Category: Visit London

Camera Obscura – Magic

Greenwich, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura Image on a table, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura – Magic

The lens, Photo by PH Morton

Summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard housing the Camera Obscura with doorway with black curtains, photo by JMorton

It was my second time to visit the Camera Obscura, located at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South London.

The first time we went which was the autumn of 2013, Peter excitedly insisted that we enter into this building complete with a doorway shrouded in black curtains. Inside was pitch black, as dark as the night.

In the middle of this fairly tiny room,  probably 4square metres (only 6-8 people allowed in at any given time), was a polish table which looked to me like a white marble.  We all looked at the table and thought there was nothing really special about it.  Just an empty table.  We went out of the room absolutely perplexed and disappointed, the same look and feeling on the other faces that had also went in and out with us. We were all asking?  What was that about?!!!

Yesterday was a glorious warm and sunny day.  While at Greenwich Royal Observatory, Peter, Stacey, Nathan and I went into the black shrouded doorway and on the table was a real time panoramic projection of an image of Greenwich.  People can be seen moving on the projected image.  Finally we understood what this camera obscura was about!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Camera obscura (from Latin words: camera, meaning room and obscura, meaning dark) uses a natural optical phenomenon projected from a small hole, a pinhole.  This has something to do with physical law that light travels in straight line.  When some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a pinhole, the rays do not scatter but reform to reflect an upside down image of the subject the rays were reflected from.  I wish now that I had paid attention to physics class! 🙂

The Greenwich camera obscura uses lens for a larger image projection.

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark in its heyday was the fastest ship because of hull shape and vast sail area.  It sailed for more than 957,991 nautical miles which is equivalent to going to the moon and back 2 and a half times. 🙂

Beautifully maintained ship and the information provided were entertaining and interesting. There were a lot of interactive activities and the guides were all friendly and very accommodating. The place is perfect for school children to learn about the life aboard a vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Jean Morton review on Cutty Sark Facebook page

The Cutty Sark was built in Clyde, Scotland in 1869 originally to be a tea clipper, travelling from London to China and back, until the arrival of the even faster steam ships. The Cutty Sark then started carrying wool from Australia to London.

The Cutty Sark continued being used as a training ship until the 1950s.

In 1954, it was permanently lodge in Greenwich, South London, as a public display and museum. It is now a National Historic ship being only one of the three remaining shipping vessel with its original composite construction, where the the wooden hull was framed in iron. Copper was used a great deal in the making of the Cutty Sark. Apparently the copper prevents barnacles attaching themselves to the ship.

Peter, Stacey, Nathan – our intrepid grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the Cutty Sark.  The weather yesterday was perfect to see the ship.  It was bright and glorious.  There were plenty to do and to see.

It was a wonderful piece of history. Long it may be preserved for posterity.

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

IMG_0737
St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

St Andrew By The Wardrobe is a very interesting church peacefully nestled along Queen Victoria Street in the City of London.

What made St Andrew by the Wardrobe unique from the many other Church of England churches dotted along the City of London is the array of immaculate long sleeves shirts, suit jackets and trousers on display as well as hundreds of pair of shiny shoes.

Apparently the clothes are from the Suited and Booted charitable organisation, giving men the chance to be suitably clothed to attend a job interview, among others.

I thought the suited and Booted charity is a very appropriate project to be sponsored by the church afterall it is the Wardrobe church.

The church was designed by the great English architect, Christopher Wren, though it has been rebuilt at least a couple of times, having been a victim of the Great Fire as well as being bombed during the Blitz.  The current church was opened again to the public in 1961.

The history of the church started in the 13th century, during the reign of King Edward III. The immediate area around the church is called the Great Wardrobe, as it became the place where King Edward III moved his state robes and other effects from the Tower of London. St Andrew’s Church became better known as St Andrew by The Wardrobe.

The Church has great connection with William Shakespeare.

It is a beautiful church, very woody. If you want to visit it the address follows below:

St Andrew by the Wardrobe
Parish Church
St Andrews Hill & Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 5DE

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower and the Parliament Bldg, photo by PH Morton

Elizabeth Tower, photo by PH Morton

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower was formerly known as the Clock Tower.  It is part of the imposing, one of the most famous landmark of London, the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is often identified by a  misnomer, Big Ben.  In actuality, Big Ben is the huge 13 tonnes Great Bell located at the top of the 360 feet high tower.  The four-face clock became operational on 7 September, 1859.

The Clock Tower has been renamed as Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

British Museum

British Museum

British Museum, Photo by JMorton

British Museum

Did you Know?

The British Museum is the first public museum in the whole world.  It first open its doors in 1759, free to visit for the studious and the curious.

The museum has some of the most important and relevant exhibits in the whole world.

 

 

 

Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden

pergola corridor, photo by PH Morton

pergola corridor, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden

For me, Hampstead Heath is the real gem of London and at the heart of it is what is locally known as the Secret Garden.  Not many knew of this garden’s existence.  It is not well sign-posted.  We only found out of this garden more than 25 years ago when we stumbled upon it while we were out walking at the Heath extension towards Wildwood pond to look at frog spawns.

The secret garden is really called Hill Garden and Pergola.  It is a very tranquil and romantic place; very verdant place with all the plants flowering from trees, bushes, bulbs, climbers and borders.

The pergola is strewn with roses and clematis.  It is a romantic combination of Italian, French and English garden ambience.  Only a few people would wander down to this sumptuous location.

I keep thinking that it could be the perfect venue for a wildly romantic wedding or even a marriage proposal.

If you happen to be at Golders Hill Park, try to drop by the Hill Garden as well which is about 500 metres away.

Now that the weather is really more spring-like, why not bring a book and wander down to the Secret Garden of Hampstead Heath.  It would be a treat.

Jellied eel – a traditional Eastend Recipe

Jellied Eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel – a traditional East-end Recipe

Peter had been wanting jellied eel  – made to a traditional East-end recipe, for ages.

On his birthday, just before Christmas last year, he had his wish granted at Manze’s pie and  mash & eel shop (known as shops as opposed to being called a restaurant or cafe). The shop is adjacent to the Chapel Market in Islington North London.

We visit Chapel  Market around Christmas time every year for our fresh vegetables, meat etc., for the festive family meals.

Anyway,  it was rather lucky that Manze had not run out of the eel delicacy yet when Peter enquired as usually eels are off the menu by lunchtime!

Jellied eels are served as a side dish to  pie & mash.

The traditional pie  is normally made of suet based pastry pie containing  minced beef. The  mash  is mashed potato.

The delicious green tinged liquor served as a gravy with pie & mash  was traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels,  but nowadays mainly from the parsley used with cooking of the jellied eels.

Peter said he enjoyed the jellied eel but I am not too sure as I think I saw his face turned rather green at some point. 🙂

When I was still a little girl, eels were quite a delicacy in our province in the Philippines.  It was fun trying to catch them because they were so slippery; it was almost impossible to catch them without a net. The eels used to live in dykes around our ricefield.

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

The dykes were so clean, that you can drink from them if you are desperately thirsty but we used to go up further afield to the waterfall, which sourced our farm.

With a feat of engineering, my father was able to harness the water directly from the waterfall using a course of bamboos which carried the water not only into the field but to my mother’s huge water clay jars as well, giving us fresh, cool drinking water.  The taste was definitely better than any bottled mineral water that are on sale nowadays.

Anyway, I digress!  When we caught enough eels after much screaming and hilarity, my mother would salt them liberally to remove the slime and then she would cook it with sprouts from vines (not sure of the name of the plant, will find out) growing near our farmhouse which give a very sour taste; perfectly delicious.

Eel is delicious eaten hot but I am not too sure about cold jellied eel.  I couldn’t really comment too much because I turned down Peter’s generosity to taste his eel meal. 🙂

Anyway, he said it was good and that is good enough for me.

If you happen to come across some eel to cook here is the recipe for the jellied eel.

INGREDIENTS:
900g eel
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
Juice and zest from a lemon
handful of fresh herbs such as parley, thyme an coriander, chopped finely
Fish stock – 600 ml (1 pint)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Bouquet garni
15g Gelatine

Method of Preparation:
1. Skin and bone the eels but do not cut them up. Lay them on the table, skin side down and sprinkle with grated nutmeg, a little grated lemon zest and the chopped herbs.
2. Cut the fish into pieces about 4 inches long. Roll up each piece and tie with strong cotton or fine string. Put the stock, vegetables and bouquet garni into a saucepan and bring to he boil. Add the eels and simmer very gently until tender, for about an hour.
3. Lift out the fish take off the cotton or string and place the eels in a basin. Measure the stock and make up to 450 ml (* pint) with water.
4. Add the gelatine to the lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine, then add this to the hot stock. Stir until completely dissolved. Strain this over the fish and leave to set.
5. Turn out when cold and serve with a green salad and sliced gherkins.