London Parks - Once Regal, Now Common
London is full of great parks and great squares. Some of the larger parks have large bodies of water that attract fowl as well as family. Perhaps the best known of these are the Serpentine in Hyde Park and the pond in St James Park across the way from Buckingham Palace. Either way you'll get your fill of swans and puffins.
The Tower Bridge, commonly mistaken as the London Bridge, sits smack dab in the middle of the Thames River. It was built in the 19th century and has two observation decks that can be accessed for a couple of pounds. Although I didn't go up in the bridge, I have been told that the views are very nice and you can see a good portion of London from the observation decks.
St Botolph Without Bishopsgate
I was passing this church on my way back to Liverpool Street station, when the church bells started ringing. I then noticed that the church was open, and decided to call in for a look. There was a bell-ringing demonstration going on. I’ve never actually done bell-ringing, although it is my blood, as years ago my grandfather, uncles and even one aunt used to ring the bells at their local church.
The present church was completed in 1729, and is the fourth to be built on this site. It is unusual in that the tower is at the east end, above the chancel. Both the St Mary Axe bomb in 1992 and the Bishopsgate bomb in 1993 damaged the church. The first bomb only caused minor damage, but the massive Bishopsgate bomb, which so nearly destroyed St Ethelburgas just down the road, damaged the roof and blew out all the doors and windows. The church was declared a “Dangerous Structure”, and only after three and half years of work was the church restored to its former glory.
I climbed up to the bell tower for the bell-ringing demonstration, and was rewarded by an explanation of the mechanics and history of bell-ringing, followed by a demonstration. St Botolphs’ has 8 bells, all dating from 1782, ranging from the treble at 6cwt to the tenor at 25 cwt. For those of you not familiar with the old English weights, the metric equivalents are about 300 kg and 1250 kg. I must admit that I do rather like the sound of English bells and the tunes created by the change-ringing, although I am also very fond of the sound of Italian church bells all ringing at once on a Sunday morning !
THE BIG ISSUE !
Sometimes they get lost in the crowd. Other times they are very noticeable. Sometimes you just hear them shouting “BIG ISSUE”! The Big Issue is a magazine with a difference. It is sold by people who are homeless or just barely housed. They have been through it all, usually an addiction. Now, they want to make a life for themselves. Big Issue sellers are clean and they must buy the magazine they sell. They sell it to you and they keep the mark-up profit for themselves. They are independent business people now trying to make their own lives better. They run a business and are not asking for handouts.
The inspiration for the Big Issue magazine came from ‘Street News’, a newspaper sold by homeless people in New York City. Gordon Roddick of The Body Shop saw this in action during a visit and wanted to brink the concept to the UK. He and Mr. A. John Bird launched The Big Issue in London in September 1991. Originally it was a monthly publication.
It proved a success and went weekly in June 1993. It spread to other cities with Regional titles:
Manchester (The Big Issue in the North)
Glasgow (The Big Issue Scotland)
Cardiff (The Big Issue Cymru)
Bristol (The Big Issue South West)
Birmingham (The Big Issue Midlands).
It has also gone international in places like Sydney, Cape Town and Los Angeles.
Before you think the magazine is boring, buy a copy. It has news, music, sports, art reviews and more. Just to keep it in perspective it also has a ‘Missing’ section. Not a handout but a hand up. Buy one and have a read. You may find yourself becoming a frequent reader.
The Big Issue is based at:
1-5 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LN
London can be surprisingly green, with it's lovely parks. I loved the trees, called London Pride, but probably have a different name.
They line streets everywhere & any living thing which can survive & flourish in the fumes of London deserves admiration - you might even notice small saplings clinging to the roof of buildings.