Thursday, 12 July 2018

DINNER with GANDALF and GORMLEY ..........

On Tuesday, after the RAF centenary flypast, we met my sister and brother in law at .....

The Grapes in Narrow Street, Limehouse. Docklands is blessed with an abundance of historic pubs, not least amongst them is The Grapes, owned by no less a personage than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen !!!

The Grapes, originally The Bunch of Grapes, has stood on the pebbled Limehouse Reach, for nearly 500 years. From directly below The Grapes, Sir Walter Raleigh set sail.

Charles Dickens knew the area well and The Grapes appears in his novel ' Our Mutual Friend ' ..... in the back parlour there is a complete set of Dickens and he was thought to have danced on the tables of The Grapes after a few glasses !!!

There are a few references to Gandalf and, his original staff from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, stands proud amongst the gin bottles and pork scratchings !!!

Through the tiny Dickensian bar that probably hasn't changed much for hundreds of years, and up a very narrow staircase, you find the teensiest of restaurants that has about four tables, and double doors open out onto a petite balcony, overlooking The Thames and, there, standing proud, is Antony Gormley's sculpture, Another Time and, depending on the tide, the figure in the river is either stranded high above the water or part submerged in it ! 

Back into the little restaurant to eat my starter of fresh anchovies in lemon oil which were wonderful. As usual, I forgot to photograph my main course as all thoughts of photography went out of my head when the rare roast beef with a horseradish cream and caramelised onions arrived !!!

The tide was now coming in and Gormley's ' Another Time ' was beginning to get his feet wet !

In the garden of the building next door was the above sculpture ..... we weren't sure if it was a Gormley as well ..... we forgot to ask.

Making our way back to Docklands Light Railway, we passed beautiful houses.

..... the back end of St. Katherine's Dock,

and Limehouse Gallery and foundry where my niece { my sister and brother in laws daughter } who is a sculptor, gets her pieces cast.

..... and over a fabulous bridge.

We left my sister and brother in law at Bank station, walked by The Bank of England and back on the train and home !

The Grapes is a wonderful pub ..... the little dining room, candlelit and adorned with white linen and crystal glasses overlooks one of the great views of London, is unpretentious and serves great pub grub. 

We are going back !!!!   

For Maria !!!


all photographs my own


Friday, 29 June 2018

THE BELLS ..... THE BELLS ..........

St Mary's church is just behind our house ..... the 15th century Parish church is in the centre of the conservation area and is surrounded by listed buildings but is the only grade 1 building in the area. The church is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The present church was built between 1418 and 1448 and was probably rebuilt after it had fallen into neglect after the Black Death. It is a fine example of Gothic architecture and the beautiful, almost Dickensian location and the church's wonderful acoustics helped to make the choir { of which our son was a choir boy from the age of seven and who went on to a career in music } congregation, booming organ and brass ensemble the most atmospheric building for many an event. 

I took this video last evening ..... the peeling of the bells is a regular occurrence .... from bell practise to weddings ..... and it is lovely to hear when sitting in our garden.



Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Rosa ' Kiftsgate ' is an extremely vigorous rambling rose, bearing masses of small, single cream-white flowers with a strong musk fragrance, followed by red, oval shaped hips .....

It is ideal for growing through large trees  so we planted one about four years ago to ramble through the tree that we planted in 1987 just after the Great Storm when we were all asked, if we could, to plant a tree to replace the hundreds { thousands ? } that fell during that storm.
 I wouldn't recommend the Kiftsgate for a small garden ....

 ..... along with the Great White Shark and the Bengal Tiger, Rosa fillips ' Kiftsgate ' should be avoided by all sensible human beings !!!
Every 4 inches or so, it is embellished with the biggest and sharpest thorns you have ever encountered and you risk life and limb if you should need to prune it !!! We are lucky enough to be able to let it run away into the tree ..... it is vicious.

..... but, it smells divine , looks so pretty when bought into the house, and it's open, single flowers are attracted to bees . 

It looks like a cascading waterfall amongst the trees and is equally as beautiful when you bring some inside. 

It is so easy to take cuttings ..... most will take if you just stick cuttings into the ground ..... 
BUT .....
only give them away to people that you don't like !!!


Tuesday, 12 June 2018


We used to have a very large ivy with a massive trunk that had grown so large over our back door 
we chopped it down and I ordered a canopy from Garden Requisites

I am so pleased with it .... it looks as if it's been there forever!


Sunday, 10 June 2018

RUBBING DOWN and a RESCUE ..........

We were rubbing down the paintwork on the downstairs windows this morning ready for a fresh coat of ..... 

..... I know ..... I am probably guilty of succumbing to the power of advertising but I do like the chalkiness of their paint .....

I digress..... 
I looked across the road and saw, waddling down the grassy bank on the other side of the road, a mummy duck and her baby ducklings trying to cross the road. A lady in a 4 x 4 had stopped to let them cross and I shooed them onto the pavement. They then went under next doors car !!! Another lady with her daughter { both adore all animals great and small ! } stopped in her Fiat and was most concerned ..... I said it was no use calling the RSPCA as I had had dealings with them before with a Magpie that had fallen down our chimney that was dive bombing me, but, they never seem to want to help.... said Fiat lady agreed. 
I looked under the car but they had disappeared so I guessed they had gone down the alley ..... back to rubbing down.
Five minutes later there was a long traffic jam as the ducks had waddled back into the road !!! Everyone was really patient as the little family walked the three hundred yards back to the river { first having to navigate a really busy road ! }

Good deed done, back to rubbing down !!  

Photographs via Google as I didn't have time to get my phone !

images via google 


Thursday, 17 May 2018

THE CEREMONY of the KEYS ..........

My bestest friend rang me last week  ..... she had booked tickets for her sister and brother in law and themselves to go and see the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It's a years waiting list and when she looked at the conformation email, she noticed they had six tickets and asked for us to join them ..... of course we said yes !!! 

Walking out of Tower Hill tube station you are greeted by  The Tower of London in all it's glory. 

The White Tower, which gives the entire castle it's name, was built by William the Conqueror. in 1078 and was a resented symbol of repression. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until the notorious Kray twins were imprisoned there in 1952. Despite it's enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, only seven people were executed  within the Tower before the two World Wars. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill.

The Tower has served as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. 

..... past Traitors Gate, the entrance through which many prisoners of the Tudors arrived at The Tower of London. Prisoners were bought by barge, passing under London Bridge where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes !!!

It was a lovely Spring evening  and we made our way to .....

..... The Tower hotel for dinner. 

At precisely 9.30 p.m we were admitted, under escort, to the Tower. I have visited The Tower of London before quite a few times but always in daylight ..... being in there at night, without tourists, brings home the horror and the beauty of the place.
Every night at precisely 9.52 p.m, a lone figure in a long red coat walks down Water Lane, the narrow, cobbled street enclosed between the mighty inner and outer walls of the Tower of London. He is the Gentleman Porter whose responsibility it is to lock up the Tower. This has been done, every single night since 1280 ..... over 700 years without fail,  through the Plague, the Great Fire and the Blitz. It is the oldest ceremony in the world. It is a precisely timed, seven minute ceremony which must finish on the exact stroke of 10.00p.m. The only time this did not happen was the 29th December 1940 when a bomb fell within 50 feet and blew the warders off of their feet !!! They picked themselves up, completed the ceremony and wrote a letter of apology the the King for being three minutes late, who graciously replied that he fully understood !!!
The Gentleman Porter walks alone with his lantern, down Water Lane to the entrance to the Bloody Tower, { where the young princes were murdered by their uncle, Richard 111 and where Walter Raleigh was imprisoned for thirteen years} where he picks up an escort of Tower of London guards who return down Water Lane with him to the gates.
Once the huge doors are shut, barred and locked, the escort march swiftly back down Water Lane. A sentry steps out from the shadows, challenging those approaching crying

" Halt ! Who comes there ? "
" The Keys "
All involved have a loaded gun pointed at them.
' Whose keys " asks the sentry,
" Queen Elizabeth's keys "
" Pass Queen Elizabeth's keys, for all is well " responds the sentry.
The keys and escort march triumphantly to the stone steps, they present arms, the clock chimes 10.00 p.m , the Gentleman Porter raises his Tudor bonnet , delivering the words,
" God preserve Queen Elizabeth ! "

Finally, a bugler plays the last post and the Gentleman Porter makes his way to report to the Constable that the Tower is locked for the night. 


and this has happened, every single night for over seven hundred years !!!!!      

..... and then it was time to go home !!!

Another great thing to do in London and, it's free !!!!!


image 9: via coach house rentals, image 10: via the household division, all other photographs via me


Sunday, 6 May 2018

FOR RACHEL ..........

Saw this growing in our lawn and thought of you ..... hope you are feeling a little sunnier.