my london diary index


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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Capital Ring: South Kenton to Hendon

London. Mon 27 Aug 2018

Hendon Waterside, built on the West Hendon council estate
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On August Bank Holiday I walked another stage of the Captial Ring with Linda.

I'm not a great fan of potted walks like the Capital Ring, though it does go through some interesting places. Though it does ring around the capital, it does so wherever possible through green spaces rather than the high streets and industrial areas which are often of greater interest, at least to me. As often we made a few small detours to add interest (and one where the somewhat curious walk directions led us astray.)

Today our walk began at South Kenton, where we had ended the previous section with a drink in The WIndermere. Today it was too early for that and we carried on through suburban streets and parks towards Fryent Country Park, where we climbed to the top of Barn Hill, with views towards Wembley, and then across to another hill. The directions in the guide from there were rather lacking and we got just a little lost before finding our way out to Salmon Lane.

The graveyard around the old St Andrew's Church had some interesting gravestones, but by then I was eager to get on the the Welsh Harp where we planned to eat our lunch. We had to make a detour to the garden centre before then, but soon we were able to sit on a seat overlooking the water.

At Cool Oak Lane we left the road briefly to view the West Hendon Waterside, where council and developers are destroying the West Hendon estate to build expensive flats. As one resident put it in a blog:

"local Tory councillors see the place where they live as not a community, but a business opportunity, and under the pretext of 'regeneration', and despite a promise to residents of a better housing on the same site, handed the publicly owned land to Barratt London for a private, luxury high rise property development.

The land was worth £12 million, but was given to developers for £3, so as to allow them to maximise profits on their investment, conservatively estimated last year at a mere £92 million."

Barnet is not alone in following a policy of social cleansing for the profits of private companies both here and in the Grahame Park estate. It is happening all over London and it isn't just Tory councils, but Labour ones such as Southwark, Newham, Lambeth and the rest who are using the pretext of regeneration to get rid of their poorer residents and replace them by wealthier ones who can afford high market rents. If the council have a duty to rehouse tenants they may find themselves offered a flat in Newcastle, when their jobs and schools are in the London borough they have lived in for years, perhaps all their lives.

Crossing the A5 Broadway took a little time, and then it was a long walk up Park Road to the subway underthe much busier Hendon Way and on to Hendon Park. By now I was getting tired and it was a pleasure to have an icecream at the Hendon Park Café, the first kosher park café to open up in the UK, before catching the underground on our way home.
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Thousands March for Animal Rights

London. Sat 25 Aug 2018

Coloured smoke flares were set off as the march started
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Thousands of vegans march through London from Westminster to Hyde Park on the Official Animal Rights March founded by animal rights organisation Surge, calling for an end to animal oppression and urging everyone to stop eating animals and using dairy products.

Vegans say that animal lives matter as much as ours and call for an end to speciesism, and the misuse of animals for food, clothing and sport.

Veganism is becoming much more common, particularly among younger people, but although I'm against cruelty to animals and in favour of helping the the fight against climate change by eating less meat, there are good arguments for continuing to use dairy products, fish and meat, if on a reduced scale. While its welcome that some people decide not to eat these things, a wholesale adoption of veganism would be highly damaging to ecosystems around the world and change the nature of our countryside. Just imagine a farmyard without animals - and think seriously about the future of soil without manure. Nature too is famously 'red in tooth and claw' and our species is a part of nature.
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Gunnersbury Park & Brentford

Gunnersbury, London. Fri 24 Aug 2018

Gunnersbury Park, bought by the Rothschilds in 1835 and sold to the local councils in 1925, now a museum
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Pictures from a visit to Gunnersbury House Museum and on a walk from there to Kew Bridge.

A Palladian house in Gunnersbury was built for Sir John Maynard in 1663, designed by John Webb, a pupil and son-in-law of Inigo Jones, medelled on ther the Villa Badoer in Northern Italy. In 1730 it was bought by George III's aunt, Princess Amelia, who created the landscape park, had some odd buildings built in the grounds and made it famous through her parties and the political intrigue which went on there. Unfortunately the house was pulled down in 1801.

In 1802 Alexander Copland bought most of Gunnersbury Park and had the new house which still stands built. A short distance to the east, almost next door, another owner had his own mansion, Gunnersbury House built in 1806-7, now known as the 'Small Mansion'.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild purchased the Large Mansion in 1835, shortly before his death, and the family acquired the 'Small Mansion' in 1889. They developed an old clay pit into the ornamental 'Potomac lake' and the tile kiln became a gothic folly. The extensive grounds contained several other lakes.

Gunnersbury became known for its lavish entertainment, with dinners that rivalled anything in the world, attended by the leading figures in the world of politics and business.

In 1925 after the death of Nathan’s grandson Leopold de Rothschild, his widow sold the park and houses to the two adjoining London Boroughs, Ealing and Action as a memorial for her late husband, specifying that it was to be used for leisure purposes, and the park was opened to the public in 1926. The main house became a local museum, opening in 1929, and has recently been refurbished. The 'Small Mansion' still in rather poor repair became an arts centre.

We made the short walk along Lionel Road from Kew Bridge station with some difficulty as it is now a building site and crossed the Great West Road under the overhead M4, a Ballardian trek past the old and closed castellated gate to the park to enter into a sylvan wilderness, walking past the Potomac lake and its gothic folly.

Inside the park itself was also a large building site for some new leisure facilty, but past that we came across the boating lake and its temple folly and then the new cafe and the house itself. We walked around that and then waited in front for my sister and her husband before going into the museum. The renovation has really improved the building, and though the museum lacks depth in its new displays, it is worth a visit to view the spacious kitchens where two French chefs were in charge of operations. Though the Rothschilds were Jewish, the food was not generally kosher, though apparently kosher food would be produced for visits by more religiously observant visitors, which perhaps partly explains the size of the kitchens.

The first floor landing is interesting too for its display of large prints from the Autochromes produced by Leopold de Rothschild. This was the first practical colour photography process patented by the Lumiere brothers in 1903 and sold to the public from 1907. It used glass plates coated with a random mixture of minute grains of orange-red, green, and blue-violet coloured potato starch, with a light sensitive emulsion coated above them. The plates were exposed through the rice grains onto the emulsion which was then developed and reversal processed. Light shining through the coloured rice grains through which the emulsion had been exposed then recreated a coloured image.

The translucent rice grains absorbed much of the light and let through only the fraction of the appropriate colour, and much of the photographic plate was blocked by a black bitument filling the gaps between the grains, so exposures were relatively long and needed the camera on a tripod, but the examples printed around the landing demonstrate well the potential of the process. It was only in the 1930s that more modern subtractive colour processes came on to the market.

By the time we had been around the museum we were ready for lunch, though our menu in the modern park café had considerably fewer courses than those enjoyed by the Rothschild's guests. What I had was tasty but rather insubstantial, and if you visit and are hungry, I'd advise a side order of chips unless your chosen dish includes them. Had I been on my own I would have found a cheaper place to eat near Acton Town station, only a short walk (or one stop on the bus) away.

After the meal I took a walk around the rest of the park and made my way back towards Kew Bridge, finding I had just missed a train and had almost half an hour to wait. Although by now it was raining slightly I took a short walk beside the river to Brentford High St rather than sit at the station.
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Free Bobi Wine - Ugandans protest

Westminster, London. Thu 23rd Aug 2018

People drummed and shouted for Ugandan dictator Museveni to go and for Bobi Wine to be freed
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Hundreds of Ugandans, mainly dressed in red, met at the Ugandan Embassy in Trafalgar Square to say that President Museveni must go. They accuse him of being a dictator, and called for and end to the killing of opposition politicians and for the release of those imprisoned, including business man, MP and singer Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu), and an end to land grabbing.

Wine, noted for his humanitarian work and promoting practical projects to improve conditions for the poor, was elected in a by-election in April 2017. A week ago he was arrested while campaigning for a candidate in a by-election and detained on a charge of possession of fire arms.

He was tortured badly while detained and there were riots calling for his release, with police and army making arrests and shooting some protesters. There were widespread calls in Uganda and internationally calling for his release.

Charges against him were dropped, but as he struggled to walk out of court because of his torture injuries he was re-arrested, taken to another court and charged with treason. After a noisy protest outside the embassy where the protesters chanted ‘People Power, Our power, Our people and Time is now’ they marched to protest outside Downing St, and as I left were debating whether to return to the embassy to continue their protest.
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African Holocaust/Slave Trade protest

Trafalgar Square, London, UK. Sat 18 Aug 2018
Niles Hailstones begins the event, speaking and drumming in front of a Landseer lion
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The annual National Memorial event in Trafalgar Square remembers and honours the victims of the African Holocaust/Transatlantic Slave Trade and promoted International Slavery Remembrance Day, 23rd August.

Trafalgar Square stands as a living memorial to the wealth of British capitalism that paid for the naval and military power that made the British Empire possible, enabling the country to grow rich on the wealth and resources of the world. The choice of lions, a symbol of Africa, to celebrate one of its great naval victories and an admiral who made this domination possible seems now to rub salt into the wounds.

The event called for Africans to celebrate their identity and to remember their ancestors, and began with libations remembering many black heroes, including Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, some of the leaders of black revolts against slavery and those prominent in the aboliton movement, including Olaudah Equiano, buried a mile or so away in 1797.

This year's memorial in particular honoured and remembered enslaved Africans both past and present in Libya and other parts of North Africa. Speakers also talked about the discrimination in the UK education system and the event called for reparations to be made by the UK and other countries whose prosperity is largely based on a slave colonial past, and for an end to the plundering by UK and multi-national corporations of the wealth of Africa, and in particular its mineral wealth, still exploited by many London-based companies.
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Vegan and Falun Gong protests

Trafalgar Square, London, UK. Sat 18 Aug 2018

A pair of vegans chalk at Trafalgar Square - and at top left, a Falun Gong vigil is taking place
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There seemed to be just a couple of vegans taking part in a chalking protest and talking with passers by about veganism on the North Terrace in front of the National Gallery. Just past them were a small group of Falun Gong protesting about their persecution in China. Both vegans and they seem to be protesting in the square most Saturdays.
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'Stay Put' monthly #Sewol protest

Trafalgar Square, London, UK. Sat 18 Aug 2018
'Remember Sewol' - the 51st monthly silent vigil here
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A row of people stand in silence in Trafalgar Square holding posters in the 51st monthly vigil to remember the Sewol victims, mainly school children who obeyed the order to 'Stay Put' on the lower decks as the ship went down.

They continue to demand the Korean government conduct a thorough inquiry into the disaster, recover all missing victims, punish those responsible and enact special anti-disaster regulations.
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Justice for Marikana vigil

South Africa House, London. Thu 16 Aug 2018
People place flowers on the portraits of some of the murdered miners at South Africa House
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Protesters hold a vigil outside the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square on the 6th anniversary of the massacre when 34 striking miners were shot dead by South African police at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

After speeches about the event, the names of the 34 victims were read and large photographs of them put on the front of the embassy along with flowers.

Although evidence against the police was clear, 19 strikers were changed with murder and others imprisoned for other offences. There has been no compensation for the victims’ families or for the injured mineworkers. Lonmin has avoided its responsibilities for six years and is now attempting to evade them by selling the mine.

The protesters joined women’s organisation Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together) and victims’ representatives in demanding that Lonmin must fulfil their social covenant with the community, making reparations, releasing the imprisoned mineworkers, prosecuting the police who took part in the massacre and the business and political leaders who encouraged the use of violence including Cyril Ramaphosa, now President of South Africa, and was a Lonmin director. They say that as well as the killing, the company must also take responsibility for the environmental destruction in Marikana.
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Free Lula - Brazilians for Democracy & Justice

Brazilian Embassy, London. Mon 13 Aug 2018

Supporters wave flags and shout outside the Brazilian Embassy
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Brazilians protested outside the Brazilian embassy called for the release of Lula - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - former trade union leader who was President of Brazil from 2003-11 to enable him to stand for election again in October.

They say that the right-wing forces who have seized power in Brazil and are pursuing an elitist agenda have brought up highly dubious charges against both Dilma Rousseff and Lula to impeach Dilma for what was not an impeachable offence and to send Lula to prison in an attempt to prevent the Worker's Party (TP) winning in the forthcoming elections.

Lula says he intends to run for President from inside jail, and The Workers' Party officially launched Lula as its candidate last week. On August 15th Brazilian activists around the world protested as he attempted to register as a presidential candidate to express solidarity with him and the struggle for democracy and justice in Brazil.
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Against attack on Bahrain Embassy hunger striker

Bahrain Embassy, Belgrave Sq, London. Mon 13 Aug 2018

A police officer tries to persuade people they cannot protest outside the Bahrain embassy
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Hunger striker Ali Mushaima who has been outside the Bahrain Embassy in Belgrave Square since August 1st, asking for his 70-year old father in prison in Bahrain to be given urgently needed medical care, family visits (stopped 18 months ago), and access to books was attacked early on Sunday morning by staff inside the embassy, with a bucket of an unknown liquid being thrown on him from the ambassador's balcony.

His father, Hassan Mushaima and other human rights defenders and opposition leaders were abducted in March 2017, brutally tortured and given life sentences in mock trials for calling for democracy in Bahrain, and his life is now in danger.

Islamic human rights group Inminds who had protested at the Embassy on Friday came back today in solidarity with the hunger striker, and to demand the immediate release of Hassan Mushaima and all the other 5000 Bahraini prisoners of conscience languishing in the Al-Khalifa regimes jails, as well as an end to UK complicity in the Al Khalifa dictatorship and Saudi crimes against the Bahraini people. Police who failed to properly investigate the attack came to harass the protesters, telling them they could not protest on the pavement outside the embassy.

The protesters continued their protest, refusing to move and performed a rather unrehearsed street theatre police in which Theresa May sold arms to the Bahraini dictator which he used to shoot protesters, who were then chained up. Unlike in real life the International Criminal Court came to their rescue, released them and condemned the Bahraini regime for their crimes against humanity.
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Release Bangladeshi opposition leader Khaleda Zia

Downing St, London. Mon 13 Aug 2018

Bangladeshis oppostie Downing St call for thre release of the opposition leader
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A protest opposite Downing St by the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party UK called for the release of their party leader, Begum Khaleda Zia, jailed in February for five years for embezzlement of international funds donated to Zia Orphanage Trust.

The charge was first made around ten years ago, and the BNP claim is politically motivated. Her elder son Tarique Rahman was sentenced to 10 years in jail but is still in London. Khaleda Zia was the First Lady of Bangladesh during the presidency of her husband Ziaur Rahman who founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the late 1970s. She was Bangladesh's first female head of government from 1991-6 after the BNP won the country's first democratic election in 20 years, and served as prime minister later in 2001-6.

Her election victory in 1996 was widely believed to have been rigged and in an election later in the year she the BNP lost to Sheikh Hasina Wazed, leader of the Awami League. The two women rivals are the only non-interim prime ministers since 1991, and the BNP allege that the corruption charges were fabricated to prevent Zia from standing against Hasina in the elections later this year.

Some Bangladeshi friends tell me there is little to chose between the two women and their parties, and that both are corrupt and neither represetnts the interests of the people of their country.
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Justice For Marikana - 6th Anniversary Protest

City of London, London. Mon 13 Aug 2018

A woman speaks outside Majedie one of several City-based investors who profit from the Marikana mine
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Three days before the 6th anniversary of the massacre when 34 striking miners were shot dead by South African police at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, a tour of the City of London visited investors, insurers and shareholders profiting from the violence against people and nature in Marikana.

They stopped outside each of the offices where people who had researched the companies talked about their role and about the colonial roots of the huge wealth of the City of London. There were brief protests outside Majedie, Schroders, Investec, Legal & General and BASF, the major customers for Marikana's platinum.

At Marikana on 16th August 2012 the police fatally shot 34 miners on strike for better wages and living and working conditions while they were trying to disperse and hide; another 10 had been killed previously since the strike began. Despite the clear evidence against the police, 19 strikers were charged with murder, and many more remain in prison for other offences.

There has been no compensation for the victims’ families or for the injured mineworkers. The protest by the Marikana Solidarity Collective supported the demands of women’s organisation Sikhala Sonke and victims’ representatives that Lonmin must fulfil a social covenant with the community instead, including reparations, releasing the imprisoned mineworkers, prosecuting the physical and intellectual authors of the massacre, and taking responsibility for the environmental destruction in Marikana.
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Solidarity with Bookmarks

Holborn, London. Sat 11 Aug 2018
People met up outside Bookmarks to show solidarity after last week's attack by extreme right
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Several hundred people from all parts of the labour movement come to show solidarity and support the Bookmarks socialist bookshop a week after a group of Nazi thugs from 'Make Britain Great Again' invaded the shop in central London, shouting racist slogans and wrecking book displays.

The supporters met on the pavement outside the bookshop, and then walked to a nearby church where a large basement had been booked for an afternoon of speeches, book readings and poetry celebrating radical bookselling. The room was filled to overflowing, with many of those present having to stand, and many had bought books or contributed to replace damaged stock.

Among those taking part were some from Workers' Liberty who handed out a flyer expressing their solidarity with Bookmarks but pointing out that as well as this shameful invasion by a group from the far-right, there had been a similar attack last month by SWP members on their stall at Marxism today which the SWP Central Committee has failed to take action over. Apparently a few people turned up at Bookmarks to try and make trouble but were quickly chased away and I didn't see them.
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Free Shahidul Alam

Bangladesh High Commission, London. Fri 10 Aug 2018
Protesters including relatives of Shahidul pose on the steps of the Bangladesh High Commission
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Campaigners at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kensington, including a number of his relatives and several well-known photographers, called for the immediate release of Shahidul Alam, seized from his house by police on Sunday shortly after he gave an interview to Al Jazeera over Skype on the road safety protests in Bangladesh.

Arrested for making comments which criticised the government, he was badly beaten before appearing in court, where a judge ordered him to be taken to hospital, but he was taken back into custody after the hospital visit.

After a number of speeches, readings and songs from family and friends the vigil ended with a petition being read which was to be taken to the High Commission.

Alam studied and taught in London before returning to Bangladesh where he became the area's leading photographer, founding Drik and Majority Word agencies and the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka, one of the world's leading schools of photojournalism. His 2010 photo exhibition Crossfire, showing the locations of extra-judicial killings by Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion death squads, was closed down by police as was an earlier show on Tibet. This June he was selected by the US based Lucie Foundation as the 2018 recipient of their distinguished Humanitarian Award.
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Free Bahraini Human Rights activist

Bahrain Embassy, Belgrave Sq, London. Fri 10 Aug 2018

Hunger striker Ali Mushaima stands next to a banner showing his father Hassan Mushaima
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A vigil by Inminds Islamic human rights organisation outside the Bahrain embassy calls for the immediate release of Hassan Mushaima and all the other 5000 Bahraini prisoners of conscience languishing in the Al-Khalifa regimes jails.

The event, in solidarity with Ali Mushaima's hunger strike at the embassy since the start of August to save his fathers life, also demanded the British government end its complicity in the Al Khalifa dictatorship's crimes against the Bahraini people. Hassan Mushaima was one of the leaders of the 2011 mass movement that peacefully called for human rights and democratic reforms in Bahrain, which were brutally crushed by the ruling Khalifa dictatorship aided by Saudi forces, killing dozens and imprisoning thousands.

In March 2017 Hassan Mushaima and other human rights defenders and opposition leaders were abducted, brutally tortured and given life sentences in mock trials for calling for democracy in Bahrain.
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Ministry of Justice cleaners protest

Ministry of Justice, London, UK. Thu 9 Aug 2018

The protesters try to enter the foyer but were held back by security staff
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United Voices of the World cleaners and supporters celebrated the end of their 3-day strike with a rally outside the Ministry of Justice in Petty France with a lively protest despite pouring rain.

The strike was part of a coordinated action against the MoJ, Kensington & Chelsea council and hospitals and outpatient clinics in London run by Health Care America, demanding the London living wage and better conditions of employment.

The first hour or so of the rally took place in pouring rain, but this did not dampen the spirits of those taking part, who made speeches, sang and danced, and attacked a large pinata in the shape of a pig. A number of coloured smoke flares were set off.

Shadow Justice minister Richard Burgon came to give support and a message from Jeremy Corbyn, promising that a Labour government would end the outsourcing of cleaning which currently means cleaners are poorly paid with the legal minimum of sick pay, holidays etc. The cleaners want fair pay, decent conditions and to be be treated with proper dignity and respect by their managers and employers.
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Council cleaners demand a living wage

Kensington Town Hall, London. Tue 7 Aug 2018
Petros Elia interrupts a council planning meeting to put the cleaners' case for a living wage
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United Voices of the World trade union members and supporters, including several from Class War, angered by the withdrawal of a promise made earlier in the day to bring the cleaners at Kensington & Chelsea council back into direct employment interrupt a council planning committee public meeting to state the case for the cleaners to receive the London Living Wage.

The meeting was suspended, with most councillors leaving and there was a short debate where a councillor and several members of the public spoke supporting the cleaners; the protesters left after Councillor Catherine Faulks gave a promise to come with other councillors and discuss the claim with the cleaners at the picket the following morning.

The cleaners are currently taking part in a three day coordinated strike calling for a living wage from Kensington & Chelsea council, the Ministry of Justice and hospitals and outpatient clinics in London run by Health Care America. Employed by outsourced contracting companies, they also demand proper sick pay, conditions of service comparable to directly employed workers and to be treated with proper dignity and respect by their managers and employers.
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Protest murders in Colombia

Southbank & Parliament Square, London. Tue 7 Aug 2018
Protesters hold pictures of the murder victims, sunflowers and a Colombian flag
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Colombians and supporters of human rights walk with flowers, banners and Colombian flags and holding pictures of over a hundred murdered community leaders from the Southbank to Parliament Square in support of the peace process in Colombia and demanding an end to the daily threats and murders throughout the country.

A member of the Southbank Centre security staff told them they were not allowed to protest on the Embankment, which they were told is private property, despite it being open and used by the public without hindrance all the year. The protesters ignored them and kept walking, and photographers kept taking pictures. There seemed to be no good reason to stop.

The marchers continued to Westminster Bridge where they hung a large banner down with the message 'COLOMBIA SOS' before moving on the protest in Parliament Square. Flowers were placed on the pictures of the over 100 community leaders who have been murdered. One woman came to shout insults at the protest.

The International Mobilization for Life and Peace called on the new President of Colombia to put into action an urgent plan to protect social leaders and rapidly implement the peace agreement. Similar actions in the International Mobilization for Life and Peace took place today at the UN in New York, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and in Washington, Miami and several European and Latin American cities.
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Hiroshima Day

Tavistock Square, London. Sun 6 Aug 2018

The son of Millie Miller who planted the tree lays a wreath on behalf of the current mayor
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London CND held a ceremony in memory of the victims, past and present on the 73nd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, also remembering those killed and living with the effects of radiation by the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later.

The speeches included a reading in English of the statement made earlier in the day at the commemoration in Hiroshima, and an appeal by Rebecca Johnson, on of the founders of ICAN, awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in producing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, already signed by over 40 countries to put pressure on MPs and the UK government to sign up.

After a number of speeches and performances by Raised Voices peace choir and dancers flowers were laid around the commemorative cherry tree.
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Ancoats - Saturday

Sat 4 Aug

Ancoats works and Hope Mill. Pollard St
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I was sorry we didn't have time to look around more of the area of Manchester that we were staying in, and in particular to hte north and east of the Ibis Budget hotel on Pollard St. We only stayed for three nights and there were many places we wanted to revisit.

Ancoats wasn't an area I was familar with when I lived in Manchester, and I mainly saw northeast Manchester from the bus as I made my way from Rusholme to the Oldham Road, where I changed buses for Chadderton and my first teaching job, its route a little further from the centre. This remarkable journey took me past the chemical works, Bradford colliery (it closed in 1968) the wireworks and the gasworks along where the Alan Turing Way (named in 1994), now runs; these industrial sites now replaced by various sporting facilities and the route now totally unrecognisable.

There was just time on Saturday morning for a short walk around the streets near our hotel in the only direction we couldn't really see from the windows on the sixth floor, before we had to go to catch the train from Piccadilly station to take us back to London.
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Central Manchester - Friday

Fri 3 Aug 2018

The second and third floor of Waldorf House, Cooper St, a masonic building
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On Bridge St West we turned down beside the modern Civil Justice Centre and walked into the recent Spinningfields development, stil in parts a building site, turning up to the east of the Crown Court and up the Avenue to Deansgate, unfortunately half an hour too late to go into the John Rylands Library.

We were beginning to get hungry again and looking for somewhere to eat, and we took a rather indirect route to get to the town hall and then along along a part of an architectural trail (another leaflet I picked up years ago) along Princess St, up Mosley St, into Spring Gardens before returning to Princess St along Fountain St and Cooper St to eat at another of Manchester's Wetherspoons, The Waterhouse, named after the architect of the Town Hall opposite.

Restored by the meal and a glass of wine I was ready to continue on the architectural tour, which now returned a different way to Spring Gardens and King St, ending up in St Ann's Square as the light began to fade and the streets began to fill with groups of rather scantily clad young women out for a good time.

By the time we reached Market St, it was becoming quite dark, and also struck me again how little Manchester exploits this pedestrianised street at its centre in the evening. It was full of people but there was literally nowhere for them to go, just one single shop still open, selling overpriced ice cream. Piccadilly Gardens was little better, though at least people could sit and watch the changing coloured lights on the fountains.
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St Johns Quarter

Fri 3 Aug 2018

The entrance to the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal

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On the River Irwell side of the Water St opposite the Granada Studios is the entrance lock to the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, built in 1839 to let boats pass from the Irwell to the Rochdale Canal without having to pay the exorbitant tolls on the Bridgewater Canal. It was also a more convenient route from the Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal which ran into the Irwell around 130 metres downstream. It went under the studios, along by Camp St, under the Great Northern Warehouse and the site of Central Station to the Bridgewater Basin. The canal was bought by the Brdigewater Canal in 1845, and through navigation became impossible in 1875 when Central Station was built, though much of the canal still exists underground.

The lock into the Irwell was rebuilt in the 1980s and the bascule bridge built, probably both as an attractive feature in front of the Victoria and Albert Hotel. Ity has since been allowed to become derelict and overgrown.

We made our way along Quay St, Atherton St and Great John St to St John's Gardens where there is the Owens family grave and a obelisk for the founder of Owen's College, the forerunner of Manchester University. After taking a look at the fine Georgian houses of St John St we went up Byron St, noting the blue plaque to the University's famous early chemists Frankland and Roscoe (there were labs named after them when I studied there) on the side of the Owens College building.

We walked back up Quay St to the Irwell, taking the walkway alongside the river to the footbbridge and on to Bridge St.
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Oxford Road to Castlefields

Fri 3 Aug 2018

The Old Basin from the Bridgewater Viaduct
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We got off the bus (another slightly slow one) at Oxford Rd Station and walked along the back streets to a trendy art gallery close to what is now called Deansgate station, the kind of show where the most interesting thing on the walls were the 13 amp sockets.

Fortunately sanity was soon restored after we followed the signs across the "hidden footbridge" to the Saul Hay gallery, which was showing art rather more to my taste, If I lived in Manchester and still had any room on my walls there were a few pieces I might have considered buying, and at surprisingly reasonable prices.

We continued on kind of following a published but extremely vague walk around the area, meeting Castle St again where it crosses the canal. I deliberately avoided the western bridge from Catalan Square where I'd taken a rather good picture on my previous visit 15 months earlier and took the eastern link to Castlefields arena, before going on visit the Science & Industry Museum for a second time to see the hall containing a huge number of static engines and some railway exhibits including an impressively large steam engine.

Coming out we went to Potato Wharf and the Giant's Basin, before going up New Elm Road across the River Medlock to Water St, turning right to go up past the former Granada Studios site, now in process of redevelopment into ' St John's Quarter,' exected to be completed in 2022.
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Mersey Walk, Fletcher Moss

Stenner Lane, Fletcher Moss & Parsonage Gardens. Fri 3 Aug 2018

The gardens at Fletcher Moss
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I don't know why Linda wanted to walk by the Mersey, but I wasn't going to argue and have it held against me for the next 50 years like Bramhall Hall. So we caught a bus and went and did it.

Sometime quite a while ago one of us had picked up a leaflet of walks by the Mersey, perhaps when we were spending a weekend with an friend (now dead) who lived in Didsbury 20 or 30 years ago. The leaflets had maps and rather vague descriptions, and while you can't really get lost walking beside a river, we managed it, and perhaps ended up half a mile or so further along than intended.

Fortunately for once my phone still had juice in the battery and it was fairly easy to establish where we were and a possible way back, though Google Maps are not really a great deal of use unless you are in a car on a road.

The gardens at Fletcher Moss are interesting, but the cafe where we stopped for some lunch less so. I'd rather have gone to either of the two nearby pubs but was outvoted ! to 1. Afterwards we went over the road to Parsonage Gardens, where the house which I think was never (or only fleetingly) ever a parsonage was interesting but unfortunately is now closed to the public, and the ground floor was also rather restricted as a new exhibition of local artists was being hung.
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Manchester to Didsbury

Walk & Bus, Fri 3 Aug

Quantum Appartments and Ashton Canal - the towpath is on the far side
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We walked into central Manchester to catch a bus to East Didsbury where we planned to walk.

Some of the bus numbers are still the same as they were when we lived in Manchester 50 years ago, and I think this was. It was also a 'Magic Bus' but its only trick seemed to be stopping for long periods at some stops while other buses bound for our destination sailed past. The bus gave a better view of some of the same buildings as I'd photographed before from street level.
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Manchester: Canal walk

Canals, Thu 2 Aug 2018

Bridgewater Viaduct at Castlefield
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We left our hotel and took to the canal towpath nearby, intending to walk back to Castlefield and possibly eat at a pub there.

The canals to the north of Piccadilly are a little confusing, and some towpaths have either been closed or disappeared and others in part seem home to congregations of the local youth. There is a short section of the Rochdale Canal without a towpath but Canal St runs parallel to the canal instead.

We didn't like the look (or perhaps it was the menu) of the first pub we tried, the second bar looked interesting but then we found it didn't really serve real meals; another pub looked promising, offering 'home cooking' but when I went into ask I was told they only served food at lunchtimes. Finally I decided as it was Thursday, there would be a curry deal going at the Wetherspoons, and we ate their at half the price of the previous night on the curry mile. And it was a better curry, very acceptable if not that exciting - as always at 'Spoons'. Though I'm very pleased to hear that the staff who work in these pubs are joining the union and starting to take action for the better contracts and conditions they deserve.
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To Stockport & Bramhall Hall

Thu 2 Aug 2018
Bramhall Hall
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When we lived in Manchester back in the late 1960's we often used to see the bus (I htink it was a 31 or 131) going down the Oxford Road/Wilmslow Rd bound for Bramhall, which was noted largely as the site of Bramhall Hall, a fine old house. I'm not sure why, but while Linda often suggested we go to see it, I could never be bothered, so we left Manchester after three years of marriage without ever having visited it.

Over the years Linda has often complained that I never took her to Bramhall Hall, and so here I was, many years later, sitting with her on the top of a double-decker en route for Stockport, as there no longer seems to be a bus direct to Bramhall from central Manchester. We changed buses in Stockport, and chose the wrong route, as although the bus did eventually take us to Bramhall Green, the nearest bus stop to Bramhall Hall, we had to sit on it while it toured two rather extensive estates to the east and west of the direct route.

Eventually we did get to see Bramhall Hall, and found that I had been right to wait, as it has been extensively restored in recent years, with a great deal of the interiors restored. In the Solar in particular, removing the wall panelling revealed a huge area of fascinating medieval painting. Since it has a web site, for once I won't go into great length - just say it is well 'worth a detour' to visit, and thanks to being owned by Stockport Council rather than the NT or English Heritage a bargain (though I realised too late I could have got in free with my Art Fund card.) I wasn't too upset as it seemed such good value anyway.

After the visit we walked a little around the grounds and had tea and an over-priced Italian beer as well as ice-creams in a shady part of the gardens - it was a really hot day - before walking back to catch the two buses to take us into the centre of Manchester.
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Manchester: Science & Industry Museum

Liverpool Rd. Thu 2 Aug 2018
The platform for the first passernger railway station in the world
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The world's first passenger railway station – Manchester Liverpool Road – opened as part of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in September 1830. It closed in 1975 and was bought for £1 by Greater Manchester Council. The museum first opened on the site in 1978, but has grown considerably andchanged its name several times.

Now part of the Science Museum there are some remarkable objects on display, but we had mainly come to see the replica of the world's first stored program computer. Despite some other claims (particularly in American books) Manchester University was the place were modern computing began. We managed to walk straight past the area where it was on special display, and made our way first to look at the yard and the railway station which was actually rather more interesting to view, before returning to the museum entrance to ask and find out we were moreor less next to the 'Baby', which was being manned by a small group of computer experts. Linda made the mistake of asking a question and was given a 15 minute talk for her pains.

We didn't have enough time to go around the whole museum, and vowed to return to see more on a later day before walking back to the city centre to catch a bus.
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Manchester: City Centre - Thursday

New Islington, Whitworth St, Castlefield. Thu 2 Aug 2018
An apple in the hand of Alan Turing at his memorial sculpture
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After breakfast we walked to the memorial to Alan Turing and then onwards along Whitworth St to Deansgate and Liverpool Rd to visit the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology. Our route took us past Piccadilly Village, Manchester's tallest building Beetham Tower and a number of interesting late Victorian buildings.
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Manchester: Oxford Road

University, Rusholme, Fallowfield, Manchester. Wed 1 Aug 2018
University of Manchester - I think Main Building looked better when it was dirty
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Then we walked on to Oxford Road, following it down to the main university buildings where I'd sat in rather boring Physics lectures in a lab with a small plaque with the message 'Rutherford first split the atom here' and on to the the building where Linda had studied.

Parts of the university were still recognisable, but there is so much new, and even the old parts look differerent - except for the Students Union. I think I preferred them blackened with soot, particularly main building and Holy Name; gothic really needs to be subuded not to be far too fussy.

We carried on down Oxford Rd, past the hospital, and through the 'curry mile' (it isn't) of Rusholme, before going down Platt Lane and then turning off to see the house we spent the first few years of our married life in. The house looked in good condition, but the area seemed a little run down.

Back on Oxford Road we continued south, past Owens Park, where I'd lived a year in the tower, and Linda had spent two years and on to just past WIlbraham Rd, where we caught a bus back to the 'curry mile' and rather at random picked a restuarant. It wasn't a good choice, one of the least good Indian meals I remember, and the following day I was rather unwell.
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Manchester: City Centre

Manchester. Wed 1 Aug 2018

The view from our hotel window on the 6th floor
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Our hotel was basic (and 'budget') but did have a good view from window, and we were on the sixth floor overlooking the Ashton Canal - with the short New Islington Branch going under the bridge in the centre of the picture. And less than 10 minutes walk from Manchester Piccadilly where the train terminated.

After booking in we went for a long walk, past where I worked as a research student at what was then UMIST - very much a part of Harold WIlson's 'white heat of technology- - I often shared a large and slow goods llift with Lord Bowden, until a year earlier Wilson's Minister for Education and Science when I went into work. We moved out after a year into a shiny new building down the road, fortunately with a much faster lift as I was on a floor high up inside.
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Hornsea, Flambororough & Beverley

31 Jul-1 Aug 2018

There were seals further out towards the head but I could not get close to them
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We spent a couple of nights in Hornsea with some of our family booked into a nearby hotel, and went with them on a trip to Flamborough.

Some of our party clambered out on the rocks to the end of the head and found a group of seals there. But you had to wade through the water to get there and I was too far away to take sensible pictures of them.

We left Hornsea and chose to take the bus via Beverley to Hull where we had a train to catch for Manchester. I took a few pictures of Beverley from the bus.
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London Images

August 2018

A 'selfie' in Central London
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Quite a mixture of pictures taken as I sat in trains and buses or walked around the streets between protests - and a couple of images of protests that didn't seem worth covering. And my reflection in the back of a car with a very clean rear window.

Sometimes the glass is cleaner than others, or I can poke the lens out of an open window - rather more rarely than it used to be. And occasionally there are annoying reflections I've not been able to avoid, though it might be possible to Photoshop them away. I've not tried that with the image of me in the picture above.
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