Journey’s End

#71: Woolwich Arsenal – 22/10/2019

Today’s visit completes the series of seven ‘ends of the line’ on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which includes a return to the Woolwich Ferry, and some more stunning views along the Thames.

The Station

At platform level the station is typically DLR with all things concrete, but the modernist design of the upper station is in some way a retro homage to the art deco era.

I’d not realised the station also doubled up with national rail services provided by Thameslink and Southeastern running from Central London into Kent. And on their shared platform (No. 1), there’s an interesting terracotta mural by Martin Williams entitled ‘Workers of Woolwich’ which portrays the history of Woolwich Arsenal in its munitions heyday.

About 200 metres south of the station is where there’ll be a new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line station running to Abbey Wood. Still under construction but it’s a shame it couldn’t have been designed to co-exist with the existing rail services. Maybe there’s a hidden passageway yet to be revealed?

Woolwich

The town centre is a somewhat depressing area, and although there’s evidence of some investment, it seems to have done little to hide the anti-social behaviour on open display: alcoholism, homelessness and drug dealing are just three examples I just ‘happened’ upon.

The town centre is dominated with an open green square overlooking the main bus stop and main station, and it’s here those with little to do seem to congregate. Listening in on their conversations as I walk past, I hear a preponderance of Eastern Europeans dialects; and there’s also a strong contingency of retired Gurkhas who have adopted one side of the square as their own. In one corner, there’s a large screen showing the Brexit debate, but those walking by or encamped in the square seem oblivious to (or maybe just bored with) the political shenanigans being played out in public.

A little north of the green is Beresford Square Market with a few fruit & veg and clothes stalls tempting those passing through looking for a bargain. It’s a colourful area, but I suspect today isn’t the market’s main day as there aren’t too many stall traders about.

Nearby, the pedestrianised and tree lined Powis Street is where the main shops are. Here I find the usual ‘budget’ high street stores interlaced with a large number of charity shops and a few local independents.

Royal Arsenal

Once an area covering 1,300 acres and employing 100,000 people at its peak, the Royal Arsenal sits on the south bank of the Thames and just north of the town. There are many well documented internet sites that provide its full history so rather than trying to precis it myself, you can read some of them for yourselves here and here.

These are well worth a read and you can learn about the early 17th Century need for munitions through to how the site grew and developed the creation of munitions supporting all the war years through to its closure in the 1960’s. This is of course where Arsenal Football Club started life back in the late 1800’s too

This area has undergone, and continues to undergo extensive regeneration; but what is noticeable is that the original architecture has been kept and that the heritage of the area is being boosted. Even some of the original road names have been kept, and I’m captivated by the road named ‘No. 1 Street’. Seems somewhat iconic don’t you think? Looking down towards James Clavell Square, there’s a very interesting sculpture by Peter Burke, but more on this in my ‘Picture of the Day’ below.

The River

I’ve listened to the London weather and traffic reports most mornings before setting off to work and often heard, particularly during the winter months, that the Woolwich Ferry is either not running or is running with a restricted service of only one ferry. Well, in the spate of a few weeks, I’ve now travelled in both directions on this free service. Two ferry boats operate in harmony and viewed from afar they look as if they perform some form of ‘Strictly’ dance midstream. They’re quite mesmerising to watch: named the Dame Vera Lynn and the Ben Woollacott. The latter in honour of a deck-hand who died in 2011.

There’s something quite wonderful about walking along the Thames; despite the river looking still, there’s movement all around as London busies itself on this arterial waterway. And plenty of walkers and cyclists take advantage of the well groomed Thames Path whose shadows ripple in the murky foreshore.

My journey’s end today is in the middle of the Thames looking west towards Canary Wharf and onwards into The City through the Thames Barrier. I never get tired of this view as it keeps on changing: day or night.

Picture of the Day

This one is taken at the very bottom of the Royal Arsenal Heritage site in James Clavell Square. There is nothing (as far as I can see) to tell me who the sculptor is so an internet search is needed. My first inkling is that it’s an installment by Antony Gormley, and some internet results also suggested this. But wrongly as it turns out and it’s a sculpture by Peter Burke.

Approaching the square form the west, I see this interesting installation from afar and capture some shots through a telephoto lens to narrow the frame whilst also capturing passers by between the 16 statues. But as I get closer, I feel it’s better to be amongst the rusty statues and I compose today’s shot still with passers by framed between the statues. I frame the decorative street lamps in such a way that they are positioned as if they’re almost part of the installation as well.

In post production, I’ve decided a black & white filter influences the picture best as it helps to highlight the starkness of the shadows cast by the early afternoon sun.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 130mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google filter – Vogue

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#70: Kennington – 15/10/2019

Now I know some of you will ask yourselves after looking at the tube map that ‘…hang on, Kennngton isn’t at the end of the line!… BUT then there are a few out there who know differently, and I became one only recently after reading about the Kennington Loop. You too can read about it here.

I resisted the temptation of riding the loop when I alighted at Kennington, but I’m sure it could have been an interesting ride. Anyway, that’s why I’m here; so please read on…

The Station

There’s nothing particularly exciting about the station which sits at the junction where the Charing Cross and Bank branches meet, and the building remains largely unaltered since it was opened in 1890. A Victorian building stylised in classic London red brick with a domed lift shaft.

The fate of the Kennington Loop is somewhat uncertain as work on the Northern Line Extension will see trains from Charing Cross branch being extended through Nine Elms to Battersea Power Station, and utilise some of the loop’s infrastructure. Although not due to complete until 2020, work is well advanced as evidenced in the building works in and around the Kennington Area.

Although not connected with the station, I spot these colourful artworks on the side of a neighbouring corner shop by a local artist, Sevan Szekely.

Kennington as a Community

The area is predominantly residential with local shops scattered around serving the main A3 road. It’s a leafy area with wide avenues lined with a variety of trees with large town houses now converted into multi occupation flats.

The main roads feed smaller residential streets with a mix of typical London terraces and a variety of local authority style flats probably now privately owned or managed by responsible social housing organisations. No doubt the location and immediate surroundings help shape and determine how their residents live, and this example of Calstock House, just off White Hart Street has a poignant tribute to one of its lost residents: Mary ‘Mhairi’ Veronica Mackinnon, who died in 2017.

A wall plaque lays tribute to her time as ‘…someone who gave so much time and love to the community and surrounding gardens…’ Alas, the gardens seem to have fallen into neglect as I suspect no one has picked up the trowel to continue with the green fingered care. I don’t know if this chair was hers, but its positioning directly under the wall plaque would seem to indicate it was.

Another example, this time at Read House in Clayton Street which is within catching distance of a ‘6’ being hit out of  the Oval cricket ground, demonstrates the practical needs of those living within.

Nearby the local Durning Library is a powerful example of how one person’s philanthropy has benefited the wider community. In the guise of Jemima Durning Smith, a lady of means who created a legacy of free libraries across the south of London. This one, built in a gothic style and carries a relief of her on the outside, is now being used as a multi purpose venue. The library staff were kind enough to allow me to photograph inside the building.

Kennington is somewhat defined by two large spaces, the Oval which I touch upon later, and Kennington Park, a large open space of fields, walkways, play & sport areas and formal and informal gardens. It is a busy thoroughfare for those cutting through the park, and with those enjoying the tranquility and calmness away from the main road: casual walkers, dog walkers, mothers with children, and sadly the rough sleepers.

It’s an attractive park with many items on display, and this one in particular caught my eye because of its significance today. The stone memorial, which carries a quote from Maya Angelou, an American civil rights activist and poet, and outlining the plinth is an inscription remembering those who were killed 69 years ago. I pay my respects as it now seems a forgotten memorial, albeit it in a prominent place, as there is no other acknowledgement of the day’s significance.

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

The Kia Oval

A visit to Kennington wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the home of Surrey County Cricket, but alas I wasn’t allowed in as there are no planned tours scheduled today. Instead I circumnavigate its outer walls and gates and in true ‘visitor style’ I spent my time peering through the railings and captured this view.

Not just of the cricket ground, but also as seen in the background, a diminishing reminder of the country’s once dependence on coal gas where the manufactured gas was stored in large tanks supported by the iconic metalwork. Such architectural structures have fallen by the wayside to developers, but a few can still be seen as preserved heritage reminders.

I’m also surprised to find The Oval has its own version of the ‘Angel of the North’ as depicted here. Well, it’s my take on one of the floodlight towers that adorns this cricketing arena, but when viewed from below, it does (I think) present a vague similarity.

Extinction Rebellion

Throughout my tour of the area, I begin to feel a little paranoid as there’s a police helicopter circling overhead, And no matter where I am, the helicopter seems to be following me. It’s only as I approach Vauxhall station, later in the day I get a sense of what’s happening. The roads leading to the station are awash with police and police vehicles which have a notice inside their windscreen something along the lines of ‘…patrol no. xx for removal of arrested protestors…’

It’s only as I turn into Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens I realise what’s afoot. The Extinction Rebellion, who have over the past week or so, demonstrated across London,  have partly decamped right across the gardens.

But the police are invoking a civil order to disband the gathering of many hundreds of protestors who have clearly made the gardens their home in the past week. This is a peaceful engagement between the police and protestors, and whilst there is continuing reluctance to move, the protestors do gradually and slowly move on.

Electric Cabs

My encounter with a black cab driver earlier in the day seems to balance the Extinction Rebellion’s cause quite nicely as it brings into play the, albeit, slow growth of electric cars in response to the climate change challenge.

I see a cab pull up next to an electrical charging point so I wander up to ask the driver about his experiences with his cab. Peering inside the cab, I see how technical an electric black cab has become as there are at least four separate touchscreen displays. The cabby is quite candid about his experiences and says it would be foolish to buy one of these new cabs at a cost of £60,000. This is because their technical immaturity still cause breakdowns, and in his view, there are discrepancies too between the limited liability of aftercare and the potential cost of fixing such repairs. Such is the plight of those who chose to be early adopters of new technology products, but because of that, he has chosen to rent his cab which offers him the safeguard against maintenance and breakdown costs.

He explains a full battery charge can take up to an hour to complete, and I noted during my 10 minute conversation, the battery charge indicator has increased by about 20%. He also explains that a full charge will give him about 400 miles of driving; this is of course subject to weather and driving conditions, and is enough for about half a day’s driving. He was, however, positive about the transition and saw only opportunities for improvement in the coming years.

Picture of the Day

Today’s picture is simply taken; but it achieves ‘my picture of the day’ status as there’s an interesting back-story behind it. The artwork I’ve captured here is found at the entrance to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens just east of Vauxhall Station. The history of the Pleasure Gardens dates back to the 18th Century when they became popular with the urban middle classes as places for paid entertainment. Vauxhall also had a seedier reputation for prostitution here too.

For those who saw the recent dramatisation of Vanity Fair by William Makepiece Thackarey, you’ll be familiar with the vision of fun and frollicking within the context of a fairground – then that’s how I imagine the pleasure gardens to have been.

The picture I’ve taken shows two sculptures atop tall plinths. The sculptures recently erected in 2015 represent the coming together of Vauxhall as seen today with its historical significance. Let me explain: the artwork depicts the figures of a lady in 18th century garb being offered a flower from a young man from the present-day; and shows a representation of a silent conversation between the past and present in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

I take several shots in colour and black & white and feel this grainier image depicts the scene best, with a slight homage to the modern day with the building crane in the middle foreground and the scaffolding on the right.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 50mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Camera setting – grainy B&W

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

#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

I’ve toiled over today’s picture of the day, but on reflection it turns out to be quite easy. 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 somewhat 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 ascending the first flight of stairs, this image is staring me in the face.

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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#68: Finchley Central – 24/09/2019

Central Finchley is the other end of the Mill Hill East daytime shuttle service I wrote about earlier in April, and today I walk about five miles up and down Regent’s Park Road, Ballard Lane and High Road into North Finchley.

Finchley residents may disagree with me, but I only find a few places of passing interest, so I try to make the most of their history here. The majority of the day is about dodging torrential downpours, and whilst most of those out and about find this to be a troublesome inconvenience, I take full advantage to capture the mood of the changing weather conditions. But first…

The Station

This is one of three stations that carries the ‘Finchley’ name, all along the Barnet branch of the Northern Line; East Finchley and West Finchley being the other two. The station is typically Victorian retaining most of its original features, although this could have been quite different had plans to redevelop the rail network under the auspices of the Northern Heights Plan in the early part of the 20th Century materialised. However the Second World War scuppered those plans due to the cost of rebuilding the network after the war damage.

Access to its three platforms is gained from both the north and the south side of the railway line via Chaville Way and Station Road respectively, with a footbridge connecting all three platforms.

Local Landmarks

This is a busy part of London with a diverse community served by a thriving mix of independent shops ranging from ethnic eateries and groceries, beauty shops and barbers, charity shops, and thankfully only a few national chains. The link (above) does much to provide a history of the area, so I’ll not try to compete with this save for the following landmarks:

King Edward Hall – A prominent Grade II listed building situated in the convergence of Hendon Lane and Regent’s Park Road. It was built in 1911-12 as a private banqueting hall on the upper floors with shops on the ground floor; interestingly though it was used as a temporary hospital during the First World War. Currently in a somewhat dilapidated state, its restoration is now being considered. 

Manor Farm Dairy – across the road on the corner of Victoria Avenue is a corner shop underneath flats in an impressive red bricked building. Look to the top and you’ll see set in each of the three facets the name ‘Manor Farm Dairy’. A little research through the annals of the British History Online site indicates the Dairy was founded c. 1875 by Joseph Wilmington Lane and joined in the 1920’s with United Dairies, which had been founded in 1917. From the middle ages, historical data shows the area was dominated by several Manors, each with their own dairies, and this unrelated article in The Times gives an interesting insight into the plight of dairies in their formative years.

Newton Wright Limited – All that remains of this maker of x-ray equipment and scientific instruments is what I presume to be the factory gates which now sit proudly on Ballards Lane. Sadly the factory which once stretched as far back as 30 houses behind Ballards Lane is now itself a housing estate.

Joiners Arms – diagonally across the road, and next to Tesco is this rustic inspired pub. As most high street pubs do these days, they have to cater for what their clientele want and so they offer sports TV to attract and retain their customers. Nevertheless, their exterior is attractive and well maintained, and they have creatively adopted the modern wall art genre to advertise themselves.

Grand Arcade, North Finchley – this arcade epitomises art deco at its grandest, but to see it you really have to look deep into the gloom as the arcade is largely unloved and has been left to deteriorate. A campaign against its demolition and replacement with modern offices and flats is being lead by Dave Davis, lead guitarist of The Kinks.

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day

Today’s forecast is thundery downpours and I wish I’d prepared a bit better as I’m under dressed when the rain comes. The sky darkens ominously quickly and there is little doubt what is about to happen but I remain undeterred as I capture the moody skyline.

When the downpour comes, I’m at the front entrance to Tesco, cowering under a very narrow ledge that barely manages to keep me dry. But the spectacle of the rain bouncing back from the steamy pavement is too much to ignore so I set my camera near to the ground and capture the image created as the sun starts to re-emerge. People rushing by, eager to get under cover, seem oblivious to my presence so I’m able to get some interesting shots.

Once the rain stops, I carry on along Ballards Lane and stop at Lovers Walk, a small passageway which seems to invite 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 and this creates a different 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.

Picture of the Day

I had intended having a predominantly black and white day to help capture the moody weather conditions, but when I saw this wall, it simply wouldn’t have worked in B&W. The location is on the side of a closed and dishevelled restaurant, the Central Restaurant, part of the Central House tower block complex on the corner of Ballard Lane and Nether Street.

It’s a very simple scene as this part of the wall has been painted in these three bright colours. The taking of the picture was less than simple as I’m positioned on the opposite side of the road, my camera low on the ground, and waiting for traffic queuing at the nearby traffic lights to move along. I’m keen to get a shot uninterrupted by cars, but this setting only gives me about two to three seconds every three minutes or so as the lights change and traffic moves by. I end up taking several shots to get the one I want, with the added challenge in that the sky is getting darker by the minute and about to pour, so there is some additional pressure not to get wet as well.

During the sequence, I set my camera to shoot in ‘art vivid’ mode which creates an enhanced effect by taking three consecutive shots with slightly different settings. The camera software stitches the individual pictures into one creating heightened colours. I’m pleased with the outcome but realise that the virgin shot (with no car interruption) lacks something in the composition, and I believe this one with a ghostly image of a car just entering the frame on the left hand side helps with the picture’s story. The effect is created by the image of the car being taken on the third shot and appears somewhat shadowy when stitched with the other two pictures. Let me know what you think about it.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google filter effect – Auti; Camera effect – Vivid

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#67: Beckton – 02/09/2019

Let me start this week’s travelog with a question: What’s the connection between my visit to Beckton and Burt Bacharach? Vague I know, but in 1965 (and alas I remember it well!), he composed ‘Trains and Boats and Planes’ originally recorded by Billy J Kramer (and the Dakotas) and later in 1996 by Dionne Warwick. You can listen to their versions on YouTube.

You see, today is a story of trains and boats and planes and a few cyclists thrown in for good measure too. Read on and enjoy the unexpected surprises I discovered on my nine kilometre walk from Beckton through North Woolwich and Silvertown.

To be honest I’m a little undecided on my camera settings for the day, but after a few colour shots in and around the station, I decide to settle on a predominantly black and white day again. Today I’m fixed on ISO 400 as I believe with the strong light I’ll have a little more control on the aperture/speed combination. I do take a few colour shots where I believe the scene warranted it. You can let me know if you agree with me.

Trains

Beckton and Gallions Reach are the two that feature today as well as the new Elizabeth Line running under the Thames emerging in Silvertown.

Beckton DLR – now when you look at the tube map you’d be inclined to think that Beckton station is the furthest east on the DLR network. But when you look on the map, and travel on it, you realise that the DLR arcs in a loop back on itself after Cyprus through Gallions Reach before terminating at Beckton. Gallions Reach DLR – is actually the most easterly DLR station by a whisker.

The station is a typically open DLR station with a modernist style overlooked by shrubbery hiding the surrounding housing estates. And across the road guarding the entrance of the bus station is the sculpture ‘Horses’ – depicting two horses created in steel by the artist Brian Yale.

The bus station shares its space with a large Asda superstore, beyond which is Beckton’s social hub with its library and adult education centre with an aspirational name – the Beckton Globe: quite different to Shakespeare’s version.

I write about Gallions Reach under my Picture of the Day, but on my way there I take a slight detour as I’m seduced by four decorative bridge posts I can see from afar. They’re on a one way road feeding via Royal Docks Road, an extension of the North Circular as it crosses the main A13 arterial road headed towards Beckton. At the top of the bridge, there’s evidence that it had been planned to go elsewhere as there’s a fenced off section where the road comes to an abrupt end. Research indicates there were plans quite some time ago to build a bridge over the Thames at this point over to Thamsemead, however this never materialised. This link offers an artist’s impression of how the bridge would have fitted in. So now it’s almost a one way road to nowhere; sadly though I can’t find any reference behind the intricacy of the bridge architecture. I wonder if there’s any significance with the area’s dockland history? If you know, please drop me a message.

So on to the Elizabeth Line.

Later in the day I’m walking along the back streets in Silvertown, returning from the Thames headed towards City Airport, and along one side of the road there’s a high concrete wall running its length. I give it a cursory glance noticing overhead power lines and without thinking I dismiss it as an established rail route. I pass the LCM Scrap Company Ltd and admire their high rise metal sculptures on either side of their main entrance, and a little later I pass the Tate & Lyle factory which I have admired from afar many a time. They proudly display the fact that they have been ‘Keeping The Nation Sweet For 140 Years’.

Turning back to face the road I see the upper part of a bright yellow engineering train on the railway line emblazoned with the Elizabeth Line logo. I then realise this is part of the new route which emerges from under the Thames nearby from Woolwich en route to Custom House and all points west.

I soon see evidence of the Elizabeth Line’s continuing building works a little further along surrounding the proudly restored St Marks Church, the home of the acclaimed Brick Lane Music Hall which has occupied this site since 2003.

Planes

From Gallions Reach, I continue south and head over the Sir Steve Redgrave bridge which spans Gallions Point Marina and London City Airport into North Woolwich. As I approach the centre of the bridge, I look east and see two bright lights high in the sky heading towards me. Now having spent many a journey travelling through London City Airport, I know that planes land in one of two directions depending on the prevailing wind. Today the wind was blowing from a westerly direction so planes were arriving and landing from the east.

This was a perfect spot for plane watching; one I took full advantage of as I set my stall out at the mid point and waited for the overhead planes to approach. I must have been there for about half an hour all told, and I didn’t seem to disturb the local police who passed me several times in their transit vans.

At this point, the planes have descended quite rapidly as the landing strip is no more than 300 metres away, and I’m standing in line with the landing beacons that guide the planes to ground. I can see the pilots quite clearly in their cockpits as they control their flights masterfully against the blustery side winds which sees some of the planes rock from side to side. I’ve been in some of those planes as they’ve approached the runway and it makes for an interesting arrival.

Later in the day, and as I end today’s travels on the other side of London City Airport, I stand and admire ‘Athena’ the tallest, at 12 metres high, bronze sculpture in the UK (as at 2012). The sculpture was created by Nasser Azam and designed to be visible to air travellers from the sky as they approach the airport.

Boats

In all my 30 years living and working in London, I’d never experienced the Woolwich Ferry crossing. I’d heard many a news report that the ferry wasn’t running for one reason or another, so as I found myself so close to the North terminal, I headed there just to see. There are messages that there’s a delay of 1 hour as only one ferry is operating, but that doesn’t deter cars and lorries queuing up. I walk past the old North Woolwich station converted into a museum and now closed, and I decide I’ll walk under the river and return by ferry.

I don’t think the Woolwich Foot tunnel is as well advertised as the one in Greenwich, but it has all the Victorian characteristics of its counterpart: over a 100 steps down (there is a lift), tiled walls throughout which reflect an eerie glow from the dimly lit overhead lights. Despite painted notices on the ground every 20 metres or so instructing there to be ‘No Cycling’, they had no effect on all the cyclists who use the walkway as a shortcut under the river. More later.

I took a series of shots but felt this one in colour best reflected the walkway; the meaningless overhead traffic lights directing which side to walk being ignored by everyone, but the colour effect casts an interesting glow. Oh yes, two girls descending in the lift have a blast, and as they walk along, singing at the top of their voices are clearly enjoying the echo effect they create.

Up the 101 steps on the south shore, I head for the ferry that’s just docking and walk on freely; you see there’s no charge for pedestrians or vehicles. The view looking west from the middle of the Thames is quite surreal with the Thames Barrier in the distance with each gate’s traffic lights directing where boats should pass. It’s a relatively short journey across the river.

Cyclists

Now a shout out to to five cyclists I met during the day. First to Mahammad, Andre, Lucas and Edward. Four young lads who were practicing wheelies in the Asda car park when I walked through earlier in the day. I stop to ask them if they’d be happy to be photographed, and after a short conflab amongst themselves they seemed happy to pose. This is a short collection showing their various skills during their valiant ( and safe) efforts up and down the car park. Thanks lads and I hope you enjoy them?

My final shout out is to Samson who I met in the Woolwich foot tunnel. He was riding through and I happened to be standing by a No Cycling sign at the time and I tried, unsuccessfully, to capture the moment. Anyway, a few seconds later he returned asking to see the pic and explaining it hadn’t quite worked, he agreed to repeat the effort and help me to recreate the moment. I wanted to reflect the moody lighting of the tunnel and capture the motion, so I avoided using a flash and panned the shots as Samson rode past. I believe this one captures that effect; so thanks again Samson, and great to have met you.

The Thames

During the day I find myself walking along the river bank several times. First through Gallions Point, past Barge House Causeway, along Royal Victoria Gardens and later along the footpath adjacent to Pier Road. Here are some of the images I captured.

Another successful day…

Picture of the Day

From Beckton I walk down Woolwich Manor Way to Gallions Reach DLR station which is surrounded by a large, empty paved area. I guess during peak travel times this is a busy area as commuters either make their way home or divert to the nearby shopping park. Anyhow, as I take a breather, I notice the enclosed walkways from the raised platforms to ground level have a distinct pattern; and with the afternoon sun streaming through, it casts dramatic shadows which I sense will make for a great shot.

I set my camera on the ground using my trusty bean bags (best investment next to a tripod) to help steady the shot, and with minor placement adjustments I’m pleased with how I capture the contrasting shadows. Passengers have just alighted from a recently departed train and I realise  I need to capture their movement to complete this picture. Alas I’ve just missed that opportunity so I set the camera and wait for the next train. You know what, it always seems longer when you’re waiting for something, but probably no more than 10 minutes later I get my chance as another Beckton bound train arrives.

This is the final shot in a sequence and realise instantly it could be the shot of the day. The passenger’s black and white attire complements the shadow effect perfectly, and her gaze away from the camera somehow represents some disdain at being photographed, but she doesn’t challenge me as she passes by.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ29; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO400; Google filter effect – Vista; Camera effect – B&W

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#66: West Ruislip – 27/08/2019

A 10 mile walk on one of the hottest post Bank Holiday Tuesdays ever recorded. Phew! Today’s visit is a final farewell to the Central Line. This time to the north west of London in what was  once the county of Middlesex, but now the suburbia of West Ruislip which is entrenched in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

A particularly challenging day, not only for the distance I travelled, but for the harsh daylight conditions too. I’ve decided to set my camera in black and white mode and a fixed ISO of 100. Ideally I would like to have had a lower setting to help with the harsh lighting, but alas this is a limitation of my camera. One of the outcomes from today is that many of my pictures appear somewhat ‘flat’ in monochrome, but that challenge has been part of the fun in trying to get a well lit and composed picture.

 I’ll let you be the judge.

The Station

The station’s island platform serves two lines with trains arriving and departing every 10 minutes or so. An early 20th Century station which is adjacent to a separate Chilterns Railway station served by a separate entrance but with a walkway joining the two. Although there is nothing particularly striking about the station or its surrounds, the feeling of ‘big brother watching’ is clearly evidenced by this picture of these overhead cameras. They look somewhat sci-fi and menacing as they could easily have appeared as a large winged drone hovering overhead.

At the end of the platform there’s a gateway to the driver’s rest rooms reached up a flight of steps and a gangway across the railway line. And whilst contemplating a shot, the driver of the recently arrived train walks up and we chat. He outlines his itinerary for the day, which includes two return trips to Epping, a lunch stop and rest break in Acton before ending his day, returning home for his tea – all before making his way to Watford to watch his football team play Coventry in the EFL Carabao Cup that evening. I’m pleased for him that Watford won 3-0.

HS2

Whatever your thoughts, views and emotions surrounding the HS2 project, it’s impact on West Ruislip’s residents is clearly set out on notices surrounding the station despite development work having already started just across the road.

And it’s across the road I wander and poke my nose around the West Ruislip Golf Centre. I find I’ve made my way, unchallenged, to the 40 bay driving range and I’m somewhat surprised there’s no one’s about other than a singular golfer whose picking up his golf bag and walking out. All becomes clear as I’m approached by an employee asking me to leave the premises. I explain my purpose and ask if I can take some pictures but I’m told that the business was sold to HS2 the day before and therefore the Golf Centre is no longer an operating business. We exchange a few comments on the impact of HS2, but the employee remains non-committal but her sadness is etched across her face.

Ruislip

Ruislip is very much suburbia at its best and is well served by 5 stations bearing its name (West Ruislip, Ruislip Gardens and South Ruislip all on the Central Line, and Ruislip and Ruislip Manor on the shared Met/Piccadilly Lines). There is little of interest around West Ruislip so I head off to the main town centre which is about a mile away. En Route, I pass Training Ship (TS) Pelican, the Sea Cadet’s home in Ruislip. An otherwise indistinct building but it catches my eye as it reminds me of my days as a Sea Cadet on board TS Hydra which once had a presence on the shores of The Menai in Y Felinheli (Port Dinorwic) on the North Wales coast. This was over 50 years ago, but I’m still thankful for the skills I learnt – in particular how to tie knots: the sheepshank, bowline and clove hitch.

The station in Ruislip opened around the same time as its counterpart in West Ruislip and reflected the population growth in suburbia in response to the ingress of the railways into the ‘Metropolitan areas’. This station has a little more character than the one to its west where a well maintained disused signal box has been preserved within the station’s boundaries.

Into the town, I head to its northern approach and browse around Manor Farm and associated buildings. The Manor Farm is a 22-acre historic site incorporating a medieval farm complex, with a main old barn dating from the 13th Century and a farm house from the 16th. Nearby are the remains of a motte-and-bailey castle believed to date from shortly after the Norman conquest.

The buildings have been renovated courtesy of a National Lottery grant, and although the site promotes that it is ‘open’ 365 days of the year, the only accessible building is the Library. A beautifully renovated barn with exposed beams, now filled with rows and rows of books and as part of this summer’s theme, workshops are run for children introducing them to space exploration as part of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing celebrations.

Sadly, I found little else of interest in the immediate vicinity, and unwisely I decided to walk the one and a half miles to Ruislip Gardens. In the searing heat, it was no fun, but equally it was unexciting as I passed rows upon rows of similarly designed houses. The purpose of my sojourn was to return to the Central Line and head for Perivale.

The Hoover Building

As I’m in the vicinity, I decide to head for and explore the iconic art deco style Hoover Building as it would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to bask in the buildings historic architecture. But before I do, a final mention about the heat: well I can only imagine it is the heat that’s led to my bemusement as I get on the tube at Ruislip Gardens and see this discarded bra on the floor. WTF (sorry) – WTH?! What on earth makes anyone believe it’s OK to just leave such a thing lying around, presumably having been taken off because of the heat; who knows?. I ponder this thought for the ten minutes or so it takes me to travel the four stops to Perivale station.

The Hoover Building is less than ten minutes from the station and in recent years, this Grade II* listed building has been converted into a Tesco Superstore, a Halal Friendly Asian Restaurant (The Royal Naawab), and a collection of 66 luxury apartments. But thankfully all of the iconic features have been retained for everyone to see. I’ll end today’s blog by letting the building speak for itself – well more specifically its original architects: Wallis, Gilbert and Partners

Picture of the Day

This picture is taken within the grounds of Ruislip Manor Farm buildings. In particular within the green area enclosed by the Great Barn, the Library and the Cow Byre Gallery. I’m looking directly at the Great Barn and as I walked through the first time I was struck by the magnificence of the restored buildings, the starkness of the black wooden cladding and the contrast this created with the sun soaked roof tiles. 

Having walked around the area for a while, I decided to return to this spot to capture the Great Barn, and as mentioned earlier, getting the right tone of black is difficult, especially with the sun directly overhead, so I take a few practice shots to get the camera settings just right.

Now I’d seen this lady when I first walked by; she seemed to have stopped for her lunch and is now intently studying her mobile. My first thought is to capture The Barn without her in the frame, but the more I played with my positioning, the more I thought her inclusion helps to set the scene. I deliberate on whether to ask her to stay, but decide against this as it would then have made her conscious of my presence and she may have portrayed a different visage. It’s her intense concentration and complete lack of awareness of her surroundings that I believe adds to the final picture.

I started with a shot from afar which captures too much foreground, so I walk closer to tighten the shot, and then maybe after every 10 steps I take the same picture. In this final shot, I’m probably no more than 3 or 4 metres away and I’m very happy with the outcome. Even as I walk right past her, she still doesn’t acknowledge me, so whatever she’s doing, it’s certainly very riveting.

In post production, I played a little with Google Photos filter settings to get the starkness of the black I was after to represent as close as possible the colour I saw. The ‘Vista’ setting does this justice. I hope you like it?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter effect – Vista; Camera setting – B&W

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

#65: Watford – 20/08/2019

Today’s story is a relatively short one and is my penultimate trip on the Metropolitan line. This time to its end at Watford, and this story complements my visit to Watford Junction earlier in the year. My focus is on the north and west of Watford as this is where the station is located; about a mile out of the town centre.

The Station

The station is in an odd location, but its history explains why. In essence, in the early 20th Century the railway line enticed Londoners with its ‘Metro-land’ advertising campaign promoting the new railway as an opportunity to live in a rural location with easy transport to central London. And although it wasn’t intended to be the terminal station, wars, financial challenges and local authority objections resulted in no further development of the line.

The station itself is fairly unexciting, with one central walkway servicing two platforms. Only half of the platform is covered providing shelter from the elements, but the supporting ironmongery nicely displays the met line colouring.

Cassiobury Park

On exiting the station after the morning peak, it feels like a calm suburban sun-washed peaceful day. There are few people about, other than mums with their pushchairs headed for the park through one of it’s two main entrances nearby.

This park has recently been voted as one of the top 10 parks in the UK and I can see why as it’s a place offering a delightful mix of entertainment for the passive and active visitor. It’s heritage trail takes me on a tour explaining the history of the now demolished Cassiobury House, and the tree lined avenues of what was once the main carriageway, glimmer with iridescent sunshine through the magnificent green canopy overhead.

As I walk past the ‘Hub’ and play areas, children are clearly enjoying the attractively developed paddling and splash pools. And as I walk on, I suddenly find I’m singing along to the tune of ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’ as a mum with two kids on bicycles ride past. I smile as I can’t get the tune out of my head as I follow the path towards a rustic bridge which crosses the River Gade, with dogs and children paddling in the pools on either side.

Just off the path, some carefully placed logs and rocks span the river which entices many a child to cross. Some achieve their goal of getting to the other side without wet feet more successfully than others, and I laugh with them as their parents cross and fail to achieve this. I wait my turn and cross successfully and I explore the leafy undergrowth on the other side.

There are remnants of river management of days gone by alongside a newer weir which becomes the focal point for the trail. I find though I have to return across the stepping stones as the only way to get back….I do so with both feet dry.

A short hop from the weir, and I’m standing by the Grand Union Canal and chat with a couple on route from Rugby to Harefield in their narrow boat. A journey that has taken them over a week so far to reach the Ironbridge Lock (no. 77) that takes them under Cassiobury Park Bridge (no. 167) where several onlookers enjoy the spectacle. The effort of opening the lock is a well practised event, and I’m amazed at the skill of the pilot steering the narrow boat through the bottom gates as only one is opened – there is no room to squeeze anything else through, but the narrow boat is steered through masterfully.

My picture of the day is taken here too, so read about it below.

Watford Football Club

I feel a visit to Watford wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Football Club, so I retrace my steps through the park, into town and out again along Vicarage Road. It’s not a match day, so the streets are relatively quiet and as I pass the cemetery on my right I see the stadium looming up ahead on the left.

There’s a homage to Graham Taylor on the corner outside the Hornets Shop and the Elton John stand is proudly emblazoned on the left where I take this shot. The image nicely demonstrates the effect of the triple exposure when taking a ‘vivid’ shot with the pedestrian, I suspect an employee returning with his lunch, walking through.

Walking around the stadium, it has a clinical exterior, with the building being encased in matt black cladding, with splashes of colour here and there representing the team’s home colours of gold, black and red: a powerful effect.

Watford General Hospital

Next door is the hospital which is a large sprawling site made up of a variety of early and late 20th Century buildings. As with all hospitals of a similar style, you can tell where the boiler room is, as in this case, you can’t ignore the towering chimneys.

Equally evident is the poor state of some of the buildings, which is somewhat symptomatic of a lack of building investment. This image undermines the great work carried out by the NHS, and it doesn’t help that it’s directly on the main road by the main entrance so casual visitors to the hospital may well perceive a false impression of the hospital’s overall service.

Picture of the Day

After seeing the narrow boat through the lock, I wander around the lock and under the bridge and notice the sunlight shimmering off the canal surface onto the underside of the bridge. The effect is mesmerising, particularly when taken with a vivid art effect. And when adjusted with the Alpaca filter from Google Photos, I believe the picture is enhanced as the colours are well balanced with the rustic lock gates.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO640; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid

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