Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Darn Good Read

Final Voyage: The world's worst maritime disasters.
By Jonathan Eyers.
Published by Bloomsbury.
ISBN-13: 978-1408158944

I bought a copy of this book while visiting the London Boat Show, intending to read it during the weekend. On the train going home I opened the book to glance at its contents and was immediately hooked. Despite the subject matter, death and destruction at sea, I found it very easy to read and the information well presented.

I was intrigued by some of the minutia of information presented by the author, such as the miraculous survival of Anne Welsh, latterly known as Ashpan Annie, mentioned in the chapter on the Halifax explosion of 1917. Or the strange case of the commander of the submarine USS Queenfish who, after sinking the Japanese transport the Awa Maru in 1945, was stripped of his command and court marshaled.

 The book starts with the tragedy of the loss of HMS Association and accompanying ships under the command of Sir Cloudesley Shovell in 1707. The majority of the maritime disasters detailed in the book deal with wartime scenarios, ranging from the end of the American Civil war with the sinking of the Sultana in 1865, a short mention of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, the German battleship Bismarck in 1945, through the horrendous loss of allied and civilian lives in the overcrowded transport ships of the Japanese military transports during the final days of the Japanese involvement in WWII. The book draws to a close with the recounting of the loss of over 10,000 lives in the sinking of the severely overcrowded German transport Wilhelm Gustloff when only 19 miles off of the coast of Poland in January 1945.

 The balance of the stories in the book relate to civilian shipping, mostly overloaded ferries. At a list price of £8.99 and at 191 pages the book is what I call "a darn good read" and I hope when this book is reprinted, as it surely will be, the author will expand on disasters with fewer fatalities especially on ferries and modern cruise ships.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A Day in a Life part Deux.

This was the day that I finally retired, the 11th of October 2012. My replacement, Colin, is in place and I am off out the door. No more jokes about Arkwright, fork handles or four candles to put up with. And certainly no more disco dance music pounding through the wall from the factory and no more breathing horrible debilitating MDF dust.

These are some of the workshop lads I used to work with. I will miss them, especially Russel, the joker in the pack.
A few days later I headed, once more, for London and the elusive perfect chocolate cake and coffee. As is usual I ended up at London Bridge station, right next door to the Shard. The two dots on the upper surface of the building had me curious so I zoomed in and took another photo and to my surprise saw this,

Two men! hanging by a couple of ropes. I don't think they were cleaning the windows, more likely making sure the edges of the windows were properly sealed.

After wandering round Borough market for a while I headed for the Victoria and Albert Museum to look at pictures and get something to eat. On the way I passed the new office building at 20 Fenchurch Street and yes it does hang out all over the place. The lift/elevator tower on the side is perfectly perpendicular and the building does curve out this much. It must have taken a very clever mind to figure out the the maths involved in figuring out the loading of each floor at the central tower and the extremities of each floor. From looking on line I see that the architects have included a garden on the roof. The artist impression and details below have been copied from the web where you can get more information on floor space rental, hope there will be a restaurant on the upper floors, just as the Shard will have.

20 Fenchurch Sky Garden 1

Copied from the website;

Designed by top architect Rafael Vinoly, 20 Fenchurch Street is set to become a major London landmark. This 36-storey tower with a unique, gently undulating façade will provide over 59,000m2 of premier office space encompassing retail at ground level. A sky garden at the top will offer a stunning 360-degree panorama of the city. The building’s innovative façade, combining external shading and passive ventilation, will reduce its carbon footprint significantly.
Client: Land Securities
Architect: Rafael Vinoly Architects

I love visiting the Victoria and Albert museum, especially so when hoards of children, with their teachers, head for a school day out at the museum. They usually end up at the Science and Natural history museums across the road, leaving the V&A nice and relatively peaceful  By the time I had wandered round the V&A I was ready for a nice cup of tea and cake. To my delight, as I sat down to write and have my tea someone started playing a harp.The harpist's name is Peter Murphy, contact details are Fantastic tea, cake and of course the music.

From the V&A website.

The V&A Café offers hot dishes, salads, sandwiches, pastries and cakes, as well as hot and cold drinks, wine and beer.  All food is prepared and cooked on the premises using fresh food, bought daily.
The Café is located in the V&A's original refreshment rooms, the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms. These three rooms formed the first museum restaurant in the world and were intended as a showpiece of modern design, craftsmanship and manufacturing.