Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A Topping Time at Hermitage Moorings

I am sorry I haven't been around much, either posting here or commenting on blogs. It's life getting in the way. Some good news is that T's back is getting better. He's not bent over at a weird angle any more.

And we had fun last weekend, when we were invited to an event in Hermitage Moorings, near Tower Bridge. There are residential boats on the moorings. Most are large, sea-going or estuary vessels. It is a fantastic place to live, right in the centre of the city.

That was the view I clicked with my camera phone as I walked (and T. hobbled) along the gangplank which led to the pontoon on which was the sort of clubhouse where we had our get together. You see the Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge beneath the stormy sky.

Nigel of Bermondsey (click on the link) had organised an evening of seagoing stories and songs. There's something so good about singing with a load of other people, and a scratch band with squeezebox and guitars led the music.

Some songs were very well known, like the shanty "Drunken Sailor" to be sung when hauling up the sails. Others were unfamiliar, like "Old Maui," and Nigel had written a new song "We flow with the tide." AS it got darker, the rain began thundering down, harder than anything I've known. Soon the deck was awash, the wind was howling the boats were rocking. Full of atmosphere. As the light faded I went out to take a photo. As you see, Tower Bridge had just been illuminated. The deck was awash with water.

I was fascinated by a guy called Tony Malone who talked about sea legends. His boat, the SV Iceni, is moored on the River Medway in Kent. He told us bloodthirsty true tales of pirates, ghosts and folklore, people being walled up in bridges or encased in tar or flogged to death, all of which put me TOTALLY off living in the past.

He also added that Iceni will be leaving leafy Kent in July 2013. It will be heading for the world's most northerly city, Longveearbyen, with a mixture of able-bodied and disabled crew. He devised this idea when he was recovering from cancer, and he is also looking for virtual travellers to "accompany" him on an alternative imaginative voyage. So if you are creative and want to join in, read about it here.

When we left, it was dark. Little A admired the view as we left. (You may be able to spot him in the photo, towards the right.)

He liked seeing Tower Bridge and also the Shard, London's new highest building. "What a topping view!" he said enthusiastically. T and I cracked up. I think he's been reading too many old "Beano" books.

(For those of you who don't know "Beano, " it is a comic that's been going since the 1930s. I swear the slang used in the comic was out of date then. I don't know if the modern Beanos are still full of ancient slang, but the old "Beano" books which little A specially loves, certainly are. Full of talk about "chums," "pals" ... and indeed the word "beano" itself means having a good time.)

A. will spend half a day reading old "Beano" annuals ... but actually I don't know a kid who doesn't enjoy them. (a small part of our family collection of scruffy old annuals, acquired over many years, above). My favourite was always the "Bash St. Kids" and their long suffering teacher. Here are the kids, planning to drive Teacher off to some horrible fate. But first they must persuade him to get into the car...

What a topping jape!


  1. Wonderful pics Jenny! What an exciting evening you enjoyed and in more ways than one. Such an enjoyable post.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I joined yours and enjoyed the blog I just read about the boat party.
    I intend to update my blog in the next day or so. Summer has had me filled with procrastination regarding writing and I've had other things to do.
    My novel Vada Faith is on Kindle and on Amazon as a paperback, fyi. Thanks ahead even if you just go look at it.
    Off here now as it's FINALLY beginning to thunder here in drought ridden Ohio. Praying for lots of rain. Our usually beautiful green lawn is an ugly brown as if it were a hay field.
    Blessings, Barb

  3. What a cool sight, the Olympic rings hanging from the bridge!

    And I'm with you on living in the present - I can never understand why they call it the "good" old days. I like my microwave, air conditioning, and antibiotics!

  4. I have always waned to live on a boat. One of those dreams one has.
    Hermitage Moorings looks like the place to be especially during the Olympics.
    Glad to hear T's back seems to be getting better.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Jenny, I love the words chum and pal. In fact early today I called a friend my chum. Oh my I am outdated! I suspect, I too, have been reading too many period pieces. I loved your pictures. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening. I would love to sit around and listen to tales of real ghosts and pirates.

  6. A lovely post Jenny and I do understand how real life gets in the way of blogging - it has been doing this to me for the past few months.

    Oh the Beano, the Beano, the Beano - do so (still) love it and I use its 'slang' to this very day...

    Anna :o]

  7. Great photos of London. I'm not much interested in the Olympics but I'll be watching to see all of the great London backdrops.

  8. What a SWELL adventure, Jenny! (to use a favourite Fred Astaire adjective), which also fits nicely with the old timey Beano theme, and the watery tale. Looks like quite a magic sort of night; one that will likely stand out in little A's memory long into the future.

  9. what a fun and chatty post! We enjoyed living on our boat in Waikiki "right in the middle of everything" for 20 years. The first 10 or so were magical. Now I'm delighted to be indoors. Glad you are 'off' living in the past. Perhaps a virtual sea journey is just what I need to keep my hand in. . . . Old Maui, eh? Do swing by!

    Warm Aloha to you from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  10. Beano!

    Now that brings back old memories! :)

  11. When I was about 10, we learned the "Drunken Sailor" song and some others at school. Not in English class, mind, but in Music class.
    Sounds like a great evening, and the pictures are very atmospheric.
    I totally agree with you about living in the past! Not that people are really that much nicer to each other... some of the atrocities committed in Syria and in too many other places around the world, or how women are treated in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) are no better.

  12. I really like the photos of the Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings. The evening of seagoing stories and songs sounds delightful. I always do my best singing in a crowd of other singers (where it is unlikely that anyone will hear me). And, of course, I sing well when I'm alone in the shower......

  13. Love the Olympics rings under Tower Bridge! They look timeless there.

    No such markers north of the border mind you - very much the LONDON olympics...

  14. Sea shanties, the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, and the Beano - what a great time you had!

  15. Lovely post - and photos!
    Oh how I wish I'd kept all my old annuals - you're so right about all kids (big and small) loving them :-) x

  16. Wonderful pictures, Jenny. It was great to see Tower Bridge illuminated; it's not something we get to see here in the Midlands. Sea shanties and comics ... wonderful memories of both at different times in my life. I, too, always fancied living on a boat.

  17. Thank you for stopping by, Jenny -- we're pretty loose about the rural aspect of the blog hop -- I think your Olympic shot would be enjoyed by many. Link up if you like! xo

  18. Your pictures were outstanding and what a fun night you had.

    I remember reading Beano when I was a child.

  19. Really good atmospheric pics there. Excellent.
    'The Beano' was always my favourite. The stories were often the usual mediocre stuff but the drawings were fantastic. If the hero passed a pond there would be a rough sign saying 'Stagnant Pond,' and a duck nearby would be wearing a gas mask! Posters on wall would encourage folks to 'Eat More Mince!' And be accompanied by a picture of a plate of mince two feet high! Dudley Watkins who I think wrote 'The Bash Street Kids,' from the off, used to sit at the office window in Dundee watching the primary school at the back, That was where he got the idea for the kids and their stories. He drew it English style possibly because he came from Wolverhampton I think.

  20. Wizard evening, what? :)

    (Beano has a lot to answer for)

  21. What fun, the comics and the evening of song and story. Yes, life in the past was hard and harsh, but those old legends should not be forgotten.

    Love the pics of Tower Bridge, it makes me want to come back for a visit.

  22. I was so happy to see the Tower Bridge with the Olympic Rings! Our daughter is actually hoping to see it on Saturday. It's beautiful lit up also!

  23. Great atmospheric photographs and what a run down memory lane you've given me.
    Student days when the sailing club would hold singing nights at The Gun...not that far from your venue but distinctly different...and then the Beano!

  24. Sounds like a wonderful time! Seeing your photos makes me want to go to London again.

    Ha ha, I guess I'm not the only who thinks the old guy on the bench looks like he's holding a cell-phone. :-)

  25. When my son was little- we loved Beano, difficult to find here- usually went to British Columbia for Beano and Rupert. Madrona trees are particular and only grow along the coast, close to the water. They can not be cultivated and that, i think, is another reason why I like them so much- they are wild. Thank you for stopping by!

  26. I absolutely love the way you spent this evening on boats!In France, every 4 years, there's a big boats celebration in Brest, and I remember about the mood there, just like the one you're describing.I like to see London under the rain, it sounds beautiful to me ! :o)(But I hope rain will stop for OG..)
    Beano is unknown in France , but it seems funny!

  27. It sounds as though you had a whopping good time overall.

    I must say I didn't think too much of the rings on Tower Bridge in the daylight shot. They look like cheap jewelry. The night shot, however, is another story. They look very nice with the lights.

    I've had the pleasure of traveling to London five or six times, starting when I was a child, and Beano was a joy even to an American boy! I think some humor is universal (although the spelling of it may not be!)

  28. Another fascinating post which sent me off hither and thither to research things past. The boat evening looks like a thoroughly enjoyable time and whilst I am not a lover of cities in general if one is going to be in one then right in the thick of things is as good as anywhere and better than most. Why hither and thither? The Bash Street Kids didn't strike me as the users of 'topping jape' language which reminded me more of Billy Bunter (not a Beano character!). Which made me try and think of the comic strip in The Liverpool Echo when I was a child. I remembered it was The Back Entry Diddlers but I've been unable to find much about them. And so it went on. And on. It's by no means the first time you've done that to me Jenny. Thanks!

  29. You're right, Graham, They didn't talk about japes. I may go back to the post and substitute "wheezes" - a word which always baffled me as a child. I thought wheezes were what happened when you were ill. Just another example of the mad world of the Beano. Of course I also liked Dandy, and my favourite was Desperate Dan.
    How interesting that you learned "Drunken Sailor" in your music class, Meike, It's a great idea to learn foreign folk songs in the original language. I don't think kids even sing English folk tunes in English schools, although we used to sing what I know were rather Victorianised versions of them. .
    Suldog, a whopping good time is also a good phrase :) you clearly picked up some "jolly good stuff" when you were in England as a child!
    Malyss, I think most people here would willingly swop some rain for your delicious French sunshine. But I suppose rain can be atmospheric, too. You know, I am just not in the mood to appreciate it :D
    Linda Sue, now I am wondering why madronas can't be cultivated! I never heard of a tree like that. I'm going to look them up.
    James, not only do I think he's holding a cell phone but I'm not sure what else he WAS doing. Scratching his ear perhaps>? I'll go back to your blog and check.
    Fly (may I call you that?) The Gun rings a bell. It might be smarter than it was. In a way it is good but I always regret it slightly.
    How cool, Debbie. How long is your daughter in the UK?
    AJ, "wizard" was the word I was searching for ... come to think of it I remember using it myself as a kid and everyone laughing.
    Mimi, I just don't feel nostalgic for the past any more - just beats me how people even survived! well I suppose many didn't.
    This comment is getting long so I'm going to continue in another one.

  30. Totally topping! Loved this - and all your photos! Ed and I would have eaten up every minute of an evening like this!! Glad to hear your loved one is up and around - gimpy though hi is.

    As for Beano - love it! So grand that your little one is taking in some vintage fare - too fun!!


  31. Hehehehe, I'm laughing at the name of the comic because in the states it's the name of a brand of gas relief. Their slogan is, "Take Beano and there'll be-no gas."
    You can watch a video here:
    As for the song Drunken Sailor, we also sing that in the states. Learned it in elementary school.
    My parents had a boat that we travel on while growing up. I have a soft spot for anything done on a boat. It sounds like my type of evening.

  32. oh my that sounds like a wonderful evening....all the songs and stories...i would have been all about it...and that view of the bridge is incredible!

  33. First off, Jenny, I am happy to hear your T is getting much better and that Little A had a terrific time looking at that topping view!

    And I'm right with him on antiquated lingo. I think I'm the only one around who still says "Oh my goodness." We didn't have Beano growing up. But I thoroughly enjoyed graphic novels like Asterix & Obelix as well as TinTin (talk about antiquated, even the ideas are downright non-PC there).

    And how perfectly atmospheric to experience stormy seas alongside those sailor's yarns! I kept thinking of Peggotty's seafaring family in David Copperfield. I must still be a dreamer since I still romanticize the life of long ago. My mom pretty much used to tell me to get real -- I could never survive on a rustic farm or make it as a (headstrong) girl 200 years ago! But I am trying :) We're off camping tomorrow for the weekend. It's not quite roughing it, since we have some modern conveniences, but close enough.

    Oh, I wrote you a reply on my blog comments to your questions on the art installations on the LACMA. I'd copy it all here but would make this already lengthy comment even longer! And was glad to hear from you how marvelously green the parks in England still are. I remember that intense green of England!

  34. I love this post! ♥ I love your comment about being put off living in the past!! And the name of the boat: the Iceni. And Beano comics.... my very favourite as a child!

  35. My son liked Beano comics very much! (Poor lad, he had to keep up with English AND American things!)
    What do YOU think of The Shard? From the photos, it doesn't look very attractive and I hate that is so near the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

  36. What moody and mysterious looking photo's. Believe it or not Beano is unknown by me. I am going to try to remedy that situation.


  37. Superb photographs and text - and Beano is a bonus. Thanks.

  38. I so love dropping by your blog … each time I hear about places like Hermitage Moorings and Tower Bridge I feel as if I am thrown right into an Agatha Christie novel or perhaps a dungeon in ancient times or in the days of Charles Dickens. Thanks as always for sharing your world ... Beano included. :)

  39. Actually living on a boat--I'd be below decks in heavy weather like you had for a while, but topside otherwise. How's that for what I remember of Treasure Island. I wasn't overly impressed by the olympic rings in either photos.

  40. such a lovely post--i am glad t's back is better :)

  41. I would love to live on a houseboat. Sadly, my husband believe I might be suffering from some sort of midlife crisis...

  42. The sea shanty singing sounds wonderful. I would have been joining in with gusto! As for the Bash Street Kids - I absolutely loved them, and I swear there was a version of one of them in every class I taught!

  43. When I see that picture of the Thames and Tower Bridge, I think it would be great to live on a houseboat. Then I think again about what it would be like in the depths of winter and I'm not so sure.

    I loved the Beano when I was a kid. Ripping yarns. Spiffing pranks. Golly gosh! I liked the Bash Street kids as well. Even in those days, school pupils could be little terrors!

  44. I'm going to start saying "topping" to annoy my provincial American friends!

  45. A further email, and many thanks to everyone who commented. A few specific responses from me:

    -E- Another good one is "ripping" (as Nick reminds me) although they didn't say that in Beano.
    Nell, I think the Bash St Kids were downright inspirational to some kids. Both my sister and I played Beano style pranks on our parents at different times - these were NOT greeted with the hilarity we expected.
    Joanne, I'm amazed at your command of nautical language :D
    Nick, boats are a surprising amount of trouble, so I'm told. And yet, and yet...Muriel, I suspect if you did not have a midlife crisis when you started you would get one when winter comes. akaPenelope, I'm glad my posts are evocative. I promise I wouldn't intentionally lead you into a dungeon although this post of last year got a little bit too close to the idea of nasty underground places for comfort, I feel..

    Darla, you need to explore Beano (and Dandy)with someone aged under 10. Having said that a 12 year old recently made a dive for our Beano books and stayed immersed in them for the whole morning.

    Kay, I like the Shard. I don't really know why, but I have seen it going up from its earliest stages, as it towers directly over London Bridge station, which I use quite often.

    Emm, I should have asked Tony why he called his boat Iceni. They were a tribe of warlike Celts living in what is now Norfolk, not really an obvious choice for a Kentish boat. :)

    Well, that is a new word for me Kathryn - "gimpy" I will go and look it up!
    Part 3 of comments to follow. I haven't reached the first ones yet, since I seem to have answered them in reverse order.

  46. I enjoyed this post so much. Great stories, photos and illustrations.

  47. Thanks for your blog that has rekindled my desire to pick up photo blogging again

  48. It must be exciting times in London now with all the hoopla of the Olympics. I have never heard of Beano books, but it would look like something fun I would read.

  49. Love the 1st picture. It's so mysterious looking.

    An old classmate used to read Beano (circa 1989-1992) and talk about it in school, but I think he read the slightly modern versions.

  50. I hate that building... the Shard, that is. It ruined the skyline.

    Since you mentioned old stories and songs, I'd like to recommend an app called "Dickens' Dark London" to you - it's a great combination of drawings, pictures, facts, and the narrator is really good.

  51. The photos of boats brought back fond memories of my May visit.

  52. Yesterday night, I saw Olympic flame reached London on TV news. A man descended from a helicopter and held the flame at this place of the photo. My 91-year-old mother really looks forward to seeing the Olympic Games. Since turning 80, she has repeated saying “I might not be able to see next Olympics.” each time it is over. During the past 4 years, she got hospitalized three times and came back recovered. I look forward to see London-scape which would be broadcasted along with the games. Enjoy the vibrant London, Jenny.

    Regarding your comment on my latest post, thank you for the introduction of Flower Fairies. They are so sweet and enchanting. I think I’ll buy a book for my granddaughter or post cards.


  53. Hi Jenny,
    I don't remember when, but I started to get less interested in Olympic Games. When Tokyo Olympic Games were held in 1964 in Japan, I had never seen people who were not interested in the games. It was not because the games were held in Japan. I feel something is different.

    I wish I had been able to listen to his stories and been scared with them. I remember how I was excited and thrilled when I read "Sirens".


  54. Love the dramatic silhouette and dramatic sky on your first image. Tower bridge in any weather always looks majestic isn't it :D

  55. I've never been to London. I think I have a certain idealistic image of it in my mind. I really dream of going there.

  56. What a fascinating night! Loved seeing the Olympic Rings hanging from the bridge too :D)

  57. Those Olympic rings look great!

    You know, in the U.S. Beano is a supplement you take to keep you from, er, passing gas when eating too many beans. In case you wanted to know.

  58. Hi! I have finally solved my computer problems and now I am back. I did not know Beano, now I am very curious about it, I will try to read it soon!

  59. He is right of course it most certainly is a topping view. :)

  60. Thanks for the further comments, and each and every one was valued. I see I didn't respond also to some of the first comments nor some of the last, I'll try to redress this here.

    I was amused to hear that "Beano" was an American gas remedy. Think people used to eat more beans in the US than here although I'm not sure that's true any more. Smiled at your "dandy" comment about "swell" Louciao - (the "Dandy" was in fact the companion paper to "Beano".) It is so funny that across the Atlantic some words are slangy but they mean different things. "Swell" never caught on here meaning "great" but it used to mean a posh Eton educated style rich toff.
    Adullamite, I specially liked the "Bash St Kids" and probably that was because of Dudley Watkins (I was not familiar with his name) I also loved the type of little details that you commented on. There might be an arrow pointing to someone's head with a little remark. I used to spend hours poring over them. Also did like Desperate Dan in the "Dandy" - loved how he walked through walls leaving a Dan-shaped hole. So many memories actually, including trying some of the pranks myself (on my NOT amused family )
    Did you travel around when you lived on your boat, Cloudia?
    I haven't read "Sirens" Keiko, but I will look out for it. I love stories like that too. And SO glad you liked FLower Fairies, Yoko!

    Thanks Dominic for the "Dickens Dark London" recommendation. I'm also going to mention it to a family member who loves that kind of stuff. But, I don't mind the Shard. I just find it so impressive close up.
    I'm disappointed that there isn't much Olympic stuff happening in Scotland. I wonder why that is. The rings look wonderful when illuminated, but yes, they are a bit drab Sulfog. Not exactly cheap looking (too big for that) but uninspired. And Jon, I love singing in a group too, I think it's a shame that mostly we don't do it for fun any more.

  61. I really enjoyed your post and the photos are lovely. I was in London on Sunday and with the sun finally out it was packed round by the Embankment. It was interesting reading some of the comments here as well. x

  62. For some reason your blog posts aren't showing up in my reader. That sounds like a really good boat trip. Minus the rain.

    I loved Beano as a kid. And Dandy and Whizzer & Chips. :D

  63. sounds like a splendid night out!!

  64. Greetings! So happy to read your post. So glad things are going well, except for the life thing getting in the way. I know, it's been crazy for me too, but that's a good thing right! Thank you for sharing the Tower Bridge, it's awesome and in color for the evening, so wonderful!

  65. Thanks for the comments about my waterlore talk :0) Tony x


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