Tag: London

Heading South

I was very fortunate that I was able to find a flight to take me to South Africa to attend the service for my late mother, and like all of these things there is a lot of preparation to be done before I actually get on a plane. Thanks to my explorations in Oxford  I now have an alternate city to travel to London from. My flight was due to leave at 22.30 which meant I was able to leave for London a bit later, although I still had to leave home early to get the bus for Evesham first.

540 to Evesham

My train arrived at Paddington at 13H30ish which left me roughly 3 hours to kill in London before I headed over to Heathrow. However I was somewhat stretched for ideas as there were a few things that were scuppering my possible plans. Fresh rain would have made a cemetery visit too muddy, and the ongoing protests by Extinction Rebellion (XR) ruled out any visit to Tower Hill or anything in that area. I was really left with the Kensington Museums again so I decided to head out to South Kensington Station to have a look. Unfortunately there was at least a 20 minute delay on the whole Circle Line so I had to change over to the District line from Paddington to Earl’s Court on the Wimbledon Branch then changing to the Upminster branch and bailing out at South Kensington. It was do-able but would take time to change trains.

Earl’s Court

Then it was a longish walk to the London Science Museum via the subway that serves it and the Natural History Museum. It had started drizzling outside so the subway was perfect for my purpose.  I had pretty much photographed all I wanted in the Science Museum though, but wanted to look at the Flight Gallery again as it had been very dark on my last trip. The museum was full (again) but after a few distractions I found my way to the correct place. Unfortunately the darkness issue was still present so my pics came out iffy.

The seaplane is a Supermarine S.6B from 1931. This aircraft won the Schneider Trophy on 12 September 1931. The famed trophy is also present at the museum and is quite impressive to see but awful to photograph. A lot of aviation milestones are represented by the trophy and the Supermarine S.6B became the fastest vehicle on Earth when it set an absolute speed record of 656 km/h (By comparison at times our jet aircraft was flying at 917 km/h). The other two aircraft in the table above are the Hawker Hurricane (v) and a Spitfire MK-1A  (P9444, c/n 6S.30613, in 72sqn markings as ‘RN-D)

The cockpit below is that of a DC3 “Dakota”

Having seen the Flight Gallery again I headed down the stairs towards the basement. The one item that was missing was the large circular energy ring that I had seen in 2017. I had thought that it was a permanent part of the museum, it was certainly impressive enough to have been, and the place looked kind of drab without it

Time was marching and the rain outside scuppered my plans to walk back to Paddington via Kensington Gardens and I returned to South Kensington Station and then Earl’s Court and finally onwards to Paddington.

Heathrow was packed as usual and I had to kill roughly 5 hours till my plane left, and a very slow five hours they were indeed.

We boarded at roughly 9.30 and the plane had about 250 on board. It was a very cramped flight though as the person in front of me tilted their seat all the way backwards, leaving me almost stuck in place. It was not a fun way to spend over 10 hours.

I watched 4 movies: GodzillaKing of the Monsters, Toy Story 4, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and finally Alita: Battle Angel.  The last movie was interesting as I had read the Manga and seen the anime before. It was quite enjoyable and the time passed without any major health issues on my side which was a good thing.

 

By 10H30 we had landed, and it was hot! In fact for most of the time I was in South Africa the midday temperature was seldom below 30 degrees.  The only exception being one morning when it felt as if I was back in Tewkesbury during Winter. In spite of 2 electrical storms we had almost no rain, although the opposite was not true of the United Kingdom.

South Africa was also undergoing “load shedding”, which is really caused by the end product of “state capture” and sheer incompetence and corruption. I only experienced it on the one evening though but many in the country are becoming more and more dependant on generators, candles, gas stoves and or even going off the grid completely. And talking of energy, the petrol price was R15.79 for a litre of 95 Octane and R16.21 for a litre of diesel.

Of course the real reason that I was in South Africa was to attend the memorial service for my mother who had passed away on the first of October. My brother and I had many discussions when we were together and I am glad that I made the trip down. I expect I will be processing a lot of my thoughts as time passes as it is quite a traumatic moment in your life. Possibly the one saving grace is that my brother and I are not spring chickens with young families. I will however cover aspects of the next few days as time passes.

On the 20th we both attended a Piston Ring Club meet held in Modderfontein and it was great, with lots of good junk for sale and heaps of vintage cars.

It was a scorcher of a day though and the Jacaranda’s were in full bloom. Obviously those who think Pretoria is the Jacaranda city have never seen Johannesburg in full bloom.

On our way back from the meet we made a slight detour to the SOE Memorial in what is left of Patterson Park in Orchards. Between when I saw it in 2007 and now the park has been destroyed by what looks like “development”. Unfortunately I have no idea what the heck is going on at that site and the memorial is missing the wooden Butte De Warlencourt Cross that was mounted on the memorial.

Returning Home

Alas, my trip was a short one and I was not as busy as I usually am. While waiting at ORTIA I quickly popped up to the viewing deck to see what I could see. I was last up there when I was a toddler (I hear) so have no memory of it. The view however is not as great as you would think, but its better than nothing.

I boarded the plane again on Thursday 24th and arrived back in London just before 07H00 on the next day.

It had been a cramped and bumpy flight and I had not really watched much although Missing Link and Dumbo does stand out as being quite enjoyable. The food on this return flight was also iffy but I may have been a tad too tired to notice. By 09H21 I was on my way to Evesham and by 11H48 on the bus back home.

Waiting for the train to be called at Paddington

Unfortunately it has been doing a lot of raining during my absence (the opposite being true in South Africa), and this morning the field outside is flooded and the temperature is very low. Tomorrow it is back to “normal” and soon this trip will only exist in the memories and images that I have collected in this week and a half.

It is doubtful whether I will return to South Africa in the next 2 years. I have to renew my passport next year and that can take 8 months in itself. 

And whether we like it or not, life does go on. Mum left many memories behind and it is up to my brother and I to continue in her memory. Sadly her last two years were not as we envisaged them, but then how does one predict the end of a lifetime? 

And now there are only two.

DRW © 2019. Created 25/10/2019

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:21

Passing time near Paddington

In 2016 I visited London and ended up exploring Little Venice and Paddington Station, and of course my trip to South Africa meant I would invariably end up in the area again. I had spent the morning of the 22nd at the Natural History Museum in London (most of it in the queue), and on my arrival back in London I had roughly 3 hours to kill depending on when I got back from Heathrow. I had more or less decided to spend that time looking around close to the station as it was not really feasible to head down to anywhere else. Paddington and Little Venice were my best options because I really wanted to see whether I could find any Paddington Bear statues in the area.

I left my very heavy luggage at the Station and armed with a map of “The Pawprint Trail” headed onwards. The weather was not really great, and I was not dressed warmly as I had not taken much warm clothing with me on the trip. I had two places I wanted to find and hopefully to photograph the Paddington Statues at those spots. I already had 3 of the statues mentioned on the map:

Paddington  statue in Norfolk Square Gardens

Paddington statue on Paddington Station

Statue on Paddington Station

 

The first Paddington I was after was near Sheldon Square and close to the one corner of Paddington Station. Unfortunately it was rush hour and very difficult to find the statue in the rush of people heading to and from the station.  Fortunately I found him, and he was feeling kind of blue by the looks of it.  Taking an image of him was also difficult as he was under a bridge with sunlight on one side and darkness on the other, and did I mention people walking past just as I hit the shutter button? 

The image to the left has been lightened a bit as his face was mostly in shadow. My pic taken I was about ready to head out looking for number 2, but I was also intrigued to see mention of a Michael Bond statue on the map I had been given at the Paddington Shop on the station. It was not too far away and involved crossing the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal where I was and heading towards Paddington Green. It did look do-able so I turned my bows into the general direction and off I went.  I had roughly 90 minutes to complete the job and I would also be able to have a look at the Church of St Mary on Paddington Green while I was in the area. 

The area around Paddington Station looks like this:

The basin was full of assorted narrow boats, and some where very nicely decorated too, and at this point the sun was trying its best to shine. It was a loosing battle though.

I headed towards a footbridge that theoretically came out close to where the Michael Bond statue was, this is the view looking back from where I had come. 

The bridge crossed under Westway but instead of heading to where the statue was I headed off on a tanget which lead me away from where I should be going. It was quite a pretty area though with many old buildings in it. 

Parking was at a premium and cars were stuck bumper to bumper as drivers tried to nab a spot that somebody was trying to vacate. The building above is part of “St Mary’s Mansions”

I continued walking along St Mary’s Terrace until I reached the Regents Canal. It was home to many narrow boats and quite difficult to get an image that encompassed the whole canal. 

Behind me was the very imposing Catholic Apostolic Church in Maida Avenue but I was unable to get anywhere close to it as the grounds were firmly locked. 

I could not quite work out how this area related to where I wanted to be so I decided to return the way I came and see whether I could find the statue again. Returning to the footbridge I walked in the opposite direction from which I had come and duly found the statue of Michael Bond and two others. Actually it was not a statue but a laser cut silhouette artwork and one of three artworks. It appears as if there are associated plaques at the artworks, but I did not look too closely.

(L-R) Michael Bond OBE, author and creator of Paddington Bear. Alan Turning OBE, FRS, 1912 – 1954, father of computer science and WWII code-breaker. Mary Seacole, 1805 – 1881, Crimean War nurse.

Close by was the Church of St Mary on Paddington Green and an associated hall that appeared to be a nursery school. The church was not a large one and it had an associated graveyard. Unfortunately it was not open so I could not go inside to warm up. It was becoming decidedly miserable by now and I was seriously considering returning to the station.

The church was built between 1788 and 1791 and burials ceased in the churchyards in 1857 when the space ran out.  There are two burials areas, the first being around the church and the original area next to the church grounds depicted below.

The church under my belt I headed back towards that station and the Paddington basin where the other Paddington statue was. It was not too long a walk, but a very chilly one.

The statue was shown as being on the left bank and close to the “Fan Bridge” which was in the down position. I could however not find the statue and had to ask for help from a yellow hi-vis vested person.

Instead of being outside the statue is actually inside a building which explains why I couldn’t see it.

Mission accomplished it was time to head off to catch my train, although I did have an hour to kill till it left and I spent that reading, pacing and looking at my watch, the departure boards and the passing crowds.  Once again the train was one of the new British Rail Class 800’s and I had travelled in one on my way to London on the 22nd. I was able to grab a pic of the old and the new on this occasion, and in 2016 when I was here only the Class 43’s were evident.

I finally boarded my train at 11.25 and at 11.36 the train started to move and I was on my way home. I still had 4 hours of travel ahead of me, but was getting closer all the time. I had originally considered staying in London overnight and only returning home on the 8th, but given the weather and my own state of tiredness it is a good thing I did not.

DRW © 2019. Created 08/03/2019

Updated: 24/03/2019 — 13:58

3 Hours in London

As mentioned in my previous post, I was going to South Africa to see my mother…. 

Ashchurch for Tewkesbury

Having set off from Ashchurch in the early hours of the 22nd I eventually arrived at Paddington Station in London. 

Paddington Station, London.

This was also the first time that I had traveled on the new rolling stock that was entering service with GWR and it was quite comfortable, although I did feel quite a bit of swaying in some parts of the journey. 

My flight was leaving just before 7 pm so I had a few hours to kill and like my last trip in 2017 I headed to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, determined to see the inside of that glorious building.

It was a bad idea; it is half term in the UK so one 3rd of London seemed to be queuing to get into the museum! I assume another 3rd of the population was queuing at the Science Museum and the rest were en route to them both! It was the longest queue I had ever stood in since the elections in 1994 in South Africa. 

The weather was glorious, and I had worn my warm woolies when I left Tewkesbury and suddenly it was an early Summer! I cannot however comment on what it will be like when I arrive back in the UK on the 7th. It is almost Autumn in South Africa and generally hot with the occasional rain or thunderstorm.

I think it took almost an hour to get into the building and it did not disappoint.

“…in 1864 a competition was held to design the new museum. The winning entry was submitted by the civil engineer Captain Francis Fowke, who died shortly afterwards. The scheme was taken over by Alfred Waterhouse who substantially revised the agreed plans, and designed the façades in his own idiosyncratic Romanesque style which was inspired by his frequent visits to the Continent. The original plans included wings on either side of the main building, but these plans were soon abandoned for budgetary reasons.  Work began in 1873 and was completed in 1880. The new museum opened in 1881, although the move from the old museum was not fully completed until 1883.

Both the interiors and exteriors of the  building make extensive use of terracotta tiles to resist the sooty atmosphere of Victorian London.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_History_Museum,_London)

Because of my time limitations I did not get to see the whole of the building, but what I did see was breathtaking. It is probably the most beautiful non cathedral I have ever seen, and the interior of the old building is jam packed with exhibits and visitors. This is not a stuffy collection of odds and ends, but a collection that encompasses everything. This museum is a bucket list item, and I bet no museums in South Africa would be able to house so many visitors and so diverse a collection without utter chaos. Because of the crowds and my inadequate equipment my images can never do it justice, and of course the sheer size of it makes photography very difficult.

Having completed my visit I headed back to Paddington from South Kensington Station and collected my luggage.

South Kensington Tube Station

After a quick lunch and loo break I left for Heathrow at least 2 hours before I had intended to. I had not been able to check in online and had been prompted to do it at the airport!  Surprisingly enough my booking was still correct and I suddenly had 4 hours to kill at Heathrow.  Airports are a drag; huge places with lots of bored people just waiting to be propelled through the air in a cramped narrow metal tube with wings. I was taking a direct flight again and the flight was scheduled to leave at 18.55.  

However, there was a problem with clearance for 5 people because comms was down with South Africa so we sat on the apron for over 30 minutes before trundling to the runway and then charging headlong into the air. I was on my way.

The flight was scheduled to take just over 10 hours, and while I had much more legroom the seat itself was like a brick and the plane was packed. I felt like yet another sardine….

Continued….

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Random Images: Natural History Museum

Random Images: The Rest

DRW © 2019. Created 26/02/2019

Updated: 24/03/2019 — 13:58
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