28 September 2013

Ibsen's Ghosts at the Rose Theatre

I think that it is fair to say that my experiences with both Ibsen's plays and the Rose Theatre's productions has been a little mixed so it was something of a leap of faith to go and see Ghosts at the Rose.

Other people obviously had the same trepidations and the theatre, though by no means empty, was by no means full on this Saturday night either. Which was a shame, I may not be the Rose's biggest fan but I want it to succeed.

The stage was surprisingly set as, er, a normal stage and the Rose's thrust stage had been disguised as a standard proscenium stage. One of my criticisms of the Rose has been that it has not made enough of its unique design (unlike, say, the Orange Tree which does) and to see one of its own productions presented in this was was a little sad.

The set was a simple room with a front door to the outside and another to the rest of the house. The room was sparsely set despite being a wealthy person's house.

The story centres around a widow Helen Alving, her son Oswald and her maid Regina Engstrand with contributions from Helen's pastor and Regina's father.

The play opened with Regina and her father. Both spoke in broad Scottish accents which suggested that the play had been moved from Norway to Scotland, which could have worked, but this was not the case so either the accents were an attempt to indicate that they were working class or they were just a mistake, assuming that both actors were capable of doing other accents.

The ghosts were provided by the dead Captain Alving and the consequences of his actions. As we listened to the conversations between the players we learnt more about these and a simple situation became increasingly complex and unpleasant.

After an hour and something we had an unexpected and unnecessary break. I've really grown to like plays that do not stop except for when the story or the staging demands it. This was not one of the cases and the break just dissipated the drama that Ibsen had been building.

In the shorter second half those drams coalesced in to two crises that hit the Alving very hard. The play ends with Helen facing the difficult choices of murder, suicide, both or neither. What happens next is left to us to decide and I felt cheated by this. As with other Ibsen plays, great tension had been built steadily from a quiet beginning only for the end to throw all the good work away with either an unrealistic ending or no ending at all.

I might have been happier if I had left at the interval.

The story apart, the play had lots of good points, including the acting, and right up to the end it was gripping entertainment.

26 September 2013

The Stanley Picker House and Collection

The Stanley Picker House and Collection was open for free as part of Kingston Heritage Open Days 2013 but that was not convenient for me so I paid £10 to see it a few days later.

The house is on the private Warren Estate and the approach is rather unassuming. The reason for this became clear once I got inside - the house sits on the side of a hill and the main rooms are on the far side facing the garden that slopes away from it.

I had a little idea of what to expect as our guide for the afternoon, Dr Fiona Fisher, had given a talk on the architect Kenneth Wood last year and the house quickly exceeded those expectations.

The slope makes the layout of the house unusual. On the ground floor, as measured from the front door,  there is a reception hall and leading off this there is a good sized guest bedroom with views over the garden (somewhat spoiled by also looking over the flat roof of the floor below) and a landing area with stairs down to the main floor and a large reading/study area.

The lower floor is the centrepiece of the house and takes full advantage of the slope to make a high living space.

The sitting area has glass walls on to the garden on two sides. There is a dining area in the opposite corner under the landing area and a kitchen hidden behind a wall between the two.

There is a separate staff block off to the side (the current curators live there) and the kitchen was part of their domain.

There are two bedrooms on this level too, also overlooking the garden.

Most of the furnishings and art in the house are original and were chosen by Picker. This includes art works by Chagall and furniture by Conran. It is all rather lovely.

Outside, in what was one the garden for the staff flat, is a circular gallery built to hold Picker's expanding collection once he ran our of room in the main house.

The sculpture on the top floor was not much to my taste, and seemed to feature a lot of naked men (Picker was gay) but I liked a lot of the paintings in the lower gallery that is untouched by sunlight. There were works by Lowry and some others that I had heard of.

The garden is quite separate from the house in that there are lots of windows that let you see the garden from the house but not many doors that let you walk out in to it.

The slope continues and this is exploited to make a water feature that starts on the terrace and runs down one side of the garden where it disappears in to a small clutch of trees. The lawn in the centre of the garden is home to a few more sculptures.

The house works in two ways. Kenneth Wood's design makes good use of the shape and slope of the plot to produce a house with some stunning rooms and the Stanley Picker collection inside exploits those spaces to show off stylish furnishings and some fine art.

The only downside is that photography is forbidden so the only pictures that I can share are the few that I found on the internet. However, there are lots of good pictures in the book.

It was a treat to find a house as interesting as this almost on my doorstep and one visit was not enough to appreciate everything about it so I hope to be going there again sometime.

25 September 2013

Ham United Group Meeting: September 2013

I had been paying attention to the activities of Ham United Group (HUG) for some time. There are several community groups locally, including the Ham and Petersham Association and Ham Amenities Group, and HUG seems to be the most active of them. It is involved in several local projects, most of which it initiated, from cycle maintenance classes to a hydroelectric scheme for Teddington Lock.

Eventually circumstances and interest combined to take me to one of their meetings. This was held in a small office in one of the local developments, Ham Close. It was a small informal affair. Everybody else knew everybody else but I had spoke to a couple of them so it took me a while to work out who people were and what they did.

The Neighbourhood Forum was the big topic. This would devolve some planning powers from the Council to a forum run locally. These forums came in through the Localism Act 2011 so they were very new and experimental.

The ext meeting was scheduled for mid-October with planners and architects.

The Forum was trying to ensure that all community groups were represented on the Committee and they hoped to get the organisation approved by the Richmond Council Cabinet in October.

The scope of the forum had been defined as Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside Ward, which included the Star and Garter Home and also Teddington Lock.

HUG dad recently attended a useful meeting with DCLG to get advice on guidance on setting up the Forum. Only a handful of Forums were being set up in London but there were many more in rural areas usually based on Parishes.

A grant was available to employ an expert to vet the neighbourhood plan before submission.

Richmond Council had approved the (separate) Ham and Petersham Village Plan in one minute!

It was expected that the draft of Neighbourhood Plan would be out for consultation next April/May with the final referendum expected on the General Election date in May 2015.

I won't get a vote on that as I live just across the road in Kingston.

The Friends of Ham Lands (FOHL) were planning walks and talks in Ham Lands to promote its wildlife credentials. There were some issues with the way that the area was being managed, such as mowing when the orchids where in bloom and allowing cars to park on verges when caterpillars are around.

HUG was looking to start some sort of makers scheme, building on the IT work already done. A local student was building a 3d printer. They were also looking to build an automatic irrigation system, to build a web server and to make use of some of Grey Court's facilities.

The Ham Hydro application was still going through Planning. It had been delayed from September's  meeting as officers requesting extra information. The main problem was objections from Lensbury. I had recently submitted a response in favour of the application.

The HUG Allotment at Grey Court had been covered in rubble by the building works. Looking to move to Walnut Tree Allotments on Riverside Drive.

The gardens at Ham Library and Woodville Day Centre had been recognised in London awards. The plan was to do more in dark part of Ham Library gardens, possibly using a competition to collect ideas.

Concerns were voiced about disconnected green spaces reducing options for wildlife. Individual gardens are not enough on their own.

Cider making was suggested!

Another idea was Green Screen, a club showing environmentally themed films. This could start in January and be run monthly.

A new editor was taking on the Ham and Petersham Magazine. This was distributed to residents in Ham and Petersham but I had never heard of it as I live in Kingston.

Richmond's suggestions for how to spend Boris' cycling money included a bridge over the Thames which would connect Ham to Twickenham. There are four possible crossing points and my favourite would connect to the White Swan.

The proposal for an Olympic Swimming Pool at Grey Court had stalled.

I was not able to contribute much to the meeting but it was good to hear more about the many activities and projects in progress and in the pipeline. It is through groups like HUG that places like Ham become communities.

DC Comics Digital Sneak Peeks: 25 September 2013

Villains' Month at DC has produced another set of strong covers this week and it has taken some will power to select just one. Killer Croc #1 wins for the violent eruption of bones around the violent figure and for the bemused turtle caught up in this.

The cover of Parasite #1 did not impress me greatly but this inside page by Aaron Kuder does because of its vertical composition and flow. I also like the sense of calm, the truculent weather and the coloured speech balloons. There is a great deal to designing a page of a comic and it is only when all of them work together that you get a page that works as well as this.

22 September 2013

A coffee break and a wander at Ham House

Being a member of the National Trust means that I can pop in to Ham House whenever the mood takes me and it took me on this Sunday morning.

I had been looking at the Glasshouse nearby in Petersham and fancied both a coffee and bit of a walk, so Ham House fitted the bill perfectly.

I was not that desperate to get to Ham House but it might have seemed that way as I found myself at the front of the queue to get in when the gates opened at 11am.

The coffee came first and that meant heading round to the right of the house to the kitchen garden. I had some cake too to fortify myself for the wander to come.

The kitchen garden is both practicable, it really is growing vegetables and flowers for use, and pretty. It is also neatly laid out in a grid with wide gravel paths that crunch reassuringly as you walk over them.

The kitchen garden is laid out in a uniform 4 x 4 grid. Some of these are grass, and grass is useful for the various events that are held there each year, but the kitchen garden has made some encouraging expansion in recent years and the number of grass squares has reduced.

This symmetry is the first aspect of the garden's beauty that you notice as it is approached from the elevated side garden.

The garden's other source of beauty comes from its mix of colours of shapes with the flowers and vegetables both playing their part.

The top picture is of one of the long flower beds, and on the right are some pumpkins. I have no idea what the things below are - I love the purple colour though.

There are three routes out of the kitchen garden and on this trip I took the one in the far corner away from the restaurant and that took me almost immediately into the Wilderness.

Here the defining feature is the maze of hedge-lined paths and wandering them is pleasure enough. When feeling a little more adventurous, and when time allows, I pop in to some of the gardens behind the hedges.

Like the kitchen garden, the Wilderness is a bit of work in progress and some of the hidden gardens have little in while others are well stocked with plants and cosy places to sit to enjoy them.

Emerging from the Wilderness, Ham House is revealed in all its glory.

This is, of course, the back of the house and I much prefer it to the font which I find a little fussy. The back is clean and, that word again, symmetric.

Off to the right is another garden hidden behind another, and taller, hedge.

Inside trimmed box and lavender provide further symmetry and further beauty. The lavender was replanted a year or two ago and it was good to see it back to full strength.

As almost always, this was an anti-clockwise tour of the gardens at Ham House and I paid no attention to the house itself, except to look at the outside of it. Even then the garden had me trapped for the best part of an hour before it had had enough of me and me of it.

It is fantastic to have something like Ham House on the doorstep (well, only 1.5km away) and, as with Kew Gardens, I prefer to make regular and frequent visits, which is easy thanks to membership on the National Trust.

Open House London: The Glasshouse in Petersham

I have enjoyed the garden at The Greenhouse many times and because the house as an awful lot of glass facing the garden I have seen some of the inside too. The Open House London allowed me to go inside and that was an opportunity not to be missed.

I got there a comfortable while before the official opening time of 10:00 on Sunday morning and was not first in the queue. There were about a dozen of us when the door opened and we were let in.

The approach to the house is probably its least interesting feature. It looks very private and there are no windows, not even a little glass in the door, on the side of the house facing the drive.

The basic shape and design can be determined from the outside. The house is clearly not that wide and there is a lot of glass on the left-hand side next to the garden.

It has rained every so slightly and ever so briefly that morning and we intruders were asked to remove our shoes on entry. That act reinforced the cleanliness and tidiness of the house and even though we were allowed to roam unguided through most of it I did so with a sense of trepidation in case I made a mark or inappropriate noise.

One long room faces the garden. This is split in two by the entrance arch (there are no doors downstairs) from the hall/corridor. On the left is the dining area.

On the right is the slightly less formal kitchen area. This also has a long table and shows more signs of use, a mug.

The house is L-shaped and this is the hall/corridor along the base of the L. The kitchen and dining areas are just to the right on the upright of the L. The entrance hall/corridor is beyond that.

Actually it is not quite L-shaped but that is the closest letter in the alphabet. There is a room on the ground floor that protrudes below the base of the L, that is the study that is through the door in the centre. This is used for work, by a doctor judging by the books glimpsed through the door, and was closed to visitors.

Turning around from where the previous picture was taken reveals the square sitting room with the main part of the garden to the left. There is a smaller garden to the right with a soothing water feature.

This is a room that I could spend many comfortable hours in.

At the top of the stairs rising from the sitting room is a study area on the landing. The base of the L is shorter upstairs but the impromptu study is still much bigger than most people are used too.

Most of the bedrooms were off-limits, indicated by no more than a closed door, but we were allowed in to the master bedroom at the top of the L above the entrance. Again the size is impressive and it takes the reflection in the mirror to show that there is a large bed in the room too.

The garden can be seen through the windows on the left though the upstairs protrudes a little forward (see top picture) so it is only the far window that has this view.

I love the carpet.

Actually, I love almost everything about the house except for its a little bit out of the way location, it is good to have shops in easy walking distance and the nearest shops from here must be a mile away.

It would look a lot different if I lived there too as I am not always quite as neat and tidy as this.

21 September 2013

Who Are You? at The Fox and Duck

I have never been a great fan of the Who and I don't think that I have ever bought anything of theirs (though home taping gave me a few things like Tommy) but they did do a few songs that I like and there was nothing much else happening on a Saturday night so I went to The Fox and Duck in Petersham to catch Who Are You?

I was not keen enough to get there for the start of the show and I happened to arrive in the interval which gave me enough time to find a good place to stand and to confirm that the Doombar was not really drinkable.

Who Are You? surprised me by being a five-piece band, complimenting the expected line-up with some keyboards.

The sound surprised me a little too with the lead guitar mixed a little low letting the rhythm section dominate. Given that the Who are all about Pete Townsend that was a little weird.

Less of a surprise was my lack of knowledge of some of the songs though Who Are You? know what they were doing and ended their set with Won't Get Fooled Again (my favourite), My Generation and Substitute. That got the audience, almost all blokes my age, singing and tapping though the pub lacked the young women that it sometimes has to get us dancing too.

Who Are You? were never going to win me over completely simply because they played Who songs but within that constraint they did a mighty fine job of keeping me entertained.

Open House London: Langham House Close

Langham House Close, off Ham Common, is about 200m away so I had no excuse for not visiting it as part of Open House London 2013.

The three apartment blocks in Langham House Close were designed in 1955 by James Stirling and James Gowan for the Manousso Group as a speculative development. They were built in 1957-58 on a site that was formerly the back garden of a Georgian manor house. The blocks were Grade II listed in 1998 and upgraded to Grade II* in 2006.

The blocks present a tidy fa├žade of yellow brick with concrete highlights that is neatly offset by the planting around the blocks. The impression is very much the same as the larger Parkleys development nearby. First impressions matter and Langham House Close makes a good one.

The yellow brick and concrete theme continues inside. This is the sitting room of a one bedroom flat. The brick wall is nice enough and is made even better by the quirky concrete bocks mixed in with it and the high narrow gap.

The rooms show all the characteristics of the modern style at that time with white walls and rectangular windows of various sizes. The owner of this flat said that the old technology of the windows (wooden frames with single glazing) meant that they are bad at temperature control but I was only there to look at them and they looked great.

We were allowed in to one of the other blocks to see the communal areas and I loved this corridor of more brick and more concrete. There were a few metal railings too that added a few gentle curves to the dominant straight lines.

The blocks are arranged in a long plot that runs all the way from Ham Common to Craig Road (there is a tall locked gate to stop people taking the short-cut) with landscaping between them. The mound is a nice feature though I was surprised not to see any seats outside.

The flats may have problems according to one of the owners but considered just on their design and setting they are a fitting testament to the period. They are over fifty years old and show few signs of ageing, unlike some of their neighbours. They also look a lot prettier than most of their contemporaries.

Open House London: Twickenham

I am very interested in architecture but have always avoided Open House London because of the anticipated long queues (true, as it turns out) and I thought that none of the properties were that close to me (not true, as it turns out).

This year I splashed out 69p for the iPhone app and discovered that there were a few properties worth visiting within cycling distance. Some were in Ham or Petersham and so were easy to get to whereas the ones in Twickenham took a little bit more planning, we really do need that proposed new bridge.

First stop was Darke House where a reasonable queue had already formed ahead of opening time at 10am. Sadly after bit of a wait we discovered that it was not going to be open after all. This late withdrawal was, apparently, on the website but it was not on the app that I had checked that morning.

Luckily there were other attractions nearby and I headed to J.M.W. Turner's country residence, Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham.

This is where he lived rather than worked so there is no studio to see, just a typical period cottage. Inside has some character and some information about the house and Turner's time there, his father also lived there, but there is not that much to look at, hence a picture of the outside.

The displays inside explained the history of the house and some of that is very obvious from the outside, such as the way that the original small cottage expanded on both side.

I was in the area so it made sense to go to the gardens at York House where the Naked Ladies cavort in the tumbling water.

There are large formal gardens too though they did not offer much in the way of colour at that time of year. The gardens are more for promenading in, mostly by people with prams or buggys, and they lack decoration; apart from the ladies of course.

Crossing a footbridge over the road took me to York House. This is still the main offices of Richmond Council when most authorities have decamped to purpose-built, and more practicable, offices and left the old building in the hands of developers for quite a few pieces of silver.

The sunken lawn (I have no idea why it is like that) attracts small children as the banks are ideal for rolling down. Even on a quite grey day like this one was there was one small girl determined to have a go and I had to wait some time for her to roll out of the picture. You cannot take pictures with children in any more.

The gardens are opposite Eel Pie Island and the view of the island from the Twickenham bank is of a delightful jumble of clutter. It reminds me of the picture game books I had as a child where you had to look at a picture like this and find five boats, one crane a telephone number and three ladders.

Cycling back home I had a stroke of luck and stumbled across Pope's Grotto and Radnor House School that were also open for the day.

The grotto was built by Alexander Pope in the 1720s to let him move between his house and garden without having to cross the main road. Much has changed since then, Pope's mansion has gone and Radnor House School sits in part of the garden but the grotto is still there.

The grotto is about 20m long, just about wide enough for a couple to walk side-by-side and tall enough for them to do so without stooping. It is heavily manufactured and there is no pretence that this has been tunnelled from rock. The ceramics that line the walls have been carefully chosen and reward a close look.

At the garden/school/rive end of the grotto there are two side aisles with statues in. They are not very pretty but it is interesting that they are there.

The grotto is reached via the school which has some merit of its own. It is clearly not as old as it sometimes pretends to be and the Tudor look is decidedly fake but still attractive.

There is no river path at his point (unlike on the opposite bank) so this is a view of the Thames that normally only school children get to see. On the left is Ham Lands and on the right are the moorings at Strawberry Vale.

A day that had not started well with the unexpected closure of Darke House got better as other places were discovered or rediscovered and, in the end, Twickenham showed that it does have plenty to offer for the curious visitor.

20 September 2013

Springs Eternal at the Orange Tree

The new season at the Orange Tree started with another trip to the world of Susan Glaspell with Springs Eternal.

There is a story that I do not know here as she was a significant playwright yet this was the world premier of her last play. It was written in 1943 which is when it is set.

America is at war and the stark reality of that sits behind some complex relationships. At the centre of these is Owen, played magnificently by Stuart Fox an Orange Tree regular, with his current and previous wife (who flirts with him), his ex-wife's new husband (who is eloping with a young girl) and Owen's son who is a Conscientious Objector much to his father's shame.

Having set the situation and introduced the characters the play explores the beliefs and feelings of each of them.

It does this at some length and that means some long unnatural speeches by one of the characters while the others just watch.

It is a little static at times, and is never very active, but there is enough in the words and the way that they are delivered by the cast to maintain interest. I only noticed a couple of the audience asleep but that always happens at the Orange Tree and is more a comment on the demographic of the audience than of the play.

In those many words we are given several perspectives on the (then) modern world and how it was changing. Four of the characters are middle-aged, three are young with one in the army and another an objector, and one is elderly (the housekeeper). This gives us views from different ages, genders, politics and classes and makes their conversations confrontational and interesting.

Springs Eternal is a thoughtful play that works well in the round as we are almost in the room with the conversations rather than watching them from distant stalls. It is also the sort of play that the Orange Tree has built its enviable reputation on and this is a worthy addition.

18 September 2013

DC Comics Digital Sneak Peeks: 18 September 2013

The wow-factor from the front page of Justice League America #7.3 (a.k.a. Shadow Thief #1) comes from the view point with the city laid out below the falling figure. I don't think that the promise of the first page is carried through the rest of the comic but that does not matter to me as I am just looking for single pages with visual impact and this one has that.

Another internal page, this time from Fables #133 by Mark Buckingham. The colours hit first with the blue/green story panels flanked by the contrasting yellow/orange borders. The next point is the progression of the three panels which grow in size as the page heads towards its climax. Finally, it is the style of the artwork with its simple construction and strong lines building on the tradition of Jack Kirby and, personal favourite, Keith Giffen.

DC is all about villains at the moment and I think that is working very well. Each cover has a dominant baddie and I've chosen this one of The Penguin because he has often been portrayed as a comedy villain but here he shows real malevolence.

17 September 2013

The Speed Twins at the Riverside

I go to the theatre rather a lot but it still seemed like the obvious place to go to celebrate my thirtieth wedding anniversary and the Riverside Theatre was the obvious one to go to.

How could I resist a play that introduce itself as, "Three old women meet as strangers in a spectral version of the Gateways, the lesbian nightclub featured in the film The Killing of Sister George."

On the surface this was another of those sitting around in limbo waiting for heaven/hell plays but that just describes the setting not the substance. Also, unlike some other plays, we get to the "we are in Limbo" realisation quickly and it is just a clarification rather than a significant plot twist.

The play is about reassessing decisions in the light of hindsight and with the opportunity, perhaps, to make some of them again.

The Speed Twins are what two young women in love called themselves before decisions separated them.

They are reunited in a Dyke Bar in Limbo. One of them has just died in her seventies but the other appears in her twenties just as she was when a motorcycle accident, and the consequences, ended the Speed Twins' relationship.

A third woman, dressed, oddly,  as Charlie Chaplin played the role of the critical friend to both forcing them to think about what they want while trying to drink the bar dry at the same time.

The age gap was a neat trick and another came towards the end when instead of the usual heaven/hell option the possibility of resurrection came bringing with it more decisions to think about.

There was one big final twist at the end that left the situation open to interpretation though by then a lot of the relationship and lifestyle questions had been addressed.

The Speed Twins was a very satisfying play performed with feeling. The plot was an interesting theme to string the conversations on and it was the way that those conversations looked at lives lived and emotions endured that gave the play its interest and warmth.

14 September 2013

The Peter Ackroyd Thames Pub Crawl 2013

Days out in London do not get much better than this.

Having done the Grey Soul and Thin Veil walks a total of four times I was invited by the organisers to join the grand end of season celebration with the entirely correct title The Peter Ackroyd Thames Pub Crawl.

This took a group of around twenty of us Westminster to Rotherhithe via ten, yes ten, pubs. On the way we listened to many prepared stories and had a few unplanned adventures.

Thanks to FourSquare I know that the pubs we went to were St. Stephens Tavern, The Sherlock Holmes, Mulberry Bush, Doggett's Coat & Badge, The Anchor, The Rake, Liberty Bounds, The Bridge House, The Angel and The Mayflower. That was quite an eclectic mix from pubs where only tourists go to those where we got a funny look for not being regulars.

The unplanned adventures included photos with a hen party, a group of coloured animals, a wheelchair, the raising of Tower Bridge just as we were approaching the centre and  musical boats.

It was a rich and fascinating day and it was so good that I did not mind finding myself in Rotherhithe at 10pm having had seven pints. Luckily my iPhone knew the way home.

Walking from Vauxhall to Rotherhithe via ten pubs

There were several parts to The Peter Ackroyd Thames Pub Crawl including the walk itself, the tales shared with friends and the ten pubs we rested in. These are some of the pictures to go with the tales.

The walk started for the others at Westminster but I began my journey at Vauxhall after catching a train there from Richmond. This place has many memories for me.

For a while I worked at London Borough of Lambeth and that meant visiting the planning department who were in one of the blocks in the middle. Not one of those facing the river, obviously, but round the back facing the station.

After that I worked for a about a year for EDF Energy in Victoria and that allowed me to walk over the bridge every morning.

The EDF Energy London Eye is such a prominent feature on the Thames that it had to feature here.I like the construction of the Eye, rather than its plain circular shape, and a close-up shows that best.

We crossed the river several times including a north to south crossing on the Hungerford Bridge. I recall when this was a narrow bridge on one side only and the new bridge is one of the many things London has to thank Ken Livingstone for. Boris has given us a cable car that goes from nowhere to nowhere.

Another bridge but one we did not cross. The main point of this picture is the changing London skyline. I've taken similar pictures several times before but new this time are the Cheese-Grater and the Walkie-Talkie (a.k.a. the Fryscrapper).

Back on the north bank we passed this beauty in glass between London Bridge and Billingsgate. This is a part of London that not many people go to because, apart from offices, there is nothing there. I'm not even sure that I've been there before and I walk everywhere.

On the other side of the water, HMS Belfast is well disguised against the blue offices of More London behind it.

It was getting dark as we approached Tower Bridge and it was even darker when we finally crossed it as it was raised as we were just a few meters from the centre and we were sent back and had to wait for the ships opera to finish.

To get to Tower Bridge we had to pass the Tower of London with its steadfast wall of bricks. I like bricks.

It is hard to miss the Shard and I had taken a few pictures of it at various points along the river before this one. I like this one best because of the curved blocks in front of it, the office lights and the grey sky.

I took this picture on Tower Bridge while waiting for it to open. This is looking east towards the badlands. The floating lights in the centre are on cranes and are further evidence of the constant rebuilding and expansion of London.

Finally, in Rotherhithe in the dark and a look back towards the City on the north side.

I took lots and lots of photographs during the walk. It was a struggle to cut them down to just 96 for Facebook and even harder to cut that down further to 11 for this article. I love walking through London, especially by the river, and I hope that these pictures give some clue as to why that is.