Saturday, October 25, 2014

The all-important afternoon cup of tea, even more so after a glass of champagne because I needed to be in spit-spot shape to enjoy our dinner at St. JOHN Restaurant


Everyone with plans to attend the champagne reception which followed the Quit Rents Ceremony walked to the nearby Inns of Court--we walked with the lady who had recommended Richard as speaker. We had a grand time in a nice-sized room during which I met the two new Sheriffs of the City of London and gave each of them a uniform shoulder patch from where I work (the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office) which both of them thoroughly enjoyed receiving and showing to those nearby, saying, "Look what Lynette's given me, from her Sheriff!" I also introduced myself to the Queen's Remembrancer who, when he found out I'm from Portland, took off looking for his son Felix. I think he said Felix' godmother is from Portland--I wonder if I remember that correctly? Felix and I talked about Portland--he lives in NYC and had come home to attend this event, his father's last since he's retiring. Turns out Felix is friends with Portland's own Storm Large! Not that I know her, but I've seen her perform at Pioneer Courthouse Square! Small world. Richard and I made our way out of the building. On the way out, Richard wanted me to see this huge room, all set up for a dinner. Amazing space. I believe he said that at some point he'd attended an event in it--set up at that time as a disco! I wish I could remember more--there was something else about Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.


One of my favorite signs seen on the whole trip, as we exited the Inns of the Court. We took a black cab to Richard's hotel.


Ah, so nice to sit and relax in the Malmaison bar with a cup of tea. Richard went upstairs to change while I enjoyed the quiet. Don't you love the effect of the glass tabletop? I certainly do!


Dinner for four at St. JOHN Restaurant. A collage. Richard's tripe with fennel & bacon; my roasted mutton, carrots & aioli; Paula's hake, white beans & green sauce (Paula who lives in London is a friend of Juliet's son Tristan who lives in Brooklyn); Juliet's rabbit saddle & braised red cabbage; our new potatoes and Savoy cabbage; two desserts whose names I didn't get because Richard and I ordered that plate of what turned out to be too many madeleines. I never thought I'd think such a thought, much less live through it--too many piping hot madeleines. I wish I had a couple of them right now! Juliet had her much-desired bone marrow parsley salad as an appetizer--I forgot to take a photo! Anyway, now we've dined at the number one eatery on Anthony Bourdain's 2009 list of the thirteen places where one should dine before one dies!

Friday, October 24, 2014

On my way to meet my friend Richard Taylor at the Royal Courts of Justice, I realized how much fun it is to walk through a city in the sunshine! England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014


I shopped a bit on the street on the way to Covent Garden and, at Juliet's request, posed with this child's version of the iconic London bobby hat. I completely forgot to put this on the post yesterday--blame it on the doggone cold's hold on my brain. I'm feeling much better now and couldn't resist putting the photo on today's post. Thanks for putting up with my big ol' head, bobby hat strap sticking out like a sore thumb photo--some of you may have already seen it on Facebook when it was originally taken on October 7.


Once I had finished eating my scrumptious savoury crepe, I realized I had time to take a few photos along the way and still be on time to meet Richard. Ah, the iconic phone booth, seen on The Strand. And, yes, a double decker red bus, too! Serendipity!


Next I noticed a church, in the middle of the street! St. Mary le Strand.
I hope you’ll have time to click here and read the fascinating details about this church on a traffic island.


Almost there--I recognized the arches from having looked up the Royal Courts of Justice on Google Maps back home in Portland. I walked along the low white wall a few steps towards that huge building seen through the trees, looked across what seemed to be a driveway and saw Richard! Standing on the sidewalk in front of the building! I'm thirty minutes early for our appointed meeting time, and there he stood. Talk about your serendipity! I hollered, "Richard!" He turned and saw me, smiling as I approached. As he gave me a big hug, he said, "You haven't changed a bit, Lynette." I last saw this gracious gentleman in June, 2001.


We sat down for a moment on a stone bench, facing the front of the building, both of us thinking about why we were about to enter it. Richard had been invited to speak at the Quit Rents Ceremony, and he'd invited me to be his guest. Simple as that. (Read more later about the ceremony--I wasn't allowed to take photos inside the building.) Richard stood up to take another look at the building, concentrating on his speech. I got this candid photo of him--hooray.


Above the main doorway--beautiful but so high up that it's difficult to get a good shot when you're five foot four inches tall.


Here's the last photo I took before we continued through the open door. I'm turning off the camera, flipping shut the view screen, reading the NO photography sign. Inside waited a scanner machine and a man. He said, "Put your camera in your bag, madam. You use it, you will lose it." I quickly put it in my bag, assuring him I absolutely no intention of taking a photo inside the Royal Courts of Justice. I wasn't even tempted to take a photo throughout the entire ceremony, but, whew, I have to tell you, if I had been allowed to take photos, I'd have some of the coolest ever to share with you. Richard spoke after all of the ceremony, keeping everyone's attention very well, drawing some laughs and high praise by those who came up to him afterwards.

From the Royal Courts of Justice Web site:

Queen remembrancer: Origins

The Office of the Queen's Remembrancer is now the oldest judicial post to remain in continual existence since the Middle Ages - since the Lord Chancellor whose post predates that of the Remembrancer by some 60 years - has decided to renounce his judicial duties.

The Office originated in the Michaelmas Term of 1164 when King Henry II sent his senior civil servant, Richard of Ilchester who subsequently became the Bishop of Winchester, to the Court of Exchequer to help the Treasurer (now the Chancellor of Exchequer) supervise the annual collection of taxes. Richard was ordered to 'put the King in remembrance of all things owing to the King'. 

Thereafter the King's Remembrancer attended all the sittings of the Court of Exchequer until it was abolished in 1882.

When the revenue functions of the Court of Exchequer ceased in the 1830's the King's Remembrancer assumed all the ceremonial duties of the Court and these were enshrined in various statutes such as the Queen's Remembrancer's Act 1859, The Sheriffs' Act 1887 and the Coinage Act.

The Queen's Remembrancer as the last surviving member of the old Court of Exchequer is required to wear on top of his full bottomed wig, the black tricorn hat of the former Cursitor Baron (judge) of the Court of Exchequer and is also the Custodian of the Great Seal of Exchequer which is the seal of Office of the Chancellor of Exchequer but is placed in the care of the Remembrancer.

The Queen's Remembrancer presides over two of the oldest legal ceremonies namely the Rendering of the Quit Rents to the Crown (1211) and the Trial of the Pyx (1249).

Quit Rents Ceremony

At the Quit Rents Ceremony the Queen's Remembrancer receives the newly elected Sheriffs of the City of London and gives each of them their Warrant of Approbation from the Queen of their election by the Livery of the City of London. This is also the occasion on which the Corporation of London present to the Court of Exchequer presided over by the Remembrancer, two 'services' to go quit of paying rent for two pieces of land now in theory held by the City.

One piece of land is known as 'The Moors' and is situated south of Bridgnorth in Shropshire. For this land the City present to the Court two knives, one blunt and one sharp. These qualities are tested by the City's Comptroller trying to cut through a hazel rod one cubit in length (19 inches) and the thickness of the Remembrancer's forefinger. The rod must merely bend over the blunt knife but must be cut through by the sharp knife for the City to 'go quit of paying rent' by the satisfactory performance of this service. The other service is for a forge formerly in Twizzers Alley just south of St Clement Danes Church in the Strand, London. This service is performed by the Comptroller producing to the Remembrancer six large horseshoes and 61 nails, which he must count out in Court before the Remembrancer pronounces 'Good service'. These ceremonies are some of the oldest legal ceremonies dating as they do from 1211 and 1235. The horseshoes date from 1361 when the tenant of the Forge was permitted to pay 18 pence per year provided she had these shoes made for use each year. They are probably the oldest set of shoes in existence. At this Ceremony, the chequered cloth from which the Court took its name is laid out on the Bench at which the Remembrancer sits. The cloth was used as a means for checking what was owed by each Sheriff who collected the taxes due from his County. Counters were placed on the right hand side to show what was owed and different counters were placed on the left hand side as the monies due were paid in. At the end of the day the two columns of counters should tally.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The sculpture that lured me to Covent Garden, live music, and my lunch. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014


Here it is, y'all. The sculpture installation I learned about in an e-mail the day before leaving Portland for the tour! So excited to get to see this in person! And to know what it was, because I heard a woman with a British accent, her voice rising in alarm, say to the man with her as they stood staring at it: What is that? Destruction!  From The Independent Web site: British artist Alex Chinneck has undertaken a mammoth new artwork in Covent Garden, London, collaborating with builders, engineers, robots and more to make it look like the Market Building in the piazza is drifting up into the sky.


The effect, which can be seen not just from a specific angle but all sides, was achieved using digital carving and four-tonne counterweights.

Entitled 'Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder', the sculpture mimics the Market Building behind it, its broken columns making it look as though the 184-year-old building is levitating in mid-air.

Over 100 people worked on the artwork, including structural engineers, carpenters, carvers, set builders, scenery painters, water jet cutters and a robot, with 14 tonnes of steel being used and a tonne of paint.

"Architecture is a brilliant canvas for creative exploration and distortion because it surrounds and contains us," Chinneck commented.

If you've spotted any other mind-bending, large-scale architectural illusions around London, chances are they are also his work.

Chinneck previously erected a "sliding house" in Margate and an upside down building in Southwark.

His next project is a full-size house made from 7500 wax bricks that will melt over 30 days.

Of the Covent Garden installation's title he said: "The thunder and lightning comes from the two separated sections of the building - they are forever together but always apart.

"I also liked how the silhouette of the cracked architecture shared the aesthetic of a lightning bolt. the narrative of the installation has a cataclysmic feel and thunder and lightning typically accompany such a theatrical scenario.

"I incorporated the saying ‘steal my thunder’ as I like to include common expressions in my titles to lend them a pleasing familiarity.

"The hovering section suggests as though it is floating away but the dense stone base feels extremely grounded, hence the request take one but leave the other."

The artwork will be in the East Piazza until 24 October.


Part of the scene inside the Market Building at Covent Garden. I promise, the woman in the lower right corner of the photo who appears to be singing along with the string quartet in the parallel corner is not, I repeat, not singing--she's yawning.


Here's a close-up of the musicians, known as Classycool. I bought their CD, The String Quartet Evolved.


Enticing words, savoury crepes, however you spell savory. We sat outside while I ate my lunch. Juliet decided to find her lunch elsewhere, a bit later on.


My savoury crepe, the Italian Job, after I cut it open to reveal goat’s cheese, fresh pesto, sunblushed tomatoes, rocket. Rocket? The greens, also known as arugula. Perfectly textured crepe, fabulously fresh ingredients inside it. Every single bite, satisfying as to bring a smile to my face. I knew once I had finished it that I'd be fine until dinner later that evening. Just fine for my soon-to-start walk from Covent Garden to the Royal Courts of Justice, too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You go up the escalator, you go down the escalator. A multi-story escalator. In between, you catch some rays at Green Park. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014

I live with a fear of heights and motion sickness, plus a pair of 66-year-old knees. Guess where I went once I'd taken this photo, motion-sickness-acupressure-bracelets on each wrist? To the right to hold on for dear life so that this blessed escalator could take me up to street level. Our goal, to spend a few minutes in Green Park.

You see, when I got my first paying job after high school I bought a book with my first paycheck, a lovely, over-sized book filled with memorable photographs of London taken in the late 1960s. I lost that book somewhere, but I've always remembered a particular photo of Green Park. My photo is not a match for that one--it was in the trees, dappled sun and shadow. Mine, flooded with sunshine, shows you the Park Deckchairs, something I could have gotten in and out of back in the late 1960s.

There goes Juliet on the right, circling Diana of the Treetops, the combination sculpture and water fountain for people and dogs which was moved just outside the new Underground entrance in 2011. Originally installed elsewhere in Green Park in 1954 and sculpted by Estcourt James--Jim--Clack in 1951 after he won the competition to create a fountain  for the park, the gilding was added prior to the move to this location. The sculpture was commissioned by the Constance Fund, set up by Constance, widow of sculptor Sigismund C. H. Goetze. In his memory she wanted to "encourage and promote the art of sculpture in London parks."


We didn't take time to walk out into the park since I was on a tight schedule--my solicitor friend Richard Taylor had invited me to be his guest at the Quit Rents Ceremony and I needed to meet him at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand which is within walking distance of our destination, Covent Garden. Now for the scariest part of the ride on London's world-famous Underground--the down escalator. Once again, I held on and concentrated on realizing that I would stay upright and make it to the bottom so we could jump on a train and make our way to Covent Garden.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What we experienced walking to the Earl's Court tube station Tuesday morning, October 7. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014, from Trafalgar


Breakfast at the hotel. We made the decision to walk to Earl's Court tube station which would allow us to take a single line to Covent Garden, our destination for the day. Well, until I would have to split off in order to meet my friend Richard Taylor for our exciting time at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand. The whole walk, we kept saying, "Look at this sunshine. These blue skies. I am so glad we decided to walk because we got to see this lovely street." (I found Eardley Crescent on Google Maps. It's just as pretty to take that walk with the Google Street View man since Google shot it on a sunny day.) It had been pouring rain the day before when we rode in from Heathrow and still drizzling off and on when we went to visit Camden Market and then back to the hotel. Sunshine, on our second and last free day in London--brilliant!


I dare you to walk by this entrance and not take a photo. Picturesque and appealing are just two words that come to mind when I look at my own photo of it.


These steps fascinated me. I immediately asked Juliet to stand at the top for a photo, completely forgetting that someone inside might open the door at any moment. Thankfully that didn't happen because I got to take this pretty photo of her! I like how her sweater and slacks match the colors on the house, as does her purse. In fact, the angle of her bag matches the angle of the handrail. Serendipity! Oh, would you be able to walk up and down that design on a daily basis? I probably could without my motion sickness bracelets, once my brain was used to having it at my feet.


Purple flowers on the window sill.


Red flowers on the window sill of a house a few steps away from the one with the purple flowers.


Now, that's a fancy way to display your address, isn't it? Right there on the pillar beside your front door. But it was the unique window that caught my eye--I didn't notice the address until I had uploaded the photo to Flickr.


We turned left onto Warwick Road and could see the Earl's Court tube station down the block. See the white rectangular sign with the red circle that has a blue line through it? The blue line reads Underground in white letters. That marks the entrance to the station. Guess what? On the Google Map of that tube station, the sign in my photography had not yet been installed. I'm certainly glad it was there when we needed to see it! The locked bicycles caught my eye next. I ended up taking several photos of bicycles locked up like these in several locations on the tour. I don't remember seeing any bicycles on the underground trains, nor do I remember seeing any place to hang a bicycle by its front wheel like we have on the MAX Light Rail trains in Portland. I cannot imagine holding onto a bicycle on those multi-story escalators in many of the tube stations. More on those in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We weren't the only ones tired on our tube ride back to our hotel. England Scotland Heritage Tour, 2014, from Trafalgar


Several thoughts ran through my mind as I watched this young man. He's gonna drop that cell phone. Someone's gonna walk by and lift it right out of his hand. He's gonna miss his stop. Well, none of that happened while I sat across from him. The fact that I could stay awake enough to have all of those thoughts thrilled me, as did the realization that I would soon be stretched out on the bed in our hotel in London.


When you get where you're going, you get off the train and look for this sign. Glad to see it at 5:11 p.m., London time. Happy that I'd had such a fine late lunch and didn't have all that far to walk once on the sidewalk. Especially after I made an incorrect decision at the last station where we had to change tube lines, delaying our following the Way Out sign up to the street by close to an hour. Whew. Tired. Ready to rest up for Tuesday.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Camden Lock Market and the lock - England Scotland Heritage Tour 2014, from Trafalgar


Out of focus because I never thought to check the setting on the camera after getting it out of my back, until later! After our delicious, satisfying, and fortifying lunch at Simply Fish, we set out down the block to Camden Market (I never heard anyone call it Camden Lock Market, but that's what's on their Web site and on those two signs visible in the photo.). Juliet had been there in the past and wanted to explore as much of it as possible. There she is in the green jacket and jeans, turning left just past the end of the bridge over the lock. (Photos of the lock coming later in the post.) Myself--a bit sore from sitting on the plane for so long, then walking so much through the airports and tube stations--weighed down with my bag, my camera, my own lack of physical stamina, decided to take it slowly, to see what I could see. Unfortunately before it was all over, my slowness caused us to lose each other for a while. In the end, though, we were together again.


My first stop, this scarf stall. I bought two, not the dry-clean-onlies, but some beauties nevertheless! They're somewhere in those folded ones on the table to the right in this photo. I had a time making up my mind and settling for just two!


The view just across from the scarf stall. I have no idea which section of the huge market I stood in, but I do know that I like this ceiling and all of the wrought iron. Here's a bit I found on the Web about the markets: The Camden markets are a number of adjoining large retail markets in Camden Town near the Hampstead Road Lock of the Regent's Canal (popularly referred to as Camden Lock), often collectively named "Camden Market" or "Camden Lock". Among products sold on the stalls are crafts, clothing, bric-a-brac, and fast food. It is the fourth-most popular visitor attraction in London, attracting approximately 100,000 people each weekend. I am thankful we were there on a Monday!


I found some wrought iron steps to rest on--this is the view out into what looks to have been a courtyard at some point. These stalls fill it now, offering protection from the elements for the vendors. Cool, windy, a bit drizzly. Just about like Portland!


I walked outside to look at the canal and noticed water pouring into it. Hmmmm. What would I see next?


This is Regent's Canal. Are you able to tell the difference in the water's height in the foreground of the photo and in the background?

A bit from the Web: Camden Lock, or Hampstead Road Locks is a twin manually operated lock on the Regent's Canal in Camden Town, London Borough of Camden. The twin locks together are "Hampstead Road Lock 1"; each bears a sign so marked. Hawley lock and Kentish Town lock are a short distance away to the east; there are no nearby locks to the west.

The locks were constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan, with John Nash, supervising engineer. It is the only twin-lock remaining on the Canal, the remainder having been modified to single lock operation. The current locks are Grade II listed and replaced an innovative, but unsuccessful, hydropneumatic lock designed by William Congreve in an attempt to conserve water.

The lock is to the west of the Camden High Street road bridge. The yard and former warehouses, an area known as Camden Lock, are on the north side of the canal, at the junction with Chalk Farm Road. This area is adjacent to a canal basin and holds Camden Lock Market, one of the group of markets often called collectively Camden Market. It is a busy market popular with visitors, with music venues, cafes and canal towpath walks.


A coupled worked diligently to get their riverboat through the lock. He's attempting to hear what she's trying to tell him, but she's at the other end of the long boat, hand on the rudder. Tiller? I don't know for sure.


The boat's top became more visible as water continued to pour into the lock. He's turning a crank which looks to be taking quite an effort from him.


Discussion continues as the boat rises.


On the left of the photo, he's been pushing on the gate-opening panels, pushing for all he was worth for at least a minute. She's on the right of the photo, keeping the boat off the wall.


Back on board, she's steering the boat through the gates.


Looks like she's done this before!


The goal, not to hit the bridge!


Now he's working to close the gates again while she keeps the boat where she wants it.


Gates closing, she's pulling a rope from the boat to a bollard on shore.


One gate closed, he makes his way across the lock so that he can close the other. She holds the boat in place.


Success for the boat people and for Juliet and me. I walked away from watching and found Juliet looking for me. We walked over to the edge of the canal so that I could show her what I'd been photographing, and I got to take this photo, too!