All posts by Abby Waterman

Hamburg Railway Station

The old exterior
The  traditional-looking exterior

I’ve always loved railway stations and when we had a recent trip to Hamburg we visited this one each day for breakfast.  We were staying at a posh hotel nearby where breakfast was 32€ each!!


Glamorous concourse
Glamorous concourse

The interior is more like an airport – the concourse crowded with well know multiples and lots of eateries.

Very different from the Liverpool Street station i knew when I lived in Petticoat Lane before WW2.

From my memoir Woman in a White coat

I remember my father as a quiet kindly man, rather overwhelmed by the five women in his life – my mother, my grandmother and us three sisters. If he minded not having a son, he never said so to me. In his wedding photo he had a mass of straight black hair, but I only remember him being bald, with a fringe of greying hair around the edges.

On Saturday afternoons, when my mother had a nap, and my sisters went off with their friends, he used to take me for a walk. Sometimes we’d go to Liverpool Street main line station. We’d stand on the bridge over the railway tracks and watch the steam trains coming in and out. I’d hold my breath in case they didn’t stop in time to avoid crashing into the big round buffers at the end of the tracks. Other times we’d walk through the City, the great financial houses now quiet and shuttered. We’d sit in Finsbury Square, a piece of stale bread in our pockets for the sparrows and watch them picking at the crumbs. If there were any road works around we’d go and stand near them. The smell of tar was meant to be good for your lungs.

I’d try to tell my father how unfair I thought my mother was, and how she preferred my sisters to me. He’d pat me awkwardly on the head.

‘You know your mother,’ he’d say.

And that was that.  


The entrance to Chinatown in London's Soho
The entrance to Chinatown in London’s Soho

One of the great things about changing my books in Charing Cross Library  is that Chinatown is only one stop further on.

Full of exciting sights and smells tho’ you can’t always tell what the shop sells.

None of our four children had any allergies as children, but our youngest discovered for the first time in her 40s she was allergic to shellfish when we took her out for a meal at a Chinese restaurant.

But what do they sell?
But what do they sell?

Where are our street markets?


Queuing for street food
Queuing for street food

Instead of street markets selling fruit and vegetables, fabric, clothes and bric-a-brac they’re all swapping to street food concessions. This queue of mainly young men was three times as long as in the photo.

When I was a young house surgeon there was a great street market nearby. After admitting a woman with a turkey bone stuck in her throat I had perfect fruit and vegetables from then on.

Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

It was the day after Boxing Day. Everyone was feeling rather fragile, and my ENT registrar was decidedly hung over.

‘Just speak very quietly,’ he said. ‘I’ll go and sit in the surgeons’ lounge.’

My bleep went.

‘It’s Sister in Casualty. I think you’re on call for the ENT department. Can you come over, Dr Waterman?’

A very large elderly woman was sitting in Casualty, holding the hand of an equally elderly, but extremely thin, man. Jack Sprat, I thought.

‘It’s my false teeth, you see,’ she said. ‘They hurt something awful, and as it was just turkey stew I took them out to eat. No need to chew those small bits. My Sadie made it with the leftovers from Christmas Day. I only had a mouthful when something stuck in my throat. I tried gargling with salt water and ate a couple of pieces of dry bread. Nothing helped. I reckon I’ve got a bit of turkey bone stuck in there. It’s no better this morning. Haven’t been able to eat a thing. Sadie’s a bit lazy, like. She should have been more careful, stripping the turkey carcass.’

‘There, there, dear,’ her husband said, patting her fat little hand. ‘Don’t be hard on our Sadie. She tries her best.’

‘Can you walk over with me to the Ear, Nose and Throat department?’ I asked. ‘Or shall I get someone to take you over in a wheelchair.’

‘I’ll be fine, lovey. I’ll just take it nice and slow,’ she said, as she waddled after me, clinging on to her husband’s arm. Continue reading Where are our street markets?

Eyebrows and Nails


Vietnamese Beauty Salon
Vietnamese Beauty Salon

I’ve tried several London salons for eyebrow shaping and simple manicures.  The Vietnamese salon in Strutton Ground is my favourite.

I hate having my eyebrows threaded – it’s too painful –  and they are happy to use wax. The charming Vietnamese beauticians seem to manage to trim my cuticles without cutting into the flesh. And the prices are reasonable.

Shame they don’t do hair as well!!

An excellent book on WordPress

Create your own site using WordPress in a weekend by Alannah moore
Create your own website using WordPress in a weekend by Alannah Moore

I borrowed several books from Charing Cross library on WordPress but this book by Alannah Moore  is definitely the best.

I usually use the sticky tags shown on the right of the image but they had fallen down behind my desk  so I had to use the butterflies instead. You can see just how many pages I’ve marked and I’ve already removed some from the first part of the book.

Well done Alannah Moore and her publisher ILEX press. Liked  their books on blogging too.



The National Portrait Gallery – Another great London museum

The National Portrait Gallery Trafalgar Square
The National Portrait Gallery  Founded 1896

Two fabulous exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award 2015 and Audrey Hepburn – Portraits of an Icon

I’m always surprised to find that the vast majority of entries for the BP competition are so representational and not very innovative  – but perhaps there’s something in the rules about that.

Besides the special exhibitions there are over 200,000 portraits in various media from the 16th century to the 21st.  And it’s free – though they do ask for a donation to this very worthy cause.

Summer resolution

My first school photo aged 5
My first school photo aged 5

My latest resolution – after a bit of a struggle migrating from to and a lot of help from TSOHOST – is to write posts more regularly and to include more excerpts from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

Extract from my memoir Woman in  a White Coat

Thursday October 8th 1931 was not an auspicious day to be born. The mild sunny weather of September and early October had turned cold and wet. The Great Depression was at its worst, and my father had been laid off from his work as a journeyman printer. He tried to get temporary work in the docks, but he was turned away. He had to take work where he could, some of the time as a road sweeper.

My mother told me she wept for days after I was born. I wasn’t a boy who would carry on the family name and say Kadesh, the prayer for the dead, over their coffins. Who needed a third daughter?

My sisters, Hannah and Rebecca, cried when my mother brought me home from the Jewish Maternity Hospital in Whitechapel. I wasn’t the brother they had been looking forward to and I had a nasty rash on my face.

‘She’s ugly,’ Hannah said. ‘Take her back.’

From Chapter 4 of my memoir Woman in a White Coat