Lewisham: Hills, Rivers, Secret Corners and Blatant Skyscrapers, a set on Flickr.
For most of the last 16 years I have lived in the London Borough of Lewisham — first in Forest Hill, London SE23, and, since November 1999, in Brockley, London SE4, which overlooks Lewisham town centre, the commercial heart of the borough. Built up since Saxon times around the River Ravensbourne, which flows into the River Thames at Deptford, the town centre is also the place where the River Quaggy, flowing in from the south east, via Eltham and Kidbrooke, joins the Ravensbourne.
From its valley, Lewisham also wanders up the hills to the south east, towards Lee, and the east, more steeply uphill to Blackheath. These photos were taken between May and August, and capture some of Lewisham’s history, some of its contours, including the hills and rivers, and some of the new developments in the town centre — Prendergast Vale College, a new school on the former site of Ladywell Bridge primary school, which is a positive development, and the high-rise apartment blocks rising up along Loampit Vale, the road from Lewisham to New Cross that peaks in Brockley, whose contribution is almost entirely negative. Read the rest of this entry »
The Olympics: In Search of the Paralympic Torch, a set on Flickr.
With the main Olympic Games now a memory, the focus, for the next 11 days, is on the Paralympic Games, before Britain returns to the gloom of life under the crushing yoke of a myopic Tory-led government. While the Games were a great success, the emotional resonance of the Paralympic Games is much stronger, given the obstacles people have had to overcome to take part in the first place, and it is a tribute to the UK that the Paralympics began here in 1948. As Wikipedia explains:
The first organised athletic event for disabled athletes that coincided with the Olympic Games took place on the day of the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. German born Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, who had been helped to flee Nazi Germany by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) in 1939, hosted a sports competition for British World War II veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. The first games were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games, and were intended to coincide with the 1948 Olympics. Dr. Guttman’s aim was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities that would be equivalent to the Olympic Games. Read the rest of this entry »
Glass, Light and Fantasies: The City of London At Night, a set on Flickr.
This latest photo set, on Flickr, from my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — the 23rd instalment in what will be at least a year-long project — follows up on a previous set, Parks, Water and Dreams: Photos of a Journey from Surrey Quays to Central London, in which I recorded a journey through Rotherhithe on the evening of July 19, 2012, when I travelled to The Arts Catalyst, on Clerkenwell Road, in London EC1, to speak at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Talha Ahsan, a British citizen and a Londoner, who has been held without charge or trial ever since, while fighting extradition to the US — an unjust situation that I have also written about here and here. Please also see this photo of me wearing an “Extradite Me, I’m British” T-shirt, to highlight the problems with the US-UK Extradition Treaty.
After the event — shortly after 9pm — I set off for home, but took a detour through the City of London, to capture photos of the City of London at night, the morally and legally dubious powerhouse of Britain’s financial industry, which fascinates me (see the evidence here and here), as does its offshoot at Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs (see the photos here and my essay here). Read the rest of this entry »
My two-week family holiday in Italy is at an end, and I am now back in London, slightly cold and pining for the heat, the cooking, the fresh fruit, the culture of Rome and the mountains and lakes of Abruzzo province. All holidays must come to an end, however, and as I reacquaint myself with my home, and my friends, and try to focus once more on Guantánamo and the parlous state of British politics, and look forward to cycling in search of new and unexplored parts of London as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, I will also be posting more photos of Rome and of our travels in Abruzzo province.
I have already posted four sets of photos of Rome (here, here, here and here), and this fifth set takes up where the last one left off — with a visit to the Roman Forum, on August 15, followed by a visit to the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill on August 16. These three sites — the heart of Ancient Rome, and consisting of its civic and religious centre, the hill on which several emperors made their home, and the colossal blood-stained amphitheatre where murder was turned into sport — offer an unparalleled insight into Ancient Rome, and for visitors, from the UK at least, the fact that access to all three sites is open for two days and costs just 12 Euros is a bonus, as my wife and I joked that in the UK each site would probably cost £27.90, with a ticket for all three offered at “just” £75. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m nearing the end of my two-week family holiday in Italy, and have been in Abruzzo province, near the town of Sulmona, since Sunday August 19. For the first week my family and I were in Rome, and I posted my photos from the first three days of that wonderful week here, here and here.
Our time in Abruzzo has also been wonderful, in this little known area of Italy, with its mountains and lakes, its vertiginous roads, its excellent food, and its old-fashioned hospitality with a laid-back vibe. However, we have been so busy travelling around that I have been unable to find the time to post more photos of Rome — until now. Read the rest of this entry »
Parks, Water and Dreams: A Journey from Surrey Quays to Central London, a set on Flickr.
On July 19, 2012, I had been invited to The Arts Catalyst, on Clerkenwell Road, in London EC1, to speak at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Talha Ahsan, a British citizen and a Londoner, who has been held without charge or trial ever since, while fighting extradition to the US — an unjust situation that I have also written about here and here. Please also see this photo of me wearing an “Extradite Me, I’m British” T-shirt, to highlight the problems with the US-UK Extradition Treaty.
As I have become obsessed with cycling lately, both to keep fit and to chronicle the whole of London by bike (an ongoing project that I began three months ago) and, just as importantly, to feed my eyes and my brain and to allow my mind to roam free after six years of being cooped up writing about Guantánamo, I decided to cycle to the event. This journey took me primarily through Rotherhithe, the peninsula and area of the Borough of Southwark that was formerly made up almost entirely of docks — the Surrey Commercial Docks — until the demise of London’s docks over 40 years ago. As part of the regeneration of the former Docklands areas under Margaret Thatcher, Butler’s Wharf and Shad Thames near Tower Bridge, and Limehouse, Wapping and the Isle of Dogs were all regenerated, as were the docks of Rotherhithe. Read the rest of this entry »
Churches, Temples, Fountains and Piazze: The Historic Centre of Rome, a set on Flickr.
In two previous sets of photos (here and here), I have covered the first two days of my two-week family holiday in Italy — with a series of photos from Rome, where we have been during this first week, before moving on to Abruzzo province for the second.
Rome is so photogenic, and the compunction to wander around it so compelling, despite the average daytime heat of around 35 degrees, that it has been impossible to publish the photos as I take them, as a sort of visual diary, but if you bear with me I’ll eventually get all the photos published. At present, I doubt that Abruzzo province is as well-connected to the Internet as Rome, which may make a big difference to my ability to get my photos online. Read the rest of this entry »
Rome: A Storm, the Hills and the Tiber at Night, a set on Flickr.
This is my second set of photos from my family holiday this year — in Italy, and, specifically, in Rome this week and, next week, a village in Abruzzo province. The eternal city (la città eterna) is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever visited — with its excellent cuisine, friendly locals and its unparalleled architectural wonders, the result, of course, of having been a major player on the world stage for nearly 3,000 years.
On our first evening, we were introduced to Rome’s super-sized architectural heritage via a visit to Piazza San Pietro, the colossal square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica (la Basilica di San Pietro) at the heart of the Vatican, and on Day 2, although we saw little of the city’s architectural splendours, we nevertheless had an inspiring day, despite being housebound for the whole afternoon as the entire city was drenched by a full-on tropical storm, which reduced the humidity sufficiently that we didn’t have to sleep outside, as we did on our first night. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m on holiday right now, in Rome, an astonishing city, saturated in history, and still, of course, the centre of the Catholic church worldwide. Italy is a country that I have loved for a long time — on a visit as a child, as part of a family tour of Europe in our sky blue Triumph, in which we camping in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, and, in Italy, passed though dozens of tunnels, visiting Pisa and Firenze, and finding marble quarries high in the mountains; Many years later, with an Italian girlfriend, I visited Milano on numerous occasions, and also made memorable trips to Venezia, to Calabria and to Como — and it wads during this time that I learnt Italian, learned to love espresso, and also learned the basics of Italian cookery.
Fast forward to my life now, with my wife, Dot, and my son, Tyler, and Italy — along with Spain, and, last year, Greece — is one of the regular features of our family holidays in the Mediterranean. A few years ago, we had an amazing Easter holiday in Sicilia, and we also had a short holiday in Firenze, and, two years ago, a two-week bonanza with the first week in Puglia and the second in Napoli, which must rank as the most extraordinary city in western Europe, full of contradictions that are normally only associated with the developing world. Read the rest of this entry »
A Place to Call Home: Brockley from Winter to Summer, a set on Flickr.
I have lived in London for 27 years, and for the last 12 years (13 in November) I have made my home — with my wife, and with the son who, prematurely, joined us shortly after moving here — in Brockley, on the hills above New Cross and Lewisham, and near the hill-top park of Hilly Fields, which commands fine views over to Blackheath and Greenwich, to the east, to Blythe Hill Fields to the south, and south east to Kent.
For decades, Brockley was a kind of secret village in south east London, home to artists, writers, musicians and various other bohemians, and affordable for those seeking to buy, whilst also providing generous allocations of social housing. In the 12 years since I came here, I have watched as coffee shops and delicatessens and bars and restaurants and gift shops have opened, where, in 1999, there were none — places like The Broca and Magi Gifts and The Orchard — which have brought the area to life, and although Brockley remains, at heart, the same clever, down-to- earth place it has been for decades, the upgrade of the East London Line and its incorporation into a London-wide Overground network, and regular publicity in the media’s property pages, has led to a recent influx of Yuppies. Read the rest of this entry »
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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