance way access to the church behind:

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The building was founded by a guy called Prior Rahere in 1123 as the sign said. It is claimed he built it after recovering (allegedly miraculously) from an illness. Once this became known the church used to fill up with sick people every August 24th (St Bartholomew’s Day). Sadly I cannot show you any pics inside the church itself as they were charging for the privilege and after paying an entrance fee I thought it a bit much then to ask for more money to photograph the building! However I can tell you that outside & inside there were piles of film equipment (booms, lighting, mics, cabling etc) and the guy told us they are going to be using the building to film scenes from the next Muppet movie. A man was standing guard over the piles outside to prevent theft. So just remember when you see the next Muppet film you’ll know the church interior shots were taken at St Bartholomew’s (dating back to 1123) in Smithfield, London.

 

Just a few minutes away and we were in the rather oddly named street – Cloth Fair. Obviously it harks back to the days when there was a cloth fair in the area and they just kept the name for the street. We stopped for a quick drink in the pub – The Hand & Shears (dating back to 1532!). In nearby Smith Field back in history tailors and drapers came from all over the country to buy & sell. Because of the risk of people not getting the correct length of cloth the Merchant Tailors would carry a yardstick and anyone found to be selling short measures of cloth were brought to this pub and taken upstairs to a courtroom where they would be tried. If found guilty it was either the stocks or a whipping! (The yardstick was known as early as the tenth century during the reign of King Edgar the Peaceful – a great-grandson of King Alfred – who reigned from 959 to 975.)

As he lived nearby it also became poet John Betjamin’s local.

Note the entrance doors are curved to fit with the rounded corner step stone and cornice above. Also check out the greenery at first floor level. I wonder who gets the job of watering that lot?

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Here’s an interesting sign in the wall of a building:

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If you enlarge the pic you may be able to see the inscription round the central coat of arms. It says The Worshipful Company of Founders. Their origins go back to 1365 and it is one of earliest guilds formed to protect the interests of its members and to promote high standards of quality & workmanship in brass & bronze. You might be able to enlarge the centre bit but I was struggling to see the words. I checked their website to get the motto which is very tiny underneath the shield in the coat of arms. It is: “God The Only Founder”.
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How narrow is this? It’s called Benjamin Street and is just one step and half wide. Shortly after taking this pic a small van drove through and its tyres appeared to be touching the kerbs on both sides.

 

Next stop was this sign outside a building which you would hardly even notice.

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Apart from the name Bounce which you might query the blue plaque above is easy to miss as you walk along the street. The light shining on it does obscure it a bit but it says: “On this very site PING PONG was created and patented by John Jaques III 1901”. Do any of you play table tennis? By 1903 apparently the two branches (ping pong & table tennis) had joined together but there is still a large amount of verbiage on what the differences are doing the rounds today! I won’t bore you with the detail because….well… it’s boring.

 

Next stop was a bar for a drink; but not just any old bar – one where you have to email ahead a booking asking for permission to enter. Yes that’s right an email is required, you can’t just turn up at the door and walk in!! On arrival your details are checked and you are directed to the lifts. Up you go to floor 32. As the door opens someone is ready to take your coat if needed and another person takes you to the bar where you order your drink. Once you’ve got it you can go upstairs to floor 33 which is a viewing floor looking out over the London skyline. Here’s a pic looking down on a street below. The white tops in the long street are bus roofs: they’re white to reflect heat in the summer. Although you can’t see it in this pic the roofs also have large letters and numbers which identify the individual vehicle and the operator of that vehicle. These are used by police and emergency service airborne units

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Next one is looking down on a couple of those huge building cranesimage

Look at the small park in the centre amongst all those buildings in the next one.

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Couldn’t resist a sunset pic so here it is:image

And on the way back to the station I was curious about an old odd looking building on the street corner ahead. I wondered what the Dickens it could be? As we came round the front this is what we saw:image

Ha ha ha. I did read that they named the shop couple of years after the book came out and not the other way round. It was built using wood from old ships. It survived the Great Fire (1666) & the WW2 bombers in the Blitz.

 

Although the whole walk had been less than 6 miles we’d seen so much. (My legs were convinced it had been about 12 miles!) The weather had been kind to us and we’d had a great day.    

I am the Litter Lady!

Day 1 of usefulness went well. I had the following two instructions.

Un-litter the land – take a trash bag to the local playground or park and pick up litter.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Separate your rubbish – keep aside things that need recycling and, once a week, take it to your local recycling bins.
(Going Green by Simon Gear)

The second one requires nothing of me as I am fortunate enough to live in an area where the council provides each individual home with three recycling bins – one for food, one for paper and one for everything else. So I already have that covered. That box is ticked.

The first one I did when I got in from work yesterday afternoon. I got a recycle-able paper bag and walked to my favourite park. Along the way, however, I noticed three things.

The first was that there was rubbish on the ground that I was passing to get to the park. So I started picking that up on my way and filling my bag.

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The second was that walking with my head down looking at the ground gives me a bit of a bad back as I tend to look up when I walk. I felt a bit Hunchback Of Notre Dame-esque.

The third was that I had left my Crocs on after work which, Danda says, makes me look ‘like a tramp.’

So there I was, hunched over, in my best tramp get-up, collecting rubbish in a bag. I dread to think what people thought I was doing. Getting padding for my pretend mattress made of old newspapers and plastic bags, probably.

Anyway, despite my Hunchback and bad Crocs, I soldiered on until, at the end of the road into the park, I found a load of recycling bins. I recycled all I could, emptied the unrecyclables into a bin and then recycled the bag.

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I then straightened up and treated myself to a long walk around the park.

I no longer had my hunchback or my bag of rubbish but I did still have my Crocs on….

A few reviews

Ok, so my very favourite thing to do lately is to plug in my earphones, set an audio book going and walk up to the park. I’ve been tearing through them at a surprising rate recently so I thought I’d let you know what’s worked for me and what hasn’t.

I had a lucky first experience of Audible.com when I downloaded my first book, The Snow Child. It was read well, the story was brilliant and I was totally hooked.

The next book I listened to was called The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. It was a lot longer than The Snow Child so took me a while to listen to. You basically follow the protagonist’s entire life story, from New York to Japan and back. Without realising that you’re wrapped up in the story, you hold your breath when it seems she will be discovered and you recoil, waiting to hear what will happen when she makes a cultural faux pas. At the time, it feels quite slow moving and I’m still not definitely sure why it is called The Teahouse Fire as plenty of other, more significant things happen to her. But upon finishing it, I suddenly thought that I would like to listen to it again as I think it would gain a lot on a second listening.

Then I listened to A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami, which was obviously a bit mental. I’ll always have a soft spot for Murakami’s writing as it makes me think of long days spent in a little guest house on Bohol island in the Philippines, reading Kafka on the Shore. He deals in the type of surrealist writing that is kind of like the literary version of a Picasso painting. A bit out there, you’re not sure what direction it will take next, nothing seems to make sense. It takes on an odd fixation, this book, a particular sheep with a star on it’s back. The story is creative and engaging. I didn’t love the way it was read, to be honest. But overall, it was a typical Murakami and I enjoyed it.

Next I listened to Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I don’t need to tell you all the story of this as anyone who is anyone knows about it or has read it. I’ve carried a copy round with me for years and never read it so Audible.com seemed like the best way to finally read it. It offers an eerily possible world-scenario that I don’t feel it either advocated nor denigrated. Initially I rebelled from the idea of not having familial links, of being free and forward with sexual attitudes, of growing babies and engineering them through phrases repeated to them in their sleep. But them we had a glimpse of how someone from this futuristic world might view us as we are now. And it was equally repulsive. I came away feeling neither neither relieved nor horrified that our world is the one looked upon unfavourably by the beings of the future. It simply made me think about how we are and how we operate as a society. For that, I recommend it to everyone. It’s brilliance lies in its springboard effect, it is there to promote further thought.

Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me is a work of comical genius. Now I’m not a big Miranda follower (being only 5″4) and haven’t caught that many of the programmes. I’ve seen her present a few quiz shows and thought she was quite funny. But I wasn’t necessarily on the Miranda band wagon (the Miranda-wagon, as she might call it). I downloaded this book just because it was on the best sellers list. And boy, am I glad I did! This is not a book to be listened to outside whilst walking down a busy high street, as I quickly learned after laughing out loud when she used the word ‘flabiola’ to describe herself. She also often needs you to say ‘yes!’ loudly at certain points so, to save drawing attention to yourself, make sure you are at home or in an empty park. I honestly couldn’t get enough of Miranda. After turning her off to make dinner or go to work, I kept thinking about how I wanted to turn her on again. She became like a life guru to me for a week. I have no doubt I’ll listen to her again when I’ve finished any other books waiting to be listened to. Give it the first chapter to get into the swing of things, to get onto the same page. And then, you’re away. This is a must-listen.

The time we went to Disneyland Paris

Once, when I was younger, my family and I when on holiday to Disneyland Paris. We stayed in the attached hotel and had an amazing time.

We spend days running around the park, going on all the rides ten times each. We loved it!

To ensure lasting memories of this fabulous holiday, we took loads of photos. Photos of us with Timon from Lion King, with Mickey Mouse. Photos of us in the cool hotel room. Photos of us about to go on scary rides. It was all so exciting!

The day we were leaving, we had an hour or so before we had to be on the coach and my mum went off somewhere to get something. We took a few last photos of the room and waited for her to come back.

This is what was happening in the meantime. As my mum was coming back to the room she was in the hotel lift, chatting to some people. They pressed the button for the floor they needed and my mum pressed her button. As they were all chatting, the lift stopped and they all got out and walked off down the corridor. They went to their room and my mum came to the room we were sharing and knocked on the door. And knocked! AND KNOCKED! She started shouting our names loudly. Panicking.

No-one was answering the door. There was a cleaner nearby and my mum ran over, frantic, and asked her if she could open the door to her room. The cleaner obliged and opened the door and my mum walked into the room….

The furniture was in slightly different places…. There were no suitcases packed and ready to go…. There was some stuff here but not anything that she recognised…..

It dawned slowly. She was on the wrong floor…. We were a few floors up from the people my mum had chatted to in the lift but in the fun of the conversation, she had left the lift with them and gone to the place where our room was located on the other floor. She was now in someone else’s room.

As she slowly exited and walked off down the corridor, the cleaner must have been a bit confused….

By this time, we were getting confused about where she was and worried about missing the coach. Eventually, we got there in time and took a few goodbye snaps of the park from the coach window. So that was the first stupidity…. The second is coming up….

When we got home later that day, we couldn’t wait to get the photos processed and show everyone what a fabulous holiday we had been on. We were intrigued, though, as we had put a 24 picture film in but it had kept letting us take more and more photos. It must have been a 36 film, we thought.

Then we opened the camera…. To take out the roll of film…. And there was no roll of film in it…. Never had been… We hadn’t taken a single photo the whole holiday….. Whoops….