We took a short visit to our capital city on Sunday.
And amongst other things I stumbled across Central Saint Giles – a development designed by Renzo Piano (see also The Shard) sat in the shadows of Centre Point. On a unremittingly grey January day it was nice to see some colour.
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Tags: Architecture, Central Saint Giles, Centre Point, Hot Chip, London, Renzo Piano, The Shard
More finery from the tremendous folk at Cafe Royal Books.
This time a couple of books from founder Craig Atkinson on the Trellick Tower and the Barbican. And thirdly a superfine publication from Homer Sykes, Once a Year: Folklore in Britain Now - which is in essence highlights of his now out of print book published in 1977, Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs, a book I’m now very keen to seek out.
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Tags: Barbican, Cafe Royal Books, Craig Atkinson, Homer Sykes, Once a Year: Folklore in Britain Now, Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs, Trellick Tower
Given that I’ve been a boy of moderately good behaviour over the last year, I was lucky enough to become the proud owner of one of Lego’s architectural sets on Christmas Day. As you’ll have hopefully worked out from the picture above the set in question was the Palace of Westminster’s Clock Tower, which of course also goes by the name of Big Ben.
So on the day that the most iconic building in Britain sits up front and central in the nations mind I thought it only right to share my love of connecting small blocks of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene together and at the same time point you in the direction of Ian McMillan’s series of short programmes celebrating the BBC broadcasting the chimes of Big Ben for over ninety years (the first of which is below).
Happy new year!
Filed under: Architecture, Lego, Radio | 2 Comments
Tags: Architecture, BBC, Big Ben, Happy New Year!, Ian McMillan, Lego
The first Ladybird Book that ever came into my possession was ‘Going To School’.
I received this book (I think) as a leaving gift from the play school I attended before entering the world of education proper at the age of five. Given the fact I have almost no memories before the age of about twelve (which gives some credence to the fact that I may have been raised by wolves) it’s difficult to confirm the facts of this matter other than with reference to the inscription on the inside cover, which does seem to corroborate this assertion.
Almost forty years or so later I’ve added to the collection and in fact at the last count have just over seven hundred Ladybird books. To be honest although the numbers involved would suggest otherwise I’m quite a low rent collector, in so much that most of the books I own have been gleaned from charity shops or car boot sales, and whilst it’s always nice to pick up the occasional pristine first edition I’m more than happy to add a book that shows that it’s been well received by it’s previous owner, or at the very least signed by John Craven.
So given my predilection for the work of Wills & Hepworth I’m pleased to say that tonight on the mighty BBC4 they are showing a documentary called ‘The Ladybird Books Story – The Bugs That Got Britain Reading’. And although I wasn’t asked to appear on the programme (being neither a celebrity or startlingly telegenic – although I am obviously a bit bitter) I have made a small somewhat ephemeral contribution that will no doubt have found it’s way on the cutting room floor. Though even with that said I still recommend you set aside an hour of your time this evening immersed in the wonderful world or Ladybird Books.
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Tags: BBC4, Books, Ladybird, Ladybird Books, The Bugs That Got Britain Reading, The Ladybird Books Story, Timeshift, Wills & Hepworth
In order to take the picture above earlier this year (over at Happisburgh in Norfolk) I rose just after four in the morning to take the short drive to the coast. Minutes later I was stood on the beach watching the sun rise.
I awoke at an almost identical time this morning to find the sun wasn’t scheduled to make an appearance until just after 8am, which to a man running on depleted levels of serotonin was more than a little disappointing.
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Tags: Kill The Wolf, Matt Berry], Solstice
Whilst in the wilds of Northumberland I also got to spend a little time admiring one of my favourite buildings in Newcastle.
Originally called Swan House*, it now rather sadly goes by the hideous name of 55 Degrees North. Built in the late 1960s and designed by Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners (that’s Robert Matthew of Royal Festival Hall fame), the building has been described, somewhat predictably, by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle as a “monstrosity” and “one of the biggest eyesores on Tyneside”. Originally erected as the north’s response to the Post Office Tower (in use rather than style) it sits on concrete stilts above the Pilgrim Street traffic roundabout in the centre of the city, oblivious to it’s surroundings as traffic flows past which in turn returns the compliment by ignoring the building as it does so.
When British Telecom decided that the building was surplus to requirements it was eventually redeveloped in 2002, and as such I suppose I should be happy the construction of “165 executive flats, shops, bars and restaurants in a Continental-style plaza” has at least left the construction in situ. In fact given the clearance of some of the buildings surrounding it, including the equally maligned (and now sadly demolished) Bank of England building designed by Sir Basil Spence, it’s looking even grander than ever – as carbuncles go it’s an inordinately handsome one.
*The building’s original name derived from the area’s link to Joseph Swan, inventor of the electric lightbulb. And as it happens it was on this very day in 1878 that his invention was first shown to a meeting at the Newcastle Chemical Society, followed a couple of years later with Moseley Street, which meets the Pilgrim Street roundabout, becoming the first street in Britain to be illuminated by incandescent bulbs.
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Tags: 55 Degrees North, Bank of England, British Telecom, Joseph Swan, Lighbulb, Moseley Street, Newcastle, Newcastle Chemical Society, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Northumberland, Pilgrim Street, Robert Matthew, Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners, Royal Festival Hall, Sir Basil Spence, Swan House
To be frank there aren’t many places I’d up sticks from dear old Norfolk for but in another life I’d be happy to trade my time on the edge of the flatlands for the dark skies of Britain’s most northerly county.
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Tags: Dark Skies, Embleton Bay, Joseph Turner, Mr Joseph Mallord William Turner, Northumberland, Turner