Wednesday, 15 August 2012 the City of London

I don't often go into the City of London these days. I work (and grew up) in the City of Westminster and now live in south east London so there's not many reasons to head that way. But today I found myself winding my way along Holborn Viaduct, down onto Farringdon Lane, up Stonecutter Street and Shoe Lane before making my way on to Fetter Lane.

The names themselves tell you that there was once more to this area than financial and legal institutions. But what struck me today was the layers of building history. I walked between tall modern buildings to step out onto Fetter Lane to see this
Kings College University - Maughan Library

Which was opposite this

15 Fetter Lane, EC4

And near this

London News Agency building, Fleet Street
As I walked towards Fleet Street I glimpsed the past between the shiny new City of London.

New and old were cheek by jowl in the City. Layer upon Layer of office building from Victorian times until now. And it is changing all the time.

This once modern, state of the art, city office building looks set to be replaced or refurbished, probably into something made of glass and steel. And this layering of new and old wasn't restricted to the buildings, it was in the street art too:

Once I started looking, I could see the old and the new everywhere. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was seeing this office building on Farringdon Road.

When I was a child it was shiny and new with cutting edge modern art lining the walls. A building that stuck in my mind as we drove past on the way to Leather Lane or Chapel Market on a Sunday morning.  Now it is boarded up and quiet - perhaps awaiting it's fate?

So much has changed or is changing I'm going back sometime soon with my camera to really look at our architectural heritage and capture a bit of my past before it disappears. And I may, if it's open on a weekend, stop here for lunch again.

Sunday, 29 July 2012 the Olympic Park

Today I walked through the Olympic Park... But it was not the first time. I was there when London 2012 was just a hope for the local authority and Government; at a time when the area was the mostly derelict and polluted Lea Valley.

I've visited it a couple of times since.... as part of a bus tour of the developing Olympic site and have been lucky enough to see the transformation. The last time was in July 2011 when I could see the main buildings but the landscaping had only just begun.

July 2011

July 2012

What can I say?  They have done some amazing things to the area. The site was reclaimed from a polluted industrial wasteland. I learned some new facts about the place today...

the first plastic: made on the site of the Olympic Park

Yardley soap!

It was amazing what a different a year can make

Velodrome July 2011
Velodrome July 2012

I remember feeling quite sad when I heard they were going to bulldoze the industrial heritage. I remember walks along deserted canals with hardy wildlife living amidst the old buildings and colonising polluted riverbanks. Well, today I felt happy.

It was hard not to! There was a such a positive atmosphere in the park, I must have said hello to at least a hundred smiling volunteers as well as taking hundreds of photographs of the flowers.

I think they've done an amazing job cleaning the place up and creating a new park.

I thought the planting was inspiring and the choice of walking routes through the park gave different views and experiences.

 There was colour everywhere (and not just in the bright pink and blue hockey stadium!).

The planting was magnificent, inspiring... but hard to replicate I think. Once the Olympics and Paralympics are over I look forward to visiting the park in years to come to see how it grows and develops.  That will be the true test of the transformation, how it stands up to the test of time.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

To step foot...

Miro sculpture, Barcelona another place, another world, another time is my great pleasure in life. I like to see new places and meet new people and smell new scents. My strongest memories are stepping of the plane in Bali and walking into the wall of humidity and the sweet scent of lush  vegetation; or lying on a boat in the Coral Sea at night watching the orange moon rising out of the ocean; or closer to home the blustery wind on the Solway Firth taking my breath away as I walk along the shore.

I love to travel, to explore, to discover. That is what this blog will be about.  When I step foot in a new place and experience something new I will write about it here. That won't happen every day as I have to work, do the school run and look after my garden & allotment.

In the meantime here are some photographs of places I've been so far.

Dhow on the reef, Zanzibar

Masai Mara Men, Tanzania
Big Ben and London Eye,  London

West pier, Brighton