#69: Uxbridge – 02/10/2019

I return to Uxbridge today, this time to complete the final leg of the Piccadilly line’s ‘end of the line’. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I thought I had covered the town pretty well on my first visit, but…

The Station

When I was here earlier in the summer, I spent some time exploring the station so I decided to walk through this time and head for the town centre instead. Because of this though, I did stop at other stations on the line as my day comes to an end, so read on and see where else I have been.

The Town Centre

So who knew Uxbridge has a runway? Well in truth it doesn’t, but this view from the top of the Cedars Car Park made me think ‘what if?’. It’s a view looking north easterly from the top floor of the empty car park and the empty blue sky combines nicely with the parallel lines on the surface giving the impression that it’s a runway.

At the north end of the High Street, it’s market day so I have a chance to do some people watching, and this shot of workmen at rest eating their lunch outside the Pavilions shopping centre catches my eye. Their high vis jackets complementing their soft drink bottle colouring quite nicely.

The shopping centre itself is a little old and tired, it’s an open style market place with fixed and temporary stalls in the main square. But in fairness, the centre has made some effort to spruce the place up as this view suggests. It’s of the overhead walkways that joins the car park to a central lift shaft in the middle of the market area; it’s an interesting ‘upside down’ view from the reflective mirrors on the underside of the walkways.

At the southern end of the High Street is the old Regal Cinema proudly showing off its art deco exterior. It’s now a nightclub and despite a multi-million renovation over 10 years ago, I think sadly its glory days as a cinema are long gone.

Nearby, and returning to the aeronautical theme of earlier, I cross the main road to the land which was once the proud home of RAF Uxbridge and Hillingdon House. It’s now another of London’s  fashionable property developments, this one by St Modwen, and as I walk outside the building site I come to the end of one of the buildings. This one is a three storey building with doors leading nowhere, but what makes the picture more interesting is that the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and casts this majestic tree shadow.

Before leaving town, I walk through Uxbridge’s new Intu shopping centre, where there’s a display showing that the town is the birthplace of the once infamous Christine Keeler. For those of you born after the 1960’s, look her up; and apparently the chair on which she sat on for the renowned photo-shoot in 1963 is now on show in the V&A Museum.

The Grand Union Canal

The canal is less than half a kilometre from the town centre, so what better way to spend part of the day than walking canal side for a mile or so with the sun shining and colourful river boats for company. My starting point is at Uxbridge Lock (Lock No 88)

I follow the path under The Swan and Bottle Bridge (no 185) and over The Bell Punch Footbridge (no 185A) where for part of my walk, I’m accompanied by a swan and and her ten signets. She keeps a wary eye on me as I walk by, but I wonder where the dad is as there’s no sign of him.

The path takes me under The Dolphin Bridge (no 186) and I finally leave the canal at Gas Works Bridge (no 187). By the way, all bridges and locks are numbered across the British Waterways, so next time you’re walking under/over one, look out for the numbered plate. The following is a small collection of the colourful views from beside the river

Out of Uxbridge

Today’s end of the line visit is courtesy of the Piccadilly line, but to be honest it’s a shared line with the Metropolitan line from Rayners Lane where the final seven stops are served by the same track. The Piccadilly line out to Uxbridge started life as the District line but only as far as South Harrow when in 1910 the Uxbridge extension was completed. Its conversion to the Piccadilly line took place in 1933.

Hillingdon – this is the first station out of Uxbridge and its full name is Hillingdon (Swakeleys) as evidenced on its roundel. Why? Well I can only presume it’s a reference to the once Manor of Swakeleys, and now Swakeleys House, which is only a short distance from the station.

Hillingdon is a bit of a pass through location, but its position right on the A40 Western Avenue makes it an ideal spot for commuters. My visit here is somewhat sobering as I’m reminded right outside the station of the frailty of life as I read the messages laid in tribute to one of London’s most recent fatal stabbings. Young Tashan Daniel, on his way to watch Arsenal play, football at The Emirates Stadium, was attacked on the station and fatally wounded. My thoughts go out to his family and those affected by this event.

Mystery Station – my final picture is of Labyrinth maze number 32/270 from Mark Wallinger’s collection which was commissioned by Transport for London (Tfl) to commemorate 150 years of the London Underground. Post a message to let me know where I ended my day’s journey.

Picture of the Day

I’ve toiled over today’s picture of the day, but on reflection it turns out to be quite easy. This is my first picture of the day taken inside the flight of stairs leading to the top of Cedars Car Park from High Street above Tesco. I’m drawn in by the red and green colouring of the stairwell I see from the street so I decide to traverse the stairwell, and my curiosity to see Uxbridge town centre from the rooftop is somewhat piqued.

It’s the type of stair well you’d rather not go into as it smells of urine; although I have to say it was relatively clean. I had no expectation of finding anything of interest but after ascending the first flight of stairs, this image is staring me in the face.

I’m intrigued by the graffitti as its socio/political statement is clearly directed at the Town’s Member of Parliament who is also the current (at the time of writing) Prime Minister. The ‘statement’ raises the question in my mind as to whether the ‘artist’ is dyslexic, or that they have decided out of respect not to spell the swear word in full. But amusingly they are quite content to bedaub a publicly accessible wall in a somewhat hidden position where only a few passers by will see it. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 53mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter effect – Auto

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#65: Watford – 20/08/2019

Today’s story is a relatively short one and is my penultimate trip on the Metropolitan line. This time to its end at Watford, and this story complements my visit to Watford Junction earlier in the year. My focus is on the north and west of Watford as this is where the station is located; about a mile out of the town centre.

The Station

The station is in an odd location, but its history explains why. In essence, in the early 20th Century the railway line enticed Londoners with its ‘Metro-land’ advertising campaign promoting the new railway as an opportunity to live in a rural location with easy transport to central London. And although it wasn’t intended to be the terminal station, wars, financial challenges and local authority objections resulted in no further development of the line.

The station itself is fairly unexciting, with one central walkway servicing two platforms. Only half of the platform is covered providing shelter from the elements, but the supporting ironmongery nicely displays the met line colouring.

Cassiobury Park

On exiting the station after the morning peak, it feels like a calm suburban sun-washed peaceful day. There are few people about, other than mums with their pushchairs headed for the park through one of it’s two main entrances nearby.

This park has recently been voted as one of the top 10 parks in the UK and I can see why as it’s a place offering a delightful mix of entertainment for the passive and active visitor. It’s heritage trail takes me on a tour explaining the history of the now demolished Cassiobury House, and the tree lined avenues of what was once the main carriageway, glimmer with iridescent sunshine through the magnificent green canopy overhead.

As I walk past the ‘Hub’ and play areas, children are clearly enjoying the attractively developed paddling and splash pools. And as I walk on, I suddenly find I’m singing along to the tune of ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’ as a mum with two kids on bicycles ride past. I smile as I can’t get the tune out of my head as I follow the path towards a rustic bridge which crosses the River Gade, with dogs and children paddling in the pools on either side.

Just off the path, some carefully placed logs and rocks span the river which entices many a child to cross. Some achieve their goal of getting to the other side without wet feet more successfully than others, and I laugh with them as their parents cross and fail to achieve this. I wait my turn and cross successfully and I explore the leafy undergrowth on the other side.

There are remnants of river management of days gone by alongside a newer weir which becomes the focal point for the trail. I find though I have to return across the stepping stones as the only way to get back….I do so with both feet dry.

A short hop from the weir, and I’m standing by the Grand Union Canal and chat with a couple on route from Rugby to Harefield in their narrow boat. A journey that has taken them over a week so far to reach the Ironbridge Lock (no. 77) that takes them under Cassiobury Park Bridge (no. 167) where several onlookers enjoy the spectacle. The effort of opening the lock is a well practised event, and I’m amazed at the skill of the pilot steering the narrow boat through the bottom gates as only one is opened – there is no room to squeeze anything else through, but the narrow boat is steered through masterfully.

My picture of the day is taken here too, so read about it below.

Watford Football Club

I feel a visit to Watford wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Football Club, so I retrace my steps through the park, into town and out again along Vicarage Road. It’s not a match day, so the streets are relatively quiet and as I pass the cemetery on my right I see the stadium looming up ahead on the left.

There’s a homage to Graham Taylor on the corner outside the Hornets Shop and the Elton John stand is proudly emblazoned on the left where I take this shot. The image nicely demonstrates the effect of the triple exposure when taking a ‘vivid’ shot with the pedestrian, I suspect an employee returning with his lunch, walking through.

Walking around the stadium, it has a clinical exterior, with the building being encased in matt black cladding, with splashes of colour here and there representing the team’s home colours of gold, black and red: a powerful effect.

Watford General Hospital

Next door is the hospital which is a large sprawling site made up of a variety of early and late 20th Century buildings. As with all hospitals of a similar style, you can tell where the boiler room is, as in this case, you can’t ignore the towering chimneys.

Equally evident is the poor state of some of the buildings, which is somewhat symptomatic of a lack of building investment. This image undermines the great work carried out by the NHS, and it doesn’t help that it’s directly on the main road by the main entrance so casual visitors to the hospital may well perceive a false impression of the hospital’s overall service.

Picture of the Day

After seeing the narrow boat through the lock, I wander around the lock and under the bridge and notice the sunlight shimmering off the canal surface onto the underside of the bridge. The effect is mesmerising, particularly when taken with a vivid art effect. And when adjusted with the Alpaca filter from Google Photos, I believe the picture is enhanced as the colours are well balanced with the rustic lock gates.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO640; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid

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#63: Uxbridge – 07/08/2019

Today’s a creative day shooting predominantly in Black & White once I’d finished  exploring the main station area; I’ll explain why a little later. But first, it’s to the end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at Uxbridge, the journey takes me almost from one end of the Metropolitan line at Liverpool Street to Uxbridge. I had thought maybe travelling to Aldgate (one stop) in the opposite direction to lay claim to a complete end to end journey – but I didn’t.

The Station

The station has three platforms with a two level concrete canopy. The higher level over the middle platform which serves the Metropolitan line, and a lower canopy over the outer platforms serving the Piccadilly line. This maybe because the Metropolitan line trains are taller than the Piccadilly line trains, but I’ve no evidence to substantiate this.

I didn’t know this, but until the mid 1930’s, the station was served by the District line, but the service was taken over by the Piccadilly line which now serves as the main artery from Ealing Broadway.

The concrete canopy extends from the platforms over the booking hall which is overlooked by colourful stained glass representing the area’s association with the counties of Middlesex and Buckinghamshire before the creation of the London Borough of Hillingdon. You can’t see the stained glass from the front, but adorning the entrance from the outside are a pair of winged wheels in an art deco style.

On the north eastern approach to the station, there are large sidings, empty at the time of my visit, presumably for the overnight storage of trains at the end of the day. As an aside, getting to the station was trouble free, but my journey back was blighted by a points failure at Ickenham which affected the Piccadilly trains but thankfully the Metropolitan line had a reduced service allowing me to travel as far as Rayners Lane where I could pick up the limited Piccadilly line service.

Uxbridge

The town centre is largely pedestrianised dominated by the railway and bus station at one end, and Hillingdon Council offices at the other end. The council offices are in the main, a collection of brick monstrosities – functional but soulless, featureless and uninviting.

The town centre is a mix of local independent shops and the obvious high street stores, all overlooked by two shopping centres: the more modern Intu Centre and a classic 60’s style concrete Pavilions centre. Both centres host the standard larger retail stores and both are served by large car parks which are accessed via the ring road surrounding the town centre.

Walking around the town, I find few things of interest, although this cutting from the Intu centre to the High Street provides a colourful interlude. And on the outskirts, I see this wall mural in homage to a local landowner, Kate Fassnidge, who bequeathed the park land now known as Fassnidge Park to the District Council.

I take a walk through the park, and see many doing the same and enjoying the shade under the trees as they eat their lunch. The Fray’s River runs through to the adjoining Rockingham recreation ground serving as a conduit for the local ducks and swans. The birds are clustered around an elderly lady feeding them on the river bank by the bridge at Rockingham Road.

A study in Black & White

By this point, I realise I’ve taken very few pictures and I’m starting to think about how best to represent my visit to Uxbridge. The overarching architectural feature is concrete and brickwork, and as I return to the town, I find I’m at the car park entrance of The Pavilions shopping centre looking up at the footbridge that allows pedestrians to access from the other side of the ring road at Oxford Road.

I have an idea: One of my aims in following this ‘end of the line’ journey is to fall back in love with digital photography, and to this end with my current camera. I decide to set a filter on my camera to ‘Grainy B/W’, and leave it in this setting mode for the rest of the day. And as I do, I find I’m transported back to the early 1970’s, a time  when I used to develop my own pictures using B&W film.

Around the back of the shopping centre, I spot a large wooden clad shed. It turns out to be a local taxi firm, and I’m intrigued by its character which stands out so well with its graininess accentuated in black and white.

Through a little alleyway, I enter Windsor Street where I find a parade of small beauty and health related businesses and this is where I meet Reez, Rosh and Graeme. You see, as I pass Reez the Barbers, I’m drawn to the scene of two barbers meticulously tending a customer’s beard as they trim it. As they are right by the front door I stop to admire the precision with which Reez and Rosh are operating and chat to them and Graeme, their customer who are all kind enough to allow me to take some pictures. 

Around the corner is the Charter Building. Once the headquarters of Coca Cola, it has now been refurbished into a fashionable workspace, a growing concept across the city where businesses can rent flexible workspace as their businesses grow. As I explore inside the building, I notice some similarities with The Whitechapel Building in Aldgate, where I last worked for the Government Digital Service. I chat with Tigi and Tehlia, the building receptionists who give me permission to take some internal photos.

Battle of Britain Bunker

I start following a sign for the Battle of Britain Bunker and a half hour later I arrive at my destination to find out two things: I’d just walked three sides of a square to get here as I had in fact followed the road signs instead of a shortcut footpath. And although the venue was open, it has just closed its admissions for the day. Argh! But not to worry as I’ll visit again on my return to Uxbridge. There’s enough outside interest to explore before heading back to the station through Dowding Park.

Picture of the Day

My picture of the day comes, unsurprisingly, from my collection of B&W photos, and I could quite easily include many of these pictures. The graininess ads a particular edge to the photos which I think works well. Anyway, I’ve selected this one which is inspired whilst I’m standing on the footbridge over the Oxford Road leading to the car park entrance to The Pavilions shopping centre.

The concrete and graffiti stand out and whilst I’m trying to get the right lighting effect, there’s an elderly gent walking down the ramp trying to avoid being in the picture. I respect his anonymity and leave him walk out of sight, but think the photo would be better with someone in it. Consequently I move onto the lower part of the ramp looking up and line up the metal handrail on the right hand side, highlighted by the sun and ‘pointing’ to the graffiti on the end wall. I’m crouched low to emphasise the rising ramp and wait for someone to walk through the shot. This gentleman obliges, without realising, and the fact he’s on his mobile just as he leaves the frame helps to complement the effect.

I like it…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 51mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Eiffel

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#56: Chesham – 25/06/2019

Geographically, I believe this end of the Metropolitan line is the most northerly of all the Tfl termini at grid reference 51°42’18.9″N 0°36’39.9″W. Other contenders are Cheshunt and Epping but Chesham just pips them by a whisker.

The Station

The journey north is a pleasant one and as the train leaves the London boundary, it meanders through Hertfordshire and into Buckinghamshire passing through Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer before reaching the end into what I can best describe as a model station. I’m taken back to a train set of my youth with model buildings glued together from Airfix kits and everything is beautifully manicured and cared for.

The station is very idyllic, proudly displaying its well tendered garden, and the station retains the ambience of the glorious railway days of steam. The signal box now a decorative piece, no longer working the leavers to change the points or signals which are now controlled by modern electronics.

The Town

Chesham is a delightfully quaint market town, and quintessentially English, and Chesham Town Council has done much to promote these qualities. Outside the Town Hall there’s a brief historical display, part of which reads ‘…In 1066 Chesham was worth precisely 70 shillings and was one of the largest parishes in the British Isles. It was one of the first places to record its population’s births, marriages and deaths and in 1257 the Earl of Oxford, as Lord of the Manor, was granted a charter to hold a weekly market and a three day fair in town…’

The main High Street, now pedestrianised, hosts a mix of shops, both national chain and many local independents, and much has been done to add colour to the town centre through many floral displays. 

The High Street also holds some surprises as there are cut-throughs to the ring road, which if you explore, reveal a myriad of small independent retailers and coffee shops. Although there is curiously one entrance I found which no longer has an open door.

The George and Dragon

Half way down the High Street stands this former coaching house where I meet Jay, the co-owner of Brothers BBQ & Grill. Jay is an enthusiastic young chef who explains he has recently taken over the catering at the pub and welcomes me into the second floor of the pub to show off his domain.

The pub is very much an ‘olde worlde’ beamed two storied building with creaky floorboards and paraphernalia of days gone by to create an ‘aged’ feel to the building, And the second floor has a ‘play room’ style with games to entertain all ages. Jay also introduces me to Jim, the landlord, who has just opened up and already serving his morning regulars. Nevertheless he is happy to spend a little time welcoming me into the pub and happy for me to take a series of pictures.

He’s also keen to share the story behind the ‘Trooper’ ale which sits dominantly at the bar and explains it was created by Iron Maiden and handcrafted by the Robinsons brewery in Cheshire. Although there is a slight difference of opinion with the brewery website which says it was ‘inspired by Iron Maiden’. Semantics eh!? Jim explains that one of the band members, Clive Burr the drummer I believe, also drank in the pub before his untimely death.

The surrounding area

A few minutes from the High Street, and I’m wandering around the back streets and enjoying the varied architecture such an historical market town has to offer: from traditional whitewashed cottages in Germain Street to The Bury, a Grade II listed building. This was once the Country house built for William Lowndes (1652-1724) who was Secretary to the Treasury in the reign of Queen Anne. The elaborate building is now a collection of offices and private businesses. 

St Mary’s church sits proudly in its own grounds adjacent to The Bury and there’s an arched door through the estate grounds into the churchyard, no doubt a private route used by William Lowndes and his family. The church sits prominently over the town and adjacent to Lowndes Park, a large open park with pond used by the community for relaxation, reflection and entertainment.

Heading back into town I cut through an underpass which has been transformed by murals ‘inspired by the Chilterns, and created by the young people of the Chilterns’. As I admire the colours of their artwork, I stop and talk with Adel, a local resident, who’s passing through the underpass and we share our mutual admiration of this work. too

Flora & fauna

I’ve touched on the town’s floral displays, but there are also colourful gardens and allotments too. The park’s flowers and wildlife also help to bring the town alive and here’s a selection of some of the colours I’ve enjoyed whilst here – thank you Chesham 

Picture of the Day

It’s been a difficult one this week to decide on my picture of the week, but I’m happy with this choice. This picture was taken by an underpass to the main road by the Library, and follows a sequence taken within the underpass of children’s murals to brighten a depressing cut through. I’ve kept a brief reference to this work in the picture to help put the picture in context. The steps are pretty uninspiring but I was drawn to the symmetry and colour of the yellow handrails and the somewhat leaf strewn stairs. I had a vision however that this could look striking in black and white.

I’d taken a few shots waiting for passers by to leave the area as I wanted a ‘clean shot’, so I had a few in the bag with the settings just right. Then thought it would make a better story by including someone on the steps and as I was about to leave, I saw this person just coming into view and quickly took them walking into frame. I didn’t want a full blown shot as I think it would have focused attention away from the object; that is a surprise waiting around the corner. 

I’ve applied a Google Photos ‘Vista’ filter to create a harsh and grainy black & white effect which I think gives the picture some depth. And curiously though, and this is a secondary feature, if you look closely at the central handrail and the joining ‘T’ metalwork, they look like a parade of faces in their own right, maybe guarding those walking through or the mural itself?!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000

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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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Google Photos – Stratford (Jubilee)

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