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Monthly Archives: March 2014

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This is me. Well actually it’s a painting by Amy Bessone called Faust that was part of the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery when I visited last Sunday. But by the time I came out of the gallery, this is what I felt I was like.

I started off looking at the exhibits (some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t) but then became more interested in the way other visitors were looking at the exhibits and interacting with them.

Before I knew it I was stalking people around the gallery taking pictures of them looking at the exhibit so I felt a bit devious and, if I’m being honest, a bit like a stalker. But it was still fun.

The Saatchi Gallery is one of those marvelous places that doesn’t care one iota if you take photographs inside. Unlike Westminster Abbey, which charges you £18 to get in and then won’t let you take pictures. I went in February and am still smarting from the injustice.

Anyway, I had a lovely afternoon mooching about the Saatchi Gallery stalking my prey and looking at the exhibits as well.

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You know there’s a lot more to Chelsea than a football team and a reality tv show. To be honest, I’m not hugely keen on either of those.

Sloane Square

Sloane Square

But I’ve fallen in love with Chelsea, it is just so cool.

Sloane Square and the King’s Road are still so vibrant – although I do wish I had been old enough to appreciate it in the 1960s and 70s when the King’s Road really was the epitome of cool.

Chelsea’s history goes back a lot further than that though. There was the Anglo Saxon settlement, a few Romans, medieval lords and a few kings along the way. The fountain these two are sitting in front of features images of Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwyn.

Sloane Square fountain

Sloane Square fountain

The King’s Road is named for these two. It was once a private road. King Charles lived at one end, the lovely Nell at the other. The road was built so he could gallop along it in private to see his lover.

The road really became famous in the 50s, 60s and 70s. In the late 1950s, Mary Quant opened her shop here and the King’s Road became eponymous with fashion, music and coolness. Mary created the mini skirt, hotpants, and huge great spidery eyelashes.

114bThere is still a Mary Quant shop here, only now it is in the rejuvenated Duke of York Square.

065bThis is the recording studio where the Beatles created the album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Just around the corner is a house formerly owned by Eric Clapton and probably party central for many a year. Bowie lived nearby, as did Mick Jagger.

118bAnd the Sloane Square Hotel is reputedly where Paul McCartney met Jane Asher and began their relationship.

Chelsea is also home to the Royal Chelsea Hospital where the Chelsea Pensioners live.

057bThat one’s a model, I’m really not sneaking up and surreptitiously snapping snoozing pensioners.

Around the hospital, Chelsea almost has a village feel. These two are contenders for my new home (if I had a fair few million pounds to spare that is).

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Beautiful aren’t they, especially in the spring, but sadly they are megamillions and, therefore, a little outside my budget.

Now just along from the Royal Chelsea Hospital (next door in fact) is the National Army Museum. I actually didn’t know it was there. As you walk past you may miss an extraordinary piece of history because it’s just a little unobtrusive.

058bBut this is an actual piece of the Berlin Wall, complete with original graffiti. I think it was presented to the museum because the British Army spent so long manning Checkpoint Charlie, but I’m not really sure.

059bAnd a little bit further along again was once the home of Oscar Wilde. Wilde was living here when he had an affair with the Marquess of Queensberry’s son. Old Queensberry wrote Wilde a letter that he deemed offensive so he tried to sue him for libel but the ensuing trial laid bare Wilde’s hidden life and resulted in his prosecution (and eventual jail sentence) for gross indecency with men. Bet he wished he’d left the old Marquess to rot.

Incidentally, the judge who jailed Wilde was his neighbour in this street too.

063bJust a little way further round the corner I found this. Now my guide for the afternoon, a lovely man called George from The Tour Hub London (where do you think I got all this information from?) wasn’t sure whether this had actually been Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s studio but thought probably not. It looks like both the studios (there are about seven of them) and the apartments around them were just named after him, having been built by Edward Holland. Chelsea Art School began life here in 1904. Anthony Devas had a studio here, as did noted Vogue fashion photographer Ronald Traeger who photographed, among others, Twiggy.

Finally, this is Hans Sloane.

050bOr rather, it’s a statue of him and it sits on the King’s Road, on one corner of Duke of York Square. He was a physician and a collector. You’ve probably guessed Sloane Square was named after him.

He was president of the Royal College of Physicians, President of the Royal Society (he succeeded Sir Isaac Newton) and Royal Physician to Queen Anne, George I and George II. He was the first Baronet of Chelsea and also founded the Chelsea Physic Garden. He was a collector of natural history and when he died, he bequeathed these to the nation (on condition parliament paid his executors £20,000) and they formed the beginning of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Thanks Mr Sloane, you left us quite a legacy.

 

 

 

 

I’m in London for the weekend – specifically Chelsea.

I’m on a press trip. I used to do these a lot a few years ago as I was the self-designated travel editor, I don’t do so many any more.

For those not familiar with the concept, press trips involve PR companies, hotels, resorts, destinations etc inviting journalists on a free visit in the hope they will write something nice about them. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it :)

So this weekend I am staying at No11 Cadogan Gardens, a boutique hotel tucked away behind Sloane Square and part of the Small Luxury Hotels consortium.

And this is my suite for the weekend.

My bedroom.

My bedroom.

My sitting room.

My sitting room.

See what I mean … it’s tough :).

I’m here on my own – no guests (sorry Man) – but with three other journalists, all from magazines – two wedding magazines and a polo magazine – and a delightful PR lady called Kirsten is in charge of looking after us for the weekend and keeping us entertained.

Yesterday involved food and photographs (how could I not be happy with that?). After a brief tour of this lovely little hotel, we had an early afternoon tea (yum) and were then whisked off to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which was completely amazing and closes today so I am delighted I got to see it.

Dino in the front entrance of the Natural History Museum.

Dino in the front entrance of the Natural History Museum.

The general manager joined us for drinks last night. Strangely he had been making sausages all afternoon with his uncle (??) and therefore could not join us for dinner.

Tartufo means truffle in Italian and is the name of the restaurant in the hotel. We dined there last night. It was fabulous. Particularly fabulous was a black truffle risotto created for us to try. It is a specialty of the house and was just the most delicious thing ever. We were given a copy of the recipe by the restaurant. If I can recreate that at home, I am entering Masterchef! (Oh and the Eggs Benedict I’ve just devoured for brunch were pretty special too).

The lovely Kirsten and my three colleagues for the weekend went off clubbing at midnight last night. I went to bed (I’m too old for clubbing!) and got up with the lark and went exploring.

This is what I found.

I love exploring the back streets and hidden areas. Wandering down a residential street I came across Christ Church in a small square surrounded by the most beautiful mews houses. That’s why I love London.

Today we are off on a walking tour of the Cadogan Estate in Chelsea and then I plan to head to the Saatchi Gallery. This evening it’s more food and jazz :)

Sometimes, I really love my job.

 

It's spring

It’s spring

Hello :) It’s been a long time – more than a long time, it’s been almost six months. I hope everyone’s well.

I spose saying I’ve been busy is a bit of a lame excuse after all this time. To be honest, I have been busy but it’s been more than that. I sort of lost my mojo.

I’m not sure why, a combination of a huge project at work, the rain (and not getting out to take photos), a lack of funds to go on road trips and just getting out of the habit.

So, Happy New Year, I will attempt to catch up on some favourite blogs and also will try and get back into the habit of blogging again.

I woke up this morning and realised I’d missed it.

Maybe it was because the sun was shining and it feels like spring is on its way.

I have actually been out taking some photos this weekend. A few favourite haunts – Fleet Pond, Horseshoe Lake, my garden – but also a new project, mainly for work.

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This one is Horseshoe Lake last night. It’s a bit of an experiment. I was trying to see what a sunset would look like in black and white. The flying ducks were just a bit of a happy accident.

038bAnd this one is Fleet Pond this morning.

I woke up and looked up. There’s a window above my bed and I always keep the blinds open a little bit so the first thing I saw was the sunshine.

Within 15 minutes I was in the car and at Fleet Pond by about 7.15am. The light was lovely and it would have been peaceful but for the din of the workmen creating some huge metal monstrosity on the neighbouring car park of the railway station.

But you can’t hear the noise in a photo, so it does at least look peaceful.

I met a very nice man walking in the opposite direction who asked me what they were doing at the railway station. We got chatting. He is an artist and the pond society has invited him to go and paint at a special weekend in May. I promised him some publicity.

And as for my special project … with the centenary of the First World War coming up, we decided it would be a great idea to try and document all the memorials to fallen soldiers within our circulation area. The problem is, there are more than 900 in Surrey and we haven’t counted the ones in north East Hampshire yet.

We thought we’d get photographs of all of them and then create a database of all the names on them so people looking for information about their relatives will be able to see the memorial where they are immortalised. Although I think we are going to have to crowd source this one and ask members of the public to help us.

St Johns Windlesham memorial bYesterday I visited Thorpe, Laleham, Chertsey, Longcross and Windlesham. This is the War Memorial at St John’s Church in Windlesham. I have transcribed all the names on each of them today.

This morning I photographed Yateley and Fleet. I transcribed the names from the Yateley memorial but I’m not sure which are the names for the First World War and which for the Second World War on the Fleet memorial so I haven’t done those yet.

But I will.

And I’ll be back on the church trail too.

The fifty before fifty challenge has rather taken a back seat recently so I now only have 18 months left to fulfill the challenges I set myself. If it wasn’t a big enough challenge to start with :)