Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday 8 June - Return home

We left the hotel in good time and decided to take the el cheapo Piccadilly line to Heathrow. The train soon cleared out and we had seats all the way. It was slow but the most annoying was a 10 minute wait at the Terminal 4 stop while the train was waiting for its timetabled path. Our stop was the next one for Terminal 2.
Check in, customs and security where straight forward.
The flight, although full, was quite relaxed.  Air Canada hit a new low with a terrible meal.  I am sure we could have done better with something from Waitrose or Marks and Spencer. I don't know why they persist on giving us plastic spoons when there was nothing on the tray that needed a spoon.

Click here to see all pictures taken on this trip

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday 7 June - Barbican

This is our last day in London and we did a fair bit of walking.  We started out at Waterloo and walked along the Thames with a detour to see the Borough Market which was closed today except for a few restaurants and bars.

Southwark Cathedral is built of flints.  It is beautiful inside and out,  We heard some fine singing by the Cathedral choir.  Possibly a piece by Lauridsen
We sought out the Anchor Tap which is a friendly local pub even though it is close to the tourist haunts.  The beer was good, being in effect, a house that isw ties to Smiths of Tadcaster, Yorkshire.  It bills itself as the only pub in London that serves cask ales out of wooden casks.

From the Anchor Tap we walked across a very crowded Tower Bridge and made our way to the Barbican Centre, new ground for both of us.  There is a very interesting Conservation area where tropical plants are grown and it includes a small pond with a great number of large fish which are easily seen in the very clear water.

Although the Barbican conservation area is spectacular there is a well frequented outdoor area with many water features which was bell frequented by people as well as coots.
A quick underground ride brought us to Kings Cross and a good drink at the Parcels Yard wehich serves good Fullers Ales.

We finally caught the Piccadilly line back to Gloucester Road and a short walk took us to the Drayton Arms which served up an excellent Sunday roast pork lunch.
Roast pork with cracklin, an excellent cauliflower cheese and tracklements
After that we went back to the hotel to pack for our return tomorrow,

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saturday 6 June - Salisbury

Today we went to Salisbury to explore the town and to assess whether it would be a suitable place to spend more time, similar to our stays at Shrewsbury and York. The train from Waterloo was quick and the railway station is quite close to the town.  We walked into the centre and had a drink at the Wetherspoons located close to the river.

Sign above the butcher;s shop
Saturdays are market days and several streets and a square were taken over with stalls.  A girl at the tourist information office gave us a map and talked a little about the local bus services. She also explained how to get to the meadows which have a good view of the cathedral from where Constable painted his picture.

We then walked through the meadows as suggested where unfortunately the sun was in the wrong position for good photography.  Salisbury is pretty much the only cathedral where one can get far enough away to see it in its entirety rather than being surrounded by buildings.

Lunch was at the New Inn on New Street and we then explored the town a little more.  It seems to have all the things we find important - interesting architecture, good food shops (Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsburys), lots of quaint old pubs. There is an apartment hotel close to the station which might suit us well.

A very interesting visit.  The train back started here so it was easy to find a seat.  The first part was through pleasant countryside but London sure stretches out a long way.

We went to a movie this evening on the Fulham Road.  This was a new area for us and we found a very busy pub called the Drayton Arms which had a good Timothy Taylors Landlord.

Click here to see all pictures taken at Salisbury

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday 5 June - Exploring London Overground

David Rhys-Tyler took me on a conducted tour of the London Overground railway system which has been set up in the last few years and has been expanding rapidly. The trains were originally three cars.  These became  four car trains but this was  found to be insufficient with the result that an additional 57 cars have been purchased to make trains five cars long.   Most of the trains we saw were five cars although there are still one or two four car ones.
Highbury and Islington
I met David at Victoria station and we took the Victoria line to Highbury and Islington.  From there we took the train in a clockwise direction through Whitechapel, under the Thames, through Peckham and on to Clapham Junction where the Overground platforms are to the north of the main line making this station, already one of the busiest in the world, even more busy.
Clapham Junction
We changed trains at Clapham Junction and went to Willesden Junction. Here there was a pause for physical needs and we ate a baguette on a footbridge over the West Coast main line.  There was a continual succession of Pendolinos and other Virgin trains as well as local trains in and out of Euston.  There was a surprising number of freight trains hauled by a variety of diesel and electric locomotives with Canadian-built diesels being very much in evidence.
Willesden Junction
These are designed on the SD-40-2 basis but the narrow clearance envelope makes them appear very long
From Willesden Junction we continued on through Hampstead Heath past Highbury and Islington, where we completed the circuit, and carried on to the end of the line at Stratford.  Stratford was very busy with local and long distance passenger trains as well as a number of freight trains. This took me back to my train spotting days with David where we would watch the steam locomotives with Stratford works in the background - now replaced by the Olympic stadium.
A special light engine move at Stratford
Our last journey was on the National Rail train to Tottenham Hale where we caught the Victoria line back to central London.  It was an interesting journey with which I was pretty much unfamiliar.  In this trip we had crossed every main line that passes out of London. However, it cannot be said that the scenery was enticing as it was either industrial wasteland or Victorian housing with a little modern infilling. Even in the off peak the trains were well filled and it is evident that the new lines, which radiate around London rather than go towards the centre, are very well used.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thursday 4 June - Class of 1960

Sign in a shop window:

There was a good turn out at the Skinners Arms:
Peter Gregory, Clive Grenyer, Charles Smith, Mike Fulford, John Palmer, Rob Carter, Dai Bamford, Dai Rhys-Tyler, Julian Hale, Ian Cunningham and Colin Churcher.  Regrets were received from Roy Bennett, Colin Bishop, John Hollies, Derek Browne, John Bingham, Paul Thompson and Harry Pong.  Best wishes from Simon McGrahan.
Our Treasurer Dai Rhys-Tyler, ably managed the complicated finances of two kitties (drinks and food).
After a long session of discussion, eating and drinking some five of us moved to St. Pancras for coffee and cake before returning home.  The pictures tell the story.
Dai Rhys-Tyler and Clive Grenyer
Mike Fulford and Julian Hale
Charles Smith, John Palmer and Rob Carter
Peter Gregory, Colin Churcher and Dai Bamford
Ian Cunningham
While walking over to St. Pancras we admired the building and the John Betjeman statue

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wednesday 3 June - Eltham College and Orpington

Today I took the train from Waterloo East to Mottingham to visit my old school, Eltham College.  This was my first real visit back since I left in 1960.  I met Simon McGrahan who gave me a first rate tour.  A great deal has changed.  The school no longer takes boarders and girls are now admitted to the sixth forms.  A new block has been built on the fourth side of the quadrangle (it is about to be replaced), the dining room has been doubled in size and the tuck shop incorporated into it.  There are many more specialized laboratories and there is a whole section devoted to music.  The pictures will speak louder than my words.
In the main entranceway
The front view is disfigured by the number of vehicles parked there now.
I was surprised that the old cricket pavilion is still standing.  It was very infirm in my day.
The chapel now has a beautiful stained glass window,
The sixth form common room had a coffee machine.

The quadrangle has been grassed over and beautified
View of the quadrangle from the tower. This was the first time I had been up the tower.  At one point there is a "stash" of several thousand spent cigarette ends.  It seem the school was non-smoking but the bursar would climb into the tower for a smoke.
View over the playing fields from the tower
My guide, Simon McGrahan with Canary Wharf in the distance
Taken by Simon McGrahan.  There is a beautiful view over London.
The centuries old plane tree still has a prominent place between the chapel and the main building.
Click here to see all pictures taken of Etham College

I retraced the route I took on a daily basis.  161 bus to Chistlehurst War Memorial then 61 bus to Orpington,  The White Hart appears to be on its last legs and was not very inviting.  I wandered through All Saints churchyard and visited my grandparents' grave which is as neglected as ever.  It was very peaceful with the magpies and squirrels.

It seems the Public Library has been closed but the Museum was well laid out and very interesting.  The Priory gardens were well kept and there was a good display of roses.  The moorhens were looking after their broods in the ponds. There are not a lot of Canada Geese who will only reluctantly get out of your way.

Priory buildings on Church Hill
All Saints Church where my parents were married and I was christened
A piece of the V2 rocket that landed between Court Road and Kynaston Road on Tuesday 27 March 1945.  I lived a few houses down on Court Road. "On a beautiful spring afternoon fourteen homes were destroyed, one person killed and fifty-six injured when a V2 rocket hit just before 5 pm. Ivy Millichamp was the last member of the public to be killed by enemy action at 88 Kynaston Road.  This was the 1115th and final and fatal V2 rocket attack to hit Britain.  Mrs. Millichamp is buried in the churchyard of Al Saints" - Bromley Museum,

Priory Gardens
I was feeling tired by this time and luckily found a Weatherspoons  which had good cask ales and a place to sit down for a while. I decided to walk up the hill to Orpington station. Orpington has not materially changed.  I caught the train back to Victoria because this is on the District and Circle lines for a quick ride to the hotel at Gloucester Road.
Click here to see all pictures taken at Orpington

A wonderful line up of cask ales at the Stanhope Arms.
Fullers London Pride, Wells Bombardier, Taylor Walkers Westerham 1730 and Timothy Taylors Landlord.