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metropolitan piccadilly

#69: Uxbridge – 02/10/2019

I return to Uxbridge today, this time to complete the final leg of the Piccadilly line’s ‘end of the line’. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I thought I had covered the town pretty well on my first visit, but…

The Station

When I was here earlier in the summer, I spent some time exploring the station so I decided to walk through this time and head for the town centre instead. Because of this though, I did stop at other stations on the line as my day comes to an end, so read on and see where else I have been.

The Town Centre

So who knew Uxbridge has a runway? Well in truth it doesn’t, but this view from the top of the Cedars Car Park made me think ‘what if?’. It’s a view looking north easterly from the top floor of the empty car park and the empty blue sky combines nicely with the parallel lines on the surface giving the impression that it’s a runway.

At the north end of the High Street, it’s market day so I have a chance to do some people watching, and this shot of workmen at rest eating their lunch outside the Pavilions shopping centre catches my eye. Their high vis jackets complementing their soft drink bottle colouring quite nicely.

The shopping centre itself is a little old and tired, it’s an open style market place with fixed and temporary stalls in the main square. But in fairness, the centre has made some effort to spruce the place up as this view suggests. It’s of the overhead walkways that joins the car park to a central lift shaft in the middle of the market area; it’s an interesting ‘upside down’ view from the reflective mirrors on the underside of the walkways.

At the southern end of the High Street is the old Regal Cinema proudly showing off its art deco exterior. It’s now a nightclub and despite a multi-million renovation over 10 years ago, I think sadly its glory days as a cinema are long gone.

Nearby, and returning to the aeronautical theme of earlier, I cross the main road to the land which was once the proud home of RAF Uxbridge and Hillingdon House. It’s now another of London’s  fashionable property developments, this one by St Modwen, and as I walk outside the building site I come to the end of one of the buildings. This one is a three storey building with doors leading nowhere, but what makes the picture more interesting is that the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and casts this majestic tree shadow.

Before leaving town, I walk through Uxbridge’s new Intu shopping centre, where there’s a display showing that the town is the birthplace of the once infamous Christine Keeler. For those of you born after the 1960’s, look her up; and apparently the chair on which she sat on for the renowned photo-shoot in 1963 is now on show in the V&A Museum.

The Grand Union Canal

The canal is less than half a kilometre from the town centre, so what better way to spend part of the day than walking canal side for a mile or so with the sun shining and colourful river boats for company. My starting point is at Uxbridge Lock (Lock No 88)

I follow the path under The Swan and Bottle Bridge (no 185) and over The Bell Punch Footbridge (no 185A) where for part of my walk, I’m accompanied by a swan and and her ten signets. She keeps a wary eye on me as I walk by, but I wonder where the dad is as there’s no sign of him.

The path takes me under The Dolphin Bridge (no 186) and I finally leave the canal at Gas Works Bridge (no 187). By the way, all bridges and locks are numbered across the British Waterways, so next time you’re walking under/over one, look out for the numbered plate. The following is a small collection of the colourful views from beside the river

Out of Uxbridge

Today’s end of the line visit is courtesy of the Piccadilly line, but to be honest it’s a shared line with the Metropolitan line from Rayners Lane where the final seven stops are served by the same track. The Piccadilly line out to Uxbridge started life as the District line but only as far as South Harrow when in 1910 the Uxbridge extension was completed. Its conversion to the Piccadilly line took place in 1933.

Hillingdon – this is the first station out of Uxbridge and its full name is Hillingdon (Swakeleys) as evidenced on its roundel. Why? Well I can only presume it’s a reference to the once Manor of Swakeleys, and now Swakeleys House, which is only a short distance from the station.

Hillingdon is a bit of a pass through location, but its position right on the A40 Western Avenue makes it an ideal spot for commuters. My visit here is somewhat sobering as I’m reminded right outside the station of the frailty of life as I read the messages laid in tribute to one of London’s most recent fatal stabbings. Young Tashan Daniel, on his way to watch Arsenal play, football at The Emirates Stadium, was attacked on the station and fatally wounded. My thoughts go out to his family and those affected by this event.

Mystery Station – my final picture is of Labyrinth maze number 32/270 from Mark Wallinger’s collection which was commissioned by Transport for London (Tfl) to commemorate 150 years of the London Underground. Post a message to let me know where I ended my day’s journey.

Picture of the Day

This is my first picture of the day taken inside the flight of stairs leading to the top of Cedars Car Park from High Street above Tesco. I’m drawn in by the red and green colouring of the stairwell I see from the street so I decide to traverse the stairwell, and my curiosity to see Uxbridge town centre from the rooftop is piqued.

It’s the type of stair well you’d rather not go into as it smells of urine; although I have to say it was relatively clean. I had no expectation of finding anything of interest but after walking up the first flight of stairs, this image is staring back at me.

I’m intrigued by the graffitti as its socio/political statement is clearly directed at the Town’s Member of Parliament who is also the current (at the time of writing) Prime Minister. The ‘statement’ raises the question in my mind as to whether the ‘artist’ is dyslexic, or that they have decided out of respect not to spell the swear word in full. But amusingly they are quite content to bedaub a publicly accessible wall in a somewhat hidden position where only a few passers by will see it. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 53mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter effect – Auto

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metropolitan piccadilly

#63: Uxbridge – 07/08/2019

Today’s a creative day shooting predominantly in Black & White once I’d finished  exploring the main station area; I’ll explain why a little later. But first, it’s to the end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at Uxbridge, the journey takes me almost from one end of the Metropolitan line at Liverpool Street to Uxbridge. I had thought maybe travelling to Aldgate (one stop) in the opposite direction to lay claim to a complete end to end journey – but I didn’t.

The Station

The station has three platforms with a two level concrete canopy. The higher level over the middle platform which serves the Metropolitan line, and a lower canopy over the outer platforms serving the Piccadilly line. This maybe because the Metropolitan line trains are taller than the Piccadilly line trains, but I’ve no evidence to substantiate this.

I didn’t know this, but until the mid 1930’s, the station was served by the District line, but the service was taken over by the Piccadilly line which now serves as the main artery from Ealing Broadway.

The concrete canopy extends from the platforms over the booking hall which is overlooked by colourful stained glass representing the area’s association with the counties of Middlesex and Buckinghamshire before the creation of the London Borough of Hillingdon. You can’t see the stained glass from the front, but adorning the entrance from the outside are a pair of winged wheels in an art deco style.

On the north eastern approach to the station, there are large sidings, empty at the time of my visit, presumably for the overnight storage of trains at the end of the day. As an aside, getting to the station was trouble free, but my journey back was blighted by a points failure at Ickenham which affected the Piccadilly trains but thankfully the Metropolitan line had a reduced service allowing me to travel as far as Rayners Lane where I could pick up the limited Piccadilly line service.

Uxbridge

The town centre is largely pedestrianised dominated by the railway and bus station at one end, and Hillingdon Council offices at the other end. The council offices are in the main, a collection of brick monstrosities – functional but soulless, featureless and uninviting.

The town centre is a mix of local independent shops and the obvious high street stores, all overlooked by two shopping centres: the more modern Intu Centre and a classic 60’s style concrete Pavilions centre. Both centres host the standard larger retail stores and both are served by large car parks which are accessed via the ring road surrounding the town centre.

Walking around the town, I find few things of interest, although this cutting from the Intu centre to the High Street provides a colourful interlude. And on the outskirts, I see this wall mural in homage to a local landowner, Kate Fassnidge, who bequeathed the park land now known as Fassnidge Park to the District Council.

I take a walk through the park, and see many doing the same and enjoying the shade under the trees as they eat their lunch. The Fray’s River runs through to the adjoining Rockingham recreation ground serving as a conduit for the local ducks and swans. The birds are clustered around an elderly lady feeding them on the river bank by the bridge at Rockingham Road.

A study in Black & White

By this point, I realise I’ve taken very few pictures and I’m starting to think about how best to represent my visit to Uxbridge. The overarching architectural feature is concrete and brickwork, and as I return to the town, I find I’m at the car park entrance of The Pavilions shopping centre looking up at the footbridge that allows pedestrians to access from the other side of the ring road at Oxford Road.

I have an idea: One of my aims in following this ‘end of the line’ journey is to fall back in love with digital photography, and to this end with my current camera. I decide to set a filter on my camera to ‘Grainy B/W’, and leave it in this setting mode for the rest of the day. And as I do, I find I’m transported back to the early 1970’s, a time  when I used to develop my own pictures using B&W film.

Around the back of the shopping centre, I spot a large wooden clad shed. It turns out to be a local taxi firm, and I’m intrigued by its character which stands out so well with its graininess accentuated in black and white.

Through a little alleyway, I enter Windsor Street where I find a parade of small beauty and health related businesses and this is where I meet Reez, Rosh and Graeme. You see, as I pass Reez the Barbers, I’m drawn to the scene of two barbers meticulously tending a customer’s beard as they trim it. As they are right by the front door I stop to admire the precision with which Reez and Rosh are operating and chat to them and Graeme, their customer who are all kind enough to allow me to take some pictures. 

Around the corner is the Charter Building. Once the headquarters of Coca Cola, it has now been refurbished into a fashionable workspace, a growing concept across the city where businesses can rent flexible workspace as their businesses grow. As I explore inside the building, I notice some similarities with The Whitechapel Building in Aldgate, where I last worked for the Government Digital Service. I chat with Tigi and Tehlia, the building receptionists who give me permission to take some internal photos.

Battle of Britain Bunker

I start following a sign for the Battle of Britain Bunker and a half hour later I arrive at my destination to find out two things: I’d just walked three sides of a square to get here as I had in fact followed the road signs instead of a shortcut footpath. And although the venue was open, it has just closed its admissions for the day. Argh! But not to worry as I’ll visit again on my return to Uxbridge. There’s enough outside interest to explore before heading back to the station through Dowding Park.

Picture of the Day

I spent most of the day with my camera set in Black & White mode, and this picture comes from that collection. The graininess I’ve applied to this picture adds a particular edge to it which I think works well. I’m standing on the footbridge over the Oxford Road leading to the car park entrance to The Pavilions shopping centre.

The concrete and graffiti stand out and whilst I’m trying to get the right lighting effect, there’s an elderly gent walking down the ramp trying to avoid being in the picture. I respect his desire for anonymity and leave him to walk out of sight, but think that the photo would be better with someone in it. 

I move onto the lower part of the ramp looking up. With the sun casting strong shadows, I line up the metal handrail on the right hand side so that my eye is drawn to the graffiti on the end wall. And as I’m crouched low, trying to emphasise the rising ramp, I wait for someone to walk into the shot. This gentleman obliges, unaware of my presence, apparently distracted by his mobile conversation – thank you.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 51mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Eiffel

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piccadilly

#27: Cockfosters – 02/11/2018

Cockfosters is where London becomes suburbia and trips into the countryside along the A111 out of Palmer’s Green en route to Potters Bar. I’d passed through Cockfosters before, by accident, on a mission to pick up my daughter who was destined for Hadley Wood, but owing to various delays she changed route. The two stations aren’t too far from each other, so an easy detour to make. Today was a chance to have a good look around.

The station is typical of the iconic architectural style of the early 1930’s; a style that oozes art deco and modernists tastes, and a style that adorns many a tube station owing to the underground’s expansion between the wars as London grew and stretched its boundaries.

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Cockfosters sits within the London Borough of Enfield, and it is predominantly characterised by a sprawling parade of shops, a common London sight, full of independent shops on the ground floor of low rise arcade style flats. An affluent and clean area with off road parking for shoppers, and some high rise office blocks near the station, built no doubt to attract businesses out of London taking advantage of the easy train access.

North London’s dead

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Turning right out of the station, I go into Trent Park Cemetery. Not that I have a morbid fascination, but recent personal circumstances had me in a contemplative and reflective mood. The cemetery presents a curious celebration of life with small isolated markers spread over two fields where memories are placed. No gravestones, and I don’t think they were burial plots either as there was evidence that memories were transient. Some spiritual reminders of those departed can also be seen in the avenue of trees that delineate the fields.

Over the road, I stroll through the graveyard of Christ Church, an evangelical church with a more traditional graveyard and one dominated by a single vault within which were interred the remains of the Bevan family in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I suspect they were significant benefactors of the church – a quick search reveals the church was founded by a Robert Cooper Lee Bevan, a founder of Barclays Bank.

London Footpaths

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Did you know you could walk around the outskirts of London on a 150 mile trail divided into 24  sections? Neither did I until I stumble across the London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) managed by Transport for London as part of their ‘Walk London’ initiative.

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And how about the Pymmes Brook Trail? One of London’s many long forgotten water courses which springs up in nearby Hadley and runs through to the river Lee.

I spot both signs by Christ Church; a stone’s throw from the station.

Croeso i rhan fach o Gymru

‘Welcome to a small part of Wales’…Ever had that serendipity moment? A slight diversion…that’s a word I first came across whilst watching Dr Who many many years ago and it’s just sort of stayed with me. Anyway, back to the plot…

I glance down Freston Gardens and see a large imposing religious building that is sort of ‘calling me’. One of the many lessons I have learnt from this journey is ‘…to just go see…’ as if I don’t I’ll only regret it later. As I pass the detached houses along the way, there is clear evidence of the post-Halloween apocalyptic mess in gardens and shrubbery in the guise of a dismembered hand and spray cobwebs in different colours.

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And as I approach the building, I smile and understand ‘the calling’, as I discover the Welsh Chapel of Eglwys Y Drindod. Why? Well as I was brought up as a Welsh Independent chapel goer – Capel Annibynwyr Seion yn Aberystwyth, the memories of chapel service and Sunday School were somewhat etched and surfaced in that smile.

A striking brickwork designed building, but alas I couldn’t go in , but nevertheless I let the moment and memories linger a while before saying farewell…

Chase Side

By now I’ve decided to stretch my legs as far as Southgate, and approaching the roundabout as Cockfosters Road turns into Chase Side, I spot a road sign for Chickenshed, the all inclusive theatre company. Chickenshed’s success has been well documented through London life in recent years and I was intrigued to look around. From its early beginnings, the theatre company and buildings have grown significantly to that of a multi-purpose, and all inclusive entertainment and learning centre.

A quick scout inside to check I can take pictures and I chat with several folk. Bill, the Deputy manager explains the theatre is purely self financed as it does not meet the Arts Council’s funding criteria, so there’s a heavy reliance on box office takings, donations and gala evenings. However, despite the constant financial challenges, they continue to expand their portfolio of performances, education and outreach events, and they will soon be performing ‘A Christmas Carol’ over the festive season. I share a moment on how I felt signing added to the value of a theatre production having recently enjoyed how a signer was seamlessly integrated at a local production of Once.

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Adjacent in Bramley Sports Ground, is the home of Saracens Amateur Rugby Football Club, and I stroll around inside the park. The club is part of the wider Saracens brand, who now play Premiership rugby at the shared ground with Watford Football Club, but the ground here is nevertheless the historical home of the club. As with all sports, sponsorship is key, and Saracens ARFC is no different, in league with a housing development across the road from their ground.

Southgate

Here is where I stayed when I first moved to London in 1989. Living in digs along Chase Side before finding a house and moving the family,  and I had some romantic notion I’d be able to find the place. But a combination of faded memories and redevelopment for an Asda superstore meant that the house hadn’t survived. Ah…

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Southgate is similar to Cockfosters, but larger, and its iconic underground station set against an azure blue sky made for a striking moment.

A study in wood

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My final route is through Grovelands Park which is nestled between Southgate and Winchmore Hill, the station there being my journey’s end for the day. The park offers open land, an ornamental lake and a wooded walk alongside a stream, all of which was attractively captured by the low sunlight on a cool autumnal afternoon. I take the opportunity to try my hand at some creative shots, and to my surprise in the wooded area, I come across a menagerie of carved creatures that captured my attention for a little while.

I hope you enjoy my efforts?

Picture of the Day

As you can see, this is taken outside Cockfosters Station. It’s a shot I had to wait quite a while to capture to get the right effect of movement. I played with several combinations of shutter speed and aperture to get the right balance of movement, focus, light and composition.

This one is taken with a slowish shutter speed set at 1/8th second grabbing the colour blur from the passing bus with its outline clearly recognisable. Combined with the oncoming car, I’m really pleased with the resulting effect of movement with a still background. It’s also pleasing that the combined speed of the bus and shutter speed still allows the advertising hoarding on the right hand side to show through the bus windows.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ22; Shutter Speed – 1/8; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto

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For more info, look up Cockfosters on Wikipedia

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piccadilly

#08: Heathrow T5 – 23/05/2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more info, look up Heathrow T5 on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is taken outside the main terminus where there’s an open air seating area. It’is a bright sunny lunchtime so employees and travellers alike are grabbing a quick snack or just waiting for their connection.

There’s a large display at either end of the seating area showing a selection of the the IATA (International Air Transport Association) three letter destination codes displayed in a semicircle. This picture tries to capture the essence of the airport at ‘a moment in time’ as the reflection shows those at rest, but the traveller in the centre foreground reminds us that he’s going somewhere (or just arrived). And the smoker on the right reminds us that this is now an outside habit…

I’ve tried to keep the shot simple, framing the main traveller within the destination arc. Who knows where he’s bound? The Alpaca filter strengthens the sunlit shrubbery and helps to draw the eye towards the central figure.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google Photos, Triptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story