Leaving Birmingham . . .

On the platform, Birmingham New Street Station, April 29, 2012

. . . after a lovely visit with Ann, including (last night) seeing Gerald Barry’s opera version of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, complete with a pre-performance interview with Barry himself and (this morning) a viewing of the Art Gallery in the University of Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts, having braved (in order to get there) wind and rain that we agreed went beyond the category of “squally showers”–a frequently used term among British meteorologists–and all the way to the category of a gale! Luckily Ann had an extra pair of rain pants and a rain coat too for me to borrow, so we arrived dripping on the outside but dry and warm on the inside.

Borough Market impressions

These photos were all taken with “instagram,” and, what with the gray day, they’re all a little on the blurry side — hence “Borough Market impressions”!

Bread baskets, April 28, 2012

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Cassoulet, April 28, 2012

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British Ales, April 28, 2012

Between the Cassoulet and the British Ales, stands that were right next to each other, one can see that the Market is definitely an cross-channel (and more!) affair!

British pub signs, #3

Mabel's Tavern, April 27, 2012

On the path between the British Library and the NYU Center in London: Mabel’s Tavern! The tavern’s website has this to say about its namesake:

Mabel’s Tavern apparently takes its name from a local woman, Mabel Macinelly who was born in Dublin, Ireland. She married into the family who owned Hamilton House in Mabledon Place and became Mabel Hamilton.

Not much information is known about Mabel except that she owned a cat called Felix and she died in the 1970s. Since her death she has been known to revisit the pub and on one occasion she called the landlady’s name repeatedly in the early hours of the morning. She has also been known to operate the dumb waiter that used to stand in the pub – this is a little eerie as the dumb waiter was ripped out of the pub several years ago. The occupants have heard it in operation in the early hours of the morning but when they investigated there was nothing to be seen.

It has also been said that Mabel had a grandaughter who has recently visited the Tavern when researching her family. If you know anything about Mabel and her life in Dublin or London we would be fascinated to hear from you.

Though this photo makes the day look on the still very early spring side, it’s getting noticeably warmer here — or at least it was today!

St Pancras Hotel (once more!)

St Pancras Hotel Clock Tower, April 26, 2012

A photo of the St Pancras Hotel’s clock tower, all enhanced (saturation way up, exposure way up, tint and temperature turned in the blue and magenta direction, some edge blur) to match its gothic splendor! A previous post showing a part of this hotel (but mainly a purple car) provided a link to the hotel’s website; here’s another link, this one to a site that talks about the building’s history. Preview: what’s now the hotel used to be a train station (hence the clock tower!); the whole gothic extravaganza was set to be demolished in the 1960s, but thanks to its lucky stars it was renovated instead. Now it’s a very fancy hotel AND is juxtaposed upon an equally fancy international train station (see signs announcing arrivals from Paris and Brussels also on this site). Just walking around the train station gives a person a serious travel bug — even when she’s already at quite a distance from home!

It’s the rain . . .

Tavistock Square Gardens, April 25, 2012

It’s the rain that makes a place like this so green! It’s hard to see, but that’s a stature of Gandhi there at the end of this path. Read more about this garden here. The cherry tree the site mentions, planted in memory of Hiroshima, is probably this very tree!