Tag: Paddington Bear

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

Return to the UK

On the 6th of April I packed my gear and prepared to go home from South Africa. I still struggle with the idea that South Africa is no longer home, and that I really was doing things the other way around. I was flying Virgin Atlantic again, and would use the Gautrain to get to the airport.

The weather had been typical summery weather (even though it was Autumn), but rain was forecast for the later that week, although by the 6th the rains came.  

Driving in Johannesburg is a challenge, the roads are crowded, potholes are large, idiots abound and law enforcement is usually absent. The highways are really a free-for-all and at times a giant parking lot. After having lunch it was time to go and my friends took me to Marlboro Gautrain station where I caught the airport link to Oliver Tambo International Airport. It started raining just as we left and fortunately we were heading east as opposed to west where the traffic was bumper to bumper. I did attempt photography from the front seat but the combination of rain, vibration and everything else rendered the images useless.

Once at the airport things got really slow as we queued to go through immigration. So much so that by the time I got through it the gates for boarding were open and I was not able to take any images in and around the international departures. The one thing I do recall was the exorbitant price for half a litre of  water (R35), at one vendor and R10 at the duty free.

The flight was scheduled for over 10 hours and we took off at 8.30ish and it wasn’t too awful and there were just over 250 people on board. It always amazes me how some people consider 5 items of luggage as being perfect for carry on luggage.  Service was much better on this return flight than it had been on the departure flight and I didn’t watch too much though. A rewatch of Rogue One was in order and I also took in Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. Those two were really good watches and I recommend them both. 

I had an aisle seat in the centre aisle and for once I actually remembered to show what food was available on the aircraft and the menu is to the left of the text. I had the Bobotie and the eggs for brekkies and they were not great. 

I managed quite well during the flight and my bladder did not make a nuisance of itself for once, and I did not sleep at all as we headed North with the longest stretch over Africa.

We landed around about 6.30am and after a long queue at immigration I had my baggage and was on my way to the Heathrow Express station to catch my ride to Paddington. I had used the Heathrow Express to get to Heathrow initially, but wanted to use the Heathrow Connect for this trip so that I knew it for the future. The Express does not cut too much time off the trip to Paddington, but is more than double the price of the Connect option. The first time I landed in the UK I had used the Tube to get me to my destination, although that made more sense considering I was heading to South London whereas now I had to get to Paddington Station.

The train is comfortable and got quite crowded as we got closer to Paddington and it appears as if it is used by a number of locals to commute with. The cost for a ticket is £10.30 (or thereabouts)

At Paddington I finally stopped and grabbed a breather. I had almost 3 hours to kill before my next train to Cheltenham Spa was due. It was too short a time to go into London but very long if you have time to spare. If I had not had luggage with me I would have spent the time in reckless abandon in London on what was a really nice Spring day. I had deliberately planned the train time to be able to deal with any eventualities or delays along the way.

Paddington Station is an interesting space, especially when it comes to the roof. And, while there is not a large variety of trains in it you do get unique images if you look for them.

I am quite proud of seeing 4 HST’s under one roof on the same day!

The new shopping area is also open and I found that they had installed a Paddington themed shop in it too. 

I also found a neat Paddington shaped collection box in the shop and was able to donate some of the heavy change that I was accumulating along the way.

Paddington Station can be very full at times, and there is a constant hussle and bustle as trains arrive or depart. My 11.36 train appeared on the board at roughly 11H10, and was listed as “preparing”. 

They put up the platform number roughly 10 minutes before scheduled departure and then there was a mad rush as we all headed to the platform for our train. 

I arrived in Cheltenham Spa close to 13H30 and managed to grab the bus to Clarence Street Bus Station and then a bus to Tewkesbury where I found that there was no real way to get home with my luggage unless I hung around to 15H45 for a taxi or 15H17 for the local bus that goes through the area where I live. It was too far to hoof it with luggage though so once again I waited. 

It was all done and dusted. I had used 8 trains, 2 aircraft and 3 buses on this trip, I had covered a lot of kilometres, and discovered that even though I had last driven 3 years ago, still knew how to drive. Unfortunately my trip was not about pleasure and more about reality, it was not a holiday either, although I did get to renew acquaintances with friends I had last seen in 2014. 

South Africa has changed and is constantly changing as people get more cheesed off with the powers that be. At some point something is going to have to be done. The events of 7 April show that more and more people are getting very unhappy with the status quo. Whatever happens I just hope that it does not involve violence. 

And, to make matters worse it is back to work on Monday.

Random Images.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 08/04/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:49
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