Thursday, 31 December 2009

Blog-log Day 2 - Yitzhak Rabin Square

It's pretty shocking at any level - to lose your Prime Minister through violence - but the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin sent a serious shock wave through all those seeking peace.

It was probably the biggest world event for 1995 - considering the impact of the Middle East on world affairs...

So for me heading to the now named 'Yitzhak Rabin Square' was always going to be a core staple of being in Israel and specifically Tel Aviv.

What I hadn't quite thought through was the extent to which not only is he honoured and recognised - the bust and the plaque etc, but the entire assassination is almost rehearsed through - the plaque of all the key players (including the un-named murderer), the spots on which they were all standing and the graffiti wall with the peace posters that went up now preserved.

Hmmm, lots to think through - but when I was first in Israel - it was the personal dynamic between Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres that was a key factor in all of the politics and diplomacy for Israel and the Middle East. That was shattered with the bullets of an assassin.

If nothing else it's a clear confirmation that the removal of weapons is the crucial lesson for all roads to peace. At the end of one year and the start of another the prayers for peace from Israel seem all the more poignant.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Blog-log Day 1 - the beach at Tel-Aviv

At first glance this could be any holiday snap taken anywhere - beach, inclement weather, historical features, art galleries, meals out - but somehow its not just anywhere: it's Israel.

The beach is stunning - fine sand, lovely depth, surfers, animal lovers, swimmers and families - all the usual components.

But being Israel there's a significant hesitation in people's voices when they ask 'why holiday there?'

But as you can see a beach is a beach is a beach.

But of course, as we all know it's not quite that simple - Tel Aviv is only 100 years old this year and Israel as a modern state was only founded in 1948. That first year was no simple delcaration of independence - in the days immediately after Israel found itself at war for it's very survival. This monument, on the beach at Tel Aviv, speaks of the role of the Altalena ship.

My short hand version is that the Israeli Government shelled the ship, which was carrying arms and ammunition for Israeli paramilitaries and it was the show of force between the Government (establishing itself) and the paramilitaries not yet incorporated into the mainstream army.

It's all pretty heady stuff and part of the rich tapestry that comes about at the formation of states, however controversial...

Friday, 25 December 2009

It's Christmas Countdown. The 25th Day is here

Probably my favourite picture of the year when it snowed in March and I got this from Kilburn Grange Park of the Kilburn Gaumont State.

There is a crowd of people now enagaged in getting the State re-opened with community access as well as established as a new church.

It's a huge venture and seems only right to feature it here given the season :-)

Merry Christmas to the blog readers - one and all...


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 24 - the trees of north west London rock

It's justa tree but it is one of the older, grander, best trees.

This one is Queen's Park, but with Hampstead Heath nearby it's quite a competition.

I have to say that I have had some stick from a regular reader of this blog that I concentrate too much on the built environment and I don't reflect the natural beauty of the area...

This is the nearest I am going to come to reflecting a new thread in the coming year - that said I am conscious that finding the time to capture the issues I want to feature on here is tricky, but I do my best.

Hope you have enjoyed it oh readers - the end of the year is nigh and the start of a new one...

But yes, more trees on their way.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 23 - casa latinoamericana

If you don't know this place then you are definately missing out...

It's dubbed the Brazilian community centre for London and is in Kingsgate Place in Kilburn.

The food is great, the people who run it friendly and the atmosphere welcoming.

Finally closed for the seasonal break - but open most of the time otherwise - it's well worth a trip down there. An autumn evening eating outside by the cobbled road is one of the more charming recommendations from this little on-line account.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 22 - we shall not forget them...

I cite this endlessly, but the significance of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday cannot be understated.

There's something really important about it in a societies make-up and it's great to see it making such a recent revival - sadly due to the number of international conflicts we are engaged in.

This year saw a large number of ceremonies and I was proud to play my small part in proceedings locally.

And well done to Linda Chung, an amazingly energetic councillor in Hampstead Town, for securing a private donation to restore the memorial at Jack Straw's Castle.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 21 - 12 Roman Emperors a leaping...

Yep, my age old hobby horse - Kilburn is the oldest part of camden, oldest part of Brent and one of the oldest parts of London...

That it was built and established by the troops and engineers of the conquering Roman Emperor Claudius and that the Museum of London should get out of the City of London and come down to the boroughs and have a conversation about what London has been and is...

This is the bust of the Emperor Claudius - probably torn down the by pillaging Iceni Queen Boudicca as she sacked Londinium - but it's incredibly evocative - it would have had eyes - so less scary and haunted, but it's a great piece of artistic bronze...

Who's up for having a replica statue erected at the bottom of the Kilburn High Road and the bust becomin a shade more iconic in lcoal useage than it currently is?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 20 - name that street name

It's not just the name that reveals a lot about an area but also the style of the name plate.

Here in NW3 in particular, some in NW6 too, there are the very old school individual street name plates - they add charm and character and when they are removed or changed there is a mini-hullabaloo.

The other crucial bit is the name of the road, lane, alley, rown, square itself and that to an extent dates it - I have always assumed that square was 18th century at the earliest really, avenue is metroland and cul-de-sac decidedly modern.

This is one of the finer examples of the two points at play - it's on Heath Street in Hampstead and curles beautifully round the brickwork... charm, style and quaintness - not the most obvious criteria when you are trying to articulate how somewhere could or might be but clearly important elements. The issue for me is whether it's possible to develop these factors now in an area that has either lost them or never had them...

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 19 - get to the back of the Christmas queue!

Anyone who has lived in north west London for any period of time talks fondly about going to the saturday matinee - it's not a south London nightclub - it's the cinema tradition of going in the afternoon.

But that old tradition of queuing on the Kilburn High Road - dating from when there were at least 4 cinema's - is back with The Good Ship Inn. It's so popular that it has restored queuing - a sure sign that the recession busting is well underway.

Now I should declare a small interest in that it's the bar next to my campaign office so I think it is dead good and the owner/licencee/manager is a great guy too.

But the real issue is does or should Drakes Courtyard have an apostrophe?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 18 - 170 years of tradition or just a local boozer?

In September I did a small post on the Adelaide Pub - all from popular Queen Adelaide, who died on 2nd December 1849 - curiously there has not been a fanfare of celbration for this great date :-)
of course for most people it's just that pub at the end of the road and one local resident told me that the pub was named after the road - when i asked what the road was named after he looked puzzled, before he burst out laughin!
Clearly the snow and the cold does something to the sense of humour and the brain processes :-)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 17 - one north star, 2 polar bears and a very busy Finchley Road

Given all of the outrage and hurrumph over The Golden Compass (will there be the sequels?) it seems only right to highlight our own bit of Northern Lights (no offense to anyone).
Of course in our instance it's just a pub on the Finchley Road but a great example of a coaching inn on a key part of road north and south.
The best bit I like is the sign and if you did nothing else wandering down to have a peek at the polar bear climbing apparently lazily over the sign... aaah, it's so sweet!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 16 - a collection for the restoration fund

Getting old buildings back into community use is incredibly difficult and usually there are one or two individuals responsible - St Stephen's in Hampstead is just such an example.

This picture was taken earlier in the year as the restoration programme was in full swing and it was especially gratifying that at the Heath and Hampstead AGM two years ago Michael Taylor, who has lead the work, asked that the heath and hampstead use the old church when re-opened.

And so some time later we all gathered there for the Christmas Party and saw the church open in fascinatingly candle and low level lighting lit.

It was a delight and one for any budding photographer...

I've covered it before and indeed this year:

Impressed with the restoration? Make them a donation - they still need the support and the help.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 15 - 5 weeks of closure, 4 turtle doves, 3 french hens

Railway history is some of the most interesting in north west London.

It's like there have been massive geographic changes to the local landscape and after the periods of enclosure and the development of new residential areas, there was a huge programme of putting rivers underground - thus changing what people saw around them forever.

This was followed by the carving, almost literally carving, of the rail lines - criss-crossing the landscape and now indelible marks upon where we live.

But it was autumn this year that the extent of the closures at weekends became more obvious and visible - not least cos TfL closed off Jubilee at the same time as the Metropolitan line at the same time as the Overground.

And now we have the projects running massively over time and causing considerable discomfort for everyone. [sighs and gears himself up for the next meeting with TfL and their respective partners...]

Monday, 14 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 14 - little donkey, little donkey...

One of the now hopefully annual highlights in NW3 is the return of the donkeys to Whitestone Pond.

It's only the second year but it's a great start of a restored tradition.

Cllr Flick Rea (Culture @ Camden) was there to welcome them and also see the queue of local children.

It's amazing how many people mention the donkey rides as thing of the past - pass on the news that at least once a year we have them back...

The tradition of donkey rides here dates back to the 1820's and froma later victorian era when the local area as known as the 'seaside for people from the east end' - literally thousands of people would come for their weekend entertainment and day out.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 13 - the Metropolitan cattle water trough

There are serveal of these troughs dotted around north west London and I think they're great. This one is just off of East Heath Road in Hampstead, NW3 on the Heath.

They dates from the time when the car was not king and when the owning and the using of a horse was not unusual...

I was told yesterday that there was a time before the car when there were over 3million horses in ownership and use - sounds realistic but also an incredible number considering now just how exclusive horse ownership is.

But back in July this water trough was a pleasant addition and feature to the blog

For those with longer memories or regular readers you will know that the water trough was one of the earliest blog posts at all. Back in January 2008 we were discussing this topic here

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 12 - hidden religious gems

It's not quite the tin tabernacle of Kilburn, but this is the Baptist Church in West Kilburn - hidden away on Carlton Vale it is one of the most charming and fascinating gems in the local area.
An imposing presence, a great history having been built for the railway workers as north west London was developed and a series of largely untouched architectural features that have stood the test of time.
And a still welcoming pastor and congregation...
What do you mean you haven't been there? It's well worth the trip...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 11 - What is it about Kilburn?

One of the key issues with politics is this sort of odd local government speak notion of 'place'.

It's a bit New Labour speak and a bit jargonistic but living here in kilburn I am beginning to understand what it might mean for me.

In short, for me, it about knowing, liking and understanding an area. it draws on soundbites like 'a place with no history has no future'.

Here in Kilburn it for me is epitomised by the Sir Colin Campbell pub.

It's a great irish tradition and a superb real old fashioned boozer - fun staff - good prices - lovely atmosphere and live music...

It's top, it's Kilburn :-)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 10 – local Gurkhas

Every year we remember those who have given their lives for their country, but it is easy to forget that we owe a similar debt to living veterans. Earlier this year a campaign led by Joanna Lumley and the Liberal Democrats was successful in ensuring that all Gurkhas who have fought for Britain have the right to settle in the UK.
The campaign garnered a great deal of media attention, but there is still work to be done.
In May, I led a campaign with Cllr Carol Shaw and Cllr Simon Green to secure recognition for two Gurkha officers, including a holder of the Victoria Cross, interred in Hampstead Cemetery.

In November, we included this grave amongst the locations in south and west Kilburn that we recognised with wreaths and tributes on Remembrance Sunday.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 9 – The “Club of Scoundrels”

MPs' expenses hit the headlines in April this year. As a liberal, I believe in equality – politics should not be the preserve of the wealthy, but nor should it be a means by which people become wealthy. I firmly believe that the prize associated with becoming MP is the chance to help the area in which I live and to assist the people that I represent; it should be an honour, not a badge of honour.

The expenses system is in dire need of reform. I have made a series of commitments on expenses. You can read them in full here.

In May, I, along-with 57 other Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates, wrote an open letter to Michael Martin.
He resigned a couple of days related, but we're not claiming the credit or not for that...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 8 - the Kilburn tin tabernacle

You wouldn't know it walking past but the tin church on Cambridge Avenue just off Kilburn High Road - running down to Kilburn Park Tube - is an old tin tabernacle.

Currently the church is the HQ of the Willesden and St Marylebone Sea Scouts.

it's an incedible building inside - being a ship reversed... and here is a rare little snap shot when it was open one day.

More of the local views of April are here:

But if you are interested, have a little google on tin tabernacles - fascinating stuff!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 7 - remembering Bergen-Belsen

Back in March I went over to Germany to the former concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen - it was where my grandfather had been in the liberation and felt like quite a pilgrimage for me.

It was very grim but incredibly moving and evocative.

But to meet the survivors and those paying their respects was amazing and I'm pleased I went. I sought to capture some of what i saw and learnt there on some short video's which you can see here:

Bergen-Belsen was the camp Margot and Anne Frank died in and so there is a gravestone (not at the actual spot - which is unknown) but in tribute to them and by reflection their iconic status in the holocaust legacy.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Day 6 - Climate Chaos Wave and March

Concern over the environmental future of the globe has been rising steadily.

The reality is no-one knows where this is going but it clear that we have a responsibility to act. That's why Copenhagen talks are so important and the pressure on politicians is so intense.

For my own part I was proud to join Nick Clegg MP and the Liberal Democrats in the wave and march today from Upper Brooke Street down to Westminster.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Day 5 - The Forgotten Parish 13 of Hampstead

The transformation from worship to residence is not an entirely uncommon feature in vast tracts of the country...

Here in Loudon Road, South Hampstead, we have a charming concernsion for parish 13

You can read more here

Friday, 4 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Day 4 – Belsize Square Synagogue

February saw the 70th anniversary of Belsize Square synagogue - from a Berlin-German tradition it's a truly inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.

I found the spiritual elements sincere and real and have found the music CDs quite cathartic at times of pressure and reflection.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas. Day 3 - Environment Survey

As the Copenhagen summit draws ever closer, climate change has returned to the top of the agenda. In February, over 1,300 local residents responded to my environment survey, with many identifying better recycling facilities and improved transport links as the changes they would like to see in Hampstead and Kilburn.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas Day 2 - Preventing Crime in Hampstead and Kilburn

Crime is a real concern in Hampstead and Kilburn, and I have been working hard to make our area safer, save local police stations and put more police on our streetsCrime is a very real issue for many residents in Hampstead and Kilburn. In January, I raised the concerns of residents in Swiss Cottage about street lighting and crime prevention with the Borough Commander, Dominic Clout, and Camden Council’s then-Head of Community Safety, Tony Brookes.

I am always keen to help and campaign on behalf of local residents and businesses - so if you have any issues of concern which you think I might be able to help with, then get in touch!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ed Fordham's Countdown to Christmas Day 1

I recently challenged Glenda Jackson over her failure to attend an important vote in Parliament whilst debating at the BRAT Hustings in KilburnIn the 24 days leading up to Christmas, I will be recapping some of the campaigns and issue I have been involved in throughout 2009.

Ed Fordham’s Countdown to Christmas Day 1 – Protecting our civil liberties

Back in January I was working hard to highlight the impact of clauses in the Coroners & Justice Bill on personal liberty. Sadly, the Labour Government failed to reflect the views of it's political tradition and have, during the bill’s passage through parliament, pursued an increasingly authoritative tone and stance... shameful really.