Saturday, 30 August 2014

A wander around Whitchurch, Hampshire (the former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton railway)

So first things first, this is not one of my usual urban, or even rural, wanders. These pictures were in fact taken midway through a bike ride where I happened to be cycling through Whitchurch. I've been through plenty of times before but never really stopped to admire the former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton (DNS) railway line bridges, and I'd certainly never found the former Whitchurch Town station before. This first picture is of the bridge towards the northern part of the town.

Bridge carrying the former Newbury to Winchester railway, Whitchurch, Hampshire
Bridge carrying the former Newbury to Winchester railway, Whitchurch, Hampshire

I must have cycled past this pedestrian walkway which runs beneath the track several times but had never noticed it before.

Pedestrian walkway under the former railway line, near Whitchurch Town station
Pedestrian walkway under the former railway line, near Whitchurch Town station 

Pedestrian walkway under the former railway line, near Whitchurch Town station
Pedestrian walkway under the former railway line, near Whitchurch Town station 


And once I'd got to the other side, there was the former Whitchurch Town station in all its glory. I'm pretty sure this is now a private residence, but it was nice to see that it was steeped in railway nostalgia.

The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line
The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line 


The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line
The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line  

The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line
 The former Whitchurch Town railway station, on the Newbury to Winchester line 

If you look closely, in the very distance of this next photo you can just make out the bridge carrying the A34, which for much of its route actually uses the former railway line, but fortunately not here where the bridge towards the southern end of the town is still in place.

Bridge carrying the former Newbury to Winchester railway, Whitchurch, Hampshire
Bridge carrying the former Newbury to Winchester railway, Whitchurch, Hampshire

As i continued my ride south from Whitchurch, I came across a few more glimpses of the old railway line, but these were far too overgrown to take any decent pictures. Maybe I'll return in the winter or spring when there is less foliage.

    

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Urban Wandering by night, evening strolls around London

As the evenings start to get darker, it won't be long before my daylight, after work urban wanderings will draw to a close for the year. But fortunately that time has not quite arrived yet, although as I was starting one short wander, and coming to the end of another the evening had most definitely set-in, making for some interesting pictures.

First up we have a picture of the New West End Synagogue, on the corner of St Petersburg Place and Orme Lane, between Bayswater and Notting Hill.

New West End Synagogue, London
New West End Synagogue, London

Walking beyond the synagogue towards Notting Hill, I turned for a second and was presented with this view of the synagogue and St. Matthew's Church in the same shot, silhouetted slightly against the evening sky.

New West End Synagogue and St. Matthew's Church, London
New West End Synagogue and St. Matthew's Church, London

The following evening, my wandering took place after an event held on a boat on the side of the Thames. By the time I left the boat, it had begun to get quite dark, offering some great photo opportunities, perhaps only spoiled by using a phone rather than a camera, and my unsteady hand.

No introduction needed for the first two, the London Eye taken from the Millennium Bridge. 

London Eye across the River Thames, London
London Eye across the River Thames, London

London Eye across the River Thames, London
London Eye across the River Thames, London

As I made my way across the Millennium Bridge and turned to descend the lower section of the ramp, up popped St. Paul's Cathedral, beautifully lit up with the neon blue of the bridge pointing towards it like an arrow.

St. Paul's Cathedral across the Millennium Bridge, London
St. Paul's Cathedral across the Millennium Bridge, London

Even though we were in August, it was unusually cold and after having crossed the Millennium Bridge, I walked back along the south bank and these white and blue lights in the trees made me feel a bit like Christmas.

Lights in the trees on the Southbank, London
Lights in the trees on the Southbank, London


Friday, 22 August 2014

Walking, woods, edgelands and metro-land (summer holiday reading)

A bit of a change of style for my latest post, but still roughly on the same topics. I am, I must admit, a very slow reader, and I go through stages of reading lots and then perhaps don't pick up a book again for a few months. My reading list however over the past few weeks, including some time on holiday where I truly managed to shut off and relax for a while, needless to say had a wandering and psychogeographical element to it. 

Richard Mabey - The Unofficial Countryside
Robert MacFarlane - The Old Ways, A Journey on Foot
Richard Mabey - A Good Parcel of English Soil
Roger Deakin - Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees

The Unofficial Countryside was, amazingly to me, written back in 1973. A forerunner perhaps to the much more recent Edgelands by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, The Unofficial Countryside chronicles the countryside outside of recognised national parks, the areas between towns and the official countryside, the edgelands. Growing up myself in a London Metro-land suburb in the 1970's, many of the descriptions are familiar to me and left me with a strong urge to revisit the playgrounds of my youth. It brought back in particular one vivid memory of a road bridge on the West End Road at Ruislip Gardens, over the Yeading Brook, just next to the tube station, beneath which there were two small tunnels which carried the brook under the road. You had to climb over the small bridge wall to access the brook at that point, and I'm sure 40 years later that access is almost certainly much more restricted. I remember one of the tunnels was straight and you could clearly see light at the other end. The other had a bend towards the right in it, and it took some courage for a 7 or 8 year old to brave walking into the darkness. Happy days though.

A Good Parcel of English Soil is one of the short books published as a series to commemorate 150 years of the London Underground. This book took me back to my childhood even more than The Unofficial Countryside. Its descriptions of parks, territories, gangs (of a much more innocent nature than today's) was spot on and could have been straight out of my after school and weekend exploits around Ruislip. It's also inspired me to visit areas of Metroland like Chesham, Rickmansworth, etc., that I've never been to. I just need to find the time. I was so impressed by the first book in this series I have just ordered the box set.

Robert MacFarlane's Old Ways didn't bring back any memories in the same way as Richard Mabey's books did, but it did inspire me to get out and about, and take more notice when I'm walking in non-urban areas. I rarely give a thought as to the age or purpose of a footpath, byway or bridleway when I'm walking or cycling along it.

I'm still only halfway through Wildwood, so will possibly comment on that one another time.

    

Saturday, 16 August 2014

An Urban Wander from Chiswick to Kew

I've just returned from three wonderful weeks in and around North and South Carolina. I have some pictures to share from that trip but still have a small, pre-holiday backlog to work through first. A couple of days before I left for my summer holiday, I made a small trip to Kew Gardens. Not the the gardens themselves but to the general area. I had originally intended to simply travel there by tube, but there was a signalling problem at Richmond meaning that the trains were not running on that part of the line. I was forced therefore to alight early, at Chiswick Park, and make the remainder of the journey by foot. I've been to Chiswick High Street plenty of times but have never ventured south to the river, so this piece of luck gave me an opportunity to do just that.

The first few pictures were taken walking along the northern bank of the River Thames towards Kew Bridge. The bridge appearing in the photos is the District Line crossing the river towards Kew Gardens and Richmond, and the island in the background is Oliver's Island.

District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London
District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London

District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London
District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London

District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London
District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London

District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London
 District Line and London Overground rail bridge across the River Thames, London

River Thames near Chiswick, London
River Thames near Chiswick, London

This half-height door is placed in the house wall, well above where I assume the high tide would come

 Door situated well above the Thames path, near Chiswick, London
Door situated well above the Thames path, near Chiswick, London

I wasn't expecting to see any ghost signs in Kew so was pleasantly surprised when I spotted this old metal sign for the Caxton Name Plate Manufacturing Company, just at the southerly end of Kew Bridge.

Ghost sign for the former Caxton Name Plate Manufacturing Company, Kew Bridge, London
Ghost sign for the former Caxton Name Plate Manufacturing Company, Kew Bridge, London

I love old cars but don't actually know very much about them, unless it's glaringly obvious, so unfortunately I have no idea what this first car is.

Old car, Kew Gardens, London
Old car, Kew Gardens, London

Ok, so this one is a bit easier. I didn't actually see the second Volkswagen camper van driving past until I started uploading the photos to the blog.

Volkswagen Camper Van, Kew Gardens, London
Volkswagen Camper Van, Kew Gardens, London

This is a Bentley judging from the winged B badge on the bonnet, but more than that I cannot tell you. Lovely looking car though.

Bentley, Kew Gardens, London
Bentley, Kew Gardens, London

This is a curious building. It seems to have been built as an iron church or tin tabernacle back in the late 19th century. It seems to have been used as a working men's club at some stage but would now appear to be for sale.


Former iron church, Kew Gardens, London
Former iron church, Kew Gardens, London

As an enjoyable urban wander came to an end, the sun set on a perfect day. Kew is a wonderful place, only perhaps over shadowed by the near constant noise from the planes as the come into land at Heathrow.

Sunset over Kew Gardens, London
Sunset over Kew Gardens, London

    

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