Archive for November, 2015

As well as lovely gardens the roof garden also has a collection of exotic water birds which roam the gardens.






The most attractive of the 3 gardens is the Spanish Garden.





A pavilion in the Spanish Garden

A pavilion in the Spanish Garden





George Westcott was born in 1753, the son of a baker in Honiton Devon. He joined the Navy as a masters mate in 1768, but by 1773 had been accepted as a midshipman. He passed lieutenant in 1776 and fought at the battle of Ushant (1778) and the relief of Gibraltar (1781), He served on HMS Victory under the command of Admiral Kempenfelt at the second battle of Ushant and shortl;y afterwards was promoted Commander of HMS Fortune. He was appointed Captain of HMS London in 1790 and in 1793 was appointed Flag-Captain to Rear Admiral Caldwell on HMS Majestic.


He was Killed by a musket ball at the Battle of the Nile  in August 1798 and buried at sea. He was a man who it could be truly said rose through the ranks from humble background to a senior navy position. After Admiral Nelson had visited Westcott’s Mother in Honiton , he commented

‘poor thing, except from the bounty of government and Lloyd’s, in very low circumstances. The brother is a tailor, but had they been chimney-sweepers it was my duty to show them respect.

Westcott had not received the Nile medal, so Nelson gave his own medal to Westcott’s mother.

2 memorials were erected to him, both by Thomas Banks. This one in St Paul’s Cathedral and another in Honiton Parish Church.


The roof garden which sits on top of a building in Kensington High street is one of those amazing places that is totally unexpected in its setting,

English Garden

English Garden

Designed in 1936 by Ralph Hancock for businessman Trevor Bowen, it opened to the public two years later. It was bought by Sir Richard Branson in 1981. It comprises 3 gardens: Spanish, Tudor and an English Woodland plus a restaurant / night club complex.

English Garden

English Garden


Spanish Garden

Spanish Garden

The views of London are stunning

View from the bar

View from the bar

Eye to Eye contact

Posted: November 24, 2015 in Birds, Natural History

Who is going to blink first?


This Egyptian Goose was determined to stare me out using a wall to make up for the height difference.

The_sinking_of_HMS_Captain by William Frederick Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The_sinking_of_HMS_Captain by William Frederick Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

HMS Captain was a unique ship. Built in 1869 she was a masted turret ship with dual propulsion systems. Her design had been opposed by the Navy but she was built on the orders of Parliament.

HMS Captain in dock  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

HMS Captain in dock
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She was built at Birkenhead but a number of substantial mistakes were made during her construction. By the time she was finished she was 750 tons heavier than originally planned. This combined with other design and construction elements meant that her centre of gravity had risen 10 inches. This was to play a major part in her demise.

HMS_Captain by William Frederick Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

HMS_Captain by William Frederick Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She was commisioned in April 1870 and following sea trials was allocated to the channel fleet. On the 6th September off Cape Finistere a storm blew up. The ship began to roll in the gale force winds and eventually she capsized. 480 seamen including the captain were lost and only 18 survived.

The inquiry into the ships loss found that she had sunk due to the design and construction of the ship.

‘Before the Captain was received from her contractors a grave departure from her original design had been committed whereby her draught of water was increased about two feet and her freeboard was diminished to a corresponding extent, and that her stability proved to be dangerously small, combined with an area of sail, under those circumstances, excessive. The Court deeply regret that if these facts were duly known and appreciated, they were not communicated to the officer in command of the ship, or that, if otherwise, the ship was allowed to be employed in the ordinary service of the Fleet before they had been ascertained by calculation and experience.’

Names of those lost on the HMS Captain 1870

Names of those lost on the HMS Captain 1870     St Paul’s Cathedral


The story of HMS Captain, St Paul's Cathedral

The story of HMS Captain, St Paul’s Cathedral

The Captain and Crew are remembered in two memorial plaques on the wall of St Paul’s Cathedral.



Sunset over the reedbed

Posted: November 20, 2015 in Landscape, Natural History



Thomas Fanshaw Middleton was born in Derbyshire in 1769. he was educated at Christ’s hospital and Cambridge and was ordained priest in 1792. He worked in a number of parishes in the UK including St Pancras in London as well as spending time as a private tutor. In 1814 he was made bishop of Calcutta, the first to hold the post, and travelled to his new diocese, which in effect was most of India, that year. he set about setting up a free school and a school for orphans  which opened in 1815. In that same year he undertook a tour of his diocese which entailed a round journey of a round 5000 miles and he did not return to Calcutta until the following year. In 1820 he established a Mission College to train local people as missionaries and he continued to travel to parts of his large diocese. He died in Calcutta in 1822 after developing a fever.

This statue to the first Protestant bishop in India was erected by supporters of his work in the UK and can be found in St Paul’s Cathedral.


Watching me

Posted: November 18, 2015 in Birds, Natural History

This young Mute swan was playing it cool but clearly was watching everything I was doing.


Views of St Paul’s (5)

Posted: November 17, 2015 in London, UK


Everywhere you look is the most amazing art work.