#50: Clapham Junction (revisited) – 30/04/2019

Wow! Just over a year on since I started this blog when I took my first nervous step from Gospel Oak in April 2018; and now I’ve completed my 50th journey. An average of one a week that has grown from a simple idea, to one that now has multiple channels to help spread the word.

The station

I first visited Clapham Junction nearly a year ago, so today was a return to complete my visit of the twin Overground line termini. Strange as it is, both termini are on the same platform, though separated by buffers and different parts of the platform named Platform 1 and Platform 2.

Clapham is a busy station with 17 platforms and over a 1,000 trains stopping daily for passengers to change trains to other destinations from Addlestone to Yeovil Junction…and slightly offset in the middle of the platforms are multiple sidings and train sheds where services either start from or end up after all passengers have alighted.

As I head out of the station through the Brighton Yard entrance to make my way to the river, I meet Jermaine and his travelling companion – Sif, a Bearded Dragon.

It is Sif’s picture that makes it as my ‘Picture of the Day’ below, and we chat a little as I enjoy the sight of Sif basking in the sun. The focus of our discussion is the impact of today’s teaching demands on teachers and on their wellbeing; teachers who care passionately about children’s development but are blighted by unrealistic educational targets and dwindling resources. We agree that good support mechanisms can be invaluable but regrettably it’s not universally available.

The Thames Path

My journey today is a relatively short one following the Thames Path from where I’d previously visited in Cotton Row, and I head west as far as Putney, with a flirtatious diversion through fashionable Wandsworth.

Now I’ve referenced The Thames Path many a time before, but this time I’m including a personal reference. My sister in law and her sister, who call themselves ‘Two Welsh Walkers’ are soon to walk the full length of 185 miles from the source of the Thames at Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in aid of Asthma UK. They are lovers of walking and last year completed the 60 mile route of the Caledonian Canal, so I send my best wishes to them on this year’s epic. If you’d like to support their cause, please visit their Just Giving page.

Riverside Views

I can’t begin to imagine how the riverside may have looked a 100 years ago except through historical photographs. Even in my lifetime, 50 years ago it will have looked different to today as almost every stretch of the embankment, as far as the eye can see, has been transformed into a luxury high rise dwelling with magnificent views; and for the hardy marine folk, houseboats adorn part of the embankment too.

Let’s not forget the Thames is still a working river, and I’ve tried to capture the artistry and architecture of some, where today’s light industry meets the shoreline.

Cement works, Pier Terrace
Western Riverside Waste Authority Recycling Facility, Smuggelrs Way

Old Wandsworth

Admittedly I only flirt with old Wandsworth as I detour from the river, but what I see along York Road is a very bijou and fashionable street full of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. One in particular captures my immediate attention; that of a static coffee stall immediately outside the station – CWTCH.

Now those of you who know the Welsh language will recognise this word with affection, and their website nicely defines its meaning as ‘a small Welsh hug’. Not a literal translation, as I don’t think there is one, but it does represents the intent behind the word, although not necessarily the emotion. (There are other meanings too such as cubbyhole or cupboard).

I spend a little time talking with those working there who beam broadly when I ask them if they know what it means, and they explain a little about the stall’s brief history and naming. Ah! Such a welcome sight that makes me smile as I continue with my journey.

I hadn’t realised that Wandsworth gets its name from the river Wandle, and the eagle eye’d of you will know that I’ve encountered the Wandle before during my visit to Morden. The river now reaches its journey’s end as it discharges into the Thames nearby at Bell Lane Creek where a little oasis of peace has been recreated on a small peninsula known as The Spit.

Nearby is one of London’s many Victorian backstreet pubs, and this one with its unusual name captures my interest – The Cat’s Back. The pub has a history of several name changes (formally Brush; Forester’s Arms; Ye Olde House at Home), but in the 1990’s it was renamed after a lost cat returned.

The local community is blessed with much greenery and I notice as I walk through Bramford Gardens, a thriving community garden which has taken over a quiet corner of this unassuming space. And on a much grander scale is the open space and tree lined avenues of Wandsworth Park with its riverside walk, and if you look closely as you walk through, there are several sculptures dotted around to help pique your interest. On today’s sunlit afternoon, and the trees almost in full leaf, the view is an enticing one which has drawn many people and children out to enjoy this space.

Bramford Community Garden
Wandsworth Park

I end my journey arriving at Putney Bridge, but not before a quick scamper onto the Fulham Railway Bridge that has a footpath running along side it. I also stop at 13 Deodar Road where I spot an unusual building plaque. This one for the Grand Priory of England of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. A small unassuming building tucked away, but one that made me read about the Order and its history. I invite you to do the same.

Fulham railway bridge looking from the south shore

Picture of the Day

Ah, the bearded dragon named Sif. Surprised to see him sitting on a book (The end of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas) with his keeper, both of whom were enjoying the sunshine. I had to ask if he was real and in doing so, got into conversation with Jermaine. This is one of a short snatch of pictures which I took making sure I wasn’t shooting straight into the sun. The soft tones of the book he’s sitting on blended nicely with the brick wall behind, and with each shot I got closer but making sure the eyes were the focal point. Sif was a good subject, and seemed unperturbed by my intrusion, but just like taking pictures of children, I believe the secret is to shoot quickly and keep a close crop so that the subject fills the screen.

Sif, a bearded dragon

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 37mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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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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