Monday, August 27, 2012

A visit to HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean, current Royal Navy's biggest ship is the obvious symbol of excessive military presence in Olympic London. She is serving as helicopter base and barracks for troops and thus usually remains closed to public, but today civilians were let on board for the second time since she had arrived. I wasn't a fan of that security frenzy and still think it was at the very least questionable decision to militarise the event, but it's always interesting to get a look at such a great piece of engineering.

HMS Ocean from the embarkment

Possibly the pause between Olympics and Paralympics is to blame, but there was almost no queue so it was only needed to wait for the ferry boat to get there. Like at HMS St Albans two years ago, only limited spaces were open, but still it was quite possible to learn something new.

When looking from the distance, I thought those niches in ship's sides are closed with some cover not visible from there when it's not moored. It turned out they're "permanent" housing landing crafts on their cranes (davits):

Entry ladder Landing craft vehicle

The font used in various writings is more strict than on HMS St Albans, but resembles pub menu a bit. I actually like it, it's just surprising to read something like "Danger! Explosives!" in careful curlicues:

Same font as seen before at HMS St Albans

Some internal warnings (guess nothing secret):

No football clothes Moth Ball and The Sun

Hangar deck with a "folded" Lynx helicopter and some other vehicles:

At the hangar deck Lynx helicopter on the hangar deck

Helicopters are brought to the flight deck from there by two lifts like this:

Lift to the flight deck

The flight deck has not ski-jump deck and thus is suitable only for helicopters and jump jets:

Flight deck

Since Harriers are now retired, the only option are helicopters. Same is true for older HMS Illustrious which while boasting a ramp, still cannot operate fixed wing aircraft. New "true" aircraft carrier is only expected by 2020 and meanwhile there were thoughts to share one with France. Later rejected, they still did spark inevitable jokes like "what shall we do when French half surrenders?"

Ground connection on the flight deck:

Ground connection at the deck

The ship is quite tall as well - taller than great deal of houses in London:

View from the flight deck One of the boats carrying visitors

Finally, a video from the ferry boat showing HMS Ocean from all sides, and a link to the corresponding Flickr set:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tick Tock

While often dubbed "Angel's shabby twin", Holloway Road (which I now cycle along almost every day since we moved) still offers plenty of interesting details to rest your eyes on if you only bother to look above the ground floor shops.

What I noticed only after about a month, on a relatively short length from Nag's Head to Highbury Corner roundabout there are four buildings featuring clocks on them.

The first one (if we're walking southwards) would be the building next to the Waitrose store bordering The Coronet, the former Art Deco cinema opened as Savoy during the WWII and now an inexpensive Wetherspoon pub:

View Larger Map

Green clock face, golden hands, and accurate enough - what else to wish for? Also, the architectural details - aren't they looking good?

Holloway Rd clocks

The last film shown at The Coronet when it still was a cinema was Blade Runner, a sequel of which is expected soon (finger crossed it won't be what Prometheus was to Alien).

The next clock down the street isn't a part of some ensemble and is more simple, as is the building itself. But unlike its neighbour there are two clock faces making it visible not only from across the road, but from the adjacent pavement as well. Sadly, they both seem to be broken (hopefully not for too long):

View Larger Map

Holloway Rd clocks

Then one of the London Metropolitan University buildings (particularly The Rocket Complex) also features a small clocktower on top:

View Larger Map

The university formerly known as the University of North London is not amongst the valued ones and the reviews I've seen were average at best. But what we're interested in now is the clock. Readable from either side, this clock works and reads accurate time:

Holloway Rd clocks

What is also interesting about this area is the university buildings standing next to each other but built in a very different architectural style: black concrete tower which would have surely delighted Brezhnev, stainless steel irregular deconstructivist Graduate Centre, glass cubes of office block appearance, The Rocket Complex mentioned above, and more.

London Metropolitan University buildings

The development continues - it was announced recently 12-storey student accommodation block will be erected across the road, once again not rhyming its style with other buildings on that junction.

The last one is the clocktower of St Mary Magdalen's church surrounded by a small garden but still clearly visible from the Holloway Road. This is the only set of clocks on the southern side of the road as the previous ones are all on the northern one:

View Larger Map

Holloway Rd clocks

And it's not the end of it as we have only walked for 20 minutes or so, and only in one direction. But then Highbury starts which is quite a different story.

The major clocktower of the area by the way is to the south from there beyond Caledonian Road. Good news of the week is that its clock has also been restored.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mr Brainwash's "solo show"

Much better than you could have expected:

Mr Brainwash - Madonna Mr Brainwash - Kate Moss Mr Brainwash - David Bowie

Definitely worth a visit if you have a chance.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!"

From Bloody Foreigners by Robert Winder:

"Amelie Struve [...] also tried to raise charitable relief [for poor German workers in Britain], but was turned down by the Mayor of London [...] She was also opposed by Marx and Engels, who wrote a letter to The Times denouncing such charity on the grounds that it would give more useful exiles (such as themselves) a bad name"

If you google that, this book will be the only source, but still the letter itself could be found:

Impressive to say the least.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic spirit

July 28th: A stunning ceremony opened the Games: At the very same time, more than a hundred cyclists kettled by police near the Olympic park for attending the monthly group ride event:

August 1st: Bradley Wiggins wins a gold for Team GB: Later the same day cyclist is killed by Olympic bus driver near the velodrome:

This is probably the main reason I am not excited and didn't bother to get tickets even for sports I'm myself into.

P.S. "Bradley Wiggins reacts to Olympic park rape urging women to dress modestly" Seems to be a mistake in report: