Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Urban Wandering: London's Painted Ladies

One of the great things about really cold weather, is that when you get a cold but sunny day, it's fantastic. This was true of yesterday when I took my new favourite lunchtime stroll west of Paddington out towards Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove. The first picture is of the magnificent, painted houses on the crescent part of the Lansdowne Road. These are almost as good as the Painted Ladies in San Francisco. Interestingly it looked as though most of these had been recently painted, and some were still being worked on.

Painted Ladies, Lansdowne Road, London W10
Lansdowne Road, London W10

I continued west up to Pottery Lane and Portland Road. Having recently seen a documentary called The Secret History of Our Streets (London) I was keen to see Portland Road, and witness for myself the contrast between north and south. I had walked this way a couple of weeks ago but was drawn to Pottery Lane instead so this was the first time I'd really looked at Portland Road in any detail. Walking back towards Paddington I came across this curious building, Bonham House. I assume it's residential but it has the look of an old hospital or asylum about it. I particularly like the chimney stack.

Bonham House, Ladbroke Road, London W10
Bonham House, Ladbroke Road, London W10

Inevitably as we approach Christmas there are lights and decorations everywhere. I quite liked this display as it was tasteful as opposed to some of the garish sights around.

Christmas lights, somewhere near Bond Street, London
Christmas lights, somewhere near Bond Street, London

    

Have you checked out my vintage postcard blog or my vintage magazines blog ?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Hollington loop

One of our favourite walks we can do from home is something we call the Hollington loop which leaves Woolton Hill and takes us up through Highclere (now famous because of Downton Abbey), through some wonderful copses and on to Hollington Lane before heading back towards Woolton Hill. It takes about an hour and a quarter depending on how sticky the mud is underfoot. My favourite part of the walk is pictured below. This is an open area somewhere between Ireland's Copse and Long Copse. I've often seen deer in this area but I think today we were a bit too noisy, making the most of a child free atmosphere to catch up on various things.



So, this was a great start to the day. Unfortunately things went a bit downhill after that with my son's football team being totally out played this afternoon, but hopefully a learning experience. Back home now though and looking forward to a nice hot bath followed by beef casserole, and maybe a glass or two of red.

Only 15 working days left until the Christmas break for me, and to be honest it can't come soon enough. Not because I particularly look forward to Christmas as such, but more because I need a decent break from work which has been manic, often pointlessly so, over the past few months. My vintage postcard advent calendar is up again this year - take a look and see what's behind each window throughout December.

Thanks to BBC radio 6, 6music, I have "discovered" a band called Public Service Broadcasting and have just downloaded as many of their tracks as I could find. Basically they take 1940's/1950's audio recordings and set them to a soundtrack ... can't recommend them enough !!

    

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Urban Wandering: Oldbury Place, London W1

Despite the train chaos in and out of Paddington today, caused by flooding and landslides in Somerset and Devon, I managed to escape for an hour at lunchtime to make the most of the beautifully crisp, clear day. I tramped my way through some pretty familiar territory around Marylebone High Street but stumbled across a small street I must have walked past many times but never explored, Oldbury Place. I particularly liked the curve of the street as it opened up to reveal a broader area, not quite a square though. Unfortunately the area was full of parked cars so no pictures of that I'm afraid.

Oldbury Place, London W1
Oldbury Place, London W1

I also liked the contrast of the orange (perhaps rusty?) roof girders against the blue sky that greeted me as I made my way down the street and looked right just before it curved away.
Oldbury Place, London W1
Oldbury Place, London W1

Oldbury Place, London W1
 Oldbury Place, London W1
 
    

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Autumn leaves

After delivering one of my kids to a football match last weekend on the outskirts of Reading, between Sulham and Tilehurst, I managed a short walk before kick-off. The ground was wet underfoot, and impassable in places, so I had to be careful where I trod. I'd never been to this area before so it was quite a pleasant surprise. The only downside was that the M4 motorway could be heard despite being a mile away.

 Autumn, near Reading

Autumn, near Reading

Autumn, near Reading

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Urban Wandering: London mews, W11

Given that Wednesday was foggy pretty much right up until lunch time, I wasn't too optimistic that if I did manage to get out at all, then there would be only overcast photo opportunities. However, as I was leaving the office the fog lifted a bit and I managed to enjoy at least some of my lunchtime stroll in the sunshine.

Having wandered down the Labroke Grove the night before for dinner, I passed some interesting looking mews and other small roads which I made a note of to visit the next day. The majority of these I had not seen before, and as always was more than pleased to discover some new, hidden, London treasures.

Looking out from Boyne Terrace Mews, London W11
Looking out from Boyne Terrace Mews, London W11

Looking out from Boyne Terrace Mews, London W11
 Looking out from Boyne Terrace Mews, London W11

The mews below, Horbury Mews was probably my favourite find of the day. What I particularly liked about this mews was the "T" shape, which you can't really see in the pictures, but at the end of the mews, just below the plaque, it opened out slightly. The second picture below shows the right hand side.

Horbury Mews, London W11
 Horbury Mews, London W11

Horbury Mews, London W11
 Horbury Mews, London W11

This road is actually a walk as opposed to a mews but nevertheless another beauty, and from the tranquil scene and cobbled streets, it's hard to imagine that it runs parallel to the busy Holland Park Avenue .

Ladbroke Walk, London W11
Ladbroke Walk, London W11

Ladbroke Walk, London W11
Ladbroke Walk, London W11

Ladbroke Walk, London W11
Ladbroke Walk, London W11
 
These next 2 photos are of a completely new place to me. The area had quite a village-like feel to it, abd a bit of post visit research showed that it has quite a history. There is still for example a kiln on or near to Pottery Lane, but I didn't see that during my walk.

Penzance Place, London W11
Penzance Place, London W11

Pottery Lane, London W11
Pottery Lane, London W11

The final picture is of Pembridge Mews. Unfortunately there was scaffolding and workers' vans along this mews, so the only picture I managed to get was this one, but I've made a note to return again.
Pembridge Mews, London W11
Pembridge Mews, London W11

I realise now that this blog has become almost exclusively dedicated to my London lunchtime strolls, and has not seen me talk about my bike rides, music listening or reading habits much of late. So, to address that, I managed to get out on my bike today for the first time in over a month. The 19 miles felt like hard going but it was good to be out again. Musically I've been listening to Porcupine Tree and Killing Joke.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Is it Christmas already?

A truly frustrating and bewildering week at work last week. By the time I finished work on the Wednesday I had pretty much given up hope of doing anything meaningful after work, but decided I needed a walk to calm me down and revive my senses. It was a pretty cold night but as I was walking I found myself drawn to the bright lights beaming from the grounds of the Natural History museum in South Kensington. Initially I just thought it was the Christmas lights in the trees that were lighting up the night sky, but on closer inspection I found this to be an ice rink. Personally I don't like ice skating at all and find it a bit boring, but that's probably because I've only ever done it in a sterile indoors environment, whereas even I was impressed by this sight.

Ice rink at Natural History Museum, London

The following day I managed to escape the madness and get out for half an hour at lunchtime, making the most of the sunny weather, and managed to discover a new mews, Albion Mews, London W2. I think I caught this particular mews at one of the best times of year, with some foliage, but not too much to obscure the views, and some wonder autumn colours.

Looking into Albion Mews, London W2

Looking back out from Albion Mews, London W2

Looking back out from Albion Mews, London W2

Looking back out from Albion Mews, London W2

As with many London mews, this could really be anywhere and hard to believe it's not far from the Bayswater Road. Of the four pictures of the mews, my favourite has to be the last one with the blue house and the bike.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumn

A strange few days and weeks since my last post. I've been to India with work, managed a few, on-road bike rides, completed a couple of autumn walks, and been out both nights on two consecutive weekends ... so the latter may not sound like much, but it's reminding me of how old I am feeling. But let's stick with the positive things, and celebrate Autumn.On Saturday we visited a National Trust property and grounds called The Vyne hust to the north of Basingstoke, Hampshire. Despite being ,e,bers of the National Trust and despite the property being about 30 minutes from where we live, this was the first time we'd ever visited. As we approached the entrance we were "greeted" by 3 deer running across thr road in front of us. After parking up, we chose the brown walk which took us about 2.5 miles through the woods.

Autumn walk through The Vyne, near Basingstoke, Hampshire

 Knarled tree, the Vyne

On Sunday we headed out towards Calne, which is in Wiltshire between Marlborough and Chippenham. It's a place we have driven through on several occasions but we'd never managed to stop there. A strange town, although perhaps no more strange than many towns, in that it had a striking contrast between the old village green, the old castle, the disused canal and railway, and the modern supermarkets with their enormous car parks. We wandered around the old streets and bridleways, looking (in vein) for signs of the old railway station, but we did find traces of where the old railway went on it's way from Calne to Chippenham.
Autumn walk, just outside Calne, Wiltshire

    

In other news, I wnet CD shopping after work last week and picked up a veritable bevvy of new (well old) and exciting music. A 49 track double CD compilation by The Seeds is high on the playlist at the moment. I also picked up the first two Human League albums, Reproduction and Travelogue before Martyn Ware and Ian Craig left to form Heaven 17. Some great tracks on these two, and in my opinion far better than anything they did when they became famous.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Waterways in the Test Valley, and Little Venice

Unfortunately this week has been a bit of a work related blur, with very little time to myself. I did manage to get out and about last weekend, on the day where it wasn't wet and windy, and completed a 41 mile bike ride loop down to Barton Stacey and back, exploring some villages, quite country roads and tracks that I'd not encountered before. When I left the house it was sunny but just a little chilly, but as the morning crept on, the weather became near perfect for cycling. I stuck mainly to quiet roads, with a few excursions off road, stopping every now and then to take in the scenery and soak up the ambience. The ride took me across several rivers where anglers were fishing for trout.

Somewhere in the Test Valley

Sunday was a complete wash out, and apart from wathcing the eldest son play football, and lose miserably, I cannot remember what else I did. As I mentioned earlier this week at work has been manic, and although I had hoped to go out in search of space last night in London, the rain and an invitation to some leaving drinks changed my plans. My only escape was at lunchtime today when I managed a half-hour walk around Little Venice before it started raining again. This first picture below is a curious little street called Bristol Gardens. It's on a slight hill, as can be seen by the slow but sure, continued elevation of the shop fronts. All the shops are in a similar style and immaculatly presented.

 Bristol Gardens, London W2

The second picture is of a couple of barges in the Paddington Basin, just off the main stretch of the Grand Union canal. I walk this way fairly often, but today was struck by these particulary barges. Just a shame that the Westway flyover spoils the view and the ambience.

Grand Union Canal, Paddington Basin, London W2

    

Not sure what this weekend has in store for me, other than a trip to Winchcombe tomorrow and another hour or so on the football touchline on Sunday afternoon. If I'm lucky and the weather holds, I'll try and get out on the bike on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

More vintage petrol pumps

Since my last post I have been out and about within the UK, although that all changes tomorrow when I go to the Netherlands for the rest of the week. My main trip last week took me down into Kent, a county I visited frequently as a child as my grandmother lived in Deal, but it's not somewhere I've been to much since. As a bonus for me, I was travelling by train rather than driving, and I was also taking the slow train. I did consider going via London and using the high speed link down to Ashford, and whilst that probably would have been a bit quicker, I was keen to travel cross-country, at least on the journey there, partly inspired by the book On the Slow Train. My journey was in four legs and took me from Newbury to Reading, Reading to Redhill, Redhill to Tonbridge, and finally Tonbridge to Ashford. I have travelled to Reading countless times, and Redhill a couple of times before, but the journey from Redhill was all new. A lot of the track seemed to be in cuttings, or so tree-lined that the view was obscured, but when the track did open out, the unrestricted views of the Sussex and Kent countryside were stunning, especially the oast houses, which are a distinctive memory from my childhood. On my return journey, time was a little tighter so I took the train to Victoria, crossed London by tube to Paddington, and then headed home from there, quite tired and looking forward to the weekend.

Determined to get some more exercise this weekend, I set off on another 30 mile bike ride, in search of new sights, roads and trails. My ride took me out through Ashmansworth, Faccombe, Linkenholt, Upton, Wildhern, and then back up through St. Marybourne, Stoke and Crux Easton. During the ride I was looking for something out of the ordinary to photograph. Don't get me wrong, the scenery was spectacular throughout most of the ride, but this disused petrol pump, on the Finkley Road to the north of Andover, fitted the unusal requirement quite nicely.

Vintage petrol pump, near Finkley, Andover

Vintage petrol pump, near Finkley, Andover

    

Monday, 10 September 2012

An unexpected weekend treat on the River Kennet

What a great weekend we've just had here in the southern UK. More spectacular weather, and fortunately I found the time to enjoy it. My original plan on leaving work in London on Friday afternoon was to pay a visit to Harrow-on-the-Hill, but on leaving the office and heading towards the tube, I could not bear the thought of squeezing myself in, even for the relatively short distance, and then having to get a later, busier train home to West Berkshire. So, my plans changed and I left my search for space to Saturday and Sunday.

On the Saturday I managed a 35 mile mountain bike ride down to Whitchurch, where I was forced to stop and seek comfort in coffee and cake after having managed to fall of my bike earlier in the ride.


After having eaten myself better, although sore and bruised, I continued my ride down towards the staggering beautiful Long Parish (which has a couple of excellent looking pubs that I need to make a note to visit some time), and then headed back up through The Wykes, St. Marybourne and Crux Easton.

So Saturday was my planned space but I had some bonus space on the Sunday when I managed to fit in a walk along the River Kennet, looping back along the Kennet and Avon canal before watching one of the boys playing football. This particular walk west from Newbury is one of my all time favourites. I love the way the transition from road, to rough road, to gravel track, to muddy lane, to footpath happens. It always reminds me of the line in the Neil Young song, Thrasher, "Headed out to where the pavement turns to sand". The only thing that spoilt the image was the sound of the traffic thundering along the A34 bypass. If only the railway line that used to run over this bridge was still running (admittedly it only went as far as Lambourn, but the sentiment is the same).


Disused railway bridge on the Newbury to Lambourn line

River Kennet, just west of Newbury

 River Kennet, just west of Newbury

River Kennet, just west of Newbury 

River Kennet, just west of Newbury

So that's it for this week I suspect. I am going to be finding some space in Kent later in the week so check back on or after the weekend to see what I found there.
    

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A lunchtime stroll through W2 (aka more London mews)

Well we seem to be having a bit of a late summer here in the south of the UK. The last few days have been wonderful and the forecast for the weekend looks good (I'm hoping to fit in a visit to the coast, but will have to wait and see what else is happening). On Tuesday evening this week, I managed to fit in a walk after work around the area between Paddington and Hyde Park. I came across some incredible mews that I'm pretty sure I'd not seen before, or if I had I had not paid them much attention. Walking through them as the night drew in was quite something, and in fact quite spooky in one place where I actually came across some horse stables in Bathurst Mews. I made a mental note to revisit again but during the day, and was fortunately able to do this the following lunch time, between meetings. I took about 20 pictures but these 6 below are my favourites.

The first picture is of an unnamed alleyway which runs between Hyde Park Garden Mews and Hyde Park Gardens. This is the view looking north through the alley.

Unnamed alleyway between Hyde Park Garden Mews and Hyde Park Gardens, London W2

The next 2 photos are of Bathurst Mews. From the east, Bathurst Mews is entered through a small tunnel covered with foliage, and opens out into a wondefully cobbled road, lined with private benches and potted plants and trees. At the western end, as the mews turns south to rejoin the road, are the various stables which spooked me the night before. The odd car, delivery and maintenance vehicles drove along the mews but I managed to get these photos between the traffic.

Looking west along Bathurst Mews, London W2

The eastern entrance to Bathurst Mews, London W2

 The next photo is of a place as opposed to a mews but has the same feeling so I included it here. The bright white of the house at the end against the perfect blue sky came out quite well I think, and I love the lamp in the foreground.

Clarendon Place, London W2

The final 2 pictures are of Hyde Park Gardens Mews. Another wonderful London mews within a stone's throw of busy, main roads and offices, but walking along it I felt I could have been anywhere.

Looking east along Hyde Park Gardens Mews, London W2

The eastern entrance to Hyde Park Gardens Mews, London W2

    

Couldn't help noticing that the amazon adverts above came up with Francis Bacon's studio in Reece Mews, which is in a mews in an area familiar to me but one which I don't think I've ever visited. Maybe I can visit and report back on that one over the next couple of weeks, although next week I will be finding space in Kent, and the following week in mainland Europe ... so stay tuned folks.
 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A big cat in Regent's Park ?

After a manic day in the London office last Wednesday, despite the grim weather I was determined to escape after work and find some space. Wednesday's trip started from Spring Path in Hampstead, which gets a mentioned in the London's Lost Rivers book which I'm half way through, in relation to the River Tyburn. My wanderings took me through a couple of small alleyways and eventually down through Belsize Park, Primrose Hill and on into Regent's Park. The first photo was taken from the top of Primrose Hill overlooking the city. The weather had improved slight;y by this time, but the photo is not one of the clearest, which I'll put down to the moody weather.


 With all the recent news about a lion being spotted in Essex, I couldn't resist taking this photo of a wild cat wooden sculpture in Regent's Park.


And further along the route I came across a wooden sculpture of a fox.


Something I always forget about Regent's Park is its size. A couple of times I thought I was about to reach the edge, but was surprised to find yet more park to walk through. Without a train to catch this additional escape time would have been a bonus, but I was worried about missing my train home, so the last few minutes throug hthe park were somewhat hurried, then straight on to a bus back to Paddington in time to get my train.

    

On escapes nearer to home, I have managed quite a few bike rides since returning from holiday. Yesterday I cycled up towards Combe Gibet, near Kintbury. My post holiday fitness still leaves a lot to be desired but I did achieve a personal best on one of the hill climbs, although I should point out that I am still a long way off the rest of the pack ... something to aim for though I guess. At the moment I'm not sure what escapes I can manage next week, particularly as the evenings start drawing in and the opportunity to walk in the light after work becomes restricted.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Another London

We were fortunate enough to get some complimentary tickets to the Another London exhibition at the Tate Britain, so on Saturday we made our way into London for a day out. The tubes were pleasantly crowd-free, as we made our was around on the Circle line from Paddington to Victoria. From there it was only a short walk, through what was now surprisingly warm sunshine, despite the weather forecast. The exhibition had some incredible pictures from 1930 through to 1980. Great images of "british-ness" that you simply don't see any more, for example streets filled with bowler-hatted mean going to work in the city. In fact come to think about it, most of the photos included some for of head gear, whether that be a top hat, a bowler hat, a cloth cap, or a scarf.

After the exhibition we caught a bus to Kensington where we, thanks to some more free vouchers, we grabbed some lunch (we are not normally this frugal, but following our California blow out are taking things easy this month now). The food was ok, not brilliant, but unfoftunately just as we finished eating, the heavens opened up, and torrential rain came down, all mixed in with some thunder and lightening for good measure. We were quite "museumed out" after the exhibition of the morning, so after deciding not to go to any more, we caught a bus to get out of the rain. Although I know my way around London reasonably well, the bus we caught took us to somewhere I don't think I've ever really been ... Wandsworth. I had no idea what to expect but it almost had a village feel in places, but not quite so much as Battersea did, which was definitely a surprise to me. Plenty of scope for future visits I think, if only to check out some of the restaurants in Battersea Square, which confusingly seems more of a triangle than a square.

Between Wandsworth and Battersea we walked along the Thames, apart from when we were annoying diverted back in land (one of the most frustrating aspects of the Thames path is that it often strays away from the side of the river). We did get to see the London Heliport though, which I never even knew existed, so that was a bonus. We were also treated to the sight of a freight train on the London Overground line, as it crossed the Cremorne Bridge, heading south. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo, but instead took one from the other side of the bridge after it had gone across.

Boats moored by the Cremorne Bridge (aka Battersea Railway Bridge)

Despite the heavy downpour in the afternoon, we had a great day out, and got back home to catch some of the Reading Festival highlights on BBC 3 before taking our aching limbs off to bed.

Sunday was a different story, and with a much better weather forecast I decided to embark on a bike ride, looking to get some miles under the belt, rather than gruelling hill climbs. In the end I seem to have managed both, cycling out west towards Hungerford, through to Little Bedwyn and Froxfield, and then back via Littlecote, Chilton Foliat and Kintbury, covering 36.7 miles. It was a great ride, but I think I probably need to invest in some new padded shorts as I'm feeling a little tender today.
    
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