Having left South Africa we are almost at our destination… sort of.
My post for 02/03/2013 has the following to say:
“It was time to put my new visa to the test, and surprisingly enough passing through immigration was easy. Now I had to find my way to Kennington in South London which was where I was staying until 8 Feb. There were 3 options: Heathrow Express, Tube, or Coach. I suspect I am sucker for a train so chose the Tube. I had to change trains at 3 different places but surprisingly that in itself was a breeze. I do remember sitting on that tube from Heathrow with my luggage and heavy eyes from the lack of sleep; with people all around tied up in their own world of cell phones, headsets or books. They were on their way to work, I was on my way to a new life.”
I have never forgotten that tube ride, it was my first time riding the tube too, but I think at that point I was feeling very uncertain of what I was doing. Fortunately finding your way on the tube is reasonably simple, assuming you know how to read a tube map you can get almost anywhere in London. The only tube line that runs to Heathrow is the Piccadilly Line, and I rode it to Leicester Square where I changed to the Northern Line and bailed out at Kennington, and then did a short hop to Oval Station for some or other odd reason.
When I exited Oval Station I was very disorientated and I had been hoping to find a taxi to take me to my destination, but contrary to my expectations there were no taxis at Oval. I re-orientated myself, grabbed my suitcase by the hand and headed down the road. My suitcase was not one of the wheelie bags, it was a suitcase with a set of wheels on one corner and a handle on the other. It rolled easily enough assuming that the pavement was level. By the time I got to where I would be staying I was exhausted. But I had arrived.
The owner of the flat had cooked me breakfast although she was not at home at the time and a friend of hers showed me the ins and outs of where the loo was and how the shower worked and all that sort of stuff. I seem to recall I only met the owner the next morning. While I had not really crossed too many time zones I was still tired after being on the go from the afternoon of the 28th up till the afternoon of the 1st. I did not have a sim card for my phone yet and that was something I needed to do and I seem to recall that afternoon heading down to Camberwell after having a shower to buy myself a watch and a sim for my phone. The shenanigans of my watch having finally cheesed me off enough! Strangely enough I still wear that replacement Timex that I bought at Argos for $19.99.
I spotted a cellphone shop somewhere and did some enquires about airtime packages. The person on the other side of the counter was a South African and she recommended I rather go try a place up the road because the people she worked for were overpriced. It was quite an odd encounter but I did appreciate her honesty so ended up going elsewhere and was connected probably an hour later. That cell phone package would come back and bite me in the rear end as we got to the end of the month, and my time in London.
Opening a bank account was easy as it had been pre-arranged, all I had to do was sign on the dotted line and bob was my uncle! However, the banking worked slightly differently to how we do things in South Africa and it took me a long time to get used to it. It too would bite me in the rear end when I left London in March.
My immediate need for accommodation was solved when my landlady (another South African), let me stay for another month while I sorted myself out. She was very helpful and weaned me off the tube and showed me how to use buses! I had not traveled on one of those in years either and the bus service is London is amazingly efficient although it can be very crowded at peak times. Do not expect to see any smiles either because nobody seemed to smile on the buses. If only they had experienced the poor public transport back in SA they would have jumped for joy at what they had in this incredible city.
I will admit I did a lot of the touristy things in that month, but it was very clear that there were a few snag in my job search. For starters I had to get my qualifications assessed and that would take at least 3 weeks. I was a tad too old to work in the customer service industry and I was really struggling with my hearing. There was a lot of competition for some of the jobs and I was at somewhat of a disadvantage. I was however prepared to relocate, although did not find any jobs outside of London at the time. The usual lack of feedback or responses by agencies also happened in the UK, and of course I also sat with that almost 2 year gap in my CV after my retrenchment. I did know one thing though, I had to get out of London and Southampton was really my city of choice. With hindsight it was a bad choice, if anything I should have headed to Reading or Basingstoke, but purposely avoided the latter because it supposedly had a lot of South Africans in it. I wanted to avoid those if I could. It is not that I dislike my countrymen, its just that I tend to see things differently to how many of them see it.
My time in London spanned from 01 March till I left on 7 April. I saw a lot of things in that month and literally walked myself into exhaustion. The one issue that had plagued me in London was what I suspect may have been shin splints, although it may have been as a result of the extended cramped conditions on the 2 flights. Irrespective of what it was I was in pain for quite a lot of the time. Unfortunately I am allergic to ibuprofen and almost everything that I saw had Ibuprofen in it! I also discovered that many of the pharmacists are really poor compared to what I was used to in SA. I battled for quite a long time to rid myself of the problem, but it was not fun at the time.
I won’t even try to explain all I saw or all I did in London, there was just so much. My London folder has over 13000 images in it, and it is doubtful whether there are 2000 of them on this blog. I started blogging halfheartedly in January 2011 and it really took off when I hit London. All of my travels are in here, and I often go back and reread what my thoughts were back then. I recall that I was at Lewisham one day and while I was there I found the old military hospital, and it was at that hospital where my grandfather was treated after being wounded at Delville Wood. It was a strange encounter, and I could not help but wonder what he thought of the place. I had a love/hate relationship with Lewisham for some unfathomable reason, and yet it turned out to be a very handy location for some of the places I visited.
A lot of the places that I visited were “cities of the dead”; when I left South Africa I thought that I would not be doing any war grave photography in the UK. I was very wrong and have photographed twice as many war graves here than I photographed in South Africa.
War Memorials in Lewisham.
There are three Memorials listed in the London Borough of Lewisham on this page, the first two come to me courtesy of Ronnie Lovemore who pointed them out to me. The first Memorial is inscribed as being to:
“All The Lewisham People Who Lost their Lives 1914-1918, and 1939-1945“
Google Earth co-ordinates are: 51.453594°, -0.015996°
The second Memorial is a mural painted at the entrance to the Lewisham Shopping Centre, and is a small VC recipient plaque, as well as some information about the damage done to the area during World War II.
Google Earth co-ordinates for the Lewisham Shopping Centre are: 51.462087°, -0.012862°
The final memorial is situated to the right of the main entrance of the Old Public Library in the corner. Unfortunately the name plaque is not really legible, but a dedication reads: “Dedicated to the brave men who died in the hospital and laid down their lives for the British Empire 1914-1918, And to Dorothy Goodman and Helen Knibb who died at their post of duty nursing the sick and wounded. (Erected by the Medical and Nursing Staff Lewisham Military Hospital)” The memorial was rededicated on 4 August 1998.
The mention of the hospital was interesting because my late Grandfather was wounded at the Battle of Delville Wood on the 18th of July. From the casualty clearing station he was shipped to England and ended up at the Lewisham Military Hospital. It was strange because I felt as if I had come a full circle seeing this slightly worn memorial. More on this memorial may be found at The Lewisham War Memorials Wiki. Google Earth co-ordinates are: 51.454739° , -0.016221°
It is also worth looking at the index for March 2013 and the many links inside it. Theoretically they all open in a new tab/page
- Hullo London 02/03/2013
- Photo Essay: Tower Bridge 03/03/2013
- A quick stroll up the road 04/03/2013
- London Transport Museum 05/03/2013
- My first cemetery in London 06/03/2013
- War Memorials in Kennington 07/03/2013
- Animals in War Memorial 08/03/2013
- Finding Crossbones Graveyard 11/03/2013
- Photo Essay: Eye Spy the London Eye 12/03/2013
- Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum 13/03/2013
- A visit to the Cutty Sark 22/03/2013
- Southwark Cathedral 14/03/2013
- The Monument to the Great Fire of London 14/03/2013
- St Paul’s Cathedral London 15/03/2013
- London Highgate East Cemetery 15/03/2013
- Highgate East Gallery 15/03/2013
- Photo Essay: Dick Whittington’s Cat 15/03/2013
- The Bronze Soldiers 19/03/2013
- The “Heroes with Grimy Faces” Memorial 21/03/2013
- St Mary’s Churchyard, Lewisham 22/03/2013
- Postman’s Park, London 23/03/2013
- Nunhead Cemetery 24/03/2013
- Brompton Cemetery (first visit) 25/03/2013
- Anglo Belgian War Memorial: London 26/03/2013
- London Highgate (West) Cemetery 29/03/2013
- Abney Park Cemetery 03/04/2013
- St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery (2013)
- Kensall Green (2013) 04/04/2013
- Revisiting Brompton 06/04/2013
Finally I would like to thank my landlady in Kennington, we lost touch in 2014, and I hope that she is still well and has managed to sort herself out with a decent job. Thank you for everything you did for me.
DRW © 2013-2021. Initially created around about 01/03/2013 but still adding bits as I go along. Added Lewisham War Memorials 25/01/2021