Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rail Adhesion Trains (RATs)

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A C69/77 stock train converted to be a Rail Adhesion Train (RAT) on the Metropolitan line.

Every now and again I see these Rail Adhesion Trains, usually in the Autumn/Winter months and usually at Watford Metropolitan line station, but I never understood what they did.

Coming back from London, last Sunday evening, a Rail Adhesion Train was in the sidings, so I took a photograph and decided to do so some research to find out what this train actually does.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Christmas Lights By Bus Tour


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Crowning Glory.

Sunday November 27, 2022.

As a treat my mum booked tickets for herself, my grandson Theodore, Erin, Keilyn, Emma and myself.

After meeting up at Watford Metropolitan line station, we made our way to Finchley Road, where we changed to a Jubilee line train and continued on to Waterloo.

As we had arrived early we had time to grab a warm drink and a quick snack, form one of the many stalls along the Embankment.

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A little something to warm us up.

Suitably fed and watered we made our way to our stop, on Belvedere Road, and waited in line for our bus. Being at the front of the queue enabled us to pick the best seats. Erin, Keilyn and Theodore sat at the front of the top deck, below the covered area while Emma, mum and myself sat in the open air, which allowed for a better view.

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Our Carriage Awaits.

The weather, which had been unsettled and drizzly for most of the morning, was dry with a mild temperature, until we boarded the bus and the drizzle started again. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Woolwich Free Ferry

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Looking from the south terminal to the north.

Although you can traverse the River Thames by foot, either by bridge, tunnel or cable car, you can also choose to go by train, by road or boat.

The Woolwich Free Ferry, however, is only suitable if travelling from South Woolwich to North Woolwich, but it is still a fun way of travelling and offers some great views along the Thames. Plus, it is completely free to use.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Trafalgar Square: Fourth Plinth

London The Unfinished City
Nelson's Ship in a Bottle.

Ever since Trafalgar Square was opened, in 1844, one of its plinths, situated in the northwest of the square, has remained empty. The other three plinths have statues of King George IV, General Sir Charles James Napier and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock.

It was supposed to have a statue of King William IV affixed, but a lack of funds left the plinth unadorned.

In 1998, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce commissioned three contemporary sculptures to be temporarily displayed on the plinth. 

Shortly afterwards the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, commissioned a report to seek public opinion on what should happen with the fourth plinth.

The report recommended a rolling programme of temporary artworks rather than a permanent figure. 

Ownership of Trafalgar Square was transferred from Westminster City Council to the Mayor of London, in 2003, which marked the beginning of the Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth Commission.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Little Ben

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Little Ben.

Standing outside Victoria Station is a 30 foot replica of the Queen Elizabeth Tower, which is colloquially known as 'Big Ben'.

This replica has been used as a meeting place, since 1892, when French people caught their trains to the English ports. For almost all of this time is has stood where it was erected, except for being removed for a road-widening scheme and also when refurbishments took place at Victoria Station.

It is a wonderful little gem that, unless you are visiting the Victoria area, many people miss.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Florence Nightingale Museum

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Florence Nightingale.

Friday October 28, 2022.

With so many museums about a myriad subjects it is often hard to choose which to visit. Fortunately, Erin and Keilyn made the decision to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum, which is in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital, so is easy to reach. Emma booked the tickets and off we set.

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Turkish lantern.

The museum, although small, is packed with information concerning the life of 'the lady with the lamp' from her childhood through the Crimean War and beyond, with each area of her life in three distinct areas.

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Stained glass.

There were also two family 'trails', of varying difficulty, that children could attempt, where they had to search the museum for specific items or pieces of information. This was a good way of keeping the girls engaged, rather than just looking at the exhibits. There are also interactive exhibits, which allow you to explore her life.

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Florence Nightingale's final bedroom.

All in all It was a fascinating trip around the museum where we all learned a great deal. Like, why she was called Florence and that she owned over 60 cats.

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Splash of Colour

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Lest We Forget.

I sit beside a fallen tree, looking across my field that has been transformed, these past years. My once lush, emerald pasture has been replaced with a patchwork of myriad browns. My once proud trees lie twisted and broken, like so much mangled machinery, spread without any thought or care. 

Diffused sunlight causes the timber frames and mangled steel of rotting machines, to appear to dance before me, like ghostly silhouettes on the uneven ground. 

Water, which fills the pits and troughs, reflects the dull, colourless sky, adding to my sombre mood. My heart feels heavy. Nothing moves. Nothing lives.

But, suddenly, there is clarity. The droplets from the fine rain, acting like a lens, focus my attention. Among the detritus, at the edge of the field, is there movement? Do my eyes deceive? I resist blinking, trying to focus on the apparition before me. Finally, I blink and the form takes shape. The shape of a man. A man who is staring at me,  as though he can see into my soul. 

My body aches as I rise to my feet. I feel the figure watching me, as I make my way into the field, if it can still be called that.

My progress is hindered by the thick mud, which sucks at my boots, threatening to pull me down into the bowels of the Earth. The figure before me turns, heading toward the centre of the quagmire, seeming to float across the surface. My breath becomes laboured, as my ageing body fights to keep me moving forward. As we get closer to the centre, the figure seems to undulate in-and-out of focus. A wave of nausea sweeps through me as the figure turns and holds my gaze. Tears fill his eyes as he dips his head. With a last great effort I step forward, throwing my arms around him, but he disappears and I topple into the mud. 

The sun, which has finally won its battle with the clouds, breaks through and warms the ground around me. And as I fight my way up and out of the decaying ground, I notice a splash of colour. As my eyes try to focus and my mind works to make sense of everything, exactly where the figure had stood, is a flower, swaying in the gentle breeze. 

The sun illuminates the thin wisp-like stalk, topped with blood-red petals. Somehow, against all the odds, surviving in the mud and detriment... a poppy.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Trafalgar Square: Nelson's Column

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Nelson's Column.

Whenever you visit Trafalgar Square it is impossible to miss Nelson's Column, on its pedestal, surrounded by four bronze lions. However, getting a good view of Lord Nelson, at the top of the column, is not so easy.

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Nelson's Column.

It is strange, now, to think that when the square was being designed it was to be named for King George IV, in celebration of his ascension to the throne. When this was changed and it was decided to name it after Lord Horatio Nelson the plans still did not include a column, nor fountains.

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Erin and Keilyn sitting with one of the bronze lions.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

National Covid Memorial Wall

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National Covid Memorial Wall.

The National Covid Memorial Wall stretches for a third of a mile along the Albert Embankment, from Westminster Bridge to Lambeth Bridge.  It was a risky idea as it could be interpreted as criminal damage, as no permission had been granted.

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National Covid Memorial Wall.

The first hearts began appearing in March 2021, when members of the 'Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Campaign' arrived and began painting hearts on the wall.

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National Covid Memorial Wall.

At the time of writing there are over 150,000 hearts painted or drawn onto the wall. The idea being that there be one heart for each person who had Covid listed as a cause of death on their death certificate.

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A staggering figure, that could have been much worse.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Horrible Histories: Terrible Thames

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Keilyn and Erin ready to board the Horrible Histories Terrible Thames cruise.

Friday October 28, 2022.

Erin and Keilyn, both, are really into their history and love reading the 'Horrible Histories' books. So, when we spotted a 'Horrible Histories' ferry sailing the River Thames, we just had to take a trip on her.

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Looking across the River Thames towards the Terrible Thames boat tour.

With the vessel, 'Silver Sockeye', due to depart at 10:45 we made sure that we were there in plenty of time, so that we could be at the front of the queue to grab the front seats. We headed upstairs and sat at the front on the port side, with the stage just in front of us.

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Erin and Keilyn on the stage with Tower Bridge as a backdrop.