My time in East Anglia has come to an end and I’ve begun to make my way home via London. Trains are getting increasingly busy so I’m avaoiding 2 – 3 car units and trying to stick to longer trains at the moment. I’m currently on a GA 12-car set to Liverpool St which is only about 1/3 full. Mind you. there’s engineering work North of Ipswich this weekend, so that’s cutting down on the numbers travelling as it’s the dreaded ‘bustitution’ up to Norwich and North of Bury St Edmonds on the Ely line.
The weather’s still good so no doubt I’ll be stopping en-route. The first one planned is an old stomping ground. Stratford in East London. The place is virtually unrecognisable since the days I lived down the road, but it’s a good place to while away an hour with the camera.
God, I’d forgotten just how much Stratford has grown and changed over the years! Bits have been bolted on everywhere. New London Overground platforms here, the Docklands Light Railway there (and there)! Plus, an entire Jubilee line terminus in the basement. It’s all a big mess that’s made worse by a multitude of overhead structures (some redundent) and the encroachment of Buddleia. Add in the fact it’s now hemmed in by high-rises and its no longer the lovely place for photography that I remember.
The only bright side was that all c2c services from Fenchurch St were being diverted through the station, adding something different.
Because of these constraints I moved out three stations East to Manor Park where there aren’t the same constraints (as you’ll see from pictures later)
Having spent a profitable hour at Manor Park capturing shots of trains (and passengers) I’ve moved West to Forest Gate. On the train I had one of those experiences I’ve missed. Some folk like to pretend that no-one strikes up conversations in London – especially on public transport. As someone who lived in this city for 25 years I’ve always known that was bollocks and today was a good example. As I boarded the front of the train I made eye contact with a young Londoner of African origin, we both nodded to each other and I stood opposite each other in the vestibule. As often happens, having a big camera hanging off your shoulder tends to provoke questions, so this young lad started to ask me what I’d been taking pictures of. Within minutes we were deep in conversation (he was on his way to Stratford to see his mum, who gas Parkinsons). It was so nice to be able to interact with strangers again. It also reminded me why I miss London. It’s such a cultural melting pot. The rainbow of faces I’ve seen in the past couple of hours…
I really enjoyed my break in East London. The camera was working overtime due to the sheer number of services along the lines. It’s sometimes easy to forget how intensive rail services are around London. The good news is that they were all really busy in both directions.Here’s my train into Liverpool St.
The London Underground was just as busy as the Overground network as people are enjoying the good weather as well as the relaxations in freedoms. Having got the tube from Liverpool St to Kings Cross I elected to walk the rest of the way to Euston and enjoy the sunshine rather than be stuck in tunnels. The Euston road was teeming with people who all seemed to have the same idea in mind – enjoy the sunshine. At Euston I decided to visit somewhere I’ve not been able to go to for ages and enjoy a swift pint outside of Adnams ‘Ghost Ship’ outside the Euston Tap at the front of the station.
Now I’m speeding up the West Coast on a lightly loaded 15.20 Euston to Manchester Picaddlilly although with such good weather I’d rather be by the lineside somewhere, but hey ho! – I’ve taken so many pictures this past week I’m going to be busy for another one just sorting them out!
I’ve left London and the South-East behind for now and walked across Manchester city centre which was packed with people. It’s a bit disconcerting at first after spending so long avoidjng people but I’m gradually getting used to it. The weather’s just as sunny as London but there’s a noticeable drop in temperature up North! I’m now on my final train of the trip, a 3-car Northern Class 195 which seems tiny compared to the 8-12 car trains I was photographing earlier! The change in topography is fun too. As much as I enjoyed the big skies of the flatlands across the Fens it is good to be back amongst the hills of the Pennines.
I’ll bring this blog to an end now as I’ll soon be home. I’ll be taking a break tomorrow but I’ll be back next week – hopefully with edited pictures to show. Plus, I’ve still got a few hundred old slide scans to dip into for picture of the day.