Monday, 1 May 2017

An Urban Wander from Deptford Bridge to Greenwich, London

Having stayed up in London one or two nights per week on-and-off for the past few years, since changing jobs it's quite a rarity I get to London these days, and staying over is even more unusual. However, there was a very special reason we were visiting the capital ... to see The Orb at the Royal Festival Hall, for an ambient evening with them and some of their friends, one of who was Youth who I'd last seen at the Stroud Leisure Centre in 1982 as part of Killing Joke (but that's another story). Whilst the majority of this post will be about the Urban Wandering we did the following day, I couldn't resist sharing just a couple of pictures from the evening.

The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017
The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017

The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017
The Orb, playing Little Fluffy Clouds live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017

Anyway, enough of the ambient-dub diversion, and on to the urban wandering. I've been to Greenwich plenty of times before but never really to the nearby Deptford Bridge, nor to the parts of Greenwich we ended up wandering around. My only real association with Deptford was through the 1970's record label Deptford Fun City, which was the label who released the very first single by Squeeze, Packet of Three, and also a vast array of records by Alternative TV who I have only recently discovered.

Our wander started from just outside the hotel where we stayed for the gig and soon we were into areas of London I'd never seen before but started firing up my psychogeographical yearnings once more.

First up we have the former Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills. I had seen this before but only ever from the Docklands Light Railway. Whilst this has now been converted into some fairly luxurious apartments, it's good to see that the exterior architecture and signage remains in place.
Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills, Deptford Bridge, London
Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills, Deptford Bridge, London

Deptford Bridge is an area of contrasts. It's undergoing a fairly major redevelopment with flats being built everywhere, so I guess it's only a matter of time before this property is updated. If you ever wondered why your internet connection was a bit slow, then this may be the reason why.

Derelict building, Deptford Bridge, London
Derelict building, Deptford Bridge, London

Trying to find a way to walk along the side of Deptford Creek we cam across more abandonment, this time in the shape of a former pub, The Thames.

Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London
Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London

Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London
Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London

After wandering through some more of Deptford Bridge, we headed back into Greenwich. I have deliberately not included any pictures from the more usual parts of Greenwich, although I did try and take a shot of the entrance to the foot tunnel but there were so many tourists posing there to have their picture taken I gave it up as a bad job. Instead we continued on along the bank of the Thames, past the Cutty Sark towards Greenwich Power Station, which I was very surprised to find is still in use today. Those of you who have read my previous blog posts will know that at one stage I was slightly obsessed with power stations and gas works, driven mainly by the fantastic book, London's Lost Power Stations and Gasworks by Ben Pedroche. The power station is quite magnificent and can be seen from a good distance away.

Looking towards Greenwich Power Station from the west
Looking towards Greenwich Power Station from the west

Sitting beneath the shadow of the power station, but predating it by centuries is the Trinity Hospital and Alms Houses, originally built in 1613, rebuilt in 1812 and still in use today providing sheltered accommodation.

Greenwich Power Station and the Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Greenwich Power Station and the Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

The next set of pictures are all of the former coal jetty attached to the power station. Despite trying a variety of angles I couldn't quite get the picture I was hoping for.

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Greenwich Power Station, London
Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

A little further along the Thames from the power station is the former Harbour Master's Office, still displaying the signage.

Former Harbour Master's Office, Greenwich, London
Former Harbour Master's Office, Greenwich, London

Not as if anyone needed it, but there are reminders of Greenwich's maritime heritage everywhere. Here we see a quaint little row of houses in Union Wharf.

Union Wharf, Greenwich, London
Union Wharf, Greenwich, London

Union Wharf, Greenwich, London
Union Wharf, Greenwich, London

You may have noticed the sky becoming increasingly duller in each photo, and sure enough it started to rain so we headed back for the warmth of Greenwich itself. Having completed a circuit around the
power station, this is the view from the back. And as a bit of a bonus there was a sundial on the back of one of the Trinity Hospital buildings. Alas however the sun was not shining.

Greenwich Power Station, Greenwich, London
Greenwich Power Station, Greenwich, London

Sundial on the back of Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Sundial on the back of Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

As we headed back into Greenwich the heavens really started to open so pictures are few and far between, but I was determined to take this one despite the rain running down my neck into my shirt.

Canary Wharf through the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Canary Wharf through the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London

As way of reward after battling our way through the rain, we treated ourselves to spot of lunch at the really rather wonderful Champagne et Fromage in Greenwich. I have to confess that initially we only went in there to get a hot drink, get out of the rain, and plan the next part of our day, but having seen the food we simply couldn't resist.

Lunch at Champagne et Fromage, Greenwich, London
Lunch at Champagne et Fromage, Greenwich, London


    

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A lunchtime wander around the other end of Hook, Hampshire

Before we get into the pictures, I have become a bit curious about Hook as it's quite an odd place. Thousands and thousands of houses, only a few shops, and a relatively small train station at which the central platforms have been removed a while back, leaving just two remaining platforms, and many trains simply spped through on their way to London or Exeter, and do not stop there. I've come across a book called The Planning of a New Town written in in 1961 which describes a private new town, sponsored by the London County Council (LCC), to be built at Hook in Hampshire; a scheme that innovatively combined Garden City/New Town traditions with sensitivity to modern design. It would not appear though that the Hook of today is a result of this study, and that perhaps efforts were diverted to Basingstoke instead. Anyway, on with the show ...

Following on from my earlier wander around the less well trod paths surrounding Hook, today I wandered in the opposite direction, south along Holt Lane until it petered out into footpaths, eventually reaching and crossing over the busy M3 motorway. The day was bitterly cold but gloriously sunny. The ground was frozen and crisp underfoot, with just a few sticky patches where the weak sun had managed to thaw out some of the frozen mud.

Looking south along Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Looking south along Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

As the lane became thinner it was not particularly obvious where the path went until I caught sight of a footbridge in the distance. A tranquil walk interrupted rudely by the noisy motorway.

Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire
Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire

Annoyingly I didn't manage to capture this view of the footbridge very squarely, but an interesting contrast between the clear blue sky and turquoise railings of the bridge.

Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire
Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire

After crossing the bridge there were a couple of footpaths I could have taken, but lunchtime was running out, and also they looked a bit muddy to attempt in my work attire, so I headed back north the way I had come. If I'm still working here later in the year then maybe there will be more options open to me in the drier weather.

Looking north along Holt Way, Hook, Hampshire
Looking north along Holt Way, Hook, Hampshire

  ;  

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

In Search of Space, in Hook

Well, not as promised, but possibly as expected I have once again neglected my blog. I have recently started a new job and the first couple of weeks have been a little hectic, getting used to my new commute, and orientating myself around the work. I had hoped to travel by train, but after the first week it became clear that it would take twice as long as driving so reluctantly I have abandoned public transport and taken to my car.

I've managed a couple of lunchtime wanders from my new work location in Hook. The first couple of wanders were simply to stretch my leas and get some lunch, and were not particularly inspiring, but more recently I found a footpath that I'd spotted on google maps, and discovered a more rural setting, and as the title of my blog insists, some space. I only managed a short wander, but this route definitely calls for a bit more exploration, in both directions.

Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I'm a bit of a sucker for railway bridges, especially ones no longer in use, and whilst this one is most definitely in use, carrying the main line between Basingstoke and Waterloo, the bridge is an old brick arch, which is very much to my liking.

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire 

Farm track off Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Farm track off Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire 

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

Tomorrow I'm off to London, so with a bit of luck I'll get an opportunity for some early morning urban wandering before my meeting, so maybe this week will see another blog post ... but then again maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see.

In other news, I am desperately trying to find time and energy to read a book I got for my birthday last year called Timekeepers, How The World Became Obsessed With Time, by Simon Garfield, partly because I want to finish reading the book, but also so I can start on a more recent purchase, Post Punk Then and Now.

  

Monday, 21 November 2016

An Urban Wander along the Gloucester Road in Bristol

It wasn't until my phone storage had become full, and I was forced to upload my pictures to my PC, that I realised I did have a few other blog-worthy pictures to share. A few weeks ago we visited one of our kids who's at university in Bristol. Living just off the Gloucester Road now, we walked from his new house down the hill and into the city. The weather was a bit overcast so I didn't take anywhere as many photos as I would have had the weather been a bit brighter. The few pictures I did take however are of a recent passion of mine, doorway mosaics. I'm constantly, and pleasantly, surprised at just how many of these are still intact, and have not been destroyed as part of some modernisation scheme. This is a particular sore point for me at the moment as recently we visited the centre of Nottingham, again paying a visit to another of our kids at uni, and had cause to go to the Victoria shopping centre. I knew at one stage it was the location of a station but it wasn't until I returned home and did a quick internet search that I realised just how magnificent it was, and what a travesty it was to have bulldozed it in the 1960's to be replaced with a shopping centre. There's a good article on it on the BBC news site and a curiously intriguing book called Nottingham Victoria: The story of a slum, a station and a shopping centre. Sorry, I digress and seem to have become a bit melancholy, so back to the more upbeat purpose of this blog post, doorway mosaics.

Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol
Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol

Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol
Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol

So, just a short post today, but hopefully I'm back on the path to more regular blog postings.

    

Friday, 18 November 2016

A late afternoon wander along the River Thames from Battersea to Putney, London

Well, I am doing a pretty poor job of posting to my blog this year. Theoretically I have more time now as am working closer to home, and only rarely staying away from home, but my spare time seems to be getting eaten up with other interests.

Firstly I am still hunting down 1970's and 1980's punk, post punk and new wave vinyl that I used to own as a spotty teenager which now, as a 50 something, I am desperately trying to find again. Plus there are records that passed me by at the time which I'm discovering for the first time, wondering how I missed them first time around. Punishment of Luxury for example ... this was precisely the sort of music I was listening to in the late 1970's and early 1980's post punk movement but somehow never came across them until this year.

I've also discovered Netflix. Well, this isn't so much of a discovery as we've had it for over a year now, it's more of an addiction to several Netflix series, like House of Cards, Gotham, Hemlock Grove, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage. I used to tut at the kids as they binge-watched their way through series after series, but now I can see why.

Finally, I changed jobs back in April and am now working out of a pleasant, semi-rural, business park. The environment is tranquil but means my lunchtime wanders are restricted to the river. This isn't to say that the wanders along the river are not enjoyable, but they don't have the opportunity for the seemingly endless discovery that my urban wanders through London gave me.

So, where does all this rambling leading me? I guess it's just a reason for my posts being somewhat sporadic this year, but I do have some recent pictures to share. These were all taken late on a sunny, winter afternoon along the River Thames in London, as we walked from Battersea to Putney.

River Thames, looking towards Lots Road power station
River Thames, looking towards Lots Road power station

River Thames, looking west into the setting sun
River Thames, looking west into the setting sun

River Thames, looking west into the setting sun
River Thames, looking west into the setting sun

This was the night of the super moon but unfortunately my phone pictures don't really do it justice.

River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon
River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon

River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon
River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon

River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon
River Thames, looking east towards the rising super moon

So, that's all folks. Hopefully my next post will not be too far away, but you never know what my next distraction may be.

    


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Wander Along the River Thames near Reading, Berkshire

I thought twice about posting these pictures as although, to my mind, the subject matter is interesting, the sky was overcast and the photos do not perhaps give the impression I was hoping for. However, I eventually managed to persuade myself to share them. They were all taken on the short stretch of the River Thames between Thames Valley Business Park and Reading. It's got a gasometer, a railway bridge, a water tower and a ghost sign ... what more could one ask for.

So let's start with a ghost sign, on what I assume was a former pub, or maybe an off licence.

SIMONDS ALES & STOUT, WINES & SPIRITS


Ghost sign of former pub along the River Thames, near Reading
Ghost sign of former pub along the River Thames, near Reading

And now on to various pictures of the gasometer against an unfortunately dull and dreary sky. Although looking as though it's seen better days, the railway bridge in the foreground of this picture is still in use and carries the line south from Reading. Just peeking out behind the gasometer a water tower makes its presence known.

Gasometer and railway bridge, near Reading, Berkshire
Gasometer and railway bridge, near Reading, Berkshire

The next couple of pictures give a better view of both the gasometer and the water tower.

Gasometer and water tower, near Reading, Berkshire
Gasometer and water tower, near Reading, Berkshire

Gasometer and water tower, near Reading, Berkshire
Gasometer and water tower, near Reading, Berkshire

Perhaps not obvious in the previous pictures, but these structures are massive, as the next couple of shots hopefully illustrate. And for anyone with an interest in gasometers, I can highly recommend the book London's Lost Power Stations and Gasworks.

Gasometer near Reading, Berkshire
Gasometer near Reading, Berkshire

Gasometer near Reading, Berkshire
Gasometer near Reading, Berkshire


    

Friday, 19 August 2016

A Rural Wander along the Kennet and Avon Canal

One of the last rural wanders I managed before I started my new job was out to the west of where we live, along the Kennet and Avon canal. I'd cycled this route many times but generally veered off from the canal beyond Great Bedwyn, so this was all new territory for me. The weather was perfect, we had no time constraints, so all we had to do was enjoy ourselves.

Kennet and Avon Canal, near Crofton
Kennet and Avon Canal, near Crofton

As with many of my rural wanders, I'm constantly on the lookout for disused railways. I knew there were a couple in this area but was surprised in how much was still evident after all the years. This is the former Midland and South Western Junction Railway, built as a north-south link between the Midland Railway and the London and South West Railway. There's not much of the track bed remaining south of Marlborough (north of Marlborough it's a cycle path extending to Swindon), but plenty of parts of former bridges to see.

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Track bed of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway
Track bed of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway

Shame about the focus in this next picture, but this happy little chaffinch was singing his heart out in the trees alongside the canal towpath.

Chaffinch
Chaffinch

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal
Remains of a bridge carrying the Midland and South Western Junction Railway over the Kennet and Avon Canal

Not a railway bridge this time, but a small bridge carrying a farm track across the canal. There are plenty of these along the Kennet and Avon Canal, but I never tire of seeing them.

Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Burbage
Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Burbage

I'm not sure what building these ornate tiles were on. They have definitely seen better days but it just amazed me at how much intricate detail went into what is essentially the outside corner of a garden wall.

Ornate tiles on a wall near Burbage
Ornate tiles on a wall near Burbage

East Grafton village green
East Grafton village green

Old street lamp, somewhere between East Grafton and Wilton
Old street lamp, somewhere between East Grafton and Wilton

We finished the walk in Wilton where we stopped for a wonderful pub lunch and a well deserved pint.

    

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