musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Tube

Counting down the days

Having left South Africa we are almost at our destination… sort of.

En route to London

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. 

Camberwell New Road

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. 

Brixton

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. 

St Mark’s Church, Kennington

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 travelled 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.   

Kennington Park

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. 

Lewisham

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.  

At this point I will stop my waffling and draw your attention to the London galleries that I have added to the blog. They can be found under the old Photo-Essay pages.  My London Memorials page is at allatsea

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

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 © 2013-2018. Initially created around about 01/03/2013 but still adding bits as I go along. 

Updated: 18/03/2018 — 16:13

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
 
 
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:10

Almost a year

Wow. This time a year ago I was probably approaching Dubai.

This is all I saw of Dubai.

This is all I saw of Dubai.

I then spent nearly 4 hours trying to get my watch to change timezones

It is true, I have been here in the UK just under a year, having arrived at Heathrow on the 1st of March 2013. (at the time of updating the date on this post I have been here 4 years and 10 months).

I distinctly remember sitting on the tube from the airport travelling along an unfamiliar stretch of countryside,  surrounded by people engrossed in cellphones, newspapers or mp3’s. Many probably travelled along here on a regular basis while this was my first time.  I was tired, disorientated, and somewhat depressed, having embarked on a major change in my life literally overnight,
 
Eventually arriving at The Oval station on the Northern Line, I still had to get to my accommodation in Kennington, and dragged my familiar green suitcase along the pavements for about a kilo until I got there. I probably slept the sleep of the just that night, or maybe I was just very tired? 
 
 
There was a lot I still had to do, minor things like organising a bank account, and getting registered with a GP, getting a National Insurance Number, and buying a sim card for my phone, plus a host of other odds and ends that I had to deal with.
 
 
I spent 5 weeks in London, and they were very busy ones, but with a lot of sightseeing thrown in. One thing was certain though, I was not going to find a casual job here, there was just too much competition. I had originally considered going to Southampton when I was planning this trip, but had decided to stick with London initially and decide once I was there. With my lease expiring I decided to head south to that harbour city, and see what would happen from there. The results of that excursion are plastered in this blog between May and November 2013. 
 
 
I am starting year 2 tomorrow, and I hope it only gets better from here. Maybe on 28 Feb 2015 I will be looking back on this post? who knows. (now looking back from 29/12/2017)
 
So, watch this space for further adventures, I think there are more coming, if only I can get a few other projects completed and the weather would improve.
 
© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 17/04/2016
Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:14

London Transport Museum

On my voluminous lists of places to see was the London Transport Museum.  I was hoping it would have a lot about railway history, but ended up being more about transport in London from the olde days to today. The London Tube recently celebrated its 150th year of existence and it would be interesting to contemplate “Then and now.” It is situated in Covent Garden Piazza,WC2E 7BB. But that meant nothing to me as I bailed out of the tube at Leicester Square. I suspect Charing Cross would have have been a better choice, but by then it was too late.

My view from the station was of the Hippodrome Casino, but a quick map look put me more or less in the right direction.  The streets are really labyrinths and finding anywhere isnt as straight forward as I thought it would be,

Eventually I found it and soon discovered a modern, bright and interactive facility. It was also very full and there were gazillions of children and their parents pulling and bashing everything in site. My grandmother grew up in the Southwark area, and she probably experienced a lot of what I saw between when she was born and when she left the UK in 1919. Surface transport would have been via horsedrawn cabs or carriage or even omnibus, while below ground steam powered trains would have been travelling in tunnels filled with choking smoke.

 
 
 
The museum is divided into a number of levels, the ground floor is more about road transport whereas the second is more about below ground transport. The James Hall Museum of Transport has a better collection than this museum has, but the condition of the exhibits here is top class. 

 

It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to stand on the footplate on this steam engine while it rattled its way through the tunnels. There is no enclosed cab either, and the crew must have really suffered. Behind them the coaches have an almost Sherlock Holmesian feel about them with their upholstery and woodwork. I have no idea how they ever managed to keep them clean.

londonb 032

 

Eventually some sort of sanity must have prevailed and the electric loco made its debut and things should have been much cleaner below the streets.

Still, compared to todays plastic and formica trains these were still very opulent. I did find this interesting electric loco that seemed like a very dangerous thing to work on. The carriage behind it was severely lacking in windows, but nevertheless very nice inside.

londonb 059

 

 

 

The red tube train was boasting the Northern Line badge, which co-incidently is the one I use. It has a totally different look to what I see today, and was probably just as functional.

Modern Northern Line Train

Modern Northern Line Train

 
What was really interesting is that they had set up a simulator inside this train and people were able to experience driving one. Unfortunately, when Johnny of the grubby paws gets his sticky hands on something like that nobody can get close. Then it was time for a quick look at the luverly red Routemasters and the head off elsewhere.
 
My next destination was the St James Park area via Trafalgar Square, but that’s another story for another day.
 
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 26/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:58

A quick stroll up the road

I had decided that one of the places I wanted to visit in London was the Imperial War Museum. This  repository of all things military has a fearsome reputation of being an awesome place, amongst military historians caps are removed and it is spoke of in hushed tones. I decided that seeing as it was a mere 2 tube stops away I would tackle it on my first day in London. However, as I came to the exit of the Elephant and Castle Tube Station a sign informed me that it was closed till July!!!
I was seriously disappointed, but was still determined to see the place so boldly went walkies, Naturally having to turn around almost immediately because I was going in the wrong direction! Eventually I got my bearings and soon found the glorious building with those vintage naval guns dominating everything. 
 
I always was under the impression that the guns originated from HMS Rodney, but the information sheet informs that they originate from other ships; the left from HMS Ramillies, while the gun on the right is from HMS Resolution. Both are 15 inch guns with a range of about 29 kilometres. Their shells are no toys either, weighing in at about 876 kg. I was very overwhelmed by these guns though, they were still not the largest guns ever mounted on a battleship.
 
Lip dragging in the floor, I left those guns and headed in what I thought was the way home, only to end up in the maze of side streets that are in the Borough of Southwark. Unfortunately that was where I made a slight mistake and I ended up meandering around, being very overwhelmed by all I was seeing around me. 
  
 
The nice thing is that in the midst of this city there is both old and new side by side. Their age and condition varying from street to street. The traffic is fast moving, but disciplined; cars stop at pedestrian crossings, cyclists use hand signals and the robots actually work. It is also a very multicultural society and the area where I am staying has a real mix of European, Africa, Asian and everything in between. Sadly though I keep on bumping into South Africans!
 
 
That concluded my abortive trip to the Imperial War Museum. I am not amused!!! However, I will probably be around in July anyway, so may still get to see it. I look forward to that a lot.
 
Postscript.
I finally did get to the IWM in August 2014, and I was disappointed. It is not easy to explain, but I did do a blog post about my experience. The guns however are still magnificent!
 
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 26/03/2016
Updated: 02/02/2018 — 07:47
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