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GES017 - Golden Cross House & South African Embassy

Opposite Charing Cross Station, where the Strand runs into Trafalgar Square is not the quietest of places. A mecca for those seeking to grab a night bus home through the night, or a nasty burger from the all night McDonalds. Attempting to climb the scaffold wasn't going to be easy. As i circled the building for a final reccie and to build courage. I waded through about 20 police officers checking people for something. Hilariously no one bothered me.

I walked back to Oscar Wilde's memorial and sat waiting for a police van in front of me to move off. 10mins later it did. I donned my hi-vis and helmet, and made a fairly scrappy attempt to be professional and shinny up the scaffold. The building appeared to be live, so i was extra careful to be quiet, not easy on loose planked scaffold. Decades of scaffold stealth helps a fair bit though. Back and forth, and finally I reached the roof. Nelson's column stood up in front of me.

A heras fence divided the South African Embassy from Golden Cross house. Quickly dealt with it was the infra-red detectors next. I managed to avoid them, and crawled underneath the very large and very much on cctv cameras. Finally I got to where I wanted to be, on the apex of the roof at the front of South Africa House. Below me was Trafalgar Square in all it's glory.

A clearer shot of the National Portrait Gallery, with St Martin's in the field on the right.

A clearer shot of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, seems strange to see it as one building, rather than being one side of the imposing structure.

Lower Covent Garden and the Strand

After a brief snooze, it was dawn, but sadly no red/orangey skies. This was dawn over Trafalgar Square.

From the apex of the front roof, the Portrait Gallery and St. Martins.


A shot of Nelson's column.

I snapped away a few more shots, as dawn came up the light gave different opportunities. I used one of the opportunities to do a self portrait.

My zoom picked out the oddity of Trafalgar Square, the 'forth plinth' and the inability of anyone to decide what to do with it.

Looking across the rooftops to Westminster Abbey

A clearer shot of Admiralty Arch and the southern end of the square.

The roof of the Portrait Gallery and on to the BT tower.

And one final shot of St.Martin's in the Field in daylight.

It was now 5.30am, and time to head down. As I got back to the only way down, I was greated with a guy on the scaffold. A bemused nod, and I walked on, pretending to photograph things, as I had my camera out. Shiiiit! How am I going to get down. I took shelter in a lift gear house, and thought about things for a second. Maybe he's just checking the scaff and will go away! After quarter of an hour, I went to the top of the scaff, and heard spraying. They were cleaning the wall of the building with a hose poking through the scaffold layers. I watched, hoping they'd go to the far end of the scaff layer, and I could quickly whip down. They didn't. They went half way, and then down the next layer.

I decided to wait until they were at the point where they were furthest from the ladder, and just go for it. So around quarter past 6, I began to descend. As I passed the level they were on, I was about 8m away from them. "Morning" I said as they watched me descend. I now had to walk underneath them to get to the next ladder down. They then asked the question I feared, "Erm, can i ask what you're doing here?" "I'm doing some marketing shots (points to tripod on bag) for the building. They said I had to be down by 6, so I'm running late. You won't say anything will you?" "Nah, you're alright mate." And I clambered on down. the water from the hose dripping all over the place. I then did some monkey bar practice, and disappeared off into the morning bus crowds. Phew!


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