Sunday, April 13th.

With Emma having just finished two night shifts, on the bounce, I decided to take Erin and Keilyn out for the morning, so that Emma could catchup on some sleep, knowing that she had to work tonight, too.

So, with provisions packed for myself, Erin and Keilyn, we set off along the Ebury Way, this time in the direction of Watford, rather than our usual route towards Rickmansworth. The sun was in full radiance and, as we moved through the shade of the Ebury Way, the breeze dropped, making it a pleasant stroll. Keilyn was quietly cooing at the trees and clouds, from her seat in the battlewagon, while Erin explored the path ahead. There were quite a few cyclists, heading in the Rickmansworth direction, and the odd jogger or two, but otherwise it was a quiet trip.

Some beautiful blossom that lined our route.

Some beautiful blossom that lined our route.

We followed the Ebury Way, crossing Wiggenhall Road, until we reached the River Colne, at the bottom of Oxhey Park. Having forgotten how steep the climb is, to Oxhey Park, I pushed Keilyn up the steep incline, thankful that Erin was walking, as I don’t think that I would have made it with her in the battlewagon, too. Erin barely seemed to notice the hill that she had to climb, as she was busy picking daisies, all the way up. When we reached the top of the mountain, I noticed a large sphere, over two-metres in height, with spikes protruding from it at odd angles. As we drew closer, I could see that it was actually a giant conker, fashioned from wood. Close to the Conker was a carved oak bench, shaped like a leaf, that Erin had to go and sit on.

The two tonne conker, designed by David Gross, at Oxhey Park.

The two tonne wooden conker, designed by David Gross, at Oxhey Park.

Oxhey Park is over fourteen hectares of parkland and wooded dell, that has been a public park since 1924. It turns out that the bench and conker were both designed by designer David Gross, and were commissioned to celebrate the rejuvenation of Oxhey Park. The bench is made of oak, but has a weighted base, while the conker took over three and a half months to complete and weighs over two tonnes.

Erin sits on an oak bench, designed by David Gross, at Oxhey Park.

Erin sits on an oak bench, designed by David Gross, at Oxhey Park.

The playground, at the top of Oxhey Park, is quite substantial, but was quite a disappointment. There are swings, a zip-line, a roundabout, a see-saw, rubber hills with planks to walk across, tunnels, a trampoline and a slide, amongst other things. Keilyn was in her element, as she just absolutely loves to pushed in a swing, while Erin will attempt everything, especially the slide. Unfortunately, the slide which is the same height as many other slides that she has been on, was impossible for her to use. She either had to climb to the top via a tough looking wall climb, or attempt three tiny steps which were attached to a pole, which was over a foot from the slide. There was no simple steps so I had to lift her up to the platform, while keeping an eye on Keilyn, who was walking around the base of the slide. After only two slides, Erin got fed up with not being able to climb the slide herself, so went off with Keilyn to jump on the trampoline. Then it was back on the swings, before Erin had one last look around. I could tell that Erin wasn’t happy with the park as, when I suggested that we head off to eat lunch, she didn’t kick up a fuss and run towards the nearest swing, slide or whatever, she just held the gate open and then followed the battlewagon.

From the top of Oxhey Park, the view of Watford is quite cool.

From the top of Oxhey Park, the view of Watford is quite cool.

As we reached the giant conker, I convinced Erin to stand in front of it, so that I could take a photo of her with it. Keilyn was busy munching on a sandwich, so wasn’t much interested in the weird, wooden thing that she couldn’t eat.

Bluebells lead our way to The Dell.

Bluebells lead our way to The Dell.

We followed the path along as it dropped back down toward the River Colne, where we turned right and headed towards the park entrance at the Lower High Street. Sadly, the grassed area was in too much shade, so we headed back under the railway arches and found a bench by a bridge that links Oxhey Park with the rugby fields, on the opposite of the river.

These arches, at the entrance to Oxhey Park, carry the London Overground trains.

These arches, at the entrance to Oxhey Park, carry the London Overground trains.

While Erin ate her sandwich, followed by a packet of cheesy twirls, I fed Keilyn spaghetti bolognese, followed with an apple and strawberry dessert. When both girls were suitably stuffed Erin took Keilyn for a wander across the bridge and back again.

Ducks sleeping on the riverbank, taken by Erin.

Ducks sleeping on the riverbank, taken by Erin.

Erin spotted some ducks, sleeping on the riverbank, so I gave her my phone and she happily took some photos of them. I then walked Keilyn along the footpath, while Erin pushed the battlewagon, until we reached Wiggenhall Road, where Keilyn started to get stroppy. Realising that she hadn’t had her morning nap, I strapped her into the battlewagon, and she promptly fell asleep. Erin, too, was showing some signs of fatigue, but refused to surrender.

It looks as though nature is reclaiming this bridge, above the River Colne, on the Ebury Way.

It looks as though nature is reclaiming this bridge, above the River Colne, on the Ebury Way.

Instead she led the way along the Ebury Way, warning me of approaching cyclists, until, almost at the point that we turn off for home, she decided that she wanted to sit down. So, with both girls strapped in, I pushed them both the short distance home. In those two minutes Erin fell asleep and the two of them began snoring, in unison.

A typical Sunday stroll usually takes its toll on the girls.

A typical Sunday stroll usually takes its toll on the girls.

Another nice relaxing Sunday stroll. Roll on next weekend, when it will be Easter, meaning more chances to go wandering.

Until next time, May It Be Well With You.

Tuesday April 1st

With Emma getting in from a night-shift, at about 08:00, she headed straight to bed, while I looked after the kids. Emma then got up, just before lunch, when Lacey arrived to trim Erin’s hair and cut Emma’s. After a quick-lunch we headed to Watford Metropolitan Station and looked forward to our trip around London.

Just as we passed Northwood Hills, Erin decided that she really needed to go to the toilet, so we alighted at Pinner, so that she could make use the conveniences on the platform. With Erin happy again, we boarded the next train and continued on to Finchley Road, where we took the Jubilee Line to Green Park. We had never exited Green Park, with a battlewagon before, and found that we had to follow a myriad of tunnels, just to get to a lift that would take us up a level, before following more signs and tunnels that would take us to another lift that would bring us to the ticket hall. Luckily, this brought us out in Green Park itself, where the sun was now shining down on the grassy expanse.

This is one of only a few photographs that I have of Buckingham Palace.

This is one of only a few photographs that I have of Buckingham Palace.

We made our way south, towards Buckingham Palace, where we stopped in the shade for a coffee and a cold drink for the girls. Keeping to the shade, we made our way along The Mall, where Erin took a photo of a guard on Stable Yard Road, outside St. James’s Palace.

This photograph was taken by Erin, on my Galaxy S3 mini.

This photograph was taken by Erin, on my Galaxy S3 mini.

More statues, means more photographs for me to take.

More statues, means more photographs for me to take.

We then continued along The Mall before turning up and on to Cockspur Street and then Pall Mall. From here we entered Waterloo Place and turned in to Charles II Street, around St. James’s Square, up Duke of York Street and through Church Place and on to Piccadilly, where we stopped to look around the small market in the grounds of St. James’s Church.

After a good look around we headed off up Sackville Street, turned on to Vigo Street and joined Regent Street. With both girls strapped securely into the battlewagon, they ate some sandwiches and crisps before we approached a toy shop, that I had already told Erin about.

Well, Erin didn’t stay strapped in long after we entered Hamleys, as she suddenly realised where we were. She was out and holding my hand, dragging me left and right, before we managed to get to the lift and head up to Level 3, Girls, where everything was pink. I was sure that Erin was going to burst, when the doors opened, as her eyes took in the sheer number of dolls, toys, games, tiaras, dresses and so much more Meanwhile, all I could see was my bank balance nose-diving from black to red, as Erin, and Keilyn, eyed up everything.

Fortunately, Erin understood that she couldn’t have everything but she did know that we would buy her and her sister something. We must have gone around level pink three times, before Erin decided that she wanted a Doc McStuffins Book with crayons. We also picked up a pair of Disney Princess sunglasses, for her, as she keeps taking mine and Emma’s glasses.

With this placed in a basket, we headed down to level 2, Preschool, to see what we could find for Keilyn. Erin pretty much went into meltdown when she saw what was on this level. Once again I was dragged off around the level, as she pointed out all the things that she recognised, plus some she didn’t, while all the while getting more hyper. Keilyn suddenly became a little vocal, when she spotted some giant cuddly bees. (She likes The Hive, on Disney Junior). So, we bought a small bean-bag bee for her.

One thing that I did notice, as we looked at all of the items, were the prices. Some of them were extortionate and it amazed us as to why people would pay such a figure. Some of the items, with high prices, we could buy cheaper at other stores, including the Disney Store, or, if we were so inclined, online.

We bypassed Level 1, Games, and headed back down to the ground floor, Soft Toys, which actually has more than just soft toys. It also has, along with every other level, Hamleys employees trying to sell you the latest craze.

The Strictly Come Dancing Trophy, which was sitting in the window of the BBC Radio Theatre.

The Strictly Come Dancing Trophy, which was sitting in the window of the BBC Radio Theatre.

On leaving Hamleys, we headed north passed BBC Broadcasting House, which had camera crews everywhere, due to it being Freedom Live Day. As Keilyn had been cooped up in the battlewagon, for most of the afternoon, we decided to get her out so that she could stretch her legs.

Keilyn has a little stroll around London.

Keilyn has a little stroll around London, with her mum.

Meanwhile, Erin stayed in the battlewagon trying to fight sleep. We walked up Portland Place to Park Crescent, where we stopped to feed the girls, before making a short walk along Marylebone Road, to Baker Street Station, where we had a good look around The Emporium, before heading down to catch our train home.

We arrived back in Watford just as the sun was setting, so I snapped a quick photograph, before it disappeared out of sight.

The sun sets over the recently cleared, and disused, Croxley to Watford Branch Line, soon to be part of the Croxley Rail Link.

The sun sets over the recently cleared, and disused, Croxley to Watford Branch Line, soon to be part of the Croxley Rail Link.

We eventually got home at 19:40, which is way passed Erin’s bedtime and just after Keilyn’s bedtime. Suffice it to say, once they were changed, they were out for the count!

All-in-all it was a great day out with superb weather.

Here’s to the next trip to London which, unless an unexpected trip happens before, will be on April 30th, for Keilyn’s 1st birthday.

May It Be Well With You.

Sunday 30th March,

Having lost an hour of sleep, due to the clocks having gone forward, the girls woke up later than usual, but still in time to have breakfast before we needed to leave the house, for our stroll. With them suitably fed, dressed and with enough food and drinks for the day, off we set.

With Keilyn strapped into the new battlewagon, and Erin walking along with us, we took the Ebury Way and headed towards Rickmansworth. It wasn’t long before Keilyn was asleep, while Erin picked up leaves and sticks.

Normally we drop down on to the tow-path of the Grand Union Canal, at Lock 80, and follow that towards Rickmansworth, but, this time, we decided to carry on along the Ebury Way. As we passed by the various fishing lakes, where trees are being felled and banks cleared, we spotted some small rabbits, nestled near their burrows, just above the waterline of the river.

Emma holds the girls as we prepare to clear moorings.

Me with Erin and Keilyn, aboard the Pride of Batchworth.

Me with Erin and Keilyn, aboard the Pride of Batchworth.

Finally, we arrived at the Rickmansworth Canal Centre, where we stopped at Cafe @ Lock 81 for a drink and a quick bite to eat, before we boarded the Pride of Batchworth narrowboat, for a short trip. Since we were the only passengers, we sat at the front of the boat and enjoyed the ride. We spotted Coots, Moorhens, Canada Geese, Mallards and Swans, as the boat took us towards Stockers Lock, where a three-point turn was made, before heading back to Batchworth Lock.

Narrowboats along the Grand Union Canal.

Narrowboats along the Grand Union Canal.

On our way back to Batchworth Lock, we followed the goose.

On our way back to Batchworth Lock, we followed the goose.

One of the pedestrian bridges, near Rickmansworth Aquadrome.

One of the pedestrian bridges, near Rickmansworth Aquadrome.

A small boat rests on the bottom of the Grand Union Canal.

A small boat rests on the bottom of the Grand Union Canal.

After thanking our ‘Captain’ we headed on to Rickmansworth High  Street, before heading to the back of the council offices, where there were benches that we could sit at to eat and feed Keilyn. Beside us there was a spiral staircase, which had left an interesting effect on the pavement, so I took a photo, while Keilyn finished her lunch.

An interesting effect, left by the rain falling from the steps above.

An interesting effect, left by the rain falling from the steps above.

With lunch finished, and time ticking by, we headed back to the Ebury Way and headed towards home. With Erin beginning to flag a little, she hopped back in to the battlewagon, at which point Keilyn decided it was time to stretch her legs. So, out she came. After I had carried her for a short while I put her on my shoulders, until she clamoured to get down.

Keilyn sits on my shoulders, on the Ebury Way.

Keilyn sits on my shoulders, on the Ebury Way.

So, I put her down and she walked, while holding my hand. Then Erin wanted to join in, so Erin and I held Keilyn’s hands and the three of us walked a little way. Keilyn then decided that she could do it herself, so we let her hands go, and she took her first solo steps along the Ebury Way.

Erin and I help Keilyn take her first steps along the Ebury Way.

Erin and I help Keilyn take her first steps along the Ebury Way.

Keilyn takes her first solo walk along the Ebury Way.

Keilyn takes her first solo walk along the Ebury Way.

Eventually Keilyn fell asleep, just as we met my mum at the King George V playing fields. My mum had been for a walk, earlier in the day with a walking group. They had walked up Baldwins Lane, along Little Green Lane and down through the fields and woods onto Rousebarn Lane, before heading back to their start point. Now mum was pushing her dad around the King George V playing fields. Erin gave my mum and granddad some daffodils, that she had picked from around the edges of the playing fields, before trying to get to grips with the exercising machines that are dotted around the fields, while mum, granddad, Emma and I had a quick catch-up. After saying our ‘goodbyes’, we headed home so that we could sort the girls out, as their little body clocks were still on GMT rather than BST.

My mum arrived, not long after the girls had finished their tea, so that we were finally able to give our Mother’s Day present and Erin and Keilyn could give their ‘Nannie’s Day’ present, to her. We chatted for a bit, before Emma disappeared upstairs, to get herself ready for work. How Emma manges to do a twelve-hour night-shift, after a day of walking a good five or six miles, is beyond me. But she does.

With the girls in bed, and Emma at work, it wasn’t long before tiredness set in. Mum headed off home and I busied myself with tidying up the toys and settling down for an early night.

All-in-all it was yet another great day out, and in, with my family.

 

Watford District Cottage Hospital

Address: 45-47 Vicarage Road, Watford, Herts, WD18 0DE

Medical Dates: 1886-1925

Built in 1885, the Watford District Cottage Hospital is believed to have been Watford’s first hospital and was designed by local architect, Charles Ayres. It was officially opened by Lady Clarendon, in 1886.

The construction of this one-storey building was financed by public subscription and cost £1,700.

In 1897, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, a new six-bed ward and operating theatre were added, increasing the capacity of the hospital. Then, in 1902-03, two more six-bed wards were added, plus dining rooms and staff accommodation.

By the end of 1916, the hospital contained 80 beds, 6 cots and was fitted with x-ray equipment. However, the building was soon running at capacity and, in 1917, it was decided that Watford required a new hospital.

In 1925 the Watford District Hospital, (Cottage had been dropped from its name some years before), closed as a new hospital for the district had opened on Rickmansworth Road.

Watford District Cottage Hospital, now known as Victoria House.

Watford District Cottage Hospital, which is now known as Victoria House.

The building, now called Victoria House, is still in remarkably good condition and is home to offices and a private company called My Ultra Baby, where you can get a 2D, 3D or 4D scan of your baby and attend antenatal classes. On the exterior of the building there are two sandstone tablets containing the busts of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. Although they are badly eroded you can still make out the images quite easily.

In 1985, David Brin published his award-winning novel The Postman. Met with critical acclaim he sold the movie rights and sat back and waited for his baby to hit the big screen.

As with many novels, that become movies, a lot can happen to the story and plot. Actors and directors come and go. The script can go through a multitude of rewrites, sometimes becoming something that only shares the title of the original story, while everything else is changed beyond recognition. This is the fate that befell David Brin’s The Postman.

This science fiction novel deals with a post-apocalyptic future where government does not exist. Neither does the nation of the United States of America. Into this wilderness of lawlessness comes a drifter who, after stumbling across an old US Postal Service uniform, travels across the land bringing the hope of a ‘Restored United States’ to small communities, who are terrorised by a warlord. Lying through his teeth to gain food and shelter, he eventually finds that he must unite the communities in a bid to defeat the warlord, once and for all.

I have to say that I was not keen, on the book, when I first read it and, having read it a number of times since, I am still unconvinced by its story telling and message.

In 1997, Warner Bros. released The Postman directed by and starring Kevin Costner.

This movie version, set in 2013, kept the main premise of a selfish drifter (Kevin Costner) who, after escaping from a tyrannical warlord called General Bethlehem (Will Patton), finds a US Postal Service uniform, and begins travelling to various communities, where he tries to convince them that government has been restored. This is all a lie as he tries to find sanctuary from General Bethlehem. As his word is spread and each community begins to believe in him and the Restored United States, General Bethlehem visits the various communities, to ‘recruit’ men into his growing army. On hearing of The Postman and his Restored United States, he is enraged to the point that he orders any ‘Postal Carriers’ to be shot on sight. With The Postman cowardly hiding out in a cabin, trying to avoid the responsibility of his actions, chaos is ensuing in the communities. With more and more Postal Carriers reaching as many people as they can, and dying for his lie, it not is not long before The Postman is forced to accept his responsibility and returns to the community. Trying to stop the war, he tries, unsuccessfully, to disband the Postal Service, but is eventually forced to realise that the only way to end the war is to stop General Bethlehem. This ultimately sees The Postman ‘manning up’ with his Postal Carriers, which is made up of mostly teenagers going up against the army of General Bethlehem. The resulting battle will decide the future of the country.

Kevin Costner, as The Postman, gives a great performance as the cowardly, selfish drifter who is just trying to survive, by any means possible. While, Will Patton, steals the film with a chilling turn as the ruthless, ex-salesman-turned-tyrant, General Bethlehem. There are plenty of other great acting performances from the likes of Larenz Tate, who plays Ford Lincoln Mercury, the first man to be sworn in to the new Postal Service; Olivia Williams, who plays Abby, The Postman’s love interest and mother of his child. Even Tom Petty makes a surprise appearance, playing himself.

The cinematography is astounding and visually amazing, using locations of contrasting beauty and wonder to perfectly show the post-apocalyptic land. 

The soundtrack, by James Newton Howard, is wonderfully underscored, so as not to detract from the visuals and storytelling, reaching only a few high points as required.

The movie was panned by critics, resulting in a very poor box office showing, which is a shame because I think this is one of the best films ever made. Granted, there are some long drawn out scenes, that could have been shortened, and some dialogue is slightly clunky, but otherwise The Postman is a superb film.

David Brin, the author of the original book, is quoted as saying…

Costner captured my novel’s heart – and the movie’s visuals/music were stunning.

Could’ve had a bit more brains. But still… underrated.

The Postman on IMDB

The Postman trailer

Saturday, March 8th

My mum and I had decided today would be a good day to go to London, so off we set. Because the Jubilee Line was closed from Finchley Road to Waterloo, we changed from the Metropolitan Line to the Bakerloo Line at Baker Street and travelled to Oxford Circus, where we changed to the Victoria Line and continued on to Victoria Station.

After a quick coffee, we headed along Victoria Street until we reached our first destination. Westminster Cathedral. After some exterior photos were taken we headed inside. Now, I thought the building was impressive from the outside, but the inside was breathtaking! The lower half of the Cathedral walls are clad in marble, which come from twenty-four different countries, across five continents, of which there are over 125 different types. Above the marble the walls are bare brick, right up to and including the four domes, which make for a truly grand ceiling. In some ways this gives the effect of an unfinished building, but, on the other hand, the marble also draws the gaze of the parishioner to the altar. The low hung chandeliers also give the upper floors an almost melancholy look, where the shadows dance across the rough texture. The Cathedral is a building that could almost be said to be alive.

The exterior of one of the most amazing buildings in London.

The exterior of one of the most amazing buildings in London.

We arrived during Mass so we waited patiently for this to finish, and for the procession to file out, before we could take a look around. There are chapels to St. Patrick, St. David, St. Andrew, St. George and various others. There were also smaller chapels, as one might expect, for private prayer.

We then decided to head up the bell tower, which contains 300 steps! Fortunately, the steps are off-limits, so we took the elevator. Arriving on the seventh floor, which is 64 metres or 210 feet above street level, we stepped out and into the top of the tower, where four doors lead to four small balconies; North, East, South and West. Unfortunately, the West balcony was closed due to there being a problem with the padlock. Even so, the views were incredible and it was well worth the few quid we were charged to see them. We must have spent a good half-hour looking out into the distance, pointing out the landmarks that we could see through the light haze, that still hung over the city.

A panoramic image, looking south from the bell tower of Westminster Cathedral.

We then headed back down into the Cathedral proper, where we had another look around and took even more photographs, before heading up to see the ‘Treasures of Westminster Cathedral’ exhibition. The exhibition consists of chalices, sacred relics, vestments and other ecclesiastical objects that the Cathedral has acquired, since it opened in 1903.

The interior of Westminster Cathedral.

The interior of Westminster Cathedral.

Although the Cathedral opened in 1903, it wasn’t consecrated until 1910 because Catholic buildings can not be consecrated until all debts have been cleared. The Cathedral’s architect, John Francis Bentley, was also responsible for the Church of the Holy Rood, Watford, which is said to be his ‘Gothic Masterpiece’.

We left Westminster Cathedral and headed south towards Warwick Way, where we stopped at The Queens Arms, Pimlico, for a spot of lunch and a drink.

We then continued down Denbigh Street and onto Claverton Street which brought us out on Grosvenor Road. From here we headed west towards Battersea. Soon, we could see the old Battersea Power Station which looked like the hulking upturned skeleton of some prehistoric animal.

An image of Battersea Power Station, from across the River Thames.

An image of Battersea Power Station, from across the River Thames.

With the occasional stop, to take photos, we followed the River Thames to Chelsea Bridge, where we crossed, and headed in to Battersea Park. By now the sun was at full strength, shining down on Battersea Park and the Japanese Peace Pagoda, making the colours and architecture even more vibrant. We sat in the sun, while we waited for the pagoda to be clear of tourists and ‘health freaks’, who were exercising on the steps and around the base, thereby spoiling the chance for everyone to enjoy the pagoda without interruption.

The Japanese Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park.

The Japanese Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park.

After a short break we made our way back to Chelsea Bridge and headed east, along Grosvenor Road. We stopped at the Pimlico Garden and Shrubbery, to look at some statues, before rejoining the Thames Path, which would take us on to Westminster. Just before you reach Vauxhall Bridge, there is a plaque which marks the joining of the Tyburn River to the River Thames. Looking across the river we could see the headquarters of the S.I.S. (MI6) at 85 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall Cross. This building has many names, including; Legoland and Babylon-on-the-Thames.

Babylon-on-the-Thames

The headquarters of the Special Intelligence Service (MI6), Vauxhall Cross.

Looking at the headquarters for the Secret Intelligence Service, from across the River Thames at Riverside Walk Gardens, I was surprised to see children playing on the shore and in front of the building.

We then continued along Millbank, passing a bollard which had the inscription:

 Near this site stood Millbank Prison which was opened in 1816 and closed in 1890. This buttress stood at the head of the river steps from which, until 1867, prisoners sentenced to transportation embarked on their journey to Australia. 

This bollard is situated close to where criminals were sent on their voyage to Australia.

This bollard is situated close to where criminals were sent on their voyage to Australia.

Not much of the prison still exists, apart from one piece of a concrete perimeter ditch, which is now part of a housing development. As we approached Lambeth Bridge, with Lambeth Palace clearly in evidence across the river, I noticed that we were walking beside Thames House, headquarters for MI5, so, I took some photos of the doors and some of the carved stone figures, surrounding it. We then walked in to Victoria Tower Gardens, where the shade was welcomed and, as it turned out, my mum had never visited. Some photos of the Buxton Memorial Fountain, were taken, before leaving the gardens, via its northern exit, where there is a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Westminster Abbey, on a brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon in March.

Westminster Abbey, on a brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon in March.

From here we walked past the Houses of Parliament, then Westminster Abbey and the Methodist Central Hall, before turning onto Tothill Street and then Broadway, where we took a few photos of New Scotland Yard, before grabbing a bite to eat and a drink, which we demolished in Christchurch Gardens. We then walked back up Broadway and turned on to Queen Anne’s Gate, which lead us on to Birdcage Walk and into St. James’s Park.

A panoramic image of Horse Guards Parade ground, close to sunset.

A panoramic image of Horse Guards Parade ground, close to sunset.

With the sun beginning its descent, we made our way along Horse Guards Road and up to Waterloo Place, then down Charles II Street and up Duke of York Street to St. James’s Church. In a small open space, on the north side of the church, there was a small market, where I purchased a few items for Emma and the girls, while my mum bought some Tibetan Prayer Flags.

Conversation

I almost walked past this statue without noticing it.

With our legs beginning to tire, we headed towards Baker Street, via Piccadilly, Old Bond Street, New Bond Street and onto Vere Street and Wimpole Street until, eventually, Devonshire Place brought us out on the Marylebone Road. From here it wasn’t far to Baker Street station, where we stopped for refreshment at The Metropolitan Bar, before catching our train home.

Following our journey on Google Maps, it is estimated that we walked in excess of 11 miles and, for the most part, it didn’t seem like it.

All in all it was another nice stroll around the greatest city in the world.

Until next time, May It Be Well With You.

During the third season of The X-Files, its creator, Chris Carter, was approached by Fox Television to produce another series. For this they would give him complete freedom to develop the look, of the show, with a budget of almost $1.5 million per episode. The result was, MillenniuM, which aired in 1996. It ran for three seasons, before being axed due to poor ratings, in 1999. MillenniuM had an uppercase ‘M’ at either end to signify the year 2000, as it would appear in Roman numerals.

While developing the story and character of its main protagonist, Frank Black, Chris Carter had only one person in mind, Lance Henriksen. However, Fox thought that he was unsuitable and wanted William Hurt, but Chris Carter stuck to his guns. Things were made difficult for him when Lance Henriksen turned down the offer, as he didn’t want to enter a TV career. Lance had turned down Chris Carter before, when he had been asked to appear in The X-Files. Still unswayed, Chris Carter, sent a script to Lance Henriksen’s agent, which Lance read, thinking it was for a movie. Immediately liking the script, he contacted his agent, who then told him it was an upcoming TV series. Amazed that it was for a TV series, Chris and Lance finally got together and the rest, as they say, is history.

Chris Carter gave Lance Henriksen a small bit of direction, that defined Frank Black’s character for the duration of the series.

Chris said to me. “Lance, here’s our rule for Frank Black, for the whole show: Don’t move your hands.” I said, “But I’m from New York, I use my hands for punctuation.” He said, “When somebody talks with their hands, it looks like you’re selling something.” For a while I was in abject misery. I don’t trust language, and now I can’t use my hands. What am I supposed to use? How am I gonna fill the void? I realised, I have to rely on my heart…. When I made that connection, I was okay with it all. I used my most primitive instincts to play the most sophisticated character – a very bright, articulate human being. The part of him that I could grasp was as primitive as I feel I am. His basic nature is what gives him the strength; his intuition gives him strength; his caring gives him strength; his non judgmental nature gives him strength to do what he has to do and to survive. – Lance Henriksen

MillenniuM followed Frank Black, a former FBI forensic profiler with an uncanny ability to ‘see’ through the eyes of the killer. Sometimes this ability was almost a sixth sense, while at other times it was an almost psychic ability. Frank Black had been forced to retire, from the FBI, after receiving Polaroids of his family through the post. Moving his family to Seattle, for the safety of a normal life, Frank Black became a freelance profiler for the MillenniuM Group, helping the Police with murder cases. However, Frank Black is soon disturbed to find photographs of his family, in Seattle, posted through his door. To keep up the facade of everything being well, only Frank and the MillenniuM Group are aware of the images. The MillenniuM Group itself was made of former FBI, Police and various other specialists, all who were expert in their field, with Peter Watts (Terry O’Quinn) being Frank’s main contact in the Group. Unlike many recent crime dramas, Frank Black wasn’t just a profiler. Through Frank Black we were taken on a deep, and often dark, analysis of the evil that surrounds us.

The complete three series of MillenniuM, plus the book, Back to Frank Black.

The complete three series of MillenniuM, plus the new book, Back to Frank Black.

The first series focused on Frank using his ability to aid the Seattle Police Department, among others, with help from the MillenniuM Group, as it was needed. Frank is not a member of the MillenniuM Group, but he is being tested to see if he is worthy to join. During the first series episode Lamentation, we are first introduced to the character of Lucy Butler, who would become the embodiment of evil on Earth, to Frank’s good.

During the second series, Frank Black is caught up in some more supernatural cases and makes a friend of Lara Means (Kristen Cloke), who also works for the MillenniuM Group. This series had many references to the ‘End of the World’ and the ‘Apocalypse’ of the coming millennium of the year 2000, dealing with angels and demons and the fight between good and evil. As the series progressed, Frank begins to realise that the MillenniuM Group is hiding a sinister agenda. Fearing for his family, Frank takes them into the woods, as a virus outbreak sweeps the state.

The third, and final, series sees Frank rejoining the FBI, following the death of his wife in the virus outbreak. Joined by a new partner, in the form of FBI Agent Emma Hollis, Frank tries to prove that the MillenniuM Group were responsible for the outbreak, and so his wife’s death. This series was more like the first and gave us some great twists and surprises.

Although the series was cancelled, many fans clamoured for more, or at least some form of closure for Frank Black. What they received was an episode of The X-Files, entitled MillenniuM, which did nothing for the MillenniuM or Frank Black storyline, in my opinion.

Series two had a different ‘feel’ to series one and three, due to Chris Carter handing over of the management of the show to Glen Morgan and James Wong, while he concentrated on season five of The X-Files and The X-Files movie. This absence cost the show, dearly, and made sure that MillenniuM didn’t see in the new millennium, even though he back control for the third series.

The theme music was written by Mark Snow, who also wrote the theme for The X-Files, and was a haunting violin piece, set to bizarre and disturbing images. On many episodes the titles were followed by a quotation from the likes of Plato, Jean-Paul Sartre, W.H. Auden, Biblical quotes and many more.

Chris Carter (creator), Lance Henriksen (Frank Black) and Frank Spotnitz (co-executive producer) have all stated ‘On The Record’ of their hope and desire to bring Frank Black back to the screen, whether on TV or through a motion picture.

For myself, I think MillenniuM was a fascinating and sometimes extraordinary series, that was greatly overlooked. For its time it was quite graphic and had a lot of gore, which did put some people off, but this wasn’t for shock value, but to show how evil the world can be. But, no matter how desperate Frank Black got, he still had the focus and mindset to overcome, sometimes at great risk to himself or others. Unlike other shows, Chris Carter wasn’t averse to having his hero beaten up, arrested or shot. Frank Black went through all manner of misfortune through the entire series, but somehow managed to keep sight of what was right. Throughout the show it is Frank’s family, especially his daughter Jordan, who may also have his ability, that keep his course true. The writing was, for the most part, natural and wasn’t dumbed down, making it more of an intellectual feast than your typical run of the mill crime shows. Even now I still enjoy watching the DVDs and find that they are just as good now as they were nearly two decades ago.

Below are a few links, for those who want to find out more.

Original Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcKyW_AtXB0

MillenniuM Website http://millennium-thisiswhoweare.net/

Back to Frank Black http://www.backtofrankblack.com/

THE TIME IS NOW