Flying the flag

I hear the current incumbent of the White House doesn’t like the new United States Embassy building in London. I can’t understand why. To my eye it is far more pleasing than the one in Grosvenor Square, plus it’s in Vauxhall, or at least Vauxhall/Battersea borders, and Vauxhall is one of my favourite London neighbourhoods.
Consider these exhibits:

The Embassy

The Embassy of the United States of America

The Embassy, detail

What, as they say, is not to like? Continue reading “Flying the flag”

Where Light Falls: Coventry

Two cities; two cathedrals.

London and St Paul’s; Coventry and St Michael’s.

In both cities the cathedrals were and are strong emblems of unity and identity. London’s current cathedral replaces one lost in the Great Fire of 1666; Coventry’s one lost in November 1940 during the Blitz.

Where Light Falls

A few weeks ago I attended a special event at St Paul’s. A light show played across the west front of the cathedral; images from the war interspersed with text from a poem written especially for the occasion which was simultaneously broadcast, read by Keith Jarret who wrote it together with people from London.

This weekend I was in Coventry for the sister event. More light, more images of a ruined cathedral, rubble piled high, a different poem projected onto the walls, simultaneously broadcast, read by Jane Commane who wrote it together with people from Coventry.

Until a few years ago. I had never been to Coventry. Now it is a city I look forward to taking people to visit. In 2021 it is to be the City of Culture. Preparations are very much underway.

Where Light Falls

I defy anyone to stand in the ruins of the old cathedral and not be moved. Watching the light show, listening to the poem, witnessing the rapt attention of the crowd, gearing the pride in their voices for their city, amplified my admiration and affection for Coventry. There is huge civic pride. The people love their city. They have good reason too.

Where Light Falls
Continue reading “Where Light Falls: Coventry”

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

We’ve gone through the Keatsian days when it seemed ‘warm days will never cease’, and although the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is still with us, there’s a nip in the air in the morning, the sun rises later and sets earlier.

Under grey skies

In London, every season has something to offer residents and visitors alike. So whether you are thinking of visiting a gallery, taking a stroll around the centre of London, visiting somewhere out of town, or exploring some of the lesser known areas, there’s a tour to please everyone. Continue reading “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”

Why Windsor?

Since the wedding last year between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Windsor has enjoyed increased popularity as a visitor destination.
I advised one of my Irish cousins who was meeting friends from Canada in London to take the train and spend the day in Windsor. They all loved it.

You may not get to see the Queen, but you can have your photograph taken with Harry and Meghan.

Harry and Meghan

Eton College, where Princes William and Harry received their secondary education, is a short pleasant walk away across the Thames.

Eton College

The domestic architecture of both Windsor and Eton is easy on the eye.

Red door
Continue reading “Why Windsor?”

Watts What

Just down the road from the GF Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey is the Grade I listed Arts & Crafts funerary chapel designed by GF’s wife Mary.

Funerary Chapel Mary Watts

A skilled artist, she wanted to encourage local people to join in her project, so held classes. The response was enthusiastic and she had to double the number classes held each week from one to two.

The end result is an extraordinary piece of architecture, perched on a small rise, surrounded by graves old and new. One of those few places that truly deserves to be called unique.

Funerary Chapel Interior

Mary Watts founded the Compton Pottery in 1900. The chapel exemplifies her Arts & Crafts leanings and has been described as part of the Celtic Revival. Continue reading “Watts What”

A Welcome in Eltham

Yesterday I enjoyed a visit to Eltham Palace with a lovely couple from Sydney, Australia. Although the weather was grey, the palace still shone.

Eltham Palace

We walked and talked. All of us being animal lovers, May-Jongg (Jonggy) the Courtaulds’ pet lemur featured quite strongly. Bought by the couple from Harrod’s pet department in 1923, he lived with them for fifteen years. Much loved and indulged by his doting owners, he was regarded by their visitors with a certain nervousness.
Mah-Jongg

Prone to stealing olives from martinis, nipping guests’ ankles during dinner, his most outrageous action was to bite the hand of Percy Lemon at a lunch the Courtaulds gave on their yacht Virginia on the morning scheduled for the departure of the 1930-1 British Arctic Air Route Expedition. Lemon was the expedition’s wireless operator. He turned out to be allergic to the iodine used to disinfect the wound and the expedition had to be postponed for three months while he recovered. Continue reading “A Welcome in Eltham”

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