Ready to go

While going away on a trip or a holiday is fun, for me there is always a downside: it involves taking Freya to the cattery. I start to feel anxious days before and this uncomfortable feeling intensifies as we come nearer and nearer to the date of departure.

I suffered the same anxiety over my previous cat, so it has nothing to do with the particular cat or with the cattery. The cattery we use today is very good and looks after Freya, perhaps better than she deserves, given her grumpy and even fractious behaviour while there.

My emotional discomfort comes, I think, from the fact that I cannot explain to the cat that her stay is only temporary and that we shall soon come to collect her and take her home again. I can do nothing to assuage the fear and uncertainty that Freya obviously feels when she is put in the basket to go to some unknown destination. I imagine her in the cattery with no way of knowing that this new life is not permanent, no way of knowing that I will eventually come for her. I suffer the anxiety that I imagine she suffers.

At the time of writing my last post, I was uncertain whether Freya would be going to her usual cattery or staying with the vet. We resolved that question this morning. The vet found that Freya had not lost weight and I was able to say that her demeanour had improved and that she had even eaten a hearty breakfast. On the other hand, she hasn’t been usual herself over the last few days and so, for peace of mind, we agreed it was better that she should stay with the vet, who boards cats and dogs on the premises. I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that her condition is being supervised and that if treatment should be necessary, there will be a vet on hand.

I phoned the cattery to let them know that Freya would not be staying with them this time. They were quite happy with the arrangement as they understand the situation and in any case, would not want to have to handle an ailing cat.

So tomorrow we depart to our as yet unrevealed destination (or have you guessed it yet?). Faced with my failure to print off the Eurostar tickets online yesterday evening, I called Eurostar this morning. They confirmed that reservations issued by that particular agent would not print on their site but agreed that it was a good idea to print them beforehand. So after depositing Freya, I walked down to St Pancras and interviewed a ticket machine. Or did it interview me? No matter: either way it worked. You type in your booking reference, it displays your details, you confirm they are correct and it prints off your tickets. All done and dusted.

All that remains is the packing. Our stay is a short one so we will not need to take much but at this time of year it is not easy to know what to pack: warm clothes? spring clothes? raincoat? We will end up taking a range of stuff to cover all eventualities.

Our train leaves at 7:34am and we are advised to check in 45 minutes beforehand. I hate these early starts! Fortunately, St Pancras is within easy walking distance or we can take the friendly 214 bus to the door.

And yes, I am looking forward to going to fetch Freya next Tuesday.

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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A short intermission

There now follows a short intermission, as they used to say in the old days of the cinema.

On Friday, terribly early in the morning, we are supposed to be departing by Eurostar to what some people consider the European mainland and other people, foreign parts. All being well, we shall return again and I will recount our adventures and show you the photos.

I am writing this now as I am not sure that I will have time to post tomorrow. We have had a difficult few days and tomorrow promises to continue in the same way.

It turned out that I was over-optimistic in thinking that Freya had been restored to full health. After an initial boost to her appetite, she stopped eating again and was very quiet and unresponsive, not at all her usual alert and affectionate self. Since then, her appetite has picked up a little and she is more herself, though still rather quiet and not eating normally.

I felt that I had to call the cattery and tell them this and ask what they thought about it. It would have been wrong just to foist a sick animal on them, quite apart from the unfairness of that for Freya herself. We involved the vet in the discussion and the matter rests as follows. Tomorrow at 9:30am I take Freya to the vet for him to assess her state of health; if he thinks she is in good health, I will then make the journey to Chingford and deposit Freya at the cattery as usual; if, on the other hand, the vet thinks there is cause for concern, I will leave her with him for boarding and observation.

Either way, I shall feel anxious until we return to London and find out how Freya is getting on.

Another problem appeared this evening and concerns our tickets. We have bought a travel and hotel package from a company online. Tickets are not supplied: you have to get these from the ticket machine by entering the booking reference. Because we are leaving early on Friday morning, I thought to go onto the Eurostar Web site and print the tickets from there. I tried several times but each attempt failed with the error message “No booking has been found”. I assume that if the reference doesn’t work on Eurostar’s Web site it won’t work in their ticket machines, either. We will need to sort this out tomorrow.

This is not the happiest start to a trip and we can only hope that things get better. I shall let you know.


Usually, rather than telling you where we are going, I give you a clue. I don’t yet know much about our destination so my clues are probably a little weak and easy to solve. It’s a city in Flanders, the Flemish region of Belgium; it is a World Heritage City, and has been called “the Venice of the North”.

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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‘H’ is for Highgate and for Hampstead

Having disported ourselves yesterday, we had to do the shopping this morning. Breakfast in the Daisy cafe in White Conduit Street was some consolation, as was the fact that rain had been forecast but instead we enjoyed a dry and even sunny day.

Pond Square, Highgate
Pond Square, Highgate

We first took the bus to Highgate, which is always a pleasant destination, if you discount the busy road that crosses through it and is difficult to cross. The above picture shows what is called Pond Square, and you might be wondering where the pond is. The short answer is that they (for there were more than one) were filled in in 1864 having become stagnant.

The area originally formed part of the Hornsey estate belonging to the Bishop of London. The first community included people who worked on the estate, but also a hermit. The hermit, unlikely as it may seem, was responsible for maintaining the road from Islington. The ponds are said to have resulted from the digging of gravel for the road.

In the 14th century, the bishop caused a new road from London to be built over the hill and set a number of toll gates along it. The hamlet or village possibly took its name – Highgate – from the “high gate”, the one at top of the hill.

Blue plaque to a dog poet
Blue plaque to a dog poet

Tigger’s sharp eyes spotted what appeared to be a blue plaque affixed to the wall of a house but almost hidden by foliage. It is hard to read but it turns out to be an unofficial one in honour of Barking Lord Scruff. The inscription reads “100+ dog years. Music critic, dog poet, photographic model and all round good egg, Barking Lord Scruff of Highgate, lived here, 1985 – Nov ’99. Erected by good friends.”

Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution
Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution

The Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution was founded in 1839 “for the promotion of useful and scientific knowledge” – a slightly odd way of putting it, perhaps, as though “scientific” is in a different category from “useful”. The Institution has occupied the present building since 1840 and still maintains a full programme of activities. The bearded face on the right presides over the entrance.

The Highgate Society
The Highgate Society

Next door to the Institution is the Highgate Society. Formed in 1966, it has as it aims “to make Highgate and its neighbourhood a better place in which to live and work; to ensure that any changes made in the environment enhance the amenity of the area: to encourage sound planning and to improve public transport.Sir Yehudi Menuhin, then living in High­gate, was its first president.

The (Headless) Angel Inn
The (Headless) Angel Inn

We walked to the High Street where all the interesting shops and cafes are. As inhabitants of the Angel, Islington, we naturally notice other “angels”, such as this one, the Angel Inn. I have already photographed it and its headless angel before (see A bucket handle and a silver lion). How did the angel lose her head, I wonder. (Though angels are, sensu proprio, genderless, this one, like many, displays a female anatomy.)

High Tea
High Tea

We felt it was time for refreshment and looked around for somewhere where we could have tea or coffee. Across the road was this tea shop, called, appropriately enough, High Tea. It seemed a likely place, especially as it had a cream tea on the menu. A friendly, if slightly posh, establishment, it seemed to me to fit the Highgate ethos perfectly.

fearys

High up on a wall, this plaque shows that the row of shops that includes High Tea was in 1791 called Feary’s Row. The name possibly derives from an es­tab­lish­ment on the other side of the road, a double frontage occupied around 1769 by one Samuel Feary, shoemaker. How he would have come bequeath his name, however, remains mysterious.

Then there is the landscape Devonian painter, John Feary (died 1788) who also worked in London but even though good views of London and its surrounding country can be had from Highgate, he seems rather a long shot in this instance.

Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath

After our tea break, a bus brought us to another place atop a hill, Hampstead. No less than Highgate, which it is some ways resembles, Hampstead is like a town of its own. It owes its exclusivity to the fact that the horse trams couldn’t climb the long hill and so the tide of workers flowing into London in the 19th century broke against the lower beaches of Camden Town and Somers Town.

Heath House has a view over Hampstead Heath but is sadly derelict
Heath House has a view over Hampstead Heath but is sadly derelict

Hampstead is characterized by broad streets of fine. elegant houses, some of which, such as Burgh House and Fenton House, are now museums and art galleries. It also has winding alleys, some stepped, whose houses perch upon outcrops of the hill with fine views over the Heath and the city beyond.

Shaded walks
Shaded walks

Hampstead is also known for the Heath and Parliament Hill Fields, pleasant green areas which also include the famous bathing ponds. In ancient times people hunted here and perhaps some also farmed as it is thought that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon for “homestead”, the intrusive ‘p’ appearing only in the 13th century.

Jack Straw's Castle
Jack Straw’s Castle

At a busy cross-roads on top of the hill stands Jack Straw’s Castle, once Hampstead’s highest pub and now an apartment block. There is a mystery associated with the name as no one seems quite sure who Jack Straw was. He is thought to have been involved in the Peasant Revolt of 1381 and his name may be a corruption of John Rakestraw or a pseudonym for Wat Tyler or another of the leaders. Real or legendary, he is portrayed in some accounts giving a speech to the rebels on Hampstead Heath, standing on a hay wagon, which was then humorously dubbed “Jack Straw’s Castle”.

Whitestone Pond or the Horse Pond
Whitestone Pond or the Horse Pond

Nearby is the Whitestone Pond, also known as the Horse Pond from the days when military and other horses stopped here to drink. What look like vehicle access points (you can see the far one at the top) are said to recall the use of the pond to test amphibious vehicles in WWII, though I wouldn’t have thought it was deep enough for that. (See Update below.)

Today it has a paved bottom
Today it has a paved bottom

Generations of children have floated the toy boats here but the horses are gone. Nothing grows in it (except for some confined new plantings) because the bottom is paved. It has recently been “refurbished” and this has turned it into an unlovely, aseptic artificial water feature, one more natural feature destroyed by the tidy bureaucratic hand lacking in all aesthetic sense.

A pair of ducks flew in
A pair of ducks flew in

Even so, a pair of ducks flew in and started paddling around, perhaps thinking there was more here for then than there actually is. They were mildly interested in some seeds that Tigger offered them.

Fenton House
Fenton House

There’s a lot to see in Hampstead and a full inventory would be very long. For example, there is Fenton House, a 17th century merchant’s house, now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. A description of its charms and points of interest can be found on the National Trust Web site.

Clock tower, old Fire Station Sundial, Sundial Houseterracotta
Clock tower, sundial and terra cotta

There are many interesting buildings and details to be seen all around by an observant eye, such as the clock tower on the old fire station, a sundial on the front of a house, or terra cotta and sculpted decorations.

The Sailors' Orphan Girls' School and Home
The Sailors’ Orphan Girls’ School and Home

One of the more striking buildings is this one in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, the Sailor’s Orphan Girls’ School and Home. The name explains its role and by all accounts it was a happy place to live, where orphans were given a home, schooled, and trained to work in service. Originally founded in 1829, the Home moved here in 1862 and was later renamed the Royal Sailors’ Daughters’ School and Home, suggesting that it accepted not only orphans but perhaps also the daughters of men who could not care for them while away at sea. Today, it is owned by the Council and called Monro House. I believe it is used for sheltered accommodation.

Highgate and Hampstead both begin with ‘H’ and share other similarities in the feeling of elegance, affluence and exclusivity, though Hampstead perhaps less so these days than in times gone by. Hampstead is bigger, busier (if we ignore the unending traffic through Highgate), and more varied. Highgate has something of the country town about it, though the the cattle and the horse pound are long gone. Both can make claims to intellectual and cultural activity and have plenty to offer the curious and the historically inquisitive.

Update March 21st 2011

This evening, leafing through Bygone Hendon (published by Barnet Libraries Archives and Local Studies Department, undated), I came across picture no. 31 which shows the Burroughs Pond (now built over) as it was in 1903. Visible in the picture is the same sort of slope that we see in Whitestone Pond. As a bonus, the picture includes two horse-drawn carts actually standing in the water.

Once you see this, the purpose of the slopes becomes obvious: how else is a horse to drink from a pond with raised sides other than by walking into the water! Forget amphibious vehicles, and instead imagine horses trudging up the hill, dragging heavy carts, and stepping gratefully into the cooling water for a long drink and a refreshing splash.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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A sad goodbye to a fine old house

The fine old house in the title is Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon, and the reason for the sad goodbye will be explained later though the Web site to which I have linked it is clear enough.

Cafe Maya
Cafe Maya

We started our day by returning for breakfast to Cafe Maya (see Rained Off) and then went for a little walk around Clerkenwell. We were meeting friends for a trip up the line to Hendon but, in the meantime had an hour to spare.

The old Magistrates' Court, Clerkenwell
The old Magistrates’ Court, Clerkenwell

Our first discovery was this building. Today it is one of the Clink Backpackers’ Hostels but alterations have been carried out fairly sympathetically. Tigger asked if we might take photos inside and permission was granted.

This court is now a computer room
This court is now a computer room

At least two of the courtrooms have been largely preserved (though with added decoration), one as a TV lounge and one as a computer room. Brass plates still indicate the various positions in the room. The young man in the check shirt, for example, is seated at the Court Usher’s desk.

Glass roof with the cipher of Edward VII
Glass roof with the cipher of Edward VII

Now a grade II listed building, the court house was built in 1840-42, but as this splendid stained glass roof shows, certain refurbishments were carried out during the reign of Edward VII and perhaps at other times as well.

Floor mosaic
Floor mosaic

Beneath the glass roof in the entrance hall is this mosaic. Its age is less easy to determine and it may date from the original construction. We assume that the initials “MP” stand for Metropolitan Police. This was in fact a police court and a police station stood close to it in the grounds. The Metropolitan Police was formed in 1829, earlier than the building, so the association is quite plausible.

Willings House
Willings House

On the way up the road to King’s Cross where we were to meet our friends, we stopped for a couple of pictures of Willings House, better known to some people as the Grays Inn Road branch of Travelodge. Built in 1910 for Willings Advertising, on the roof it sports a rather famous sculpture of Mercury. I didn’t photograph it this time but you will find pictures of it on the Web easily enough, for example here.

Decorative panel Decorative panel
Decorative panels

Instead, today I preferred to photograph these two carved panels. The one on the left is perhaps the more striking because of the contrast of sunlight and shadow.

Church Farmhouse
Church Farmhouse Museum

Having met our friends, we made our way by tube, bus and foot to Church Farmhouse Museum on Greyhound Hill, Hendon. It is one of the oldest dwelling houses in Hendon. The house and the surrounding land served as a farm from no later than 1688 until the 1940s. It is a fine, if somewhat fragile, example of its kind.

The 1850s dining room
The 1850s dining room

Three of the rooms hold permanent exhibitions. The first (see above) is the 1850s dining room, possibly my favourite. These rooms perhaps contain more articles than would be found in a real lived-in room but they give an good impression of the rooms when in use.

The 1820s kitchen
The 1820s kitchen

The second permanent room is the 1820s kitchen with the wonderful fireplace and the long table for food preparation.

The Victorian laundry room
The Victorian laundry room

The Victorian laundry room with its sheet press and stoneware sink (using water from the well outside) is the third permanent room. Today’s modern machines may blind us to the importance of laundry in times past. It was so time consuming and labour intensive that it was a major part of the household work.

The Beck Exhibition
The Beck Exhibition

The upper rooms are used for temporary exhibitions. of which there has been a rich and varied sequence, admirably set up by the museum’s director, Gerrard Roots. Currently, an exhibition on Beck and his Underground maps is being shown. We were not allowed to photograph this so, of course, we didn’t.

One of the upper rooms
One of the upper rooms

An exhibition entitled The Moving Toyshop was being wound down, lending a rather desultory look to the place. The floors in these upper rooms are so fragile that the number of people in a room at any one time must not exceed 15.

Packing away the exhibition
Packing away the exhibition

In one room, the exhibition was being packed away and this gives some impression of the work that goes into setting up and subsequently dismantling the quite complex displays.

The farmhouse garden
The farmhouse garden

Behind the farmhouse is a large garden with a pond and a well. Perhaps there would have been fruit trees here as well. It must have been a pleasant spot where one could sit and relax on a sunny day, though the inhabitants would have had precious little time for such lazing.

Once farmland, today parkland
Once farmland, today parkland

Beyond the garden gate, there is land which would have been farmed but is today a park. It seems that the families living here farmed different amounts of land at different times, perhaps according to need and their ability to work it.

Neighbours: farmhouse, pub and church
Neighbours: farmhouse, pub and church

This view shows how these three traditional elements of village life – farmhouse, pub and church – here stand in close proximity to one another.

The Greyhound
The Greyhound

Once the Church House, and later rebuilt several times, what is now the Greyhound is a country pub in a busy part of London, a remarkable survival on its own account.

An intriguing display of flatirons, ancient and modern
An intriguing display of flatirons, ancient and modern

As you may have read in the museum’s Web site, Barnet Council now wants to close the museum, despite protests and demands that it be kept open. As well as being an important part of Hendon’s living history, Church Farmhouse is an educational resource, visited by parties of school children as well as the general public. At a time when many children do not know that milk comes from a cow or think that cotton comes from sheep, such resources are of huge importance.

The family Bible
The family Bible

Perhaps if the museum had provided only static displays of rooms (though even that, in itself, is already an important contribution), the Council might be pardoned for trying to save money in these difficult times. But, year in, year out, the museum has hosted a remarkable and wonderful series of exhibitions on a broad range of topics, persuading experts and collectors to lend their treasures for the pleasure and edification of the public. The visitors’ book provides eloquent testimony to the success of this work.

Iron fireplace
Iron fireplace

The future of this beautiful, historic and iconic building must now be in serious doubt, despite its listing. I can only hope that in some way or other it will be saved, even if mothballed for a while, so that at some not-too-distant future date, we may again visit it, enjoy it and learn from it; that today’s sad farewell may be forgotten in a joyful reunion.

Churchyard
Churchyard

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Rained off

Despite being tired when we returned home yesterday evening, we went out again to do the weekly shopping so as to leave today clear. We hoped for another successful expedition today, perhaps taking the train a little further afield. Unfortunately, the weather gods were against us. The day started grey and then the rain began to fall. Hoping it would clear up, though, we bravely started out.

House with plaque celebrating Fenner Brockway
House with plaque celebrating Fenner Brockway

The first task was to find breakfast and we headed towards Exmouth Market, hoping to find a cafe open. Along the way, the spotted this house. You can see that it is designated an “Historic House” by the plaque affixed to the wall.

fennerplaque

This tells us that Fenner Brockway lived here between 1908 1nd 1910. Do you notice anything odd about the plaque? The close-up on the left may help (click to enlarge). The plaque gives Fenner Brockway’s dates as “1888- “. I can only assume that this plaque was put in place before 1988 when the great man died.

Tea pots on the window sill
Tea pots on the window sill

Passing along Inglebert Street, we found what must be a tea-lover’s house because it has this array of pretty tea pots along the window sill. Aren’t they afraid someone with steal them? Or are they super-glued to the sill?

Amwell Street antiques shop
Amwell Street antiques shop

cadmiumcloser

As we went into Amwell Street, I crossed to look in the window of the antiques shop. What I am looking for in particular are the paintings on display there. The shop seems to be an outlet for pictures by Chris Burns. To be honest, these paintings don’t do a lot for me but they do intrigue me, much as a sudoku might: in this case, the game is to try to guess what the object in the painting actually is, and then to work out how the title fits it. This one (click for larger version) is called The Boy with the Cadmium Blues, and I will leave you to decide how that all fits together.

Joggers: doing it the hard way
Joggers: doing it the hard way

Just as we were about to move on, these joggers jostled their way past. Do they like doing things the hard way? Or are they late for breakfast?

Wilmington Square Gardens
Wilmington Square Gardens

We hadn’t had breakfast yet, either, so on we went, past Wilmington Square (where the pigeons were squabbling over their breakfast),

No ordinary pub (allegedly)
No ordinary pub (allegedly)

past the Olde China Hand (closed, so not serving breakfast),

The old Finsbury Town Hall
The old Finsbury Town Hall

and past the old Finsbury Town Hall (which never has served breakfast, as far as I know),

Exmouth Market looked closed
Exmouth Market looked closed

to Exmouth Market, which looked decidedly closed, except for Starbuck’s.

grimaldi

In common with those in many shopping areas, Exmouth Market’s shops have become less and less varied and many have closed entirely, to be taken over by restaurants, cafes, wine bars and sandwich bars. Today, though, these were all closed, locked up tight. All we could do was salute the memory of Joseph Grimaldi and continue on.

Cafe Maya, serving breakfast
Cafe Maya, serving breakfast

Across the road from the other end of Exmouth Market was Cafe Maya. I had passed it many times before but never been in. Now was the moment to do so because it was open and serving breakfast!

Inside Cafe Maya
Inside Cafe Maya

We had the Vegetarian House Breakfast, which includes fried haloumi cheese. It was very good and reasonably priced with friendly service. We shall return!

Modified call boxes
Modified call boxes

We had hoped that the rain would stop while we were having breakfast but it didn’t. If anything, it was raining harder. We went across the road to wait for a bus near these phone boxes where people have replaced the word “TELEPHONE” with messages of their own. One reads “WRAP UP WARM” and the other, “CALL YOUR MUM”.

Love trees
Love trees

We got off the bus at the bottom end of Charing Cross Road and I was surprised to see these official notices warning us to “Love Trees”. What a good idea, I thought, but then realized that these were notices warning bus drivers of overhanging branches – “Low Trees” – which some nature-loving person has altered. Naughty but nice.

F W Collins is no more
F W Collins is no more

In Earlham Street we made a sad discovery. In a Covent Garden now given over to entertainment, drinking and dining, most of the old everyday shops have long given up and departed. A rare exception was F W Collins, the hardware store, a beautifully kept, well stocked – not to say historic – shop. I used to look in the window with fascination every time I came by. Seven generations, all named Fred Collins, have run the store but now the line has come to an end. I know that all things are subject to change but I find this sad.

Proud inventor of "Elastic Glue"
Proud inventor of Elastic Glue

The shop is a listed building and this enamelled sign (and the iron sign board on the lamp post) will remain to remind us of its illustrious past but, even so, the demise of the family name and business is a cause for regret.

I see that the famous Elastic Glue is said to have been invented in 1857, though whether its author was the first or the second Fred Collins is uncertain. Likewise I am unsure of its properties and purpose though I think it had something to do with shoeing horses. It would be interesting to know how it was made and whether it, or a derivative, would still be useful today.

The Two Brewers
The Two Brewers

It was raining ever harder and the light was becoming duller and duller. I don’t like taking photos in the rain but I struggled on for a bit, feeling more and more miserable. More in defiance than anything, I photographed this fine old pub or, at least, its façade.

B Flegg, Saddler, 1847
B Flegg, Saddler, 1847

This was my last photo of the day, the 1847 shop of B Flegg, saddler. I vaguely wondered whether “Horse Clothing” is something horses wear or the people who ride them. I imagined horses done up in natty tweed coats.

We took temporary refuge from the weather in a handy Caffè Nero. We couldn’t stay there all day, however, and after coffee and cake, set out again under the insistent rain. Getting home was complicated by the fact that many buses were diverted because of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square. (Yes, I know St Patrick’s Day is on March 17th, but some people like to take a bit of a run at it.) We made it at last, and could dry off, make tea and relax. It’s a pity the weather didn’t play along but, all being well, there will be fine days to come.

Cafe * Sport * Bar... or Cafe Kick
Cafe * Sport * Bar… or Cafe Kick… or a barber’s… or maybe closed down
Anyway, it’s in Exmouth Market…

Update March 17th 2011

Following up my interest in “elastic glue”, I got in touch with Lee Jackson who runs the useful and interesting Web site on London Victoriana, The Victorian Dictionary, and the equally fascinating blog, The Cat’s Meat Shop. Lee was kind enough to send the following reply and to allow its publication.

Looking in the press/journals, I can find the term ‘elastic glue’ used in an article mentioning mending hatpins; or ‘elastic glue such as is sold in penny sticks by many leather merchants’ (for mending bellows).

Collins’ glue itself is being advertised to ‘leather, grindery, and gutta percha dealers’ by a trade supplier in 1857; and in 1858 specifies “(for repairing American overshoes and putting on gutta-percha soles”.

I note also that “elastic glue” still exists in various modern forms. It is used wherever a flexible bond is required and also for attaching shoes to horses’ hooves where the use of nails has caused difficulties.

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Poplar and the Greenwich Peninsula

Once Freya was settled in (a few cuddles aiding), we decided we could go out for a walk and a bus ride.

King Lud, mythical founder of London
King Lud, mythical founder of London

We passed through Ludgate Circus where this handsome head, representing King Lud, the mythical founder of London, appears on the building that was once a pub called Old King Lud, founded in 1870. Today it is no longer a pub, being shared between a bank and a cafe.

Plaque to the Daily Courant (1702)
Plaque to the Daily Courant (1702)

Beside the building, this plaque reminds us that the first English regular daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was published in a house nearby from 1702.

Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar
Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar

Two buses brought us here, to Poplar. This building is one of those belonging to the Robin Gardens estate, built in the 1970s. Some people (people who don’t actually have to live here) want it listed and preserved, whereas the Council wants to demolish it. It seems that a majority of the residents would be glad to see the back of it too. English Heritage opposes listing and that should count for something, I think.

Canary Wharf overshadows Poplar
Canary Wharf overshadows Poplar

Poplar grew up as the docks developed and people came into the area in search of work or brought by incoming shipping. By the end of the 19th century, the area was overcrowded and poverty stricken. It suffered badly from enemy action in the Second World War. Today, most living accommodation is council housing.

Spider exploring Spider exploring
Spider exploring Spider exploring
A spider explores a hole in a brick wall

In a contrast to the towering housing blocks, we watched this tiny spider exploring a hole in a brick wall, perhaps seeking a nesting site.

All Saints Church
All Saints Church

As Poplar grew, so the need for a parish church was felt. All Saints was built of Portland stone in the early 1820s to a plan by Hollis which includes an Ionic portico and a Wren-style steeple.

Railings, All Saints Railings, All Saints
The robust railings of All Saints

The commodious grounds are surrounded by a robust and well designed set of railings. I don’t know whether these are original or are replacements (they seem held together by modern bolts).

Poplar Baths
Poplar Public Baths

Poplar Baths opened in 1852 and the building was used not only as a baths by also for dancing and other entertainments. Sadly, today it lies closed and derelict, despite being listed since 2001. A plan was passed by the Council in March 2010 to renovate and reopen the baths. Will this plan ever be realized?

Richard Green

In front of the baths stands this monument to Richard Green, 1803 to 1863. Scion of a business family, Green entered the family firm and later became a ship builder and ship owner, operating from the East India Docks.

Green’s philanthropic works include support for children’s education and improvement of conditions at sea. He endowed the Sailors’ Home at Poplar, the Merchant Seamen’s Orphan Asylum in East London and the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital at Greenwich and many other projects.

Richard Green
panel1 panel2
Richard Green and the side panels

The sculpture was created by Edward W. Wyon in 1865 and the monument set up in 1866. Two bronze side panels reflect Green’s shipping interests. The dog adds a pleasant informal quality to the piece.

Ceci n'est pas une bibliothèque
Ceci n’est pas une bibliothèque
(It’s an Ideas Store)

Further down Chrisp Street are shops and this building. Don’t mention the ‘L’ word, for though it may look like a public library, behave like a public library and provide the functions of a public library, it isn’t a public library: it’s an Ideas Store. Allegedly.

Having worked in the public library myself, I would have complimented this one its design and amenities. I think I would have quite liked to work there had I still been in the business. The only (small) criticism I have is that the olive green decor makes the place a little too dark for complete comfort.

Greenwich Peninsula
Greenwich Peninsula

I could perhaps have entitled this post “Both ends of the Blackwall Tunnel”. That is because the famous tunnel that carries traffic under the Thames has one end in Poplar (at Blackwall, as the name suggests) and the other end here, where we came next. Can you guess what the cables on the left of the picture are supporting?

The Millennium Dome
The Millennium Dome

They are supporting cables of this icon of British organizational, managerial and financial incompetence, the Millennium Dome, which has rendered the government of the day the laughing stock of Europe. The best that can be said of it is that its building at least cause a clean-up of this previously dangerously polluted site.

Looking back towards the Dome
Looking back towards the Dome

The buildings along here are not bad as modern architecture goes and we particularly liked the black and white tiled one (see above) which, according to the designers, was inspired by the work of mathematician and philosopher Roger Penrose’s work on tessellations.

A riverside walk
A riverside walk

Leaving the Dome and other buildings behind, we took to the riverside walk. There were very few people about and it was pleasant despite the cold. There were also some interesting sights along the way.

Metal tree
Metal tree

This metal tree makes a striking and startling sight. Behind it is a mooring of the Thames Clipper service. (See Riding the Thames.)

Slice of Reality
Slice of Reality

This piece, called Slice of Reality, is literally a slice through a ship. The artist is Richard Wilson.

Old jetty, now a wildlife sanctuary
Old jetty, now a wildlife sanctuary

This structure, once a working jetty, is now closed off and has been turned into a wildlife sanctuary.

The zero meridian line
The zero meridian line

You may be able to see that the projecting boom in the above photo is matched by one on the jetty. The line they indicate is the longitude of Greenwich, the zero meridian line from which longitude around the world is usually measured. The line is marked right across the whole site.

Famous silhouettes against the sinking sun
Famous silhouettes against the sinking sun

The view from the waterside is very different from what it would have been when the docks were active and London was the busiest port in the world. Today it is still frantically busy but the work is done inside tall office buildings and scene along the banks is quiet and peaceful. There is always something strangely fascinating about light shimmering on the water.

Canary Wharf across the water
Canary Wharf across the water

We took a final look across to the north bank at Canary Wharf and its giant companions, dwarfing the older buildings and apartment blocks at water’s edge. A tube train carried us under the river to Canary Wharf (Isle of Dogs) then under the river again to Canada Water. Here we took the Overground to Highbury & Islington and then the bus back to the Angel.

Poplar and the Greenwich Peninsula are very different worlds despite being linked by the Blackwall Tunnel. In the past, they would have shared more, I think, when the great ships came here to disgorge merchandise from all over the world.

Moorings, Greenwich Peninsula
Moorings, Greenwich Peninsula

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Freya is back home

Freya is home again and seems none the worse for her adventures except for a shaved patch on the chest where they took a blood sample. She was pleased to be home and quickly returned to her usual habits.

The first thing they told me was that she had eaten a hearty breakfast. I was glad about that though they did say that a sedative can sharpen one’s appetite. They have given me half a dozen tins of the food she ate this morning, suggesting the I continue with it, gradually reintroducing her usual diet.

It occurred to me that if she likes this food and is bored with the usual, I could continue with the new or give her both, one in the morning and the other in the evening.

All the tests have come up negative: there are no obvious diseases and no viruses. Why Freya starved herself for 4 days remains a mystery. The hope is that it will not reoccur or, if it does, that she can be cajoled out of it with a change of diet.

Freya seems very calm, despite her adventure. I am pleased that she has apparently taken it in her stride.

Once again, thanks for the good wishes. I am glad to be able to say that they have been fulfilled.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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