Tasting the sunshine out east last August

Yes, last summer I went on several exeditions to such places as the Dome, and beyond. Here is a clutch of photos I photoed in the beyond category. On August 11th, I journeyed to the Dome, then took the Dangleway across the River to the Victoria Docks, and walked along the north side of them, ending my wanderings at the City Airport DLR station:

There are two of these favourite sculptures to be seen, in Photo 7 and Photo 11.

There are 35 photos in all. I think maybe my favourite is 33, which includes an advert that says: “OH REALLY?” I like that, for some reason.

Photo 27 has a sign, on the side of the Tate & Lyle factory, saying “TASTE THE SUNSHINE”. It was a very sunny day. I count three that include shadow selfies (23, 24, 31).

It is so much easier doing this kind of thing than it was at The Old Blog. (My thanks yet again to Michael J, who did this new blog for me.)

My four most favourite London sculptures

All photoed by me, in 2015, apart from the last one, which was photoed by me earlier this year:

They are: the statue of Mercury on top of Telephone House (also featured in this photo); the Big Olympic Thing; Pavlova; and the Optic Cloak.

I have many photos in the archives of all of these four. All of the above photos show context, as well as the Thing itself. I love these sculptures for what they are, but also for what they do for their surroundings.

There are many, many other sculptures and statues in London that I like a lot, but those four are my current front runners.

Queen Victoria backed by modernity

I love statues. Mostly, you don’t have the exact same one in several different spots, so when you see a familiar one, you know you are here and nowhere else.

And while checking out a statue near Blackfriars Station recently, I encountered another statue that I also like:

Photoing statues can be tricky, and I found this one particularly difficult. Very black and very shiny, lit by a sun that was crashing in from what seemed like entirely the wrong direction, was an awkward combination of circumstances, which made photoing Queen Vic’s face especially difficult. But, the outline comes out well enough.

Two of the photos, 5 and 9, have benefitted (or I hope they have) from a little post-production enhancement.

Photos 7 and 8 each feature a crane, and also the Oxo Tower. I like how the green of that container-office (7) echoes the green of the faraway tower. The crane is one of many working on the big London mega-sewer. Photo 9 features the tower of Tate Modern.

Quota sunset (gallery) from a year ago

A year ago exactly. October 1st 2018. While journeying back from out East on the DLR:

That’s exactly how they came out of the camera. I don’t know why they vary so much in their degree of luridness, peaking with the one in the middle of the cranes, but they do so vary.

Illustrating an opinion I hold about how Unreal Photographers like me are best advised to photo sunsets. Advice: put Things in front of the sunset.

I particularly like photo 6, taken from the very front of my DLR train. The point being, DLR trains don’t have drivers, so provided you get lucky with one of the front seats you can photo directly forwards.

Also, note how, in photo 3, the shape of the Shard echoes the shape of a typical London church spire. That was, as I recall Shardchitect Renzo Piano explaining before the Shard had even been built, deliberate.

Urban picturesque

Indeed:

Photoed by me in September 2013.

I have labelled this photo “NearlyEverything” because for me, it has nearly everything. Scaffolding, roof clutter ancient and modern, a crane, Magic Hour light, the lot. Well, not the lot, there are things I like that are not present in this photo. But a lot of the lot.

There is even present a favourite item of London public sculpture, in the form of the statue of Mercury that adorns a building on the north bank of the River called Telephone House. If you follow that link, you’ll learn nothing about this sculpture being there. But it is.

Googling for “mercury statue” is greatly confused by the fact that a statue of pop singer Freddie Mercury has recently been on display outside the Dominion Theatre, across the road from Centre Point.

Exploring The City: Monument thoughts

When I say exploring, I mean three kinds of exploring, rather than just the one. The “just the one” is going there, and taking photos. But the second is finding things out from the Internet about the various things I saw and photoed. And the third is exploring my photo-archives for related photos that I photoed during earlier explorations.

Here’s an internet discovery of what the place I was exploring looked like, in (guess) the late eighteenth century:

That image is one of a collection of images to be found at the top of the Website for the Parish and Pilgrimage Church of St Magnus the Martyr in the City of London.

At the back there, the Monument, and the church of St Magnus the Martyr. Note how you also see three other church spires, and a rather distant church tower. In those days, churches dominated the London skyline.

Here another Monument image, this time one which I photoed in the vicinity of the Monument, yesterday:

At the top of that, beyond, you can just about make out a horizontal slice of the Monument itself.

I’ve obviously been up this London Big Thing, but not very recently. Now, I want to look more closely at how this London Big Thing looked, when it first arrived on the scene:

I’m sure there are plenty of references to God and how he should bless and receive into heaven, or wherever, all the people who perished in the Great Fire of London, at the base of the Monument.

Nevertheless, I wonder if The Monument was actually some sort of turning point for London architecture, in the sense that it is very tall, but not a place of worship. The Monument, from the moment it was built, was what is nowadays called a “visitor attraction”. It works by allowing people to climb up a big staircase inside to a viewing platform at the top, from which anyone who cared to make this effort could then gaze down upon London, and its many churches. No worshipping involved, unless you want it to be.

Until the Monument, I’m guessing that the last place of non-worship to dominate the London skyline so forcefully was the Tower of London.

The Monument must have caused quite a stir when it first appeared. Did some people then think it was an eyesore? (A major function of blogging, for me, is that it records questions. That’s one I don’t want to forget.)

And if the Monument was thought of by some to be an eyesore, did this make it easier for people later to argue for taller – also secular – buildings in its vicinity, the aesthetic and spiritual damage already having been done? Like the Guy’s Hospital Shard story, only this time for the entire City of London.

To bring the story up to date, here’s a photo I photoed a while back of The Monument and its immediate surroundings, from the top of the Walkie Talkie:

The Monument and St Magnus are still a bit taller than their immediate surroundings, which are nevertheless pretty bulky. But as for the Walkie Talkie, and the other Big Things beyond, it’s definitely a case of The Monument being dwarfed by modernity.

Here’s another photo of The Monument, this time from the Top of the Tate Modern Extension:

Again, dwarfed by modernity.

Walkie Talkie on the left there, behind the red crane. And since we have a crane there, here’s a roof clutter photo, also feature the top of the Monument:

Photoed from the other side of the River also. Don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of alignment/juxtaposition, as regulars here will know. But, that’s how little the view of the Monument from any sort of distance now matters to London’s aesthetic overlords.

The new Google building in King’s Cross is taking shape

And the shape is the big green thing that someone has stuck in the middle of this photo …:

… which I found here. More about this building-to-be here.

On the right, King’s Cross railway station. On the left, St Pancras railway station, which is where the Eurostar trains go to and come from. It’s a pretty well connected sort of place. And proof that physical connection remains important, in the world of virtual connection that Google does so much to route us all about in.

A while back I was in and around all this with a friend, and just before I photoed these photos, I photoed these photos:

There’s something very appealing to me about the big concrete towers that signal a big new project like this one, towers ministered to by cranes, cranes which on sunny days often leave shadows on the towers. In a few months, all will be completely different. No sooner are these towers built than they are smothered in something else, after which some degree of permanence will return.

And whereas those earlier towers and cranes I linked to were for Brand X unaffordable apartments, the above towers are being built for one of the great economic and political facts of our time.

Palfinger Epsilon

Indeed:

That’s a detail in the middle of a device I spotted on a lorry in Victoria Street this afternoon. It’s a grab crane.

Here’s the lorry:

As you can perhaps see, the job of Palfinger Epsilon is to grab bags of bagged aggregate.

I have taken to always having a fictional book on the go, and currently that book is Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky. Palfinger Epsilon sounds like one of the characters in this story.

The Helter Skelter that never was

I don’t often often get close up with the Big Things of the City of London. Mostly I just admire the changing scene they have made for London over the last two decades, but from a distance.

But in November of 2012, I did get close to these Things, and in particular to the new Big Thing then under construction, known by its makers as “The Pinnacle”, and to the rest of us as the “Helter Skelter”.

Here is a smallish gallery from that expedition:

A sneaky selfie in the last one there.

The Helter Skelter turned into something else just as tall, but bulkier and duller, as recounted in this angry piece. Which means that my expedition captured a fascinating passing moment in London’s architectural history. The stump that was all it was then remained a stump, and then turned into the Biggest Thing in the top photo here.

I have mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand, the Helter Skelter would have been more elegant and recognisable. And it would also have been a great place to shoot a remake of King Kong, with KK sliding down it, carrying an English actress with him on his lap. On the other hand, the current architectural hulk that is catchily known as “22 Bishopsgate”, now nearing completion, being so very bulky and inelegant, will positively demand a much bigger Big Thing next to it, in the fullness of time. Rather in the way that Guy’s Hospital was, for its time, so big and ugly that it made the Shard happen.

Walking north to the Dome

So there I was at YOU ARE HERE …:

…, and following a bit of shipspotting, I made my way north along the wiggly pink line beside the River.

And so now here is another of those click-click-click in-your-own-time fast-or-slow-or-as-you-wish galleries, of the sort I never used to do on such a scale at the old blog, because they were so much harder to do and so much harder for you to click-click-click your way through:

Looking back, at such things as the quadruple chimneys of the Greenwich Power Station. Looking left across the River to the towers of Docklands and towers further away. Looking at the strange shore, between the River and the land I was walking on, and at the strange things people do to such shores. Looking to the right, at the new machines for living in that are being constructed next to this shore. And looking to the right further away, to catch occasional glimpses of the Optic Cloak, which I admire more and more every time I see it.

There is no theme this time, other than the theme of this being where I was and this being what I saw from where I was. Fences, scaffolding, cranes, towers, and lots of signs, and, in general, a place that will be very different in a few years time. Also, quite a lot of plant life of various sorts, which I always enjoy in moderate doses, in among all the urbanity.

The walk involved quite a bit of digressing inland, as walks alongside the Thames tend to. This being because they are constantly altering what is next to the Thames, and don’t want you getting in the way while they’re doing that.

The final photo in this gallery features a huge fence, for stopping balls escaping from a mini-golf range. I did not see that place coming.