Random Writers


London is so saturated in connections to writers and literature you can just walk around and see what the streets throw up at you. We did two trips this year and as well as multiple ads in the underground for The Miniaturist and books by David Levithan (Every Day) we gathered a nice haul of Random Writers. At the Pollock Toy Museum we spotted these  toy soldiers belonging to E.M. Forster (Howards End, Room With a View).

Near our hotel we took a short cut through a cemetery – Bunhill Fields – without realising it is the burial place of many famous folk, including Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, and William Blake. Mind you, they are a little vague about the exact whereabouts of Blake…

Baker Street is so full of nods to Sherlock Holmes I’m surprised they haven’t turned it into a theme park!

And this plaque to Beatrix Potter is one we stumbled over in 2011, it’s in Bolton Gardens, Kensington. The house was destroyed in the Blitz.

On our way to a pottery suppliers with our (pottering) friend Ann, we passed a house in Fitzroy Square where both George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf once lived, though not at the same time. While searching for a specialist paper shop near Victoria Station we spotted a former abode of Joseph Conrad.

Gatwick Airport threw up one last random writer – Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). She was staring from the tail of a plane. I seem to remember from reading Out of Africa that she loved to fly so I’m sure she’d approve of this tribute from the Norwegian Airliner.

Inside the Pollock Toy Museum, Part 4 – War Toys


For the last Toy Museum post here are some images of toys from the two World Wars, a mixture of comical and poignant.

And a couple of Cold War remnants – who can name all the USSR leaders? Note that the tiniest doll is…death!


Inside the Pollock Museum, Part 3 – miniature worlds


Isn’t this a fab lav?

The miniature worlds in the toy museum were enchanting. Ann and myself fell heavily for the tiny grocer’s shop. We cooed over it for about ten minutes.

Michael and Eddie were more interested in the details of a large doll’s house. Below you’ll find images of a silversmith’s shop – remember those are not plastic pieces – a school room, a Noah’s ark, and furniture made from wishbones!!

As always, click on any photo to scroll through larger images. And if you’d like to share/comment the buttons are below. Next blog – War Toys


London Street Art


‘That’s a Bansky,’ I said.

‘Nah’ said Ann and Michael. ‘Can’t be…’

‘I think it is,’ I said.

‘What makes you think that?’

‘Dunno. Looks familiar. Maybe it isn’t.’

Then we noticed there was perspex protecting the piece. Which is kinda ironic, given the message – ‘IF GRAFFITI CHANGED ANYTHING -IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL’. The image – which apparently appeared in Fitzrovia in  2011– has attracted further graffiti, including the badly placed ‘VERY.’ and a sarcastic exchange about said perspex.

The selection of spectacular street art below is stuff we came across in Spitalfields, well worth clicking on to get bigger images.

Below are pieces, old and new, from various places around the city.

The Quentin Blake Exhibition


We had a list of things we wanted to do while in London the other week and top of mine was a visit to the Quentin Blake exhibition at the brand new House of Illustration near King’s Cross. Our niece Beth happened to be in the city at the same time and when I mentioned the exhibition she said she’d like to see it too.

It is a small but perfectly formed show, concentrating strongly on a number of books – chief amongst which are Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Danny the Champion of the World, Blake’s Clown, David Walliam’s The Boy in the Dress, and the beautiful and haunting Sad, by Michael Rosen. Blake’s wonderful inky scratches cascade across the walls in the first room, making you feel as if you’ve fallen inside his head! The second room has lots of framed illustrations on the walls, plus cases displaying thumbnail layouts, rough sketches and early character studies, dotted with actual pens, pencils and paints from the artist’s studio. Thrilling! I especially liked the image made for comparing the heights of Sophie, the BFG, and the other giants.

There are insights from Blake about how he approaches each book, whether his own or someone else’s. It was particularly interesting to get an inkling of how he worked with the notoriously difficult Dahl (sounds like a great working relationship), and how he responded to Rosen’s text for Sad, a book written in response to the death of the author’s son. The third room is dedicated to Sad, alone.

It was fun to walk around the exhibition with Beth as she knew all the Dahl books well and was responding to them both as an art history grad, and as favorite childhood reading – see how her eyes are shining at having her photo taken with Matilda! Michael and myself are big fans of Blake’s and it’s fantastic to see the work in the raw. We drank it all up, watched the accompanying short films of Blake speaking about his work, then headed to the ridiculously cool Caravan bar to recover with a late afternoon tipple!

Afterwards, on the way back to the train, we had fun with some the many familiar illustrations decorating the walkway.

Walking with Willy

Walking with Willy the Champ! (Anthony Browne)

QB1Too noisy, ‘Zagazoo’!

The exhibition is on until November 2nd 2014

Link to 2007 article where Quentin Blake talks about illustrating Sad

(Photos mix of ours and Beth O’Rafferty’s)

Holding Pattern…


A blog about not blogging! We were in London last week and, of course, had all good intentions of preparing blogs to go up while we were away, but never got around to it. And this week will be blog-free as well, so here’s a quick glimpse of what’s coming up next week:

The Quentin Blake exhibition in the House of Illustration

London street art (which may even include a Banksy).

We finally get inside the Pollock Toy Museum.

(Photo by Beth O’ Rafferty)