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Tuesday, 31 July 2012


From the air on Friday morning. According to Wikipedia:

Historically a part of Surrey, at the time of the Norman conquest of England Croydon had a church, a mill and around 365 inhabitants (as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086). Croydon expanded during the Middle Ages as a market town and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing. The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was the world’s first public horse-drawn railway, which later developed into an important means of transport – facilitating Croydon’s growth as a commuter town for London (including the City of London). By the early 20th century, Croydon was an important industrial area, known for car manufacture, metal working and its airport. In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced by retailing and the service economy, brought about by massive redevelopment which saw the rise of office blocks and the Whitgift shopping centre. Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.

The park in the bottom right of the photograph is the Park Hill Recreation Ground, once a deer (hunting) park for the Archbishop/s of Canterbury.

Posted by bigblue on 31/07/2012 at 08:18 AM
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Monday, 30 July 2012
King George’s Park


As seen from the air over Wandsworth on Friday morning.

King George’s Park was originally called Southfields Park and was laid out in 1922. However it was opened in 1936 by King George V. It contains a restored lake, ornamental areas, sports pitches, tennis courts, a bowling green, a fitness trail, a children’s playground, a BMX and adventure playground, and a “One O’Clock Centre” for younger children. The River Wandle forms part of the eastern boundary of the park (left side in the above photograph) and there is a riverside walk, containing sites of ecological significance, and which is a section of the longer Wandle Trail.

Posted by bigblue on 30/07/2012 at 08:46 AM
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Sunday, 29 July 2012
Wandsworth Common


As seen from the air on Friday morning.

Wandsworth Common

dates back to the 11th century. On the common people had rights which included the cutting of wood and shrubs, the grazing of animals and the digging of gravel. As London expanded, pressure to develop the common increased and large areas passed into private hands and others were dissected by road and rail links.

Although it was purchased by a private conservation body in 1871, it was only after being passed to the ownership of the local council in 1971 (the local council says) that its future as an important conservation site was secured.

Wandsworth Common today includes many trees, two lakes, woodlands and grasslands along with sports and play facilities. The common is home to a wide variety of urban wildlife including foxes, squirrels and numerous bird and invertebrate species.
Part of the common known as the scope is managed specifically for wildlife. Its name is derived from an enormous telescope (once the largest in the world) which was constructed in 1852 by the Rev. John Craig. The expansion of London resulted in poorer air quality making the telescope useless - it was removed in the 1870s. The scope contains young oak and silver birch woodland, different types of grassland and scrub habitats.

Facilities on the Wandsworth Common include an educational centre in an area dedicated to wildlife known as The Scope (named after the Craig telescope), as well as tennis courts, a bowling green, a cafe bar, and a fitness trail. The Common is popular with local runners, dog walkers and cyclists.

The radial-shaped building complex opposite the common (top of photograph) is HM Prison Wandsworth.  This is a Category B men’s prison, which means that it is intended for men who do not require maximum security, but for whom escape needs to be made very difficult. The great train robber Ronald Biggs famously escaped from this prison in 1965, and fled to Brazil. The prison was originally known as the Surrey House of Correction, and 135 prisoners were legally executed here between 1878 and 1961, including the World War Two traitor Lord Haw Haw, William Joyce.

The prison has been reported many times over the last twelve years to be a poor quality prison. The most recent reports of this included staff attempts to hide their mismanagement and abuse of prisoners, in 2011.

Posted by bigblue on 29/07/2012 at 08:16 AM
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Saturday, 28 July 2012
Crystal Palace Park


As seen from the air yesterday morning. This park is a Victorian pleasure ground, site of the National Sports Centre stadium, and contains a farm as well as the location (between 1854 and 1936) of the Crystal Palace building (after it was moved from its original location in Hyde Park). See the map for a full list of the current pleasurable attractions.

During the current 2012 Olympics, 200 Brazilian athletes are based at the National Sports Centre to prepare and train for their events. In the photograph above, the landmark television transmitter tower is clearly visible on the right of the park.

Posted by bigblue on 28/07/2012 at 08:29 AM
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Friday, 27 July 2012
Richmond Park


As seen from the air this morning. The Olympic Rings that were mown into the lawn are visible in the photograph.

The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony is taking place this evening, in the East of London. The road cycling race this weekend passes through Richmond Park.

Posted by bigblue on 27/07/2012 at 04:21 PM
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Wednesday, 25 July 2012
New York


In the distance lies (the skyline of) New York, as we descend into Newark, New Jersey. The county in which Newark sits is called Essex. So you could say that from Newark, every way is Essex. Other than Essex, there are of course many familiar placenames in this part of the colonies.

When I asked a local resident the temperature yesterday, and he said “96 degrees” it evoked a Third World song of that name, which took my mind back about 25 years.  Marco on the Base describes the song as:

a dramatic and musically powerful retelling of the events of the October 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion, headed by Baptist deacon and preacher Paul Bogle who led an armed group against the British authorities in Jamaica with his attack against the town of Morant Bay.

The scene that the song dramatizes is such a central one in Jamaican history. The band identifies with Bogle, the main figure in the insurrection. Even though this is a song that looks at history, it achieves exactly what the best reggae songs do: it brings history home. The song is based on a historical fact, but it is never overt: at no point does it mention Bogle or Morant Bay. The year is the major clue to the poem’s meaning. The listener has to do some work.

Although the rebellion was crushed, as the song “1865 (96 Degrees in the Shade)” makes clear, Bogle’s actions reverberated across Jamaican history, sparking further revolts until the island finally won independence. Bogle is considered one of Jamaica’s greatest heroes and he is forever memorialized by the song which is among Third World’s most popular.

The song describes the day on which the portly Governer of Jamaica executed the two local leaders (Paul Bogle and George Gordon) after the failed rebellion pour encourager des autres.

Posted by bigblue on 25/07/2012 at 07:47 AM
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Tuesday, 24 July 2012


As seen from the air this morning.

Posted by bigblue on 24/07/2012 at 08:35 PM
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Thistle and Weeds

Descending back into Oxted at the end of my ride on Sunday morning.

Posted by bigblue on 24/07/2012 at 07:08 AM
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