Pride in London

London has taken a battering in recent months, from terrorism and from fire.  But here are some photos of a happier day.   On Saturday 8th July the Pride in London parade set off from Portland Place to bring some colour to the West End.

Most participants wore T-shirts with slogans for their LGBTQ groups, but some looked more special.

Music for the parade came from Sheboom drummers, London Gay Symphonic Winds, and many soundsystems, but my favourite was “Flashdance…What a Feeling” played by a military band from the Guards Division.

I snapped some photos of Tom Daley on his way to join the Barclays float near the front of the parade. If you’ve won Olympic bronze and Commonwealth gold medals, and been World Champion, on the 10m diving board, then (a) you won’t be nervous on top of a parade float, and (b) you don’t need to wear anything special to stand out.

Tour of Britain: the London stage

Central London hosted the final stage of the Tour of Britain today.   The streets were closed to traffic, creating a 100 kilometre, 16-lap cycling course around Trafalgar Square, the Strand, Whitehall, Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street.   I spent the afternoon watching the race on Regent Street.

peloton The Tour of Britain started last Sunday in Glasgow.  More than 100 cyclists competed in stages in  Cumbria, Cheshire, Wales, Bath,  Devon and Bristol, and then the final stage in London.  An English rider, Steve Cummings, won the race.   I took this photo of him just before the start of today’s stage.


The next photo shows Steve Cummings in the leader’s yellow jersey, alongside two other British riders – Mark Cavendish (in the Dimension Data team jersey) and Bradley Wiggins (easily identifiable in the Team Wiggins jersey).


Today was a lot of fun to watch, with the riders reappearing every few minutes as they completed their laps much quicker than I expected.  But their speed makes them hard to photograph, so my favourite image from today was this photo of Mark Cavendish, standing beside the team bus, and not sprinting away in a blur.


Regent Street

It’s time to blog from the big shopping streets of the West End.  Today I’m on Regent Street; tomorrow will be Oxford Street.

Regent Street has a long tradition of Christmas lights, dating from 1954.  My vantage point for 2015 was the top deck of a bus.

Regent Street lights 2

To be honest, I was puzzled by these metallic shapes.  Attractive, and elegant, but without any obvious connection to Christmas.

Regent Street lights

All became clear at night when the wheels, ratchets and springs brightened up with projections, lights and animations.

Regent Street lights ice

It’s worth hanging around for a while to watch as the patterns change.

Regent Street lights gold

The designers (Belgian firm ACT Lighting Design) took their inspiration from three things:- the watchmaking heritage of Regent Street; photographs of the 1954 Christmas lights; and the Lumière brothers’ cinematography, first shown on Regent Street in 1896.

Regent Street lights and busIf you go there and take your own photos, you can enter a competition.  The Regent Street website is encouraging people to share their pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #RegentStreet and #Christmas, for the chance to win dinner for two at a local restaurant.  Click here for details.




Carnaby Street

In yesterday’s post I was singing the praises of natural-looking Christmas decorations.  But today I’m all in favour of the bright and playful pinks of Carnaby Street.

Carnaby Street party signThis is the view from the north end of the street, near Liberty and Great Marlborough Street.

Carnaby Street lights

It gets dark so early in London in December – official sunset time today will be 3.51pm –  that I really appreciate these bright Soho lights.

Carnaby ball

The party atmosphere in Carnaby Street spreads out into the streets of the Newburgh Quarter, where small Christmas trees light the walls of the shops, restaurants and bars.  Just when I thought the decorations had become much more subtle, I was stopped in my tracks by a giant plug and socket.

Carnaby Street plug

This is actually an artwork that stays in position all year round on the Ganton Street electricity substation, but it has been given an extra sparkle for Christmas.

Fire! Where are all the hydrants?

One way to irritate your travel companions is to ignore the famous monuments and take photographs of fire hydrants.  Here are my holiday photos from Boston, New York City and Washington DC.

Why was I interested in fire hydrants?  Because American movies give the impression that US cities install these hydrants on street corners to provide cooling jets of water for playing children.  They help to fight fires as well? Even these cute ones with yellow hats?  Really?


Back home we leave the hydrants underground and mark them with plates like these.

How do these markers help fire fighters?  This is what the London Fire Brigade’s website says:-

“The two numbers on the plate show the size of the water main and the approximate distance of the hydrant.”

So in the photos above, the water mains serving the hydrants are 150 millimetres and 250mm in diameter respectively, and are located 1 metre and 4 metres from the marker plates.

London fire hydrant Regent Street wall

Back to the LFB website for another crucial fact:-

“In addition to marker plates, all hydrants are displayed on a computer in the cab of every London fire engine so that the nearest hydrant can be located while the crew are on route to a fire call.”

I feel reassured by my research into fire hydrants.  It’s just a pity that my local fire station in Chiltern Street is now a trendy hotel and restaurant.


Chiltern Firehouse and street

Click here to read more from the London Fire Brigade.  The best bit is the quiz  (click here) about the Great Fire of London which started on 2nd September 1666 (oops, I’ve given you one of the answers!).

28 Photos Later: Day 28 in London

We made it to Day 28 of “28 Photos Later”.

twentyeightSo this week I have been thinking: where can I find an image to sum up a month in London?  Will this do?  Spotted on Regent Street yesterday:  a royal crown, the London Underground logo, a cheerful Londoner (not me) …. and a giant teddy bear.

Hamleys greeters

If you want a welcome like this, get to Hamleys toyshop as it opens at 10 a.m.


That’s the end of my month of daily blogging.  A very satisfying project, especially when readers added their comments.  Thanks for staying with me through all 28 Days!

I’m going to take it easier now….one post a week is the new plan.

28 Photos Later: Day 24 in London

Welcome to Day 24 of “28 Photos Later”.


Today’s title is “Broadcasting House”.   Broadcasting House was built for the BBC in 1932, and redeveloped over the past ten years.  It’s hard to get a vantage point to show the complete horseshoe shape of the building in one image, so here are two photos.

First the inside of the horseshoe.  The Christmas tree is a giveaway that I didn’t take the photo this week.

Broadcasting House at night

Yesterday I was standing on the outside of the horseshoe.  Can you see how the old and new parts of the building fit together?

Broadcasting House day

If Distant Drumlin readers are ever asked to appear on a BBC news programme, come round to my house afterwards – it’s only a 5 minute walk.