Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

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Abraham Lincoln…

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States 1861–1865

 

Finding an Abraham Lincoln Sculpture in Parliament Square London was a treat. He stands in  front of the Middlesex Guildhall and was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and erected in July 1920.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man (also called Standing Lincoln) is a larger-than-life size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. The original statue is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, and several replicas  have been installed in other places around the world (one is located at Parliament Square in London). Completed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1887, it has been described as the most important sculpture of Lincoln from the 19th century.[1]Abraham Lincoln II, Lincoln’s only grandson, was present at the unveiling in Chicago, IL.

The sculpture depicts a contemplative Lincoln rising from a chair, about to give a speech.

The Location! Buildings looking upon the square include the churches Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s, Westminster, the Middlesex Guildhall which is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United KingdomGovernment Offices Great George Street serving HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, and Portcullis House.

The History! Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 in order to open up the space around the Palace of Westminster and improve traffic flow, and featured London’s first traffic signals. A substantial amount of property had to be cleared from the site. The architect responsible was Sir Charles Barry. Its original features included the Buxton Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1940 and placed in its present position in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. In 1950 the square was redesigned by George Grey Wornum. The central garden of the square was transferred from the Parliamentary Estate to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It has responsibility to light, cleanse, water, pave, and repair the garden, and has powers to make bylaws for the garden.

The east side of the square, lying opposite one of the key entrances to the Palace of Westminster, has historically been a common site of protest against government action or inaction. On May Day 2000 the square was transformed into a giant allotment by a Reclaim the Streets guerrilla gardening action. Most recently, Brian Haw staged a continual protest there for several years, campaigning against British and American action in Iraq. Starting on 2 June 2001, Haw left his post only once, on 10 May 2004 – and then because he had been arrested on the charge of failing to leave the area during a security alert, and returned the following day when he was released. The disruption that Haw’s protest is alleged to have caused led Parliament to insert a clause into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 making it illegal to have protests in Parliament Square (or, indeed, in a large area reaching roughly half a mile in all directions) without first seeking the permission of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act relating to Parliament Square were repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which provides for a different regime of “prohibited activities”.

As well as sparking a great deal of protest from various groups on the grounds of infringement of civil liberties including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Act was initially unsuccessful in accomplishing its goals: Brian Haw was held to be exempt from needing authorisation in a High Court ruling, as his protest had started before the Act came into effect (though any new protests would be covered); Haw remained in Parliament Square. Later, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, forcing Haw to apply for police authorisation to continue his protest.

So all that to say finding an American President’s sculpture in such a historic place is pretty darn cool. He did a great deal for my country.

In surveys of scholars ranking Presidents since the 1940s, Lincoln is consistently ranked in the top three, often #1.[4][5] A 2004 study found that scholars in the fields of history and politics ranked Lincoln number one, while legal scholars placed him second after Washington.[268] Of all the presidential ranking polls conducted since 1948, Lincoln has been rated at the very top in the majority of polls: Schlesinger 1948, Schlesinger 1962, 1982 Murray Blessing Survey, Chicago Tribune 1982 poll, Schlesinger 1996, CSPAN 1996, Ridings-McIver 1996, Time 2008, and CSPAN 2009. Generally, the top three presidents are rated as 1) Lincoln; 2) George Washington; and 3) Franklin D. Roosevelt, although Lincoln and Washington, and Washington and Roosevelt, occasionally are reversed.[269]

President Lincoln’s assassination made him a national martyr and endowed him with a recognition of mythic proportion. Lincoln was viewed by abolitionists as a champion for human liberty.  Many, though not all, in the South considered Lincoln as a man of outstanding ability.

Yeah, I cried when I saw the sculpture. He’s right up there with Churchill in our (USA) book. What he did for my country during the darkest days of the Civil War and battle fiercely for the Emancipation Proclamation (taking notes from William Wilberforce!). Absolute heroic guy. Thanks, UK, for putting him in such a historic location as Parliament Square. He did good by us.

To find out more about him, see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

 

 

No blinking in the Big Smoke…

The Doctor proved elusive this last visit. However, I learned quickly enough not to blink in the Big Smoke. The weeping angels are everywhere. Great-Grandad John Lovell (1536-1599, London, England) surely met the Doctor at some point whilst in London. I’m guessing Pops had to be careful around the Big Smoke. As a Whovian and Lovell, I was careful to observe this ancient race of aliens on my visit.

Sometimes they are innocent looking…

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

Paddington Bear

According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels “are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from.” This one landed in Paddington, right by the escalators which made it very difficult to not blink AND board the escalator at the same time. Luckily, I did not venture by him too often.

He describes them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise. Though they themselves cannot speak, they can communicate through the voice of a person they kill by removing their brains and reanimating their minds. They are also very physically strong (see below), capable of snapping necks, though physically killing a victim is rare for them unless the need arises (such as stealing someone’s voice). This lad didn’t have a difficult time, I reckon.

Camden Market

Camden Market

His counterpart was down the way and was a bit intimidating. Largest Weeping Angel I’d run across yet. Fortunately, enough people are watching him as he stays frozen at Camden Market. Could be that that the stalls of gorgeous frocks and scents of a thousand nations cuisine are mesmerizing him to remain still. I wasn’t having anything of it though – I knew better. Their paramount ability is their speed, as they are able to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye, allowing them to reach a victim or move to an unseen or darkened area before their quantum-lock freezes them again.

Warrior

Warrior

With a touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past, to before his/her own birth. The Angels feed off the “potential energy” of the years their victims would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past. Could this be why I felt so at home in England? I’m here before my time and is the angel below responsible for my fascination?

angel10

Emperor

He is a tad intimidating (all Roman Emperor looking) so I made fun of him at the Tower of London. Whistling in a graveyard, I reckon. Honestly, he looked like a tour guide of days gone by now pointing out the Gherkin in Central London. Funny chap, that one. Wonder if his arm gets tired and if he uses the wall behind him for workouts (rock-climbing and such).

The biggest surprise was Monty. A Weeping Angel right on Whitehall. Come to think of it, proper spot for him considering his history. They can drain other forms of energy, such as that from electric lights or other electronics. Could also be a grand joke on 10 Downing if Monty isn’t too fond of a residing PM. I’m guessing it’s Clegg’s residence that gets the brunt of Monty’s jovial humour.  Is quite nice folks leave red poppy wreaths at his feet. We will always remember them.

Monty

Monty

Without power, the Angels start to decay, turn to stone without being watched, and corrode as a statue does; their speed is also extremely hindered if Angels reach starvation, lessened from meters to a partial step in a blink. Seems this fair angel is in that predicament in the Italian Gardens at Kensington. She is lovely but I wouldn’t trust her even if she seemed dainty. Must be bloody freezing though – she’s without her top.

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Italian Gardens at the Long Water

The Big Smoke is filled with Weeping Angels of all sorts. Keep your eyes open and don’t blink.

The Bulldog, Big Smoke, and memories of a soldier…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go, on the advice of someone dear to my heart, I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

20130216-202251.jpg

A Wallace returns to the Tower and leaves with her head intact…

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

One of Dad’s clans is Wallace. My Gran was a Wallace. So – I traced us to make sure of which Wallace (if any) we are related. It certainly explained the stubbornness and ferocity of spirit that rears its head in my family line.

I wore blue in honour of my Great-Grandfather’s King Robert the Bruce and John Wallace (less famous brother to Sir William Wallace). As far as I know, I’m the first of my family to see the haunts of the Tower of London. William was a guest here prior to his death (hanged, drawn, and quartered then his head  placed upon a stake out on London bridge as a warning). Hoping to avoid being stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield, I opted to lay low and just shoot images and smile politely.

Despite it being cold and drizzly (redundant statement in the UK), I set out to have a look and snap what I could of the exterior. The first shot is by far my favourite out of all that I shot of the Tower. The hardest challenge is capturing the essence of the history.

The Tower of London

Ignore the Gherkin and modern London photobombing the Tower.

Per Wikipedia, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England, United Kingdom. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England.

Tad bit of history, you say?

Overwhelmingly so. Shooting it is intimidating. Such history screams back at one, ghosts abound, the modernity of London races and swirls outside its walls, and one stands completely gobsmacked by it all.

Unless you live here and this is part of the daily commute, it’s gobsmacking to a history nut. I get it…the locals are used to it much in the same way I’m used to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and forbiddingly Fisherman’s Wharf (yawn) of San Francisco. Ever day it’s there, every day there are tourists taking images, and standing mouth agape. I was proudly one of them. At least I knew not to wear trainers – the badge of a colonist.

This Wallace just thought it was time to see some of the digs her Great-Grandfather haunted.