Journey’s End

#34: Stratford (DLR) – 28/12/2018

This is the second of four visits to Stratford, although the first was to Stratford International so a little bit of ‘fake news’ but I’m mentioning it as I partly covered the Olympic Park and the shopping centre during my earlier visit.

The Jubilee, Overground and DLR lines all terminate at Stratford and today’s visit is in homage to the DLR station. Given that I’ve other visits to make, I’ve decided to explore the Stratford area by compass points so you won’t get the whole view of the area until I’ve completed all visits; I went to the West and South West of Stratford today. The Jubilee line visit will focus on the South, and the Overground visit on the East. I hope that makes sense?

The station and the immediate surrounds

As a commuter of nearly 30 years into London, passing through Stratford was a twice daily occurrence and changes, albeit subtle, would suddenly spring to life as I became conscious of them. However there was no greater change than the awarding, in 2005, of the London Olympics in 2012. This had a monumental impact on the station and the town, and through the regeneration of wasteland running through the Lee Valley by the creation of a new shopping complex which opened ahead of the Olympic Park.

The station grew to accommodate new and more frequent trains, a new bus station and of course the creation of Stratford City (Westfield) shopping centre. I am no shopaholic and the occasional jaunt into the centre fills me with acute antipathy as the experience of visiting offers nothing other than a genetically modified version of every other shopping centre and major high street where the multinationals have taken over. Sadly there’s no room for the independent shops any more. It seems though I’m in the minority as thousands still flock there…

Getting here today has not been straightforward. As is often the case over holiday periods, National Rail undertake engineering works when the demand for services is less, and 2018 is no different resulting in my taking three different services to travel what is normally a 22 minute journey. Today it is: train from Gidea Park to Romford; Bus replacement from Romford to Newbury Park; and Central Line from Newbury Park to Stratford. In recent years this has become an oft travelled route so I knew what to expect.

The Olympic legacy

The Olympic Park is well worth visiting as it is place to enjoy the relative peace of a country park with focal points in all corners. The cleaned up River Lee with returning wildlife, the Olympic Stadium now rented to West Ham Football Club and the recently built Bobby Moore Academy are the immediate companions to the west of the shopping centre.

I stop to look further afield and spot an old work reminder to the north silhouetted against the darkening skyline. Here East is a modern and attractive office and retail complex that once housed the Media Centre during the Olympics. For me, it was a prospective location where the organisation I worked for was being encouraged to move and it was my responsibility to set out the business case for a counter proposal. We successfully moved to Aldgate in the end, but I still smile whenever I see the Here East sign.

Wintry Skylines

The skyline as I pass through the park is striking, and only one week on after the Winter Solstice the sun is still low and the sky a deep azure blue set off against the striking and at times threatening cloud formations. I feel compelled to try my hand at aerial photography of a different kind, and I’m pleased with the outcome

Pudding Mill Lane

Skirting the Olympic Stadium, I come across the View Tube, originally built as a viewing area for visitors to wonder at the building works during the park’s construction, but now a ‘community venue with a difference’ hosting a cafe, garden, a studio and a place for bikes and boasts it is open 7 days a week. Alas not when I visited though…

Under the railway bridge (and see my ‘Best Picture’ later), I come to Pudding Mill station. This is the first stop on the DLR out of Stratford heading to Canary Wharf and it’s been a stop I’ve strangely wanted to visit for no reason other than for its name. In recent years, the station has been relocated slightly to the south of its original position as preparatory engineering works for the forthcoming Elizabeth Line tunnel had to be accommodated as it starts it’s underground journey westwards from here.

Whilst roaming the high rise platform and looking west, I muse at the efforts in the distance of many high vis dressed work people congregated on the railway lines…so this is what ‘engineering works’ really looks like?! I pose for you, dear reader, a question purely for your entertainment – can you work out how many people there are working? Why not drop a reply to this blog if you think you know…

Industrial Wasteland

The area south of Pudding Mill Lane is an industrial wasteland still, with some cleared ground serving as a car park for those driving to watch West Ham play – a stone’s throw to the stadium.

Some partly demolished buildings overlooked by high rise accommodation and a surprising parade of houses at City Mill Lock at the confluence of Bow Back, City Mill and Waterworks Rivers. The adjacent houses curiously seem out of character with their surrounds, and the weed filled canal; and the towpath heading back towards Stratford is abandoned and blocked off by fencing.

The Greenway

From City Mill Lock I cross the main A118 High Street and discover Abbey Lane Open Space and the Greenway route, a combined footpath and cycleway and I nearly fall foul of those wishing to pass at speed as they give little notice of their presence. ‘Darn cyclists…!’

In the distance towards West Ham I spot a towered building and resolve to explore but as the day is waning, I decide this will be a journey point on another day when I explore the southern reaches of Stratford.

High Street

Returning to the High Street, and now almost at journey’s end, there’s a stark reminder of what housing regeneration looks like as I pass a cacophony of high rise living accommodation interspersed with traditional buildings. Architecturally attractive on their own, but when viewed so close together it seems to me to be a bit of an eyesore.

Stratford is, however, proud of its rail history as shown off by an intricate ‘railway tree’ sculpture close to the station, as indeed the town is also keen to ensure people know where to go. For me though it’s time to return home by tube, by bus and by rail…

Best Picture

I’ve chosen this picture mainly for its mood as it portrays the old railway arch brickwork being offset by the modern concrete bridge in the foreground. The contrast lighting of the stark tunnel mouth, the tunnel lighting and the shaft of light on the ground emanating through a gap between the two bridges, helps with the atmosphere and the proximity of the old and new bridge is also somewhat symbolic of the era’s they represent and are represented in their immediate surrounds.

Please tell me what you think?

See all Stratford (DLR) pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Stratford (DLR) pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Stratford Station on Wikipedia

#33: Heathrow T4 – 19/12/2018

So this is Christmas♫ in the immortal words of John Lennon. Less than a week to go and this will be my final visit before the celebrations, but by the time I get to publish this, it might be all over and the festive headaches will soon turn to New Year ones. Anyway, Seasons Greetings to you all.

Heathrow T4 is at the end of the recently converted Heathrow Connect service by Tfl rail from Paddington to Heathrow that will make up part of the Elizabeth line once all the connecting tunnels and services are complete. For now it’s an independent service, and I had understood that it would have attracted a nominal fee despite having a 60+ Oyster card; but to my surprise, there was no charge – bonus day out.

Those avid followers out there will know from my earlier visit to T5 back in May that I’d tried contacting Heathrow’s Media Centre seeking their permission to photograph but received no response. I decide to try a different approach this time…

A security tale

Arriving at ‘Departures’, I spot four armed policemen patrolling the area who I approach and explain my dilemma. One of them takes up my cause and explains it’s not for them to decide as they act on the airport’s authority but by rule of thumb if someone doesn’t have a permit, they considered it unlikely. However they contacted Heathrow security who arrived in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the police check me out against the Police National Computer and to my relief they declare they have nothing on me.

Three security managers arrive and I explain my position and after liaising with their Media Centre, they tell me to complete the online form which will then be dealt with in 24 hours. Hmmm a sense of déjà vu as this is where I had started back in May. Anyway, it’s evident I won’t get permission today; and despite sharing my exasperation with the security managers who agree with me when I show I can’t find the form on their website, I accept I need to do some further digging to find it. We part company.

Time for a coffee, so I grab one at Costa and decide on my next steps. Options include go home, or as I decide, to carry on my visit without photographs. I muse and drop @Heathrow a tweet outlining my consternation, and to cut a long story short, in 10 minutes I’m given permission to take pictures…the power of social media… 🙂

There are some side anecdotes during this protracted exchange though: one policeman shows an interest in my camera as he is also a keen photographer having started life as a fine art student – but he can’t quite explain how he then diverted into the police force. Another from one of the security managers who shares a recent discussion with a traveller trying to find the right terminal at the airport only to learn his flight was a scheduled flight at Gatwick.

People on the move

Heathrow is designed to move people about, by train, by bus, by car, by taxi and by plane, but getting about within and between terminals is quite tiring. This is because of the distances between passenger access points and departure and arrival gates. Some easements have been introduced, through moving walkways and free rail connecting services between all terminals, nevertheless these are only a small comfort for those passengers trying to navigate their way around with two overly large suitcases.

Whilst contemplating earlier in Costa, I strike up a conversation with a mother awaiting the arrival of her children from the middle east and we find we have some commonality through our recent respective employments. Both of us having worked for digital organisations with similar experiences. It’s a small world.

Signage

To help with passenger flow, clear signage is essential and this is something Heathrow does well. However it does rely on one’s ability to read in English and read with comprehension. I mention this as I heard passengers on more than one occasion asking for confirmation of direction from ground staff and other passengers.

Slipstream

Making my way to Terminal 2, I can’t fail but be impressed by a massive hanging sculpture in the cavernous covered concourse outside the terminal. Walking around and underneath it, I try to work out what it’s representing before I stumble across a plaque explaining its title and description.

This is an impressive artwork by the renowned artist Richard Wilson which has been inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane, and is set to be one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, and seen by 20 million passengers a year.

Architecture

Terminals 4 and 2 are cavernous concrete buildings, but their creators have sculptured and hidden all this with creative geometric designs, shapes and glass that brings a new interest to an otherwise unloved material.

Best Picture

For me, the simplicity and symmetry of the roof space in Terminal 4 has an attractive quality that helps define the space. Passengers seem oblivious to the effort made to create this effect as their focus is on ensuring they are in the right zone. The roof is offset by an expanse of glass bringing the outside light in and draws the eye away from this spectacle above.

I hope you enjoy?

See all Heathrow T4 pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Heathrow T4 pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Heathrow T4 on Wikipedia

#32: Morden – 04/12/2018

South as far as the Northern Line will take me and I arrive at Morden on the edges of Surrey and now part of the London Borough of Merton, and close to Wimbledon. I’ve not been here before so I had no expectations of what to find other than as a National Trust member I am aware of the nearby Morden Hall Park. During the day of my visit, some friends claim via Twitter to have accidentally visited the station after a night out by missing their intended stop en route; I only hope they had forgiving partners…

Suburbia

From the platform through to the typically decorated 20’s/30’s station I admire the standard Underground Roundel above a cavernous entrance hall and sympathetically offset by an elaborate light fitting (see later). The streets of Morden and the immediate surrounds are similar to many other ‘ends of the line’ and I have some difficulty in finding something of particular interest. The main bus station outside the station is where many commuters head for as this end of the line seems to be a short respite for commuters heading elsewhere.

The immediate area is defined by a relatively short figure of 8 road network used to manage the traffic through the area, and shaded reminders of a police campaign to warn of the dangers of drinking and driving are still evident.

Architecture

There are some art deco buildings nearby which typify the style of buildings erected during the area’s period of growth with the advent of the railway at that time, and the strikingly tall 60’s style Civic Centre and Library dominates the immediate skyline. The patterned front is fairly typical of the era, and whilst visually striking and eye catching, I recognise that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Without realising, I find I’m heading south towards Morden South mainline station as I’m drawn to the towering minarette of The Baitul Futuh Mosque, the largest mosque in Western Europe. As I approach, there’s evidence of extensive building works being carried out here, and I begin to wonder if this is in any way in response to a fire there in 2015 or for some other reason: maybe you can let me know?

Morden Hall Park

The triangular shaped park sits in the north east quadrant on the fringes of the town and is defined by: on the westerly side by a main road, and on its northerly side by the tramline running from Wimbledon and Croydon. There are two tram stops in the park’s confines: Morden Road at the northern tip, and Phipps Bridge half way down the edge of the park.

This is a pleasant woodlanded park with open scrub and tree lined avenues harbouring the River Wandle which meanders from Croydon to Wandsworth where it eventually enters the Thames. Morden Hall, now a private venue for wedding hire, isn’t open to explore, but the surrounding grounds, even on a dull wintry day provides an elegant backdrop for some attractive photos of the manicured lawns, managed waterfalls and visiting wildfowl.

Despite the cold conditions, the park has many visitors enjoying the scenery either out rambling, walking their dogs and/or children, or like me taking photographs.

Garden Centre

The park houses the National Trust’s only Garden Centre which draws in many visitors, and at this festive time, allowing them to enjoy the Christmas themed decorations and providing an easy place to park to buy a christmas tree, or simply enjoy the restaurant facilities. I took the opportunity of wandering around the garden centre’s grounds taking an alternative eye to the shapes and patterns created by the displays and surrounds.

Best Picture

There we have it, a simple and pleasant (albeit cold) sojourn around Morden.

For my best picture, I return to the underground roundel described above. This one, in black and white, I think is evocative of the 20’s/30’s style. I have created It using a ‘vogue’ filter within Google Photos to highlight the contrasting starkness, and I think the individual lights on the hanging display complements the light through the high window as your eye is drawn to the ‘DnuorgrednU’ sign.

Let me know what you think or whether you agree with me?

See all Morden pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Morden pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Morden and its station on Wikipedia

#31: Elmers End – 26/11/2018

I forget as I travel that I know where I’m going, but I was asked recently ‘where is Elmers End?’ so if you follow this link it will take you there on Google Maps. It’s a suburban area just south of Beckenham, east of Crystal Palace and north east of Croydon. It’s also one of the ends of the London Tramway that serves an area in the west at Wimbledon and Beckenham in the east.

I hope this helps?

However, when I told my wife where I was going, her first reaction was to ask if it was anything to do with Elmer the patchwork elephant…I leave you to make up your own minds.

Elmers End – a neighbourhood

I have to say this was a very disappointing day out as Elmers End had very little to offer as did its neighbouring surrounds as I stroll aimlessly to Birbeck, Clock House, New Beckenham and a return to Beckenham which seems to be the focal point for the surrounds.

This is very much a commuting area relying on transport links to Croydon and Wimbledon by Tram and Central London and south to Hayes by mainline. The station is adjacent to a large Tesco superstore, and it’s about a five minute walk to ‘the green’ surrounded on one side by local shops, and on the green is a local description of how Elmers End may have acquired its name.

I spot a ghostly shop sign above a closed down cafe: Greenwood’s Corner and on close analysis the sign claims to have been a ‘Noted House of Leather…..Repairers’. If you can decipher the remainder, do please let me know.

Religion in the community

My mood for the day is also affected by the dull, overcast and showery conditions, so understandably there is no one out and about and I find  myself taking solace from the religious building I walk past. As I pass the main cemetery and crematorium, I find a discarded packet of cigarettes warning of the risks of lung cancer quite an interesting juxtaposition. The cemetery is also the resting place for the final remains amongst many others, of W.G. Grace and Thomas Crapper.

Other buildings I passed included: the parish church of St James Beckenham, St John Coptic Orthodox Church; St Michael and All Angels in Birbeck and St Paul’s Church in New Beckenham.

Birbeck and Clock House

More streets with few shops and rows upon rows of houses with only the transmitter from Crystal Palace in the background for company. However some artwork in Birbeck catches my attention and what I can only describe as a de-antlered naked reindeer which I assume has been left in an empty shop in preparation for the festive season. Either that, or an unwanted artefact left when the shop closed.

Clock House’s main attraction is the redeveloped area outside the library where the Beckenham Baths once stood but now replaced by a fashionable spa. The Baths were where Duncan Goodhew and Margaret Wellington, both Olympic swimmers, trained. There is also an impressive Victorian building, Venue 28 now a community centre, where Lord Byron’s wife and mother to Ava Lovelace once lived.

Christmas is coming

…and finally, as I walk around the oak tree lined avenues of very fashionable New Beckenham, I look up and see how the mistletoe has manifested itself. A reminder of the seasonal changes and that Christmas is coming…

Best Picture

This made me smile…that of a laundry service with a catchy web address emblazoned across a delivery van ihateironing.com – the name says it all really and a brief chat with the van driver reveals he gets quite a few smiles from drivers when he’s stuck in queues.

See all Elmers End pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Elmers End pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Elmers End and its station on Wikipedia

#30: Harrow & Wealdstone – 19/11/2018

The Station

Unlike Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, today is a tale of two distinctly different towns and like my recent visit to Amersham, each town has its own history. So taking the Bakerloo Line, I travel to its northerly end and arrive at Harrow & Wealdstone station.

A pretty undescriptive station, akin to several on the Tfl network that are functional but have probably not seen many improvements over the years It shares its platforms with the Overground line from Euston to Watford Junction, so I expect to be passing through again when I make that journey one day. Depending on your ultimate destination determines which exit you wish to follow; west to Harrow and East to Wealdstone which is my first calling point.

En route, I learn of the tragic events of over 66 years ago on the 8th October 1952 when 112 people lost their lives and 340 others were injured when three trains collided. The triage system, which assesses those in the most urgent need, was implemented for the first time in England during this accident; and this tragic event and the efforts of those who helped to save many others is immortalised in a mural along the length of the station on its outside.

Wealdstone

Named after a sarsen stone placed at the boundary between the parishes of Harrow and Harrow Weald, it can be found outside the Bombay Central restaurant on the approach to Harrow Weald. The restaurant proudly show off their heritage with a display of four tuk tuk’s as a showpiece outside their restaurant.

Other than that, Wealdstone has very little to offer and I feel as if the town is closed in more ways than one. Derelict shops closed some time ago, food outlets not ready to open and guess they’re awaiting the evening passing trade, and signs of social deprivation by way of discarded vodka bottles and Nitrous Oxide canisters. On top of all this gloom it starts to rain, but I remain optimistic in discovering moments of interest.

There are however only a few things that catch my eye as I walk the 4km route from the station to Harrow Weald bus depot and back. These include: an array of colourfully decorated drain covers outside Holy Trinity Church in Headstone Drive; The International Siddhashram Shakti Center in Palmerston Road; and Azure Apartments in Harrow Weald, a modern building crafted in a retro art deco style.

The Civic Centre

Disappointed, and probably frustrated with what little Wealdstone was able to reveal, I decide to head for Harrow. The rain starting to ease I arrive at the Civic Centre with its imposing 1960’s style concrete office block. It being a week after Armistice Day, the memorial stone is still awash with poppy wreaths in the shadow of the Central Mosque. The Civic Centre also proudly displays a stone from El Alamein outside their main building.

Further up the hill, I spot an interesting road name painted on the road in such a way to discourage parking at Eastern Parade, and there are clear signs of the autumnal leaf fall which I catch in the damp rainy pavements

Harrow

I’d best describe Harrow town as an enclave of three main streets. The pedestrianised St Anns Road, Station Road and College Row intersected by two modern shopping centres (St Anns and St Georges) surrounded by a ring road diverting traffic. I tour the area several times looking for historical landmarks and photo opportunities in a relatively new London borough of just over 50 years, and I’m intrigued to see that Professor Brian Cox, that well known physicist has branched out into the field of Estate Agency… 🙂

I wander into St Georges centre to admire their Christmas decorations and I’m challenged by their security patrol who declare as a ‘professional’ I’m not allowed to take pictures. I try and understand their thinking, and as experienced recently at The O2, my DSLR camera is enough to attract attention and is used as the tool by which I’m classified. I explain in vain that their presumption is so wrong on many counts, but decide my case is not with the security operator who was following their centre’s protocol. I sensed though this officer was being less than vigilant as he had spotted me some 10 minutes before challenging me.

Outside, I find shades of the town’s original 60’s planning design in a shadowy walkway under one of the roundabouts west of the town and close to Morrisons with walls adorned with large mosaic style murals and tiles, and above, the creation of a new housing complex.

Lord Byron

South of the main station of Harrow on the HIll is Lowlands Rec adjacent to Harrow College and across the road to The Grove open ground. The rec is home to an open air theatre, and although closed, was frequented by the local students as a convenient place to hang out from the college. I can imagine the tree lined Grove is popular with dog walkers and others enjoying the open air, but it is quiet giving me an uninterrupted opportunity to explore the area.

Espying a church spire through the trees, I follow a footpath leading me to St Mary’s Church and find I’m standing in the spot where Lord Byron is claimed to have spent many an hour gazing across the countryside. By now the sun is out and I share in this scenic moment before descending to the edges of Harrow School which is adjacent to the church and it’s where Lord Byron was schooled for four years up to 1805.

I decide not to explore the school and its surrounds as I wanted to capture Harrow at night time.

Best Picture

I thought I might start a new feature on each blog with my favourite picture, explaining why this is so.

This one I captured in St Annes Road towards the end of the day with few shoppers around and the combination of the town’s Christmas lighting effect and reflection on the wet ground enhances the colouring and adds to the mood I believe. Let me know what you think…

See all Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Harrow & Wealdstone Station on Wikipedia

#29: Emirates Greenwich Peninsula – 12/11/2018

Built in 2012 in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, this is a sponsored Cable Car ride funded by the Emirates airline, and operated by Tfl. It’s a mile long cable car crossing of the Thames running between Royal Docks on the north shore and Greenwich Peninsula on the south shore.

I didn’t journey on the cable car, as that’s for another day, but I did explore the surrounds by the O2 arena, and along the Thames Path as far as the Thames Barrier. As the daylight hours are now shortening, I also practised some night time photography, so I hope you enjoy the overall outcome from this day?

O2

The nearest point to the Peninsula terminus is North Greenwich on the Jubilee line; convenient for me as it’s just a short hop from Stratford. So I thought I’d have a look around the iconic O2 arena and do what every tourist and visitor does: take some pictures.

Did you know that the O2 and the land around it is private and the taking of pictures with a camera lens bigger than 35mm isn’t allowed without permission? No, neither did I until I was stopped by a local security officer who challenged me, politely, and asked what I was doing. I explained and showed the pictures I had taken and after a brief consultation with the security control I was allowed on my way and to continue with my quest. But not before I had checked the O2 website and explained to the security officer there was no mention of these arrangements and no direction as to who to seek prior approval from. I don’t mind complying, but it needs to be clearly set out how this can be achieved.

I suspect security were being extra vigilant as the ATP World Tour finals were being held at the O2. It may also have had something to do with the fact that near to where I was standing, some private filming was taking place. I spoke with one of the production staff who explained they too had been challenged and they too weren’t aware of the need for prior permission. They were filming for Dunlop Sports who it seems may be sponsoring the ATP World finals next year – you read it here first.

Cable Cars

The land immediately between the O2 and the Peninsula terminal is a construction site awash with new residential and office complexes, but the striking wintery blue sky gave an excellent photo-opportunity backdrop creating shots I had envisaged are synonymous with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Visitors for the gondola (cable car) ride were sparse when I arrived, but nevertheless, the gondolas continue to operate with robotic regularity regardless of passengers, and I hadn’t realised that depending on demand, the speed of the ride varies. Travelling at off-peak, the journey normally takes 10 minutes with spectacular views across the Thames, however at peak times, this reduces to 5 minutes.

If you have visited the area, you will be familiar with an unusual steel sculpture created by Antony Gormley celebrating the millennium entitled Quantum Cloud. If you haven’t, then this alone is worth a look even only for it’s provocativeness in asking ‘what’s it all about?’ Nevertheless, an interesting curiosity near the Greenwich Pier offering a bespoke backdrop to the gondolas crossing the river.

Architectural Design

If you’re a Londoner, you can’t have escaped noticing how the Thames shore line has, and continues to change. Both on and off shore industries laying claim to wastelands over the decades as market globalisation took its toll affecting the social and economic environments.

But with great vision, and significant investment, the last generation or two have seen rapid re-generation in previously deprived areas, although the cost of the much sought after riverside apartments far exceed the ‘average Londoner’s’ capability. More recently, Local Authorities have adopted a better socially demographic approach to fashionable development in their boroughs ensuring a good mix of residential dwellings.

Whatever the constructional motive, developers have clearly embraced an appreciation of design and the wider visual statement their buildings make, and this was on full show along this part of the Thames Path walk.

Greenwich Yacht Club

A striking club with a club house standing in splendid isolation on stilts with the tide out. Notices around the club warn of deep mud and to avoid stepping off the path, so I take note but notice an intriguing collection of debris piled up. Could this simply be an attempt at cleaning up the shoreline, or is it in fact art? You decide.

I venture onto the private slipway to capture a better view of the surrounding views. Rather breathtaking I think.

The River

As well as being used for recreation, the Thames is also a working river, and as I stop to look around, it’s surprising how many working vessels there are constantly on the move; be it pleasure clippers, ferries or tugs pulling barges.

The view along the length of the Thames shows immense contrast between old heritage and new build, and to be honest neither looks out of place. I think that’s one of the many dynamics of the river that makes it so interesting. Walking east, I pass by/through a couple of aggregate operations: Cemex and Day. You can’t miss them or avoid them, and they’re not really somewhere to stop and look at, but they’re a stark reminder of the working river.

A little further I come to the Anchor & Hope pub, a seemingly traditional working pub now catering for both the local working clientele and the passing tourist encouraged to walk this route. It appears I’ve now moved from Greenwich into Charlton, another borough I’ve not been to until now. Before moving on, I try to capture the essence of the pub, painted all in black except for a golden dome on one corner. Striking and attractive in a peculiar way.

The Thames Barrier

I hadn’t planned to walk here, but the further I travelled the path I thought ‘oh well, it’s only another mile and a half: why not?’ I’m glad I did as it’s one of those landmarks I’ve never got close to in all my 30 years living in London. The pictures, like the O2, are iconic, and it was good to get close and try different compositions and filters. There are nine piers making up the barrier, and have you ever wondered how boats know which gap to go through as they navigate up and downstream? Well, the piers operate a traffic light system with a red cross and a green arrow indicating where to go through – simple really…

There’s a timely reminder that London City Airport is just across the river as planes take off during the afternoon, and I try to capture one doing so set between two piers.

Whilst here, I meet John and Catherine, a couple from Cambridge who were spending time walking the full length of the Thames. Today was the end of their third route; they explained they’re not doing the route in geographical order, but nevertheless intend on making sure they do complete it over a period of time. I wish them well as they head off, and as I walk through the tunnel that goes under the barrier, I see a wall etching outlining the full extent of the river.

Just a little further, I see a sign for a restaurant; I was gasping by now, but alas, it’s closed for winter. But I see another reminder that I’ve stepped into Charlton through an amusing yet informative map of local landmarks.

Heading around the front of the barrier buildings I see a small memorial garden and sculpture to commemorate those who died during the construction of the barrier – poignant and a harsh reality that building mega-structures remains hazardous.

Night Time

It’s time to head back through Charlton; well the retail park area which is typically similar to every other country wide retail park. I don’t stop, but press on and by the time I get back to the Peninsula terminal it’s starting to get dark, so I decide to wait until it does and see how well my camera and I can capture the night view.

Let me know what you think…?

See all Emirates Greenwich Peninsula pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Emirates Greenwich Peninsula pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Emirates Greenwich Peninsula on Wikipedia

#28: Amersham – 09/11/2018

Amersham sits as a terminus on the North Western end of the Metropolitan line, very much in the fold of Buckinghamshire, and shares its station with Chiltern Railways with services running through to the West Midlands. I’d not been to Amersham before so I had little expectations, although I have vague childhood recollections of visiting family in nearby Little Chalfont many many years ago.

I also had an ulterior motive for visiting the town as I had arranged to meet Darren, a former work colleague who lives nearby, so plans to meet in one of the local hostelries seemed appropriate.

As the journey along the Metropolitan line passes en route through Wembley, Harrow and Pinner, the surrounding landscape quickly changes from urban to suburban and the Wembley Stadium arch soon fades into the distance, and as I arrive in Amersham, it’s very much a rural setting. Some prior preparation helped me to understand that Amersham is a town of two parts but what I hadn’t appreciated was that they are separated by a significant hill…just as well it stayed dry.

Amersham-on-the-hill

20181109111017_img_3506On exiting the station, I arrive at the new town which grew in response to the arrival of the station late in the 19th Century. The town has a rectangular shape with shops dominating two and a half sides, and the purpose built civic amenities dominating a larger part of the remainder.

20181109112039_img_3507My route was up Station Road, along Chesham Road and into Woodside Road as far as St John’s Methodist Church. Across the road is the Amersham branch of the Royal British Legion where I chat with Danny, a young gentleman who’s tidying up the grass verge and poppy display outside the Legion Hall in preparation for Armistice Day on Sunday. He explained his father, who is a committee member is out and about in the town selling poppies.

20181109112333_img_3511-effects

I return along the same route heading for the Old Town, and later on returning to the new town I make my way to the civic centre where I find the council offices, library, police station, law courts and Leisure Centre. However from both my tours around the town, I find little of architectural interest. Don’t get me wrong, this is a busy town with a blended mix of independent shops, charity shops, high street names and coffee/eateries, but I felt it was a little bland with only modest features: I expected more from the Old Town though.

Amersham Old Town

20181109120339_img_3537Heading for the old Town, there are two main roads; I choose Rectory Hill, a minor B Road with no footpath, so I tread carefully with Parsonage Wood to my left, which I later glean has several paths running through it so my passage to the Old Town could have been different. Nevertheless I still enjoy the splendour of the autumnal colours on display.

20181109121510_img_3541

20181109154630_img_3606

As I descend the hill, the old worldly charm and quaintness of this Old Market Town can be seen through the rooftops and my expectations aren’t disappointed as I browse through Rectory Lane and Church Street, poking my nose into some sympathetically redeveloped buildings at the former Weller’s Brewery (now Badminton Court) and Flint Barn Court (both now offices) and stroll around the grounds of St Mary’s Church.

20181109123652_img_3562

Into the High Street, and I couldn’t miss the Old Market Hall which dominates the town centre with its Doomsday Book references helping to highlight the town’s age. Close by is the Museum but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go in and enjoy their displays, but I’m drawn to explore The Broadway, Whielden Street, The Platt, and in the west as far as Mill Lane. The town is full of character with several coaching houses having survived as fashionable hotels, and other coach buildings having been converted into private dwelling but still keeping the coaching house characteristics.

My admiration is temporarily interrupted with a lunch interlude at the Elephant & Castle where I meet Darren for a bite to eat and of course an opportunity to sample the local ale. We discuss many things, but most importantly where and when to meet up next for a Christmas drink. With arrangements made, we say farewell and I continue with my Old Amersham tour before returning to the station via the appropriately named, but steep, Station Road.

Amersham in bloom and the Memorial Garden

20181109113636_img_3519Since 2009 (and probably before then), the Amersham community throughout has prided itself in creating interesting floral displays. So much so that their entries in Britain’s nationwide gardening competition, Britain in Bloom, has seen them achieve annual accolades from Regional Town Winner, to Silver Gilt recipients and in 2009 and since 2014, they’ve been the recipients of a Gold Award within the Thames and Chilterns Region. (recently announced by the RHS 14/11/2018, Amersham have won another Gold award for 2018).20181109113419_img_3517

Flower tubs and roundabouts awash with various displays and colours and the impressive Memorial Garden in Old Amersham is a  ‘must see’ floral exhibitions. Have a look at the stunning video on their Facebook Page which captures the WW1 Commemoration display.

Some of my pictures which follow try to capture the essence, the effort and the creativity of all the volunteers involved in these creations.

Thank you Amersham for a snapshot into your community…

20181109125358_IMG_3583

See all Amersham pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Amersham pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Amersham on Wikipedia

screenshot-2018-11-10-at-14-06-08