Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A day with a Travelcard

Westway to the World, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Last day in London today, as I am back off to Amsterdam this afternoon to attend a couple of job interviews. I had a ' free day' yesterday, another cold windy day with sun and hail/snow showers. I bought a Travelcard at Notting Hill Gate and took the Central Line as far as I could go to the east, ending up in Mile End. I have never really spent any time in the East End, just having driven through it on my way to Dover and I suppose I was looking for the Eastenders.

I was a bit disappointed to find low level estates and parks with views across to Canary Wharf down south. No bustling markets, in fact hardly anybody about. Lots of 1960's and 1970's architecural disasters and a lot of emptiness, little soul. maybe I got out at the wrong stop, but the whole area seemd like this. I ended up walking down the negelcted Regent's Canal down to the Thames, by which time the 1960's had given way to the 1990's with its Docklands dwellings, around a harbour full of old colourful wooden barges and millionaires luxury yachts. Life just as sterile as the estates I had been through before, just a lot more expensive and, no doubt, some better views.

I was now in Limehouse and after wandering around an area full of the smells of curry, I got onto the Docklands Light Railway to Bank, a very quick and convenient journey from Docklands, through the east End to the City. Having been thinking of perhaps looking for a job in the City I was very interested ot see what I would make of it there. It reminded me an awful lot of the times I used to come up to the City in the mid-1980's during my days at Thomson McLintock, visiting the London office or attending training courses. The City reminded me nothing more than a public school, the streets full of men in expensive dark suits and smart shirts and ties, no doubt purchased with their fat cat bonuses. It was as if it was break time and the schoolboys had been let outside. I didn't feel inclined to knock on the door of the first recruitment agency I came across.

After the City another walk out east, in what was now bright sunshine on my way to Brick Lane, where I thought I might find a colourful market. However, there was no market just a Little India community, with all streets having their names written in the Hindi script, Brick Lane full of Indian, Balti and Bangladeshi restaurants. Interesting, but not exactly what I was expecting and certainly not so photogenic.

After a long walk in what seemed to be a northerly direction I managed to find a bus to take me to Liverpool Street, previously well frequented as the gateway to Holland, with the train ride to Harwich, the long ferry journey to Hoek van Holland and then another train to Groningen to find Fred in the 1980's. London buses have changed a lot since those days and none more so than the last few years where they have got rid of the charming hop-on hop-off buses. Now, no doubt due to the Health and Safety fascists which have infected almost every aspect of public life. I sat by the exit door, as it was a short journey - normally I go to the top floor and sit at the front for the best view. I wish I had this time because, whereas before we had an open door at the back of the bus we now have doors which are opened by the driver once the bus has reached its bus stop and doors which emit a painful squeaky, bleeping sound to announce ot passengers that they are open. I hate these (and many other bleeps, such as mobile phones ringing) and I really cannot understand why we need these sounds ot let us klnow the doors are open. For the blind people on the bus? I have no idea. Political correctness gone mad.

From Liverpool Street it was a direct journey on the Metropolitan line to Latimer Road station, near to Fiona's shop, on the way to which I passed under the Westway, here on the photo. It turns out that at Christmas in 1979, The Clash gave two surprise concerts at a small hall around here. I would see them a fwe days later in Aylesbury and it would be one of the best concerts I had ever been to.

No Travelcard was necessary to find my friend Lucy in the evening, as Fiona lent me her car. The streets of London are a LOT freer now that there is this eight pound congestion charge and it was a quick journey down to Chiswick.

Time now to be finding Fiona and getting myself off to Heathrow for my seven pound flight back to Amsterdam..... a flight which is cheaper than bringing a car into London for the day.


Blogger Unknown said...

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27 March, 2007 11:38  
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28 March, 2007 08:10  

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