Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Postcard from the Mill Garden

There are some brave splashes of spring colour in evidence in the chilly Midlands, but spring has not yet sprung with conviction.  In the absence of abundant floral displays, the backdrop of the Castle made for the most dramatic photo opportunity on a recent visit to the Mill Garden in Warwick.

I do like to be contrary though.  And Warwick Castle does just fine without me hyping it.  So this view may be the most dramatic, but wasn't my favourite.  That honour goes to the vista from the Mill Garden summerhouse looking across the mill pond and ruined bridge - best enjoyed whilst some welcome sunlight warms your face and the rush of water over the weir provides a soundtrack.  You have your back to the castle but the natural charms of the riverside make up for it.

Forget visiting the Castle dungeons - the garden boasts its very own set of stocks.  And I'm too old for playing at princesses.  Let's face it: it's more likely that most of us would have been working for the folk at the castle than living there.  So hanging out at the Mill Garden makes far more sense.  The thought that the tiny entrance fee goes to charity, rather than lining the castle coffers, just adds to the delight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Postcard from Smithfield

I spend some time each month working in central London. My office lies just outside the boundary of the City itself but sometimes I become one of the few overnight residents of the Square Mile.  So the landmarks I note are perhaps different from those the daytime population might navigate by.  By night, the offices are dark and quiet, the pavements no longer crowded by suited commuters.  Something different is going on.

Smithfield Market is one of the oldest markets in London, and it's still trading.  By the middle of the evening, when I'm wandering towards my bed for the night, lorries are congregating outside.  As I sleep, the meat they carry is unloaded and sold - the entire operation concluding while I sleep so that, when I'm on my way out again, all that's left is the clean up operation.

I cross the road here: where a line of black, red and white bollards mark the City boundary from the rest of London, and I'm back in the world where I work - a nondescript office block (from the roof of which regular readers have seen the sun rise).  The medieval heart of London could generate a million postcards but I preferred to show you this: the bit where some real work goes on, even if I'm often fast asleep just round the corner.