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dlr jubilee overground

#34: Stratford (DLR) – 28/12/2018

This is the second of four visits to Stratford, although the first was to Stratford International so a little bit of ‘fake news’ but I’m mentioning it as I partly covered the Olympic Park and the shopping centre during my earlier visit.

The Jubilee, Overground and DLR lines all terminate at Stratford and today’s visit is in homage to the DLR station. Given that I’ve other visits to make, I’ve decided to explore the Stratford area by compass points so you won’t get the whole view of the area until I’ve completed all visits; I went to the West and South West of Stratford today. The Jubilee line visit will focus on the South, and the Overground visit on the East. I hope that makes sense?

The station and the immediate surrounds

As a commuter of nearly 30 years into London, passing through Stratford was a twice daily occurrence and changes, albeit subtle, would suddenly spring to life as I became conscious of them. However there was no greater change than the awarding, in 2005, of the London Olympics in 2012. This had a monumental impact on the station and the town, and through the regeneration of wasteland running through the Lee Valley by the creation of a new shopping complex which opened ahead of the Olympic Park.

The station grew to accommodate new and more frequent trains, a new bus station and of course the creation of Stratford City (Westfield) shopping centre. I am no shopaholic and the occasional jaunt into the centre fills me with acute antipathy as the experience of visiting offers nothing other than a genetically modified version of every other shopping centre and major high street where the multinationals have taken over. Sadly there’s no room for the independent shops any more. It seems though I’m in the minority as thousands still flock there…

Getting here today has not been straightforward. As is often the case over holiday periods, National Rail undertake engineering works when the demand for services is less, and 2018 is no different resulting in my taking three different services to travel what is normally a 22 minute journey. Today it is: train from Gidea Park to Romford; Bus replacement from Romford to Newbury Park; and Central Line from Newbury Park to Stratford. In recent years this has become an oft travelled route so I knew what to expect.

The Olympic legacy

The Olympic Park is well worth visiting as it is place to enjoy the relative peace of a country park with focal points in all corners. The cleaned up River Lee with returning wildlife, the Olympic Stadium now rented to West Ham Football Club and the recently built Bobby Moore Academy are the immediate companions to the west of the shopping centre.

I stop to look further afield and spot an old work reminder to the north silhouetted against the darkening skyline. Here East is a modern and attractive office and retail complex that once housed the Media Centre during the Olympics. For me, it was a prospective location where the organisation I worked for was being encouraged to move and it was my responsibility to set out the business case for a counter proposal. We successfully moved to Aldgate in the end, but I still smile whenever I see the Here East sign.

Wintry Skylines

The skyline as I pass through the park is striking, and only one week on after the Winter Solstice the sun is still low and the sky a deep azure blue set off against the striking and at times threatening cloud formations. I feel compelled to try my hand at aerial photography of a different kind, and I’m pleased with the outcome

Pudding Mill Lane

Skirting the Olympic Stadium, I come across the View Tube, originally built as a viewing area for visitors to wonder at the building works during the park’s construction, but now a ‘community venue with a difference’ hosting a cafe, garden, a studio and a place for bikes and boasts it is open 7 days a week. Alas not when I visited though…

Under the railway bridge (and see my ‘Best Picture’ later), I come to Pudding Mill station. This is the first stop on the DLR out of Stratford heading to Canary Wharf and it’s been a stop I’ve strangely wanted to visit for no reason other than for its name. In recent years, the station has been relocated slightly to the south of its original position as preparatory engineering works for the forthcoming Elizabeth Line tunnel had to be accommodated as it starts it’s underground journey westwards from here.

Whilst roaming the high rise platform and looking west, I muse at the efforts in the distance of many high vis dressed work people congregated on the railway lines…so this is what ‘engineering works’ really looks like?! I pose for you, dear reader, a question purely for your entertainment – can you work out how many people there are working? Why not drop a reply to this blog if you think you know…

Industrial Wasteland

The area south of Pudding Mill Lane is an industrial wasteland still, with some cleared ground serving as a car park for those driving to watch West Ham play – a stone’s throw to the stadium.

Some partly demolished buildings overlooked by high rise accommodation and a surprising parade of houses at City Mill Lock at the confluence of Bow Back, City Mill and Waterworks Rivers. The adjacent houses curiously seem out of character with their surrounds, and the weed filled canal; and the towpath heading back towards Stratford is abandoned and blocked off by fencing.

The Greenway

From City Mill Lock I cross the main A118 High Street and discover Abbey Lane Open Space and the Greenway route, a combined footpath and cycleway and I nearly fall foul of those wishing to pass at speed as they give little notice of their presence. ‘Darn cyclists…!’

In the distance towards West Ham I spot a towered building and resolve to explore but as the day is waning, I decide this will be a journey point on another day when I explore the southern reaches of Stratford.

High Street

Returning to the High Street, and now almost at journey’s end, there’s a stark reminder of what housing regeneration looks like as I pass a cacophony of high rise living accommodation interspersed with traditional buildings. Architecturally attractive on their own, but when viewed so close together it seems to me to be a bit of an eyesore.

Stratford is, however, proud of its rail history as shown off by an intricate ‘railway tree’ sculpture close to the station, as indeed the town is also keen to ensure people know where to go. For me though it’s time to return home by tube, by bus and by rail…

Picture of the Day

Just south of the Bobby Moore Academy, the road meanders under The Greenway, one of the original East London sewers still used, and from the 1990’s covered over to create a footpath to encourage walkers and wildlife. I’ve taken this picture through the wide footpath that’s adjacent to the road that goes under The Greenway

It’s a moody shot and despite the footpath’s location, it’s surprisingly clean, albeit having a dank and dismal feel. But I suspect it’s relatively well maintained as it acts as a cut through from Pudding Mill DLR station and the London Stadium, the home of West Ham United Football Club.

I’ve tried to portray the old arch brickwork, dimly lit by the neon lighting and in the foreground, a shard of light streaming through a gap between the arches and a new concrete bridge. An atmospheric shot I think and somewhat symbolic of the area represented in its immediate surroundings.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 29mm; Film Speed – ISO500; Google Photo Filter – Vista

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

For more info, lookup Stratford Station on Wikipedia

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overground

#25: Cheshunt – 18/10/2018

My 25th trip since starting this jaunt and one of the many things I’ve learnt since starting is not to be dismayed when there’s nothing obviously interesting as there’s always a hidden gem…and Cheshunt was no different.

Not an obvious end of the line station but Cheshunt is the end of the shuttle service from Liverpool Street, a line taken over by Tfl in 2015 and it shares its platforms with National Rail services from London to Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It’s the first I’ve encountered with a level crossing for road users too.

The station also had a part to play during the 2012 Olympics acting as one of the alighting points for the nearby White Water Centre where the canoeing, kayaking and other similar water bound sports took place.

Town or Village?

Heading east from the station towards Cheshunt I spot three pubs within the first few steps: The Windmill, The Maltsters and The Red Cow where I chat with Majella, the landlady who’s preparing for a forthcoming wake. She explains Cheshunt’s fortune has been affected by the relocation of Tesco’s HQ to Welwyn Garden City, the closure of shops and the movement of Eastern European migrants into the area. All of this has also caught the attention of Channel 4 which has expressed an interest in filming the impact of all this across the area.

As I  walk from the station to the heart of the town, almost a kilometre, I pass a very tidy residential area and reflect on how the residents clearly care for their community as gardens and houses look immaculate, and the streets appear spotless. I also ponder on what’s the difference between a town and a village as I would say Cheshunt falls in-between, and I explore various definitions, all of which predominantly offer population density as the main defining criteria. There are other reasons too and here’s an example.

The town centre rests on a cross roads and it’s refreshing to see mostly independent shops, though social and economic decline is evident by the sight of closed shops. The fountain in the centre of the main roundabout sadly not working seemed to symbolise this decline and I felt the town has little to offer by way of incentivising people to visit.

The entrance to the town park in Turners Hill, which is adjacent to the library, offers a glimmer of history explaining its origins, and paths from the entrance lead you to the Laura Trott Leisure Centre which has been named in honour of the girl who was brought up in the town. Now known by her married name of course – Laura Kenny, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic female competitor in any sport.

River Lee Navigation

Returning towards the station, I had earlier noticed a footpath sign to the River Lee Navigation way and onwards to the White Water Centre, so I made this my destination. On reaching the water, the straight walk of 1.5 kilometres took me along a peaceful waterway adorned with ‘lived in barges’ and canal boats.

Cyclists and walkers alike enjoy the towpath and I stop along the way to enjoy and capture the serene and scenic views. Most of those who I encounter are friendly and pleasant, and even the river workers, ferrying gas and coal upstream, wave and gave me a steam show to help with the pictures I’m taking.

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White Water Centre

Arriving at the White Water Centre, I didn’t know what to expect but I found the venue open to the public and it’s where I spent some time walking around and capturing the excitement of thrill seekers, and specialists practising their skills.

The Centre was purpose built for the 2012 Olympics and since then it has been open to the public providing two water courses for the novice, the expert and the thrill seekers enjoying team bonding sessions in an eight person raft. Access to all areas allowed me to test my long range close up skills against a constantly moving fore and background and of the 100+ shots I took, I have selected the following, for various reasons, as my favourite ones, and compiled a short video. I hope you enjoy them?

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Royal Gunpowder Mills

Returning to the Navigation towpath, I continue in a southerly direction towards Waltham Abbey/Cross and spot signs for the Royal Gunpowder Mills. No guesses what was there, but a brief historical search reveals this was one of the key locations where gunpowder was  manufactured soon after its invention in the 17th Century. Walking there to take a peek was a disappointment as I learnt it was only open by appointment, however a curious roadside plaque caught my attention. A plaque that marked the location of the Sandhurst Hospital, a purpose built hospital to serve those injured in the mills receiving swift treatment before being moved to nearby hospitals for onward care.

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I end my 9 kilometre journey at Waltham Cross station to take this somewhat weary, yet enthused traveller home. Thank you Herfordshire for your hospitality and I believe a return visit along the Lee River Navigation will be worthwhile.

Picture of the Day

This is one of many shots I took at the White Water Centre which gave me the opportunity to test out action sequences. There were several rafts of eight person pleasure seekers or team bonding exercise groups on the course being led by two professional guides. So as each raft navigated the course several times, there was ample opportunity to explore the course and sit and wait for the right moment.

This, I believe, is one of those moments where I’m capturing the effort and intensity of trying to control the raft. Its position in the water gives a feeling of vulnerability as its bow emerges from the rest of the raft which appears submerged. It isn’t submerged, but the appearance is created by the fact the raft was just recovering from a dip in the water as the raft plummeted down a slope.

The relatively fast shutter speed also captures the water amid splash and the water droplet effect adds to the drama.

I remember in my early youth taking sporting pictures and recall that picking the right spot and being patient are two key attributes to getting a good shot. And as I applied these today, I’m rewarded with this outcome which portrays a number of sentiments., 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 190mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Auto

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story
For more info, look up Cheshunt on Wikipedia

My Route

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