Saturday 31 March 2007

Three figures perfectly at home in their world - # 63

Here's a comment on my Post # 2 "Three figures in an alien world". This photo was taken a few days ago from almost the exact same viewpoint as the # 2 taken in January. Notice that the "Spirit of the Woods" has changed the three humans into three birds. Have a happy weekend, everyone.

Friday 30 March 2007

Feeding body as well as soul - # 62

Regulars now know that 'roony cannot avoid a good cafe. The cafe in St. Mary's church Putney is excellent. I don't know what Cromwell's puritan, parliamentarian cavalry soldiers would have thought about it, but today it is a most welcoming place offering a perfect service and good food.

It is now 360 years since the Debates, but they are so important that an exhibition will mark the 360th anniversary this coming October 2007.

Thursday 29 March 2007

Concern for rights of the common man, 1647 - # 61

The church features this "headline statement" made during the Debates by the puritan Colonel Rainsborough, expressing his concern and his hope for the Common Man in England: - naturally, it reaches out to everyone.

This photo series on St. Mary's Putney, the Putney Debates and the Levellers will finish tomorrow.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Can somebody please tell me what's happening? - # 60

History goes through phases. First: chaos - the "What on earth is going on?" phase. Second: - the Party Line when winners tell us what was really going on. Third: the Revisionist phase -when counter revolutionaries deny it all and tear down myths, only to erect their own, usually wrong myths. Finally: chaos again - the "I still haven't a clue what happened" phase, when we just give all the records to the kids, let them draw their own conclusions, and we end up with 1,000 crazy views based on personal foibles.

The Putney Debates were all written down, and kept. We have it word for word; the whole discussion. It's a unique insight - fully recorded 17th Century political debate with important implications that still impact on modern Britain.

Here is the modern, restored interior of the church. Imagine Cromwell slugging it out verbally with his radical commanders, and a couple of diligent scribes scribbling furiously, catching the whole thing for posterity. Suddenly Cromwell finds the debate going in directions that he never expected. His men are more radical than he is. "Can somebody please tell me what's happening?"

Tuesday 27 March 2007

We struggle to climb higher, but slide so easily down - # 59

It's a hard climb towards high ideals. St. Mary's church, Putney, site of the Putney Debates in 1647, was destroyed by fire in 1973, and has been superbly rebuilt in modern style using the finest materials. Read here, briefly, how the radical "Levellers" - radical puritan, protestant, political thinkers from Cromwell's finest, elite cavalry regiments - highjacked the debate and turned it into a discussion on modern democracy as we know it today.

Monday 26 March 2007

Where are they coming from? Where are they going to? - # 58

This tiny 15th Century church, overshadowed by 21st Century bustle, has seen it all. It is the site of important events in the evolution of modern parliamentary democracy, and the ideas expressed there must be understood if we are to understand revolution and popular movement in our times. Absolute Rulers beware: religious fundamentalists pause and take care. Those who seek to understand England take note. The site of the Putney Debates 1647.

Sunday 25 March 2007

Farmers in town - # 57

Twickenham is the town on the other side of Richmond bridge, across the Thames. Every Saturday farmers come in to sell directly to buyers. Photographically, the day was disappointing....cold, grey weather, sharp wind, not too many customers. Modern health regulations mean that all the meats are vacuum packed and quite unattractive as a fine display - better to visit a real butcher's shop for that. However, the specialist tomato grower had a strikingly colourful lay-out, so I snapped it, bought some farmhouse bread and goat's cheese and rushed home to get warm again.

Saturday 24 March 2007

6 months training wasted in the first 2 minutes? - # 56

This is the Start Line for the Boat Race seen from Putney Bridge. It will be so crowded on the day that there will hardly be any room for anyone to take pictures. The best way to watch the race is on TV! Sometimes a bad start spoils things for the losers. This race can be lost in the first moments, but they still have to row their hearts out right to the end.

Friday 23 March 2007

Joy overwhelming - # 55

On the far side you can see the red/yellow/black post that marks the finishing line, just before Chiswick Bridge, of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. These days the river is full of racing crews practicing for the coming season. What will be the outcome of this season for the "Racing Eight" in the picture?

Thursday 22 March 2007

C - (PD) = J - # 54

C (Commitment) minus P (Pain) multiplied by D (Depression) equals J (Joy).
This picture is taken at viewing point 13 ( on the Oxford and Cambridge Boat race course. In the distance is Barnes Bridge.
On 7 April, if you find a place to stand here among the many hundreds, you will see two racing "Eights" surging towards you, followed by a swarm of referee and marshaling boats.
We are almost at the 4 Mile point in the race. The winning post is in sight (for the coxswain but not, of course, for the oarsmen). They will be in pain and near exhaustion, but the crew in front will feel a joyful positive. The one behind will be close to total depression and despair. For them the result can only be negative.

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Camera; he speak truth. Frenchman lies - # 53

Post # 32 discussed the efforts of the French Tourist Agency fighting, and losing, the battle in which they promote the whole of France against Richmond upon Thames. Posting # 32 also attempted, with outstanding success, to plant confusion in the minds of City Daily Photo addicts. Here is another view of Strand on the Green seen on a brilliant sunny day from the Richmond side of the Thames

Tuesday 20 March 2007

More of that special H2O - # 52

Looking across the Thames from Richmond side towards the village of Isleworth.

Monday 19 March 2007

Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen - # 51

The River Thames. Keep your eyes on it this week. You know you want to!

Sunday 18 March 2007

18th Century police station - # 50

Whizz past in your car and you will not notice this tiny wooden shed 10 meters back from the road side. Walk past and you will assume it's an old garden shed in an odd position. (The building behind is younger - but not much - and was a blacksmith's forge.)

This white hut is an ancient police station built in the 1780s. There are only two of these left in England. It is the Petersham Pound and Lockup, where criminal vagrants and straying cattle would be kept awaiting the attention of "higher authority".

The constable was armed and paid for by the local magistrates. The last serious incident was in the mid 19th Century when a carter, up to no good with smuggled goods, tried to make a run for it and was shot dead. A court case then took place to assess whether or not the killing was lawful.

This little survivor from the past is listed by "English Heritage" as a "building at risk". Read more here:

Type TW10 7AD into Google Earth and see where is on the Petersham Road A307.

Saturday 17 March 2007

That tired old light bulb joke! - # 49

How many us are needed to change a light bulb here? We draw lots and take fear counselling.
Finding nothing that needed repairing in Ham House I lay down on the floor and took a photo of the ceiling above the main Hall. When we change these bulbs it's a great event, and great fun is had by all. Robin gets very upset when we rattle the scaffold....which, of course we do not do.

Friday 16 March 2007

A good night of live jazz - # 48

A good night out on Thursday! Live jazz at the Dysart Arms, at the bottom of the Star and Garter Hill in Petersham.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday 15 March 2007

Changing life styles - # 47

Yesterday I touched on the effect of climate change, and how it is bringing a new, stylish and very welcome cafe life-style to our streets.

Today I show you a converted church! A number of magnificent Victorian Gothic church buildings, erected in the 1880s/90s, have been converted to extremely stylish apartment blocks with high, well lit and spacious interiors that make full use of the enormous stone arches and pillars.

Here is one, on Richmond Green. It has been well crafted, but the treatment of the street-side main entrance using a rather cheap looking "prison-like" grey metal security door system puzzles me. Surely they could have chosen something better to sit inside the grandeur of the main entrance archway.

Wednesday 14 March 2007

The cafes of Richmond 6 - # 46

Who's oiling my sunburn? Who's taking care of my global warming? Who's feeding off my latest City of London bonus? Can you remember where I left my carbon footprint?

Carluccios has arrived in Richmond! I'm not sure if this means that Carluccios has "Arrived", or that Richmond has "Arrived". Either way one may feel graced, and pleased by the other.

Carluccios is a sympton of the "New Britain" - glitzy and brash - probably a bit like "big city" Britain always was, actually; except for a short period between 1945 and 1985. (Warmongers note: that's how long it takes to fully recover).

Climate change has brought us out onto the streets in a big way. The continental street cafe style suits us. The taste for bright spot lights to add glitz, and external heating elements to warm the temperate evenings for outdoor diners might prove to be a clear target for the new breed of "eco-puritans" to attack. (Can't they wear thick undervests, for heaven's sake?)

This certainly is not the Britain of "warm beer and old maids cycling to church on Sundays", but it's typical of life around our big cities today.

In case any of you are worried: this cafe/restaurant is within 100 meters of the superb "Orange Tree" theatre, and about 200 meters of the equally good "Richmond Theatre". Yes, you can have it all in Richmond upon Thames.

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Tidal rip - # 45

The river Thames is full of winter rain and still tidal at Richmond. The rip through the bridge is very powerful at peak tidal flow.

Monday 12 March 2007

Relaxing with friends after a great match - # 44

So, England beat France in a superb, heart-stopping match at Twickenham on 11th March. The Six Nations cup is now finely balanced. The French are outstandingly good rugby players, but this new England team beat the "Frogs" and gained a very clear win. Two fine teams gave us all a lot of sporting pleasure.

Sunday 11 March 2007

The essence of fair play - # 43

The Englih are renowned for their love of "fair play". This consists of enjoying the sight of three seriously tough lads beating the daylights out of one other very tough lad who is all on his own.
The Richmond & Twickenham area is full of weekend rugby grounds, and home to several top teams.
Twickenham is the spiritual home of Rugby, and the giant Twickenham stadium is only a short distance from the centre of Richmond. Today England will be playing France in the "Six Nations" cup. The town will be throbbing with French and English fans. England are formidable, but not on form. The French are superb. I fear that today the French will thump the English....very hard.....but it will be a close run thing, and a joy to watch, whatever the final result.

Saturday 10 March 2007

Simple, joyful, miraculous - # 42

This is not a prize winning nature photograph. It is bottom of the list in that category.
It is a simple snap shot photo that shows the beauty of colour, light, texture, material structure; the endlessly fascinating mysteries of the universe that are right at our feet, for every creature to see and enjoy, and puzzle over.

Friday 9 March 2007

Spring flowers on Ham Common - # 41

If there's one good thing about City Daily Photo, it's this: you look about you and start to notice colour, shape, form, light, texture more intensely than you did before. It encourages you to make the most of what you've got, rather than crying for what's not available without striving for it. Finally, you learn that often the simpler things give people the most delight.

Thursday 8 March 2007

Wooo! Scary!! - # 40

You won't come across this in Dubai!

But if you were walking down a darkened servants' corridor, alone, at night, in 17th Century Ham House, you certainly would wish that you had not come across it here either - (click on the side bar at the right to read up on Ham House where I continue to try to repair the unrepairable).

Wednesday 7 March 2007

The cafes of Richmond 5 - # 39

'roony trots down an alley off the main street and emerges onto Richmond Green. "The Green Cafe" is tiny. It serves good snacks, fresh pressed juices and good hot drinks. The cafe front is shady in the hot weather (so a bit bleak in winter), but you can look out across the Green which is bathed in sun all day long. At week ends you can watch the local cricket match. Next door is the magnificent doorway featured in Post # 38

Tuesday 6 March 2007

A door opens, and new ideas come in - # 38

The brief discussion of house prices in Richmond upon Thames will now close. 'roony invites his dinner guests to lift their thoughts. Now think: young Karl Moritz actually saw this magnificent front door when he visited Richmond in 1782 (click on the Karl Moritz link and read his items on Richmond). In 1782 this front door was already nearly 70 years old. However, looking closely at the railings, he would have been very puzzled to see the sign mentioning something called a "bicycle" "Ach, mein Gott...ze English are so far advanced in zer technology!".

Monday 5 March 2007

The epitome of stylish living 1896 - # 37

After showing you the English urban architectural style of the 1700s (yesterday's Georgian houses were built in 1711), I will treat you here to this magnificent row of terraced houses built around 1896. Unfortunately, although there is a garden at the back, there is nowhere to park the car! What lack of foresight!! On the otherhand, after buying the house you may not be able to afford the car!!!!

Sunday 4 March 2007

Georgian realestate? No problem here, Sir! - # 36

I love reading the "How to Spend It" magazine supplement that comes with the Week-end edition of the Financial Times (this is a fine, first rate newspaper that I would recommend to anyone). "How to Spend It" keeps me up to date, and deeply amused. It's almost as good as reading a Marvel Comic when I was a kid in the 1950's. An article informs me that there is "Intense demand for Georgian homes" - houses built between 1700 and 1800. Those "demanding" them are "modern media types", like photographers, artists and architects, who want large, light, well-proportioned rooms and flexible space.
Well, for those of you who are baffled and questioning, here are no less than three Georgian homes in a single block. They probably date from before 1748, so they are "the Real Thing!". Each one of these three front doors will probably cost you at least £1.5 million (GBP £ not that USA $) if not even £2.5 depending on what's behind that front door. I'm afraid that is one of the down-sides of looking for a home in Richmond upon Thames - unless of course you are a "modern media type" as the comic says. They are indeed superb houses.

Saturday 3 March 2007

The stairway to heaven? - # 35

Stand here on the art deco steps of Richmond station and you will recognise the faces of the stars of stage screen and radio, senior politicians, top rank civil servants, peers of the realm, high court judges, journalists, captains of industry, and foreign diplomats, as they stream down on their way to work in the Capital.

Is the outcome of our life dependent on the way we play the cards we are dealt? Do we create our own luck, or is it all planned and mapped out beforehand by destiny?

Down these stairs they stream: taking the main line fast train direct to Waterloo Station for the City, the world’s leading financial centre, for the Inns of Court where the world’s top lawyers practice, for Fleet St. where the journalists grub up the financial and legal scandals, and also to Waterloo for the luxuries of the Savoy Hotel, the fleshpots of Soho and theatre land, the elegant shops of Bond St. and the HQ offices of the world’s great mining and minerals companies, and of course Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.

If you are in the oil business, or a senior civil servant, then you might take a semi fast to Clapham Junction and change for Victoria Station for the West End of London.

The stars of television and radio, and media and advertising executives, head for the District Line to Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

They all stream out to conquer their day.

In the opposite direction, arriving on the Northern Line from east London come the “ethnic” minorities and asylum seekers, desperate to become “British”, looking for the main railway line that will take them from Richmond west to Feltham and the court tribunal that will decide on their future. They will later return happy, or not return, being sent on, broken-hearted, to await the next plane out of LHR back to a place they tried to escape from. On the Northern Line, also, come the poor from east London, going down to Feltham to see their delinquent underage sons who are locked up in the Feltham Young Offenders’ Centre (do not use the word prison). In amongst them are those who do not want to be noticed, on “other business”. The secret policeman and the surveillance cameras are watching them. You will notice a discrete flash of a badge, or a radio call.

Together with these downhearted from the east end of London come the Poles: marching in disciplined ranks, all with the correct ticket held up clear to see (they do not want trouble), dragging their tool boxes. Poles now make up about 80% of the, builders, electricians, plumbers and cleaners who keep the professional classes of Richmond happy. Five years ago there were no Poles apart from left- over Polish soldiers who came in 1939.

Stand here and you will see them; recognise them. They will reach out and touch your mind.
Take up your cards! Play them! Now!

Friday 2 March 2007

Zzziingg! "Woah, that was close!!" - # 34

At Ham House we have taken down a large picture of the Battle of Lepanto for cleaning and inspection. A team of researchers and technicians arrived. I spotted a tiny incident, about 3cm x 3cm, where the artist depicted a tiny individual tragedy in the gigantic battle. The oarsman looks over his shoulder in alarm as the sharpshooter beside him is hit. Many of the figures are indistinct and carelessly drawn, almost lumps of plasticine, but here and there all over the picture the artist has detailed intense moments of hand to hand fighting, like this one: an interesting technique.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Fling him into the dungeon! - # 33

Having protested too much about his inability to take nice photos because of the weather, 'roony has been imprisoned for 3 months in the dungeons of Ham House. (Actually it doesn't have any "dungeons", only rather spacious "below stairs" servants' quarters. Come and see it when you get the chance. You will not be disappointed).