How Not to Enter a Photo Competition

I’ve been walking around Marylebone for the past two days taking photos, hoping to create a memorable image that could win the Life in Marylebone photo contest.  Easier said than done.  This path in Regent’s Park looks lovely, but it lies a few frustrating metres outside the competition boundary.

Regent's Park desire line
The grey path on the right marks the edge of the competition – I was out of bounds.

When I wanted bright sunshine to fall on my subjects on Thursday, the clouds closed in.  When I got up early on Friday looking for a “golden hour”, everything was grey and damp.  When I went out at 2pm on Saturday, I got soaked by the rain.

On Thursday I stood on Portland Place trying to capture three flags flying together outside their embassies, and the wind dropped.  When I returned on Saturday the wind was up, but the Kenyan High Commission had removed their flag.

Flegs 3 on Portland Place
If the middle flag unravelled, it would reveal itself as the flag of Poland.

The Kenyan flag has vanished
The Kenyan flag has vanished and the EU flag has even fewer stars.

I do love Portland Place, with its embassies, grand buildings, statues, wide pavements and central, tree-lined path.  When I was focusing on the flags, I was standing close to the statue of General Wladyslaw Sikorski (1881-1943), who was Prime Minister of the Polish Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces from 7 November 1939 to 4 July 1943.  My photo of General Sikorski might have been a contender if I hadn’t chopped off his fingers.


I still have another 24 hours before the competition deadline.  And if anyone reading the blog is in the neighbourhood, get out there and see if you can do better!

Click here for the competition details.

New Cavendish Street – 100 steps

Do you want to see my neighbourhood in London?  I live close to New Cavendish Street – in fact I can see it from my window as I type this.

Here is a slice of life from New Cavendish Street.  A very thin slice, as I only walked for one hundred steps to take these photos.  The aim was to focus more closely and notice things, and I think it worked.

Polish Naval HQ
Polish Naval HQ at No. 51

Number 51, New Cavendish Street has a plaque on the wall, commemorating the fact that this building was the HQ of the Polish Navy from 1939 to 1945.  The Polish Navy was part of the Allied forces in the Second World War, using ships leased from the British and three of their own destroyers which had sailed from Poland to Scotland on the eve of war.  The names on the plaque are the names of naval vessels.

I wondered how I had missed that plaque before, but it was only affixed last year, and there are photos on this link of the unveiling of the plaque by Ambassador Witold Sobkow.  The event was attended by Councillor Sarah Richardson, who is the Lord Mayor of Westminster. It was also attended by Vice Admiral Stanislaw Zarychta, Commander of the Maritime Operations Centre of the Polish Navy.

London was also home to the Polish Government in Exile from 1940 to 1990, and the Embassy of Poland is still just round the corner on Portland Place.  The Embassy and the Polish Heritage Society UK were responsible for creating the Polish Navy plaque, with the co-operation of the local landowner, the Howard de Walden Estate.  (So the plaque is not part of the English Heritage scheme mentioned in my previous post.)

Next door to number 51, number 53 is the local doctor’s surgery.  This area of London is home to many private medical facilities, especially on Harley Street, but the Cavendish Health Centre is actually part of the National Health Service, providing essential services to local residents like me.

There is a weird habit in this area of pretending to be on a more prestigious street.  Harley Street, with all its fancy doctors, runs from north to south, cutting across New Cavendish Street, Weymouth Street and Devonshire Street.  So those three streets are full of buildings calling themselves “Harley Street”; maybe because they are genuinely on a corner, or maybe because if you lean out of the window you can see Harley Street in the distance.  And if you can’t claim that you are on Harley Street, go for the next best one – Wimpole Street.

This sign for 30B Wimpole Street appears on New Cavendish Street, leaving me shouting at the wall – You’re not on Wimpole Street! Stop trying to do this social climbing by numbers!

The idea of taking photos within the distance I could walk in 100 steps came from the Chittle Chattle WordPress blog – thanks for the inspiration.