Our stroll was along the latter sections of the Thames Path, and in fact not on the path itself. We began at The Bank where we emerged from the underground, and my eye was immediately caught by a grasshopper. You couldn’t really miss it at a metre in length! It is one of the ancient signs of Lombard Street, and is first associated with a merchant Sir Thomas Gresham. Sir Gresham’s working life began in the wool trade, before coming a goldsmith. He later established the Royal Exchange in the City of London, and his business premises – 68 Lombard Street – was located where the Grasshopper still resides today. The history of the Grasshopper becomes, at least to me, a little confused from this point. A bank in Liverpool – Martins – traded as the Grasshopper and their Head Office had a Grasshopper on it! When they decided to open a London office they took over the premises of one of their London based partnerships – 68 Lombard Street! Sir Gresham no longer operated from here as he had long since died, however goldsmiths did still operate out of the premises and all had used the Grasshopper sign. So which came first the London Grasshopper or the Liverpool one?! And was the sign behind the decision for Martins to use 68 Lombard Street rather than the premises of one of their other partners?! Who knows, but I am so pleased the sign still exists and that it was not lost when Martins Bank was taken over by Barclays in 1969. There are other wonderful signs, (but not that Regus one!) on Lombard Street but we were meant to be heading for the Thames, so I’ll have to return with you another day. Continue reading
. . it is also Earth Day. The first Earth Day was 45 years ago, founded by a US Senator. It has now become an International Environmental Movement, highlighting environmental issues and taking action to achieve change. And in 2012 was a key element in a Birthday treasure hunt!
Today is also the 515th anniversary of Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral landed in what has become known as Brazil. As with most European explorers who find new lands he immediately claimed the land for his country’s crown. He is considered, by most but not all, to have been the first European to have landed in South America, along with of course the crew of the 13 ships he was commanding at the time! As Cabral explored the coast he realized that the land he has thought was a large island was probably a continent, and dispatched a ship to notify King Manuel I of the new territory. It was to remain a Portuguese colony until 1808 when the capital of Portugal moved to Rio de Janeiro, following the French invasion of Portugal. In 1822 it all changed again when Brazil gained their independence in the September.
You’ll probably pondering by now about the connection of these events. There is one, but it is a bit obscure!
As I said at the start today is not just the 112th day of the year. It is a day for anniversaries and valuing our environment. So today I’m in Portugal celebrating my birthday. Yup, that’s the rather obscure connection!
Wishing you all a very Happy 22nd April.