A Queue, Rain and the 252

It’s the week before my birthday and I’m entering the last year of my forties. As if to make a statement, I get up early and walk to Trust Ford to book my car in for its MOT. perhaps I should have and MOT too. It’s usually quicker to walk but this morning there is less traffic and even the buses are running past me.  I arrive out of breath.

I get back home in time to gather my books and set off for the Barbican. It feels warmer than I expected. Not too bad for November. I arrive early for the train. My friend phoned as I was parking in a side street. Now, while I have twenty minutes to pass, I can’t get her on the line. Funny how we say that. On the line. I’m on my mobile. The train is quiet as we pull away. My friend phones. We chat. I’m conscious of others listening and try to get my lips closer to the mouthpiece; not that mobile has one. We are just getting to a good bit when Liverpool Street looms and the prospect of disappearing under tunnels cuts us off.

I buy a cup of tea and ascend the stairs to the High Walk. A well spoken bag lady shares her opinion of the stairs in some rather choice words. As I puff my way up, I’m tending to  agree with her. I sit down by a square pond avoiding a net and some wellingtons which have been left on a seat. It spits with rain. I revise my opinion of the weather with my friend who has phoned back. Tea break over, I make my way into the Library. I’m carrying Joan Littlewood biography which is so large you could go rafting on it.

The Library is quiet. I’m a little later and the Buggy Brigade has departed. I choose a few books on Mindfulness and detoxing. Then I stumble upon a book on Farce by Brian Rix. I was only a few months ago that Lord Rix died. My parents met him many years ago when the Revue group they ran went to one of his shows. Not only did they meet him, but he agreed to be the patron of the group and regularly sent messages of encouragement. I thought it time to read up a little more about his time in the theatre. Its while I’m by the ballet section I feel my phone buzz. Its Dad leaving a message to phone mum. Her mobile has no screen so she finds it hard to dial out. Yes, the stuff of farce. We speak in hushed tones in the theatre section as far from people as possible. She’s forgotten I’m on my trip out.

As I leave the centre, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. I’m in a cloth coat with no umbrella. I walk back around the centre following the covered walkways and end up at London Wall. I pass the remains of St Albans, Wood Street. This church tower in the middle of the road is all that is left after bombing in World War two. Apparently it is now a private house. Right opposite the Police Station.

The rain is making my coat smell of a wet dog. I find a bus stop in Cheapside and queue for a 252. There’s a lot of deciding who goes next to get on. The bus is full. I’ve not been on this route before. I’m hoping I’ll get to Tottenham Court Road. People are smugly walking past with umbrellas. How did they know it was going to rain when I didn’t. I’m using an app to follow my bus journey and its saying it will take 27 minutes to travel seven stops. I’m thinking that’s must be a mistake. The bus moves on in to High Holborn. then grinds to a halt. We inch our way in a queue of traffic until, eventually, the announcement comes that “This bus terminates here” We have arrived at St Giles which is as near to Tottenham Court Road as it get.

I get off and walk toward Cambridge Circus. The traffic is angry. Lots of hooting and frustration. It would be quicker to walk if the rain stopped. I enter McDonalds and exchange a voucher for a meal. Its worth complaining sometimes to get sent a voucher. I find a table and squeeze my way in between two other people. It’s very cosy. Just as I’m finishing a group of school girls get up to leave a nearby table. One girl has got her shoe stuck in the legs of the chair. She takes her shoe off so she can pull it out from the small gap she’s squeezed it in to.  Her friends are in Hysterics. I’m trying to not laugh but it’s not easy.

triangleWhen I get out, it is still raining lightly. Enough to soak you after a while. I spot this sign. It’s as though everyone is laughing at my lack of a brolly. Foyles had a soaking of its own recently when a burst water main flooded the store. It has a slightly damp smell when I enter today and the basement floor looks very clean. I browse the books but my heart is not in it. London looks drab today. You can see why Christmas was invented. We need a bit of “lights and glitter” to cheer the place up. I dash along Charing Cross Road, dicing with death across Oxford Street and into Tottenham Court Road. This has been spruced up lately and each time I’m here, something has changed. I do a quick shop in Sainsburys and then carry along.

At Goodge Street, and old lady passes me sporting the biggest pair of earphones I’ve ever seen. I thought they were earmuffs at first. She is carrying a cloth bag with Wigmore Hall written boldly across it. I’m imagining her to be listening to a Piano Sonata or Song without words rather than the latest rap. She certainly looks in a world of her own. I enter Waterstones in Torrington Place. Why I think this will inspire me more than Folyles I don’t know. I’m Cold and Wet. I pass a fourth oriental man wearing the same blue suede loafers without socks. It’s either a fashion statement that’s yet to come our way or someone has a job lot of the back of a lorry and they’re hawking them round Chinese restaurants.

I’m deciding I’ll get on the tube at Warren Street. I don’t walk along the top of Tottenham Court Road very often. I pass the Cost which has had a trendy makeover and now sells Hand Crafted food. Looks like the sandwiches are in a different box. It’s still full of students nursing the same cup of tea. Further along I pass Mantovani 1946. I’m thinking this might be where he came when he wasn’t playing his Violin. But sadly no. It looks like a franchise. On a corner, another building has been demolished. An NHS poster has a big face of a woman advertising the now building. Her eyes seem to follow and the look is as if to say “Look at that man who’d come out in a cloth coat and no umbrella”

Warren Street station is more Brash. I prefer Goodge Street where they play classical music as you wait for the lifts. Here you make you way down endless escalators. The rain is dripping from my fringe now. On the platform, I walk to the front of the train only to find the train coming from the other end and I’m at the back. My train takes me to Seven Sisters where I catch my Enfield Train home. Its been a day of wet and queues. I’ll be glad to get in.

Up and Down at the Barbican

Its been a long while. I’m not sure how many people read this and if they miss me. I know my number one fan is having a new kitchen so she’s been busy. I’ve no excuse. I wonder how other bloggers keep their momentum. I’ll look for a book on blogging!
I arrived from Enfield Town. As I passed Hackney Downs, two women comment on the new planters that have sprung up on the platform.
“I wonder if you can just pick things?”
“That cabbage is a bit small”
“You’d think they’d plant larger ones”
It’s like a discussion on an Abel and Cole Veg Box. They do look nice though. Flowers, herbs and cabbage all co-existing in wooden planters. I hope they come to Enfield Town.

I am at the Barbican and my head is muzzy. I buy a Tea in Eat. The woman serving is flirting with some business men. She skilfully extracts the location of their work. I wait a long time for my tea.
I take my tea up to the Barbican and phone a friend. Its chilly but the sun appears. We talk about kittens, work and life.
The Gardening volunteers are tending to the beds. There is a lot to do. I feel very guilty just sitting watching and feel I should be getting a hoe out and joining in.

As I pass the Shakespeare tower I notice people abseiling down both sides. You never know if it’s for charity, repairs or protest. Looking up makes me feel queasy so I look down.

In the Barbican library, Life continues as normal. The excellent Gerald Scarfe Exhibition is on in the Music Library. I went a few weeks ago with my Mum. Yes, she has joined me on my Friday Jolly. The exhibition had original designs for “Orpheus in the Underworld” from the mid 80’s. I went to see this production by ENO for my 18th Birthday. Very memorable.

I’ve observed things in this Library since we last spoke.

There was the time when three librarians are shouting instructions to a woman with a baby in a buggy in the disabled lift.
“You have to keep holding the button in”
The lady pushes the button. The lift descends by an Inch. She pushes the other She inches back up.
“No, hold the button in”
The librarians look at each other
She’s coming back up”
“Push it and hold it in”
This lift appears to have a dead mans handle.
Eventually, after much muttering, they manage to coax the lady to hold the button in and inch her way down.
I found it hilarious. The librarians didn’t
I had the feeling that, once at the bottom, she’d realise that the way out was actually back up the top.

I told Mum about this as I suggested she might like to avoid the steps and go in the lift.
“No, I’ll walk” she said.

I’m back on the serious side of choosing some book. I choose “The Rough Guide to Blogging” as I feel my efforts need a boost. An audio book about Lost Village Life for the car and a book about Old London.
There is an excellent art display of prints that I spend sometime looking at, wishing I had the skill to produce such work.
img_1920I leave the centre and head for my usual walk. So much for heading in a different direction. I pass the Launderette and marvel at its Soft Water Washes. I peer through the gym window and watch them pulling and up and down on the equipment. Several have given up and sit staring out of the window. That would be me – if I dared go in.

I pop in to The Barbican Fruiterers and buy another heather for my Mum.
“You’ll be in her good books” he says as I pay.

As I turn in to the Clerkenwell Road, my sister phones. She needs advice on school and how they are dealing with Terror Clowns. She reminds me how like my Nephew I am. As I proceed along the Clerkenwell Road, I am now on the look out for Clowns, Killer or otherwise. I look up and decide to keep looking up as I go. It’s a revelation. A past London is above our heads as modern fast food outlets dominate below. I dive in to a Prets for a bowl of chicken soup. Guaranteed to cue all ills. At the till, a girl in a Rabbit onesie is buying a sandwich. She looks more surreal than a clown.

My walk is taking through Bloomsbury to the Brunswick centre. I pop in to Holland and Barret’s for some pills. I come out with a bag of lentil Lemon and Chilli crisps. One of the children at school gave me one and they were rather nice.

img_1928I pass Cosmo Pottery and wish I’d bought a Clanger Tea service when I’d seen it in the window. There is a cafe in the church opposite. St Georges Holborn. I wouldn’t have known it was a church but I’m still looking up. The cafe looks nice. No knitted tea cosie and thick green crockery. I weave past and find my self in medical land. A woman walks past with red crutches. She knows they look unusual and is clearly showing them off.

The Brunswick centre is always unexpected, built as it is in the middle of a housing estate. Its underground cinema advertise opera and theatre live screencasts. Two guys play table tennis. Everyone eats. I end up in the Marchmont street Cost for a pot of tea. Its time to go home. These Fridays go all to quickly. I’ll leave you with a few pictures looking up above the shops in Clerkenwell, and a random one looking down!

 

Sloe, Sloe, Quick Quick Sloe.

Its been a while readers and I have no excuse. Well i’ll make a few. Train strikes and poor weather and a week in the Lakes all seem to have made my visits less this summer rather than more. I’m starting out at the Elmhurst Gardens in Woodford looking for Sloes. Right at the Side of the North Circular near Charlie Browns you will find a large Blackthorn bush and the Sloes are excellent for flavouring Gin. I have company today. These trips ar usually solitary affairs. We notice that the Sloes are ripe and falling off so an evening picking session is on te card s when we return.

The central line is hot and the trains now look shabby. Ive eaten a Finger of Fudge and i’m now on some Hoola Hoops. That’s breakfast sorted. The weather is hot and sunny which is unusual for a London August of late. Stepping on to a Hammersmith and City train at mile end is like going from Hell to Heaven. The air conditioning is on and the trains are spacious. Admittedly they are not deep level tubes, but their modern open design is welcome.

imageComing to the Barbican is familiar now. I’m like a tour guide pointing out the sites to my companion for the day. We look at the residents allotments like the Seattle Pea patches and wonder at the cabbage growing there.Who’d have thought it.

The Barbican is really a town on its own and each time you turn a corner you discover a new part,

imageThe Library is quiet for a Saturday. I’ve never been in the morning as I’m usually at work. There seem to be more resident here and there is a familiarity between them and the staff. My companion discovers the Audio books that I’ve never seen. I enquire about the wall of books that you can borrow and I’m polietly told that they are free to borrow for the three weeks the same as books.

Free?” I ask again, as I can’t quite belive it.

“Yes” and you an renew them too.

She then shows me how I can also download audiobooks to my iPhone. The staff here are always helpful. I skirt round the section where someone is having a detailed discussion with themselves and reach the gardening section. An excellent book on Community Orchards that I’ve not seen before. So now I’ve chosen my books and I have the audio book of “Cabin Pressure” Series 3.

My Companion has vanish in the periodicals. Now that takes some doing.

A quick checkout and I’m leaving the centre via a different door. The church of St Giles opposite the terrace has always been like some magic island that some are allowed on and I’m not. Today I intend to get there. My companion finds a bridge which as it si named St Giles, I’m confident will take us there. We cross the Barbican’s answer to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and our only disappointment is tat the lovely Island Pods are for residents only to sit in. I live in hope a resident will see this blog and invite me over.

And then I’m there. The church of St Giles Cripplegate. And they’ve got a book sale. The Church, Tardis like, is large on the inside than it looks out. The display shows just how derelict this area was after the bombing of World War Two. The church, one of the few old remains of the area was nearly demolished by the bombing but the extensive damage was restored.

We leave the Barbican and head towards Clerkenwell. A man comes out of the Launderette. I’m glad its being useful. Past the Shakespear and my heart is in my mouth. I can’t find the Greengrocers. Surely it’s not gone. Then to my relief I see it is still there but closed. I don’t think it opens Saturdays. In the window is an apologetic sign from the owner telling us he his having a day’s holiday next friday. A long Bank holiday weekend. I want to send him off on a fortnights cruise somewhere but feel he might not come back.

We are walking along Clerkenwell Road and it is quiet. There are no queues out of the coffee shops and some haven’t opened. This is a weekday place. At the Italian church, a car with ribbons sits outside. The Bride has chosen a good day, and a lovey location. The villiage feel gives way to the large building of Holborn and we eventually end up in Waterstones at Gower Street. Even here, the usual bustle of students is missing, it being the holidays. A pot of tea and a Raspberry fancy and we are fit for anything.

The sun stays hot. Its a barbecue day and we head towards the Bruswick centre. Another of London’s secrets. And we’ve still got the Sloes to go back for.

Skateboards and the flying chips

I’m early today. Well earlier than normal. It’s the first day of my holidays when I could lie in. In stead, I woke early and was up and out. I’m in the Foyer at the Barbican centre. There’s a group of girls filming themselves whizzing up and down on a Skateboard. Right by the Coffee stall. No one’s batting an eye lid so I’m thinking they are part of some art installation. Theres the usual toddler race track and there screams seem to be for pleasure rather than pain from a Skateboard collision. There’s a huge screen in front of me the size of my kitchen and its showing coming events and the facilities here. I’ve decided to give the mother and baby screenings in the cinema a miss. The Martini Bar is more my style. There’s two of them tangoing in the skateboard now. Time to sup up and go.

It has been a month since my last visit. The combination of a week of very hot weather and being exhausted at the end of term put me off from visiting and I renewed my books online. The Library seems quiet today. I’m browsing the London Collection and have found an old book with curious things to find in different parts of London. I’m thinking I could visit the areas and see how many still survive. My holiday homework. I pick up other books about Curious London. I feel that I should be learning more to share with you readers. My Last book is about Acting Technique. I often get out a book to develop my skills for teaching Drama after the last performance of the year. It’s as I pick it ut that I remember that I have another show next Tuesday and that I haven’t quite broken up yet.

I’m out and walking a different way today. I’m heading for Liverpool Street following the signs for the Museum of London across the high walkways. It’s a good job there are signs. Theres a man walking close behind me so I stop to look at a basketball court that is tucked away below me. He walks past. The Museum of London is not too busy but there is a school group in the Lunch room, obviously filling the last days till the end of term. I follow the London wall and see remains down below me. It always amazes me how this part of London successfully takes pedestrians up and away from the London traffic. All around are reminds of the guild companies that had their headquarters around here. The Brewers hall has particular appeal. As I pass further down the road, a glass elevator rockets skywards packed with men in suits and I’m reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

At Liverpool street station I see a sign pointing out the site of the first Bethlehem hospital. It is certainly “Bedlam” when I reach Mc Donalds. I enter the scrum and finally get a burger. There is no seating inside and outside is fairly full but I negotiate with a young couple and join them at their table. I don’t like to invade their space so I pull the chair back and eat the burger at arm’s length. I’ve hidden the chips in the bag away from the pigeons. A sudden gust of wind has lifted my lunch heaven wards and the chips are over the young couple. They laugh. That happened to us. They might have warned me.

From Liverpool Street, I’m heading over the road passed Petticoat Lane to Spitalfields. This has lost much of its charm since its rebuilding so I skirt through noticing an abundance of Vinyl Lp Stalls. I’m not sure if this a regular Friday thing. Fournier Street seems like a Film Set. I peer through a window and I’m surprised to see a modern kitchen. What did I expect? A Range? At the end of the road, The Mosque is in full swing and the doors are wide open. It is packed with loads of shoes at each entrance. I wonder how thy get the right pair back at the end. Perhaps they don’t.

Brick Lane is very different today. Quiet. There are tourists wondering why the markets aren’t open but they don’t on a weekday. Truman’s looks very sad. This huge London Brewery is now closed and used mainly for market stalls. Today, one part is being used as an indoor car park. I’ve read how the Truman’s name is being used by a smaller London Brewery now making quality ales. Nice as that is, It doesn’t make jobs for the people in the Spitalfields area. Someone pokes a large lens in my direction and I leave.

Doubling back to Spitalfields Market, I enter the Costa for a cup of tea and a tart. The couple next to me are arguing in a foreign language. I’m nosey but I don’t understand a word. Sitting here with my iPad to write this, I’m always amazed how easy it is to connect to the net now and upload things. I remember going to the Lake District and paying to use a computer in an Internet cafe to look for an important email. Now they pop in to my phone, signal permitting.

Commercial Street is always interesting. The large building that was the telephone exchange now houses a branch of Urban outfitter and another Costa Coffee, as well a very expensive flats. When I pass Garderners Paper bag shop, there are a couple of guys looking at a history book. I think he’s a minor celebrity since the Gentle Author visited and he’s probably showing his photo in the Spitalfields book. I’m heading for Shoreditch high street station. Recently opened on the London Overground, the line connects the  East London Line Track to the line that used to run from Broad street up to Dalston junction. The stations are new, replacing ones that closed years ago. The trains are proudly proclaiming on the front that they are made of five carriages. A change at Canonbury gets me to Startford. The trains are packed. Loads of people get off at Homerton and I wonder what I’m missing. Two young boys are arguing about food allergies.

“I haven’t got any” the first boy says.

” You must have. You have to have one” says the other.

A Rose, a Fuchsia and a Seed Cake

It’s the middle of June but you would be forgiven for thinking it is march. Yesterday’s warmth has given way to a chilly wind. I’m greeted as I leave the house by a white rose which has just come in to bloom. Three dead sticks arrived in April as a free gift from the news paper. It’s amazing to see how they have sprung to life. The were labelled as Red Rose, Pink Rose and White rose. Very descriptive. The blooms look as though they are true to their work.

imageAs I cross across the high walk, I notice some planters are being tended by an old man who appears to have vegetables and herbs as well as flowers. I’m guessing he lives locally and some of the planters have been given over, like mini allotments to the residents. The main planters look amazing and have a wild garden look about them There are not to many people in the foyer at The Barbican Centre today but those that are seem to be making lots of noise. Have I stumbled into a mother and toddlers club? I’m having a quick cup of tea. I have a fat Tonsil and it needs regular lubricating. The two girls serving behind the counter are discussing religion. One doesn’t seem to be understanding the other.

“What, they are a religion but they don’t do it?”

“Yeah, they just fake it”

Girls, that’s life.

I’m in the London Collection and I get a book all about the Cockney and their Dialect. I’m going to look a few things up and see if the saying “How’s your belly off for spots” can be attributed to my roots, or odd parents. I’m trying to find a book about Clerkenwell but the copy was not where it should be on the shelf. I feel I need to research the area for you readers.

The July magazine produced by the Library is out and I pick up my copy. Not many Libraries produce a monthly magazine like this. I’m checked out in person.  The Display at the Library entrance is of close-ups of flowers and I stop to browse before making my way to the lift. Talking of the Lifts, anyone who visits will know there are four lifts, two on one side two on the other. Which ever side you wait at, the lift comes to the other… Guaranteed.

imageI pass the laundrette and there is an older couple watching their washing. They don’t speak. There is a very informative poster on washing labels that I notice and make a note to learn  up. I get to the Barbican fruiterers and decide today is the day. I’m going in. I pick up this rather fine fuchsia for £1.80. If that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is. The owner, John, is serving and old lady with a push along trolley. That seems to have come out wrong. The Old Lady has the trolley, not John! He sorts her old three bananas of varying shades so they’ll be ripe at different times. They both know each other by name. Service. You don’t get that at your Tesco Local. He breaks off from serving her, to collect my £1.80 and another customer holds my fuchsia while I look for the money. I could do with a trolley like the old lady’s. For the first time I see students going in to the Italia Conti building. In fact there are several Lycra clad girls hanging out of a window. It’s like Fame with out the headbands.

 

I’m walking along the other side of the Clerkenwell Road and you would think I was somewhere completely different. Its funny how you miss imagethings because you are so close up. I don’t know why I am surprised but I find the Chapel of St Johns which is obviously where the road near by gets its name. At least if my Fat Tonsil flares up anymore, I’ll have the first aiders on hand. There’s a secret garden that will need further exploring. The Italian Church of St Peters reminds me that the area of Clerkenwell was very Italian and may explain the number of independent coffee shops. The church is also a very good example of something that showed up better from over the road. There is a rather ornate memorial in the porch and I can see the writing today as I’m close up. But its in Italian so I’m none the wiser.

In Holborn I was given a free Rustlers Hot Panini in a long life wrapper. As I take it, I throw it back at the girl who catches it like a rugby ball. We laugh and she gives it back. I always like something for free. I’m loading up. I’m hoping I don’t lose too many buds of this fuchsia. As If to call me a liar, it is now warming up with the sun making an appearance. I’d like to take this cardigan off but I’ve no hands. I pass the London County Council School of Art building and wonder what it is used for today. More research to do.

As I walk along Southampton Row, I see another Blue Plaque that proclaims, John Barbarolli lived here. Like my Auntie Hilda, he seems to have moved house many times but not gone far. There are several round near the Brunswick centre. We’re near Academia again and I pass a Chinese student who is carrying a note pad and papers tied up with string like a parcel with a bow on top. I’m not sure what weather he is expecting but they wont blow away in a gale. I smile, but at least he’ll know where they are. Unlike me when I need to find any important piece of paper.

I know, you are all wondering about the seed cake. I do pop in for a pot of tea, but no seed cake. I had a raspberry fondant fancy with a chocolate flake. I passed the shop where three weeks ago I bought a packet of Caraway seeds ready to make the seed cake. Time has passed and I still haven’t got around to it. This weekend is a must.

And talking of time, I’ve noticed it’s twenty five to four and like a modern-day Cinderella, I make a dash to Goodge street Station to tap in before the stroke of four. It’s a pound dearer to travel in the rush hour and that would buy another fuchsia……. almost.

Sunshine on the terrace

imageWhat a difference some sunshine makes. Surely the hottest day of the year so ar. I’m having a quick tea and a bag of crisps before changing my books. Its lunchtime and the terrace is full of people grabbing a quick lunch and a burst of sunlight. There seem to be people posing for official looking cameras and I’m wondering if there is some sort of photography course.

In the Foyer

Well I’m here again, in the foyer. Long queue for a cup of tea but I needed one. That’s the next task. To look for good places to eat and drink and hand out a bit. Any suggestions.? It’s a different day to my usual one. A Wednesday. Very mixed crowd here in the Foyer. Oh well, bag of crisps and I’m up to the Library.

Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m using my iPad with its Logitech add on Bluetooth keyboard to write this. Right here in the Foyer. Apart from this bit which I’m editing in later. Just so as you know.