Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Myths are perpetuated, but the camera never lies - # 32

It is a myth perpetuated by foreigners (mostly working in the French Tourist Agency) that England is a gloomy rain sodden place for 362 days a year.
My trusty Olympus camera gives you the stunningly lovely 18th Century view of the Thames from Kew Bridge looking down river towards Strand on the Green.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The cafes of Richmond 4 - # 31

This is brand new. "The Natural Cafe". They have invested a lot of money to gut and rebuild the site so that the cafe occupies three floors. They also ripped away the front and put in a glass wall to expose all three floors to the street. The cafe trumpets "healthy" and "Fair Trade" foods. It's very up-to-date, but will it last? Will all the rebuilding investment earn a healthy financial return? I found it difficult to photograph, so please accept three shots and draw your own conclusions.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Our Tommy's a fine, cheerful boy - # 30

.......................but behind him, a willow weeps.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

There is such a thing as Spring - # 29

Dull wet weather is not helping me to find or create that "stunning" shot; so please be understanding when I display the "healthy option" as in Post # 28. However, shining through the gloom I spotted this ray of hope outside a Grade 2 listed late 18th Century cottage which is "part" of but not "typical" of Richmond - enjoyable and scenic though the town certainly is.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

The cafes of Richmond 3 - # 28

At the junction of The Quadrant and George St we find.....La Fornaia: good value for money, cosy, free newspapers in the rack, theatre play bills on the wall, rugby shirts around the upper shelves. Here, for all to see, is the "All-day Breakfast", which includes a mug of tea or a well-made frothy cappuccino.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Go with the weather - # 27

My photography magazine article said "Don't moan about the weather; go with it". So, here we go.............."The weather". When I see weather like this I think of the first sun-blessed Jamaican immigrants who started to arrive in Britain in 1948. Any who arrived in the winter, to a post War Britain locked in the grey misery of 1948, must have had a big shock. John Le Carre has a wonderful line in his recent "Absolute Friends": "1950's Britain - land of shortages and the 40 watt electric bulb". Few of us can even imagine that today. I can only recall a happy childhood.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

It's about caring for people and things - # 26

A particularly pleasant area has been plagued by graffiti. This large mosaic was installed on the worst hit wall with the full involvement of all the local kids. It depicts the glorious wealth of nature and wild life in Richmond.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

What does it all mean? - # 25

Being close to London, Richmond does have a grittier side, but it is very hard to find. I came across this baffling vision in a forgotten, out of the way alley. It's a typical "Gotham City" scene. I wondered what's behind it. Is this where an alien invader dropped his disguise before the mother-ship beamed him up?

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Why can't I come in? - # 24

..........Because the barrier says you can't! Just another day on the "Front Line" at Richmond railway station. Try it. You will be amazed!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Ghosts - # 23

Today I found a Richmond street that I never knew existed! And I found a motorcycle shop from the past!! The building appears to date from about 1740, the shop front is late 19th Century. The motorcycle signs are probably pre-1939, and seem to have been there since that time. The shop sells original second hand parts and made-up replica parts for all the great old British motorcycle names. It's obviously an enthusiasts' Mecca and seems to take it's image very seriously.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Hand crafted nuclear submarines - # 22

Look closely at the sign and you will see that some wag has added a comment! This workshop by the bridge has been building hand-crafted Thames style skiffs and punts for over 100 years. At the moment they have two brand new Thames racing punts in building. The magnificent typical Thames pleasure skiff in the picture has just been rolled out after a refurbishment. Looking closely I would guess it is 100 yrs old, or not far off. The great Victorian engineers brought one underground and two overground railway lines to Richmond, and for 130 years the riverside at Richmond has been easilly accessible to young gents from all over London to enjoy the river and serenade their sweethearts whilst showing off thier muscles as the row skiffs like this, hired from alongside the bridge. It's the same, even today.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Oooops - # 21

Two things are happening here:
1. You are not seeing what you might think you are seeing.
2. You are seeing a fine example of a Land Rover "Defender" with complete roll-over kit.
As you can see....such kit might be essential for driving in Richmond upon Thames.
The moral......never jump to make conclusions until you have the facts.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Don't mess with Richmond - # 20

Richmond Bridge was finished in late 1777 - 3 years in building. As you can see, the citizens of 1777 Richmond were worried about vandals and other nasty types spraying it with graffiti and breaking bits off it. They put up this warning IN STONE. Times have not changed!!!! Believe me!!! On 24 Dec 1777 Captain James Cook discovered Christmas Island. At about the same time, uncouth settlers in the American colonies caused a great deal of trouble. Britain decided to privatise them so as to get them off the balance sheet, and allow free enterprise to see what it could do with the problem. Freeing itself from the economic drag and political time wasting caused by America, Britain went on to build up a larger and more useful global enterprise elsewhere. Now who could argue with that interpretation of history? Well? Well?

Thursday, 15 February 2007

The cafes of Richmond 2 - # 19

Coffee Republic. Was my coffee spoon really that long? Perhaps my camera needs a check-up!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The cafes of Richmond 1 - # 18

'roony leaves the river via Friar's Lane, lopes across The Green, nips up the alley opposite the Magistrates' Court and emerges on The Quadrant, opposite the railway station. Skillfully deploying his 5th life he darts safely across the road, through the dangerous voila!! Maison de ville par excellence!!!!! Get there early to enjoy the window full of the most magnificent patisserie that will delight even Eric in Paris itself. HAPPY St. VALENTINE'S DAY and love to you all.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Cute view of Richmond Bridge - # 17

Trotting downriver from Petersham Meadows towards Richmond 'roony stops to admire the aspect of Richmond Bridge glimpsed through the trees. The bridge was finished in 1777. The next bridge would have been 3 miles away at Kew and then nothing for about 10 miles 'til Westminster. It will about 1840 before any more bridges are built between here and London. By about 1842 the railway will arrive in Richmond!! That's hi-tech for you!!!

Monday, 12 February 2007

The bright side of life - # 16

After three days patroling the fringes of the Dark Side 'roony, tail up, ears pricked, trots back home to post a not very good photo of Winter Jasmin bathed in early February noonday sun: macro focus, shot from an awkward angle, hands shaking, no tripod - technically a lousy photo, but saying everything that I feel right now. "Always look on the bright side of life!"

Sunday, 11 February 2007

A sign that suburban winter is over - # 15

Prices are up. Demand is strong. A warm feeling spreads through the London suburbs.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Living with British nightmares - # 14

The Great British Surveillance Camera.........watching the problem, but struggling with the resolution.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Living the British Dream - # 13

These young men are immigrant refugee Kurds. They work like demons, and do a superb job on your car. Their service has taken off like a rocket, because people like their style, their friendliness, the way they do their job, and are pleased to have them working on the local shopping parade. Three doors away there is an Iraqi who offers an excellent dry cleaning service. Next door there is a Pakistani trader who runs a good shop, and there is a superb Lebanese nearby. Round the corner there is a Sikh....ALL are doing well, and a pleasure to do business with. The others are English, white, and the salt of the earth. That's Britain.....welcoming to anyone who seeks a safe, law abiding, open society, that cares about freedom and what it means to be really free.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Global coverage needs safe hands - # 12

This is the last of the "mini series" on work at Ham House. Theo is an expert in restoration of leather. I was amazed to see his specialised electrically heated micro sized tools and to see his skills. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the decoration on the leather cover. 250 yrs ago these two globes were remarkable, hand-crafted, highly modern instruments gracing the library of one of England's most prestigious mansions. Of course there's more to the project, but for that you must visit the house yourself.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Uncertainty in a multidimentional environment - #11

Here we are in the library testing the "Marque 1" plastic lid. We are placing the leather cover and then testing it all for a "zero snag" lift, and a "not too tight fit" plus some other "issues". We are also testing the stability of the plastic lid as it rests on the "equator ring" of the globe. This sounds like a lot, but there are good reasons when dealing with valuable things that are 250 years old. After this test we had to dismantle and downsize the plastic lid by 1/2 centimeter on each of the 9 sections. I was wishing for a digital 3 dimensional imaging camera linked to a computer driven cutter. Instead we have to work by eye and by hand. Lynn asks why the lining cannot be leather. Answer: we want a super smooth "lift-off" and an "invisible" underlay support, free of wrinkles. Tomorrow I'll show some detail of the highly attractive hand-tooling on the 250 year old leather cover.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Global reach at Ham House - # 10

There is one terrestrial and one celestial globe in the library. Both have paper-thin tooled leather covers and date from about 1740. You can see in the lower picture that the covers need repair and the whole set is in need of loving attention. Working from scratch (see the lower picture), Tim and I must make two half-globes to act as protective lids and as form supports for the inner linings that will be made from layers of special, thin foam plastic, acid-free tissue paper and silk, all hand sewn. These will lie under the leather cover. After careful measuring we made up each half-globe from nine sections cut from "Antinox" plastic sheet. In the top picture you can see that we then covered these in special adhesive materials to add the required smoothness and give extra rigidity. More tomorrow!

Monday, 5 February 2007

A peek inside the absloute Centre of Intrigue! - # 9

In 1672 "THE PLACE where you must be seen" was Ham House (built in 1610). Very powerful people met here and shaped the future of England and the United Kingdom of Great Britain. You can read more by clicking on the National Trust link in my side bar. Over the next couple of days I'll show you some photos of a little restoration project I have been helping with.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Great power: a heavy responsibilty - # 8

Victoria, Queen and Empress of the greatest and most powerful empire the world had ever seen. She obviously takes it very seriously indeed, and is not amused.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Keeping the world turning - # 7

My Greengrocer: gourmet, outstanding "Customer Relationship Manager", technical expert, businessman, sympathetic ear, fun to have around. What more could anyone want?

Friday, 2 February 2007

Still hunkered down for winter - # 6

Richmond residents "sit it out" waiting for better weather. The heron is a "standard fixture" and seems to have become quite tolerant of humans invading his/her privacy.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

The 500 yr long queue - #5

This is the last foot ferry in existence across the Thames, at Ham. For hundreds of years these crossings were essential, because bridges were too expensive and difficult to build. This ferry site was the monopoly business of the Earl of Dysart for hundreds of years until Mr. Hammerton set up a rival ferry on this crossing, about 200 metres away from where the Earl's boat was operating. The Earl tried to stop him, but Parliament, for some reason, supported Hammerton, and now his successors still operate the last remaining foot ferry service on the Thames. You can see that it is still a valued service, even in the age of the car and bus.