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hammersmith & city overground

#62: Barking – 30/07/2019

One of the unexpected delights of this travelog is the richness of the people I meet who have their own story to tell and help make the places I visit so rewarding. And my return to Barking has certainly had more than its fair share of that; more later but first why am I returning here?

Well Barking is the terminal destination for twoTfl lines. My first visit over nine months ago was courtesy of the Overground, and today it’s for the end of the Hammersmith & City line. Weather warning though; the forecast was miserable and although I was able to dodge the hardest rain, I decided not to let the persistent drizzle get in my way.

The Station

With eight platforms serving The Overground, District, Hammersmith & City and the c2c, this is a busy station, but desperately in need of modernisation. Classically styled predominantly in concrete, it has a very tired functional feel to it; but thankfully there are plans to regenerate the area although at the time of writing it’s unclear when this will be done. The main street level concourse is cavernous with a high vaulted concrete roof which I suspect on warmer days makes the area unbearably hot, and there are attempts to revamp the platform furniture with Tfl styled seating.

I find I’m being heckled by Sakhib, a train driver who’s walking to the front of a District line train he’s about to take out of the station. Once I’ve explained my purpose, and that I’m not a train spotter, he is keen to share a recent event at the station where he was invited onto the footplate of a steam train as it travelled through the station. We can’t chat for long as his signal is changing to green.

On another platform, I meet Geoff, a train spotter from Inverness who has spent the morning in Bethnal Green and now he is eager to spot the new Overground trains to complete his collection of the group of trains serving that line. A well travelled, and seasoned trainspotter, he is happy to share some of his European travel stories with me and I’m amazed by his depth of detailed knowledge, but guess given this is his passion, I shouldn’t be surprised really.

As I explore the platforms, I’m tickled by the thought that one of the signs I see may have been a legacy of a visit by David Hasslehoff. Now I know this is highly unlikely but it helps to lift my mood on this wet day.

Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC)

Heading out of the station, I’m drawn to a pop-up photographic exhibition where I meet Alison, the volunteer of the day looking after the exhibition. In its first exhibition, the BEC is showcasing a local photographer whose work is on display, and I admire the starkness of the black and white street photography taken by Jimmy Lee who’s recently published a book of a collection of his work along with individual prints for sale.

I explain my photographic background and approach with Alison who in turn comments on the similarity this has with Jimmy’s approach and she encourages me to connect with him (which I do later). Alison is a warm and friendly individual and I find it easy to strike up a conversation, and as we chat, I take a series of portrait shots catching her in an ‘off guard’ moment. I try to choose which is the best shot, but I think this collage best shows off Alison’s personality. Thank you Alison for your warmth and friendliness and for introducing me to Jimmy Lee. I look forward to having that drink with you one day…

Barking Park

Any London park is worth a visit, and Barking’s is no different which is only a short walk from the station. Unsurprisingly, the rain soaked day has kept people away so I feel a little isolated as I walk through the skateboard park heading to the lake. And as I approach it, I’m greeted by a large flock of Canada Geese feeding on the grass verge and I try to line up a shot of the parked up pedalos in the distance.

Sheltering under the tree lined avenue, I see four people pushing a shopping trolley walking along the lake side as I’m changing my camera lens, and as they get nearer, I realise they’re not wayward travellers but in fact a party of Park Rangers and volunteers. Carol, the team lead introduces herself and explains that every Tuesday she and a team of volunteers trawl the lake for discarded litter, plastic and/or anything else that’s been thrown into the lake. Their day is drawing to the end having collected several trolleys full of rubbish so we say farewell as I meander along the lake side and enjoy the array of birdlife.

As well as the Canada Geese, the lake is awash with nesting coots, seagulls, swans and ducks, and one solitary Heron perched on a single leg (his right I recall) on the far side of the lake as if he’s supervising all the other water birds. Here’s a brief snapshot of the waterfowl collection.

Later, as I head out of the park, I’m beckoned by Hubbard, a gent standing under the trees who’s indicated he’s ready to have his picture taken. Always happy to oblige a willing volunteer, I approach and despite the fact he’s talking on his mobile it seems we end up having a three way conversation. I’ve no idea who is on the other end of the line, but I do note that Hubbard is also enjoying a lunch time drink from a can of Guinness.

The Road to Ilford

Out of the park, and lo and behold the sun comes out and it suddenly warms up very quickly, so I decide to head up Ilford Lane to Ilford. From previous travels, I know this to be an interesting walk past many shops displaying colourful saris in their shop windows. On one corner, I’m distracted by Cleveland Junior School which has two bright blue clocks on display high on one of its walls. Both showing the same time, but one with Roman numerals and one with ordinary numbers.

I hadn’t realised until I started writing this blog that some clocks that adopt Roman numerals will display 4 o’clock as either IIII or IV. If you’re interested in finding out why, here’s an article that offers several hypotheses.

And finally, the underpass leading from Ilford Lane into Ilford is an unattractive, gloomy and depressing location, and I have walked through here before in full sight of drug dealing. Today’s passing is slightly different and as I emerge, I quite like this final shot of a high rise office block which has an interesting pattern highlighted in black and white. What do you think?

Picture of the Day

I’m trying out several long distance focal length shots: to highlight the yellow boat against the blue pedalos, and to show how they’re framed by the two tone greens of the overhanging trees in the foreground and the trees in the background. But I felt there was something missing in the final composition so I took some with geese in the foreground, but that didn’t quite work either.

Then, whilst I was kneeling and getting wet, there was a teenage lad cycling in the foreground. I waited for him to get out of the shot, but he suddenly appeared with a stick in his hand as if he was fishing. And as he appeared I snatched a few shots in case he didn’t return. I knew it was just right as he brought a human element to the shot, and thereby helping to balance the otherwise stillness of the picture.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 230mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO640; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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#39: Hammersmith (Revisited) – 29/01/2019

Seven months after my first visit, I return to Hammersmith via one of it’s two stations: the most northern station serving as a terminus for both the aptly named Hammersmith & City (pink) line, and the Circle (yellow) line. The second station, opening into the Broadway shopping centre, serving as a pass through station for both the Piccadilly and District Lines. Conditions today are quite different; a cold icy blast with the threat of snow, but as the day starts, it’s quite bright and clear.

I start the day heading south under the flyover to almost where I ended my last journey as I make my way through Fulham Reach to the Blue Boat pub on the Thames Path overlooking the river.

Not because I am desperate for a drink, n’or because I wanted to flavour a traditional Fuller’s pub as Asahi, a Japanese brewery takes over the chain. But because it is a convenient place to meet a former work colleague to catch up on gossip and life. Noelia and I worked for the Government Digital Service (GDS) together for several years, and just as I was retiring, Noelia left to join Tfl. It’s been many a year since I walked into an empty pub as their first morning customer, but an 11.00 am start for coffee was a good way to spend the morning in good company and pleasant surroundings.

As a local resident, Noelia explains this is a very popular pub, one that’s hard to get a table booking, and i can understand why. It’s position right by the river is ideal, with pleasant surroundings and decor providing a welcoming balance between chique, characterful and trendy. It was good to catch up and share with each other what we have been up to and to hear how those we are still in touch with have moved on to other challenges.

The Thames Path

As we say farewell, I head south along the north shore following the Thames Path which eventually leads me past Craven Cottage and on to Fulham Palace. But first a few words of the pathway as it deserves a particular mention. Despite it being bitterly cold, the icy sky with a hazy sun provides an ideal opportunity to capture the scenery. I think no matter where I am, the combination of sun and water will always encourage me to take pictures as it may be something to do with the fact I was born and brought up by the sea.

This part of the Thames Path is directly under the flight-path as aircraft make their way to land at Heathrow, and as I look skywards timing their frequency hoping to capture a unique shot, I note the planes fly over at monotonous regularity every two minutes.

The path is quite busy with dog walkers and runners/joggers, and as I approach Bishop’s Park, there is surprisingly one or two sitting in the cold enjoying the scenery. The lake and surrounding gardens are closed, probably for winter maintenance, however there is some evidence of spring emerging in the surrounding shrubbery.

Craven Cottage – Fulham Football Club

The Thames Path takes a detour at this point as Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club sits right on the edge of the river. The stands are imposing and tower over the path, and as I make my way to the main entrance in Stevenage Road there’s a river of coloured cables in the gutter as media companies prepare to broadcast this evening’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion (for those interested, Fulham won 4-2).

Spectator access to the ground is still controlled through narrow numbered turnstiles, which stand as a protective layer at the front of the stadium. The club’s colours of black and white are clearly visible, and close to the ticket office stands a memorial to one of the club’s best ever players – Johnny Haynes

Fulham Palace

From The Cottage through Bishops Park along its tree lined avenues, I come to Fulham Palace and tentatively poke my nose into the Walled Garden; and I’m glad I did as I find some unexpected delights. The History of Fulham Palace records ‘…From around 700, when the site was acquired by Bishop Waldhere, it served as a Bishop’s residence for over 12 centuries. At least since Tudor times, Fulham Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home, providing the Bishop and his family with a healthy rural retreat in summer months…’

The Palace’s features comprise primarily of the Palace buildings, surrounding grounds, Walled Garden all enclosed in what was once known to be the longest domestic moat in England – an earthwork enclosing an area of 14.5 hectares (35.8 acres) with the original water extending for about one mile in length. It’s fair to say the garden is in its winter state, and although there is little colour about except for the explosion of snowdrops, it’s clear the grounds are well maintained and cared for. Through the other end of the Walled Garden I step into the grounds surrounding the Palace and I see children playing happily in a make-do campsite on one side, and find some interesting tree carvings on the other.

Into the Palace itself which is undergoing restoration work, so access to some areas is restricted. However I meet two helpful ladies at reception who point me in the direction of the Terrick Rooms and The Chapel where I’m joined by one of them who acts as my tour guide and shares the chapel’s interesting history. Before leaving, I’m introduced to Nicola, the Palace’s Marketing Manager, who explains the Palace will reopen access to all areas over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with an official opening on the 25th May and a public opening on the 26th. Nicola also highlights their photography competition which is open to all amateur photographers until the 21st April.

If you have a spark of an interest in seeing one of London’s hidden and unsung gems, I’d highly recommend a visit here: and I for one will be returning. Thank you Fulham Palace for your hospitality.

Returning to Hammersmith

The sun has gone and the clouds look increasingly threatening so it’s time to head to my journey’s end back at Hammersmith station. I walk the length of Woodlawn Road and espy what I guess is described as fashionable Fulham. Row upon row of attractive semi-detached town houses which are well maintained and decorated. Those that aren’t are in the throws of being modernised as I lose count of the number of houses being redeveloped.

Onto the main Fulham Palace Road I walk around Charing Cross Hospital, but I’m more than a little disappointed that this ageing, decaying and tired concrete monstrosity offers nothing of interest. By contrast, and a little further up the road is a relatively new development – Assembly London which is rather striking in its modernist isolation.

Picture of the Day

This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room within Fulham Palace. I’ve selected this one more for it’s quizzical nature as on face value there are ‘stories within stories’ here. Such as:

It’s a simple picture which I’ve closely cropped so that the books themselves are the story in this picture.

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/50; Focal Length – 48mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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#14: Hammersmith – 28/06/2018

Another scorching day to travel to a vibrant part of west London and one I’ll look forward to returning to as Hammersmith serves as the terminus for both the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines. This was an interesting and delightful sojourn, not only because of the things I saw, but also for the people I met and stopped to talk with. All in all a great day out.

Before stretching my legs too far, a quick stroll around the immediate vicinity, I spot a delightful shop, Turners florist, framed nicely through some lavender; and just around the corner in Hammersmith Grove there’s an interesting traffic calming approach. In creating a road obstacle, seating areas adorned with plants are positioned in such a way to narrow the side road thus creating a sun trapped haven for those seeking some respite, or a place for a good natter.

Crossing Beadon Road, the smell of the open air food market wafts over the traffic creating a sensory experience to make the tummy rumble with excitement. Such markets have become very popular across London, and this was no exception. It’s always interesting to see which stall has the longest queue, as this serves as an indication of the quality of the food on offer. Having walked around a couple of times, I’m stopped by a passer-by who also turns out to be a keen amateur photographer with a passion for Leica cameras.

Walking on, I wanted to make a beeline for Olivier’s Bakery as I was attracted to their display of home baked breads and cakes. I courteously ask if I can take some close up pictures and offer some free advertising through this blog (see my Picture of the Day). This leads to a conversation about what I am doing, and the ladies were more than happy to pose. The stall is well positioned at the front of the market, and clearly attracts customers as evidenced during my visit. Many thanks too for the baguette, which served as my lunch for the day.

Hammersmith is also served by the Piccadilly and District lines, albeit from a different station about 100 metres away in the covered Broadway Shopping Centre, and en route to the extensive bus station. To get there, though, you have to navigate across Hammersmith’s extremely busy one-way ring road, and although controlled by traffic lights, many pedestrians risked life and limb thinking they knew the lighting sequencing better; they didn’t…

Out of the shopping centre onto Hammersmith’s south side, where the infamous Hammersmith Eventim Apollo theatre is found. Even at midday a leisurely queue was beginning to form presumably for the evening’s performance or maybe for the the ticket office to open, and although the advertising indicated Michael Buble was the performer, those queueing did not fit the expected Michael Buble fan base profile.

For those who know Hammersmith you’ll know that it is in some way defined by the A4 flyover which dissects a swathe from Hogarth Roundabout to Cromwell Road to manage the traffic flow to/from the M4 and west London. The vision is none more striking than how it apparently cuts St Pauls church in half.

Heading south down Queen Caroline Street towards the Thames Path and the north shore, I’m drawn into the Peabody Estate Hammersmith by its characteristically strong brick built facade, cloistered inner courtyards and functional security arrangements (but a sad indictment of today’s needs to protect property). I’m also reminded that today is England’s final World Cup group stage game with the nation having a high expectation of a win as the team has already qualified for the next knockout stage. As I walk around, I stop and chat with Gary a local resident, who has a shared interest in London photography. I also learn he’s a guitarist with Caribbean Xpress a steel band performing Caribbean music, ska and reggae; have a look at them on YouTube

On the approach to the Thames, I pass the revamped Riverside Studios and take in the view of the redeveloped north shore and espy the iconic Hammersmith Bridge, which features annually during the Cambridge vs Oxford Boat Race. Turning left to stroll along the embankment, there are several interesting stopping points, as indeed I did. There’s the impressive ‘Figurehead’ sculpture by Rick Kirby; a plaque to commemorate William Tierney Clark who built the bridge; a bust of Lancelot (Capability) Brown by Laury Dizengremel who lived nearby in the mid 18th century, and the Fulham Reach Boat Club. If you look across the Thames to the south shore you’ll also see the Harrods Furniture Depository. A busy walkway indeed full of nearby office workers enjoying the sun during their lunch break.

I decide a walk over the bridge is a must, which takes me into the neighbouring village of Barnes, which sits within the borough of Richmond on Thames before turning back over the bridge when I spot the unassuming, yet attractive headquarters of British Rowing. I end my day’s journey in Furnivall Gardens with a well deserved ice cream. I only mention this as I was surprised by the generosity of the ice cream van vendor who recognised my surprised shock at the price of a standard ice cream (£2.50) and he reduced the price by 20% to (£2.00). As my father always told me…’if you don’t ask, you don’t get’…It was a very generous portion too… mmmmmm

For more info, look up Hammersmith on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

Hammersmith open air food market sits nicely along Lyric Square positioned between King Street and Beadon Road, and Olivier’s Bakery is the first stall I approach as I enter the food market. It’s fast approaching lunchtime so the square is very busy with office workers out to sample the variety of culinary delights on offer.

This is my first attempt at ‘food’ photography, but thankfully I was given a free hand to explore the stall without getting in their way as they served their customers.

This is a simple, close up shot of the day’s freshly baked baguettes displayed rather neatly, although more out of necessity so that the stack remains intact. Nevertheless, their colour and geometric shape makes for a rewarding reminder of the day. I’ve enhanced the picture with a yellow filter to promote the baguette’s natural colouring. My free baguette was nice…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO160; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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