June 18, 2009

LEG Camden Railway Heritage Trail

Peter Darley led on the Camden Railway Heritage Trail in reverse order, starting with a private viewing of the Roundhouse. Passengers continued onto Euston but goods were unloaded at the Roundhouse (160 foot diameter, used to turn locomotives starting 1846), now used as an entertainment venue.

Thousands of horses were needed for this operation. Some stables were converted to a popular bar with rooms featuring a famous racehorse. We got to see one of the horse sculptures moved from start to almost its new resting place.

The Camden lock and surrounding markets were great for people, and in this case dog, watching. This dog was sporting the same red-dyed mohawk style as its owner.

Many of the stores have been built through the arches and under the Northern London Railway.

Peter pointed out where decades of mud coated ropes gouged deeply through the steel railings.

Chalcot Square was developed in the late 1850s and its Italianate houses have remained largely unchanged. Primrose Hill Tunnel was opened in 1837 and was the first railway tunnel in London. Its East Portals (Grade II listed) were designed to be aesthetically pleasing to public viewers.

June 14, 2009

Open Garden Squares Weekend

Open Garden Squares Weekend is sponsored by Transport for London and organised by London Parks & Gardens Trust. Hundreds of properties are opened to the public. We decided to visit squares in the Notting Hill Gate (W11) area. After awhile, they got a bit repetitive.

Royal Crescent Gardens laid out in 1846

Norland Square

St. James Church (gardens are relatively non-descript)Clarendon & Lansdowne Roads Communal Garden

Sidefun: "Proper Parties for Cheeky Children"

Hanover Gardens

June 13, 2009

Thames: Newbridge to Cricklade

We are on the home stretch - only 12 miles to go!

The Thames Path from Newbridge to Upper Inglesham has limited public transportation, so we decided to overnight at the Swan Hotel at Radcot. We took a very fast train from Paddington to Swindon (less than an hour) and a cab to the Swan. The Swan owner drove us to Newbridge the next morning (after a full-cooked breakfast) and we walked back to the Swan via lunch at the luxury Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge. We ate dinner and slept 10 hours! The next mornng, the Swan owner drove us to Upper Inglesham and we walked back. Again we had an early dinner and slept 10 hours. We felt great walking. Perhaps we were getting enough sleep?

Kris enjoyed the Saxon (13th century) St John the Baptist church in Inglesham outside Lechlade. I liked the whimsical topiary.

This Father Thames statue was commissioned in 1854 and located at Crystal Palace and then Thames Head before being moved to St. John's Lock.

Walking from Farmoor to Newbridge centered around Oxford public transportation. At the Rose Revived Pub, we waited patiently and anxiously by the bus sign. The bus raced by us and we waved frantically - miraculously he stopped for us. He chided us saying we were supposed to be waiting in the parking lot of the pub across the river. That was our worst experience with public transportation.

Upper Inglesham to Cricklade involved a train to Swindon and a bus to Upper Inglesham. Catching a bus back to Swindon from Cricklade was easy. Finding our way from Upper Inglesham to Castle Eaton was a challenge.

The path veered away from the Thames across fields, and the signs were infrequent. And, we weren't the only ones lost. In Castle Eaton, we met the local "Path Monitor" who asked us about our experiences and promised to check out the situation. We thought Castle Eaton was especially picturesque and the people friendly.

June 04, 2009


The KCWC Spring Luncheon was held at the Royal Automobile Club and Hats were strongly encouraged. Sarah Petrilla won first prize for her KCWC Extravaganza.

Our speaker was Santa Montefiore, author of The Italian Matchmaker and other "romance novels". Santa kept us entertained with great vocal imitations of her characters and tips on getting inspired to develop our own characters. Later, we were entertained by opera singer Rose Pickering (14 years old) accompanied by her tutor on piano, Laly Nickatsadze.

Donna, Lucrecia, Lemeez, Koko, Shaida, and Christine (not shown) were at my table.

June 03, 2009


Kris had a business conference and we all got to stay at the lovely Green Bough just outside Chester.

The next morning, I visited the Chester Zoo while Kris worked. Chester has a small but highly regarded zoo. I splurged on the monorail to get an overview and then hurried over to the Komodo Dragon lecture. The Chester Zoo is famous for Flora who, through parthenogenesis, gave birth to 8(?) live babies without any help from or contact with Norman. The Chester Zoo kept one of the babies and gave the rest to other zoos.

I have seen Komodo Dragons (the largest of all reptiles) wandering through grassy patches in Bangkok outside the King's palace (Komodo Dragons are not native to Thailand). They looked large (the ones I saw were smaller than their 10-foot, 300-pound potential) but slow and I wasn't too concerned. But, after the Chester Zoo informational talk, I know I should be very afraid - there have been 8 official human deaths by Komodo Dragon. Komodo Dragons have 40-50 types of bacteria in their mouths. They kill by taking a little nip and then waiting for their prey to die of blood poisoning within a few days. Sometimes they pursue their prey but often they go back to sleep until they "smell death" (with their tongues), slowly rise and find their prey.

The next day I walked to Chester which has been described as a "Second Rate York" and I have to agree as far as the cathedral, roman ruins, and city walls are concerned. However, Chester seemed to be a shopping mecca - the streets were jammed with shoppers and it was only a Wednesday. Weekends must be a nightmare.