Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Knowledge Boy

Road closed.  Diversion signs.  All in the day's work for a London black cab driver and he or she will know the best  alternative route to go. Follow that arrow as it points towards the stationary scooter rider and this is where that knowledge will start.  To get a licence to drive a taxi in London you have to be able to find a route without looking at a map or relying on a sat nav and  pass "The Knowledge".   Our scooter driver is learning to do just that and is a Knowledge Boy learning the routes with his clipboard fixed to the handlebars showing the routes to be learnt that day.
He will have to learn 25,000 streets within 6 miles of Charing Cross and  major arterial routes, points of interest (hospitals, hotels, theatres, squares etc), traffic signals, cross junctions, roundabouts and know what is alongside at all points.  This Knowledge Boy was making notes and memorising, oblivious to the lines of traffic passing
The Knowledge test was started in 1865, the days of the hansom cab when only the clip clop of horses feet were heard in London.  Today it starts with a written test and then will need at least 12 appearances (attempts at final test) after preparing for an average of 34 months learning 320 standard routes or runs in central London when the Blue Book "Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London" will be their constant companion, until they pass the exam and can gain a license to drive a taxi cab.
Here is another Knowledge Boy where the clipboard routes of the day can be seen.  I was surprising that I accidentally managed to get a better picture of this with a moving target than one that was stationary.  Then I thought I would finish this post with a photo of a London black cab taxi but realised I'm usually trying to avoid cabs and cars when trying to photograph London architecture.  I've got a lot of half cabs disappearing or appearing the edges of photographs but managed to find one picture where it is just in shot,  taken  late on a winter's afternoon. 
Research has found that London taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with spacial memory and navigation) than the general population.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, sojourning this week at K here

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Jardiniere and Jalopy

Sailing by Harrington Harbour

Flowers in July planted by the Church Road Youth Club in what one could loosly term a  jaunty jardinière near the jetty,  but now landlocked forever.
Which is the only place for a Jaguar car seen here in the Lakeland Motor Museum a jumble of cars, bicycles and motor bikes. Down the side are shops recreating displays from the 1950s and 60s
Did I mention they also have lots of antique signs?  John Bull, a national personification of Britain was the name used by the Leicester Rubber Company (1906-1955) who produced tyres for all vehicles as well as that essential for the cyclist, the tyre repair kits.
which came in little tin boxes and much larger ones for those with horsepower:-
Photo from The Vintage Knitter's   'Tin of the Week'

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet,  this week sojourning at J here

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

I ♡ Ice Cream

This heart shaped ivy growing in St Bees Churchyard caught my interest.  
As indeed does any ice cream van, no matter the season and if it is being sold from a vintage van, irresistible.
This is one of five vintage ice cream vans owned by the Real Dairy Ice Cream Company from the Wirral.  It looks lovingly restored as it even has its make painted on the side - 1938 N1 - the distinctive shape of a Commer van.  A British company that made post office vehicles,  light vans, trucks, military vehicles and buses from 1905-1979.  As part of the Rootes group it was taken over by Chrysler when it continued to  made vehicles under the Dodge badge. 
I had spotted another vintage ice cream van by the Albert Dock earlier in the day when the September morning mist was just starting to clear. This is a 1948 Bradford Jowett which were built in Yorkshire from 1946-1953, its body variants a popular post war choice for a van noted for its sturdiness, stability and economic running.
  Time for an ice cream?

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at I here. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Life and Death

A profusion of crocus covers St Andrew's churchyard in Coniston at the moment. It is a churchyard with many interesting and ornate gravestones, mostly on the other side of the church to this view, but the star of the show at the moment are the flowers.  No wonder John Ruskin opted for this peaceful place in the shadow of Lakeland hills to Westminster Abbey as his final resting place. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Habitual Howling

 Last year Blackwell (the 'Arts and Crafts' house in the Lake District) played host to sculptures by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003), and outside on the lawns were the larger pieces from his imagination.  Here is Howling Beast sitting on its haunches by the side of the house. A piece from 1990 when his sculptures took a darker turn

By the house entrance was this couple perpetually climbing stairs
'Stairs' (1991)
For those not able to climb stairs the house entrance has the gentle slope to the door leading to where more of Chadwick's sculptures were on display.  When asked about his working methods he said "I start by welding. If I start by thinking first I can't do anything".  His working technique was to build a skeleton from metal rods welding them together and then building up a form from stolit (a mix of plaster and iron filings) and working on pieces until  "they become something in their own right".  
 The 'Walking Women in Wind' (1986) seems to be doing just that.
Chadwick started out as an architectural draughtsman so I think he would appreciate the 'Sitting Couple' location by a house.  He repeated a variation of this sculpture many times and in fact there is a version of it in Canary Wharf, London.   He took up sculpture after serving as a pilot in World War 2  and started with metal mobiles in the 1940s, his first one man exhibition came in 1950  and among the many prizes he won was the International Sculpture prize at 1956 Venice Biennial . 

People are taking tea on the terrace behind our couple, the overcast day meaning there was no requirement for sun shades and maybe why tea inside was the preferred option, but the view outside had attracted the hardy few.
'Sitting Couple' on the Blackwell lawn overlooking Windermere

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at H here