We haven’t done a whole lot since the holidays ended…although I did manage to sneak in one great girl’s night and an afternoon tea with my hubby weekend before last. I am forever thinking about Iceland but figured I should save some things for future blog posts since we’re going to be there for three years. So I’m trying to keep my head in the game and think locally.

One of the funny things about living in a place rather than being a tourist is the random mundane details that will obsess you now and then. For the first year and half that we were here, I never paid any attention to the fact that there seemed to be a thousand little foot-wide cast iron manhole-looking things along the sidewalks. I vaguely assumed that they were something related to utilities…water, power, gas, etc. Nothing interesting.

Turns out they’re actually “coal holes” left over from the 1800s when the entire city ran on coal. Folks didn’t want those messy coal delivery guys getting coal dust all over the antique furniture, so they dumped it down a shoot built into the pavement into a coal bunker under the house. And there are THOUSANDS of them.

Many of them seem to be designed with similar geometric patterns representing whoever manufactured them. But my favorites are in a series of 14 decorative coal holes (the new covers were installed in 2013) on North Audley street in London. Each of the covers depicts a trade that used to be present on the street early in its history. Happily, someone was kind enough to photograph most of them and put them on the internet. So here are 11 of 14 of them!

ch1

Tailor.

ch2

Saddler.

ch3

Pub called Vernon’s Head.

ch4

Butcher.

ch5

Pub called Marlborough Head (still on the corner).

ch6

Apothecary.

ch8

Engraver.

ch9

Doctor.

ch10

Watchmaker.

ch11

Baker.

 

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