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The London Eye

Definitely the last post about London, for the time being anyway. If you ever intend to visit London, this attraction should be at the very top of your list. Known to the local wags as the ‘London Eyesore’ it dominates the Westminster skyline and is the fifth tallest structure in London. It has 32 capsules each of which can hold up to 25 people. During the 30 minute ‘flight’ you can see the whole city. On a clear day even Windsor Castle can be seen. Security, as with all attractions in the capital is diligent, and before each party boards, security men with search mirrors scour the capsule.

Whilst not being a fan of some of his designs, the architect Richard Rogers sums the London Eye up perfectly.

‘The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London.’

Some of the controversy and problems they Eye has faced can be read about HERE

Look away now if you don’t want to see any more of my snaps! These were taken from the Eye, click on any one to enlarge.


Walthamstow Revisited

‘I would suggest that Goodnight Vienna will go down as well in Walthamstow as Goodnight Walthamstow would go down in Vienna’

The above quote was by a critic who had gone to witness a classical concert staged at Walthamstow Town Hall in the 1950’s. The London borough boasts a particularly grand town hall, a dog track (which sadly sees its last race next week) and the longest street market in the British Isles.

walthamstow town hall
Walthamstow Town Hall

When I first ventured to London all those years ago my then girlfriend and her family lived in Walthamstow in a very nice three bedroomed terraced brick house. This type of house is to be widely seen in London. I remember the place being like a little palace inside. The house and all the ones in the surrounding area had neat, well maintained gardens. It was a quiet neighbourhood. ‘The Englishman’s home is his castle’ was never more apt. I looked for accommodation myself (there was to be no ‘living over the brush!’) and found a place not in Walthamstow but another London borough a couple of miles away in Leytonstone. I can remember clearly having trips home (driving over 400 miles on a Friday night and repeating it on a Sunday!) and being navigated by the lights of Walthamstow dog track from the North Circular Road.

walthamstow dogs

It’s the dogs!

The other morning when struck by insomnia and after blogging for a short time, I jumped into the car we had hired. I figured I could take a quick look at Walthamstow and Leytonstone and be back at our hotel near Tower Bridge before congestion charge time. I found a much improved A12 link road and I was there in 15-20 minutes.

Whilst the west end of London is substantially unchanged in all that time (28 years) I noticed a particular change in the east end. The neat, well maintained houses that I remembered had a generally tatty look about them and many of the gardens were neglected and overgrown. I did locate the place I lived in Leytonstone, above what is now a Polish food store. Despite it being only six in the morning there were people everywhere and they all looked in a hurry.

Chez Bigrab 1979-80. (Blue plaque not pictured)

One particular memory was of the Green Man pub at the roundabout at the head of Leytonstone High Road. In London roundabouts, roads and areas are named after pubs. Thus you’ll have the Green Man interchange, a bus with ‘Bakers Arms’ as its destination etc. The Green Man all those years ago was a happening pub with live entertainment every night (and erotic dancers on a Sunday lunchtime!!). It had neon signs outside. It now looks a forlorn place with not even a sign outside with the pub name on it. Anyway I went back to our hotel to beat the congestion charge and reflected on the difference between these places then and now.

In the evening we drove out to Chingford to a Brewers Fayre I remembered. Its called the Royal Forest and is a huge mock tudor building (though old in its own right as a Victorian hotel) with stained glass windows. It’s next door to Queen Elizabeth’s (1st) hunting lodge which is still standing. I doubt if there is a more grand location in the UK where you can eat at Brewer’s Fayre prices.
royal forest

The Royal Forest at Chingford

Its unlikely I’ll ever have reason to visit that area again so it’s ‘Goodnight Walthamstow’ from me.