Thursday, November 27, 2008


Cundy's ex-Tavern, Silvertown, London

I take quite a few photos of pubs which are now closed - ie, shut down, closed for good, gone forever.

It started with pictures of particularly interestingly abandoned or derelict buildings - like this one:

the ex-Victoria, Charlton, London.

the back of which looks like this:

Its hard to imagine this one not remaining closed.

This photographic habit of mine has grown in the light of what seems to be a trend - the demise of the great British local.

the ex-crown & shuttle, just off Brick Lane, London

the Village Blacksmith, Charlton, London & the Mitre, Islington, London.

The Prince of Orange, Ipswich

As my collection of photos grew, I even thought of starting a Flickr group. Only to discover - of course! - that there is already more than one group devoted to this theme.

the ex-Thames, Greenwich & "Safa House" (don't know what it was as a pub) Deptford.

This (below) is a pub we sometimes used to visit in school lunch breaks. No, not to drink - they used to do market research on ice-cream - free ice cream, in return for evaluation of the relative creaminess, tastiness .. of various samples.

The ex-Rising Sun, Catford, London

The ex-George, Catford & The ex-Green Man, Bromley - both London

The ex-Old Friends, Greenwich

Fear ye not, however.
There is still an abundance of pubs in old Blighty, many of them good and should any of you ever visit, I would be more than happy to buy you a drink in one of them.

More happily 'Closed' - my bureau.

this fairly recent post has a picture of the heaps of assorted "stuff" which used to make the bureau un-shuttable and the drawers inaccessible.

And here it is now, after lots of sorting and lots of filing and lots and lots and lots of shredding

I read/heard somewhere that we in the UK have more shredders per capita than anywhere else in Europe. I wonder what that says about us.

When I'm finished working at my newly spacious bureau, or writing, or sitting and feeling smug - I can close it like this:

I am very pleased with myself.

does that mean i need to get out more?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blogger Stories Part Two

My second recent blog-encounter was with a blog-friends sister.
So a proxy-blog-meet.

Not that I wasn't very delighted to meet with C for her own sake, which I was. But it was also the next best thing to meeting Joyce.

I found Joyce's blog in my former shamelessly blog-slutting days when I used to put myself about more in the blogosphere and leave comments on strangers' blogs.

Joyce's brother was dying of cancer and she wrote about that sometimes, with honesty and pain and humour and in a way which really moved and helped me, at the time when we'd just had diagnosis of my mum's cancer.

Plus Joyce can really write, and is very funny.

And has ugly sweater parties which I dream of one day attending.

And shares my passion for vintage fabrics and old buttons.

Just look at the wonderful gift she sent over with her sister:

I've only had this a week, but have already received a couple of passing comments on how fab it is.

Look, it has neckties for straps, isn't that brilliant?
and vintage buttons and everything.

I love my bag, thankyou so much Joyce.

Joyce makes bags like this - well, in fact, not quite like this because each one is unique - and auctions them to raise money for refugees in Darfur. Where she finds the time I don't know because she has her own children to look after, and other peoples' during the day-time.

To date she has raised over $10,000.

As well as using recycled fabrics, buttons and buckles Joyce transforms old waistcoats, fragments of embroidery, still-usable bits of loved-nearly-to-death clothing, vintage handkerchiefs, lacey doileys... Each bag has its own character, adjustable strap and handy pockets inside and outside.

So, if you are looking for a very special christmas gift for someone, and would like to make a contribution at the same time to helping people who have lives and problems which most of us can't begin to imagine, then look at Joyce's eclectic bags, and bid away.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

blogger stories Part One

Two weeks ago I had a weekend away visiting bloggers.

Wendy was one of the first bloggers I got to know online, and one of the first who I then also met in this physical reality - one of the first to become a good friend. Which means that I can be philosophical about the fact that she's not blogging now, because though I miss her blog, I keep in touch with her anyway.

And, popping over to Martin's blog, I see that she has, at least once, surreptitiously, hijacked his blog to share a few words with the world.

I had a great time with them both in Eastbourne. We walked along the beach.
Sorry, start again: we fought our way along the beach against a forceful - but thankfully not very cold - wind. With lots of pauses for photos and beach-combing.

We saw an extremely unexpected seal, looking quite at home in the sticky sand at the edge of the harbour. From the comments of other residents, it seems this was a return visit.

Apparently seals have been seen lately - and even regularly - in the Thames. Now that would be a strange sight.

On the Sunday we had a fab. British Sunday roast dinner at the Lands End pub, before some more pebble scrunching along the coast and a saunter along Eastbourne pier.

The starlings were doing their fascinating flocking-and-swooping thing. Whenever I started filming them with my camera they ducked out of sight on the other side of the pier - but I've caught them on video before, its here if you want to see. Not so much action at the start of this little filmette, but it gets better towards the end.

Eastbourne pier is a wonderful Victorian construction and looks just enchanting at dusk.

And then - back to the station to travel home.
Much as I love London, it was great to get some grime and cobwebs windblasted away.

And the sea did that soul-soothing thing it does:

That was nearly 2 weeks ago.
5 days ago, I met another blogger contact - Blogger Stories Part 2, which will be my next post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


railway junctions, Lewisham Station, London

Change One

I couldn't help wondering whether Obama woke up, the morning after, thinking [with just a teensy tiny part of his brain]

"oh shit! what have i let myself in for!"

One of the things that struck me most from the coverage over here (no other US election has received such attention and interest in the UK) was the impact of his nomination, campaign and election on individuals. The change in their view of themselves and the world.

No doubt he'll be being hammered, in a few months time, for changes he is or isn't making to the Big Picture. Big Changes.

But little changes - in individual minds and hearts and expectations - are sometimes the biggest changes.

Change Two
The Head of our section at work tried to appeal to Obama's election (ie. 'winds of change', new transparency & honesty blahblahblah ) as a platform for "inviting" changes in our working practices. Changes which are a clear attempt at more control and which conflict with our contracts and Union guidelines.

bleedin' nerve, eh?

an insult, I felt, both to us and to Obama.

Change Three

My book club began this Autumn by reading Ian Rankin's Exit Music - the last in a best-selling crime series about Rebus, a world-weary Edinburgh policeman. I was rather disappointed and found it lacking in description and depth of characterisation - though some of the group liked it and suggested it was better read as the culmination of the series, rather than as a one off. But I did keep thinking "I could just as well be watching this on TV..."

Our second book was Lambs of God, by Marele Day - about 3 nuns, the last living members of a forgotten enclosed community on a remote (irish?) island, who have "gone native".
They live in communion with the island and the sheep, knitting and telling stories and practicing a somewhat altered version of their faith according to the seasons and the moon... And then a priest arrives, thinking no-one left, with business/financial designs on the property...

I love this book, its funny and moving, wonderful use of language and full of smells and tastes and textures and stories.

These are two such different novels and I found it rather amusing that the book orders of the group had changed Amazon's settings.

Current purchasers are being told that "customers who bought Exit Music also bought Lambs of God".

I wonder if we will change anyone's reading habits?

Friday, November 07, 2008

taking pictures

I've not taken many pictures lately, not even of the autumnness we've been experiencing lately, some of which has been lovely.

Not many pictures of anything much.

There are a number of reasons for and results of this:

worky work work

cycling to work. (ie rather than walking)
i do sometimes stop my bike to take a picture, but not often.
I do try to concentrate sensibly on traffic rather than photogenic opportunities.
Usually my head is full of worky work work anyway. And then quite often its too dark in any case... and/or i'm wanting to just get home for a nice cup of tea. or for more worky work...

[the cycling to work is good though, i'm feeling fitter and trimmer and pleased with myself. And the hill up through Greenwich Park is getting easier once again.]

I'm within forseeable distance of catching up with myself on flickr. I can now upload pictures which I took only a couple of months ago... I don't know why/that the time lag should matter particularly, but I'd quite like to be posting pictures within at least a few weeks of taking them.

I did a days photography course in September, in the company of my BIL, with a professional photographer. My first experience of an SLR (yes, now on my want-list), I learned a lot and am now taking fewer but - i think - better photos.

I've managed a couple of videos though, and here is a little autumnal pair:

sorry i'm not finding much time just now for blog-visits, hope to catch up soon

Saturday, November 01, 2008


We've been having all-staff emails winging into our mailboxes, advertising additional staff training seminars and workshops.

One of these was on Committee skills.

"Improve your minute taking".


My life has been too much dominated in the past by a very protestant (very English?) tendency to overwork.

(and I must admit I am, currently, rather strung-out, tired and tetchy from working rather too hard)

But as a general rule I'm better, these days, at saying no and working less and over the last few years I've stepped down from some exceedingly boring committees I used to sit on.

Anyway, I like to doodle in meetings.

If I'd been to such meetings recently, I'd be able to show you some of my doodlings.

Actually - glancing down at the floor, I see a folder covered with doodlings from a meeting some time ago.

here it is:


"Improve your minute taking"