A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for the ‘Buildings and Places’ Category

London’s Cable Car

Posted by Alan on June 28, 2012

Today saw a brand new piece of infrastructure open across London’s sky line: branded Air Line by it’s sponsors, a new cable car from North Greenwich to Royal Victoria Dock.

Cable Car

Cable Car

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Horniman Aquarium

Posted by Alan on June 22, 2012

Fish

Here little fishy…

A few weeks ago, when my parents came to stay we decided to venture across the river to a museum I had read a little about: The Horniman.

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View Tube

Posted by Alan on May 10, 2012

View Tube

View Tube & Tower Block

 

Another shot from film, the View Tube container café is dwarfed by the development on Stratford High St.

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Vast tracks of sea

Posted by Alan on May 6, 2012

Vast tracks of sea

Looking back to land along the railway on Southend Pier

One of the big problems I have with film is that quite often I don’t get though a roll very quickly – which means photographs lay in the camera undeveloped or seen for literally years. Last year I cycled to Southend as part of the coast to coast training – around 35 miles which I did enjoy and it’s nice now having the photos to think back to that day!

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Regional winner

Posted by Alan on September 3, 2011

Former glories

Rochdale pool, regional winner, 1987

It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything down. I thought about it but somehow the keystrokes just haven’t been forthcoming.  Last weekend I spotted this sign in the foyer of Rochdale baths after having swum just over half a mile in the ‘big pool’, which unusually, is 100′ (30.48m) long. The pool itself is perfectly functional if a little rough around the edges – the concrete rot has set in  and plans are a foot to replace it with something shiny and new next door. Still, the regional winner of 1987 plaque is still there. And still polished.

There’s some cycling stuff on the way soon, but I’ve started to put small nuggets of cycling at http://piepowered.tumblr.com/ for anyone that way inclined.

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Feeding a revolution

Posted by Alan on June 11, 2011

Having become rather engrossed in cycling in the last few weeks, I’ve missed out on all kinds of writing, including some about cycling. For a change, here’s a post about a highlight of our Paris trip: Versailles, specifically the palace. I can’t believe it’s been two months!

Feeding the revolution

Feeding the revolution / Let them eat ice cream

 About 40 minutes out of Paris on the RER train, it really isn’t Paris. Having learned a little of Versailles and it’s role in both French and world history, I don’t think I’d really seen any pictures before so the scale of the place was a bit of a shock. The gardens seem to go on for ever – actually in the shot below, the ‘official’ gardens (the bit you pay to get into) stop on the other side of the circular fountain pond in the middle of the photo. The long square lake is now outside of the grounds.

Down the garden - Versailles palace garden

Down the garden

Apart from being famed for being the home of many King Louis and where the blame for world war I was decided, it is home to some ‘musical fountains’. The musical bit is rather cheesy to be honest – recorded classical  music pumped through 3′ (1m) high speakers! I guess in the days of the French Kingdom, they were accompanied by live orchestra. Times have moved on, savings to be made etc etc.

Spinning water

Spinning water

The fountains themselves are very impressive.  All manner of shapes created just through spinning and adjusting water pressure, synchronised with the piped music.

Fountain

Burst

Only one of the fountains runs all day – so you should probably plan a trip better than we did if you want to really make the most of it. Having arrived around lunchtime, we saw the huge queues for the palace and headed straight for the gardens. We’d pretty much arrived as they turned the fountains off a few hours! It did mean we could wander freely and get a chance to feel the scale of the gardens and by mid-afternoon we could easily get into the palace anyway – and come back to the fountains, knowing where the more impressive jets were likely to be. Each fountain is different and there are few hidden behind tall bushy hedges.

Marble arch

Marble arch - expensive stone carvings around a fountain

Having taken on the size of both the house and gardens, I could really empathise with the French revolutionaries – no bread, yet the King had musical fountains, vast tracts of land and gold everywhere.

Versailles Palace - Golden

Cash my gold!

The inside of the palace is just as ornate and golden. We didn’t bother with an audio guide which meant we missed some of the key information on which rooms were historically important – just guessing and appreciating whatever information we could take in. Still, it was well worth the trip out of Paris for and good to take in a different French atmosphere for a day.

Finally, a helpful tip – if you’re under 26 and an EU resident, the EU pays for a lot of these attractions and even where they don’t you usually get some kind of discount.

Posted in Buildings and Places, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Bogle 2011

Posted by Alan on March 7, 2011

This weekend saw me tackling Manchester RAG’s famous Bogle event.  There are many variations on the ‘creation myth’, but what is certain is that some people walked around 55 miles home from somewhere north west of Manchester.  This is my second attempt – the first ended after completing the ‘south loop’, a distance of 29 miles.  This time, I am very glad to say I made it all the way around!

Fresh faces!

Fresh faces - at the very beginning, a mug shot with our walker numbers!

Starting from the old UMIST campus close to Manchester Piccadilly station, we were fresh and ready to go (despite rather stupidly having walked to Whitworth Park and back!). From here, the route takes us down through studentsville (Fallowfield), Northenden and finally Heald Green where checkpoint 1 provides a very welcome brief stop, nearly 10 miles out.

Checkpoint 1

Checkpoint 1 - still smiling. Tea is awesome!

From checkpoint 1, the route heads further out taking in Bramhall, Hazel Grove, Stockport, Didsbury and finally back up Oxford Road to the hub at UMIST – checkpoint 5. Here we took a decent break, having covered the 29 miles in just over 9.5 hours – an average of almost 3.5mph – which is really quite a fast walking pace to maintain! Leaving checkpoint 5 before 6am, this stretch is an infamous challenge amongst Boglers. 4 of the 5 miles to checkpoint 6 are up hill, following the Oldham Road to Failsworth through areas of Manchester that are ‘awaiting regeneration’.

Checkpoint 6

By checkpoint 6 (34 miles) the gruelling nature had set in.

At least the checkpoint is indoors! The next stretch is possibly the most difficult distance en route.  Checkpoint 7 is 41 miles in – yes – that’s a 7 mile stretch without a scheduled break.  It was during this stretch I came closest to quitting.  A chance encounter if a friend who was following the walkers on his bike provided some conversation and a welcome boost in morale. It was really nice to talk about cycling for a bit and take my mind off the various pains! Having reached checkpoint 7, I was now in good spirits – with a sandwich in one hand it was off again, for checkpoint 8 is just 3 miles further round. If I get that far, at least I can have a hot pie, I thought…

Pie

By checkpoint 8 however, things started to look up. The shop had pies!

Indeed I could. The man in the shop at Ringley stores was very happy to chat about the walk and very proud of his own certificates for keeping a Kidscan charity box in his shop! From here, the route is very much on the top of the hills.

Top of the morning

Top of the morning - high above Bolton and Bury, it did get quite pretty.

But with an up, there’s obviously a down. And then an up again – the Irwell valley brings you the ‘Hill of Death’.

Looking up

Looking up - "the hill of death". It wasn't so hard.

It’s quite steep, but I got through it thanks to a little musical inspiration from The Guillemots, managing the climb in a little under 10 minutes. Turning left at the top, it then really started to feel like I was heading home. Through several checkpoints and eventually onto the final stretch – the last 3 miles through Salford back to base. At this stage it really feels like there’s no point giving in no matter how slow the progress.

Old Salford

Old Salford - happily this stereotype is now rather rare

Liverpool St (picture above) is unremittingly grim.  Long, straight, and a mix of late 20th century flats, earlier terraces and some industrial sites (such as a scrap yard).  Here I gave up on music. Perhaps Portishead’s Third was just a little too fitting. Close to the centre of Salford I joined up with 2 freshers – who had absolutely no idea about Salford, or quays.  For the last mile we took it steady, finally crossing the Irwell, then Deansgate, then St Peters Sq and finally turning down the slope onto the campus.

Finishing 21 hours and 44 minutes after I had set off, I had made it. So without further ado, here are the freshly crunched numbers:

Vital statistics

2011 figures 2009 figures
Checkpoint Arrive Depart time since last CP miles from last checkpoint Total Distance section average mph moving average mph Arrival Depart section average mph
0 00:00:00 19:33:05 00:00:00 0 0 0.00 0.00 00:00:00 20:10:00 0.00
1 22:28:17 22:51:33 02:55:12 9.8 9.8 3.36 3.36 23:15:00 23:40:00 3.24
2 23:55:26 0:09:44 01:03:53 3.6 13.4 3.38 3.36 00:41:00 00:55:00 2.95
3 1:57:30 2:08:07 01:47:46 6.2 19.6 3.45 3.39 03:08:00 03:22:00 2.93
4 3:43:00 3:55:00 01:34:53 5.2 24.8 3.29 3.37 05:33:00 05:50:00 2.52
5 5:15:07 5:51:49 01:20:07 4.2 29 3.15 3.33 07:15:00 2.35
6 7:31:57 7:57:10 01:40:08 5 34 3.00 3.28
7 10:21:58 10:27:38 02:24:48 7 41 2.90 3.21
8 11:51:41 12:10:17 01:24:03 3.1 44.1 2.21 3.11
9 13:38:33 13:57:23 01:28:16 4.1 48.2 2.79 3.08
10 15:33:54 15:39:00 01:36:31 3.9 52.1 2.42 3.02
11 17:26:55 01:47:55 2.9 55 1.61 2.89
Distances as per route notes, maybe rounding errors may exist

At the time of writing I had amassed £260 in sponsorship. You can still sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011 with the funds going to Lymphoedema Support Network.

My feet are beginning to recover!

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Bogle Training Part II

Posted by Alan on February 16, 2011

I am still in training for Bogle, Manchester RAG’s infamous 55 mile walk around the Manchester cityscape. I’ve decided to raise money for Lymphoedema Support Network this year after the support mum has received over the last few years.  I hope you can find some spare change to donate though my JustGiving page.

Back to the training…

This weekend I headed out to the Midlands to take in a  30 mile (48 km) training walk. This is a rather more pleasant scenic adventure than Bogle will be, or indeed, the previous training walk of 17 miles through London. From Leamington, we took to the canal and headed vaguely north to Birmingham.  The first real point of note, is Hatton flight -where the canal rises steeply.

Hatton Flight

Hatton Flight

Towards the top lock, in a pond in front of what must have once been the lock keepers cottage sits a rather nice dragonfly sculpture.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Further north-westwards we took a left and ventured onto the Stratford North Canal.  One of the earlier canals to be built in the UK, it shows it. The infrastructure is much more heavy – huge bridges, cuttings, embankments particularly north of Hockley Heath. It’s little wonder – apparently they spanked £300K in 1796 on just 25 miles of canal! This bit of canal is allegedly cycle free, though that didn’t stop the people who passed us … on bikes. It might surprise you to know you actually need a cycle permit! Still, it didn’t bother us too much except for the sections where they had churned up the mud.

A boating

A boating on the North Stratford Canal

Given the basic nature of the towpath, I’d guess that’s actually why cycling is prohibited on the North Stratford. It’s essentially mud. Finally by about half 4 we reached Kings Norton Junction and turned right towards Birmingham. Here the scenery became much more industrial and we realised we had to pick up the pace a little.  Despite being on National Cycle Route 5, the regular floral tributes and fading light wasn’t encouraging – so a couple of miles further up at Selly Oak we came off the canal on to the Bristol Road.

Dead boat

Forlorn, sadly unloved boat

From the canal though you do get a sense of the vast machine that is the Cadbury Bournville factory. It’s much less purple than I remember.  Perhaps the Kraft influence has kicked in already.  Some parts of the factory are still very 1930s – such as this building on the Birmingham side.

Cadbury

Corporate pride 1930s style - Cadbury, Bourneville

The last few miles up the Bristol Road were a stark contrast.  As long as I can remember I’ve known Brum to be a car city, probably reinforced by watching Brum as a small child. The Bristol Road is a fairly angry dual carriageway with lots of traffic. Thinking back to University, Manchester’s Oxford Road is also very busy – but the majority of the traffic is made up of buses, it’s much slower and seems somewhat more friendly. The relaxed studenty feel only really seemed to stretch from Selly Oak to the campus gates unlike Manchester’s curry mile and student village.  Anyway, long digression!  Final destination was The Wellington on Bennetts Hill. We even got seats, which was nice after 29.5 miles and of course the beer was excellent. A short amble towards the train home took us over the 30 mile mark. A most excellent way to spend a Saturday.

To round off – just a quick reminder. I really do plan to get all the way around this time. If you’d like to sponsor me, please do so at http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011

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Highley commended Hackney

Posted by Alan on February 1, 2011

Cycle parking, Dalston

Cycle parking, Dalston

Possibly the first time I’ve ever seen this – cycle parking, within a car park. Taking up around 2 car bays worth of space, you could probably squeeze up to 24 bikes in here. But I didn’t leave mine here, due to the strange people loitering and incredible quiet. Instead, I opted for the racks within Junction station: busy, among many secured bikes and covered by CCTV.

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

It’s a very promising sign though – more parking please!

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No room at the inn!

Posted by Alan on January 30, 2011

No room at the inn!, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

This afternoon I popped back to the Duke of Wellington in Dalston to get some pictures…ready to blog about their Scottish beer festival.

Such is the popularity of cycling in this area, both Sheffield stands were crammed full along with every lamppost within sight!

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