View my previous blog here:

I reply to all comments except spam, no matter how old!

Please ignore any email address displayed here! My email is shamp123 AT

Friday, 31 August 2012

London Monopoly (13): The Strand

Continuing my tour around the London Monopoly board with the first property in the red set.
Somerset House, The Strand
The next place on the London Monopoly board after Vine Street (the previous post in this series) is 'Free Parking' but as there is very little free parking anywhere in London I will move straight on to The Strand. Properly, this street is simply named 'Strand' but it is always called The Strand.
Remarkably it's name was first recorded in the year 1002 as Strondway and there were also references to the street from the seventh century. It was part of a route used by the Romans to join what is now the City of London (Roman Londinium) to the Palace of Westminster. So, a major London route for at least two thousand years.
It runs from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street and one of it's most interesting buildings is Somerset House, an important eighteenth century piece of British archaeological heritage. The forecourt of Somerset House, shown above, is turned into a public ice-rink most winters. The Courtauld Institute one of Britain's many world-class free art galleries is located there.
There is currently a free photographic exhibition of the first 50 years of the Rolling Stones on display at Somerset House

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Fiona Pitt-Kethley is an idiosyncratic poet whose work I have always enjoyed. I don't really need to comment further on this one.....
Song of the Nymphomaniac 
 Fiona Pitt-Kethley

From Baffin Bay down to Tasmania
I’ve preached and practised nymphomania,
Had gentlemen of all complexions,
All with varying erections:
Coalmen, miners, metallurgists,
Gurus, wizards, thaumaturgists,
Aerial artists, roustabouts,
Recidivists and down-and-outs,
Salesmen, agents, wheeler-dealers,
Dieticians, nurses, healers,
Surgeons, coroners and doctors,
Academics, profs and proctors,
Butchers, bakers, candle-makers,
Airmen, soldiers, poodlefakers,
Able seamen, captains, stokers,
Tax-inspectors, traders, brokers,
Preachers, canons, rural deans,
Bandy cowboys fed on beans,
Civil-servants, politicians,
Taxidermists and morticians.
I like them young, I like them old,
I like them hot, I like them cold.
Yet, I’m no tart, no easy lay –
My name is Death. We’ll meet one day. 
‘Song of the Nymphomaniac’ is included in Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s Selected Poems (Salt Publishing,

.....OK so I decided to comment further.You may have been chuckling as the list grew longer but I bet you were stunned by the last line!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

How Beer Saved The World

A selection of terrific Belgian beers
I'm here to defend the good name of beer and to tell you how it saved the world. Really.
Many scientists and anthropologists now believe that it was not the desire for bread that kick-started the agricultural revolution that ended hunter-gathering 9,000 years ago; it was the yearning for barley to make beer. This led to inventions such as the plough, the wheel, irrigation, mathematics and even led to writing! This cascade of world-changing innovations was brought about by the desire for beer.
In ancient Eygypt workers were paid in beer so we could say that we wouldn't have had the Pyramids without beer. There are those who claim it is one of the major food groups because of it's nutritional content.
In modern times it played an important role in refrigeration, the discovery of germ theory and modern medicine. 
However, in Medieval times when water was too dirty to drink, possibly it's most important function was to support the population. Beer was safe to drink and men, women and children drank it morning to night, certainly in England.
That possibly is still the case in some parts! Cheers.
"Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

Saturday, 11 August 2012

London Monopoly (13): Vine Strret

This is the final property in the orange set in my blog-tour of the London Monopoly board.
One Vine Street, London
I have to admit that Vine Street is the single property on the London Monopoly board that I don't know. Having researched it, I have to wonder why it was chosen as it is not very high-profile. Apparently it consists mainly of the backs of properties that are on more salubrious streets. There is a popular pub-crawl around the board's sites but there are no licensed premises on the street (but plenty nearby).
But, you know, something interesting can be found almost anywhere if you look properly!
The property in the picture above is at 1 Vine Street but known, for some reason, as One Vine Street. It's a recently completed commercial site with a hand-made brick fa├žade but the corner entrance has been retained from a former pub on this site.
Interior of One Vine Street. Photo by John Riddy
The mural in the picture above was painted by Allison Turnbull. The design is based on her interest in taxonomy and morphology and is based on the relationship between various grape varieties. Who'd have thought that? (Vine Street, grapes, geddit?)
Next in this series: The Strand.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Painting of the Month (32) August 2012: Alan Tyers

The Yellow Boat, Padstow Harbour (Cornwall, UK)
Alan Tyers is a British painter, born 1944, who worked in the advertising industry. He paints in gouache (say 'goo-ash'), which is an opaque water-colour. His paintings have the look of early London Transport posters, which is no bad thing in my opinion, see here. He paints using large blocks of flat colour but manages to convey a real sense of place. I also admire the draughtsmanship in the above painting and the interesting use of colour. Here are some more of his works: