Journey’s End

#28: Amersham – 09/11/2018

Amersham sits as a terminus on the North Western end of the Metropolitan line, very much in the fold of Buckinghamshire, and shares its station with Chiltern Railways with services running through to the West Midlands. I’d not been to Amersham before so I had little expectations, although I have vague childhood recollections of visiting family in nearby Little Chalfont many many years ago.

I also had an ulterior motive for visiting the town as I had arranged to meet Darren, a former work colleague who lives nearby, so plans to meet in one of the local hostelries seemed appropriate.

As the journey along the Metropolitan line passes en route through Wembley, Harrow and Pinner, the surrounding landscape quickly changes from urban to suburban and the Wembley Stadium arch soon fades into the distance, and as I arrive in Amersham, it’s very much a rural setting. Some prior preparation helped me to understand that Amersham is a town of two parts but what I hadn’t appreciated was that they are separated by a significant hill…just as well it stayed dry.

 

Amersham-on-the-hill

20181109111017_img_3506On exiting the station, I arrive at the new town which grew in response to the arrival of the station late in the 19th Century. The town has a rectangular shape with shops dominating two and a half sides, and the purpose built civic amenities dominating a larger part of the remainder.

 

20181109112039_img_3507My route was up Station Road, along Chesham Road and into Woodside Road as far as St John’s Methodist Church. Across the road is the Amersham branch of the Royal British Legion where I chat with Danny, a young gentleman who’s tidying up the grass verge and poppy display outside the Legion Hall in preparation for Armistice Day on Sunday. He explained his father, who is a committee member is out and about in the town selling poppies.

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I return along the same route heading for the Old Town, and later on returning to the new town I make my way to the civic centre where I find the council offices, library, police station, law courts and Leisure Centre. However from both my tours around the town, I find little of architectural interest. Don’t get me wrong, this is a busy town with a blended mix of independent shops, charity shops, high street names and coffee/eateries, but I felt it was a little bland with only modest features: I expected more from the Old Town though.

 

 

Amersham Old Town

20181109120339_img_3537Heading for the old Town, there are two main roads; I choose Rectory Hill, a minor B Road with no footpath, so I tread carefully with Parsonage Wood to my left, which I later glean has several paths running through it so my passage to the Old Town could have been different. Nevertheless I still enjoy the splendour of the autumnal colours on display.

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As I descend the hill, the old worldly charm and quaintness of this Old Market Town can be seen through the rooftops and my expectations aren’t disappointed as I browse through Rectory Lane and Church Street, poking my nose into some sympathetically redeveloped buildings at the former Weller’s Brewery (now Badminton Court) and Flint Barn Court (both now offices) and stroll around the grounds of St Mary’s Church.

 

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Into the High Street, and I couldn’t miss the Old Market Hall which dominates the town centre with its Doomsday Book references helping to highlight the town’s age. Close by is the Museum but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go in and enjoy their displays, but I’m drawn to explore The Broadway, Whielden Street, The Platt, and in the west as far as Mill Lane. The town is full of character with several coaching houses having survived as fashionable hotels, and other coach buildings having been converted into private dwelling but still keeping the coaching house characteristics.

 

My admiration is temporarily interrupted with a lunch interlude at the Elephant & Castle where I meet Darren for a bite to eat and of course an opportunity to sample the local ale. We discuss many things, but most importantly where and when to meet up next for a Christmas drink. With arrangements made, we say farewell and I continue with my Old Amersham tour before returning to the station via the appropriately named, but steep, Station Road.

 

 

Amersham in bloom and the Memorial Garden

20181109113636_img_3519Since 2009 (and probably before then), the Amersham community throughout has prided itself in creating interesting floral displays. So much so that their entries in Britain’s nationwide gardening competition, Britain in Bloom, has seen them achieve annual accolades from Regional Town Winner, to Silver Gilt recipients and in 2009 and since 2014, they’ve been the recipients of a Gold Award within the Thames and Chilterns Region. 20181109113419_img_3517

 

Flower tubs and roundabouts awash with various displays and colours and the impressive Memorial Garden in Old Amersham is a  ‘must see’ floral exhibitions. Have a look at the stunning video on their Facebook Page which captures the WW1 Commemoration display.

Some of my pictures which follow try to capture the essence, the effort and the creativity of all the volunteers involved in these creations.

Thank you Amersham for a snapshot into your community…

 

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Amersham pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Amersham on Wikipedia

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#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.

 

20181102135917_img_3408Cockfosters 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

Did you know you could walk around the outskirts of London on a 150 mile trail divided 20181102133545_img_3396into 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.

And how about the Pymmes Brook Trail? One of London’s many long forgotten water courses which 20181102133840_img_3401springs 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.

20181102141347_img_3413And 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.

20181102145406_img_3431Adjacent 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

20181102154727_img_3442My final route is through Grovelands Park which is 20181102155101_img_3446nestled 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?

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Cockfosters pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Cockfosters on Wikipedia

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#26: Ealing Broadway – 23/10/2018

Why a return to Ealing Broadway? In my first Ealing Broadway blog, I referenced that the station acts as a terminus for two lines: the Central and the District lines, so this concludes my travels to Ealing. Hard to credit it’s 6 months (almost to the day) from my first visit – so much fun and so many interesting things seen since then.

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The station is the same, of course, so a quick pass through, but as I do I take note of an evangelical saying written up on the Tfl update board that displays the current train status. Such boards have become popular across the network providing an opportunity for local staff to humanise the customer experience as you pass through. Today’s quote was from Robert H Schuller, a US televangelist who wrote ‘…Today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s impossibilities…’

I march out of the station careful to follow a different route from my earlier visit.

Town Centre Development

The area around the Town Hall in New Broadway has seen significant redevelopment in 20181023113225_img_3305-collage recent years, and continues to do so, but some are now close to completion. Adjacent to Christ the Saviour Parish Church stands the newly built Dickens Yard development. A mix of housing and soon to open retail opportunities on the ground floor. In the piazza between the church and this development stands an homage to George Formby in the form of a sculpture by Gordon Young celebrating words from one of his songs sung during a 1940 film produced at Ealing Studios – ‘…Make life go with a swing and a smile, Laugh at trouble and sing all the while, Now count your blessings and smile…’

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Close by is the former Fire Station, now repurposed into a smart retail outlet but sympathetically restored, and overlooking New Broadway is the imposing 19th Century Town Hall, a gothic masterpiece. A wander inside reveals intricate architecture and window displays, but alas I’m not allowed to take pictures although I was told a request to the council’s Chief Executive would get me permission – alas too late for my purpose. It turns out the Town Hall is also in line for redevelopment with one wing being turned into a boutique hotel, however there appears to be some residual opposition to this.

 

 

Across the road there’s another development branded Filmworks, which will blend historical art deco and contemporary styles into a functional and modern complex. Both this and the Dickens Yard developments have both been built by the Berkley Group under their St George brand.

I turn to head down Barnes Pikle heading for Walpole Park, but stop to consider the place name. Research suggests that Pikle is a derivation of Pightle –  a small field or enclosure usually near or surrounding a building (as a house, barn, shed)…the place name made me smile.

 

 

An Arboreal Study

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Returning into Walpole Park was my aim but the park wasn’t as busy as my first visit in April. 

Not surprisingly as although still sunny and bright, the ambient temperature was probably at least ten degrees (celsius) lower, nevertheless, lots of dog walkers, runners and mums with pushchairs about. In fact at one point there was a fitness class being taken by Jo Martin, a fitness instructor, with several new mums in tow. How do I know it was her? Well her t-shirt with her name emblazoned across it was a give away. Looking at her website, I see she specialises in pre and post natal fitness. I left all the ladies to it…

The main tree lined avenue is a pleasant walk and there is evidence of good tree management around as there are two distinct mounds of logs left around as play areas, so I took the opportunity to capture the autumnal colours and leaf fall.

 

20181023124635_IMG_3333-COLLAGEHeading for the southerly exit, I meet Ed, who is perched against a tree and is pencil sketching a tree ahead of him. We chatted for a while and I learn that as a Mancunian he had spent time in Australia, and now enjoys sketching trees and life drawings. He explains he finds a synergy between the two formats as he works to capture how the tree growth and shapes created by trunks and branches symbolise life itself. The work he shows me clearly demonstrates his passion and eye for detail.

20181023130623_img_3345-collageOut of Walpole Park and directly across the road into Lammas Park where I try my hand at more tree studies. I’m not sure the pictures I take are in themselves of particular interest but after some post production Google Photo editing, cropping and colour filtering, this might help to bring the form and colour to life. You be the judge.

 

An Autumnal Walk Through Suburbia

Out of Lammas Park, I reach Northfields; not an intended destination, but the beauty of not having a plan is in itself a plan. That is – to just follow my nose to see where I end up.

Northfields is a small collection of shop , like many in London that have sprung up over the last century or so as suburbia has sprawled out of London to meet the demands of the growing population. Housing is typically London 1930’s terraces constructed from London brick, a colour easily recognisable.

20181023135114_img_3362I follow the main road through to South Ealing, a route I could have done on the Piccadilly line, but I walk instead in the anticipation of finding some interesting distractions. The first comes in the guise of St Mary’s C of E Church north of the station. The church’s tower is the first thing I see from a distance, a somewhat imposing bell tower which no doubt helps to draw the congregation together when the bell tolls? The church has an interesting history which can be tracked from the 16th century to date, and outside, the church does much to promote this.

South of the station, I go into South Ealing Cemetery to explore, but I soon realise it’s a 21 acre site so I stop to look at a couple of headstones and feel drawn to one in particular, and to my surprise I find interred therein is a Joshua Thomas. 20181023133512_img_3359-collageNo relative (as far as I know), but it does so happen to be the name of one of my grandfathers. Because of this I take a closer interest and read the following:

  • Joshua Thomas aged 75 died 30/12/1868
  • Maria Thomas (wife) aged 87 died ??/12/1877
  • Elizabeth Jane Thomas (daughter) died 12/12/1905
  • Maria Pyne Sharp (eldest daughter) died 04/07/1906
  • William Sharp (husband) interred at Southport

Out of interest, I take note of the adjoining gravestone which records the following:

  • Marie Louise Kight aged 3 died 20/03/1870
  • Mary Louisa Maud Kight aged 3 months died 07/07/1872
  • Clara Agnes Kight aged 5 died 24/12/1874
  • John Kight (father) aged 74 died 18/03/1906
  • Louisa Kight (wife) aged 74 died 06/11/1906

Sad that the children died so young. But maybe a reflection of the squalour and disease associated with the urbanisation that accompanied the industrialisation of England at that time, and no doubt contributed to the Smallpox epidemic of 1871 along with its spread by refugees coming to England to escape the French-Prussian War. God bless the little children!..

20181023142617_img_3368I decide to end the day by heading to Acton via Acton Town station, which is only one stop on the tube and walk northerly into the heart of the town along Gunnersbury Lane. It’s a short hop, but along the way I pass the Passmore Edwards Cottage Hospital. Now a nursing and dementia care home, but originally built by John Passmore Edwards, a victorian philanthropist, reported in The Times as someone who  “… did more good in his time than almost any other of his contemporaries…”

As the light begins to fade, I stop at the The Aeronaut pub, and view Twyford School through the railings before heading for the train at Acton Central station.

 

All in all, another varied and eventful day…

 

See all Ealing Broadway Revisited pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

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For more info, look up Ealing Broadway Station on Wikipedia

 

My Route

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#25: Cheshunt – 18/10/2018

My 25th trip since starting this jaunt and one of the many things I’ve learnt since starting is not to be dismayed when there’s nothing obviously interesting as there’s always a hidden gem…and Cheshunt was no different.

Not an obvious end of the line station but Cheshunt is the end of the shuttle service from Liverpool Street, a line taken over by Tfl in 2015 and it shares its platforms with National Rail services from London to Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It’s the first I’ve encountered with a level crossing for road users too.

The station also had a part to play during the 2012 Olympics acting as one of the alighting points for the nearby White Water Centre where the canoeing, kayaking and other similar water bound sports took place.

 

 

Town or Village?

Heading east from the station towards Cheshunt I spot three pubs within the first few steps: The Windmill, The Maltsters and The Red Cow where I chat with Majella, the landlady who’s preparing for a forthcoming wake. She explains Cheshunt’s fortune has been affected by the relocation of Tesco’s HQ to Welwyn Garden City, the closure of shops and the movement of Eastern European migrants into the area. All of this has also caught the attention of Channel 4 which has expressed an interest in filming the impact of all this across the area.

 

As I  walk from the station to the heart of the town, almost a kilometre, I pass a very tidy residential area and reflect on how the residents clearly care for their community as gardens and houses look immaculate, and the streets appear spotless. I also ponder on what’s the difference between a town and a village as I would say Cheshunt falls in-between, and I explore various definitions, all of which predominantly offer population density as the main defining criteria. There are other reasons too and here’s an example.

The town centre rests on a cross roads and it’s refreshing to see mostly independent shops, though social and economic decline is evident by the sight of closed shops. The fountain in the centre of the main roundabout sadly not working seemed to symbolise this decline and I felt the town has little to offer by way of incentivising people to visit.

The entrance to the town park in Turners Hill, which is adjacent to the library, offers a glimmer of history explaining its origins, and paths from the entrance lead you to the Laura Trott Leisure Centre which has been named in honour of the girl who was brought up in the town. Now known by her married name of course – Laura Kenny, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic female competitor in any sport.

 

 

River Lee Navigation

Returning towards the station, I had earlier noticed a footpath sign to the River Lee Navigation way and onwards to the White Water Centre, so I made this my destination. On reaching the water, the straight walk of 1.5 kilometres took me along a peaceful waterway adorned with ‘lived in barges’ and canal boats.

 

Cyclists and walkers alike enjoy the towpath and I stop along the way to enjoy and capture the serene and scenic views. Most of those who I encounter are friendly and pleasant, and even the river workers, ferrying gas and coal upstream, wave and gave me a steam show to help with the pictures I’m taking.

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White Water Centre

Arriving at the White Water Centre, I didn’t know what to expect but I found the venue open to the public and it’s where I spent some time walking around and capturing the excitement of thrill seekers, and specialists practising their skills.

 

The Centre was purpose built for the 2012 Olympics and since then it has been open to the public providing two water courses for the novice, the expert and the thrill seekers enjoying team bonding sessions in an eight person raft. Access to all areas allowed me to test my long range close up skills against a constantly moving fore and background and of the 100+ shots I took, I have selected the following, for various reasons, as my favourite ones, and compiled a short video. I hope you enjoy them?

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Royal Gunpowder Mills

Returning to the Navigation towpath, I continue in a southerly direction towards Waltham Abbey/Cross and spot signs for the Royal Gunpowder Mills. No guesses what was there, but a brief historical search reveals this was one of the key locations where gunpowder was  manufactured soon after its invention in the 17th Century. Walking there to take a peek was a disappointment as I learnt it was only open by appointment, however a curious roadside plaque caught my attention. A plaque that marked the location of the Sandhurst Hospital, a purpose built hospital to serve those injured in the mills receiving swift treatment before being moved to nearby hospitals for onward care.

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I end my 9 kilometre journey at Waltham Cross station to take this somewhat weary, yet enthused traveller home. Thank you Herfordshire for your hospitality and I believe a return visit along the Lee River Navigation will be worthwhile.

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Cheshunt pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Cheshunt on Wikipedia

My Route

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#24: Barking – 09/10/2018

Barking is the end of the Overground line shuttling between Barking and Gospel Oak (see my very first blog), and shares its platforms with the District line and the c2c main line services running from the Essex coast into Fenchurch Street station. So a busy station with rare moments of tranquillity, and as ever like most city stations, overlooked by high rise housing and opening onto the high street

 

 

Historic Barking and its landmarks

Without realising it I found myself walking the path once trodden by William the Conqueror soon after his 1066 conquest as he took over the Abbey to the west of Barking. Now a ruin adjacent to St Margaret’s Parish Church, I found it quite eerie thinking how so different life would have been then.

 

To the north east, there’s an elaborate sculpture in the middle of one of Barking’s ring road roundabouts, entitled The Catch by Lorraine Leeson, created in homage to Barking’s historic fishing tradition. And in the centre of town, there’s a Folly brick wall which was built, so I was advised by Roy a local resident, by the local college bricklaying apprentices from recycled bricks from the demolished swimming pool and The Lamb pub. The Lamb now sitting proudly atop the Folly.

 

 

The Town Centre

The ‘town centre’ is a remodelled piazza of faux old and new, The Town Hall having been redeveloped in recent years alongside modern high rise colourfully clad buildings. Within a few steps of the Town Hall there’s the Library, Arts Centre and Leisure Centre. And close by, the sunlit Travelodge wasn’t too difficult to miss either.

 

 

The Market and its People

Barking has two lively shopping areas adjacent to each other: the Vicarage Fields shopping centre and the open air market that runs the length of Station Parade through to North Street where there’s one particular restaurant that cleverly captures your attention – especially if you like pink friesian cows; well done to Cristina’s – The Casual Steakhouse!

 

The market has an array of colourful stalls and traders offering fruit ‘n veg; the latest ‘fashion’, household items and fresh hot food.

I begin this journey by going into the Vicarage Fields centre from the station and within minutes I thought my journey wouldn’t go any further as I spy through the window of ‘Caffe Italiano’ a couple of gents playing chess with a gathering of onlookers; so I decide to go in and introduce myself asking permission to take their photos. They are all very amenable and I’m invited to play chess against ‘the best chess player in Barking’. This was all in good fun, but he was accompanied by one of the onlookers, but little did it matter to the outcome as I explained it had been over 20 years since I last played. Thankfully though I didn’t embarrass myself completely and the sequence of shots I took set me up nicely for the rest of the day.

 

The colours around the market are vibrant, accentuated by the late autumnal sun which shows everything off in glorious technicolor. As I’m looking around, I’m drawn to an intriguing sight; on first glance it’s a body-less child with an eerie smile, almost ‘Carrie’esq’; but on second viewing it’s a child dummy’s head wearing a hat. Nevertheless it had an engaging quality I felt compelled to capture.

 

The vision of the dummies heads caught my imagination and carrying on through the market, I stopped to admire a smaller stall with dummies heads adorned with different head gear and weaves. I introduce myself to the stall holder, Lola, and we have a short yet flirtatious conversation. Lola has an infectious smile as she explains the headgear has African origins. I compliment her on the display and ask if she names the dummies? We laugh…

It was nice to meet you Lola.

 

I left Barking with one rather poignant and somewhat reflective memory, and a reminder that despite the civic’s intention to remember local citizens by naming streets after them, they can eventually fade into obscurity if the initial intention isn’t sustained. This reminder of Bobby Moore was almost hidden under the tree canopy and I felt a sense of regret that such a famous footballing hero had been relegated to a car park – come on Barking you can do better than that surely?

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Barking Riverside

The next and final part of my journey around Barking is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but dear reader I make the rules here and the first rule is that there are NO rules.

I head off to Barking Riverside (or Creekmouth). The area is and continues to undergo massive regeneration but it is overshadowed by a massive power distribution centre and its dominant pylons where Barking power station once stood , Dagenham Sunday Market and a ship container store. Nevertheless the ambition is evident with extensive new build surrounding the area. The only obvious issue is that the location is so isolated, but I guess the developers have looked beyond that, but for now, the new Riverside Bridge School stands in its own grounds with no surrounding infrastructure or amenities; and the only way for children to attend is by car or by bus (the EL1 or EL3).

The housing development at the Rivergate Centre is modern and all the houses appear to be fitted with solar panels. The surrounding reed filled creeks are well landscaped and attractive walkways between blocks make access easy, but it doesn’t mask the fact it is isolated and quiet. Speaking with some residents, they balanced the isolation factor with attractive and modern accommodation. One local trader, who lived in the tower block above their shop declared, with upturned hands aloft…’what can you do?’

 

Thank you Barking for another interesting experience full of unexpected gifts…

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Barking pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Barking on Wikipedia

#23: Kensington (Olympia) – 17/09/2018

This station has an interesting and chequered history as a London Underground station, but since December 2011, District line services terminating here have been restricted to a limited weekend shuttle service to/from Earl’s Court and a very early morning weekday service. Read TfL’s briefing note explaining the decision behind this.

This was a weekday visit, so I arrived on the Overground service on one of the shared platforms with Southern Rail. The station also once hosted a British Rail Motorail point, but this was closed in 2011 too, the space now used as a car park.

The main attraction of the day was a visit inside Olympia, but as I’ve been a frequent visitor to various IT exhibitions inside the centre over the years, and therefore had some knowledge of what to expect, I felt the surrounding area warranted an investigation first.

 

Blythe Road and Brook Green

Within a short walk of the station, Blythe Road skirts the western side of Olympia and reaches into a residential area with a mix of social housing, terraced houses and local shops. You can’t miss Blythe House though, on first glance, it reminded me of the large, isolated house in the Addams Family. A tall almost gothic like styled building inaccessible and surrounded by high railings and heavy security with access only gained by ‘invitation only’.

In fact the building is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum where the archives of all things art and design are stored. Blythe House is also adjacent to a Royal Mail sorting office with an interesting mosaic embedded in its wall, and further along turning into Caithness Road I find an interesting building ‘arofton lodge’; sadly though there’s no internet reference for this building

I reach Brook Green and discover St Paul’s Girls School where Gustav Holst once taught, and not far away, the Holy Trinity Catholic Church. This brings me out along Hammersmith Road and I reach another entrance to Blythe Road and I’m struck by the reflection of buildings along a mirrored office block – just nice to see.

Turning onto Hammersmith Road, and directly opposite Olympia, there’s a typical Kensington’esque mansion block. The one I admire is Glyn Mansion, but to be honest it’s fairly representative of the accommodation in the surrounding area. Prices are also fairly representative of the affluent area too: a one bedroom flat reaching £0.5 Million!

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Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre – Olympia

The centre is an architectural mix of Victoriana, Art Deco, and 70’s build. What was once the main Victorian frontage faces the station but is partly hidden by functional modern blocks; and the Art Deco facade sits on Hammersmith Road. Both iconic in their own way.

 

Plasa 2018

For those not in the know, Plasa is the ‘entertainment technology association’ bringing together ‘…the cutting edge of lighting, live sound, AV, rigging and staging…’. So why did I attend? Well, when researching my visit to Kensington (Olympia) I thought it would be novel to visit an exhibition as a photographer rather than a visitor with a professional interest in the wares on display. Previously having attended IT and Security exhibitions over the years, I knew the layout of the main centre, so I thought it would be an interesting learning experience applying different professional skills.

A brief exchange of emails with the organisers not only secured me rights to take pictures professionally, but also to enter free with a Press Pass – is this a new career?

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My first impression was that of a smoke filled arena awash with sound and bright lights from all types of light projectors, moving light walls, LED displays of all shapes and sizes, racks and racks of equipment that to my mind would sit more comfortably in an air conditioned IT network room and many types of smoke machines – great fun walking through them.

Oh yes, and thousands of interested professionals talking intensely about the minutest of detail…BUT that’s what an exhibition is all about; an opportunity for suppliers to show off their latest products, and those with bulging budgets, or more likely limited funds to play with the toys. As with all exhibitions, some folk rate the success of the event with how many free goodies they can walk away with. I didn’t get the name of the company, but my prize for innovation went to the company that gave away tool boxes as they were too big to be packed away in a rucksack, so those leaving the exhibition had no option other than to advertise the wares emblazoned with the suppliers logo…

For an exhibition partly promoting stage rigging, there was no better example than how the area had been set out with partially suspended ceilings over all the main exhibitors on the ground floor creating a vision of a false roof at the height of the first floor balcony. Miles of cables and tons of power winches.

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My professional interest was less in the tech and more in the visual impact or statement the exhibitors were making, and I learnt quickly there’s an art, I’ve yet to capture, in taking photos of digital lighting systems. You see, and it’s logical when you think about it, when lights are displayed either on a pixelated wall or as LED’s, which are clearly designed to create a visual overload by changing colour quickly resulting in different designs and effects, a camera set at auto takes the moment and not the effect, so my first hour was somewhat frustrated in not getting the picture I was seeing. Here’s an example…

But as time passed, I thought about the final presentation and believed a different approach might be more effective. Here are some collages of the lighting effects on display. Let me know what you think?

As with all exhibitions, there’s a main sponsor who, probably having made a significant contribution to the set up costs, gets the largest floor space, and in this case, the largest staged area to promote their products. Plasa 2018 was no different and it was ROBE lighting who excelled by giving a stunning stage show, showcasing many of their lighting products. Here’s a little sample..

 

West Kensington Design District

One of the Exhibition Centre’s challenges is how to constantly promote itself and on leaving the centre, Olympia clearly doesn’t rest on its laurels as advertising for the next exhibition was on display: 100%Display, which is also being used to showcase the recently launched West Kensington Design District, and signage around the area was beginning to emerge to point people to various locations.

Ah, another interesting day…

 

See all Kensington (Olympia) pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the side bar for a sample of Kensington (Olympia) pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Kensington Olympia Station on Wikipedia

#22: Beckenham Junction- 12/09/2018

Arriving at the terminal station courtesy of Tramlink, Beckenham Junction is one of the three destinations created to serve the growing population east of Croydon. The platform is also adjacent to the main line station which offers through trains into Central London and into the heart of Kent.

Beckenham has a villagey feel but probably large enough to be called a town comprising of two main streets. Nothing unusual other than being relatively quiet as school has now resumed so the streets aren’t littered with school children. However walking deeper into the heart of the town I found myself on a wildlife adventure as I explored and circumnavigated the lakes in Kelsey Park.

 

The Town and its historic landmarks

Turning south out of the station I entered the meandering High Street which is dominated by St George’s Church and as well as being an imposing building, it’s adjoining cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves location although sadly looking a little unkempt. Across the road is The Public Hall another equally imposing building, a multi-purpose Victorian built venue. It’s rooftop catching my eye as it has a Gothic Swiss villa look to it.

Walking down the hill, I  pass the old police station, now a trendy spa and restaurant, recessed from the main road where the local Farmer’s Market is occasionally held. In contrast, and slightly tucked away from the main road is The Coach & Horses, an attractively decorated traditional pub.

Continuing through HIgh Street, I note a mix of independent shops interlaced with a modicum of closed shop fronts, however the town is working hard to improve the landscape by repaving a significant part of the street.

At the bottom of the HIgh Street, there’s an iconic art deco Odeon Cinema still trading as a cinema, and this landmark acts as my turning point back up the High Street.

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Walking around the town I notice several alleys, cut throughs and dead ends that have novelty and informative street names highlighting their historic past. An interesting way to draw attention to otherwise bland and forgotten places. Here are some examples found at: Church Hill Alley; Thornton’s Alley; Legion Alley; Wood House Alley and Burton’s Yard

 

Wildlife at Kelsey Park

I stumble across Kelsey Park by chance at its entrance in Manor Way and take a peek in through the main entrance looking for shelter as the rain starts to fall. I later realise the stream flowing from the lake is named The Beck, no doubt helping to give the town its name?

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A combination of the rain and it being school term meant the park was quiet with only the hardy few, dog walkers and parents with non-school aged children in tow. Most were polite as we exchanged pleasantries, and some chit chat followed.

Time to swap the standard lens for the 75-300 mm zoom telephoto to take advantage of the wildlife. The lake was awash with a variety of birds and on a distant island two herons were encamped high up. Every now and then, a gathering of geese started their runway wing flapping take off display flying off seamlessly and in harmony with each other.

Most of the birds close to the shore were inquisitive enough that they came in close almost posing to have their picture taken, so I took advantage. Overhead, there was an unexpected sound, but for regulars tuned into wildlife around London will know that it’s no longer unusual to hear the squawking of a flock of parakeets; yes even in sleepy suburbia. I think I counted at least a dozen in a free flowing aerial display.

The lake also boasted at least two cormorants, one high up in a tree proudly displaying its wings, and another doing likewise perched on a post mid lake; a good opportunity to test my ability to keep the camera still at full zoom.

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I probably spent an enjoyable hour bird watching under a chestnut tree sheltering from the rain, engaged in conversation with passers by equally enjoying the bird displays; but time to move on. And on leaving, I spotted a baby heron fishing in the stream; his/her eyes in a steely gaze mesmerised on a hidden fish…AND WHAAAM! Fish for lunch as the heron gulped it’s prey down it’s slender neck. It’s movement so fast, the best I got was a picture of the drips falling from the heron’s mouth. Satisfied with its catch, the heron walks onto the path and uses it as a runway to glide gracefully into the trees..

The day was an interesting sojourn,  reminding me to simply embrace whatever each location offers up as points of interest and record for my personal pleasure and entertainment.

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

See the side bar for a sample of Beckenham Junction pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Beckenham Junction Station and Beckenham on Wikipedia