Friday, 31 October 2014

Tower, Trains, Tube, Tate and Turners …



Halloween … bloody towers, crowded gutters, barracked bridges, torture trains, grim greasy humid humors … as in ancient bodily fluids …


The good, the not bad and the not too ugly about trips to London town … who’d had thought every man and his child would be London bound - yes, it was half-term, but ...?

I was standing on a bench, the River Thames is behind me -
in the distance you can see the spread of poppies, and
one of the cascades bursting up from the moat

I had to stand all the way up to town … honestly – that’s a bit much … the train was packed, they’d lost some rolling stock – beggars belief … but beggars can’t afford trains – or belief!


I was going to go last Saturday – good thing I didn’t ... these Gentlemen Warders of the Tower said the populace hadn’t curtailed itself then and it was populatedly packed!  They, I believe, mentioned 18,000 visitors …


Dragon cannon, ubiquitous raven, Jewel tower
in background

Dragons threw forth their fiery breath … wearily bringing those humors to misty life … which spread ghoulishly out and over the fortified walls into the City that never sleeps …

Damp, misty, ghoulish day ... the moat, the peoples, and
over the River Thames the Shard, all but lost in the mist


I had a ticket for Tuesday – but there were signalling problems outside London … so I gave that visit up and went to see the pier with its burnt shell (more anon) and on home!

One of the spread of poppies along the
west wall - in the moat

So on Wednesday stand we did … all in good humour (the other sort) … we nattered or packed ourselves like pickled, oily sardines to let the next station load on! 


One little lad was on his way to see Arsenal Football Club (the Gunners) … but for some reason had his Chelsea football shirt on … he wasn’t worried … so all will be well: bless his cotton socks!!

Here I've left the Tower and am outside
to see the waterfall cascade of poppies from
one of the Tower windows: crowds in background

Everyone poured out at Victoria Station with most going where I was headed … the Tower and the Turners at the Tate.  Grisly, damp, misty day … but the Tower beckoned … crumbs!!!


People … People … People … the populace had risen against the Tower of London … the only thing between the milling mass and the White Tower were nearly one million ceramic poppies … cascading from the Tower walls, bleedingly creeping along the moat … crimsonly oozing in from the River Thames …

You can vaguely see this in the first picture ...
I moved to the moat's edge - the Shard is behind me over
the River Thames; people walking into the Tower; beyond
outside the Tower ... people everywhere

Everyone was queueing for everything … tickets, food, entrances, then once inside each tower or exhibition … phones of all sizes skyward held … focussing across the rivers of blood red poppies …

Crossing the moat to gain entry

I’d been, seen and conquered the tribes visiting the fortress, palace, prison and 2,000 years later one of the foremost of our historical sites … tradition points to Julius Caesar as the founder of the earlier defence on the reaches of the Thames.

iphone pointed down for a closer-up!

Then – to cap it all for that part of the journey … Tower Hill tube station was closed to leaving passengers … a worker with a megaphone was exhorting all and sundry to cross busy roads, to go this way for that, that way for this … follow the yellow-brick road for the tube to escape the City.

The bloody sea - reaching its tentacles
inside the Treason Gate - the River Thames
landing point is just behind me

No yellow-brick road … but onwards as ever towards a bus, or a tube … then shooting down south to see the Late Turner Exhibition once again …


The Slave Ship by Turner (1840)
based on the Zong Massacre in 1781


… but also to see the sublime Olafur Eliasson: Turner Colour Experiments … Eliasson that artist whomade glass books, I previously posted about …


Here Eliasson investigated Turner’s use of light and colour, abstracting the hues of seven of his paintings into dynamic colour studies.

Three of the Seven Colour Experiments exhibited - all based
on one of Turner's paintings:
(1842) Peace: Burial at Sea (R)
(c 1840-5) A Wreck with Fishing Boats (C)
(c1835-40) Breaker's on a Flat Beach (L)


On trailing upwards to see Olafur Eliasson’s works at the Tate … I found many more of Turner’s paintings … many, many more! … and so need to go back – now I’m a member I can explore …

Based on Turner's The Burning of the House of Lords
and Commons, 16 October 1834 (exhibited 1835)

These seven studies bear Eliasson’s imprint … his circles … but they have been painted in oil on canvas … they are quite extraordinary.


I shall have to post again on a few of these thoughts … the Turners, Elisasson’s works, Remembrance Day is coming up … the reasons for these hundreds and thousands rouge ceramic poppies … I wasn’t sure at first – but they do make a show …

One of the direction boards - mind you
the queues were here too ... 


… and I’m glad I braved the dragon, the treason gate, torture trains or towers, Turner’s steam powered train, the underground workings … my creative mind always wondering …


Then earlier this week I had “A Little Halloween Card” from Lenny … just makes my day and week … also knowing that Linda, in the Nursing Centre, would have had one too – she did … it’s her birthday today …


She is confined to bed, and her room … and has been for years … sometimes life isn’t fair … but she now has visitors and a wonderful young friend who send her cards …


What did I mention about communication … it’s essential … sometimes we can’t be there … but we can email or write … and snail mail; if you’re ill or distressed those small moments can just make that difference …


Well that was my Halloween week … and yes it was a year ago I smashed my face – thankfully I was spared a dreadful accident and managed just to make my face look like I’d painted it for Halloween!  Amused a few people …


Lots of stories to follow … not sure about the mystery variety pro tem … but one day p’rhaps …

(NB:  I know the poppies represent the Service personnel lost in the First World War ... so my post may not reflect the reverence that some will consider due ... I have just used the amazing creation to evoke the horrors of conflict of 2,000 plus years ... in a way suitable for Halloween - apologies if I've offended anyone.)

We might break the heat records today as the warmest Halloween since someone wrote the temperature down - they are predicting 20 deg ... and 21 deg C will bust the record.  In fact it's reached 23 deg C ... but next week frost is coming ... i.e. the cold.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

53 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Those poppies are magnificent, Hilary. And that is a scary-looking cupcake.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Love that cupcake. Happy Halloween Hilary!!!

dolorah said...

I hate crowds. When I visited the tower of London (about 30 years ago) the crowds were overwhelming, even in the rain. I was there during that 40 day rain cycle, and had pity for the guardsmen who had to march in those 20 pound head gear, made heavier by all the wet weather.

Happy Halloween Hilary. So glad you did not make a habit of smashing your face :)

cleemckenzie said...

Nothing more appropriate than a visit to the Tower on a misty, spooky day! And those poppies. What an irony that so much beauty grows right up to the landing point where the doomed arrived. Shudder and Chill.

Where did all those people come from? London must have been popping at the seams.

Suzanne Furness said...

I haven't been able to see the poppies but my husband went a few weeks ago. There weren't so many then though. Sounds like a busy week for you.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wow. I had to look up the Tower of London poppies to figure out what it was all about. So, almost 900,000 ceramic poppies were made and turned into this incredible, moving, and morbidly gorgeous memorial ... and the government officials were unprepared for everyone who came to see them?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Those poppies must be quite an amazing sight, and I think your description and pictures are just perfect for those of us who aren't fortunate enough to see them in person. I think your post was both clever and effective, and not in the least bit offensive or disrespectful.

Cheers! Happy weekend!

Janie Junebug said...

What a sight the poppies are. I love the way you write about them. I don't think I've been packed into a crowd that large since we went to Bill Clinton's first inaugural celebration.

Love,
Janie

Stephen Tremp said...

This was a fun post. I've never looked at flowers this way. I'd love to spend a Halloween at the Tower of London. I'll have to put that on my bucket list.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Happy Halloween, Hilary. The cupcake is a little frightening. Love the poppies!

J E Oneil said...

18,000 visitors! There's hardly room to breathe!

The poppies really look beautiful. They almost look thick enough to be a carpet.

Val Poore said...

That must have been quite an event, Hilary. I don't like crowds so probably wouldn't have enjoyed the crush, but it must have been very moving to be there! I hope your face didn't suffer any damage this year!

Julia Hones said...

Oh, dear!
It's chilly here and I just finished the trick or treat trip in our neighborhood. I don't like Halloween but autumn is a beautiful season...
That river of poppies is gorgeous.
What a delightful Halloween card from your friend.
I agree. Communication and support from friends can make a world of difference. I feel thankful for my friends.
Hugs,
Julia

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary. Great Halloween-inspired post. I saw the poppies on tv and was sorry to hear they're only temporary. Wouldn't it be lovely if they could stay so tourists could see them in the future? Amazing.

Thanks for an inspiring post as usual!

Denise :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Karen – the poppies are incredible quite extraordinary .. the cupcake I found somewhere!

@ Keith – might be quite good to eat too ..

@ Donna – I don’t like crowds .. but these were all wonderful people .. so I was lucky. I was probably in sunny South Africa during that rainy 40 day period and yes marching around with that weight of wet coat on and the head gear must have been very uncomfortable … so far my face has survived this year – thankyou!

@ Lee – I thought the post idea fitted well into a Halloween one, especially reminding us that over time so many came into the Tower in bloody circumstances. Half-term … benefits the sights .. while the poppies get taken down soon ..

@ Suzanne – yes they are still adding poppies to the fields, and I’m glad your hubby was able to visit … I’ve done a bit this week.

@ Dianne – sorry forgot to give a brief overview re the Poppies thought I’d do it for Remembrance Day on the 9th (Day of the Service at the Cenotaph), or on the 11th the day WW1 officially ended. Yes, almost 900,000 of them – but over 1.3 million Commonwealth service personnel died during those 4 years …
Half-term is half-term .. schools out and day trips to London are on the cards … in fact it was very orderly and everyone was very affable …

@ Susan – thanks for letting me know you didn’t think my post should upset anyone … I forgot to mention what each poppy meant – but will do on a Remembrance post …

@ Janie – many thanks … the crowds weren’t intolerable (except perhaps the train) … we were free to roam around … I don’t think I could attend an inauguration, or go to a similar gathering ..

@ Stephen – I think the Tower this year probably didn’t put on many Halloween events – except in the shops … I didn’t venture in! Glad you enjoyed the post …

@ Monty – thank you … the poppies are incredible … I should have had a cupcake on my return home to restore my vigour!

@ Jeanne – there’s plenty of room in the Tower grounds, and we are an orderly nation!! The poppies are thickly spread … and from a distance – the rivers or carpets of red really stand out …

@ Val – I felt I needed to go … and am glad I made the effort and in fact there wasn’t a crush … certainly I will remember these red fields for a long time … my face so far is intact.

@ Julia – we are winding our weather down … still warmish – glad you did a trick or treat with your little girl. We don’t really do Halloween … but Autumn is beautiful and the aroma of fallen leaves is such a wonderful smell …

The poppy filled moat and cascading views are extraordinary … no wonder so many went to visit … Lenny’s card was special. Communication and support: two of the essentials of life ..

@ Denise – many thanks – the post somewhat surprised me … but am glad I’ve posted the poppy photos; yes I thought the same … then when I was at the Tower I could see how much the grass had grown! And you couldn’t dust the poppies? Anyway probably a wise decision to remove them after Remembrance Day … delighted you enjoyed the post – thank you.

Cheers everyone – so happy to read you enjoyed the photos and thoughts … I’ll write about the poppies properly for Remembrance Day … November 1st has arrived and our weather is becoming more autumnal … Hilary

Suzanne Sapsed said...

I went a few weeks ago when it wasn't quite so manic. I think half-term and the fact that it's getting close to when they start taking them down means it will get busier and busier. xx

Lisa said...

What a funny cupcake! What an amazing sea of poppies, so beautiful and ceramic?! It must have taken FOREVER to install them! Two thousand years, wow. I've been to the tower but it wasn't as crowded as this! Really enjoyed this post Hilary! Thanks for sharing and for dropping by my blog.

Out on the prairie said...

What a grand way to celebrate. It was fun to look all this over. I went for a ride each day this week on horses to enjoy the last of warm weather here.

Jo said...

What a sight Hilary, I am impressed. Your photos really showed up the poppies. I had seen something about it before but not in such detail. I am in awe at you braving all those people, you wouldn't have got me anywhere near. Seems you had a lot of transport problems too.

Many years ago my family and I were invited to cocktails in the tower and saw the Ceremony of the Keys which, at that time certainly, was rarely seen by outsiders. Tradition from way back.

What is this shard?

Jo said...

Didn't realise the poppies were only temporary. What are they going to do with them?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - Shouldn't have selected half-term to go ... but such is life! They are now exhorting everyone not to visit - it's been overloaded ... I have to say I found everyone (the crowds) really quite typically British ... polite, careful, considerate etc ...

@ Lisa - probably a strange cupcake - but I found the image and thought I'd post!

Yes, I can't quite remember the logistics of the poppies - but I'll find out and write about them anon .. they're still adding to their show.

Julius Caesar conquered Britain to plunder its mineral treasures. Galena to make lead pipe was the most important ore ... This Tower was started under William the Conqueror in late 1066 …

@ OOTP – I’m not sure others see it as a celebration … but a commemoration for all the fallen in World War 1 – but the weather has been glorious … glad you had some great ride outs on your horses … something I’ve never been able to do.

@ Jo – iphone photos – but it did me well. It was interesting because it looks much worse than it was – and I hate people … so I’d have run if I couldn’t have got through – fortunately I managed. Transport has been an issue this past week – and they are refurbishing the tubes, and stations – but they have to get the work done.

Lucky you to get to see the Ceremony of Keys … I definitely haven’t ever done that …

That needle like building, owned by the Emir of Qatar, in the distance … it’s on the south side of the river, by London Bridge Station – also undergoing extensive upgrades.

I’m not sure re the poppies – but I’ll write about them anon …

Cheers and thanks for your interest and comments - Hilary


Chatty Crone said...

Well I am never in England and I hate big crowds like that so thanks for sharing 'your' vision' of it. It was gorgeous. I love that color red - so alive...

TexWisGirl said...

i don't like ghoulish or creepy, but i think the display of poppies in honor of those who died is very special.

Susanne Drazic said...

What a wonderful display of poppies. 18,000 visitors? Wow! That cupcake looks yummy. : )

Sherry Ellis said...

Wow! Those were a lot of poppies!

Hope you enjoyed your Halloween. It sounds like yours was warmer than ours!

Arlee Bird said...

So much to see, so many people to deal with. Quiet contemplation in an art gallery sounds nice.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Christine Rains said...

What an awesome sight to see all those poppies. I have my poppy already on my jacket for Remembrance Day. Now I'm craving a creepy crawly cupcake! :)

Trisha F said...

That cupcake looks delish!

the Tower is soooo very creepy. we were there in 2012, and I found the torture chamber very icky indeed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandie - I have to say it wasn't too bad .. but I'm glad I was only there for the look! The sea of red is exceptional ..

@ TWG - nor do I like creepy and ghoulish ... and the installation of the poppies is a great recognition for the fallen ..

@ Susanne - the displays are extraordinary and I'm glad I've been. It seems they were overwhelmed with visitors!!

@ Sherry - there are more poppies still being planted ... I had a quiet Halloween and the day was definitely warm ..

@ Lee - I knew I was letting myself in for an interesting visit with the crowds ... but I really wanted to go. The Turner exhibition was fully packed too .. but the Eliasson art works I could have sat quietly and contemplated ... but I needed to get back south ... another day for the contemplation ..

@ Christine - yes it was an awesome sight seeing the Tower surrounded by its moat of red poppies ... Glad you've got your poppy at the ready .. mine is getting off one jacket and onto another with the weather changes.

@ Trisha .. I don't like cupcakes much .. but a spiderly one amuses.

The Tower is creepy .. and I'm glad you enjoyed your tour of it .. torture chambers in any era don't bear thinking about.

Today is the 2nd and the wind has got up, the red sky in the morning (warning sign) has now faded ... and it is cooler ... Autumn has arrived. Cheers Hilary

Suzanne Sapsed said...

Hi Hilary, re Jo's comment about what happens to the poppies. They have been sold to anyone that ordered one. All profits are going to several armed forces charities x

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hi Hilary,

The tower is one of my favourite London attractions, never visited on Halloween though. Love the quirky cupcake!

Have a great Sunday.

Nila

Sarah E. Albom said...

I would love to see those poppies. Beautifully written post, the descriptive words are awesome :)

Milo James Fowler said...

I'll never forget my one trip to the Tower and the torture section -- grisly, quite grisly.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hilary
Fun post. Loved the poppies even if they aren't real. We had 71 F, on Halloween. But in past years a blizzard. You never know in Colorado.
Nancy

Inger said...

I am so happy that Linda got a card from Lenny. Are you behind them getting to know each other? Reading this, I once again miss old London town. There were no tall buildings when I lived there. Progress, I guess.

Veterans here give out paper poppies on Nov.11. It touches my heart, usually they are very old guys, standing outside the stores handing out these flowers.

You make me feel somewhat dull, intellectually. But you also inspire me to want to do more after I read your posts. Now I will look up this Eliasson, he looks very interesting and sort of from the North somewhere.

Thanks for keeping my brain afloat and also for being so supportive in my time of need.

Inger said...

I just read the post you wrote about his glass books. Wow, I have to learn more about this man. That's extraordinary!

TALON said...

All those poppies - that's breathtaking! Wow, Hilary! And I'm glad you had some warmth on your trip. Here we had snow showers for the trick or treaters. Cold and windy today, but finally some sunshine after all the rain. Outside my office window, the Japanese Maple is glowing red...like the poppies. Always the last to shed leaves, it turns scarlet than drops all the leaves at once. All the other trees are bare now. Truly November!

Brian Miller said...

well i am glad you avoided smashing your face again...the poppy moat is rather amazing..something i would love to take in...the art though is all the more...would be a cool exhibit to see...

Karen Jones Gowen said...

And everywhere you look there are the glorious red poppies!

Rhonda Albom said...

Hi Hilary, Happy Halloween. What a fun post and fun photos. I never heard of London is being the city that never sleeps before.

Bossy Betty said...

Those poppies are amazing!!

Gina Gao said...

I really enjoyed this post, the descriptions, and the photos. Thanks for sharing.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne – thanks for letting me know re Jo’s comment – I’m sure she’s been back to read.

@ Nila – I agree the Tower of London is an amazing place … an incredible edifice that’s stood the test of time … I don’t think I’ll go on Halloween again. Thank you for coming by ..

@ Sarah – the poppies are amazing and I’m sorry you can’t just pop over from down under to see the poppies. Delighted you enjoyed the post … I see you sent your mother over to read it!

@ Nancy – many thanks … the poppies as the art work are quite extraordinary … usually our weather is much worse than this … I gather Colorado has a mind of its own re weather!

@ Inger – yes .. and she was so pleased and had flowers on Friday. Lenny asked me if I’d mind if he wrote to Linda, when I mentioned I was visiting her and explained that she couldn’t easily leave her room and had been there for years: so that was how that comes about .. and I send cards to Lenny on her behalf.

London has certainly changed since you and I lived in London town a few decades ago … yes all the veterans come out over these times – Remembrance/Armistice Day is so important to all of us.

No – you’re not dull intellectually at all .. I’m just finding my feet is this direction and so stretch myself (and any who reads – if they wish) to appreciate, or learn something different. You’re right about Eliasson – he’s an Icelandic man and does a lot of work in Scandinavia. I’m glad you went back to read about his glass books – they amaze me … and his understanding and stretching for his art – so interesting. Thanks so much for the comment and thoughts.

@ Talon – the poppies have really gathered everyone’s imagination – and breath-taking is a good word. November is here .. but your Japanese Maple must be glorious .. they do give off a fantastic colour don’t they .. our trees aren’t yet bare – but with the winds .. the leaves are a-falling.

@ Brian – thank you – I’m glad I managed to stay upright this year! Isn’t the poppy moat extraordinary … and I’m sorry you can’t get to see the actual display … the net will have more, but it’s not the same, I know

@ Karen – the exhibition is incredible .. and yes … everywhere a sea of red glorious poppies …

@ Rhonda – that’s lovely to see you both over here – I guess Sarah sent you! It probably applies to New York .. but London is always buzzing too – and the words hit the paper and thus post. Your Halloween photos from NZ were brilliant – such fun …

@ Betty – the poppies have taken us by storm …

@ Gina – thanks so much .. lovely to see you …

Cheers everyone – have a happy week ahead … Hilary

Linda said...

Hilary, what an exciting Halloween week you had, and nice weather to boot. It was chilly here, and a cold rain rolled in around 8 p.m. sending the kids home and likely dampening the Halloween party (pun intended). I missed the party for other reasons, but just as well as 2/3 of it would have been wet - it was an outdoor party. :)

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary, Glad you fought the crowds, and saw so many wonderful sights! It's great that the profits for the lovely poppies will be donated! Hope your delightful weather continues!

Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Linda - we were lucky with the weather .. it turned on 1st November .. How sad yours was chilly and wet - so the kids missed out ... oh gosh - better to miss the outdoor party though, even though you weren't meant to ...

@ Julie - yes I'm going to write a proper poppy post at the weekend - explaining a bit more about the ceramic poppy display at the Tower.

Nope - the weather has changed ... still not too awful - but much colder and very wet ..

Cheers to you both - Hilary

Betsy Brock said...

Those poppies are just amazing.. ..I love the color and then the sheer number of them is breath-taking!

You've listed all my favorite foods here...salmon, pizza, cheese in any form...oh my!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betsy - the poppy display is pretty extraordinary ...

... and the next post on tips for freezing: all delicious tasting ideas ... I don't do pizza very often - but recently I've been craving one!

Cheers Hilary

Diana Wilder said...

I read expecting to enjoy a mélange of impressions and some fascinating facts, but while they were there, they were not my first impression. Almost poetic, almost dream-like, seeing the modern tower through the eyes of the past, touching the conflicts and turbulence and then somehow stepping away and back into the present. A tour de force. thank you.

Diana

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diana - this turned into a sort of Hilary travel ramble ... I couldn't think of any other way to describe the day ... but am very glad you enjoyed my interpretation of all things ...

I really appreciate your words - cheers Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

What an adventure you had. The sea of poppies is spectacular, and I love those paintings by Olafur Eliasson - Turner is a favourite too, so it's fascinating to see how the artist has extracted Turner's colour palette. Thank you Hilary, I'd have loved to be there.

Silvia Villalobos said...

Love the pics of poppies everywhere - simply gorgeous -- an excellent way to commemorate. And, Hilary, I am so glad it's just about lunch time here, so I can fix myself something to eat. The display of food here left me ... famished. I couldn't stop staring. :) I love salmon with spinach, and oh my, just look at that delicious cheese.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - sorry I've never been back to reply ... that Poppy Exhibition at the Tower was an empathetic reminder about WW1 and the losses incurred - War is dreadful.

Thanks re the Turner and Eliasson palette - I loved finding these things out ...

@ Silvia - I think this must also refer to a foodie post I put up ... so I'm glad it was lunch time for you ...

The Poppies at The Tower were an extraordinary creation ...

Thanks so much - sorry I haven't replied before ... I came by because in 2014 the temperature was very warm, and today (and yesterday) in 2016 ... it is the same - unusual weather ... not the sort of weather we had when I was growing up ... Cheers Hilary