What was supposed to be (1)

Theoretically if we were’t in the middle of a pandemic I would have been in London round about now. and scoping out the passport renewal queue in Whitehall. But I am now sitting at home having been down with sinusitis since the weekend and self isolating. I think that at this point I can safely say that it is getting to me and I am becoming somewhat down, or more down than normal? Last night I was thinking about the whole state of affairs and thought to myself that I have enough images amongst my collection to make a virtual trip to London without leave the discomfort of my chair. So without ado grab your goodies lets go!!

The journey starts off at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury where I would catch the train to Worcester Shrub Hill, en route to London Paddington. Shrub Hill is quite a large station compared to the nearby Foregate Street station. 

From there the train travels to Evesham, Oxford, Reading, Slough and finally London Paddington. You can see I have visited this line and the stations on it in the past, although Slough has not really fallen inside my sphere of curiosity. Paddington is a familiar destination too as I have to pass through it to get to Heathrow when/if I fly anywhere. 

I would have stayed at the EasyHotel in Norfolk Place from the day I arrived till the Saturday when I would have returned home; leaving me 2 days to renew my passport in. The glorious structure below is the St Mary’s Hospital, amongst others it is the birth place of  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (born 1984), Prince George of Cambridge (born 2013) and  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (born 2015) . Nobel Prize winner Alexander Fleming was on it’s staff and it was here that he discovered penicillin in 1928.

My plans for the 3 days were flexible, revolving around the passport renewal, but I did have a rough list of places that I wanted to visit. The Embassy is situated on Trafalgar Square although that is not where the renewal is done.  South Africa House was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with architectural sculpture by Coert Steynberg and Sir Charles Wheeler,  and it was opened in 1933. I was hoping to get a better image of the building while I was there but that is not going to happen. However, I am grateful to Ronnie Lovemore who could supply me with a great pic of the building.

Getting to the Embassy or Trafalgar Square would have been via the Circle Line of the London Tube. I am quite a fan of the tube, although get confused quite easily because I only seem to use it once  a year!  There is a station underneath Paddington and I would have boarded there and caught it to Embankment Station.

Paddington Tube Station

In the background of the image below you can see the London Eye sticking out with the multiple trestles that come out of Charing Cross Station and then crosse the Thames.  Charing Cross is the name of the road junction to the south of Trafalgar Square, and that’s where the station gets its name from. The word Charing comes from old English ‘cierring’, which means ‘turning’, a reference to the bend in the River Thames by the station. 

Embankment Station

Charing Cross Station

Actually I have a slight ulterior motive behind choosing Embankment Station: There is a Japanese take-aways called Wasabi Sushi and Bento there that sells some really nice Japanese food. Also on the embankment is supposedly a statue of Isambard Brunel and of course I wanted to have a look at Somerset House while I was there.  

There is also a very interesting remnant on the Embankment that I wanted to look at: 

Bear in mind that before the massive sewerage works undertaken by Joseph Bazalgette the Thames would have had a slightly different waterline to what it has today. The gateway above marks the position on the north bank of the Thames before the construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1862.  It was built in 1626 by Nicholas Stone as the watergate to York House although York House was demolished in 1675 and streets were laid out on the site. Today the gate is situated in Victoria Embankment Gardens (Google Earth 51.508118°, -0.122873°) and the water of the Thames is now 130 metres away,  There is a memorial to Joseph Bazalgette on the Embankment and I intended adding that to my list of things to find in London. The image below is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license and is attributed to Prioryman and is dated 20/03/2015. 

There are a lot of interesting plaques, Memorials and statues along the Victoria Embankment, worthy of note are:

The Samuel Plimsoll Memorial. The inscription reads: “Samuel Plimsoll, born 1824 – died 1898. Erected by the members of the National Union of Seamen, in grateful recognition of his services to the men of the sea of all nations.” Any ship enthusiast worth his salt is aware of the Plimsoll Line on the side of a ship. (Image by Wualex 2001, and is in the public domain. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterline.  Out of curiosity WNA sands for “Winter North Atlantic”. 

The National Submarine Memorial

And of course one of my personal favourites is the Battle of Britain Memorial.  It is really the sort of memorial that you have to see in person because it has just so much detail in it. 

Assuming I did not get anything done at the embassy on this day I would probably have reboarded the tube and headed towards Monument Tube Station as it is the closest to my next destination. However, I would have deviated slightly at The Monument so that I could see whether I could find some of the plaques associated with the Great Fire of London.  The plaque below is mounted on the building, but there are a number of others in that area that I was not aware of and I want to find them. 

The ultimate goal however was to head to the Leadenhall Market which is roughly 3 blocks North of The Monument. I really would like to have a look at this piece of ancient history which dates from the 14th century and it is one of the oldest markets in London. Personally I think it will be an interesting place to photograph and I have seen some really amazing images of it on the net. The image below was created by “Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA”  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadenhall_Market.  (Image is 1280×917) One of my other favourite places is not too far from here, but I have not decided yet as to whether I would visit it or not. Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial is a very special place in my heart. And the rows of names really makes me sad and angry at the same time. I have always wanted to photograph the whole memorial but it is not as easy as it seems. The majority of the World War One casualties plaques are situated in and around the Memorial building as below and trying to photograph them would need a long ladder and infinite patience as well as heaps of yellow tape and a risk assessment. The Memorial was recently restored so it will be nice to see without vegetation growing from the roof. The view below is probably the best I have ever managed to squeeze in that does not have vehicle or pedestrian traffic crossing in front of it. 

Tower Hill Memorial, London

Tower Hill is in spitting distance of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and of course HMS Belfast.  The smaller ship berthed next to her is HMS Westminster (F237).  I am tempted to visit HMS Belfast again, but I have been on her 4 times already so it is time and energy dependant. 

This little jaunt would probably take me close to peak hour and I would probably get the tube back to my hotel to do some R&R before trying the renewal again on the next day. It can be quite a story getting back to Paddington Station as I can go clockwise or anticlockwise with the Circle Line, and of course once I am back in that area the odds are I will need food! The only really interesting area around the station is “Little Venice“. Alas the food there would be way out of my budget but if it is sunny it is quite nice to stroll about and look at the canal and narrow boats. 

None of this however would be cast in stone because there were all sorts of variables to contend with, and so far the biggest has been Covid19 that has created a worldwide disaster in the making. So everything you see here is theoretically had I been sitting in London on the 25th of March.  Thank you for joining me on this unofficial virtual trip to London.  To be continued…. and don’t forget to please mind the gap. 

Day 2.

Wake up…. rise and shine, hit the tube and stand in the queue! 

When/if I get that done I will technically have the time to myself and there are 2 cemeteries that I wanted to revisit. The first is Nunhead Cemetery and it is pretty much south of where I would be at that point in time. I visited it way back in 2013, and it had been a gloomy and dreary day with remnants of snow all around me. I recall that it was visually an impressive place but the weather ruined my images. ​

I now have another reason to revisit it. Last week while researching graves I discovered that my maternal great grandfather is buried in Nunhead. He died way back in 1929 and if you look at the map in the table is buried more or less opposite that Seventh Day Adventist church. It appears as if he is in a communal grave though so there would really be no way of finding an individual grave. It is also assuming I can penetrate through into that area to have a look. Parts of Nunhead are a regular jungle. Getting to and from Nunhead can be problematic; in 2013 I was living in Kennngton so it was just a matter of catching a bus (or 2). This time around I would use the London Overground and grab a train from Victoria Station to Nunhead. 

Victoria Station is another of the terminal stations in London and was built for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBCSR) and the London Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR). Nowadays it serves the Gatwick Express and is on the Circle, District, and Victoria lines of the tube. The Victoria Coach Station is roughly a block away from it. Unfortunately when I visited it in 2013 it was an island in the middle of large roadworks so getting to and from it was a mission.   

The station is also famous as being the place where the coffin bearing the Unknown Warrior paused overnight en route to London, and there is a plaque commemorating this event on the station. 

Having completed my trip to Nunhead would have left me very tired and rumpled. These trips are not as easy to do as they were way back in 2013, although I recall suffering from shin splints or similar shortly after I got to London. I put lots of miles into my body in that month and saw many things. Depending on time I would probably have headed back to the hotel for a shower and some food.  Let’s call it quits for now and continue tomorrow. 

DRW © 2020. Created 25/02/2020

Updated: 28/03/2020 — 11:10

Still Musing About The Corona

24/03/2020. A number of things have changed/happened overnight. My sinusitis attack has resulted in me now being isolated for 7 days. Trainline is going to refund my train ticket,  the hotel is busy organising my refund and South Africa is locked down for 21 days. I have to admit that President Ramaphosa does present a very re-assuring speech and I do not really envy him or Boris Johnson for that matter. These are dangerous days and we do not know when the end will be. 

If are in South Africa and are looking for information about covid-19 here please visit the South African online resource below.

The UK is on an unofficial lockdown for 3 weeks and some businesses are closed while necessary ones are staying open but with limited service. I should be OK for food but when we hit week 3 I will probably be staring at empty cupboards. It is no real use going shopping as there is nothing on the shelves to buy. The early birds are catching the worm and bulk buying everything in sight and that is a major problem.  When you work days the only time you have to shop is after hours or weekend. By then it is too late. Let us hope that a solution is found and very soon too. 

The numbers for the UK (24/03/2020) are as follows:  Coronavirus Cases: 6,650 Deaths: 335 Recovered: 135

21/03/20120. Yep, it is true, this continues my musings about Covid19, although Conoravirus is a much easier name to remember. Theoretically the  beastie looks like this:

“This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” (https://phil.cdc.gov/)

The reality is that this seemingly innocuous fuzzball has brought the world to a standstill. At this point disaster has struck the UK as pubs, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close as of last night. This had led to mass buying of last rounds and tears from the harden bar propper uppers. Unfortunately this will also mean job losses in the industry too. 

At work we are still waiting to hear what will happen with us, as we have a busy week and then a quiet week. However there is still a lot of work that has to be processed and we are as busy as usual. Things may change but hopefully we will keep our jobs. I am also concerned about the place where I live, anything can really happen and to be truthful I am quite stressed at the moment. I have also cancelled my London trip as it is too risky to use public transport and head all the way into London which has 1221 confirmed cases. The Daily Express has the following breakdown for 17 March: 

  • England – 2,756
  • Scotland – 266
  • Wales – 170
  • Northern Ireland – 77

the diagnosed cases of COVID-19 across England the cases are as follows

  • London: 1,221
  • South East: 340
  • Midlands: 282
  • North West: 220
  • North East and Yorkshire: 194
  • East of England: 147
  • South West: 140

There is an informative website called https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ with up to date statistics and graphs. Things do not look good.

And, on the subject of not looking good: there is a lot of fake news and speculation doing the rounds too (as usual). The World Health Organisation has busted quite a few of these myths and untruths. Just remember that if you find it on social media that does not mean it is legitimate or true. 

I have just found out that the South African Embassy has closed indefinitely from the 20th so just as well I decided to not go. Fortunately I have had excellent service from Easyhotel where I was going to stay. I have had to cancel my booking twice and they went out of their way to assist me. Guess where I will be staying when/if I get to London again.  Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing about trainline (link not provided on purpose). Their attitude was: reschedule the trip on the same route/train up to 12 weeks in advance and we may forgo the exorbitant associated fee.  I was prepared to loose that money and it was my mistake for using them in the first (and now the last) place. I do believe that the issue may not lay with them though, but with the systems operated by the franchise holders. Trainline has since redeemed themselves, although it could take ages to get the money back.

On the plus side there are still many people out there in the front lines who are doing their jobs under very trying circumstances. Our local postie, the laundry up the road, the retail workers, the NHS staff, police, firemen and other emergency services, care workers, media workers, cleaners, truck drivers, delivery staff, farmers and agricultural workers, members of HM Military Forces and so many others that I cannot name. THANK YOU!!!!!!

And while we all are hiding in our bunkers clutching at our bogroll it is worthwhile considering that nature continues. Trees grow, squirrels collect nuts, ducks quack, flowers bloom, crops grow and the wind just keeps on blowing. The drop in air travel has been good for the planet, and the negative impact of humanity is diminishing as we are laid low by that little virus in the pic. If we all got wiped out tomorrow you can be rest assured that the planet would carry on without us.  

And this is where I shall pause for now. “Keep Calm and Carry On” I guess. 

DRW © 2020. Created 21/03/2020. Image of Cornona Virus: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS. 

Updated: 28/03/2020 — 11:12

Litter Bug!

One nasty side effect of the recent flooding has been the proliferation of litter that is now on the tide marks of the flood water. Where I stay this is particularly true and the majority of litter is plastic bottles. 

Yes, somebody was too bloody lazy to throw their litter into a bin or take it home to dispose of it. Makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race! 

Our town has an active group of volunteer litter pickers that goes around picking up other people’s crap and keeping the streets relatively clean although it is a thankless task and a never ending one too. I occasionally help out but am not a registered picker and don’t really have the bags and place to dispose of the contents in.  This morning I took my handy picker and 2 bags and tried to make a dent on the landscape. I filled 2 black bags with litter, although it was mostly plastic drinks and water bottles. It looks better already!

Before

After

I am not done yet, just after I post this I am meeting up with others who want to tackle the mess. We are going to make a difference, even if it is a drop in the ocean. Unfortunately because of the nature of the floodwater the litter is not really recyclable so it will all end up in a garbage site somewhere. 

Hopefully I will get some pics a bit later today to show what we did. Watch this space and pick up that garbage!! 

Job done…

Before

After

 

Unfortunately the mess on the other river bank will need to be approached from a different angle and we have not worked that out yet. But things are looking so much better now. 6 bags of litter was collected on the riverbank, and there is probably enough to be found to fill another 3.

Out of interest I worked on a recycling line way back in 2015 and learnt quite a lot while wading through the conveyor belt that rushed past me. A large portion of what went past us was catalogues in plastic bags addressed to somebody that had been thrown away unopened. People throw anything away… from clothing to food, plastic, cardboard, polystyrene, electronic waste and tons of unidentifiable rubbish. We were doing this just after Christmas so we had the additional burden of unwanted gift wrapping and decorations, food packaging, and the normal run of the mill stuff. To help pass the time I used to count clothing items to see how many people I could cloth on a shift from clothing that had been binned;  I seem to remember one evening tallying up enough clothing for 8 people! (including shoes and underwear).  Naturally some things I wanted to save, quite a lot of old family photographs passed along our line and those were sad because one day somebody may ask about them.  They were not mere photographs but often the only tangible reminder of lives that have passed. 

So, having enthralled everybody with my tales from the garbage age I would like to share two photos that I took in Johannesburg in 2012.  

This is the daily slog for many of the informal litter pickers who trudge through the streets in South Africa with their strange cart-traptions, They recycle tins, paper, cardboard and almost anything that has value. White paper is particularly favoured as it does have a high resale value. People like this do not get the full value of their collecting as it is often sold to a middleman at a fraction of the price. As much as they tended to mess up traffic with their huge loads they not only kept our streets cleaner but also performed a very necessary role in the recycling chain.  Where I used to work in Kyalami Business Park there were many cardboard collectors vying for a place in the pecking order, and we employed one to help us clear out our workshop and we even gave him a few days casual work, but his already difficult life was messed up when somebody stole his trolley, forcing him to have to carry his loads by hand, and even at the bottom of society your life can change dramatically overnight. If I had 10 of these guys we could clean this town up in a week, although the odds are 20 more would suddenly appear out of nowhere for such is the nature of poverty and need.  Remember: there but for the grace of God go I.  

Right.. let me grab my goodies and go do my good deed for the day. 

DRW © 2020. Created 14/03/2020 

Updated: 22/03/2020 — 10:40
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