Saturday, January 27, 2018

Friday 26 January - Travel London to Ottawa

The journey home went pretty much according to plan. The Circle line took us to Paddington and while I purchased the Heathrow Express tickets Mary found a coffee. We left on time and took the main line past the maintenance buildings for the new Hitachi electric/diesel trains.  Having completed  border and security formalities we found the Fullers restaurant for breakfast.

The plane was not much more than half full and boarding was carried out calmly with plenty of time.  We left half an hour late as a result of a small mechanical hitch and then air traffic control. The flight was smooth most of the way but the meal was terrible. 

At Ottawa we bumbled our way through the new declaration machines and the driver of the no. 97 bus welcomed us aboard and took us downtown.  It feels cold but it is damp - certainly a lot warmer than they have had here recently.

That's it.

Thursday 25 January - 3 - Dinner with second cousins

Mary and I had dinner this evening with Linda and Francis Foster, second cousins I didn't know I had until last September.  We met at the Sicily restaurant in Belgravia near Victoria Coach Station.  It was a great meal with lots of interesting dicsussions and I am sure we will meet up again in the near future.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday 25 January - Eltham College Class of 1960 Reunion

We met once again at the Skinners Arms on Judd Street. It was a smaller group this time but we had a good time and managed to right most of the wrongs of the world. As usual Craig made us very welcome and accommodated our needs.
Julian Hale

John Bingham

Mike Fukford

Dai Rhys-Tyler

Charles Smith

John Palmer

Colin Churcher
Regrets were received from Ian Cunningham, Peter Gregory, Clive Grenyer, Dai Bamford, Gethyn Timothy, Rob Carter, Colin Bishop, Roy Bennett, Derek Browne, Paul Thompson, John Boyd and Ray Godfrey.

On the way back to the Underground the sun was shining on the magnificent St. Pancras Hotel

Thursday 25 January - 1 Morning

I went to Paddington station this morning to see what changes there were now that the Hitachi electric traions are coming into service.  It started being very disappointing, the only main line trains visible were the old polluting diesels which have been around for 50 years.
The old order -= diesels which pollute the air in the station.

A diesel train on a stopping service to Bedwyn.
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 Eventually a couple of the new trains turned up. Their acceleration out of the platform is impressive.
The old (left) and the new(right)

I stopped into Kings Cross to admire the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley designer of many famous LNER steam locomotives
This morning Mary did some serious walking and found these swans and other water birds in Kensington Gardens

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday 24 January - Another Rain Day

With rain forecast for today we went to the Natural History Museum, a short walk from the hotel. Many others had the same idea and the place was full up with groups of small kids.  The exhibits were interesting although we were only able to see a small portion but what was really impressive was the beautiful building in which they were housed. It was exquisitely decorated and has been very well maintained .
The frontage is being restored and the fencing and illumination is well done

After the main entrance we went up this escalator into the earth to the top floor.  We could then come down through the floors at our own pace

A beautiful table top setting out the different colors of marble

Main hall. The decorations on the walls and ceiling are original and many are one off.

The largest known flint knapped arrow head - thought to have been ceremonial

A glass model

Statue of Charles Darwin
The museum is excellent and helped to fill in an otherwise dreary day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday 23 January - Along the Thames

It has been wet underfoot all day but there hasn't been any rain to speak of. They are saving that for tomorrow.   I wanted to look at the newly completed London Bridge station.  It has a very large concourse underneath the tracks but no trains are visible.
Borough Market was quite lively but with very few people, perhaps it would have been busier at lunch time.
Quite an ornate store front for a place selling spirits

Borough Market pub

Nice brick and tile work at Borough Market
Sir Francis Drake's boat The Golden Hind(e) is in dry dock.  It was good to be able to look at it without the usual hoards of tourists

When I was on the railway we had a fast train between London Paddington and Plymouth which was advertised as "The Golden Hind". We called it "The Brass Arse".
HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

There were a number of cormorants n the Thames.  The water was very muddy and I wonder how they could see to fish in the murk.

Insect House in Potters Field

I put this in for our friend Pat "STOP! BEER HERE"

Mud, mud, glorious mud. Woudn't want to have a condo here with this mud revealed twice a day at low tide.
An Ancient Train Indicator Sign at Gloucester Road Underground station..  Maybe it is classified as an historic monument

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday 22 January - Eurostar Paris to London

It was raining very heavily indeed when we left the apartment this morning.  We left in good time and, of course, both line 2 at Villiers and line 4 at Barbes Rochechouart, were running in as we arrived on the platform.  In fact the longest we had to wait for a metro train for the entire trip was 6 minutes. The normal exits out of the metro at Gare du Nord were blocked and we had to go out with our bags to the forecourt and back into the station - getting wet.

If only SNCF would learn from the Swiss.  Our train was ready for us but we had to wait a long time and then there was a mad rush to get to our assigned seats before the departure time. In the end the train left 5 minutes late and arrived in St. Pancras five minutes late. We encountered a very heavy rain storm just after leaving Gare du Nord but most of the trip through France was under heavy cloud but no rain.

The trip though the tunnel was the usual 25 minutes of boredom and then we burst out into bright sunshine in Kent.  It clouded over a bit as we approached London but it was at least dry. We had one of the old Eurostar trains (#3015) which are being scrapped when replaced by newer ones. The reason for this is that we had to stop at Ashford which has the older form of signalling which is not installed in the newer units.

At St. Pancras we ran the gauntlet of the British Police who make everybody walk through a chicane where ten grim faced individuals inspected us.  From there we went to Kings Cross to have a drink and a meal at The Parcel Yard.  This was looking pretty grotty and the food was nothing to write home about. 

The Piccadilly line took us to Gloucester Road where we checked in quickly to the Gloucester Millennium Hotel.