August 16, 2008

Thames: Clifton Hampden to Wallingford

We left home at 7:30 am to reach Culham Station at 10:05 am. We waited 20 minutes after the bus to Clifton Hampden was scheduled to arrive before reluctantly deciding to walk to Clifton Hampden. Just as we crossed the road, the bus barrelled by us. It wasn't too long before we reached the Barley Mow which Kris remembered in Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in Boat (a book Kris loved and I could not finish).

Clifton Hampden turned out to be an adorable village of thatched roof houses. Someone walking by directed us to cross the red brick bridge which was built in 1864 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott of Albert Memorial and St Pancras Station Hotel fame.

Soon after we left the village we came upon some type of memorial we could not identify but looked important. We also had a great view of the controversial Didcot coal power station for a good portion of our walk.

The Day's Lock lockkeeper's home lies across a footbridge. The formerly important Roman town now called Dorchester is within view and an easy walk.

Wallingford Castle was built 1067-1071 under orders from William the Conqueror. It was the last English stronghold to surrender during the English Civil War. Cromwell ordered it to be destroyed in 1652. Only two sections of the wall remain.

Wallingford Bridge has rounded 19th century arches on the upstream side and quaint pointed mediaeval arches on the downstream side. We apparently photographed the modern upstream side from our riverside pub table.

The highlight for Kris was a £1 golf shirt at a warehouse clearance store in Wallingford. Kris did not turn green nor did the shirt fall apart or turn anything else green when washed. This will probably be THE bargain of our entire stay in the UK.

August 14, 2008

LEG Blackheath

Blackheath is a relatively new (newer than Highgate) and affluent community. Many Georgian and Victorian homes, including the prestigious Paragon Crescent (now flats), were built on the (John) Cator Estate overlooking Blackheath Park.

Because of its proximity to the Royal Observatory in Greenwhich, a number of astronomers lived in Blackheath: Sir Edmond Halley, John Pond, and Nathaniel Bliss are all buried in St. Margaret's church yard. This photograph of Halley's gravestone was taken from IanVisits blog.

All Saints Parish Church was built in 1857.
St Michael and All Angels Church was built in 1830 and the spire is nicknamed the "Needle of Kent."
One of the stranger homes in Blackheath is The Pagoda House built in 1760 for the Earl of Cardigan.

Morden College was founded in 1695 by Sir John Morden as a house for merchants who became destitute through no fault of their own (e.g., their ship did NOT come in). Now women and married couples may also reside in Morden College.

August 09, 2008

Thames: Goring & Streatley to Wallingford

Goring-on-Thames (pop. 3500) is in South Oxfordshire and Streatley-on-Thames (pop. 600) is in West Berkshire, but they are separated only by a bridge across the Goring Gap and share a railway station (in Goring). In 1086, the Domesday Book valued Goring at £15 and Streatley at £24.

The Swan Inn and St. Mary's church looked quaint and interesting, but I could not find any historical information. Several of the buildings in Streatley had old Chilterns flint mixed in with brick facades and lead windows.

We saw many old World War II bunkers along the Thames. Apparently, they were built in 1940-1941 at about 1/3 mile intervals to protect London and the Midlands (the Thames itself acted as an anti-tank barrier). Because the war was fought in the air, these bunkers were never used. One bunker was incorporated into a home landscape.

August 08, 2008

King Lear at Shakespeare Globe Theatre & Urban Photography at Tate Modern

The play was long and the seats were hard - but everyone must see King Lear at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames once in their lifetime. This performance got rave reviews by the critics but I was still confused in the end by who killed Cordelia and how. Some people are just not meant for high culture.
Someday I will take the "behind-the-scenes" tour. A kind neighbor who took pity on me by letting me use his seat cushion said he learned on the tour that we were high up in the prostitutes section. Quirky factoids do interest me.

Just over the roof of the Globe Theatre is the tower for the Tate Modern. I started my day there at the Urban Photography exhibit. Below is "A Lawyer and his Laundry" from the exhibit.
All was not lost. My Art Fund card made the exhibit more affordable and Teresa and I had a pleasant lunch in the restaurant with spectacular view of St Paul's.

August 02, 2008

Thames: Pangbourne to Goring

The Thames path between Pangbourne and Goring is idyllic - tree canopies, fishing markers, unusual dining platform, pastoral manor home, picturesque village and church.

Tolls are still being collected to cross the bridge between Pangbourne and Whitchurch-on-Thames. An information board with historical tolls was attached to the side of the toll booth. Every "foot" counted so a local resident told us farmers used to drive their animals to a low point in the river where they could cross without paying a toll.
As we were dining at The Elephant, we glanced through the door to spot a steam driven asphalt paver.