Lately: English skies and London parks

While I still brew my photo essay of Finland, here is something else: pictures of skies and clouds and Virginia Woolf. I have been reading some of Woolf’s non-fiction lately, and on the last Friday of my summer holiday went on a small pilgrimage in London’s Bloomsbury to trace her steps around this neighbourhood. The modern-day Bloomsbury is a monument to the ever-changing face of a big city: it was first developed as a posh housing estate for fashionable people, then fell out of fashion, became popular among bohemians (first by Whig firebrands known as Bloomsbury gang, then by Pre-Raphaelites and finally by the authors it’s now most synonymous with) and has finally become what it is now, home of higher education, exclusive business and tourists. It’s all part of the normal cycle of live, I know, but somehow it depresses me that that ordinary people, communities of people, are pushed away from the inner city, into commuter towns and suburbs, while areas like Bloomsbury become empty, or filled by cars and security guards and tourists.

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Near Basildon Park in Berkshire. A glimpse of a glorious view through train window.

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Clouds over St Giles Church in Oxford. As a friend noted, this summer the skies have been full of unusually great, dramatic clouds.

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Tavistock Hotel. Virginia Woolf and her husband lived in a flat in this building in the 1930s.

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Bust of Virginia Woolf in Tavistock Square. I hate this statue – it is a good likeness in its own, odd way, but it’s way too brutal for my taste. She was a difficult person at times, sure, a caustic personality, but also quiet and thoughtful and introverted, all qualities which this bronze sketch doesn’t express in my eyes.

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Gordon Square. The statue commemorates the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. Where the Tavistock Square garden is stunning, this one is rather boring. Poor Tagore, he deserves a more brilliant place.

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Plaque marking the site where the Bloomsbury group met and socialised on Gordon Square. John Maynard Keynes, the economist, lived nex door.

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Bloomsbury Square.

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Russell Square.

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British Museum. The reading room Virginia Woolf wrote about is now a special exhibithions gallery, but many other treasures remain. This is a display of bronze plaques from Nigeria, and one of my favourite objects in the museum – just stunningly beautiful. These plaques decorated once the Oba’s palace in Bening; while I’m grateful for the BM to give the magnificent gift that this is to me, it makes me sad to think that these plaques are the all that is left of the palace.

20130824-003024.jpgThis picture was taken near the location of the top photo, two weeks later. Suddenly, the autumn is already in the air – birds on the fields, mist in the valleys, leaves slowly turning and starting to fall.

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