Monday, July 20, 2009

Of Monks and Thieves: A Walk Around Clerkenwell

View Clerkenwell Walk in a larger map

For the past two years, I've been saying that I'm going to do a walk around Clerkenwell, but I haven't gotten to it yet. When I next go to London, I'm bound and determined to work it in. I've read several different walks (in Time Out London Walks and an online walk of Dickens' London), and made my own walk on Google Maps. It starts with the Priory of St John, continues on to Bleeding Heart Yard (mentioned in Little Dorrit) and Clerkenwell Green, passing several locations in Oliver Twist, then goes through Exmouth Market, down a lovely old Georgian street where Dickens' bank was located, and ends up in Whitecross Street. I've worked in several places to stop for food and beverages, including one of the few remaining Italian delis in the area, and Whitecross Market where there are specialty food vendors on Thursday and Friday. Since the walk starts and ends at the Barbican, there's an opportunity to stop in there to see what's on in the art gallery. And if it starts to pour, the Museum of London is a close by place to take shelter.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bears! Oh, My!

There usually isn't much happening on the sad streets of Easthampton. Unlike Amherst, it lacks a lovely town common. It has none of the trendy stores that draw people to Northampton. And it seems that the recession has hit the streets of Easthampton harder than the other towns, if the "For Rent" signs are any indicator. In Easthampton's defense, however, I must say that the open studio days at the numerous artists' studios in a couple of the former factories are a huge draw, and the watch repair shop comes highly recommended. But now, Easthampton's got something that no other local town has -- it's Bear Fest.

The bears got their start several months ago when they were distributed to local artists. Here are some of them, waiting to be picked up by their artists:

I snapped the naked bear below back in March, as it posed in the window of a gallery, where local artist Greg Stone painted it with a fish motif. It now sits next to Nashawannuck Pond.

Last weekend, I walked around the rotary and down Union Street, seeing and snapping about half of the 30-some bears. Along the way, I saw dozens of other people out admiring the bears, smiling and laughing. The otherwise sad streets felt much happier with the bears in town. I plan to go back soon to find and photograph the rest of them. See them on my Flickr page.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

At Last, Summer

I came back from Santa Fe with great intentions for my summer. I was going to do tons of walking and swimming. I had a new photography project planned, involving driving to a different Franklin or Hampshire County hilltown each week, wandering around and taking pix. But then the rains came. In June, it rained something like 24 or 25 days out of 30. I tried to tell myself that walking in the rain would be practice for London, but most days the thought of it made me just too miserable. I swam all of four times all month, and my work on the photo project was zilch.

As we turned the page on June, the sun started to emerge. So far in July, each day has just gotten better and better. I was so excited about it that on Sunday I did a 3 mile walk AND swam 15 lengths of the pool, getting a bit of a sunburn in the process. At the pool, I started working on my London plans, pouring over last year's Open House program and making index cards for things I'd like to do this year. Major contenders (if these sites are open again this year) include:
I may get back to my hilltowns photography project yet, as I've got some ideas for it in my head. If the rain stays away, that is.

P.S. -- Within an hour of writing this post, the sky turned dark, thunder rumbled, and the rain poured down again.
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