London Nov 2015 (5) 330 - Around and about Canary Wharf Six Public Clocks
We made our annual trip to London in November. We travel down by coach from Slaithwaite and stay at The Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch. It’s actually a weekend ladies shopping trip that is run as a fundraiser for Slaithwaite Brass Band – I’m the only bloke that goes every year! We decided ( the two of us) to stay down in London until Thursday this time as we wanted to see weekday London and be able to explore a bit further afield on foot. We covered up to 16 miles a day, which is tough going on crowded pavements with hundreds of busy roads to cross. I photographed anything that looked interesting but I bent a contact in the CF card slot, fortunately I had quite a few SD cards with me and the 5D has dual slots so I was able to carry on using it. It’s currently at Lehmann’s getting fixed.
With it being close to Christmas the decorations are up everywhere so there was plenty of colour at night. In Hyde Park the Winter Wonderland was in full swing, we’ve never bothered going to it before but I went twice at night this time. It is massive this year, I couldn’t get over how big it is and the quality of some of the attractions. The cost and effort involved must be phenomenal – it was quite expensive though. It was very difficult to photograph, with extremes of light (LED’s) and darkness and fast moving rides into the bargain. I think I have some decent usable stuff but at the time of writing I am only part way through the editing process so I don’t know for sure.
We set off at around 8.15 am every day and stayed out for at least 12 hours. The weather was poor for a day and a half with drizzle and very dull grey conditions, fortunately we had some pleasant weather (and light) along the way as well. Being based at the end of Oxford Street – Europe’s busiest shopping street – meant that I did quite a bit of night shooting on there. Although I carried a tripod everywhere I only used it once and that was during the day! Because there is always a moving element in almost every shot it seemed pointless using a tripod. I would have got some shots free of movement – or I could have gone for ultra-long exposures to eliminate people and traffic but it would have been problematic I felt. In the end I wound the ISO up and hand held – fingers crossed.
We walked out to Camden Market and Locks but it had been raining and we were a bit early as many were only just setting up for the day. We tried to follow routes that we hadn’t used before and visit new places. We paid a fortune to get in St Pauls but you can’t use cameras. This something that I fail to see the point of, ban flash if you want but if you are going to encourage tourism why ban cameras when there is nothing in particular happening in there. It’s a rule that seems to be applied arbitrarily in cities around the world. Fortunately we could take photos from the outside of the dome, which was real reason for visiting, and we had some great light. Expensive compared with a couple of euros in some famous cathedrals. I’ve wanted to walk to Canary Wharf for a number of years and this year we did. We crisscrossed the Thames a few times and tried to follow the Thames path at other times. We covered around ten miles but it was an interesting day. It was also very quiet for the last four or five miles. We got there about 12.00 and managed to get a sandwich in a café in the shopping centre at the foot of the high rise office blocks before tens of thousands of office workers descended from above. It was mayhem, packed, with snaking queues for anywhere that sold food. We crossed to the other side of The Isle of Dogs and looked across to the O2 Arena and the cable car, unfortunately there isn’t a way across for pedestrians and it was around 3.00 pm. With darkness falling at around 4.30 we decide it was too late to bother. We made our way back to the Thames Clipper pier to check the sailing times. They sail every twenty minutes so we had a couple of glasses of wine and a rest before catching the Clipper. Sailing on the Thames was a first in 15 trips to London. The Clipper is fast and smooth, the lights had come on in the city and there was a fantastic moon rise. It was nigh on impossible to get good shots at the speed we were traveling though and there were times that I wished I could be suspended motionless above the boat. Again, hopefully I will have some usable shots.
We felt that the shopping streets were a little quieter, following the Paris massacre it was to be expected, I might be wrong as we were out and about at later times than previous trips. I think I have heard that footfall is down though. It was good to get into some of the quieter backstreets and conversely to be stuck in the city business district – The Square Mile- at home time. A mass exodus of people running and speed walking to bus stops and the rail and tube stations. It was difficult to move against or across the flow of bodies rushing home.
Whilst the Northern(manufacturing) economy is collapsing, London is a giant development site, it must be the tower crane capital of Europe at the moment. It was difficult to take a shot of any landmark free of cranes, it was easier to make the cranes a feature of the photo. It’s easy to see where the wealth is concentrated – not that there was ever any doubt about it. The morons with too much money are still driving their Lambo’s and Ferraris etc. like clowns in streets that are packed with cars , cyclists and pedestrians, accelerating viciously and noisily for 50 yards. They are just sad attention seekers. From Battersea to Canary Wharf we walked the Thames Embankment, the difference between high and low tide on the river is massive, but the water was the colour of mud – brown! Not very attractive in colour. We caught a Virgin Train from Kings Cross for £14.00 each – a bargain!. We had quite a bit of time to kill around midday at Kings Cross so I checked with security that I was OK to wander around taking photos, without fear of getting jumped by armed security, and set off to photograph the station and St Pancras International Station across the road. I haven’t even looked at the results as I type this but I’ll find out if they are any good shortly. Talking of security, following Paris, there was certainly plenty of private security at most attractions, I don’t know if it was terrorism related though, I can’t say I noticed an increased police presence on the streets. It took us three hours and five minutes from Kings Cross to being back home, not bad for a journey of 200 miles. I can’t imagine that spending countless billions on HS2 or HS3 is going to make a meaningful (cost effective) difference to our journey. Improving what we have, a little faster, would be good. There are some bumpy bits along the route for a mainline and Wakefield to Huddersfield is the equivalent of a cart track – and takes over 30 minutes – it’s only a stone’s throw.