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Matlock & Matlock Bath

Matlock Derbyshire. Mon 30 Dec 2019
Matlock Bath from High Tor
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On Sunday we took the train to visit my elder son and family in Milton Keynes and then were driven up to Matlock by my younger son with his family to stay a couple of nights with them there.

Most of the pictures come from a walk with them and some friends on Monday over High Tor to Matlock Bath for lunch and a visit to the mining museum.

The path around the face of High Tor was described by one sensationalist article in a tabloid newspaper as the "most dangerous footpath in England" but in fact is rather safe, even having a handrail to hold as it narrows around the cliff face. There is a one way system which most walkers adhere to on this short section as passing people could be a little tricky. But there are many more dangerous paths than this, which is safer than most cliff walks.

It is quite a scenic walk, though walking south into a low winter sun made taking photographs a little tricky at times.

The Fishpond pub as its name suggests has a fishpond with some very large and colourful fish, as well as serving decent pub grub and for someone used to London prices it seemed very reasonable.

After the meal we crossed the road to the Peak District Mining Museum, though unfortunately we couldn't stay long enough to make the most of it. This is the kind of museum I like, crowded with interesting stuff and not like too many reduced to a tourist experience, though it does have some ladders and dark tunnels which kids enjoy, though they are sized more for small fit miners rather than larger adults. But they are not obligatory though I did make my way through one of the two.

While most of the party opted to take the train back to Matlock, we climbed the other side of the valley to make our way along footpaths to Matlock. The climb out of Matlock Bath was steep and exhausting, but once we had reached the top it was fairly easy going, with more great views at times of the Derwent valley as the light was beginning to fade.
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Wimbledon to Richmond walk

Wimbledon to Richmond, London. Sat 28 Dec 2019

Trees in Richmond Park
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The Christmas card from the father of my younger son's wife included an invitation to go on a walk he was arranging for a small group of Quakers on the Saturday after Christmas.

We weren't sure if we would be able to make it as we had things to do before going away the following day, but on the morning we decided it would be good to go as long as we left before the lunch they were planning at the cafe in Richmond Park.

So we got the train and met them at Wimbledon station. It was good weather for a walk, though rather dull, and it kept dry, though some of the paths were very wet and muddy from the heavy rain which we had so much of earlier in the month. We walked up the hill from the station to Wimbledon Common and then walked roughly west through along mainly wooded paths to Beverley Brook and then across the Kingston bypass and into Richmond Park.

We'd walked along parts of the walk in Wimbledon Common before, but starting from the north of the common, which is perhaps a more interesting route (and it's more convenient for us to start from Putney.) Richmond Park is rather more familiar - and I often cycled around it as a kid, but still a good place to walk and very popular. We left the group soon after the Pen Ponds and walked directly to the Richmond Gate, then down the hill and through the town to the station to catch a train for a slightly late lunch at home.
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Staines to Runnymede walk

Staines & Runnymede, Surrey. Thu 26 Dec 2019

This year our Boxing Day walk ended at the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds
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For some years we have walked to Old Windsor from Staines for lunch on Boxing Day to meet up with my sister and other family members.

We have sometimes varied the route, but mostly we just walk along beside the Thames, joining it a few minutes from our home and crossing the river where the towpath crosses to the south bank over Staines Bridge. It's the shortest route and avoids any hills.

This year we set off along the towpath as usual, but it came on to rain heavily as we approached the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds, so we went into the cafe for coffee hoping the rain might stop. It didn't and came on even harder and eventually we were given a lift by car to an oversize Boxing Day lunch at the Bells of Ouzeley. I went outside to wait for the car to arrive while Linda stayed inside the cafe.
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40th UN International Migrants Day

Home Office, London. Wed 18 Dec 2019

Protesters hold the Permanent People's Tribunal banner at the protest in front of the Home Office
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The Permanent People's Tribunal organised a protest at the Home Office to support migrants on the 40th UN International Migrants Day.

They were joined by people from other organisations including Liberty, Last Rights, Labour Campaign for Free Movement, Unite Hotel Workers and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants to call for an end to the hostile environment and to support human and civil rights for migrants and immigrant communities.

Also protesting with them were a group who had come together to remember the 39 Vietnamese migrants who died in a lorry in Essex in October and had brought a long banner with the message 'Borders Kill: Remember the Essex 39'. They had earlier dropped the banner over the side of Westminster Bridge before coming to join this protest and putting it up on the wall outside the Home Office.

Security staff came from the Home Office to talk with the protesters, and persuaded them to move to the outer half of the pavement away from the Home Office for the protest. It was the first time that I had seen any protesters here move off from the area of pavement which is apparently Home Office property.

By taking the banner from the wall, where it had been held down by potatoes they could hold it facing the building so it could be seen by the workers inside, who doubtless could also hear the speeches by Don Flynn of Permanent People's Tribunal, lawyer Syd Bolton of Last Rights, Alina Ivanova from Labour Campaign for free movement, Muslim LGBT activist Ejel Khan, Dave Turnbull of Unite Hotel Workers and Sally Baker, a waitress member, Bill MacKeith from the successful Campaign to Close Campsfield, Gracie Bradley, Policy and Campaigns Manager of human rights organisation Liberty and others including migrant workers and their representatives.
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Earth Strike South London

Brixton, London. Sat 14 Dec 2019

Barclay's staff tells Earth Strike they cannot protest here as they speak to customers and hand out flyers
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Earth Strike South London, a small group of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialists against environmental destruction held their first protest in Brixton.

They handed out fliers and spoke on the corner of Brixton Road and Coldharbour Lane before marching along the Brixton Road to protest at some of the shops which are most involved in the climate crisis. They went inside Barclays Bank who are still investing heavily in fossil fuels and are major backers of fracking in the UK and then moved on to protest outside a number of shops on Brixton Rd, one of the busiest shopping streets in the capital.

They protested outside shops representing the 100 companies responsible for more than 70% of emissions since 1988, including mobile phone shops EE and Vodaphone, pointing out that the wars in central Africa are largely about the coltan and other minerals needed for these and other electronic devices, and that the mining companies are huge exploiters of African labour and evade taxes on a huge scale. Outside H&M they pointed out that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of all producing 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year and that textile production is responsible for 20% of all water pollution. A brief pause at Boots pointed out their failure to pay their taxes and the huge profits the company makes from the NHS, who are said to have charged charged £1500 for pots of cream they sell for £2, as well as selling palm oil products grown on land cleared from ancient forests, disrupting ecosystems and resulting in the loss of species including orangutans. Outside Sainsbury's they stopped to remind customers that the company sells beef from ranches on what was the Amazon forest, destroying the lands of the indigenous people for short-term profit.

I left the group as they held a short protest outside Brixton police station, notorious for its racist policing and for the deaths of young black men including Ricky Bishop and Sean Rigg. They were about to return to visit shops on the west side of Brixton Road and then to a rally in Windrush Square.
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'6000 Sardines' London protest

Parliament Square, London. Sat 14 Dec 2019
Two women were holding rubber sardines but many more had pictures of them
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Hundreds of Italians came to Parliament Square to show their support for '6000 sardines', the spontaneous pacifist and antifascist citizen movement in Italy.

It began in Bologna in November in protest against the far-right leader Matteo Salvini and his League party hoping to cut their vote in January's elections in Emilia-Romagna and defend migrants. Many more than expected turned up to the rally and the square where it was held was 'packed like sardines'. Since then it has spread across Italy and to Italians living in other countries, and today was Global Sardine Day, with similar rallies across Europe and in the USA as well as in many towns and cities in Italy.

The speeches while I was there taking pictures were all in Italian, and I could understand very little, but it was clear both from these and from some of the posters that there was considerable support for migrants and for the free movement of people across national borders, both within Europe and for those coming from Africa and the Middle East to Europe, often by perilous journeys across the Mediterranean or Aegean Seas.
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Santas BMX Life Charity Ride

London. Sat 14 Dec 2019

One rider had ignored the dress code, though he was wearing a Christmas jumper
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Hundreds of BMX riders from BMX Life and House of Vans London dressed as Santas (with a few elves) meet in the graffiti tunnel at Leake St for Santa Cruise 6, the 6th annual ride to raise funds for Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation.

From Leake St they moved off to Forum Magnum Square where some santas demonstrated their riding skills before the group left to ride around London.
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Bikes against Bulldozers Heathrow lie-in

Heathrow, London. Sun 8 Dec 2019

Police push protesters out of the outside lane to stop them blocking the A4 at Heathrow
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Extinction Rebellion supporters cycled from Central London and held a lie-in in front of a bulldozer at Heathrow.

The protest echoed Boris Johnson's promise he would lie down with John McDonnell "in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway".

Extinction Rebellion brought the bulldozer, but Boris didn't turn up. Police stopped the protesters going to the Heathrow roundabout where there is a large plane advertising and airline and instead the protest blocked one lane of the A4 above the access road to the airport. Police prevented them from blocking the whole west-bound carriageway and the lie-in took place with traffic moving past the lie-in on the outside lane.

Among the speakers was local resident Christine Taylor who has been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for over 20 years. Although, unlike Boris Johnson, John McDonnell remains implacably opposed to airport expansion and had also been invited to the event, he was presumably too busy with the forthcoming election to attend.
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Three Men and a Dog Wedding

Westminster, London. Sat 7 Dec 2019
After the wedding everyone marched to protest at Downing St
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'Bum Boys Against Boris', taking their name from a homophobic speech by Boris Johnson, held a wedding between three men and a dog outside Tory HQ before marching to protest at Downing St.

Boris Johnson had written about gay marriage saying: "If gay marriage was OK then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men and a dog." LGBT+ campaigners in protest against this and his other homophobic, racist, ableist and sexist remarks held just such a wedding in front of the Tory HQ in Matthew Parker St before marching to a rally outside Downing St.
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DPAC 'Bye Bye Boris' Uxbridge trial

Uxbridge, Middlesex. Fri 6 Dec 2019

Paula Peters is the judge for a trial that found Boris Johnson and the Tories guilty
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A street theatre trial by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in central Uxbridge called on voters to reject Boris Johnson and the Tories.

DPAC point to the estimated 200,000 early deaths caused by cuts and sanctions including the removal of the Independent Living Fund, to Universal Credit which has led to a huge rise in foodbank use, child hunger, debt and evictions and a UN report of "grave and systematic violations" of disabled people's rights.

They set up a 'court' with Paula Peters as judge and a succession of people gave testimony against the Tory government for their victimisation of people with disabilities, with some locals passing by taking advantage of the open mike to give their opinion of Boris Johnson and the Tory part.
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Trump/ NATO march to Buckingham Palace

London. Tue 3 Dec 2019

People were held up yet again by police on the Mall
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After a rally in Trafalgar Square over a thousand people marched down the Mall to protest outside the NATO leaders dinner in Buckingham Palace.

Despite the march having been agreed by the police in advance it was stopped several times by police and barriers and held up for half an hour for a single taxi to leave, collect someone and return to the Mall.

Eventually the protesters were allowed to join those already opposite the palace in front of the Canada Gate where a loud protest continued.
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No to Trump, No to NATO rally

Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 3 Dec 2019

A woman holds a Trump lavatory brush and toilet roll
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A large crowd listen to speeches in Trafalgar Square protesting against Trump's visit to the UK and NATO.

Among them were those defending the NHS against privatisation and opening up to US medical companies and high-priced drugs, Kurds protesting against Erdogan invasion of Kurdish areas of Syria, protesters against Trumps support of Israel against the Palestinians and against his promotion and support for the coup against the democratically elected government of Bolivia and the attacks on the indigenous population.
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London Images

December 2019

Cranes surround the former Battersea Power Station in what must be Britain's largest building site
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Pictures as usual from Nine Elms and Vauxhall, but also from Wandsworth, the Strand, Kennington and around Staines.
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