Sunday, 5 September 2010

30 August 2010

Notting Hill Carnival

So I ventured off to the Notting Hill Carnival with stories of stabbings and gang related activity and was warned to get out of there when the sun went down. On the Sunday which is considered family day there were 80 arrests made. Over a million people attend the carnival each year and it is the biggest street carnival in Europe.

The carnival is basically a celebration of being from the Caribbean and features a variety of floats with people dressed in elaborate costumes. Music plays all day from the different floats and as the day goes on it becomes more and more rowdy.

A colleague of mine had said to me if you see people running in one direction get out the way. 10 minutes after he had said that we were in Portobello road when a mass of people started running towards us followed by flying bottles. I managed to scramble to the wall and watched as the bottle throwing dicks went by.

Overall it is a pretty good but tiring day out, if I had to do it again I would rather stick to one spot and then watch the floats from there. When the sun went down I got out of there.

28 August 2010

Well I heard that I should go to Seven Dials while I was here which is near Covent Garden tube station so I hopped on the tube and headed off to Covent Garden.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a popular tourist spot because of the street performers as well as the stalls selling various souvenirs. Most of the stalls are inside the old vegetable market from the 17th century. There is also the church of St. Pauls which has an entrance looking onto the main square but this is actually a fake entrance and the real entrance is located at the back of the church. There was a street performer trying to get the crowd going outside the church but I think most of them were thinking “go away Gypsy there is no place for you here”. After having a look around some of the stalls I headed off to Seven Dials.

Seven Dials

Seven Dials is point where seven roads meet and in the middle is a pillar which has six sun dials on it. At each of the corners of the seven roads there is a different shop, pub or theatre. Cambridge Theatre is located here and is currently showing Chicago. There was also a protest happening at the time down one of the roads. It looked like Palestinians and Israelis having a waving of their respective flags session.

Sir John Soane Museum

Holborn is pretty close to Covent Garden and I had heard of a museum in Holborn that was not very well known but worth a visit. So I headed down to the Sir John Soane Museum to have a look around. It is located in an area that must have been where some rich Londoners lived and maybe do still live because around a field there is a square of grand town houses and the museum is in one of these houses.

It was not a great start to the visit as we had to queue outside whilst a rather serious looking woman told us to switch our cellphones off. Then we were only allowed in once people had left and we had to put any shoulder bags in a plastic bag which was uncomfortable to carry. Anyway apart from that warm welcome the museum is pretty great with a eclectic collection of various paintings, architecture drawings, models, ancient sculptures and even the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I.

John Soane designed the Bank of England building and various other commercial buildings.

Somerset House

After the museum I took a walk around and ended up at Somerset House which is a massive house on the Thames that no houses the civil services. It is built in a square shape with an open court yard in the middle. Each of the four sides is beautifully designed and is incredibly impressive. There is a water feature in the middle and sprays water in the air. It is quite easy to stand in the middle and look at the buildings for awhile. You can take a tour of the house but I was pretty tired at this point so I decided to head home.