Journey’s End

#44: Liverpool Street – 15/03/2019

I’ll begin by declaring I have a history with Liverpool Street station: almost 29 years of it travelling daily to and from the station on my commute through to various work destinations across London…and I’ve loved every minute of it…and I’ve worked out that I’ve passed through Liverpool Street station more than 15,000 times so I feel I have some affinity with the place.

Stories of seeing the station grow over that time spring to mind; stories of seeing the journey change – particularly in the Stratford area as the Olympic Park was developed; and stories of passenger anger as occasionally there wasn’t enough room to squeeze the next person on the train due to overcrowding as a consequence of an earlier cancelled train.

I learnt early on that starting my journey from Gidea Park, an end terminus of the now renamed Tfl Rail, that getting the right seat was vital. So it came to pass that I began to ‘own a seat’ by a window and not near an entrance – and woe betide if I caught a different train and sat in someone else’s seat…But let’s keep these stories for another time.

I hadn’t pre-planned my visit, but as I started to explore the station in depth, I decided my route would take me no further than one block away from the station complex, into parts of ‘The City’ that are defined by the iconic red, white and black bollards that mark out its boundary.

Liverpool Street Station

The station, declared as the third busiest in the uK, serves destinations to the eastern quadrant of England, embracing predominantly: Essex, East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Having 18 platforms, it provides a service for National Rail, Greater Anglia, C2C, Tfl Rail, TfL Overground and the Stansted Express.

At the time I moved to London (1990) and started commuting through the station, it was undergoing massive redevelopment and over the succeeding years it evolved into the station it is today. The platforms were re-modelled into, what I thought at the time, unexciting,  modular and functional. But the more I looked, the more iconic I felt the vaulted roof with supported lighting became; so much so one of these pictures has made it into my ‘picture of the day’ (see below).

The main station platforms and the concourse shouts out classic Victoriana in the grandest scale and you need to crane your head up to enjoy the ironwork and glazing, fashioned in a  majestic cathedral-esque style. A marvel of architectural engineering, soon to be compared no doubt, to the feat of current underground activity in building a new station to serve the Elizabeth Line.

The current underground station has also undergone extensive modernisation and their new livery colours recently unveiled in monochromatic tiles. They too adopt a classic style synonymous with the underground network.

Broadgate

To the north and east of the station is an area predominantly occupied by financial services; the area is known as Broadgate and sits where once stood Broad Street station which was amalgamated into Liverpool Street station some time ago.

I remember Broadgate Exchange (to the north) being built over the station at the same time the station continued to operate, and didn’t realise at the time that the huge pylons being driven in-between the tracks ended up as stilts for the buildings above. Now a stylish business area with its own open air piazza with alfresco dining and watering holes. I hadn’t realised until recent years that you can walk through the station to Exchange Square. It’s an area worth a visit, even for the mildly curious, as the architecture of the immediate buildings is interestingly different, although I did have to run the gauntlet of the local building management security when taking some pics.

To the east of the station is Broadgate Circus, again a financial services district, where every winter the circus area is converted into an open air ice rink. This area has, and continues to  undergo significant redevelopment as new occupiers want to stamp their own independent mark on the buildings. In fact this is quite a feature of the City where nothing stays the same for too long. I can’t imagine the wealth that’s spent in developing and re-developing buildings. Brexit or no-Brexit: I really don’t think things will change here.

The ‘windy’ City

Heading through Finsbury Circus into an area behind The Bank of England; an area riddled with alleyways and historical buildings it’s easy to lose track of where you are – that was certainly my experience when I first wandered through this area. It is though what makes The City so interesting; a place full of character and if you dare to stop and look at what’s around, you can learn a lot about places such as the Furniture Makers Hall; Austin Friars; and Draper’s Hall which is one of the twelve great livery companies that modelled mutual assurance in England.

Exiting into the hustle and bustle of Throgmorton Street and crossing into Bishopsgate to explore around Tower 42 – or as I remember it: The NatWest Tower.

Bishopsgate leads into Leadenhall: both areas are full of history and where the old architecture is often dwarfed by the modernist statemented building, such as The Gherkin and The Leadenhall Building where office workers compete with the casual tourists for prime spots for lunch or simply to socialise. Today is a particularly windy day which is accentuated in alleys and building undercuts with gusts strong enough to blow you around.

The City is rightly proud of its heritage and does much to attract visitors. For example its Sculptures in the City exhibition draws you around looking at temporary works of art which live in harmony with more established statues. Here are a couple.

Night time in Spitalfields

I end my visit in one of my favourite haunts: Spitalfields Market, and although traders are closing up their pitches, evening time created an opportunity for some different pictures. I tried some long exposure shots to capture the effect of people walking through the frame, but such was the lighting that I’ve barely captured their ghostly image, nevertheless, these night time images of inside the market and en-route back to Liverpool Street ended what has been an interesting day.

Picture of the Day

I didn’t expect this to be my picture of the day when I took it but the more I looked at it the more I felt it reflected my visit to Liverpool Street Station. This shot is taken from the very end of Platform 16/17 and aiming up to the vaulted canopy looking down the length of the platform. It’s almost a black & white photo, but a streak of red on the train carriage to the left, and the colouring at the platform concourse (bottom centre) tells you otherwise. A wide angle shot to get the width of the platform, and it is one of a series of shots. I’ve picked this one because of its stark black and white contrast which creates a somewhat atmospheric and moody feel. I hope you like it?

Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/3.5; 1/80; 21mm; ISO200

Social Media

#43: Stanmore – 28/02/2019

Social Media

This is a rare day: my first wet travelling day since starting this blog. Not bad as it’s been almost a year since my first trip. Thankfully, although the showers came in heavy bursts at times in almost flash flood style, they did wear off by early afternoon.

Stanmore is at the north westerly end of the Jubilee Line, 25 stops from its other terminus at Stratford, and the station is fairly typical of those built in the first half of the 20th Century. The sidings though were unsurprisingly abandoned as all the rolling stock are out so I capture some interesting, and attractive posters from the platform and station buildings instead.

There’s a new retirement complex being developed adjacent to the station, promoting itself as ‘…an elegant concept in later living’, and like a lot of new developments I find these days, the building constructors are keen to engage with the local community. And this was no different with local school children’s artwork on display promoting their interpretation of what constituted good health and safety. No doubt inspired after a visit to the site, but nevertheless the message was a good one and this poster particularly caught my eye.

Shopping Parade

Exiting the station I head west through the bus terminus towards the shopping parade built around the main cross roads. As I do, I pass a rather unassuming block of flats with a ‘Harrow Heritage Trust’ plaque declaring the building is on the site of the former home (Heywood) of Clement Atlee, the post WW2 Prime Minister. Spring is declared aplenty in the high street with flower boxes adorning railings .

Further along, there’s an interesting sculpture in between Bernays Hall and Sainsbury’s, but there’s no plaque to explain what it is. If anyone knows, please drop me a line?

My next stop is to admire the cakes on display in Yosi’s Boulangerie and I see what looks like an array of custard slices. Now those who know me from Aberystwyth heritage will know there’s one cafe famous for its custard slices against which all other custard slices are compared. I regret not going in to try one.

At the end of the parade of shops is Bernays Gardens, a delicate walled garden that hasn’t quite woken up from winter, and in the far corner visible through the confines of the garden is Cowman’s cottage. The cottage has a chequered past and I think the building looks more attractive than its history reveals.

As another shower begins to descend, I decide to return to Yosi’s Boulangerie to try their custard slice. Alas, it was a Lemon Cheesecake, but I had to try it – a bit too rich and heavy for me though.

Wood Lane

The rain is relentless so it’s time to get wet and I head north up Stanmore HIll turning into Wood Lane. As I do, I admire Stanmore Hall from afar as public access is prevented because it has high gated security barriers, but the building’s splendour can still be seen through the gates. Various internet searches record the site to have been used in several TV programmes and films.

Just across the road are Spring Ponds, also known as Stanmore Little Common, which is a small green space containing the Upper and Lower Spring Ponds, reportedly man made, dating from at least Roman times and possibly earlier. Indeed Upper Spring Pond is also known as Caesar’s Pond, based on a tradition that there was a Roman garrison quartered near there. Boudicca (Boadicea) almost certainly camped by and drank from these ponds. It is these stony ponds or “Stane Meres” that gave Stanmore its name. This photo almost made it as my ‘photo of the day’ and maybe if I could have recreated a downpour from the pump handle emptying into the pond, it would have been quite humorous.

Walking past an Islamic Centre and Shree Swaminarayan Temple, I decide not to enter their walled confines, unlike me I know, and continue as far as the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Aspire Leisure Centre before crossing over to Stanmore Country Park. A high spot overlooking London, but the damp conditions make further exploration unattractive. The common, I’m sure, is a veritable feast of wildlife delights either across the common ground or through the dense woodlands, but today nothing was moving other than some woodland management by way of tree felling.

Canons Park

The next stage of today is more a trip down (a work related) memory lane, and finding how things have changed. You see when I worked for the DHSS/DSS (Department [for Health and] Social Security), I had occasion to visit their training centre in Canons Park and Regional Estates Centre in Wembley Park so I thought I’d revisit the areas. I knew things had changed and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s a short walk from Stanmore to Canons Park through King George V Memorial Gardens,  which are a little reminiscent of my impression of Stanmore; loved but unkempt.

Arriving at Canons Park station I cross the road into an attractive modern housing complex and Business Centre where once stood the DHSS/DSS Training Centre. The centre was what I once described as a ‘flat pack former hospital’. I think across the country, field hospitals were erected quickly to deal with the injured from the World Wars, and post war they were converted into government establishments. Functional but cold. The address was Honeypot Lane, where now stands an elegant sculpture by Andy Hazell entitled ‘Seed’ – inspired by the idea of settlements and putting down roots.

Wembley Park

I decide to hot foot it to Olympic Way by tube (a bit far to walk), which is directly by Wembley Park Station where the DHSS/DSS Regional Estates Offices once stood. The building still stands but the area is now so different since the re-erection of Wembley Stadium in its current guise and pedestrianisation of the immediate surrounds. This was a brief stop over and I think it warrants a return trip to explore in more depth. But for now, the underpass with its changing lights, and walkway to the stadium provide for some interesting photo opportunities where I also capture today’s ‘picture of the day’.

Picture of the Day

I’ve mulled over which is my ‘picture of the day’ as it’s difficult to choose a really good one from around Stanmore as the weather conditions didn’t help. There may have been an obvious one, the sign at Stanmore Station declaring ‘The answer lies at the end of the line’, but other than being humorous for obvious reasons, not strikingly stand-out-ish. I’m a little perplexed as well as I wanted a Stanmore picture as that has been today’s end-point destination; but then again, this is about my journey of the day, and this one for me stands out by a country mile.

The shot reflects the geometric pattern of the windows on the side of the Novotel Hotel along the Olympic Way from Wembley Park underground station heading towards Wembley Stadium. The sun was just showing itself before dusk after a gloomy day of rain and overcast sky. So the opportunity of getting the sun to highlight the colour was too good to pass by. This is one of a sequence of shots, but for me this stands out as you have to look closely to realise they are windows. The pattern and colour combination, I believe, are quite striking.

Settings: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/5.6; 1/200; 55mm; ISO160

#42: Richmond (District) – 19/02/2019

Social Media

Richmond is the end of the line for the District and Overground lines and a pass through station en route to Reading from Waterloo served by South Western Railways. So today I return to complete this story following my first visit over eight months ago.

But first a passing mention to Waterloo station which I travel through as today is the day the station re-opens the platforms that once served the Eurostar service. There is much confusion with commuters and travellers alike, but all questions are quickly resolved by the very large presence of customer service staff. The iconic curved and arched roof looks gleaming in the day’s sunshine.

The Town

Richmond is an attractive town full of character and independent shops (along with the expected high street ones), but there’s a different feel whilst I walk about as the streets are spotlessly clean and it feels like people are proud of their community. I’m drawn to several buildings and shops around the town which I share here by way of showing the eclectic mix I find.

The River

For those new to Richmond, I’d thoroughly recommend a visit as its location right on the river gives very pleasant views and an opportunity to ‘people watch’. Take a walk down the cobbled Water Lane and turn left onto Buccleuch Passage and enjoy a stroll along its grassy banks and you’ll see visitors and workers alike. Like those taking in the sun with a drink or ice cream from local vendors, or those busy repairing or preparing their boats in anticipation of the coming tourist season.

But beware though, as I found whilst returning later in the day, that the river is tidal and can burst its banks. No doubt a regular occurrence as those living nearby have erected flood defences, but it seems even local workers don’t check ahead for the river conditions before parking their vehicles.

The ‘Passage’ has a number of tea shops and restaurants, and this is where I take my ‘picture of the day’ (see below), but all along the walkway these eateries make every effort to make their spot attractive and entice passers by to spend a little time, and money, with them.

The Artist

At the point where the river turns, I spot an artist with canvas and easel, painting a river scene in oils. I invite a conversation and he is happy to chat and allows me to take some pictures: he introduces himself as Oliver Maughan. Oliver has been working as a professional landscape artist along the Thames for a number of years and will soon be exhibiting his works at the Russell Gallery in Putney.

Not content with the river scene he was mid-way through, Oliver explains he will be moving onto Albert Bridge later in the day as its decorative Victorian metalwork captured in oil is an attractive proposition for the casual art lover.

Check out Oliver’s website and if you happen to be in Putney at the right time, pop along and have a look at his works…

The Terrace

Making my way towards Richmond Park, I stumble across an underpass leading into Terrace Gardens which climbs up to Richmond Hill, and where it meets Star and Garter Hill there’s a fountain erected to commemorate the work of the local RSPCA in the late 19th Century.

There’s also a number of historic buildings here; two being redeveloped as upmarket apartments, and one still in a dishevelled state. All worth a look at and watch out for the building plaques that explain their histories. They are:

  • Wick House, the residence of Sir Joshua Reynolds which was rebuilt and equipped by the Order of St John and the British Red Cross Society in 1950 as a home for the nurses of the Star and Garter Home for disabled sailors, soldiers and airmen
  • Star and Garter House, and
  • Ancaster Gate, a building presented to Queen Mary for the use of the Star and Garter Home

The Park

Richmond Park is London’s largest site of special scientific interest and is part of the Royal Parks, and a focal point for walkers, ramblers and cyclists. I have to say that despite it being a bright sunny day, there were few people about and occasionally I felt alone and isolated. Perhaps though it’s more a reflection on the size and scale of the park.

Warning signs at the entrance remind visitors of an ongoing deer cull which renders the park closed to all during the night hours, and I hope the cull hadn’t been too effective as I don’t see one deer during my visit. I walk along Sawyer’s Hill, inland to the ponds and across to Queen’s Road and as I do, I’m befriended by a nine month old Irish Terrier which has decided to take a leisurely walk some distance from its owner whom I later catch up with. Whilst walking, I try my hand at some scenic shots of the skyline and felled trees; here are a few I hope you like?

Pembroke Lodge, a Grade II listed Georgian Mansion, sits at the highest point in the park, and I stroll around its grounds. Through the Dingle where children are playing through bamboo bushes, and along to King Henry’s Mount where there’s a feature point – looking ten miles in a north-easterly direction there’s an uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral which you can just see with the naked eye. For the less able, there’s a telescope…or as one child proclaimed excitedly to her mother…’and eye thingy’…

I exit the confines of the Lodge through Poet’s Corner and enjoy the view overlooking Ham House before ending my day.

Picture of the Day

I saw this and immediately wanted to capture the moment as it may look like a discarded daffodil on a table, but if so, not discarded for long as it’s still looking healthy. What caught my eye though was the colour contrast. Outside Goucho, overlooking the river, just as the restaurant was preparing to open, the outside seating area is bedecked with artistically styled white chairs against a backdrop of black decor, and the yellow just ‘spoke’ to me. Now maybe it’s because I’m Welsh and we’re fast approaching St David’s Day, but I felt the colour contrast was striking and it represented a ‘moment in time’.

For the photographic aficionados, the metadata reads: Canon Canon EOS 200D; ƒ/7.1; 1/320; 55mm; ISO100

#41: Wimbledon (District) – 12/02/2019

Today has been a 17 km figure of eight tour of the surrounds: starting at the station; up to the Village; onwards to the All England Club; onto the common; down to Raynes Park; back into Wimbledon; onto Wimbledon Chase and ending back at Raynes Park. Phew, my legs ache…

The Town and Station

I’m Returning to Wimbledon as this station serves as the terminus for both the Tramway and the District line, and today’s visit compliments my earlier visit seven months ago. Outside the station is a 10’ high steel installation of a stag, commissioned and erected by the local authority to mark the town centre’s regeneration which was completed in 2012.

Regeneration remains a constant as buildings continue to be reformatted and recreated over time and developers nowadays have high standards to maintain in order to protect the passing public ensuring their work is fully covered – a great opportunity to promote themselves. Equally, some are creative in how they display their hoardings, and this one in particular catches my eye. Can you work out which store is coming?

The Village

Almost a kilometer up the hill is Wimbledon Village. A very fashionable centre with a thriving local community with a wide range of independent shops and high end retailers. I’m drawn to some of the buildings either for their displays, or names – for example: Giggling Squid, Le Pain Quatidien, Gardenia, RKade Antiques and the Rose and Crown. I hope you agree they’re worthy of inclusion?

But the shop that really catches my eye is Castrads. I admire the window display and walk on but within a couple of strides I remind myself that I’m resolved not to have regrets so I turn back and walk into the shop introducing myself to Sam Mayel-Afshar, one of the owners. I explain my journey and ask his permission to take some pictures; he’s more than obliging. The shop, as its name suggests, sells cast iron radiators, and the window features rows and rows of miniature radiators in a very impressive display. I hope you agree?

Tennis

Passing through the village, I hadn’t planned on heading to the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Centre, but as it’s only a short stroll away, and it is a fine breezy day, I think ‘why not?’ Look closely, you’ll see embedded in the pavement small round discs marked The Wimbledon Way’ so watch out for them as they’ll guide you around the area; I stop to admire one close by to ‘Dairy Walk’.

I’ve been to the tennis centre a couple of times over the years and was happy to have been marshalled into the venue along with thousands of others at the same time. Today, I seemed to be one of a few walking around and as I stop to take some pictures, I’m approached by Sam, a friendly security guard, at one of the many entry points, who’s interested in what I’m doing. I explain and we chat and I take heed of his friendly invitation to move on.

A little further on, I’m at the museum and restaurant gate and I meet Sam again, and I’m allowed in after a bag search and admire the work taking place to install the new roof on Court No. 2 which will be ready for this year’s tournament. I also say hello to Fred Perry.

The Common

Continuing past the centre turning into Bathgate Road, I can only begin to imagine the price tag on the fenced and gated detached properties that line the road. I understand why top ranking tennis players want to rent out these places during the annual tournament. I digress, onwards towards the common, but first I stumble across The Buddhapadipa Temple and admire this Buddhist Thai temple and as I do, I get talking with another visitor, a Danish lady who’s sitting on the steps. We chat a while before moving on.

The common is a short walk away and I skirt its boundaries until I reach Rushmere Pond and take in the distant view before heading south to Raynes Park.

Raynes Park

This is a long walk, and somewhat uninteresting as I pass, at a distance King’s College School and Wimbledon College along the Ridgeway. Into Pepys Road, I find I’m following a train of primary school children being led by their teachers all the way down to Raynes Park.

The area is a fairly typical of London suburbia served by a small parade of shops on either side of the railway station which acts as a focal point.

There’s a tunnelled footpath under the station which is creatively decorated with lowlights and I return later at dusk to capture the effect at its best.

Wimbledon Chase Railway Station

Returning to Wimbledon main line I set off again on foot to Wimbledon Chase passing the Nelson Health Centre en route, which was built originally as the Nelson Hospital in memory to Lord Nelson who once lived in the area. A little further ahead is Wimbledon Chase station, a quiet station which sits within the Thameslink loop service from Blackfriars via Sutton before returning through this station. Train services are few and far between, and the immediate surrounds paints a somewhat bleak picture, nevertheless, inspired by a joint venture with the railway company, local college students have had their artwork transformed into colourful murals.

Picture of the Day

As soon as I saw this display at Castrads, I knew it would be a contender for today’s picture of the day, and it was my aim to do justice to that. I wanted to capture a silhouetted effect of the mini-radiators as there is an interesting symmetry in how they have, purposely, been arranged. Not being able to control the backdrop, street parking is very much its feature, I positioned the shot to embrace the blue van to which your eye is drawn and balance it with the decorative lighting peeking through the display. I think it works..?

#40: Stratford (Jubilee) – 05/02/2019

Returning for this, my third visit to the area. Firstly alighting at Stratford International (DLR) and more recently at Stratford (DLR) when I decided to carve the surrounding area into quadrants, so today I was set to explore the southern area of Stratford. But first I wander around the Jubilee line platforms and the surrounding station environment.

Stratford station and its surrounds

The Jubilee line is one of a few on the Tfl network which doesn’t have any spur lines. In this case, the Jubilee runs from Stratford north west to Stanmore and is the newest line prior to the emerging Elizabeth line. The station entrance has also undergone some regeneration as it prepared for the anticipated increased footfall because of the 2012 Olympics, which the station prided itself on successfully meeting without a hiccup.

There’s a large concourse outside the station which acts as a gateway between Westfield shopping centre and the Stratford shopping centre, and today it is is the turn of Centrepoint chuggers trying to attract donors for their charity. There is, I think, one genuinely homeless person propped asleep against the station sign, but having seen the chuggers I wasn’t too sure if they were trying to create a dramatic effect – I’m too cynical I know…

The bus terminal sits nearby and its canopy combined with the Shoal, a shimmering wall of titanium fish, offers an interesting backdrop to the surrounding buildings, old and new which sit together in unplanned harmony.

Greenway footpath

I flirted with this footpath last time I visited Stratford and I had planned to come back and walk further along it, and today’s the day for that. I’m not sure how far I’ll get so I decide to just wander and see where it leads me.

From the High Street, where the footpath crosses the road from Wick Lane, it runs for six kilometres easterly to Beckton. It is in fact a pathway created above the Northern Outfall sewer which forms part of the Tideway project which will connect all of London’s sewers and prevent spills into the Thames. Because of its height, at roughly eaves level of neighbouring properties, you get a great overview of the surrounding and distant area as far as Canary Wharf.

Sadly, as with any unattended open space, graffiti artists take the opportunity to promote their skills, and the path is no different, although their endeavours are somewhat encouraged by the local authority which seems to have cordoned off an area across a bridge ripe for their intrusion.

Abbey Mills Pumping Station

Half a kilometre along the path, the Abbey MIlls pumping station stands proudly, almost cathedral like in its own grounds. The building, has been described by one commentator as ‘…An assured Victorian mishmash of Byzantium, Moorish, Slavic and Northern Italian influences. A feat of engineering, ingenuity and boundless confidence resulting in this ‘plant’, camouflaged and transformed into a peculiar industrial palace…’

Built by Joseph Bazalgette, this is a name I became familiar with during the formative days of the Government Digital Service (GDS) as we were once entertained by the presence of the former head of Channel 5, Sir Peter Bazalgette who visited and shared his wisdom and admired what we were doing. He is Joseph Bazelgette’s great-great-grandson.

West Ham Station

A little further along, I spy West Ham underground station, and to be honest I hadn’t appreciated how close it is to Stratford, so I decide to detour slightly and explore more closely. West Ham station is a transport hub for several interconnecting lines: Jubilee, District and C2C services running from Fenchurch Street station to Grays, Southend and Shoeburyness.

It is a station I’ve passed through many a time, giving but a cursory glance to my surroundings. My ‘picture of the day’ (see below) captures a particular commuting moment, and signs at the station entrance help to highlight other commuting statistics. I spend a little time outside the station pursuing other travelling themed shots too.

Boleyn Ground

Back onto the footpath, I carry on walking as far as the sign for Plaistow underground. Heading through rows and rows of uninteresting houses to the station as I have a notion to head over to Upton Park and have a look at the development underway at West Ham United’s former home ground.

In my opinion, housing developments around London have become fairly standardised these days, both in style, brick work and colouring, and this one by Barratt, now renamed Upton Gardens, is no exception. I fear the marketing hype will overstate the development as it becomes yet another over priced mid rise housing development with shared amenities in an otherwise socially depressed area of London.

Picture of the Day

This was an easy one to identify as once I’d seen the outcome of the shot I knew it worked. The location, seasoned district line commuters will recognise, is the walkway between the Jubilee and District lines at West Ham. I was trying different settings to catch the light and as commuters passed in waves, some looked my way. Those shots didn’t work, but persevering, this guy in muted commuter mode ignoring everything around him, provides a great silhouette. The hazy background works well too as the pixelation created by the 60’s style wall tiles lets you see the immediate and distant London scene.

Social Media – please feel free to comment on any/all of the following platforms

Google Photos – Stratford (Jubilee)

YouTube – Stratford (Jubilee)

Instagram – Stratford (Jubilee)

#39: Hammersmith (Revisited) – 29/01/2019

Seven months after my first visit, I return to Hammersmith via one of it’s two stations: the most northern station serving as a terminus for both the aptly named Hammersmith & City (pink) line, and the Circle (yellow) line. The second station, opening into the Broadway shopping centre, serving as a pass through station for both the Piccadilly and District Lines. Conditions today are quite different; a cold icy blast with the threat of snow, but as the day starts, it’s quite bright and clear.

I start the day heading south under the flyover to almost where I ended my last journey as I make my way through Fulham Reach to the Blue Boat pub on the Thames Path overlooking the river.

Not because I am desperate for a drink, n’or because I wanted to flavour a traditional Fuller’s pub as Asahi, a Japanese brewery takes over the chain. But because it is a convenient place to meet a former work colleague to catch up on gossip and life. Noelia and I worked for the Government Digital Service (GDS) together for several years, and just as I was retiring, Noelia left to join Tfl. It’s been many a year since I walked into an empty pub as their first morning customer, but an 11.00 am start for coffee was a good way to spend the morning in good company and pleasant surroundings.

As a local resident, Noelia explains this is a very popular pub, one that’s hard to get a table booking, and i can understand why. It’s position right by the river is ideal, with pleasant surroundings and decor providing a welcoming balance between chique, characterful and trendy. It was good to catch up and share with each other what we have been up to and to hear how those we are still in touch with have moved on to other challenges.

The Thames Path

As we say farewell, I head south along the north shore following the Thames Path which eventually leads me past Craven Cottage and on to Fulham Palace. But first a few words of the pathway as it deserves a particular mention. Despite it being bitterly cold, the icy sky with a hazy sun provides an ideal opportunity to capture the scenery. I think no matter where I am, the combination of sun and water will always encourage me to take pictures as it may be something to do with the fact I was born and brought up by the sea.

This part of the Thames Path is directly under the flight-path as aircraft make their way to land at Heathrow, and as I look skywards timing their frequency hoping to capture a unique shot, I note the planes fly over at monotonous regularity every two minutes.

The path is quite busy with dog walkers and runners/joggers, and as I approach Bishop’s Park, there is surprisingly one or two sitting in the cold enjoying the scenery. The lake and surrounding gardens are closed, probably for winter maintenance, however there is some evidence of spring emerging in the surrounding shrubbery.

Craven Cottage – Fulham Football Club

The Thames Path takes a detour at this point as Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club sits right on the edge of the river. The stands are imposing and tower over the path, and as I make my way to the main entrance in Stevenage Road there’s a river of coloured cables in the gutter as media companies prepare to broadcast this evening’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion (for those interested, Fulham won 4-2).

Spectator access to the ground is still controlled through narrow numbered turnstiles, which stand as a protective layer at the front of the stadium. The club’s colours of black and white are clearly visible, and close to the ticket office stands a memorial to one of the club’s best ever players – Johnny Haynes

Fulham Palace

From The Cottage through Bishops Park along its tree lined avenues, I come to Fulham Palace and tentatively poke my nose into the Walled Garden; and I’m glad I did as I find some unexpected delights. The History of Fulham Palace records ‘…From around 700, when the site was acquired by Bishop Waldhere, it served as a Bishop’s residence for over 12 centuries. At least since Tudor times, Fulham Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home, providing the Bishop and his family with a healthy rural retreat in summer months…’

The Palace’s features comprise primarily of the Palace buildings, surrounding grounds, Walled Garden all enclosed in what was once known to be the longest domestic moat in England – an earthwork enclosing an area of 14.5 hectares (35.8 acres) with the original water extending for about one mile in length. It’s fair to say the garden is in its winter state, and although there is little colour about except for the explosion of snowdrops, it’s clear the grounds are well maintained and cared for. Through the other end of the Walled Garden I step into the grounds surrounding the Palace and I see children playing happily in a make-do campsite on one side, and find some interesting tree carvings on the other.

Into the Palace itself which is undergoing restoration work, so access to some areas is restricted. However I meet two helpful ladies at reception who point me in the direction of the Terrick Rooms and The Chapel where I’m joined by one of them who acts as my tour guide and shares the chapel’s interesting history. Before leaving, I’m introduced to Nicola, the Palace’s Marketing Manager, who explains the Palace will reopen access to all areas over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with an official opening on the 25th May and a public opening on the 26th. Nicola also highlights their photography competition which is open to all amateur photographers until the 21st April.

If you have a spark of an interest in seeing one of London’s hidden and unsung gems, I’d highly recommend a visit here: and I for one will be returning. Thank you Fulham Palace for your hospitality.

Returning to Hammersmith

The sun has gone and the clouds look increasingly threatening so it’s time to head to my journey’s end back at Hammersmith station. I walk the length of Woodlawn Road and espy what I guess is described as fashionable Fulham. Row upon row of attractive semi-detached town houses which are well maintained and decorated. Those that aren’t are in the throws of being modernised as I lose count of the number of houses being redeveloped.

Onto the main Fulham Palace Road I walk around Charing Cross Hospital, but I’m more than a little disappointed that this ageing, decaying and tired concrete monstrosity offers nothing of interest. By contrast, and a little further up the road is a relatively new development – Assembly London which is rather striking in its modernist isolation.

Picture of the Day

It’s taken me a while to pick this one as I originally wanted to showcase the light of the day on the river, but I’ve already included those pictures above under the Thames Path heading. I’ve gone for this picture less for its photographic quality, but more for what it represents. This is more about ‘stories within stories’ and is representative of the time I spent within the grounds of Fulham Palace.

This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room and it made me ask myself the following questions:

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

Social Media – please feel free to comment on any/all of the following platforms

Google Photos – Hammersmith (Revisited)

YouTube – Hammersmith

Instagram – Hammersmith

#38: Woodford – 22/01/2019

Woodford underground station is on the Central Line and sits on the destination northwards from Stratford to Epping. But it’s also the end of the line for the Fairlop Loop that runs from Stratford via Newbury Park and terminates here – and thus my visit today. A wintry cold day with bright clear skies to start with that ended, somewhat surprisingly with a sudden and unexpected snowfall in the early evening.

The area immediately surrounding the station to the north is known as Woodford Green and serves a residential community of largely early 20th century property mix of large detached and semi-detached houses. Growth through the suburbanisation of London has seen the ingress of multi-occupancy social housing nevertheless the area immediately around the station, which dissects the town, is clean, tidy and well cared for. Shops to the west of the station having a more traditional ‘village’ feel and those to the east of the station are of a multicultural mix suggesting they serve a diverse community.

For more information on the general area called ‘Woodford’, follow the link.

Station

Nothing out of the ordinary about the station, which has a potted history in becoming established as part of the commuter route to Epping and onwards to Ongar since its origins in the late 19th Century when the line was first built. The expansion of London during the two wars helped cement its place as a fashionable location, and in becoming the terminal destination for the loop.

I speak with Chris, the station supervisor, to try and determine the origins of the two tone green colour scheme on the station as I had a notion it originated from the earlier years. He had no knowledge of its origins, and neither can I find anything online other than the scheme reflect the ‘lner/br(e) (1940s-1960s) colours’.

We chatted about the introduction of the night service on Friday and Saturday nights, a service that runs every 20 mins, and with some heartfelt reminiscing Chris commented on how reveller’s behaviours have changed. No longer do they need to dash to catch the last train, and end up as very drunk passengers, as they can now pace themselves and return home more gracefully. He also explained the station starts operating services from 5.00 am with services running in all three directions as trains would have been held overnight in the large sidings adjacent to the station as Epping (the other end of the line) doesn’t have the capacity to store trains overnight.

The Broadway

Heading away from the station, I explore The Broadway; a small shopping parade full of independent shops (with only one obvious exception). And these shops are what gives this area it’s character. I stop to admire the somewhat jaded facade of the solicitors CCH & Co and as I turn around to head up the street I see I’m being looked at quizzically by someone from inside a Turkish Barbers.

I go in and introduce myself to Sevkan and Ego, the two barbers who are working there. I explain my purpose and ask to take their pictures and of the shop. They readily agree, and after finishing with a customer, they preen themselves for the photo-shoot. Both gentlemen took the session in good humour especially after telling them I wouldn’t charge them for the pictures. My only ask is that they share my blog details through a bundle of business cards I left with them. They tell me they’ve only been open a few months and the shop was previously a bakery.

Now I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between an English and a Turkish barber, and now I know. The extras on offer include a wet shave, a hot towel, ear flaming and a head massage although I believe these are now becoming more fashionable in the trendier gentlemen’s grooming parlours. Should you be in the neighbourhood, then pop into The Kingsman and tell them how you heard about them… 🙂

The Broadway Deli & Grocery

Across the road is a delightful Deli & Grocery recently opened by Jan, in what was once the Post Office (which has now moved across the road). I’m surprised and delighted by the welcome I get after tentatively asking to take some photos explaining my mission and how I’m drawn in by the interior displays and general ‘look and feel’.

It’s lunchtime and customers are enjoying their Monmouth coffee as they perch at the front of shop bar looking onto The Broadway, and customers eagerly buy their healthier lunches too. So I was doubly surprised with the time Jan spent with me sharing his passion for the food he sells recounting their origins and individual, and some personal, stories of how the food is created by craftsmen and artisans. For example the olive growers of Puglia (Italy) who use traditional methods to grind their olives with herbs instead of infusing them to create flavoured olive oils; or how Becky Griffiths picks her Sloe berries from around Essex to create her award winning Mother’s Ruin gin. I could easily stay listening to Jan for a very long time as he has a story for every product on display, so that will be a treat on a return visit.

I hope I didn’t outstay my welcome, and on reviewing my day’s photo shoot I realise over half the pictures I’ve taken are of the Deli, so as a thank you to Jan and his team, I’ve created a special YouTube video of those pictures as I feel I can’t quite do justice by the few pictures I can post here. Have a look here: YouTube – The Broadway Deli & Grocery

Snakes Lane East

Heading through the station underpass to the east side of Woodford, there’s a different feel as the array of health & beauty shops, supermarkets and restaurants reflects a very multicultural mix; there’s evidence of economic hardship too as seen through the high proportion of closed and derelict shops.

I have to admit I’m always impressed with the way some supermarkets show off their produce, and the Food Park is no exception with their fruit and veg carefully selected and placed providing a splendid technicolour display.

Further down the road I wander around Saint Barnabas Parish Church a couple of times hoping to find an open door to peek inside, but it was not to be, and as the afternoon is drawing to a close, I decide to head south to South Woodford.

Following St Barnabas Road all the way, I pass row upon row of typical London mid-1930’s houses. Nothing exciting to report until I reach the North Circular Road. I was hoping I’d be able to walk over a bridge as I had a few ideas on photos to try out, but at this juncture it’s another underpass.

Coming out the other side, the sky looks ominous and, as it turns out, the clouds are a precursor to an unexpected snow storm. Thankfully I make my way undercover before getting wet.

Best Picture

This one fits the bill for several reasons:

  • It’s a reminder of the time spent at the Deli & Grocery
  • Although the picture is ‘busy’, everything is framed and each window has its own story – if you zoom in on each pane, you can decide for yourself
  • The brief inclusion of the letter box acts as a reminder this was once the post office
  • There is an interesting juxtaposition with Sainsbury’s reflection providing a contrast between independent and chain retailer – I know which I prefer

Social Media – please feel free to comment on any/all of the following platforms

Google Photos – Woodford

YouTube – Woodford

Instagram