April 19, 2006

Clapham Junction - Britain's Busiest Railway Station

Clapham Junction is "Britain's busiest railway station" and not a lift or escalator anywhere. Southwest Trains has written that they will not consider any infrastructure improvements unless they win the next franchise. Gatwick departures are on Platform 13 whereas the Richmond arrivals are on ~ Platform 5 if I recall correctly. I have determined by trial and error that it feels less arduous to take the overland rather than subterranean route between platforms.

When travelling by public transportation to Gatwick, I take the bus from Kew Gardens to Richmond, climb the stairs up and then down to the train (Richmond has no lifts either), alight at Clapham Junction and climb the stairs up and down to Platform 13 and catch the train to Gatwick (where there are lifts). My recommendation is to at least build a lift at Platform 13 ASAP. In the interim, why can't some strong people earn some ££ hauling our luggage up and down those stairs?

April 17, 2006

Effingham Junction Circular Hike

Country Walks are led by by June and Aubrey. This Effingham Junction circular was attended by about 50 hikers. We walked on the Jubilee Trail, through Effingham Village (has everything you could want - Butcher, bakery small supermarket, post office, church and a hairdresser- and I am sure there was a pub somewhere nearby), past a church with some Norman architectural effects remaining, cottages with elaborate thatched roofs, and a lake.

April 16, 2006

Dulwich Picture Gallery and Cafe

I grew up with Winslow Homer's "A Fair Wind" as it was my mother's favorite print and featured prominently in our home. When I read in the Metro that there was a special Winslow Homer exhibit at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (photo from VisitBritain), I just had to visit. The museum was nice but the exhibit was small and "A Fair Wind" was NOT on exhibit. We liked the museum's permanent collection because there was an interesting summary next to each painting. The gallery cafe was a great place to enjoy a light lunch, and it was a beautiful day. West Dulwich has some beautiful homes, a college and a lot of green - very pretty and a pleasant day out.

April 14, 2006

Crane River Park & Sagar

We set off on "Along the River Crane" aka Walk 12 from Margaret Sharp's book "Travelcard Walks in West London". We started off in Twickenham Green and marvelled at how beautiful spots such as the Crane River Park are tucked away all over London. I took a picture of the "Largest Crack Willow Tree in the UK" and the plaque to prove it. The "Shot Tower" (a former lookout for the Hounslow Gun Works) was situated next to the Island Nature Reserve which we explored.

We ended our hike in Hanworth. Two young boys saw us puzzling over the bus stop map and politely asked "Where would you like to go?". It is wonderful that children can safely use public transportation in the UK. The boys safely directed us back toward Twickenham where we enjoyed lunch at the new South Indian Vegetarian restaurant "Sagar". We now have to figure out how to get back on weekdays at lunch time for the £4.95 lunch special or anytime for the £2.95 takeaway box.

April 13, 2006

Wigmore Hall

We were able to purchase discounted tickets to a Mozart and Brahms concert (Philippe Bianconi on piano) at Wigmore Hall (photos courtesy of BBC). This is a lovely recital hall where three musicians can sound like an orchestra.

We enjoyed a wonderful pre-concert dinner in the restaurant located below the hall.

April 06, 2006

Henley-on-Thames Hike

A group of us went on a 10 mile circular hike from Henley-on-Thames train station (check out the name of the diner - Tubbies). It was a glorious sunny day. We went at a brisk clip as some of our party were keen on getting back to London in time for their Bill Bryson lecture. That did not stop us from enjoying a wonderful pub lunch in the town of Hambleden. I took the picture of the mobile library to remind me to stop whinging (my British vocabulary is increasing by leaps and bounds) about the size and hours of the Kew Gardens library. The highlight of this walk for me was crossing the river at the Hambleden lock and the long flat path along the Thames.

April 04, 2006

Museum of Garden History

Two friends invited me to this gem of a museum (1st photo courtesy of the Economist) near Lambeth Bridge. There has been a church on this site since as early as 1042 but there had been plans to demolish the existing church and build a carpark. The church building was saved and converted into the Museum of Garden History with a fabulous cafe, gift shop, knot garden, tombs including Captain Bligh and his wife, and special exhibits such as oral histories from local residents. The museum docent also directed us to the nearby Lambeth High Street to admire the detailed friezes of the former Royal Doulton building.

I look forward to discovering more of the lesser known and delightful museums and sights in London.