Thursday, August 30, 2007

THE SOUTH OF LONDON - CROYDON

Before going on our walk through Croydon, here is a little history.

The London Borough of Croydon was formed in 1965 from the old borough of Croydon and the urban district of Coulsdon and Purley. It is located on the southern edge of

London.

The areas that make up Croydon largely developed as 19th-century railway suburbs, but it had already been an established coaching town on the main road south from London long before.

By the 20th century Croydon had become an urban centre in its own right. After the Second World War it developed rapidly as a business centre with many companies moving from central London. The new town boomed and it became one of the most modern-looking centres in London with many office blocks, flyovers and underpasses.

One of Croydon's most important 20th-century developments was Croydon Aerodrome, which was established in 1915 to provide air defence for London. By the 1920s it had become the main airport for London and new buildings made it the most modern airport in the world. Croydon's small size eventually made it unsuitable for further development and Croydon rapidly declined as a commercial airport with the opening of Heathrow in 1946. Croydon Airport closed in 1959 and parts of the site have since been developed.

As well as being an important urban centre, Croydon has over 3,000 acres of parkland, countryside and open space within its borders.

I discovered Croydon because my son lived in Norwood for about 10 years. For years I used to go to Central London and walk around and shop there, but the last years I rather took the bus to Croydon and did my window shopping or shopping there. Croydon is a very nice town and has the same shops or shopping centers like in Central London. The only one which is missing is Harrod's but there you wouldn't go every day anyway. The shops are all in one big long street, where cars are not allowed and it is much easier to walk there than in Central London where the distances between shops or shopping galleries are very big.

This is the beginning of the long pedestrian area with the Whitgift shopping center, shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafés and pubs. The buildings left and right are old and mostly of victorian style.

The Elizabethan Whitgift Almshouses in the centre of Croydon

The Elizabethan Whitgift Almshouses, the "Hospital of the Holy Trinity" as it was named, have stood in the centre of Croydon (at the corner of North End and George Street) since they were erected by Archbishop John Whitgift. He had petitioned for and had received permission from Queen Elizabeth I to establish a hospital and school in Croydon for the "poor, needy and impotent people" from the parishes of Croydon and Lambeth. The foundation stone was laid in 1596 and the building was completed in 1599.

The premises included the actual Hospital or Almshouses, providing accommodation for between 28 and 40 men and women, and a nearby schoolhouse and schoolmaster's house.

Just besides the Almhouse is Allders the fourth largest department store in Britain after Harrods, Selfridges, and John Lewis (department store) in Oxford street. More about Allders'history you can find here.

All along the pedestrian area the original architecture is preserved, only the lower part is modernized.

There is always a nice ambience in this street, here is a baloon seller.

Isn't that a nice Burger King ?

The whole year around there are always a lot of people. At Christmas time the decoration is just wonderful in my opinion much better then in central London.

"THE OLD FOX & HOUNDS is a cosy little Pub where you can eat something or drink when you are tired of walking around.

And this is another which has amongst other good things, very good baked potatoes !!

In the middle of the pedestrian zone there are trees and flowers and many banks to rest

An artist drawing on the street

Just an overlook how nice it is to shop here

A group of policemen walked around, they didn't bother anybody and nobody bothered them.

Buses from all parts of London are arriving here. If you take one at Oxford Street it would take you about 2 h to get to Croydon. Amazingly the buses are seldom late on schedule.

The modern part of Croydon with a lot of Offices, Insurance offices and Banks.

There are several high-quality arts venue.

The most important is the Fairfield Halls, opened in 1962, which consists of a large concert hall frequently used for BBC recordings, the Ashcroft Theatre and the Arnhem Gallery. The Halls are the home of the London Mozart Players. Many famous faces have appeared at the Fairfield Halls, from the Beatles through Bucks Fizz, omid Djalili, Robert Cray, Chuck Berry, Status Quo , Level 42, Joe Satriani, John Mayall, Jools Holland, Kenny Rogers, James Last to Coolio. The main concert hall was also used for the conference scene in the Tom Hanks film The Da Vinci Code.

I usually left the house in Norwood Junction around 11 am took the Bus and 15 min later arrived at Croydon's bus station. When I took the Bus to Oxford street it was a ride of a more then one hour. Of course by train/tube it went quicker, only 30 min but then you were sitting under ground a good part of the ride.

Yes, London is a very big city with around 14 million people. Its population is composed of a wide range of peoples, cultures and religions, speaking over 300 different languages.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

SOUTH EAST COAST OF THE UK, EASTBOURNE, HASTINGS & HAILSHAM

France is on the other side of the sea

I have spent a week in Eastbourne/Langley. It is a lovely medium sized town in East Sussex, on the south coast of England. It is also a place where many Londoners live after their retirement.

The area has seen human activity since the stone age and remained as an area of small settlements right up until the 19th Century. The town then started to expand, assisted by the arrival of the railway, to make Eastbourne a prime Edwardian seaside resort.The main town lies sheltered to the East of the cliffs helping to contribute to its high sunshine record. Already Henri I spent holydays here but also Edward II. The city has splendid old victorian houses and the six km (four miles) long beach is lined with a seafront of hotels and guest houses.

It is very easy for Londoners to go to Eastbourne as the distance is only 150 km (93 miles) to spent one day at the sea.

There also were a lot of people from London and surroundings spending here the school holidays which are from mid July til beginning of September.

This coast is also called "The Sunshine Coast" because apparently even when the weather is bad, the sun shows up at least once a day. I was very lucky I had sunshine during the whole week I was there.

The main street of Eastbourne

The "shopping walk" (no cars) with shops, boutiques, Department stores, Pubs, Restaurants and Cafés

and of course the unavoidable sea gulls, here with a just stolen piece of bread !

another view of the main street, there are quite a lot of banks !

and here people enjoy the sun with a nice drink or food on terraces of Pubs, Restaurants, or Snacks.

The little red car is Anne's car we stopped there for a souvenir shop ! I bought a ceramic seagull for Mr. Gattino unfortunately it doesn't scream !

Here we are at Eastbourne Habour, with many big private boats. You also can make a tour.

Just in front of the habour were many restaurants where we had our brunch as you can see there were a lot of people !

Behind me are very luxurious appartments

Coming from Eastbourne mainstreet we arrive

directly at the long seafront. The buildings are mostly Victorian style. It seemed to me that if the cars were not there and people didn't wear modern clothes, it could be exactly like a 150 years ago.

The old pier. In there are now shops and tourist attractions. There are also many playgrounds for children.

The seafront.

And then I saw something very special on Eastbourne's streets ! A woman who walked her perrot who sat happily in this stroller and enjoyed the sunshine !

HASTINGS

One day we spent in Hastings. It is a picturesque town not far from Eastbourne. It is best known for its connection with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (I wrote about Hastings history last year here)

Hastings main industry was fishing. It still has the largest beach-based fishing fleet in England. From a fishing port it became a watering place and finally a seaside resort in Victorian times.

Here too the city was packed with tourists, even more then in Eastbourn, due to place's history. There is also a lot to see and it's also very interesting for children. There are a miniature railway, fairground rides and amusement arcades catering for tourists near the Fishmarket.

Fishmarket and museum

The fishmarket includes the striking net shops, fisherman's museum and Hastings Sea Life Centre. Fishing boats are likely to be drawn up on the beach and there is a lifeboat station.

A funicular going up to the castle

Nearby is Hastings Old Town with a number of buildings dating from the earliest days of the town. There are two funicular railways, known locally as the West Hill and East Hill Lifts respectively.

I only can say that this town is so beautiful with its very old houses, here too the time stood still.

The town center

One of the wonderful old churches

Believe it or not, in this historical stand Doug ordered our food

In the city

As there are so many seagulls (they are protected) flying around and stealing food from the tourists, this lady works for the city and has an owl on a leash. The owl immediately sees when a seagull intends to dive on a tourist and chases it away. It worked I can assure you !

She stood there with her owl in the middle of all terraces !

The roof of a shopping mall

One of the very special old houses, it's round !

And here is something for children paddling in the Swans. Behind was the seafront.

HAILSHAM

Friday morning is flea market in Hailsham. So we went there. Hailsham is not located at the sea but inlands. The town originally grew as an agricultural centre but is now mainly a commuter town. Many people live here and go to London every day for work. Hailsham's traditional industry was rope making, which included supplying ropes for public hanging to Great Britain and the Colonies. Fortunately not any more today !

Here again beautiful old little houses

The main street

My friends waiting that I finished with my photos !

A Pub, now with seats outside

A lot of traffic

The church erected in honor of Queen Victoria

No ropes anymore but carpets !

And here we are now on the flea market. It is as everywhere a lot of junk, but sometimes also something interesting.

Need shoes ?

A stand for Mrs. Lifecruiser, Porkburgers !!

Doug found a very nice leather belt for nearly nothing and completely new and I could buy a Ferrari (!!!) for Mr. Gattino's Formula 1 collection.

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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