musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

London 2016 (the first half)

This post is really a general post about the short trip I made to London between 07 and 09 June 2016. It is somewhat disjointed because the trip was also somewhat disjointed. However this page will also serve as an index to the separate blogposts I made.

Enough waffling, lets grab our GWR train at Cheltenham Spa and get underway.

Roll the clock forward to just after 10.30 and by the magic of the internet we are at London Paddington Station.

Everybody knows Paddington Station, after all wasn’t that where a famous Bear comes into our lives?

It is also where the Great Western Railway commemorates the 3312 members of staff who lost their lives serving their country.

However, do not tarry too long here as you are liable to be walked over by a cellphone clutching maniac who has no idea of anybody around him. The loo is close to here, only 30p for a pee.

Exiting the station we come into Praed Street. This imposing building is the London Hilton Paddington, or, as it was known: The Great Western Royal Hotel and it was opened in 1854. 

And this oldie is the famous St Mary’s Hospital. It was founded in 1845 and it was the site of many discoveries, including that of Penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. It has also seen the birth of many notables and Royals

I also found it a handy landmark to my hotel which was in Norfolk Place. 

Paddington station also serves the Circle, Bakerloo, District,  and the  Hammersmith and City lines, although the trains on the Bakerloo side were not stopping at the station. Having offloaded my luggage I headed for Moorgate on the circle Line which was which was where I was to start my exploration.   

My first destination was the cemetery known as Bunhill Fields, and rather than bore you with details you can go read about it yourself  (You can also click on the pic)

When I finished at Bunhill I hopped the Northern Line tube once again, ending up at Bank/Monument tube station. Personally I have never been able to understand this station (that one and Liverpool Street), but popped out somewhere and wanted to head down towards Tower Bridge.

Logically London Bridge Station would have been a better choice, but I wanted to enquire as to when the RMS St Helena was due. 

By some strange quirk I ended up outside the London Centre for Spirituality, originally known as St Edmund, King and Martyr, and I just had to take a look.

The interior of the building is magnificent, I have seen many beautiful churches but this one really stood out. They have two interesting wall memorials, one of which is dedicated to Charles Melville Hays who was president of the Grand Trunk Railway and who would lose his life in the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.  I have a separate post about the church that I have created. 

Having left the church I headed to the Thames and Tower Bridge. It was looking decidedly gloomy outside and the weather forecast was for rain. But, I had a ship to photograph, rain or not! The staff at the bridge confirmed bridge opening was scheduled for 16H45, so things were looking up.

There were even fenders along HMS Belfast so the visit was happening.  Now if only I could find a way to occupy myself for 2 hours. The Imperial War Museum  was not too far away so I headed to London Bridge Station to grab a tube to Elephant and Castle.

My visit to the museum in 2015 had not been a very good one, and I was hoping to rectify that in the 90 minutes that I had.  My primary objective was to photograph the 5.5″ gun that Jack Cornwell had manned during the Battle of Jutland when he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

It is a large weapon and trying to photograph it all in one shot is impossible. I also wanted to see the Lord Ashcroft VC Gallery, and it was a strange place because those medals are really just tokens of extreme heroism, and I had photographed some of the graves associated with the medal and the man. Yet, it is strange to make the connection when you have read about the deed that the medal was awarded for. I can’t quite explain it though, just take my word for it. 

The rest of the museum was as I remembered it from 2015, and I was still as disappointed as I had been last time. But I felt better for the experience. Unfortunately on my walk from the station the rain had started and it was drizzling by the time I came out. Fortunately I did have my trusty raincoat with so could stay slightly dry on my way back to Tower Bridge.

While I was pondering what to do till 16H45 the bridge started to open, but it was not the ship I was waiting for. 

Instead a small sailing barge came through, and it turns out that this is the Lady Daphne,  a 1923 built sailing barge under private ownership and available for a variety of charters and day trips. 

I moved up to the Tower of London side of the bridge and parked myself there to wait out the St Helena, and that blogpost may be accessed by clicking the link or the image below 

When all was said and done I headed to Tower Bridge Station to await my train back to the hotel. Naturally I stopped at the Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial while I was there…..

and then I was on my way home for a shower, and to put my feet up and rest. I was bushed, and I still had tomorrow to consider.

Tomorrow (8 June 2016)

On this fine day I had planned to go gravehunting to two places I had been before. To get there I needed to catch the Bakerloo line at Edgeware Road and travel to Queen’s Park before changing trains for Kensal Green (the stop after Queen’s Park)

That is Edgeware Road tube station above, and there are actually two separate stations, one dealing only with Bakerloo Line and the other with everything else.

And here we are at Kensal Green. Isn’t the train marvellous? 

Actually the tube is reasonably easy to use as long as you “mind the gap” and know how to read a tube map. Unfortunately though it is not always easy to know in which direction a train is going, or where it’s end destination is. But, you are not alone, there are probably plenty of people down there who have been lost for years and who travel up and down looking for their stop. 

My mission at Kensal Green was to revisit St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

as well as Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery

You may use either the link or the image to access the relevant blogpost. 

Once I had completed my cemetery visits it was time to head back towards the Thames, although I wanted to make one stop before then. The tube passes through one station that any Sir Conan Doyle buff will appreciate:

and you can bet I heard Jerry Rafferty playing in my head as we went past.

At this point in time I headed towards Trafalgar Square as there were two statues that I wanted pics of that tied into my Battle of Jutland interest

 

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe,

Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe

Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty

Admiral of the Fleet David Beatty

Trafalgar Square is somewhat of a frenetic place with gazillions of tourists, red buses and people on cellphones or taking selfies.

And,  having photographed my statues it was time to head to the embankment for lunch at my favourite Japanese takeaway. I intended to walk to the Millennium Bridge and then cut upwards to St Paul’s.

Cleopatra’s Needle

Embankment Station

Embankment Station

Zimbabwe House

Zimbabwe House

I had originally been to see St Paul’s in 2013, in fact I had even stood in the ticket line, but had turned away at the last minute as I did not really feel comfortable with the heavy atmosphere at the time. I had always regretted that decision because it was really a place heavy with history and tradition and well worth seeing. One of the things that had put me off was the “No photography” ruling, and as a result of that I do not have any interior images to share. 

Please note that the opinions in this update are strictly my own.
Trust me, the interior of the cathedral is truly magnificent, photographs will not go anywhere near doing it justice. It is huge, the amount of artwork and sculptures in it is staggering, and the lofty heights of the dome seem to reach into the stars. It is a stunning building, however, I did not find it a friendly building, if anything I felt as if I was intruding on some much greater work and was not really worthy of being in there (possibly that was the intention?). The crypt was out of this world, but it felt cold and clinical, almost too perfect. This seemed more like a space where you crept silently along clutching your hat with eyes downcast. The tombs inside it are awe inspiring, but I found it hard to reconcile some of the words I read on some of the tombs with the history of those buried there.
 
 
It was really the sort of building where you could spend a whole day and come away feeling drained and I do not want to know how you would feel if you attended a service there. I did find the staff somewhat abrupt, especially the woman in the whispering gallery and again I felt as if I was intruding in a personal empire of the staff. I did not stick around very long, although it started bucketing down shortly after I went inside.
 
I have visited quite a few cathedrals since I first saw St Paul’s, and they felt just that much more comfortable and accessible. I did not feel the same way in St Paul’s. Sir Christopher Wren created a fantastic building, and I wonder what he would have said had he seen it today. Make no mistake, it is probably the most stunning cathedral I have ever seen, but it will never be my favourite.
 
Having seen St Paul’s I now headed towards the Thames, trying to come out somewhere near London Bridge,  naturally I ended up at Bank tube station again, and promptly got lost! I do not know why I always get lost in that area.
 
But I eventually I reached where I wanted to be to take my last pics of the RMS. 
 
 
It was time to go back to the hotel via Tower Hill and have a shower and a rest. I was bushed. My jeans had dried out but my shoes were still kind of squelchy from the morning in Kensal Green
 
 
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