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Overground TfL Other Services

#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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Piccadilly TfL Underground

#08: Heathrow T5 – 23/05/2018

I decided on a far flung destination to Heathrow Terminal 5 having been inspired by TFL’s recent take over of the Paddington to Heathrow line in preparations for the arrival of their newest Elizabeth line next year. Some prior research confirmed the maximum one way fare was £10.20, so I decided in the interest of completing this blog, it was a worthwhile investment. For those of you who arrive at Paddington frequently, you know where you go, but for new travellers, signposting is difficult to follow and there was no signage for TFL.

I ask a Heathrow Connect employee, who confirmed they had now become part of TFL, but surprised she quoted a single fare of £22.00. Some debate followed but I decided a complaint to TFL was warranted another day as I hot legged it from Paddington via Hammersmith to pick up the Piccadilly line to Heathrow T5. Having arrived there, I spoke to another Heathrow Connect employee, who was more helpful explaining there are two  services: The Heathrow Connect, a direct non-stopping service (£22); and one stopping at intervening stations (max £10.20). [Complaint now made]

The underground station at T5 is buried in the bowels of the terminal and is served by speedy lifts and multiple escalators to cater for the spurts of volume passengers at any one time.

Arriving in the terminal, it has a light, bright and airy feel, and clearly a modern terminal being the showcase home of British Airways (BA). In a way though slightly soulless, and I’m sure I noticed more BA and terminal employees than passengers when I was there. Maybe a quiet part of the travelling day?

Before travelling to the airport, and conscious of the sensitivities, I contacted the terminal’s media centre asking about photography within the terminal, but I’ve still to get a reply. So I decided to err on the side of caution and ask a BA security person who was very helpful and said the only restriction was not to photograph the departure gates and procedures. Interestingly, as we were chatting, another employee interrupts us alerting him of an unattended backpack in the vicinity, so I decided to leave him to it, and quickly walk away from the area.

Walking around the concourse, the terminal is obviously functional but the structure offers interesting geometric shapes and colours.

Outside, the terminal is equally functional, with some wall displays promoting the airport’s destinations.

In the north west corner of the drop off area, I see some plane spotters and I strike up a conversation with two young Swiss lads over in the UK for five days enjoying all that LHR has to offer. Impressed by their ability to spot a plane type well before it’s physical shape becomes clearer, they declare “…it’s only another BA (type) plane…” I also pointed out to them Windsor Castle in the far distant haze; “oh!” they proclaim, “that’s where the wedding was?!” to their delight. We exchanged contact details and you can follow their Instagram feed at airplane_pictures. Nice to have met you guys…

For more info, look up Heathrow T5 on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is taken outside the main terminus where there’s an open air seating area. It’is a bright sunny lunchtime so employees and travellers alike are grabbing a quick snack or just waiting for their connection.

There’s a large display at either end of the seating area showing a selection of the the IATA (International Air Transport Association) three letter destination codes displayed in a semicircle. This picture tries to capture the essence of the airport at ‘a moment in time’ as the reflection shows those at rest, but the traveller in the centre foreground reminds us that he’s going somewhere (or just arrived). And the smoker on the right reminds us that this is now an outside habit…

I’ve tried to keep the shot simple, framing the main traveller within the destination arc. Who knows where he’s bound? The Alpaca filter strengthens the sunlit shrubbery and helps to draw the eye towards the central figure.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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DLR TfL Other Services

#07: Lewisham – 17/05/2018

A trip under the river to south London at the end of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR); well one of the ends anyway. Not been there before so not sure what to expect, but en route, I felt I was being stalked by Transport for London (TfL) ticket inspectors as I was asked to show my ticket on each of three different trains. Reassuring I suppose that checks are carried out, but it will be interesting over the lifetime of this blog to see how many times I get asked to produce my ticket; my experience as a commuter was very rarely. I was also impressed by the knowledge of the DLR guard on the last leg of my journey as he gave a touristic and historical commentary of things to see and do at every station we stopped by; most famously the Cutty Sark being the first stop on the south side of the river.

Anyway, I arrived at Lewisham DLR, which is adjacent to main line services and took a moment to get my bearings. The ‘town’ is about half a kilometer from the terminus, which you get to by walking around a building site, a large regeneration development. Lewisham is defined in some way by its position between two rivers: the Quaggy to the east, and the Ravensbourne to the west, which is spawned from Deptford Creek on the Thames, down to Sydenham and beyond. Cyclists and walkers can follow the Waterlink Way, an attractive eight mile route along the river side.

The town is dominated by some modern high rise tower blocks, art deco conversions and scaffolding, but a short walk off the main road reveals streets and streets of typical London bricked terraced properties. Stopping to enjoy some intricate brickwork, a local decorator who’s working on the house proudly explains it’s a former dairy where now there’s a garage was once the cowshed where the milking took place.

Walking around Lewisham, residents were clearly focussed and drawn to the market which forms the town’s hub just outside a modernised 60’s shopping centre. Predominantly fruit and veg based but with some colourful alternatives. The fishmonger was happy for me to take pictures but less so in engaging in any conversation.  A shout out though to the Ribena crew who were happy to strike a pose (other fruit flavoured drinks are of course available).

The town provides leisure facilities in the guise of a modern looking Glass Mill Leisure Centre, and caters for religious diversity as it is the home for The London Sivan Kovil Temple, a Tamil temple, as well as St Saviour, St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist Catholic Church and associated Primary School.

Social commentary comes in many guises and amusingly I overheard several conversations, but two comments caught my attention, so much so I had to write them down…

‘…I don’t mind what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for my dinner…’ and

‘…When was the last time you stood naked in front of a fella?…’

I walked on with a smile

Graffiti is never far from anywhere in London, and Lewisham is no different, although in some hidden quarters, they were quite amusing and entertaining. View the Instagram feed for the full size otter and bee


For more info, look up Lewisham on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is a short pedestrian bridge over the Ravensbourne River at Waterway Avenue headed towards the main ring road at Molesworth Avenue. The bright sun casts a dark shadow through the geometric designs of the railings onto the footpath, and creates an interesting mirror image.

Although the original picture is taken in colour, the Vista filter transforms the image into a strong Black and White landscape.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista

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TfL Underground Waterloo & City

#06: Waterloo – 10/05/2018

Unsurprisingly, Waterloo is at the southern end of the ‘Waterloo & City’ line or more commonly known as ‘The Drain’. The line was opened late in the 19th century to ferry commuters travelling from the Southern counties directly into The City. Waterloo also serves three other lines: the Bakerloo, Jubilee and the Northen line (Charing Cross branch), and collectively Waterloo is reportedly the busiest in the UK and when combined with the nearby Waterloo East station, which is just a short stroll away and linked directly with Waterloo, it is the busiest complex in Europe.

Having worked in the vicinity for several years when at DirectGov in Lambeth, I have some familiarity with the surrounds and knew it to be a vibrant and colourful area, so I set off through the station exiting into Lower Marsh in a clockwise direction around the station. You can’t ignore the colour or the vibrancy of afternoon diners who buy from the myriad of street traders. Some notable landmarks are Cubana and Vaulty Towers.

Lower Marsh runs in a westerly direction towards Lambeth, but a detour through Leake Street reveals a hidden gem inspired by Bansky and now an authorised graffiti area where each day you’ll find new works of art often being created by the artists as you walk through, but be warned, the fumes can get quite intoxicating. This ‘street’ runs under the platforms of Waterloo station and also houses The Vaults, London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts.

Turning right into York Road, you are a stone’s throw away from the South Bank and all it’s entertainment in full view of the Thames and the London Eye. Continuing clockwise into Waterloo Road and pass the BFI IMAX and I’m led into the side streets past the Union Jack Club, which was founded by Ethel McCaul a Red Cross nurse over a 100 years ago ‘…to provide non-commissioned services and former members of the Armed Forces and their families a comfortable and friendly base for their visits to London…’. Onto Waterloo East station, which  offers a vista of London’t continuing development looking west and north where an attractively clad student accommodation building, in Paris Gardens  looks as if it has a tower: it is in fact the top of 1 Blackfriars development, one of many multi-purpose high rise complexes shaping London’s skyline of the 21st Century.

I walk into the main Waterloo station from Waterloo East platform to explore the underground, and whilst taking a series of photos to best showcase the Jubilee line walkways, I’m invited by a couple of Manchester United fans (I think on their way to the mid-week West Ham game) to take their pictures. As a hardened Liverpool supporter, we had some good-natured banter, but I’m fulfilling a promise to give them a ‘shout out’ in return for posting their picture – nice to meet you Vik!

The experience though highlighted how modern travelling and photography has made the digital age so accessible as within minutes of taking the picture, I was able to upload the picture to my phone (built in wifi on the camera) and email the picture using one of the underground’s several wi-fi service providers. I appreciate this advancement may not be for everyone, but the expectation of ‘always on internet access’ continues to grow. Emerging out of the underground to complete my journey, I’m reminded of the Elephant at Waterloo sculpture and now decide to research why it’s there. I leave you to follow the link above and to its sculptor – Kendra Haste.

Emerging back out into Waterloo Road to complete the clockwise route around the station, I pass the redeveloped LCC Fire Brigade Station Waterloo and cross the road to Emma Cons Gardens and complete my tour by chatting with the proprietor of a roadside coffee stall, and the stall manager for The Garden Shack plant stall opposite The Old Vic.

For more info, look up Waterloo on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is one of many graffiti/artworks on display in Leake Street, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or the Banksy Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the area, don’t feel intimidated, but take a walk through the cavernous underground space under Waterloo Station. The street runs from Lower Marsh Street through to York Road where the smell of spray paint lingers in the air and is one of the homes of legal street art in London.

I can guarantee the images change frequently. I’ve chosen this as my picture of the day as a representation of what’s on view here. It’s vibrancy and scale draws me in, but to be honest I could have chosen any of the images I’d captured. If it inspires you to go take a look, then that’s good.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma

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Circle District TfL Underground

#05: Edgware Road – 09/05/2018

A natural follow up to Edgware, down the A5 (or Watling Street) to its source at Marble Arch leading into Edgware Road. With one of two stations with this name (the other serving the Bakerloo Line about 250 metres away) and serving as a terminal destination for the District Line and since December 2009, the Circle Line: so this will be the first of two visits to this station.

The station is overlooked by an intriguing design which catches my eye (see my picture of the day), and an interesting bronze statue called ‘The Window Cleaner’, sculpted by Allan Sly, looking up at an adjacent building

Edgware Road itself is a main arterial link road out of London and traffic is constant, but so is the people traffic going about their business. An eclectic mix of banks, high street shops, beauty shops, food shops, eateries and any other type of shop you can mention. The shops though clearly cater for the transient and local population, and here’s a good example of how the traditional corner shop is alive and kicking. You name it and you can get it here.

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A stroll now across the road to Paddington Basin which is a matter of minutes away, and my how this has been transformed over recent years with the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal being totally regenerated. A growing complex of office space, luxury apartments, relaxing space, and safe and modern canal and pedestrian facilities allowing you to walk uninterrupted to Little Venice (that’s for another day). The Basin is awash with colourful barges (long boats) advertising boat trips, food and some business operating from them – very chic. Building work continues but it all seems well managed with decorative hoarding promoting the regeneration and describing some of the features.

To the edge of the Basin, and no surprise I stumble across Paddington Bear donning his hat in salute to all passers by. He’s one of several supporting The Pawprint Trail, an activity based exploration of the area. Paddington Bear leads me to the westerly edge of my journey and as I turn to retrace my steps, I spot today’s celebrity whose chatting on the quay side: Tony Singh, a well known and colourful character. I also stop beside a canal side Candocoffee vendor and chat with Giovanni, the barista, who tells me the new development has canalside apartments being marketed at £1M plus! A snip at half the price…

Across the road from Paddington and under the A40 Westway, Marylebone Road stretches easterly to Euston Road and a short stroll finds me exploring Marylebone Station and the surrounding streets. One notable building at the crossroads is the Paddington Green Police Station, a pretty unimpressive building to look at, but a cornerstone in the Police’s efforts to contain suspected terrorists.

So many other buildings to see, and here’s a short selection of my stopping points: St Marylebone Grammar School, 242 Marylebone Road, The Landmark Hotel – wish I could have gone inside but didn’t think I was dressed appropriately and The Old Marylebone Town Hall. See Instagram (here#01, here#02 and here#03) for all the pics. Signs of London’s constant battle with road works were evident too: see if you can work out which colour represents which utility…

For more info, look up Edgware Road on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is a view from inside the station looking in a southerly direction at the adjoining building: Griffith House which is one of Tfl’s training centres which was originally built as an electricity substation for the tube network.

The side of the building is covered in this elaborate and colourful “Wrapper” of vitreous enamel cladding created by Jacqueline Poncelet and the variegated station roof edging creates an interesting shadowed feature set against the brighter colours in the background. This is one of those images that as a commuter you may not normally see as you are busy rushing to/from the train…just look up!

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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Northern TfL Underground

#04: Edgware – 03/05/2018

…and now from the southern regions of the Bakerloo Line to one of the northern ends of the Northern Line: Edgware. Never been here before so not sure what to expect…?

And following some feedback from earlier posts, I decide on a selfie at the station. This does two things: shows I’m listening to feedback and lets me use it as the first picture on my Instagram album showing which location the collection comes from. Fairly uninspiring station (but then again I suspect a lot will be), but I do notice some colour patterns that draw me in.

Out of the station, which has a 20/30’s art decho feel to the entrance, and I’m sure in its heyday it would have been proudly ostentatious. Edgware looks uninspiring as a sprawling parade of shops with architecture in a similar 20/30’s art decho style running south to north as urban London moves through suburbia and tries to become rural…but just not yet. I head off south intentionally bypassing the shopping centre where I will return to later.

My immediate impression is of an unloved and unkempt area overtaken with car washes which have camped out where grandiose properties once existed, tyre stations and back street motor mechanics. All this mayhem is peppered with more than its fair share of abandoned and boarded up shops and even the local police station seems uninviting. There is also an array of European eateries as I encountered Portuguese, Polish, Lebanese, Romanian and Jewish restaurants and shops within five minutes of each other. Some native high starch/low quality eateries were also encountered.

Walking off centre a little, a lack of pride in the community is seen through an unkempt community sign and a ‘Welcome to Edgware’ road sign proudly supported by Saracens.com. At another gateway, a reminder of some former glory is marked by a wall plaque at the entrance of ‘Canons Drive’ where you can wonder at how life may have been.

Passing the only church in the main drag, The Parish Church of St Margaret of Antioch which also shows signs of untidiness as the grounds and cemetery have only partially been manicured: the grounds in desperate need of grass cutting and weeding, although the wild flowers did give a colourful display. Walking past the former Sunday School, I made a surprising discovery: a memorial plaque to two children who died at Pant Glas junior school in Aberfan on the 21st October 1966. Despite some modest research to understand the connection with Edgware, I couldn’t find any but I suspect there’s a relative connection with the area. Please post if you know…a sombre moment of reflection…

One comment to date refers to a BBC post : ‘…Conservative councillor Mr Taylor added that he had clear personal memories of the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster from 1966. At the time he was a member of the Edgware Round Table in north London whose members opened up their homes to Aberfan families whose houses had been destroyed…’

Making my way to the Broadwalk shopping centre, I stop outside Edgware Music which proudly displays an eclectic mix of electric guitars in the window. I had hoped to pop in for a chat but alas it was shuttered up as the proprietor was attending a local funeral and wouldn’t return until 3.00 pm. I hope all went well?

Into the Broadwalk Centre, I stop at Unit 2, a clock seller who has on display an array of clocks and watches, and one in particular drew me in in the first place. Through the centre and I spot a seasonal plant seller with a colourful display. Whilst I browse I search out the proprietor as I believe it’s impolite to assume I can just take pictures. Understandably he’s a little suspicious so I have an opportunity to explain my quest and he’s kind enough to agree to my request but a little reluctant to be photographed. My thanks to him but our chat made me think that I need a better way to ‘show the thing’ so why not show on my phone, and get some cards with the blog address so that they can browse at their leisure. Always an opportunity to learn and improve…


For more info, look up Edgware on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is taken in the car park by Sainsbury’s wandering around a florist’s pop up stall; seems like a regular event though as this was quite a well established stall. Nevertheless, the trader was happy for me to wander around and capture his stall.

This is an amusing shot as it took me a while to realise the florist had ‘painted’ on the black eyes to give the illusion that these are ‘happy smiley’ faces on these succulent, mat-forming alpines. Nevertheless the illusion works as it draws in several shoppers to buy them.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – None

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Bakerloo TfL Underground

#03: Elephant & Castle – 25/04/2018

On a roll, and time to travel ‘Sarf (south) of the river’, this time to the southerly end of the Bakerloo Line at Elephant and Castle. An area known for its social deprivation and regeneration, and an area I was somewhat familiar with having worked in the vicinity some time ago. My visualisation, in preparing my travels, was that of a shopping centre in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by high rise office blocks and social housing. My plan was to circumnavigate the area before venturing into the centre.

There’s something about the Bakerloo Line exit here that, for me, epitomises the older tube travelling as you have to navigate the winding tile lined corridors with matching colour splashes representing the infamous map colours (which came first?). They invoke a sense of history and retro architecture that far surpasses the modernist, and almost soulless concreted health & safety approach of places like Westminster.

I wander somewhat aimlessly turning right out of the station in a clockwise route past Skipton House, NHS England HQ, around the corner past London South Bank University to where an impressive new build with a living wall has been crafted onto its entire east face.

Across the road past the Salvation Army and around the back streets past the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (note – religious theme continues) to New Kent Road and then around the building site currently known as Elephant Park into Heygate Street and Walworth Road. The area is steeped in history with references to Michael Faraday cropping up in several places (least of all the naming of the memorial in the central roundabout known as Elephant Square). The efforts in regenerating the area expose a diverse architectural style with each architect looking to stamp their own mark in sympathy with their surrounds. Some creative use of space can be seen under the railway arches in Spare Street where Hotel Elephant has been modelled for ‘Creative Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and Graduates’.

Turning back heading north to the shopping centre, but not before exploring The Artworks Elephant, ‘a creative hub for the vibrant and diverse community’. One of many repurposed shipping container complexes popping up over London. Colourfully providing small work areas for diverse food outlets and creative folk working independently: a stimulating experience and worth a wander around as there’s something different to see everywhere.

Hopped onto the main line station platform to take in the uninterrupted panoramic view of London, but those who know London and look south will see a tall clad building with three circles at its top; and like me often wondered what is it? The iconic Strata SE1, nicknamed the ‘Razor’ is a housing complex completed in 2010; its three wind turbines, designed to generate 8% of the buildings energy needs, have remained stationary since 2014 – hmmm.

Journey’s end, and into the shopping centre, which has become an unloved throw-back of the 1960’s. In its heyday, it was the praised for being the first covered shopping mall in Europe, but today it has become a reflection of social deprivation and a lack of investment. Those stall workers in and around the centre have a clear sense of purpose and seem full of life peddling their wares, but despite theirs and the centres best efforts in brightening up the vicinity, there is a general air of depression and gloom about the place. I mean not to offend, but just expressing a personal view here and would welcome comments, views and invitations to demonstrate differently.

For more info, look up Elephant & Castle on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

Why a yellow lock? It simply caught my eye as the colour stood out against an otherwise tired and drab lock up garage on a dull day. The picture is taken at the entrance to the garage lock ups on Rockingham Street

But as I took it, I wondered if it somehow symbolised my ‘end of the line’ theme as who knows what’s inside? A lock is definitive in that it states that whatever’s inside it’s at the end of its use: be that daily or permanent. And because of this I’ve adopted the symbol as my social media avatar.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ25; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Auto

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Central District TfL Underground

#02: Ealing Broadway – 19/04/2018

The second hottest day of the year so far, and this time suitably dressed in shorts and t-shirt journeying to one of the two westerly ends of the Central Line at Ealing Broadway station to explore the surrounds of Ealing. This will be one of two visits here as the District Line also terminates here so whilst looking around, I had one eye on where to go next time.

Out of the station and surveyed the immediate surroundings to get my bearings and spotted an interesting authentic Japanese restaurant, the Hare & Tortoise. Not sure how an ‘un-authentic’ Japanese restaurant would differ: I guess it would just be a restaurant? This drew me slightly westerly so carried on walking in this direction and drawn to a marker on Google maps; that of Carlton Road Ancient Oak I decided to visit. Some research indicates it’s the site where an elephant has been buried, and explains why it remains in the middle of the road. It reminded me of the old Oak tree in Carmarthen in the middle of the road and the local fable that once felled, the town would drown…of course it never did (see reference Merlin’s Oak, Carmarthen).

Heading back to Ealing, I came to Haven Green Baptist Church, and here’s a theme…I popped in to browse inside the building. The church was open and being looked after by a lady serving tea and biscuits; I sensed she was more than a caretaker, but she was somewhat sceptical of my enquiring nature until she realised I was Welsh – as she came from Pontypool. She explained the church’s congregation had dwindled in recent years but had started growing again to 100+ following the recent appointment of a minister. She accompanied me whilst I explored the gallery and explained how they are slowly refurbishing some of the fixtures and fittings. I would best describe the inside of the church as likening to an overgrown Welsh chapel – some of you reading this will understand what I mean.

I bid farewell and pause outside to check my bearings , and as I turn around, I see a familiar TV face walk past – John Sergeant, he of political news and Strictly Come Dancing fame (or infamy? You decide).

Into the heart of the town through its modern, yet secluded shopping centre and I’m drawn to a pink sheep in a doorway. A great marketing symbol for the Neon Sheep shop. I of course have to stop and call in and chat a while with the shop manager who explains they are the only shop in the UK, although another opening soon in Basingstoke (although they website states there’s one in Grays in Essex as well). She proudly invites me to look up at the ceiling where there are three red sheep grazing upside down too.

Wandering out of the shopping centre, I pass a very attractive office block entrance and help myself inside and take some pics. Climbing up the escalator to the out of site reception area, I’m confronted by two security guards come receptionist who politely ask me to leave and seek my assurances not to take any pics, ‘of course’ I say without letting on I’d already taken some – oooops!

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Around the back of the town and I find the facade of the former Walpole Picture Theatre before entering Walpole Park which was being enjoyed by local residents and families in the sunshine. Maybe worth a deeper exploration when I return.

I end my visit to Ealing on a short bus ride to Alperton. This might seem out of the way if you look at the tube map, but actually only a 20 minute diversion to visit the Shri Shantan Hindu Mandir. I had seen references to this Hindu temple and thought it worthy of visiting and I’m glad I did. Such an elaborately decorated temple both outside and inside, although on this occasion I respected the ‘no photos inside the building’ request. The temple is a shrine to all the hindu gods which have their own space around the inside of the outer wall, whilst in the centre, there was a gathering of about 30 ladies chanting – I left them to it.

Another successful day, but don’t forget, please comment on quality, content, improvements or suggestions, and for more info, look up Ealing on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

An easy pic today, simply because of the Welsh connection. This display is of a pink neon sheep which symbolises the shop’s name. It is an interesting experience and one that helps me overcome the feeling of embarrassment whilst taking pictures surrounded by passing shoppers. 

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca

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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