A slow start to 2011

This first week of 2011 has been a slow one for me during which I have done nothing but stay at home, nursing a nasty cold. Apart from suffering the usual symptoms, I have felt strangely lacking in energy and – to Freya’s evident pleasure – have spent a lot of time lying on the bed reading with her cuddled up beside me.

Freya likes to cuddle up
Freya likes to cuddle up

We did go out on Sunday with friends, when we paid a visit to Dennis Severs’ house, as I recounted in my recent post, A house in Folgate Street. The following day, Bank Holiday Monday, we went out again on what proved to be an abortive mission to visit Dr Johnson’s house in Gough Square.

A fox atop Claremont Square reservoir
A fox atop Claremont Square reservoir
Photo by Tigger

As we passed Claremont Square, we saw a fox standing atop the covered reservoir. Tigger was quicker on the draw than I and got this photo before the fox disappeared. The reservoir is closed off behind railings and so wild life feels secure within and this fox went about his business in a calm and unhurried manner.

We had brunch at CrêpeAffaire in St Pancras station before taking a bus to town. This picture of Holborn Viaduct will give you some idea of how quiet it was. Bank holiday closures and the cold weather no doubt both played their part.

A quiet Holborn Viaduct
A quiet Holborn Viaduct

We walked on down to Ludgate Circus and turned into Fleet Street. Looking up Ludgate Hill, I was attracted by this group of three spires, two belonging to St Paul’s Cathedral and the third, in front of these, the spire of St Martin Within Ludgate.

St Paul's Cathedral and St Martin Within Ludgate
St Paul’s Cathedral and St Martin Within Ludgate

There are some interesting buildings along this street which, of course, used to be the very heart of the newspaper industry before the various titles started moving out to cheaper premises on the periphery. The name comes from the River Fleet which once ran along here in the open but is now confined underground.

Terrestrial globe or deflated beach ball?
Terrestrial globe or deflated beach ball?

Above the doorway of number 110/111, these rather dissipated-looking cherubs play distractedly with a rather deflated terrestrial globe. The whole piece could do with a wash and brush up.

The spire of St Bride's
The spire of St Bride’s

This is the spire of St Bride’s, long considered the church of the newspaper industry. Built in 1672, it is the second tallest of Wren’s churches – only St Paul’s Cathedral is taller – though the spire was added later, in the early 1700s.

Daily Telegraph building, Peterborough House
Daily Telegraph building, Peterborough House

This rather colourful clock decorates the façade of 135-141 Fleet Street, sometimes known as Peterborough House, once the home of the Daily Telegraph. This striking edifice was built in 1929-30 in Neo-Classical style with stylized Egyptian columns.

Mirror image sculpture of the god Mercury
Mirror image sculpture of the god Mercury

I was amused by this carved panel over one of the doors. It shows the god Mercury, with his traditional winged helmet and caduceus staff, apparently splitting himself in two in order to run off in two different directions at once. Mercury was the messenger and herald of the gods and so this panel is perhaps an allegory of journalists rushing off to bring news from around the world. While Mercury fits the classical theme, the actual design and the lamp above it present a more Art Deco perspective, I think.

Boswell House clock
Boswell House clock

Here is another clock. (I do so like clocks.) More restrained in style than the first, it is nonetheless an elegant piece of work and its owners, I am glad to say, have kept it clean and in good condition. (Few details mark the decline of a building more clearly than an ill-favoured clock.)

This one, at 9 Gough Square, commemorates James Boswell, Scottish laird and companion and biographer of Dr Johnson, author of the famous English dictionary.

Hodge, 'a very fine cat indeed'
Hodge, ‘a very fine cat indeed’

Here another companion of the literary doctor is commemorated: the cat Hodge. Dr Johnson had more than one cat – an unusual interest at the time – but it is Hodge who is best remembered, James Boswell having written of him in Johnson’s biography:

I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. […] I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson’s breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, ‘Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;’ and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, ‘but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.’

Here, Hodge is seated upon the famous English dictionary and beside him is an oyster, in memory of those bought for him by his indulgent master.

Dr Johnson's house
Dr Johnson’s house

And thus we arrived at Dr Johnson’s house at 17 Gough Square. It can, of course, be visited. But not on a bank holiday! Our mission, as I said at the beginning, turned out to be abortive.

We could have chosen another destination, I suppose, but it was cold and I was already feeling the beginnings of the bad cold, so the idea of going home to relax in the warm and make tea, seemed a most attractive proposition.

The Prudential Building, Holborn Bars
The Prudential Building, Holborn Bars

Waiting at the bus stop, I took the last photos of the day, trying to capture this wonderful Gothic pile, the Prudential Building at 142 Holborn Bars.

Feeling somewhat better today, I am looking forward to Omelette Day tomorrow and the possibility of a courier run next week. I shall of course keep you posted.

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

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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8 Responses to A slow start to 2011

  1. AEJ says:

    I’m sorry you got a cold as a New Year’s welcome. I hope you are all better soon, though maybe Freya does not wish the same.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Thanks. I think I am a lot better today and will go and meet Tigger from work as usual (I’ve been skipping that).

      I’ll still find time for an hour on the bed with Freya, though🙂

  2. Great picture of the fox and some of my favourites in the city. The Prudential Building is striking, as in my opinion, are some of the modern piles around there. Even the Sainsbury’s opposite where Maxwell House, the Mirror group HQ once stood is pretty spectacular for a supermarket. I love the juxtaposition of modernist and histroci architecture around Paternoster Square all the way to the Millenium Bridge and Bankside…used to spend a lot of time round there when I worked in Wapping. where there is nothing. Thanks for reminding me it’s all still around!

    • SilverTiger says:

      The fox appears as a silhouette in the photo but we saw him in all his colourful glory. He looked around quite calmly before loping off across the reservoir.

      In London there are so many interesting buildings from all different periods, often crammed cheek by jowl so that it is sometimes hard to photograph them in their entirety because you can’t back far enough. You can walk down the same street again and again and still discover new gems.

  3. WOL says:

    London truly is a city rich in details, and you have an eye for finding the interesting ones. I like the Boswell clock as well. Not surprising that Dr. Johnson would keep cats. They do lend themselves to literary pursuits, both the making of and the enjoying of. I can’t think of a nicer way to read than snuggled up somewhere (preferably bed) with one’s cat(s), up to one’s eyebrows in a good read. I appear to be in the process of training Stormie (the grey one) to sleep on my upper chest while I’m reading over her back. Lovely picture of the delightful Ms Freya with her charmingly plump whisker pads. Trust the British to raise a statue to Hodge (and a very nice one, too). Difficult to get the scale, though. Is it on a pedestal? One might be tempted to remark that the world was Hodge’s oyster! Like the pix with the three spires. I note that none of these pictures contain images of either “The Shard” or “The Gherkin.” How refreshing!, says WOL, tongue firmly in cheek. . . . I hope you have had all the colds you’ll get this season, and will be able to get out and about whenever you like. — you always bring back such interesting photos when you do.

    • SilverTiger says:

      The Shard does tend to pop up when you are taking photos in London. I am sure it will appear again and again.

      The Hodge sculpture does indeed stand upon a pedestal. I would say that the cat is slightly larger than life size. Or maybe he was just a very big cat!

  4. Reluctant Blogger says:

    I love the fox photo.

    I came within touching distance of one of our local ones the other day. I went out for a stroll just as the light was going and saw what I thought was a cat appearing out of a bush. I bent to stroke it and just as I reached out my arm I saw it was a fox. We both stood stock still for a few seconds staring at each other and then it calmly slipped away. It was so beautiful.

    Sorry to hear about the cold. Hope you are now fully recovered. If not, perhaps you should give Berocca a go eh?

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