The new Greenwich Peninsula

My expedition to check out the Optic Cloak got me appreciating the new version of the Greenwich Peninsula, the post-Dome version, that is now taking shape.

Here is a picture of it, one of those computer fake photo things:

The Optic Cloak is an invisible smudge of grey, just after the C of OPTIC and just above the K of CLOAK. That’s because this picture is not about the truth as such, but about new tall buildings, and the Optic Cloak, although quite tall, is not a building, so, in this picture, it is ignored.

However, what the above photo does show is the big double-barrelled road which takes traffic into and from the Blackwall Tunnel. And you get a great look at this mighty traffic artery if you climb up onto a footbridge that takes you over it. Over it if, for instance, you are walking south from North Greenwich tube station, in order to get a closer-up view, from the West, across the big road, than you’d get otherwise, of the Optic Cloak, as I was when I went there, however many weeks ago it was.

You can just about make out this footbridge in the picture above, just above and to the right of the C of COPTIC.

Here are a couple of photos that I photoed of this footbridge:

And here are a couple of views from it, of the Optic Cloak:

But I especially liked the sort of views you get from this footbridge, looking north, towards the Blackwall Tunnel:

Most of the towers in the distance there are across the river, in Docklands, and already that view, as you approach the Blackwall Tunnel is quite something. As the Greenwich Peninsula itself fills up with more towers, it will look even more mini-Manhattan-ish.

Here are photos I took from the bridge of a couple of interesting vehicles, going north (left) and south (right):

Plus, here is a close-up of that roof clutter, in the left hand of the two looking north photos, above:

This roof clutter makes a point, as do those two views looking north, and the traffic. This new Greenwich Peninsula has the feeling of old-school work getting done, just as I presume the old one had. Stuff that really hurts if you drop it on your foot is being made, modified, bought and sold, in this particular part of London, just as it always was. Noxious gasses and fluids are being propelled hither and thither, in pipes and cans and lorries. You get the feeling that this isn’t going to stop any time soon, the way it has in Docklands.

It could just be all that Blackwall Tunnel traffic thundering by which gives off that feeling. However, I don’t think so, if only because the thundering traffic creates the sort of place where the Financial Services Industry wouldn’t want to be.

Here, finally, is the kind of close-up of the Optic Cloak that I had come for …:

.. with a lorry roaring by, full of noxious fluid.

There can be no higher praise for the Optic Cloak than to say that it fits right in with all this hustle and bustle and noise. Indeed, it dominates it. It presides contentedly over it. Most “Art” in such a place would look ridiculous.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Park Hotel seen from the park

The Park Tower Knightsbridge Hotel is what Wikipedia calls it. Sheraton now calls it the Sheraton Park Hotel. Whatever we call it, this is one of my favourite London buildings from the concrete monstrosity era, partly because nobody who worries about being aesthetically elevated likes the work of its architect Richard Seifert. Such people also do not like One Kemble Street, or Centre Point, also by Seifert, either. Too commercial. Too brash. Too assertive. Too symmetrical. Starchitecture before Starchitecture became chic, and not chic enough.

All the photos you see on the internet of this Park Hotel tend to look like this …:

… i.e. photoed from nearby, so that you can’t see the magnificence of the Roof Clutter on the top.

So now I will correct this regrettable imbalance, by inserting these views of the Park Hotel photoed by me last Friday from way off in the middle of Hyde Park, into the vast ocean of internet imagery, in the hope that public attention will be drawn to this wonderful and spontaneous assemblage of roof sculpture:

I especially like that last one. Trees, mist, and then Park Hotel, in soft focus. Or, out of focus, as we digital snappers say.

Norman castles were evil stone monstrosities when first inflicted upon this green and pleasant land. But as that style retreated, they turned into picturesque ruins. The Concrete Monstrosity style is already in headlong retreat, and I like it more and more.

Memo to self: check out this car park, before they destroy it, which they have now decided that they will.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Early views of the Optic Cloak

Last Thursday afternoon, I emerged from North Greenwich tube/DLR station, and started getting my bearings. Dome right here, there, so that’s north, so south is the other way, and somewhere around there ought to be the Big Thing itself, called (it has to be called something) The Optic Cloak. (If it has a local nickname, I am unaware of it.) Because it’s a Big Thing vaguely shaped like a domino, and because it takes itself very seriously and because it’s not for people to live it, it reminds me of the Big Thing at the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey, despite its ziggy zaggy surface.

And very quickly, after hardly any walking south at all, I got my first sightings of the OC.

Here are nine of the first lot of photos I took of the OC:

All of these photos have something else in them besides the Optic Cloak itself, and this is deliberate.

Real Photographers are very clever at screening out all irrelevancies, when they photo a Thing like this. They go for the special effects that the Thing itself contrives, with no lampposts or surveillance cameras or cars or general crap inserting themselves into the final photo. The results often (a) are very beautiful (provided the Thing itself has something beautiful going for it), but (b) in no way prepare you for how the Thing actually looks, in its actual setting, when you actually get there. Real Photographers, to generalise, are better at lying with their cameras than snappers like me are, which means that snapper-photos are often superior, as actual guides to what Things really look like.

I especially like the trees, through which Things may now, at this time of the year, be seen, unlike in the boring old summer.

And I especially like all that blue sky.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Quota sunset from 2015

I left it too late and I am now too tired to do anything here today, so here’s a random quota photo:

Taken in May 2015, from the South Bank, looking north across the River. I’m pretty sure that’s the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. But feel free to disagree.

I hope – although I promise nothing – to do better tomorrow.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Crane – scaffolding – roof clutter

And all in the one photo:

Also, trees without leaves. Taken in January 2009. On my way home, looking out towards Vauxhall Bridge Road and beyond, in the general direction of Battersea.

At present, sofas are more important to me than blogging, as the above blatant quota photo well illustrates.

This morning, the new sofa finally arrived. It is my hope, and the promise of Westminster City Council, that the old sofa will depart tomorrow.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Sunrise on the way to Alicante (etc.)

Happy New Year to all my readers. Every time I go out to a party, I encounter people who read this thing, despite all its technical stupidities and despite the fact that the subject matter is just me musing aloud. So good morning to you all and I hope that not only I, but also you, have a good 2019. (Yes, I’m managing to keep up, approximately speaking, there also, where my musings are more structured and disciplined.)

This being Jan 1st, I offer you a sunrise:

Usually when the sky is that colour in my photos, it’s a sunset. But it all came back to me when I chanced upon these photos, of an expedition to Alicante. Basically, I visit all the bits of France and Spain that my ex-Quimper friends have or have had bits of property in. And they had a place in Alicante, or they rented it, or something. Maybe they still have it. So, I went to Alicante, in January 2010. And, the above photo was taken by me at a bus stop in Vauxhall Bridge Road, looking back across Vauxhall Bridge, while waiting for a bus to take me and all my holiday clobber in the opposite direction along Vauxhall Bridge Road to Victoria Station, where I eventually caught a bus to the airport. With much confusion, as I recall it, about exactly where the damn bus departed from. Had I not happened upon another traveller who knew, I might have missed that airplane.

All of which clarifies a fact that has for me become more and more clear over the years, that although blogs are not diaries, photo-archives are. I have photoed many photos which I would not even consider sticking up here. But they have all piled up on my hard disc. I live, you might say, a double life. There’s my, you know, life. And then there’s my photoed life, which I can relive any time I want, and see all my friends and relatives and remember all the private things we said and did, the way you people very rarely get even to hear about, never mind learn the private details of.

This blog, meanwhile, is a severely edited subsection of my diary, with some added words, added in a way that I hope doesn’t make me appear too ridiculous. Very different.

To add some words to the above photo, I realise that in addition to loving roof clutter, I am also becoming ever more fond of street clutter, which, due to the anarchic and non-mutually-communicating nature of London’s public sector, London possesses an abundance of. Much of it is, like most modern roof clutter, severely utilitarian, which I like, because nobody is trying to make it look pretty. But much ground clutter is very beautiful, especially London’s more showy street lamps.

Love the new keyboard. So solid and strong. Happiness is being able to check all the letters and symbols on your keyboard, as you type.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Stow-Away in Lower Marsh

Stow-Away is a recent arrival in Lower Marsh:

Stow-Away is a new sustainable and eco friendly apart hotel concept. Stow-Away Waterloo is our first London base made from 26 re-purposed shipping containers, stylishly designed to provide a snug comfortable Stow-Away sleeping experience.

Lots of people have tried to do architecture with old shipping containers, but personally I doubt if it makes much sense. But, if your task is to sell hotel rooms, then shipping containers are perhaps a good gimmick, for attracting attention and for giving guests something to talk about. “I slept in a shipping container.” Etc. I’ve never done this.

It got my attention:

I enjoy in particular the various reflections there.

All but the last of these photos were photoed in one burst, last September. The final photo was photoed more recently, in the evening.

I think this hotel is quite good fun, especially those strange looking shades, red on the inside, that are a feature of the front. But, I regret the trend of which this “apart hotel” is a part, which is the transformation of Lower Marsh from a fascinating and quite cheap thoroughfare, full of diverting shops and eateries, into a dreary and expensive thoroughfare, stripped of all those diverting shops and eateries.

This happens all the time. A street contains lots of lively and amusing stuff. Word of that liveliness spreads, and the rents then go through the roof. The liveliness is priced off to another part of town. Such is urban life.

What I am really saying is: RIP Gramex. Follow that link and you find “an important message to our much-valued customers”. That would be me. But this “important message” is dated 4th August 2017. I gave up hope at least a year ago.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Statue with roof clutter

You know how it is. You go hunting, in your voluminous photo-archives, for a favourite recent photo, and damn it, you can’t for the life of you find it. But you find other nice photos, and you stick them up on your blog instead. We’ve all been there.

But today I did the opposite of that. I went looking for some nice photos to stick up here, and discovered a very favourite photo, which I had previously searched for without success.

This photo was photoed outside Westminster Abbey and looking up Victoria Street. You can surely see why I like it.

Number one, it’s a statue. I like statues, because I do, and in particular because they tend not to be mass produced, which means they immediately tell you where you are. You are next to this statue. There it is. You can’t be anywhere else. Knowing where you are is, I think, greatly to be preferred to not knowing where you are. But even worse is when by the nature of the objects around you, you cannot learn where you are, because all the objects in your vicinity can tell you is that you could be anywhere.

And, number two reason why I like this photo is that behind the statue, and with the most prominent bit of it clearly lined up to be directly behind the statue but safely above it, there is roof clutter. Not roof clutter that is uniquely voluminous, but still pretty good. And mistily lit, in such a way that the building upon whose roof the clutter is cluttered does not upstage the statue by rendering it invisible.

The greenery on the right and the building bottom right I am less keen on, but they are, I hope you agree, not too annoying. To the left, there was some somewhat more annoying stuff, which meant that the cropping on the left isn’t ideal. But all-in-all, I like it a lot.

The statue is this one. And the building behind it is called, at any rate by people trying to sell you office space in it, is called Windsor House. I know it as that quite Big Thing next to the Albert.

This being Friday, is there a Cats or Other Creatures connection? Well, yes: cats. Big cats. Four lions which are to be seen at the bottom of the column upon which the bloke scratching his back with a backscratcher is perched. These lions do not appear in my photo, but there are there, at the bottom of the statue.

Also, the bloke on the top who seems to be scratching his back with a backscratcher is actually St George, and he has a dragon under his feet, which he is getting ready to clobber with a sword.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Stanford-le-Hope but not cranes

So I was looking, as I do from time to time, through one of my Stanford-le-Hope directories (the one memorialising September 24th 2013), expecting to be amazed by photos of the giant cranes of London Gateway. Instead I noticed how much else there was in the Stanford-le-Hope vicinity besides giant cranes:

There was decaying industrialisation. There was vegetation. There were pylons. There was roof clutter. Even ground clutter.

So I went all the way to Stanford-le-Hope, so far away from London that I had to pay to get there, and some of my favourite things were things that we have lots of in London. But, it was great. Out there in Beyond London, everything is all spread out, and it is easier to photo things. But, you need to check beforehand that there are things. And there were lots of things at or near London Gateway, even back in 2013

Time I checked out London Gateway again. Some time next summer, I think.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Chimney pots and blue sky

October 21st of this year was a good photoday for me. There was this, and then this. Now let me show you nine chimney pot photos, taken on that same day:

The first four were photoed in the vicinity of South Kensington tube station. Then I tubed myself to the West End, which is where the rest of these photos were photoed.

I think my favourite is the fifth, or perhaps 3.2, depending on how you prefer your numbering to be done. But I like them all, or I’d not have shown them to you.

The final one, 9 or 3.3, was taken from the inside of the top of Foyles.

I’ve called this “chimney pots” because all these photos have that in common. But there are many other kinds of roof clutter also on show. I rejected including “roof clutter” in the title, because although most chimney pot arrays do indeed become very cluttered, as in randomly varied and chaotic, that cannot be said of photo 4, aka 2.1.

The satellite dish in 1.3, aka 3, looks, to a casual observer, aka me when I first encountered it in the directory (not when I actually photoed I), the moon.

Which I like. And I also like it when there are chimney shadows, as in 1.1 (1), and 5 (2.2). And there are other sorts of shadows in 6 (2.3).

Plus there’s a crane (7 (3.1)). and a pigeon (9 (3.3)). But, not any scaffolding that I can see.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog