Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery on the South Bank
The Royal Festival Hall opened its doors in 1951. With over a 1000 events a year, varying from large-scale classical concerts, over ballet, films and opera, the Festival hall resembles about 150 000 hours of music since it start and its Foyer attracted over 2,5 million of visitors each year.
The Festival hall is opened 364 days a year frm 10 am till 10 pm.
There are daily free concerts you can enjoy.
In 1968 Her Majesty The queen opened the Hayward Gallery, a purpose-built, modern art gallery. It is considered an example of “brutalist” architecture of the sixties. I would think it must be what we call at home “functionality”: it didn’t had to look nice, it has to be functional and the lines were very strict and lots of concrete is used.
Fondest memory: The terrace at 2 high is a nice place for a drink. If you have time enough and the sun settles not too late, you can watch a magnificient view when the sun touches the horizon and colours the Thames orange.
Unfortunatly we didn't stayed that long but with bit of imagination I can figure out how beautiful it must be.
There is a sign on which you can see what building(s) you are looking at at the other side of the Thames.
There is also a sign that says not to put anything at the edge of the balcony `-)
ok ok... it was just for the picture :)
Jill and I really enjoyed our visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London.
It's Britain's history through portraits, photographs, and sculptures. But the literature indicates that there is really no restrictiions on the medium used. I saw oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, sculptures, caricatures, photographs, minatures, and even silhouettes.
The Gallery was founded in 1856, and there are well over 10,000 pieces of art works that portray history rom the Middle Ages up to the Present Times.
Both Jill and I are lovers of all kinds of art, so it was the perfect museum for us. we especially enjoyed the 20th century section. It includes many photographs and paintings of rock stars, movie stars, writers, designers, politicians, artists, and, of course, the royal family.
Fondest memory: We certainly found the layout of the Gallery easy to follow and presented with "class".
It is not overcrowded; thus, you actually see one portrait at a time without your eyes straying.
We were able to take our time without being rushed.
2 St Martin's Place WC2
Leicester Square Underground Station
Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm
Sunday Noon-6 pm
Note: This is not my photograph. Taken from Gallery Pamphlet
Just outside the Festival Hall, at 1st exterior level, I stumbled against the statue of Nelson Mandela, created in 1985 by the artist Ian Walters.
It was terrible to find out that the original statue had been the victim of brutalisation and finally had been put on fire.
This new statue replaces it.
At the bottom you can read this inscription:
"The Struggle Is My Life" Nelson Mandela. Gaoled 5th August 1962. Sentenced to life imprisonment 12th June 1964 for his actions against apartheid. Erected by the Greater London Council. Unveiled by Oliver Tambo, President of the African National Congress 28th October 1985.
Later on was added the following text:
Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years imprisonment 11th February 1990. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize 19th December 1993. Inaugurated President of the Republic of South Africa and its Government of National Unity 10th May 1994.
One of the things I like about London is the unexpected! You can turn a corner and see something you had no idea was going to be there. In this instance, I was walking past Cleopatra's Needle and saw a Bollywood Film being shot. One Indian Guy who I am still trying to definitely id (any ideas, please let me know) and several European ladies (no doubt swooning at his Indian charm...)
It's worth taking a look at one of my subsequent shots here, they are looking at me like I am dirt, no, I wasn't obstructing filming, I was only taking pictures before and after filming, they just seemed to object to my presence!
Fondest memory: The less than adoring looks I got from the girls!
Favorite thing: In Trafalgar Square there are four plinths...three have statues of military or naval hero's...but the 4th was vacant. Recently they introduced a yearly program of 'guest' statues. This years is of a disabled artist...I really like it...but its pure white marble is already attracting the bloody pigeons!
When travelling on the tube, the monotony is sometimes relieved by the glimpse of a celebrity (I believe the two Princes of our land even use the tube at times), a good busker, or just some one very strangely dressed.
If this fails, then you can sometimes catch one of the popular Poems that adorn tube trains from time to time. You can see some example of them by following the link on this website : www.poetrysociety.org.uk
(Quoted from the Ninth Edition Poems on the Underground introduction by Judith Chernaik):
"When Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986, we hoped that London's two million commuters would be charmed to discover poems by Shelley and Burns, Seamus Heaney and Grace Nichols enlivening their daily Tube journeys. We little guessed that our dream of scattering poetry about in public places would be adopted by mass transport systems in New York, Paris, Dublin, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Athens, Shanghai, Moscow and St. Petersburg, in capital cities in Scandinavia and Australia, and in scores of smaller cities in the UK and abroad. London's Poems on the Underground are now assumed to be part of the urban landscape, a model for primary school projects and a subject for Ph.D. theses in media studies and semiology...
For many people who care about literature, poetry remains a private and somewhat obscure and esoteric passion. Perhaps this is one source of the popularity of our scheme, which is quiet and unobtrusive, a matter of a poem appearing here and there, at irregular intervals, in a space usually given over to seductive claims for car insurance or holiday destinations."
Fondest memory: Laughing out loud when you find a really funny one- and everyone presumes your a nutcase !
A statue to the king of the silent movie Charlie Chaplin stands quietly in the middle of Leicester Square. Charlie Chaplin was born in London in 1889 and was orphaned at the age of 5. At 17 he moved to America - and the rest is history! He died in 1977 and the statue by John Doubleday was unveiled in 1981.
Charlie Chaplin History
The proper term for people who give Punch and Judy performances is 'Proffessors'. Their 'college' was formed, appropriately enough at the Punch Tavern in Fleet street in 1985.
The tradition (and very English it is too) goes back hundreds of years. You may be lucky enough to catch a performance at some kind of local 'family' event in london, although Punch & Judy shows are more often associated with traditional seaside resorts.
The website of the 'college' is well worth a read - I especially like the unusual parts of their constitution, such as article 5 & 6 which I've put below :
Article 5. Concerning the question of Mr. Punch's morality the College subscribes to the view of Charles Dickens that the Punch and Judy Show is "an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any course of action , or as a model for any kind of conduct". The College directs persons persistently critical of Mr. Punch's behaviour to debate the matter further with Mr. Dickens himself.
Article 6. In deference to Mr. Punch's joviality membership of the College shall not be open to anyone deemed in the eyes of its existing members to be "a miserable old git".
(probably rules me out then -- SB)
see : www.punchandjudy.org
More details about the Punch Tarvern itself can be found in my Nightlife section.
Trocadero building houses different stuff, I remember two of them:
The first floor with the shops and the friendly supervisors who came up to me telling it was not allowed to take any pictures in the store, unless I bought anything? ok? here goes my old saying again: ?no pictures, no business? and off I went.
Shops! I must be an exceptional female as I really hate shopping and if I had the choice I would have whisked myself somewhere else in the greenery, but it was chilly, windy, dark clouded and raining, in one sentence: no weather for a walk in the park. In here it was dry at least.
A psychedelic automatic stairs: neon lights and glass gave it a tunnel vision; sucked me up completely and before I realised I was up the 2nd floor. All around me in the darkened room: the beeping, ringing and other undefined sounds; flickering lights of game machines, car simulators, soccer games, all hitting my iris without any mercy: money-eating machines, and money losing people, people grown one with the handle of the game machinery, body snatched and mind blown. All that came poured over me and I had only one thought and that was to find the way out!
Can you imagine four of these floors of video games, each the size of a city block? That's exactly what you get when you visit Trocadero, London's modern nightmare game hall!
The way out was perfectly hidden. I realised I was not at second floor; the automatic staircase must have covered more floors! I walked around the whole level, searching for the one that ought to go down, but it just didn?t exist! I finally had to ask one of the dangerous looking ?men in black? and he pointed out that if I go around that corner and around that corner? ok? let?s try those 2 corners first?
Indeed, there were hidden metallic stairs covering half floors, so I had to search many around various corners, but after number two I got the hunch tracing them.
Fondest memory: I never welcomed the rain as hard as when I felt the wind stroking my cheeks and the raindrops swept away the sweat of fairs off my head as that moment I realised I escaped this huge human trap.
I wonder, if you read my tip about the horses of Helios, if Helios got in here and still wanders around, trying to find the way out. He can?t ask directions. He doesn?t speak English; he is Greek!
The name reportedly originates in a hunting call, when the dogs were set loose to collect prey. The crush of narrow streets and tiny houses in this part of London are lightyears away from any resemblance of former Royal Hunting Grounds. Unless you count night stalkers.
Over the centuries immigrants crowded into this district and brought their trades with them: Hugenots and silkweaving; Mozart and musicmaking; Marx and class alienation. The latest arrivals are Hong Kong Chinese and their restaurants.
Somewhere along the way the sex trade slipped though the red doors.
Notre Dame de France is still home to a French-speaking congregation, although St. Ann's is considered to be the parish church for Soho district. She presides over the Soho Mural. Under her skirts are the plaques representing the guilds and crafts that once flourished here: cabinetmaking and saddlery, upholsterers and miniaturists. You can find her hanging around Broadwick Street at the corner of Carnaby.
Galleries and Museums can be very crowded with hundred of school children, particularly at the end of term time, so the best thing is to plan your visit after 2.30pm during the term time.
At other times of the year, visit early in the day and try your very best to avoid the weekends.
Chinese New Year 2005 was early February. This time it was the turn of the Rooster (there are 12 animals that the years get named after, and these cycle round, so the next year of the Rooster will be 2017).
This year, the celebrations were held in Trafalgar Square as well as in Leicester Square and China Town. A big procession came down Charing Cross Road, down the side of Trafalgar Square and then turned a sharp right into the square. The streets were full of onlookers, so you needed to get there reasonably early to get a good vantage point.
This picture shows a dancing dragon that always seem to be used in Chinese New Year celebrations. The picture was taken just before the dragon turned into Trafalgar Square.
Fondest memory: Check out my London travelogue if you want more photos of this event...
While we were in Leicester Square we noticed they were preparing for the premier of the Magic Roundabout at the Odeon. We didn't see it but we went round the corner to Shaftsbury Ave to see a proper film, Garden State.
Check the website for London cinema listings
Arrived at Leicester Square I notice a statue in honour of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a 18th century portrait painter. Born in Devon, he has been apprenticed by Thomas Hudson. Next he moved to London, then to Italy and passing over Paris back to London.
Because of the help of Lord Edgecumbe, and because of his talent, he became the most popular portrait painter of the age.
His fame made him rich so he could afford himself a big house in Leicester Fields. As happened with many painters they let their pupils participate in their work and his students have been regularly been responsible for the background painting of his works.
All this good fortune made him deserve the title of first president of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The honours didn?t stop: in 1769 he was knighted and in 1784 he officially became principal royal portrait painter.
After he died in on February 23rd in 1792, he was buried in the St. Paul?s Cathedral.
Fondest memory: Funny to reflect on the fact that he has painted so many portraits and now he is pictured by so many tourists :-)
Favorite thing: If you like theater, you will go crazy in London. There are so many different shows that it is awfully difficult to choose and you always feel that you wanted to see more!! If you want to get good seats, you should book in advance, although many shows still have available seats a few days before, too (but not very good seats).