And so we left NYC and landed in London (Hooray!)

Raise your hand if you suffer from serious jet lag.

Right? After a 7 hour red eye flight, spending easily up to minimum one hour navigating Heathrow’s hallways, immigration queues and baggage carrousels to then wheel all your goods to the Heathrow Express, then off at Paddington, then into a cab… frankly I’m exhausted writing about it.

That’s why we stay in a lovely hotel for one night before collapsing at the family pile. Just one night of sleep. Starting at 1:30 in the afternoon, please.

As we do when we get to town, we checked in to the Zetter Townhouse… just in time for their Bastille Day celebrations which, although utterly charming and inviting, we were wary of. If we weren’t so tired I’m sure we’d have joined in the Boules, getting sand in our flip flops and spending too much money on Kronenbourgs, because the weather was glorious. It was what summertime in London should always be: bright blue skies, warm sun, people out on bicycles, pubs overflowing into the streets.  Happy, smiling Londoners filled with mirth and ale. What more could you want?

A nap, actually.

Then food. And that’s where I snapped all these lovely photographs you are about to look at.


We jumped on the bus to TCR.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Where’s that, you ask? Why Tottenham Court Road, of course! Looking for cut rate electronics? A Fuji X100S perhaps? Yes!

And that’s when we made our way back, not having found the cheap electronics we were looking for. Instead we sought out sustenance.


We found plenty of sustenance at Sicillian Avenue. But it looks like everybody got there first.

Perhaps we should follow these cyclists.



That’s when we found ourselves at Exmouth Market. Although the market itself had already shut for the day, a restaurant/roastery called Caravan. It’s lovely.



It’s windows open up to get an outside indoors feel and on a day like today, the restaurant was ours.

Day One London-37 Day One London-39

And so are these saddles. But I digress.


We found the Michael Palin Centre on our walk back to the hotel.


And down this little walkway, we found a park I didn’t even know about.


Apparently in this spot of beauty, called Spa Fields, was once a neighborhood of ill manners. “Rude sports” were conducted here like duck-hunting, prize-fighting and bull-baiting.

Now one finds lavender, kids drinking and hanging out and office workers on their luncheons.



Someone once told me that this area is also full of plague pits. Spooky.

One of the cool things for an American who lives in Los Angeles with its wide roads and concrete are Clerkenwell’s alleys and passages of brick and glass. I can’t get enough of them, even when I lived there I’d take a passage if I could.



Whilst fooling around with my black and white setting, we went down a passage and found one of Wren’s churches, St James’ Church. So many green spaces! The Southwood Garden, as it is called, was recently replanted in 2012. I might have a colour photo of it around here somewhere.




Day One London-40

The Southwood Garden provides a lovely cut through to Aylesbury Street, its square often filled with afternoon revelers.


But we had only one thing in mind as we went down another popular passage.


Our hotel. Complete with Bastille Day celebrations…Day One London-35

The elevator…


And this.

Day One London-36


Spring is here. But for some of us it’s still wearing a winter coat.

A few days ago this time last year, I marveled at the glorious sunshine and high temps that baked London’s streets, sending each and every able bodied Londoner to the nearest patch of outdoor space, grass or bare step at any availability to grab every ounce of vitamin D they could. I went for a walk, as I am known to do, down Regent’s Canal through Camden, taking photographs of yellow daffodils reaching for the bright blue skies. Read all about my exploits here in my post titled Spring is Dead. Long live the Spring! or March is the new July.

This year I am over 6,000 miles away in a whole different weather pattern. And they aren’t wrong, whoever they are. Living on the westside has its temperature perks. When it is unbearably hot in the Valley, with temps at 90f+ (30c+), it’s in the 70s (20s) over this side of the hill, cooled by the ocean breeze. The flipside of the ocean breeze is the ocean itself. It brings with it fog, what we call the marine layer, that sits on us all morning, sometimes all day. Whilst the rest of the city is bright eyed and tee-shirts, we are long sleeves and cardigans. Compared to the current winter weather that’s gripped the UK and Europe, I’m happy for a bit of overcast. I’m satisfied with cardigans. I definitely prefer it to the Valley’s high temps and requisite sunburns.

In a salute to weather passed, here’s a walk I took with the DH (dear husband, as a reminder to you readers) on the Regent’s Canal heading east – a direction I’d not ever been before. It wasn’t exactly margarita weather, mind, but we were able to start off the sunny Sunday at the pub. We were wearing jackets as the temps were a little more normal March/April with clouds that threatened to open on us as the day went on. And in order to truly participate in the UK’s national pastime (complaining about the weather) one has to get out in it and experience just how very diverse it is.

And you may get lucky with a day dry enough to wander around with a camera. Of course, I’m sure most Londoners would just prefer it warm enough.

Since the sun was out and a beer garden so tempting, we stopped at the Lion & Unicorn Pub in Kentish Town on the way.



An empty pub and a blue, sunny sky. We were tempted to stop here for the day but instead kept going. We had a canal to explore!


So we walked from Kentish in to Camden Town, down Kentish Town Road.  At the railway bridge we could not be more certain about our location.


And instead of turning right toward the big money of Primrose Hill, we went left towards the hipster edginess of Hackney.


The above building looks like a Victorian Pump House, another reason to love this city, because here this beautiful building sits amongst broken down boats and a rail line. The section of canal just east of Camden goes through the construction site known as King’s Cross. At present there are major works going down all around the prolific railway station, including refurbing university buildings for Central St Martin’s, a prolific art school, that is already housed on site. Soon one can actually enjoy the walk through this area to the fullest. I thought I’d save the photos until then. Here’s a website for the development itself so you can see the scale of what they are doing to this once rough part of London.

One thing we didn’t actually realize, though we both knew considering I’d even been in the tunnel itself, was that the canal actually goes under Islington fairly soon after you leave Camden, meaning as pedestrians we had to find our way through the streets of well to do neighborhoods Islington and Angel to get back to the canal. Upon making our way back to the canal, the first thing we stumbled upon was another lock.

City Road Lock, as it’s known, is just a bit east of the Islington Tunnel, constructed sometime around 1812.


Even with the hipster graffiti, it’s looking pretty old for a 100 year old lock.



This area is full of contrasts – like the new, designed buildings next to old industrial warehouses, likely soon to be expensive flats.



And like any day with a bit of sun, the locals have come out of doors to find their patch, ideally with a pint in hand. This might be what I miss most about the UK, and especially London: getting outside and socialising with friends with a few cans or a bottle of wine. I have fond memories of sitting along the Thames in Chiswick with a can of Fosters (yes, I said Fosters, get over it), surrounded by happy people and their picnics. Completely legal, drinking out of doors. Tourist tip: don’t go doing it on the tube or trains as that’s a no no.

This is where our canal journey ended – as building work along the canal meant we had to take a detour through the De Beauvoir Estate. And although there are a lot of buildings that look like this:


There are all these modern new builds along the canal that can only mean one thing: gentrification of the area is going to make the above eventually go away or be converted. Give it 20 years, maybe.

Doesn’t mean we can’t take some artsy black and white photography before that happens.


Like the above, a new build with lovely glass balconies. And in front of the construction, an old woman in ragged clothes smoking a cigarette. It won’t be long until she won’t have a place to sit anymore.


Yet, as it so happens, Hertford Road changes again. This area, De Beauvoir Town, was once meant to be residences for the upper classes in the 1820s when the area was purchased from some De Beauvoir chap. However, delays to building due to supposed illegal acquisition of some sort (likely to do with paying off planners for a speedy approval) meant that the upper class folk who were going to move in here instead moved to the west end. What story would Hackney have written for itself if De Beauvoir Town had achieved its upper class desires? An east end Mayfair? And has it taken this long, this almost 200 years, for this part of Hackney to reclaim its crown?


Even if its past was pillaged from it, Hackney keeps on.

Okay okay, I don’t need to hear the groans. I thought that was a pretty good bit of wordplay, if I do say so myself. Pirate. Pillage. Whatever.

Our walk ended at Haggerston Overground station, just a couple streets over on Kingsland Road. The weather had started to become bleak, the sky threatening to open up on us and the wind picking up to warn of the coming storm. Not 30 minutes later we were safe as houses back in our flat, even though deep down we both wanted to go back down to the pub to eek out as much of the day as we could.

So, who wants to talk about the weather?

One year ago in South London, aka taking a walk down someone else’s memory lane

Outside my window right now it looks like this:

The Channel

But one year ago, the view looked like this:

Lewisham-Catford 2

Both days were beautiful, sunny spring days, the kind of days that really stick in one’s memory long after one leaves. Okay, to be fair, that top photo is what it looks like almost every day in Los Angeles. Isn’t that just boring? Sun sun sun!

Blah blah blah, I say.

If I had to chose a winner of a day, it would definitely be 11 March 2012, the day my man took me on a little tour of his old hood, Lewisham and Catford. And of course, I brought my camera.

My London knowledge is mostly centered around west and southwest London, with the recent addition of north London to the mix. It’s when it gets to southeast London that my knowledge gets fairly lackluster, my opinion formed of what my man told me, what my friends told me, what I saw on telly, and that one time back in 2001 when I went to the Greenwich Observatory on my first visit to town. Shame, I know, all those years living in London and the furthest southeast I’d gotten to this point was Bermondsey.

Lewisham has a bit of a reputation for being a bit rough. Perhaps that’s because it hasn’t become as gentrified as other parts of London; it still keeps its urban roots. Ten minutes by train from London Bridge, it’s definitely not a shopping mecca. It’s shopping centres are serious blasts from the past, built in the 60s and 70s and in desperate need of some of that regeneration money that’s being poured into the area. The shops are not Westfield standard. You won’t be buying anything Vuitton here unless it’s a knock off. But in saying that, it’s kept some of the local heritage alive, the fact that American Apparel and Gap haven’t moved in keeps the daily Lewisham Street Market authentic.

Lewisham was actually not so bad once you got to the pedestrian shopping area. Of course, that may have been the sun blinding my eyes. The walk from the station to the high street is down a busy road that’s not quite as pretty. But if you walk left around that first roundabout, you’ll see a little bit of green and an old church that could use some help – and in front of it the River Quaggy, which at this point is what’s knows as an urban stream. Think a really small LA River – once it used to be a natural waterway, but now it consists of run off and is likely redirected because of the population around it. I even think that part of the Quaggy is actually subterranean, but I’d have to look further than just Wikipedia to find that out. Ho hum.

So here’s some photographs of lovely Lewisham to show you what I mean:

Starting with a boot scraper from St Mary’s Lewisham.


Can’t. Get. Enough.




A little further down the high street you’ll find the gorgeous old Lewisham library. Not sure what the building is used for now, but it is in incredible nick for its location. Might be used as a government building as it is attached to the Births & Deaths office. Anyone know?





Now originally I thought that the tower blocks pictured above might have been built on land destroyed by bombs in WW2, as Lewisham was indeed ravaged by German bombs. However, that’s actually not the case  in this instance. This is the the location of Lewisham Park, and it was once surrounded on all sides by houses. But these three tower blocks were built during the mid sixties, an era where councils thought it better to buy up (if applicable, sometimes they just moved residents if they were already council tenants) all the houses along this stretch of the high road and build purpose built tower blocks instead and named them Malling, Kemsley and Bredgar. This practice happened all over London, in many instances to get rid of areas the government thought to be slums: families living in one room, no indoor plumbing, that sort of thing. Little did they know that by building these forward thinking homes in the sky, they were actually creating the very slums they tried to eradicate.

Wow, deep.

Further down Lewisham High Road you hit Catford. Poor Catford really had the shit beat out of it during the 1960s and 70s with some truly appalling architecture. The obsession with tearing down beautiful old buildings and replacing them with brutalist office blocks and residences continued. Lots of brick. Lots of concrete.

But these days it’s probably best known for it’s Cat:


Its shopping centres continue in the same vein as Lewisham…


And at least there are small businesses about, like this Chick Chicken! Word of advice: avoid all fast food chicken shops in the UK unless you want to play russian roulette with food poisoning. Luckily I’ve not succumbed to such a fate, but many others I know have. What were you thinking, boys?


… a stall where you can get a mobile phone case, a banana and fresh fish inside (take that, Asda!).


Looking down Catford Broadway.


A bit of old Catford… I think this alleyway into the Catford Conservative Club is a front for organized crime.



VW driving crime lords. Why not?

Okay, so Catford’s history may a bit prettier than its present, however I think the area has a lot to offer the interested photographer. Fulham it is not – but even Fulham has its rough edges. One day someone’s going to get wise about Catford and spruce it up, because in the light of day, it might not be a bad investment.

I wish I took more photos, but at this point my dogs were barkin’. In Catford.

Get it?

From Clerkenwell, Leicestershire, Birmingham to Shropshire and all I got was this lousy cold

I’ve been a very bad blogger.

But I have a very good excuse.

I promised you photographs of stately homes, British countryside and some more photos sheep. Well I might have a few pics of the countryside somewhere in my bag of tricks, however most of my holiday was actually spent in bed.

Alright you, get your mind out of the gutter. I came down with the flu on Christmas Night, shortly after opening presents, and stayed sick until after I returned from the UK.

Poor me.

Happily I did get strong enough to get off my butt and in to a Selfridges to buy a suitable New Year’s Eve slash Most Awesome Wedding of the Year dress. And shoes. And a jacket to match.

Don’t judge. I just spend four days in bed. I totally deserved that black structured jacket with gold lapel from The Kooples. After all, I missed the Boxing Day sale.


Of course this means that my photograph taking, otherwise known as photographing (though that word always seems so weird to me. Go on, say it out loud. See?), was pretty minimal. Here’s what I took around our fabulous hotel, The Zetter Townhouse in St John’s Square, Clerkenwell.


Besides The Zetter and a couple of glass clad office buildings, with a pub and bistro on the ground floor respectively, is this lovely curved bank of windows belonging to the Museum of the Order of St John. It was, of course, closed when we arrived due to something called “Christmas”, however I was able to at least get a few sneaky pics off and perhaps one day I’ll visit this once priory church, replete with its twelfth century Crypt and Cloister Garden:

View to the cloister garden


And across Clerkenwell Road, St John’s Square continues with an ancient gate and some other museumey stuff we could not visit due to our ill timing.


Here’s a view back to the north side of St John’s Square. You can just see the Townhouse to the left behind the Zetter itself, the building with the red Z.


It’s all very pretty and quiet isn’t it? Well, that’s what you get for the day before Christmas Eve in Central London. Clerkenwell is so quiet, you can almost here a pin drop.

Would you like to learn a little historical tidbit about Clerkenwell? As it turns out, the area took its name from the Clerks’ Well. You guessed it, there is an actual well, with actual water that is still bottled and drunk to this very day by lucky guests to the Zetter hotel. Who knew?

I didn’t, but Wikipedia did know. One day I’ll have to go hunting for the window that still overlooks part of the well. The little American tourist inside me is just dying to get a look.

These shots were taking on our way to our favourite Clerkenwell pub, The Craft Beer Co. And there I went crazy with the camera phone and snapped this nugget:

The Craft Beer Co

And on the way back, I was well impressed by the lovely lights in the Zetter hotel’s windows. But was secretly glad I was going to be spending my time in the Townhouse instead.


We spent Christmas Eve eve shopping up Oxford Street, and frankly we were too busy, jet lagged and cranky to take any photos. And I’m convinced that the cesspool of germs that is Selfridges on Oxford Street is what made me ill in the first place. Sniffling, sneezing, flu ridden last minute shoppers, the lot of em.

So we properly escaped with the family’s pressies and boarded our chariot to the midlands:

Train from St Pancras

And from then on things get hazy. Not much more to say about that. Except at one point, the boy wakes me up to discuss getting a rental car, and I’m sure I heartily agree since I was sure as hell not exactly helping him have fun on his holiday, and he shows up with this beauty:


And how this Nissan Qashqai saved our bacon, I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that there was much flooding in many a country road over the next week, especially around the wedding location in lovely Shropshire, and this little 4×4 skipped over the flooding as if they were the smallest of puddles. Our contact at the local Hertz got herself a box of chocolates for the free upgrade.

To catch everyone up on the rest of my trip, really there’s only a few more photographs.

Whilst sat in traffic in Birmingham to get to the nearest Bullring parking lot with spaces:

West Midlands

I love Birmingham’s Selfridges. Might be one of my favourite buildings in England. I have so many fond memories of spending my Boxing Days here with the in-laws, so it was a joy to come on New Year’s Eve eve where it was far quieter, yet the sale was still strong.


Bespoke balloons at the bachelorette dinner, The Lion + Pheasant Hotel, Shrewsbury:

Bachelorette Dinner

And then we attended a lovely wedding and a fantastic reception/NYE party!

Gorgeous centerpieces:


Plenty of Champagne:


A completely original Pork Pie Cake cut with a Sword!


And a gorgeous couple dancing their first dance over their own branded logo in stunning purple accent lights.


Seriously, what a fantastic, romantic night!

A few relaxing days later, our holiday was finished off with a tidy Jager Bomb shared with available friends and family who saw us off the night before we flew (with a tidy hangover, mind). That’s right, I did a Jager Bomb with a bit of gentle coaxing from my sis in law and new brother in law.


Since then things have remained both busy and quiet, with a few weeks of work and now a quiet March with a couple of days in Santa Barbara Wine Country in our future.

Now that will be worth a bit of photographing, don’t you think?

How to spend 2 hours in Richmond. North Yorkshire, not London.

Stopping at Richmond was a bit of a whim.

We were on our way to the Lakes, probably about halfway through our drive, and our original plan to power through faded at the thought of exploring the northern brother of our favourite place to live in London.

I’d heard pretty good things about Richmond. Market town. Great place to visit. Lovely foliage. Wait, who am I kidding? I’d not really heard that much about it except it’s in North Yorkshire. Really that’s it. I didn’t know where in the North it was, just that it was there.

So a big “yay” escaped my brain when we turned off the A1 for the A66 and a sign lured us in to historic Richmond.

A quick check of the map shows that from the A6108 it is incredibly easy to get back up to the A66.

A quick discussion around the roundabout…

Oh go on then.

And what a town! It’s a proper medieval market town, church in the centre and a castle commanding the cobbles below. The market place (which now serves as a car park on non market days – and is probably still mostly car park even on those) may now be surrounded by more modern businesses, however I don’t think it’d take much to redress the place and shoot a full on period movie here.

I’ve gone to the liberty of having some fun with the photographs of Richmond because a) it’s grey out there and grey does tend to suit black and white, and b) it’s spitting with rain so why not add some dramatic to the drear!

Moving on…

Our umbrella was of little use, as the rain blew sideways at times with a chilly wind I do not care to remember. So a tour around town and a stop in the pub for lunch was just the ticket!

Rain + pub = awesome. It’s a fact.

We parked up in a small car park next to the cricket grounds and rushed up the first cobbled street we could find, the pleasantly named Rosemary Lane. And instantly I turned into MrsTourist and snapped the first butchers I came across.

As you do.

I loved the look of it. Red and grey trim. Stuart Hamilton, the family butcher. Instantly I wanted to move up to this Richmond and buy all my meat here. But not on a Sunday. He’s probably at home with his family, doing some butchery there. Or having a knees up in front of the telly with a cuppa. How Richmond does that sound??

Heading up Rosemary Lane to Finkle Street, we were kind of wingin’ it. Everything was shut which for a market town might seem odd, however the weather was enough to keep people in and this is England after all. In most places Sunday is still the day of rest.

At the corner of Finkle Street I caught this unfortunate brand name.

I am not so Superdry, thank you very much.

We decided to head down Finkle Street, if not for the promise of a pub along the way, but also with the hopes of a bit of shelter from the cold rain. We spotted a business promising a huge sale on outdoors equipment so we stopped in to give them our wet-and-out-on-a-Sunday custom. Besides, heading out on a walking holiday and one of us who shall not be named having packed up all one’s shoes to be shipped back to America… well hiking boots were purchased.

And then this little angel made herself known to us. A promise of more really cool old things to take a look at. I do adore churches.

I was slightly disapointed as the old Trinity Church is now a museum for the Green Howards, a military regiment from Yorkshire. It would open, but not for an hour’s time.

I wondered if it still looked like a church on the inside to match its majestic exterior? Alas, another time.

Instead of enjoying the hearth of a warm church, we took a quick turn onto Market Place…

Castle! I had to get a closer look.

A closer, more dramatic look!

I could tell we were heading in the right direction…

But I didn’t want to forget the beautiful medieval town along the way.

Wait – wasn’t I after a castle?

How about a fancy panorama of a castle?

Now that’s better. Doesn’t an afternoon larger in this pub’s lanai sound like pure summer? (Forgive me, I just spent a long weekend in Hawaii so every outdoor space is a lanai for the time being. I’m sitting out on the lanai right now.) We voted for something a bit more “inside” instead.

Okay, so now that I’ve done a bit more research about Richmond, I would have realized that the castle itself is perched above a river, the River Swale, in fact, in quite a dramatic fashion. And that it was open.

However on a dark drizzly day all we wanted was a Sunday Roast and a pint to help us on our way to our fancy Lake District Hotel.

So off to the pub we went.

On our next visit, and that’s not just empty promises, we are going to explore Castle Walk…

… and try and discover what that jewel is in the distance. Another castle? A rich land owner’s folly? A fancy water tower from the Victorian age? Ah, thank you Landmark Trust. Who wants a field trip to Culloden Tower?

We only had a couple of choices for warm pubs. We have a habit of never going with the first place we see. This can leave a couple quite hungry as they search a closed town for some sustenance. The Richmond Hotel wasn’t quite up our street.

Come to think of it, it might have been closed.

So back down Finkle Street to The Black Lion it was.

A warm and welcoming place, the front room was full of diners scarfing down roasts and small glasses of red wine by the fire. We blagged ourselves a table in the petite dining room and immediately ordered our Sunday lunches.

As always, the above accidental panorama would look so much cooler on black!

Warning: these roasts may not look like much, however I assure you they were hearty and delicious. Roast beef, gravy, mash and roasters both, a heap of roast winter veggies like swede and carrots and a lovely Yorkshire pudding.

I know what you are thinking. You’re in Yorkshire – don’t they just call them “puddings”?


Well, as long as I’m showing you half eaten plates of food…

And as described above, the veg:

Sunday Roasts are a massive tradition in the UK, akin to brunch here in the USA. On a Sunday in Los Angeles, eateries will be a-buzzing with all sorts sipping on mimosas and digging in to eggs… benedict and rancheros. On a Sunday in the UK, pubs are crowded with those looking to make their main meal of the day last all afternoon.

We may not be working hard in the fields all day, but after a long week of work, getting together with friends and family over a big meal is a tradition I wish we explored here in the land of so-called family values.

And now I shall get off my soap box.

Btw, best Yorkshire pudding I’ve ever had was actually in London at The Vine on Highgate Road, NW5. I don’t spend near enough time up north.

Full and happy, we headed back out on the road to discover what life just outside the Yorkshire Dales was all about. I’m so in love with it I want to give up my LA life and move there to run my own little pub. And own some sheep. Nice dream.

Last looks at the Black Lion.

Richmond has definitely captured my imagination. Castles, old churches, medieval cobbled streets and all on the doorstep of one of the country’s most beautiful national parks.

I’ll send you a postcard when I move!


Spring is dead. Long live the Spring! or March is the New July.

Spring only just started last week, and it seems we’ve skipped over it here in London. Yesterday’s temp was over 70F. I actually sat out and sunbathed on my patio – while a pervy neighbour looked on – that’s right, I spotted him spying and had to cut my lie-out short. I wouldn’t have minded if he wasn’t half hiding behind his patio wall. Tsk tsk.

Right, back to the subject at hand. Spring. No one ever said the weather here was predictable, and so far, as an Angeleno transplant, I am very pleased. Every March I can remember from living/visiting here was cold and wet and spent indoors or the pub, wishing for summer. And then summer would arrive for about a week in July, departing again as quickly as it came.

March is the new July! It’s been glorious the last couple of weeks. And to show you how glorious, I went on a walk. Just for you. With my little Olympus Pen. And the pop art filter. I don’t think I will have to explain it. You’ll see what I mean.

I discovered recently that there was access to the canal that runs throughout this area and off to both east and west London. I don’t have much to say about the canals as I’ve not been to the canal museum yet and educated myself properly yet. All I know is that it’s a beautiful place for a stroll.

Starting out in Camden, you can tell spring has arrived as every spare patch of green is occupied by people just hanging out and watching the canal boats meander through the locks.

And here is when the pop art filter really shines. What colours!

I stuck around to watch this narrow boat make its way through Hampstead Road Lock. The pop art filter didn’t do all that well, however I wasn’t really trying. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

When I left Camden, winding down into Regent’s Park, I kept pace with the Downunder London for quite a while until they sped off down the canal, not to been seen by me again.

The sun was bright overhead, so I slopped on the sunblock and adjusted the sunglasses, ready to tackle the as much of the canal path that my Asiscs clad feet could handle.

And I think that’s where I shall leave you today, on the Regent’s Canal, by Regent’s Park, watching the canal boats pass me by.

Highgate Cemetery, or Not Enough Dosh for the Dead

End of the month is always the tightest, budget wise. For all my non UK friends, here we get paid once per month. That means that we are flush at the start, and skint at the end. It’s a vicious cycle that you get used to after a while and really helps you to budget correctly.

That’s one of the reasons why walking is just so popular here. Walking through the countryside (if you have some near you), city (to explore new areas) or even cemeteries. That’s where Highgate comes in. It’s a 3 for 1. A leafy village that feels like you are in the countryside even though you are in the middle of the city.

And for that reason Highgate is one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in London. And lucky for us it’s just north of where we live in Kentish Town. The walk is not far, about 1.5 miles up the road. “Up” being key. It’s at the top of a hill which affords it some beautiful views. Hence wealthy people deciding to build here. Famous people who live/have lived there include: Hugh Grant, Kate Moss and Rod Stewart. Oh, and the Russian Embassy.

Famous people who call Highgate Cemetery home: Karl Marx, Michael Faraday (“Father of Physics”), Douglas Adams (no relation) and Alexander Litvinenko (Russian ex-KGB / British intelligence assassinated in London).

Back to that budget thing. So we were days away from pay day and since it was a beautiful February day, we threw our cameras round our necks and made the walk to Highgate Cemetery. Their website may not be pretty, however it was made clear we could just walk in to the newer section without a booking. The older section is by appointment only. Of course, once we got there, there was a £3pp entry charge. Which I didn’t pay any attention to on the website. And we didn’t have any cash. And there aren’t exactly cash points at the cemetery gates. And so we did not go in.

However I did get some fantastic photographs, taken through the wrought iron fences on the walk to the entrance gate. A teaser, if you may, to what I will eventually get when I go back with my medium format. And the micro 4/3rds. And a tripod…

There is this atmosphere that you just cannot fake at Highgate Cemetery. Perhaps it’s the overgrown nature of it, the light eerily eeking its way through the mossy trees. Cemeteries just have that feeling about them, of loneliness and comfort.

Or is it just me?

The V&A Museum, or How Fun Is It to Take Pictures of Small Things?

First I’ll start with the informative part of this post:

1. Most museums in London are free and request a donation for your custom.
2. Most museums in London are huge so you’ll need several visits to see all they have to offer.
3. The V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) is the world’s largest museum of design and “decorative arts”, which I presume also means paintings and not just cool objet d’art.
4. The V&A is in South Kensington, on Cromwell Road, directly next door to the Natural History Museum.
5. You can enter the V&A from the underground station via a tunnel. This tunnel is very cold and may have loud performing buskers (like electric guitarists) so mind your ears.
6. It’s easy to get lost in the V&A. I know because I’ve tried.

Okay, now that you have all of the information, I encourage you to go online and check it out on your own. But that being said, here are a few photographs!

Here’s the chandelier in the entry hall. I would hate to be underneath this if an earthquake hit! I know, I know. This isn’t Los Angeles. Perhaps it’s just habit that my mind goes straight to earthquake when I see a large glass chandelier (or frankly anything hanging from the ceiling), but the ground does shake in these parts.

The building itself, like many London buildings, is a masterpiece. Just take a look at those arches! Sweet.

I was at the V&A meeting a friend. And we were determined to see as much of the place as possible. We went to floors I didn’t even know existed, walking through cavernous halls where they were busy restoring huge casts of obelisks and doorways from ancient Rome (well, one presumes – I couldn’t find a little card telling me what they were). One of the most exciting rooms was the Architecture room.

They had original photographs, plans and models of buildings like St Martin’s in the Fields and the Parthenon. I had particular fun with some of the models. Models = small things. Photographing small things is super fun! Trust me.

The V&A is always a complete surprise. I’ve only been three times in the last 11 years and I love how their collection isn’t just paintings and photographs. It’s design, furniture, jewelry, architecture, glass, history and so many other things. Go. Seriously. Go now!

Don’t forget the suggested donation!

London Walks, or How I Learned Motorcycle Boots are Not Made for Walking

London is a very walkable city. There, I said it.

And sometimes it’s the only way to see some of London’s most cherished sites, like the Southbank, Borough Market, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Now I’ll let you google on your own about the above goodies. But if you want to see some photos, stick around.

It’s food that brings me to this part of town mostly. And beer. Food and beer, though sometimes not together. Besides that, London Bridge has three things going for it: 1) major rail hub. London Bridge station connects most of the south east to central London in mere minutes. Honestly it will take someone who lives 20 miles away less time to get into town than it does me, and I am only 3 miles up the road. 2) the Shard. 3) Borough Market.

Borough Market is my favourite place to get a quick bite to eat. Or just to have a wander. It’s where I want to do all my food shopping. And it’s possible as it is just a quick jaunt down the Northern Line.

From the courgettes to the chickens, Borough Market is, in my opinion, the place to be for local British produce. In and around the market are pubs and restaurants I can only dream of going to. Roast. Tapas Brindisa. Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House. Okay. I’ve never had an oyster, but I am pretty sure I would like to try them here first.

The only photograph I have of Borough Market from this recent trip is of the fresh organic chickens that became my chicken wrap. For years we’ve been coming here for this particular stand (who’s name starts with a G, but I can never remember it!) that does fresh organic chicken burgers and wraps. And unlike everything else in London, the price has only gone up £1.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I had a meeting in the Leathermarket. It’s on Leathermarket Street, which leads to Tanner Street. Not much leather being made in this neck of the woods these days. Now this old period tannery building contains refurbished office and studio space that is going to do very well when the Shard is finished.

Speaking of:

From inside the Leather Market:

The Shard dwarfs the buildings around it. Taken from the middle of Weston Street.

Here is the full size view from further down Leathermarket Street.

And here is some random wall art indicative of this artsy, warehouse converted area.

So I walked down Leathermarket Street. Past Leathermarket Gardens and over Bermondsey Street to Tanner Street (walking by Tanner House, of course). Warehouse conversions. Gated mews communities. Then left on Tower Bridge Road and she finally reveals herself…

(Tower Bridge through the tunnel under the railway tracks)

It looks much better in person. Promise.

This area is regenerating faster than you can say “expensive rent.” Case in point:

This is the kind of building you find mixed in with the period warehouses, wharf buildings and pubs. I actually think the colours are quite fetching.

I have a confession to make. In all the years of visiting and living in London, I’ve never stepped foot onto Tower Bridge. Shocking I know. So this was a momentous occasion for me. I felt like Bridget Jones, all smiley in the sunshine.

The bridge wasn’t too horrible with tourists, nor was the area around Tower of London, so I was able to actually get a couple of shots off of the Bridge from the banks of the Thames. This replaces the shots I took over 10 years ago. (Between you and me, I need to go back and judge the position of the sun a bit better).

I made my way past the Tower (see previous post for pano!) to Tower Hill station where I thought it would be a good idea to take the tube to London Bridge, saving my poor little feet a bit of misery with the walk.

It was a very bad idea.

Sometimes when you do not want to walk, you end up being forced to walk. I hopped on the District Line one stop to Monument, thinking ah, I’ll just walk across London Bridge to Borough. No worries.

Instead some insane person living inside my brain said, “Hey, why not just take the tube! You can connect to the Northern Line from here! One stop! You know you want to…”

I’m convinced that insane person is dressed like a wee devil, as there were no signs anywhere that said, NORTHERN LINE CONNECTION AT BANK. YOU WILL BE WALKING ALL THE WAY TO BANK STATION, JUST TO COME BACK ON YOURSELF. TURN BACK NOW!

Inconvenient, don’t you think?

I walked from Monument to Bank when all I wanted to do was walk from Monument to Borough. Opposite directions. And none of the escalators were working, to top it all off. I had to walk up and down countless flights of stairs. Now, if you have a moment, just go reread the title of this posting.

Finally I’m in Borough Market, having learned yet again that the Underground is deceiving. I suppose that’s my penance for being a tourist for a day!

And then I had a chicken wrap. With that wrap – which, btw, the lady who served me offered to hold it whilst I photographed it. But I couldn’t be bothered. I was so hungry after my Momument / Bank / London Bridge debacle I just wanted that tasty wrap asap. And then to find some beer.

Riverside pubs line the route between London Bridge and my next destination: Tate Modern. Usually I’d find myself a spot with my sandwich and enjoy a half pint of the visiting ale, and I highly recommend that you do the same should you find yourself on the Jubilee Walkway, but not today. I needed me some art!

Past the Golden Hinde, down Clink Street, The Anchor Inn and onto Bankside, the riverside walkway. Next Southwark Bridge (where I finish my wrap, btw, in case you were interested), then the Globe Theatre and ending up at the Tate.

I said before I was there for the art, but really I was there for the building:

The Tate is housed in an old 1950s era power station. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who designed, among other famous buildings, the red telephone box now synonymous with England.

Now by this time, my dogs were barking. Motorcycle boots, although comfortable in the first mile, don’t do well around mile marker three. So my plan was to scurry off to St Paul’s tube station and make my way home before the inevitable feet falling off occurred.

But not before I shot off a couple more images, of course:

The view from the foot of Millennium Bridge at the Tate. St Paul’s, the Thames, a bit of bridge. Pure London.

And last looks down the river toward where I started. It looks a lot further away than you think, the lens of my camera making it look much smaller than what the eyes perceive.

In just two short hours, I was able to wander down cobbled lanes, through markets older than the city I was born and over bridges mainly trodden by tourists. All this in sunshine and on a full stomach of organic chicken wrap. If it weren’t for those rascally boots I’d have shot off another round of photographs of St Paul’s. Instead, here’s a final thought for you, taken many years ago:

Panoramic London

I had to head down to a meeting with a recruiter near London Bridge and it hit me. I hadn’t been to Tower Bridge or the Tower of London since I was first a tourist here in 2001. And because my backpack was stolen the day I returned to America, I had absolutely no photographic proof of having been there. Which is fine considering the weather when I was here was gray and overcast, as London tends to be.

Not this time! The sun was shining its little heart out and for a moment, I became London Tourist for an afternoon. And I have a few panoramas I’d like to share with you as a result!

Looking west from the south side of Tower Bridge to the South Bank. I’ve yet to go down there yet – I will save that for the next uber sunshiny day at the start of the week. That tall building is the Shard. I’ll be showing you photographs from that when it’s completed in May of this year.

And a bit further down towards the centre of Tower Bridge is this view looking west:

The Tower of London is two things: 1) a historic marvel that has to be, in my opinion, the coolest tourist attraction I can remember from my first trip to London in September of 2001. 2) the most expensive tourist attraction – almost £20 entry! So instead I took this:

After a walk through the Tate, I decided to keep my feet from falling off my overworked legs and made my way across the Millennium Bridge towards St Paul’s Cathedral. From the bridge I snapped this view looking East down the Thames. The next bridge is Southwark Bridge, an attraction in itself, followed by Tower Bridge. I quite like the colourful buildings on the north bank and, again, note the Shard on the skyline.

On a blue skied London Friday afternoon, I can think of nothing better than a wander around this town’s more touristy attractions. This Friday? The V&A Museum with a friend. Watch this space for some South Kensington panos. Here’s hoping for blue skies.