Tuesday, March 26, 2019

London Days Part 8 Cattle Trough

Cattle Trough  watercolor and ink by Meer Rao 

When I came across this opposite the public library on Queens Ave in Muswell Hill, London, I just assumed it was for flowers for neighborhood beautification. Then I saw the inscription on the sides: 'Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough'  it said on the long side and had this inscription on the short side: 'In Memory of the late David Kidd of Leyton.'  There was also a notice that confirmed its present status as a planter maintained by the local Association- and a request to enjoy the flowers but not take any of the plants. 

Upon googling, I discovered the fascinating history of these troughs and what lead to the government takeover of the water supply for the citizens from private suppliers, paving the way to the modern sewer and water systems. According to Wikipedia 

The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was an association set up in London by Samuel Gurney, a Member of Parliament, and philanthropist and Edward Thomas Wakefield, a barrister, in 1859 to provide free drinking water. Originally called the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association it changed its name to include cattle troughs in 1867, to also support animal welfare. In 2011, as the Drinking Fountain Association, it began to support the Find-a-Fountain campaign to map the UK's drinking water fountains.  

I also found out that the troughs that have survived over the years are mainly granite and they are mostly now planted with flowers. Cast iron or Zinc lined timber were also in vogue - but were too easily damaged.  The write up was really fascinating - amazing how any one thing can have so much history and be a part of the culture of the place! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

London Days Part 7 : A Whole Lot More Than Crumpets and Tea

A Whole lot More than Tea and Crumpets  watercolor and ink  Meera Rao 

London surprised me with its wonderful offerings of Vegan and Vegetarian food. That made our outings so much more enjoyable. Of course, there was Indian food but almost every restaurant had vegan and vegetarian options. Even a Fish and chip place near Westminster had a delicious vegan dish to order! Street food wise, 'Horn OK Please' near London Eye had yummy vegan/vegetarian options and very tasty south Indian Masala Dosa :) I was amused to find Karma Cola as a drink option most everywhere - had not encountered that brand before.  The red Coca Cola bucket with condiments was at a Pizza place that happily for me had vegan Pizza on the menu. Supermarkets too had many ready to eat vegan and vegetarian selections in their aisles. So, at-least in London, British food was definitely eclectic. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

London Days: Part 6 Street Art and Fine Arts

National Gallery of Art - Trafalgar Square  watercolor by Meera Rao

There is art right outside the National Gallery of Art too.  Many street artists come early, stake out a patch of concrete to draw on the 'civic space' in the Trafalgar Square. They draw with chalk, with coins; do performance art as living statues. There are musicians singing, playing instruments. You can get your portrait done in pencils, charcoal or pastels.  A few are political protestors broadcasting their cause via street art. All this definitely adds color and character to the square making the gray day a bit more lively!  I admired their drive to create art that would be gone at the end of the day while also hoping to earn a few pounds from tourists or catch the eye of a patron. 

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