Staying Cool in the City


Copyright Maria ThermannNow that the skies are grey and the rays of the sun are no longer tickling our red and blistering noses, it seems inconceivable that only a few weeks ago it was too hot to work in the office.

Taking a refreshing stroll along the Thames Embankment on a very hot day, I spotted how London’s citizens tried various ingenious ways to stay cool in the city.

Thus I’m sneakily introducing my first, and most favourite point of interest in the capital – sorry HRM Elizabeth II, but the River Thames beats the “lady of the stamp” any day as London’s best tourist attraction!

Even on the hottest day of the year there was a gentle breeze blowing that cooled the wrinkled writer’s brow – walk along the lovely Thames Embankment and sooner or later you’ll come across a fountain where you can cool off your steaming toes.

 

Blackfriars Bridge in the Background

Blackfriars Bridge in the Background

Tide's out, kids!

Tide’s out, kids!

When the tide’s out, people walk along the patches of “beach” that appear along the river bed.

Just cruisin’

For those with more money than sense there are the official river cruises, some via stately old river barges, cruisers or former steamboats, others via power boats that zoom past with an almighty roar and spew up brown waves in their wake. The much cheaper version is to take an ordinary river bus.

St Katherine's Dock by Tower Bridge

St Katherine’s Dock by Tower Bridge

Cruises start from various points along the river, my favourite spot is at St Katherine’s Dock, where this couple sat patiently in a little pavilion – like a bus stop for the Thames – and awaited the arrival of their cruiser, while enjoying the magnificent aspect of Tower Bridge.

 

 

 

Making a Splash

My favourite image of this summer are unquestionably the parents and children who stayed cool by diving into the fountains at the National Theatre, which overlooks the Thames Embankment by the London Eye, roughly opposite Westminster and Big Ben.

Fountain at National Theatre, Southbank

Fountain at National Theatre, Southbank

Kids keeping their cool in the city

Kids keeping their cool in the city

Pedestrians startled by Mayor Boris Johnson's latest efforts to clean up the city's mean streets

Pedestrians startled by Mayor Boris Johnson’s latest efforts to clean up the city’s mean streets

At certain intervals during the day the kind people of the South Bank-National Theatre complex press a button and within moments people are engulfed by refreshing spouts of water – only they don’t know where the jets of water will come from next, for the fountain’s sprays shoot out at random in different spots.

With a lot of squeals and laughter, the youngest of London’s citizens find relief from the searing heat, a perfect image of summer as it should be, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HMS Belfast near Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast near Tower Bridge

Family Fun by Hayes Gallery, Thames Embankment

Family Fun by Hayes Gallery, Thames Embankment

At the other end of the river, that bit where HMS Belfast, a cruiser from WWII, is moored, whole families gathered around fountains, had a picnic and enjoyed the spectacular London skyline from just outside Hayes Gallery.

Erasing horrid Memories

This summer I’ve seen a different side to London, one I liked very much. Many years ago, when I worked in the city for more than a decade as an office slave, London was a complete construction site, where it was virtually impossible to get anywhere near the River. My memories are of noisy construction crews whistling and jeering at anything looking even vaguely female, of cranes polluting the skyline, of mud and dust everywhere.

southbank street artist blowing soap bubbles

southbank street artist blowing soap bubbles

Over the intervening two decades the embankments on both sides have been transformed and turned into London’s best attraction – and I’m clearly not alone in this point of view, judging by the hordes of people who use the River Walks every day from dawn till dusk and beyond.

My next post will be about my splendid walk from Tower Bridge to Rotherhithe, which turned out to be a delightful village, not a boring suburb with uniform new apartment blocks, as I had suspected.

This is where my post took you today

This is where my post took you today

After more than three decades in the UK, this summer has been the first time that I’ve actually begun to understand why people rate London so highly – up to now, I’ve detested it. These past few weeks, hot and steamy as they have been, have done much to clear my mind of horrid work-related memories and regain my “cool” about the Big City.

The true aim of my snap-happy wanderings through London is, of course, to gather background material for a future murder mystery series. So alongside the pictures I’ve been taking notes on the smells, sounds, temperatures and light conditions I’ve encountered along the way. I can still hear the children’s giggles, when a flurry of soap bubbles headed our way…

Summer in the City


Which City? Have a guess!

Horseguard Buckingham Palace

Horseguard Buckingham Palace

Yep, my camera and I were let loose by an irresponsible friend and snap-happy I took hundreds of pictures of landmarks, architectural highlights, attractions and the city’s star attraction, the big old River.

Vintage Bus outside Scotland Yard

Vintage Bus outside Scotland Yard

London Eye to the left, Big Ben straight ahead

London Eye to the left, Big Ben straight ahead

Big Ben telling me it's time for elevenses!

Big Ben telling me it’s time for elevenses!

Old River Thames, my favourite attraction!

Old River Thames, my favourite attraction!

London Skyline seen from Tower Bridge. The Tower to the right, the Gherkin to the left

London Skyline seen from Tower Bridge. The Tower to the right, the Gherkin to the left

There is a reason for this sudden outbreak of tourist fever – I’m preparing two murder mystery series, one is set in London in the 1920s, the other at the Kent coast in the 1940s.

Fountains at Trafalgar Square

Fountains at Trafalgar Square

Millennium Bridge before Harry Potter got there!

Millennium Bridge before Harry Potter got there!

Both make good use of locations, so it helps me when I’m writing from some hovel based at a different part of the UK or on the Continent (being an location independent online writer does have its advantages!), I don’t have to imagine what a place looks, smells, sounds or feels like at a particular time of year, I can look back at my photographs.

Borough Market in Southwark

Borough Market in Southwark

It was also huge fun snapping away, for this summer there’s been very little rain and although some of the pics look as if taken against a grey sky.

Tower Bridge, Southwark

Tower Bridge, Southwark

It was actually boiling hot at the time, the sort of hazy sunshine one only gets in The Big Smoke.

Imagine me standing there with an opened umbrella to shade my noggins and camera from sun and 30 degrees C temperatures, and you get the “feel” of the situation…

Horseguards emerging from Buckingham Palace

Horseguards emerging from Buckingham Palace

Her Magesty's secret agents having a chin wag?

Her Magesty’s secret agents having a chin wag?

London's full of mad artwork and statues

London’s full of mad artwork and statues

Dolphin statue & Spring at Tower Bridge

Dolphin statue & Spring at Tower Bridge

So to start off my series of city impressions, interesting landmarks and famous attractions, here are a few snapshots. I will do a post on each of the attractions/locations with more pics and proper descriptions over the next few weeks.

Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drake's old ride in Southwark

Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drake’s old ride in Southwark

Entrance to Buckingham Palace from Trafalgar Square

Entrance to Buckingham Palace from Trafalgar Square

Shakespeare's Book Bench outside Globe Theatre, Thames Embankment

Shakespeare’s Book Bench outside Globe Theatre, Thames Embankment

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Southwark, Thames Embankment

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Southwark, Thames Embankment

The Clink Prison, Southwark

The Clink Prison, Southwark

The London Eye, Thames Embankment

The London Eye, Thames Embankment

Join me on my Summer in the City tour, but please bear in mind, I’m just an amateur photographer with a rubbish Olympus camera, so please don’t expect too much!

Gates at Buckingham Palace

Gates at Buckingham Palace

 

 

 

 

Queen Victoria Monument & Fountain o/s Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria Monument & Fountain o/s Buckingham Palace

What Puts Readers Off Self-Published Books?


mariathermann:

Am so glad I found Tara Sparling’s blog! All I can say that she repeats here exactly my own thoughts on the whole “read my stuff/buy my book” ethos of a large section of self-published authors. My reaction to Twitter/Bookrix/Goodreads bombardment of “check out my stuff” type messages is also “shan’t”! Thank you Tara for this blog post:)

Originally posted on Tara Sparling writes:

ANOTHER graph! Heaven.... I'm in Heaven....

ANOTHER graph! Heaven…. I’m in Heaven….

Oh, we’ve come a long way from What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books last week, ladies and gentlesirs!

Brace yourselves now, as we enter the dark side of book marketing: the things which make you REFUSE to buy self-published books.

And we’ve all experienced this to some degree. Self-publishing often gets a very bad rap. If people avoided some of the behaviour which follows, the industry can only benefit.

Cobbled together from the feedback from you, the nice people who comment, I now have a list of what’s most likely to make sure you will never buy a book from a certain author, let alone read one.

These fall loosely into 3 categories:

1. Pushy Marketing Tactics
2. Bad Book Design
3. The Writing Itself

These categories also come in the order which they would turn readers off a book. Even if a book didn’t…

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The Steps of Publishing & Crowdfunding


mariathermann:

And as we are still on the subject of #book marketing, here’s an interesting new development: crowd-funding. I saw some authors use this to get a book tour (real travelling, not virtual) off the ground and another writer published a fabulous educational #book about how to create #fantasy art with the help of #crowd funding. Clearly the way to go, my fellow authors!

Originally posted on Authors Helping Authors:

wine_book_IIAlmost every writer dreams of one day being published, but not all writers realize what exactly goes into publishing a book. Whether you are self-publishing or pursuing the traditional publishing route, writers need to learn to navigate the publishing process. After all, writers are first and foremost just that—writers—and learning the ins and outs of publishing is not an easy task. However, as the publishing industry grows, new tools are becoming available to authors to help them publish more successfully. Crowdfunding is one of these resources and many authors are learning the importance of this step in the publishing process.

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Hidden Gems: Google+ Hashtags


mariathermann:

And since we are on the subject of useful Google resources and Doris Heilmann, the expert on all things book marketing, here’s some hashtag advice from her for all you savvy writers out there:

Originally posted on Savvy Writers & e-Books online:

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Google+-Hashtags

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If you are a long-time reader of this blog you might have realized that I am a big fan of Google+ – or GooglePlus – however you want to write it.  And I am not the only fan of this Social Media site, more than a billion other people signed up and it won’t take long until Facebook is a thing of the past.  At least for professionals who realized how important their Google Search Engine ranking is.  Now let’s look at one of the most interesting features Google+ has to offer:

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#Hashtags
Do you know of any Social Media site that creates custom #hashtags for you? Well, Google+ does!
And they do even more: when starting to type a #hashtag, Google kicks in and offers in a drop-down menue with suggested hashtags starting with the letters you have typed so far. Isn’t that fantastic?
And the…

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