Monday, June 07, 2010


Before I start into todayís adventures, I need to mention a couple of things from yesterday, to explain some of the pictures in Photos25.† The pictures in Photos25 were taken yesterday, but I processed them today and will post them with this Ramblings.† Todayís pictures will be Photos26, and that will go up either later tonight or tomorrow.


The first couple pictures in Photos25 are the entrance to my flat and my street.† You can see pictures of the flat itself here:† http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/England/holiday-apartment-London/p61823.htm#photos-bar


Next, the elephants.† There were a number of elephant sculptures in Green Park, in two places that I saw.† They are part of a fund raising effort to Save The Elephants.† If you donít know why elephants need to be saved, then you havenít been paying attention.† The individual sculptures will be auctioned off, to raise money.† I ended up seeing elephants other places, and they will show up in my Photos albums from time to time.


Of the ducks and geese shown in Photos25, I did see the Pochard in the wild, but the others are not countable, although some or all of them do show up in Britain once in a while.† There were reportedly Red-crested Pochards at Titchwell Reserve in Norfolk when I was there, but I didnít see them.


Lastly, the Barrelman ad on the Underground.† My friend Ted and I call ourselves Barrelman and Pencilman, because of our body shapes.† No further explanation needed Ė your imagination is correct.† You can imagine who is who, if you know me.† I got a real kick out of seeing that there really is such a thing as a Barrelman, and I was pleased to see that it was associated with whiskey, no less.† So, I took this photo for Ted.


Okay, so for today, I was up and out of here by 9:30.† Up at 6:45 actually, but I Instant Messaged with my good friend Fred for quite a while before I hit the road.† For a change, I had a chicken and cheese sandwich and some yogurt for my breakfast.† I packed up some chicken, some cheese, some oatcakes, some Kettle Chips, and a Diet Coke for my lunch, too.† I was not going to end up short of protein again today, so I brought plenty of chicken.


I decided not to visit the birding place today, and instead I headed off toward the Isle of Dogs, the area of London where the docks used to be, in the olden days.† On my way, I stopped at the Tower of London and took pictures of the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.


I caught a train on the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) at the Tower Gateway station, and it was interesting how things had changed.† It used to be that the DLR started there, but it has been expanded a lot and now the real start is at a station called Bank, in The City, which is the financial district of London and the actual official City of London.† I guess the larger entity is called the Borough of London, or maybe I have that wrong.


Anyway, the changes since I have been here meant that I had to change trains at the next station, which was no big deal.† The whole Isle of Dogs, or Docklands, is just incredible, in my opinion.† I would guess it is the biggest urban renewal project in any developed nation.† There was nothing at all there 25 years ago, except decaying old dock buildings and slum-like housing.† Now there are dozens, if not hundreds, of high rises, very fancy shopping malls, very upscale housing, and very prestigious office space for tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands.† It is just incredible to me to see the changes in the 20 years that I have been going there.†


I can tell you that it was a very different London than what I had seen so far on this trip, too.† Much whiter, for example; people were dressed much better, of course; and the language spoken was almost exclusively English, although sometimes with an accent.† The numbers of buildings and the numbers of upscale white people were just amazing.† I took a few pictures, but they donít begin to do justice to the enormity of the changes that have taken place there in only 20 years.† The building continues, too, even in these difficult economic times.† I went through there at about 11 am, and then later I went through again about 1 PM.† What a difference!† At 1 PM, the place was packed with office workers getting their lunches.† Busy, busy, busy.


After that I moved on to Island Gardens, which is a park at the south edge of the Isle of Dogs, on the Thames.† It is directly across the river from Greenwich.† The DLR used to terminate there, and it was an elevated light railway system right up to there.† Now it has gone underground at the stop before island Gardens, and it goes under the Thames and on to a number of other stops.† It has all been redone, and you would never know how it used to be, if you hadnít seen it.


I sat by the river for quite a while, and I had my humble lunch there.† I eventually went back to Canary Wharf, to catch the new extension of the Jubilee Underground line back to Waterloo, where I changed to the Northern Line to get to Charing Cross, for Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.† The money that has gone into these new extensions of the Underground and the DLR is just stunning.† They are really nice stations, and there have also been upgrades to all the old Underground stations as well.† Some of that had started when I was last here in 1995, and it still continues.† Two or three stations that I have seen are currently closed for renovations, and I think that some of the current work is due to the Olympics being scheduled to be here in 2012.† There are 13 Underground lines, some of which have several branches.† I canít imagine that there is any subway system in the world to rival it, including New Yorkís.† It is much cleaner and much newer looking than when I was here the last time.† My travels today really brought that home to me.


So, I took some pictures of Trafalgar Square, including pictures of street entertainers.† There used to be a lot more street entertainers, and many more buskers in the Underground passageways.† I donít know why that would be; it seems that in these hard economic times that there would be more of that stuff, but I havenít seen much of it on this trip.† I wonder if there are legal obstacles these days, like licenses and such.


Iíve only seen a tiny little part of London, of course.† It is tourist London, and maybe it has been ďcleaned upĒ for the tourists these days.† I expected to see a lot more beggars and a lot more street people, and I havenít seen any at all, but I am sure that if I went to other neighborhoods, it would be different.† There must be legal obstacles to keep those people away from the main tourist areas.


I made my obligatory visit to the National Gallery.† There are certain pictures that I always have to see.† My favorite painting of all time is there, Renoirís La Premiere Sortie.† http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/pierre-auguste-renoir-at-the-theatre-la-premiere-sortie


I donít know why, but that picture just grabs me like no other painting ever has.


Another one is The Execution of Lady Jane Grey.† http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paul-delaroche-the-execution-of-lady-jane-grey


I also always enjoy seeing the Constables and the Turners.


So, after the National Gallery, I wandered on up to Leceister (pronounced ďLesterĒ) Square and sat there for quite a while and watched the people.† The weather had turned out just fine today.† Cloudy with sun breaks and a very comfortable temperature for me.† After some time there, I took the Underground back here to my humble abode, stopping at a local grocery store to get some fresh bread and some more cheese.† The bread I got Saturday was seeming old; it was probably already old when I got it.


I processed yesterdayís pictures, and now I have written this fine piece of prose.† (I have also had a couple of drinks, if you canít tell.)† Iíll post this and the Photos from yesterday, and maybe I will work on todayís pictures a little later tonight.† I have to figure out what to do tomorrow, too.† What a life!