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Circle Hammersmith & City TfL Underground

#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

This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room within Fulham Palace. I’ve selected this one more for it’s quizzical nature as on face value there are ‘stories within stories’ here. Such as:

It’s a simple picture which I’ve closely cropped so that the books themselves are the story in this picture.

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/50; Focal Length – 48mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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Emirates Air Line TfL Other Services

#29: Emirates Greenwich Peninsula – 12/11/2018

Built in 2012 in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, this is a sponsored Cable Car ride funded by the Emirates airline, and operated by Tfl. It’s a mile long cable car crossing of the Thames running between Royal Docks on the north shore and Greenwich Peninsula on the south shore.

I didn’t journey on the cable car, as that’s for another day, but I did explore the surrounds by the O2 arena, and along the Thames Path as far as the Thames Barrier. As the daylight hours are now shortening, I also practised some night time photography, so I hope you enjoy the overall outcome from this day?

O2

The nearest point to the Peninsula terminus is North Greenwich on the Jubilee line; convenient for me as it’s just a short hop from Stratford. So I thought I’d have a look around the iconic O2 arena and do what every tourist and visitor does: take some pictures.

Did you know that the O2 and the land around it is private and the taking of pictures with a camera lens bigger than 35mm isn’t allowed without permission? No, neither did I until I was stopped by a local security officer who challenged me, politely, and asked what I was doing. I explained and showed the pictures I had taken and after a brief consultation with the security control I was allowed on my way and to continue with my quest. But not before I had checked the O2 website and explained to the security officer there was no mention of these arrangements and no direction as to who to seek prior approval from. I don’t mind complying, but it needs to be clearly set out how this can be achieved.

I suspect security were being extra vigilant as the ATP World Tour finals were being held at the O2. It may also have had something to do with the fact that near to where I was standing, some private filming was taking place. I spoke with one of the production staff who explained they too had been challenged and they too weren’t aware of the need for prior permission. They were filming for Dunlop Sports who it seems may be sponsoring the ATP World finals next year – you read it here first.

Cable Cars

The land immediately between the O2 and the Peninsula terminal is a construction site awash with new residential and office complexes, but the striking wintery blue sky gave an excellent photo-opportunity backdrop creating shots I had envisaged are synonymous with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Visitors for the gondola (cable car) ride were sparse when I arrived, but nevertheless, the gondolas continue to operate with robotic regularity regardless of passengers, and I hadn’t realised that depending on demand, the speed of the ride varies. Travelling at off-peak, the journey normally takes 10 minutes with spectacular views across the Thames, however at peak times, this reduces to 5 minutes.

Architectural Design

If you’re a Londoner, you can’t have escaped noticing how the Thames shore line has, and continues to change. Both on and off shore industries laying claim to wastelands over the decades as market globalisation took its toll affecting the social and economic environments.

But with great vision, and significant investment, the last generation or two have seen rapid re-generation in previously deprived areas, although the cost of the much sought after riverside apartments far exceed the ‘average Londoner’s’ capability. More recently, Local Authorities have adopted a better socially demographic approach to fashionable development in their boroughs ensuring a good mix of residential dwellings.

Whatever the constructional motive, developers have clearly embraced an appreciation of design and the wider visual statement their buildings make, and this was on full show along this part of the Thames Path walk.

Greenwich Yacht Club

A striking club with a club house standing in splendid isolation on stilts with the tide out. Notices around the club warn of deep mud and to avoid stepping off the path, so I take note but notice an intriguing collection of debris piled up. Could this simply be an attempt at cleaning up the shoreline, or is it in fact art? You decide.

I venture onto the private slipway to capture a better view of the surrounding views. Rather breathtaking I think.

The River

As well as being used for recreation, the Thames is also a working river, and as I stop to look around, it’s surprising how many working vessels there are constantly on the move; be it pleasure clippers, ferries or tugs pulling barges.

The view along the length of the Thames shows immense contrast between old heritage and new build, and to be honest neither looks out of place. I think that’s one of the many dynamics of the river that makes it so interesting. Walking east, I pass by/through a couple of aggregate operations: Cemex and Day. You can’t miss them or avoid them, and they’re not really somewhere to stop and look at, but they’re a stark reminder of the working river.

A little further I come to the Anchor & Hope pub, a seemingly traditional working pub now catering for both the local working clientele and the passing tourist encouraged to walk this route. It appears I’ve now moved from Greenwich into Charlton, another borough I’ve not been to until now. Before moving on, I try to capture the essence of the pub, painted all in black except for a golden dome on one corner. Striking and attractive in a peculiar way.

The Thames Barrier

I hadn’t planned to walk here, but the further I travelled the path I thought ‘oh well, it’s only another mile and a half: why not?’ I’m glad I did as it’s one of those landmarks I’ve never got close to in all my 30 years living in London. The pictures, like the O2, are iconic, and it was good to get close and try different compositions and filters. There are nine piers making up the barrier, and have you ever wondered how boats know which gap to go through as they navigate up and downstream? Well, the piers operate a traffic light system with a red cross and a green arrow indicating where to go through – simple really…

There’s a timely reminder that London City Airport is just across the river as planes take off during the afternoon, and I try to capture one doing so set between two piers.

Whilst here, I meet John and Catherine, a couple from Cambridge who were spending time walking the full length of the Thames. Today was the end of their third route; they explained they’re not doing the route in geographical order, but nevertheless intend on making sure they do complete it over a period of time. I wish them well as they head off, and as I walk through the tunnel that goes under the barrier, I see a wall etching outlining the full extent of the river.

Just a little further, I see a sign for a restaurant; I was gasping by now, but alas, it’s closed for winter. But I see another reminder that I’ve stepped into Charlton through an amusing yet informative map of local landmarks.

Heading around the front of the barrier buildings I see a small memorial garden and sculpture to commemorate those who died during the construction of the barrier – poignant and a harsh reality that building mega-structures remains hazardous.

Night Time

It’s time to head back through Charlton; well the retail park area which is typically similar to every other country wide retail park. I don’t stop, but press on and by the time I get back to the Peninsula terminal it’s starting to get dark, so I decide to wait until it does and see how well my camera and I can capture the night view.

Let me know what you think…?

Picture of the Day

If you have visited the Greenwich Peninsula, you’ll be familiar with an unusual steel sculpture created by Antony Gormley celebrating the millennium entitled Quantum Cloud. If you haven’t, then this alone is worth a look even only for it’s provocativeness in asking ‘what’s it all about?’ Nevertheless, an interesting curiosity near the Greenwich Pier offering a bespoke backdrop to the gondolas crossing the river.

A bright clear sky helps to create an almost silhouette effect; and I’ve tried framing the sculpture with several gondolas from the overhead cable car which pass by at regular intervals. This shot captures two just passing each other in the top right hand corner, and are complemented by another two almost hidden in the shot.

The puff of cloud in the bottom left corner also helps to balance the picture against the gondolas in the opposite corner and helps with the silhouette effect too.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 155mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – None

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For more info, lookup Emirates Greenwich Peninsula on Wikipedia

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Overground TfL Other Services

#19: New Cross – 14/08/2018

The Vicinity

I’d always had a biased impression of what to expect in New Cross, based only on media coverage over the years. I guess that’s how an unconscious bias is developed, so although I had some unease, I prepared myself for the unknown, and I’m glad I did.

…and wow! What a day and what a walk. I decided to map my journey using Google Maps and realised I’d walked over eight kilometres in an area I had no expectation of being so interesting and enjoyable…taking in New Cross, New Cross Gate, Deptford and Greenwich

New Cross is one of several ‘end of the lines’ on the Overground emanating from Highbury & Islington. The station is also served by Southeastern mainline services passing through from Charring Cross and/or London Bridge en route to the heart of Kent and the coast.

Goldsmiths

Whilst getting my bearings, I notice that all the lamp posts in the immediate vicinity and main roads are adorned with banners advertising Goldsmiths University of London so I head off to explore. En route I stumble across an elegant Edwardian style town-house named ‘Bryn Towy’.  The Welsh in me makes me want to find out more about this property but alas the best I can do is garner that it’s now student accommodation and part of Surrey House student accommodation.

Down Lewisham Way and into the main university grounds I wander around the campus and even though we’re in the height of the summer, the thirst for knowledge clearly doesn’t stop as I see groups of students everywhere discussing earnestly the intricacies of their earlier tutorials. The campus is a blend of old and new and unusual buildings sprawling into the neighbourhood with whole streets being used for various faculties.

Before I know it, I’ve made it to New Cross Gate station so time to head back to New Cross along the main road to Deptford High Street. A long drag in the heat of the midday sun, but in doing so I pass an international array of food outlets (restaurants, take-aways and shops) catering for the international student community. I also pass the Amersham Arms and ReynA a Turkish Restaurant, and Deptford Town Hall, which played a part during World War 1, so look it up.

Deptford

Had this been a market day, I’ve every expectation the High Street would have been a colourful and vibrant place full of street traders, shoppers and those just generally milling around. Nevertheless, even though the High Street was devoid of market stalls, there was still plenty of colour on display through the array of wall art, and residents. Whilst taking a few pictures of a wall end adorned with a necktie and a string of pearls, I was approached by a couple of lads from a larger group who were keen to have their picture taken. Whilst Tyrice and his friend were full of bravado, the conversation quickly flowed revealing their funnier side and I was keen to capture this; I think I did? – nice to meet you guys!

Just around the corner, by Deptford station is the redeveloped Deptford Market Yard  and Carriage Ramp which lays claim to being the oldest railway structure in London. Watch out for the Bank Holiday weekend where this years Craft Beer Fest is being held.

Churches

A mention to a couple of churches as I continue through Deptford headed towards the south shore at Deptford Creek. Firstly to St Paul in the High Street and secondly to St Nicholas by Deptford Green. Both blessed with quiet space for contemplation for those looking for peace or a moment to themselves.

Where old maritime meets new marine

As with many parts of London’s Thames shoreline, multi-million £ developments have erupted along the Thames Path spawning high rise apartments and leisure outlets. I was however surprised with what I found at the mouth of Deptford Creek where it spills into the Thames. The development at Thames Street has engaged with the local community and local school children who have painted scenes of their interpretation of life on the Thames displayed on hoardings. Whilst on a grander scale, Russia has gifted a bronze statue of Peter the Great to the area in recognition of the time he spent in his formative years learning the art of ship building in Deptford.

Walking across the creek and a stone’s throw from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, you’re reminded of another great ocean adventurer – the Gypsy Moth pub: named after Sir Francis Chichester’s yacht in which he sailed single handed around the world in an attempt to beat the times set by the clippers of the 19th century.

Greenwich Market

When in Greenwich it would be wrong not to stroll through the covered market, and although I’ve been here several times in recent months, as with any market, it changes before your eyes so it’s always worth a visit.

…and today was no different stopping to photograph some of the colorful displays of socks, dresses and scarves before tasting some scrumptious vegan fudge served up by Raef at The Fudge Patch, a newly opened shop in the market and one well worth stopping by to buy some traditionally home made fudge. The owners John and Patch were a little reticent in the photo opportunity so Raef took the limelight – good to meet you Raef…

Arriving at the North shore

For those unfamiliar with parts of London you may not know that there’s a foot tunnel under the Thames joining Greenwich on the south shore with Island Gardens on the north shore. A feat of Victorian engineering modernised with new lifts in the 21st Century. So my day’s journey ended looking back across the Thames from whence I had travelled during the day.

By the way, and this is new to me, there’s also a foot tunnel joining north and south Woolwich too, so expect to read about that when I visit Woolwich Arsenal in due course.

For more info, look up New Cross on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

Just outside the station, I’m reminded of my childhood days when I see what I consider to be an iconic vision of an NHS pharmacy. Maybe it’s a reminder of a pharmacy I used to see in my parental hometown, I can’t remember, but nevertheless the image is worthy of capturing as it happens to be the NHS’ 70th anniversary year.

I waited for someone to walk past, to contextualise the scene, and to offer a reference point in that the pharmacy is used by and for people. The picture, otherwise, would have looked a little isolated. 

And as I update this blog in April 2020, it’s a poignant reminder of life’s frailty as we isolate ourselves during the current world Coronavirus pandemic 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Reel

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Overground TfL Other Services

#12: Clapham Junction – 20/06/2018

Clapham Junction promotes itself as ‘the busiest railway station in Britain’ and for the purpose of this blog, I have travelled here as it becomes the end of the line for two routes. Firstly the Overground from Highbury and Islington travelling in a south westerly route around London; and secondly, again the Overground, from Stratford travelling westerly. Both routes forming a virtual rail circle around London…so this will be the first of two visits.

The area immediately around the station is Battersea, Wandsworth and an area on the south shore of the Thames known as Cotton Row. This blog will focus on the Battersea and Cotton Row areas.

As I disembark onto one of the 17 platforms, I’m reminded it’s Royal Ascot week as the platforms are busy with top hatted gentlemen and fashionable be-hatted ladies on their way to the races making sure they comply with the Royal Ascot dress code. Before I leave the station, I explore the platform surrounds and inter-platform walkway, and you can only be impressed by its length, but less so by its relatively lack of services for passengers caught between train connections. One caught my attention though: Digby’s Patisserie.

It’s clear Clapham Junction is a commuter hub, well served by bus services and the station caters well for today’s velocipede riders.

Battersea is a sprawling area with its main shops concentrated around two main roads: Lavender Hill running into St John’s Hill, and at its crossroads, St John’s Road leading to Falcon Road and running into Battersea High Street. Shops reflect an independent mix of cafes and bars and I stopped for a quick chat with the owner of the Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, a newly opened American diner, who’s owner said business has been good. There’s also the impressive Grand Musical Hall, with one traditional high street store hanging on to the glories of the past by proudly displaying its former name: Arding and Hobbs

At either end of the main street, there’s the impressively 1920’s brick built library to the east, and an equally impressive crowd funded craft beer outlet – We Brought Beer to the west. If you look across the road, you’ll also see an interesting and yet declining piece of faded artwork above the Story Coffee shop reflecting the building’s history: Peterkins Custard. If you follow its history, you’ll unearth links with the movie industry as the mill where the custard was made was run and owned by James Arthur Rank.

A meander around the streets and back streets brought me to the edge of Wandsworth Common; a surprising find from a street sign in Beauchamp Road leading me to the Welsh Chapel; and a humorous connection with Harry Potter in spotting Severus Road.

I decide to stretch my legs and in search of the Thames,  I head for the Thames Path on the south shore between Wandsworth Bridge and Battersea Railway Bridge to an area known as Cotton Row. Its name suggests an area steeped in history with features such as Plantation Wharf, Clove Hitch Quay, Oyster Pier and Candlemakers, but alas I can’t find any details. However, as with large swathes of today’s riversides, you now see regeneration and redevelopment through the building of fashionable apartments, modern offices and walkways, and of course Old Father Thames himself, with its ever changing scenery. Oh yes, you’ll also find the London Heliport here too.

Heading back to Clapham Junction, I skirt around Winstanley Estates, an area of social housing which has evidence of crime through abandoned motor vehicles, and security grilled corner shops. However I am sure, as with most areas, it’s the people and communities that define the area and not the acts of the minorities. A poignant note to end my journey as I return to the station where there’s a derelict church promoting the words ‘Jesus Said I Am The Way’…

For more info, look up Clapham Junction Railway Station and Battersea on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

And as with all good stations, there’s a neighbouring watering hole; here it’s classically called The Junction pub which tries to market itself as the 18th platform encouraging travellers into its ‘beer garden’.

The iconic wall art of David Bowie captures my interest immediately as I’m a lifelong fan of his music ever since I was introduced to Ziggy Stardust and his Spiders from Mars. So I have a personal connection with this image, which helps to connect my visit and enjoy the amusing way the pub is exploiting it’s position with the railway station. As you see, the wall on which the image is portrayed is in fact the back of the station.

I’ve cropped the bottom of the image to remove the somewhat untidy nature of the alley and beer garden entrance, and I think the final picture helps to focus on the wall art, the stations name and its proximity to the station.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto

Social Media

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