#66: West Ruislip – 27/08/2019

A 10 mile walk on one of the hottest post Bank Holiday Tuesdays ever recorded. Phew! Today’s visit is a final farewell to the Central Line. This time to the north west of London in what was  once the county of Middlesex, but now the suburbia of West Ruislip which is entrenched in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

A particularly challenging day, not only for the distance I travelled, but for the harsh daylight conditions too. I’ve decided to set my camera in black and white mode and a fixed ISO of 100. Ideally I would like to have had a lower setting to help with the harsh lighting, but alas this is a limitation of my camera. One of the outcomes from today is that many of my pictures appear somewhat ‘flat’ in monochrome, but that challenge has been part of the fun in trying to get a well lit and composed picture.

 I’ll let you be the judge.

The Station

The station’s island platform serves two lines with trains arriving and departing every 10 minutes or so. An early 20th Century station which is adjacent to a separate Chilterns Railway station served by a separate entrance but with a walkway joining the two. Although there is nothing particularly striking about the station or its surrounds, the feeling of ‘big brother watching’ is clearly evidenced by this picture of these overhead cameras. They look somewhat sci-fi and menacing as they could easily have appeared as a large winged drone hovering overhead.

At the end of the platform there’s a gateway to the driver’s rest rooms reached up a flight of steps and a gangway across the railway line. And whilst contemplating a shot, the driver of the recently arrived train walks up and we chat. He outlines his itinerary for the day, which includes two return trips to Epping, a lunch stop and rest break in Acton before ending his day, returning home for his tea – all before making his way to Watford to watch his football team play Coventry in the EFL Carabao Cup that evening. I’m pleased for him that Watford won 3-0.

HS2

Whatever your thoughts, views and emotions surrounding the HS2 project, it’s impact on West Ruislip’s residents is clearly set out on notices surrounding the station despite development work having already started just across the road.

And it’s across the road I wander and poke my nose around the West Ruislip Golf Centre. I find I’ve made my way, unchallenged, to the 40 bay driving range and I’m somewhat surprised there’s no one’s about other than a singular golfer whose picking up his golf bag and walking out. All becomes clear as I’m approached by an employee asking me to leave the premises. I explain my purpose and ask if I can take some pictures but I’m told that the business was sold to HS2 the day before and therefore the Golf Centre is no longer an operating business. We exchange a few comments on the impact of HS2, but the employee remains non-committal but her sadness is etched across her face.

Ruislip

Ruislip is very much suburbia at its best and is well served by 5 stations bearing its name (West Ruislip, Ruislip Gardens and South Ruislip all on the Central Line, and Ruislip and Ruislip Manor on the shared Met/Piccadilly Lines). There is little of interest around West Ruislip so I head off to the main town centre which is about a mile away. En Route, I pass Training Ship (TS) Pelican, the Sea Cadet’s home in Ruislip. An otherwise indistinct building but it catches my eye as it reminds me of my days as a Sea Cadet on board TS Hydra which once had a presence on the shores of The Menai in Y Felinheli (Port Dinorwic) on the North Wales coast. This was over 50 years ago, but I’m still thankful for the skills I learnt – in particular how to tie knots: the sheepshank, bowline and clove hitch.

The station in Ruislip opened around the same time as its counterpart in West Ruislip and reflected the population growth in suburbia in response to the ingress of the railways into the ‘Metropolitan areas’. This station has a little more character than the one to its west where a well maintained disused signal box has been preserved within the station’s boundaries.

Into the town, I head to its northern approach and browse around Manor Farm and associated buildings. The Manor Farm is a 22-acre historic site incorporating a medieval farm complex, with a main old barn dating from the 13th Century and a farm house from the 16th. Nearby are the remains of a motte-and-bailey castle believed to date from shortly after the Norman conquest.

The buildings have been renovated courtesy of a National Lottery grant, and although the site promotes that it is ‘open’ 365 days of the year, the only accessible building is the Library. A beautifully renovated barn with exposed beams, now filled with rows and rows of books and as part of this summer’s theme, workshops are run for children introducing them to space exploration as part of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing celebrations.

Sadly, I found little else of interest in the immediate vicinity, and unwisely I decided to walk the one and a half miles to Ruislip Gardens. In the searing heat, it was no fun, but equally it was unexciting as I passed rows upon rows of similarly designed houses. The purpose of my sojourn was to return to the Central Line and head for Perivale.

The Hoover Building

As I’m in the vicinity, I decide to head for and explore the iconic art deco style Hoover Building as it would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to bask in the buildings historic architecture. But before I do, a final mention about the heat: well I can only imagine it is the heat that’s led to my bemusement as I get on the tube at Ruislip Gardens and see this discarded bra on the floor. WTF (sorry) – WTH?! What on earth makes anyone believe it’s OK to just leave such a thing lying around, presumably having been taken off because of the heat; who knows?. I ponder this thought for the ten minutes or so it takes me to travel the four stops to Perivale station.

The Hoover Building is less than ten minutes from the station and in recent years, this Grade II* listed building has been converted into a Tesco Superstore, a Halal Friendly Asian Restaurant (The Royal Naawab), and a collection of 66 luxury apartments. But thankfully all of the iconic features have been retained for everyone to see. I’ll end today’s blog by letting the building speak for itself – well more specifically its original architects: Wallis, Gilbert and Partners

Picture of the Day

This picture is taken within the grounds of Ruislip Manor Farm buildings. In particular within the green area enclosed by the Great Barn, the Library and the Cow Byre Gallery. I’m looking directly at the Great Barn and as I walked through the first time I was struck by the magnificence of the restored buildings, the starkness of the black wooden cladding and the contrast this created with the sun soaked roof tiles. 

Having walked around the area for a while, I decided to return to this spot to capture the Great Barn, and as mentioned earlier, getting the right tone of black is difficult, especially with the sun directly overhead, so I take a few practice shots to get the camera settings just right.

Now I’d seen this lady when I first walked by; she seemed to have stopped for her lunch and is now intently studying her mobile. My first thought is to capture The Barn without her in the frame, but the more I played with my positioning, the more I thought her inclusion helps to set the scene. I deliberate on whether to ask her to stay, but decide against this as it would then have made her conscious of my presence and she may have portrayed a different visage. It’s her intense concentration and complete lack of awareness of her surroundings that I believe adds to the final picture.

I started with a shot from afar which captures too much foreground, so I walk closer to tighten the shot, and then maybe after every 10 steps I take the same picture. In this final shot, I’m probably no more than 3 or 4 metres away and I’m very happy with the outcome. Even as I walk right past her, she still doesn’t acknowledge me, so whatever she’s doing, it’s certainly very riveting.

In post production, I played a little with Google Photos filter settings to get the starkness of the black I was after to represent as close as possible the colour I saw. The ‘Vista’ setting does this justice. I hope you like it?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter effect – Vista; Camera setting – B&W

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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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#54: Stratford – 13/06/2019

Back from two weeks holiday and it seems I’ve forgotten what to do. Well, one of the key ingredients of this photo journal is my ability to take pictures – so I can only claim my holiday brain caused me not to charge my camera battery, so at less than 50% capacity, it didn’t take long to exhaust.

But to my rescue came the rain. Yes: whatever happened to ‘flaming June’. I went out of the house relying on good ‘ol BBC’s forecast that there was only a 25% chance of rain. Well it seems I was in that part of London where the 25% had been converted to 100%. So today was a bit of a soaking, but to be honest, it still turned out to be an interesting one.

The Station

I’ve written about the station before, so I won’t repeat myself. The Overground platforms, Nos 1 and 2 are on the most northerly end of the station, and serve trains to Richmond and Clapham Junction. The end of Platform 1 is overshadowed by a large cage like building creating an almost tunnel effect.

Whilst exploring the platform, I look for a different angle to capture, and as I do, I bemuse a couple of station staff as I crouch down below some fixed seats to capture this locked toolbox.

The overground platforms are oddly adjacent to platform nos 11 and 12, and having commuted through Stratford for over 30 years, and looked at these platforms from a passing train I’d never ventured there until now. There’s a large platform expanse, which seems slightly out of place, but there have been occasions when I’ve seen the area crowded as commuters wait for a delayed train taking them home east. But I wonder how many will have stopped to look at Jonathan Edwards – yes the Olympic triple jumper? You see there’s a rather tired perspex case up against the wall that does nothing to inspire the casual viewer to look beyond the faded, discoloured casing. But peer inside, and there’s a sculpture by Ptolemy Elrington who creates art from recycled material.

This one of Jonathan Edwards holding up the union flag depicting the scene when he won the Olympics in 2000 was commissioned as part of the 2012 Olympic preparations and the statue toured the country before finding its resting place here. I think more should be done to promote this forgotten piece of work.

There are some unusual building facades that probably puzzle passers by. No doubt the external facade is purposely designed to hide their ugliness, and if so,  the architects seem to have achieved this quite well. These two masking a car park and an energy centre are now part of the accepted landscape of the area.

Stratford City Bus Station

This is a hub for local London buses and National Express airport coaches located by the south entrance to Westfield Shopping Centre and is bubbling with transient passengers. Although I don’t count the number of buses pulling in whilst I’m here, I would guess though there’s a bus arriving/leaving every two minutes or so. But unless you have a need to use the bus station, or walk past it destined elsewhere, you wouldn’t know it’s here.

London Buses is a conglomeration of 20 separate bus companies who provide the city with it’s distinct red livery and managed under the TfL banner. And for this privilege, they can carry the iconic London Transport roundel…

East Village

Built as the athlete’s village for the 2012 London Olympics, the housing complex of mid rise self-contained secure tower blocks dominates the east side of the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre. And 5 years on, development has and continues to expand, and you can get a sense of the surrounding environment in my ‘picture of the day’ below. Now an established residential area of architecturally attractive buildings, I still believe the area lacks character and soul as it’s devoid of personality. And if you’d like to know what an apartment costing more than £750,000 looks like in its naked state, here’s one I made earlier – and it’s exactly the same as any other development…

The village is adjacent to an area called Chobham Manor which gives its name to the local academy, and I’ve noticed a trend with modern academies – they no longer look like schools. I guess that’s a consequence of the market forces driving their financial models? This one looking more like a collection of office blocks with a little effort to camouflage their walls with some educational messages…

…and it seems any unused space is also open game for businesses to utilise, as exemplified by this nearby re-purposed prison van.

The Lee Valley Velopark

Tucked just inside the main A12 trunk road that cuts a swathe through east London, is the Velopark; built for the main cycling events at the 2012 London Olympics and now part of its ongoing legacy. There aren’t many people about on this windy rainy day, and as I walk around the Velodrome admiring the attractive cedar canopy, there’s one lone tri-cyclist on the road circuit cranking his way around the track. I’ve visited the Velodrome before but hadn’t realised it’s free to enter, so in I pop following in the wake of a coach load of school kids who had come to enjoy the spectacle.

The Velodrome runs Experience Sessions where you can be coached in the use of a fixed wheel bike and the basic skills required to safely ride the velodrome track. From my observations it’s not as easy as it looks, and some degree of nerve is needed to balance the right speed with the angle of the curves. At the London Velodrome the steepest curves are banked at 42°, but standing on top of it (safely  behind the barrier I hasten to add), it looks much steeper. Those practicing today were being guided by the professionals at a modest pace on the lower level.

The Marshes

Leaving the Velodrome, I have it in mind to head for the New Spitalfields Market now on the other side of the A12, but as I make my way there, the heavens open and within minutes I’m a little like a drowned rat. Not perturbed, I walk past the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, over the main road and take refuge under a bus shelter by one of the fields that makes up the infamous Hackney Marshes sports ground. But on a midweek wet day, there’s not a soul in sight on any of the 88 full sized football pitches.

I think the rain begins to ease (oh how wrong am I!) and walk up to the New Spitalfields Market, on the expectation I’d see how today’s fruit and veg distribution works in London. But alas the signs into the market make it quite clear this is private land and no photography without permission. Given the rain soaking conditions, I feel disinclined to follow through and search out the person whose permission I’d need. I satisfy myself, somewhat dejectedly, with a photo of their sign behind railings.

Drenched by now, I decide to head to Leyton underground as the lesser walk rather than returning directly to Stratford as I can’t see a bus coming. In the pouring rain, it’s much further than I thought, but I do pass a couple of things that catch my eye. One of which is my first introduction to London’s Quietways: a different sort of cycle route for those looking for a quieter ride. This one on the edge of Orient Way showing what I assume to be the number of cyclists that have passed today (328), and the number that have passed so far this year (85105). I couldn’t see, though, how this measurement was taken and if indeed it reflected this particular spot or the whole Quietway in its entirety. Perhaps someone reading this may have the answer – please drop me a line and if you do and I’ll update this blog.

The second thing is this distance measurement emblazoned on a brick wall. There’s nothing to indicate what it signifies, but I hazard a guess it’s nothing more than a reference to how far the nearest Asda store is, as the wall is on the route from the main road to Asda’s car park. Nevertheless catching the wet pedestrian within the measurement is slightly entertaining.

Hackney Wick

By the time I’m back in Stratford, it’s bright and sunny, so I decide to visit Hackney Wick out of curiosity. It’s a part of London I have walked through before en route to ‘Here East’, the former Olympic Media Centre which sits directly opposite on the other side of the River Lee. I was there exploring its suitability for an office move when at GDS, but the move to here was trumped by another location in Aldgate where GDS is now based. Hackney Wick has a long industrial heritage, but through the 20th Century, its association is more with poverty and deprivation. Walking around you can understand why, but there’s a 21st Century resurgence with the area now being popularised with millennial business ventures happy to work out of urban/industrial premises surrounded by graffiti and wall art.

The area, which sits by the river Lee, is also popular with river dwellers, and the recently modernised station helps to breathe new life into the area. An interesting way to end the day and I think a revisit here would be worthwhile in the future so that I can truly capture its essence. If anyone is up to joining me, drop me a line.

Picture of the Day

The precise location of this shot is at the northerly end of Champion’s Walk, part of the original Athlete’s Village built for the 2012 Olympics; and what struck me was the unspoilt, manicured cleanliness of the area. This shot, taken from ground level to accentuate the trimmed bright green hedges accentuates the symmetry of the surrounding high rise tower blocks with the street lights on one side, and balanced by the angle of the building on the other. The shot narrows in on the pedestrian highlighted in white at the centre of the picture with a snatch of colour from an orange bag (possibly a Sainsbury’s carrier bag), and just in view, the red ‘don’t walk’ sign on the hidden traffic lights (zoom in and you’ll see it).

The shot also helps to remind me of the excitement and the crowds that would have been prevalent in the summer of 2012 as the country (and world) welcomed the sporting elite and others to London. Maybe I’ve captured more than I’d imagined?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/8; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 35mm; Film Speed – ISO250

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#51: Bank (again) – 09/05/2019

A return today to Bank station courtesy of the Dockland Light Railway (DLR). A day where the weather forecast was looking pretty grim and dismal, the first in over a year. So I did some advance planning on where to go if the weather turned bad…which it did. Today turned out to be a tour of central London stations including Bank, Monument, Cannon Street and London Bridge.

Today was also a study in underground passageways, and my thanks go to other Underground Twitter enthusiasts who have posted pictures which have inspired some of mine today.

Bank Station

Those of you working in the City, or have a need to change at Bank know how busy it is, and somewhat complicated now whilst improvement works are being undertaken. The station, which is inter-connected with Monument provides underground access to the Central, Northern, Circle and District lines; the DLR and the Waterloo & City line. It’s main feature is the 300m long adjoining walkway running directly under King William Street.

From personal experience, I was caught off guard one summer’s day when lugging a heavy suitcase from one station to the next without realising how many flights of stairs there are, and how long it takes when battling with commuters charged with only one goal in mind – getting to their end point as quickly as possible.

My study of the underground has yielded many pictures in an attempt to capture the constant flow of travellers making their way through the tunnel between the two stations, or on route to/from Waterloo via the underground tunnels and travelator. Some travellers have a clear plan on where they are going and others are bemused by the the whole experience. Nevertheless, I’ve compiled some of the pictures into animations to help set the scene.

I decide to head for Monument Station which is a popular destination for tourists who flock to the aptly named Monument, opened in 1677 as a permanent reminder of the Great Fire of London.

Outside the station, street promoters try to catch the eye of the passer-by by handing out leaflets with a promise of free cash ‘…if you sign up today!..’

As I walk around to the Monument, I notice that I’m now in The Ward of Candlewick and ask myself, what is a Ward? The answer is here…

Saint Magnus the Martyr and The Thames Path

London is littered with churches of all denominations, and from my own observation, the City has more than its fair share. Heading down towards the embankment and the Thames Path, I pass this church and explore its surroundings, and as I do, I spot a plaque declaring the churchyard formed part of the roadway onto the original London Bridge. Intrigued, not out of religious conviction, but more out of historical interest, I head inside and I’m struck by the ornate decorations; full of colour and all the religious icons you would expect to see.

By the doorway there is a long, if not at least ten feet long, encased model replica of the original London Bridge bedecked with houses and shops. The vaulted ceiling is magnificent, as indeed are the stained glass windows in homage to the good saint, and before leaving I feel compelled to light a candle.

The church sits on the river so a quick canter around the back of the church and I’m overlooking the river with The Shard for company ahead of me, and London Bridge to my right. There’s what appears to be a collection of stones as a seating area, but on closer inspection there’s an inscription explaining the stone bench was part of an Architectural Student Award in 2009. Each stone engraved with a floral design and its name.

I pass under London Bridge, which has a mysterious eerie feel to it, and could it be that ghosts of eons past are still lurking as you just don’t know what would have transpired here over the years and centuries. Or maybe as it was about to pour with rain the ominous sky affected my senses. Who knows?

I didn’t give any thought to the name of the footpath until I came to Cannon Street station rail bridge – Hanseatic Walk. But before walking under the bridge, I spot a wall plaque, a little difficult to get at to read. But when I do, I see it was erected in 2005 to commemorate a site where 400 Hanseatic merchants lived in a German self-governing enclave for nearly 600 years up to the 19th Century.

Cannon Street station is my third station of the day, each of which are no more than 300 metres apart such is the density of the working population that it needs so many stations to cope with the daily influx. This station has recently been modernised and therein stands the Plumber’s Apprentice, erected at the location where once stood the Livery Hall of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers

London Bridge station and its surrounds

One stop by train across the river and I’m at London’s most recently modernised station where the architects have blended the modern functional needs with the classic cavernous catacomb like arches. Now that’s it’s finished, the station provides an exciting feast for the eye as I journey through the station. Glass and lighting are the two main features used to excellent effect to bring out a modern design.

I’m asked by a security lady to explain what I’m doing and although she doesn’t stop me, she does suggest a visit to Network Rail’s reception would be in order to check on whether I need permission to take pictures. Thankfully, through their twitter feed, I’m directed to their very helpful and clearly set out online Guidelines for taking photos at stations.

I exit the station south side and I’m immediately drawn to a sight of red ants crawling over a full size train carriage atop a low level building. Go see it as it’s an impressive piece of art from Joe Rush – never heard of him? Well he also created the Arcadia spider at a recent Glastonbury festival.

The artwork helps to promote one of London’s newest open air food and container box outlets at Vinegar Yard. It is almost deserted, with only a couple of seated guests and a few others, like me, wandering around taking photos; the reason being that it is cold and raining, so not the ideal combo for this place. Nevertheless, I suspect as the evening wears on, more brave souls will be attracted to eat and drink here later.

This was a surprising and delightful find at the end of the day, and is partly what this sojourn is all about – a personal discovery of communities that otherwise might not get seen by outsiders.

Picture of the Day

This was one of my first photos of the day and after a few test shots to get the settings right, I waited for a sequence of trains to pull into the end of the DLR at Bank station. With a slow shutter speed to capture the train’s movement, I was pleased, and surprised, to get the focus just right as this is a hand held shot. The position of the train as it is just about to pass the station sign was planned, and as the sign states the platform is for ‘alighting only’ so there were no other passengers waiting other than me. I was half expecting to get stopped by passing Tfl staff as I was loitering there for quite a while, but guess they’re used to enthusiasts hanging around. The wide angle shot lets me get the full length of the station in frame, and the fast ISO setting lets me get the depth of field I wanted too. Maybe the lighting could have been slightly darker with a slower film speed setting, but sometimes a compromise is OK.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/22; Shutter Speed – 1/5; Focal Length – 318mm; Film Speed – ISO12800

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#42: Richmond (District) – 19/02/2019

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

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

The Town

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

The River

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

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

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

The Artist

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

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

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

The Terrace

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

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

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

The Park

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

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

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

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

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

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

The Town and Station

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

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

The Village

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

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

Tennis

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

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

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

The Common

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

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

Raynes Park

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

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

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

Wimbledon Chase Railway Station

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

Picture of the Day

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

#40: Stratford (Jubilee) – 05/02/2019

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

Stratford station and its surrounds

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

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

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

Greenway footpath

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

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

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

Abbey Mills Pumping Station

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

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

West Ham Station

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

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

Boleyn Ground

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

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