Rolling along with London’s Bond exhibit

I came to the James Bond films a little late in life. Much as I loved Roger Moore as The Saint back in the 60s, I didn’t really latch onto Bond until Pierce Brosnan took over.

That said, I sought out a fascinating exhibition in London called Bond in Motion this past summer. It has a wide variety of vehicles of all kinds as well as models, storyboards and loads of other props used in the James Bond flicks, all presented with relevant video clips showing the various cars, boats, alligators, cycles, etc. in action. The audio program is worthwhile for adding factual tidbits – such as just which and how many super-expensive cars were actually destroyed in various movies or the fact that 3D printers created scale-model Aston Martins for Skyfall so they wouldn’t have to blow up any real ones that time.

The exhibition runs at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden through March 2015.

Here are a couple of the flashiest stars – I’ve always had a soft spot for Rollers.

Cubby Broccoli's Rolls used in A View to a Kill

Cubby Broccoli’s 1962 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud used in A View to a Kill

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Goldfinger's 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom

Goldfinger’s 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom

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London Tube updates – 22-23 November 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. Not much going on…

Metropolitan line – Aldgate to Northbridge and Uxbridge shut both days

Jubilee line – Waterloo to Wembley outage – Saturday only; Waterloo to Stanmore is down on Sunday only

London Overground – Sunday late openings – Clapham Junction to Wandsworth Road northbound opens at 8.15, South Tottenham to Barking opens at 11.00.  Stratford to Gospel Oak is out all weekend.

Areas where various events will likely create bottlenecks and traffic snarls include Twickenham on Saturday (England v Samoa rugby match),

The Hammersmith flyover will be closed overnight between Wed and Thurs, 26-27 November.

The Winter Wonderland Christmas market in Hyde Park means roads are closed inside the park through Sunday, 4 January.

Lane closures in Vauxhall area from Monday until 22 December for gas mains work. Also on Victoria Embankment between Northumberland Av and Horse Guards Ave thru 20 December. Stay well away!

Road closures and disruptions listed here.

Reminders -

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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Foyles spiffy new London bookshop

I went looking for a book that Waterstone’s didn’t have on my last trip to London. Traipsed up Charing X Rd to Foyles – the first time I’d been there since 1990 with Mom. The old location had a giant sign in the window to the effect that their new location was a couple of doors down on the same street. I’d been so deep in thought I’d walked clean past it. About face to the new digs and, if you’ve ever been to the old Foyles, you won’t recognize the place!

The bad news – didn’t find the book I wanted. The good news – Foyles feels much less intimidating than it did on that first visit and I expect I’ll stop in again. I remember feeling back then that finding any particular book was as much a matter of luck as diligence. At the new shop, I commented on the amazing transformation to one of the clerks and asked if this meant that it would be easier to find the books. He thought for a moment before replying, “Probably not”. Ha!

Atrium at Foyles new bookshop

Atrium at Foyles new bookshop

 

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London Tube updates – 15-16 November 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. Due to all the events for Remembrance weekend, TfL is recommending use of public transport.

Bakerloo line – not running from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone Sunday only

Central line – White City to Ealing Broadway and West Ruislip – closed both days

District line – Aldgate East to Upminster down both days

Jubilee line – Waterloo to Finchley Road outage – Sunday only

Hammersmith/City – Moorgate to Barking section is out both days

London Overground – Saturday closure between Clapham Junction and Kensington (Olympia). Sunday shutdowns – Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction, Queen’s Park to Watford Junction, Stratford to Gospel Oak. Weekend outages – Highbury & Islington to Shadwell, Surrey Quays to New Cross and Sydenham to Crystal Palace.

Areas where various events will likely create bottlenecks and traffic snarls include Marble Arch / Oxford St  mid-day on Saturday for a march and rally, Regent St between Oxford and Piccadilly Circuses all day Sunday, Whitehall mid-day on Sunday.

Lane closures in Vauxhall area from Monday until 22 December for gas mains work. Also on Victoria Embankment between Northumberland Av and Horse Guards Ave thru 20 December. Stay well away!

Road closures and disruptions listed here.

Reminders -

Covent Garden – normal services have resumed. Hooray!

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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Neolithic Orkney 1 – the Ness of Brodgar and Maeshowe

Blognote – In the interest of shorter blog posts to cater to ever-diminishing attention spans (not least of which is my own!), here is the first of several posts about the Neolithic sites on Orkney.

With all the known settlements and stone monuments sprinkled around Orkney and the grand expanse of its mostly undeveloped geography, it should be no surprise that more are still being discovered/uncovered. The Ness of Brodgar, unearthed in 2003, promises to be the largest and quite possibly the oldest Orcadian gem yet (3500 BC) – older than Skara Brae  (3200 BC) and even older than that most iconic of stone heaps, Stonehenge. A huge sprawl of what may be a temple complex, it sits more or less at the center of a two mile long string of other Neolithic sites between the lochs of Harray and Stenness. The dig is only worked on for a couple of months each year, possibly due to funding issues – the weather ain’t all that bad – or perhaps to minimize disruptive levels of traffic since it’s on private property – and had closed up for 2014 only a few days before my visit, hence this one (slightly blurry) photo from the bus as we lumbered past. A side note – the property where the Ness lies belongs to Ola Gorie, a jewelry designer I’ve admired for more than twenty years. Who knew?

Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig

Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig

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Just down the road and around the corner from the Ness is Maeshowe, a grass-covered multi-chambered Neolithic cairn sitting at the center of a banked ditch and dating to around 2800 BC, based on similarities to other datable structures nearby. The interior walls are decorated with a whole raft of (relatively) recent Viking graffiti – 12th century AD. Even more intriguing is the probability that another, much older structure lies beneath these chambered stones. The Viking graffiti – runic writing and a teensy animal called the Maeshowe Dragon – were carved into the rock walls when Vikings broke into the tomb to shelter from a nasty snowstorm. (If you click on the link at the top of this paragraph, make sure you also click on the link there for the translations of the runes – many are on the order of “Kilroy was here” – too funny!)  The entrance to the central chamber is a 30-plus foot long stone-lined passage, about 4 and a half feet high. This is the only way in, the hole in the roof where the Vikings entered having been sealed up, and it’s a looong, slow scuttle to make doubled over, Igor-like. Even if people were much shorter when this tomb was ‘new’, it must have been a (literal) pain inna neck to enter. The main chamber is about 15 ft by 15 with a ceiling of around 12 feet and the runes crawl horizontally and vertically up and around the stones. The sunlight streams through the entry passage to light up the interior especially during the winter; the most direct light comes in at sunset on the winter solstice.

No photography was allowed while we were inside, hence the need for the links. The drawing of the dragon (also called a lion) below is taken from one of the descriptive panels near the entrance.

Maes Howe tomb

Maes Howe tomb

 

drawing of the Maes Howe dragon

drawing of the Maeshowe dragon

One final thought – I suspect this site is not included in the usual day tour of Orkney from the Scottish mainland because it is really, really tiny and can only be seen at pre-booked times using the site’s own guide, something to consider if you plan to take an escorted tour – make sure you check which sites are included. It would be impossible to cram a busload of tourists into the space in one go and having to split into multiple groups would make it hard to fit Maeshowe into the usually tight schedules of bus tours. It would also likely prevent anyone else from getting in, given that entry to the site is only once per hour.

I’m thankful to Lance, a fellow travel blogger (and a terrific storyteller, btw; you should visit his blog), for alerting me to the value of this spot, else I might’ve missed it. As things turned out, I spent a couple of nights in Orkney on my own and booked a local taxi to take me to Maeshowe and a couple of other sites I still wanted to visit. Yes, that was expensive, but my time was limited, so the cab waited for me a couple of times, only leaving once to take another fare and returning after I called for a pickup.

Look for additional posts with more Orcadian must-see locations coming soon, I hope.

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London Tube updates – 8-9 November 2014

A new announcement regarding road improvements and possibly increased safety for cyclists.

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. Due to all the events for Remembrance weekend, TfL is recommending use of public transport.

If you’re in town on Saturday evening, try to catch the fireworks on the river between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges.

Bakerloo line – not running from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone Saturday only

Central line – Woodford to Epping closed both days

London Overground – Saturday closure between Queen’s Park and Wembley Central. Sunday shutdown – Stratford to Gospel Oak.

Areas where various events will likely create bottlenecks and traffic snarls include Tower Hill (Remembrance events all weekend), Battersea & Brockwell Parks (Saturday afternoon) Westminster and the City (Lord Mayor’s show all day Saturday), Whitehall and Parliament St on Sunday for Remembrance events.

Lane closures in Vauxhall area from Monday until 22 December for gas mains work. Stay well away!

Road closures and disruptions listed here.

Reminders -

Upper Holloway station – closed Sunday

Covent Garden – Exit only until mid-November 2014. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, westbound trains not stopping.

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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London Tube updates – accessibility and contactless payment

Here is the newest info on accessibility changes to the Tube system.

Transport for London is continuing to roll out support for contactless bank cards for fare payment. Here’s the link for the latest on this topic. Although the website says that Amex has contactless cards, I rather think these must be issued at high annual fee levels in the USA. American Visa and MasterCard may not have this option so may not work. No problem; I’ll be sticking with my Oyster card.

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