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#10: Richmond – 06/06/2018

I’ve been struggling to write about my travels to Richmond: I don’t know why, as the place has many interests, so whether it’s writers block or just tiredness after repeated visits across London I don’t know. So I’ve taken a short break away from my travels to help recharge my mental inspiration batteries. Who knows? But here we go again…please tell me if you think it’s something else…

This time to the south westerly corner of London and the leafy suburbia of Richmond. This will be the first of two visits to Richmond as it’s a terminus for both the District and the Overground lines. I don’t know if Richmond is classed as a town or village, but Wikipedia declares it to be a suburban Town – so there we have it.

Arriving at the station and exploring the immediate surrounds, I notice the station is betwixt Victorian metalwork and art deco architecture. Not unlike many of London’s stations built in the Victoriana hey-dey and added to in the 20’s and 30’s. Whatever your architectural preference, you can’t ignore some of the interesting designs and shapes of the old and new worlds that parade themselves around the station

Out of the station turning right I soon find myself at Richmond Athletic Ground, the home of Richmond Rugby Football Club (RFC) and London Scottish. I try and walk around the ground, but I’m politely asked to leave as the grounds are not open to the public. So I head in the direction of the nearest pub which overlooks the grounds, unsurprisingly named The Triple Crown Richmond, built originally under the name of The Tulip Tree in 1884 as can be seen on the inscription on the upper part of the building

Back to the heart of Richmond and its main shopping street, and you’re drawn to it’s cleanliness and tidiness, quality and upkeep of buildings and almost full occupancy of the main street shops with an overriding balance of independent shops in favour of the expected retail chains. All I believe an indication of Richmond’s prosperity and the community’s pride in its surroundings; the town has many side streets leading you westerly to Richmond Green, easterly towards religious buildings, and southerly to the river

Some notable attractions that caught my attention included a children’s bookshop, The Alligators Mouth; a new coffee shop about to open, Kiss the hippo coffee; Brewers Lane, a pedestrian alley full of bijou and artisan shops; and Richmond Theatre, which was on the day of my visit preparing for a George Michael tribute concert.

A brief mention of some of the religious building I passed. Firstly, St John The Divine which is situated adjacent to the Metropolitan Police and the First Church of Christ Scientist Richmond, a large imposing building overlooking Sheen Road. I also spent some time in and around St Mary Magdalene CofE Church where I was introduced enthusiastically to the intricate renovation works and choristers by Ruth, one of the church helpers and choir member. I’m grateful to Ruth for peaking my interest in the history of both Church and choirs, and being shown the delightful and colourful needle-craft work of the Royal School of Needlework Hampton Court Palace, a recent gift to the church, and the origami dove display. For those interested in the choir and its history, here are some related websites you may wish to explore further: StMarymagdalenechoir.co.uk; Saintmartinsingers.org and Choralevensong.org.

Some of the interesting, or architecturally curious properties that caught my eye included Michels Row, No. 7 Lower Mortlake Road, Spencer House at 23 Sheen Road, and The Gateways in Park Road. And during this time, I stopped and chatted with Richard, a delivery driver who explained he was on a Tacho break; and later in the day I stopped to feed Cooper, a fox red labrador pup who was being walked and trained by his owner. The route also took me past Hogarth House where Leonard and Virginia Wolf lived for nine years and founded the Hogarth Press in 1917. Sadly, an empty office building now.

You can’t ignore some of the attractive pubs whilst walking around, and a brief mention before heading to the river. The Sun Inn tucked out of the way at the northern end of the town; The Railway Tavern outside the station and beautifully adorned with bedding plants, and The Old Ship, on the approach to the river

On the day of visiting, it was a glorious sunny day, giving rise to many an opportunity for locals and visitors to sit on the banks with a drink and/or ice cream enjoying the view of the calm river traffic and of those brave enough to take to a rowing boat. An appropriate place to rest my weary feet and share in the delights…

For more info, look up Richmond on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is a delightful narrow street of bijou style shops: Brewers Lane. A busy lane for the casual browser and attractive for the tourists no doubt intrigued by the array of advertising signs and banners all fighting for their own space and attention.

The decorative lights, strung across the lane will no doubt increase the attractiveness of the lane, but in broad daylight, it casts a net, as a canopy, over the area.

I’d originally planned to crop out the shoppers and browsers to focus on the shop signs, but on reflection decided to keep them in as they give more meaning and sense of purpose to the picture’s composition.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO250; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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#09: Euston – 24/05/2018

Euston isn’t an obvious contender as one of the ends of the line, but for regular Watford commuters, you’ll know one of the Overground branches ends here. So a great opportunity to explore in a little more detail an area I know well having worked opposite Tavistock Square Gardens for many a year; a time that gave me some good and not so good memorable moments: such as getting caught up in the London bombings on the 7th July 2005.

For years I had casually passed many of the historic and iconic buildings and admired the architecture without stopping to look beyond the facade. This day gave me an opportunity to do just that and made me realise why this ‘endoftheline’ journey is so exciting and revealing.

Walking along Euston Road, directly in front of Euston Station, there’s the impressive Wellcome Trust building, the modest 30 Euston Square building, a multi-occupied building which in part houses the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the historic London Fire Brigade Euston Fire Station.

Across the road, there are two imposing religious establishments: firstly Friends House, the central office of Quakers in Britain; and secondly, St Pancras Church, a home for Liberal Anglican Christianity in Central London. Often I’ve walked past and thought how tatty it looks from the outside, but one step inside and you bathe in its religious wonder. Look at this 360° view for a full immersive experience. Oh yes, as I walked across the road, I passed today’s celebrity, Lisa Hammond.

To the rear of the church, you have access to their Crypt Gallery, and across the road is The Place, ‘…a creative powerhouse for dance development that is leading the way in dance training, creation and performance…’. Impressive in itself, but the building it now occupies was once the home of the 20th Middlesex Artists RV.

Transport has to be the theme of this blog, but before focussing on the station itself, there is a new kid on the block to challenge the Boris bike, sorry Santander bike. I personally believe the innovative approach to cycling across London has been a great success, but the Ofo Bike Share is now offering a more flexible approach to bike sharing in that you don’t need to return the bike to a dedicated dock. So if you think you see bikes abandoned across London, look again and it may be an Ofo.

Entering the mainline station, the entrance is hidden behind a rather dull and dreary bus terminal, but from the main road, the road entrance is guarded on either side by two gatehouses, on which are inscribed the terminal destinations, in alphabetical order, from Euston. I am drawn particularly to the one on the left which bares, as the second inscription, the name of my birth and hometown – Aberystwyth. The station front is also guarded by an imposing cenotaph in front of the 60’s architecture.

Once inside the station, you realise how busy the concourse is with several train operators serving destinations along the west coast, Scotland and Wales. A walk along the TFL Overground platform was in order so that I could truthfully declare I had been to the end of the line.

Out of the station and running along it’s eastbound edge is Eversholt Street, where there are signs of a more seedier side of London, and walking slightly further east, you delve into Somers Town.

…and now nearing journey’s end, but not before heading up to Camden Lock and its surrounding Market and cacophony of market stalls, colourful shops and eclectic tastes. Camden deserves a blog of it’s own, but alas not here, but well worthy of a return visit to spend the day there.

For more info, look up Euston on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This stained glass window is taken inside St Pancras Church and commemorates the life, loves and deaths of the 19th Century architect William Milford Teulon’s family.

This was a poignant moment during my day around Euston station and a moment of admiration too, of the open and free nature of the church: it’s doors open to all comers at all times. I was alone at the time of my visit and able to enjoy the church’s array of stained glass windows. Why this one? 

With the sun shining through, the colour’s magnificence transforms an otherwise dull spot in the church into one of thoughtfulness, hope and salvation to those looking for it. It was a moment not to pass and on reflection, it has provided an opportunity to learn a little about the architect himself.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ3.5; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 20mm; Film Speed – ISO160; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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#01: Gospel Oak – 18/04/2018

…and so the journey begins. I’m selecting where to go randomly but at the same time I’ll try not to visit the same general area in sequence; we’ll see how I get on.

Onto Gospel Oak then, which is one end point of the Overground line with Barking cutting a swathe through north east London and serving its urban communities. I happen to pick the hottest day of the year so far, which meant I wasn’t quite dressed appropriately and saw me walking at a more sedate pace. But despite that, it enabled me to look at my surroundings in detail.

Out of the station heading westerly towards Hampstead Heath, but not before stopping at the Parish Church of All Hallows where I survey the outside and wander inside. I’m not a naturally religious person, having been brought up as a Welsh Independent in my formative years, but there’s something intriguing and unique about all religious buildings. You just have to admire the work effort into the building, architecture, carpentry and how they have tried to balance the natural iconic features with the onset of modernisation.

I bumped into, who I believed to be, the vicar (Father David), but he seemed too busy in wanting to stop and chat as he was preparing to start a clean up of the church in the coming days: a larger than life soul. Onward then to the Heath and I made a b-line for Parliament Hill to take in the iconic panoramic view across London of The City and Canary Wharf – the old and new financial centres. Whilst there, I had a chance to play with the camera settings, so loads of pics taken but most discarded, though a few survived.

Decided to head up to the northerly parts of the Heath along the westerly border until I reached the grounds of Kenwood House enjoying the burst of bluebells and one of Henry Moore’s sculptures. A quick browse outside the House as that’s a visit for another day, and then head back to Gospel Oak along the easterly side skirting the various ponds/pools and the more populated parts.

My efforts to chat to folk came to nothing for most of the day as the Heath is populated either by lone joggers plugged into headphones, insular dog walkers or tourists. However I did stop to ask a couple of ladies why they were placing camera traps at the base of trees. They explained they are part of a local community Group Heath Hands supporting the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in surveying the hedgehog population on the Heath; the survey would run for a month but they seemed unsure whether, and if so, how the information/results would be shared. If interested, follow them on Twitter @WildHeathBike.

Back to Gospel Oak to rest the legs and reflect on the first day of many to come with some satisfaction with testing the camera, and exploring a part of London I’ve not been to before and thoughts on the next journey.

Feel free to comment on this blog, its content, or any suggestions on how to improve it. Equally, if you have any suggestions on where you’d like me to go next, please drop me a message.
For more info, look up Gospel Oak on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is an exciting day in many ways; not least because I’m returning to a long forgotten passion of photography and I’m armed with a brand new camera. But it comes with a lot of trepidation as I have to re-learn how to blend all the components that make up picture taking. To be honest, my first set of pictures are not that unique, BUT I have made a start.

The walk over Hampstead Heath on what turns out to be a scorcher of a day makes the light very harsh, and I’m pleased with how the auto settings are taking care of the basics for me. But as I approach Kenwood House, the grounds are littered with a carpet of daffodils and bluebells just emerging and spreading their petals to fill the landscape with a mass of colour. The bluebells are just not ready to play their part but they are sufficiently in abundance to show their intent.

This, my very first picture of the day allows me to get close to nature. I’m lying on the ground, oblivious to others walking past, and I capture this isolated bluebell trying to make its way amid the carpet of blue behind it. I haven’t quite mastered the autofocus, but nevertheless this will always remind me of my very first outing: a new found freedom; and the excitement of rekindling my long forgotten love of taking pictures.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto