Sunday, 25 October 2009

New York runnings

On holiday with the family in New York this week - found a surprisingly good running route from Midtown down though the Chelsea and Meatpacking districts - where you can see excellent doorways ...

and finish along the very excitng and new Hudson River Park -
Each of the 7 segments to the park, which stretches several miles along the east side of Manhattan, have been designed by different people to reflect the different areas of New York. The renovated pier below has lamp posts which were designed using the Empire State Building as inspiration - you can see the real thing in the distance.

The highlight of the run was travelling along the newly opened High Line - - the High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. When all sections are complete, the High Line will be a mile-and-a-half-long elevated park, running through the West Side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen.

I particularly liked the old rails hidden amongst the newly planted grasses and bushes

The only sight spoiling the many magnificent views was this massive billboard of Posh and Becks in their undies ..

Oh for an end to the cult of celebrity ...

Sunday, 18 October 2009


This week Mark has jetted off to Donegal to recharge his batteries - I managed to get some late cancellation tickets for a tour of the last working bell foundry in the UK. We saw this on one of our recent east end runs, located on Whitechapel Road, where is has been since 1570, see .

We found ourselves with 20 or so older men and women who turn out to be avid bell ringers - suddenly we realise we are hopelessly ignorant about the wierd and wonderful world of bell casting.

So what did we learn ?

1 All bells are female but are often given male names.
2 The cope is the outside mould and the core is the inner mould.
3 Bell metal is made up of 23% tin and 77% copper.

4 Talculm powder is used to stop the inner mould sticking to the molten bell metal.
5 The cope and core are made up of a mixture of sand, clay, goats hair and horse manure.
6 Tuning the bell is an incomprehensible process.

7 Big Ben was cast here as was the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

A fascinating trip, however we were not tempted to join the rest of the tour for some handbell ringing at the local church.

Back to running next week I think ...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The men who knew too much (about Alfred Hitchcock's films)

This week, being Young and Innocent, we ran North by Northwest from Spitalfields, through Haggerston, followed the Regent's Canal westwards and were Spellbound by Hoxton and Shoreditch.

The canal is an ideal place to hide a Secret Agent or to Catch a Thief and is Notorious for good photo opportunities ...

He's always been in a bit critical ... but at least he's happy that he's not the Wrong Man or a local Psycho...

We then found ourselves for the first time in Shoreditch Park, being buzzed by the local Birds and got a bit over-excited and in a Frenzy about a huge granite boulder - did you know that granite is made of quartz (white), Mica (black) and a Suspicion of Topaz (pink) - I didn't, I Confess, so it was lucky that I was running with a granite expert ( and not a Stranger on a Train),

Shoreditch Park and Mabley Green, which is further north, are now permanent homes to two massive pieces of solid granite, each weighing up to 100 tonnes and measuring over four metres high - almost impossible for a Saboteur to Sabotage.

They are, without A Shadow of a Doubt, impressive. Boulder 1 (above) and Boulder 2 together form Boulder, an ambitious public space sculpture project by John Frankland.

Frankland intends that people should engage with the boulders in a direct and physical way through rock climbing, or "bouldering". We'll be taking our climbing kit and Rope next week and will probably be suffering from Vertigo ...

See for great pictures of the 39 Steps it took to quarry and install these boulders and see the video opposite if you are as excited as we are about big rocks ...

Even more exciting is that the new building in the background is on the site of the old Gainsborough Studios, where one of my favourite films, the very funny "Oh, Mr Porter !", starring Will Hay, was made. In it, a Lady Vanishes down an old railway tunnel but is finally found when they find a Torn Curtain blocking the entrance to the tunnel.

More importantly, this is where Alfred Hitchcock started his career in 1920, designing titles for silent movies - as someone who has watched all 50 of his films and is halfway through his many made-for-TV programmes - my Family think I've lost the Plot - this is clearly hallowed ground and will need to be revisited ...

Our Foreign Correspondent chooses his top 6 Hitchcock films -

Rear Window
The Trouble with Harry
The Man who knew too much (1956 version)
North by Northwest
Dial M for Murder.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Wapping running tales.

This week we started running from the new Smiths of Smithfield restaurant in Spittalfields, call The Luxe. We ran east along the river to Wapping High Street - this is a real treat for London history enthusiasts. One of our favourite parts is Wapping Pierhead -the buildings date from 1800. Customs officers responsible for examining and taxing goods imported via Wapping had their headquarters here. The cobbled street adds to the feeling of antiquity of the group of old houses around the central garden.

Further down the high street is the Town of Ramsgate pub which claims to be the oldest on the river. In the 1750's, there were more than 140 ale-houses in Wapping High Street and all with a doubtful reputation.
The bar is long and very narrow, because the pub was squeezed in between the path to Wapping Old Steps and the building on its other side. Ship's passengers arrive and departed via these steps.
One of the most notorious was Judge Jeffreys, who was called "the hanging judge" because of his cruelty in sentencing the followers of the Duke of Monmouth in his attempted rebellion of 1685. He planned to escape retribution by fleeing the country. While waiting for his ship to depart from Wapping Old Steps, he went to drink in the Town of Ramsgate.
Although disguised as a sailor ( ooh hello, I'm Sandy and this is my friend Julian), he was recognised by a man who had once come up before him in court. The latter said that he would never forget a face as evil as that of Judge Jeffreys. The judge was arrested, held in the Tower and later executed.

Just across the way is St John's school, which was founded in 1695. On the front of the building are statues of two of the pupils in their traditional uniforms.

Talking of uniforms, Mark has been working hard on colour co-ordinating his choice of running kit - reminds me of an old London rhyme...

Oranges and Lemons

"Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney
"I do not know" say the Great Bells of Bow
"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed
Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head
Chip chop chip chop - the Last Man's Dead."