Westfield London – Friday 9th December 2022

Having arrived in Ealing for a couple of nights, we immediately hopped on a tube and headed into central London.   We planned to visit Westfield Shopping Centre on our way back, but first we did a bit of sightseeing.  After a few hours walking, with a pitstop at the new Brewdog at Waterloo station (it has a slide!), we headed west and got to Westfield, which is near Shepherd’s Bush, at about 2.30pm, but we took ages to find the Waterstones, as the centre is vast! It was pretty busy too, so I don’t think we’ll be heading back any time soon (we don’t go to London to go shopping), but the Waterstones was a nice one.

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London Westfield map

Being in a huge shopping centre, there wasn’t anything other than shops to look at, so I’ll share a few (quite a lot, actually) shots of the rest of our day!

First, we visited the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station.   This was unveiled in June ’22 and is by sculptor Basil Watson.  The accompanying poem is an excerpt from You Called … and We Came by Laura Serrant, a nurse and poet.  You can read the rest of the poem here.

London Westfield

After that we went to see if we could go inside St Paul’s Church in Lorrimore Square, as we wanted to see the beautiful stained glass, but sadly the church was locked. The older church which originally stood here was destroyed during the Second World War.  This replacement is of modernist design built from reinforced concrete.  It’s not a style that’s to everyone’s taste, but I like it. We’d like to go back and look inside someday – if we can find it open!

Then to The Dog and Pot Sculpture. At the age of about 12, Charles Dickens used to walk past a statue of a dog and pot which hung outside a shop, and he later mentioned it in his autobiography.  This new statue was unveiled on 6th February 2013, the end of the year celebrating the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth.  The old statue still exists.  It was in the Southwark Museum, but I’m not sure if it’s still displayed there.

Below, clockwise from top left. [1] An old entrance to Blackfriars Station, which used to be part of the Charing Cross Railway Company. [2] Roupell Street – near Waterloo Station, this is a conservation area and is pretty much unchanged since the workers’ houses were built in the early 19th Century.  [3] Leake Street Arches – an authorised graffiti tunnel hidden near Waterloo Station. [4, 5 and 6] back in Ealing!

Barnet – Thursday 8th December 2022

Barnet (officially High Barnet or Chipping Barnet) is a market town in North London, at the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line.  The cockney rhyming slang for ‘hair’ comes from Barnet (Fair)!  Famous people born in Barnet include cricketer Phil ‘The Cat’ Tufnell, actress Stephanie Beecham, musician Mike Skinner (The Streets) and presenter Mark Kermode.  The Waterstones is located in a modern shopping centre in the Spire shopping centre just off the High Street. 

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Barnet map

The Tudor Hall (pictured below) was part of the Queen Elizabeth Free Grammar school and was used as a classroom until 1932, when the school relocated.  The building became a meeting room for the Jesus Hospital Charity until 1958 when it passed to Hertfordshire Council and became part of Barnet College.  These days it’s used for weddings and other celebrations.

Barnet has a small museum which looks very interesting on their website, but unfortunately it was closed when we were there, which was a shame, as we’d have liked to visit.

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Watford – Thursday 8th December 2022

Once a small market town, Watford grew with the arrival firstly of the Grand Junction Canal and later, the railway.  The biggest industry was printing, which started in the town when John Peacock opened a printworks in the 1820s.  The industry remained a feature of the town until its decline in the late 20th century.  The Waterstones is located in a modern building in the High Street.

Watford map

Photos below, clockwise from top left.  [1] The Watford Hornet.  [2] The Moon Under Water. [3&4] St Mary’s churchyard and church.

Watford Football Club changed their kit to black and yellow in the 1959-60 season and became known as The Hornets after a vote by supporters.  This statue by Heath Burrell is a tribute to the club (I actually thought it was a bee until I Googled it!).

The Moon Under Water pub is named after an essay by George Orwell, and the pub sign features his picture.  I did look to see if there was a connection between Orwell, who is a favourite author of mine, but I haven’t found one, but apparently, according to Wikipedia, there are currently 13 Wetherspoon pubs with this name!

St Mary’s churchyard has been renovated to provide a quiet, open space for use by anyone, and includes benches and a sensory garden. 

Enfield Crown Road – Wednesday 7th December 2022

After leaving the town centre we headed to Enfield Retail Park, where, in 2021, Waterstones opened a branch inside the Next store. This is one of a few shops that the company have opened inside branches of Next. It is located on the first floor and, being open plan, is light, bright and spacious.  It being an out-of-town shopping centre, there wasn’t anything else to photograph, so this is a short entry!

Enfield Retail Park map

Currently reading: Alison Uttley Stories for Christmas: Chosen by Kathleen Lines

Enfield Church Street – Wednesday 7th December 2022

We had a week off work in December, with a couple of nights booked in Ealing at the end of it, so we decided to tag a few extra days on and head to North London to visit some Waterstones.  Our first stop was in Enfield, which is a market town that is famous for being the location of the world’s first cash machine which was installed in June 1967!   According to Wikipedia (the fount (or font if you’re reading in the US) of all knowledge!) the name Enfield probably derives from the old English word Ēanafeld, but an Enfield is also a fictitious heraldic creature which had a fox’s head, front legs resembling an eagle’s talons, a greyhound’s chest, the tail end of a wolf and a lion’s body – there is a statue of this outside Civic Centre. The Waterstones is housed in a lovely red-bricked building, but sadly I haven’t been able to find any history of it.

Enfield map

The World’s First ATM

Silver Street White House

This was the home of Joseph Whitaker, who compiled and published Whitaker’s Almanack.  The Almanack was published from 1868 to 2021, when the company who currently produce it announced that it had been put indefinitely on hold due to falling sales as a result of Covid.

The Beast of Enfield

Salisbury – Saturday 12th November 2022

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire.  Said cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258 and has the highest church spire in the UK, standing at 123m (404 feet).  It also boasts the largest cloister and cathedral close in Britain, and holds one of the four remaining Magna Cartas!  The author Sir William Golding whose book Lord of the Flies is probably his best-known work, was a teacher at a school in the city, and his novel The Spire is thought to be based on the cathedral.  Salisbury is very picturesque and one of our favourite cities within driving distance.  The Waterstones is located in a large attractive building which was an  Assembly Room between 1802 and 1960.  It became a W H Smith (as evidenced by the weather vane on the clocktower atop the building, pictured below). Ottaker’s book shop moved into the building in 1989 and were eventually taken over by Waterstones.

Salisbury map

Salisbury Cathedral

Below – clockwise from top left

[1] Former Conservative Prime Minister Edward ‘Ted’ Heath’s house and [2] the plaque outside. [3] Blue Plaque to Sir William Golding, and [4] Bishop Wordsworth’s School, where he taught.

Below – left to right

[1] Blue Plaque to Dr Andrew Bogle Middleton, credited with eliminating Cholera from the city. [2] Harnham Bridge, one of three medieval bridges in the city. [3] High Street Gate – this is the main entry to cathedral close.  It’s locked every night between 11pm and 6am the following morning.

The photo of the WHS Weather Vane above (far right) is used under the creative commons licence, and was originally taken by Chris Downer.  I have resized it slightly.  Photo © Chris Downer (cc-by-sa/2.0

Warrington – Saturday 17th September 2022

Warrington in Cheshire stands close to the River Mersey, and one of its claims to fame is that it was the first place in the UK to have an Ikea store!  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who, as Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, was born nearby and the town is rightly proud of its association.  In Old Market Place there is a large sculpture of the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party by sculptor Edwin Russell, and the Waterstones, which is housed in a modern shopping centre has an Alice in Wonderland mural.

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Old Fish Market

The old Fish Market was restored and moved to a new home in Old Market Place where it is used for various performances, and has a huge screen which shows sporting events. On the day we visited a choir performance was taking place.

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Belfast – Tuesday 13th September 2022

We had a few days in Belfast, going across from Cairnryan in Scotland as foot passengers on the ferry.  Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, and neither of us had been before so were looking forward to exploring.  We LOVED it – the people are so friendly and there is loads to do, but as we only had three nights we just scratched the surface.   We took advantage of a reasonably priced day-ticket and used the buses a lot to get round.  The Waterstones is located on Fountain Street, which is one of the main shopping streets in the city, and which underwent restoration in 2019.  We definitely want to go back to Belfast as there is so much more to see.

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Titanic Belfast

The Titanic Belfast is situated on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard which built the ship.  It opened in March 2012, a few weeks before the centenary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, which killed more than 1500 people.  The museum includes many interactive exhibits and even a ride! It really is an excellent museum and we spent ages here, reading the history and soaking in the atmosphere.  After leaving we popped over to the Titanic Hotel for a drink, in the bar, which is in the drawing offices of the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff.

The Titanic Hotel and Drawing Room Bar

Shanklin Road, Falls Road and The Peace Wall

As Queen Elizabeth II had died shortly before our visit, we decided to head to the Shanklin Road to look at a mural painted for her platinum jubilee.  The site was covered with flowers left by people wishing to pay their respects.  From there we walked to the Peace Wall in Cupar Way. This is one of the many Peace Walls (also called Peace Lines) to exist in the city, which were built to segregate areas during The Troubles.  These are due to be removed by 2023.  From here we walked to the Falls Road to look at the Bobby Sands mural.  There are several museums to The Troubles, looking at it from both sides, which we didn’t have time to visit, but would like to on a future trip.

Belfast City Hall

This is another place we wanted to visit, as normally the building is open for people to explore, but due to the Queen’s death the tours were suspended.  We were able to go to the café, so we did see to get a little of this beautiful building, which took eight years to complete and opened in 1906. The stained-glass windows we saw are gorgeous (there are many listed on the Belfast City Government website, but obviously we didn’t get to see them all).  The one included below is located in the north east corridor, and shows the Famine, but actually commemorates the people who died due to Typhus and Cholera between 1846 and 1848.



C S Lewis Square

Author C S Lewis, probably best known for the Narnia series of books, was born in Belfast in 1898, and there is a square dedicated to him in East Belfast. The photos below of sculptures by Irish artist Maurice Harron are, clockwise from top left are Aslan, Mr and Mrs Beaver, Maugrim, The White Witch and Mr Tumnus.

Below, clockwise from top left: 1. and 2. The Dark Horse and their mural courtyard. 3. Harland & Wolff’s cranes ‘Samson’ and ‘Goliath’. 4. and 5. St George’s Market.

Currently reading:  The Infirmary by L J Ross

London Kensington High Street – Tuesday 6th September 2022

I met my good friend Helen in London for the day and, as we usually do, we spent the day walking and talking!  We walked through St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (stopping for coffee on the way!) finishing in Kensington High Street.  The Waterstones is only a minute away from Kensington High Street tube station, and the building that houses it is (if you look up) a rather attractive red-bricked building called Hornton Court, which was built in the 1920s. 

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Below, clockwise from top left: 1. Buckingham Palace from Green Park. 2. The London Eye from Green Park. 3. The Blue Bridge, Green Park .  4. Buckingham Palace. 5. Household Cavalry Mounted Division (possibly the Blues & Royals) in The Mall.

Currently reading:  Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Macclesfield – Friday 8th July 2022

Macclesfield is a small and hilly market town in Cheshire. Once famous for its silk production, there is a museum to the silk trade in the town centre which charts the rise and fall of the industry.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit, which is a shame as it looks very interesting.  We stopped for a quick late bite to eat before heading off to Shropshire where we were staying that night.  The Waterstones is in a modern building in the main shopping area at the top of the town.

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Macclesfield map

The photos below are (clockwise from top left): 1. Looking down Church Street. 2. Macclesfield Town Hall. 3. Chapel Mill (built as a chapel in 1880 and converted to a mill in 1946 – now an interior solutions business).  4. St Michael’s Church, viewed from Church Street*

After leaving Macclesfield we drove through Congleton, where I spotted a statue of a dog from the car, so we pulled up to take a look.  It’s of Treo, who served in Afghanistan. She ended her days in the town with her former handler when the pair left the army – she was awarded the Dickins Medal – the animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross.  Although not Macclesfield, I thought I’d share it anyway.

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Currently reading:  The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

*The photograph looking towards St Michael’s church was taken by Daniel Case and is used with permission under the GNU Free Documentation License – click here to see original image.