More from London

I haven’t really been very active with my blogging of late, somehow life got in the way in the past few months.

I find myself going back to my London photos again and again, and realizing that I still have a ton that I haven’t really worked on. So slowly I am working my way through them.

Here are a few that caught my eye this afternoon.

This is Leadenhall Market, which dates back to the 14th century and sits in the centre of Roman London. It used to be a meat, poultry, and game market, but is now home to boutique retailers, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and wine bars. It became famous world-wide as a Harry Potter filming location.

 

Leadenhall Market

St Katherine’s Dock is the place we called home during our stay in London earlier this year.

The docks were opened on 25th October 1828, and are situated between the Tower of London and the London Docks. Originally the area was home to a hospital, originally founded in 1148 by Matilda of Boulogne. The hospital, together with 1,250 houses and tenements, were pulled down in 1827 to make way for the docks. This left around 11,300 inhabitants looking for new accommodation elsewhere. These docks specialized mostly in tea from India and wool from Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands. It also received a large array of luxury goods from all around the world, such as china, ostrich feathers, spices, mother of pearl, oriental carpets, and raw materials to manufacture perfume, to name but a few. Since the demise of the shipping industry, the area has been transformed into a mix of residential houses/flats and restaurants/bars/pubs.

St Katherine’s Docks

And finally for today, The Shard.

The Shard is now one of the iconic modern buildings in London; it was inaugurated in 2012 and opened to the public in 2013, and was designed to be a vertical city, containing offices, restaurants/bars, shops, a public viewing platform and apartments. It stands 95 storeys tall (310m high) and is currently the tallest building in the UK. I hope on our next visit to actually make up to the viewing platform.

The Shard

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London at Night

As I am going through some more of my London photos I found these night shots.

London at night is just wonderful and provides for so many great photo opportunities. We were very fortunate that our AirBnB rental for the week in May had a great view out to The Shard. However, my most favourite building to shoot at night is the Tower of London. Unfortunately, I have not had time to work on those shots yet; something for another post further down the road I think. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these night shots.

Sunset in London

St Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the Thames

London’s City Hall

The view of The Shard from our London base

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London Streets

One of the great things about London is that, despite all the modern buildings, the street layout has not enormously changed for the majority of London streets. The medieval road system can still be traced in most areas and you really feel and see this all over London’s inner city. I loved exploring different parts of London and wander down some of the small roads that clearly followed some very old-established ways.

So, here are a few photos of some of those small streets which I have not yet shared on this blog.

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Underwater World

I sort of hibernated today, as it was -20C here. So I took the opportunity to dip back into creating composite images.

This is the result of around 4 to 5 hours of work (on and off) during this afternoon. I am sure there are things that could be improved (especially once I look at it again in a few days or so), but I am fairly happy with the outcome.

Underwater World

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Night photos

As we are bracing for some snow up here for the next few days I tried to cheer myself up by looking at photos from warm places we visited this year.

These night shots from Las Vegas grabbed my attention. Hope you enjoy them!

The view from our room in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas

The famous water fountains at the Bellagio Hotel

Downtown Las Vegas

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Autumn – How long will it last this year?

The Canadian Geese are once again flying directly above our house; a true sign that Autumn is here and Winter is on its way. We are directly in their flight path and every Spring and Autumn we enjoy watching them over the house. In Spring we cheer their arrival and in Autumn I can be heard screaming “No, please don’t go yet, come back!”.

Autumn brings a ton of colour, and photo opportunities are everywhere, but I couldn’t resist plundering out little Evans Cherry tree for this shot:

Despite high winds of 90-130km/h this past week our little tree is valiantly holding on to its leaves. However, it is just a matter of time before the tree will be bare and snow will be on the ground.

We always consider ourselves lucky if Halloween is snow-free. This year is looking good, in fact, some days we are reaching 17C with full sun, and others are more around the 5C mark. I am hoping that Winter is delaying its arrival a little longer so that we can enjoy the view of our colourful tree a little longer.

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The Neon Museum in Las Vegas

The Neon Museum in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is not for everyone, but I have to admit that I have a secret love for this city (well, not so secret now). We have been  a few times over the years and there is always something new to see and do.

On our last trip I thought it would be fun to visit the Neon Museum in the Downtown area. I am so glad we visited, as it was one of our highlights this time around.

Firstly, you cannot just walk around on your own here, you have to book a guided tour, which lasts 1 hour. It is best to book in advance online, and also note that the evening tours are slightly higher in cost than the daytime tours. We actually arrived early for our booked tour and we were able to join an earlier tour, so if you cannot book in advance you should still be able to get onto a tour if you just arrive at the museum.

Secondly, not all the neon signs are working, in fact, out of the over 200 sign 11 are working. This is due to the fact that restoration of these old signs takes a lot of money, time and dedication. However, all the signs are lit up with spot lights, so don’t fret!

The original La Concha Motel Lobby now houses the museum’s entrance, visitor center, and gift shop

The museum’s entrance, visitor center and gift shop are located inside the historic La Concha Motel lobby. The shell-shaped building was designed by architect Paul Revere Williams and is a striking example of Mid-Century modern design characterized by Atomic-and Space Age shapes and motifs. The motel lobby was originally constructed in 1961 on Las Vegas Boulevard South (next to the Riviera Hotel). In 2005 it was saved from demolition and in 2006 moved to its current location.

The building, as well as the Stardust sign in the yard, did immediately remind me of the cartoon series “The Jetsons”, which is from the same era.

The famous Stardust sign

The guided tour was very entertaining and informative. Our guide was just fantastic, she had previously worked at the Mob Museum down the road, so knows Las Vegas and its history very well. She was also very accommodating to people with cameras, recognizing that we wanted to get photos of the signs without people in it, so she said “as long as I can still see you, you’re okay”. Be aware that there are not many benches in the yard, so be prepared for standing and high heels are a no-no as the paths are gravelled.

All in all I can highly recommend visiting the Neon Museum as it really brings to live some of the history of the hotels, most of which have long gone.

The Liberace sign

The “H” sign

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End of summer and a return to blogging

After two months of blogging I am back and ready to hit the blogosphere!

August and September proved to be busy months for us. We had friends visiting us from the UK for three weeks, so we took them to Jasper (Alberta), had days out and about and had fun just hanging out. This was followed by a spontaneous trip with my other half to Las Vegas (thankfully we had left the city a few days prior to the terrible events that unfolded last Sunday).

So, plenty of photos and stories to share from those summer adventures and I am still (yes, still!) working on photos from my earlier trip to London, as well as finalizing those taken on our trip to the Dominican Republic prior to that.

My last blog post was in August and was part of my London series. I am still in two minds on whether to continue with this series, or jump to the summer adventures and revisit London later. In any case, regular blogging has resumed!

View on the Icefields Parkway on our way to Jasper, Alberta.

 

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Inside the Tower of London

Last week’s post concentrated on the outside of the Tower of London; this week I will share some of the photos from the inside of the Tower.

The White Tower is home to the Royal Armouries collection, which includes the 350-year-old exhibition “Line of Kings”. In the collection you will find armour of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II. There are also interactive displays, one of which lets you shoot a longbow and arrow (virtual arrow that is).

Inside the Royal Armouries

Detail of the engraving on Henry VIII’s armour

The wall of breast plates in the background is quite something!

This is a recreation of the King’s private hall and gives a real feel for what this may have looked like in the reign of King Edward I (1272-1307). The bed is apparently constructed to be easily taken apart for when the King and his household would move to another castle.

Replica of King Edward I private hall

These modern sculptures can be found in the White Tower.

This throne, a replica copied from the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey, stands in the upper chamber of the Wakefield Tower. This room was originally built to be a private chamber or bedchamber for Henry III (1216-1272). Under Edward I the room lost its original function and became an ante-room to the new chambers in St Thomas’s Tower. After Edward’s death the Wakefield Tower was abandoned as a residence.

Inside the Tower of London you come across a lot of narrow doors, hall ways, and stairs; some of them are unfortunately not accessible to the public. Our daughter actually commented on this and wished we could explore all those places that were cordoned off to us!

The portcullis of the Bloody Tower is apparently still working (so our Beefeater tour guide told us). They think it is originally medieval and was probably restored in the 16th century.

The portcullis of the Bloody Tower

And here is the bottom of the Bloody Tower portcullis.

 

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Impressions of the Tower of London

Whenever I get asked what my favourite part or attraction in London is, I don’t have to think about my answer; it has to be the Tower of London. Those that know me know that I am a history buff and my head is full of useful (some would say useless) historical info and facts (and not just about London). The history that is on show at the Tower has me spellbound every time, and each time I visit I discover something new.

In this post I want to share some photos I took back in May this year of some scenes of the Tower of London, all of which are outside (I will have to do a separate post for some of the inside impressions).

This first photo is one of my favourites. My daughter actually urged me to take this at the time. My husband served in the British Army for 24 years, so seeing a soldier always brings back memories of those years I spent being an Army wife.

A British soldier making his way through the Tower of London grounds

If you have ever visited the Tower you will have heard the story of the ravens. If you haven’t, here is a quick summary:

Legend has it that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. Apparently it was King Charles II who first insisted that the Tower’s ravens be protected. To ensure no ravens ever leave one of their wings is painlessly clipped. However, despite this some ravens do go absent without leave and others have even been given the sack. Raven George was dismissed for eating TV aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside a pub in London’s East End. Today there are seven ravens at the Tower, one spare, just to be on the safe side. They can be seen all over the grounds of the Tower, but their lodgings are next to the Wakefield Tower.

One of the famous Tower ravens

This next photo is of the famous Traitors’ Gate, so named for the supposed traitors that have passed through here. The most famous of those that made their final journey through this gate were Queen Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Moore.

Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London

Continuing with the theme of beheaded Queens, this is a memorial on the site where some famous prisoners were executed, among them Henry VIII’s second and fifth wives (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard), and Lady Jane Grey (also known as the Nine Day Queen).

A memorial to those executed at this site in the Tower grounds

This is my favourite part of the Tower, the White Tower. It is the oldest medieval building at the Tower, having been built in around 1078 by William the Conqueror. It was built to awe, subdue and terrify Londoners, and to deter foreign invaders. Inside are a number of exhibitions showing what life was like in this building throughout the years. It has undergone many renovations through the ages, as well as some additions, for instance, the ornate turrets date from the 16th century. The White Tower’s first prisoner was Ranulf Flabard in 1100 (on the order of King Henry I) and the last prisoners held here were the notorious Kray twins; they spent a few days here in 1952, imprisoned for failing to report for national service. Rudolf Hess is most commonly known to be the last prisoner held here in May 1941, but while he was the last state prisoner, he was not the very last prisoner.

The White Tower, almost 1,000 years of history

 

The Cradle Tower, seen here from the outside of the Tower walls. It was built in 1348 by King Edward III as a new watergate to his lodgings. This tower was later used as prison lodgings. In 1599 Father John Gerard and John Arden, both prisoners here, swung to freedom on a rope that stretched from the tower across the Moat, where friends were waiting in a boat.

The Cradle Tower

This view of London’s Tower Bridge is always worth a pause. In the foreground is Traitors’ Gate with the Tudor timber framing above it (although this building was restored in the 19th century).

Tower Bridge with Traitors’s Gate in the foreground.

There are so many more great views and stories to share and there are plenty of great books and websites out there, but for a somewhat shorter history please visit my previous post  from 2014.

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