#09: Euston – 24/05/2018

Euston isn’t an obvious contender as one of the ends of the line, but for regular Watford commuters, you’ll know one of the Overground branches ends here. So a great opportunity to explore in a little more detail an area I know well having worked opposite Tavistock Square Gardens for many a year; a time that gave me some good and not so good memorable moments: such as getting caught up in the London bombings on the 7th July 2005.

For years I had casually passed many of the historic and iconic buildings and admired the architecture without stopping to look beyond the facade. This day gave me an opportunity to do just that and made me realise why this ‘endoftheline’ journey is so exciting and revealing.

Walking along Euston Road, directly in front of Euston Station, there’s the impressive Wellcome Trust building, the modest 30 Euston Square building, a multi-occupied building which in part houses the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the historic London Fire Brigade Euston Fire Station.

Across the road, there are two imposing religious establishments: firstly Friends House, the central office of Quakers in Britain; and secondly, St Pancras Church, a home for Liberal Anglican Christianity in Central London. Often I’ve walked past and thought how tatty it looks from the outside, but one step inside and you bathe in its religious wonder. Look at this 360° view for a full immersive experience. Oh yes, as I walked across the road, I passed today’s celebrity, Lisa Hammond.

To the rear of the church, you have access to their Crypt Gallery, and across the road is The Place, ‘…a creative powerhouse for dance development that is leading the way in dance training, creation and performance…’. Impressive in itself, but the building it now occupies was once the home of the 20th Middlesex Artists RV.

Transport has to be the theme of this blog, but before focussing on the station itself, there is a new kid on the block to challenge the Boris bike, sorry Santander bike. I personally believe the innovative approach to cycling across London has been a great success, but the Ofo Bike Share is now offering a more flexible approach to bike sharing in that you don’t need to return the bike to a dedicated dock. So if you think you see bikes abandoned across London, look again and it may be an Ofo.

Entering the mainline station, the entrance is hidden behind a rather dull and dreary bus terminal, but from the main road, the road entrance is guarded on either side by two gatehouses, on which are inscribed the terminal destinations, in alphabetical order, from Euston. I am drawn particularly to the one on the left which bares, as the second inscription, the name of my birth and hometown – Aberystwyth. The station front is also guarded by an imposing cenotaph in front of the 60’s architecture.

Once inside the station, you realise how busy the concourse is with several train operators serving destinations along the west coast, Scotland and Wales. A walk along the TFL Overground platform was in order so that I could truthfully declare I had been to the end of the line.

Out of the station and running along it’s eastbound edge is Eversholt Street, where there are signs of a more seedier side of London, and walking slightly further east, you delve into Somers Town.

…and now nearing journey’s end, but not before heading up to Camden Lock and its surrounding Market and cacophony of market stalls, colourful shops and eclectic tastes. Camden deserves a blog of it’s own, but alas not here, but well worthy of a return visit to spend the day there.

For more info, look up Euston on Wikipedia

See all Euston pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

#08: Heathrow T5 – 23/05/2018

I decided on a far flung destination to Heathrow Terminal 5 having been inspired by TFL’s recent take over of the Paddington to Heathrow line in preparations for the arrival of their newest Elizabeth line next year. Some prior research confirmed the maximum one way fare was £10.20, so I decided in the interest of completing this blog, it was a worthwhile investment. For those of you who arrive at Paddington frequently, you know where you go, but for new travellers, signposting is difficult to follow and there was no signage for TFL.

I ask a Heathrow Connect employee, who confirmed they had now become part of TFL, but surprised she quoted a single fare of £22.00. Some debate followed but I decided a complaint to TFL was warranted another day as I hot legged it from Paddington via Hammersmith to pick up the Piccadilly line to Heathrow T5. Having arrived there, I spoke to another Heathrow Connect employee, who was more helpful explaining there are two  services: The Heathrow Connect, a direct non-stopping service (£22); and one stopping at intervening stations (max £10.20). [Complaint now made]

The underground station at T5 is buried in the bowels of the terminal and is served by speedy lifts and multiple escalators to cater for the spurts of volume passengers at any one time.

Arriving in the terminal, it has a light, bright and airy feel, and clearly a modern terminal being the showcase home of British Airways (BA). In a way though slightly soulless, and I’m sure I noticed more BA and terminal employees than passengers when I was there. Maybe a quiet part of the travelling day?

Before travelling to the airport, and conscious of the sensitivities, I contacted the terminal’s media centre asking about photography within the terminal, but I’ve still to get a reply. So I decided to err on the side of caution and ask a BA security person who was very helpful and said the only restriction was not to photograph the departure gates and procedures. Interestingly, as we were chatting, another employee interrupts us alerting him of an unattended backpack in the vicinity, so I decided to leave him to it, and quickly walk away from the area.

Walking around the concourse, the terminal is obviously functional but the structure offers interesting geometric shapes and colours.

Outside, the terminal is equally functional, with some wall displays promoting the airport’s destinations.

In the north west corner of the drop off area, I see some plane spotters and I strike up a conversation with two young Swiss lads over in the UK for five days enjoying all that LHR has to offer. Impressed by their ability to spot a plane type well before it’s physical shape becomes clearer, they declare “…it’s only another BA (type) plane…” I also pointed out to them Windsor Castle in the far distant haze; “oh!” they proclaim, “that’s where the wedding was?!” to their delight. We exchanged contact details and you can follow their Instagram feed at airplane_pictures. Nice to have met you guys…

For more info, look up Heathrow T5 on Wikipedia

See all Heathrow T5 pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

#07: Lewisham – 17/05/2018

A trip under the river to south London at the end of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR); well one of the ends anyway. Not been there before so not sure what to expect, but en route, I felt I was being stalked by Transport for London (TfL) ticket inspectors as I was asked to show my ticket on each of three different trains. Reassuring I suppose that checks are carried out, but it will be interesting over the lifetime of this blog to see how many times I get asked to produce my ticket; my experience as a commuter was very rarely. I was also impressed by the knowledge of the DLR guard on the last leg of my journey as he gave a touristic and historical commentary of things to see and do at every station we stopped by; most famously the Cutty Sark being the first stop on the south side of the river.

Anyway, I arrived at Lewisham DLR, which is adjacent to main line services and took a moment to get my bearings. The ‘town’ is about half a kilometer from the terminus, which you get to by walking around a building site, a large regeneration development. Lewisham is defined in some way by its position between two rivers: the Quaggy to the east, and the Ravensbourne to the west, which is spawned from Deptford Creek on the Thames, down to Sydenham and beyond. Cyclists and walkers can follow the Waterlink Way, an attractive eight mile route along the river side. On a bright day, the river sides gave rise to some interesting shapes and shadows.

The town is dominated by some modern high rise tower blocks, art deco conversions and scaffolding, but a short walk off the main road reveals streets and streets of typical London bricked terraced properties. Stopping to enjoy some intricate brickwork, a local decorator who’s working on the house proudly explains it’s a former dairy where now there’s a garage was once the cowshed where the milking took place.

Walking around Lewisham, residents were clearly focussed and drawn to the market which forms the town’s hub just outside a modernised 60’s shopping centre. Predominantly fruit and veg based but with some colourful alternatives. The fishmonger was happy for me to take pictures but less so in engaging in any conversation.  A shout out though to the Ribena crew who were happy to strike a pose (other fruit flavoured drinks are of course available).

The town provides leisure facilities in the guise of a modern looking Glass Mill Leisure Centre, and caters for religious diversity as it is the home for The London Sivan Kovil Temple, a Tamil temple, as well as St Saviour, St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist Catholic Church and associated Primary School.

Social commentary comes in many guises and amusingly I overheard several conversations, but two comments caught my attention, so much so I had to write them down…

‘…I don’t mind what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for my dinner…’ and

‘…When was the last time you stood naked in front of a fella?…’

I walked on with a smile

Graffiti is never far from anywhere in London, and Lewisham is no different, although in some hidden quarters, they were quite amusing and entertaining. View the Instagram feed for the full size otter and bee


For more info, look up Lewisham on Wikipedia

See all Lewisham pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

#06: Waterloo – 10/05/2018

Unsurprisingly, Waterloo is at the southern end of the ‘Waterloo & City’ line or more commonly known as ‘The Drain’. The line was opened late in the 19th century to ferry commuters travelling from the Southern counties directly into The City. Waterloo also serves three other lines: the Bakerloo, Jubilee and the Northen line (Charing Cross branch), and collectively Waterloo is reportedly the busiest in the UK and when combined with the nearby Waterloo East station, which is just a short stroll away and linked directly with Waterloo, it is the busiest complex in Europe.

Having worked in the vicinity for several years when at DirectGov in Lambeth, I have some familiarity with the surrounds and knew it to be a vibrant and colourful area, so I set off through the station exiting into Lower Marsh in a clockwise direction around the station. You can’t ignore the colour or the vibrancy of afternoon diners who buy from the myriad of street traders. Some notable landmarks are Cubana and Vaulty Towers.

Lower Marsh runs in a westerly direction towards Lambeth, but a detour through Leake Street reveals a hidden gem inspired by Bansky and now an authorised graffiti area where each day you’ll find new works of art often being created by the artists as you walk through, but be warned, the fumes can get quite intoxicating. This ‘street’ runs under the platforms of Waterloo station and also houses The Vaults, London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts.

Turning right into York Road, you are a stone’s throw away from the South Bank and all it’s entertainment in full view of the Thames and the London Eye. Continuing clockwise into Waterloo Road and pass the BFI IMAX and I’m led into the side streets past the Union Jack Club, which was founded by Ethel McCaul a Red Cross nurse over a 100 years ago ‘…to provide non-commissioned services and former members of the Armed Forces and their families a comfortable and friendly base for their visits to London…’. Onto Waterloo East station, which  offers a vista of London’t continuing development looking west and north where an attractively clad student accommodation building, in Paris Gardens  looks as if it has a tower: it is in fact the top of 1 Blackfriars development, one of many multi-purpose high rise complexes shaping London’s skyline of the 21st Century.

I walk into the main Waterloo station from Waterloo East platform to explore the underground, and whilst taking a series of photos to best showcase the Jubilee line walkways, I’m invited by a couple of Manchester United fans (I think on their way to the mid-week West Ham game) to take their pictures. As a hardened Liverpool supporter, we had some good-natured banter, but I’m fulfilling a promise to give them a ‘shout out’ in return for posting their picture – nice to meet you Vik!

The experience though highlighted how modern travelling and photography has made the digital age so accessible as within minutes of taking the picture, I was able to upload the picture to my phone (built in wifi on the camera) and email the picture using one of the underground’s several wi-fi service providers. I appreciate this advancement may not be for everyone, but the expectation of ‘always on internet access’ continues to grow. Emerging out of the underground to complete my journey, I’m reminded of the Elephant at Waterloo sculpture and now decide to research why it’s there. I leave you to follow the link above and to its sculptor – Kendra Haste.

Emerging back out into Waterloo Road to complete the clockwise route around the station, I pass the redeveloped LCC Fire Brigade Station Waterloo and cross the road to Emma Cons Gardens and complete my tour by chatting with the proprietor of a roadside coffee stall, and the stall manager for The Garden Shack plant stall opposite The Old Vic.

For more info, look up Waterloo on Wikipedia

See all Waterloo pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

#05: Edgware Road – 09/05/2018

A natural follow up to Edgware, down the A5 (or Watling Street) to its source at Marble Arch leading into Edgware Road. With one of two stations with this name (the other serving the Bakerloo Line about 250 metres away) and serving as a terminal destination for the District Line and since December 2009, the Circle Line: so this will be the first of two visits to this station.

The station has some intriguing mosaic designs around the building, which catches your eye, and an interesting bronze statue called ‘The Window Cleaner’, sculpted by Allan Sly, looking up at an adjacent building

Edgware Road itself is a main arterial link road out of London and traffic is constant, but so is the people traffic going about their business. An eclectic mix of banks, high street shops, beauty shops, food shops, eateries and any other type of shop you can mention. The shops though clearly cater for the transient and local population, and here’s a good example of how the traditional corner shop is alive and kicking. You name it and you can get it here.

20180509142256_IMG_0572.jpg

A stroll now across the road to Paddington Basin which is a matter of minutes away, and my how this has been transformed over recent years with the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal being totally regenerated. A growing complex of office space, luxury apartments, relaxing space, and safe and modern canal and pedestrian facilities allowing you to walk uninterrupted to Little Venice (that’s for another day). The Basin is awash with colourful barges (long boats) advertising boat trips, food and some business operating from them – very chic. Building work continues but it all seems well managed with decorative hoarding promoting the regeneration and describing some of the features.

To the edge of the Basin, and no surprise I stumble across Paddington Bear donning his hat in salute to all passers by. He’s one of several supporting The Pawprint Trail, an activity based exploration of the area. Paddington Bear leads me to the westerly edge of my journey and as I turn to retrace my steps, I spot today’s celebrity whose chatting on the quay side: Tony Singh, a well known and colourful character. I also stop beside a canal side Candocoffee vendor and chat with Giovanni, the barista, who tells me the new development has canalside apartments being marketed at £1M plus! A snip at half the price…

Across the road from Paddington and under the A40 Westway, Marylebone Road stretches easterly to Euston Road and a short stroll finds me exploring Marylebone Station and the surrounding streets. One notable building at the crossroads is the Paddington Green Police Station, a pretty unimpressive building to look at, but a cornerstone in the Police’s efforts to contain suspected terrorists.

So many other buildings to see, and here’s a short selection of my stopping points: St Marylebone Grammar School, 242 Marylebone Road, The Landmark Hotel – wish I could have gone inside but didn’t think I was dressed appropriately and The Old Marylebone Town Hall. See Instagram (here#01, here#02 and here#03) for all the pics. Signs of London’s constant battle with road works were evident too: see if you can work out which colour represents which utility…


For more info, look up Edgware Road on Wikipedia

See all Edgware Road pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

#04: Edgware – 03/05/2018

…and now from the southern regions of the Bakerloo Line to one of the northern ends of the Northern Line: Edgware. Never been here before so not sure what to expect…?

And following some feedback from earlier posts, I decide on a selfie at the station. This does two things: shows I’m listening to feedback and lets me use it as the first picture on my Instagram album showing which location the collection comes from. Fairly uninspiring station (but then again I suspect a lot will be), but I do notice some colour patterns that draw me in.

Out of the station, which has a 20/30’s art decho feel to the entrance, and I’m sure in its heyday it would have been proudly ostentatious. Edgware looks uninspiring as a sprawling parade of shops with architecture in a similar 20/30’s art decho style running south to north as urban London moves through suburbia and tries to become rural…but just not yet. I head off south intentionally bypassing the shopping centre where I will return to later.

My immediate impression is of an unloved and unkempt area overtaken with car washes which have camped out where grandiose properties once existed, tyre stations and back street motor mechanics. All this mayhem is peppered with more than its fair share of abandoned and boarded up shops and even the local police station seems uninviting. There is also an array of European eateries as I encountered Portuguese, Polish, Lebanese, Romanian and Jewish restaurants and shops within five minutes of each other. Some native high starch/low quality eateries were also encountered.

Walking off centre a little, a lack of pride in the community is seen through an unkempt community sign and a ‘Welcome to Edgware’ road sign proudly supported by Saracens.com. At another gateway, a reminder of some former glory is marked by a wall plaque at the entrance of ‘Canons Drive’ where you can wonder at how life may have been.

Passing the only church in the main drag, The Parish Church of St Margaret of Antioch which also shows signs of untidiness as the grounds and cemetery have only partially been manicured: the grounds in desperate need of grass cutting and weeding, although the wild flowers did give a colourful display. Walking past the former Sunday School, I made a surprising discovery: a memorial plaque to two children who died at Pant Glas junior school in Aberfan on the 21st October 1966. Despite some modest research to understand the connection with Edgware, I couldn’t find any but I suspect there’s a relative connection with the area. Please post if you know…a sombre moment of reflection…

One comment to date refers to a BBC post : ‘…Conservative councillor Mr Taylor added that he had clear personal memories of the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster from 1966. At the time he was a member of the Edgware Round Table in north London whose members opened up their homes to Aberfan families whose houses had been destroyed…’

Making my way to the Broadwalk shopping centre, I stop outside Edgware Music which proudly displays an eclectic mix of electric guitars in the window. I had hoped to pop in for a chat but alas it was shuttered up as the proprietor was attending a local funeral and wouldn’t return until 3.00 pm. I hope all went well?

Into the Broadwalk Centre, I stop at Unit 2, a clock seller who has on display an array of clocks and watches, and one in particular drew me in in the first place. Through the centre and I spot a seasonal plant seller with a colourful display. Whilst I browse I search out the proprietor as I believe it’s impolite to assume I can just take pictures. Understandably he’s a little suspicious so I have an opportunity to explain my quest and he’s kind enough to agree to my request but a little reluctant to be photographed. My thanks to him but our chat made me think that I need a better way to ‘show the thing’ so why not show on my phone, and get some cards with the blog address so that they can browse at their leisure. Always an opportunity to learn and improve…


For more info, look up Edgware on Wikipedia

See all Edgware pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment