Monkey Visits His Alma Mater

As time goes by, it feels ever more bittersweet when visiting places from years past. Mind you, Monkey is not that old but he’s no longer as young and spritely as he used to be.

It was nice being back at SOAS with G alongside. However, we were hot and tired from the day out and sat quietly reminiscing (for all of ten minutes) before we got bored and set off home.

Monkey Does London

Having called three countries and seven cities home, London has always had a special place in Monkey’s heart. It’s been a while since Monks played tourist in London–from Tower Bridge to Westminster (he managed to avoid the Charlie Chaplin scammers), Trafalgar Square to seeing old pals at Number 10, riding Britain’s only cable car to the O2, having a look around Selfridges, Hamleys, the London Eye, etc.–he was able to pack it all in, with great weather to boot!

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Scandinavian Christmas Market

I love Christmas markets, especially Scandinavian ones. There’s something especially Christmassy about tucking into hearty stews and sipping on a warming mug of Nordic glögg. Not to mention, all the Moomin memorabilia, Finnish beer and cinnamon buns to be had (as well as rye breads, gravadlax, Fazer chocolates and cloudberry jam).

The Scandinavian Christmas Market (Norwegian Christmas Fair and Finnish Christmas Fair), located on Albion Street outside the Finnish and Norwegian Churches in Rotherhithe, was on at the weekend from 21-23 November 2014G was kind to send some lovely photos so I didn’t feel left out.

Despite the dreary weather, there were a few hundred visitors. But according to the G, the market was just ‘okay’ and nothing to write home about. That said, I’d still like to check it out next time or even better, spend Christmas in Finland!

How Many Tube Stations Can You Find?

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is an incredible montage of some of London’s most recognisable tube stations. Apparently there are 75 London Underground & DLR stations featured in the below image. I’ve picked out Angel, Shepherd’s Bush, Swiss Cottage, Elephant and Castle, Knightsbridge and Barbican just to name a few. Click here to play the official game by Look for Longer (by CBS Outdoor UK) and record your results! How many tube stations did you find? Let us know!

The Final Countdown – London 2012

The excitement builds as we begin the final countdown to the Opening Ceremony of the 30th Summer Olympic Games. I doubt anyone will be complaining about the games when they’ve seen how much work their fellow Brits have put in to create such a magnificent event for the world.  The torch relay is just the beginning but it’s hard not to be moved by these scenes. Have a look for yourself:

Is It A Mistake to Rename Big Ben?

I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘if it’s not broke(n), don’t fix it’.  Along the same lines, I’m not sure renaming the Clock Tower (colloquially known as Big Ben to the world) to Elizabeth Tower is the best thing to do, even if the change mirrors an honour bestowed on queen Victoria — the only other British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee back in 1897 — who gives her name to The Victoria Tower at the west end of parliament.

It certainly is a lovely sentiment, but because Big Ben is a national icon perhaps renaming any one of the beautiful gardens or parks in London as Elizabeth Gardens or Queen Elizabeth Gardens would be better suited to the occasion.  A park would serve as a living memorial to the Queen.  Not to mention, although having gone through the parliamentary name change process, the tower will forever be known as Big Ben to all.

Not So Fast, Chelsea!

I don’t normally celebrate the failures of others, but I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when it was announced that Chelsea’s offer for the Battersea Power Station was rejected. Last month the Blues announced that they had bid to buy the station, but administrators revealed this morning that a joint bid by two Malaysian property groups, SP Setia and Sime Darby, had been chosen instead.

I believe this is a move in the right direction, at least for Battersea and south-west central London. SP Setia and Sime Darby have offered £400 million (£100 million under the initial asking price) to create new living and retail spaces on site while preserving the façade of the 79-year-old power station. There is obviously still some way to go but this is potentially very good news.

As the Guardian reports, on top of the £400 million, SP Setia and Sime Darby have also committed themselves to the construction of a new underground station as part of the proposed extension of the Northern Line. Sounds like a good plan to me! At least for now, we can be assured that the Battersea will remain one of London’s most notable and soon to be restored historical landmarks.