London – a day out …

2014-10-25 13.54.26Saturday 25th October

For some time now I have been seeing pictures of the “Poppies at the Tower“. This is an art installation entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which is made up of 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each British military fatality during World War I.

With the poppies due to be removed soon after Remembrance Day, Lauren and I decided that we needed to so see them before they were gone.

2014-10-25 13.23.46A tube trip into the center of London and then a short walk to Tower Hill. We knew we were in the right place as there were hundreds, if not thousands, of other people all keen to see this amazing spectacle. I don’t think anybody could have been disappointed. Even though the weather was overcast, the colour swept round the Tower flowing through the mote between the inner and outer walls. Each of the poppies have now been sold for charity.

While walking round by the Thames side of the Tower, I noticed there appeared to be a Thames Sailing Barge waiting up stream of Tower Bridge; could it be waiting for the bridge to open? Thanks to a quick Google search I confirmed that the bridge had a scheduled lift in just 10 minutes, and so for possibly only the third time in my life I watched Tower Bridge open.

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If you find yourself in this part of London it is always worth checking the Bridge Lift Time.

2014-10-25 14.59.28Having watched the bridge both lift and close, we took a stroll around Saint Katherine’s Dock where we saw Gloriana, the Queens Rowbarge, which had been built for the Jubilee celebrations.

These docks have always held an interest to me as for many years they were owned and developed by my previous employer. To one corner of the docks, facing the river, is a large hotel. When I was a child my father was involved with the hotels construction. It was during a trip to London with my mum to meet him from work that I first saw Tower Bridge lift.

Our next destination was Borough Market. A walk along the north bank from Tower Bridge to London Bridge and then across the river to the south bank. Now London’s foremost food market it has existed since at least 1276. Crammed into a relatively small space underneath the railway tracks, this market is crammed with all things food and drink, from fast food ready to eat, to every kind of ingredient needed to make the perfect meal.


Finally we headed to Carnaby Street as Lauren wanted to visit Johnny Cupcakes, she had seen a T-shirt she wanted, as well as a few other shops around the area. Before heading for the tube and home, we needed to eat. A small restaurant off the main street caught my eye, the Carnaby Burger Company. The food was very good although the tables were a little too close together and the service a little erratic.

A great day all in all, with a number of items planned and several unexpected bonuses.



My Big Australian Adventure – Part 11, ANZAC

ANZAC1This year I am in Sydney on 25th April, Anzac Day. Coming from the other side of the world this isn’t a commemoration that I know much about; for us 11th November is Remembrance Day.

I have heard of Anzac and was aware of it’s importance to Australians. I also had some idea that there were connections to the Gallipoli landings, but being here I thought it important to find out more…..

The meaning of ANZAC 

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.It was formed in 1915 and disbanded in 1916 following the Allied evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula.

What is ANZAC Day?

Anzac Day is Australia’s national day of remembrance commemorated on 25th April.

The date was first marked in 1916 by ceremonies in Australia, a march through London, and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt. For the remaining years of the war the day was used as an occasion for patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns.

During the 1920’s the 25th became the a national day of commemoration for the 60,000 Australians who had died during the war. In 1927 every Australian state observed some form of public holiday and by the mid-1930’s all the rituals of the day had been established; dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions and two-up games.

The Second World War saw the commemoration extended to cover the additional Australian lives lost and in subsequent years it was broadened further to include all those lost during military operations.

The Origins of ANZAC

In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The forces landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate with the campaign dragging on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25th April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.


Digger is a military slang term for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand. Evidence of its use has been found in those countries as early as the 1850s, but its current usage in a military context did not become prominent until World War I when Australian and New Zealand troops began using it on the Western Front around 1916–17.

At the outbreak of World War I, Australia and New Zealand were both relatively “young” nations, with little exposure on the international stage. Deployed to Gallipoli in early 1915, the soldiers of both nations had a chance to prove themselves. Although the Gallipoli campaign resulted in heavy casualties and withdrawal for the Allies, the campaign became strongly linked with the emergence of national identity. Through the manner in which the soldiers endured the hardships of battle, the image that has become synonymous with the word “digger” embodies the qualities of “endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, and mateship”.

Two Up

Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated ‘Spinner’ throwing two coins or pennies into the air. Players gamble on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up, or with one coin a head, and one a tail (known as ‘Odds’). It is traditionally played on Anzac Day in pubs and clubs throughout Australia, in part to mark a shared experience with Diggers through the ages.


The following details have been provided by the NSW Government, Trade & Investment, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing:

Two-up is a gambling game in which coins are spun in the air and bets are laid on whether they fall heads or tails.

The game is regulated under the Gambling (Two-up) Act 1998 and may only be conducted on:

  • Anzac Day (25 April in any year)
  • Victory in the Pacific Day (15 August in any year), and
  • Remembrance Day (11 November in any year but only after noon).

A permit is not required.

The only exception to this is Broken Hill, where two-up is played all year round under a special licence from the New South Wales Government.