Saturday, 27 September 2014

"Mind the Gap!"

On a beautiful morning this week, we left our hilltop eyrie, parked the car, and walked down into the valley
past the old canal and 
  under the viaduct that carries the trains to London
H travels to London regularly doing consultancy work, but it is sometime since I was last in town. We owned a pied-à-terre in Pimlico when he worked for the UN. He would often be there during the week - I spent time there too. It was a place we both enjoyed staying in until our boys went to university, and then they kind of took it over!!! 
London has changed almost beyond recognition, lots of new contemporary architecture, old buildings have been cleaned and spruced up, there were many visitors enjoying the warm sunshine.
The poppy installation at the Tower of London, flows all around the 11th century moat and 'bleeds' from one of the tower's bastion windows.  It has and is attracting huge numbers of people from around the globe
It is 100 years since the outbreak of WWl and each poppy represents a British military death. By Remembrance Day on the 11/11/14 the last of the 888,246 hand-made poppies will have been placed in this ever evolving art installation - the next day the task of dismantling will commence.
When entering the Tower of London in King Edward l's reign (1272-1307) bravery was required. Passing under the fortified gate towers which were defended by archers, you might have heard the roar of lions as you crossed the causeways and drawbridges that spanned the water filled moat. 
Where these lions stand today are the ruins of the first drawbridge pit which led to Lion Tower. Big cats were still visible at the Tower until 1832 when they were finally removed to the new London Zoo in Regent's Park. When archaeologists excavated the pit in 1936 they found the skulls of medieval lions which were over 600 years old.
We were very keen to cross the Millenium Bridge designed by Sir Anthony Caro - Anthony's family were acquainted with H's family in Surrey when he was still at school
Just time to visit the Liberty shop
I always take the lift straight up to the top floor and browse the original Arts and Crafts furniture made by many collectible craftsmen such as Gimson, and the Barnsley Brothers, Archibald Knox and C.R Ashbee silver, Wm de Morgan pottery, and Wm Morris tapestries - it is like being in a museum, except that all the items are for sale. They also have one off pieces of contemporary furniture, glass, pottery, and silver made by up and coming young designers that I like to see
Looking up to the top floor in the atrium 
and then down 
Channel 4 were filming another Liberty documentary series. I remember seeing their Christmas Shop on the programme last year, but was shocked to see it was already in full swing, and what is more, people were buying. I am still in holiday mood, definitely Christmas is not on my mind
  glimpses of what the best dressed trees will be wearing

Perhaps I should explain the title of this post to those who have not visited London. As you alight from any tube-train "Mind the Gap!" announcements are made by a disembodied voice, an important warning to heed 

60 comments:

  1. Good morning Rosemary,
    Such a super post. It makes me want to visit London again.
    I have been watching people putting the ceramic poppies around the tower.. We dont get photo images on tv like you have shown here.
    The Millenium bridge .. the Lions at the moat of the tower.. This I never knew.
    I think it will be a shame to take the ceramic poppies up ... maybe left there for a while for more people to see and remember the horrific war.
    I so enjoyed visiting these places with you.
    I have never been to Liberty.. maybe one day. It looks such a superb building. If I remember correctly, you wrote a post about it once.
    Happy weekend to you and mr. H ... Val x

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    1. Hello Val - the ceramic poppies in this installation have actually been made by Paul and his team in my childhood home of Derby. The inspiration for the installation came from a WWl poem by an unknown soldier called "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red".
      What a good memory you have Val, yes, I did do a post on the Liberty shop, if ever you are back in London do pay it a visit.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the London tour. loved to watch the wellknown objects I have seen in real as Liberty.The poppies are stunning, so beautiful made. I has publiced in the press woldwide.

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    1. It is a very moving tribute, and the highly original installation seems to have captured the attention of people from all around the world.

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  3. Liberty is one of my favourite shops. But I'd agree, far too early for thinking about Christmas. The poppies are beautiful, I hope the grass doesn't grow much taller!

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    1. We cut our grass last week Jessica, thinking that it might be the last of the season, but wishful thinking didn't last long as I notice that it is already growing again.

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  4. I'm so pleased you went to London and saw the poppies, Rosemary; surely one of the greatest art installations ever conceived. Your photos are super, and I can see how much the flood of red has grown since the earlier pictures were published. What an amazing sight it must be!
    I never realised about the lions at the Tower - quite a gruesome place in its day...
    And Liberty, surely the best shop in the world, beautiful to look at and filled with delightful craftsmanship. I loved it so much I bought their little cross-stitch picture of the store, which sits in my sewing den. Christmas already? well I suppose it is a little early, but it is Liberty, and of course my eye went immediately to the little red bird at the end :)

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    1. Dear Patricia - the whole installation is far greater and bigger than I had imagined - never for a moment did I realise that it would flow all around the great moat. Apart from the poppies bleeding from the bastion window, the poppies spray up into the air over the causeway, and dribble down the walls in various places too. It is a very difficult installation to capture on camera as you are quite a distance away from it.
      Hope that you have recovered well from your jet-lag.

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  5. our tower tour never mentioned the lions! reason to go back.....wish i was going before the installation is removed.....beautiful memorial

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    1. It is a very fitting memorial and really does bring home to you just how many people lost their lives in this country alone.

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  6. Your photos are lovely Rosemary. Do like the poppies. The lions look ferocious, can imagine them being alive at guard at the gate...

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    1. Hello Margaret - until I saw this installation I had no idea that lions used to roam around the entrance to the tower - there is always something new to learn.

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  7. I just love your photos - makes me feel I've done the visit with you. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Nancy - photographing the poppies is quite difficult to actually portray just how many there are.

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  8. What a fantastic photo's of the lovely country you are living in.
    Have a wonderful weekend Rosemary.

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    1. Thank you Marijke - I was hopeful that I might have the opportunity to visit London before the art installation is removed - luckily we chose a wonderful day to do so.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, Anyone who has seen or read The Wizard of Oz will immediately think of the Field of Poppies when viewing the installation of The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. In Oz, they represented the last barrier before attaining the goal of reaching the Emerald City. How sad that all those soldiers were eternally claimed by their own poppy field, and never lived to see the wonders, both good and horrendous, that were just beyond.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - WWl was a brutal war where the young men were told that they would be back home for Christmas - ten years later the war finally ended and with it all of these young men. The poppy installation really does portray what a huge loss of life was inflicted in our country alone.

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  10. Several people have done posts on the spectacular poppy display but of course it is growing by the minute so looks different every time I see it - just think what it will look like by November. It is years since I visited London and there are so many more attractions since then - really must make an effort some time soon.

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    1. The poppies already flow right around the moat in thick profusion, down the walls, and spill over the causeway. I don't know how many have been planted as of now, but the bulk of the design now seems to be in place. If you can manage a trip do go and have a look.

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  11. You have had the most wonderful weather for all your recent trips, Rosemary and this has made your images even more striking. I'd have loved to see the poppy installation, but life is just too busy to allow this, so thank you for showing it to me.

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    1. It has been a glorious month of September for us all - hope that it continues for your move Perpetua. I feel that a good late summer always helps to shorten the winter months.

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  12. We were in London in August and we saw the poppies at the Tower, very moving. Wanted to go to Liberty, but London wore us out before we made it there.

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    1. Next time may be. Pounding the pavements in London is very tiring. By the time we got home that night we were totally exhausted, but revived after a good nights sleep.

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  13. Yes, I've been reading about the poppy installation at the Tower of London. I think it's just brilliant and visually so stunning and moving. It's a fitting tribute to the fallen of WWI. I'd love to be able to see it in person!

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    1. It is an installation that has steadily grown as the weeks have passed by becoming more and more splendid - a stunningly conceived idea which has worked. It really brings home to you just how many military died in our country in WWl

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  14. I just can't get over the all the beautiful poppies! Such a wonderful tribute. I hope to be able to visit one day. Thank you so much for sharing. You've definitely peaked my interest.

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    1. Thank you for your visit and comment. Unfortunately the poppies will only be there for six more weeks,but I do hope that you can visit at some time.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,

    Your posting is the first that I've heard of the poppy installation. What an incredible and brilliantly conceived project! It certainly puts Britain's WWI toll into perspective in a way that is both as sad as it is beautiful. It is the epitome of the picture that is worth a thousand words.

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    1. Dear Mark - the installation will all be over in six more weeks. The ceramic artist was influenced by an anonymous poem written by a soldier called The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Incidentally the ceramic artist comes from my home town in Derby, and it is there that his team have created all of the poppies.

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  16. Hello Rosemary,
    I loved visiting London with you. How powerful is the poppy installation by Paul Cummins. Visualizing
    888,246 poppies is a sobering reminder of how we attained our freedom.
    Liberty is one of my regular stops when in London. Thanks again for a fascinating post with powerful images
    Helenxx

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    1. Hello Helen - I am sure that the ceramic artist who had this vision must be pleased and rather overwhelmed with the results that have been achieved as the installation has gradually grown over the past few weeks.

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  17. Wow! Thank you for sharing this, Rosemary. I showed these pics to my daughter. Our twins will travel to London with my hubby next month. They'll visit the Tower. Happy weekend!

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    1. Delighted that you were able to show the installation to your daughter and that she and her brother and your husband will be able to see it for themselves. Do tell them to walk all the way around the tower to see the complete scale of it all.

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  18. What a wonderful images.
    I love the 6 th and so on, the poppins, red flower everywhere. Beautiful and amazing.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Have a happy weekend.

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    1. It is an impressive poppy installation, each poppy representing a dead soldier who died fighting for our freedom 100 years ago.

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  19. Thanks for the tour. This is what I like about blogging, you get real story from real people visiting places, not just from ad magazines or books written for history. The story of poppies is amazing! Awesome view with very meaningful story.

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    1. Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comment. I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the post and also the background to the story of these poppies.

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  20. Every time I see a post about these poppies my heart skips a beat. I was talking about them to a colleague in the week and nearly ended up in tears. They are so amazing and such a wonderful memorial and tribute. Liberty is great too isn't it! xx

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    1. Love the Liberty shop Amy, I could spend a fortune in there.
      The poppy installation is truly inspirational and thought provoking.

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  21. The poppy installation is truly fantastic! I read another post on London just the other day and now I'm yearning even more to pay visit soon. And Liberty is my favourite, too. I still haven't found an occasion to wear the fabulous expensive piece I bought there (on sale) on my latest visit.

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    1. I do hope an occasion turns up for you at some time in the future - you will feel a million dollars.
      You must try and see the poppies if you can - you have six more weeks in which to do it.

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  22. Wow! Lovely shots of London. The poppy installation is stunning. As for Liberty, I never made it past the fabric and wool floor :)

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    1. You missed a lot in the Liberty shop, but probably saved yourself some of money.
      The poppy installation far exceeded my expectations.

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  23. I took similar poppies pictures last week but my article is not published yet.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I shall look forward to seeing your post when you publish it Filip

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  24. Beautiful post Rosemary. I had seen the poppies in the news but your pictures are so much better. Glad you shared this with us all!
    That Liberty shop is amazing! If I ever go to London, I have to remember it. Such a fabulous building!

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    1. The poppies were difficult to photograph from where I stood plus my camera is not the best so I appreciate your kind comment Marian.
      The Liberty shop is my favourite - it has an interesting history as it was built and started during the Arts and Crafts period and still sells things that you to not find elsewhere.

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  25. London, my favourite town! Now I really feel for a trip when I see your pictures Rosemary...
    The Liberty shop looks amazing, where In London can I find it? Never been there.
    Have a beautiful sunday and I say it again and again, your blog is FANTASTIC!
    Love,
    Titti

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    1. Thank you so much Titti your kind comment has made my day.
      I have left you instructions re: the Liberty Shop on your blog as I am sure you have now discovered♡

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  26. Dear Rosemare,London is one of the citys in my travel list !
    The poppy installation looks gorgeous!Wonderful photos indeed!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - you must visit London sometime, there is so much to see and do.

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  27. London is such a great city, love how old and new co-habit so well together. The business and all the different races, love it all and enjoyed the photos !

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    1. Thank you Jane - I find London quite a tiring place there are always so many places that I want to visit.

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  28. I saw images of the poppies a few weeks ago on the internet. Your pictures of it are fantastic it must have been quite a sight! It 's awful being confronted with Christmas already, people must buy things otherwise they wouldn't put everything out so early. It was lovely seeing your pictures of Liberty, my Mother used to take me to tea here as a child. Sarah x

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    1. I think a lot of the Christmas shoppers were actually overseas visitors.
      I recall being taken out for tea as a child too with my mother, not in Liberties but in a lovely cafe in my home town. Saturday shopping followed by tea, sandwiches and cakes on a tiered cake stand - just like the ones that are all the rage with the youngsters today. What goes around comes around.

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  29. Thanks for sharing the images of the poppies, I hadn't seen them before but heard lots about them. Great photos of London and Liberty.

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    1. Dear Suzie - the poppy installation was far more impressive than I had imagined it would be, but I found them difficult to capture well.

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  30. You brought back happy teenage memories of sale time at Liberty's in the 1960s - thank you. And the poppy installation is one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen.

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    1. It is certainly a very inspired piece of artwork which I understand has turned out far better than anticipated.

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