Monday, January 26, 2009

le weekend

One of the best things about living in London (and there are many!) is that it is so easy to leave it. Not permanently, you understand, for that would be very hard, but for a little while. For a weekend.

So, bright (not really) and early (too early) the man and I left home in the chilly dark of a winter's morning and arrived in Paris in time for lunch.

If you know Paris, you'll know that you need comfy shoes, a camera, a passion for exploring and sharp eyes in order to avoid the piles of dogpoo on the pavement. Merde indeed.

We stayed in a hotel across the road from the Palais du Luxembourg. There were more police around than usual and a quite noisy, but still well behaved little demonstration, as President Sarkozy was addressing Le Senat.

Close to our hotel was the church dedicated to St Sulpice. Only slightly smaller than Notre Dame, it is the second largest church in Paris. Famous for its '100 stop' organ and for featuring in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, the exterior is massive and imposing. The inside is gloomy and dirty, the poor lighting making it hard to see the murals by Delacroix.
We did, however see this:

Part of what seemed to be a small town in miniature, the little nativity scene featured a rocking crib, which squeaked softly as it rolled from side to side. The infant Jesus, who was probably feeling pretty seasick with the constant swaying, gazed with startled eyes at the roof of the cave. A small group of tourists gazed with equally startled eyes at various little scenes within this tableau: woodcutter, butcher, baker ....

Outside in daylight once more, we stood and watched the fountains. Shimmering curtains of water fell in graceful waves into the marble basins.

It felt like time for tea.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Once a small settlement referred to as Bacheham in the Domesday Book, Beckenham has been swallowed up by suburban London. Its meandering high street has the usual bars, eateries, charity shops and estate agents to be found in many other parts of south east England. But there is the odd gem: Village Fine Sausages and Pinksy's - they sell possibly the best Chicken Soup this side of the Atlantic!

The Parish Church is dedicated to St George (he of dragon-slaying fame and patron saint of England) but, in the grounds, is this celtic cross.

It seems far from home.

I caught the reflection of the trees in the churchyard in the window of Mark's and Spencer.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

crystal palace

The Crystal Palace was a cast iron and glass building, originally erected in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
After the exhibition was over, the Crystal Palace was moved to its new home in Sydenham Hill, South East London.
It burned down in 1936 when my mother was 14. She and her family, who lived in Sydenham, watched the flames and the glow in the sky from their home. One of her sisters ventured onto the site when the fires were out and picked up a piece of glass. We think it was part of one of the arches inside the building, as it still retains a beautifully smooth, curved edge. When you hold it to the light it sparkles and you can see rainbows inside it.

The photo is of Crystal Palace station. The design of the new ticket hall reflects part of the design of the old Crystal Palace.

Friday, January 2, 2009

starting local

Happy 2009!

I'm planning on doing plenty of travelling this year - both at home and abroad - and have promised myself to take my camera with me at (almost) all times!
Inspired by
squirrel's and kimy's fabulous blogs, I'm starting local.

Local is South East London.
So, we'll see where that takes us ...