Better late than never as always… here are the photos from Open House London 2014:



Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JY
We spent hours here, such an amazing artistic and historic place to visit, plus there is a café and an American diner! See London, the Leamouth and the river from a different and fantastic angle.

Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commercial Road, E14 7HA
Victorian built former town hall, fairly drab and a bit dirty when we visited two years ago, but full of potential – it could be an amazing events space and wedding venue if the trust running the building were given a wodge of cash. Sits next to a pretty churchyard.

Half Moon Theatre, 43 White Horse Road, E1 0ND
Formerly the Limehouse Board of Works, the building’s exterior has been beautifully restored and the building itself is the current home of youth theatre group Half Moon.

20 Winkley Street, E2 6PT
Three storey home in Bethnal Green, always good to nosy round someone’s architectural dream.

Argentine Ambassador’s Residence, 65 Brook Street, W1K 4AH
No interior photos allowed, but plenty of ‘Islas Malvinas’ information on display. The elegant building itself was completed by Thomas Cubitt in 1851 with additions by Mayhew & Knight in 1859, and it sits on the corner of Belgravia Square near many other embassies.

Chandos House, 2 Queen Anne Street, W1G 9LQ
Royal Society of Medicine owned building built in the 18th century by Robert Adam, situated in Marylebone, the house is available for hire for weddings and events.

Regent Street Block W4, 10 New Burlington Street, W1S 3BF
We missed the last tour of this new building on Regent Street (near the Oxford Circus end), but we were able to walk around the beautifully designed lobby which featured a mirrored art piece that seemed to fade in and out of its surroundings – gorgeous.

The College of Optometrists, 42 Craven Street, WC2N 5NG
Just up the road from the huge queue for Benjamin Franklin House… the equally splendid but pokey Georgian home of Optometrists was an enjoyable find. The museum inside was also great fun with lots of weird and wonderful spectacles and visual aids to cast your eye over (ha).

Cabbies Shelter, Embankment Place
Sixty or so of these tiny green shelters were built between 1875 and 1914 for Hansom cab drivers, they are still in use today but only thirteen remain – we squeezed into one for a look-see.

HM Treasury, Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ
Our last stop for 2014 was the stunning HM Treasury building, first constructed in 1898 to 1917 with a 2002 refurbishment. We started the tour in the new part of the building and finished the tour in the stunning 20th century circular courtyard.

KittyCat Image Generator

After my first app strollCharlton, I published an app called KittyCat Image Generator, and as you might guess, it was all about kitties and cats. Miaow!

I wanted to continue working with API data and found Kitten Placeholder on Mashape, then used the two end points as buttons in my app to download images.

In addition, I integrated the Twitter (Fabric) and Facebook SDKs so users could share the images with a tweet or a post.

Lastly, I added a save button that calls the notification bar, allowing you to set the image as your wallpaper or share the image with compatible apps.

To learn more, please download or view on YouTube.

    

    

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Android, Java and strollCharlton

The husband and I visited America for five weeks in September 2015, and before our trip I began studying Java, and started working through programming tutorials using IntelliJ IDEA.

On our return I moved onto app development for the Android platform and started learning the ins and outs of the application Android Studio.

My goal was to develop a suitably polished app that I could publish on the Google Play Store before applying for developer internship positions in central London. I have now done this (ta da!), and the app is called strollCharlton.

The idea of a local area guide for Charlton (where we now live) came from a three year old plan to do a London wide tourist guide app that wasn’t just full of marketing guff, but that actually contained useful and interesting information.

We got as far as deciding on a name related to walking that hadn’t been overly used, and I started writing a bit of content for some places in Greenwich (where we lived then), but that was it… cut to three years later and I did it at last. Hooray for me!

The app itself combines a number of my pre-Android interests – I’ve been writing blogs, essays, work instructions and client facing emails for many years, and I’ve always had an eye for design (plus a GCSE in Graphics and an A2-Level in Design Studies – those things are always integral to life!), so it was quite fun to develop, and it has obvious potential for repurposing to another location.

strollCharlton is free to download and I would appreciate any feedback and/or reviews.

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Thanks to my husband’s mini programming library, plus the power of Google, I have a good number of ‘go to’ Java and Android resources. See below for my recommendations.

And for an excellent summation of how Java is applied when developing Android apps, the two part Java Basics for Android Development blog, by Ben Jakuben at Treehouse, is worth a thorough read.

Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide, B Phillips, C Stewart, B Hardy and K Marsicano
Big Java, Cay S Horstmann
Beginning Programming with Java For Dummies, Barry Burd
The Pragmatic Programmer, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

Big Nerd Ranch
Java Code Geeks
JavaTechig
Oracle Java Documentation
Stack Overflow
Treehouse
Tutorials Point
Vogella

*cough cough* … Don’t forget to download strollCharlton

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Parkgate on the Wirral

In April I went up to Liverpool to see friends, and as well sampling the delights of Mowgli, and taking a ferry cross the Mersey, we also visited Parkgate on the Wirral.

It was a gloriously sunny day and we crossed the river for a beautiful and scenic drive south towards this small village on the west side of the peninsula, facing Wales and the River Dee.

Parkgate’s importance in the area grew and shrank from the gradual silting of the Dee over time. It grew when a new port was needed further downstream from Chester, and then shrank as the continued silting of the river eventually moved shipping away from the Dee to the Mersey.

Towards the end of the 18th century the village was also popular as a bathing destination, but the silting of the river became so severe that marshland covered the riverbed next to the town. Nowadays, only seasonal high tides bring the river to Parkgate.

A thirty minute drive from Liverpool, Parkgate is now a commuter village full of beautiful houses and fantastic views across to Wales. The prices aren’t bad if you are a Londoner but even this might be a bit much for anyone!

After a drink or two at The Boat House we meandered down to the village itself for a super duper ice cream from Nicholls ice cream parlour. Then it was general silliness and photos. 😀



Definitely worth a visit if you are in the Chester or Liverpool area. 🙂

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The Secret Princess of Severndroog Castle at Greenwich and Docklands Festival

As well as 451, I also volunteered for The Secret Princess of Severndroog at the beginning of July – another show that was part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

The show is for small children (and big hearted adults), and the volunteers were tasked with escorting the four groups of children through the woods around Severndroog Castle, just off Shooters Hill.

Fairies Bramble, Dandelion, Bluebell and Ivy led the groups and told the assembled audience about all the magical creatures in the woods who had been trapped by the evil wizard, and how to battle him to free the princess. 🙂

In the photo below, Dandelion and Bramble tell the children about the wishing tree, and invite them to write a message to the princess to cheer her up.

Each group then takes a slightly different route round the castle to meet different forest creatures – on my second shift I was lucky enough to go on the alternate route where we meet the princess’ mother. Here the children are meeting the vain and selfish prince and have to encourage him to not rescue the princess.

Next stop is a grumpy but good magician who was turned in a frog by the evil wizard. He has managed to turn himself partly back but still “ribbits” a lot! He helps the children with a spell and a defence word to scare the wizard away.

This forest creature swung her way down to the group on a harness and then taught us all two defence techniques to fight the wizard. If my memory is correct, we learnt a laughing pointing heckle, and a bum wiggling mooning motion!

Here in the rose garden we met a dancer and a singer both trapped in the wood, but the singer can’t speak anymore and can only communicate with her accordion. We learnt a line from a song to frighten the wizard.

After meeting the four forest dwellers, the group circles back to the castle itself to meet up with the other groups, and all the woodland creatures to rescue the princess. We meet the evil wizard as shown below, and recite our defence word and actions to scare him away. We succeed and everyone is released from the wood! Hurrah!

But we then have to persuade the princess to leave the castle as she is scared of leaving after so many years of being trapped. She is a bit of a whiny thing but we eventually succeed with our cheerful song (I didn’t manage to get any photos of the princess as Instagram doesn’t work so well from a distance of 63 feet).

The princess then comes down to thank us and we all sing our song again to finish the show.

Thank you to Look Left Look Right for a lovely show!

P.S. You can get married at the castle 🙂

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Ankle Deep in Creekside Mud

On the 21st of June I finally got muddy in Deptford Creek with the Creekside Education Trust. The trust regularly runs walks for the general public, and for schools in the local area.

Each walk is organised for low tide as at high tide you would be swimming! You are armed with waders and a trusty stick to keep you upright, and after a briefing in the beautiful surrounds of the flower garden, you are then led down to the creek.

It is a bit smelly, but the pure joy of tramping about in mud soon wafts the aroma of the creek away.



The trust’s base of operations is situated next to the London Bridge to Greenwich Railway Viaduct between Greenwich and Deptford, and the access path to the creek leads you to exact spot where the railway line crosses Deptford Creek.

The bridge itself was modified in 1954 to include a lifting mechanism that allowed boats with tall masts to pass up the creek. The mechanism is now defunct but luckily for us it is safe from removal, and can still be viewed at close proximity from the Ha’Penny Hatch footbridge.

We headed upstream away from the mouth of the Thames, towards the first DLR bridge over the creek. This bit of the DLR crosses the creek three times between Deptford Bridge and Greenwich.

View upstream towards The Art in Perpetuity Trust and Creekside Artists.

Third DLR bridge over the creek with a view towards the boats permanently moored and lived on in the creek.

My beautiful waders protecting me from the sludge and mud.

A little further upstream we cross the creek at a small weir, and we were carefully aided by the volunteers on the slippy bit!

Now renovated flats, the S. P. & C. Mumford Grain Silo was built in 1897 by architect Sir Aston Webb.



A dead crab shell found by our guide, a brief discussion on the creek’s biodiversity followed, plus a bad joke from me…

Guide: How do you check if a crab is male or female?
Me: Check if it has a willy

Cue many laughs and childish giggles. 😀

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Just after the dead crab, we reached the weir at the top of the creek, the weir pushes the water underground as it crosses the A2. Once it resurfaces on the other side it is known as River Ravensbourne, and at Lewisham it joins with another tributary – the River Quaggy.

We then made our way back to the start of the walk to catch some river creatures. You grind the river dirt under your feet to move it about, then see what appears in your net.

View towards the trust’s wild flower garden.

We also walked under the rail bridge and headed towards Trinity Laban‘s dance centre.

View south towards Deptford and Lewisham.

Thank you for an excellent Sunday in the bright sunshine!

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Formed in 1999, the trust’s mission is to “work with the local and wider community to sustain and promote the regeneration of Deptford Creek through education, conservation and the forging of partnerships. The trust also aims to act as a voice for nature conservation and biodiversity in the area.”

The centre itself mainly runs on a volunteer basis and more help is always welcomed, if you would like to get involved with this wonderful organisation please click here.

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