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Lockdown

Lockdown Mayhem – Nature Special 2020

My fourth and possibly last blog based on my occasional travels during these unusual times during Covid19 lockdown and the phased return to a new normality. This one focuses on pictures I’ve taken that fall into the ‘nature’ category that didn’t make it into my previous ‘Lockdown Mayhem’ series.

I hadn’t realised how many places I’d visited. As well as my local wanderings, some were taken in open areas where social distancing was easiest to maintain, or latterly to gardens which operated a timed entrance slot to help reduce the numbers at any one time. 

In a small way, these pictures help to define the Lockdown summer of 2020. I hope you like them?

#01: Cornflower

a single bright irridescent blue cornflower head

Centaurea cyanus, commonly known as cornflower or bachelor’s button, is an annual flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe. In the past it often grew as a weed in cornfields (in the broad sense of “corn”, referring to grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, or oats), hence its name.

The bright, almost iridescent, blue makes this flower stand out, and is one of several varieties which was amongst a collection of wildflowers we were given as a wedding anniversary present earlier this year. Other colours we noticed were pink and white, but to be honest the blue ones stood out by far.

From germination, they flowered for about four months and were a great addition to several pots attracting a variety of bees during the summer. Before discarding the flowers, I sprinkled their seeds along a border hoping to create a homemade wildflower area for next year. For anyone who wants to grow simple, maintenance free flowers, then I’d recommend the Cornflower.

  • Location: Home garden
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 2nd June 2020 at 6.44 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO640 

#02: Field Grasshopper

a grasshopper perched on a leaf as if ready to pounce

Chorthippus brunneus, also known as the common field grasshopper, is a species of grasshopper of the subfamily Gomphocerinae.
…and this male, one of many, was living quite happily in a corner of the garden dedicated to wild grasses.

Despite their ability to jump quite quickly, they weren’t too difficult to catch, or even get close to and this little chappie was happy posing for his picture.

I think the collection of grasshoppers were around for about a month, and reading about them, I suspect the local ants were harvesting their eggs. We had an ant infestation nearby in a walled border and each time we tried to move them on, there was a mass of eggs they shifted quickly. I appreciate they were also ant egg cases, but given their proximity, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a mixed batch.

Well, let’s see if these hoppy critters return next year?

  • Location: Home garden
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 2nd June 2020 at 7.18 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO6400 

#03: Where’s the Ice Cream?

eastbourne pier in the background. Seagull standing on a lamppost in the foreground. a black and white picture

Have you ever had your ice cream pinched by a flying seagull?
Well I hadn’t until a couple of years ago. I’ve laughed at seeing others being taken, but I have to admit when it happened to me, I was shocked at the speed and accuracy with which these ice cream pirates attacked.

This one, perched atop a lamppost on the upper balustrade of Eastbourne bandstand was evidently looking out for its next free meal: be it ice cream or chips. It didn’t happen during my brief walk past, but the picture does help epitomise today’s seafront with the pier in the background.

It was a nice stroll out though, and I have to applaud everyone’s desire to walk past each other responsibly and at a distance.

  • Location: Eastbourne promenade
  • Date/Time: Saturday 20th June 2020 at 3.26 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 54mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#04: Yorkshire Fog

three single strands of meadow grass brightly lit by the day's sun. black and white picture

Nomansland Common is an area of land about 6 kilometers north of St Albans and consists of open heathland, and a wooded oak woodland. It’s ideal for nature spotting, whether your interest is in insects or birds. And for younger kids, the trees and wooded area have been creatively managed to help encourage some fun activities. 

The common lies across two parishes, Sandridge and Wheathampstead, and during the 15th Century the monasteries of St Albans and Westminster both contested the Common for their respective parish. The Common acted as the ‘no-mans-land’ between the two warring factions, with over twenty years of disputes. Finally in 1429, a jury agreed that the parishes should share the grazing rights.

On the day I visited, the insect wildlife was awash with bees, several types of butterflies, ladybirds and spiders, all of which entertained the grandchildren in one way or another. But it was this sunlit grass that caught my attention.

It’s the kind of grass that you casually stroke as you’re ambling along a country walk or you pull up to scatter the seeds without a thought. I decided to leave well alone this time and just enjoy the simplicity of what I think is Yorkshire Fog

  • Location: Nomansland Common, St Albans
  • Date/Time: Saturday 11th July 2020 at 10.33 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO640  

#05: Pigeon Hotel

a black and white picture of scores and scores of pigeons perched on a tiled roof, basking in the sun. a church steeple in the background

What a sight this was. On the roof of the boarded up church just behind Romford Central Library. I wanted to shout at them to see them all disperse and catch the resulting mayhem, but I thought better of that.
Pigeons aren’t everybody’s favourite bird, and I understand why, especially as they poop everywhere, and when clustered like this, it’s a lot of poop.

The ground in front of me was also smothered with pigeons and I was treading carefully to avoid them as I moved about to get the best angle to capture this shot. They were quite unperturbed too, and casually moved as I got amongst them.

I’m not sure if it’s coincidental, but has anyone else noticed an increase in pigeons in the outer reaches of London since they were scared out of Trafalgar Square over 15 years ago?

  • Location: St Edward the Confessor’s Roman Catholic Church, Romford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 21st July 2020 at 12.05 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 125mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#06: Geese Ahoy!

a black and white picture of canada geese in a V formation swimming towards the river bank

Lee Valley is an excellent expanse of managed waterways, parklands and sporting grounds and it’s somewhere to explore more than once. There are so many different areas, that once you’ve been, you’ll want to return and investigate somewhere different.

I’d been to the Lee Valley before during my endoftheline visit to Cheshunt station when I walked down the canal to the white water rafting centre, which was built for the 2012 London Olympics. You can read about that journey here.

But today’s visit is a family event and we meander around an area of Fishers Green, just north of Waltham Abbey. Not really knowing where we were going we tried following the park signposts and thankfully ended up at our intended destination.

Along the way, there are many of nature’s wonders to enjoy, and no doubt these will be seasonal too. But this flock of Canada geese, zooming towards us in ‘flight’ formation is one of my favourite memories of the visit. They must have thought we had food, as there was a determined charge in our direction, and I was surprised to see them swim in formation. But I guess the same principles of flight work equally well in the water.

  • Location: Hooksmarsh, Lee Valley Park, Fishers Green, Waltham Abbey
  • Date/Time: Wednesday 22nd July 2020 at 10.16 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 147mm; Film Speed – ISO500

#07: Sunflower

a single bright yellow sunflower head

There’s nothing like a sunflower to bring a smile to your face. So easy to grow, and they come in many different forms. My personal favourites are varieties called ‘Toyshop’ and ‘Firecracker’. Toyshop grow no larger than three feet tall, and have a variety of flower heads. Firecracker have a distinct orange colouring, and both varieties attract pollinators all season.

On one of my local days out, I walked down a path alongside the library in Gidea Park emerging in the cul de sac of Balmoral Road. I hadn’t realised, even after living here for 30 years, that there are allotments here. In fact it’s the home of the Romford Allotments Association, and if you’re interested in acquiring an allotment, you’re invited to make your way to the allotment entrance in Balmoral Road on a Sunday morning. Alternatively, contact Bob Mercer on 07779 519911.

Alternatively for any enquiries about allotments in Havering, have a look here.

This was a solitary sunflower standing about eight feet high

  • Location: Romford Allotments Association, Balmoral Road, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday 30th July 2020 at 11.47 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 89mm; Film Speed – ISO160

#08: Just Fishing

a grey heron standing still in an algae covered pond

This was a day out at Beth Chatto Gardens, east of Colchester. If you’ve never been, and you’re a keen, or even casual gardener, it’s well worth a visit and ideal if you’re looking for inspiration, or simply want to enjoy the different gardens.

The gardens are based on ecological planting: the right plant for the right place. Created by award-winning gardener, author and lecturer Beth Chatto OBE VMH, who won 10 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, in the 70s and 80s.

There are five garden styles over 7.5 acres: Gravel garden, Scree garden, Reservoir garden; Woodland garden and a Water garden where this heron was captured.

I’ve been fortunate to photograph several herons over the last couple of years, but this has to be my favourite picture. With my zoom lens at full stretch, I’ve balanced the barrel on a handy nearby fence. The heron didn’t move, but rest assured it was studying the water very intently looking for any slight ripple of movement ready to pounce; it’s almost a seamless motion, swift and precise.

I took two pictures, one in black and white, and this one which highlights the green of the plants and water borne algae. Not sure if this is the dog dangerous blue/green variety, but in this controlled environment, it wouldn’t pose a risk to dogs.

  • Location: Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens, Elmstead, Colchester
  • Date/Time: Saturday 1st August 2020 at 11.01 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO320

#09: Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’

an almost black succulent flower head. alomost rosette like with petals radiating from it's core. dark dark red colouring of this aeonium zwartkop

My final nature shot is also from the Beth Chatto gardens in Elmstead Market, east of Colchester.
We were coming to the end of our visit and heading out past the scree gardens and exiting through the tea rooms and this almost black succulent caught my attention.

Looking closely, it’s more of a dark red/purple, but it was one of many flower heads on a shrub sized potted plant. The flower heads sat on the end of long woody stalks, almost miniature tree like. It was quite a display.

I looked for the name on the display, but there was none to be seen, so an internet search suggests this to be a member of the Aeonium family. In particular the ‘Zwartkop’ variety.

  • Location: Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens, Elmstead, Colchester
  • Date/Time: Saturday 1st August 2020 at 11.23 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO5000

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Lockdown

Lockdown Mayhem – August 2020

My third occasional blog sees me travelling around the northern stretches of Romford, and a  seaside visit down to the south coast at Eastbourne. I hope you enjoy this short selection of the month’s travel pictures?

North Romford

I had an ambitious notion of walking to Bedfords Park, a nature reserve managed by the London Borough of Havering and the Essex Wildlife Trust. I knew this would be a challenging day as it had been a number of years since I last visited and my recollection of getting there on foot was a little hazy. But I knew if I followed a simple trail through Raphael’s Park and Rise Park, it should be straight forward…

Well, despite Google Maps, and a belief I had a good sense of direction, I got a little lost. Not lost in the sense I didn’t know where I was, but more in that I believed the Park was more to the left of where I was walking (it was actually more to the right). So I ended up traversing across an open field in front of Bower House, part of the Amana Trust building, and emerging onto Orange Tree Hill instead of into the main Park area. Ah well, it was good exercise.

The Walled Garden in Bedfords Park is well worth a visit, staffed by volunteers, and it gives an insight into how an estate would have provided for itself in days gone by. My trek into the village of Havering-atte-Bower was concluded by my walking back towards Romford through Havering Country Park – a predominantly wooded forest with a striking avenue of Wellingtonia trees at the northern flank of the park. It was a very hot day so I ended my day returning to town by bus.

#01: Bedfords Park

a black and white picture with a treeline in the foreground and an overhanging branch framing a distant view across the Thames to north Kent


This view from the visitor centre in Bedfords Park looks across the Thames and into Kent. On a hot, clear day, it was a welcome, mid point stop after traipsing through the Park forest and open land.

For those who don’t know the area, the park sits in 217 acres of open land and deciduous woodland, between the northern boundary of the London Borough of Havering, and the village of Havering-atte-Bower.

Open parklands make it an ideal picnic spot and play area, and an enclosed deer park provides ideal viewing.

The park has a chequered history, with its origins being made up of two estates dating as far back as 1285. There are many internet references if you want to find out more. But for those looking for a nice day out, there’s something for all here. Alas, the visitor centre is currently closed due to the Covid19 restrictions, but don’t let that deter you from exploring this wonderfully maintained landscape.

  • Location: Bedfords Park, Havering-atte-Bower. Outside the Visitor Centre
  • Date/Time: Thursday 6th August 2020 at 12.21 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 54mm; Film Speed – ISO100 

#02: Spooky Tree

a black and white photo of a (presumably) dead tree as it has no foliage. A fe black birds are perched on some of the outlying branches

I spotted this on my way out leaving Bedfords Park from Broxhill Road overlooking the open space. It’s at a distance, so full zoom needed to capture the tree in shot, which seemed to be a good resting place for a few birds.

The tree stands defiantly in isolation amid an open plain. Perhaps one of a crop of trees felled maybe to create the open plain. But if so, why wasn’t this one felled too? Perhaps it has mystic or mysterious properties which draws the crows to stand guarding its barren branches. Even in the bright daylight, it reminded me somewhat of the Daphne du Maurier story The Birds, and subsequently translated into Alfred Hitchcock’s spooky film.

Time to move on methinks…

  • Location: Bedfords Park, Havering-atte-Bower. Broxhill Road, opposite entrance to St Francis Hospice looking south
  • Date/Time: Thursday 6th August 2020 at 12.51 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO200 

#03: Havering-atte-Bower

a village sign of havering-atte-bower

Part of my intended day’s walking route was to make my way to Havering-atte-Bower. The northernmost village in the borough of Havering as it borders the county of Essex.

I’ve often driven through here whilst taking the back roads to join the M11 at Harlow, and in doing so wondered what lay behind the picturesque village green.

The village sign, which stands prominently on the village green depicts three scenes. The sign, incidentally, was unveiled in 2010 by the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to commemorate the village’s 1000 year history.

I now take a little liberty in deciphering the three events depicted on the sign as despite many internet references to the sign, I’m unable to unearth any information about it’s make up. So here goes, but I’m happy to be corrected:

  • The top picture, I speculate, may represent the original ‘bower’ or country retreat and hunting lodge owned by Edward the Confessor, which later became known as Havering Palace. There are several interesting references worth reading to help you differentiate between the real and fabled history here: Wikipedia and Hidden London.
  • The final image represents the Havering coat of arms with the date 1042, no doubt symbolising the earliest known date of the village. This is some 44 years before it’s reference in the Doomsday Book under the name of ‘Haueringas’ meaning a ‘settlement of the followers of a man called Hæfer’

So the next time you pass a village sign, why not stop and explore its history too?..

  • Location: The Green, Havering-atte-Bower
  • Date/Time: Thursday 6th August 2020 at 12.56 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Eastbourne

For over 40 years, Eastbourne has been my second home as it’s my father in law’s (FIL) home town. Our trip was to spend time helping FIL recover from a spell in hospital. Not Covid19, but nevertheless one that serves to remind us of our frailties. Thankfully, FIL is making a good recovery.

On this particular day, it was very interesting as there were high winds and I wanted to explore the shoreline under the pier at low tide. Very reminiscent of my childhood days exploring under the Pier in my own home town – Aberystwyth.

Personally I don’t think you can beat a bracing walk along the shoreline, the incoming tide splashing on your shoes and getting a little wet, and being mesmerised by whatever the sea and winds throw at you.

#04: Speckled Shoreline

a sepia toned black and white picture of eastbourne shoreline as the tide comes in

I noticed the tide times were quite favourable with the low tide conveniently at mid morning, so time enough to get the early morning chores done before making my way to the beach.

A combination of the strong winds and the effect on the tourist industry due to Covid19 saw the prom almost empty. Only a few hardened, or maybe foolish souls were out and about.

This shot is taken right on the shoreline looking west towards The Wish Tower and beyond to the Western Lawns where the frame of the summer ferris wheel stands out. I’ve applied a sepia filter to add a little mood to the shot, which shows tidal debris on the sandy beach being washed in by the incoming tide.

The upturned marker buoys in the distance, act as a warning of deep water and of the submerged barriers to bathers and swimmers during high tides.

  • Location: Eastbourne Beach
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 10.04 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO100  

#05: Mid Flight

a black and white photo of a young seagull, amid wing, with the scrolling waves underneath

Seagulls are I think a bit like Marmite. You either like them or hate them. But for me they are synonymous with the seaside, chips and ice cream, and their squawk/cry is so unique that once you hear one, you instantly know what the bird is.

I once recorded a seagull sound as my phone ringtone…I always found it funny.

There’s a large flock of seagulls on the waterline, all standing into the wind blasting from the west. Adults and youngsters alike, the later with their distinctive brown and mottled plumage. Some are happy wading, others dipping for food, and there was one pair fighting over a pebble.

When on the wing, their flight pattern could be quite erratic, but taking off was an intentional act on their part. Their flight is determined by the swirling gusting wind, but give them credit, they’re just as happy being blown about to recover their intended flight path to achieve their goal. For some it was just to get back to where they left. But I suspect it’s not a folly to randomly fly into the wind and end up going backwards, but an attempt to gain some height to search for food.

This is one of the youngsters which I’ve captured showing off its immature colouring against the pier in the background and the incoming rolling tidal waves.

  • Location: Eastbourne Beach looking towards the Pier
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 10.11 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO200

#06: Watery Legs

a black and white picture of eastbourne's pier supporting legs

I took a similar picture in my teenage years when I first started exploring black and white photography. It was under the pier in Aberystwyth at about 5.00 am in the morning as the sun was rising behind and casting amazing shadows. That picture has stayed with me all these years and was one of the ones that inspire me to enjoy photography.

I had a notion to try and recapture that image, but clearly there are several things not the same: there’s no sun to cast shadows, and it’s not Aberystwyth Pier. Nevertheless, the hour or so I spent this morning taking a collection of pictures here was just as invigorating.

I probably collected a portfolio of over 20 pictures in this short spell, and this ONE, evokes the image I wanted to capture. Taken in black and white in homage to the image I had in mind, it also transforms what would otherwise be a dull and drab colour picture blanched by the windswept seaspray. The strong black tones of the pier legs against the rolling seahorses on the incoming tide sells the picture which is framed by the body of the pier at the top and the shadowy breakwater on the bottom.

I’m happy…

  • Location: Under Eastbourne Pier looking west
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 10.14 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#07: Eastbourne Pier

eastbourne pier

Okay, okay, okay. This is a postcard picture of Eastbourne Pier. But it’s one that I played with for a while to decide how best to represent it.

You see, after over two years of using my trusted camera, I’m still learning how to get the best out of some of the settings, and this one jumped out at me.

Whilst composing the shot, the boulders in the foreground were an obvious candidate, and then I played with several settings. This is taken with an ambient setting, and what struck me immediately was how the golden towers just stood out as if under a spotlight. The picture looked exciting, almost like an antique postcard with the towers painted.

From local knowledge, the pier’s owner is overtly flamboyant and he has deliberately emblazoned all his properties (of which there are several) with splashes of gold. He even has a gold plated car!

  • Location: Eastbourne Pier from the shoreline
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 10.41 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 54mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#08: Just Visiting

a black and white profile photo of Mary Elizabeth. An elderly lady enjoying the windswept view looking out at eastbourne pier

Meet Mary Elizabeth.

This young lady was sheltering under the bandstand canopy away from the windswept rain as she caught my attention as I was walking by. She had been watching me take pictures along the shoreline and questioned whether there was a dead seal down there; I reassured her that what she could see was simply a collection of boulders.

That led to a long conversation where we shared each other’s stories and how she had come to be in Eastbourne during the Covid19 lockdown. A very adventurous lady with a thirst for life and a passion to enjoy herself.

If you happen to be her relative reading this, please rest assured that I was fully vetted by Mary before we chatted and that she decided I was OK to chat to. You see, as Bob Dylan once sang “the times are a changin” as her children have warned her not to talk to any strangers. I hope I’m no longer a stranger? It was a delight to meet you Mary…

  • Location: Under Eastbourne Bandstand shelter
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 11.09 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO400

#09: Stormy Sails

a black and white photo of a windsurfer caught beteen railings

Even in stormy seas there are those who want to challenge the elements. I just hope those who do, do so carefully and sensibly.

I caught this windsurfer as I peered through the railings on the Bandstand parapet, and I followed his progress as he sailed into the wind. I’m not sure how long he had been surfing for, but soon after this shot, the session came to an end.

Here ends my windswept walk along Eastbourne seafront, and my August lockdown memories

  • Location: Looking out to see from Eastbourne bandstand paramet
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 25th August 2020 at 11.14 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO250

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Lockdown

Lockdown Mayhem – July 2020

So… a month on, and more and more shops are opening their doors. Still not enough to tempt me back onto the trains, but there is a sense of a new normal emerging. The must have ‘wear item’ is now the facemask. I’ve tried a few varieties, bought from the local dry cleaners, online ‘bargains’ and the best fit for me is from Gap. So out I go with my choice of three fashionable face masks.

The weather has improved, but before I share my travelling stories, a little about other events that have kept me busy, entertained and angry!

The garden has looked after itself and the fruits of my labours are starting to justify the extent of my earlier hard work. Tomatoes, courgettes and runner beans aplenty, and root vegetables firmly taking stock for the autumn and winter months.

In between all that, I’ve had the pleasure of chasing up roofers to part replace the front of the house. As with all tradesmen, they promise delivery tomorrow, but what they actually mean is sometime in the unspecified future. Despite that, the work was good and I was happy with the price and equally happy to recommend in the Romford area.

But that’s not something I can say about my recent run in with a car garage. You see I was off on a jaunt to visit family, and the dashboard suddenly displays three orange amber warning signs and one red one. Not a good look, so I head back home and the garage offers me a date a month away. My hands are tied, what can I do except wait. Long story short…the bill came in in excess of four figures but just as I was about to pay, there’s mention of a faulty part. Now ‘hold on I say’, surely if there’s a faulty part, that’s not for me to pay. And do you know what…in a matter of seconds, the bill was reduced significantly with very little quibble.

Now I’m delighted of course, BUT if I hadn’t challenged the garage, I would have ended up with an inflated bill. Why didn’t they do this before presenting the bill to me? You can draw your own conculsions.

OK, that was a slight digression, so let’s get back to my July travels in and around Romford. This month I’ve concentrated my walking on the northern part of Romford, inside the A12 ring road, and to the west as far as Chadwell Heath (almost). A total of 30 kilometers over three hot days.

So here goes with my second occasional blog about my local journeys.

#08: Taking the Sheep to Market

A black and white photo looking through a tiled underpass with a row of black sheep on the ceiling. A couple of pedestrians in the far distant exiting the sunlit tunnel entrance

Romford market dates as far back as 1247 when a Royal Charter was granted by King Henry III. Originally a sheep market which no doubt inspired the ceiling mural in this underpass.

I’d never been through here before, and to be honest I didn’t think anything of it. Just another underpass for pedestrians to make their way under the busy roundabout feeding Romford’s inner ring road.

But I stopped to look behind and realised I was being overtaken by a flock of black sheep on the ceiling. I don’t think the pedestrians walking through even noticed what I was seeing: they were too busy checking their mobiles, nattering to each other or trying to calm down a child in a buggy. So it was easy to capture them walking through the underpass to add some context to the picture.

I’ve been unsuccessful in my research to find out more about this mural, so if any reader would like to shed any light, I’d be happy to update my blog.

  • Location: South Street to North Street underpass, Romford
  • Date/Time: Monday 20th July 2020 at 2.32 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO1600 

#09: R.I.P Rob

A black and white photo of a car number plate style RIP Rob sign attached to the dual carriageway central reservation barrier with a decayed bouquet of flowers

‘…Sadly missed your loving family’ is the underscore to this car number plate type memorial firmly attached to the fencing above the central reservation along the main A12 Eastern Avenue.


Looking on Google maps, this has been there since at least September 2008, and for each iteration of the Google Maps reference, there are always flowers, albeit in a sad state of decay.


Despite a thorough internet search I’m unable to reveal who Rob was, but nevertheless he was a much loved person.


It’s hard to know why it’s here, in this location, but I hazard a guess it was either a road traffic accident, or a pedestrian trying to cross the main road. Whatever the circumstance, it’s a sombre reminder of the frailty of life and the need for vigilance when crossing roads. I pause to think about the nearby underpass: was it there before the accident, or because of it?

On a related theme; whilst walking through the main Romford Cemetery along Crow Lane, I stopped to admire the array of children’s gravestones. There was one inscription that brought a tear to my eye – it simply said ‘born dreaming’

  • Location: Opposite Footpath No. 79 emerging from Parkside Avenue on the main A12 Eastern Avenue, Romford
  • Date/Time: Monday July 20th 2020 at 2.58 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO800 

#10: Victoria Centre

A black and white photo of a view of three dorma windows at roof level on the dilapidated pavillion style building

Locals will almost certainly know this as one of the places to go to for a blood test where you don’t have to queue for ages. Well that’s been my experience to date anyway.

This rather dilapidated building, is in the main, full of character even in its unloved state. In fact I think the aged and tired look adds to the building’s charms.

It was originally built in 1888 at a cost of £1,000 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Known as the Victoria Cottage Hospital, and through gradual expansion over the decades, it grew from having 13 beds to 101 beds by the time it became part of the NHS in 1948. During the 1970’s and 1980’s changes to the health care system saw a decline in the hospital’s use when it eventually closed for inpatients in 1985 when only 32 beds were available.

Since then, the site has catered for several outpatients departments for which it continues to do so to this day. It sits proudly, in it’s own grounds (now car parks) just off Main Road in Petits Lane and serves as a reminder of how cottage hospitals once supported their communities. There’s no doubt it is a distinct looking building and one to admire for what it once was, and is now.

My thanks to the Lost Hospitals of London site for this information. I’m so glad such sites as these exist as otherwise this kind of information would be lost forever.

  • Location: Victoria Centre, Havering NHS Primary Care Trust, Petits Lane, Gidea Park
  • Date/Time: Tuesday July 21st 2020 at 12.35 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#11: Victoria Road Footbridge

A colour photo looking along the length of a footbridge with tall sides and a mesh canopy. In the bright sunlight, the blue/grey metalwork contrasts with the yellow overhead light guards

Bridge reference LTN1/103-ROU/11.

Did you know if you ever wanted to find a bridge reference number other than finding it on or near a railway bridge, then there’s a very helpful resource.


Thanks to Daniel Hanson, who made a Freedom of Information request to National Rail Limited in 2015 who subsequently provided a full list (at that time) of every railway bridge in the UK. You can view it here. But be warned, it’s a hefty data set, but if it’s your thing…then fill your boots.
Access to this footbridge on either side is via isolated cut throughs from their respective roads. Ok for daytime  passage but less so I would imagine at nighttime. 

It’s a bright sunny day today and a few pedestrians are making their way across. There’s one mum with a toddler in tow, somewhat frustrated at the length of time the little boy is hovering to see the trains pass by – oh such simple choices.

I wait until all have passed, as to be honest, it could be a little intimidating seeing someone crouch down taking photos as they walk through. I decide to err on the side of caution.

Built in 1893, this lattice wrought iron bridge has lost its charm, as probably a lot of railway footbridges have since they’ve been enclosed. No doubt a preventative measure, but one that nevertheless results in the bridge largely being devoid of its character. This sunlit and shadowy picture offers a glimpse into the view you get when crossing over five railway lines.

  • Location: Railway Footbridge over main railway line adjoining Victoria Road and Junction Road, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 12.13 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 21mm; Film Speed – ISO100  

#12: Just Chillin

A black and white photo of a gent dressed in white shirt, trousres and headcap covering long dreadlocks who's sitting on a street bench

I spotted this gent casually sitting on a bench on the opposite side of the road and I almost walked on. But I found myself backtracking to try and capture the moment. A little difficult as the junction was busy with cars, vans and lorries queuing up at the traffic lights so there were only momentary glimpses of this scene.

So as the lights changed and the traffic moved on, I took a series of shots before the next queue formed. Each shot I took, I zoomed in closer. Some of the earlier shots capture the ‘Mercury Gardens’ road sign, but that’s eventually lost as I’m at the full extent of the zoom.

The gent seemed pretty relaxed sitting there watching the world pass by, and I was equally content to capture the moment with his profile nicely silhouetted against the distant lamppost.

A serene moment in time caught in the otherwise hectic surrounds of the junction between Mercury Gardens and Victoria Road on a hot and sunny afternoon.

  • Location: Crossroads between Mercury Gardens and Victoria Road, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 12.23 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length -200mm; Film Speed – ISO250

#13: Tiled Walkway

A black and white photo with diagonal lines of this shadowy walkway edging from middle left to bottom right. A gent walking into shot at middle left helps to balance the picture

This blog seems like a story of underpasses. Well maybe it is and although unintentional, clearly the stark summer sunlight and a return to my black and white roots has helped me capture the patterns created by the contrasting shadows.

I’m crouching down at the base of this ramp just as it enters the underpass as I spot the diagonal lines converging on the corner. The dull brown wall tiles appear almost white with darker brown tiles forming the vertical darker stripes.

The combination of the slant of the ramp, and the shadowy handrail all draws my eye to where I’ve positioned myself and I take a series of shots with and without pedestrians walking through. Some walking towards me and some walking away. But this one, with the gent at the top of the ramp, almost leaning into shot and walking in the direction of the focal point helps to complete the picture’s composition.

  • Location: Underpass emerging into Waterloo Road from Rom Valley Way, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 12.45 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#14: Nursery Walk

A black and white picture of a couple in the distant walking through and emerging out of a tunnel; their profile in shadow. The picture is framed by overgrown foliage to the footbath which helps to complement the shot

Unless you’re a local resident, and I mean local to the immediate area, I doubt you’ll know about this little gem. Nursery Walk is behind what used to be Oldchurch Hospital and provides a cut through under the railway line from the south to north side.

The underpass is a little dingy but suitably bedaubed by local graffiti artists and at its narrowest, probably just wide enough for two to walk through side by side. I took some shots inside the underpass, but as I emerged into Nursery Walk on the south side, I stepped to one side to let a family walk by. I walked on and looked behind and caught a glimpse of this couple exiting the underpass into Cotleigh Road.

Their shadowy relief encapsulated by the surrounding vegetation creating a tunnel effect, mirroring the underpass, helps to transform this simple shot into an almost romantic one.

  • Location: Railway underpass leading from Nursery Walk to Cotleigh Road, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 1:03 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO800

#15: The end of the Gas Works

A black and white photo of a capped gas pipe in an overgrowna and somewhat derelict enclosure

The ‘end of the line’ meets the ‘end of the gasworks’. Until recently (2018 I think), the remaining three gas holders posed as a familiar Romford landmark; a site often seen whilst travelling by train to and from Romford station as the works sat adjacent to it.

I’ve taken the picture more as a matter of record than for its photographic quality, and in some way to commemorate the works which have been on this site since the early 1880’s. 

The site is now a fenced off area, and this capped pipe no doubt represents one of the inlets/outlets to a gasholder, and is in some way a rather sad reflection on what is now a derelict, but secure, fenced site.

In researching for this blog, I’m pleased to have found quite a detailed report commissioned by the National Grid who wanted to create an Historic Building Record of these Crow Lane gas works. There’s an abstract here, and the full 78 page report, produced by Oxford Archaeology. For those interested in the detail, then it’s a worthwhile read – see here.

  • Location: The Old Gasworks, Crow Lane, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 1:11 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 170mm; Film Speed – ISO200

#16: Trinity Place

A colour photo of four columns of three vertical windows framed by white vertical bricks dotted with brown bricks to complement the main building brick colour

This is a new building on the edge of Rush Green and Chadewll Heath, next to the Three Travellers pub and near to the iconic Barking and Dagenham Civic Centre. Built on what was once a local car park.

I was coming to the end of a 10 mile walk which saw me explore, from the outside, West Ham United’s two training grounds: The Academy for Under 23’s and Women’s ground in Chadwell Heath; and the main training ground in Rush Green.

Amusingly, one of the security guards at the academy was a Manchester United supporter. But I digress…

This building catches my attention as the facade is of a different style to the ‘new norm’ cropping up all around London. The brown-on-white-on-brown brickwork provides an interesting design feature complementing the vertical windows, and I’ve saturated the picture slightly in this final image to accentuate the colour contrast. 

Here ends another interesting month during lockdown…

  • Location: Trinity Place, Wood Lane, Rush Green, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday July 30th 2020 at 2:26 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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Themes #05 – The Natural World

Welcome to this my fifth and final blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about ‘The Natural World’, a look at the diversity of living things and the environment in and around London. I’ve categorised my pictures into groups: Creatures, Vegetation, The Thames, Waterways, Skyscapes, Night Time and Reflections. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Creatures – Feline Hungry

a cat ready to pounce from under a car staring intensly at something nearby

Birds dominated this category, from ducks, swans and even parakeets that have now naturalised themselves in London. Oh yeah, and one spider, but thought better of using that one in case there are too many readers with arachnophobia.
Come to that, I now hope there’s not too many readers with ailurophobia too.

Brick Lane is normally a hive of activity, full of onlookers enjoying the plethora of curry houses, or browsing the markets for bargains or memorabilia. But today is not one of those days, despite it being lunch time.

But this one resident was certainly on its look out for lunch. So was its intense concentration on what it was looking at (I didn’t see as I was concentrating on the cat), s/he didn’t bat an eyelid as I neared and crouched down to capture this. The cat is half under a parked car, and I’m half taking up the pavement, so the chance of any disturbance was high. But regardless, we were both resolved to see out our quest.

I didn’t wait to find out whether the cat caught anything as I was happy that I’d captured this shot. Maybe I should have?

  • Location: Brick Lane, East London
  • Date/Time: Friday July 12th 2019 at 12.29 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 5mm; Film Speed – ISO500

Vegetation – Tree Lined Shadows

a blck and white shadowy silhouette of rows of young trees

There’s a square of planted trees in Royal Victoria Square which have grown somewhat since originally planted. If you look at Google Maps Street View, there’s some evidence they are used as sheltered parking as some of the photos posted there have cars hidden between them.

There’s no such distraction today, in fact, it’s a bitterly cold winter’s morning with a crisp sharp sun which casts a harsh shadow through the trees. And it’s this effect that caught my eye. I waited for some onlookers to walk through so as to capture the scene uninterrupted and added a harsh black and white filter to accentuate the light and dark shading.

The solitary crow, slightly off centre/right, adds an extra little ‘still life’ quality to the final image

  • Location: Royal Victoria Square, Royal Docks, London
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 28th 2020 at 10.45 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 63mm; Film Speed – ISO200

The Thames – No Access to The Thames Barrier

a long distance view of the Thames Barrier through a spiky and wired barrier in the foreground

Peer through the metal railings, just on the water line, and you can just make out two of The Thames Barrier pontoons.

This is at the end of a walkway just west of the Woolwich Ferry North Terminal, and it’s where I encountered a couple of fishermen who were sitting besides a chained anchor sculpture. They were not in the mood to chat, so I walked on.

This is taken in black and white with some saturation to emphasise the contrast between the black railings, and rippling sun on the water. The railings clearly designed to discourage any attempt to climb over into the adjacent industrial park, but nevertheless it did make for an excellent study in light and shade.

  • Location: Footpath off Henley Road and Pier Road, North Woolwich
  • Date/Time: Monday September 2nd 2019 at 3.26 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ16; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 23mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Waterways – Paddington Basin

a night time view of the Thames Basin with high rise offices on either side of the water and their lights and those from moored barges reflect on the still water

This was a return visit to Paddington with the intention of capturing some night scenes. Thankfully I was suitably wrapped up as in the early spring night it had turned bitterly cold.
It was an evening for black and white photography, and it ended up being a very successful one too.

I’m very pleased with the outcome here as I was also test driving a new lightweight mini tripod. I don’t think I’d have successfully captured this long exposure shot otherwise which, combined with a narrow aperture and wide angle, creates a stunning view of this setting.

I also think the shot is elevated by the stillness of the basin water as it helps to accentuate the clean lines created by the reflections from the moored barges and street lighting.

  • Location: Looking east from Paddington Basin Footbridge into Paddington Basin at night
  • Date/Time: Wednesday April 10th 2019 at 8.47 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ14; Shutter Speed – 8s; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO800

Skyscapes – A Winter’s Sun

a shot gazing into a wintry sun with a victorian lamp providing the only point of reference

The sky has featured quite prominently in my photography during my travels. They’re mostly long shot cloudscapes, thundery skies or airplane vapour trails. But regardless of their pedigree, the London backdrop always makes for interesting pictures.
The setting here is a wintry January morning with a thin hazy cloud transforming the sun into an opaque ball. I’ve walked along the Thames Path north shore from Hammersmith to Fulham, passing the football ground before exploring Fulham Palace – well worth a visit.

It’s lunch time, so I’m not surprised at the number of joggers and serious runners there are around. Where the path is wide enough it’s OK, but they seem to have little regard for other walkers when the footpath narrows into almost one way traffic. 

The shot, taken straight into the sun creates an almost evening feel, and I positioned myself to frame the sun within the crosshair vapour trail and Victorian esque faux street lamp. The end result has the appearance of retaining the Victroian spirit I think.

  • Location: Thames Path, north shore between Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 29th 2019 at 12.51 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ14; Shutter Speed – 1/1000; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Night Time – Peabody by Night

a five storey block of flats at night time and in black and white. The doors are lit up and the shot has an interesting symmetry

This is one of London’s social housing estates managed by the Peabody Trust. This is in Roscoe Street, just off Whitecross Street in EC1 and I believe it had recently been redeveloped.
This picture fits a number of other categories: architecture/residential, architecture/windows & doors and The Arts & Design/Patterns & Symbols.

But here it is in NIght Time. I was up in London walking around the Barbican Centre and surrounding areas one evening, and I saw this view which was too good to pass by. The estate is accessed through a footpath between two parts of Roscoe Street with a large car park in front, so its frontage is uninterrupted, making it easy to position myself in a central spot to take this wide angle shot.

There’s enough brightness from the collection of door lights to have taken this without the need for a tripod; and it’s symmetry and black and white presentation made this an ideal candidate for this category.

  • Location: Peabody Estate, Roscoe Street, EC1
  • Date/Time: Thursday December 5th 2019 at 4.17 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO6400

My final themed picture and I’m pleased this one ends my review of two years of travelling.
It had been raining hard when I was in Finchley Central and as the rain cleared, I started wandering off the main street – Ballards Lane and found myself in a discreet housing estate in Dorset Mews. Not somewhere you’d find unless like me you explore hidden corners.
This is a view from the end of the Mews back into Ballards Lane through the locked gates that once were the entrance to Newton Wright Limited 

Reflections – Newton Wright Ltd

an old works gated entrance for 'Newton Wright Limited' taken in black and white and a reflection captured in a still puddle in the foreground

My final themed picture, and I’m pleased this one ends my review of two years of travelling.

It had been raining hard when I was in Finchley Central and as the rain cleared, I started wandering off the main street – Ballards Lane, and I found myself in a discreet housing estate in Dorset Mews. Not somewhere you’d find unless like me you explore hidden corners.

This is a view from the end of the Mews looking into Ballards Lane through the locked gates that once were the entrance to Newton Wright Limited 

This is all that remains of the factory that once made x-ray equipment and scientific instruments and stretched as far back as 30 houses behind Ballards Lane.

The reflection jumped out at me as I reached this point, but I had to take a few shots before this one as there was a slight breeze that rippled the puddle and obscured the reflection. But it was well worth the wait to capture this mirror image of a recently forgotten historical memory.

  • Location: BallardsLane (opening into Dorset Mews, Finchley Central
  • Date/Time: Tuesday September 24th 2019 at 2.12 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 45mm; Film Speed – ISO800

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Themes #04 – Arts & Design

Welcome to this my fourth blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about ‘The Arts & Design’, a look at the creative side of life in and around London. I’ve categorised my pictures as follows: Sculptures & Statues, Street Signs, Patterns & Symbols, Station Names, The Arts and Entertainment. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

So I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Sculptures & Statues – Silent Dockers

a black and white image os a statue of three dockers going about their business. The background also captures the shadowy image of some of the cranes used in the docking heyday

Another from my day walking around The Royal Docks. But first a word about the abundance of sculptures and statues around London. Some sponsored privately and others publicly, but there’s definitely a trend to open up this creative art form to a wider audience.

It’s always delightful to find an unexpected work of art in a public place. Some are static and others only on display for a short time. So whenever you have the chance to look at them, make sure you do as you’ll not only learn about the work, but maybe look further into the artists or the reason for the work in the first place.

This represents the almost forgotten industry that once made London docks the economic centre of the western world. It’s a larger than life bronze work depicting three dockers grafting. One pushing a barrow, another crouched and the third, possibly the gaffer, overseeing. In silhouette, the gaffer looks almost as if he’s looking at his mobile phone – ha if only. But nevertheless the log book he’s using probably meant as much to him as we feel about our mobile phones today.

I’ve taken the shot directly into the sun to create the strong silhouette and made sure the crane artefacts appear in the background to help with the story telling. I think it’s quite dramatic.

  • Location: ‘London Dockers’ sculpture by Les Johnson in Royal Victoria Square outside the Excel Centre
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 28th 2020 at 10.43 am 
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Street Signs – No.1 Street

a simple street sign displaying 'No 1 Street' from SE18 in the London area of 'Royal Arsenal'

What’s so interesting about a street sign? Well for me it helps identify (obviously) and in a way helps characterise its setting. 
I’ve seen some humorous and/or novel street names, such as Severus Road (for Harry Potter fans), Barnes Pikle and Moromon Terrace, but as soon as I saw this it made me question ‘is this where London started?’

Obviously not, but similarly as with Apsley House which has the postal address ‘No. 1 London’, No 1 Street has a unique sense of ‘I’m the first’

This is a redeveloped street of fashionable residences in the Royal Arsenal Heritage site in Woolwich. The thing about London street signs is that they not only carry the postal district (SE18), but usually some other distinguishing reference point. Sometimes the borough name, and sometimes some other historical reference as in this case, the area described as Royal Arsenal…neat.

  • Location: No. 1 Street, Royal Arsenal Heritage Site, Woolwich
  • Date/Time: Tuesday October 22nd 2019 at 1.15 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 34mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Patterns & Symbols – The RLH

this is a section of the east facade of the Royal London Hospital covered in an array of aerofiols which creates a striking striped black and white covering

Buildings, be they old or new, are built predominantly to be functional, but for some they are designed to demonstrate the architect’s creativity. And having tramped hundreds of miles around London, I’ve seen a wide and diverse demonstration of both attributes.
Some buildings are powerfully prominent, be it for historic reasons, or as observed in more recent times for their flamboyant use of materials. We all have a view, whether we express this or not. Prince Charles clearly didn’t hold back when describing the proposed extension to the National Gallery as a ‘monstrous carbuncle’,  back in 1984.

Notwithstanding their architectural merits, I also look out for patterns in the design. Maybe it’s because of my ‘organised mind’ or the need for order, but I do get some pleasure from seeing things that others might not.

Sometimes patterns are intentionally designed, and sometimes, as in this case, they only emerge at certain times of the day. 

The contrast between the two types of finish is in itself of interest. But with the late morning sun high up casting a shadow on the underside of the aerofoils, the resulting stark black and white effect is quite striking. 

  • Location: Royal London Hospital viewed from Stepney Way, Shadwell
  • Date/Time: Thursday January 16th 2020 at 11.18 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Station Names – Welcome to Reading

this is a view across Reading station where there are five 'Welcome to Reading' signs

As a matter of record, I would photograph the station names as I travelled on my ‘endoftheline’ journey. Some would be from an interesting angle, but at the end of the day, the station name is a point of reference.

It could be for those arriving at their destination for reassurance that they are at the right station. Or conversely for those travelling to the station to catch their train, reassuring them they are at the right station.

There is a third reason and this picture helps show that. It’s for those weary travellers on long tiring journeys who may just pop their head up to look through the window amid slumber to read where they are? 

The array of signs on each of the 15 platforms here made this so unmissable, and when I viewed them across the platforms, it seemed my view was totally obscured by ‘Welcome to Reading’!

  • Location: Reading Station platforms viewed from Platform 15
  • Date/Time: Tuesday February 4rg 2020 at 11.19 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO1000

The Arts – A Budding Artist

a child's painting of a boat with charicature crew of a captain and a number of stewerdesses. Emblazoned with the American flag and advertising American Express

I have many examples of street art and graffiti artwork that I could have selected for this category, and whichever I’d have chosen would have just rights to be here.
However, I’ve plummed for this child’s artwork which is part of a wider display.

This is one drawing of many on display emblazoned on the side of building hoardings surrounding a new build at Wood Wharf and Thames Street in Greenwich. Clearly created in conjunction with the adjacent Meridian Adventure Play Centre as part of the developers approach to work closely with the local community.

This one in particular stood out as the artists’ pen strokes are quite delicate, and s/he are obviously looking for marketing opportunities given the invitation to American Express to ‘come along’. Of all the pictures on display, it’s the only one I can see where the artists had mastered the creative signature. It’s amusing.

  • Location: Seen on building hoardings around a construction at Wood Wharf on Thames Street, Greenwich
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 14th 2018 at 3.47 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 49mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Entertainment – Let The Weekend Begin

five rows of tressle tables with an array of revelers eating and drinking in groups

Musicians, funfairs, museums and exhibitions make up this category, and of the pictures I’d selected for this category, they have mostly featured before in my weekly blogs. 
But this one of the Boxpark by Croydon Station represents a different type of entertainment. The type that the nation has missed for the last four months.

My day at Croydon had been an exciting one, one where I had been introduced to the world of street art, as part of Croydon hosting Rise Festival. Nevertheless, It had been a long day and I was heading back to West Croydon via Croydon station. Now I’d heard of the concept of Boxparks, but not experienced one, and what a buzzing place this was.

Bare in mind it’s just gone 5.00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and people are heading home, so the scene I share with you is of those relaxing, meeting friends and ‘switching off’ after a busy week’s work. The scene is influenced by the DJ in the background who was noticeably cranking up the bass as I stood, almost mesmerised by the sound of excitement in the air. 

Look closely and see how many groups there are just chilling with their mates or colleagues, or just waiting for someone else to join them for a drink. What a great way to begin the weekend. But sadly one that’s not been seen for several months due to the Covis-19 restrictions. No doubt there will be those cherishing the easements recently introduced.

  • Location: The Boxpark at Croydon Station
  • Date/Time: Friday September 7th 2018 at 5.21 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO320

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Themes #03 – Architecture

Welcome to this my third blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about the diverse ‘Architecture’ we enjoy around London, and I’ve compiled them into the following categories: Residential, Industrial, Stations, Commercial, Windows & Doors, Station Fixtures & Fittings and Street Furniture. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Residential – Southwyck House

a black and white picture of the facade of Southwyck House in Brixton. Made up plain bricks, small windows and a zig-zag feature to brak up the plain view

I wrote about this during my Brixton visit but felt it was worthy of a second airing.
Southwyck House looks vastly like a prison with a concrete zigzag to delineate the frontage with its co-joining staircase looking like a caged pen to keep the inmates in. This is a housing complex built in the 1970’s in anticipation of a motorway flyover which was never built.

One commentator records that it is known locally as ‘Barrier Block’ as indeed that was its design purpose. Hideous to think that this social housing was considered acceptable enough to be built. The architectural design whilst creating some features, does nothing to uplift the feeling of isolation and incarceration the building exudes.

My thanks though to @brixtonbuzz who has drawn my attention to the fact that ‘The Barrier Block actually provides a high standard of social housing. The back is all windows and open balconies’

Although taken in black and white to add effect, to be honest, the building creates the drama itself.

  • Location: Southwyck House which sits along Coldharbour Lane in Brixton
  • Date/Time: Tuesday May 28th 2019 at 11.27 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Industrial – Overhead Tension

a collection of pulleys and wires set against a blue sky

I’ve debated whether this should be included under the ‘Architect’ theme as it’s more a piece of engineering. However I’m content that engineering is a form of architecture in that it’s not only functional but as this image portrays, it has a design element too.

This is a collection of pulleys and tension bars keeping the overhead electric cables taught. I saw the image in my mind, and set against a cloudy blue sky, this helps to highlight it’s elevated position.

It’s a simple shot, but not one you would normally see unless you happen to be standing on Bethnal Green Overground station platform looking up admiring the overhead infrastructure.

  • Location: Standing on Bethnal Green Overground station looking at the overhead electric cabling
  • Date/Time: Friday July 12th 2019 at 10.48 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Stations – Euston Plaza

a dull blue/grey view of a hidden part of Eustaon Plaza with a high rise view as the backdrop and the foregound focussing on a white tiles walkway and stairs

With few exceptions, the stations I’ve visited have been predominantly rural and styled in the first half of the 20th century. And the main termini in Central London modelled and shaped by the gothic style favoured by the victorians.

But Euston station is different. Re-built as part of the concrete revolution in the 1960’s and not to everyone’s taste. It’s a functional station, but yet it too has its charms when you look deeply into its nooks and crannies.

This isn’t an obvious shot, and not a location you would see unless you went looking for it. It’s by the bike park under the bus terminal canopy at the front of the station and I’m looking up at the office tower at 1 Eversholt Street.

I’m attracted to the almost black and white colour palette and distinctive 60’s tiled stairwell and overhead walkway which classically evokes the architectural style of its period. The reference to the bikes is intentional to demonstrate the station’s transient purpose. I’ve emphasised the blue tone in the final image to highlight the white tiles against the industrial building facades that surround them.

  • Location: Behind the main plaza at Euston Station
  • Date/Time: Thursday May 24th 2018 at 11.25 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 21mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Commercial – Pure Geometry

an array of square blocks each with a cross pattern creating a visual pattern

This is the facade to one of Watford town centre’s car parks.
The structure is a simple one made of a wall of building blocks consisting of four square segments, each of which has a cross pattern. No doubt architecturally sound, but the end result is visually stunning.

I suspect quite a quick and relatively cheap way to build, but I’m not judging it on it’s constructional or economic qualities but on it’s visual impact.

Whether you stand close or from afar, the effect is mesmerising, and maybe I should issue a health warning to migraine sufferers (of which I am one), as staring at the spots may trigger some visual disturbance.

This may appear a simple shot to take, but I had to exercise patience as the facade covers the parking bays and in some shots I captured the red parking lights as drivers arrive/leave. Whilst these made for a different outcome, I wanted to highlight an undistracted simplicity to this structure, which this example brings. I like it…

  • Location: CitiPark, Church Street, Watford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday June 18th 2019 at 12.29 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Windows & Doors – The Seedier Side of Watford Hospital

some tired looking doors and windows in a corner of this old hospital with water damage from downpipes on show. The colours are drab which highlights this tired view

First of all, let me confess I have a ‘thing’ for windows and doors. I can’t explain it but I’m always drawn to them when on holiday. Maybe it’s because of their variety, colour or location. Whatever the reason I know I’m not alone with this enjoyment and I feel it’s right that I have this as one of my Architecture categories.

I’m looking at the outbuildings facing Vicarage Road, and believe this is the corner of the Social Services unit and the Chaplaincy. The scene portrays a somewhat unloved corner of the hospital complex and no doubts reflects the significant challenges faced in maintaining a large NHS Trust these days.

The colours are slightly enhanced to emphasise the state of disrepair, but nevertheless not a welcoming site to new or returning visitors who pass by here whilst alighting from the adjacent bus stop.

  • Location: Watford General Hospital, Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 20th 2019 at 1.05 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 45mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Station Fixtures & Fittings – Arched Pipework

looking up into the roof void of this platform canopy , taken in black and white. the view shows off the symmetrical arched duct work intersected with rainwater down pipes

This picture is indicative of the station’s Victorian architectural character with the view taken through the supporting roof arches holding up the central platform’s canopy.
A simple shot taken from the staircase leading from the platforms, and looking down the length of the ironwork to capture the symmetry of the supporting arches.
Although taken originally in colour, the station colour scheme is predominantly black, echoing the Underground’s Northern Line style. I have though applied a black and white filter to give the otherwise faded colouring a bit of life.

  • Location: High Barnet Northern Line Underground Station
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 21st 2020 at 12.40 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 70mm; Film Speed – ISO6400

Street Furniture – Walking Through Litter

a black and white shot taken through the opening of a littler bin framing a couple walking through

This is Lovers Walk, a small passageway which invited me in to take its picture, but I can’t find a composition that works well.
Almost walking away, I realise I’m leaning against a litter bin and notice its two open mouths face through to the passageway providing an interesting perspective. 

As I crouch down, I spot a young couple walking through the frame and I set about taking a series of shots composing their approach as the centrepiece; and they oblige unwittingly by keeping to the centre of the path.

Sometimes, you have to smile as the opportunities present themselves, as the lesson here is always be ready to capture that moment.

  • Location: Peering down Lover’s Walk, just off Ballards Lane, Finchley Central
  • Date/Time: Tuesday SEptember 24th 2019 at 1.49 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO500

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Themes

Themes #02 – Travel

Welcome to this my second blog setting out the reasons behind my themed selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may not previously have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about ‘Travel’ which I’ve categorised as follows: Trains, Road Vehicles, Boats, Air Travel, Bridges & Tunnels, Walkways and Platforms. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope I can convey these reasons for you here?

Trains – One In, One Out

two trains: one coming out of Liverpool Street station and one going in, all underneath an array of overhaed electric cables

As a seasoned commuter through Liverpool Street station for over 25 years, this was a familiar sight. But I’d never stopped to really look at the intricate infrastructure that supports a modern railway station.
I’m standing on the Bethnal Green Overground Station looking east towards The City and overwhelmed by the frequency of trains going into and out of the main line station.

There are six rail tracks here: three outbound and three inbound. However the magic of the infrastructure is that these six lines open up into the delta of eighteen platforms at Liverpool Street station. Quite an amazing engineering feat when you think about it.

As a passive observer I noticed that the first pair of lines were generally dedicated to the Metro Service up to Shenfield. The middle pair for the Greater Anglia Service into Essex and East Anglia, and the right hand pair for the Overground Services to Enfield Town, Cheshunt and CHingford

The trains I’ve caught are fairly standard workhorse class: the Class 321 and Class 379.

  • Location: Standing on Bethnal Green Overground station looking east towards Liverpool Street station and The City
  • Date/Time: Friday July 12th 2019 at 10.56 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length -210mm; Film Speed – ISO250

Road Vehicles – Cycling to Bow Church

a lone cyslist in an orange dayglo jacket being followed by the number 205 bus headed towards BowChurch. The City skyscape in the background

I’d spent a little time looking at the statues of Catherine and William Booth along Mile End Road and started to wander away, headed to cross the road towards Wapping. But as I stopped to cross the cycle lane and main road, the view of cyclists against The City skyscraper backdrop was interesting

I stationed myself on the edge of a bus stop island that separated the cyclists from the main road and had an unrestricted view of the traffic. The traffic came in waves being managed by traffic lights further down the road, so once I’d determined the flow, I observed patiently whilst the traffic came towards me.

This shot is one of many, but I particularly like the combination of London Buses and the sole cyclist, separated by a precarious row of plastic cones. Enough to give sufficient confidence for the cyclist to travel in safety. The colour contrast works well too, although I have played with this in post production to help the colours stand out.

This is a fairly typical scene right across London; especially noteworthy is the fact the cyclist is totally plugged into his headphones, no doubt listening to something to help him concentrate and zone out of the rest of the traffic madness around him.

  • Location: Standing beside the main A11 Mile End Road just by the statue of William Booth and opposite the Tower Hamlets Mission
  • Date/Time: Thursday January 16th 2020 at 11.00 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 125mm; Film Speed – ISO640

Boats – Moored Under The Barrier

three sailing yachts moored at low tide along the south Thames shoreline. The Thames Barrier in the background

We can easily forget that The Thames is also a place for the smaller leisure craft as the river is visibly dominated by barges, ferries and patrol boats.
Just out of shot on the right hand side is the Greenwich Yacht Club which has an interesting clubhouse as it stands on stilts out into the river. A must see building if you’re in the vicinity.

The Thames Barrier makes for a helpful backdrop with the now too familiar ‘fashionable’ riverside apartments making up the distant horizon.

I was surprised when I selected this picture, but perhaps it’s because of its simplicity and reminder that the river supports many water based pastimes. The tide isn’t full, so the muddy shoreline is visible, but its colour offsets nicely the mooring buoys, and they all in turn complement the three yachts.

  • Location: I’m looking eastwards towards The Thames Barrier whilst standing by the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
  • Date/Time: Wednesday November 14th 2018 at 12.28 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 95mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Air Travel – Heavens Above

an overhaed aeroplane with its vapour trail appearing to almost colide with the tip of the church steeple and cross

This was a clear crisp January day with no cloud cover whatsoever. I saw the plane’s vapour trail across the sky and imagined this shot would make for an interesting composition. 
I found a position along the street where I’d assessed I could capture this moment. It wasn’t quite right, so I found myself shuffling along, keeping one eye open for traffic and other pedestrians. Thankfully neither interrupted me.
Taken in black and white, the clear blue sky provides for nice dark canvass to highlight the vapour trail. The trick was to capture the moment when the plane and steeple were almost aligned.

I did also capture the moment where the two were almost touching, but felt this near miss has a more symbolic reference in that heaven and earth don’t/can’t meet in our lifetime?

  • Location: Wood Street, High Barnet opposite The Parish Church of St John The Baptist looking skywards
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 21st 2020 at 1.46 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Bridges & Tunnels – A Bridge to Calcutta

an overhead walkway of red brick with bright coloured artwork on display through the windows

This is a view I would pass most days when I worked at The Whitechapel Building in Aldgate. It’s part of the London Metropolitan University which is directly opposite, and this is a walkway joining two parts of the university complex.

The bridge provides access to the Calcutta Annexe which is the new home of the university’s Fine Art and Photography studios (Cass). The bridge caught my eye as on this particular dull and overcast day, the colourful symbols in the windows high above contrasted nicely against the dark sky behind. I’ve applied a colour saturation filter to highlight the red brick and yellow shapes, which I think helps to set off the final image.

  • Location: The junction of Pomell Way and Old Castle Street, Aldgate, looking overhead at the London Metropolitan University walkway into its Calcutta Annexe
  • Date/Time: Thursday September 26th 2019 at 11.52 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 24mm; Film Speed – ISO160

Walkways – A Richmond Cobble

looking up at a grey cobbled street with two distant pedestrians in the background providing a blue and orange colour contrast

Water Lane, as its name implies is a lane leading down to the riverbank from the main high street. At the water’s edge it dips into the river as a slipway, and at high tide, the water can overflow onto the surrounding area.
The light was catching the damp cobbles helping to highlight their shape. And to capture this shot, I waited for the pedestrians at the top of the lane to provide enough of a colour splash to contrast against the slate grey of the cobbles.

The cobbled lane is peculiar in two ways. First it’s devoid of yellow lines; no doubt deliberate to help preserve the original authenticity of the lane. And secondly, the cobbles have two tram lines of heavier duty stone running its length; no doubt to make the passage of trailers smoother than would otherwise be the case on an all cobbled lane.

  • Location: Water Lane, Richmond
  • Date/Time: Tuesday February 19th 2019 at 11.25 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO400

Platforms – Dalston Junction

a dark picture with a train emerging into the station backlit by the sunlight outside. Pillars on either side of the platfporm draw your view towards the train

It’s the symmetry and colour splash in the dark station entrance that makes this shot.
This is one of a series in which I followed trains into and out of the station. I’ve picked this one as the train’s position, just emerging from the bright outside into the dark station with the rails still highlighted helps guide your eye into the centre of the picture. 

The orange splashes on the supporting pillars, representing the London Overground’s colour style, also draws your eye towards the focus – the train.

It took me a while to get the settings just right to create this wide angle effect; but with a relatively slow shutter speed and a wide aperture, I’ve been able to convey the mood and emphasise the effect.

  • Location: Inside Dalston Junction station
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 13th 2019 at 11.05 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/10; Focal Length – 32mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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Categories
Themes

Themes #01 – Social

Welcome to this my first blog setting out the reasons behind my themed selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about the ‘Social’ aspect of life, which I’ve categorised as follows: People, Food & Drink, Sport, Religion, Retail, Remembering and Neglect & AntiSocial. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

So I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope I can convey these reasons through this week’s blog?

People – Man in Finchley

A black and white phot of a man standing still looking at his phone opposite King Edward Hall along Finchley Road

This was an opportunist shot as this man walked into frame and hesitated at the junction before crossing Arcadia Avenue. He was looking intensely at his mobile phone and I felt that the combination of his laid back pose, his concentration and the interesting background made for a good composition..

I was shooting mostly in black and white that day and I felt that the somewhat ornate, but now redundant, sundrenched King Edward Hall was a perfect setting. It’s a rare moment where I happen to be in the right place to capture this moment in time?

Who knows what the gent is doing or thinking, but I’m glad he stopped as he did as he was totally oblivious to my presence.

  • Location: Arcadia Avenue in Finchley Central looking into Regent’s Park Road
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 24th September 2019 at 1.11 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Food & Drink – Late Night in Spitalfields

A colour photo inside Spitalfield Market as it's closing. Colourful tables and chairs in teh foreground with overhead string lighting casting a moody feel

This shot was taken during my meanderings around Liverpool Street Station when I eventually ended up in Spitalfields Market in the early evening. Traders are just shutting up for the day and the coffee shops and most restaurants have already closed.

This colourful view of a seating area through metal railings shows how things will look twice a day. At the start of the day, and as in this picture, at the end of the day as the restaurant staff have placed all their tables and chairs neatly together.

The moody lighting, colour palette and industrial setting gives this shot a warm feel, and one that portrays a pleasant stopping point during a busy day rummaging around the bustling daytime market.

  • Location: Spitalfield Market
  • Date/Time: Friday March 15th 2019 at 6.42 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO5000

Sport – No Games Today

A rain soaked terrace on the edge of Hackney Marshes sports ground

I found myself on the fringes of Hackney Marshes after wandering around Stratford and through the Olympic Park. I was headed towards New Spitalfields Market (how coincidental is that in relation to the previous post) when it started lashing down with rain and the only cover I could find was under the Eaton Manor Walk bridge as it crossed the main road.

Such was the deluge that the bridge offered little cover so after a short while I resigned to getting wet. In an attempt to get something out of the moment, I walked up the side path to the bridge and realised the steps extended into a very wide terracing for spectators to enjoy the spectacle of players on the nearby football pitches.

There were no games, but the weed strewn rain drenched steps gave a sense of how this area might look on a weekend with spectators made up of friends and family cheering on sons and daughters.

  • Location: Access steps to Eaton Manor Walk bridge over the A106 Eastway
  • Date/Time: Thursday June 13th 2019 at 12.06 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO125

Religion – Waiting for Jesus

am na sleeping on the doorstep of the Universal Pentecostal Church in Brixton

This image of a rough sleeper on the steps of the United Pentecostal Church under the sign ‘Jesus Cares’ was one waiting to be captured.
It portrays a sense of hope, optimism, or maybe sheer desperation, and whichever it is, the passing pedestrians seemed little unconcerned. Maybe the gentleman was a regular and knew he would get sanctuary at some point: I hope he did?

  • Location: Standing on the corner of Bucknor Road and Acre Lane in Brixton
  • Date/Time: Tuesday May 28th 2019 at 12.11 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Retail – Cloth Ends

A saturated black and white photo of several ends of cloth rolls creating an array of circular patterns

My day started at Dalston Junction, a little known end of the line: one created as part of the Parliamentary line to Battersea Park station. And after a browse around the junction, I amble through the back streets, following the crowds really, into the busy heart of Dalston Kingsland.

Before I know it, I’m strolling through Ridley Road street market, just around the corner from Dalston Kingsland station. It’s market day and the street is heaving with local shoppers vying with the traders for the best deal of the day. Mostly fruit and veg, but there’s the occasional whiff of fish or butchered meat, and as it’s a very hot day so the flies are plentiful. Yuck!

At the back end of the market, where Ridley Road joins St Mark’s Rise, the type of stalls change, and this is where I found this one. I’d say over three quarters of the open front is crammed with these rolled up remnants, leaving a narrow doorway into the stall itself. But it’s the remnants that catch my eye. Colourful as they are, I’ve taken this in a black and white setting to add character to the picture, and in a way reflecting the grittiness of the market itself.

It’s an interesting reminder of the market, and one I’ll keep for a while.

  • Location: A trader along Ridley Road street market in Dalston Kingsland
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 13th 2019 at 11.57 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 48mm; Film Speed – ISO320

Remembering – Kennington Remembers

A memorial stone in Kennington Gardens

My visit to Kennington, on the Northern Line is a bit of a stretch of the imagination as it’s not physically a terminal station. However trains do end here, and after going around the Kennington Loop tunnel, they end up on the opposite platform ready to return northbound. So I’m content it’s a justified visit.

Kennington Park is a short stroll from the station and on this autumnal day, it was a very pleasant walk around the park enjoying the surrounding artefacts and gardens. When I stopped to read the inscription on this sculpture, I realised how poignant the moment was as it was a commemoration of an event that happened on this day in 1940.

What troubled me was that despite the fact someone had gone to the trouble of commissioning this sculpture, it now seems to have become forgotten as there was no evidence that the date had been remembered.

For my part, I share with you the inscription:

‘History despite its wrenching pain cannot be unlived but if faced with courage need not be lived again Maya Angelou

‘To commemorate the wartime suffering of the people of Kennington and in particular over 50 men women and children who were killed on 15th October 1940 when a bomb destroyed an air raid shelter near this spot. Rest in peace’

Read the full story of Kennington’s Forgotten Tragedy here. My thanks to the Friends of Kennington Park who shared this story with me.

  • Location: Kennington Park, just inside the entrance opposite the Sugar Pot on the main A3 Kennington Park Road
  • Date/Time: Tuesday October 15th 2019 at 12.14 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 24mm; Film Speed – ISO200

Neglect and AntiSocial – Not Funny!

two clown'ish grafitti faces on a  car park wall in Romford

I found this on one of several days out in Romford. On this particular dank day, I was walking around the town’s perimeter on a mission to traverse all the town’s central car parks. Why? To view the town where I have lived for over thirty years from a different perspective.

Street art or wall art has become a common feature right across London, and I was first introduced to this art form when in Croydon at the outset of my end of the line story. There I met several artists, very creative artists whose passion shone through in their works. It was in Croydon I also appreciated the difference between street art and graffiti: the former is approved whereas graffiti is not. More a random bedaubing, often in discreet locations where the perpetrators are unlikely to be seen.

This is a very simple example made up of two heads with a smile, or grimace. Maybe a budding street artist testing out his/her skills. Nevertheless, a sight that seems to crop up only too often around London these days.

  • Location: Inside a stairwell at Angel Way Car Park, Romford
  • Date/Time: Thursday December 12th at 11.55 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 23mm; Film Speed – ISO800

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Lockdown

Lockdown Mayhem – June 2020

As Covid-19 lockdown begins to ease, I’m still not ready to resume my railway travels. First and foremost, I can’t really class my travels as ‘necessary’ journeys, and secondly, having travelled one stop by train in a facemask, it’s not a look I’m keen to repeat too soon.

I know the time will come, and if the evidence continues to demonstrate a lowering of incidents, then I’ll plan accordingly. My current thinking is around mid to late August, and I’m already stocking up with a variety of facemasks. I know others have chosen to start travelling around London, and I envy their freedom. But for now, I’ll remain cautious.

However, I’m itching to start exploring and poking my nose, and camera, into places others may not have seen. I miss the opportunity to bring new sights for your perusal. Although I’m blessed with a good garden and plenty of visiting wildlife, and whilst it has been fun capturing rare moments of entertainment, I prefer to wander around and look for the new.

Those garden moments will continue, though, as I rely on automated cameras to capture, in the main, the bird life visiting our bird bath. So for those of you who enjoy those pics and short videos, then worry not as they will pop up from time to time. 

I also wrote recently about my forthcoming plan to share a further 34 pictures from my first ‘endoftheline’ travels. These will be the best of a set of themes. Watch out for them.

But in the meantime I have started walking around my local community. I have lived in Gidea Park, outside Romford, for over 30 years, and I now have a chance to properly explore the area. I intend walking mostly, and stretch my legs in a five mile radius as far as Chadwell Heath, Havering-atte-Bower, Upminster and Elm Park. Let’s see how I get on.

So here’s the first occasional blog about these local journeys… a walk through Ardleigh Green and the South West Corner of Romford.

#01: Vw Campervan

A rear view of a VW campervan covered in a variety of stickers. The image is in black and white

Walking past the car park to The New Inn pub along Squirrels Heath Lane I spotted this well worn VW campervan. In order to protect the owner’s interest, I’ve blocked out the number plate.
I’m presuming it’s been well travelled, but who knows?

If you look closely at the stickers, there’s an advert for autoxross.com, whose strapline is ‘we can make things happen’. I only hope this campervan isn’t the product of their efforts…OR maybe it’s like this by design.

Anyway, it’s battered look in dull black and white captured my imagination as I gave it a post-production makeover to emphasise its two tone colouring.

  • Location: The New Inn Pub Car Park, Squirrels Heath Lane, Ardleigh Green, Romford
  • Date/Time: Monday 22nd June 2020 at 10.32 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO125 

#02: Washing Day

An array of colourful washing on a balcany of a high rise tower block

I apologise to the residents of Mountbatten House for showing off their day’s washing. But the colour array, highlighted by a momentary sunray, seemed to call out to me.


I had thought perhaps to rotate the image so that you could see the lion’s head and Peppa Pig the right way around.

But I think leaving them in their upside down hanging position is right given they’re out to dry. 

Oh yes! and there’s PJ Masks as well – see if you can spot them. I’ve never heard of them but then again I am a little older than their intended target audience

  • Location: Mountbatten House, Elvet Avenue, Ardleigh Green, Romford
  • Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.20 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO200 

#03: Old Railway Works

A view between two regenerated 'old railway works'. Taken in black and white with one side in the sun and the other in the shade

Capturing this location was one of those…’well I never knew that was here’ moments.


This is an area between Gidea Park and Ardleigh Green that has been developed and redeveloped into residential housing over the years. I knew there were some old railway works in the vicinity, but I had never before explored.

These buildings, commonly known as Romford Factory, have a reasonably long and chequered history. I won’t take you through their full history, but I’ll simply say that they were built around 1841 by the Eastern Counties Railway as locomotive workshops. Later becoming a tarpaulin sheet and sack factory. Even later, a grease factory and a sponge-cloth laundry and a sheet drying shop.

You just don’t know what’s (literally) around the corner, but if you want to read the detail, I encourage you to visit the Historic England website and/or download their exceptionally detailed Architectural Investigation survey carried out in 2000 (NBR INDEX NUMBER: 106386 NGR: TQ 535 896)

  • Location: Site of the former ‘Romford Factory’, Kidman Close, Gidea Park
  • Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.15 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO160

#04: Dreywood Court

Outside the main reception building to Dreywood Court showing colourful windows and a sign post directing residents to different parts of the building

Built in 2013, on land previously occupied by a redundant sheltered housing scheme that no longer met with the London Borough of Havering’s standards. 
This new ‘Extra Care Housing is designed to provide the varying levels of care and support people may need in later life’ – so says the Housing Learning & Improvement Network report carried out in 2014

This is an interesting cul de sac which I’ve driven past many times, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to walk in and browse around. Until I was challenged by the site manager, I thought this was just another block of apartments. But she explained the building’s purpose and as she did, I noticed several elderly ladies sitting on their sun drenched balconies reading their papers.

The manager would have liked to have invited me in, but under the current lockdown arrangements, this was not possible. But I was impressed by her willingness to showcase this colourful development.

  • Location: Dreywood Court, Squirrels Heath Lane, Ardleigh Green, Romford
  • Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.29 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO160  

#05: Post Box

Taken in black and white, this is a shot os a small POst Box in the shadows of a row of terraced houses

Bridge Close, on the outskirts of Romford, is tucked just off the main Waterloo Road and is the home of several large self-contained factory units. It’s not a welcoming location for the casual walker, but then again I didn’t feel threatened in any way.

I was surprised to see, almost side by side the Havering Islamic Cultural Centre and four Christian places of worship, namely: the Celestial Church of Christ Rehoboth Parish – TRF; The ESO C&S Bethel CHurch of God; The Divine Worshippers Christioan Ministries; and The Redeemed Christian Church of God. This is an unusual location for such divine inspiration.

There are plans to redevelop this area; to find out more, read here.

On leaving the Close, I spot a Royal Mail post box with this interesting building array as a backdrop and I stand across a busy road waiting for a gap in the traffic to capture it. Several passers-by looked bemusingly as I crouched down to get the right angle, but to be honest I’m beyond worrying about what others think now. I smile, say ‘hello’ hoping to engage them in a conversation, but they walk by…

  • Location: Bridge Close, Romford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday June 30th 2019 at 08.36 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length -125mm; Film Speed – ISO1000

#06: Footbridge

A view looking along the length of a footbridge with railings on either side focusing on a slightly cloudy sky

Locals will know this footbridge as the one that crosses over the A127 Southend Arterial Road by the Kiwk-Fit garage on Ardleigh Green Road.
The footbridge in effect joins Ardleigh Green Road with Squirrels Heath Road on either side of the main road.

There was a young father and son walking across the footbridge as I approached, and the closer I got, I noticed the boy was being encouraged to ride a scooter on the ramp access to the bridge. Alas, as I neared, they moved on; a shame as it would have been nice to have captured them in this shot. 

Nevertheless, I’ve set the camera on the ground just behind the utility cover in the foreground. It’s dimpled surface complementing the dappled tarmac of the upper footbridge walkway quite nicely.

The almost empty sky is somewhat symbolic of my empty photographic portfolio over the last four months…

  • Location: Footbridge over Southend Arterial Road (A127) adjacent to Ardleigh Green Road and Squirrels Heath Road
  • Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 09.47 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100

#07: Ripe for Regeneration

A picture of a vandalised first floor balconied flat representative of all the houses in a large estate

I’ve seen recent reports in the local press and weekly London Borough of Havering newsletter of plans to redevelop the Waterloo Estate, but had never ventured in to have a look. It’s an estate ‘on the wrong side of the tracks’ or more literally the wrong side of the road, and is dominated by roadside tower blocks.

It’s quite a wide and open plan sort of estate, but as soon as I enter the area, I’m struck by the scale of boarded up properties. It’s an estate of low level, three storey flats, and high rise tower blocks. But without exception, as far as I could see, every ground floor property was boarded up as was every first floor flat on the low rise blocks too. A desolate place which the vandals have taken full advantage of given the range of destruction that’s on display.

‘Who’d want to live in a house like this?’

  • Location: Waterloo Estate, St Andrew’s Road, Romford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday June 30th 2020 at 08.07 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO125
Categories
Memories Themes

From Memories to Themes

Reflecting on my Memories

There we have it: over the past 81 days I’ve posted each of my Pictures of the Day with a weekly bulletin summarising the previous week’s pictures. I’ve published all these through my social media sites: on Twitter; Facebook; Instagram and LinkedIn.

A bright yellow lock against a fades white shed door. I have adopted this as my avatar across my social media sites

I’ll write another blog about how this has helped me reach out to more interested people, but for now and for each and every one of you… THANK YOU for your continued interest and support.

I hope you have enjoyed reliving my Pictures of the Day during the last 81 days of Covid-19 lockdown? It has certainly helped me through some challenging days, but I know that having the routine and focus to see this through has afforded me a unique opportunity to review and reflect on the last two years of travelling.

Covid-19 Lockdown

Much as we would all like life to return to ‘normal’, I take the view that we will remain under different restrictions for some time to come until widespread confidence is restored with the removal of ‘social distancing’. An expression that currently means different things to different people in different parts of the country; and equally for those who respect or believe there is reason not to respect the guidelines.

A crowd at a pop up food market wiaiting for their lunch. They are all looking down at their mobile phones

For me, I will continue to avoid unnecessary travelling as much as possible, and consequently my plans to begin Part 2 of the end of the line travels will remain on hold. I admit I do miss my wanderings around London, so for now I intend to restrict my travels to walking around my local community and immediate surroundings, as I have a yearning to pick up my camera and carry on finding interesting stories to share. So watch out…

Memories to Themes

However, I’ve still been keeping myself busy. Some of you will have seen my video in which I share my ‘Picture of the Day’ book. This is a draft to help me visualise what the published version could look like. I had three copies printed which have been shared with my immediate family, however should anyone like a copy, do please get in touch

In the meantime, I continue to explore my best publishing options; so if anyone out there has any suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve also been busy over the last month reviewing my portfolio of almost 5,000 pictures, which I’ve now categorised. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work as I had no fixed plan in mind; but I let the pictures guide me.

I tried not to be too prescriptive with this, and it was evident early on that many pictures suited many categories – this was easily resolved. I use Google Photos to store all my pictures and by creating a new album for each category, I was able to label pictures into more than one album…and so my portfolio began to grow and take shape.

I now have 34 categorised albums collated into 5 major themes. So over the next 34 days, I’d like to continue sharing my favourite themed picture and use this as an opportunity to share some pictures which missed out on being printed before. 

A screen shot of part of my Google Photo album collection. This one has 24 icons aech representing a themed collection

It was a bit daunting deciding how to select one picture from a collection of up to 300, but nevertheless I set about this methodically. Firstly I reduced each collection down to my top 10-15 applying one of a number of criteria: Is it an obvious fit? Do I like it’s photographic quality? Does it tell a good story? Does it have an overall artistic style?

I then made my final selection based on which picture captured all four qualities. There was of course an override category – if I just simply like it.

So here’s to the next 34 days where you can help me decide if I’ve chosen well. Again, I’ll post a picture each day with a weekly summary setting out my reasons for their selection.

Introducing my Themes

The themes are a personal reflection on how I see the world and life. Some may not agree with my interpretation, but isn’t that what makes life interesting?

A gent waiting at the top of an escalator ar Heathrow airport looking away from the camera. IN the backgrouns, there's a poster of a police woman with a welcoming outstretched arm in the gent's direction.

…and here they are! So please look out for my daily posts, and if you find them of interest, I’d be delighted if you would share my story with others.

  • Themes – Social: People; Food & Drink; Sport; Religion; Retail; Remembering; Neglect & AntiSocial
  • Themes – Travel: Trains; Road Vehicles; Boats; Air Carriers; Bridges & Tunnels; Walkways; Platforms
  • Themes – Architecture: Residential; Industrial; Stations; Commercial; Windows & Doors; Station Fixtures & Fittings; Street Furniture
  • Themes – The Arts & Design: Sculptures & Statues; Street Signs; Patterns & Symbols; Station Names; The Arts; Entertainment
  • Themes – The Natural World: Creatures; Vegetation; The Thames; Waterways; Skyscapes; Night Time; Reflections