Christmas Day and the Grizzily subject of hanging


   Small kids are great!   This afternoon after the rain had stopped and the sun had come out, I was sitting outside near the river trying to draw the Tower Bridge and not having much luck.  A family walked past and their small daughter,  maybe 7 or 8,  looked over my shoulder and said, “Nice drawing!”   That’s why kids art is so wonderful; they just do it and if it comes close at all, they are happy with the results.  And it is usually good and big and colorful.  I just need to go out there and think like a kid. 

   Christmas Day we visited the Captain Kidd Pub.  Here’s the story.



Rebuilt wharves and the almost visible Captain Kidd Pub sign just where the folks on the right are standing.  If you don’t know where it is, it’s easy to miss among the brick buildings.

Normally you’d see buses and cars and people along the way. 


The noose over the entrance to Captain Kidd Pub

Captain Kidd’s fame was spread abroad by the popular ballad "My name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed." Many romances, such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, have been inspired by the legend.

“Captain Kidd is a converted warehouse pub, situated very close to the site of the Execution Dock where Kidd was hung*for piracy and murder. “  (see below for a discussion of hanged or hung.)

         A lovely pub with a fantastic location, we saw the pub from a river boat tour, and went back looking for it. You come out of Wapping overground station, turn left, and it is 100 yards or so down a cobblestoned street.  During the day, which is when we always went there, the front left table by the river windows is usually occupied by vocal and happy locals; the snugs against the far wall by solitary and seemingly serious drinkers, also local. That leaves a table or two by the river windows if you are lucky enough to get them; otherwise you are left with places that are not bad, but not great. We normally go there for lunch; the food is average/mediocre pub fare, but their fish and chips are good; the food is relatively inexpensive, so we went back several times while we were visiting London. The beer is the usual Sam Smith’s, which for me is fine since I only drink the stout. The upstairs dining room is open on Sunday, and if you can get a river window you have one of the finest dining venues in London. Of the locals who call the Kidd home, there is one fellow who sits by the door: he and his dog — one of those British breeds which looks like a pit-bull on steroids.  I don’t think the fellow had him on leash, but then I did not look too closely as I edged past: this is the type of dog which attacks friend and foe alike, and eats children in London parks. I’m not sure I’d make the Kidd my local, but it is a nice pub.”


Colin and Sandi organized the Christmas Day pub walk; one of their holiday traditions.  Public transit stops and everything shuts down except for a few pubs that open at noon.  So other than church, pubs are the only place to go.  Or I guess you could go from the church to the pub…..


Singkey, Sandi, Ed and Sue, Randal, Dick, Jake and Ginger, and Colin. 


Singkey by the Christmas tree


A Christmas tradition begins for this family


As this is the Captain Kidd Pub…..

Captain Kidd’s advertisement to recruit crew members promises   ”compensation for the loss of a limb; 600 pieces of eight or fore able slaves.”

“The Adventure Galley set sail from New York on December 12, 1696……

The Adventure Galley, which was specifically built in London for this mission, was a 34-gun, 300-ton vessel with three massive sails and 32 oars to be used when the sea was becalmed.  A full complement of crew required 150 sailors. Kidd recruited 70 skilled seamen and then set sail for New York where he intended to take care of some personal business and recruit the remainder of his crew.  Unfortunately, his first encounter at sea occurred when he passed a British man-of-war returning to England. Not only did Kidd refuse to lower his colors in recognition of the man of war as tradition required, but also his crew turned away from the man-of-war and repeatedly slapped their backsides. In response to these insults, the British boarded the Adventure Galley and made off with many of Kidd’s most skilled seamen. Upon reaching New York he apparently was forced to replenish his diminished crew with some of the most undesirable specimens available in the taverns of the city.”   give a detailed brief description of the pirate Captain Kidd.  is a good article about the search for the sunken Adventure Galley.

After our white wine (Randal) and a shared bottle of fermented Apple Cider (Singkey and me) we went for a walk to clear our heads and to go home for some food as the pub was just open for drinks.  Not even coffee or tea was to be had as the hot water machine wasn’t working for one reason or another.


Fake boar’s head and fake barrels of rum.”  But picturesque!

A Walk Around Wapping : fake pirate ships, fake boar’s head and fake barrels of rum.


Fake pirate ship but real Randal.


Just being silly!


Duck Swan Swan…



*First I went off on a tangent to see if Captain Kidd lived several years in Boston as was mentioned in a framed something at the pub, …but the jury is still out on that one.  Then I went off on the tangent of “hanged vs hung”  


A pub just near the Tower of London; so much for the western world being civilized!


Would I dare anyone dare argue with Samuel Pepys?

I found these three answers with three different sources! 

‘Beef, sir, is hung, men are hanged.’

“  “Why are people hanged but pictures hung? “

“I like to look informed by quoting the OED Online (Oxford English Dictionary).  It says that for Sense 3 (capital punishment by hanging) "Hanged is now the specific form of the past tense and past participle; though hung is used by some . . . ."

Among their citations they quote, from the London Times, "Beef, Sir, is hung, men are hanged".”

Shakespeare put it more simply, but incorrectly: ‘Beef, sir, is hung, men are hanged.’

C J Squire, Twickenham.,,-1480,00.html

An English judge is reported to have said,

" Beef, Sir, is hung, men are hanged." l Of " hang " in the sense of

" put to death by hanging," both the preterite tense and

the past participle are " hanged " ; in all other senses,


Full text of "Beginnings of rhetoric and composition, including practical exercises in English"



UNIVERSITY  COLLEGE  which I vote for as the most reliable of the sources and the one closest to the time period of the hangings.

    “Born in St. John, New Brunswick, on September 19, 1879, William Hall Clawson was educated at St. John Grammar School and from 1896 to 1900 attended the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where he got a B.A. in Classics and English. Then he travelled to Harvard and received his A.B. and A.M. For the next three years, from 1902 to 1905, he succeeded W. F. Stockley as Chair of English and French at the University of New Brunswick. Returning to Harvard, Clawson completed his doctoral thesis on the Robin Hood ballads and earned his Ph.D. in 1907. William John Alexander invited him to Toronto that Easter, gave the young man a dinner, and introduced him to the Department. Clawson started teaching that fall at University College. His expertise was philology and the history of the language, but shortly he was teaching both first year Pass and first year Honours courses as well as composition, Chaucer, English and Scottish popular ballads, and Elizabethan drama. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1918, and to Associate Professor in 1924.

Turk’s Head Cafe


   This email is about TODAY.  I’ve bolded the word today because I’ve so many emails to write about Christmas Day and the days that followed right up until this minute!  Christmas Day several cruisers walked to The Captain Kidd for a glass of cheer.  Boxing Day Randal, Singkey and I walked the hour to Surry Quay Mall and then back.  The 27th  I walked to the Whitechapel Pound Store with Sue while Randal and Singkey kept the home fires burning. Yesterday Singkey and I climbed The Monument (I’ve now two certificates) and looped our way back over London Bridge and Tower Bridge to prepare dinner for Singkey’s Chinese University teacher Jessica and her husband.  Somewhere in all of this activity Singkey makes time for her research papers due January 6th.  Glad those assignment days are over for me. 

       On our Christmas Day walk to the Captain Kidd Pub we passed by the Turks Head Café.  Intrigued by its connection to the local community we made a plan to return for lunch one day.  Today we did just that.  We walked along the canals to Shadwell Basin and then stopped for lunch at the Turk’s Head meeting and having a lovely conversation with the woman who runs it, Leyla/Leila Ycr from Antalya, Turkey. The Turkish dish Kofte was on the menu and I asked about it which lead to a trip down memory lane of our time in Turkey.  What fun!  We’ll definitely return to try some of the many dishes and visit more with Leyla.  And to learn more about the charity connected with this historic building.



Turk’s Head Café on the corner of Scandrett St and Greenbank.


Monday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Tuesday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Wednesday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Thursday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

“The TurksHead Cafe can be found at 1 Green Bank (previously Bird St) on the corner with Tench St. It can be accessed from Wapping High St via Scandrett St, which is between the Town of Ramsgate pub and Wapping Police Station.”

“The Turk’s Head Company was established in 1992. It is an independent registered charity dedicated to improving Wapping. The charity is housed in a former pub, which has been rebuilt several times since the eighteenth century. Its name comes from a type of decorative knot and not a decapitated Turk. During World War 2, its eccentric landlady Mog Murphy kept the pub open all hours for service personnel and their families.

     The pub survived the Blitz and remained open until the 1950s and like much of Wapping was derelict for many years. Before the charity bought the building it was a storage depot for the parks department under the Greater London Council (GLC). A fire reduced it to more or less a shell of a building and by the1980s following the demise of the GLC, it was inherited by Tower Hamlets Council.

In 1992 after years of disrepair the Turk’s Head was brought back into use.  A sustained and spirited local campaign raised £500,000 to acquire and renovate the building. Its supporters and patrons included Tower Hamlets Environment Trust,  Bishops Victor Guazzelli and Jim Thompson,  Councillors Albert Lilley and Moulana Abu Syed, Sir Alan Shepherd of Grand Metropolitan Wharf and George Walker of Brent Walker.

     Its real movers and shakers, however, were local mothers.  Since the 1970s they had been fighting for their children to live in a safe environment. Post- war Wapping suffered from poor and unrepaired housing and following the closure of the docks, derelict warehouses and wharves. The women challenged this sense of abandonment and became advocates for residents who felt frustrated and displaced. They not only raised the money for the Turk’s Head, but ensured that it was for community benefit. Known as the “wild women of Wapping” and led by Maureen Davies, it was through their derring-do and steely determination that the Turk’s Head has survived.


The Turk’s Head Charity is proud of its successes to date, most notably of securing the landmark building the Turk’s Head.

The charity played a major role alongside the Civilians Remembered Trust in a bitterly fought battle against Berkeley Homes to gain the Hermitage Memorial Park on the Thames waterfront. This was established to gain recognition for the 30,000 civilians killed in London during World War 2.

More recently, the charity has run the annual Wapping Summer Shindig, a day when history comes alive, of music, dancing, local talent and home cooking.

We have

•  Renovated and managed the Turk’s Head as a community asset

•  Campaigned to stop a major road being driven through Wapping

•  Secured the civilian memorial park at Hermitage Wharf

•  Organised and funded the Wapping Summer Shindig

•  Created the community food garden at the Turk’s Head Café

•  Paid for 16 local residents get a Level 2 food hygiene certificate

•  Financially supported other charities in the area


Once the building was acquired from the council, the café was established and the upper floors became managed work space. The incomes from the café lease and office rental are put to charitable purposes within the community.


Maureen Davies

     “Heroine? A little over the top you think. I would disagree. Maureen was a key organizer in the battle to save the Turks Head and stop a road being ploughed through the Green Bank estate.  If that had been allowed to happen Wapping would have been lost forever.

     As we walked Maureen and other members of the History of Wapping Trust shared just some of their memories of the battles to save Wapping from developers and a disinterested council, which apparently included lying down in the road to stop works at one point.”

Text about and photo of Maureen Davies from the website below


Randal and Leyla Ycr, manager of the café who actually is from Antalya, Turkey,

Just one reason why Leila Ycr is a Wapping Hero

By Mark Baynes May 14, 2013 

     You all probably know Leila who runs the Turks Head cafe. That doesn’t really do Leila and her team justice, they do far more than run a café; they look after people.

     What you might not know is that every day Leila and her cousin Jan drive all the way from Enfield where they live to Wapping.

      Which is about 13 miles away. Quite a drive.  (I guess it is for Londoners but not many  of us Americans.)

     Anyway today the Wildlife Rangers were on patrol as usual when it started to rain.  So being a bunch of lightweights they immediately retreated to the Turks Head cafe for breakfast.

     One of the Wildlife Rangers was having a chat with Leila as he had not been in to the Turks Head for a while and so took the opportunity to catch up.

     Somehow the conversation turned to the weather and the really bad snow London and most of the south east suffered three years ago. London was at a halt, no public transport, roads impassible, no nothing.

     Most people took the day off work. Not Leila.

Apparently Leila and Jan walked all the way from Enfield to Wapping to open up the Turks Head. That’s 13 miles in thick snow. They left at 6 am and got to Wapping at around 11.30 am.

I was amazed but not surprised by this dedication. I asked Leyla why she didn’t just stay at home like everyone else?

“Because I needed to open the cafe because people would need nice hot chocolate!”she replied.

Which says it all really.

Thanks Leyla.


Photo and article about Leyla from the website below

clip_image005 clip_image006

“The Turks Head Inn supposedly held a license to serve the last quart of ale to the condemned pirates on their final journey from Newgate prison to Execution Dock.  Execution Dock, where Wapping Underground station is now,  was the official place of hanging. The criminal was hung from a rope and left for three tides, then the body was covered in tar and hung in the streets as a warning to others. The notorious Captain William Kidd was hanged there in 1701. The last men to be hanged at Execution Dock were George Davis and William Watts, who were hanged for murder and mutiny on the High Seas on the 17th December in 1830.


Community food garden at the Turk’s Head Café just next to it behind the fence.

(The hands on the clock of St John’s never move.”)

Turks Head Cafe – Resident Reviewed

     Among the all-day breakfasts are traditional English plus variants including vegetarian, eggs Florentine or Benedict, and my particular favourite, smoked salmon and eggs scrambled just the way I like them.

     For lunch there is a wide choice of sandwiches, baguettes, panini or ciabattas egg avocado and bacon, brie and cranberry, various salads, and a few Mediterranean/Turkish options, hot or cold. Kofte or kebab and rice are two regular daily specials. Ingredients are nice and fresh and vegetarians well catered for; I recommend the cold mixed mezze plate.  (Discussing Kofte is how we met Lyla and learned she was from Turkey.  That led to a much longer discussion about our stay in Turkey. )

     There is also a children’s menu and a take-away service available.  The café provides a range of coffees and teas to accompany cake or muffin desserts.

     Décor is sunny and pleasantly plain, with old local photos and maps on the walls. Most newspapers are available for diners, making this the perfect brunch stop. If weather permits, you can eat at tables in the garden, a little oasis adjacent to Wapping Gardens. A vegetable plot was recently established here, so before long there will be very fresh greens.

     A child-friendly approach makes this a valued meeting place for parent and baby groups.

From time to time the Turk’s Head further fulfils its role as a community enterprise by hosting events for the History of Wapping Trust, whose books and Christmas cards are also for sale here.

     The upper floor of the building has been converted into small business studios with the delightful name of Happiness at Work. This is certainly demonstrated by the café staff downstairs, whose service with a smile can occasionally slow down at very busy times.


Former St John’s charity school, just down the street from the Turk’s Head.   There were 50 girls and 6o boys according to the description etched into the stone.   It was started in 1760.  Over some of the doors are the words girls, boys, and infants.

Scandrett St is also the location of the former St John school. Now converted for residential use, the building has a very fine pair of Blue Coat figures over the doorway.


St John’s Old School

Although founded in 1695 – a year after the parish of Wapping itself – the building you see now dates ‘only’ to 1765. (The date on it says 1760) These are two of the finest Bluecoat statues in London, with the costume details outstanding. The separate boys and girls entrances are clearly marked.

These distinctive figures mark a charity school, many dating back to the mid-16th century, with the costumes being normal school attire of the period. Blue was used for charity school children because it was the cheapest dye available for clothing. Socks were dyed in saffron as that was thought to stop rats nibbling the pupils’ ankles.   (We saw some of these figures in Rotherhithe across from the St Mary’s where the BBC was filming an episode of New Tricks which is now one of my favorite shows and you can watch in on youtube.)

The windows of Selfridges and Harrods

Cheers and Merry Christmas

   We’ve bright sun today!   Perfect for our cruiser group to walk to the Captain Kidd pub for a noon glass of cheer.  Yesterday Randal, Singkey and I braved the constantly changing weather for the traditional window viewing of Selfridges and Harrods.  We even made the insane mistake of walking through Harrods.  Yikes!   

    As the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to shine, we walked from Selfridges to Harrods past the memorial to animals of the wars and then a pop-up amusement park in Hyde Park.  Exercise is always good especially during the days of many treats.

Wishes for a wonderful day for everyone no matter how you spend it.



Randal and Singkey on the “tube.”



Big purse!


Nutcracker Boxer Shorts.  hmmmmm

clip_image005 clip_image006


This advert for candles was lovely and had a train!


Gingerbread world of Selfridges


Most importantly is Selfridges’ contribution to Kids Company.   Our friends Lisa and Mark in the Central Basin here volunteer to help on Christmas Day when several thousand children come to have a Christmas meal and can bring their family or friends.  They are fed and entertained for the day.  At the end they are all given boxes with food and gifts to take home.  If they live far, volunteer taxis drive them.  Quite amazing event.

clip_image010 clip_image011

Lovely music that sounded as if he were plucking stings.


This unexpected memorial to the animals that served during the wars was very moving.


The mule’s ear has been rubbed shiny I think.  I know I gave it a pat.


A memorial to horses in British and Territorial Calvary



Lieutenant-Colonel  Edwin H. Richardson, OBE, FZS, and the English Airedales

In Britain Major Richardson had been training war dogs, for use with the Red Cross, as early as the 1890s, and in 1902 he was shown on an Ogden’s cigarette card captioned ‘Rendering First Aid.’ The card showed a photograph of the Major, as an ‘injured’ man, with a collie dog bearing the Red Cross insignia. Richardson’s fellow officers would spend their summers, with their regiments, doing manoeuvres not far from his home on the east coast of Scotland, and although Richardson had no official sanction, the officers would gladly try his dogs under simulated battle conditions as the soldiers trained. Some of the officers were so impressed that they wrote to the War Office asking that the idea be given recognition. 

His dogs were used during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and in 1910 were the first ever to be used by a British Police force in Hull. They had been tried three years earlier by the North Eastern Railway Company police who had grown tired of continual thefts, arsons and assaults on their officers. The reduction in these and other crimes was significant. They were later used in Glasgow, Nottingham and Liverpool, the latter at one point had 20 of Richardson’s Airedales. By 1912 Richardson and his dogs were world-renowned. Amongst his many patrons were Czar Nicholas of Russia and one regiment, the Hussars of the Imperial Guard, had 23 Airedales, supported by Doberman Pinscher’s and German Shepherd Dogs.

Despite the popularity of the German Shepherd Dog, Richardson’s English Airedales were by far the more favoured breed for use as police and war dogs, a point that was to prove somewhat disillusioning to the German military who used Airedales at the outbreak of WW1, Max von Stephanitz saying "…although shepherd dogs who had been tried out in one special regiment finished all their tests with full honours – English dogs were chosen as War dogs for German rifle battalions…" Airedales had outperformed all other purebreds! 

The  Great War – 1914-19

With the advent of the Great War of 1914-19 War dogs were truly put to the test and passed on all counts as the German military, who had 6,000 dogs ready for immediate use, used the dogs ability to the full on the battlefield as sentry, ambulance and messengers. Although using different species of dogs (Alsatians were popular), the Belgian, Bulgarian, Dutch, French (who did not discriminate on the basis of breed, it was the dog that was important), Russian and Swedish military all had canine units functioning in some capacity during the war, except the British. They all, like the Germans, used dogs for sentry, ambulance, messengers, line layers and as draught dogs carting munitions and weapons. 

Major Richardson made several unsuccessful attempts to get the British Government to use dogs but it wasn’t until 1917, at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France, where two of his dogs, the first to be trained as messengers and sent to the Front with Canadian troops, proved their worth by bringing news of the successful attack on Vimy Ridge, the dogs being used because all telephone lines were broken and visual signaling was impossible. The British Government conceded, the War Office asking Richardson to set up a War Dog School at Shoeburyness. Within a week of being asked, Richardson had sold his home and moved to Shoeburyness where intensive training commenced.


A Holiday Amusement Park had been set up in Hyde Park


Shooting into the sun which finally came out for a bit!


Every store window was dressed up for Christmas

These are all from Harrods’

I liked the scene of the women having tea.






The stuff of days past…..


The luxury of great stationary and time to write and receive letters by mail. 


The Tower of London strung lights on its trees.

A Christmas Carol Quiz

Cheers and Merry Christmas

    Hope those who celebrate are enjoying the season.  The rest of us are certainly enjoying your celebration!   Yesterday Randal, Singkey and I made our first visit to the Victoria & Albert.  What a place.  We’ve already made plans for a return visit.  A great place to go on a rainy day.  Today, rain or shine, we’re off to visit the Christmas windows of Harrods and Selfridges.  Such a London tradition.  As is Charles Dickens!  A Christmas Carol was the first book I was allowed to take out from the “adult section” of our local library.  My sixth grade teacher told the library I should have an adult card so they let me.  I have no idea the edition, something pre-1960 anyway, but the illustrations were wonderful.  I’m sure that’s half the reason I loved the story.   But it has been a while, obviously so I answered only 8 questions correctly on the Christmas Carol quiz below. 

   Public transit shuts down Christmas Day and maybe Boxing Day too so hopefully it will be nice enough for the ‘Pub Walk” Christmas noon and maybe some walks along the Thames too.

Hope everyone has a day with family, friends, or a favorite book.  Or just a cozy chair and some treats to eat.

Love and hugs,

Ru, Randal and Singkey


View from a window at the Victoria & Albert

A Christmas Carol: how well do you know the story of Scrooge? – quiz, Saturday 17 December 2011 21.00 GMT           

1. What is the surname of Dickens’ miserable protagonist Ebenezer?

Miser     Meanie    Scrooge   Cheapskate

2.   What kind of business does Ebenezer own?

A bank     A counting-house   A solicitors     A guest house

3.   What city does Ebenezer live in?

London    Edinburgh   York   Manchester

4.  What is Marley’s ghost covered in when he appears to Ebenezer?

Leaves   Snow   Chains   Tinsel

5.   What time of night does the Ghost of Christmas Past visit Ebenezer?

Midnight   1am   2am   3am

6.   What is the name of the man Ebenezer used to be apprenticed to as a boy, who the Ghost of Christmas Past showed him?

Fezziwig   Fuzziwig   Fizziwig   Furriwig

7.   What house does the Ghost of Christmas Present take Ebenezer to?

Pratchit’s   Scratchit’s   Ratchit’s   Cratchit’s

8.  What does the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come show Ebenezer to make him change his ways?

Heaven     Hell      His own grave       A 2-for-1 offer on Christmas food

9.  What gift does Ebenezer send anonymously on Christmas Day?

A nintendo Wii    A book    A prize goose    A prize turkey

10.   What year was A Christmas Carol written?

1643   1743   1843    1943

When Randal and I did our “Famous Square Mile” walking tour we passed these places with connections to both Charles Dickens and Mr. Scrooge

“From here it is a short walk to Cornhill and the heart of Dickens’ tale. We know that Scrooge’s counting-house was on a courtyard in the vicinity of Cornhill, facing "the ancient tower of a church, whose gruffold bell was always peeping down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall." Facing the church of St Michael Cornhill is Newman’s Court. Is this where Scrooge dismissed his clerk on Christmas Eve with a grudging: "You’ll be wanting the whole day tomorrow, I suppose"?



Possibly the building where Scrooge had his counting house.

Cratchit, we are told, slid down a frozen Cornhill "in honour of Christmas Eve" before racing home across the fields to Camden Town; Scrooge, meanwhile, "took his usual melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern." There are several possible candidates. Along St Michael’s Alley beside the church, the Jamaica Wine House stands on the site of London’s oldest coffee house; near here is the George and Vulture, where Dickens once stayed, and where his character Mr Pickwick lodged while being sued by his landlady for breach of promise. But the tavern which Dickens had in mind may well have been Simpson’s, which opened in 1757 in nearby Ball Court and is still open today, though hopefully a little less melancholy.–as-seen-by-scrooge-1289924.html


Site of the oldest coffee house


The George and Vulture



Maybe even the same menu, though the prices would have changed just a bit!

Westminster Abbey with Valerie


    So are you all racing around like mad getting ready for Christmas?  On Monday or Tuesday Randal, Singkey and I will go look at the windows of Harrods and Selfridges which are famous for their decorations.  On Christmas Day cruisers Sandi and Colin have invited all the rest of us to join in on one of their Christmas traditions; a walk to a nearby pub for a glass of cheer.  We’ll meet at 11:45 am and then walk together to the Captain Kidd Pub. 

   Last night Singkey cooked a wonderful soup with potatoes, dried mushrooms, dried dates, ginger, a bit of sugar and chicken wings.  I had two bowls.  The broth alone was wonderful.  I’ll have to watch her next time so I can learn to make it too. 

    This afternoon I’m off to my life drawing class.  I’m probably not getting any better, but I’m not getting any worse.

I’m afraid that this email again has many more words than photos; no camera’s allowed in most of Westminster Abbey.  It was a fascinating tour with a lovely guide and Valerie and I enjoyed it immensely.  By the time we left, I think we were both ready for a nap.  But alas, Valerie had to catch the train back to Fleet before rush hour so she could have an off-peak fare and more importantly get a seat! 

Between visiting St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey I’ve learned a bit of British History.  As it includes mention of other parts of Great Britain I can use the word British rather than English.  I have only recently learned that British and English are definitely not the same.

     “Westminster Abbey is steeped in more than a thousand years of history.  Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day.

     The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs.  (The fact that it was the coronation protected it at times during its history.)

The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart.

     A treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts, Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation’s history are buried or commemorated. Taken as a whole the tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the United Kingdom.

     The Library and Muniment Room houses the important (and growing) collections of archives, printed books and manuscripts belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, providing a centre for their study and for research into all aspects of the Abbey’s long and varied history.

My favorite part was Poet’s Corner  because, here, more than any other  place in London,  I recognize names.  Actually, I think the day we visited I was more familiar with Edward Bulwer Lytton than our very knowledgeable tour guide or the lovely visiting Canadian priest.  Lytton is buried in Westminster Abbey, but not in Poet’s Corner and that’s a very interesting story itself.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”  Remember that line?  It was originally written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

     “The Dean of Westminster was at first reluctant to give consent to Lytton’s burial in Westminster Abbey but John Forster, a friend of Dickens, urged Dean Stanley to allow it saying that if a man like Lord Lytton was not buried in the Abbey, he could not see on what ground anyone else should be included. After a letter appeared in The Times also supporting the burial,  the Dean consented, but decided that he should be buried not in Poets’ Corner but in St Edmund’s chapel to be near Sir Humphrey Bourgchier, a knight who was killed at the battle of Barnet and who appeared in one of Lytton’s romances.”

‘Literary tragedy’ of Bulwer-Lytton’s dark and stormy night under debate

Alison Flood, Tuesday 19 August 2008 15.08 BST      

     The great-great-great grandson of the much-maligned author Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton is to take part in a debate to defend his ancestor’s writing. The Honourable Henry Lytton Cobbold, of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, is travelling to Bulwer-Lytton’s namesake, the town of Lytton in Canada, to take on the founder of the International Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, Professor Scott Rice.

     Bulwer-Lytton has been ridiculed by the contest since 1982, when Rice came up with the idea for a competition to compose the opening sentence to the worst possible novel, inspired by Bulwer-Lytton’s notorious "It was a dark and stormy night". The Great Bulwer Lytton Debate will take place in Lytton, British Columbia on August 30, and will see Scott attempt to show why the opening line is a "literary tragedy".

     "I come to bury Lytton, not to praise him," said Rice. "The evil that men do lives after them, in Lytton’s case in 27 novels whose perfervid turgidity I intend to expose, denude, and generally make visible."

     "I’m off to defend his honour," Lytton Cobbold said. "Bulwer-Lytton was a remarkable man and it’s rather unfair that Professor Rice decided to name the competition after him for entirely the wrong reasons. He was a great champion of the arts, and made such a huge difference to people in all walks of life…he was politician, writer, playwright and philosopher.

     Defending Bulwer-Lytton’s "dark and stormy night", Lytton Cobbold said he believed that "to have been the first person to have penned a cliché was a mark of genius". He said that Bulwer-Lytton invented a raft of sayings we still use today, including "the pen is mightier than the sword", "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar".

     "He also left us Knebworth House, which is no bad thing," he added. "And I think the community in the town of Lytton is going to be more inclined to support me [than Scott]; Bulwer-Lytton made them quite happy – it’s partly because of him that they didn’t end up being part of America."

     In a letter yesterday to Canada’s Globe and Mail, Lytton’s mayor Chris O’Connor said the town of Lytton had had enough. "For years, Professor Rice has been making sport of Lord Edward George Bulwer Lytton, with his Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Lord Lytton was both a statesman and an author. As colonial secretary, he helped create the Crown Colony of British Columbia in 1858."

     O’Connor said he expected Lytton to be vindicated in the debate. "As he wrote, ‘One of the sublimest things in the world is the plain truth’," he said, adding: "It won’t be a ‘dark and stormy night’; the debate is at 3pm."

    The truncated version of the first line of Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel Paul Clifford does not, perhaps, do justice to the full glory of the entire line: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

     This year’s contest was won last week by 41-year-old communications director Garrison Spik, from Washington DC, for the line: "Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, NJ.’"  is the site for the contest


The north transept and rose window…and Valerie

     “The great door of the northern transept is an arch sprung from four large pillars on either side, with foliated capitals. The wall is of considerable thickness, and on each side of the great door it is formed into two arches by handsome pillars; the lesser entrances to the aisles are four pillars in depth, with ribbed roofs, having figures of angels at the intersections of the ribs. Above the doorways is a colonnade or range of pierced arches. Four massive buttresses secure the front; those at the angles terminate in octagons, and are connected with the upper part of the walls, over the side-aisles, by strong arches. Between the colonnade and the point of the roof is a beautiful "rose window," which was rebuilt in the year 1722. A great part of the north transept was rebuilt in 1828. "Time was," writes Mr. Charles Knight, "when this front had its statues of the twelve apostles at full length, and a vast number of other saints and martyrs, intermixed with intaglios, devices, and abundance of fretwork; and when, on account of its extreme beauty, it was called ‘Solomon’s Porch;’ and now, even injured as it is, the whole forms a rich and beautiful façade."

clip_image002 clip_image003

Here we are in the Cloister…I think


The west cloister… I think


Old Contemptibles, British Expeditionary Force

     In the west cloister of Westminster Abbey is a memorial to the "Old Contemptibles", or British Expeditionary Force 1914. The mural monument, of limestone and Welsh blue slate, was designed by Donald Buttress, and shows the badge of the Old Contemptibles Association at the base. The inscription,with some gilded letters, reads:

"Remember THE OLD CONTEMPTIBLES The British Expeditionary Force which served in Flanders within range of the enemy mobile artillery between 5 August and 22 November 1914. At the first battle of Ypres their stand against a force of ten times their number prevented the German advance against the Channel ports. Unveiled 15 July 1993 by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother".

The B.E.F. of 1914 consisted of a cavalry division and several infantry divisions. Its commander was Field Marshal Sir John French. The troops of the Force were later joined by re-inforcements from Canada and India. The first battle was at Mons on 23 August 1914, from where the great retreat was made in order to maintain an unbroken line with allied forces being pushed back by superior numbers. The retreat halted on the Marne and the counter-attack culminated in the first battle of Ypres. The name ‘Old Contemptibles’ arose from an Order of the Day issued by the Kaiser, which mentioned ‘Sir John French’s contemptible little army’. All ranks of the BEF who served in France and Flanders within range of the enemy artillery during the period mentioned on the memorial were entitled to call themselves ‘Old Contemptibles’.


Chapter House:

“The main series of paintings in the wall arcades were the gift of John of Northampton, a monk of Westminster from 1375-1404. The lower tiers of paintings of birds and animals were probably painted a century later. The Apocalypse series begins in the north-west bay (to the left as you enter). Some scenes are now obliterated or very faint. Each arch has four scenes from the Revelation of St John the Divine, framed in bands of red decorated with small dogs or roses. Scrolls of text appear beneath each scene. In the heads of the arches are angels playing musical instruments. The Apocalypse series is interrupted in the eastern bays by the Last Judgement or Doom group. These show Christ in Majesty robed in crimson with a golden nimbus sitting on the arc of Heaven with a globe beneath his feet. Seraphim are shown holding golden crowns and in two more arcades are crowds of figures which have the appearance of portraits. The paintings were cleaned in 1924 and in the 1980s.”  is quite interesting and also tells the story of the Abbey during the blitz.  Somewhat similar to St Paul’s, Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, “Save it at all costs.”  We’d heard that was his directive about St Paul’s. 

Mudlarking at New Crane Wharf Wapping


   A few weeks ago some of us went mudlarking along the Thames at low tide.  Here is more than you probably want to know about mudlarks, mudlarking and clay pipes.


PS  Hope any of you having to deal with the big winter storms are staying safe and warm.


My mudlarking finds   :  note the small plastic glass with the collection of pipe stems.  I may make wind chimes.  products made from found clay pipes

We call it beach combing at home; here it’s mudlarking.  One Sunday morning Sue and Ed Kelly, Sue Ross and I put on our boots, and older clothes, and went off to try our hand at mudlarking.  One can get a permit for real intensive searching, but we were just out for fun and hopefully an intact clay pipe.

Metal Detecting and Digging on the Thames Foreshore

“Thames Foreshore Access for Leisure or Pleasure including Metal Detecting and Digging

The Thames foreshore is potentially hazardous and some dangers may not always be immediately apparent. The Thames rises and falls by over 7.0m twice a day as the tide comes in and out. The current is fast and the water is cold.

Anyone going on the foreshore does so entirely at their own risk and must take personal responsibility for their safety and that of anyone with them.  In addition to the tide and current mentioned above there are other less obvious hazards, for example raw sewage, broken glass, hypodermic needles and wash from vessels.  Steps and stairs down to the foreshore can be slippery and dangerous and are not always maintained.

Before going onto the foreshore consider:

• sensible footwear and gloves

• carrying a mobile phone

• not going alone

• the tide; is it rising or falling?

Always make sure you can get off the foreshore quickly – watch the tide and make sure that steps or stairs are close by.

Finally, be aware of the possibility of Weil’s Disease, spread by rats urine in the water. Infection is usually through cuts in the skin or through eyes, mouth or nose. Medical advice should be sought immediately if ill effects are experienced after visiting the foreshore, particularly “flu like” symptoms ie temperature, aching etc.

Metal Detecting and Digging

Anyone wishing to carry out metal detecting or digging/scraping on the Thames foreshore requires a permit from the Port of London Authority.

Walking on the Thames foreshore does not require a permit.” .  talks about the conflict between “mudlarks” and archaeologists. 


Sue Ross coming down the stairs at New Crane Wharf

We were all bundled up for the cold, but the bright sun and lack of wind had us much too warm right away.


Sue Ross with her red rubber gloves and matching bag!  We did look like bag people


Ed and Sue Kelly; Sue wore her Wellies, Ed wore giant plastic bags over his shoes.

     Our main goal was to find at least one intact clay pipe.  Not an easy thing to do as they are several hundred years old in many cases.  We all found bits and pieces and Ed found a partial pipe stem with a bowl.  I found stems and bowls, two with markings! 



Leaf design  on the bowl

The Tappin family: tobacco pipe makers of Puddle Dock Hill, Blackfriars, in the City of London

Some London pipe makers produced rare decorated bowls incorporating heraldic art at this time and leaf or barley patterns were commonly used to cover seams on the bowl, as shown in Photo 5 below.


Photo 5. Leaf or branch design on pipe bowl seam to cover up any misalignment in the mould halves.

Website photo

clip_image009 clip_image010

Pipe makers’s initials G on one side and W on the other  on a  fragment that I found

White ball clay pipe

One bowl has the letters W.G. stamped on the rear of the bowl instead of T.D. It also has a “W” on the left side of the heel and a “G” on the right side. The W.G. versions, according to Walker (1972:37), “are possibly slightly later than the others – their earliest occurrence appears to be on American Revolutionary War sites – but they are perhaps the most common, and in derived forms certainly the longest lasting”. Walker also reports that the W.G. version “continued with steadily – degenerating decorative motifs to ca. 1830” (1972:37).

Office of History and Archaeology – words

State of Alaska > Natural Resources > Parks and Outdoor Recreation > History and Archaeology 

Castle Hill Archaeological Project

Evolution of clay tobacco pipes in England

Shortly after 1700, pipes changed in quality, being more accurately made, with a smoother finish and with thinner walls and slender stems. The top of the rim was now trimmed parallel to the stem, as shown in Photo 4. This also shows the maker’s letter W on the side of the heel.

Post-1700 pipe with the bowl rim trimmed parallel to the pipe stem. Note the letter W on the heel, this denotes the maker’s surname began with W. On the left hand side of the heel is the letter I (often used in place of J) representing the Christian name.

clip_image012  website photo

    Now mudlarking is a hobby.  Once upon a time children were sent out to search for anything that could be sold or used.  our visit to the Museum of London where I first read about mudlark children.   good information always on the Spitalfields Life site.

And then I got carried away as I often do and came across a Sir Laurenc Oliver film about a Mudlark.  You can watch it online. 

The Mudlark 1950 film

When Wheeler, a young orphan who survives as a scavenger on the mudflats of the River Thames in late nineteenth-century England, comes upon a dead man, he steals his small cameo plaque of Queen Victoria although he does not know who she is. Two other urchins try to take the cameo away from "The Mudlark" but are stopped by a night watchman, who tells him about the Queen, who is known as "The Mother of England." The night watchman also mentions that she has lived in seclusion in Windsor Castle since the death of her husband, Prince Albert, fifteen years earlier, and Wheeler, intrigued by the Queen’s motherly appearance, makes his way to Windsor Castle to try to see her. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli has come to visit Victoria and tells John Brown, Prince Albert’s former servant and now confidant of the Queen, of his concern about her continued seclusion. In an audience with the Queen, Disraeli informs her that the passage of an important reform program is being vigorously opposed and needs her total support and that her seclusion is creating a very negative impression. Disraeli advises her to accept an invitation to attend the one hundreth anniversary celebration of the Lambeth Foundling Hospital. However, Victoria does not wish to leave Windsor, even for a brief period, as it holds such fond memories of her late husband. Meanwhile, Wheeler enters the castle grounds, falls down a coal shute and finds his way into the Queen’s private chambers. Emily Prior, the Queen’s Maid of Honor, is romantically involved with Guards officer Lt. Charles McHatten, but her mother, Lady Margaret Prior, does not approve of the match due to Charles’s low social standing. Charles has sought permission from Lady Margaret and the Queen to marry Emily but both forbid Emily to see Charles again. Emily responds that she will marry whom she wishes and that the Queen can no longer control her life. Wheeler, meanwhile, is discovered in the Queen’s dining room by maid Kate Noonan and footman Slattery, an Irishman who tries to impress Kate by saying he is plotting against the monarchy. They hide Wheeler behind some curtains as the Queen, Disraeli and other dinner guests enter. During the dinner, Wheeler falls asleep and his snoring causes him to be discovered. As there have already been several attempts on the Queen’s life, he is regarded with great suspicion. Wheeler reveals that he has overhead Slattery saying that he wanted to burn down the castle. Brown interrogates the boy but, realizing he is starving, orders him to be fed, even instructing him on the proper use of a fork. Meanwhile, Emily, who has decided to elope, leaves a note for her mother and goes to meet Charles. However, he is Officer of the Day and is summoned to question Wheeler, leaving Emily waiting in the rain. Brown, a Scot with a fondness for the national drink, takes a liking to the boy and gives him a tour of the castle, even permitting him to sit on the Queen’s throne. However, they are discovered by Charles, and Wheeler is handed over to the police as a potential assassin and is held prisoner in the Tower of London. The Queen orders Disraeli to have the case against the boy handled with great caution and with as little public comment as possible as there is speculation that Wheeler might be part of an Irish plot. A police officer rounds up some of the cronies and fellow scavengers Wheeler thinks could testify to his character, but they claim not to recognize him. Meanwhile, Emily and Charles have planned another elopement rendezvous, but this time he is summoned to see Disraeli and Emily is left waiting once again. Later, after the Queen indicates to Emily that her position on the marriage might be changing, Emily and Charles finally keep a rendezvous. In the House of Commons, Devoy, an Irish Member, denounces the newspaper characterizations of Irish involvement in the Wheeler case. Disraeli agrees that Wheeler acted alone and uses the boy’s life story in his campaign for major social reforms, which gain overwhelming support from the Members. Later, Disraeli tells Wheeler that the government has arranged for his care and schooling. Displeased by a rebuke in Disraeli’s speech, the Queen summons him to Windsor. The prime minister tells her that although she may not approve of his method, his campaign has been successful. He then offers to resign. Brown defuses the situation by interjecting that Victoria’s late husband would have approved of Disraeli’s actions. Wheeler has sneaked into the castle again, and Brown presents him to the Queen, who tells him that he is a very naughty boy. He touches her heart, however, when he shows her the cameo he has saved and says that he only wanted to see her. The Queen thanks him and instructs Disraeli to watch over him. Later, Queen Victoria ends her seclusion and appears at the hospital’s celebration where she is, once more, greeted with affection by her subjects.  Part one of the Mudlark   Part two of the Mudlark


A future treasure we left behind


My gloves started to fall apart I guess from a mixture of Thames River water and whatever  cleaning fluid I’d used the gloves with previously.  Luckily I’d gotten a Tetanus booster while we were home in October.


Ed trying to unwrap himself at the end of our mudlarking. 


Leave behind only footprints!


S E R WHITE & is all I know.  There’s a W on the bottom.  So far no luck finding any info.  I may try a grocery store or pub and ask them.


Possibly a bottle topper with a teardrop shpe inside.


It reminds me of those blue ceramic chickens!


Clay tobacco pipes and smoking in London

     Tobacco plants from the New World were first cultivated in Europe as early as the middle of the 16th century, when they were prized for their exotic appearance and supposed medicinal properties when taken in the form of snuff. The earliest account of a pipe being used to smoke dried tobacco leaves comes from England and dates the introduction of the practice to the 1570s. English adventurers exploring the eastern seaboard of North America in the age of Elizabeth I had encountered native peoples smoking dried tobacco in pipe-like instruments made from clay. Unsurprisingly, they introduced the habit to their home country, where it quickly became both fashionable and popular. By the end of the 16th century, smoking had become widespread in England and a pipemaking industry was growing rapidly to meet the ever-increasing demand. The earliest pipes were handmade, but by the end of the 16th century, the use of moulds greatly increased productivity and efficiency of manufacture.

At first London was the focus of this new industry, although from the mid 17th century onwards more and more centres around the country began to make clay tobacco pipes, each developing their own individual variations on the basic form.  In 1619 the Charter of Incorporation of the Tobacco Pipemakers of Westminster was signed by 36 individuals, representing more than half of the 62 pipemakers recorded in London at this date. Pipes made by some of these men are illustrated here. A new Charter of Incorporation was granted in 1634 and signed by 22 pipemakers at a time when the industry was beginning to expand increasingly to other regions outside the capital. In 1663 the company was reconstituted by a new charter and reorganised as a City Company without livery. These major developments in the growth of the pipemaking industry during the 17th century provide the background to a major project undertaken by MoLAS, with generous funding by the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT), to create and make available to the public and researchers a database of marked clay pipes found in London excavations.

Clay pipes and the archaeologist

     One of the most valuable features of clay pipes, from an archaeological perspective, is the fact that they can be closely dated. Improvements in technology, the rapid growth of the tobacco trade with the New World, bringing down prices, fashion and taste all worked together to bring about progressive developments in the shape and size of the clay pipe bowl. In 1969 David Atkinson and Adrian Oswald published a typology of London clay tobacco pipes, based on the association of dated groups of finds excavated by the Guildhall Museum and identified pipemakers. Changes and variations in form were charted at roughly 30-year intervals, providing an invaluable guide to dating that remains the basis of present clay pipe studies in London.

Since clay pipes were essentially disposable items, universally and easily obtainable and thrown away after only a few smokes, their potential for dating archaeological deposits is considerable. They do, however, have an importance that goes far beyond chronology, throwing light on the role and history of leisure and recreation in daily life, furthering our understanding of the place of smoking in society, and the organisation of the industry across the country. Their study can contribute to the comparison of regional economies within the London area, trade and contact with other regions, as well as with the Continent and North America. For these reasons excavated pipe assemblages from London are recorded in some detail, and not only on form and date. The data are stored in the MoLAS relational database and have been used in the creation of this web page. These routinely record the presence and extent of milling and burnishing, as indicators of quality, as well as decoration, which became increasingly popular from the later 18th century onwards.

From early on in the life of the industry tobacco pipemakers marked their pipes with their initials or with a symbol such as a fleur-de-lys or a wheel. The majority of pipes were not marked, but those that are give valuable clues to date and area of manufacture when they can be related to documented pipemakers. This is by no means always possible, especially with common combinations of initials and with symbols. Nonetheless, many London pipes have been identified as the work of known pipemakers with varying degrees of certainty and a picture of their distribution and the organisation of the industry has begun to emerge.    Society for Clay Pipe Research

St. Paul’s Cathedral with Valerie


      I wish I could have taken photos inside St Paul’s but they’re not allowed.  As I knew that ahead of time, I almost brought no camera at all.  At the last minute I took my old smaller camera which weighs less.  I was glad I did as we could take pictures while outside at the dome.  This email is really just a very bit about St Paul’s which has a long, long history. 



Walking towards St. Paul’s Cathedral with Valerie in the tan coat.


December 29, 1940

And perched high above Fleet Street, photographer Herbert Mason captured the astonishing sight of the cathedral dome, surrounded by devastation but still standing proud.

Read the amazing story below or the full story at the link above

clip_image003 clip_image004

The National Firefighters Memorial across from St Paul’s Cathedral

     “On the 4th May 1991 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother graciously unveiled the Bronze Memorial Statue following a moving service in St Paul’s Cathedral. Her Majesty congratulated the Trustees and the Guild of Firefighters, (now the Worshipful Company of Firefighters) together with the Sculptor John Mills, on this achievement. The Memorial, very aptly named “Blitz”, depicting an officer and two firefighters engaged on operational firefighting during the war years, had on its octagonal bronze base the names of some 997 men and women who sadly lost their lives during the conflict.

     In 2003 the Memorial was elevated and the additional names of those lost in peacetime were inscribed in bronze on the raised base. The Memorial was re-dedicated to coincide with the Service of Remembrance, by HRH The Princess Royal. A total of some 1,192 names were added in bronze to the Memorial.

     The original sculpture was the work of John Mills a very skilled artist. Rarely do you see such a work of art with three life sized bronze figures actively engaged in their professional duties.

Carter Lane Gardens

St Paul’s Churchyard

City of London


“………It would take more than a miracle to save St Paul’s. It would demand acts of heroism from an army of ­firefighters, men and women, to keep 1,700 pumps working ­flat-out.

They were hampered by ruptured water mains, which meant vital pressure levels were falling. Even the Thames was at a low ebb, so river water was clogging the hoses with mud.

“While the men manned the pumps, the women were driving petrol carriers, canteen vans and staff cars into the thickest parts of the blaze, ensuring the pumps had fuel to keep going,” author Francis Beckett says…….

Fourteen firefighters were killed that night and 250 injured, yet their sacrifice was barely ­recognised at the time. Two who died together tackling a blaze on City Road had to be buried together, because their widows could not afford separate funerals.

It would have taken just one spark to ignite the roof timbers of the cathedral and turn the dome into a river of lead. But next morning amid the smouldering ruins it was still there, a stirring vision of hope for the country.

In his own words, as he risked his life in the heat of the inferno, volunteer fireman Harold Newell summed up its importance. “If St Paul’s goes down, then we all go down,” he said…….”  Read the whole amazing story here   One man’s memories.

Valerie and I had a wonderful tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral which has a long history way before the blitz.

It was gutted in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt by Christopher Wren. tells the history far better than I could.

My favorite part of the Cathedral was the American Memorial Chapel. tells the moving story of the American Memorial Chapel HONORING THE AMERICAN SERVICEMEN BASED IN THE BRITISH ISLES


We were a varied group of folks taking the tour: one woman was even from Ernakulam, India; the town where I had my Ayurvedic massage for my sciatica.  There were people from Australia and Israel as well as a few of us run-of-the-mill North Americans.  

  One of my reasons for wanting to visit St Paul’s was the “sort of challenge” from a bike buddy, Dick in Salem, VA to climb to the top of St. Paul’s dome.  It was one thing I hadn’t done when visiting Florence in 2000, climb the stairs to Brunelleschi’s Dome in the Florence Cathedral.   (I have hiked Mt. Snowdon in  Wales with my pal Martha ; but we missed being able to climb Mt Fugi while in Japan. )  So anyway, while we were at St Paul’s,  Valerie and I climbed the dome.  At one point, the stairs between the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery, change to those metal see through stairs and  wind around and around and up, which is very dizzifying as they would say in the play Wicked.  But just as we were about to begin climbing the stairs,  a school group of 10 year old kids started behind us.  Many were saying they were afraid but others were encouraging them.  The poor teacher was trying to figure out what to do.  All that discussion certainly took my mind off the stairs and focused me on staying ahead of the hordes of kids.  Valerie and I just kept going up not thinking about what going down would be like. 


Valerie and I walked from the Crypt to the Golden Gallery, so even more than the 528 feet.  The viewing platform of the Monument I’d climbed was 48.7 metres above the ground. 


Looking down over the roof of St Paul’s and beyond from the lower Stone Gallery: you can see the London Wheel


Even higher: Looking down on St Paul’s itself from the Golden Gallery.


Outside on the Golden Gallery above the Dome.

I took this photo of St Paul’s  from the ground  while we were on our “Blitz” tour. 


I believe that’s the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern across the way.

Water from the Thames was used to put out fires during the bombings except one fateful night when the Thames was at a very low tide.  But that story I’ll tell with the “Blitz tour.” 


We didn’t receive a certificate as you do when you climb The Monument; but here’s proof we were up at the top.

Theatre collapse


  Just want to send a  “quick”  email saying that Valerie and I had been at the other Apollo Victoria Theatre  where we saw Wicked and not at the Apollo West End where The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night was playing and where the roof caved in last night.    Pretty scary.   I remember when part of our just renovated Vinton Branch Library collapsed, but the quick thinking of the staff who worked there got everyone out unhurt.  Of course it was a much smaller space, but still very scary.   The Apollo Victoria theatre holds 2208 people!  I think it was quite full too and some performances when I looked for Ticketmaster tickets were sold out!!!

   Both Valerie and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the Apollo.  We had super seats,  3rd row of the stalls in the middle of the row so we felt “in the play” at times.  It was definitely worth the ton of money we paid for our tickets.   I’ve learned since then, better to go to Leicester Square and stand in line and pay a whole lot less. (We have cruising friends who are giving the gift of “line standing for them” to their visiting daughter and her partner.)   But Valerie and I had a specific play to see and a specific date so I opted for Ticketmaster.  And it was almost watching the play on DoraMac.  We only had to walk the 5 minutes to the Tube at Tower Hill and then get off at Victoria to walk the 5 minutes to the theatre.  Really easy. 

  The performance was wonderful.  Harry Potter meets Legally Blond meets Thelma and Louise with a very tiny bit of Ann Frank.  Sound intriguing?  Made me want to revisit The Wizard of Oz.  One of my favorite TV shows when I can see it is Once Upon A Time which has now added Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West,  who I can no longer see as Wicked but really rather heroic!  I liked the music quite a bit too.  Made me want to see more plays while we’re here. 

  I have no photos; sorry.   Didn’t even think to bring my camera because I was afraid they’d not be allowed in.    Actually none of the places Valerie and I visited allowed photos, Wicked, St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey.  I could actually concentrate on the tour guide!  But I am really sorry I have no photos to share. 

  Yesterday afternoon Randal and I went on a London Walks.  It was “The Blitz” and focused on the area around St Paul’s Cathedral.  Very sad but very interesting.  I did take photos then and eventually will get around to writing all the stories we heard.

   So that’s about it for today.  Our Chinese daughter Singkey is arriving today from Birmingham University.  She will spend several weeks with us during her winter break.  For her it will be only partly break as she has her Master’s thesis to work on.  But we will do some fun things too. 


    Synopsis and Song List

The musical begins in sorcery school where two young students, Elphaba and Galinda, are thrown together in a tumultuous relationship that will span ambition, morality, love and eventually friendship. At first, bubbly Galinda clashes with down-to-earth Elphaba, a conflict further complicated by the fact they both begin to have feelings for Fiyero, a Winkie prince. However, they both realise their powers as sorceresses and work together to fight the oppressive regime of the Wizard, who is slowly but surely stripping away the rights of Animals. As Elphaba’s power threatens the establishment, she must decide if she is willing to risk everything to save Oz.

Apollo Victoria Theatre

17 Wilton Road




Currently showcasing hit musical Wicked, the Apollo Victoria Theatre has a heritage dating back to 1929 when it was opened as a state-of-the-art cinema, commissioned by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT) to accommodate the growing popularity of ‘talking pictures’. The theatre was designed by the architect Ernest Walmsley Lewis along an Art Deco style that still remains to this day; upon its official opening in 1930, the Gaumont British News charmingly called the interior of the theatre ‘a fairy cavern under the sea, or a mermaid’s dream of heaven’. In the decades following the theatre, known as the New Victoria Cinema, was renowned as a place to watch film, variety and even big band performances within walking distance of bustling Victoria Station.

Past Shows

Despite its cinematic origins, the building closed in 1975 and was reopened as the New Victoria Theatre, shifting its focus on to more musical content. A concert was scheduled to celebrate the new opening, with Shirley Bassey performing as a headline act! The theatre hosted a series of well-loved musicals in the late seventies and early eighties including Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and Camelot, before becoming the venue for the debut performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s exciting new musical Starlight Express. The interior of the auditorium was completely redesigned for the production, with race tracks running through the audience and modifications to incorporate a split-level rollerskating rink.

The rehaul proved to be entirely justified when Starlight Express went on to have huge success, playing at the theatre for an amazing 18 years before finally closing in 2002 to make way for another Lloyd Webber musical, the Bollywood-inspired Bombay Dreams. The A. H. Rahman production ran for two successful years before ending in 2004, after which it was followed by the classic Saturday Night Fever for a brief stint and then Movin’ Out, the Billy Joel musical. This moved out in February 2006 to allow for preparations for Wicked, which opened in September the same year to rapturous praise and overwhelming commercial success, with the musical presently going from strength to strength and showing no signs of slowing down for the foreseeable future.

The Apollo Victoria Theatre is one of London’s largest theatres, with the capacity to seat 2208 people during a performance. It is built on two levels; the upper tier, known as the Circle, and the lower tier closest to the stage, known as the Stalls.


Unlike a lot of other London theatres the Apollo Victoria is only split across two levels as opposed to three or four. This does have its advantages, as it means that whatever price you pay you are unlikely to be stuck right up in the gods on the fourth tier, although it can make choosing your seat a little harder as it is difficult to know which tickets provide the best value for money.

Access and Facilities

•A cloakroom is available

•There are bars on both levels

•There are male and female toilets located on both levels

•Wheelchair access is available on the Circle level

Portsmouth continued


   Saturday I joined a walking tour in Bloomsbury based on several “Sketches by Boz” and luckily I’d actually read one of them that morning.  Sunday Sue and Ed Kelly, Sue Ross and I went mudlarking on the Thames looking for treasures.  We had no license so we were only allowed to pick up what was visible and not “dig” for anything.  It was lots of fun and I’ll write about it when I’ve finished with Portsmouth.  That may not be for a bit as a cruising pal is coming to visit for a few days so we’ll be out and about. 

   In the meantime I hope all of you can avoid as much of the bad, cold weather as you can.  Ours has actually been lovely the past several days and hopefully will continue while Valerie is here visiting.


      During our visit to Portsmouth we visited the HMS Victory, The HMS Warrior and The Mary Rose Museum.  There were also buildings dedicated to the Royal Navy and Lord Nelson.    But my favorite was the  Antiques Storehouse where I bought an old black and white postcard  showing Tower Bridge and the Tower of London taken from The Monument.  I’ll have to compare it to the photos I took from up top or I might have to climb up again to check how different the view is today.  I’m not actually sure of the postcard’s date and will have to see if I can find that out. 

“The largest antiques centre on the South Coast.  Situated in Storehouse 9, you will find 6,000 sq feet of stunning and quirky antiques, art and collectables. We always exhibit:

•400 paintings and etchings from the 17th to 20th Century

• Classic furniture covering early English oak to Victorian

•Ceramics and glassware such as vintage Royal Doulton, Lalique, Beswick, Goss and Staffordshire

•Militaria including antique swords, black powder weapons, cannons, de-activated guns, badges and uniforms

•Maritime items featuring original ship binnacles, telegraphs, wheels, model ships and Titanic artefacts

Plus jewellery, antiquities, early toys, bronzes and so much more!”

The Mary Rose

      The Mary Rose had a tragic ending but was ultimately half saved by the mud she sank into. 

“The Mary Rose is a Tudor ship, built in 1510.

In service for 34 years.     Sank in 1545.     Discovered in 1971.

Raised in 1982.     Now in the final stages of conservation, she takes her place in a stunning and unique museum”

clip_image001  explains why she sank in the first place:  Human Error, The Winds, The French, or Oveloading are all offered as possible explanations. 


Remains of the Mary Rose


A touch screen test to see how many ships you could capture rather than sink. 

On our first tries Randal and I each sank a bunch but only captured 4 ships.  On his second attempt Randal captured 10!  The point was to capture the ship as a spoil of war.


Mary Rose menu

No meat on Friday was interesting to me as England by then was a Protestant country under Henry VIII.

(But that’s a whole other long complicated issue I’m not getting into here.)

“Fine pewter dishes, plates, tankards and spoons were found on the wreck, which were probably used by the officers. However, the site also contained lots of wooden bowls, dishes, plates and tankards, which are an extremely important find as these kinds of everyday domestic objects were normally just thrown away rather than kept for posterity.

In the galley, down in the hold just in front of the step for the main mast, were two massive brick ovens. The crew’s food was cooked here in two large cauldrons supported on iron bars over a fire box. Smaller bronze, iron and ceramic cooking pots were also found nearby.

The excavation also found casks containing meat bones, both cattle and pig. It looks as if the animals were butchered to meet certain standards – for instance, there were no marrow bones as presumably they would have gone off more quickly than other bones.

The food remains were analysed early on in the excavation and give historians an invaluable insight into how much food was needed to run a ship like the Mary Rose.

The findings have enabled ‘experimental archaeology’, where experts recreate the cooking facilities and the type and variety of meals that might have been on the Mary Rose. “

clip_image006  seen from the café


After our very chilly visit on the HMS Warrior we shared this giganto cut of caramel latte.   There was no organized tour so we just wandered so very interesting to me. 


   Warrior was designed and built in response to an aggressive French shipbuilding programme which saw the introduction of the first iron-clad warship La Gloire designed by the brilliant naval architect Stanislas Charles Henri Dupuy de Lome.

     Determined to see off this challenge to the supremacy of the Royal Navy the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir John Somerset Pakington, determined to build a ship so superior in terms of quality, speed, size, armament and armour that it would be inconceivable to France that she could take Britain on in a sea battle.

     When commissioned by Captain the Hon. Arthur Auckland Leopold Pedro Cochrane, on August 1st 1861, Warrior was the largest warship in the world, at 9,210 tons displacement she was fully 60% larger than La Gloire.

     The ship underwent minor modifications after a sea trial. In June 1862, she started active service in the Channel Squadron, patrolling coastal waters and sailing to Lisbon and Gibraltar.

     Having introduced a revolution in naval architecture, by 1864 Warrior was superseded by faster designs, with bigger guns and thicker armour. By 1871 she was no longer regarded as the crack ship she had once been, and her roles were downgraded to Coastguard and reserve services. In May of 1883 her fore and main masts were found to be rotten, and not considered worth the cost of repair, Warrior was placed in the reserve, eventually converted to a floating school for the Navy and re-named Vernon III in 1904.

Put up for sale as scrap in 1924, no buyer could be found, and so, in March 1929 she left Portsmouth to be taken to Pembroke Dock and converted into a floating oil pontoon, re-named again as Oil Fuel Hulk C77. By 1978, she was the only surviving example of the ‘Black Battlefleet’ – the 45 iron hulls built for the Royal Navy between 1861 and 1877.


Our view from breakfast at the bus/train station Café! 

They do great eggs, toast and tea  just down the street from the Dockyards.  You can see some of the Warrior and the Dockyard Buildings.  You can also see a flag on the top of the photo.  It’s an American flag which is flown out of courtesy for the American Nuclear Sub, the Missouri which was in port for a visit.    More about that next email with the photos from our short harbor tour. 


By our second day we were regulars and by the third morning…..


Layout of the Historic Dockyards

The Mary Rose Museum is the dark building up in the right hand corner and the Victory is just near-by.

The Warrior is near the park entrance as is the Porter’s Garden in the lower right.

The porters  (very different from what we think of in the US as porters.)

Two porters lived in the Porter’s Lodge from 1739-1800, William Woodrow (1739-1780) and Thomas Butler (1780-1800).

    The porter had three functions. He guarded dockyard boundaries and property and marked working hours by ringing the muster bell and closing the gate against latecomers. To prevent excessive theft of timber, ‘chips’, he allowed ‘no Person to pass out of the Dock Gates with great Coats, large Trousers or any other outer dress that can conceal stores of any kind.’ He also sold beer to the men ‘to enable them the better to carry on their labour and not to distemper them’. The Porter’s life is revealed through his job and outside activities. In 1753, described as a ‘Gentleman’, Woodrow was one of the original pew owners of St George’s Chapel, owning one of the larger pews on the ground floor costing £30. He was the public face of the dockyard, the daily interface between the inside and outside communities.



The Porter’s Lodge

The Porter’s Lodge was built in 1708 and is the Dockyard’s oldest surviving building, but an earlier Porter’s watch house stood at the gate in 1698. Other dockyard officers, whose gardens survive, lived in the Commissioner’s house and Long and Short Rows.

The Friends of the Porter’s Garden

For the millennial ‘Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour’, in 1998 Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust commissioned landscape architects Camlin Lonsdale to design a new garden on the site of the former Porter’s garden. During the twentieth century the site had been used for police cells, the Police Superintendent’s Office and an air raid shelter, so it was an architectural confusion. Hampshire Gardens Trust and local residents were consulted. In Spring 2000 a Friends’ committee was set up.

clip_image014 clip_image015

St Fiacre, Patron Saint of Gardeners….catching rain water into a barrel equiped with spiggots. 


The garden wall with the police cells buiding at the far end.

“The dockyard wall – the garden wall – was built in 1711, so that ‘Ill disposed people inclineing to Purloine, are shut out from doing hurt from the Land’. It also defined the boundary of the Porter’s garden. The gate provided the setting for many embezzlements and a dramatic labour dispute in 1743. It was also used to publish regulations and invite tenders for dockyard contracts and outside projects, such as St George’s Chapel, built in 1753 by dockyard shipwrights and house carpenters.”


Believe it or not…..




Friends of the Porter’s Garden

     “The Friends of the Porter’s Garden were established in 2001 to care for a new garden laid out on the site of the former garden belonging to the Porter’s Lodge (1708), the oldest building in the Dockyard.  Their planting schemes use the kind of plants and flowers which would have been found in an 18th century garden.

     As well as tending the garden all year round, the Friends raise funds by holding a summer garden party, by taking stalls at the annual Dockyard Festival of Christmas and by selling plants along with jams and chutneys made from organic produce grown in their own gardens or in the Porter’s Garden.  Each year they also arrange a series of visits to other historic gardens.

     In 2009 the garden was extended to include the area beside Boathouse 6.  The new Raised Garden is of minimalist style comprising four walnut trees, a raised bed within the retaining wall alongside the slipway, elegant swathes of Bredon gravel and new granite steps.  Designed by the Trust’s architectural Trustee, Sir Colin Stansfield Smith CBE, the Raised Garden was formally opened by Mike Hall, Chairman of Hampshire Gardens Trust.”


Antarctic Explorer Robert Scott

Adjacent to Porter’s Lodge is a statue of Antarctic explorer Robert Scott, commissioned and sculptured by his widow.  The statue was previously in Long Row in the working Naval Base

“Edith Agnes) Kathleen Scott (née Bruce,  later Lady Kennet) (1878-1947), Sculptor; former wife of Robert Falcon Scott and wife of  1st Baron Kennet

     Sitter in 15 portraits

     Artist of 3 portraits

Kathleen Scott achieved distinction as a traditional sculptor working in clay from life and during the 1930s her portraits were much in demand.  She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art,  Atelier Colarossi in Paris, and with Rodin.  In 1908 she married the Polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott and was widowed four years later.  By then she had an established career as a sculptor.  Her sitters included Shaw, Lloyd George, Yeats, Galsworthy and Lawrence.

“The "absolute hell" endured a century ago by the youngest member of Scott of the Antarctic’s team on the first British expedition to reach the South Pole has been revealed in 27 letters to his mother that have newly come to light.

The correspondence by Apsley Cherry-Garrard describes his torment both on the expedition and on finding the frozen bodies of his doomed companions, his subsequent physical and mental breakdown, and the team’s acute fear of being perceived as failures back home because their Norwegian rival, Roald Amundsen, had reached the South Pole a month before them.

Led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the Terra Nova team and its feats evoke a heroic age of polar exploration. The letters cover the whole span of the expedition, from its departure in June 1910 to the tragic return of the survivors to New Zealand in February 1913.”   The entire article is worth reading.

The Navy wasn’t just about battles; it was also about exploration something I’d not thought about.


William Edward Parry’s expeditions, 1819–25

Ships Hecla, Griper, Fury

Navigated Lancaster Sound and reached as far as Melville Island – penetrated further west than any previous expedition

Demonstrated that one could effectively winter far north in the Arctic.

The race to the South Pole

This site, part of the Royal Museums of Greenwich (where we intend to visit) tells the story of the British exploration of the Antarctic.