A bridge in Serbia with an office and a hotel on it

Dezeen reports on this new bridge, to be built in Serbia:

Every time a bridge like this gets proposed (or even built), with architecture on it, however bland and boring it is, I rejoice that the day comes a bit nearer when such a bridge will get built somewhere in London downstream and east, in the vicinity of the Thames Barrier, or maybe further east than that. I don’t care where exactly.

The thing is, there don’t seem to be that many big bridges, for things like motorways and high speed trains, being built these days. The big news is in small bridges, like this one for instance. So, any bridge that any city does now manage to build is sure of a lot of attention. And if something like the old London Bridge got built again, downstream, bigger, that would definitely get lots of attention, to a part of London which is, as of now, dangerously bland and anonymous. All brand new machines for living in. Not much in the way of eye-catching picture postcard fodder. A bridge with architecture on it would really liven things up.

It should be big enough to have a viewing platform on it, nice and high up, to look upstream at central London from.

By the way, I just found out you can actually visit this model of old London Bridge, in a church, in The City. I saw it on television a few weeks ago and just googled it now. Blog and learn.

Expect photos.

A little shipspotting

A little bit of spotting I mean. The ship itself was rather big.

Remember this map, showing where I went walking from Maze Hill station to YOU ARE HERE, and then went north to the Dome:

The original idea of that posting was to say where I was, and then tell you about something rather interesting I saw from that spot. But by the time I had finished rambling on about the sign of which the above map was a part, I already had an entire posting, about the sign.

But yes, there I was at YOU ARE HERE, and rather than concentrating all my attention on the view of where I was about to go, I also looked west. Here’s what I saw:

That’s right, one of those huge and impossibly top-heavy-looking cruise ships.

I tried to think when I had ever seen such a vessel in London before. I have a very vague recollection of having once such a thing, maybe, but nothing for sure. Well, well.

I then turned right and north, and in among all the photos I took on my way north, I occasionally looked back at this ship:

Those being the same photo, one of the last I took, with, on the right, the bit of the photo on the left which shows the actual ship slightly more clearly.

And this was the very last photo I took of her, maximum zoom:

With that, I took a turn inland, dictated by the path I was following, and I saw no more of her.

When I got home, I became curious about this ship. Name? I look a closer look at one of my photos above, and found this:

The Viking Jupiter. So, basically, that would be: Wotan. Just kidding. Viking’s the line, Jupiter’s the name. Fair enough. Just because an ancient (in both senses) historian might get angry about saddling a bunch of Norsemen with a Roman god, that doesn’t mean anyone else has to fret about this.

Then, in an inspired move, I wondered what Google Maps would have to say about the spot where I saw this ship. Here’s what came up:

And in particular, closer-up, this:

So, not just a pier of some sort, an actual ship. This would appear to be a regular London thing, with a regular pier for the ship to attach itself to in a regular spot.

Google google. Here is a map of the cruise that the Viking Jupiter was about to embark upon:

I had always thought that ships like this confined themselves to places like the West Indies or the Mediterranean. London? Liverpool? Apparently so.

Yet again, what I observed, and photoed with much pleasure, was something I would not dream of purchasing myself. Cruising on a big and over-decorated cruise ship like this is absolutely not my kind of thing. If they paid me £6,340 to do a cruise like this, I might even turn that down. (Probably not, but maybe.) But, I rejoice that London is part of this business.

I was there on the afternoon of July 29th, and “departure” was supposedly the 28th. But I think that may have meant the day when you had to leave your home in the UK, get to London and check in on the ship.

Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

New category, long overdue: maps.

I now rather regret that I didn’t scrap my original plan and turn left, and take a much closer look at this ship. Maybe next year.

Blue sky – sun – concrete – cranes – crane shadows

Every time I go to St James’s Park tube I go past the cranes that are labouring away to make The Broadway.

Yesterday these cranes were looking especially fine in the late afternoon sunshine, casting some excellent shadows on the concrete towers they are busy constructing:

And as you can see, I also got some photos of the sun hitting one of the crane towers, that approached in dazzlingness what I was seeing myself, which I usually find rather hard to do. Photography is light, and the light was especially good yesterday.

The way I see it, there’s not a lot of point in making something eternal with the magic of digital photography if the thing you are photoing is pretty much eternal to start with, especially if many others have also eternalised it. But The Broadway will already have changed from what it was yesterday.

London’s machines for living in are getting better

Le Corbusier famously described homes as machines for living in, and if this Property Reporter piece is anything to go by, it would seem that London’s machines for living in have been getting better lately:

Traditionally, period London property consistently outperformed new build in terms of desirability and price. However, times are changing and now there’s an emerging trend of buyers preferring new to old.

What this tells me is that the quality of the newest London homes has finally got better than the quality of older buildings from a hundred years ago and longer. The dark age of what can only be described as architectural incompetence, that the Modern Movement in Architecture unleashed by including so many very bad ideas about how to design things in its bran tub of ideas, looks like it may be over. In London, anyway.

This doesn’t mean that people love how the latest London “dwellings” look. They merely, given the choice between living in a picturesque building that works somewhat badly or an ugly lump of soulless modernity that works better, prefer the latter. Function trumps form. You want your life to work. If that means it looks a bit boring, so be it.

People never did hate actual functioning buildings; they merely hated “functionalism”. Sneer quotes there because “functionalism” tended not to function properly. “Functionalism” included too many bad ideas about how to design things, bad ideas like it’s: clever to turn your back on conventional designs for stuff. Housing modernity is now a bunch of design conventions that actually work, and which architects who wish to remain in employment now know not to turn their backs on. Despite many mere appearances to the contrary, architects in London are now very conformist in how they work, and that works much better.

The ideal arrangement, then, might be to have a brand new home – the very best and latest machine for living in – but for the outside of it to be old.

So this later bit in the Property Reporter piece especially interested me:

American buyers traditionally insisted on new build, but ironically they are now championing the old – but not the draughty, leaky version of old! Projects that leave the period façade in place, while replacing the rest with what amounts to brand new are top of the list for buyers from the USA.

You see a lot of this sort of thing being done in London, if you look out for it.

Two more Oxo Tower views

Here are two Oxo Tower views, as photoed by me in July of this year.

And here are two more that I photoed from the same place at the same time:

On the left, the sort everyone does, and for very good reasons. On the right, one of my favourites that day, looking down to the Oxo Tower Pier.

LATER: And oh look, is that a Photoer I see at the far end of the Pier? Yes it is:

If I ever get another camera, I now intend that it will have an even zoomier zoom.

Reflections at the top of the Shard

Two years ago to the day, GodDaughter2 arranged for the two of us to visit the top of the Shard. I paid. She organised.

Sadly, she couldn’t organise a bright cloudless day for us. It was muggy and dim, instead of bright.

I got quite a few good photos, but the photo I remember most clearly from that expedition was this nearly great near miss:

That’s the original, no cropping or photoshop(clone)ing. That was it.

And, it badly needs an extra slice of land at the horizon, so I could rotate it into perfect horizontality, and crop it to have just a small slice of land. As it is, there’s no saving it.

What I still like about that photo, and what I would have loved had it been the masterpiece that actually got away, is the way that one of the biggest problems of photoing from the Shard, the shininess of the windows, has become a feature instead of a bug. Oh well.

But now look at this. I only (re)discovered this one today, while searching out stuff that was exactly x years ago to the day where x can vary. This one was also photoed on that very same expedition and from the top of that same Shard, and it also features a reflection:

Once again, no editing, no messing. That is it, straight from the camera. And how about that?!?!

We are looking out across the River, in a north easterly direction to the Tower of London (bottom left) and beyond. But, wondrously reflected, unmistakably, bang in the middle (so I must have been doing this on purpose): the Walkie Talkie. Click. Forget. On to the next one. And I only just rediscovered it. Had no memory of this at all.

The rule with photoing, or at any rate a rule I follow, is that there can be as much confusion as you like, the more the merrier, so long as at least something is clear. And the Walkie Talkie is clear, because it is such a distinct shape. Other photos I photoed by photoing straight at the Walkie Talkie tell me that this is a genuine reflection of the thing itself, rather than – I don’t know – just picture of it or something.

And I know that you could probably do this very easily with your photoshop(clone). But, I couldn’t. And I didn’t.

A sign with history lessons and with a map

On the 29th of last month I journeyed to Maze Hill railway station, walked north towards the river, just as I had planned, and in due course got to this spot:

I’m looking at signs. And I’m looking past the signs in the direction I intend to go. I love these signs that London has everywhere. And presumably also every great city in the rich world.

Let’s take a close look at the sign on the right in the above photo:

As you can perhaps see, this sign contains chunks of written information about places nearby. Chunks of the sort that I do not like to spend time reading direct from their signs, but which I do like to photo and then read later. Chunks like this:

So, the Isle of Dogs got its name from Henry III’s dogs, did it? Well, maybe. This is a fun maybe-fact, I think. Henry III was the one who had to escape the clutches of, and then execute, Roger Mortimer, Mortimer being the one who toppled Henry III’s Dad, Henry II. Henry II did badly. Henry III, at any rate by the standards that his subjects cared about, did very well, at least at first. What this means is that Henry II fought against his own nobles, in England. Henry III fought against the French, in France. Given how much pillaging and plundering and sheer destruction was involved in medieval warfare, in order to deny supplies to the enemy, Henry III’s wars were greatly preferred by the English.

I know what you’re thinking. Why not just not have any wars, anywhere? Ridiculous. What century are you living in? This one? There you go. No wonder you just don’t get it.

However the sign is now out of date on the subject of the tallest tower in Britain. That was indeed, once upon a time, One Canada Square. But the Shard has since, metaphorically speaking, toppled it. See here for details of that story. The soon-to-be-completed 22 Bishopsgate is already also a lot taller than One Canada Square.

However, I am puzzled about whether we are at Anchor Iron Wharf, as claimed by the sign on the left in the first photo in this posting, or on Ballast Quay. Many the former ends on the left with sign on the left, and the latter begins on the right with the sign on the right.

The right sign also contains a map, which is rather faded (what with it being a rather ancient sign), but this had the effect of throwing my intended journey into sharper relief:

This map even helpfully shows, with a thin dotted pink line, the very first part of my walk from Maze Hill station to the River. Having thus arrived at where it says YOU ARE HERE, my plan was to follow the thicker squiggly pink line north, beside the River, all the way around the north of the Dome, and then either go across the River on the Dangleway, or else just go home on the tube from North Greenwich.

And that’s what I did.

Photoers – Westminster – ten years ago today

Quota gallery time:

This photos were all photoed in a regular stamping ground of mine at that time, outside Westminster Abbey and then on into Parliament Square and the across Westminster Bridge.

This being a quota gallery, just to have something up here today, my thoughts on these photos will be brief. I have two.

First, no mobile phones. Mobile phones for photography had already arrived, but they had yet to drive out all those little old digital cameras, of the sort we still see in many of these photos.

Second, my own camera was pretty rubbish. Rubbish, given how I used it, and certainly compared to the ones I have enjoyed since, which I used in exactly the same way but with better results. The photos are okay from the composition point of view. I only cropped a couple of them, and that was only to avoid displaying recognisable faces. But too often, the focusing is just too, well, unfocused.

As you can tell from the umbrellas in the very first photo, it wasn’t that bright a day. I love brightness. Photography is light. Well, it is for me.

Surrey v Middlesex T20: Out of the sun in Bedser Upper

On July 23rd, Darren and I went to the Oval to watch Surrey lose to Middlesex. I photoed signs, and I photoed a drone, and that was about the half of it, if by that you mean about 0.5% of it.

As earlier noted, we got there with lots of time to spare and to spend taking in all the incidental sights and sounds of the Oval before the actual game got going. Which meant that when we reached our seats, the entire place (not just the place we were in) was nearly empty.

Darren had purchased seats for us in something called Bedser Upper, in honour of this Surrey legend. And the first thing we noticed when we reached our seats was how very cool it was, compared to how hot it might have been. We could see everything perfectly, yet we would be sheltered from the sun:

Remember, this was was the hottest day ever in London since the dawn of creation. 38 degrees centigrade, and a sure sign of Gaia’s Wrath To Come, to punish Sinful Man for burning too much petrol, gas, oil, etc., and for being too happy and comfortable and well off. Humanity used to be a bunch of slave labourers. Now it is a much vaster throng of, pretty much, sports fans with, compared to olden times, part-time jobs. And the sort of people who disapprove of that disapprove of it by talking about such things as how very hot it was, in London, on that day. And it was indeed very, very hot.

But, not quite so hot in Bedser Upper. Darren had chosen very well.

Later we realised that we were also sitting inside a giant loudspeaker, into which dementedly deafening pop music would be inserted for the duration of the game. Such is modern (very) limited overs cricket. But, we agreed that this was a price well worth paying, for the lack of extreme hotness.

I love the architecture of the Oval. (By which of course I mean the Kia Oval.) So much more interesting that some dreary built-all-at-once football stadium. The big sweep of that big new stand, with its big curved roof, on the left. The classical nobility of the ancient gasometer. The magnificently tall pavilion, on the right. And in the distance, occasional glimpses of the Big Things of central London. What a place.

And, just as divertingly, for me, before the game got started there were lots of interesting rituals being played out by a total of getting on for a hundred people. WIth other sports, a lot of this stuff is hidden away behind the scenes. But with cricket, if you get there early enough, you see it all. More about all that in further postings here about this wonderful night out, Real Soon Now.