Categories
District Overground TfL Other Services TfL Underground

#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 backlit 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 a 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

Social Media

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

Categories
DLR TfL Other Services

#46: Tower Gateway – 03/04/2019

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

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

The Station

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

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

Minories

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

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

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

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

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

Photographer Beware

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

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

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

Through to Tower Hill

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

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

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

This is taken on the cobbled path between the Thames and The Tower looking towards Tower Bridge in the murky background through a bicycle stand set out as an array of metal hoops.

I’m trying to showcase the ruggedness of the cobbles, particularly as it has just started to rain so the light effect on the ground has just changed. Amazingly, as soon as it rained, everyone and I mean everyone suddenly disappeared and there was no one around. I took a few shots to get the framing right and played around with the settings to create the stark contrast in Black & White. A slight reddish filter helps to highlight the wet surface of the cobbles.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/40; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Blush

Social Media
YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

Categories
Overground TfL Other Services TfL Rail

#44: Liverpool Street – 15/03/2019

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

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

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

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

Liverpool Street Station

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

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

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

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

Broadgate

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

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

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

The ‘windy’ City

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

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

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

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

Night time in Spitalfields

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

Picture of the Day

I didn’t expect this to be my picture of the day when I took it but the more I looked at it the more I felt it reflected my visit to Liverpool Street Station. It’s also a stark reminder of the view I’ve seen so many times, having passed through so many times over the years as a seasoned commuter.

I’ve taken this shot from the very end of Platform 16/17 and aiming up at the vaulted canopy looking down the length of the platform. It’s almost a black & white photo, but small splashes of colour such as a streak of red on the train carriage to the left, and the colouring at the platform concourse (bottom centre) tells you otherwise.

A wide angle shot to get the width of the platform, and it is one of a series of shots. I’ve picked this one because of its stark black and white contrast which creates a somewhat atmospheric and moody feel.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 21mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Auto

Social Media
YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story


Categories
Overground TfL Other Services

#24: Barking – 09/10/2018

Barking is the end of the Overground line shuttling between Barking and Gospel Oak (see my very first blog), and shares its platforms with the District line and the c2c main line services running from the Essex coast into Fenchurch Street station. So a busy station with rare moments of tranquillity, and as ever like most city stations, overlooked by high rise housing and opening onto the high street

Historic Barking and its landmarks

Without realising it I found myself walking the path once trodden by William the Conqueror soon after his 1066 conquest as he took over the Abbey to the west of Barking. Now a ruin adjacent to St Margaret’s Parish Church, I found it quite eerie thinking how so different life would have been then.

To the north east, there’s an elaborate sculpture in the middle of one of Barking’s ring road roundabouts, entitled The Catch by Lorraine Leeson, created in homage to Barking’s historic fishing tradition. And in the centre of town, there’s a Folly brick wall which was built, so I was advised by Roy a local resident, by the local college bricklaying apprentices from recycled bricks from the demolished swimming pool and The Lamb pub. The Lamb now sitting proudly atop the Folly.

The Town Centre

The ‘town centre’ is a remodelled piazza of faux old and new, The Town Hall having been redeveloped in recent years alongside modern high rise colourfully clad buildings. Within a few steps of the Town Hall there’s the Library, Arts Centre and Leisure Centre. And close by, the sunlit Travelodge wasn’t too difficult to miss either.

The Market and its People

Barking has two lively shopping areas adjacent to each other: the Vicarage Fields shopping centre and the open air market that runs the length of Station Parade through to North Street where there’s one particular restaurant that cleverly captures your attention – especially if you like pink friesian cows; well done to Cristina’s – The Casual Steakhouse!

The market has an array of colourful stalls and traders offering fruit ‘n veg; the latest ‘fashion’, household items and fresh hot food.

I begin this journey by going into the Vicarage Fields centre from the station and within minutes I thought my journey wouldn’t go any further as I spy through the window of ‘Caffe Italiano’ a couple of gents playing chess with a gathering of onlookers; so I decide to go in and introduce myself asking permission to take their photos. They are all very amenable and I’m invited to play chess against ‘the best chess player in Barking’. This was all in good fun, but he was accompanied by one of the onlookers, but little did it matter to the outcome as I explained it had been over 20 years since I last played. Thankfully though I didn’t embarrass myself completely and the sequence of shots I took set me up nicely for the rest of the day.

The colours around the market are vibrant, accentuated by the late autumnal sun which shows everything off in glorious technicolor. As I’m looking around, I’m drawn to an intriguing sight; on first glance it’s a body-less child with an eerie smile, almost ‘Carrie’esq’; but on second viewing it’s a child dummy’s head wearing a hat. Nevertheless it had an engaging quality I felt compelled to capture.

The vision of the dummies heads caught my imagination and carrying on through the market, I stopped to admire a smaller stall with dummies heads adorned with different head gear and weaves. I introduce myself to the stall holder, Lola, and we have a short yet flirtatious conversation. Lola has an infectious smile as she explains the headgear has African origins. I compliment her on the display and ask if she names the dummies? We laugh…Meet Lola below as my ‘Picture of the Day’.

It was nice to meet you Lola.

I left Barking with one rather poignant and somewhat reflective memory, and a reminder that despite the civic’s intention to remember local citizens by naming streets after them, they can eventually fade into obscurity if the initial intention isn’t sustained. This reminder of Bobby Moore was almost hidden under the tree canopy and I felt a sense of regret that such a famous footballing hero had been relegated to a car park – come on Barking you can do better than that surely?

20181009123641_img_3088

Barking Riverside

The next and final part of my journey around Barking is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but dear reader I make the rules here and the first rule is that there are NO rules.

I head off to Barking Riverside (or Creekmouth). The area is and continues to undergo massive regeneration but it is overshadowed by a massive power distribution centre and its dominant pylons where Barking power station once stood , Dagenham Sunday Market and a ship container store. Nevertheless the ambition is evident with extensive new build surrounding the area. The only obvious issue is that the location is so isolated, but I guess the developers have looked beyond that, but for now, the new Riverside Bridge School stands in its own grounds with no surrounding infrastructure or amenities; and the only way for children to attend is by car or by bus (the EL1 or EL3).

The housing development at the Rivergate Centre is modern and all the houses appear to be fitted with solar panels. The surrounding reed filled creeks are well landscaped and attractive walkways between blocks make access easy, but it doesn’t mask the fact it is isolated and quiet. Speaking with some residents, they balanced the isolation factor with attractive and modern accommodation. One local trader, who lived in the tower block above their shop declared, with upturned hands aloft…’what can you do?’

Thank you Barking for another interesting experience full of unexpected gifts…

Picture of the Day

This is Lola, a street market trader selling African inspired headwear. Lola has a captivating smile and a broad grin and is so easy to talk with. She’s happy for me to take pictures of her small stall and of her, and she quite likes the attention too which made capturing her personality quite easy.

I remind myself of some advice I was given as a child: when taking pictures of people and in particular their faces, to focus on the eyes. And you can see why here, as Lola smiles through her eyes and the rest of her face lights up.

This is a simple headshot; one of a series I took as I chatted with Lola and walked around her. Passers by looked curiously on, but neither Lola or I gave them a passing thought.

Thank you Lola for brightening up my visit to Barking.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 50mm; Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Auto

Social Media
YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

For more info, look up Barking on Wikipedia