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statue named 'Melancholy Madness'


Into the grounds
Walking through the grounds of the now functioning Psychiatric Hospital known as Bethlem Royal Hospital.


A Guided Tour

Originally the hospital was near Bishopsgate just outside the walls of the City of London. It then moved outside of Moorfields in the 17th century, after that it moved to St George’s Fields in Southwark in the 19th century. It’s final destination involved moving to (the current destination ) Monks Orchard in West Wickham in 1930.  

The lakes that used to be a feature of the grounds have now been covered up.

It is essential that patients safety had to be put first. Considering some of the states of minds patients might be experiencing from mania to sucide,  and many on heavy doses of medication it was deemed to be too much of a risk, and to this day they no longer have lakes. It seems a pity, that they can’t find away to keep the lakes in a secure way.

Lakes have since been covered up, yet still... winter landscape of The Royal Bethlem Hospital Grounds.
The Vvst grounds at Bethlem Hospital 


Medicine and Nature

A place where diverse nature exists, plants such as Dog Rose, St John’s Wort (said to be useful in aiding depression). Beetles such as Grasshopper, Green Shield Bug, as well as Butterflies. The tour guide mentioned many species of natural wild life, many names he mentioned went over my head, I was somewhat distracted by my own thoughts about mental illness and cures.


Getting There

Obviously depending on where you live will depend on how easy it is to get there, but the nearest train station is Eden Park and to get to Monks Orchard Road ,where Bethlam Hospital is located, is only a ten-minute walk.


Woodland at Bethlem Hospital.
The woods are a great place to walk about and kick up a few leaves



The word “bedlam”, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital’s nickname. Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility. Historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform.

Calius Gabriel Cibber iconic statue
Caius Gabriel Bibber


statue named 'Melancholy Madness'
Photo of the iconic statue named ‘Melancholy


Museum of the Mind

The museum showcases many collections in its permanent and temporary exhibition galleries. They also hold a collection of art including works by Louis Wain.  I have always loved his crazy cats drawings. I had no idea he had been a resident at this institute. We live and learn. See the link for further details about Louis Wain.

Alongside the permanent displays, the museum has a dedicated temporary exhibition space. It offers a changing and thought-provoking seasonal programme.There are plenty of artefacts and interactive media displays to get engaged with. The museume helps in showing you about some of the patients journey from madness to cure. There has always been an arguement about how to deal with patient’s experiencing mania or suicidal tendancies. The space allows you to reflect on those cures, or restraings and lets you decide for yourself. 

For further information check out The Museum of the Mind’s website, go on to the link below. I recommend the tour and tickets are only £5 for both the tour of the gardens and the museum.


To book tickets for the Bethlem Hosptial tour online go onto



Until next time keep on, keeping on.


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Revisiting Camden

Walking in & around Camden, finding new places.

picture of me taking a picture
I drink, therefore I am, a pun on JPS I think therefore I am


Some time ago I decided to start a Meet Up Group and lead some of my Urban Walks, I felt Camden would be a good place to start.

I have been enjoying revisiting Camden a lot and getting loads of books out on loan from Chelsea library; It’s an enjoyable process, researching and reading up on the history of Camden.  A haven for Artists, Writers, Musicians, Historians; Camden has the lot.

Fascinating & somewhat mysterious historical characters, such as Walter Sickert,  one of the founder members of the Camden Artist group. I’m re-reading Patricia Cornwell’s Case Closed, where she sets out to prove that Walter Sickert was, in fact, Jack The Ripper. I’ not sure this is credible, but interesting nevertheless. I would be the last person to glamorize Jack the ripper but it does hold a place in my imagination from childhood.


It has been said that Sickert’s landlady at 6 Mornington crescent believed The Ripper had lived in one of her rooms. this certainly had an effect on Sickert’s imagination who painted Jack the Rippers room and is featured today in Manchester Art Gallery.


Camden got let off lightly during the blitz.

It seems only Camden Tube Station got slightly hit. The rest is intact. Part of its charm is the beautiful listed buildings, edging onto Regents Park. Camden Theatre at Mornington Crescent built in 1900 is still standing, now named Koko, it was rescued by the BBC in the 1940’s, virtually desolate in the early 1970’s then resurrected as The Music Machine named after an LA Psychedelic rock band, making way for the new wave punk generation.  Then it became Camden Palace, now Koko.

The main difficulty was what to keep in the walk and what to leave for another occasion

walking past Spiritual Bar
Girl walks past Spiritual Bar

Literary Camden

There is no end to writers who have lived and worked in Camden, from WB Yeats to Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Beryl Bainbridge, the original fantasy writer George McDonald, and many more.  I kept coming across plaques and had to rein it in somehow. What was starting off as a rock n roll walk was going to turn into a literary walk? Although I can’t do it all in one walk, there is so much scope for future walks.




 It never fails to surprise me how popular Camden Market is. People are happy to be crammed in and queue up for the ever-increasing food stalls in the market.

I prefer to get there early to actually be able to look at the stores and look at the new designs and products. I had gone off Camden some years ago but must say it has so much life and energy there, it feels good to be back in North London.





I have been busily involved with The Eltham Readers group, my interview with Bernardine Evaristo author of Mr Loverman can be found in the SEnine Magazine. Tonight she will be at Eltham Library to talk about her book. (see page 29 on link below)

My new Meet up Group details are below.

Last Saturday of November I will be joining in the Bedlam Walk. More on that next blog.




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September Coastal Walks

SEPTEMBER is my favourite month as we try to capture the last of the remaining summer.

Taking a train from Victoria we wanted to venture out to the coast using my 1/3 travel ticket before it expires in October. We walked from  LITTLEHAMPTON to WORTHING. Great to get out in the fresh air and away from London.  Starting from leaving the house to returning, the whole day walk was about 12 miles. This was an easy but long walk. We admired some of the houses along the coast line, considering what type of house we might like to live in if money wasn’t an issue!

A linear walk along the coast.

coastal picture sea, sky, space
Big sky open space, just what the doc ordered.


The little Haven South Shields

Staying at the Little Haven at South Shields we were fortunate with the weather, as well as being upgraded to the Marco Polo Penthouse Suite.

Travelling up  on The Grand Central Train to Sunderland, it can work out cheaper going to Sunderland instead of Newcastle and then just taking the metro for a few quid. We got to the hotel  on the Wednesday evening in time for  a shower and went out in the evening for a quick drink in The Harbour Lights. All the better for the recently installed full length windows ensuring a great view. 

After a swift half, we headed down to the famous Ocean road for a meal. We sampled one of the many Indian restaurants, Zeer Cuisine. It was beautifully decorated and the service was fabulous. I sampled a vegan menu, with a selection of various dishes.  A very relaxing evening to set us up for the following day’s walk.


The following day we walked to Seaburn from South Shields.



There was hardly a soul in sight, only a few cyclists and dog walkers.


We were fortunate with the fantastic weather & beautiful blue sky’s all day.

Catching the bus back to South Shields we took a bus to the Market Place and checked out the Ferry Timetable. Then walked up to the Ocean Road.

After a delicious fish and chips from the famous Coleman’s fish and chip restaurant. A popular place where it is written up on the  board which boat the fish came in!.  After the feast, we needed a couple of hours to rest in the Penthouse.! We were startled by a loud horn, and this beautiful ship cruised by.

We were back up with a spring in our steps. A brief shower followed the cruise liner, as we watched it heading into a big black cloud. Looking out from our balcony overlooking the sea, it was an artists dream to see the ever-changing cloud formations.The brief rain only made the air feel fresher as we ventured back out to sample a few pubs.

A sight for sore eyes! cruising past the hotel

Going going gone….


There is a rich history in this part of town with the docks, river and sea.  


Starting at The Lawe Top in the Harbour lights pub , we first stopped at the two cannons (which according to Newcastle Chronicle are replicas captured from the Russians during the Crimean War, as the originals were melted for amminution during World War 11.

We walked up and down a lot of stairs on this trip. There are many old steep staircases along & around the Lawe Top. Eventually two staircases down we were at the Quayside which was unrecognisable to me. As is everywhere near a river, renovations and new buildings everywhere.

We tried a half a beer in the Allum House pub situated next to the ferry. Then ventured over to The Steamboat situated by the Tyne close to the Customs house Arts centre. It served hand pulled beers in a cozy lit atmospheric bar ; saturated with paraphnellia ranging from Lobster pots to scarves and flags. It was a great pub  with a fantastic jukebox, we could have stayed longer but had run out of cash and they weren’t accepting cards . We found a few places that only accepted cash in the area.


shadow on wall


We had one more for the road at the end of ocean road, and eventually found some room for a sandwich back at the hotelOn The Friday we took the ferry to North Shields to discover a lot of new restaurants had opened up and we enjoyed a lovely walk along the promenade to Tynemouth.

We considered walking to St Marys Lighthouse but as we were going out into Newcastle later in the evening, decided against it. WE kept it simple,& had an amble around Tynemouth before heading backto North Shields for our lunch returning on the ferry to the flea market at South Shields

Last but not least, as always it’s great to be back in my home town Newcastle and go out to a restaurant down near the river and visit the Tyne Bar & Baltic. Then back to Sunderland to catch a train back to Kings Cross. I could have done with one more day in Newcastle. Maybe next time

Coming up in October my new walking group and the Belam Walk. Watch this space for further details.

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You gotta serve somebody- Bob Dylan

gateway to the sea



Last month, when walking along the cliff tops in Northumberland. during the beginning of the heat wave, I took some pictures using the old camera. It was a couple of weeks later when I saw them in Islington. It makes me feel very happy, to see them. Returning to London the heat wave was to intensify. Looking back, a lot has happened. If only I had stayed longer.

Northumberland, Craster coastline

Stunning scenery in Northumberland  

waves crashing on cliffs
Blue sea rugged cliffs, June 2018 Northumberland
Old friends (eh not so much of the old,!) go back a long way…  from Newcastle & South Shields enjoying the sunshine


looking at you, looking at me
Handsome cliff side sheep


Politics/Unite, Angel-Islington & Farringdon, London

On a recent UNITE REP course situated between Angel and Farringdon, I found this little spot by the Canal to sit in at lunchtime. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, I usually find hidden spots. The Unite Course was intense for a whole week, so finding a bit of space was heaven.

Although I haven’t had the time to go on any organised walks lately, I’m still walking a lot.

Clocking up the steps

Walking from My house to Herne Hill and from  Farringdon Station to the Unite Office; I then usually visited Upper Street Islington for lunch and walked back to Farringdon at the end of the day to take the train, this all clocked up about 5 miles a day. As well as walking at the weekend from Victoria to Blackfriars to the TATE MODERN  walking 8 miles. It all adds up.

five minutes from Angel Station

                                Regent Canal  Islington

Dave a Unite Rep told me this story

I love my walk to work. It’s about 7 kilometers and takes just over an hour.The first part of the trail is through the quiet back road, through a park,to the local area City Centre (Woolwich ).

Here I can jump on a bus (if running late) to work. It’s the highlight of my day; taking a bag of peanuts to feed the squirrels in the park. Where I can get my best ideas walking. Arriving at work my mind fully charged with ideas.


a chair a bridge an old boat and a cancal
Away from the main street was this little spot- Regents Canal Islington


As a Unite Rep Dave deals with drivers on a daily basis; who are dealing with poor health due to the job demands and lack of healthcare from the privately owned companies. It is a dog eat dog world & all he/we can do is fight for our rights for better working conditions. Helping ourselves is the first step towards freedom. Keeping on walking and getting the exercise as well as just seeing different places makes a whole load of difference to a mind that is filled with politics of one kind or another; be it office politics or general politics. There is no end to it all.

Continue reading You gotta serve somebody- Bob Dylan

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Another Green World

Everything’s gone Green

I managed to escape a bit of the heatwave.

Spending time in Newcastle,  South Shields& Northumberland.

The heat there was more durable due to a breeze from the Tyne or the sea.

Fewer buildings & people does help but the heat was still intense. The green shots were taken along the rugged coastline Smugglers Bay, just passed South Shields.

Not quite sure why they came out like that but consider it an art installation moment. Art is anything you want it to be.! A vision!  I’m looking forward to the 250th RA summer exhibition next month,

The Cluny, one of my favourite music venues situated in the  Ouse Valley, tucked in at the edge of Newcastle City Centre, away from the Bars and usual clubs.

I just managed to make the gig on time, due to my train from London being one a half hour late. (the heat wave!)

It was an acoustic evening, so therefore seated. The opening act Fred Abong sang his own quirky very short songs but flowed well. Headlining was Kristen Hersh who I can only describe as understated perfection! It’s all about the synergy twisting the words to fit the rhythm.


I visited Alnwick where my tour guide (old flatmate) led me through  Hulne Park

two women painting in Hulme Park
A painters paradise, lush green trees, with a gentle running river flowing by


Hardly a soul about we walked for about 6 miles before lunch in Alnwick Centre.

The following day we did a circular walk around  Craster, my favourite area. Last time I had visited it was pouring with rain, whereas this visit at the end of June, it was hot enough to swim.  I discovered that behind the castle a five-minute walk to the beach was in sight, sandy beaches for miles.

I had some spare film left over from NYC & decided to use it up, as yet the film is not developed, so my Craster pictures will be developed later. Only took one with the I PHONE.Gateway to the sea View from outside pub at Craster. A beautiful day, I could have stayed there all day.

Newcastle upon Tyne

Meeting up with an old friend and visiting the Baltic on a hot summers day was a highlight for me. We loved this picture of our shadows.


The Baltic

We came across a project from 2018 called Ceremony

Presented as a large-scale film installation. It follows the artist’s search for a decommissioned 1970’s statue of German philosopher Friedrich Engels. As the film tracks the statue’s journey from one side of Europe to the other on a flat-bed truck, it starts showing the bewildered faces of the older generation some not understanding why they have to remove it. It shifts from one sense of history to another. In parallel, it cuts to stories of Collins’ collaborators in Manchester, including a young dancer who struggles to make ends meets, a factory worker who had to go back to work straight after a stroke.

The statue ends its journey in the centre of Manchester, among the towering new glass and steel buildings that act as alternative monuments to corporate wealth an aspiration for some by no means all.  What would Engels think now?


Also showing was series of displays and projects, questioning What is the North, to quote Paul Morley in his book The North, “the North that is written is a hallucination as much as it is a history, a non-fiction dream of what might have been rather than a documented expression of the definite” 

Always a lot to think about in the Baltic.

No pre-planned walks at present, but who knows what will come up, Next post end of August.