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TfL Underground Waterloo & City

#06: Waterloo – 10/05/2018

Unsurprisingly, Waterloo is at the southern end of the ‘Waterloo & City’ line or more commonly known as ‘The Drain’. The line was opened late in the 19th century to ferry commuters travelling from the Southern counties directly into The City. Waterloo also serves three other lines: the Bakerloo, Jubilee and the Northen line (Charing Cross branch), and collectively Waterloo is reportedly the busiest in the UK and when combined with the nearby Waterloo East station, which is just a short stroll away and linked directly with Waterloo, it is the busiest complex in Europe.

Having worked in the vicinity for several years when at DirectGov in Lambeth, I have some familiarity with the surrounds and knew it to be a vibrant and colourful area, so I set off through the station exiting into Lower Marsh in a clockwise direction around the station. You can’t ignore the colour or the vibrancy of afternoon diners who buy from the myriad of street traders. Some notable landmarks are Cubana and Vaulty Towers.

Lower Marsh runs in a westerly direction towards Lambeth, but a detour through Leake Street reveals a hidden gem inspired by Bansky and now an authorised graffiti area where each day you’ll find new works of art often being created by the artists as you walk through, but be warned, the fumes can get quite intoxicating. This ‘street’ runs under the platforms of Waterloo station and also houses The Vaults, London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts.

Turning right into York Road, you are a stone’s throw away from the South Bank and all it’s entertainment in full view of the Thames and the London Eye. Continuing clockwise into Waterloo Road and pass the BFI IMAX and I’m led into the side streets past the Union Jack Club, which was founded by Ethel McCaul a Red Cross nurse over a 100 years ago ‘…to provide non-commissioned services and former members of the Armed Forces and their families a comfortable and friendly base for their visits to London…’. Onto Waterloo East station, which  offers a vista of London’t continuing development looking west and north where an attractively clad student accommodation building, in Paris Gardens  looks as if it has a tower: it is in fact the top of 1 Blackfriars development, one of many multi-purpose high rise complexes shaping London’s skyline of the 21st Century.

I walk into the main Waterloo station from Waterloo East platform to explore the underground, and whilst taking a series of photos to best showcase the Jubilee line walkways, I’m invited by a couple of Manchester United fans (I think on their way to the mid-week West Ham game) to take their pictures. As a hardened Liverpool supporter, we had some good-natured banter, but I’m fulfilling a promise to give them a ‘shout out’ in return for posting their picture – nice to meet you Vik!

The experience though highlighted how modern travelling and photography has made the digital age so accessible as within minutes of taking the picture, I was able to upload the picture to my phone (built in wifi on the camera) and email the picture using one of the underground’s several wi-fi service providers. I appreciate this advancement may not be for everyone, but the expectation of ‘always on internet access’ continues to grow. Emerging out of the underground to complete my journey, I’m reminded of the Elephant at Waterloo sculpture and now decide to research why it’s there. I leave you to follow the link above and to its sculptor – Kendra Haste.

Emerging back out into Waterloo Road to complete the clockwise route around the station, I pass the redeveloped LCC Fire Brigade Station Waterloo and cross the road to Emma Cons Gardens and complete my tour by chatting with the proprietor of a roadside coffee stall, and the stall manager for The Garden Shack plant stall opposite The Old Vic.

For more info, look up Waterloo on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is one of many graffiti/artworks on display in Leake Street, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or the Banksy Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the area, don’t feel intimidated, but take a walk through the cavernous underground space under Waterloo Station. The street runs from Lower Marsh Street through to York Road where the smell of spray paint lingers in the air and is one of the homes of legal street art in London.

I can guarantee the images change frequently. I’ve chosen this as my picture of the day as a representation of what’s on view here. It’s vibrancy and scale draws me in, but to be honest I could have chosen any of the images I’d captured. If it inspires you to go take a look, then that’s good.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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Circle District TfL Underground

#05: Edgware Road – 09/05/2018

A natural follow up to Edgware, down the A5 (or Watling Street) to its source at Marble Arch leading into Edgware Road. With one of two stations with this name (the other serving the Bakerloo Line about 250 metres away) and serving as a terminal destination for the District Line and since December 2009, the Circle Line: so this will be the first of two visits to this station.

The station is overlooked by an intriguing design which catches my eye (see my picture of the day), and an interesting bronze statue called ‘The Window Cleaner’, sculpted by Allan Sly, looking up at an adjacent building

Edgware Road itself is a main arterial link road out of London and traffic is constant, but so is the people traffic going about their business. An eclectic mix of banks, high street shops, beauty shops, food shops, eateries and any other type of shop you can mention. The shops though clearly cater for the transient and local population, and here’s a good example of how the traditional corner shop is alive and kicking. You name it and you can get it here.

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A stroll now across the road to Paddington Basin which is a matter of minutes away, and my how this has been transformed over recent years with the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal being totally regenerated. A growing complex of office space, luxury apartments, relaxing space, and safe and modern canal and pedestrian facilities allowing you to walk uninterrupted to Little Venice (that’s for another day). The Basin is awash with colourful barges (long boats) advertising boat trips, food and some business operating from them – very chic. Building work continues but it all seems well managed with decorative hoarding promoting the regeneration and describing some of the features.

To the edge of the Basin, and no surprise I stumble across Paddington Bear donning his hat in salute to all passers by. He’s one of several supporting The Pawprint Trail, an activity based exploration of the area. Paddington Bear leads me to the westerly edge of my journey and as I turn to retrace my steps, I spot today’s celebrity whose chatting on the quay side: Tony Singh, a well known and colourful character. I also stop beside a canal side Candocoffee vendor and chat with Giovanni, the barista, who tells me the new development has canalside apartments being marketed at £1M plus! A snip at half the price…

Across the road from Paddington and under the A40 Westway, Marylebone Road stretches easterly to Euston Road and a short stroll finds me exploring Marylebone Station and the surrounding streets. One notable building at the crossroads is the Paddington Green Police Station, a pretty unimpressive building to look at, but a cornerstone in the Police’s efforts to contain suspected terrorists.

So many other buildings to see, and here’s a short selection of my stopping points: St Marylebone Grammar School, 242 Marylebone Road, The Landmark Hotel – wish I could have gone inside but didn’t think I was dressed appropriately and The Old Marylebone Town Hall. See Instagram (here#01, here#02 and here#03) for all the pics. Signs of London’s constant battle with road works were evident too: see if you can work out which colour represents which utility…

For more info, look up Edgware Road on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is a view from inside the station looking in a southerly direction at the adjoining building: Griffith House which is one of Tfl’s training centres which was originally built as an electricity substation for the tube network.

The side of the building is covered in this elaborate and colourful “Wrapper” of vitreous enamel cladding created by Jacqueline Poncelet and the variegated station roof edging creates an interesting shadowed feature set against the brighter colours in the background. This is one of those images that as a commuter you may not normally see as you are busy rushing to/from the train…just look up!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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Northern TfL Underground

#04: Edgware – 03/05/2018

…and now from the southern regions of the Bakerloo Line to one of the northern ends of the Northern Line: Edgware. Never been here before so not sure what to expect…?

And following some feedback from earlier posts, I decide on a selfie at the station. This does two things: shows I’m listening to feedback and lets me use it as the first picture on my Instagram album showing which location the collection comes from. Fairly uninspiring station (but then again I suspect a lot will be), but I do notice some colour patterns that draw me in.

Out of the station, which has a 20/30’s art decho feel to the entrance, and I’m sure in its heyday it would have been proudly ostentatious. Edgware looks uninspiring as a sprawling parade of shops with architecture in a similar 20/30’s art decho style running south to north as urban London moves through suburbia and tries to become rural…but just not yet. I head off south intentionally bypassing the shopping centre where I will return to later.

My immediate impression is of an unloved and unkempt area overtaken with car washes which have camped out where grandiose properties once existed, tyre stations and back street motor mechanics. All this mayhem is peppered with more than its fair share of abandoned and boarded up shops and even the local police station seems uninviting. There is also an array of European eateries as I encountered Portuguese, Polish, Lebanese, Romanian and Jewish restaurants and shops within five minutes of each other. Some native high starch/low quality eateries were also encountered.

Walking off centre a little, a lack of pride in the community is seen through an unkempt community sign and a ‘Welcome to Edgware’ road sign proudly supported by Saracens.com. At another gateway, a reminder of some former glory is marked by a wall plaque at the entrance of ‘Canons Drive’ where you can wonder at how life may have been.

Passing the only church in the main drag, The Parish Church of St Margaret of Antioch which also shows signs of untidiness as the grounds and cemetery have only partially been manicured: the grounds in desperate need of grass cutting and weeding, although the wild flowers did give a colourful display. Walking past the former Sunday School, I made a surprising discovery: a memorial plaque to two children who died at Pant Glas junior school in Aberfan on the 21st October 1966. Despite some modest research to understand the connection with Edgware, I couldn’t find any but I suspect there’s a relative connection with the area. Please post if you know…a sombre moment of reflection…

One comment to date refers to a BBC post : ‘…Conservative councillor Mr Taylor added that he had clear personal memories of the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster from 1966. At the time he was a member of the Edgware Round Table in north London whose members opened up their homes to Aberfan families whose houses had been destroyed…’

Making my way to the Broadwalk shopping centre, I stop outside Edgware Music which proudly displays an eclectic mix of electric guitars in the window. I had hoped to pop in for a chat but alas it was shuttered up as the proprietor was attending a local funeral and wouldn’t return until 3.00 pm. I hope all went well?

Into the Broadwalk Centre, I stop at Unit 2, a clock seller who has on display an array of clocks and watches, and one in particular drew me in in the first place. Through the centre and I spot a seasonal plant seller with a colourful display. Whilst I browse I search out the proprietor as I believe it’s impolite to assume I can just take pictures. Understandably he’s a little suspicious so I have an opportunity to explain my quest and he’s kind enough to agree to my request but a little reluctant to be photographed. My thanks to him but our chat made me think that I need a better way to ‘show the thing’ so why not show on my phone, and get some cards with the blog address so that they can browse at their leisure. Always an opportunity to learn and improve…


For more info, look up Edgware on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is taken in the car park by Sainsbury’s wandering around a florist’s pop up stall; seems like a regular event though as this was quite a well established stall. Nevertheless, the trader was happy for me to wander around and capture his stall.

This is an amusing shot as it took me a while to realise the florist had ‘painted’ on the black eyes to give the illusion that these are ‘happy smiley’ faces on these succulent, mat-forming alpines. Nevertheless the illusion works as it draws in several shoppers to buy them.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – None

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Bakerloo TfL Underground

#03: Elephant & Castle – 25/04/2018

On a roll, and time to travel ‘Sarf (south) of the river’, this time to the southerly end of the Bakerloo Line at Elephant and Castle. An area known for its social deprivation and regeneration, and an area I was somewhat familiar with having worked in the vicinity some time ago. My visualisation, in preparing my travels, was that of a shopping centre in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by high rise office blocks and social housing. My plan was to circumnavigate the area before venturing into the centre.

There’s something about the Bakerloo Line exit here that, for me, epitomises the older tube travelling as you have to navigate the winding tile lined corridors with matching colour splashes representing the infamous map colours (which came first?). They invoke a sense of history and retro architecture that far surpasses the modernist, and almost soulless concreted health & safety approach of places like Westminster.

I wander somewhat aimlessly turning right out of the station in a clockwise route past Skipton House, NHS England HQ, around the corner past London South Bank University to where an impressive new build with a living wall has been crafted onto its entire east face.

Across the road past the Salvation Army and around the back streets past the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (note – religious theme continues) to New Kent Road and then around the building site currently known as Elephant Park into Heygate Street and Walworth Road. The area is steeped in history with references to Michael Faraday cropping up in several places (least of all the naming of the memorial in the central roundabout known as Elephant Square). The efforts in regenerating the area expose a diverse architectural style with each architect looking to stamp their own mark in sympathy with their surrounds. Some creative use of space can be seen under the railway arches in Spare Street where Hotel Elephant has been modelled for ‘Creative Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and Graduates’.

Turning back heading north to the shopping centre, but not before exploring The Artworks Elephant, ‘a creative hub for the vibrant and diverse community’. One of many repurposed shipping container complexes popping up over London. Colourfully providing small work areas for diverse food outlets and creative folk working independently: a stimulating experience and worth a wander around as there’s something different to see everywhere.

Hopped onto the main line station platform to take in the uninterrupted panoramic view of London, but those who know London and look south will see a tall clad building with three circles at its top; and like me often wondered what is it? The iconic Strata SE1, nicknamed the ‘Razor’ is a housing complex completed in 2010; its three wind turbines, designed to generate 8% of the buildings energy needs, have remained stationary since 2014 – hmmm.

Journey’s end, and into the shopping centre, which has become an unloved throw-back of the 1960’s. In its heyday, it was the praised for being the first covered shopping mall in Europe, but today it has become a reflection of social deprivation and a lack of investment. Those stall workers in and around the centre have a clear sense of purpose and seem full of life peddling their wares, but despite theirs and the centres best efforts in brightening up the vicinity, there is a general air of depression and gloom about the place. I mean not to offend, but just expressing a personal view here and would welcome comments, views and invitations to demonstrate differently.

For more info, look up Elephant & Castle on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

Why a yellow lock? It simply caught my eye as the colour stood out against an otherwise tired and drab lock up garage on a dull day. The picture is taken at the entrance to the garage lock ups on Rockingham Street

But as I took it, I wondered if it somehow symbolised my ‘end of the line’ theme as who knows what’s inside? A lock is definitive in that it states that whatever’s inside it’s at the end of its use: be that daily or permanent. And because of this I’ve adopted the symbol as my social media avatar.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ25; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Auto

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Central District TfL Underground

#02: Ealing Broadway – 19/04/2018

The second hottest day of the year so far, and this time suitably dressed in shorts and t-shirt journeying to one of the two westerly ends of the Central Line at Ealing Broadway station to explore the surrounds of Ealing. This will be one of two visits here as the District Line also terminates here so whilst looking around, I had one eye on where to go next time.

Out of the station and surveyed the immediate surroundings to get my bearings and spotted an interesting authentic Japanese restaurant, the Hare & Tortoise. Not sure how an ‘un-authentic’ Japanese restaurant would differ: I guess it would just be a restaurant? This drew me slightly westerly so carried on walking in this direction and drawn to a marker on Google maps; that of Carlton Road Ancient Oak I decided to visit. Some research indicates it’s the site where an elephant has been buried, and explains why it remains in the middle of the road. It reminded me of the old Oak tree in Carmarthen in the middle of the road and the local fable that once felled, the town would drown…of course it never did (see reference Merlin’s Oak, Carmarthen).

Heading back to Ealing, I came to Haven Green Baptist Church, and here’s a theme…I popped in to browse inside the building. The church was open and being looked after by a lady serving tea and biscuits; I sensed she was more than a caretaker, but she was somewhat sceptical of my enquiring nature until she realised I was Welsh – as she came from Pontypool. She explained the church’s congregation had dwindled in recent years but had started growing again to 100+ following the recent appointment of a minister. She accompanied me whilst I explored the gallery and explained how they are slowly refurbishing some of the fixtures and fittings. I would best describe the inside of the church as likening to an overgrown Welsh chapel – some of you reading this will understand what I mean.

I bid farewell and pause outside to check my bearings , and as I turn around, I see a familiar TV face walk past – John Sergeant, he of political news and Strictly Come Dancing fame (or infamy? You decide).

Into the heart of the town through its modern, yet secluded shopping centre and I’m drawn to a pink sheep in a doorway. A great marketing symbol for the Neon Sheep shop. I of course have to stop and call in and chat a while with the shop manager who explains they are the only shop in the UK, although another opening soon in Basingstoke (although they website states there’s one in Grays in Essex as well). She proudly invites me to look up at the ceiling where there are three red sheep grazing upside down too.

Wandering out of the shopping centre, I pass a very attractive office block entrance and help myself inside and take some pics. Climbing up the escalator to the out of site reception area, I’m confronted by two security guards come receptionist who politely ask me to leave and seek my assurances not to take any pics, ‘of course’ I say without letting on I’d already taken some – oooops!

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Around the back of the town and I find the facade of the former Walpole Picture Theatre before entering Walpole Park which was being enjoyed by local residents and families in the sunshine. Maybe worth a deeper exploration when I return.

I end my visit to Ealing on a short bus ride to Alperton. This might seem out of the way if you look at the tube map, but actually only a 20 minute diversion to visit the Shri Shantan Hindu Mandir. I had seen references to this Hindu temple and thought it worthy of visiting and I’m glad I did. Such an elaborately decorated temple both outside and inside, although on this occasion I respected the ‘no photos inside the building’ request. The temple is a shrine to all the hindu gods which have their own space around the inside of the outer wall, whilst in the centre, there was a gathering of about 30 ladies chanting – I left them to it.

Another successful day, but don’t forget, please comment on quality, content, improvements or suggestions, and for more info, look up Ealing on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

An easy pic today, simply because of the Welsh connection. This display is of a pink neon sheep which symbolises the shop’s name. It is an interesting experience and one that helps me overcome the feeling of embarrassment whilst taking pictures surrounded by passing shoppers. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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Overground TfL Other Services

#01: Gospel Oak – 18/04/2018

…and so the journey begins. I’m selecting where to go randomly but at the same time I’ll try not to visit the same general area in sequence; we’ll see how I get on.

Onto Gospel Oak then, which is one end point of the Overground line with Barking cutting a swathe through north east London and serving its urban communities. I happen to pick the hottest day of the year so far, which meant I wasn’t quite dressed appropriately and saw me walking at a more sedate pace. But despite that, it enabled me to look at my surroundings in detail.

Out of the station heading westerly towards Hampstead Heath, but not before stopping at the Parish Church of All Hallows where I survey the outside and wander inside. I’m not a naturally religious person, having been brought up as a Welsh Independent in my formative years, but there’s something intriguing and unique about all religious buildings. You just have to admire the work effort into the building, architecture, carpentry and how they have tried to balance the natural iconic features with the onset of modernisation.

I bumped into, who I believed to be, the vicar (Father David), but he seemed too busy in wanting to stop and chat as he was preparing to start a clean up of the church in the coming days: a larger than life soul. Onward then to the Heath and I made a b-line for Parliament Hill to take in the iconic panoramic view across London of The City and Canary Wharf – the old and new financial centres. Whilst there, I had a chance to play with the camera settings, so loads of pics taken but most discarded, though a few survived.

Decided to head up to the northerly parts of the Heath along the westerly border until I reached the grounds of Kenwood House enjoying the burst of bluebells and one of Henry Moore’s sculptures. A quick browse outside the House as that’s a visit for another day, and then head back to Gospel Oak along the easterly side skirting the various ponds/pools and the more populated parts.

My efforts to chat to folk came to nothing for most of the day as the Heath is populated either by lone joggers plugged into headphones, insular dog walkers or tourists. However I did stop to ask a couple of ladies why they were placing camera traps at the base of trees. They explained they are part of a local community Group Heath Hands supporting the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in surveying the hedgehog population on the Heath; the survey would run for a month but they seemed unsure whether, and if so, how the information/results would be shared. If interested, follow them on Twitter @WildHeathBike.

Back to Gospel Oak to rest the legs and reflect on the first day of many to come with some satisfaction with testing the camera, and exploring a part of London I’ve not been to before and thoughts on the next journey.

Feel free to comment on this blog, its content, or any suggestions on how to improve it. Equally, if you have any suggestions on where you’d like me to go next, please drop me a message.
For more info, look up Gospel Oak on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is an exciting day in many ways; not least because I’m returning to a long forgotten passion of photography and I’m armed with a brand new camera. But it comes with a lot of trepidation as I have to re-learn how to blend all the components that make up picture taking. To be honest, my first set of pictures are not that unique, BUT I have made a start.

The walk over Hampstead Heath on what turns out to be a scorcher of a day makes the light very harsh, and I’m pleased with how the auto settings are taking care of the basics for me. But as I approach Kenwood House, the grounds are littered with a carpet of daffodils and bluebells just emerging and spreading their petals to fill the landscape with a mass of colour. The bluebells are just not ready to play their part but they are sufficiently in abundance to show their intent.

This, my very first picture of the day allows me to get close to nature. I’m lying on the ground, oblivious to others walking past, and I capture this isolated bluebell trying to make its way amid the carpet of blue behind it. I haven’t quite mastered the autofocus, but nevertheless this will always remind me of my very first outing: a new found freedom; and the excitement of rekindling my long forgotten love of taking pictures.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto