Friday, 29 December 2017

A Weekend Break in Bideford, Devon (cycling the Tarka trail from Bideford to Meeth, and back)

As mentioned a few posts ago, I have a wealth of material from earlier in the year which I didn't have time (at the time) to process and post, but with a few days on my hands before going back to work, and still trying to fight off the man-flu, it's about time I put that right. The first of these retrospective posts will focus on a weekend break we had in Devon, Bideford to be precise, and the first of the Bideford posts will focus on a cycle ride we did along the magnificent Tarka Trail, a former railway now converted into a quite wonderful cycle path.

I must however first start with a small apology. We actually did two rides along the Tarka Trail from Bideford. The first was south from Bideford, which is covered by the majority of the photos, but we also cycled north which for some reason only seems to have a few photos where I'm sure I took more. The apology is that I fear I may have mixed some of these up and am not sure of the location of all of them - I think these are all from the ride between Bideford and Meeth. I'm very clear on the first one however, this is the old bridge carrying the former railway into Bideford station.

Former railway bridge, now home to the Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Former railway bridge, now home to the Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon 

Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon

Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon
Tarka Trail cycle path, Bideford, Devon

This next picture shows one of Bideford's two former railway stations. Although not very far from the main station, the Royal Hotel had its own station allowing guests easy access. Both platforms remain and are in reasonable condition, although the one opposite the hotel is a little overgrown.

The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon
The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon 

The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon
The former Royal Hotel Station, Bideford, Devon

This is Bideford station proper, parts of which have now been restored (see pictures further down in this post).

The former railway station, Bideford, Devon
The former railway station, Bideford, Devon

Where parts of the railway has been preserved, there is some wonderful railwayana (is that a word). This is a restored but disused signal just south of Bideford. You can also just see some re-laid tracks in the foreground, but these peter-out before long and I think are only there to allow the carriages which house the museum and tea rooms to have somewhere to sit.

Restored but disused signal, Bideford, Devon
Restored but disused signal, Bideford, Devon

This is where things begin to get a bit blurred. This is definitely on the route south from Bideford to Meeth, but not sure exactly where. Still, it's another fine example of a disused platform.

Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Along the side of the former track bed there were some wonderful Gaudi-like sculptures, depicting animals from Tarka the Otter.

Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Sculpture along the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford


Cycling the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Cycling the Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford
Disused railway platform, Tarka Trail, somewhere south of Bideford

I'm pretty sure this is just outside Meeth, which was as far as we cycled south along the Tarka Trail.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, former railway platform just outside Meeth, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, former railway platform just outside Meeth, Devon

There's no mistaking this one though. This is the truly wonderful Puffing Billy café, situated at the former Great Torrington station. It was so good that we stopped for a bacon sandwich on the outward ride in the morning, and again for a cream tea on the return leg. Good for railwayana fans and cream tea connoisseurs alike.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Puffing Billy Trading Station, Great Torrington, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Puffing Billy Trading Station, Great Torrington, Devon

Of all the picture I took during our 40 mile round trip, this one is probably my favourite. Ok, so it's a bit staged with the milk churns there for historical purposes only, but I felt it captured the essence of a branch line railway quite well. Nice sky too.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, milk churns at the former Bideford station
Cycling the Tarka Trail, milk churns at the former Bideford station

I managed to take a picture of the restored signal box on the same evening.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, restored signal box, Bideford, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, restored signal box, Bideford, Devon

I think these final two pictures must have been taken on a different day as the weather and light are both quite different. They both however show the restored railway carriages sitting on some re-laid track in the former Bideford station. Inside the carriages are a museum and tea-room.

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon

Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon
Cycling the Tarka Trail, Bideford station, Devon

 I do have some more pictures of Bideford off the Tarka Trail so to speak, so I may get around to sharing those in the next few days.,

    

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read my post, I hope you enjoyed it. As usual, comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

A Lunchtime Urban Wander around Hammersmith (flyover, mews and stinkpipe)

Just before I finished work for the Christmas break, I was working up in London for a few days. One of those days was the classic, cold-but-crisp December days where it seemed a crime to sit in the office and eat my sandwiches over a hot laptop filling the gaps between the keys with crumbs, so off I went in search of some space ...

There is something simultaneously ugly and beautiful about the underside of a flyover, almost a little like no-man's land. It also reminded me a little of J.G.Ballard's Concrete Island.

Beneath the Hammersmith flyover, London
Beneath the Hammersmith flyover, London

Beneath the Hammersmith flyover, London
Beneath the Hammersmith flyover, London

Despite this building being quite unique, it took more than a little research to reveal its purpose, although I probably could have guessed. Allowing a clear view along the Thames, it's used a starting box for rowing races.

Hexagonal starting box, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London
Hexagonal starting box, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London

As anyone who has read this blog for a while will know, I have been through various phases of things I'm interested in. More recently it's been doorway mosaics and ghost signs, but several years ago it was London mews, or mews-style dwellings. I can't remember the last time I shared any picture of London mews, but here's one I am very sure I have walked past before but never previously photographed.

Mulberry Place, Hammersmith, London
Mulberry Place, Hammersmith, London

Mulberry Place, Hammersmith, London
Mulberry Place, Hammersmith, London

I've seen these structures many times before, but never really stopped to consider what thy might be. It is in fact a stinkpipe, or stenchpole, built in Victorian times to allow gas to escape from underground sewers. Many are quite elaborate in design as well as functional.

Stinkpipe, Hammersmith, London
Stinkpipe, Hammersmith, London

Now I know what these intriguing structures are, stinkpipes are something I may return to at a later stage when I have more to share. In the meantime, and much to my surprise, there seems to be plenty of reading material available on these, firstly in this wonderful Londonist blog post, and also of course in physical format ...

    


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

A Weekend Wandering in Kent (part 7, doorway mosaics of Canterbury and Rochester)

Finally we arrive at the last instalment of my recent weekend in Kent. Today it's the turn of Canterbury, Chatham and Rochester to feature. The day trip to Canterbury was on a very wet and grey day, so there are no classic cathedral pictures, not only because of the weather but also as some of it was being repaired. I did find a few wonderful doorway mosaics though.

H.Hart & Co Ltd., Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent
H.Hart & Co Ltd., Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent

Deakin, Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent
Deakin, Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent

Deakin & Sons, Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent
Deakin & Sons, Doorway mosaic, Canterbury, Kent 

On the way back home from Kent we stopped off at Chatham. We had a vague notion of visiting the dockyard but were put off by the price, so instead had a quick wander along the river and to Rochester. These two pictures of the Medway were taken from a lovely little Café-cum-Gallery called Sun Pier House.

The Medway River at Chatham
The Medway River at Chatham


The Medway River at Chatham
The Medway River at Chatham

After filling our bellies and with just a little time left before our car parking expired, we headed off on a short wander into Rochester.

J.Stanley Outfitter, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent
J.Stanley Outfitter, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent 

Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent
Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent 

I was half-tempted to remove the door mat, or at least peek under it, but was a little too self-conscious. Maybe some kind reader can tell me what's hidden, assuming something is.

Chemist, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent
Chemist, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent 

A.J.Ireland, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent
A.J.Ireland, Doorway Mosaic, Rochester, Kent


    

Thanks once again for reading. This is the last blog post I'll be doing of Kent, at least for a while anyway. I have a few archived trips that I've not yet written up so will post on one of those next time, not sure which one yet though.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Weekend Wandering in Kent (part 6, Whitstable)

Having finished my last post on Margate in my previous post, we now move on to Whitstable. This was a remarkable day out in that we had done no research whatsoever so had absolutely no expectations of what it would be like, nor what we would do there. Firstly the weather was wonderful, which always helps, and secondly the town and its surroundings were beautiful. Our wander on this glorious day started at the harbour and took us west along the coast for a couple of hours, and then back into to the town.

Whitstable Harbour, Kent
Whitstable Harbour, Kent 

Whitstable Harbour, Kent
Whitstable Harbour, Kent 

Boats on the beach, Whitstable, Kent
Boats on the beach, Whitstable, Kent

Although the skies were clear, it was fairly cold so not that many people walking along the beach and sea front once we'd left the town. The beach huts looked wonderful in the winter sun, but none were being used today.


Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent
Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent 

Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent
Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent

Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent
Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent

Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent
Beach huts, Whitstable, Kent

A red boat on the beach, Whitstable, Kent
A red boat on the beach, Whitstable, Kent

The beach, Whitstable, Kent
The beach, Whitstable, Kent

The beach, Whitstable, Kent
 The beach, Whitstable, Kent

The beach, Whitstable, Kent
The beach, Whitstable, Kent

We must have walked along the beach and shore line for a good few miles before turning back. We had hoped to find a cozy little café to stop at for tea and cake but weren't in luck as the only one for miles was closed for the season. On the return leg we were treated to a most spectacular sunset. In this picture it's only just getting going.

Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent
Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent



The sunset also made for some lovely, enhanced colouring on the already beautiful beach huts.

Beach huts catch the sunset, Whitstable, Kent
Beach huts catch the sunset, Whitstable, Kent

And also on this overturned red boat.

A red boat on the shore, Whitstable, Kent
A red boat on the shore, Whitstable, Kent

These houses reminded me a little of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco. What a wonderful view they must have.

 Painted houses, Whitstable, Kent
 Painted houses, Whitstable, Kent

As we arrived back at the outskirts of Whitstable, the sunset became more and more spectacular. There was a well situated pub, The Old Neptune I think, where we sat down for a mulled wine and mince pie to watch the sunset. Pretty sure it was the one featured on the cover of Whitstable and Herne Bay Pubs.

Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent
Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent

Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent
Sunset over the beach, Whitstable, Kent



Suitably refreshed we headed into the actual town for the first time in our visit where we found a pleasing selection of ghost signs, doorway mosaics and street art.


CELEBRATED ALES & STOUTS

Ghost sign, Whitstable, Kent
Ghost sign, Whitstable, Kent

Doorway mosaic, Whitstable, Kent
Doorway mosaic, Whitstable, Kent

 What struck me most about this piece of street art was the Crass logo in the middle of the girl's white dress. Took me right back to my rebellious teenage years.

Street art, Whitstable, Kent
Street art, Whitstable, Kent

This selection of ghost signs was a bit strange in that they almost looked as though they were recent additions made to look old, but I'm sure that's not the case and just looks that way because the wall behind has been recently painted.

WILLS's
STAR
CIGARETTES

WILLS's
GOLD FLAKE

WILLS's
FLAG
CIGARETTES


Ghost signs, Whitstable, Kent
Ghost signs, Whitstable, Kent

To end my Whitstable post, here's another piece of street art which caught my eye, the Queen being pulled along by her corgies. The thing about this that amused me most was the fact that she is wearing trainers.

Street art, Whitstable, Kent
Street art, Whitstable, Kent

Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome. Still a few Kent instalments left to write so remember to check back in a few days.

    

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