Journey’s End

#51: Bank (again) – 09/05/2019

A return today to Bank station courtesy of the Dockland Light Railway (DLR). A day where the weather forecast was looking pretty grim and dismal, the first in over a year. So I did some advance planning on where to go if the weather turned bad…which it did. Today turned out to be a tour of central London stations including Bank, Monument, Cannon Street and London Bridge.

Today was also a study in underground passageways, and my thanks go to other Underground Twitter enthusiasts who have posted pictures which have inspired some of mine today.

Bank Station

Those of you working in the City, or have a need to change at Bank know how busy it is, and somewhat complicated now whilst improvement works are being undertaken. The station, which is inter-connected with Monument provides underground access to the Central, Northern, Circle and District lines; the DLR and the Waterloo & City line. It’s main feature is the 300m long adjoining walkway running directly under King William Street.

From personal experience, I was caught off guard one summer’s day when lugging a heavy suitcase from one station to the next without realising how many flights of stairs there are, and how long it takes when battling with commuters charged with only one goal in mind – getting to their end point as quickly as possible.

My study of the underground has yielded many pictures in an attempt to capture the constant flow of travellers making their way through the tunnel between the two stations, or on route to/from Waterloo via the underground tunnels and travelator. Some travellers have a clear plan on where they are going and others are bemused by the the whole experience. Nevertheless, I’ve compiled some of the pictures into animations to help set the scene.

I decide to head for Monument Station which is a popular destination for tourists who flock to the aptly named Monument, opened in 1677 as a permanent reminder of the Great Fire of London.

Outside the station, street promoters try to catch the eye of the passer-by by handing out leaflets with a promise of free cash ‘…if you sign up today!..’

As I walk around to the Monument, I notice that I’m now in The Ward of Candlewick and ask myself, what is a Ward? The answer is here…

Saint Magnus the Martyr and The Thames Path

London is littered with churches of all denominations, and from my own observation, the City has more than its fair share. Heading down towards the embankment and the Thames Path, I pass this church and explore its surroundings, and as I do, I spot a plaque declaring the churchyard formed part of the roadway onto the original London Bridge. Intrigued, not out of religious conviction, but more out of historical interest, I head inside and I’m struck by the ornate decorations; full of colour and all the religious icons you would expect to see.

By the doorway there is a long, if not at least ten feet long, encased model replica of the original London Bridge bedecked with houses and shops. The vaulted ceiling is magnificent, as indeed are the stained glass windows in homage to the good saint, and before leaving I feel compelled to light a candle.

The church sits on the river so a quick canter around the back of the church and I’m overlooking the river with The Shard for company ahead of me, and London Bridge to my right. There’s what appears to be a collection of stones as a seating area, but on closer inspection there’s an inscription explaining the stone bench was part of an Architectural Student Award in 2009. Each stone engraved with a floral design and its name.

I pass under London Bridge, which has a mysterious eerie feel to it, and could it be that ghosts of eons past are still lurking as you just don’t know what would have transpired here over the years and centuries. Or maybe as it was about to pour with rain the ominous sky affected my senses. Who knows?

I didn’t give any thought to the name of the footpath until I came to Cannon Street station rail bridge – Hanseatic Walk. But before walking under the bridge, I spot a wall plaque, a little difficult to get at to read. But when I do, I see it was erected in 2005 to commemorate a site where 400 Hanseatic merchants lived in a German self-governing enclave for nearly 600 years up to the 19th Century.

Cannon Street station is my third station of the day, each of which are no more than 300 metres apart such is the density of the working population that it needs so many stations to cope with the daily influx. This station has recently been modernised and therein stands the Plumber’s Apprentice, erected at the location where once stood the Livery Hall of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers

London Bridge station and its surrounds

One stop by train across the river and I’m at London’s most recently modernised station where the architects have blended the modern functional needs with the classic cavernous catacomb like arches. Now that’s it’s finished, the station provides an exciting feast for the eye as I journey through the station. Glass and lighting are the two main features used to excellent effect to bring out a modern design.

I’m asked by a security lady to explain what I’m doing and although she doesn’t stop me, she does suggest a visit to Network Rail’s reception would be in order to check on whether I need permission to take pictures. Thankfully, through their twitter feed, I’m directed to their very helpful and clearly set out online Guidelines for taking photos at stations.

I exit the station south side and I’m immediately drawn to a sight of red ants crawling over a full size train carriage atop a low level building. Go see it as it’s an impressive piece of art from Joe Rush – never heard of him? Well he also created the Arcadia spider at a recent Glastonbury festival.

The artwork helps to promote one of London’s newest open air food and container box outlets at Vinegar Yard. It is almost deserted, with only a couple of seated guests and a few others, like me, wandering around taking photos; the reason being that it is cold and raining, so not the ideal combo for this place. Nevertheless, I suspect as the evening wears on, more brave souls will be attracted to eat and drink here later.

This was a surprising and delightful find at the end of the day, and is partly what this sojourn is all about – a personal discovery of communities that otherwise might not get seen by outsiders.

Picture of the Day

This was one of my first photos of the day and after a few test shots to get the settings right, I waited for a sequence of trains to pull into the end of the DLR at Bank station. With a slow shutter speed to capture the train’s movement, I was pleased, and surprised, to get the focus just right as this is a hand held shot. The position of the train as it is just about to pass the station sign was planned, and as the sign states the platform is for ‘alighting only’ so there were no other passengers waiting other than me. I was half expecting to get stopped by passing Tfl staff as I was loitering there for quite a while, but guess they’re used to enthusiasts hanging around. The wide angle shot lets me get the full length of the station in frame, and the fast ISO setting lets me get the depth of field I wanted too. Maybe the lighting could have been slightly darker with a slower film speed setting, but sometimes a compromise is OK.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/22; Shutter Speed – 1/5; Focal Length – 318mm; Film Speed – ISO12800

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#50: Clapham Junction (revisited) – 30/04/2019

Wow! Just over a year on since I started this blog when I took my first nervous step from Gospel Oak in April 2018; and now I’ve completed my 50th journey. An average of one a week that has grown from a simple idea, to one that now has multiple channels to help spread the word.

The station

I first visited Clapham Junction nearly a year ago, so today was a return to complete my visit of the twin Overground line termini. Strange as it is, both termini are on the same platform, though separated by buffers and different parts of the platform named Platform 1 and Platform 2.

Clapham is a busy station with 17 platforms and over a 1,000 trains stopping daily for passengers to change trains to other destinations from Addlestone to Yeovil Junction…and slightly offset in the middle of the platforms are multiple sidings and train sheds where services either start from or end up after all passengers have alighted.

As I head out of the station through the Brighton Yard entrance to make my way to the river, I meet Jermaine and his travelling companion – Sif, a Bearded Dragon.

It is Sif’s picture that makes it as my ‘Picture of the Day’ below, and we chat a little as I enjoy the sight of Sif basking in the sun. The focus of our discussion is the impact of today’s teaching demands on teachers and on their wellbeing; teachers who care passionately about children’s development but are blighted by unrealistic educational targets and dwindling resources. We agree that good support mechanisms can be invaluable but regrettably it’s not universally available.

The Thames Path

My journey today is a relatively short one following the Thames Path from where I’d previously visited in Cotton Row, and I head west as far as Putney, with a flirtatious diversion through fashionable Wandsworth.

Now I’ve referenced The Thames Path many a time before, but this time I’m including a personal reference. My sister in law and her sister, who call themselves ‘Two Welsh Walkers’ are soon to walk the full length of 185 miles from the source of the Thames at Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in aid of Asthma UK. They are lovers of walking and last year completed the 60 mile route of the Caledonian Canal, so I send my best wishes to them on this year’s epic. If you’d like to support their cause, please visit their Just Giving page.

Riverside Views

I can’t begin to imagine how the riverside may have looked a 100 years ago except through historical photographs. Even in my lifetime, 50 years ago it will have looked different to today as almost every stretch of the embankment, as far as the eye can see, has been transformed into a luxury high rise dwelling with magnificent views; and for the hardy marine folk, houseboats adorn part of the embankment too.

Let’s not forget the Thames is still a working river, and I’ve tried to capture the artistry and architecture of some, where today’s light industry meets the shoreline.

Cement works, Pier Terrace
Western Riverside Waste Authority Recycling Facility, Smuggelrs Way

Old Wandsworth

Admittedly I only flirt with old Wandsworth as I detour from the river, but what I see along York Road is a very bijou and fashionable street full of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. One in particular captures my immediate attention; that of a static coffee stall immediately outside the station – CWTCH.

Now those of you who know the Welsh language will recognise this word with affection, and their website nicely defines its meaning as ‘a small Welsh hug’. Not a literal translation, as I don’t think there is one, but it does represents the intent behind the word, although not necessarily the emotion. (There are other meanings too such as cubbyhole or cupboard).

I spend a little time talking with those working there who beam broadly when I ask them if they know what it means, and they explain a little about the stall’s brief history and naming. Ah! Such a welcome sight that makes me smile as I continue with my journey.

I hadn’t realised that Wandsworth gets its name from the river Wandle, and the eagle eye’d of you will know that I’ve encountered the Wandle before during my visit to Morden. The river now reaches its journey’s end as it discharges into the Thames nearby at Bell Lane Creek where a little oasis of peace has been recreated on a small peninsula known as The Spit.

Nearby is one of London’s many Victorian backstreet pubs, and this one with its unusual name captures my interest – The Cat’s Back. The pub has a history of several name changes (formally Brush; Forester’s Arms; Ye Olde House at Home), but in the 1990’s it was renamed after a lost cat returned.

The local community is blessed with much greenery and I notice as I walk through Bramford Gardens, a thriving community garden which has taken over a quiet corner of this unassuming space. And on a much grander scale is the open space and tree lined avenues of Wandsworth Park with its riverside walk, and if you look closely as you walk through, there are several sculptures dotted around to help pique your interest. On today’s sunlit afternoon, and the trees almost in full leaf, the view is an enticing one which has drawn many people and children out to enjoy this space.

Bramford Community Garden
Wandsworth Park

I end my journey arriving at Putney Bridge, but not before a quick scamper onto the Fulham Railway Bridge that has a footpath running along side it. I also stop at 13 Deodar Road where I spot an unusual building plaque. This one for the Grand Priory of England of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. A small unassuming building tucked away, but one that made me read about the Order and its history. I invite you to do the same.

Fulham railway bridge looking from the south shore

Picture of the Day

Ah, the bearded dragon named Sif. Surprised to see him sitting on a book (The end of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas) with his keeper, both of whom were enjoying the sunshine. I had to ask if he was real and in doing so, got into conversation with Jermaine. This is one of a short snatch of pictures which I took making sure I wasn’t shooting straight into the sun. The soft tones of the book he’s sitting on blended nicely with the brick wall behind, and with each shot I got closer but making sure the eyes were the focal point. Sif was a good subject, and seemed unperturbed by my intrusion, but just like taking pictures of children, I believe the secret is to shoot quickly and keep a close crop so that the subject fills the screen.

Sif, a bearded dragon

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 37mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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#49: Mill Hill East – 24/04/2019

A personal note – I’m a little familiar with Mill Hill East station as when I first moved to London over 30 years ago when I started work in Wood Green, I was in lodgings for several months some 10 minutes from this station in Devonshire Road. However my recollection of those days is somewhat vague other than the wintry walks through the suburban tree lined roads to and from the station.

The Station

I hadn’t realised either that Mill Hill East is at the end of a single track shuttle service line to/from Finchley Central with only weekday peak time through trains into London. And consequently, I proclaim Finchley Central to be a hidden ‘end of the line’ destination which I’ve now added to my list.

Described by one commentator as ‘…one of the most basic stations on the underground network, remaining largely in its original form…’ and it is the least used station on the Northern Line. However the station has a very interesting history and this amusing video helps bring that to life.

Inglis Barracks

Immediately in front of you as you leave the station is an area once occupied by these barracks; the former home of the Middlesex Regiment. Over the years the barracks became the home of the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) mail sorting and distribution centre which was bombed by the Provisional IRA in 1988, and the site was later abandoned as the mail services moved elsewhere in 2007 and the land sold for development in 2012.

Of course none of this is recognisable as the area as far as the eye can see is now a massive housing development known as Millbrook Park. Readers, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of large housing developments as despite their attempts to look fashionable and attractive and provide local amenities, walking around as I did, I see there’s a monotonous similarity in the building style which lacks character and appears soulless.

Now I accept there’s a need for social housing across London, and this is an attempt to contribute to that. I have no doubt too that the planning application will have made some play of the fact that the Park is so close to the station and that the expected population growth’s travel needs will be catered by an increase usage of the station.

However I suspect only time will tell on whether the vision of improved conditions will be realised bringing about a community feel to the area and engender a change in social behaviour.

Social Behaviour

Attempting such a paradigm shift in social behaviour is to be applauded, but will be somewhat hard to encourage when adjacent housing provides examples of what doesn’t work now.

The challenge is made even harder by the single most impacting event, in my humble opinion, that’s changed today’s front door landscape: that of the multi-colour wheelie bin local authorities have introduced as a way of ‘helping’ householders deal with recycling. A good example of meaning well, but not quite getting it right.

Picture of the Day

A difficult day to select my picture of the day as I have taken so few. Nonetheless, I’ve chosen this one to serve as a reminder of my first lodgings in Devonshire Road, and of the time of year where Cherry Blossom is abundant, but quickly blown away by the slightest of breeze. The pavement covered palate was ever changing as the wind swirled the petals on the ground. This is one of a short sequence of pictures taken from ground level and capturing the yellow dandelions in the foreground to help with the colour contrast. Timing was crucial too and this one captures a travelling car as it appears between the tree line.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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#48: Shenfield – 18/04/2019

I have new eyes and I can see!.. Let me explain. Having had a cataract operation last August, I’ve struggled a bit with focusing and had to rely on two sets of glasses as the focal point in both eyes have been somewhat out of kilter. So I’ve been using one pair of glasses for reading and one for long distance. So although when I’m walking about I have been able to see OK, when I’ve then tried to focus on taking a photograph, I’ve had to swap glasses. All in all it was manageable but somewhat clumsy.

The good news is that I had my other eye operated on last week, and almost instantly, my vision has returned so much so that from close to long distance I can manage without glasses except for close reading which I’m still in need. So a very good outcome indeed. Today’s journey was probably sooner than I should have ventured after my operation, but I was keen to try out my new eyes.

So the weather has changed for the better and today is a hot spring day for what turned out to be a nine mile hike through the Essex countryside which tested my childhood membership of the Tufty Club and latterly the Green Cross Code. All part of Britain’s road safety campaigns over the years to improve safety for pedestrians.

Shenfield Station

The station has six platforms serving Tfl Rail and Greater Anglia services. The former being the terminus out of Liverpool Street, and once the Elizabeth Line has been commissioned the station will serve trains through to Paddington and onwards to Heathrow (T5) and Reading. Greater Anglia services terminate here from Southend, and pass through from Liverpool Street through to Ipswich, Clacton-on-sea and Colchester.

The station shows off some memories of old. One in the guise of a Great Eastern Railways plaque (the forerunner of Greater Anglia) erected by the ‘traffic and civil engineering staff of the station’ commemorating those colleagues who died during the First World War.

The second is an abandoned caboose stranded on platform 1. I admire it’s dishevelled ruggedness which draws me in to take a close look, and it reminds me of my early childhood when steam trains were still the ‘norm’. I suspect the caboose hasn’t been abandoned, but merely parked awaiting transportation to some museum or rail enthusiasts destination – well that’s my hope anyway. Such is its draw that I take many pictures, trying to capture the mood of its era using a grainy B&W filter on the camera or recreating a wild west feel using post production filters; one of which makes it as my ‘picture of the day’ (see below).

Shenfield

Described by some internet commentators as a dormitory town for commuters to London and surrounding towns, I would say it’s more of a ‘one horse town’. What I mean by that is it’s predominantly one street with shops serving and meeting its local community. Without counting, I would say ladies and gents grooming salons make up the majority of shops with eateries/coffee shops a close second. With the exception of one or two unusual or decorative shops, Shenfield is a sedate town – and that is its charm and why residents are attracted here.

A Country Walk

I decide to head north out of Shenfield towards the hectic A12 dual carriageway, along the River Wid and through Hutton before returning to Shenfield several hours later. The route is a combination of busy main and country roads, often without a pavement, so I have to take particular care when walking along. I go under and over five different bridges; mostly railway bridges where in some cases the road narrows to single file traffic and the width of the bridge forms a short tunnel.

I also stop for some time (in a very safe place) on the roundabout that is junction 12 of the A12 (at this point also known as Ingatestone Bypass) and try to capture an image of the speeding traffic passing under me.

Turning off the roundabout to follow the River Wid, I walk past a newly completed housing development called ‘The Elms at Mountnessing’ (see Google map reference: Elm Gardens and River Court) and I’m struck by the exterior finish of all the houses.

The rural landscape is as you’d expect, although the country road is clearly used as a cut through for local and light industrial traffic serving the industrial estate north of Hutton and only a mile from the A12. I walk on through Hutton and I’m intrigued by a road name – Hanging Hill Lane. Its name is very suggestive, however an internet search doesn’t reveal any history of this road other than a ghostly sighting of a woman.

Brentwood

The road from Hutton brings me back to Shenfield so still looking for some local interest I decide to press on and walk a further 1.5 miles to Brentwood; and just on the outskirts I pass Shen Place Almshouses, a collection of six homes, and admire the adorned gable ends.

Around the corner is the Brentwood Cathedral of SS Mary and Helen, and as I poke my nose inside, I admire the colourful south entrance. Further inside I can also and see that Easter preparations are underway and understand why the cathedral is described as ‘…a light-filled baroque and renaissance-style Catholic cathedral with an ornate gold-leaf ceiling…’.

Even though there’s no one about, I leave quietly and end my journey, rather wearily, walking past the flint covered St Thomas of Canterbury Church which is next door to the cathedral before heading down the hill to the railway station. I leave Brentwood knowing that I’ll be home soon as the end of the line for me is at Gidea Park, only two stops down the line.

Picture of the Day

As soon as I saw this wagon I knew it would feature as my picture of the day, but I wanted to make sure I could create the right mood for it, capturing its age and derelict abandonment. The wagon stands alone off platform 1, now disused, and cuts a sorry and unloved image ignored by most passengers walking into the station. This shot is one of a long series of pictures taken naturally and with a harsh B&W filter on the camera, the latter portraying an image reminiscent of an early newspaper picture: bold and stark – but I’m looking for something different.

If you’re familiar with Google Photos, you’ll know it comes with simple, but very effective edit features. One of which consists of 14 different filter settings. I’ve often questioned the purpose of the Modena filter as it places a yellowish tint across the whole picture. However, that’s precisely the effect I’m looking for: one that mimics old film stock, and this time it gives the feel of an early wild west colour movie.

I’m really pleased with the outcome, and I hope you enjoy the picture too?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/5.6; Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 29mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Modena

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#47: Paddington (revisited) – 10/04/2019

This evening is an experiment in night time long exposure black and white photography… and although there are no new discoveries since my first visit over eight months ago, I hope you find this indulgent revisit interesting?

I also have to thank my daughter for enabling me to take these pictures as I decided to use a recent Christmas present in the guise of a new tripod; its use, essential in enabling me to take long exposure night shots. I’d researched the kind of tripod I was interested in; one that had to be lightweight to carry around, strong enough to handle my camera and zoom lenses, and compact enough to fold away for ease of carrying. I plumped for the Neewer 350C (red) as a tripod that meets my needs very well. The only compromise is its limited height, but that’s a compromise I’m happy to accept – thank you Ceri…

And why am I back at Paddington? Well, as things stand, the station will serve as a terminal for two Tfl Rail lines (soon to become the Elizabeth line): one to Heathrow (already operating), and one to Reading. Admittedly the Elizabeth line hasn’t fully commissioned all these services yet, but I feel the line’s media spotlight and current progress warranted a second visit to acknowledge this.

A little about the Station which most will know serves as the gateway to Wales and the South West of England. A station I have passed through many many times as a tourist travelling to London, and over the last 30 years, travelling to and through as a weekend commuter when I first moved to London and subsequently on work missions. At 10.30 pm at night, the station is though comparatively quiet as this animation shows.

The station is one of London’s iconic buildings created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel with its gothic style wrought iron work vaulted dome. A spectacle that fills your view no matter where you enter the station from, and one that draws your eyes upwards to admire the scale and engineering. A vision I recall in my younger days being full of diesel smoke as trains arrived and departed and smoke got caught in the domed roof.

The station also benefits from very long platforms to accommodate the pullman carriages that make up the services run by GWR in their fashionable green livery. And if you’re ever feeling particularly flush, you can always book yourself into one of their dining experiences  so as to enjoy good food whilst admiring the great scenery.

“Taxi!”

All good stations have well integrated taxi ranks to help passengers with a seamless transition from train to final destination; and equally those arriving at the station. Paddington is no different and the taxi rank is situated on the north eastern side of the station. It’s a well managed resource and directions to find it are well sign-posted. However given the size of the station, it can take passengers a good 10 minutes or even longer to get here. Not so bad when you’re travelling light, but when laddled with large, unwieldy suitcases, the effort can be somewhat frustrating.

To be honest I hadn’t taken much notice of this facility before, I guess because I’d never needed to use it, so my attention has only been cursory as I’ve walked past. But tonight, I spend quite a while, in different vantage points, capturing the movement of the slow black chain of ‘heel to toe’ taxi cabs meandering towards the pick up point before accelerating out of the station compound.

Can you spot the ghostly taxi?

This animation and few shots gives a sense of the calm patience taxi drivers exercise whilst waiting for the next train full of passengers to make their way to them.

The Basin at night

Walking along here at night is quite a spectacle as the combination of low and high rise building lighting has a rippling effect on the water, especially as the moon is rising too. In conversation with friends, they’ve commented on my bravery in walking about alone. But I don’t think it’s a question of bravery, more a balance of understanding your surroundings and being aware of those around you.

I’m not being complacent as I’ve found myself in several situations where taking the right action early, or saying/not saying something is the right thing to do. For example, as I was walking out of Merchant Square, realising there was only one exit at night and being confronted by a group of young men asking me if I wanted to buy some hashish, I diffuse a potential confrontation by making light of their offer but at the same time holding tightly onto my camera and handling my tripod in such a way that I could have used it in defence if needed…but none of this was necessary.

I hope you can enjoy these pictures of the area around the Basin as much as I enjoyed taking them. Some being taken with very long exposure times of up to 15 seconds so that I can get a good depth of field, or in some cases capturing cycle lights blinking on/off as they travel along a cobbled alleyway.

This shot of the Darcie Green floating restaurant along the Grand Union Canal is one of many I took trying to capture the mood of the revellers on board. But it was a cold night and only a few smokers braved the open top for a moment or two to ‘take in the air’.

Picture of the Day

This is one of several shots to get the composition just right, and the settings I’ve used achieves just that. The starkness of the image shows off the iron work which is captured in fine detail and right throughout the station. The clock to the left, in grand Victorian style, offsets the symmetry of the picture just enough and helps to draw the eye down to a statute of Paddington Bear. The long exposure also helps to create the starburst effect with the overhead lighting which a faster exposure failed to achieve. The picture in its entirety also helps to show off the magnificence of the station at night time.

Settings: Camera Canon EOS 200D; Aperture ƒ/16; Exposure 2s; Focal Length 18mm; Relative Film Speed ISO200

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#46: Tower Gateway – 03/04/2019

Four seasons in two hours today: Sunshine, rain, hail, snow and thunder.

Having decided at the start of the day to take all photos in black and white, the weather conditions make the task slightly more challenging as I stand/crouch framing a shot and then spend time in testing different settings. However I’m very pleased with the outcomes and hope you are too?

The Station

A busy station with trains every 10 minutes running along this single track line serving commuters, and tourists travelling to see the historic Tower of London and Tower Bridge. I hadn’t realised how close it is to Fenchurch Street station: almost in touching distance if you could open some of the station windows. But just as well you can’t as you’d otherwise get electrocuted by the overhead cables serving the c2c trains into that station.

I had some fun trying not to get in the way of passengers through the station and ascending the recognisable escalator coverway, by taking some slow exposure shots to exaggerate passenger ‘movement’.

Minories

The Minories is a former civil parish now sitting within the ‘City of London’ boundary and extends from Aldgate station in the north and Tower Hill in the south. My research about the area’s history is quite fascinating especially in relation to its extra-parochial status and the impact of the new poor laws. The name is probably more synonymous now with the pub that sits under the railway bridge which itself gives rise to some stark and contrasting images.

I follow the road around the gyratory traffic system along the side of the raised railway lines weaving under several bridges leading to Chamber Street.

A somewhat blended area, with its roots clearly in light industry but now almost fashionable with the advent of office space and ‘build ‘em up quickly’ hotel chains. I focus my attention on the ruggedness of the area, which is in no way though threatening.

Leading into Dock Street, I take some time admiring the bridge support structures and looking at their symmetry against the ever changing backdrop. The pillars have been painted with a marble effect which is no doubt an attempt to hide their concrete greyness; and those on foot walking past are evidently oblivious to their surroundings and my photographic efforts.

The space under the arches is occupied by light industrial businesses; the most prominent being Tower Tyres who promote themselves as ‘East London’s leading low cost tyre specialist’.

Photographer Beware

I cut across The Highway, the main east/west road, headed towards St Katherine’s Dock, but en route through Vaughan Way I detour into a new development. London Dock Wapping is a Berkley Group development branded under the name St George, and if you have £1.3m to spare you can buy a ‘near the river’ apartment. A smart development, BUT yet another location across London where I’m asked told not to take photographs and I’m reminded by the friendly concierge that I’m on private land.

I had quite a long conversation with the concierge, not having a go at him as he was simply delivering the landlord’s message, but about the inconsistency in the Landlord’s attempt to prevent photographers taking pictures. You see, had I been walking around with my mobile taking pictures, I wouldn’t have been challenged – and given that mobile cameras can take high resolution images, their approach doesn’t make sense.

It seems the camera type is the definer; having a DSLR instantly makes me a recognisable professional and thereby needing permission to take pictures. There’ll come a time when we’ll all need a licence to take pictures as we’re all walking on private land, and where’s the sense in that. Rant over….

Through to Tower Hill

I’m now in Wapping, a part of London I’ve never visited before. Yes I know St Katherine’s Dock is just around the corner, and it’s so easy to just visit the fashionable parts of this area, so I stroll around and enjoy the old docks view alongside Spirit Quay and the river view from Hermitage Memorial Garden which showcases the old and the new along the river bank.

The sky looks ominous as I head towards St Katherine’s Dock and I stumble across, and almost pass by an unassuming gateway to the river known as Alderman Stairs (see page 31 of this link). The wash of a passing boat splashes against the steps and serves as a reminder of the history of such steps up and down the river.

By now, snow and hail is falling quite hard and all the right minded people have taken cover, but I can’t resist this shot of Butler’s Wharf from across the water as the hail bounces off the surface of the Dock. Alongside St Katherine’s Pier, I look up at Tower Bridge and espy a different angle to highlight its ironwork.

By now the weather has scared away day trippers and tourists alike who have suddenly become scarce as I walk along the cobbled road in front of The Tower. It’s here I capture my ‘picture of the day’ (see below) before ending my day’s journey at Tower Hill station with its walls encased in some interesting artwork.

Picture of the Day

I seem to be developing a creative theme of low, pavement level shots to capture a slightly different angle of the subject. Sometimes with a slow shutter speed to give the effect of movement when people/vehicles are moving past, or as with this shot, to create a different perspective of a well known landmark.

This is taken on the cobbled path between the Thames and The Tower looking towards Tower Bridge in the murky background through an array of metal hoops. I was trying to accentuate the cobbles particularly as it had just started to rain so the light effect on the ground had just changed. Amazingly, as soon as it rained, everyone and I mean everyone suddenly disappeared and there was no one around. I took a few shots to get the framing right and played around with the settings to create the stark contrast accentuated in Black & White.

Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D;  Aperture ƒ/10; Speed 1/40; Focal Length 30mm; ISO100

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#45: Chingford – 28/03/2019

The Station

Serving the north east of London out of Liverpool Street, this Overground line terminates right at the edge of Epping Forest. Built in the Victorian era, the station still reflects its original charm with three platforms and many sidings.

Chingford sits within the Borough of Waltham Forest, who have cleverly remodelled the Underground Roundel to promote itself as the first London Borough of Culture. I think the use of the roundel is quite creative.

As with many Overground stations, attempts to green up the station are well intended, with bursts of planting providing a colourful interest, but unless looked after, the flowers soon decay and look somewhat dishevelled. Sadly, Chingford station is no different.

A Royal Connection

Turning right out of the station, I’m confronted by a welcome sign into London’s Great Forest – Epping Forest and I’m immediately drawn to an elaborate looking building in the distance up Ranger’s Road. Alas when I get there, it’s a faux tudor style Premier Inn (yuck) but next door is The View, a visitor centre cum gallery, and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. Both turn out to be worthy of visiting for different reasons.

The View provides visitors with a wealth of information about the Forest and offers interactive displays about the Forest and it’s upkeep. I learn, from one of the exhibits, that the social reformer Octavia Hill, who also co-founded the National Trust believed that good environments make better people and proclaimed: ‘…we want four things. Places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in and places to spend a day in. The poor should never be denied beauty…’

The View also housed an art exhibition which had paintings inter-dispersed amongst these displays. What strikes me is the quality of the artwork especially when I learn they have all been painted by students from Bancroft’s School. Sadly the exhibition is no longer there, but if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend seeing their work; or maybe the school will put them on their website? Here are a couple of examples.

A hunting lodge, built by King Henry VIII in his later years stands proudly overlooking the forest, and the lodge was re-modelled by Queen Elizabeth I on her succession to the throne. Used as a starting/end point for royal hunts, it’s alleged that Queen Elizabeth after one such hunt, rode her horse up the stairs to the top floor. There’s no evidence to dis/prove this, but it does add to the colourful character of the building.

My journey to Chingford Mount

I return to Chingford and somewhat disappointedly find little of interest. A long winding street, typical of London, full of independent shops and a variety of religious buildings, however the architecture offered little of interest. My eye catches one spectacle in the window of Solution, a high class clothing alteration service – that of a window display full of buttons. I stepped into the shop and the seamstress seemed quite proud of the display which had been built up over the years.

Further down the road, I pass Chingford Assembly Hall and stop to view, not the building itself, but a mosaic commissioned for the millenium depicting twelve scenes with a local interest. If you look closely at the outlining design, and apply your imagination, you could be right in seeing the underground ‘roundel’ has been incorporated as well…or maybe that’s just my imagination.

From here I head south to Chingford Mount via the Ridgeway, and on this hot sunny day, it is a slow walk through row upon row of typical London houses. My only stop is a brief diversion into Mansfield Park to view the scene overlooking the Lee Valley and its reservoirs.

I later forayed into the Lee Valley Regional Park looking for a short cut, but soon realised this was not possible and had to do a U-turn. Passing a very uninteresting London Energy centre, I did find one item of interest that became a contender for my picture of the day. Not for its beauty, but more for its symmetry. This shot is taken directly under, and in the centre of an electricity pylon that straddled the road.

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs)

By now it’s late afternoon and I’m feeling weary and ready for home, but I notice in the distance looking southwards as I was standing on the North Circular slip road (safely and on the pavement) that I can see the new Spurs ground. I decided it would be a shame to be so close and not visit so a short hop by bus takes me to Fore Street and I walk through Edmonton – a familiar location where I once worked.

As I approach the stadium, I know it is soon to open as it is hosting an exhibition match on the coming Saturday and its first home game the following Wednesday. However as I climb the open staircase, I am challenged by security who explain the ground and the raised walkway are still deemed a ‘building site’ and declared out of bounds to the public. Nevertheless, as the stadium is right on the pavement, I am able to walk right around this impressive, expensive and late opening stadium. I have no doubt though that these facts will soon be forgotten once football returns to White Hart Lane.

I speak at length with one of the security guards who is happy to share stories of his time working here and he highlights some of the high tech features of the ground. Much has been made of its retractable pitch which reveals an artificial pitch for NFL games and concerts. Here’s a collection of some of the pics I took.

I ended my journey at White Hart Lane overground station, a station which will soon have a name change to Tottenham Hotspur station. This photo-opportunity is a homage to the new stadium in the shadow of the old station name.

Picture of the Day

This is a seating area in the centre of Chingford Mount, by the war memorial and bus station. Today’s bright sunshine accentuated the colour of the seats, which on one side was occupied, but this side was free. The combination of the colour and shape makes for an interesting shot; and I’ve tried to accentuate the offset nature of the individual seats with the straight edge on the left and some measure of movement with the slightly blurred passer-by in the top right hand corner. This took several attempts to get right by changing the shutter speed but maintaining the depth of field at a time someone walked by in the corner of the frame.

Camera Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/32; 1/30; 55mm; ISO100

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