Tag Archives: london underground

Walking the Northern Line: Part 2

It wasn’t my finest moment when I finally rocked up to Kennington station after 7 hours of walking, being rained on, enjoying a brass band, and having been lost for the last half hour. I chose to walk this section by myself and as such I just wanted to get it over with. This meant one bathroom break, no pub, lunch on the go, and clearly a lot of poor decisions relating to food and drink (tuna pasta salad washed down with Gatoraid while walking down Goldiers Green Road got some weird looks.)

Another of my finest moments is that I can’t actually find any photos from this walk (how frustrating!) Anyway, I started my walk from Edgeware to Brent Cross, crossing over what’s left of the River Brent and a very scary footbridge over a motorway. From there I walked through Goldiers Green, past some surprisingly leafy areas in the very affluent Hampstead which actually felt like it was farther out of London than where I started in Edgeware.

From Goldiers Green, through Camden, Euston and central London, now with a headache and no patience for the tourists going out to the theatre in the evening. Finally crossed the river as it started to absolutely pour to find a flash mob brass band. I have to say, I love brass bands at the best of times and this really perked up my spirits. I thought I really could make it to Kennington at this point. And I did eventually after walking past it for about 20 minutes and then back.

I then, in my infinite wisdom decided to pop into the food store and pick up soup and juice (very heavy) and get on the train home with everyone else who was going out for their Saturday night. I arrived home around 10pm, after giving fairly detailed instructions to a very confused Italian who was finding his way from Manchester to Milan somehow via Heathrow with no tickets.

It may come as no surprise as I took a very long break before starting my next line, the Jubilee.

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Acton Town Depot: The way cool kids spend their Sunday

Remember how an original steam(!!!) tube train was refurbished and run on the Underground for its 150th anniversary? You may have noticed I don’t have any pictures nor did I gush at any point about getting to ride on it (for several hundred pounds!) or having seen it go past in all its classy glory. That’s because I didn’t get a ride (for several hundred pounds) nor did I get to see it (I was too busy.) Well, that’s been rectified (and I got to blow it’s whistle!)

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Just look at it! A feat of beauty and engineering.

It’s safe to say that this steam train hissing, dripping, and periodically bellowing easily stole the show. The engine and the carriages were beautifully restored. We got to sit in the carriages and although I felt woefully under-dressed, I could just about imagine myself in 1863 on the first journey through central London.

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Another steam train was a close second due to its small stature (look how cute it is!) and that it gave rides. Who doesn’t like rides?

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Of course these two trains were the last things in a long line of very cool Underground and transport vehicles and general memorabilia related to transport in London. (I wonder where they keep all the complaints though!)

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In addition, there was the renown 38 Stock. Arguably the classiest Tube trains that ever existed.

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There was also every sign imaginable, some from Tube stations I’ve never even heard of!

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There were also models of trains and entire stations, tiles, clocks, an electric car and a strange mixture of transport geeks and families. I wholly enjoyed myself and I think those I dragged along who were significantly less excited by the prospect of looking at London transport memorbilia also liked it despite themselves.

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Walk the Lines: Review and Personal Challenge

At the end of last year, I heard about a book written by a guy  (Mark Mason, as it were) who walked all of the Tube lines, called Walk the Lines, The London Underground, Overground. Everyone that knows me quickly finds out about my obsession with the London Underground (responses range from bemusement to suspicions of insanity.) With promises of Underground trivia and a crazy challenge, I had to have it.

 

I read the whole book very quickly and it generally kept my interest. I have to say though, maybe I hyped it up too much in my head, but I was a little disappointed. The interviews with notable Londoners, such as a trainee cabbie and the Kray’s biographer, were interesting and could have almost made a whole book by themselves.  I can’t stop thinking about the massive wall map he made from individual maps bought in THE map store in Covent Garden and how he drew the paths of his walks for each Underground line. (I can think of no better wall paper. Geography + Memory + Time). The trivia wasn’t as good as I expected (this might be more of a ‘beginners’ London Underground book). Some of the observations and ‘facts’ were actually wrong and I think overall the book needed better editing.

However its shortfalls, I knew I had to walk the lines as well. I’ve not gotten very far since December (but very quickly learned to wear proper trainers rather than pretty ones). I’ve walked the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines in their entirety and am about 2/3 of the way through the Northern Line. (Special thanks to Lenny Carter’s patience for putting up with this Mad American and being my walking buddy.)

You may recognise this as my ‘teaser’ image. It’s of Blackhorse Road station, nearing the end of the Victoria Line.

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Maps and/of Memory

I think anyone that lives in London develops a strong relationship to two maps: the A to Z and the iconic London Underground map. The A-Z gets crinkled, written on, places frequented are circled, phone numbers are written on pages and gradually this ubiquitous map becomes like a diary. It’s a visual memory of life, more like a date book or a calendar than a journal.

Imaged sourced from Tesco.com

For me, London is a place of very strong memories and experiences and my A-Z reflects this. I used to trace my route on it until it started to get impossible to use it for any other route. It is a visual chronicle of my time here. (It will be two years at the end of this month.)

Image sourced from http://www.ucl.ac.uk

I wanted to pursue this further and so I want to embroider these routes on a map. I want to trace where I’ve been, possibly colour-coded.

I know it’s more like an actual code. Like I said, it’s not a journal. The memories aren’t explicit, but they can be visualised. I plan on, after embroidering a map, on embroidering dissolvablefabric with the same pattern and dissolving the fabric, which will leave only the lines, an abstract pattern.

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Tech meets Yarn: Crafts in the Information Age

Since the advent of web 2.0 and social media, the most unexpected outcome for me has been the appearance and unstoppable growth of previously-described small interest groups. From autism to the open archives to historians of the London Underground to knitters, these communities have found a way to connect and grow.

It’s very easy to take it all for granted, and I did for a long time. (I also didn’t know about podcasts or twitter…) I think there are two reactions to the rapid changes; embracing on some level and being completely overloaded. The concept of information overload has been well documented, but is information overload also contributing to the growth in these small interest communities?

Image sourced from http://www.productwiki.com

It’s easy to see how the internet is overtly contributing to the latest craft revival in such sites as Ravelry and Etsy, but is the overload being manifested in  the very act of crafting as a throwback to an earlier, simpler time? This phrase in and of itself is a bit controversial, but I think knitting has an appeal of escape and of simplicity that is very comforting and is exactly the type of reaction that can be expected with information overload.

I have this theory that I’d love to pursue in some academic way that information overload is contributing to the growth in crafts. It’s partially based on my own knitting response to the stress of life, but it also seems to make a lot of sense to me based on knitting’s therapeutic properties, and what it has stood for since the 1800’s. Basically, the first craft revival was a bit of a rebellion against the industrial revolution and isn’t entirely different from the ethos of Etsy.

Could information overload and the internet be covertly contributing to the growth of craft precisely because of a negative reaction to it?

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