A novel might have taken me to Coventry, but by a strange symmetry it was after visiting Colchester I began reading a novel that mentions, even features, some of the places I saw in the original capital of Roman Britain.
I had unfortunately sprained my ankle just a few days beforehand, so my explorations were not quite as extensive as I should have liked. Still it gives me a good excuse to return.
I have visited many other parts of Essex, and even celebrated a birthday in and around Wivenhoe a few years ago when friends joined me for an easy eight mile walk which started, middled and ended at the pub.
Colchester boasts an impressive castle, a ruined abbey, and an astounding building that is home to the Museum of Modern Art.
arches, St Botolph’s Abbey
St Botolph’s abbey
Romanesque, St Botolph’s abbey
Ruins, St Botolph’s abbey
Although I am a London Blue Badge Guide, I do get to leave the capital and even guide in other cities and towns.
I should love to add Coventry to that list. Everyone knows how Coventry was devastated in the Second World War, how the day after the bombing that destroyed the cathedral the decision was taken to rebuild.
Stephen Humphrey, who was for many years archivist in the London Borough of Southwark, has died.
As a local historian and ambassador for Southwark’s many textured history, Stephen had no rival. He was immensely knowledgeable, immensely generous with that knowledge, and always a fascinating conversationalist.
I met Stephen some thirty years ago when one of my aunts wanted to research the family tree. Our path very quickly took us to the Local Studies Library in Borough High Street, where Stephen offered advice and showed us how to search the archives.
When I became a Blue Badge Tourist Guide our paths continued to cross, and I came to know him better. I appreciated more his understated style and enjoyed his seemingly endless stock of stories. He continued to give me the benefit of his professional advice, as he did so many others.
The hole he leaves in Southwark’s fabric is enormous. He was a gentleman and a scholar; an unassuming figure who supported and helped many many individuals and groups in the area.
I am very proud to have known Stephen. I shall miss both his erudition and his gentle humour. My life was richer for knowing him.
A book of condolence is available to sign at the John Harvard Library in Borough High Street should you wish to leave a message.
I’ll be leading the Walworth Old and New walk Saturday 3rd December, meeting outside Kennington tube station at 10.45am.
From the Saxons to the present day, Walworth has had many incarnations.
Famous as the birthplace of Charlie Chaplin, Walworth has belonged to a court jester, temporarily housed St Thomas’ Hospital, seen the first giraffes in a public collection in the United Kingdom, been the force behind achieving age related pensions, and has been mentioned in literature from Charles Dickens to Muriel Spark. Continue reading
I’m going to be having a bit of break from guiding people around this wonderful city as tomoorow I am heading for Australia.
I’ll be back in December, and getting back into harness leading the Walworth walk on Saturday 3rd December at 10.45 from outside Kennington tube, and getting into the festive season at the artists’ open studios.
Barbara Wakefield, Hearts
Jam Jar Flowers
Well actually I don’t know yet. But I soon shall. It’ll be announced at a dinner held at the Guildhall, the seat of City government, slap bang in the middle of the Square Mile; site of trials, executions, and the awarding of the Man Booker Prize.
Were you lucky enough, as I was, to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Globe Theatre on Bankside this year? the Bollywood influenced one?
Oh man, it was fabulous. I don’t want to make you jealous, but if you didn’t get to see it you missed out bg time. Tomorrow night it has its last performance, but the great news is that the BBC is going to be live streaming the production. Which means that wherever you are you can see it. Cool or what? and the answer isn’t ‘what’. Continue reading
It’s three hundred and fifty years since the City of London was devasted by a terrible fire, and there are any number of events commemorating the dreadful conflagration we know as the Great Fire of London.
You may already have been to the exhibition at the Museum of London. If not, make a date in your diary. It is well worth the visit. Continue reading
My, hasn’t the summer flown by!
I’ve had a holiday in Ireland, visiting family and catching up with friends.I was staying near the Sperrins, the lanscape dominated by Slieve Gallion which long ago I climbed during the hillwalking festival.
We went to the Titanic Exhibition which was excellent. I shall gladly go back and see it again.
The Hampton Court Flower Show is on this week. Alas, I do not have a ticket, but I shared the train there from waterloo with eager horticulturalists, and the return journey with same, only this time carrying an array of plants. The station was so busy they had laid on live music to entertain us.
There were of course also plants at the station, displayed in the wheelbarrows that over the past few years have become planters of choice for public spaces.
Wheelbarrow planter at the railway station
I don’t get to work at Hampton Court anywhere near as often as I should like. It’s a brilliant day out and there’s so much to do and to see. You can travel there by train, by boat, or a mixture of the two, and the setting, by the river, is to die for.
On the river
You can visit much of the surrounding gardens for free, and they are both formal and wonderful.