Thursday, May 30, 2024

Walking with Keilyn: Marylebone to Kensington Gardens... and beyond

Kyoto Garden
A small piece of Japan in London.

Wednesday May 29, 2024.

Another half-term for the girls and another walk for Keilyn and myself.

Normal beginning with a taxi to Watford underground station, from where we caught a train to Harrow-on-the-Hill, where we switched to the Chiltern Flyer to Marylebone. Various signal and points issues had disrupted the Metropolitan, Circle and District lines, so this was our backup route.

Harrow-on-the-Hill station
Harrow-on-the-Hill underground station.

Arriving at Marylebone station we left the station and walked along Daventry Street towards Edgware Road, where we turned on to Edgware Road, before turning right and headed down Praed Street.

Real Time by Maarten Baas
'Real Time' by Maarten Baas.

Our first stop was at the corner of Eastbourne Terrace, where we stopped to watch the 'Man in a Clock', which is an installation by Maarten Baas, a Dutch artist. The work is called 'Real Time' and has a man perpetually cleaning the clock face and wiping off the clock hands and then repainting them, every minute. It is fun to stare at.

Leinster Gardens false buidlings
Leinster Gardens facade.

Continuing down Craven Hill our next stop was Leinster Gardens, where I convinced Keilyn to knock on the giant black doors. Her face when she discovered that they were not real was priceless, as she exclaimed, "It's fake!"

Leinster Gardens rear
Behind the Leinster Gardens facade.

We stopped for a coffee and a hot chocolate at The Central Pantry, before heading to Porchester Terrace, so that I could show Keilyn the rear of the false buildings.

The Round Pond
The Round Pond.

From here we headed down Porchester Terrace and, after crossing Bayswater Road, entered Kensington Gardens. A slow walk along the tree-lined path brought us to the Round Pond, where coots, ducks, geese, moorhens and swans made a raucous sound, as visitors got too close to their young.

Kensington Palace gates
Keilyn at Kensington Palace.

We headed towards the Queen Victoria Statue and entered the grounds of Kensington Palace, taking photos of the palace, its gates and the statue of William III of Orange. Following Studio Walk we found ourselves on Palace Green with its various embassies and armed police protection.

Barkers building Kensington
The beautiful Barkers building, Kensington High Street.

We left here and joined Kensington High Street and searched out a shop to replenish our water supply and grad some more snacks. Suitably stocked we continued along the high street, passing the impressive Barkers building and Japan House, before we found ourselves on Melbury Road.

It was along this road that we to see two more things of interest. 

Gnome Garden bar
The gnomes have a bar.

The first was a Gnome Garden, which, as its name suggests, is a Gnome Garden... pure and simple. However, the effort and time put into this small front garden was impressive and Keilyn and I kept spotting different things on each inspection.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Walking with Family and Friends: Aldgate to St Katharine Docks... and beyond

St Katharine Docks and Marina
St Katharine Docks and Marina.

Saturday May 25, 2024. 

Another Saturday and another walk through London.

Keilyn and I met up with my friend Steve at Watford Underground station and boarded our train to Baker Street. Arriving at Croxley station we were joined by my mum and uncle Martin.

We alighted at Finchley Road and waited the six minutes for an Aldgate bound train to continue our journey.

Arriving at Aldgate station we headed outside and, after crossing Aldgate High Street, grabbed a coffee from 'Copper Coffee', on the corner of Mansell Street. We then continued along Mansell Street on to St Katharine's Way and our destination of St Katharine Docks.

The Barge 'Excelsior'

With the sun in an almost cloudless sky it was the perfect conditions to wander around the Marina with its yachts, barges and other vessels.

Koi fish in the Marina
Is that a Koi?

Having explored the marina and after spotting what looked like Koi in the clear waters, we made our way to the Docks and the chance to explore the 'Dunkirk Little Ships' that had arrived ahead of the anniversary of 'Operation Dynamo', which took place between May 26 and June 4, 1940.

Dunkirk Little Ships
Dunkirk Little Ships.

These historic ships had been part of an armada that travelled from Ramsgate to Dunkirk to aid in the rescue of over 336,000 British and French soldiers. Many of these boats made multiple trips.

We read the stories of the ships, listened to crew members telling stories and got up close to these historic vessels.

Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks
A different perspective.

With noon fast approaching we went our separate ways, with mum and Martin staying around the St Katharine Docks area, while Keilyn, Steve and I crossed Tower Bridge and headed along the Thames Path towards Rotherhithe.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks and Marina

Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks
Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks and Marina.

Saturday May 25, 2024.

With the anniversary of the start of 'Operation Dynamo', this weekend, some of the 'Little Ships of Dunkirk' had made their way to St Katharine Docks and Marina, allowing visitors to get up close to these historic vessels.

Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks
Some of the historic Dunkirk Little Ships.

It was a beautiful summer morning as we walked around the Docks and Marina, inspecting these small boats that, 84 years ago, had made their way from Ramsgate to Dunkirk to help in the evacuation of more than 338,000 British and French soldiers. 

Dunkirk 1940 Plaque
A 'Dunkirk 1940' commemorative plaque.

Each boat was in pristine condition and each had its own story to tell, with information boards and owners and crew ready and willing to share the stories of the vessels.

Dunkirk Little Ships at St Katharine Docks
Dunkirk Little Ship 'Lady Lou'.

'Lady Lou' is one of four surviving pre-war Ramparts and was built in 1936.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Brunel Museum

Brunel Museum Tunnel Shaft
The Mural on the side of the Grand Entrance Hall.

The Brunel Museum is located within the Brunel Engine House building, Rotherhithe. This small but very informative museum allows you to descend into the Rotherhithe Thames Tunnel Shaft and visit the Engine House, where you will learn exactly what went in to building the world's first tunnel beneath a navigational waterway.

Marc Isambard Brunel designed Engine House as part of the Thames Tunnel project. Steam-powered pumps, used to extract water from the tunnel, were originally housed here, although it was used as a boiler house, between 1825-43. 

Brunel Museum Priming Pump
A Priming Pump from 1929.

In 1961 the Brunel Engine House opened and offered visitors the chance to see the interior of the building, as well as the Rennie flat V steam engine.

In 1974 the Engine House and Chimney were Grade II Listed. 

Between 1975-79 restoration work to stop structural decay was undertaken and completed.

Brunel Museum Engine House
The Chimney and Engine House.

In 2006 the Brunel Engine House changed its name to the Brunel Museum allowing the museum to incorporate other projects by the Brunel's. A new mural was created on the side of the Tunnel Shaft and benches were created in the style of Brunel bridges, in the garden area.

Brunel Museum Royal Albert Bridge
The Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash, as a bench at the museum.

Refurbishments, in 2007, included the moving of the Rennie flat V steam engine to the Chatham Historic Dockyard, thus creating a larger exhibition space and improved toilet facilities, within the Engine House. 

Brunel Museum Memorabilia
Memorabilia for the Thames Tunnel.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Stave Hill Viewpoint

City of London from Stave Hill
Looking towards the City of London.

It was while on a recent trip to Rotherhithe that I finally visited Stave Hill viewpoint, and it was not a disappointment.

Approaching Stave Hill Viewpoint
Approaching Stave Hill Viewpoint.

Set in the Stave Hill Ecological Park this artificial hill stands stands 9 metres (29.5 feet) in height and offers incredible 360 degree views out across London. There are sixty concrete steps that need to be climbed, but it is definitely worth the climb. There is a handrail either side, to assist those less able.

Stave Hill Viewpoint Steps
The 60 Steps.

Obviously, the closest buildings to see are the ever increasing amount of buildings at nearby Canary Wharf, but there is more to see: Nine Elms, the BT Tower, Nine Elms, the City of London and all points in between.