A couple of weeks ago I took a walk through a past life. A quarter of a century ago I was still a teenager, albeit approaching the end of those years. I worked for a posh convenience store called Cullens in Gloucester Road, Kensington. And for a while I had a very posh address on Oakley Street. The actual accommodation that I called home was anything but posh. A bedsit with a communal toilet and shower room a couple of flights Continue reading “The Hooligan Years”
I took a friend to Notting Hill recently. One reason for this trip and one reason only. The movie. And it was a very good movie. We walked down Portabello Road, past the antique shops and on to the street market. We stopped for photos outside Mr Thacker’s bookshop. Which is now a trashy souvenir shop. And we had breakfast in a bistro. Continue reading “Notting Hill”
I don’t entirely like heights. But I like lofty views of my surroundings. It’s a conflict of emotions I’ve had to endure for…well, ever since an incident at Cheddar Gorge when my age was measured in single digits. Fortunately, my desire to enjoy the latter is more powerful than my fear of the former. I’ve clambered atop, or at least on, many high spots in my life, including a few structures that have once claimed the title of the tallest in the world. The pyramids at Giza (I was told off and ordered down), the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar, The Willis Tower (nee Sears) all spring to mind.
In London, I’ve been up to the highest gantry above the dome of St Pauls and to the top of the nearby Monument. A couple of years ago I visited the viewing gallery at the top of the Shard. They all have unique views of varying quality. But I have a new favourite. High enough to provide a grand vista. Not so high as to turn the city into a tilt shift style toy town. It’s a building you may have heard of, but for different reasons. It can magically melt expensive cars that dare park in the wrong place.
Know colloquially as the Walkie Talkie Tower, but more formally as 20 Fenchurch Street, this is one of London’s latest breed of skyscraper, soaring nearly 40 storeys into the capital’s skyline. It blossoms outwards as it goes, cleverly increasing its square footage of office space as it goes. Its magical car smelting properties have been tamed with webbed netting on the south face of the building. One hopes that they will eventually implement a more aesthetic, permanent solution.
Like most modern buildings in ancient surroundings, the tower has its detractors. I am not one of them. I like the blend of old and new. Or more properly put, new, old, older and oldest. This building is in the newest category, and it has a most modern feature which is the reason for this post. It has a sky garden. Frankly, this is a little bit of an exaggeration. It is a large open space at the very top of the tower, with a choice of posh dining and drinking options and two strips or terraced bushes at either side.
Green fingered citizens of London might be disappointed by what they find up there, butI didn’t come for it’s horticultural delights. I came for the views. And what views they are. It’s not just that you’re at the perfect height. Location, location location! The Walkie Talkie has the location. On one side, you overlook Tower Bridge (old), the Tower of London (older) and the Roman Wall (oldest).
On the other side you have a view along the River Thames, with Parliament and the London Eye clearly visible. And right across the river to your front, the towering Shard. There are a few things to note about these views though. Trying to photograph them at night through rain spattered windows is not conducive to satisfying results. There is an outdoor terrace, but it closes at 6pm, which is a shame. Perhaps it will remain open later in the summer. And finally, whilst entry to the Sky Garden is free, you have to book your tickets. And they get booked up quite far in advance.
I have more photos of our jaunt up to the Sky Garden, naturally. Click here and you will be whisked over to see them on Flickr, as per usual.
On the 31st December 2004 I took the then Miss P to see the New Year firework display in London. Traditionally, the London authority responsible would put on a very feeble display in Trafalgar Square. Quite frankly, it was more entertaining watching people jumping into the fountain pools in sub zero temperatures. There were always a few hardy souls who were stupid enough to take the plunge. But in 2003, the display was held by the London Eye, with crowds assembled across the other side of Old Father Thames, and it’s stayed there ever since. Fortunately, no one, to my knowledge, has been quite stupid enough to jump into the Thames for a splash around.
The fireworks were an improvement on what used to be passed of as a display. But they were still all a bit ‘meh’. We’d wish for the sort of show they put on in New York or Sydney. In 2012, however, things changed. Big Ben chimed in London’s Olympic year, and they did something a bit special with the fireworks. They’ve been doing it ever since. Perhaps New York and Sydney natives wish their cities did the sort of show we have in London.
In 2004, Miss P had been in the UK for little more than 24 hours. It seemed appropriate to go for a repeat visit on the 10th anniversary of her trip, along with a couple of friends. This year the show was ticketed, with a fairly reasonable price tag of £10 per person. It’s normally free, but I can understand the logic behind the decision to charge. It’s a pretty expensive show. But there is a bigger issue. It could get a bit dodgy when half a million people stroll up and try and cram themselves onto a small stretch of embankment. If anything were to go wrong….
The charge and quality of the display weren’t the only things to have changed of course. Miss P is now Mrs P. We are both ten years older. Hopefully we are similarly wiser. The show was fantastic, and well worth the money. The weather was kind too. It was a crisp and chilly night, but above zero and dry. We had the perfect spot, directly across from the London Eye. The coloured explosions completely filled my field of vision. And that of the other 99,999 ticket holders. Well, those that weren’t watching it through their phones, anyway.
Watching it on television is great, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the scale and intensity of the display. Not least because the finale seems to burn out the television camera lenses and the last few cataclysmic seconds of it all disappears into a white blur. The finale is dramatic and almost overwhelming when viewed from the embankment.
Getting away after the final rocket had detonated was easier said than done. The five minute stroll back to Westminster station took fifteen minutes. Not that you could catch a train. The station was closed. As was St James Park. On to Victoria we went. Two hours had passed by the time by finally stepped on the tube. Another two hours driving down the motorway and were were in bed by 5am. Photos? Of course. Click here.
I love Christmas. I love London. Most of all, I love a London Christmas. The streets are busier than ever, but full of laughter, jingles and twinkling lights. The infamously cold and dour Londoners manage to turn frowns into smiles, and it is entirely possible that you will witness that rarest of events – a conversation spontaneously break out on the Underground. This is often known as ‘Festive Cheer’ and whilst it is highly contagious, fear not, it will pass. The cure to this seasonal disorder is commonly referred to as January. So make the most of a happy London while it lasts!
I jest, of course. London is a great place to visit at any time of the year, and the locals are much friendlier and more helpful that their international reputation would suggest. Except on the Underground. It really is bad form to attempt to chat to the person next to you! But I digress. Christmas is an excellent time to visit London.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s an expensive city at the best of times. At Christmas, it must be completely unaffordable. There’s no getting away from it. London is a very expensive city to live in. But to visit? It is almost certainly a lot more affordable than you think. Traditionally, one of the most expensive aspects of London is accommodation. But times have changed and a combination of an increasing number of hotel rooms, greater competitiveness and some very intelligent online booking sites means that prices have never been more affordable. Venere is an excellent example of a hotel search website that provides market leading rates across a wide range of hotels for every budget.
Once you’ve arranged a place to lay your head, what else is there to do in London? So, so much. If you fancy putting on some skates and hitting the ice, you’re spoiled for choice. Do you choose the glamour of Somerset House? Or how about skating in the shadow of the gothic wonder that is the Natural History Museum? There are also rinks at the Tower of London an Canary Wharf. But the finest place to skate in my opinion is at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Which is far more than just an ice rink.
You should also go for a walk along the South Bank, starting from the London Eye Ferris wheel. There’s a whole Christmas Market going on there, with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine being served at multiple huts along the way. There are other markets well worth visiting of course.
There’s all the shopping too of course. Oxford Street is reputedly the world’s busiest shopping street. I can believe it. Pop into Selfridges for some serious glamour. Or, if you are just window shopping, stay outside and marvel at their legendary window displays. Fortnum and Mason isn’t too far away just off Piccadilly Circus. Then there’s the uber famous Harrods, which is a veritable institution in shopping. Last, but not least, pop along to Covent Garden which has been rejuvenated in recent years and houses saome fabulousb boutique shops, and undercover market and a huge selection of places to sit down to eat, drink and get merry.
Finally, just like any other day of the year, except for Christmas Day itself, there are some of the finest museums, castles, palaces, cathedrals and galleries in the world for you to explore. The British Museum, the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, St Paul’s, the Tower of London, the National Gallery, the various Tates, the Victoria and Albert…the list goes on and on. So what are you waiting for?
We went to Hampton Court Palace. It’s big. It’s grand. There’s a rotund chap strolling the corridors playing Henry VIII. I loved the painted ceilings, especially the way they wrapped around soft corners. But. But, but, but. Although it was a nice day out and although the palace is a ‘must see’, it just doesn’t have the pizazz of Windsor Castle or some of the other Royal Palaces and Castles we have visited. I’d like to tell you more about our day. But it just didn’t inspire a story. Maybe it’s just me and not the palace. One can only have a certain amount of enthusiasm, and I may have burned through my store of the stuff.
On the plus side, it was a lot better than Kensington Palace. And it’s another of the Royal Palaces on the list that we’ve ticked off. There’s just one more of the London pack to visit now. Roll on Kew Palace. If you’d like to see the photos click here. If you’d like to see the photos of Mrs P and I, then click here too.
When I was a youngster, I didn’t much want to go to London’s premier carnival. It wasn’t much of a multicultural event. Not much in the way of diversity, not very inclusive. Many things have changed over the years. It’s gone from a troublesome street party known best for after dark riots, to a riotous jamboree of colour, smells, flavour and fun. And now I do want to go. So I did. Although there is still some trouble, sadly. Every year a number of people will have a less than pleasant encounter. And as you’ll see from the boarded up windows, the local shop keepers know what’s best for their businesses.
We were early to arrive and early to leave, so any potential trouble missed us. Except for one very troublesome chap. He’s called many things, mostly starting with curse words. But you know him best as English Weather. He was in a foul mood. And he let everyone know it. It rained from dawn to dusk and through to the next dawn. It often came down cats and dogs. Sometimes it eased off. Just some cats…
But a spot of rain wasn’t going to stop the party. And the drop in temperature wasn’t going to get the girls in the parade donning sweaters. Which was a good things. There’s nothing like a skimpy costume to warm everyone else up. There’s a taster below. For the full booty call, click here and Flickr will provide…
There are a ton of colourful new benches all over London right now. Fifty of them in all. Each one decorated in the theme of a book. A specific book. There was only one that I really wanted to see. I didn’t look for it, but life is full of funny coincidences an surprises. The first book bench we saw was the book bench. Paddington Bear. The original Latin American illegal immigrant in the UK. A trendsetter. Years ahead of his time, with Mrs P following, legally, in his pawsteps. His TV series is decades old, but every bit as enchanting today as it ever was.
We are big fans of Paddington Bear. He’s a true English icon and worthy of his bench. We’re pleased to have sat on it. I’d like to buy it. Once the display is done, the benches are all being auctioned off. I suspect my bid will fall short. I would have liked to have seen a John Le Carre bench too. He has been my favourite British author of the last 20 years. Alas, he has none. Or if he does, one needs the help of the great masterspy Smiley to find it. And you? Is there a deserving author that has entertained you that is worthy of a bench?
London is the world’s largest urban forest. True fact. Apparently. I can believe it. There are parks and woodlands everywhere, and the account for about 20% of the total area of Greater London. They are there for the residents more than for the tourists, although the famous London parks will see plenty of foreign footfall. They are a respite from the traffic, the fumes and noise and bustle of everyday city life. I worked for a while in Gloucester Road, South Kensington, and liked to go up to Kensington Gardens after work on a sunny weekday afternoon. I sat underneath a tree and read my way through John Le Carre’s ‘The Russia House‘. I don;t remember which summer it was, but it was a long, hot one. I know this because the book was a long, long read and I did finish it, eventually, under that tree. I have a few photos of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park – click here.
Some properties have some very fanciful addresses. But most are based around the often pretentious naming of the property itself. The White House. Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle. But these grand names often hide more mundane postal addresses. Such as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With Apseley House, this is quite the other way round. This rather grand property can be mailed at Number 1, London. Is there a more pompous address anywhere else in the world? I don’t know. If you do, let me know,
Number 1, London was home to Arthur Wellesley. More familiarly known as the Duke of Wellington, oft referred to as the Iron Duke. He was a general, a Prime Minister and a national hero. Never defeated on the battlefield, his exploits combined with his naval contemporary, Nelson, put Britain on the path to Imperial riches. Number 1, London is home to some of the looted riches he took and was awarded.
They do say that the bigger you are, the harder you fall. The British Empire expanded into a vast global enterprise in the second half of the 1800s. It was always bound to end badly. A tiny island cannot forever maintain control of a third of the world’s population while fighting off the imperial ambitions of rival European powers. The French and Spanish were done for. The new Germanic state was another matter entirely. There was no great need for Britain to enter World War 1, other than to try and see off the Hun and maintain the UK’s dominance of the seas, of trade and of wealth production.
It turned out that that was reason enough, and the final consequences of Wellington’s triumphs can been seen at the Tower of London. An altogether older, more famous and grander property just down the Thames, the Tower is currently home to a growing exhibition. Ceramic red poppies are being planted in the moat. By the time they have completed the job, in November, there will be 800,000 odd poppies. In memory of the 800,000 odd Brits who perished in WW1, trying to keep the Iron Dukes ill gotten gains.
It’s already an impressive site. Click here to see the full photo set of Number 1 London and the poppies at the Tower of London. Sadly, interior photography in Apseley House is not permitted.
I get asked the question sometimes. By people I know or by readers of my blog. What to do and see when visiting London. Every time I run up a suggested itinerary. Wouldn’t it be easier to just write a blog post? Well, yes it would. So here it is. A three day whirlwind tour of London, focussed on the budget conscious. This can be a phenomenally expensive city. On the other hand, it can be done pretty cheaply.
But how to devise a three day guide? I’ve given this some thought I’ve come up with a map on Google with a load of great destinations, a suggested itinerary and I’ve included a few recommended eating spots and suggestions about what is worth paying for and what is perhaps best appreciated from the exterior. It’s a tough ask to come up with a three day guide. Because, quite frankly, even three weeks is insufficient to do much more than scratch the surface of this metropolis.
Google Maps are excellent. I started out using Bing Maps. But they have been left behind by Google’s latest mapping product. The map below really is a very integral part of this post. By clicking on the link (or on the image below) you’ll not only be able to see what is where, but by also clicking on the pins you can go on to the Google+ page and/or website of each destination.
Most people will find themselves with an evening to explore after they’ve arrived. So why not take a walk starting from Oxford Circus all the way to Big Ben to kick things off. Stop en route at trendy Carnaby Street, window shop down Regent Street, take photos of Eros an the illuminations at Piccadilly Circus before heading into Leicester Square. And then just keep walking. Trafalgar Square isn’t far now. Then a stroll down Whitehall and, if it’s open, pop into Banqueting House. It’s only a fiver, doesn’t take long and has some great bean bags to lie on whilst you stare at Reuben’s masterpiece on the ceiling. The audio guide is actually very interesting too. Then on we go again, and before you know it you’ll be standing under Big Ben. You know full well that’s what you came here to see. Timing is key. You want to hear the bells chime on the hour.
Plus, if it’s dark enough, then you’ll not only get great photos of the Palace of Westminster, but also of the river and the London Eye that sits on the other side of it. But don’t head off to the London Eye just yet. That’s for another time. Round the corner from your current location is Westminster Abbey, one of London’s most famous, and oldest, landmarks. Inside you’d find the last resting places of kings and queens going back centuries. But truth be told, it’s expensive to visit, the queues are often long and you’re constrained by both time and budget. So unless this is something you absolutely feel you must do, I suggest keeping your cash in your pocket and saving it for St Pauls.
Hungry? You need a Full English Breakfast. Garfunkels serves a pretty decent plateful at a reasonable price with unlimited coffee. There are branches all over the place, but the one in the Gloucester Arcade is my favourite. But let’s start the morning proper at Trafalgar Square. If you fancy taking in a West End show this evening, then look around for some cheap tickets – outlets are all over the place especially around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Then have a quick nose through the National Gallery. Some of the countries finest art collections are inside and it’s free to enter. Once your thirst for paint and canvas has been sated, stroll down the Mall through Admiralty Arch and on to see Buckingham Palace. During certain times of the year you can, for a hefty fee, go inside to marvel at how royalty live. Most people settle for the Changing of the Guard. Make sure you have the day and time right – it’s not performed every day, all year round. Let’s get on though. So much to see, so little time. You can cut through Green Park to return to Westminster. Because seeing Big Ben just the once, just isn’t enough.
Stroll across the river and have a ride on the London Eye. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it for the photographic opportunity. Now for a stroll along the river to explore the South Bank. If you’re really missing Mexico, then across Hungerford Bridge is a tasty and authentic taqueria called Lupitas. Alternatively, cross further down at Waterloo Bridge and see Somerset House. It’s a great piece of architecture and always has an interesting exhibition or three going on. Just a little further down the road is St Clement Danes church, which has the best set of bells in town. You might also recognise it as the starting point for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral procession.
Double back now, and head to Covent Garden. Have you got tickets booked for a performance at the Royal Opera House? They can be had pretty cheaply sometimes, it’s worth looking and booking in advance. Have a wander through Covent Garden, enjoy the market, watch the street performers and find a nice restaurant – there’s an abundance of options. Then either go into the Opera House or head off to Theatre Land and watch the show you bought tickets for earlier this morning.
Catch the Number 9 bus from Trafalgar Square. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s the most famous bus in the world. Ride for a little way until you get to Knightsbridge and jump off the back to go have a wander around Harrods. Don’t miss the food court. Back on the next number 9, which will give you a mini tour of London until you arrive at the Royal Albert Hall. Again, have you got tickets?? During the summer from July through to September, the BBC Proms are held here and tickets can be cheap. Just try and book in advance, although you can turn up on the day. Although you’ll be mightily lucky to get in to the Last Night of the Proms. There’s plenty to see nearby the Royal Albert Hall too.
The Albert Memorial is just over the road, and a short walk away are the fabulous Natural History and Victoria and Albert museums. Both of which are free and both of which are well worth a quick tour. South Kensington itself is a lovely part of London – my favourite. Definitely stop for a coffee. If you’re looking to scrimp and save where you can, and providing the weather is up for it, why not go into a Tesco supermarket and buy a picnic? Stroll back to the Albert Memorial, find a nice sunny or shaded spot in the park and eat and drink your fill before Prom time. Although there is a small, and I do mean small, little restaurant called the Oriental Canteen in South Kensington which serves up generous portions for very little dinero.
Catch the tube to St Pauls and prepare to lose the best part of one of those crisp £20 notes you got at a currency exchange. It’s well worth it. The Cathedral interior is glorious. Princess Diana got wed here. Winston Churchill’s funeral service was here. You can go up into the giant dome and practise your whispering skills. You’ll see lots of people trying, and failing to be heard by friends across the other side of the dome. Most people just start talking into the wall. The trick is to put your cheek against the side of the wall and then just whisper. Try a few rude words in your own language to see if there are any other people from your part of the world around.
You then plough on up to the top of the dome where there are two exterior viewing platforms. They are, I’m afraid, the worst views in London. Because they are the only views where you cannot see St Pauls Cathedral. Such is life. Once you’ve had all the fresh air London can give you, head back down. Down and further down. To the crypt. Where you will find the resting places of some of the most important people in our history, including the Duke of Wellington and the legendary Admiral Nelson.
Once you’ve had enough, head to the river, across the Wibbly Wobbly bridge, more properly known as the Millenium Footbridge, and into the Tate Modern. It’s another art gallery, but we’re not here for the art. We’re here for a cup of coffee, or maybe a glass of wine in the cafe. Take the escalator up. The views are wonderful. If you’re a fan of St Pauls, then they’re the best views in London. Next door, almost, to the Tate Modern is the Globe Theatre. If you have the legs for it, you can buy really cheap standing tickets. But you do need to have the legs for it – the shows can go on a bit. This call will come down to just how tight your budget is!
Let’s walk now along the river to London Bridge Station. Forget about the bridge though. It’s not the bridge you think it is. If you’re feeling rich then perhaps you’ve got tickets to go up the Shard, Europe’s tallest building. The views are spectacular. You can even see Wembley Stadium. If not then jump back on the tube. We’re heading to another of London’s oldest and most famous landmarks. The Tower of London. You’ve another call to make. Do you pay a King’s ransom to go inside the Tower of London? The worlds biggest diamonds are inside. Beefeaters too. And a thousand years of history.
Or do you part with a much more reasonable sum to see the Tower Bridge exhibition? This is the bridge you wanted to see. I’ve done both and preferred the Tower Bridge exhibition. But that’s just me. It’s quicker though, and as I mentioned, cheaper. Whichever you decide, have a wander around. There is a spot which I like to call the Plaza de las Cuatro Culturos. Mexican visitors will know what I’m on about. I see your three cultures and raise you one. You will be able to see four very distinct cultures in a single frame. The Romans with a bit of their wall. The Norman with their castle. The Victorians with their bridge. And modern Londoners, with their glass and steel buildings. It’s not, of course, officially known as the Plaza of Four Cultures. But I just thought I’d point it out.
The Liberty Bounds pub is just a little way along the road from the Tower of London and is a great place to have a reasonably priced dinner of fish and chips. With a traditional English beer, of course.
The Final Morning.
Do you have a few hours to kill before you fly out? Why not head to Portabello Market. You’ll recognise the scenes from the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film, Notting Hill. You’ll find plenty of cheap eats and antique stalls, but this is something to do on a weekend, not a weekday. In which case, perhaps Camden Market will make do. Or a flying visit to the British Museum. Perhaps you always really, really wanted to cross a Zebra Crossing? There’s only one place to do that, outside the Abbey Road studios following in the footsteps of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Did you enjoy your whirlwind tour of the world’s greatest city? Of course you did. Yet there is still so much to see. The British Museum, Greenwich, numerous galleries and other museums, landmarks, stations, architecture. You simply can’t fit it all into just three days. Perhaps you need to extend your trip here. Speak to your bank manager about increasing that overdraft. Or better still, come back again. London’s been around for a long time, and will no doubt still be here when you have the time and money to get here.
Places To Stay
London is full of reasonably priced meal deals. Even getting around isn’t really expensive. A London Transport Travelcard gives you unlimited use of the Underground and bus service. A lot of museums and churches are free. Walking is always free. Accommodation, though, can be pricey and is not always top quality. You don’t have to pay a ridiculous fortune though. Tune Hotels are a bargain given their locations. They’re quite new too. I’ve stayed at the Paddington hotel which is the best located of the bunch. There’s also EasyHotels, with the Gloucester Road, Victoria and Earls Court hotels all being handily placed for a tourist. But….don’t expect luxury, or space. You get a bed, clean sheets, a shower and a toilet. That’s it.
Once upon a long ago, as a youngster, I went on day trips to the most famous and fabulous palaces, castles, gardens and other tourist destinations that London offers. I went with family and on school trips. We never, mysteriously, went to Kensington Palace. Once upon a long ago, but not quite so long ago, I lived and worked in Kensington. I’d go up to Kensington Gardens to have a kick around, or perhaps just to sit in the shade of a tree to have a quiet read. One summer I got through Le Carre’s Russia House. One of his longer works. Not his best. I needed the quiet to get through that. I could see the palace from my spot under the tree. I never did have the urge to check it out. It all looked a little bit…well, meh.
Kensington Palace looks more stately home than traditional palace. It’s not even the most impressive stately home I’ve ever seen. But Mrs P and I have pretty much run out of palaces and castles in the London area. So we paid up and plodded in. Given the history of the palace, and it’s notable residents (Will and Kate today, Lady Di previously) we were convinced that we’d find the interior to be more…palatial. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The interior. It has its moments. But it is, I’m sorry to say, largely ‘meh’. The most disappointing palace we’ve visited yet, on these shores or beyond. The Russia House seemed like hard work under the shade of that tree in the gardens. With hindsight, I can now appreciate it was the easier option. You really have to try to be impressed by Kensington Palace. There’s some photos below. The full set, as ever, are on Flickr.
My favourite photo sharing site is about to launch their shiny new Commercial Licensing Marketplace. I know very little about the scheme, other than it will be a place for 500px photographers to sell their images. I know of it because I’ve been asked to allow 500px to license one of my photos. Sure. Why not. If there’s the chance of cash comin my way, I’m game. I’m surprised about their choice from amongst all my photos on the site. I declind to upload any release documents. I don’t have any. But I’m sure that the IOC are infamously tight when it comes to anything with an Olympic image on it. Or even a hint of an Olympic image. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes…
Taken with my HTC One. I have no idea how I created this. I’m guessing the Zoe feature, but it is a guess. Still, I’m not grumbling. My HTC has some neat tricks up its sleeve. I’m going to have to have a look and see what else it is hiding up there.