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.

    

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Doorway mosaics from Guernsey and the Isle of Wight

Once again it's been far too long since I've updated this blog. I thought it had perhaps been a couple of months but was somewhat surprised to discover that it was in fact way back in April, so pretty much four months. Rest assured I have been urban, rural and coastal wandering during this time, but I have been very busy outside of that, moving from being a long-term, permanent employee to a freelance consultant, setting up my own company, landing my first contract, etc., and have just not found the time to blog.

I've amassed a fair number of photos from my wanderings over the past four months and have been considering how best to lay them back here. I think that rather than producing what might come across as a travel diary, I'll focus on common themes covering several locations. So without any further delay, here's my first post for a while and it features doorway mosaics from Guernsey, Isle of Wight and Somerset.

Doorway mosaic, St. Peter's Port, Guernsey
Doorway mosaic, St. Peter Port, Guernsey

Doorway mosaic, St. Peter's Port, Guernsey
Doorway mosaic, St. Peter Port, Guernsey

This was probably the most impressive doorway mosaic I saw in Guernsey but unfortunately there were a couple of black bags of rubbish in the doorway. It was quite a bust street and I would have felt a little conspicuous taking the bags out to get a better picture.

Doorway mosaic, St. Peter's Port, Guernsey
Doorway mosaic, St. Peter Port, Guernsey

On to the Isle of Wight now. This was the first time I had been to the Isle of Wight since I was at junior school, far too many years ago to reveal. The whole place really felt like stepping back in time, to a 1970's England, in the days before out of town retail parks, and where high streets still had shops other than charity shops. And in terms of doorway mosaics I suspect I only scratched the surface, I felt the island had many more to offer.

I'm not sure that this first one from Cowes is strictly a mosaic, but it's close.

Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Doorway mosaic, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Doorway mosaic, Newport, Isle of Wight
Doorway mosaic, Newport, Isle of Wight

In other news, I have been managing to find some time, although again not as much as I'd like, for reading. Two of my recent reads include A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, and the wonderful Common Ground by Rob Cowen. I really cannot recommend the latter enough.

    

Sunday, 10 April 2016

An Urban Wander from Primrose Hill to Kings Cross via Camden

Interrupting my suburban wandering along the London Loop Recreational Walk I had an opportunity to visit the area around Primrose for a couple of hours before an appointment. The Primrose Hill area has always been a bit of a favourite of mine, although I don't think I've ever really posted any pictures of it, apart from one possibly from the top of Primrose Hill overlooking London. So, with an opportunity to put this right I set about with my hand-me-down phone whose camera is unfortunately nowhere near as good as my old phone.

Painted houses, Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill, London NW1
Painted houses, Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill, London NW1

I hadn't ventured very far but was already in need of sustenance when I stumbled across this wonderful café, Chloe's Espresso, on the bridge crossing the railway line out of Euston. The road is actually a continuation of Regent's Park Road but cars are prevented from accessing this part of it, making it an interesting pedestrian thoroughfare linking the distinctly upper class Primrose Hill with the more edgier Chalk Farm and Camden.

Chloe's Espresso, Regents Park Road, London NW1
Chloe's Espresso, Regent's Park Road, London NW1

Chloe's Espresso, Regents Park Road, London NW1
Chloe's Espresso, Regent's Park Road, London NW1

I've walked along this stretch of the Regent's Canal plenty of times before but had never looked at it from above.

Regent's Canal, Primrose Hill, London NW1
Regent's Canal, Primrose Hill, London NW1

Quite a contrast looking from the bridge in the opposite direction, across the railway lines, towards Camden.

Camden from bridge over the Regent's Canal, Primrose Hill, London NW1
Camden from bridge over the Regent's Canal, Primrose Hill, London NW1

This wheel is not going anywhere, unlike it would seem the rest of the bike. Unless of course this is an installation.

Art installation or unfortunate cyclist?
Art installation or unfortunate cyclist?

Having wandered around Primrose Hill, poking my way through as many different streets as I could find, I dropped down on to the canal tow path and made my way towards Camden.

Former wharves lining the Regent's Canal, Camden, London NW1
Former wharves lining the Regent's Canal, Camden, London NW1

Former wharves lining the Regent's Canal, Camden, London NW1
Former wharves lining the Regent's Canal, Camden, London NW1

The old and the new, Regent's Canal, near Camden, London NW1
The old and the new, Regent's Canal, near Camden, London NW1

Always a bit of a sucker for a gas holder, mainly through reading London's Lost Power Stations and Gas Works I was pleasantly surprised that the former Kings Cross gas holders have been kept and have been incorporated into the design of these new apartments.

Gas holder, Kings Cross, London
Gas holder, Kings Cross, London

Gas holder, Kings Cross, London
Gas holder, Kings Cross, London

And so another urban wander reaches its end. Despite this one being through some fairly familiar territory, I once again saw it with new eyes inspired by Psychogeography.

    

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Suburban Wander from Moor Park to Stanmore, following the London Loop

As hinted at in my previous post, a Suburban Wander from Harefield to Moor Park following the London Loop, I was unsure where my next wander would take me. Having just finished Gareth Rees' wonderful Marshland I really wanted to explore the Walthamstow, Hackney and Leyton marshes, but that will have to wait until another day. Instead we embarked on our second part of the London Loop recreational path, from Moor Park to Stanmore, some of which is featured in Nick Papadimitriou's Scarp, another excellent, recent read.

We drove to the Northwood/Moor Park border, looking for somewhere to park that was not too much of a trek from the start of the walk, and eventually ended up reasonably close to Moor Park station. The weather was stunning, but as you'll see from the later pictures, this was not to be sustained for the whole day's walk.

Bridge carrying the Metropolitan railway line at Moor Park
Bridge carrying the Metropolitan railway line at Moor Park

The first section of the walk took us across open fields, strewn with electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, as we headed to the Sandy Lodge Golf course.

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

 Keeping an eye out for stray golf balls whizzing through the air, we navigated the greens and golfers and came out on to Sandy Lodge Lane.

Sandy Lodge Lane, Moor Park
Sandy Lodge Lane, Moor Park

After Sandy Lodge Lane, the route took us through parkland and woodland. I seem not to have taken any pictures through Oxhey Woods for some reason, most likely because the going was difficult and we had to carefully place each foot to avoid slipping over in the ever present mud. However, the mud in the woods was nothing in comparison to the mud which greeted us as we came out of the woods and into open fields somewhere near Hatch End. The fields had been churned up by horses and several times we found ourselves over ankle deep in wet mud. There was certainly no scope for taking pictures during this part of the wander. However, once we had successfully negotiated the mud, but alas with wet feet, we emerged on to a more solid path, where this beautiful farmhouse stood, hiding the quagmire in the distance.

Farmhouse, near Hatch End, on the London Loop Recreational Walk
Farmhouse, near Hatch End, on the London Loop Recreational Walk

From here the path followed a few more wet, field edges and then skirted between fields and housing estates on narrow tracks. If I'm honest, we were getting quite fed up with walking on wet and muddy tracks so we quite pleased when we eventually found some more solid ground.

Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park
Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park

Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park
Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park

Unlike our previous section of the loop, we did not come across much in the way of villages, towns or country pubs, so had to make do with having a late lunch in a garden centre, which I desperately try and avoid at all costs as it makes me feel I'm turning into my parents, but needs must, and we were getting quite hungry. Sustained with home-made soup, followed by tea and quite a wonderful cream egg brownie, we set off again towards our destination. My feet had almost dried out too, so the walk was a bit more comfortable, although my boots, socks and trousers were covered in mud.

Again we trekked through woods and commons, passing through Grim's Dyke, Harrow Weald Common, and Bentley Priory. The weather has closed in a bit by this stage, so once again there was a lack of photo opportunities. The few I did take however were around Grim's Dyke, a 2,000 year old ditch, which surrounding area also boasts the house and gardens formerly owned by Sir William Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, who drowned in one of his lakes trying to assist a female house guest who had got into trouble.

Lake in the gardens of William Gilbert's former house
Lake in the gardens of William Gilbert's former house

Gilbert's house is now a hotel.

William Gilbert's former house
William Gilbert's former house

William Gilbert's former house
William Gilbert's former house

Derelict building, near Bentley Priory
Derelict building, near Bentley Priory

Once again we seemed to have either over exerted ourselves, or under estimated our strength and stamina, and were feeling quite weary by this stage. The walk through Stanmore Common and down to Stanmore tube station was quite a slog, and we were glad to find some shops for our second cake of the day, which we bought from Lidl and ate on the tube as our clothes were so muddy we felt in no fit state to go into a cafe.

Whilst the section of the loop we had followed was enjoyable, we both agreed that it was less enjoyable that the first section we'd walked from Harefield to Moor Park. I suspect this was mainly to do with the mud, and later in the day the weather. However, we are not put off, and will return at some stage to start the next section. But before that, I have a more recent urban wander to post.

    

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