Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2012

Brompton Cemetery, Kensington and Chelsea, London

In a busy, sprawling metropolis like London, people are always trying to find a little something somewhere to hide away from the world, often just for a few minutes of quiet. One such place that I chanced upon recently is Brompton Cemetery in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, west London.
The cemetery was consecrated in 1840 by the Bishop of London and features long Italianate colonnades, a chapel, bell tower and catacombs, all to recreate the feel of an open-air cathedral. Indeed, when viewed from above on a satellite map, the outline of the shape is clear to see.
To the sides of the main colonnades run two paths. Walking along one of these smaller paths, the sense of seclusion from life in the capital is profound. From in-between the headstones and monuments grows an abundance of vibrant green bracken and other foliage, making the path seem isolated, even from the other pathways inside the cemetery.
In addition to being an escape from the noise of city life, the cemetery…

On The Beach by Nevil Shute

Those who know me well will know that I seldom act on book recommendations made by family or friends and that I often judge a book by a cover. Luckily, when my mother recommended On The Beach by Nevil Shute, after I had told her that I’d recently read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, I found the book reissued with a great cover.
Published in 1957, On The Beach tells the story of a small group of people in Australia in the post-Apocalyptic world of 1963. World War III has been and gone with territories in the northern hemisphere having destroyed each other with hydrogen and cobalt bombs. Those who had survived the direct attacks were then  eventually wiped-out by the slow movement southwards of the radioactive fallout cloud.
The novel mainly centres on the lives of five individuals. Peter Holmes lives with his wife Mary and their baby Jessica. Peter works for the Australian Navy and despite their lack of functioning ships, is called back to work to act as a liaison officer on the America…

London Pleasure Gardens, Pontoon Dock

Since July of this year I have been experiencing something of a renaissance in relation to my opinion of London. A couple of well-timed documentaries focussing on elements of London's social and architectural history have really caught my attention and have already inspired me to go off in search of some of the hidden gems I knew little about before. My recent move to Walthamstow in east London is likely to encourage this trend.
On Saturday 21st July 2012, I headed out east to a place called Pontoon Dock for the BT River of Music Africa Stage. The weather was great with sun beating down from the direction of the City. The music was of course fantastic and featured Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masakela and Baaba Maal.
Shortly after Angelique Kidjo's set, I took a wander around the grounds of the short-lived London Pleasure Gardens where the concert was being hosted. The sun was still very warm, but had mellowed in brightness and was reflecting beautifully off the still water of the f…

The Bakiga Window Vol. II: A Sanctuary in a Storm

I think that it is an oft-repeated mistake by bazungu to consider a canvas the scale of Africa, let alone East Africa, as being coloured by sweeping, broad brushstrokes. The result of such an error is that you can so easily miss the hidden nuances that exist below the bold primary colours.
It is Saturday 31st March 2012 and I have paused for a moment by a cascade of orange flowers in the gardens of the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. The air is warm and heavy and just how I like it.
From early this morning it has rained incessantly and has served as a timely baptism for this year’s group of students, dispelling the myths about the African continent being one big dust bowl early on. Just before we departed for the memorial centre, the sight of them huddled around in their waterproof coats, carrying faces filled with shock, was priceless.
Our arrival at the Memorial Centre provides the group with the opportunity to disperse and to learn about the events of April 1994 and th…

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

As has become a tradition over the last three summers, I always read at least one James Bond novel during the summer break from work. This summer was no exception. With the beach at Villefranche-sur-Mer as my deckchair and yachts floating on the Mediterranean Sea as my backdrop, I started the fourth novel in the series,Diamonds Are Forever (1956).
The story begins in the nighttime darkness of rural French Guinea, ten miles north of Liberia, and 5 miles from the border with Sierra Leone, and hints very early on that this story is going to be one that carries Bond across vast distances. Out of the night sky comes a helicopter, landing on a makeshift helipad to facilitate the exchange of a few precious rocks.
Back in London, Bond has been tasked by M, after a tip-off from Special Branch, to explore a diamond smuggling ‘pipeline’ that is taking Sierra Leonean diamonds to America, by way of Europe. Central to his mission is the necessity to discover the identity of who is at the top of th…