London is where I live. London is where I work. London must be blogged about.
When I first moved to London in 1999 I had a tube map on the wall next to my front door. Every time I went to a new tube station I highlighted it on the map. The reason was because I was interested in where I'd been to in London; a city that I was, of course, exploring a lot.
I never kept up with my highlighting. The longer I remained down here the less it mattered. But recently, with the 150th anniversary of the first tube service, I wondered just how many of London Underground's 250 stations I'd been to.
Continue reading and comment on '150 Years of the Tube: the tube station’s I’ve visited list'
18 February 2005. Over seven years ago.
That was the day I packed up my desk at the BBC's wonderful Bush House, right in the heart of London's bustling West End, and bade it farewell. The following Monday I turned up for my first day working in White City, near Shepherds Bush.
I never liked working in W12, as many in the BBC collectively referred to the corporation's West London buildings. It was a pain in the backside to get to, requiring me to commute on three tube trains and travel through central London every day. As if to taunt me, I had to change trains at Oxford Circus, right in the heart of London's shopping district.
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A lesson from Transport for London
What Transport for London tell you and what Southeastern tell you are two very different things.
In the 1980s and 1990s a series of changes saw the UK’s bus operations go from mostly publicly owned, to mostly privately owned. In a series of privatisations, bus companies were flogged off. But in the intervening 25 years, what has actually happened is that the UK’s bus market has come under the control of a handful of large companies. So what actually happened to the UK’s publicly owned bus operations?
Beverley Brook is one of those rare things. A river in London that’s not the Thames. It’s rather unknown, and not necessarily loved despite going through some of London’s finest parkland. Thankfully the Beverley Brook Walk will help you explore it.
How to end our Wandle celebration? Personally at the end of every walk I like a beer to reward myself. But what has a river got to do with beer?
Ever since the Wandle passed under a train line in Merton, it’s changed. Less playful, less happy. The river has been hiding away from the Wandle Trail. Keeping its distance.
Last time I tried to walk down the Wandle Trail round the Merton/Sutton border, I got lost in a housing estate. Somehow I lost the river and never managed to find it again.
There are two sources to the Wandle and one is at Waddon Ponds where swans and geese glide effortlessly across the water, and small children try to offer them bread to eat.
East Croydon railway station is a strange place for the 13 mile Wandle Trail to begin. It doesn’t really make much sense. The source of the River Wandle is actually a few miles up the road at Waddon Ponds, right next door to a tram stop. I could just sit on the tram and do the first part without even moving my legs.
Opened in 1906 as Tooting Bathing-Lake, the Lido is one of Britain’s oldest outdoor swimming pools and took on much of its current form in the 1930s when changing rooms and a cafe were added.
Colliers Wood. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s a small place nestled between Wimbledon, Mitcham, Morden and Tooting. It’s in the borough of Merton and in the historic parish of Merton. It has a pig ugly tower painted black and some out of town style shopping centres. Nothing really happens here. Normally.
unbeknowst to many, the humble Gold Card has various other benefits, and one of them is the ability to buy a Network Railcard for a mere £1. And with a Network Railcard, you can save cash on train fares in the South East.
I’m half an hour early. Over the road is somewhere I’ve not been for ages. It was probably a couple of years ago since I last set foot in that building, whilst doing some touristy stuff with visiting parents. I walk up to the building, admire its grand neo-classical architecture; it’s grand columns rising high above. Oh the British Museum, how amazing you look tonight.
If you’re going to cover stories about London on TV and radio, you need to justify properly why you’re covering it
If there’s one thing that seems to provoke irie from the BBC’s viewers and listeners, it’s doing anything about London on air. Well unless said viewer and listener is in London. Probably.
Every summer - World Cup or not - crowds and crowds of people descend upon a corner of South West London to go and eat strawberries and cream whilst watching some people hit a ball over a net.
It’s our final stop on the London pub tour as we arrive in Borough.
More of Capital’s top pubs - this time those in the City of London.
I couldn’t really finish this series of “10 Years in London” blog posts without talking about something I probably do most of out of all the leisure opportunities available. Go to the pub.
It might sound a bit of a cliche, but when I first moved to London, one of the questions I’d get asked by people up north was “how do you cope with the beer down there?” as if there was something almost poisonous about the London beers!
Yesterday I shared the first part of a list I wrote about things I like in London. But that was only five things. And if you’re doing a ten year celebration you’ve got to have ten things. It’s tradition, or an old charter, or something.
London is many things, and one thing I’ve noticed it be a few times is frustrating. It’s busy, noisy, expensive, smelly… And when you’ve been stuck in a non-moving tube train for nearly an hour in the middle of summer, you can easily get in a negative mood. But there is more… so much more… that is great about this city. So that’s what this post is all about. Thinks I like about London. Here’s goes…
It was on 5 October 1999 that I first took my steps into full time employment, as I started my first job in London, having moved to the city a few days before.
If you’ve been following the Daily Links you’ll know that there’s been serious problems with the mail in Wimbledon thanks to Royal Mail deciding to “modernise”.
During lunch one day a few weeks ago, a colleague was talking about the trepidation of her husband using her car. It was her first car. Her pride and joy. And letting someone else drive it was a big thing. Not that he actually drove - he hasn’t even started lessons, however will be learning in the future.
“Wimbledon households contribute the greater part of council tax paid in Merton borough. In mayoral terms, this is taxation without representation.” says councillor Ron Scott.
Is the tube actually getting better? More reliable? Less problematic? Every time you get stuck in a tunnel, the tuts and sighs come out like nothing has changed. So I guess most people would say no.
Yes there are some.
September 2009 marks a rather notable landmark in my life. For at the end of the month, it will be ten years since I first set up home in the capital city of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But it wasn’t my first visit - that was a few years earlier in spring 1996.
The recent snow is certainly bringing a fair amount of joy to the UK. And maybe it’s time to pop outside and enjoy it whilst I can.
Whilst I was up north over Christmas, I had one of those inevitable “cost of transport” discussions. This conversation was on the depreciation in value of cars. The result was that the annual depreciation value of their car was roughly £1,000. So if they bought their car - not a new car incidentally - left it on the drive for twelve months, and then sold it, they’d be around £1,000 out of pocket. If they left it on for two years, they’d be £2,000 out of pocket. And so on.
You know the score. You’re a dude. You’re a rebel. In London. Aren’t you? Whaddya mean you think so. Get rebelling man! Get into the underground!
As you might know if you’re in London, three London bus routes are about to be converted from bendy buses to a mixture of single deckers and double deckers. And I was very interested to come across two PDFs published by Transport for London regarding the conversions.
I’m going to let you into a little secret. You might think from my last post that I’m actually really pro-Bendy buses. Actually I don’t care one bit about bendy buses. I see them as I see as I see most buses - a tool to get me from A to B. And with any tool, I just want the best one for the job.
I can still remember the reaction when I took my mother on a Routemaster bus for the first time. It was of surprise, slightly of bemusement and much of wonder. “This is like buses used to be when I was a child” was along the lines of what she said as we sat on the top deck in 2001.
There’s not many times when I don’t feel a pang, a wish to live outside London. But there’s a regular one, round about this time of year.
I try to avoid anything too political on this blog. And sometimes fail. However the recent news that the West London Extension to the Congestion Charge will (subject to legal hurdles) end, is interesting.
What does your council’s logo say about your area? After pondering this question whilst walking down the street, I decided to find out. In part 4, I look at the area I currently live in - the London Borough of Merton.
What does your council’s logo say about your area? After pondering this question whilst walking down the street, I decided to find out. In part 3 it’s time to head to the capital and Ealing.
Back in 2005 I tried cutting out central London from my commute. And failed. Three years on, and it was time to try again.
The story today that a think tank believes some Northern cities are beyond revival and that those living there should move to the South East is one that fills me with some interesting conflicting emotions.
It’s not often that I am speechless, but as I type this, I am. But before I explain why, let me explain.
Well it appears Friday should have been a day of celebration for the residents of Merton. For on Friday, bus company Centra London ran its last ever journies. It appears their remaining three bus services - the 200, 201 and 493 - all got new operators the following day, and the company has now given up running passenger services.
I don’t normally repost comments I make on sites, in my own blog but in this case, I’ll make an exception. Below is the offending entry, and below that, my comment. Just in case it doesn’t survive on the site in question.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, best wishes to you all, and remember - drink responsibly, certainly don’t get unlicensed minicabs home, and most of all remember that quadruple vodkas are never a good idea.
Well with a tube strike on New Years Eve looking increasingly likely, it’s time to dig into the archives and just point you towards what I wrote back in August 2004 about The PR Of Strikes. Most of it’s relevant in this case with just a few minor changes here and there.
So I’ve been in a pub before now where a brass band turned up playing carols, but never have I been in a pub where they brought a nonchelant sheep, a petrified looking pony and a vicar who lead an informal carol service. Well until tonight anyway!
I love a good piece of unbiased, non-partisan, well researched reporting from my news sources. Which is why I tend to avoid This Is Local London.
And so all good things must come to an end. And by that, I mean a real end. Yes, I’ve put Zone 1 back on my Travelcard.
I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else in the country, but Merton has officially gone Trafalgar Mad. Little did we know when we arranged to meet in the Colliers Tup that we’d be there during a Trafalgar Day Party (late license to 1am, live music, and bar staff dressed in naval uniforms).
So we all get in a stupid mess, and trains are withdrawn on safety grounds and I have hassles getting into work because the entire tube line is shut.
A discussion in the canteen recently involved around one of my colleagues saying about how he is less inclined to do DIY and more inclined to get someone in to do things - it’s about balancing up how much your free time is worth in comparison to the cost of getting someone in.
Every now and then, you want to go out for a good Sunday lunch. There’s something so good about going out for Sunday lunch - having a nice meal, reading the paper and so on, with perhaps a nice stroll afterwards. Today on a whim we decided to head for somewhere where a good Sunday lunch would be almost guarenteed. Today we headed for the poshness of Hampstead.
It made me feel incredibly lazy, but yesterday I did it. Yes, I got the tube for one stop between Shepherds Bush and White City.
Shepherds Bush. What an odd place to target. And what a bloomin’ nuisance. The whole of Shepherd’s Bush Green was sealed off as I set off for home. Which left me with an interesting problem - how to get to Kensington Olympia so I could get my train to Clapham?
Police outside the stations, controlled explosions at work and a charity tube challenge.
It will hurt - it does hurt - but if there is one thing we will do, it’s show them that we will not hide, we will not cower, we will not fear.
Which prat decided Crystal Palace was a good place to host a Coldplay concert on a weekday evening? I ask as one of thousands of commuters whose journey home this evening was made a misery thanks to countless train disruption on the Southern Metro network, caused by hordes of gig-goers filling trains and stations whilst railway staff struggled to cope with the crowds.
Every day I get the 0835 West London Line service from Clapham Junction to Wilsden Junction. Every day the train leaves the platform at 0835. Every day the train leaves the platform packed like a sardine tin - with people crushed into every available space in gross miscomfort.
Engineering work is a necessary evil and I’ll never begrudge the fact it has to happen - as long as the railway companies handle it properly.
I love Bush House and I will miss it when we leave.
Every year the London Open House weekend allows access to various buildings and places the public don’t normally see.
Just recently I’ve noticed that London’s buses - in the centre anyway - seem to be getting redder.
The Red Lion wins another award, I lament about the lack of London Pride round here and Young’s beer gives me headaches. Still that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
On the 6 July, Ken Livingstone announced how London’s transport system could look in 2016 if he gets to do everything he wants. And if he does, he’ll be very luck.
You know, I’d actually have some sympathy with the tube strike today if I actually believed in what they were striking for. But when they’re striking after being offered a 6.75% pay rise over two years and the promise to ensure they work a five day week, well all you can think to say is ‘gready f***ers’.
In Ealing Common is a road - it cuts through the common, although is a dead end. Quite often in the morning, there will be a series of film crews and trucks wandering around. But that’s nothing in comparison to what is right next door to our new place…
A rather good booklet dropped through my door today - explaining all about the forthcoming elections in London and for the European Parliament.
I was reminded about London United taking over the 65 bus route, and this evening I found a I post about it that I made to a mailing list.
Whilst at Borough Market yesterday, Catherine spotted Sue Perkins - probably best known as one half of comedy double act Mel and Sue, and less well known as host of Radio 4’s The 99p Challenge.
Routemasters. I’ve also always felt some excitment about travelling on them. Jumping on the platform… Those curved stairs. That wonderful design. Those cramped piddly seats… The fact you can’t get a wheelchair on…
Anyone in London can’t have missed Oystercards - the new smart card travel ticket from Transport for London. But how do you use them on London’s open-backed Routemaster buses?
Through the gates in a flash? Get real! But Oystercards are much better when you have an arm full of shopping!
I seem to have rather a problem with travelling once the tube has shut so it’s time for yet more epic tales of late night travel ala Bods.
A trip to the London Transport Museum Depot today saw more than just wandering around a big warehouse full of signs, trains and buses, but also the chance to take an hour long trip on a 1930s tube train!
Power problems and transport chaos. Well I had to get two buses instead of a tube train anyway…
A quality piece of graphitti is spotted near Waitrose.
Wendy put it better than I could ever do. "Lesson #1 of London - wherever you are, you are IN THE WAY."
A three hour bus ride to do a 90 minute journey. Travelling from Kings Cross to Ealing last night was not fun…
Go on, clog up the capitals streets with your fumes, get stuck in traffic jams. Don’t expect any sympathy from me.