Archive for November, 2010

one of the things I have found most fascinating since moving to the UK 9 years ago are the cemeteries! Not just any cemetery mind….but ancient churchyard cemeteries and gothic cemeteries. They are evocative, secretive, and fascinating in the extreme, offering a glimpse into lives long over, by a multitude of causes from disease to fire with in some instances whole families wiped out by one cataclysmic event, those of children the most heart-rending.

Fanny Elizabeth Stokes – died 22 February 1873 aged 7 years

 Ireland is one of the best countries for visiting really ancient cemeteries and graveyards, one of which of course would be Glendalough (see the link below)…..absolutely fascinating.

I have visited hundreds of churchyards since living in the UK and find the smaller graveyards in old churches to be of great interest.  So much about a village can be told by the stories written on the memorials and gravestones.   Nearer to home (currently) and on a much larger scale is the Highgate Cemetery….in Highgate of course 🙂  north London.  Often on my way to the village I walk along the perimeter of the cemetery and spend time peering through the railings at the gravestones reading their stories. I also take loads of photos; of course! 🙂

entrance to the west side of Highgate Cemetery - the older section

Highgate Cemetery is a Victorian Gothic cemetery first used in 1860 to inter a young lass; Mary Ann Webster, a baker’s daughter.

Highgate Cemetery, originally known as the Cemetery of St James at Highgate, is one of a series of large, formally landscaped burial grounds established around London during the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign, and offers a fascinating glimpse into Gothic London.
Victorian society had been outraged by the scandalous practices and overcrowding in existing burial grounds and the consequential insanitary conditions which this engendered. Parliamentary action enable private companies to create a ring of burial grounds around London which could reflect the eclecticism of Victorian taste; secure, elegant, ordered and imposing!

orderly rows of the dead

 Highgate Cemetery is the most prestigious and dramatic evocation of these features.
Situated in the north of London N6, the first interment was on June 12th 1860 – 16 year-old Mary Ann Webster, a baker’s daughter was buried. The Cemetery, still a working burial ground has been run by the FOHC Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a non-profit organisation, since 1981.
Amongst the many tombs and graves that fill the cemetery to the brim, in excess of 50,000, are the world-famous Egyptian Avenue, catacombs, and a great number of ostentatious memorials heavily decorated, some featuring eye-catching inscriptions as well as poems.

169,000 people buried in 52,500+ graves

Highgate Cemetery is one of England’s finest Victorian cemeteries and is listed as a site of  ‘Outstanding Architectural and Historial Importance’, a Grade I listed park.  There are some 169,000 people buried in more than 52,500 graves in the east and west sides of the cemetery.
The formal borders and shrubberies planted by designers of Highgate Cemetery in the 19th century have largely gone and in their place, gentle decay, resulting in a ‘romantic confusion of plants, memorials and crumbling buildings.’ 

sunken graves and lop-sided stones

 By the 1970’s the invasive sycamore created havoc as branches and roots damaged memorials and buildings. The cemetery offers a diveristy of wildlife and the introduction of native trees such as oak, willow, birch and hawthorn have greatly increased the diversity of insect life and provided a wider basis to food chains for wild life, with a developing woodland canopy with it’s undertow of shrubs, herbs and grasses, neadow areas and pathways where flowering plants such as greater burnet, knapweed, ragged robin, lords and ladies, ox-eye daises and many others grow, as well as ferns and and mosses.

this is one of my favourite pic - check how the vine has wrapped itself round the headstone, now almost one with the tree

A walk round the cemetery offers a remarkable insight into Victorian London and many famous persons are buried here; namely:
Douglas Noel Adams 1952-2001 – author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
George Eliot 1819-1880 – English novelist and author of Silas Marner & Middlemarch etc.
Michael Faraday 1781-1867 – one of the greatest scientists of the 19th Century.
William Alfred Foyle 1885-1963 – Bookseller – founded the world-famous Charing Cross Road
William Edward Friese-Greene 1855-1921 – claimed inventor of cinematography.

memorial to William Friese-Greene 1855-1921

John Lobb 1829-1895 – maker of bespoke boots & shoes; shoe-maker to Royalty
Anna Mahler 1904-1988 – award-winning sculptor born in Vienna, daughter of composer Gustav Mahler
Karl Heinrich Marx 1818-1883 – the world’s most influencial political philosopher.
Richard ‘Stoney’ Hovis 1836-1900 Baker who in 1886 launched Hovis, the 21st mass-produced brown (wheatgerm) bread.

And many many more.

Visiting the cemetery: http://www.highgatecemetery.org.uk/

Glendalogh – glen of two lakes

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time for breakfast

one of my ongoing and constant sources of delight are the squirrels in the garden! ever since I arrived at this position last year in February, I have enjoyed the goings on and antics of the squirrels, who have taken up a load of video space on my camera!  they are exceptionally funny, very greedy and quite resourceful at getting food, especially when it comes to raiding the bird-feeders.

resourceful is my middle name

I have tried every possible position available to hang the bird-feeders so that the squirrels cannot get to them; to no avail!

if I can just get this damn thing off the wall..............!

 They slide down the awning, climb the window frames, shimmy up the walls, jump from amazing distances with hilarious results until they reach their goal! 

intrepid little squirrel

A lesson could be learned from them……it’s called determination! and never taking your eye off the end results…..in this instance – food!!!

This morning was no different! I have recently started putting out peanuts along with the bird-seed and breadcrumbs on the verandah in an effort to stop the squirrels raiding the birds feeders and this seems to have quelled their lust for suet/peanut treat and the energy balls, it has also attracted a larger number than usual of the wee pesky critters and this morning there was a mad tussle and lots of jumping and squawking and hurry scurry as we had no less than 6 squirrels on the verandah; all vieing for the same treats…..the word is out!!!

early morning arrival

One of the ways I entertain myself during the very looooonnng and boring mornings of my job is to chase the squirrels!  I put the food out in a pile, wait for a few to gather and then I rattle the chain on the door, turn the keys and open the door……. 🙂 🙂 This has the effect of an electric current running through the ground and the squirrels scatter at great speed.  There are one or two of the regulars who are no longer perturbed by this and know that I am all steam and no action, so now when I go through the motions they either ignore me or run to just a few feet away, first having grabbed a mouthful, till I go back indoors and before I have even locked the door they are back….looking at me through the glass as if to say ” is that all you can manage?”. they are hilarious!

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there is one thing guaranteed to get me out of bed before the alarm on a cold wintery day and that is SNOW!!! I woke up yesterday morning, had a peek out my curtain and jumped out the bed like an electric shock had just whizzed through my sheets!! 🙂 SNOW!! glorious snow!!! mind you it was just a light dusting of snow…but snow none-the-less!!!  I was dressed and out the door before you could say “Bob’s your uncle” (which of course he isn’t…..), wrapped up warm and camera in hand, I scooted around the neighbourhood capturing scenes of snow before the sun got warmed up and melted it all.

houses in the neighbourhood

snow on the benches in the park

a snowy seat

a light dusting of snow

snow covered flowers

I believe we are in for a lot more in the days to come…………………..BRING IT ON!!!!! WHOO HOO!! snow glorious snow! 🙂

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Monday brought a visit to Hampstead to meet with a potential Business Coach for 3 Days in London:

a school in Hampstead - reminds me of a school i went to in South Africa...a million years ago!

my kinda house. Hampstead is filled with delightful houses

and a visit to starbucks for the 1st 'gingerbread latte' of the winter season

Tuesday a walk to the village and I found these discarded pumpkins looking sad and lonely, waiting for the trashman

Wednesday and a walk on the Heath is in order. a dark wintery day didnt deter from the beauty of one of my favourite places

the fishing pond on Hampstead Heath... a favourite spot (much photographed)

Thursday was a wet and rainy day, and I got to walk through Waterlow Park on my way home from the village, the beauty of the foliage is much to be admired

the beauty of this particular spot catches my breath every time I walk by (this too has been photographed many times)

the pond looked suitably dark and mysterious

Friday I had the afternoon free so headed into my favourite part of London….the Square Mile

Guildhall, from whence the Lord Mayor starts his historic journey

the interior of Guildhall. the features are fabulous and it was awesome to walk in the footsteps of history.....

X marks the spot.....beneath this very unpreposessing looking slab, 20 feet below the surface lie the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre..which I visited of course

then a visit to another Wren church

St Lawrence Jewry - a Wren Church

and Saturday brought a visit to Keats House

the house where John Keats (poet) lived before he left for Rome where he died of TB at the age of 25

the chaise lounge in his parlour, Keats used to sit here and enjoy the view and write his poems

a fascinating discovery on the way home...a house in Hampstead

Sunday I stayed in 🙂

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Autumn 2010 in London

Autumn 2010 has been one of those amazingly beautiful seasons that we get here in the UK,

crispy autumn days

 a delicious surprise of vibrant colours, and sublimely crispy days….the sun beating down and warming you up as you briskly ‘take the air’ (a new expression I learned last week 🙂 ).
Autumn has always been my favourite season, the colours are splendid and the days crispy and beautiful, especially on a clear day and I love to kick my feet through a pile of crackling, crispy leaves, to throw a handful into the air and watch them floating down.  There is something about the crackle and crunch of autumn leaves underfoot that thrills me, ankle deep drifts of leaves blown into piles by the wind, a veritable patchwork of colour; pleasing on the eye!

drifts of autumn leaves

2010 has been unusual in that the colours were far more pronounced than usual and we have been treated to a magnificent display;

autumn colours

 a palette of red, purple, orange, yellow, russet, brown, and yellow

autumn colours

all offset by the ever present green of trees that never lose their colour and the psychedelic splash of bright green grass,

psychedelic green grass and bright yellow trees

 particularly noticable in the parks of London…of which there are many!
The reason behind this fabulous display this year is the long spring drought and the wet, cool late summer that followed; combining to produce an outstanding autumn display, a sunburst of gold,

sunburst of yellow

 a towering pillar of fiery red,

fiery red

 the flickering flames of yellow and orange tinged with red

flickering flames of red and yellow

 …….remarkable colours that have combined to produce an outstanding display of rich, deep colours.
I have tried to capture as many of these as possible, but as lovely as some of the photos are, they simply do not do justice to the colours of autumn!

this is one of my all time favourites - the viaduct bridge and duck pond on Hampstead Heath

and sunset on a glorious autumn day

16;20 sunset on the heath; mist on the fishing pond

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…..then this must be gingerbread latte!

gingerbread latte at Starbucks...and a cherry liquer cupcake

One of the pleasures of autumn in London are the ‘gingerbread lattes’ at Starbucks.  delicious and one of my treats on a cold day!

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Wow!! what a fantastic show.  I had the best day ever on Saturday, was totally impressed and can tell you one thing for sure….no other country can do Pomp and Ceremony like the Brits!!! F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

Pomp and Ceremony

The day started out grey and grim and I sent a tweet to my twitterverse to please wish for sunshine….we almost made it. By the time I left home I could see patches of blue sky…and the rain held off for the day!! Bloody marvellous.
I was so excited by the time I headed off for the bus…I have been in the UK for 9 years now and this is the first opportunity I have had to attend the Lord Mayor’s Show; a nearly 800 year-old tradition in The City of London. An annual event of  3 miles of fun, music and pageantry to welcome in the new Lord Mayor.
The lastest mayor being one Alderman Michael Bear, 683rd person to be elected to office, and latest in a long line of Lord Mayors that stretches back through centuries since 1189 when Henry Fitz-Ailwyn first held office.

cariciature of The Lord Mayor 1881

An illustrious position once held by Whittington, Lord Mayor of London thrice in his lifetime, the first in 1398.
“Turn again, Whittington,
Once Lord Mayor of London!
Turn again, Whittington,
Twice Lord Mayor of London!
Turn again, Whittington,
Thrice Lord Mayor of London!

The Lord Mayor’s Show dates to 1215 when King John allowed the City to elect it’s own mayor. The processional route takes you through thousands of years of history; a rich tapestry of events, places and streets of London over the centuries.

Lord mayors show london

the processional route

Starting at the Guildhall

lord mayors show

The Guildhall (1411-1440 15th Century Gothic)

 and accompanied by the Mayor’s personal bodyguard,

Pikemen and Musketeers


Pikemen and Musketeer The Lord Mayors bodyguard by Royal Warrant

the coach winds it was through the streets of London, preceded by floats, the Pageantmaster,

lord mayors show

The Pageantmaster - responsible for organising the event

 Livery Companies, organisations, Merchantmen, buses, businesses, flambouyant carnival style costumes, marching bands, horse-guards charities, Freemasons, members of the Territorial Army, Cadets and a long line of wonderful coaches bearing the Aldermen of the City of London, 145 in all as well as zulu warriors and dancers

the lord mayors show

Zulu warrior

 – supported by Standard Bank and reminescent of the Lord Mayor’s roots.. More than 6,500 people take part in the show and hundreds of thousands of spectators from far and near line the streets to see it.
The Lord Mayor’s State Coach,

The Lord Mayor's Coach

 built in 1757 has pride of place and travels to St Paul’s Cathedral where it stops briefly (about 5 minutes), the Lord Mayor is welcomed into the city and blessed by the Dean of St Paul’s, a ceremony that takes place on the steps for all the citizens of the city to witness.

the lord mayors show 2010

re-joining the parade from St Paul's Cathedral

 From there it re-joins the parade and proceeds along Ludgate Hill, into Fleet Street past Prince Henry’s Room

Prince Henry's Room - Fleet Street

 and into The Strand to The Royal Courts of Justice,

in front of The Royal Courts of Justice

 the crowds following close behind.  The journey pauses here for just over an hour while the Lord Mayor swears his allegiance to the Crown.
The procession starts once again and winds it’s way through Temple, along Victoria Embankment up past Puddle Dock, into Queen Victoria Street and thence to Mansion House – (completed in 1758 a rare surviving Georgian town palace) – the home and office of the Lord Mayor for the time he is in office.
Thereafter a gap of approx 2.5 hours and to end the event a fabulous display of aquabatics, a row-past by the Thames Traditional Rowing Association, (at which point I waved enthusiastically to Joe (from twitter) of  The Brightside Six) who were part of the regatta,

Thames Traditional Rowing Association

dancing water fountains and  fireworks on the Thames.

the lord mayors show

The Lord Mayor's Show - fireworks on the Thames end the show

fireworks on the Thames - a sparkling end to a sparkly day

The Lord Mayor is not to be confused with the Mayor of London, a completely different role. The Lord Mayor is primarily an international ambassador for the UK and spends 90 days a year travelling to around 23 countries, promoting the Square Mile aka the City of London.

griffin and herald - City of London

I was lucky enough to find a fabulous spot right near the steps of St Paul’s for that part of the ceremony and then another just past the Royal Courts of Justice for the 2nd part. I then followed the parade right to the end at Mansion House and thence to the Guildhall to see the coach in it’s display case.

The Lord Mayor's Coach

It was quite amazing to be part of this historical procession and to witness an event that has been re-enacted for almost 800 years.  It was quite weird to see a funfair at St Paul’s too!!!

the fair comes to St Paul's

I phoned my sister in South Africa so she could listen to the bells ringing but unfortunately all she could hear was static. The bells rang out across the city, almost continuously for the whole time except when the Lord Mayor was actually at the cathedral. The streets were lined with thousands of people and an air of excitement pervaded the city.  I had ever such a fabulous day, rushing along the pavements and streets of London following the parade, chatting to people, being cheeky with the police (heehee), and generally having a brilliant time.  The day ended off with a pledge fulfilled and fireworks… the pledge was to Joe from twitter…I had said I would wave my pink scarf as they went by and so I did….and he saw me!!! how much fun is that!

It is fantastic to be able to witness these events and I am eternally grateful that I now live here…….London for ever 🙂 I am truly addicted!

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a view protected by law - London from the top of Parliament Hill

a ramble on Hampstead Heath….. ahh it never ceases to fascinate me that whilst one is doing one thing….there are a multitude of other happenings going on around you!!!  Things you are not even aware of till later….ie Wednesday’s student protests in London.  I had the afternoon off and had been debating about what to do, what to do!!!  I love Westminster and go there as often as possible and since Wednesday was such a gorgeous day I had a mind to go walkabout through the area……however, I decided instead to visit Parliament Hill for some photos and then decide what to do.

a fabulous day - view of London from halfway up Parliament Hill

I stood on the crest of the hill looking at and admiring the view of London (which is protected by the way), quite simply enchanted by the view: St Paul’s, the London Eye, the O2, Canary Wharf….all are visible albeit tiny in the distance. After taking my fill of photos I headed downhill to the busstop having decided I could not pass up an opportunity to go into London.

On the way I stopped to look at an aerial map of the heath

Hampstead Heath

 and noticed that right there in the middle, a part I had not yet explored was a viaduct bridge….and that was the end of my trip into town.  and a jolly good thing too as it turned out!!  Instead I spent the next few hours rambling about the heath, traipsing through long grass, under ancient trees, along a multitude of pathways, up a row of stairs to a secret glade and down again…walking along paths carpeted with a rich tapestry of autumn leaves.

a rich tapestry of autumn leaves

The viaduct bridge turned out to be magical

the viaduct bridge

 and after taking my fill I climbed up to a beautiful spot above to just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.  I then headed back through the avenue ( a line of trees planted after the hurricane some years back),

The Avenue - a row of trees planted after the hurricane of October 1987

 to the duck and fishing ponds and thence to home.

the duck pond

 A marvellous day out, a day of sunshine, quiet contemplation and birdsong, a lovely interlude on a lovely day.

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It was with total dismay and incomprehension that I watched the events of yesterdays ‘Student Protest’ unfold.   In fact, any of the recent demonstrations that have turned violent! I love this country and I have an overwhelming passion for London, and it fills me with disbelief and dismay that I live in a country with people that behave like that!

I am all for the democratic process, the freedom of speech, the priviledge of being able to voice my opinion – by ‘peaceful’ demonstration, to protest in a ‘peaceful’manner and I agree to a point with the view that the University fees have jumped alarmingly.

However, what I do not agree with is the events that unfolded during the protest march yesterday. It amazes me that in what is classed as a 1st world country, that people who have the benefit of a full-on education go on to behave in such an appalling manner. It would seem that education doesn’t remove the thug-mentality and that there are as usual the small minority of people who will go ahead and destroy…. just because! There was no reason for what they did.

And of course….lets blame the Police once again why don’t we!!!! Let’s blame everyone else and not take responsibility for our own actions!! I see absolutely no reason on earth why the police should have had to have a stronger presence in the area. It was meant to be a peaceful demonstration by students who are in University! Therefore one would expect that they have the intelligence and maturity to make their voices heard in a manner befitting a university education, a manner befitting a 1st world country.

So now folks will be up in arms and blame the police for what happened yesterday. Take responsibility for your own actions you morons!!   Many citizens of this country and other western countries are so quick to blame, blame, blame and seldom accept responsibility for their own actions and the consequences thereof.    “Oh! It’s the fault of the police for not having a stronger presence in the area!”. RUBBISH!!!!! It’s the fault of the thugs who smashed the place up! I truly wish that they are severly punished for their actions!! They do not deserve the priviledges that they get in this country.

What will probably happen is that their parents will rush off to the nearest ‘Compensation’ lawyers (if those ****** don’t get there first) and claim compensation for their little thugs getting arrested blah blah blah!! And then we will have the ‘human-rights’ activists putting in their pennies worth!

Yes, the fees are high and yes! I agree that it is quite unfair that foreign students get lowered fees while the students of tax-payers in this country have to pay more, but that does not justify the actions of what happened yesterday.    Firstly those thugs should be severely punished, they should be made to perform commmunity service and make reparation for their actions, then they should be banned from University for the total number of years that it takes to repay the damage they have caused.

Of course in reality what will happen is that their parents will be up in arms! You can’t do that to my precious little moronic thug! You can’t blame them for being angry! You have to let them carry on and voice their anger…poor little poppets! Only doing what they think is fair. While hey!!! The rest of us tax-payers who work sometimes 7 days a week to pay for our own education or pay our way in this life, get to foot the bill. Once again!

So, go ahead and blame the Government, after all that’s what they are there for….to act as scape-goats for your little tantrums.

Perhaps, you should take a look at your life, perhaps your parents should shoulder some of the blame. After all they did not put enough money aside to pay for your education…… It never ceases to amaze me that the “holiday, happy meals, fag and booze” brigade never stop for one moment to think about how the money they waste on rubbish each month could go towards the education of their children. Parents are responsible for educating their children. Not the government! 

The government provides the venues and the teachers so that parents can send the kids to school, it’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure they have enough money to pay for it.

And then of course we have the people who have half-a dozen kids and then complain there is never enough money. Well stop breeding like rabbits and consider what you can afford….without claiming ‘benefits’ from the Government.    Benefits that people like me and other hard-working people pay for through our taxes so that you can sit at home on your backside!

And please don’t get me started on the benefits payouts. I have never in my life heard of such nonsense. Benefits!!!!!! Education is a priviledge. A priviledge millions of children never ever have. They are made to work from the day the are old enough to stand on their own two feet, they don’t have access to schools, and books and libraries and hand-outs from the government to pay for their education. They would never get an education at all on the whole except for the charities that step in and provide the means for the ‘lucky’ ones. Education is not to be squandered! 

In this country we have amazing facilities for education and yet it is squandered on the mentality of ‘gimme gimme gimme’ or ‘I want want want’!!! You should be ashamed of yourselves. But then again of course you wouldnt be!!! after all it is the fault of the Government! And while you are whinging and blaming and finding fault with everything around you, pause for a moment and realise how lucky you are (yes, lucky!!!) to live in a country where your actions are not met with your execution, a country where your parents are not tossed into gaol for your actions and where you actually get to live…..even after you have gratuiously destroyed property that doesn’t belong to you.

I watched the ‘Wright Stuff’ on Five this morning, and the phone-ins say that it’s coz people are angry, angry that the Lib Dems ie Nick Clegg has gone back on his election promises re capping the fees!! Ok, fine be angry and voice your opinion, that still does not give you the right to smash the place up and then when you are restrained by the police to then blame them, whilst other people blame them for not having a stronger presence in the area. Either way they don’t win!!

If you justify what happened yesterday as ‘ok’ coz people are angry – then you go on to justify wife-beating coz hubby is angry, or ‘child-abuse’ coz daddy is angry, or smashing into another’s car coz they cut in front of you, or beating a person up coz they are the wrong skin colour, or religion, or sexual persuasion, or any other kind of anger that people use an excuse for their actions.

Anger is an emotion and not a right!!!

I am angry….very angry; angry that I have to pay higher taxes coz I work harder and longer hours to make my way in this world and pay for the things I want….like an education, and then people like those thugs that smashed the place up yesterday get to walk away and my taxes, my hard-earned taxes go to pay for the repairs!!!!   So, now tell me….is that then an excuse to go to their homes and smash the place up and vent my anger?   I shelled out £50,000 in 2007 and 2008 to pay for my education and now I work 7days a week 50 weeks a year to pay for it. Education is a priviledge to be paid for, it is not a god-given right.

Democracy gives you the opportunity and the ‘right’ to voice your opinion, it does not give you the ‘right’ to smash things up.

And while you are whinging about the Government and spouting all your ‘poor me’ complaints, kindly remember that today is the day that millions of people are remembered, people who gave up their lives during the last 2 world wars and people that today continue to give their lives – to give you a future in a democratic country!!!

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