Posts Tagged ‘London’

Sightseeing in London

July 21, 2016

Sightseeing in London

I’m not really a lover of cities and I think it is a dozen or more years since a previous trip to London. But on that enormously hot day – July 19th 2016, my wife had a need to go there and I went along for the ride.

Part of my going was that South West Trains were running £16 returns which made things viable financially, but I shall ignore the train journeys. From Waterloo we needed to get to a place near Baker Street and Regents Park. We used the 139 bus. We are of the bus pass generation so we had no extra to pay for this. The bus made for a mini sightseeing tour.

But let’s start with Regents Park where we joined many a lunch break person by the water.


A great place for water fowl. Canada geese dominated but there were some greylags as well. I’m fairly sure I saw some barnacle geese as well, but they were quite a distance away. There were mallard ducks and tufted ducks. And then there were moorhens, coots and some grebe.

But now let’s catch our number 139 bus and get the top deck – front seats as we headed back to Waterloo.


This is Baker Street – known as the home of that fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

London’s most famed shopping street is Oxford Street. It is much used by buses!image006Oxford Circus is no more than a roundabout.


This is where Regent Street crosses Oxford Street. We went down Regent Street which took us to Piccadilly Circus famed for the statue we call Eros.


From here we reached Trafalgar Square.


The fourth plinth generates interest these days. The present statue is a skeletal horse with stock exchange ticker tape!

image014Charing Cross is one of the Eleanor Crosses (well actually this one is a replica) 12 crosses marked the overnight resting places of Eleanor of Castille when she died in 1290.


Being on the top deck of a bus brings odds and ends into view – things you might miss from ground level.


What I couldn’t see was the shop below to know why we had a barrel clock. And by the way, that wasn’t the right time.

As we waited to turn onto Waterloo Bridge Road we saw an icon of London – still going strong.

image020Yes, a real Routemaster bus.

We passed over the bridge which afforded views of St Pauls Cathedral…


…and also the Houses of Parliament.



You also get glimpses of The Shard.

Not bad for a half hour (or so) bus journey.

A quick look at London

July 5, 2015

I’m not a city slicker. I’m very much one for open spaces. In fact I don’t like being confined by crowds of people all that much.

But from time to time I do visit our capital city and in 2001, for the first time ever, I went in St Paul’s Cathedral. With all due deference to architect/designer, Christopher Wren, I don’t like the interior. There’s something in me which feels reviled by showy grandeur at huge expense and for me, St Paul’s comes into that category. For my taste it is overly ornate and my mind turns to the families of cathedral builders who were killed when they fell from the heights. I bet they didn’t get any or much compensation. It was deemed far better to expend cash on elaborate, fancy marble work.

The outside building, though, I can admire. It’s a handsome structure and wonderfully engineered.

And inside, up in the dome, is a grand place for views over London and that’s what we’ll look at.

image002Here’s a view over the Thames to the old Bankside power station – now the Tate Modern art gallery. And spanning the Thames is the Millennium Bridge – another lovely and elegant structure. Sadly it wobbled alarmingly when it opened and so it was closed again for remedial work. It was closed when this photo was taken.


The tall building is the Telecom Tower which used to be called the Post Office Tower. That used to have a revolving restaurant at the top. I never went to that but I have been up to the observation platform.

A view along the river with the iconic London Eye.

Let’s finish with the reconstructed Globe Theatre – made to be as it was in Shakespeare’s day.


Yes, St Paul’s is a good place for viewing the cityscapes.

Eric Ravilious – December

December 31, 2014

I ought to be slightly disappointed by the December picture on my Eric Ravilious calendar for 2014. It portrays city life and I very much prefer the rural ways. I was a Londoner for three years – when I was a student and that’s probably a good time to be a Londoner.  But I couldn’t disagree more than I do with Samuel Johnson when he suggested that when a man is tired of London he is tired of life. My very different perspective is that a person who feels they need London to feel alive is leading a rather second rate life.

But I digress. And the truth is I love Eric’s portrayal of Piccadilly Circus which forms the picture for December.


This is one of the Ravilious images for Wedgwood. It is actually part of the ‘boat race’ series. Anyone who has read any of the P G Wodehouse books about Jeeves and Wooster will be aware that in times past the young bloods gathered in central London on boat race night and generally made whoopee, Our artist has given us a feel for this with his roof top and taxi top people, not to mention one chap sliding down the statue of Eros.

People are streaming on to the open topped bus, so perhaps the less inebriated are making their way home.

And so it becomes time to say farewell to the art works of Ravilious – except that I have one print permanently up and books full of others.

“A horses bus”

November 20, 2014

Our son’s reaction on seeing this bus sticks in the memory. He had obviously never seen anything like it. ‘Goodness! A horses bus!’ he exclaimed.


Once upon a time a bus like this might have been a common enough sight but times change. The internal combustion engine took over gradually and slowly. But the horse powered bus was a thing of the past by my childhood, let alone that of my son. This bus dates from just about 1900 and was used in London. The last horse bus was phased out in London by 1912.

But the venue for this photo doesn’t look like London – and it isn’t. This was taken at an open day at the Wroughton (near Swindon) store of the Science Museum. The picture dates to the early 1980s and a particularly grand open day with all sorts going on.

The site at Wroughton is a World War II airfield with a goodly collection of hangars for storing large items.

For us, whatever the history, this bus is just ‘a horses bus’.

Photos don’t lie!

October 10, 2014

When computer manipulation of images first came about, I used to play with pictures a lot. Maybe it is a phase many of us go through. One of my favourite, and relatively simple tricks, was to carefully cut out something from one picture and then paste it into another. Here are a couple of examples where scenes in London have ‘benefited’ by having a goose stuck in front. I am very fond of geese and you can be sure that I’ll photograph them if I see them.


So here’s Somerset House – plus goose. Somerset House is grand anyway, but perhaps the goose compensates for the dull grey sky on that day.

And here, goosey  poses in front of The Strand underground station.


But as time went on, I stopped doing these things. The camera, it seemed, may not lie, but the photographer does.

Now I can’t pretend my photos tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth but if they are out and out lies I do confess to it. But like most of us, I crop to remove extraneous and unwanted items, I certainly alter brightness and contrast to turn the picture into what I reckon I saw. I’ll straighten up horizons – sometimes. I may use gentle deformations to make upright items look upright. But on the whole, a photo of mine can be guaranteed to be tolerably truthful.

Mind you, I could be tempted to put goosey, like a copyright symbol, in all my photos!

Underground to Overground

October 3, 2014

I was a student at Goldsmiths which is situated at New Cross in South East London.  From New Cross, or more usually New Cross Gate, we students could catch the East London Line of London Underground up to Whitechapel, or through to Shoreditch in rush hours. I managed some none too brilliant photos of the antique trains which operated in this busy backwater, taking in stations at Rotherhithe, Wapping and Shadwell.

It always felt just a tad scary. The stations were dingy to say the least and the tunnel under the Thames had been designed by Marc Isambard Brunel – father of the better known I K Brunel – long before a railway was planned.

I gather the line closed in 2007 for a complete refit and opened as what is now called the London Overground in 2010. So my late 60s pictures are historic.


This train is arriving at (I think) New Cross Gate. This is not tube stock which was built to a much smaller size. The original underground railways in London could take normal sized trains like this one. I think this was originally metropolitan Railway K stock and it dates from the 1920s. In that respect it was like all other trains on the line – 40 or more years old.

A similar train arrives at Whitechapel.


That was a bit of a dismal place. I’d be glad if it has been well tidied up.

Guess what? My information comes from a train spotting book.


This book is undated but from the stock it lists it must be from the 1950s. And by the way, I was never sad enough to collect underground train numbers!

Old friends

July 28, 2014

I’m looking back to 1969 or 70 today and a bunch of old friends. We were all at college together in south east London and I think I took this photo on an area of parkland called Hilly Fields.


From left to right we have Nigel, Tony, Rog, Sue and Trev.

Sadly, I am not really in touch with any of them now. Tony died last year and I have seen Rog in recent years but he seems to have dropped off the radar at the moment. He ended up marrying Trev’s sister so when I saw Rog I got news of Trev (who I believe split up with Sue) but I haven’t seen Trev since college days.

I have seen Nigel just once in the past 44 years – enough to say he hadn’t changed – and I was fond of him when he was a student so that’s a positive comment.

Where are you all now?

Actually, I’m quite fond of the photo – just more than a silhouette and enough for me to recognise the features of the old friends.

Route 59

May 29, 2014

Many years ago my sister in law and family gave me a bit of a London Transport bus stop. It is an enamelled square that tells would be travellers that this was the stop for route 59.


Now I have to confess that I had no real idea about route 59 so when I thought about this item, I looked it up and Wikipedia told me that route 59 was introduced new in 1999.

‘That can’t be’, I thought. I’ve had this route indicator for much longer than that. But I always say that somebody will have done the research and it seemed to me that Ian Armstrong’s site at has everything I need. It’s an amazingly detailed site of London bus routes since 1950.

It seems the entire route was from Victoria Embankment through Blackfriars, Elephant and Castle, Brixton, Croydon and Purley to the Chipstead Valley. But between Victoria and Blackfriars and also from Purley to Chipstead were Sunday only services.

I’m going to guess that this bus stop marker came from the Victoria to Blackfriars stretch. The Sunday service was withdrawn in the mid 1980s.

This route was closed in 1994, making the number available for a new route in 1999.

Eric Ravilious – April

April 29, 2014

During the month of April my calendar has been showing me a design that Eric Ravilious drew for use on Wedgwood china. I can’t say it is a real favourite of mine. It shows an urban scene and I am generally a person of the more rural areas. But it has been appropriate for April for it depicts the University Boat Race – Oxford against Cambridge.


Eric had, of course, found an interesting spot for his view with interesting boats on a slipway in the foreground. I believe he is showing Oxford leading by about half a length.

Of course, had something similar been done in 2014, then probably only one boat would have been in view for after the clash of the oars there was really only one boat in it.

This reminds us that Ravilious designed for all sorts of purposes. He didn’t just paint pictures.


April 2, 2014

Found between the books

I mentioned yesterday that we were decorating. Bookshelves have to be emptied and that means the odd treasure turns up.

Here’s one of them – a Metropolitan Railway map of London.


That’s just the cover. The map itself opens out.


It certainly makes sure the Metropolitan lines, shown in red, are highly visible.

The map doesn’t carry a date, but there are clues.


Finsbury Park station tells us it is for the L&NE Rly. The London and North Eastern Railway was formed in 1923 and lasted until 1948. However, the old Metropolitan Railway became a part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. So that really gives the map a date of between 1923 and 1933. For those who like the strange or bizarre items, the map shows the Brill branch.


Between 1933 and its closure in 1935, Brill, a remote village in the Chilterns, was served by London Underground trains!

This map has other useful information.


Cheap fares to Metro-land could take customers to pretty villages and some are shown on the back of the map.


But for people who need the information, central London is explained too


That’s quite a historic piece.