Friday 30 November 2007

The world in a rain drop - # 308

We're still with my apple tree. Here we see a rain drop wrapped around a new bud that will provide blossom next year......(forming already although it's still November).

In the water droplet you can clearly see the houses next door....roof chimney in centre and roof sky lights either side; three on one side and two on the other. You can also see the rest of the apple tree and the upper branches. Look and see how the water wraps itself all around the bud and hangs there.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Look at what's under your nose - # 307

Wondering what to do, I realised that my old apple tree is offering me a lot of opportunities to play with my camera and explore the tree's Autumn coat of typical apple tree "knarliness".

Here's the intriguing coat of growth on an old but very healthy fruit bearing branch.

I broke the rules and did not use a tripod, and I used auto-focus. Good old Olympus! More photo fun. This was done with "flash off" and set to "Cloudy" and WB set 3 ticks down into the red spectrum. Pseuds' Corner for me, and early to bed with no television!!!

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Doooh! - # 306

Here is the rather fine looking 17th C doorway at Ham House. Looking closely at the top of the stone work I wonder if something has slipped over 398 yrs. Or did the builder step back and say "Doooh!"? Very old buildings often display quirks that make you wonder if it was an an original mistake that could not be rectified, or whether something has slippd over time.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Digging the archives - # 305

(Apologies to Ham of London CDP).......This is a picture of Cavell St. in Stepney, in the East End of London, taken in Summer 2006. If you imagine Richmond upon Thames as an Outer London town at 8 on the clock face, the Inner London Borough of Stepney sits at 2, and is actually part of London itself.

The photo shows Cavell St., named after a heroine, Nurse Edith Cavell

The picture is worth looking at because it shows what the East End of London looked like in the 19th C when Stepney was an area close to the great harbour area known as the "Pool of London". The quality of the houses suggests that this was an area for well paid City clerks and skilled men doing well (I'm only guessing). Today, the docks and ships have moved a long way down river, immigrants from Bangladesh and other Asian areas have moved in (following Huguenots in 1680, Jews, Italians, Chinese - you name it) and the area is still also inhabited by City clerks and skilled men doing well.

This area was severely bombed during WW II and many of these streets were totally wiped out. Cavell St. obviously survived.

Monday 26 November 2007

Moonrise - # 304

The full moon rising - snapped last night with the camera jammed against the window frame and the shutter held open for about 15 seconds.

The sky looked pitch black, but the long exposure brought out some unseen colour. The golden caste on the clouds is due to the lights of London: and the silvery blue of the (black) sky above starts to appear.

Never believe what you see in a photo! I tweaked the camera and took another snap. It came out looking like a glorious morning dawn. Photo Fun.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Look! You dropped your whistle! You dive in and get it!- # 303

Two of our local officers taking a close interest in the river.
(You have probably archive is running down and I'm seeking a new infusion of inspiration. I can't blame the weather, but City DP requires you to get out and about and roam around like a prowling ginger cat. I'm a bit pre-occupied with some other tasks.)

Saturday 24 November 2007

The Bar Fly goes hi-tech- # 302

Gone are the days of smoke, spit, and sawdust on the floor. Glancing through the bar area of a tavern built in the "Victorian Railway Age" we find fire extinguishers (to the highest safety standards), ultra high speed stainless steel washers (to the highest standards of health regulation), electronic switch gear for the flat screen plasma and the multi speaker hi-fi, gas pressurised beer delivery systems, and a "just in time" beverage supply logistics back-up linked directly to the electronic till and managed by a giant multinational corporation. The bar maid is an immigrant, (and I am betting that she was probably an immigrant even back in 1887).

Friday 23 November 2007

Looking back - # 301

Ham, of London Daily Photo will forgive me for stepping sideways. This is the view of London today from the gun site where my father served in WW II.......Shooters' Hill near Erith, Kent. It's about 30 miles east of Richmond.

Looking west-north-west the whole of London lies before you. The tall towers nearest are the new (less then 20yrs old) Canary Wharf financial district, built on what was then, in 1940, a vast complex of commercial sea docks and factories (the so-called East End). To the left of Canary Wharf, in the centre of the picture are the '60s and '70s towers of the older, original financial district of the City of London, and beyond, on the left edge, is the so-called West End, home of the Crown, Parliament, Civil Service and Theatre Land (perhaps in that order, too, or maybe the reverse?). We can see how London has transformed and how the "hardware" of industry and commerce has moved elsewhere, but the "knowledge and software" have stayed. In fact, this photo should be a 360 degree panorama, so as to explain it all.

Last Summer I visited the old gun site (for the first time ever) and saw the size, scale and strategic importance. The view is fantastic - 360 degrees panoramic from high up. Today it is a golf course, and all that remains of Britain's largest and most powerful anti-aircraft gun site is a small lump of rubble that was the foundation of the radar gunnery control centre.

My father experienced considerable danger on "bad nights" and came home deaf in the morning. He was one of the kindest and nicest men you could ever know.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Look! I'm late already!- # 300

As I wander about Ham House helping to repair the unrepairable I am always impressed by the way that the 17th c architect contrived to allow plenty of natural light to flood in. Even the below-ground cellar and kitchen area is lit by sunlight. This painting is on the main stairs and the window faces east.

If "Freefalling" reads this..........this picture comes from the head. There's nothing in it about the gut. Keep up the enquiry, you are getting closer.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Secret war work- # 299

During the war this church tower and the surrounding buildings of the church hall and village amenity rooms became a research centre for secret anti-aircraft radar systems; an advanced electronic science in those days. All that remains today are the graffiti carvings of the soldiers and radar experts who worked there. As an anti-aircraft gunner at a large and powerful gunsite defending the City of London and the Thames Estuary, my father made effective use of the new technology. He never saw his targets. They were radio co-ordinates who then simply "disappeared" shortly after he had "pressed the button".

Tuesday 20 November 2007

The river gives up its treasure trove of stolen bikes- # 298

First...thanks to the kind regulars who said nice things about yesterday's experiment with candle light and twinkly glass etc.

Anyway... a week ago I mentioned how the river will soon start revealing its lost treasures. Here are two of them..............two bikes dumped into the weir and now revealed as the water level is allowed to sink below normal.

When I grew up in the 40's and 50's a bike was a rare treasure and the only means of transport for the hard working man. Stealing...let alone stealing and then DUMPING(!)......a bike was a crime that struck against the very concept and fabric of social solidarity. Strange times we now live in.

Monday 19 November 2007

Winter's coming to northern Europe- # 297

Pine wood frames, leaded windows, crystal glass, twinkling candle light in the night, and a grand piano, a warm fire.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Cleaning up - # 296

First frosts have struck and brought down the leaves in the gardens all over Richmond.

The Head Gardener's team at Ham House is busy and making full use of modern machines, and mini-tractors. Imagine the army of employed gardeners and who would have been kept busy in 1610. On other hand, imagine that in 1610 the trees would have been tiny saplings, freshly planted, and the lawns would have been a bit bare as the newly sown grass began to take hold.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Perfectly stable, thank you - # 295

The camera remains perfectly horizontal as the Bar Fly lists gently to port. (Oh, dear. That's an unplanned pun. It just slipped out. Sorry.)

Another, in the occasional Richmond upon Thames "Bar Fly series". Have a happy and peaceful weekend.

Friday 16 November 2007

White-out - # 294

...we continue our walk along the Twickenham bank of the Thames opposite Richmond, snapping things from different angles.

This prestigious luxury development stands on the the site of one of those weird planning and commercial development disasters that are typical of the dreaded plagues that attack the reputations local municipal councils.

The site originally hosted an important and much liked ice rink - a valuable sports facility for quite a wide area. The council promoted a redevelopment of the site but, after an enormous amount of wrangling, "fouled up" and totally failed to negotiate a replacement of the rink. The politicians and officers may say that "it was not for want of trying".........but the burgers of Richmond still (rightly in most people's opinion) blame them for a massive failure. So, today, Richmond has no ice rink, and the nearest one is quite a long journey away.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Soft! But see, how clothed....................- # 293

Soft! But see, how clothed in gaudy, rough and scratchy Day we are comforted in the mind; but Night, enwrapping us in soft velvet, startles and afrights. The sleepy cat of day becomes at night the cruel, alert and sharp clawed predator of the tiny, timorous mouse.
One of the very rare "surreal Richmond" series:

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Calmer waters - # 292

We're still on the theme of "looking at things from a different angle" (it's a bit strained, I know; but this City Daily Photo thing is a tough task, especially when you are desperately trying to adapt a shrinking archive until you can get out to take a whole new series).

Here's a "less photographed view" of the excellent White Cross Inn seen from the Twickenham side looking through the arch of Richmond Bridge. Most people congregate around the White Cross and the other establishments along the Richmond bank.

It's a calm and soothing riverside scene. Compare it with my shot taken last March showing the river ripping through the arches of the bridge.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Looking at things from a different point of view - # 291

Normally people snap the views through and around the Richmond Bridge (built 1778) from the other side. Here, I have chosen to stand on the Twickenham bank looking at the bridge from a far less photographed angle, and looking towards the spot shown in

For most of you, none of this matters; but I'm trying to discover some of the less photographed views, or experiment to show a little angle that might go unnoticed.

Monday 12 November 2007

A house fit for a King's mistress (saved by Karl Moritz - well, sort of) - # 290

Marble Hill House sits on the Twickenham bank of the river, immediately opposite Ham House and beside Hammerton's Ferry (featured in an earlier posting "the 500 year long queue" ).

Built in 1720 in the Palladian style by George II for his Mistress Henrietta Howard, the house was a centre for high-tone social and literary gatherings (as you would expect!). Its park forms part of the unique heritage that is known as "The view from Richmond Hill".

Around 1900 the wealthy owners wanted to demolish the house and build suburban villas with riverside amenities across the whole park (one's blood runs cold). A public outcry ensued, public subscriptions were raised to buy the site and the land was placed into public ownership. If Karl Moritz - and of course many, many other more relevant people - had not written about, admired and painted the view from Richmond Hill, then the battle to save it would have been much harder.

Imagine! Had the houses been built, Karl Moritz's much admired view from Richmond Hill would have been totally destroyed by a sea of Edwardian villas. Karl would indeed have wept.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Remember Tommy. He was indeed, a very fine lad - # 289

November 11th, a day of rememberance for all who died in war.

Saturday 10 November 2007

The sun always shines (but Karl Moritz couldn't find it) - # 288

The Sun Inn always looks spectacular, day time or night time. This photo was taken earlier in the year during my search for the inn where Karl Moritz might have stayed on his visit to Richmond in 1782. According to library records, there was an inn more or less on the site of the Sun, so he might have found a room at this spot. We cannot be certain. We know that the inn where he stayed was difficult to find after his evening walk on the Hill. Therefore I conclude that he did not stay at the Ship, which is close to the Hill, and was the official mail-coach inn at the time. Perhaps the Ship was full and he had to stay elsewhere; perhaps at the site of the Sun which is at the other end of town. As a stranger and he would need to look for it in the twilight after taking his inspiring evening walk.

The search for Karl's inn developed into the R. u. T. "Bar Fly" series.

Friday 9 November 2007

Recycling: heavy industrial grade - # 287

The old tug will eventually be refitted and made as good as new. The Twickenham side of the river has a lively boat repair industry. Across on the Richmond bank you can see the canoe sheds from which the stars of recent photos have been launched.
Today's photo is late. I've been in the loft doubling the thickness of insulation. Yuck! The face mask was quite black when I came out and undressed. So, I'm glad that wore it. I don't want to go back again, ever!

Thursday 8 November 2007

Four canoes passing Petersham Meadows; early November - # 286

(First.....I'm sorry to have switched on the "word verification". There's a spambot sniffing around. Please bear with me for a short time).

I hope you enjoy this nice shot which just "came to me" as I walked along the Twickenham bank of the Thames, looking across towards the Petersham Meadows on the Richmond side.

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Autumn colour: is this the "last shout"? - # 285

This shot looks across from the Twickenham bank towards the boathouses on the Richmond side. These boathouses host the canoeists you saw last week, launching their boats .

On this day the brilliant sun was creating a lovely blue on the river and the autumn colours really stood out. Now the weather is changing and we may soon lose the colour as November advances.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

By hardship to the stars a/k/a Spacestation 42 - # 284

This was supposed to be number 11 in the series "the Cafes of Richmond", but it sort of took off and got away from me, and just kind of floated off into space, like, well, you know what I mean, and stuff happens.

Actually, it's the ceiling lights in Costa's cafe. WARP DRIVE: weeeeeeeeeeeooooosh. (By the way, those in the know will be well aware that the secret of the universe is "42".)

Monday 5 November 2007

Mud larking- # 283

At the end of October we get the last of the very high, so called "Spring" tides. The next very high Spring tide will come in 6 months' time - in Spring. This October high tide carries boats up to the highest possible resting point, and leaves them on the mud until April when they can be floated off again.

This natural phenomenon allows sailors to maintain their boats high and dry on the mud and then float them back easily when the sailing season comes again.

The river authority can also open the control gates at the time of the very lowest tides and allow the level of the water to sink to the minimum and carry out maintenance to the banks. This is the time when all the old bicycles and super-market shopping trolleys - and the occasional dumped fire arm - appear, and can be collected.

This photo shows the boats moored at Hammerton's Ferry, and attempts (with only limited success) to catch the glamour of the bright October sun shining on the wet mud as the tide goes down.

Sunday 4 November 2007

Richmond Hill, at night from across the river - # 282

....another unusual shot, looking towards the famous Terrace above the river on Richmond Hill. I am standing on the opposite bank to catch the reflections in the river. The white streak in the sky is an airliner on its descent path to land at Heathrow, 15 miles away. The large building on the right is the Star and Garter home for wounded ex-servicemen, (still full today even after its foundation in 1920). I wonder what Karl Moritz would have made of this "Vision of Britain" had he seen it on his visit to Richmond in 1782.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Pick me up - # 281

Another in the "Bar Fly" series. Sometimes lying on the floor helps to produce a good photo.

This one has to be in colour to capture the warm and homely "tidy clutter" of a nice English pub bar counter: the nuts, the crisps, the sporting trophies and the team photos from regulars, and of course the pumps, all lined up, dressed and polished to display the badge of a good independent ale brewer.

Friday 2 November 2007

The quirky fruits of Autumn - # 280

The kitchen gardens are Ham House are tended by a team of gardeners and volunteers who strive to use the most eco-friendly and traditional methods to produce traditional crops for use in the Orangery Restaurant. Here, drenched in October sun, is a an amazingly colourful display in front of the old Orangery at Ham House.

Thursday 1 November 2007

some less usual views of Ham House (contd.) 3 - # 279

......."the 17 mile ride". This one hasn't quite worked but it deserves showing. The camera was blinded and failed to pick up the clear line of the ridge of the North Downs 17 miles away.

I checked the map and discovered that if you were able to set out from the house and drive down the "Great South Avenue" in the centre of the picture, and continue in an absolutely straight line, you would come to the point where the M25 joins with the M23 motorway 17 miles away.

The journey will take you through a highly urbanised landscape packed solid with houses, roads and motor traffic for all of the 17 miles. But if you look from the top floor of Ham House you will see what looks like an uninterrupted forest of trees stretching 17 miles right up to the high ridge of the North Downs at Redhill. You would imagine that houses and roads did not exist.