About SilverTiger

I live in North London with my partner Tigger. This blog is about our outings and travels and anything else that occurs to me to talk about.

Millwall Dock

This afternoon we ventured out to Docklands. Once the busiest port in the world, it has been redeveloped as a an area of offices, residential blocks and support facilities such as shops and restaurants. Our destination was not the high density built-up district but one if the outlying quarters.

Apartment blocks
Apartment blocks

We left the number 135 bus here where I photographed these apartment blocks prettily lit by the afternoon sunshine. They are not part of Docklands and, to be honest, I don’t know where they are!

Millwall Outer Dock
Millwall Outer Dock

A footpath led us from the road to the Outer Millwall Dock, a broad and now peaceful body of water which once would have been alive with freighters, lighters and human activity.

Dick crane

Dock crane
Dock crane

Still in place but now locked up and immobilised, are a number of the old dock cranes that in the heyday of the docks would have been kept busy loading and unloading ships. I made several attempts to photograph them but because they are so tall it was hard to capture a complete one in a single image.

Yachts and other small craft
Yachts and other small craft

The water was busy today but with small craft. There were yachts for one or two people, canoes and stand-up paddle boards. These all belong to the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre.

Canoeing
Canoeing

I tried to obtain a poetic photo of canoeists silhouetted against the sunlit water in a contre-jour shot but, given the distance involved, this was the best I could do!

Just in case
Just in case

At intervals around the dock you find these metal stands holding life savers, a reminder that water can provide fun but also danger.

Mooring bollard
Mooring bollard

Also present are metal bollards to which ships would have been moored while in dock. They no longer serve any purpose unless it is to remind us of the history of Docklands.

Millwall Inner Dock
Millwall Inner Dock

We reached Millwall Inner Dock where there were larger vessels moored semi-permanently in a privately run moorings. Some of the boats seemed inhabited while others appeared vacant, awaiting tenants. Several of the vessels had Dutch names, suggesting that they had started life as canal barges in the Netherlands.

Dock crane and modern buildings
Dock crane and modern buildings

This view appealed to me, combining as it does an ancient dock crane and modern buildings.

Standing guard over their history
Standing guard over their history

The dock is quite large and following its perimeter involves a long walk. On all sides are residential areas to which the gates carry notices advising that they are private and that public access is allowed to the dockside only. So once you start walking, you either continue to the end or you return the way you came.

View from the willow tree
View from the willow tree

At one point, unexpectedly, we found a willow tree and I was able to take this unusual view of the dock between the willow’s branches.

Old machine
Old machine

We came upon this old machine, presumably left here, like the cranes, as a historical memory and a point of interest. I have no idea what it is or what purpose it served. Perhaps I will discover this one day.

A pair of coots
A pair of coots

In a corner if the dock a pair of coots were paddling about. They were not diving for food but watching the people passing by. Every time someone new arrived, they paddled hopefully in that direction, obviously hoping for hand-outs. They were briefly scared into a flurry when a dachshund poked his head through the railings and barked at them but soon recovered their aplomb.

Eclectic mixture of buildings
Eclectic mixture of buildings

When I looked back across the dock, my eye was caught by this eclectic mixture of buildings of so many different shapes, colours and architectural styles. The water reflects them like a pointilliste painting.

Disused bridge
Disused bridge

We had seen this bridge from a distance and expected to be able to complete our circuit by crossing it. However, when we reached it we found that it was disused, missing most if its floor panels. This meant that we had another walk to close the loop by going the long way round. We were certainly having our ration of exercise today!

Egyptian geese
Egyptian geese

This had one benefit at least as we discovered a pair of Egyptian geese relaxing in the sun. Though not uncommon, this pretty species is seen less often than the now ubiquitous Canada geese, so it was a pleasure to see them.

Shake Shack
Shake Shack

Our perambulations brought us within sight if an oasis, specifically a branch of Shake Shack where we could rest a while and take refreshments.

This interlude more or less marked the end of our ramble as, from here, we soon reached a bus stop and took, first, a 135 and then a 205 back to the Angel and home.

Shopping in Camden

Usually we shop on Sunday but as we needed a few things and Tigger did not have to go into the office, we did it today. For a change we visited the Sainsbury’s store in Camden Town instead of the one near where we live. It is bigger and easier to move around.

Sainsbury’s, Camden Town
Sainsbury’s, Camden Town

There are two entrances but if you want to use a trolley you need to go to this, the back entrance, where they are to be found. There weren’t many, leading to an unseemly scramble but I eventually acquired one.

We surfed the shelves and rolled our booty to the check-out. I paid with my credit card on Apple Pay and received the benefit of a speech from the check-out lady, the burden if which was “Your credit card company is spying on you”. Er, thanks, we already know that. I don’t think the check-out staff should be lecturing customers in this way.

Costa Coffee
Costa Coffee

We rewarded ourselves for our labours by taking coffee at a nearby branch of Costa. We could have sat there a long time chatting but bestirred ourselves as we had two more tasks to complete.


Building 1889

Tigger needed something from Marks & Spencer and while she went inside, I waited outside with the shopping trolley. There was a dog attached to the cycle racks awaiting an owner inside the store and so I joined him!

Looking across Camden High Street, I saw the sun shining prettily on some buildings and so photographed them. The one above bears a date of 1889.

No date

No date

I couldn’t see a date on this building (perhaps there is one on the façade round the corner) but it must be of similar age to the previous one. The upper stories seem to be residential while the ground floor has been converted (or was originally built) as shops. It’s sad that businesses do not respect the original design and instead create garish shop fronts that clash with it. Money was never a respecter of good taste.

We next visited Lidl for a single purchase, so I again played Fido outside.

Having done this, we hauled our heavy trolley, and ourselves, onto the 214 bus back to the Angel.

A little sheepishly, I have to admit that that’s all we did of note today. We spent the rest of it at home. On the other hand, ominous signs are that lockdown, or some form of it, may have to be re-imposed in the near future as Covid-19 infections are increasing again and so we may have to become used once more to spending time confined to home and the local area. If we can accustom ourselves to it, so much the better.

Greenwich and Waterloo

We started, as we often do, with coffee at Jusaka, then strolled down St John Street to the bus stop where we boarded a 431. We charged at Waterloo to a188 which delivered us here:

In sight of the Cutty Sark
In sight of the Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is a famous survival, one of the fastest of the old tea clippers, now residing in retirement in Greenwich. We did not visit it today but you can find more about it here.

Greenwich Market
Greenwich Market

We passed through Greenwich Market which, with its mixture of stalls, small shops and pubs, is a fascinating place to visit and explore. We did not tarry here today though we have done so on previous occasions.

Church of St Alfege
Church of St Alfege

We stopped to take photos of the big church dedicated to St Alfege. The church dates reputedly from the Middle Ages but was rebuilt in 1712–1714 to designs by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Collonade
Collonade

As you can see, this church is hard to photograph because if its size and the busy road full of traffic.

Café Rouge
Café Rouge

Before doing anything further, we decided that it was time for lunch. Near the church is a branch of the chain of faux-français cafe restaurants, Café Rouge. Vegetarian options are limited and we tend to have the same dishes each time but they were well cooked and presented so I have no complaints.

Drinking fountain, St Alfege Park
Drinking fountain, St Alfege Park

We decided to take a stroll in St Alfege Park. Just inside the entrance (coming from the church) is a drinking fountain. An inscription tells us that it was placed by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association but does not give a date (not one that we could see, anyway).

St Alfege Park
St Alfege Park

The land of the park was bought by the church in 1716 as a burial ground. When burial grounds within London were closed in 1853, this one, like many, was landscaped as a public park by the removal of the gravestones and levelling of the ground. A few of the larger tombs have been left in place as points of interest. Trees, shrubs, grass and a few well placed benches make this a pleasant area in which to stroll or sit and watch the squirrels and birds.

Avenue
Avenue

An avenue runs through park but it is also enjoyable to follow a meandering path as fancy directs or to sit and relax in the calm atmosphere.

Deptford Creek
Deptford Creek

We walked along a road where we could catch a bus to begin our journey home. It crosses this waterway which I assumed was a canal, although it was unusually broad for that. Had I known the name of the road – Creek Road – that would have given me a clue, for this is Deptford Creek, part of the Ravensbourne River.

The Hoy
The Hoy

A little further along we saw this old pub, looking rather sorry for itself. It is called The Hoy which is a kind of boat of the sort that might have sailed into the Creek. The pub dates from pre-Victorian times (1820s) but, sadly, seems to have closed down. What fate awaits it?

Our bus came and although its published destination was Russell Square, it terminated one stop short of Waterloo Station and expelled us.

Giant spider
Giant spider

We found that we were beside a park called Waterloo Millennium Green, so we went in and walked through part of it towards the station. I saw two sculptures but was unable to find any information as to the artist. The first was a giant metal dragonfly and the second, the giant metal spider shown above.

People enjoying the sunshine
People enjoying the sunshine

The day had started cool (around 14°C) but by now was warm (around 21°C) and people were sitting on the grass, alone or in groups, in various states of undress, enjoying the sunshine.

Pigeons enjoying the sunshine
Pigeons enjoying the sunshine

An area of grass had been left clear of humans and it amused me to see a flock of pigeons taking their ease there just like the people.

We walked to the station and the bus stop where we could catch a 341 back to the Angel. Naturally, we took a photo or two while waiting.

The Wellington Hotel
The Wellington Hotel

This, as you can see, is the Wellington Hotel, or rather, part of it. The hotel and pub comprise what look like several buildings. Included in this is an extraneous structure which, if nothing else, confers a feeling of novelty to the hotel.

Disused railway bridge
Disused railway bridge

A railway bridge goes right through the middle of the hotel buildings. Is there any other hotel that can makes same claim? Fortunately, the bridge is no longer used for trains or it might otherwise be very disturbing for guests. Above it, though, a modern pedestrian bridge is suspended.

Looking down the road, Tigger suddenly said she could see a horse… on the roof of a building! It was hard to see or photograph, being so far away.

Can you see a horse?
Can you see a horse?

The alleged horse is on the red builing just to the left of a flag pole.

A horse? Maybe...
A horse? Maybe…

I have cropped the photo as far as the resolution will allow. It certainly looks like a horse but that can be an illusion.

Speculation was curtailed by the arrival of our bus which carried us back to the Angel.

Fetching the tea

I am fussy aboiut my tea, a fact that I may already have mentioned a couple of times in passing 🙂

At present, I buy my ta online from a company in North Berwick (Scotland) called Howdah. They are very good and deserve a plug. Their delivery is fast and I often receive my goods the day after I place my order online.

I placed an order last Thursday and on Friday we went out (see Pancakes and pagoda). We returned home to find a card from the Royal Mail saying that they had failed to deliver my parcel which, as a result was now languishing in a place known as the Islington Delivery Office. Today, I set out to reclaim it.

The only problem was that I wasn’t sure where this Office was or how to reach it. So, I did what I have done successfully before: I asked Apple Maps!

Apple Maps has been severely criticised in the past for its shortcomings but has been greatly improved. I have used it on several occasions to find out how to travel to some destination. On this occasion, Apple Maps produced this:

The route by Apple Maps
The route by Apple Maps

This is a live map that, when expanded, shows which bus to take, from which bus stop, the arrival bus stop and the path to walk to complete the journey. According to this, I should take the 394 bus from the Angel, leave it at New North Road and follow the dotted line to the Post Office.

Somewhere in Shoreditch
Somewhere in Shoreditch

I followed the instructions and left the bus near Shoredtich Park in the London Borough of Hackney. Now to follow the dottrd line on foot.

It's this way
It’s this way

The one small snag in this is that when you consult the map, you don’t necessarily know which way you are facing, leaving it uncertain which way to go. The simple way to solve this dilemma is to start walking: the blue blob which indicates your position will soon show whether you are following the dotted line or not.

Blocks of flats
Blocks of flats

I passed some blocks of flats. There was as yet no sign of the post office but the blue blob was moving reassuingly along the dotted line, so I kept on walking.

Something in the park
Something in the park

The park was on the other side of the road and though the traffic was heavy, I could see that there was a strange object over there. Was it a work of art, perhaps? I made a note to investugate it later and kept on walking

There it is!
There it is!

And there it was – the Royal Mail’s delivery office. Apple Maps had led me to my destination.

Having collected my parcel from the amiable gents in the office, I had to think about returning home. When I left the bus, I had looked around for a bus stop for the 394 in the opposite direction but had not seen one. I didn’t worry about this, confident that Apple Maps would sort out the return journey.

First, however, was the strange object in the park. I wanted to find out what it was before leaving.

In Shoreditch Park
In Shoreditch Park

Shoreditch Park is one of those pleasant green areas open to the public of which London is rightly proud. As gardens go, it is not very elaborate but on a warm day like today it is a perfect place to stroll or sit on a bench and watch the world go by. I, however, wanted to find out about The Object! I approached…

Hitchcock's Reel

Hitchcock's Reel

Hitchcock's Reel
Hitchcock’s Reel
John Edwards, 1996

I looked all around the object but there was no plate or engraving explaining what it was. It could have been something utilitarian, such as a reel for cable, left there pending colllection, but its careful and seemingly permanent mounting suggested that it was a work of art.

It was only when I arrived back home that I was able to track it down and find out that it was a sculpture by John Edwards, entitled Hitchcock’s Reel (a reference to the film director who had connections with the area) and that it was originally painted blue, not the tasteful rust brown in which it rejoices today.

I had now to think about the journey home. I fired up Apple Maps which gave me this:

The return jiourney
The return jiourney

If I was expecting simply to reverse the route by which I had come, I was disappointed. As it happens, I am used to these asymmetrc journeys by which the return journey takes a different route, due to the vagaries of the road system in London. According to this, I had to walk to Essex Road Station and take a bus from there. The map shows bus number 56 but the text sopecifies bus number 476.

Regent's Canal
Regent’s Canal

It seemed – and felt like – a very long walk but that’s probably because I didn’t know the area and was contstantly on the lookout for the bus stop. The map suggests a 12-minute walk which is probably about right.

I arrive - the bus leaves!
I arrive – the bus leaves!

I was almost within reach of the stop when I saw a bus departing. And yes, of course, it was the bus I was supposed to take. Always the way…

Actaully, I didn’t matter because the 476 is not the only bus to call at the stop.

Plenty of choice
Plenty of choice

As you can see, I had a choice of five buses (the blue plaques are the nighttime versions of the daytime buses of the same numbers, not different buses), most of which would take me where I wanted to go.

Back-seat pasenger
Back-seat pasenger

The next bus, a 73, came within one minute. I sat in the back seat. This is our favourite seat on these buses as it allows a quick getaway through the back door.

Incidentally, these buses with three doors were originally designed so that you could enter or exit through any door. In the photo you can see the yellow touch pad for electronic tickets for the use of passengers boarding at the rear. Since the pandemic, however, supposedly to aid social distancing and, I suspect, because Transport for London was losing money from passengers not paying, you can enter the bus only at the front, where the driver can check that you pay.

The number 73 delivered me speedily and safely at the Angel where I made lunch, accompanied, of course, by a nice cup of tea!

That sinking feel… again

By a strange calendrical coincidence – or what Carl Jung might have called a Synchronicity – nine years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a post entitled That sinking feeling, in which I described our need to call a plumber because of a blocked kitchen sink.

Blocked sink

Well, guess what – it has happened again! What is it about the time of my birthday that causes sinks to become blocked?

That question is not serious, of course, and I do not really believe that my birthday has anything to do with the matter though Dr Jung might question why, in that case, I even bother to mention it!

This snk has always been a slow emptier and we have treated it carefully because of this. For example, we never empty the teapot into the sink but always into a sieve which we then empty into the bin. So tea leaves are not to blame.

We have occasionbally tried pouring one of those chemical sink unblocker products into the outflow in the hope of improving the slow emptying, but to no avail. As washer-up in chief in our household, I have learned to live with its slowness and had I gone on doing so, all might still be well.

Unfortunately, I took it into my head to do a little home plumbing. Rooting around in the cupboard underneath the sink, I found the plunger. You know the sort of thing: a stick with a rubber cup at when end. Place this over the plughole and press down repeatedly (not forgetting to block the overflow hole with a wet cloth!). The idea is that the pressure caused by this action will free any blockage. It is a simple remedy and often effective.

“Did it work?” you ask. No, it did not. In fact, it made things worse by blocking the sink almost completely! How foolish did I feel? Very.

This disaster occurred on Sunday, so there was nothing to be done then. I had to wait until Monday morning before I could call for help. This involves me phoning a body called Partners for Improvement – Islington.

Partners take care of repairs and maintenance to properties rented to tenants by Islington Council. I have to say that I have always found them courteous, helpful and efficient. My call was answered by a polite and helpful assistant who sympathised with my predicament and put me on hold while looking for a plumber to do the work. Blocked sinks, I was gratified to hear, count as “urgent” and must be dealt with speedily. An appointment was arranged for Tuesday afernoon (today).

In the meantime, we had to manage as best we could. Water did in fact run out of the sink, though with agonizing slowness. This fact enabled me at least to wash the dishes yesterrday morning and today.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, Partners never give you a definite time for a job. They specify a morning or an afternoon and that’s it. Reasonable, I suppose, as it allows their repair personnel to schedule a day’s jobs in the most effeicient order, with a view to geographical distribution. On this occasion, I await the plumber’s call any time between 12 noon and 5 pm.

I shall now have lunch and report on progress later!

Later…

It was about 2pm when the plumber rang the doorbell. For a greeting, he made do with the phrase “Blocked sink?” and so I led him to view the corpus delicti.

He had come prepared with a weapon that put my poor plunger in the shade. One might describe it as a concertina on a stick. Partially filling the sink, he placed this instrument against the plughole and commenced pumping.

Time passed…

“What do you use this sink for?” he enquired, ominously, at one point.

I had brief visions of maniacal tenants pouring, paint, cement and acid-dissolved corposes down the sink but quickly dismissed these.

“Oh, you know, washing the dishes, that sort of thing,” I managed, plaintively.

More pumping and running of taps ensued. The plumber was a big fellow and I couldn’t see round him to the sink. I had to judge progress by sound alone. At first, things didn’t seems to be going well. Every time he turned on the tap, there was a plashy sound as of water meeting water. After several more pumpings, however, I thought to hear water tumbling into an empty sink.

Having contemplated the results of his labours for a while, the plumber turned to me and advised that I give the sink a good cleam to get rid of the limescale etc. Was this solid practical advice or just an attempt to make me feel bad? Either way, the job was done and the plumber departed.

I of course had to try the sink for myself, filling it to the brim with water and then pulling the plug. The water ran away in the leisurely fashion to which I am accustomed. If I had hoped for an improvement in the flow, I was disappointed, but it is at least as good as it was before and with that I remain satisfied.