Sunday, 2 March 2014

Crystal Palace

Today I nipped over to Paris.

But as you can see the weather was pretty pants so decided to head to Egypt...

Before going back in time to see some dinosaurs.

Not really!!! (just in case you believed me...) All these delights can be found in Crystal Palace Park where I took myself today.   I woke up in a bad mood but the sun was shining so I decided to go and explore some South London.  By the time I left the house it was actually pretty chilly and grey and rainy, but I had committed myself to going out so I went with it.  Crystal Palace Park is quite cool, I think it'll be prettier in summer though.  It's dead easy to get to - right by the train station, and there's lots to see.  There's a big lake with pedalos, and parts of the lake have huge dinosaur models on it (with optional audio trail so you can learn about what you're seeing).

On the other side of the lake is where the original Crystal Palace stood before it burned down in 1936.  You can still see parts of the building - some of the walls, foundations and statues - including 6 sphinxes guarding some stair cases, remain.  (There's a geo cache by one of the sphinxes in case anyone's interested).

Original walls and statue (I expect it did have a head)

There is a little museum so I went in and had a look - it wasn't the greatest of museums as it wasn't laid out very well and I don't think it told the story of the palace very well.  The internet tells me that the palace was originally build in Hyde Park with the purpose of holding the world's first international exhibition - it was a huge glass building filled with exhibitors selling items from all over the world.  Each section of the world was themed, hence the sphinxes for the Egypt section.  I just read some lovely facts on wikipedia about "the Great Exhibition" (may or may not be true!)

  • During the exhibition opening (May to October 1851) just over a third of the population of Britain visited the exhibition
  • The fee to get in led to huge profits, most of which was used to found the Science Museum, V&A museum and the Natural History Museum
  • The palace had the first major installation of public toilets.  Originally only for male use (I don't get this part as it's much easier for men to pee than women so surely women need a toilet to facilitate this activity more than men do), patrons had to pay a penny to use them - coining the term (soz for the pun) "spend a penny". 

After the Great Exhibition in 1851, the palace was removed from Hyde Park and rebuilt on a larger scale in what was Penge Common (now Crystal Palace park).  It was used for lots of different exhibitions including being the original location of the Imperial War Museum, hosting the world's first "Cat Show", a concert venue and a navy training base during the First World War.

Unfortunately it burned down in 1936 and was left to ruin - shame really as the photos made it look incredibly impressive.  Apparently there was a small explosion in a cloakroom which led to a small fire, which very quickly became a big fire due to the dry timber construction and the flammable materials inside.  Despite the efforts of 86 fire engines and over 400 fire men, the fire was too difficult to contain.  The fire could be seen from 8 counties and 100,000 people came to watch it, including Winston Churchill.  The building wasn't adequately insured and therefore was never rebuilt.  John Logie Baird (the TV guy) had been using the building for some mechanical TV test works and lost all of his work. Poor man.

I think there's plans to rebuild it, I saw a few proposals dotted about the park - it would be a lot of work but I think it would be a good use of the space if it was redeveloped!

The rest of the week has been pretty intense - each year we host a manager's conference and in my new position (oh yeah, I got a promotion, I'm now the Exec Assistant to the COO :-) ) I have to help arrange it.  Luckily most of it had already been arranged for this year but they discovered I could work my way round powerpoint so I was at work until 8pm on Friday night fiddling with the presentation and making changes, and back at the conference venue at 7.30am on Saturday to help out.   The conference is held in the Grand Connuaght Rooms in Holborn - a freemason's building, and it's pretty cool inside.  It's a bit of a rabbit warren - loads of stairs and corridors and wings, it's pretty easy to get lost!!  It's very very grand - see below!!

On Monday I went to my lovely friend Natalie's house for dinner, she's recently moved in with her beau so I was checking out her new pad.  It was brilliant - I came away with a full belly, some clothes she doesn't want any more and a smile on my face - thanks Nat!

Tuesday I hung out with a guy I know from Badminton, we chilled at his house and played Wii (apparently my Wii fit age is 43 - how did that happen!) and watched The I.T Crowd.  It is hilarious - I can't believe I have never watched it before!!! He has a very interesting collection of 'pets', including one of these (google image with credits to whoever Warren is).  It's an Axolotl and it's very weird but also kind of cute.

Wednesday I had Amy and Cesca round so I cooked dinner and forced them to play the Masquerade game, then sent them home before 9.30 so I could get to sleep - I am an EXCELLENT host.

Thursday I went to Sadler's Wells to see "Blaze".  This wasn't what I was expecting, it was a street dance show and I thought it'd be more of a play with dancing than all dancing, but it was literally all dancing.  It was really good but a bit bizarre - half way through they got the audience up to dance along to the 'atomic food' song where we had to do motions to chicken, beef, butter amongst other foods. And at the end they made us all get up and dance again.  I don't think I was cool enough to be there!! We went for dinner first and it was really nice to catch up with Lisa again - we say it each time but must see each other more often!!!  She often makes me laugh till I cry with her stories - the most recent one being thinking she had a dead cat stuck in her exhaust when it turns out it was her exhaust lining.


  1. What's a COO? Lisa - you must learn that an exhaust CAT is NOT a real cat, either dead of alive ;)

  2. Yay I feature!! We MUST see each other more! xxxxx


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