Sunday 10 December 2023

Sam the Wheels, Railton Road, South London


One of the local landmarks, Sam the Wheels' informal bike repair shop is marked by the heap of cycles  outside a terrace house on Railton Road.

Friday 1 December 2023

Christmas Decorations at Battersea Power Station, South London


Despite its extraordinary and imposing industrial architecture and lavish spending on festive decorations, Battersea Power Station only attracts a smattering of visitors on a Friday morning.

Ferndale Rd, Brixton, South London


Housing some fine Victorian buildings, including a former department store, Ferndale Road leads down to Brixton's main drag.

Railton Road, Brixton, South London

Semi-closed to traffic, Railton Road provides cyclists with a fairly safe and picturesque cut through between Brixton and Herne Hill.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Mayall Road, South London

Running between Brixton and Herne Hill, Mayall Road is lined with late Victorian terrace houses, many still embellished with decorative period features.

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, South London

The terrace houses on the north side of Coldharbour Lane retain some eye-catching Victorian railings.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Acre Lane, South London


Connecting Brixton and Clapham, Acre Lane is lined with timber merchants, decorator shops, pubs and other life essentials.

Saturday 28 October 2023

Lyddon Terrace, Leeds


Part of the campus of the University of Leeds,  cobbled Lyddon Terrace includes a row of listed red brick houses (nos.15, 17 and 19), dating from 1839. 

Friday 27 October 2023

Kings Cross Station, North London


Kings Cross station boasts a spectacular arched glass roof.

Peckham Road, South London

One of the main drags in south east London, Peckham Road's period architecture is overshadowed by a steady flow of traffic. 

Thursday 26 October 2023

Falmouth Road, South London


The listed houses on the west side of Falmouth Road were constructed between 1835 and 1841 on land leased by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral, according to the Conversation Area Appraisal by Southwark Council. The report notes that numbers 4-18 Falmouth Road have undergone lateral conversion, which has resulted in the replacement of some of the front doors with windows, although all the front steps and their iron balustrades still survive. 

Saturday 21 October 2023

Brixton Village, South London

Brixton Village, a cluster of restaurants, cafes and bars in a covered market, somehow manages to mix a gritty urban vibe with a genteel foodie ambiance. 

Friday 20 October 2023

St. George’s Residences, Railton Road, South London


Sitting back from the street, a cobbled courtyard leads to St. George’s Residences - a handsome purpose-built block of flats, dating from 1878.  Employed as social housing, the block's fine central tower houses a large water tank.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Excel Marina, East London

Something of a back water in East London, the Excel Marina provides sweeping views of the O2, the Thames cable car and Canary Wharf, as well as new housing developments and ornamental cranes.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Tivoli Park, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Although you have to cross a busy ring road to get there, Tivoli Park is pretty much in the centre of Ljubljana. This large green space has smart landscaping, the heavily-forested Rožnik hill, striking sculptures and a couple of handsome mansions that now double as restaurants and exhibition spaces. Designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard, Tivoli Park is about five square kilometres, dissected by three walks lined with horse chestnut trees and distant views of the city's castle. In September 2023, the park's broad Jakopič Promenades was lined by large format prints celebrating the work of Ivan Tavčar, a leading Slovenian writer and politician.

Petkovškovo Nabrežje, Ljubljana, Slovenia


A buzzy tree-lined riverside road, Petkovškovo Nabrežje is packed with tables and chairs in the summer months. 

The Rooftops of Ljubljana, Slovenia


From the top of the Nebotičnik skyscraper (built in 1933 and one of the tallest buildings in Europe at the time) there are fine views over the rooftops of Ljubljana. At 70 metres high, the terrace of the top floor cafe provides the ideal vantage point from which to survey the city's historic core. Note, you are supposed to buy something before you can take pics.

Trubarjeva Cesta, Ljubljana, Slovenia

One of the thoroughfares connecting Ljubljana's pristine old town with the more scruffy areas on the east of the city, cobbled Trubarjeva Cesta retains a slight bohemian vibe despite ongoing gentrification.

Mesarski most, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Pedestrianised and bedecked with thousands of padlocks, Ljubljana's Butchers' Bridge hosts a couple of almost demonic statues by the Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. Built in 2010, the footbridge connects the Central Market's colonnade, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, with the Petkovškovo Nabrežje embankment. 

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Dušan Cunjak, Gallusovo nabrežje, Ljubljana, Slovenia


On the banks of the Ljubljanica river,  rare book shop Dušan Cunjak is a real head-turner.

Street Art, Resljeva Cesta, Ljubljana, Slovenia


To cover up unsightly graffiti, Ljubljana's skate and snowboard shop has decorated its facade with a striking Bauhaus look.

The National Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Built in 1896, Slovenia's elegant National Gallery houses almost 600 works of art by European artists dating from the Middle Ages.

Ulica na Grad, Ljubljana, Slovenia

A quiet back route up to Ljubljana castle, the cobbled Ulica na Grad is lined with ancient houses that wouldn't look out of place in a rustic village.

Ciril-Metodov trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia


One of the most scenic streets in Ljubljana's old town, cobbled Ciril-Metodov trg is lined with creamy mansion houses, as well as one side of the city's Baroque cathedral. 

A Food Stall, Plečnik's Covered Market, Ljubljana, Slovenia


One of a row of pricey food shops in the 'Plečnik's Covered Market' that lines the river Ljubljanica.

Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia

It is well worth making the steep hike through the atmospheric back streets of Ljubljana's old town up to the city's Castle, which is about 900 years old.  Unfortunately, you don't get a great view of the historic centre, but there are some sweeping vistas of the surrounding hills and mountains from the ramparts.  While much of the grounds are free to enter, you do have to pay to get into the museums and some of the more compelling parts of the castle. Surrounded by park land, Ljubljana Castle also houses a café (Grajska kavarna), a nightclub (Jazz Club Ljublanski grad), a wine bar (Grajska vinoteka Strelec), (and two restaurants (Strelec and Gostilna na Gradu).

Ljubljana's Allotments, Krakovo, Slovenia

A short walk from the centre of Ljubljana, in the suburb of Krakovo, you'll find peaceful allotments with views of the castle. 

Kongresni trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Although you can't see much of Ljubljana's charming old town from the castle, you do get a fine aerial view of the west end of Kongresni trg, particularly the grand Palladian facade of the Uršulinska cerkev svete Trojice

Le Petit Cafe, Trg francoske revolucije, Ljubljana

Bringing a flavour of Paris to Ljubljana, the longstanding Le Petit Cafe is something of an institution in Slovenia's capital. In the summer, the outdoor tables can be buzzing mid morning with breakfasters. Inside, the distressed decor and the vintage Gallic art on the walls conjures up a bygone era. While the hot food can be overcooked and the coffee a bit bland, the menu offers plenty of choice and is reasonably priced given the popularity of this distinguished establishment. Better still, the waiters have perfected the haughty gruffness you associate with cafes in the French capital.

Hradeckega most, Ljubljana, Slovenia


A fine cast-iron bridge dating from the mid-nineteenth century, Hradeckega most was restored and relocated from the centre of the city to a more suburban location in 2011.  Connecting the Trnovo District and the Prule neighbourhood, the bridge can now only be used by pedestrians and cyclists. 

Mestno igrišče, Ljubljana, Slovenia


A squat, but eye catching, church on the corner between Precna Ulica and Mala Ulica, near the centre of Ljubljana

Monday 11 September 2023

Mestni Trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Ljubljana's town square is surrounded by photogenic cobbled streets lined with elegant period architecture painted in pastel colours.

Prešernov Trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia

At the heart of Slovenia's compact capital, Prešernov trg sees a steady stream of pedestrians and cyclists criss-crossing the city.  The square's Prešeren Monument celebrates France Prešeren (1800–1849), the greatest Slovenian poet. It is surrounded by handsome buildings, the most striking of which is the salmon-pink Franciscan church of the Annunciation. The square leads on to the distinctive Triple Bridge, designed by architect Jože Plečnik and built in the 1930s, to separate pedestrians from faster moving traffic. On the other side of the river, is a grand Chateauesque mansion, now housing local government offices. 

Stari Trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Even with a smattering of tourists, the cobbled streets around Stari Trg look like something out of fairytale, as befits the oldest part of Ljubljana. The Herculov Fountain, just off Stari trg, is a replica of the 17th century original. Built between 1628 and 1630, the Stična mansion, which originally housed the abbots of a Cistertian monastery in the village of Stična, is one of the most impressive buildings in the neighbourhood.

The Upper Soča Valley, near Tolmin, Slovenia


Sunday 10 September 2023

Cycling Around Kobarid, Slovenia


It's pretty straightforward to hire mountain bikes in Kobarid. One of the best places to get a well-maintained machine is Positive Sport on the North West side of town. The staff can show you some potential routes, taking in a mixture of trails and minor roads, around the Natisone Valley. As it's pretty hilly in these parts, the going can get tough, if you don't opt for an electric bike. Either way the scenery is pretty special and you can dip into the local rivers to cool off.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Sacrario Militare di Caporetto, Kobarid, Slovenia


A memorial to the more than 7,000 Italians that died in the Battle of Caporetto in 1917, Sacrario Militare di Caporetto is a sombre and imposing monument in a scenic spot above the Slovenian town of Kobarid (Caporetto in Italian).The Italian government describes the battle, which began at 2:00 am on 24 October 1917, as the most serious defeat in the history of the Italian army. The revolution in Russia enabled Austria-Hungary and Germany to transfer large numbers of troops from the Eastern front to the Western and Italian fronts.  You can reach the memorial by following a signposted road that winds up the hill and affords good views of the town below.

Kobarid Museum, Slovenia


In World War One, the Italian Front ran through the Soča Valley and Kobarid's museum gives over much of its space to weaponry and other exhibits from that conflict. The many black and white photos serve to remind visitors of how many young lives were sacrificed between 1914 and 1918. Even if you don't make it into the museum, an artillery gun near the town centre serves a grim symbol of the turbulent history of these historic borderlands.

Rock Climbing, Kobarid, Slovenia


 Climbers don't have to travel far out of Kobarid to find some chunky rocks to scale.

Hike from Kobarid to Tonocov Grad, the Upper Soča Valley, Slovenia

A 7km round trip from Kobarid, the vigorous hike up to the ancient settlement of Tonocov Grad takes you through the forested hills of the Upper Soča Valley. Dating from the 5th Century, Tonocov Grad, perched on a 400 metre high hill, is well placed for sweeping views across the valleys below. For the return leg, you can follow one of the trails or minor roads that hug the scenic Soča river, taking in the remains of WW1 fortifications as you go.

Friday 8 September 2023

Cycling around Stara Fužina, near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia


At the eastern end of Lake Bohinj you can hire bikes and follow some of the scenic lanes and trails east of the village of Stara Fužina. This is the kind of peaceful landscape where you can cruise  through rolling green hills without a care in the world, at least until you encounter a steep descent on a gravel path.

Most Na Soci Station, Slovenia


Served by ageing locomotives, this atmospheric old rail station is the last stop for people travelling to the scenic Soča Valley. From here, it is buses or taxis (if you can find one). The station is a walk from the town of Most Na Soci, but it does have its own bar to while away the time, while you try and figure out the bus timetable.

Thursday 7 September 2023

Walking around Lake Bled, Slovenia

Although it is the poster child of the Slovenian tourist industry, Lake Bled isn't particularly busy in September. In fact, sections of the 6km circuit can be serene, with sweeping views of the glacial lake and its fairytale island, complete with handsome church reached via a grand stone staircase. On your way round, you'll pass several impressive mansion houses, well-placed benches, boardwalks and jetties, where you can sunbathe.  

Gostilna Pri Planincu, Bled, Slovenia


If you stop for a beer at one of Gostilna Pri Planincu's outside tables, be sure to take a peek at the very distinctive interior, which is adorned with licence plates from across the planet.

Hike up to the Savica Waterfall, near Bohinj, Slovenia


You can hike up to the Savica waterfall (entrance fee €3) from Lake Bohinj along a well maintained trail in about an hour. The viewing platform can be a tad crowded, and the waterfall itself can be underwhelming in late summer, even though it splits into two during its 78 metre descent.

The Vogel Cable Car, near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia


The Vogel cable car takes you to Brown Rock, 1,000 metres above Lake Bohinj, and 1,535 metres above sea level. In winter, this is a mini ski resort, and in summer, it is essentially a view point. While the vista of the mountains and the lake is very impressive, the few (outdoor) vantage points can be crowded - a restaurant has muscled in and taken prime position. The cable car ride is also pricey at around 28 euros per adult. If you have time, it will be more rewarding to hike down, rather than return by cable car.

Vintgar Gorge Walk, near Lake Bled, Slovenia


Lined with wooden board walks, the 1.6km Vintgar Gorge is a very scenic stretch of the Radovna River, complete with waterfalls, pools and white water rapids. If you are coming from Lake Bled, you can take a shuttle bus or a taxi to reach the gorge and then the entry ticket is about €10 per adult (unless you have bought a local attractions/green transport card). But it is well worth the hassle and the expense, particularly if you visit outside the high season when it isn't too busy. At the end of the boardwalks, it is short path to the 13 metre Šum river waterfall. From this point, you can hike the picturesque 5km or so back to Bled, following a trail through an atmospheric wooded hill top and then down minor roads back towards the lakeside town.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Mostnica Gorge, near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

The captivating walk through the Mostnica Gorge and into the Voje Valley (and back again) is both varied and enjoyable. You have to pay a small fee (a few euros) to enter the gorge, but it is well worth it to take the footpaths that undulate alongside this enchanting river. If you do the whole thing (starting from Stara Fužina), it could take about five hours of walking, but you can turn around whenever you please and perhaps enjoy a bargain beer at the well-situated bar at the end of the gorge.  In September, at least, the trails are pleasingly empty.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Much quieter and more mysterious than Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj can be almost as picturesque, particularly in the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. Starting at the pretty church on the edge of Ribčev Laz, you can walk 7km round the northern shore on wooded trails before catching the quaint passenger boat back from Ukanc, thereby avoiding walking the road along the southern shore. In the sunshine, this is a truly uplifting excursion.