Monday, January 29, 2024

'The Tide', Greenwich Peninsula

London The Unfinished City
'Quick Tide' by Felipe Pantone.

Greenwich Peninsula is an ever-changing place to visit. From its massive Peninsula Square with its water fountains, its boutique market and shops and, of course, the MillenniuM Dome, or the O2 Arena is now known, there is always lots to see and do.

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Looking down on Peninsula Square.

The riverside walk, towards Woolwich, has been cleaned up and now offers great places to sit and watch the activity of the River Thames. 

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'The Tide' from the riverside.

While the Olympian Way, which leads on to the Thames Path, offers great views across to the Isle of Dogs and the various public art along that part of the route.

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You are never far from the Greenwich Meridian.

One of the newest features, of the Peninsula, is 'The Tide', which is London's first-ever riverside linear park. This raised walkway allows you to sit above the bustle of Peninsula Square and relax. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Walking with family: North Greenwich to Deptford... and beyond

Isle of Dogs from the south bank
Canary Wharf from the Olympian Way.

Saturday January 27, 2024.

I had decided to take a trip with Keilyn to North Greenwich, in order to walk towards Tower Bridge, as we had previously walked from North Greenwich to the Woolwich Foot tunnel... and beyond. Emma decided that it might be good for us all to go, but Erin was dead against it, preferring to spend her Saturday with friends, rather than 'trudge' around London. 

So, leaving her with her friends, the three of us jumped in a taxi to Watford Metropolitan station, jumped on a train, transferred to a Jubilee line train, at Finchley Road, and finally arrived at our starting point of North Greenwich just before 11:00.

The Tide at North Greenwich
'The Tide' at North Greenwich.

Our first stop was to the pop-up market, on Peninsula Square, for a hot drink, before heading towards 'The Tide', with its multi-coloured steps and great views.

From here we followed Olympian Way, which is part of the Thames Path, around the back of the O2 Arena, heading towards Greenwich proper.

Liberty by Gary Hume
'Liberty' by Gary Hume.

The first of the public art installations that we discovered, along the Olympian Way, was 'Liberty Grip' by Gary Hume, a strange piece of work that is modelled on mannequin arms. Vey odd, but still a delight to see.

Rear of the O2 Arena
At the back of the O2 Arena.

As I had never walked this part of the Thames Path, it was strange seeing the back of the O2 Arena, with its little pocket park for staff to use and the parts of the arena that you don't normally get to see.

Tribe and Tribulation by Serge Attukwei Clottey
'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey.

The next piece of public art we discovered was 'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey, which was a stack of container boxes, piled on top of each other. But, as you drew closer, you could hear sounds emanating from within the boxes. These 'sounds' were recordings from various Slave Fort locations along the former Gold Coast. It was delightful and disturbing, in equal measure.

Here by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead
'Here' by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead.

Next, Keilyn spotted a signpost, which I had paid no mind to, seeing as it was just a signpost. However, I was wrong. This signpost had a name and was a simple piece of art, entitled 'Here', and was created by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead.

A Slice of Reality by Richard Wilson
'A Slice of Reality' by Richard Wilson.

But what I had heard about and was looking forward to seeing was suddenly in view. Quite possibly the largest piece of public art in London. 'A Slice of Reality' by Richard Wilson. A vertical section of an ocean-going dredger, left to rust in the River Thames. It was quite something to behold, when stood right next to it. It is a pretty awesome piece.

Canary Wharf with a rotting wharf
An old rotting dock with the new Canary Wharf.

We continued along the Thames Path, watching the skyline on the Isle of dogs change as our route meandered along the River Thames. There were plenty of other people using the route, too. Joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, but next to no families. Very odd. We passed the Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range, with Keilyn trying to reach through the mesh fencing to try and grab a golf ball. Fortunately, we found a few that escaped the confines of the range, so she was happy and hurriedly put them in her pockets.

Beer sign
The biggest 'Beer' sign that I have ever seen.

We discovered waterside pubs, a place where the Necrobus and other buses and cars were kept, boat repair yards, industrial works and much more.

London Buses
Where some of the buses sleep.

Boat Repair Yard
Repairing the boat 'Alfie'.

Soon we could see Greenwich Power Station and, beyond, the Old Royal Naval College, and the masts of 'Cutty Sark'. All the while the kept looking across to the Isle of Dogs, trying to spot any new towers, since our last visit, to the Canary Wharf skyline.

Trinity Hospital
Trinity Hospital.

After a slight detour, away from the river, we were soon passing the gigantic Greenwich Power Station, Trinity Hospital and heading along Crane Street, with its colourful pennants draped across the street, while signs and smells enticed weary travellers in for food and beer. 

Crane Street Pennants

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Gasholder Park

London The Unfinished City
The guide frame for gasholder No. 8.

Some of the most striking buildings that have been part of the King's Cross skyline, for over 150 years, are the gasholders. These giant cast-iron buildings were in use until the late 20th century, but soon became redundant and, along with the rest of the area, fell into disrepair. 

I have seen these gasholders from trains, but never up close, so was looking forward to paying them a visit. 

Walking along the Regent's Canal, from Camden, these iconic buildings now stand just east of the main rail line, at St Pancras Basin.

One of them stands completely empty with just its wrought iron columns and girders surrounding the small park at its centre. 

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Erin & Keilyn checking out their reflections in Gasholder No. 8.

It is a wonderful place to sit and relax, with mirrored surfaces reflecting the ambient light, which is supplemented in the evening with extra lighting.

Three other gasholders have been converted into apartments with roof gardens, offering amazing views across the city for those lucky enough to live here.

Fortunately for King's Cross, but not for Waterloo, the decision to move the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St Pancras was what caused the regeneration of the area.

With grassy areas and the canal, this is a great place to stroll on a warm day, whether as a stop-off on your way to Coal Drops Yard and further east, or heading west to Camden and onto Little Venice.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Station Area ID Codes (SIDs)

London The Unfinished City

When travelling to London I use the London Underground, or, depending on my destination, the Overground. Because of this I have visited many stations, with their countless escalators, lifts, staircases, corridors and ticket halls, which make each station unique in its own way.

Another thing that they all share are small blue number plates, affixed to walls and doors throughout the station complex. Some corridors can have multiple SIDs, depending on their length.

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Each plate as a single digit number above a three digit number. The top number is easy to work out as this denotes the level beneath ground, but the longer number is a lot trickier to understand.

Monday, January 22, 2024

'Ye Olde Mitre'

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Ye Olde Mitre.

London is full of narrow, winding alleyways that link various streets and roads together. Some are short passages, while others meander and twist. The majority, however, hide nothing of real interest. 

But, I had heard of one alley, near Hatton Garden, that has a historic public house nestled midway down its length. So I set about locating it. 

As this public house is located within the City of London it is only open on weekdays, so I made a point of heading to the area on a Monday morning.

Walking along Holborn I crossed Hatton Garden, which I could have taken as this has an alley leading to the pub, and turned on to Charterhouse Street. After a few more steps I turned on to Ely Place and began looking for the alley.

It didn't take long before I peered along a narrow alley which was bisected vertically with an iron bar, obviously put in place to stop cyclists taking a shortcut, and soon found myself in the small courtyard of Ye Olde Mitre. 

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A small, but cosy, courtyard.

This courtyard, although narrow, had old upturned barrels on which patrons could rest their drinks, while flower baskets hung from walls. A brass and glass lamp hung from the exterior, of the pub, which looked as though it offered plenty of illumination in the evenings.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Battersea Park Children's Zoo

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An Emu.

I find that the Children's zoos and City Farms offer a great alternative to the much larger London Zoo, and are often a lot cheaper to visit, especially with the cost of living crisis.

So it was that while walking from Westminster to Battersea, with Keilyn, we found ourselves at Battersea Park Children's Zoo. Having never visited this particular zoo, we decided to head inside and have a good look around.

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Asian Short-Clawed Otters.

We saw parrots, Asian Short-Clawed Otters, Goats, Lizards, Spiders, Capuchin, Snakes, Donkeys, Cranes, Iguana, Frogs, Rats, Emu and so much more.

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Thao Whipping Frog.

We failed to spot the Chameleon, but we did look for it for about twenty minutes.

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Keilyn ready to board the helicopter.

Then there were the adventure playgrounds, which Keilyn loved, as it had a real helicopter, fire engine and tractor to clamber over and play in.

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Keilyn driving a fire engine.

Considering its relatively small size, the zoo certainly contains a myriad of species in well built enclosures.

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A Harvest Mouse.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Slabs, Markers & Covers

Although there is much to see when it comes to London's architecture, with her old buildings juxtaposed with new, it is always worth looking at what is below your feet.

Just as plaques of various styles adorn the walls around this great city, there are more to be found on the pavements, curbs and alleyways.

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Coal hole cover.

Not only are there numerous styles of Coal Hole Covers, to be found, but there are still places where you can find Wooden Paving on London's streets.

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Wooden paving.

Sometimes the slabs are not concrete, wood or marble, but metal, often used as steps or utility covers.

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Metal steps plaque.

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Utility hole cover, Greenwich. 

Then there are the newer slabs, added to keep the history of an area alive.

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The Merchant Line, London Bridge City.

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Red Lion Court.

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St Dunstans Court.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Kingsway Tram Subway

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The Kingsway Tram Subway entrance.

I have walked up and down Southampton Row on numerous occasions, as it is a direct walking route from Euston, when I travel by London Overground, to the River Thames. The road and pavements are always busy as Russell Square, Queen Square, the University of London and much more are all in the area.

As you cross the busy Theobalds Road, there is a ramp, behind iron gates, that slopes down into a tunnel, in the middle of the road. This is the only surviving entrance to the Kingsway Tram Subway.

Unlike the rest of the tram network, which ceased operation in 1952, the Kingsway Tram Subway still has the street tracks, for the most part, in situ. Looking closer you can make out the underground electricity cable that powered this route.

Although Southampton Row hasn't really changed that much, over the last century, you can immediately spot a problem with the layout. The roads would have been quieter, granted, but passengers would have to cross to the centre of the road, where stairs would need to be descended to reach the station below. And those exiting the tunnel would climb a different set of stairs, only to find themselves fighting to cross the road to the safety of the pavement.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Battle of Britain Monument

London The Unfinished City

Walking along the Victoria Embankment, near Whitehall, you will discover the Battle of Britain Monument, which stretches along the pavement.

This granite and bronze monument was built so that visitors can interact with it. This impressive monument has scenes from different aspects of the Battle of Britain. From Airmen 'scrambling' to women working in munitions factories to the ground crews who kept the aeroplanes serviced... and more.

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"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

I can happily look at this monument for hours, and still find something that I have never noticed before.