Get Your Kicks In Stepney

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach. WARNING: This post contains no scientific content of any kind, just a story of our travels. 

So we made it to London, a place that up ’til now I’ve only known through family stories, and books and song lyrics, viz:

Your old man took her diamonds and tiaras by the score

Now she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge any more.

The Rolling Stones

So it’s great fun to actually see some of the places I’d only heard of. We’re staying in New Cross, south of Stepney. It’s great, kind of a low-budget district, lots of Africans live here so it feels down home. Today, we walked to the London downtown area along the Thames, here’s a 180° panorama I took looking both ways along the river.IMG_1145

(Click any photo to embiggen.)

It was kind of sad to see the river, thought, because what in my mind was still a huge artery of global commerce with wharves on both sides now has very little traffic, and that mostly tour boats. My great-grandfather sailed the world from England, so the Thames was his main highway, filled with adventurers, freebooters, slavers, whalers, scurve-dogs, freighters, pirates, and both high- and low-budget swabbies of all kinds … all gone now, but it’s still a lovely river.

From there, we walked along the river to the Tower Bridge:

IMG_1148Dang … if that kind of crazy skyline doesn’t inspire a man, nothing will. We crossed the river, and walked around the Tower of London, which isn’t a tower at all, false advertising if you ask me. From there, we wandered over to see Big Ben. Now that sucker should be called the Tower of London by my lights, I hadn’t realized it was so … well, in a word, “big” …

IMG_1151

Then on to the Westminster Cathedral, home of the royal nuptials, lovely stone filigree, stained glass, and such.

IMG_1154From there we went and spent an absolutely delightful afternoon at the British Museum, looking at, well, everything that British explorers managed to plunder over the last five centuries or so, which adds up to a big pile of impressive loot. It was one of the most well-organized and pleasant museums I’ve been in.

Now, I like to ask people what surprised them the most about their travels. Some years ago a friend of mine from the Solomon Islands went to London for the first time. When she got back, I asked what had surprised her the most … she said “They have white people sweeping the streets!”

In any case, for me, the surprises so far have been:

1. The juxtaposition of the old and the new. Along the riverside, I saw new concrete poured around exposed stonework that was likely there 400 years ago.

2. Raw antiquity. The publican said “this is a fairly new pub, built in the late 1700’s” … the oldest building in Sonoma County (where I live in California) is from about 1870, and because of that it’s a state historical monument. Here, it would be considered a new building.

3. People of unexpected colors and appearances speaking English, not with the accent of their home countries, but with a broad British accent.

4. The British Museum actually thinks that there were people who were native to the Americas, they call them “Native Americans”. I guess the Brits didn’t get the news … as far as anyone knows, not a one of them is native to the Americas, they were all early Asian immigrants.

5. The Brits do love their bricks. Yellow brick, red brick, brown and black bricks, if the anti-neutron bomb made every brick in London vanish, there wouldn’t be one building left.

6. The occasional need for an “English-to-English” translation app for my iPhone … as GBS remarked, two countries separated by a common language.

7. According to the statuary in the British Museum, most of the Romans had tertiary syphilis that destroyed their noses, as you can see in this photo I took today:

IMG_1157So that’s the new news from the Old Countries including Rome …

Tomorrow I have to good fortune of a lunch meeting with Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. We’re here in London through Thursday, then off to Stonhenge, then Bath, then ???.

The other good news is that I got a  UK sim card for my phone, so for the duration of our UK travels you can reach me at 074 4838 1774.

My best to all, thanks for everyone’s comments, keep the travel suggestions coming.

w.

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MikeB

WARNING: This post contains no scientific content of any kind,

Well, none of your posts do Willis, or did I miss one?
[REPLY: MikeB, do you practice at being a jerkwagon trying to spoil peoples’ enjoyment, or is that just a gift you were born with?
Nature magazine and other scientific journals have thought enough of my scientific work to publish it … and your work? -w.]

pauline

They are building some huge docks in London, so enjoy the river whilst it is quiet. Would be glad to take you for a pint in the backstreets. Visit Borough market if you can, you can visit the Tate and the Globe at the same time if so inclined.

M Courtney

Good call on the British Museum.
There are lots of the greatest museums in the world gracing London.
But the British Museum is the best… because we don’t do petty pilfering.

Anteros

Glad you noticed the bricks – attractive don’t you think?
If you get as far North as Newcastle you’ll need yet more ‘English to English’ translations..
Just as a riposte to the British Museum’s mis-characterization of ‘Native Americans’, Big Ben is actually just a bell – nothing to do with a building at all 🙂

Want to visit an unintended solar power project?
The Walkie-Talkie Building in Central London.
Who, what, why: How does a skyscraper melt a car?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23944679
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2409710/Walkie-Talkie-building-melting-bicycles-Light-reflected-construction-City-skyscraper-scorches-seat.html
It is in central London.

rogerknights

7. According to the statuary in the British Museum, most of the Romans had tertiary syphilis that destroyed their noses,

I thought syphilis was unknown in Europe until after 1492 or so.

Fred Harwood

See Avebury, and do go down into the baths, in Bath, if you’re interested in old. Roman ruins are still being uncovered in the isles, long forgotten.

I enjoy your posts – thanks for sharing. Visiting London is one of my 5 year goals.

Wyguy

Willis, ignore MikeB, your posts are great I have enjoyed them all, even all the science.

mikemUK

If you’re going to visit Bath, you should “go the extra mile or so” to Bristol to see Brunel’s SS Great Britain in dry dock – right up your nautical street I imagine (although maybe not your wife’s!)
Stephen, just now – from the photos above it looks like he’s seen it already!

davideisenstadt

willis youre ok by me.
I look forward to reading your work.
Im betting MikeB does as well…he managed to get a comment up pretty quickly.

JDN

Touring Hampton court is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but, it’s one of the few bits of history that hasn’t been redecorated out of existence. The redecorations are the history there. Another place still in good form is St. Albans, a short hop to the west of London by commuter rail. They have an old Norman cathedral that hasn’t been rococoized, and an old medieval clock tower which is occasionally open for touring, and some nice broad fields for wandering around or biking. You will need a cab unless you like hills. If you make it there, stop by a pub called the Hare and the Hounds. It’s really for the locals, has low ceilings, an authentic old-style tap system, and a couple of fireplaces that are probably not in operation this time of year.
Since you’re giving out your phone number, I can just call. 🙂

Gene Selkov

Willis, if you hit the Fenland, I’d be delighted to show you Cambridge and thereabouts. Or if you need any help: gs437{the character we like to omit}cam.ac.uk. I’ll be out to Scotland between the night of Sep 6 and morning of Sep 10; available outside those dates.
0750
642
1257
You must be dead tired after having seen all the views shown on your pictures in one day.

clipe

rogerknights says:
September 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm
7. According to the statuary in the British Museum, most of the Romans had tertiary syphilis that destroyed their noses,
I thought syphilis was unknown in Europe until after 1492 or so.
——————————————————————————————-
I think you missed the ironic humour.

The address of the solar focusing building is 20 Fenchurch Street according to the BBC.
Google puts 20 Fenchurch in what appears to be the wrong spot. It seems that The building is on Fenchurch between Philpot Ln and Rood Ln.
The hotspot is on Eastcheap, the boulivard to the south.
51°30’39″N 0° 5’1″W (Google Earth)

Kev-in-Uk

@Willis – not sure how long you are in the UK for – but try to see some ‘real’ countryside, e.g. get ‘up north’ to the Lakes or the Yorkshire Dales or even Devon and Cornwall, etc; as well as the city type exploring! If you do manage to get up north somewhere – I’d be pleased to meet up and buy you lunch or even a pint of decent beer. Oh, and don’t forget the Natural History museum in London – a must for any scientist type!

Hot under the collar

**** Welcome to England ****
A few years ago I would have suggested the Science Museum as a do not miss but having visited recently there is so much claptrap in there about “Climate Change” they have even added the “Climate Change” theme to the Henry Ford exhibit ( I kid you not ). Moan over.
London suggestions, City Cruises to Greenwich Observatory and the Cutty Sark, The Shard / Millenium Wheel for the view, rowing boat on the Serpentine in Hyde Park (also is close to Buckingham Palace and Knightsbridge / Harrods if interested).
Out of London, Dorset – Corfe Castle and Jurassic Coast, Yorkshire Dales – Ilkley (riverside walk and Cow and Calf rocks, Bolton Abbey (Abbey and riverside walk), Malham Cove and Gordale Scar (geology), the Lake District – Buttermere.
Have a wonderful holiday
Richard.

TLM

Pedant alert:
Your picture is of Westminster Abbey not Westminster Cathedral.
The former is Anglican (Church of England) as set up by Henry VIII, the latter is the modern Roman Catholic cathedral just down the road.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Cathedral
Dang, I live in a beautiful city!
Have a great holiday…

A visit to East Anglia and the CRU in order? It would be interesting to watch them pull the “look what you’ve done, you naughty little GIRL…I’m MELTING!” act, or in your case they might shout, “We are FREEZING.” But the way, it doesn’t seem “toasty” there today. Is it?
Max

I was born a mile from Tower Bridge. My mum used to play on the cannons there when she was a kid.
Have not been back down for about 20 years, but keep promising myself.
Enjoy.
Paul

steve

Hi Willis
I’m a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University – and skeptic. Been reading WUWT and your posts for a long and happy time!
If you were coming back from Bath via Oxford I would happily show you the sights – I could even buy you a pint where Clinton didn’t inhale!
Steve

Willis:
You say you are going to Bath.
I write to make a suggestion for the benefit of the ladies in your party.
In the evening take your swimming costumes to the ‘new’ spa and bathe in the natural waters on the roof. You can do this whatever the weather. The combined dinner and spa is a bit pricey but well worth it. You eat dinner in the cafe wearing your spa dressing gowns which you only hire, but you get to keep the slippers as a momento.
I promise that your ladies will talk about soaking in the hot spa water on the roof for years to come.
Richard

No scientific content? Why, you could be a …. no, that would not be fair. 😉
As for embiggen, is that near Biggen Hill?
Decades ago I was helping some colleagues in England.
On a weekend day, we trouped off to an airshow at Biggin Hill Aerodrome. A person working for our supplier in England offered to meet us there with his son, and bring a picnic lunch.
So we parked outselves beside a runway or such and waited to see him, realizing that with a huge quantity of people about that might be difficult.
Meanwhile one of our group went off to find a book seller stall to meet someone who had a history book for him.
After a while, a person walks out of the crowd steaming by and says “Are you ……?”. On establishing we were with him, the person gave us a book, declined payment, and walked off. OK, I was tall and dark-haired like my colleague.
After a long while, during which we contemplated sausage rolls to sustain us (and hopefully liquid other than warm beer), we spotted the lunch bringer and his son.
They did not look like most of the crowd, who were locals, probably below average income – the show was no charge except for car parking, people streamed in on foot, bicycle, and bus.
Then we realized how much we stood out – Canadians and Americans, not dressed like most of the crowd.

Roy Jones

Willis,
As you’re in London until Thursday and given your love of the sea, I suggest a visit to HMS Belfast, just opposite the Tower. Then if you have time, a few hundred yards upstream on the south bank there is a replica of the Golden Hind.

Hi Willis
You may be disappointed to be greeted in London with the Californian weather, but don’t despair by Friday forecast is the good old English summer will be with us again.

M Courtney

Vuk… Bother, I’m on holiday in Bognor Regis next week (I’m on a budget).
I notice that no-one has recommended Bognor to Willis. Wonder why?

HorshamBren

Hi Willis,
You might want to check out this new Urban Heat Island in the City
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/architecture/10283702/Whats-frying-at-Walkie-Scorchie.html
I’m betting the Met Office will establish a weather station here before long
Oh, like JDN, Hampton Court is my recommendation – see if you can approach it via a river cruise from Westminster, info at http://www.londontoolkit.com/briefing/river_services.htm
Have a great time in London!

Jeff

If you want an empirical demonstration that Climate Change is a myth, visit Wales. It always has, does and will rain at a standard 45F,
Go over the Severn Bridge (not too far from Bath). It’s almost eerie seeing the curtain of rain at the West (Welsh) end of the Bridge while a glance in the rear view mirror still shows the balmy early Autumn of England.

Paul Linsay

If you’re a history buff Greenwich is fabulous. All of Harrison’s chronometers including the final one that won the longitude prize, something every blue water sailor should see. The difference between the second last version and the winner is jaw dropping. How’d they do that?
The Science Museum in Kensington has a nearly complete set of original steam engines from the time of Newcomen and Watt.
Don’t miss the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum at the Horse Guards. Completely untouched and exactly as it was the day WWII ended.

Bloke down the pub

Stephen Rasey says:
September 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm
Want to visit an unintended solar power project?
The Walkie-Talkie Building in Central London.
Who, what, why: How does a skyscraper melt a car?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23944679
It’s the building behind Tower Bridge in your second photo.
I was born not far from New Cross so I know the sort of area. Now I live in Stroud, not far off your route when you go to Bath. I’m glad you got to see some of the sights in good weather as it looks like it’ll change by the weekend. Enjoy your stay.

1. The juxtaposition of the old and the new.
But us Brits are still fixated on the old. We “list” old buildings which requires the owners to spend lots of money meeting government regulations without any help from the government.
2. Raw antiquity.
Us Brits are always looking back, never forward.
3. People of unexpected colors and appearances speaking English…with a broad British accent.
Don’t tell anyone who reads the Guardian that. They have the impression that the UK has multiple cultures and not one single one but multiple races.
4. The British Museum actually thinks that there were people who were native to the Americas
The very right on liberal people in charge attempting to be politically correct.
5. The Brits do love their bricks.
Wait till you go to the north where we like our stones. Edinburgh with its granite, Yorkshire has its own stone.
6. The occasional need for an “English-to-English” translation app for my iPhone
As well as a conversion app to convert your gallons to our gallons to the EU’s litres.

MattN

“it’s still a lovely river”
Was is lovely when your great-grandfather was on it? i get the impression you are my parents generation, which would have put your great-grandfather alive sometime in the mid-late 1800s. My impression is the Thames was essentially an open sewer until the 1860s at the absolute earliest. I’m sure it was still horrible for several years after that.

Otteryd

M Courtney says:
September 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm
Vuk… Bother, I’m on holiday in Bognor Regis next week (I’m on a budget).
I notice that no-one has recommended Bognor to Willis. Wonder why?
One of our kings (a little bit like a president, but you are either born to it or you import one from Germany) reputedly commented “Bugger Bognor” on his death bed.

Willis
Charlie Chaplin was born just a mile south of the Tower Bridge, but I would hate to suggest to any American to visit London’s ‘street’, delightfully named Charlie Chaplin Walk, to be found just few yards from the National Theatre at the London’s South Bank
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CCWalk-London.jpg

stan stendera

Be careful!! We don’t want Willis” eagle to run into a birdchopper.

Otteryd says:
September 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm
One of our kings reputedly commented “Bugger Bognor” on his death bed.
Burghers of Bognor were not amused.

ikh

Hi Willis,
I am glad you are enjoying London.
When you visit Stonehenge you are only about 3 miles From Salisbury. The Cathedral there is from the 13th Centuary ( approx 750 year old ) It has the tallest church spire in the U.K. There is also the oldest working clock in the world. Also there is one of 4 original copies of the Magna Carta. The Local brewery in Salisbury is Gibbs Muir and the Bishops Tipple is a beautiful beer but beware if you are driving, because it it 12% alcohol!.
Given the length of your stay, you are very unlikely to make it to Scotland. However the Lake District in Cumbria is very worthwhile visiting. From there, I would head east to York. To see York Minster Cathedral. Second only to Cantebury in the Church Of England Heirarchy. There are many sights to see in York but I can recommend York Castle Museum and its reconstructed Victorian streets. The Jorvik Centre might also be worth a visit. It is a Viking archialogical site that has had the village reconstructed. Walking around in york is also fun, much of the city centre is pedestrian only and many of the shops, pubs and resteraunts are in medival buildings.
I can also recommend a visit to the City of Oxford, home to the oldest University in the English speaking world, and of course, the Bodlian Library.
Finally, a plug for my home town of Windsor, home to Windsor Castle, The largest and longest lived in Castle/Palace in Europe. A motte and bailey dating back to the 11th Century Normans. And across the river Thames is the village of Eton and Eton Collage. The school that has educated close to half og British Prime Ministers, Founded in 1440 by King Henery VI.
Where ever you go, I realy hope you enjoy your stay here.
Best regards and thanks for many enjoyable posts here at WUWT
Regards
/ikh
Well worth a visit before you head off for bath.

ikh

Whoops, sorry but that last line should have been at the end of the para on Salisbury.
/ikh

clipe

“Charlie Chaplin was born just a mile south of the Tower Bridge”
http://imgur.com/a0XLRB2

It’s the building behind Tower Bridge in your second photo.
Google Earth Ground view mimic of second photo
http://i44.tinypic.com/nnws5h.jpg
from 51°30’20.77″ N 0°04’30.21″ W Looking NW.
I guessed right about the Walkie Talkie at 51°30’39″N 0° 5’1″W

Annie

Welcome to England Willis. Have fun!

son of mulder

As you are in New Cross you are not far from Greenwich (or SOM), get down there, see the observatory, the Cutty Sark and fantastic view across London, and then get the boat to Tower Bridge, or travel in the other direction to see the Thames barrier, which was built to stop London flooding and now “needs to be expanded” to meet the challenge of sea level rise.
When you head north don’t miss the beautiful Peak District in Derbyshire including Dovedale, Manifold Valley and Ladybower Reservoir where the bouncing bomb was tested.

son of mulder

And by the way Big Ben is the bell, the tower is called St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower more recently.

Duster

According to the ghost of my grandmother, who was British and still rises and clips me upside the head for various solecisms, Big Ben is really the bell in the clock tower. She used various wordings to be sure the distinction was made, and I still tend to duck when I see the tower and bell conjoined. I definitely envy the visit to the British Museum.

“4. The British Museum actually thinks that there were people who were native to the Americas, they call them “Native Americans”. I guess the Brits didn’t get the news … as far as anyone knows, not a one of them is native to the Americas, they were all early Asian immigrants.”
There are then no Native Peoples anywhere as everyone, even those in Africa came from somewhere else. People in Asia came from Africa. Australian Aborigines arrived in Australia about 60,000 years ago but even they came from Africa via Asia.

RichieP

The Tower of London is indeed a tower. It’s the Norman keep, the White Tower, that was the first fortification there and the basis of all later additions.
http://www.london-attractions.info/images/attractions/tower-of-london.jpg

Willis Eschenbach

Anteros says:
September 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

… Just as a riposte to the British Museum’s mis-characterization of ‘Native Americans’, Big Ben is actually just a bell – nothing to do with a building at all 🙂

and
son of mulder says:
September 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

And by the way Big Ben is the bell, the tower is called St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower more recently.

But to the contrary, the official UK Parliament site says:

The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower, the clock and the bell but the name was first given to the Great Bell.

and

The Elizabeth Tower is the name of the famous tower of Parliament – more popularly known as Big Ben.

I dislike pedants on an average day, but especially when they are wrong. If the UK Parliament says that today it’s common usage to refer to the tower as “Big Ben”, that’s good enough for me. So guys, save your pedantry to peddle to someone else. Acting on the advise of Parliament, I’m not buying any today.
Heck, from the sound of the son of mulders’ comment, even the Brits can’t decide what to call the dang tower … guys, the meaning of words changes over time, as do the names we use for things. These days, tower is popularly known as Big Ben, and all your carping and caviling won’t change that one bit.
w.

HarveyS

Hope you enjoying your holiday. I am not sure how long you are staying, because there is so much for visitor to see here. And if you really want to see how varied it is , I would get out of London
Here’s maybe what I would recommend in some sort of order, thou I am sure other UK readers would add something else or disagree with my order. Yes I know Yorkshire and the lakes have been mentioned already lol
1) Bath for History ie Roman
2) Bristol maritime and history
3) Since if you do the above, you could perhaps catch the seven bore
4) Yorkshire so much up here start with York History ie Roman and Viking
5) Then onto Yorkshire dales and moors, you could take in Whitby( still has some fishing) etc on the moors side, east coast.
6) Hull(the docks) and over to spurn point and the Humber estuary
7) Then across to Cumbria and the lake district ( by the way there is only 1 lake in Lake District)
8) Oh you if you want to know anything etc. about up here in Yorkshire give us shout, I am in Leeds
9) Also for scenic beauty, Derbyshire is also good see where they practiced for the Dambuster raids.
10) Liverpool for maritime ie docks
11) Newcastle and the North to Hadrian’s Wall
12) Norfolk Broads and hire boat for a few days, then visit CRU 🙂
13) On subject of boat hire cruise the Thames , get away from London.
14) Devon and Cornwall also beautiful parts of the UK.
15) Also you have North Wales and Scotland.
Like I said if you do make up here or want to know anything give us a shout, yes Anthony or who ever can give you my email.
++++++++++

Willis Eschenbach

nicholas tesdorf says (emphasis mine):
September 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

“4. The British Museum actually thinks that there were people who were native to the Americas, they call them “Native Americans”. I guess the Brits didn’t get the news … as far as anyone knows, not a one of them is native to the Americas, they were all early Asian immigrants.”

There are then no Native Peoples anywhere as everyone, even those in Africa came from somewhere else. People in Asia came from Africa. Australian Aborigines arrived in Australia about 60,000 years ago but even they came from Africa via Asia.

The people in Africa came from someplace other than Africa? Who knew?
Humans, as far as anyone can determine, are in fact native to Africa. From there they spread around the planet.
In any case, I’m sorry to break the news to you, but Aborigines are not native to Australia. For example, when the Aborigines arrived in Australia they brought their dogs with them … does that mean that dogs are native to Australia as well?
In fact, like almost all introduced species, both humans and dogs were very hard on the local Australian ecology, with many species driven extinct by a combination of the two newcomers … and the same is believed to have occurred when humans were introduced to North America as well.
All of which goes to show that no, humans and dogs are not native to either Australia or North America. They are introduced species, as is proven beyond doubt by, inter alia, the numbers of extinctions that they caused.
w.

Lawrence13

Hey Willis I live about three miles away in Sydenham not far from where Shackleton lived, down there in Newcross Samuel Pepys land you have the home of Barnes Wallis the ‘bouncing bomb man of the ‘Dambusters’ fame. Just up the road here in one of the two Crystal Palace in one of the old Brunel water tower is where John Logie Baird broadcast the first ever TV picture and half a mile from there is where Admiral Fitzroy captain of Darwin’s ride, the Beagle lived. As you are probably aware Fitzroy formed the meteorological office for the ministry of defence and he lived and died in Church Road Crystal Palace or upper Norwood . Fitzroy committed suicide at the age of sixty and lies in a well kept Grave at the junction of Church Road and South Norwood road Beulah Hill.
Also not far from Newcross is Eltham wear Bob Hope was born and down in Dulwich of Mr Pickwick fame is Dulwich Village and not forgetting where Boris Karloff (William Pratt) was born in Honor Oak Road
Now Willis you don’t know me but obviously I know you from WUWT and if you should so wish and you are still in the area I would be willing to show you these places. There’s so much places like Whately Road in Dulwich where Lord Haw Haw’s parents had a sweet shop where as a small girl my mother was serve by William Joyce himself”
I know it sounds odd but I’m willing to drive you round say on Saturday if you so wished .
Just a thought but there’s s much in SE London.
I’m sure Anthony has my email just if you wanted that.