Apr. 17th, 2009 01:17 pm
zoetrope: (Default)
So the marvelous, wonderful and enthralling [ profile] rageprufrock is coming to London! We're thinking of organising a fannish meet-up for one of the nights - if you'd like to join us, please fill out the poll below! It will be in the evening on one of the following dates:

[Poll #1385154]
zoetrope: (Default)
Right now, there is a window to my right, and through it I can see the Albert Bridge. The sun is starting to set, and the lights on the bridge have come on.

I've got two hours and twenty-one minutes left of work (and counting). In that time I'll switch between Shake and Safari.

I'm also going through the Yuletide Merlin entries on my iPhone.

Work!crush is gorgeous as ever. I'm going to French Girl's on Friday for dinner, to see her new place. She's trying to get me to move in, but I'm not sure yet. Had raspberry Martinis in the Oxo Tower Bar on Saturday night. A round of three drinks cost £30. I love London by the river, best of all.

When I leave work I'll catch the bus to the station, and then sit on the floor of the train home (there are never any seats), fighting my OCD all the way. I'm winning so far today.
zoetrope: (Default)
As you must all know by now, I'm a complete London geek. I love walking on streets that people have been walking on for hundreds of years, going to markets that have been there since Medieval times...

The City of London is the oldest area, original London if you like, and covers the area now used mainly for banking. The city of London, this part of modern-day London, was first founded by the Romans in 43AD.

They built the first London Bridge - which was the only bridge across the Thames until 1739 (the first stone London Bridge was built in 1176). The modern London Bridge was - according to recent excavations - built just yards from the much older bridges on the site.

The city built up around that, as a trading port, and in Medieval London the streets were cramped and bustling, each named after what the traders on that street sold. There was one street for chickens, one for tailors, one for bread and more and more... Today these streets are called Poultry, Threadneedle St, Bread St... in fact, many many of them have remained.

In 1666 Londoners were nervous about the bad omen of the numbers in the year. This was justified when, after a hot dry summer, a bakers shop in Pudding Lane (see how that works?! *g*) caught fire... and took the rest of London with it. The flames spread quickly through the narrow streets and wooden houses and decimated the city. In five days 87 churches and 13,200 houses had been destroyed.

Samuel Pepys wrote:
"So I rode down to the waterside, . . . and there saw a lamentable fire. . . Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies, till they some of them burned their wings and fell down."

In the end, the only way they could stop the first was to use gunpowder to blow up houses so that the fire had nothing to consume. By the end of the fire, four fifths of the city had been destroyed - including the wooden St. Pauls Cathedral - and many people lost all their belongings. Though fire was so destructive, it is also thought to have saved the city from the scourge of the Black Plague, which had killed almost 20% of the population the previous year.

Because so many people were homeless, the King had no choice but to order the rebuilding to happen as quickly as possible - his only proviso that the buildings be made only of stone, not wood, as a preventative measure. Therefore, the streets were rebuilt as-is, and a map of London before the fire is as recognisable as a modern map.

An example beneath the cut )

When [ profile] cincodemaygirl came to visit, she said she was amazed by how much history there was here, something which I had taken for granted to a certain extent. I frequently catch the bus down Bishopsgate and along Moorgate, past London Wall, streets that have been there for more than 500 years - and probably closer to 1000 - and each time try to remember the history that is all around, hoping to never again take that for granted.

And that's just another reason why I love London.

Past waxing lyrical about London.

So, I went to see Howl's Moving Castle... Don't read if you loved the film and don't want me to harsh your buzz. )
zoetrope: (Default)
I love London. I'm a total London geek. Any little facts or figures, tall tales, flashes of history, and I'm quivering with excitement.

I live in Southwark, one of the oldest areas of London. Safe from the great fire of 1666, largely ignored by the bombers in the blitz, when you walk from my house to the Southbank you're walking on the same cobblestones as people hundreds of years ago, ducking through tiny alleys, under railway bridges, past the place where Bill Sykes murdered Nancy in Oliver Twist, past the prison that named the rest of them stands - The Clink - past Winchester Palace, built in the early 1100s, and Southwark Cathedral, one of the oldest Gothic buildings in London, built in 1212.

Southwark was always the a pleasure-quarter of London as it was technically out of the jurisdiction of the City of London, and so while the inhabitants of the City had a curfew imposed on them in an attempt to reduce binge drinking (sound familiar, anyone?!), those looking for a little late-night pleasure would come south of the river to party. The riverbank was lined with brothels, bear pits, theatres and stewhouses.

There was always so much going on around here. Walk to the end of my street and you are on the street that was the setting for the beginning of The Canterbury Tales, the street where the first English-language Bible was made, and more, always more. I love the deep sense of the past that I get, even from walking along any small insignificant street; the old factory buildings - now swanky flats - the uneven roads, the tiny alleyways ducking shadily off the main streets. It's a place rich with voices from the past, it positively vibrates with history.

Yesterday, [ profile] divine_miss_j and I went to the gym, then to Borough Market where we bought Treacle Tart and Chocolate Brownies from Konditor & Cook before buying sandwiches and big bottles of water and walking along the Southbank to Tower Bridge. We lay in the shade and listened to my i-Pod and read our books. Mostly, though, I sat and watched passers by, looked at the bridge and at the Tower - our position put us almost exactly in line with the Traitor's Gate - and at St. Pauls, distantly hazy in the heat, and Canary Wharf gleaming in the opposite direction. It was so hot that the sky was almost grey at the horizon.

A lovely day :)


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April 2010



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