#71: Woolwich Arsenal – 22/10/2019

Today’s visit completes the series of seven ‘ends of the line’ on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which includes a return to the Woolwich Ferry, and some more stunning views along the Thames.

The Station

At platform level the station is typically DLR with all things concrete, but the modernist design of the upper station is in some way a retro homage to the art deco era.

I’d not realised the station also doubled up with national rail services provided by Thameslink and Southeastern running from Central London into Kent. And on their shared platform (No. 1), there’s an interesting terracotta mural by Martin Williams entitled ‘Workers of Woolwich’ which portrays the history of Woolwich Arsenal in its munitions heyday.

About 200 metres south of the station is where there’ll be a new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line station running to Abbey Wood. Still under construction but it’s a shame it couldn’t have been designed to co-exist with the existing rail services. Maybe there’s a hidden passageway yet to be revealed?

Woolwich

The town centre is a somewhat depressing area, and although there’s evidence of some investment, it seems to have done little to hide the anti-social behaviour on open display: alcoholism, homelessness and drug dealing are just three examples I just ‘happened’ upon.

The town centre is dominated with an open green square overlooking the main bus stop and main station, and it’s here those with little to do seem to congregate. Listening in on their conversations as I walk past, I hear a preponderance of Eastern Europeans dialects; and there’s also a strong contingency of retired Gurkhas who have adopted one side of the square as their own. In one corner, there’s a large screen showing the Brexit debate, but those walking by or encamped in the square seem oblivious to (or maybe just bored with) the political shenanigans being played out in public.

A little north of the green is Beresford Square Market with a few fruit & veg and clothes stalls tempting those passing through looking for a bargain. It’s a colourful area, but I suspect today isn’t the market’s main day as there aren’t too many stall traders about.

Nearby, the pedestrianised and tree lined Powis Street is where the main shops are. Here I find the usual ‘budget’ high street stores interlaced with a large number of charity shops and a few local independents.

Royal Arsenal

Once an area covering 1,300 acres and employing 100,000 people at its peak, the Royal Arsenal sits on the south bank of the Thames and just north of the town. There are many well documented internet sites that provide its full history so rather than trying to precis it myself, you can read some of them for yourselves here and here.

These are well worth a read and you can learn about the early 17th Century need for munitions through to how the site grew and developed the creation of munitions supporting all the war years through to its closure in the 1960’s. This is of course where Arsenal Football Club started life back in the late 1800’s too

This area has undergone, and continues to undergo extensive regeneration; but what is noticeable is that the original architecture has been kept and that the heritage of the area is being boosted. Even some of the original road names have been kept, and I’m captivated by the road named ‘No. 1 Street’. Seems somewhat iconic don’t you think? Looking down towards James Clavell Square, there’s a very interesting sculpture by Peter Burke, but more on this in my ‘Picture of the Day’ below.

The River

I’ve listened to the London weather and traffic reports most mornings before setting off to work and often heard, particularly during the winter months, that the Woolwich Ferry is either not running or is running with a restricted service of only one ferry. Well, in the spate of a few weeks, I’ve now travelled in both directions on this free service. Two ferry boats operate in harmony and viewed from afar they look as if they perform some form of ‘Strictly’ dance midstream. They’re quite mesmerising to watch: named the Dame Vera Lynn and the Ben Woollacott. The latter in honour of a deck-hand who died in 2011.

There’s something quite wonderful about walking along the Thames; despite the river looking still, there’s movement all around as London busies itself on this arterial waterway. And plenty of walkers and cyclists take advantage of the well groomed Thames Path whose shadows ripple in the murky foreshore.

My journey’s end today is in the middle of the Thames looking west towards Canary Wharf and onwards into The City through the Thames Barrier. I never get tired of this view as it keeps on changing: day or night.

Picture of the Day

This one is taken at the very bottom of the Royal Arsenal Heritage site in James Clavell Square. There is nothing (as far as I can see) to tell me who the sculptor is so an internet search is needed. My first inkling is that it’s an installment by Antony Gormley, and some internet results also suggested this. But wrongly as it turns out and it’s a sculpture by Peter Burke.

Approaching the square form the west, I see this interesting installation from afar and capture some shots through a telephoto lens to narrow the frame whilst also capturing passers by between the 16 statues. But as I get closer, I feel it’s better to be amongst the rusty statues and I compose today’s shot still with passers by framed between the statues. I frame the decorative street lamps in such a way that they are positioned as if they’re almost part of the installation as well.

In post production, I’ve decided a black & white filter influences the picture best as it helps to highlight the starkness of the shadows cast by the early afternoon sun.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 130mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google filter – Vogue

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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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#48: Shenfield – 18/04/2019

I have new eyes and I can see!.. Let me explain. Having had a cataract operation last August, I’ve struggled a bit with focusing and had to rely on two sets of glasses as the focal point in both eyes have been somewhat out of kilter. So I’ve been using one pair of glasses for reading and one for long distance. So although when I’m walking about I have been able to see OK, when I’ve then tried to focus on taking a photograph, I’ve had to swap glasses. All in all it was manageable but somewhat clumsy.

The good news is that I had my other eye operated on last week, and almost instantly, my vision has returned so much so that from close to long distance I can manage without glasses except for close reading which I’m still in need. So a very good outcome indeed. Today’s journey was probably sooner than I should have ventured after my operation, but I was keen to try out my new eyes.

So the weather has changed for the better and today is a hot spring day for what turned out to be a nine mile hike through the Essex countryside which tested my childhood membership of the Tufty Club and latterly the Green Cross Code. All part of Britain’s road safety campaigns over the years to improve safety for pedestrians.

Shenfield Station

The station has six platforms serving Tfl Rail and Greater Anglia services. The former being the terminus out of Liverpool Street, and once the Elizabeth Line has been commissioned the station will serve trains through to Paddington and onwards to Heathrow (T5) and Reading. Greater Anglia services terminate here from Southend, and pass through from Liverpool Street through to Ipswich, Clacton-on-sea and Colchester.

The station shows off some memories of old. One in the guise of a Great Eastern Railways plaque (the forerunner of Greater Anglia) erected by the ‘traffic and civil engineering staff of the station’ commemorating those colleagues who died during the First World War.

The second is an abandoned caboose stranded on platform 1. I admire it’s dishevelled ruggedness which draws me in to take a close look, and it reminds me of my early childhood when steam trains were still the ‘norm’. I suspect the caboose hasn’t been abandoned, but merely parked awaiting transportation to some museum or rail enthusiasts destination – well that’s my hope anyway. Such is its draw that I take many pictures, trying to capture the mood of its era using a grainy B&W filter on the camera or recreating a wild west feel using post production filters; one of which makes it as my ‘picture of the day’ (see below).

Shenfield

Described by some internet commentators as a dormitory town for commuters to London and surrounding towns, I would say it’s more of a ‘one horse town’. What I mean by that is it’s predominantly one street with shops serving and meeting its local community. Without counting, I would say ladies and gents grooming salons make up the majority of shops with eateries/coffee shops a close second. With the exception of one or two unusual or decorative shops, Shenfield is a sedate town – and that is its charm and why residents are attracted here.

A Country Walk

I decide to head north out of Shenfield towards the hectic A12 dual carriageway, along the River Wid and through Hutton before returning to Shenfield several hours later. The route is a combination of busy main and country roads, often without a pavement, so I have to take particular care when walking along. I go under and over five different bridges; mostly railway bridges where in some cases the road narrows to single file traffic and the width of the bridge forms a short tunnel.

I also stop for some time (in a very safe place) on the roundabout that is junction 12 of the A12 (at this point also known as Ingatestone Bypass) and try to capture an image of the speeding traffic passing under me.

Turning off the roundabout to follow the River Wid, I walk past a newly completed housing development called ‘The Elms at Mountnessing’ (see Google map reference: Elm Gardens and River Court) and I’m struck by the exterior finish of all the houses.

The rural landscape is as you’d expect, although the country road is clearly used as a cut through for local and light industrial traffic serving the industrial estate north of Hutton and only a mile from the A12. I walk on through Hutton and I’m intrigued by a road name – Hanging Hill Lane. Its name is very suggestive, however an internet search doesn’t reveal any history of this road other than a ghostly sighting of a woman.

Brentwood

The road from Hutton brings me back to Shenfield so still looking for some local interest I decide to press on and walk a further 1.5 miles to Brentwood; and just on the outskirts I pass Shen Place Almshouses, a collection of six homes, and admire the adorned gable ends.

Around the corner is the Brentwood Cathedral of SS Mary and Helen, and as I poke my nose inside, I admire the colourful south entrance. Further inside I can also and see that Easter preparations are underway and understand why the cathedral is described as ‘…a light-filled baroque and renaissance-style Catholic cathedral with an ornate gold-leaf ceiling…’.

Even though there’s no one about, I leave quietly and end my journey, rather wearily, walking past the flint covered St Thomas of Canterbury Church which is next door to the cathedral before heading down the hill to the railway station. I leave Brentwood knowing that I’ll be home soon as the end of the line for me is at Gidea Park, only two stops down the line.

Picture of the Day

As soon as I saw this wagon I knew it would feature as my picture of the day, but I wanted to make sure I could create the right mood for it, capturing its age and derelict abandonment. The wagon stands alone off platform 1, now disused, and cuts a sorry and unloved image ignored by most passengers walking into the station. This shot is one of a long series of pictures taken naturally and with a harsh B&W filter on the camera, the latter portraying an image reminiscent of an early newspaper picture: bold and stark – but I’m looking for something different.

If you’re familiar with Google Photos, you’ll know it comes with simple, but very effective edit features. One of which consists of 14 different filter settings. I’ve often questioned the purpose of the Modena filter as it places a yellowish tint across the whole picture. However, that’s precisely the effect I’m looking for: one that mimics old film stock, and this time it gives the feel of an early wild west colour movie.

I’m really pleased with the outcome, and I hope you enjoy the picture too?

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/5.6; Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 29mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Modena

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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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#39: Hammersmith (Revisited) – 29/01/2019

Seven months after my first visit, I return to Hammersmith via one of it’s two stations: the most northern station serving as a terminus for both the aptly named Hammersmith & City (pink) line, and the Circle (yellow) line. The second station, opening into the Broadway shopping centre, serving as a pass through station for both the Piccadilly and District Lines. Conditions today are quite different; a cold icy blast with the threat of snow, but as the day starts, it’s quite bright and clear.

I start the day heading south under the flyover to almost where I ended my last journey as I make my way through Fulham Reach to the Blue Boat pub on the Thames Path overlooking the river.

Not because I am desperate for a drink, n’or because I wanted to flavour a traditional Fuller’s pub as Asahi, a Japanese brewery takes over the chain. But because it is a convenient place to meet a former work colleague to catch up on gossip and life. Noelia and I worked for the Government Digital Service (GDS) together for several years, and just as I was retiring, Noelia left to join Tfl. It’s been many a year since I walked into an empty pub as their first morning customer, but an 11.00 am start for coffee was a good way to spend the morning in good company and pleasant surroundings.

As a local resident, Noelia explains this is a very popular pub, one that’s hard to get a table booking, and i can understand why. It’s position right by the river is ideal, with pleasant surroundings and decor providing a welcoming balance between chique, characterful and trendy. It was good to catch up and share with each other what we have been up to and to hear how those we are still in touch with have moved on to other challenges.

The Thames Path

As we say farewell, I head south along the north shore following the Thames Path which eventually leads me past Craven Cottage and on to Fulham Palace. But first a few words of the pathway as it deserves a particular mention. Despite it being bitterly cold, the icy sky with a hazy sun provides an ideal opportunity to capture the scenery. I think no matter where I am, the combination of sun and water will always encourage me to take pictures as it may be something to do with the fact I was born and brought up by the sea.

This part of the Thames Path is directly under the flight-path as aircraft make their way to land at Heathrow, and as I look skywards timing their frequency hoping to capture a unique shot, I note the planes fly over at monotonous regularity every two minutes.

The path is quite busy with dog walkers and runners/joggers, and as I approach Bishop’s Park, there is surprisingly one or two sitting in the cold enjoying the scenery. The lake and surrounding gardens are closed, probably for winter maintenance, however there is some evidence of spring emerging in the surrounding shrubbery.

Craven Cottage – Fulham Football Club

The Thames Path takes a detour at this point as Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club sits right on the edge of the river. The stands are imposing and tower over the path, and as I make my way to the main entrance in Stevenage Road there’s a river of coloured cables in the gutter as media companies prepare to broadcast this evening’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion (for those interested, Fulham won 4-2).

Spectator access to the ground is still controlled through narrow numbered turnstiles, which stand as a protective layer at the front of the stadium. The club’s colours of black and white are clearly visible, and close to the ticket office stands a memorial to one of the club’s best ever players – Johnny Haynes

Fulham Palace

From The Cottage through Bishops Park along its tree lined avenues, I come to Fulham Palace and tentatively poke my nose into the Walled Garden; and I’m glad I did as I find some unexpected delights. The History of Fulham Palace records ‘…From around 700, when the site was acquired by Bishop Waldhere, it served as a Bishop’s residence for over 12 centuries. At least since Tudor times, Fulham Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home, providing the Bishop and his family with a healthy rural retreat in summer months…’

The Palace’s features comprise primarily of the Palace buildings, surrounding grounds, Walled Garden all enclosed in what was once known to be the longest domestic moat in England – an earthwork enclosing an area of 14.5 hectares (35.8 acres) with the original water extending for about one mile in length. It’s fair to say the garden is in its winter state, and although there is little colour about except for the explosion of snowdrops, it’s clear the grounds are well maintained and cared for. Through the other end of the Walled Garden I step into the grounds surrounding the Palace and I see children playing happily in a make-do campsite on one side, and find some interesting tree carvings on the other.

Into the Palace itself which is undergoing restoration work, so access to some areas is restricted. However I meet two helpful ladies at reception who point me in the direction of the Terrick Rooms and The Chapel where I’m joined by one of them who acts as my tour guide and shares the chapel’s interesting history. Before leaving, I’m introduced to Nicola, the Palace’s Marketing Manager, who explains the Palace will reopen access to all areas over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with an official opening on the 25th May and a public opening on the 26th. Nicola also highlights their photography competition which is open to all amateur photographers until the 21st April.

If you have a spark of an interest in seeing one of London’s hidden and unsung gems, I’d highly recommend a visit here: and I for one will be returning. Thank you Fulham Palace for your hospitality.

Returning to Hammersmith

The sun has gone and the clouds look increasingly threatening so it’s time to head to my journey’s end back at Hammersmith station. I walk the length of Woodlawn Road and espy what I guess is described as fashionable Fulham. Row upon row of attractive semi-detached town houses which are well maintained and decorated. Those that aren’t are in the throws of being modernised as I lose count of the number of houses being redeveloped.

Onto the main Fulham Palace Road I walk around Charing Cross Hospital, but I’m more than a little disappointed that this ageing, decaying and tired concrete monstrosity offers nothing of interest. By contrast, and a little further up the road is a relatively new development – Assembly London which is rather striking in its modernist isolation.

Picture of the Day

It’s taken me a while to pick this one as I originally wanted to showcase the light of the day on the river, but I’ve already included those pictures above under the Thames Path heading. I’ve gone for this picture less for its photographic quality, but more for what it represents. This is more about ‘stories within stories’ and is representative of the time I spent within the grounds of Fulham Palace.

This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room and it made me ask myself the following questions:

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

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