Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland


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London Bridge – 3 June 2017

A lot will be written and speculated about what happened and the causes of the events on London Bridge, outside Southwark Cathedral and in Borough Market just after 10pm on Saturday 3 June 2017. I do not intend to do that, however I do intend to reflect on two impressions of London at its best, firstly in the London Bridge Hotel, and secondly a Metropolitan Police Officer.

If you have followed this blog (and the associated Smugmug and Blipfoto galleries) you will know that London Bridge, The Shard and Southwark Cathedral feature from time to time.

So on Saturday 3 June, we went on another of our Cathedral visits, returning to London Kings Cross at around 9:45pm. Taking the Northern line to London Bridge we came up the escalator by the News UK building opposite our hotel – The London Bridge Hotel – outside the upper concourse of London Bridge railway station at around 10:10pm. Looking down London Bridge Street we saw blue flashing lights and commotion, however thought nothing of it as it was Saturday night on Borough High Street.

However as the night unfolded we realised how close we were to a Major Incident, and that we were trapped inside the security cordon with the hotel under Lockdown.

In the morning we watched out of our hotel as the police escorted News UK personnel from their building to outside the cordon. We decided to find out what was happening in the hotel. The Night Manager was still on duty and some of the resturant staff were still in from the previous night. The Day Manager and the breakfast team were unable to get in. In addition, quite a lot of the hotel guests had not been able to get back the previous night. The Night Manager organised what staff she had available to provide a breakfast service. She was in contact with the Metropolitan Police and in a controlled manner, with armed police escort, guests were able to leave the hotel.

So at 10:30am we presented ourselves at reception and checked-out to await an escort away. Our police escort, who we only know as “Rocky”, was good humoured given the circumstances and took across the front of the upper concourse of London Bridge railway station. For one of the busiest stations in the UK, it was surreal in that is was deserted. At this point I felt it prudent to keep my camera in its bag. We then went down the escalator to Tooley Street, and east to the cordon by More London Place. We thanked him and passing through the line of TV cameras, we headed up More London Place towards Tower Bridge, where we saw the Tower of London with its flag at half mast.

Tower of London with flag at half mast

Tower of London with flag at half mast
4 June 2017

Given the road closures and (unrelated) tube closures, the easiest tube station to head for was Aldgate, at the eastern end of the Metropolitan Line to get us to Euston.

Crossing Tower Bridge, we looked back at London Bridge, with buses still where they stopped the previous night, and The Shard.

The Shard and London Bridge

The Shard and London Bridge
4 June 2017

We had intended to go to Southwark Cathedral for the Sunday morning Pentecost service, however it was closed, and at the time of writing (on the evening of Monday 5 June), it is still closed with Tuesday morning services to be held at the nearby St Hughs. As various friends in the congregation and staff (clergy & vergers) knew we were in London and expected to see them on the Sunday morning, we had made sure they knew we were safely away from the cordon and on our train home from Euston.

We will be visiting London again in the near future, and will be using the London Bridge Hotel.

Ship of Dreams


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BFG Dream Jar Trail – 16 July 2016

On the weekend of 16/17 July 2016, the world premiere of the BFG Movie took place, which marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the BFG Creator Roald Dhal. As part of this a BFG Dream Jar Trail has been set up. Around half of the jars were on display in London, with the majority at Leicester Square.

As with the Shaun in the City trails last year, we started at The Shard.

Up, Up and away at The Shard

Up, Up and away at The Shard
16 July 2016

There were two dream jars by City Hall at More London; the Open Dream suggested by Justin Rose (who was playing in the Open Championship in Royal Troon that weekend) and For the Love of the Hedgehog

The Open Dream

The Open Dream
16 July 2016

For the Love of the Hedgehog

For the Love of the Hedgehog
16 July 2016

As some had not yet been located, and those which had had been moved to Leicester Square for the weekend, we heading west along the south of the Thames to Tate Modern, where we crossed the Millennium Bridge. Heading up to the museum of London we found another Dream Jar – A Whale’s Tail

A Whale's Tail

A Whale’s Tail
16 July 2016

It was then a walk from the relatively quiet weekend City of London to a very busy City of Westminster where we found two dream jars around Covent Garden before reaching the display in the centre of Leicester Square.

Dream Jars on display in Leicester Square

Dream Jars on display in Leicester Square
16 July 2016

This was part of a larger feature in the square marking the premiere of the film later in the weekend.

BFG display in Leicester Square

BFG display in Leicester Square
16 July 2016

The Dream Jars will be on display until 31 August 2016, after which they will be auctioned off in aid of Save the Children and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

Detail at bottom of lamp standard


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Holborn Viaduct – 16 July 2016

During a recent visit to London, our walk took us over Holborn Viaduct. A few years ago whilst we had a flat in London, we had occasion to drive under the viaduct on Farringdon Street on Christmas Day.

The viaduct was built in the 1860s to span the valley of the Fleet River crossing Farringdon Street and the subterranean river (which had been placed in a tunnel in the eighteenth century).

A feature on the parapets are sculptures by Farmer and Brindley, and Henry Bursill.

Winged Lion on Holborn Viaduct

Winged Lion on Holborn Viaduct
16 July 2016

Farmer and Brindley produced the winged lions and the figures – Science and Fine Arts – on the north side.

Science on the North Parapet

Science on the North Parapet
16 July 2016

Bursill provided the figures – Commerce and Agriculture – on the south side.

Commerce on south parapet of Holborn Viaduct

Commerce on south parapet of Holborn Viaduct
16 July 2016

Iconic transport associated with London was seen crossing the bridge, including a preserved Routemaster bus that had been hired for a wedding.

London Black Cab and Routemaster Bus approaching Holborn Viaduct.

London Black Cab and Routemaster Bus approaching Holborn Viaduct.
16 July 2016

The nearby Holborn viaduct Station, which had platforms at the same level as the street was closed in 1990 to be replaced with City Thameslink which is located underground linking Brlackfriars and Farringdon stations.

Red Cross Garden


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Red Cross Garden, Southwark – 8 May 2016

Back in May on a sunny weekend, we found ourselves in a quiet oasis in Southwark. In 1887 on the site of a burnt out paper factory, the Red Cross Garden was laid out.

Red Cross Garden notice board

Red Cross Garden notice board
8 May 2016

Octavia Hill established the garden as a shared community space in 1887/8.

Blue plaque for Octavia Hill

Blue plaque for Octavia Hill
8 May 2016

The garden is managed by Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

Pond in Red Cross Garden.

Pond in Red Cross Garden.
8 May 2016

In the mid 20th century, the garden was mainly grass and tarmac, however the Bankside Open Spaces Trust with Lottery funding restored the garden, including some of the original features. The Princess Royal officially re-opened the garden on 1 June 2006.

Housing on west side

Housing on west side
8 May 2016

Water feature in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital


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St Thomas’ Hospital and Chapel – 7 May 2016

At the end of our walk along the south bank of the Thames, we reached St Thomas’ Hospital. At this point due to the Thames meandering we were on the east of the Thames, across from the Palace of Westminster.

The original St Thomas’ Hospital was located close to St Mary Overie church (now known as Southwark Cathedral). It is reputed to by names after Thomas Beckett after he was canonised in 1173. It was originally run by Augustine monks and nuns. The hospital was closed in 1539 during The Reformation, only to re-open in 1551. It relocated to its current position in Lambeth in 1871, after the site was acquired for the building of the railway viaduct from London Bridge to Charing Cross.

Cross the Divide

Cross the Divide
7 May 2016

Outside there are some artworks, including “Croos the Divide” by Rick Kirby, unveiled in September 2000. A visit was in order, not for any medical reasons, however to the coffee shop inside.

After coffee we visited the chapel. This is located on the first floor in an older part of the complex. Entry is via a door in the north east corner of the chapel. On the wall by the entrance “Peace” is inscribed in many languages.

Peace Wall in St Thomas' Chapel

Peace Wall in St Thomas’ Chapel
7 May 2016

At the east end behind the altar is a mural, with reliefs of various scenes from the life of Christ.

East End of the Chapel

East End of the Chapel
7 May 2016

At the west end there is the organ. Beneath the trio of windows is the inscription “Come let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation”

West end of St Thomas' Chapel with organ

West end of St Thomas’ Chapel with organ
7 May 2016

On the stairwell to and from the chapel are commemoration boards, including the Masters of St Thomas and the “Matrons of the Royal Hospital of St Thomas”, succeeding the Mother Canonesses, that ceased to exist following the dissolution of the Augustine monastery.

Matrons of the Royal Hospital of St Thomas

Matrons of the Royal Hospital of St Thomas
7 May 2016

Leaving the building via a side door into a courtyard, there is the statue of Sir Robert Clayton who was Lord Mayor of London in 1679 and President of St Thomas’ Hospital from 1692 to 1707. The statue was commissioning in 1701 from Grinling Gibbons.

Statue of Sir Robert Clayton

Statue of Sir Robert Clayton
7 May 2016

Lunch Cruise Boat


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Southbank Walk – 7 May 2016

A sunny Saturday was ideal for a walk along the south bank of the Thames.

Starting from the The Globe Theatre, of which more an another time, we walked under the end of the Millennium Bridge and past Tate Modern (the old Bankside Power Station),

Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge
7 May 2016

This area of the Thames path usually has street entertainers, and this was no different with a juggler with flaming clubs….

Juggler with flaming clubs

Juggler with flaming clubs
7 May 2016

….and a bubble creator….

Making Bubbles

Making Bubbles
7 May 2016

The next bridge is Blackfriars railway station, rebuilt over the last few years with the platforms spanning the river and accessible from the Southbank.

Blackfriars railway station

Blackfriars railway station
7 May 2016

River traffic was busy with various passenger boats and lunch cruises travelling in both directions.

Beyond Blackfriars bridge is the OXO building, and a small patch of sand which is exposed at low tide. This is regular location for sand sculptors. Several hours work was on display, however the tide was rising and whilst we watched the sculpture was washed away.

Sand Sculpture

Sand Sculpture
7 May 2016

Sculpture almost washed away

Sculpture almost washed away
7 May 2016

The next bridges are the Hungerford Bridges (railway into Charing Cross) and the two associated footbridges on each side. Passing the National Theatre, Waterloo Bridge is reached were a book market is located underneath.

Southbank Book Market

Southbank Book Market
7 May 2016

There were more street entertainers toward the London Eye.

Living Statue

Living Statue
7 May 2016

At Westminster Bridge, we went under the bridge to climb the steps up to the road on the south side of the road, to view the Southbank Lion.

Southbank Lion

Southbank Lion
7 May 2016

Westminster Bridge

Westminster Bridge
7 May 2016

It was time to find a coffee shop for a drink and snack. This was in St Thomas hospital, were we visited the chapel, more of which another time.

Chapel, including circular windows


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Mary Sumner House – 27 February 2016

A trip to London at the end of February 2016, resulted in visiting Mary Sumner House for a meeting. This is the Headquarters of the Mothers Union, which was founder by Mary Sumner. It is also the headquarters of Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW). Whilst in the building I visited the chapel.

Chapel of Mary Sumner House

Chapel of Mary Sumner House
27 February 2016

A feature of the chapel are two circular windows.

North Circular Window

North Circular Window
27 February 2016


South Circular Window

South Circular Window
27 February 2016

There is also a small organ in the chapel.

Organ in the chapel of Mary Sumner House

Organ in the chapel of Mary Sumner House
27 February 2016

At the rear, close to the entrance there are two angels in the window sill.

Angel at the rear of Mary Sumner Chapel

Angel at the rear of Mary Sumner Chapel
27 February 2016

Elizabeth Tower


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Parliament Square – 27 February 2016

More from a visit to London last month.

When you visit Westminster there are two buildings which most people will recognise. Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster (otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament). The tallest is Elizabeth Tower.

Elizabeth Clock Tower

Elizabeth Clock Tower
27 February 2016

The clock at the top is erroneously called Big Ben. In practice unless you are privileged to get access inside the clock tower to view the bells, you will never have seen Big Ben which is the bell used to strike the hour.

To the west of the Palace of Westminster and north of Westminster Abbey, there is Parliament Square. Along the north and west sides are statues of former UK Prime Ministers and others who have been instrumental in world affairs. The first statue, in the north east corner, is Winston Chruchill.

Statue of Winston Churchill

Statue of Winston Churchill
27 February 2016

Following the north side of the square is David Lloyd George, Jan Christiaan Smuts, Viscount Palmerston and George Canning. On the west side is Earl of Derby, Benjamin Disraeli, Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Peel and finally Nelson Mandela.

Statue of Nelson Mandela

Statue of Nelson Mandela
27 February 2016

Tate Modern: Bankside Power Station


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Abraham Cruzvillegas: Empty Lot – 28 February 2016

A visit to Tate Modern on a Sunday afternoon, resulted in the discovery of the current art installation.

Empty Lot (West side)

Empty Lot (West side)
28 February 2016

Created by Abraham Cruzvillegas and called Empty, it was commissioned by Tate Modern and sponsored by Hyundai. A series of triangular boxes on a triangular scaffold plinth. There are two part one on each the east and west side of the turbine hall.

Triangular Boxes on the west side

Triangular Boxes on the west side
28 February 2016

Features of the turbine hall of Bankside Power Station are still visible. The Scottish Heritage of the main structural steelwork is still visible.

Lanarkshire Steel Company Girder

Lanarkshire Steel Company Girder
28 February 2016


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That was 2015

2015 is coming to an end. On the blog front, I have managed to maintain a weel;y blog posting. I have also kept a regular posting of pictures on Blipfoto and Smugmug.

In amongst the usual mix of blog postings and albums in Smugmug, there are three large collctions. Two from the Shaun in the City trails in London and Bristol, which we visited in April 2015 and July 2015 respectively, and a holiday in Ontario in September 2015.

At the end of 2014, and into 2015, Virgin Trains gave one of their Pendolinos a seasonal livery.

Traindeer 390 112 at Glasgow Central

Pendolino 390 112 #Traindeer at Glasgow Central
3 January 2015

January 2015
The first event of 2015 for RSCM Scottish Voices was at Greyfriars Kirk, in the form of an Ephipany Carol Service, the start of “Spark” a festival to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the organ.

The 1989 organ at Greyfriars Kirk

The 1989 organ at Greyfriars Kirk.
17 January 2015

The following day, Radio 4 broadcast the Sunday Service live from St Mary’s Cathedral. As alway Frikki Walker was directing St Mary’s Choir. We also renewed our acquaintance with the Mo McCulloch, the BBC producer in Scotland for this programme.

Fr Chuks Iwuagwu and Provost Kelvin Holdsworth during the broadcast.

Fr Chuks Iwuagwu and Provost Kelvin Holdsworth during the broadcast.
18 January 2015

February 2015
At the beginning of February we made a weekend visit to London. On the Saturday, we visited the London Museum and a number of churches in the City of London.

Evening view of the Millenium Bridge over the Thames

Evening view of the Millenium Bridge over the Thames
7 February 2015

Having flown into Luton, and taken the train to Blackfriars, we had a short walk along the South Bank to our hotel.

March 2015
In late March 2015, I made my first trip of the year to Porthmadog. My friend Myfanwy, had just completed the Easter window decoration in her shop.

Easter Window at Glosters

Easter Window at Glosters
23 March 2015

March also included my regular time at Eastwood Park Theatre with Theatre South Productions. This years show was Guys and Dolls.

Curtain call on Guys and Dolls by TSP

Curtain call on Guys and Dolls by TSP
12 March 2015

April 2015
April began with Easter, however the second weekend found us visiting London again. Our plan was to cheer on our friend Beth as she finished the Brighton Marathon on the Sunday. The first thing I did when I got back to my hotel on Sunday evening was write my blog about Beth’s run.

Beth with Medal and foil blanket.

Beth with Medal and foil blanket.
12 April 2015

As is usual we were staying in London, so on the Saturday we decided to follow the Shaun in the City trails. We did not really know how many we would get to, however a heavy shower of rain delayed our started, which in retrospect was a shame as it prevented us from reached all fifty in one day, however 48 were found and photographed, subsequently being put on line in the Smugmug gallery and blogged about. Apart for the journey from Oxford Circus to Paddington, we walked the rest of the way, with our pedometers recording around 33,000 steps, calculated at around 17 miles.

The final two at Canary Wharf were found upon our return from Brighton on the Sunday evening.

Br-ewe-nel outside Tate Modern

Shaun in the City – London
Br-ewe-nel outside Tate Modern
11 April 2015

There also a few other gems we found and photographed and subsequently blogged about. In the meantime, the garden still needed our attention.

May 2015
Most of May’s blogs were recollecting the Shaun in the City expedition, however there were one of two other topics squeezed in. We visited The Kelpies at the east end of the Forth and Clyde Canal in late May on a very sunny afternoon.

The Kelpies

The Kelpies
23 May 2015

However this did not preclude more pictures being taken on a trip to Braemar at the beginning of the month.

June 2015
June was a busy time in the garden, and included another trip to London. Our trip to London was delayed by the need to change a tyre on the plane.

Changing the tyre on an Easyjet Airbus A319

Changing the tyre on an Easyjet Airbus A319
12 June 2015

Cosmo did his bit supervising our gardening activities, which included the building of a new raised bed in the front garden.

Cosmo in the Garden

Cosmo in the Garden
20 June 2015

July 2015
We started July on holiday in North Wales, and later in the month headed to Bristol to track down the Shaun in the City Trails. Whilst we were in North Wales we went to see MV Balmoral berth at Llandudno pier for the first time since 2007.

MV Balmoral entering Llandudno Bay.

MV Balmoral entering Llandudno Bay.
2 July 2015

There was another trip to Glosters in Porthmadog, to view Myfanwy’s summer window dressing.

Despite considerable planning, we only managed to track down 55 of the 70 Bristol Shauns. Some were out of reach without a car, and other were just ran out of time.

Isambaaard at the west end of the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Shaun in the City – Bristol
Isambaaard at the west end of the Clifton Suspension Bridge
18 July 2015

At the end of July the was a day trip to Carlisle

August 2015
Early August was another trip to the Ffestiniog Railway in Porthmadog. RSCM Scottish Voices had their annual residential weekend at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan. The concluding act of worship took place around the Scottish Police Memorial.

Scottish Police Memorial at Tulliallan Police College

Scottish Police Memorial at Tulliallan Police College
9 August 2015

September 2014
In September we visited Ontario. It was the first time for Kathryn, whilst I last visited in 2007. Over the two weeks week based ourselves in Mississauga (in the Toronto Metro area), Niagara-on-the-Lake (for Niagara Falls), Huntsville (for Algonquin Park) and Port Elgin (on the shore of Lake Huron in Bruce County). Since the beginning of October, the photographs that were taken have been appearing on Smugmug, and blogs once of twice a week. Even now at the end of 2015, I have still for chronicle the last section of our holiday.

Toronto from the harbour

Toronto from the harbour
15 September 2015

October 2014
In October the Shaun in the City charity sale took place in Bristol, so we recalled our Shaun in the City adventures in London (April 2015) and Bristol (July 2015).

It was a time to take stock of our activities in the garden. The spring planting of onions had been harvested, and once the bed had been prepared, winter onions, garlic and shallots were planted.

Winter planted onions, Garlic and Shallots

Winter planted onions, Garlic and Shallots
18 October 2015

November 2014
After visits to St Andrews, Braemar, Tulliallan, Oban and Perth, RSCM Scottish Voices finished the year singing Choral Evensong at Old St Paul’s Church in Edinburgh.

High Altar of Old St Paul's, Edinburgh

High Altar of Old St Paul’s, Edinburgh
14 November 2015

December 2014
Whilst still working my way through the pictures from our holiday, the blog and smugmug have been concentrating on Ontario, however as in previous year St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow featured in a number of my postings – in the WordPress Blog, Smugmug Galleries and in Blipfoto.

The second of four services that I recorded over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, was the Christmas Carol service, and this picture was taken using the fisheye adaptor on my camera.

Chirstmas Carol Service at St Mary's

Chirstmas Carol Service at St Mary’s
24 December 2015

And so to the end of 2015, and heading home from work I stopped to take a picture of the sun setting over the Isle of Arran with the wind whips up the waves.

Sunset over Arran

Sunset over Arran
31 December 2015

So as 2015 comes to an end,
Leap Year 2016 begins………