Of Sea Monsters and Giant Cranes

On the Chimneys & Tunnels walk we visit the launch ramp of SS Great Eastern, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s massive iron sailing steam ship. Faced with a rather sad row of wooden sleepers in a quiet backwater of the Isle of Dogs, it’s hard to imagine the astonishing spectacle of the boat’s construction there in the(…)

Railways under London

I’ve often wondered how London’s deep tunnels were built in the years between Marc Brunel’s early nineteenth century heroics and today’s monster tunnel boring machines (see Into the void). At what point did men wielding picks disappear from the front line? Not before 1948 it seems, according to Marie Neurath, author and illustrator of the post-war(…)

Back on the edge

Out on the Greenwich Peninsula once again, this time in the biting cold (see On the edge). My purpose today: all things animal. I’m researching a Thames Bestiary walk that I’ll be leading later in the year. It’s one of a series of riverside trails organised by Viewfinder Gallery. More details coming soon…

Feathers and foliage

Deep sea diving with my zoom lens this morning, waiting for the autumn light to shine on the puffer fish (last week’s Big Discovery). No joy. It seems the earth may now be tilted too far away from the sun. Strangely consoling, then, when this lone magpie flew into the frame: a black-and-white vision of(…)

Castaway city

By the Thames at East Tilbury. Sixty years of London lies here, dumped since the 1930s and now buried beneath the marshes. Dislodged glass and china fragments collect on the beach while container ship pass silently by.

Mute swans

On the Greenwich Safari we studiously ignore any animal that moves. But as we’re not on safari now, I thought I’d share a clip I took today of swans on the Thames at Gravesend foraging for crumbs.

Praise the lack

An unexpected boon of the London Olympics – at least in Greenwich – has been its effect on road traffic. Fears of hellish gridlock, record smogs and wheezing, under-performing athletes seem to have been overblown. Drivers by and large have avoided the capital, the streets have been quiet and the air clean. Well, cleaner than(…)

Olympic High Kingdom

Nearly 500 years after Henry VIII’s riverside jousting tournaments, horses have returned to Greenwich for more equestrian pageantry. Where once knights in full armour thundered towards each other intent on breaking their opponent’s wooden lance, yesterday’s dressage was all top hats and tails, highly controlled impulsion and submission. In place of the Tudor tilt yard, viewing(…)