#72:Upminster – 05/12/2019

Today’s visit completes the series of seven ‘ends of the line’ on the District line, and sees me returning to one of the most easterly stations on the network. I was here not that long ago via the Overground, so I need to ensure I don’t cover old ground. Consequently this is a relatively short blog.

The Station

Although it’s the end of the District line, there’s very little to demonstrate this as there is no signage that you’d normally see at other District Line stations. The signage is predominantly c2c, with Overground roundels on its own dedicated platform number 6. The cross platform footbridge spans all platforms and leads to a security gated entrance to the signal box; and platform seating, whilst recently installed, is sparse.

Platform 1 also provides a hearing induction loop for those passengers with a ‘T’ switch on their hearing aids, but what about similarly affected passengers on the other platforms? It’s all very well saying the service is available at the station, but it should say that it’s only a restricted service…

Hall Lane

Turning right out of the main station entrance, I head north up Hall Lane. My targeted destination is the Pitch & Putt course about half a kilometer away. I’ve driven past this many a time during my residency in Romford but had never been there. And I still didn’t see it as it is all covered up and locked away for the winter. Ah well… The Pitch and Putt course is within chipping distance of Upminster Golf Club with its course straddling the main road; its main entrance clearly defined as distinctly different to the adjacent Rugby Club.

The rugby club is all closed up, but en route, I explore the outside of the much advertised Upminster Tithe Barn. The Barn dates from 1450 and was part of an estate that supported the Abbey of Waltham. The Abbott’s hunting lodge next door was later converted into a private house and is now home to Upminster Golf Club.

The barn only opens periodically during the spring and summer months which now houses a broad display of domestic items from the last century as well as agricultural machinery.

Upminster Court

I continue north and head to Upminster Court; again another point of interest I’ve driven past many times and I naively thought this may have been a Judge’s House used for hearing Crown Court cases. Ha! How wrong am I?! It transpires that it was once a mansion house built at the turn of the 20th Century for the engineer and industrialist Arthur Williams.

Inscriptions either side of the main gate explain that Arthur designed and developed, and later patented steel-reinforced concrete piling. It was these that were used to construct part of the Dagenham jetties that helped grow the Dagenham industrial area and that once housed the Ford factory. The house is now a multi-occupied residential and business centre. My picture of the day shows the main entrance seen through the ironworks, but here’s an uninterrupted view of the mansion house.

Shopping area

Upminster has an eclectic and diverse shopping area made up of a couple of streets which form the shape of a cross. South from the station is the imaginatively named ‘Station Road’ which becomes ‘Corbets Tey Road’ at its intersection with ‘St Mary’s Lane’. Largely independent shops, with one local department store dominating the Station Road area with a large clothing and homeware store at the northern end, and a fashionable furniture store nearer the St Mary’s Lane end – welcome to Roomes.

I walk up and down past all the shops looking for an interesting window to admire, but I only find one that’s of particular interest that makes me stop and return to it. It is Sweet Rose Cakery in St Mary’s Lane. Inside this tea room I’m greeted very warmly and as I explain why I’d like to take pictures of their window, I espy several ladies who are busy socialising over a cuppa and a scone. The shop window catches my eye for its simplicity in explaining what’s on offer in the cafe, but it’s done in a very graphical way that clearly spells out the menu. Well done Sweet Rose on the stylised display…

Wintry views

A wintry day that’s not too cold as I walk about admiring the mackerel skyline and the gold and brown of the leaf fall and late changing trees, but still a little chilly when I stop for too long. So I decide it’s time to head home for the comforts of slippers and a hot toddy…

Picture of the Day

This is one of a sequence of shots I’ve taken at Upminster Court where I wanted to show off the grandeur, and highlight its privacy behind these locked gates.

This should have been a simple shot to capture if it wasn’t for the fact that to get the full frame of the gates in view and keep both mansion and gates in focus required that I stood at the very edge of the pavement set against a busy Hall Lane. So I keep one eye on the traffic and the other on framing this picture.

The sequence of shots includes several attempts to capture the right colour and vividness using flash for some fill in, and some shots using the camera’s in-built grainy  black & white filter. However, this one has been taken in full colour with flash, and in post production I’ve adjusted the final image with a harsh black & white filter to create the starkness that makes this picture work well.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google filter – Vista

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#62: Barking – 30/07/2019

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

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

The Station

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

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

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

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

Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC)

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

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

Barking Park

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

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

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

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

The Road to Ilford

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

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

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

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

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

All in all a great day…welcome to Barking!

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

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#61: Upminster – 24/07/2019

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

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

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

The Station

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

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

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

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

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

In the Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back into Town

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

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

Picture of the Day

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

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

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

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

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#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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#47: Paddington (revisited) – 10/04/2019

This evening is an experiment in night time long exposure black and white photography… and although there are no new discoveries since my first visit over eight months ago, I hope you find this indulgent revisit interesting?

I also have to thank my daughter for enabling me to take these pictures as I decided to use a recent Christmas present in the guise of a new tripod; its use, essential in enabling me to take long exposure night shots. I’d researched the kind of tripod I was interested in; one that had to be lightweight to carry around, strong enough to handle my camera and zoom lenses, and compact enough to fold away for ease of carrying. I plumped for the Neewer 350C (red) as a tripod that meets my needs very well. The only compromise is its limited height, but that’s a compromise I’m happy to accept – thank you Ceri…

And why am I back at Paddington? Well, as things stand, the station will serve as a terminal for two Tfl Rail lines (soon to become the Elizabeth line): one to Heathrow (already operating), and one to Reading. Admittedly the Elizabeth line hasn’t fully commissioned all these services yet, but I feel the line’s media spotlight and current progress warranted a second visit to acknowledge this.

A little about the Station which most will know serves as the gateway to Wales and the South West of England. A station I have passed through many many times as a tourist travelling to London, and over the last 30 years, travelling to and through as a weekend commuter when I first moved to London and subsequently on work missions. At 10.30 pm at night, the station is though comparatively quiet as this animation shows.

The station is one of London’s iconic buildings created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel with its gothic style wrought iron work vaulted dome. A spectacle that fills your view no matter where you enter the station from, and one that draws your eyes upwards to admire the scale and engineering. A vision I recall in my younger days being full of diesel smoke as trains arrived and departed and smoke got caught in the domed roof.

The station also benefits from very long platforms to accommodate the pullman carriages that make up the services run by GWR in their fashionable green livery. And if you’re ever feeling particularly flush, you can always book yourself into one of their dining experiences  so as to enjoy good food whilst admiring the great scenery.

“Taxi!”

All good stations have well integrated taxi ranks to help passengers with a seamless transition from train to final destination; and equally those arriving at the station. Paddington is no different and the taxi rank is situated on the north eastern side of the station. It’s a well managed resource and directions to find it are well sign-posted. However given the size of the station, it can take passengers a good 10 minutes or even longer to get here. Not so bad when you’re travelling light, but when laddled with large, unwieldy suitcases, the effort can be somewhat frustrating.

To be honest I hadn’t taken much notice of this facility before, I guess because I’d never needed to use it, so my attention has only been cursory as I’ve walked past. But tonight, I spend quite a while, in different vantage points, capturing the movement of the slow black chain of ‘heel to toe’ taxi cabs meandering towards the pick up point before accelerating out of the station compound.

Can you spot the ghostly taxi?

This animation and few shots gives a sense of the calm patience taxi drivers exercise whilst waiting for the next train full of passengers to make their way to them.

The Basin at night

Walking along here at night is quite a spectacle as the combination of low and high rise building lighting has a rippling effect on the water, especially as the moon is rising too. In conversation with friends, they’ve commented on my bravery in walking about alone. But I don’t think it’s a question of bravery, more a balance of understanding your surroundings and being aware of those around you.

I’m not being complacent as I’ve found myself in several situations where taking the right action early, or saying/not saying something is the right thing to do. For example, as I was walking out of Merchant Square, realising there was only one exit at night and being confronted by a group of young men asking me if I wanted to buy some hashish, I diffuse a potential confrontation by making light of their offer but at the same time holding tightly onto my camera and handling my tripod in such a way that I could have used it in defence if needed…but none of this was necessary.

I hope you can enjoy these pictures of the area around the Basin as much as I enjoyed taking them. Some being taken with very long exposure times of up to 15 seconds so that I can get a good depth of field, or in some cases capturing cycle lights blinking on/off as they travel along a cobbled alleyway.

This shot of the Darcie Green floating restaurant along the Grand Union Canal is one of many I took trying to capture the mood of the revellers on board. But it was a cold night and only a few smokers braved the open top for a moment or two to ‘take in the air’.

Picture of the Day

This is one of several shots to get the composition just right, and the settings I’ve used achieves just that. The starkness of the image shows off the iron work which is captured in fine detail and right throughout the station. The clock to the left, in grand Victorian style, offsets the symmetry of the picture just enough and helps to draw the eye down to a statute of Paddington Bear. The long exposure also helps to create the starburst effect with the overhead lighting which a faster exposure failed to achieve. The picture in its entirety also helps to show off the magnificence of the station at night time.

Settings: Camera Canon EOS 200D; Aperture ƒ/16; Exposure 2s; Focal Length 18mm; Relative Film Speed ISO200

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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..?