Thursday, 2 August 2012

A day in a Life Part 1

After 50 years of continuous employment, with rarely a 40 hour week worked, many of them were 60 hours and more, the great day finally arrived Thursday 26th of July 2012, I finally retired(supposedly, more in my next posting about this) and  by way of celebration I went to London for a cup of coffee. I took the 09.13 train from my local station, Pevensey and Westham, to London. It was the direct service to Victoria, but I didn't go direct to Victoria, instead I changed at East Croydon for the London Bridge service.

Originally I had planed to take the train from Pevensey & Westham and start my day at London bridge and Borough Market then go on to the V&A to look at the paintings of Constable and Turner then find a suitable place to have coffee and end the day at Byrons for a really good burger, a sunny day can change the plans of anyone and I was no exception.
At East Croydon I got off of the Victoria bound train and with stories of packed trains filling my mind, heading for London Bridge, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had almost a whole carriage to myself. However it did slowly fill the closer the train got to London Bridge, everyone seemed to be in the holiday spirit, so much nicer than the usual commuter crush.
I was bowled over by how many people were there to celebrate with me. Everywhere I went there were crowds of cheering people. At least that's what I thought till I found out that the crowds were there to be part of the Lumpick celebrations ( can't actually use the "O" word in case I get sued for copyright infringement) and I thought they were there to cheer me on, oh well it did enhance the atmosphere.

 This building is what greets the visitor to London Bridge station, it is the Shard, at 310 meters high it is currently the tallest building in London and the EU and is the 45th tallest building in the world.
I went to this patisserie for a cup of tea. I will admit it was the delicious strawberry tarts on display that caught my eye. To the right of the patisserie, in the green netting, is the new outbound/inbound through lines for London Bridge station, opening some time in 2018. In the picture I am working on chapter 11 of my detective novel "Poetic Justice", the first in my Jack Buchanan mysteries.
I didn't spend any time in Borough market as I had been there before and there was a lot I wanted to do, and I still hadn't had a cup of coffee.
Across the road from the patisserie was this unusual triangular glass structure. It sits on the site of former shops and offices, on the left in the picture you can just make out the outline of the new bridge. The glass structure is in actual fact an extension to Borough market, open to walk through on Saturday the 28th of July, or so I was told by one of the workmen on site.

Above is another photo of the new glass fa├žade of Borough Market with its very fancy fixings for the glass. 
Over the next several years, the whole of the London Bridge Station complex is being re-developed. This building, reflected in the Shard, sits right beside the new lines in and out of the station. According to TFL, platforms 7 through 11 will be expanded by adding two new platforms as well as rebuilding the existing tracks and platforms, just as well by the looks of this picture, in the top plate most of the rivets have long since rusted out, note the gap in the two steel flanges below that are supposed to be riveted tightly together, wonder if there'll be a platform 13?
Walking over the real London Bridge I realized how quiet the City was. I had expected massive crowds of foreign visitors jostling shoulder to shoulder with City workers.

Walking across the river and looking south, down the Thames I was greeted by this site. I always thought that HMS Belfast was large, compared to the cruise ship she is quite small, yet perfectly formed.
There is a very detailed description of HMS Belfast and its history on the Wicipedia website,

 Looking across the river, there is evidence of still more building work.This building is going up on 20 Fenchurch Street, it has the nickname of The Walkie Talkie Tower. It is set to go up to 35 floors, below is a link to a website that has some conceptual renderings of what the building will look like when complete,

The photo, above right, shows a worker tying up the safety netting on the 18th floor, he just propped the ladder against the building frame and scooted up the ladder to tie off the safety netting. Not sure what was keeping him safe, hopefully he had a harness on at the time, 18 floors are a long way to fall.

By now I was starting to feel a little hungry so I walked over to Charles Street to this Pret A Manger shop and went in for a sandwich, tuna and cucumber with some sea salt crisps and a cup of tea, still no coffee. The reason I chose this Pret is that it is here where we used to eat when working in London. Next door at No1 Charles street is Gerling Insurance one of our customers when I ran our family IT business.

 From Pret I headed for St Katherine's docks and to see if the Tall Ship fleet was still there from the Queen's Jubilee celebration. On the way to the docks I took a detour into the church called All Hallows by the Tower. There was Bible exhibition and when I was there, a fantastic Organ recital.
St Katherine's dock was buzzing with activity, mostly business people having their normal two hour lunch. I wandered round the docs looking for a place to have the cup of coffee and a slice of chocolate cake. Everywhere I looked into had either coffee or cake but not together, not even Starbucks, pity as I do like their coffee. Disappointed I headed for the underground and the west end of London via Victoria Station.

This photo on the left was taken at 2.45pm and shows just how empty London Victoria was the day before the Lumpicks. One of our favorite places to eat in London is a Mexican restaurant just outside Victoria Station. The last time we went there we passed a patisserie that had lovely strawberry tarts on display in the window. I said we would come back after dinner for a coffee and tart, when we returned they were closed so I said to myself the next time I was in London I would come back for one, although this time i was after chocolate cake and coffee. Not quite the slice of cake I had in mind, the search goes on. I finished the day by heading over the Tottenham Court Road (and Byrons for a burger) via Buckingham  Palace not realizing that the Lumpic torch was due to pass by for a visit. Bit of a ho hum moment but did pass an amiable forty minutes talking to an Essex policeman about what it was like to be a modern day policeman. I finished off by taking the bus to the station and the train home.
This blog was completed with 1.5 eyes, almost. I had eye surgery Wednesday and due to the medication my right eye wont focus properly, doc says it will sort itself out when I complete the medications in three months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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