Journey’s End

#65: Watford – 20/08/2019

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

The Station

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

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

Cassiobury Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watford Football Club

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

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

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

Watford General Hospital

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

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

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#64: Dalston Junction – 13/08/2019

In my Battersea Park blog, I mentioned the existence of parliamentary trains, better known as ghost trains, and Dalston Junction is the other end of such a service shuttling between these two stations. So somewhat surprised to be visiting here, but it resulted in an interesting day.

And, carrying on with my theme of understanding my camera, I played with more creative filters today. In addition to the grainy black & white effect, I also explored the effects of the ‘high dynamic range settings’ which offered four options – the two I seemed to settle on are the ones creating an ‘art bold’ and an ‘art vivid’ effect whereby the colours are saturated making the pictures look like an oil painting or creating a graphic art effect respectively. I’ll let you be the judge, but here’s my story…

The Station

This is a relatively new station, having only opened in 2010 and it is the natural end of the service to/from New Cross; so another reason to be here. A busy station servicing several Overground lines through to Highbury & Islington to the north west and New Cross, Crystal Palace, Clapham Junction and West Croydon to the south.

It’s made up of four platforms; the two central platforms for the New Cross service and the outer platforms for the through services. The station is proud of its Orange roundels and colour scheme which are so blatant and in a nerdy way, quite eye catching.

Dalston

I’ve only once been to Dalston before; it was many years ago and work related; it wasn’t a pleasant visit in what was regarded as a depressed and drug riddled area; so my expectations were somewhat biased. And I am nicely surprised when I find I’m walking through a regenerated, yet characterful area.

Immediately out of the station I see a large wall mural which on close inspection is the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural designed by Ray Walker and painted by Mike Jones and Anna Walker after the artist’s death.

The mural is adjacent to a low key entrance to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, but once I walk through the tunnelled entrance, I find an amazing space designed for fun, peace, tranquillity and learning. The space is being enjoyed by couples, children and those working in solitude in this relaxing space. DO take a walk in if you’re in the neighbourhood as it’s a beautiful and calming space.

On exiting, I follow a stream of pedestrians who are walking purposefully, but I know not where…until I find I’m in Dalston Kingsland, which in all honesty is just around the corner. Although on this route it was round a few corners but the short-cut leads to a thriving area and the home of Ridley Road market. A market that runs the length from its junction with the main A10 Kingsland High Street and St Mark’s Rise, some 300m long.

The market is full of shoppers jostling their way through the myriad of fruit & veg, fish, clothes, materials and bric-a-brac stalls, with everyone looking for the elusive bargain. On either side of the stalls is an array of small shops offering up more variety to those goods on display in the market stalls. I join the shoppers in weaving in and out of the stalls and through the adjacent Kingsland Shopping Centre which offers more of the same, but in slightly better surroundings.

Down the A10

This is the main drag into London, and consequently it’s pretty busy. A wide, arterial road full of delightful surprises as it passes through De Beauvoir, Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch. The Overground line runs in parallel just behind the eastern edge of the road.

My first stop is a nod to a local family run business at the corner of Englefield Road with what looks like a traditional – and by that I mean olde worlde – original ironmongery where you can get things cut to size. An attractive store that monopolises the corner on both sides – this is the delight of KTS The Corner.

My next is at an interesting dilapidated factory in Hertford Road. As I turn into the road and see it’s current run down state, I have a wicked thought, and one that might resonate with a populist view about our recently appointed Prime Minister – Boris Johnson. And that’s why I spend a little time trying to get the right quality of image to encapsulate this. The Boris Limited factory, once a proud manufacturer of bags and luggage, now stands dishevelled and broken. I think this image does just that.

Returning on to the A10, I pass some modern apartments with an aquatic theme; namely ‘Quebec Wharf’ and ‘Kingsland Wharves’, and I realise these have been built backing onto Kingsland Basin which feeds off the Regent’s Canal I’m about to cross. Although the bridge is a little unassuming, buildings in its immediate vicinity make a bold colourful statement as they are adorned with some amazing street art. The ones that catch my eye include:

Charlie Hudson, a recent mural judging by the date (‘19) on the corner of Orsman Road, and at the time of writing I’m trying to confirm the mural’s authenticity.

Otto Schade, a mural by the Chilean artist, on the corner with Phillipp Street, and I now realise I first saw Otto’s work in Croydon during the street art festival in 2018 – see here.

Heading south into Hoxton, I come to the Geffrye museum of the home. Although closed until 2020 as it undergoes redevelopment, its walled garden offers surprising peace and tranquillity from the main road, and the space is currently being used for theatre productions. A delightful little spot.

Finally, under the railway bridge as I approach Shoreditch, I take a side step into Cottons Garden’s, an alley once filled with warehouses but now converted into fashionable offices and apartments. As I admire the architecture, the sun shines through one of the buildings and I capture this image of the intricate glassware, frame and reflection along with the sun through the building and the ghostly vision of this photographer.

Shoreditch and Old Street

My recent years of working in Aldgate has led me on quite a few forays into the Shoreditch area, and the one thing that amuses me is my ability to lose my bearings quite easily as side streets twist and turn. And despite efforts to ‘follow the sun’, today is no exception – but you know what? That’s half the fun of walking the streets like this.

One of my stopping points is at a building site along the length of Blackall Street at its corner with Ravey Street. I mention the location as it’s the site of my ‘picture of the day’, so read more below. But as I explore the alley between the rear of small offices and hoardings around a building site, I capture this image of today’s continuing health hazards.

A short hop around the corner, I walk past Westland at St Michael’s Church and I spot their sign which says ‘visitors welcome’ so in I pop. They are a reseller of fine architectural antiques on a grand scale, and the old church is full of articles that wouldn’t look out of place in a grand gothic castle or mansion. If you’re looking for the unusual and have the space (and the cash), then this is the place to look for that unique piece.

I end the day admiring a contrast in building architecture. These two stand out and help to demonstrate the beauty in each type. The first overlooking a car park in Clare Street, with it’s brickwork and variety of casement windows looking gritty in the black and white shot…

…and this second, of the Children’s Eye Centre, part of the well known Moorfields Eye Hospital, in Peerless Street representing a modernist twist.

Picture of the Day

At the corner of Blackall Street and Ravey Street, passers-by were admiring the new building with a fancy facia and a below ground coffee house and seating area. However, I’m more interested in the view along the side of Blackall Street, now somewhat blocked by the hoardings surrounding the building site behind the aforementioned new building. The alley that’s been created, with just enough room for someone to squeeze through, has become a haven for graffiti artists, and as I played with the HDR settings, I take this shot and know instantly it is a strong contender for today’s picture of the day.

The artwork, its vividness and narrow street composition peering in on workmen in high-vis jackets at the far end of the street creates a colourful, gritty urban memory. One I think that reflects the day I’ve had today. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO1250; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid

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#63: Uxbridge – 07/08/2019

Today’s a creative day shooting predominantly in Black & White once I’d finished  exploring the main station area; I’ll explain why a little later. But first, it’s to the end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at Uxbridge, the journey takes me almost from one end of the Metropolitan line at Liverpool Street to Uxbridge. I had thought maybe travelling to Aldgate (one stop) in the opposite direction to lay claim to a complete end to end journey – but I didn’t.

The Station

The station has three platforms with a two level concrete canopy. The higher level over the middle platform which serves the Metropolitan line, and a lower canopy over the outer platforms serving the Piccadilly line. This maybe because the Metropolitan line trains are taller than the Piccadilly line trains, but I’ve no evidence to substantiate this.

I didn’t know this, but until the mid 1930’s, the station was served by the District line, but the service was taken over by the Piccadilly line which now serves as the main artery from Ealing Broadway.

The concrete canopy extends from the platforms over the booking hall which is overlooked by colourful stained glass representing the area’s association with the counties of Middlesex and Buckinghamshire before the creation of the London Borough of Hillingdon. You can’t see the stained glass from the front, but adorning the entrance from the outside are a pair of winged wheels in an art deco style.

On the north eastern approach to the station, there are large sidings, empty at the time of my visit, presumably for the overnight storage of trains at the end of the day. As an aside, getting to the station was trouble free, but my journey back was blighted by a points failure at Ickenham which affected the Piccadilly trains but thankfully the Metropolitan line had a reduced service allowing me to travel as far as Rayners Lane where I could pick up the limited Piccadilly line service.

Uxbridge

The town centre is largely pedestrianised dominated by the railway and bus station at one end, and Hillingdon Council offices at the other end. The council offices are in the main, a collection of brick monstrosities – functional but soulless, featureless and uninviting.

The town centre is a mix of local independent shops and the obvious high street stores, all overlooked by two shopping centres: the more modern Intu Centre and a classic 60’s style concrete Pavilions centre. Both centres host the standard larger retail stores and both are served by large car parks which are accessed via the ring road surrounding the town centre.

Walking around the town, I find few things of interest, although this cutting from the Intu centre to the High Street provides a colourful interlude. And on the outskirts, I see this wall mural in homage to a local landowner, Kate Fassnidge, who bequeathed the park land now known as Fassnidge Park to the District Council.

I take a walk through the park, and see many doing the same and enjoying the shade under the trees as they eat their lunch. The Fray’s River runs through to the adjoining Rockingham recreation ground serving as a conduit for the local ducks and swans. The birds are clustered around an elderly lady feeding them on the river bank by the bridge at Rockingham Road.

A study in Black & White

By this point, I realise I’ve taken very few pictures and I’m starting to think about how best to represent my visit to Uxbridge. The overarching architectural feature is concrete and brickwork, and as I return to the town, I find I’m at the car park entrance of The Pavilions shopping centre looking up at the footbridge that allows pedestrians to access from the other side of the ring road at Oxford Road.

I have an idea: One of my aims in following this ‘end of the line’ journey is to fall back in love with digital photography, and to this end with my current camera. I decide to set a filter on my camera to ‘Grainy B/W’, and leave it in this setting mode for the rest of the day. And as I do, I find I’m transported back to the early 1970’s, a time  when I used to develop my own pictures using B&W film.

Around the back of the shopping centre, I spot a large wooden clad shed. It turns out to be a local taxi firm, and I’m intrigued by its character which stands out so well with its graininess accentuated in black and white.

Through a little alleyway, I enter Windsor Street where I find a parade of small beauty and health related businesses and this is where I meet Reez, Rosh and Graeme. You see, as I pass Reez the Barbers, I’m drawn to the scene of two barbers meticulously tending a customer’s beard as they trim it. As they are right by the front door I stop to admire the precision with which Reez and Rosh are operating and chat to them and Graeme, their customer who are all kind enough to allow me to take some pictures. 

Around the corner is the Charter Building. Once the headquarters of Coca Cola, it has now been refurbished into a fashionable workspace, a growing concept across the city where businesses can rent flexible workspace as their businesses grow. As I explore inside the building, I notice some similarities with The Whitechapel Building in Aldgate, where I last worked for the Government Digital Service. I chat with Tigi and Tehlia, the building receptionists who give me permission to take some internal photos.

Battle of Britain Bunker

I start following a sign for the Battle of Britain Bunker and a half hour later I arrive at my destination to find out two things: I’d just walked three sides of a square to get here as I had in fact followed the road signs instead of a shortcut footpath. And although the venue was open, it has just closed its admissions for the day. Argh! But not to worry as I’ll visit again on my return to Uxbridge. There’s enough outside interest to explore before heading back to the station through Dowding Park.

Picture of the Day

My picture of the day comes, unsurprisingly, from my collection of B&W photos, and I could quite easily include many of these pictures. The graininess ads a particular edge to the photos which I think works well. Anyway, I’ve selected this one which is inspired whilst I’m standing on the footbridge over the Oxford Road leading to the car park entrance to The Pavilions shopping centre.

The concrete and graffiti stand out and whilst I’m trying to get the right lighting effect, there’s an elderly gent walking down the ramp trying to avoid being in the picture. I respect his anonymity and leave him walk out of sight, but think the photo would be better with someone in it. Consequently I move onto the lower part of the ramp looking up and line up the metal handrail on the right hand side, highlighted by the sun and ‘pointing’ to the graffiti on the end wall. I’m crouched low to emphasise the rising ramp and wait for someone to walk through the shot. This gentleman obliges, without realising, and the fact he’s on his mobile just as he leaves the frame helps to complement the effect.

I like it…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 51mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Eiffel

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#62: Barking – 30/07/2019

One of the unexpected delights of this travelog is the richness of the people I meet who have their own story to tell and help make the places I visit so rewarding. And my return to Barking has certainly had more than its fair share of that; more later but first why am I returning here?

Well Barking is the terminal destination for twoTfl lines. My first visit over nine months ago was courtesy of the Overground, and today it’s for the end of the Hammersmith & City line. Weather warning though; the forecast was miserable and although I was able to dodge the hardest rain, I decided not to let the persistent drizzle get in my way.

The Station

With eight platforms serving The Overground, District, Hammersmith & City and the c2c, this is a busy station, but desperately in need of modernisation. Classically styled predominantly in concrete, it has a very tired functional feel to it; but thankfully there are plans to regenerate the area although at the time of writing it’s unclear when this will be done. The main street level concourse is cavernous with a high vaulted concrete roof which I suspect on warmer days makes the area unbearably hot, and there are attempts to revamp the platform furniture with Tfl styled seating.

I find I’m being heckled by Sakhib, a train driver who’s walking to the front of a District line train he’s about to take out of the station. Once I’ve explained my purpose, and that I’m not a train spotter, he is keen to share a recent event at the station where he was invited onto the footplate of a steam train as it travelled through the station. We can’t chat for long as his signal is changing to green.

On another platform, I meet Geoff, a train spotter from Inverness who has spent the morning in Bethnal Green and now he is eager to spot the new Overground trains to complete his collection of the group of trains serving that line. A well travelled, and seasoned trainspotter, he is happy to share some of his European travel stories with me and I’m amazed by his depth of detailed knowledge, but guess given this is his passion, I shouldn’t be surprised really.

As I explore the platforms, I’m tickled by the thought that one of the signs I see may have been a legacy of a visit by David Hasslehoff. Now I know this is highly unlikely but it helps to lift my mood on this wet day.

Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC)

Heading out of the station, I’m drawn to a pop-up photographic exhibition where I meet Alison, the volunteer of the day looking after the exhibition. In its first exhibition, the BEC is showcasing a local photographer whose work is on display, and I admire the starkness of the black and white street photography taken by Jimmy Lee who’s recently published a book of a collection of his work along with individual prints for sale.

I explain my photographic background and approach with Alison who in turn comments on the similarity this has with Jimmy’s approach and she encourages me to connect with him (which I do later). Alison is a warm and friendly individual and I find it easy to strike up a conversation, and as we chat, I take a series of portrait shots catching her in an ‘off guard’ moment. I try to choose which is the best shot, but I think this collage best shows off Alison’s personality. Thank you Alison for your warmth and friendliness and for introducing me to Jimmy Lee. I look forward to having that drink with you one day…

Barking Park

Any London park is worth a visit, and Barking’s is no different which is only a short walk from the station. Unsurprisingly, the rain soaked day has kept people away so I feel a little isolated as I walk through the skateboard park heading to the lake. And as I approach it, I’m greeted by a large flock of Canada Geese feeding on the grass verge and I try to line up a shot of the parked up pedalos in the distance.

Sheltering under the tree lined avenue, I see four people pushing a shopping trolley walking along the lake side as I’m changing my camera lens, and as they get nearer, I realise they’re not wayward travellers but in fact a party of Park Rangers and volunteers. Carol, the team lead introduces herself and explains that every Tuesday she and a team of volunteers trawl the lake for discarded litter, plastic and/or anything else that’s been thrown into the lake. Their day is drawing to the end having collected several trolleys full of rubbish so we say farewell as I meander along the lake side and enjoy the array of birdlife.

As well as the Canada Geese, the lake is awash with nesting coots, seagulls, swans and ducks, and one solitary Heron perched on a single leg (his right I recall) on the far side of the lake as if he’s supervising all the other water birds. Here’s a brief snapshot of the waterfowl collection.

Later, as I head out of the park, I’m beckoned by Hubbard, a gent standing under the trees who’s indicated he’s ready to have his picture taken. Always happy to oblige a willing volunteer, I approach and despite the fact he’s talking on his mobile it seems we end up having a three way conversation. I’ve no idea who is on the other end of the line, but I do note that Hubbard is also enjoying a lunch time drink from a can of Guinness.

The Road to Ilford

Out of the park, and lo and behold the sun comes out and it suddenly warms up very quickly, so I decide to head up Ilford Lane to Ilford. From previous travels, I know this to be an interesting walk past many shops displaying colourful saris in their shop windows. On one corner, I’m distracted by Cleveland Junior School which has two bright blue clocks on display high on one of its walls. Both showing the same time, but one with Roman numerals and one with ordinary numbers.

I hadn’t realised until I started writing this blog that some clocks that adopt Roman numerals will display 4 o’clock as either IIII or IV. If you’re interested in finding out why, here’s an article that offers several hypotheses.

And finally, the underpass leading from Ilford Lane into Ilford is an unattractive, gloomy and depressing location, and I have walked through here before in full sight of drug dealing. Today’s passing is slightly different and as I emerge, I quite like this final shot of a high rise office block which has an interesting pattern highlighted in black and white. What do you think?

Picture of the Day

I find these days that I struggle with choosing my ‘picture of the day’ as there are often several pictures I’d like to include. But in finally deciding, I remind myself that the purpose of this section is to select a picture that can represent one of many things. It could be that: I find the final image appealing/attractive; it represents the breadth of experiences/people I’ve met; it is the culmination of a patient wait for the right composition, or it simply happens by accident.

Today’s picture falls into the final category. Let me explain. I’m trying out several long distance focal length shots to highlight the yellow boat against the blue pedalos framed by the two tone green of the overhanging trees in the foreground and the trees in the background. But I felt there was something missing in the final composition so I took some with geese in the foreground, but that didn’t quite work and echoed a shot I’d taken earlier in the day.

Then, whilst I was kneeling and getting wet, there was a teenage lad cycling in the foreground and I kept waiting for him to get out of the shot, but he suddenly appeared with a stick in his hand as if he is fishing, and as he appeared I snatched a few shots in case he didn’t return. And as I caught this one, I knew it was just right as he brought a life element on the edge of the shot to help balance the otherwise stillness of the picture.

It also helps to remind me of my time in the park and by association meeting Hubbard, Carol and her team, Alison and my introduction to Jimmy, Geoff and Sakhib.

All in all a great day…welcome to Barking!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/800; Focal Length – 230mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO640; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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

#61: Upminster – 24/07/2019

If you want to find out why there’s a vague reference to Donald Trump in today’s blog, then read on – but don’t get too excited!

Upminster is local to me as I only live 3.5 miles away, so I’m somewhat familiar with the location. Consequently I try to stay objective and behave in the same way as with all my other visits. It’s a hard and harsh day weatherwise, as it’s a record breaking sunny day; not ideal for walking about, so I make sure I take on plenty of fluids and walk as much in the shade as possible.

Knowing I’ll be returning to Upminster again as the station serves as the terminus for both the District and Overground lines, I decide to take a somewhat rural view of this suburban town today.

The Station

Upminster is a surprisingly  busy station serving the two Tfl’s lines and c2c’s destinations through Essex to Grays, Southend and Shoeburyness, and today I arrive on the Overground from Romford. This single track line is one of the latest to join the Tfl network, and other than the two end destinations, it has only one other station (Emerson Park) roughly half way along its 5 kilometre journey.

The shuttle service runs every half hour taking just 9 minutes each way and I learn from the driver that each driver does just 9 back to back journeys a day as their daily routine.

As I explore the station, I watch a number of high-vis clad Network Rail workers as they manhandle sacks of ballast from the start of Platform 1, along its length,  up and down 50 steps over a bridge to platform 2 and then to the end of that platform where engineering work is to take place later. In the heat of the day, this was beyond physical, and the effort and heat are understandably taking their toll on the speed with which they work. Nevertheless, there are a couple of workers determined to carry two sacks at shoulder height to help shorten the overall time being taken.

As I leave the station, I spot some advertising for a mobile phone app to help find water refilling stations across London. On downloading it I find it’s a national service and try it out. Refill is a scheme encouraging local retailers to offer free water refills to customers to help reduce/avoid plastic pollution, and I note there are three outlets in Upminster: Costa (2) and Greggs. I try the service out during the course of my visit and confess that both suppliers were more than happy to accommodate my request for a refill even though I wasn’t buying anything from them. I later tried it in Brentwood Costa with the same success, so it’s well worth trying it.

Tfl’s end of the line depot is 1.5 Km further east in Cranham, where their rolling stock is maintained and stored overnight. Out of interest I make my way over but alas high fencing and shrubbery prevents me being able to see anything substantial. Nevertheless, I’m drawn to the landmark that is the lighting tower that can be seen from afar, and I talk with Mike, the driver of the 248 bus service to Romford Market who’s taking a break at the nearby bus terminus. He’s a Norfolk lad who tells me of his enjoyment of writing music and he plays one of his demo’s from his phone whilst he’s finishing his cigarette before starting his journey. Although not a performing band, they play under the name of ‘Lyric Assassins’.

In the Country

The walk from Cranham takes me past ‘Pond Walk’, a protected wildlife pond, but it seems that all the inhabitants are out for the day as both the pond and the island’s sole dwelling are empty. Maybe it’s too hot for them in the midday sun?

Onwards up The Chase, a narrow single track lane laced with private secure gated bespoke houses along its length. The walk is very much a country walk as I pass several wheat fields that look ready for harvesting and spot Upminster’s Windmill towering in the distance.

At the top of the lane, I reach my signposted destination: The Parish Church of All Saints Cranham. The church has a rich history with links to the foundation of the state of Georgia in the USA, and the present building reflects the early English architectural style. The church is attractive and has the appearance of being well cared for, but a walk around the back of the churchyard shows some neglect as the gravestones are overgrown with grass and weeds and the path a little difficult to navigate. Nevertheless it’s a very pleasant English country setting.

Heading back towards Upminster, I take a gander into Clockhouse Gardens, a public garden and wildfowl haven discreetly tucked behind the appropriately named Clockhouse. As I enter the garden, I find I’m confronted by a flock of Canada geese ground feeding everywhere around a pond full of a variety of ducks. And towards the centre of the pond, perched on a small rocky outcrop is a trio of terrapins basking in the sun.

There’s a mum and small child enjoying the spectacle and I turn my head to see what they’ve spotted as the mum says ‘…look at that duck with the funny thing on its head…’. And whilst I don’t know it yet, its here I meet Donald Trump. You can read about my encounter below in my ‘Picture of the Day’.

On the shadier far side of the garden, several ladies are resting and enjoying the relative solitude. It’s in a wooded area clearly set out as a children’s reading spot with carved animal characters and little toadstools set out in a reading circle and the wizard of the wood overseeing  his domain.

Back into Town

As the crow flies, the windmill is 1.6 km’s from The Parish Church of All Saints Cranham, but in reality it’s a slow 2.25 km walk along the length of St Mary’s Lane in the basking sun. I’m a little disappointed when I get there as I find the area is a building site and the windmill is without its cap, sails and gallery. But that takes nothing away from the restoration work that’s been going on over the last two years by way of returning the mill to its former glory. Over two miles of weatherboarding has recently been applied and painted and the shape of the windmill is clear to see, and along with the recently opened visitor centre, full access is to the windmill is expected in Spring next year.

The main shopping area runs from the station down Corbets Tey Road, and the shops are a mix of small local businesses, fashion and beauty. But if you look up above the ground floor ‘marketing noise’ you’ll see the hidden exterior of the early 20th century art deco style architecture, looking a little tired and in need of sprucing up.

Picture of the Day

Meet Donald Trump…well it’s a name I’ve seen given to this type of crested duck on the internet, and I can sort of understand why with its glorious bouffoned crest beautifully coiffed in an elegant ‘comb over’ effect. This duck clearly stood out from the crowd as it was the only one of this type I could see, as it waddled majestically amongst all the other ducks.

The picture was a little tricky to capture as I’m using the barrel of my 75-300 mm lens as the only stabiliser, so the risk of camera shake is high. The lighting is also tricky as the duck is in a shaded area which is heavily back lit by the sun creating a contrasting light & shade effect. The shot is taken almost at ground level resting the camera on the low level fencing surrounding the pond.

I’ve tried to find out the breed, and the closest I’ve got to determining this is that it’s a Crested Saxony as identified by the Domestic Waterfowl Club of Great Britain. Although the crested gene can be grown into most duck breeds, it does nevertheless have a breeding consequence as not all eggs will result in a successful hatchling.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/1000; Focal Length – 255mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO5000; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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

#60: Epping – 18/07/2019

I have a confession to make. In all my 30 years living in Romford, I have only once passed through Epping, a mere 12 miles away and only half an hour by car. That one pass through was on a heritage bus operated by the Epping Ongar Railway as part of a Christmas Special which picked us up by Epping Station and took us to North Weald station where we enjoyed the steam train journey to Ongar and to the edge of Epping station and back to North Weald. A glorious bright but crisp winter’s day with the grand-children who enjoyed the Santa Express. A trip I’d highly recommend.

You see the Central line did once run through from Epping to Ongar, but this service was closed in 1994, and thereafter that part of the line was sold off, and subsequently bought as a heritage railway.

The Station

This is the third most northerly underground station on the Tfl network just behind Chesham and Cheshunt. But it does boast of having the longest possible journey on the Underground without changing trains to West Ruislip, and according to the train driver I chatted with who was waiting on a red signal, takes about 100 minutes to travel the 55 kilometers through the 36 stations en route. The driver, a keen golfer, was in a particularly happy mood as after the four round trips he would make today, he’d be returning home to his family in Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain for a four week holiday.

I was once told, during my early commuting in London, that if I applied a rough rule of thumb that station stops are every three minutes, I’d have a good guesstimate of the length of my journey. And I’ve used this ever since when planning routes if in a hurry to catch a timed event.; obviously this excludes any disruptions of course.

The station is fairly typical of those built in the mid 19th century but because of its rural location the railway lines are emphasised by the long curving arch of the tracks as they approach the station. And as I stand on the railway bridge at the bottom of Bower Hill, the state of the tracks are somewhat contrasted as I look along the disused line in the other direction.

This next image is pure indulgence on my part as whenever I see these numbered markers on the side of any railway line, I’m always reminded of a scene from Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ film. The one where after crash landing on Vogosphere, Ford, Zaphod, Arthur, and Marvin cross a wide expanse where they are tormented by shovel-like creatures that slap them in the face whenever they think of an idea. It’s an amusing thought as I wonder how many railway workers have had a similar fate as these shovel-like markers sprung from the ground? Childish I know… 🙂

The Market Town of Epping

Although mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, I am somewhat underwhelmed by what the market town has to offer by its lack of character and architectural features. So much so I had to walk the length of the High Street twice to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. However I am sure had I visited on a Monday when the Market is here, I would have a different impression, especially as I read from their website that the market was the place to buy a wife! Nevertheless, The High Street is busy with shoppers enjoying the array of predominantly independent shops and eateries.

The town centre is dominated by the impressively built, Gothic style St John the Baptist Church, with its dominant clock tower; and directly opposite there’s a row of old and tired looking cottages in the style of early American colonial architecture.

Similar to many other market towns, Epping has done much to recognise those who have contributed to the community by the erection of blue plaques on the relevant building. And it’s because of these I now know what Dr Joseph Clegg achieved in the late 19th century – that of improving the water and sanitation conditions of the town through the erection of its water tower.

Gnomes and Fish

There’s a simple pleasure in walking around places I haven’t been to before as I see things from a fresh perspective. Some images I find amusing and with those I stop and talk with, I learn of new life experiences. This is the case with the next two images. The first in the shop window of Lathams, one of two shops catering for contemporary interior design in Essex and Hertfordshire. I walked past the shop window and smiled at this scene, and on my second route around the High Street I decided to walk in, and when asked, the assistant was more than happy for me to take a series of pictures. This one represents what I believe to be a humorous and imaginative display.

At the other end of the High Street, in a courtyard between the Sorting Office and a butchers, I met Noel McRae, a fresh fish reseller from Grimsby. Noel is a little reticent at first to chat, but after I explained what I was doing he was happy to share his story. Originally a trawlerman who caught and processed his fish, he explained that the trawlerman’s life is much harder these days; partly due to depleting stocks and the international competition and partly to age. He now concentrates on travelling across the country in his van selling freshly caught cod, haddock and salmon and some smoked trout. I’m pleased that Noel is happy to pose as he explains his return to Grimsby later in the afternoon will see him stop several times at pubs where he has a regular trade.

I shared one story of my own with him when, as a very young lad, I was out with my father fishing for sewin off the wooden jetty in Aberystwyth and I recall my father’s split cane rod bending back upon itself and snapping under the strain of the fish he caught. Alas he didn’t land the fish because of this.

Theydon Bois and Debden

Journeying back from Epping, I stop at the next two stations out of curiosity and out of hope of spotting something inspirational. Alas, and by the time you read this, you will have missed the Tortoise Racing at the 109th Annual Horticultural Show in Theydon Bois, a sleepy little hamlet of a few shops and a large green. Debden, equally unimpressive, stylised by The Broadway; a sweeping arc of mid 20th century flats sitting above a parade of shops.

Picture of the Day

This is the covered footbridge over the railway line by Epping station joining Station Approach with Hillcrest Way and onwards onto Bower Hill. No doubt a much used footbridge when the side entrance from the station into Hillcrest Way is closed, but equally an unloved one judging by its state. A narrow bridge with just enough room for two people to pass side by side, and covered with a metal cage to allow some light in and to prevent anything and anyone (yes) being thrown onto the railway track below, as now prescribed by current highway standards.

The wide angle shot is taken to draw the eye down the tunnel and accentuate the grill effect of its covered meshwork. In doing so, highlighting its necessary yet unwelcoming feel and one you probably would think twice about walking through on a dark evening. The picture has been manipulated using a Google Photo ‘Reel’ filter to enhance the colour contrast.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 18mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO250; Google Photo Filter – Reel

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#59: Liverpool Street Station – 12/07/2019

Today is a return to Liverpool Street station, this time completing the end of the line journey on the London Overground with destinations from Enfield, Cheshunt and Chingford. A fitting day too as the BBC News is featuring an article on those who were saved by the Kindertransport rescue effort and reliving the journey they once took as children over 80 years ago. 

Commemorative statues can be found inside the station by the underground entrance, and outside in Hope Square in memory of the 10,000 or so children saved during the Second World War, and of course to countless others who were not saved.

The Station

I’ll not retrace the ground I covered during my visit in March 2019 but had thought of venturing a little further afield. But not before a walk up and down platform 1, one of the main platforms used by the Overground line. For some time now, the platform has become the home of ten JCB style yellow diggers which are being used to re-lay track just outside the station. What fascinated me were the two gents in high-vis jackets sitting by these diggers who explained that they were there during each weekday to ensure no one wanted a closer look at them. A soul destroying job I’m sure.

On my countless journeys in and out of this station over the past 30 years I’ve frequently stared thoughtlessly out of the window at the passing trains shuttling to and from remote destinations. But today I decided to try and get a different view and travelled one stop on the Overground to Bethnal Green station. The view looking westerly towards Liverpool Street station is bewildering with new buildings all around, iconic City buildings such as the Gherkin to the left, and further afield to the south, more iconic buildings in Canary Wharf such as One Canada Square. But the one that fills my vision is the myriad of stanchions and overhead lines that converge from 18 platforms in Liverpool Street Station into the six independent tracks that feed to services north and eastwards.

I also take a moment to reflect on the old and new whilst at Bethnal Green station too. The first image here is of a cut off stanchion, presumably supporting on older (now redundant) overhead line. What attracts me to this is the creation of the rusty ‘H’ in the discoloured, but nevertheless colourful concrete base. The second is a collection of pulleys, set against the azure blue sky, that take the tension from the overhead lines. I think it’s an interesting study showing off some of the intricate engineering involved in providing overhead power to today’s trains.

Later in the day returning to the station via Exchange Square, I stumble on today’s work of art entitled the Broad Family sculpted by Xavier Corberó. It’s a study in rock of a mother, father, child and dog. There’s no Google maps reference for this but I found it in an unnamed passageway between Appold Street and Sun Street Passage: here’s an interesting close up of the child statue. If you’re in the vicinity go and take  a look.

Exchange Square is a hive of activity, mostly office workers wining and dining or simply taking a break. Today has the added attraction of the Men’s semi-final tennis matches at Wimbledon on show on large screens for all to see. And what better way to enjoy all these activities than with a cup of Pimms, cordially served by Akeem…cheers!

The Arches

In true ‘East Enders’ style the area in the immediate surrounds of Bethnal Green station is awash with garage repair shops, predominantly for London Black Cabs. Three Colts Lane, and the cut through under the railway in Collingwood Street and Tapp Street are awash with Black Cabs in various states of dis-repair. My ‘picture of the day’ is representative of the state some of the abandoned cabs have been left in. These garages stretch under several arches and peering into the workshops it’s clear they’re a hive of activity.

There seems to be an unwritten circular route around Cudworth Street where cabs are moved about with little regard to their not having number plates, and although there’s the occasional roaming police presence, I sense it’s more for show than control.

The scene has an attractive grittiness to it and as I ponder on capturing the right picture whilst standing in the middle of the road, I’m beckoned by Jengins (?) to take his picture. Not wanting to disappoint him, and at the same time capture this jovial character, we exchange a few words and I happily oblige; and he’s more than happy with the outcome.

Running along Dunbridge Street walking in parallel with the railway line, there are a few small cafe’s clearly serving the local working population. One of these, Breid, draws me in for a closer look at its simple, urban feel which has a certain appeal. Maybe it’s because of its open bakery where the ovens and preparation areas are on full view and it in some way reminds me of a local bakery in my hometown where as kids, we’d be welcomed in to sample the day’s cakes and breads – within reason of course.

Breid is a local artisan bakery making sourdough bread for the local community, and serves up specialist hot drinks; and as I’m keen to capture the experience, I’m pleased that the baker is happy for me to take some pictures. Thank you.

Whitechapel

I’m not far from Whitechapel so I head south passing Swanlea School; a compact secondary school somewhat surrounded by the development of the new Whitechapel Station being built to accommodate the Elizabeth Line. This station will eventually serve trains from Shenfield and Abbey Wood passing through to Heathrow and Reading.

Onto Whitechapel Road, and at its junction with Fieldgate Street I’ll pose today’s quiz question: what have Big Ben and the original Liberty Bell in common? Well, both bells were made at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which has been based in the area since 1570. Sadly the business closed in 2017 and the premises sold on, but thankfully the Grade II listed status ensures its heritage will continue into the future. Although looking a little dishevelled from the outside, you can feel its history as you walk around.

Brick Lane

A mere stone’s throw away is the renowned Brick Lane, buzzing with tourists, school children on a field trip and local office workers alike browsing the many markets and sampling the myriad of international foods on offer. Today the street is synonymous with the Bangladesh community and known for its curry, but the area is steeped in industrial and social history from the 15th Century to date. No guessing how it got its name, but it was also the home of the French Huguenots in the 17th Century, and later in the 19th and 20th Century, Jewish and Irish immigrants.

To do justice to Brick Lane I probably need to return, so for today I merely scratch the surface of what I see. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of variety and colour on show, especially from street and graffiti artists alike.

As I bid farewell with a promise to return, I meet one resident who’s not very talkative as he/she is focusing on matters a little further away.

Picture of the Day

There are several contenders today, but I’ve chosen this one of an abandoned Black Cab with its windscreen smashed in for several reasons: It epitomises travel in London; it has reached its own end of the line and it is one in a long line of Black Cab’s abandoned under the railway arches nearby London Taxi repair garages.

I tried several shots with a wide angle lens, but decided on a longer range shot using a 75-300mm zoom lens to help me get a tighter shot and get the row of taxis together; limit the background and capture enough contrasting light to help balance and frame the result. The Vista black & white filter is perfect in emphasising the cab’s blackness and highlights the contrasting light through the arches and the overhead lighting.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 160mm (75-300mm zoom); Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Vista (Black & White)

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