diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 31, 2019

You may not want to think about it, but it's almost September. Never fear, London always puts on a last flurry of events and activities and happenings before the nights draw in, and we're all invited. Here's my weekend by weekend guide to free September delights.

All month
» Totally Thames (Sep 1-30): There was a time when the Mayor's Thames Festival filled the South Bank across an entire weekend and lit up the evening sky. No more. Now we get a whole month of events, many of them ticketed, ranging from walks to art to boat trips. In good news they've updated the presentation of the website's events section this year so it's not quite so frustrating to trawl through for one-off treats.
» Lambeth Heritage Festival (Sep 1-30): Dozens of talks, walks and openings across the borough, notably featuring Lambeth Palace, Brixton Windmill and the National Theatre (and a proper brochure to flick through, bliss).

Weekend 1: August 31/September 1
» Clapham Old Town Fair (Sat, 12-5): Featuring the London Fire Brigade, a fairground and the Clapham Mutts dog show.
» Camberwell Fair (Sat, 12-9): Music, food and market food, squished into Camberwell Green. Expect queueing.
» Chingfest (Sat, 1-9): Family-friendly music festival in Ridgeway Park, all part of #wfculture19.
» Angel Canal Festival (Sun, 11-5): Waterside gaiety beside City Road Lock, now in its 34th year. Expect the Mayor of Islington to arrive by narrowboat.
» Brentford Festival (Sun, 12-6): Live tunes, stalls and another dog show, for the 15th consecutive year, in Blondin Park W5.
» Palmers Green Festival (Sun, 12-7): All the fun of music on the green, yet another dog show and dozens of community stalls, in Broomfield Park N13.

Weekend 2: September 7/8
» Lambeth Local History Fair (Sat, from 10.15): A coming-together of local societies, heritage organisations, friends groups and local history publishers.
» St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (Sat, Sun, 11-6): Annual gathering of small boats near Tower Bridge. Includes a visit by the Barnet Hill Lifeboat Crew Shanty Singers.
» Thames Tidefest (Sun, 9.30-5.30): River-based activities scattered between Brentford and Chiswick, with a particular marquee-focus at Strand-on-the-Green, W4.
» Hackney Carnival (Sun, 11-7): Not of Notting Hill proportions, but follow the feathers and sound systems along the revised route (or hang out in the hubs off Mare Street).

Weekend 3: September 14/15
» Heritage Open Days (Thu-Sun): Once again this year, TWO weekends when hundreds of buildings that aren't usually open are open. Most are outside London but 68 are in the capital, including the Crystal Palace Subway (Sat), tours of Kingston Guildhall and free entry to The Charterhouse.
» Mitcham Heritage Day (Sat, 10-4.30): Several buildings around the conservation area will be open, including the dovecote and cricket pavilion. I went last year, so can recommend.
» The Great River Race (Sat, 11.20-2.30): 300 craft engage in a spectacular paddle up the Thames from Docklands to Richmond.
» Scadbury Open Weekend (Sat, Sun, 2-4.30): Archaeological excavations, and refreshments, at the moated medieval manor house near the Sidcup bypass.
» Bermondsey Street Festival (Sat, 11-6): A designery "village fête", plus the obligatory dog show, plus city farm, plus food and stalls.
» Hidden River Festival (Sat, 12-6): In its seventh year, a music festival and family funday on the banks of the New River at Woodberry Down.
» London Design Festival (continues until next weekend): Hundreds of design-er events will be taking place across the capital, including several landmark projects, and based in eleven on-trend clusters. The programme's so vast you'll have to look hard for the best bits.

Weekend 4: September 21/22
» Heritage Open Days (Thu-Sun): Weekend two.
» Open House London (Sat, Sun): The grand-daddy of architectural festivals, with hundreds of weird and wonderful buildings throwing open their doors across the capital. The price of the printed guide rises to £10 on Monday, but Alasdair's excellent summary list is available for free here. A list of all the buildings which require pre-booking can be found here. As ever there's far too much to choose from, but if you need some inspiration here are my reports from 2016, 2017 and 2018 Be there, or regret it for the subsequent 52 weeks.
» London Car Free Day (Sun): Most of the City will be closed to vehicles, which sounds fun, while 22 other boroughs organise active-travel-friendly events.
» Chiswick House Dog Show (Sun, 11-5): Celebrity judges give the hounds of W4 the runaround.

Weekend 5: September 28/29
» Thames Barrier Closure (Sun, 8.10-6.10): Annual all-day maintenance closure (peaking around high tide at 1.45pm). Come and see water piled up on one side only (while it's only a practice).
» Regatta London (Sun): ...and while the Barrier's shut, come watch folk kayak, canoe, paddleboard or row 12 miles down the Thames.
» Woolmen’s Sheep Drive and Wool Fair (Sun, 10-5): Michael Portillo is the celeb leading this year's first tranche over London Bridge. Come too for wool-related trade stalls, lamb burgers and a bar on a bus.
» Japan Matsuri (Sun, 10-8): Music, martial arts and dance, a bit of origami, and the best of Japanese gastronomy, in Trafalgar Square.
» Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival (Sun, 12.30pm): Cockney royalty circles the City from Guildhall Yard to St Mary-le-Bow.

August on diamond geezer is traditionally Local History Month. I sometimes interpret the title somewhat broadly, but generally the idea is to come up with an all-consuming safari, researched in slightly excessive detail, and then impose this on you as the month progresses. This year I've had ten attempts, alas without ever getting any further than the first post because every series proved unfeasible. But, I hope you'll agree, a good start.

Triple Points (visiting the places where London boroughs meet)
Postcod3s (visiting every London postcode district numbered with a three)
Bow Down (discovering what was wiped away in 1969 to build the Bow Flyover)
Upperdeckers (a running commentary for London double deckers running outside the capital)
Bow Plaques (tracking down the blue plaques on my doorstep)
Every Station (visiting all the stations in each borough in as short a time as possible)
Bow Locals (reviewing the ten pubs closest to my home, in distance order)
Bow Streetrunners (an A-Z of roads in my local postcode, and their past histories)
Milestoned (tracking down the surviving milestones along London's former turnpike roads)
ExSites (revisiting all the places in London where I've had sex)

 Friday, August 30, 2019

Local History Month
ExSites  Cantley Gardens, SE19

August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've circumnavigated my local borough, walked the entire length of the River Lea and crossed the capital on a line of latitude, to name but a few of my eclectic quests. This year I thought I'd revisit all the places in London where I've had sex, in a series I'm calling ExSites.

The first place I had sex wasn't in London, so thankfully I'll not be revisiting that, but eventually events ticked around and I found myself making the most of a night in the capital. Later there'd be that time I passed Michael Foot on the walk of shame, that time room service interrupted at the crucial moment and that time the action was terminated by a sofa delivery. But let's not rush ahead too soon, let's start off on a summer's evening in 1990 when my eyes were opened to the delights of Upper Norwood.

6pm, Leicester Square



I'd only intended to come up to London to watch a film. That film was Gremlins 2, which was enjoying a very successful opening weekend, and the cinema in question was the Warner West End. These days it's better known as the Vue West End, but I visited a year before its interior was knocked down and remodelled into a nine-screen multiplex. As one of the very first to watch the film I was handed a questionnaire on the way in, plus a free pencil, and I loved it so much I ticked the 'excellent' box while the credits rolled. I don't think I understood then why it was set in Clamp Tower and featured an insane businessman called Daniel Clamp, but I certainly understand now.

I could have gone straight home afterwards but thought I'd take the opportunity to go for a drink because I wasn't up in London very often. I had no set plan, nor any ultimate agenda, but I was quite pleased with my new haircut and was wearing my smartest shirt so thought I might take advantage. The drinking establishment I selected is long gone, replaced by an office block with a downstairs gastropub, but at the time it had a lively reputation. It was also within walking distance of a tube station, which would maximise the amount of drinking time I'd be getting in the likely event that I'd be going home alone. I'd never translated a chance meeting into an overnight liaison before. There is always a first time.

10pm, Islington



First eye contact occurred even before I'd reached the bar. I ordered a pint of cider, because that was the limit of my alcoholic adventurousness in those days, and handed over my very first small 5p coin as part of the payment. They'd only been in circulation for four weeks, so it was quite a memorable transaction. Then, glass in hand, I plucked up the courage to say hello and a somewhat stilted conversation ensued. Discussion topics included cranes, lemons and the career of Leslie Crowther, who'd taken the helm of Stars In Their Eyes for the first time the previous week. This somehow succeeded in moving things along, and once events relocated to the rear terrace I soon realised my night was sorted.

Two Coca-Colas later I learned that my bed for the night would be somewhere in the vicinity of Crystal Palace, and agreed to be shepherded through the streets of London to wherever it was. I had a One Day Travelcard so expense was no issue, and was reassured this worked just as well on nightbuses as on trains. It was however important to make a start while the tube was still operational, so I was told, so a rendezvous was kept with the last-but-one Victoria line service of the evening at King's Cross. Many of the other passengers were boisterous and considerably worse for wear, whereas I'd been staying sober-ish in readiness for whatever lay ahead.

12.30am, Brixton



London's nightbus network was considerably smaller in those days, so it was fortunate that the N2 headed in pretty much the right direction. Services were also less frequent, what with only four Metrobus vehicles in operation along the entire route, so a lengthy wait proved necessary. This was of course the week after the N2's allocation had been transferred from Holloway and Muswell Hill garages to Finchley, but I had other things on my mind as I hung around patiently on Brixton Road. At least the drive through the empty streets was swift, careering through the unfamiliar sights of Tulse Hill and West Norwood.

Even after alighting at the Crystal Palace terminus there was still another mile to walk. I remember saying what a long way it was, although I don't remember the precise route taken. My best guess would be along Belvedere Road, but it might well have been via Church Road and Sylvan Hill instead. At least it was all downhill. My destination, it turned out, was an oblique run of tapered townhouses built on the site of some allotments in 1969, namely Cantley Gardens. Creeping indoors proved necessary so as not to wake other residents, and I was quick to agree that yes, the room was a mess. This is when the sex part happened.

7am, Cantley Gardens



Waking in a strange bed is something you eventually get used to, but this was a first. Also nobody warned me about the perils of unsynchronised sleeping patterns, so I spent the next hour listening to birds, passing trains and contented light snoring. A brief conversation occurred around eight, the gist of which was that sleeping until Sunday lunchtime was the normal run of things around here. I managed one more hour unconscious, then endured another of birdsong and trains in not quite half of a double bed. I think I may have leaned or nudged simply to bring this prolonged period of purgatory to an end. This is when the sex part happened again.

The bathroom had mirrored tiles. It also had an unexpectedly good view, this being the first time I'd seen the area in daylight, looking down across the treetops towards what I now know to be Beckenham. How I wished I'd thought to bring a toothbrush. It was shortly after this that telephone numbers were exchanged, although I must have offered a false one because I wasn't destined to have my own personal landline until the following year. I guess I already knew the night's events would never be repeated. This appeared to be confirmed when, rather than attempting some kind of breakfast from the unseen kitchen, all I ended up with was an ice lolly from the local paper shop.

11.30am, Crystal Palace



Instead of cutting and running it seemed only polite to hang around a little longer. With Crystal Palace Park almost on the doorstep this proved the place to go, entering near the stadium then walking down past the zoo towards the dinosaurs. The weather was now warm and sunny - it'd be hitting 38° by the end of the week - which was a good excuse to slump on the grass with a couple of cans and watch the donkey rides. It had been an interesting introduction to the locality, although conversation was now starting to dry up so it was soon time to head for home. I caught the 12.43 to Victoria, which was a damned convenient means of escape, and no attempts were made to arrange a second visit.

On the journey I had time to mull over the events of the day, and ponder whether the twin periods of activity had been worth the associated faff. I didn't yet know there'd be other days I'd awaken in a random part of town, learning a little more about the outskirts of the capital as I attempted to navigate my way back to the centre. And I also didn't yet know I'd end up living in London just over a decade later, my choice of which of the suburbs to live in at least partly coloured by when I'd woken up in them... but no, it was never going to be Upper Norwood.

Update: I'd love to tell you about the second place in London I had sex, the architecturally-iconic Southwyck House off Coldharbour Lane in Brixton (built to shield a road that was never built), but alas the month has run out and there isn't time.

 Thursday, August 29, 2019

Local History Month
Milestoned  Bath Road

August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've explored my immediate E3 neighbourhood, walked the length of the River Fleet and climbed to the highest point in every London borough, to name but a few of my engrossing quests. This year I thought I'd track down the surviving milestones along London's former turnpike roads, in a series I'm calling Milestoned.

Turnpike Trusts were set up in an era of stagecoach travel to build and maintain long-distance roads, and the provision of milestones was made compulsory in 1767. Motor traffic helped make them obsolete, but thousands survive in situ across the country, including dozens along some of London's older roads. I've been inspired by my local milestone near Bow Road station, but let's start off out west along the Bath Road, the precursor to the A4. [map] [photos]

1  Kensington Gore



This is a most impressive start - a decorated iron milestone of 1911 vintage shoved up against the wall of the Royal Geographic Society and watched over by a statue of David Livingstone. We're on the southern edge of Hyde Park, very close to the Royal Albert Hall, immediately opposite the entrance to West Carriage Drive. The A4 doesn't go this way any more, it diverts off down the Brompton Road at Knightsbridge, but the RGS's milestone reminds us that this used to be the most direct route. It's also the most ornate we'll be seeing, featuring the City of Westminster's coat of arms, two pointy fingers and a grubby peeling sticker promoting a Melbourne-based street artist. Different turnpikes used different locations as their zero point, which for the Bath Road was Hyde Park Corner, precisely one mile distant. As for the next town deemed worthy of a mention, forget Hammersmith and Brentford, we are instead nine miles from Hounslow.

 The Milestone Hotel, Kensington



The 'half' may be somewhat unexpected, but on a busy road close to the centre of the capital it was deemed practical to mark every half mile not just every mile. A ten minute walk has brought us almost to the end of Kensington Gardens, and to a tall elegant building with terracotta flourishes. It started out as a house in 1884, became a hotel in 1922 and of course they called it The Milestone Hotel. The milestone pokes out through the railings, two of which have been removed, helping to provide the classy heritage touch every five star boutique hotel requires. A doorman in a smart green uniform is another must-have, as is a toff-focused restaurant in which the cheapest starter is a bowl of chicken soup for £15. You will not be staying at The Milestone, but it's free to take a peek outside.

 King Street, Hammersmith



Milestones 2, and 3 are long gone, which shunts us along to King Street in the centre of Hammersmith. This was the main road west before the flyover arrived, but is now a muted one-way funnel haunted by milling shoppers. Look for the tiny alcove between the Hammersmith Ram and Creams dessert parlour, bang opposite Primark, where the beleaguered milestone is securely hidden behind a brief railing. Not only is it another something-and-a-half, it's also been painted black with white writing, and there really aren't many of these left. Passers-by use the recess as a litter bin, if they even notice it at all.

8  London Road, Isleworth



That's been quite a leap, skipping 4 (Hammersmith), 5 (Turnham Green), 6 (Kew Bridge) and 7 (Brentford), and certainly a lot easier to tackle by bus than it would have been by stagecoach. We're now in Isleworth Parish, as the milestone helpfully reminds us, with only a couple of miles to go before reaching Hounslow. The setting is quite suburban, set back in the pavement against a low brick wall and laurel hedge amid a run of semis at the top of Teesdale Avenue. Immediately behind the hedge is a block of flats, probably about 20 years old, appropriately called Milestone Court (No Estate Agent Boards Allowed). The nearby Rose and Crown which would once have served passing travellers closed in 2008, but there is a Tesco Express for those in need of refreshment.

9  London Road, Spring Grove



And that's the first time we've had a one mile gap. The intervening mile has led us along London Road from the low 300s to the high 600s, not too far from Hounslow East station and now within the realm of Heston Parish. Right down at the bottom in tiny black letters is the inscription R. J. & J. Barrett London 1834, confirming that this milestone has been a permanent item of street furniture for an extraordinarily long time. It used to be in the middle of the road but was moved to the southern side around the turn of the century so as not to inhibit road traffic. Every single milestone in today's post is on the southern side of the road, which may or may not be a coincidence.

10  Bath Road, Hounslow



Ten miles from Hyde Park Corner doesn't quite drop us in the centre of Hounslow but a short walk past Bell Corner, fractionally to the west. Unusually this milestone is a large rectangular stone embedded in a wall, not plonked in the pavement. The wall is an old one, left in situ when the 57-room Cloisters Care Home was built behind it. The stone has a whopping great diagonal crack through it, which may well be why the wall wasn't touched. We're still in Heston Parish, a reminder that Hounslow wasn't always the bigshot local centre of population it is today. It's also time to introduce the next town down the road to be granted milestone headline status, namely Colnbrook, once a major coaching inn hub (now entirely bypassed).

12  Bath Road, Cranford



This might be more the kind of thing you thought I'd be writing about - a decrepit stump embedded in the pavement with hard-to-read chiselled lettering. 'London 12' appears on the top sloping face, including a rather jaunty number twelve, whereas distances to Colnbrook and Hounslow face the traffic and have been heavily eroded by time. The precise location is outside the London Heathrow Central Travelodge (which most definitely isn't central) at the foot of a phone mast near the bus shelter. But this is more than 100m away from where the milestone originally started out, which was on the other side of Berkeley Avenue between Joanna's Hair Salon and the VII Indian restaurant. Widening of the Bath Road and/or the redevelopment of Cranford's shopping parade are likely to blame, which just goes to prove you should never trust a milestone because you don't know where it's been.

13  Bath Road, Harlington Corner
14  Bath Road, Sipson Green



Milestone 13 is still positioned where it used to be, just to the west of Harlington Corner, but its surroundings have changed beyond measure. The adjacent field now houses a BT engineering facility, the Coach & Horses across the road is now a cylindrical Holiday Inn and the northernmost of Heathrow's runways begins a short distance to the south. It's also yet another different design of milestone - taller, indented and with a useful ledge where a weary traveller could rest a coffee cup.

Milestone 14 is similarly designed, and better looked-after. It once sat beside the open road on the corner of an orchard, and now finds itself beside a major road junction where hundreds of vehicles an hour gush out of Heathrow and off the Northern Perimeter Road. Tim Peake welcomes passengers to Heathrow on an adjacent billboard. Guests at the Leonardo Hotel dream of thicker double glazing. And still the airport's edge has one more milestone to deliver...

15  Bath Road, Longford



The final surviving milestone on my fifteen mile quest can be found on the edge of the village of Longford, just beyond the junction with the Colnbrook Bypass. It sits amid a leaf-strewn verge next to a huge area of airport parking, just across the road from an architecturally-bereft Premier Inn. Here hotel staff hang around waiting for free shuttle buses to whisk them away, and chauffeurs and Uber drivers park up between jobs for a fag and a chat. A few steps away is the Longford Pump, installed in 1827 by the Colnbrook Turnpike Trust to deal with dust on the road, and lovingly restored by Hillingdon council in 2016. Should Heathrow's third runway ever be built the entire village of Longford is due to be consumed, and along with it the road along which Milestone 15 has stood sentinel all these years.

If milestones are of interest, here are three extraordinarily good resources.
The Milestone Society Repository "holds extracts of the Society's central records of over 30,000 milestones, boundary markers, fingerposts, crosses, AA Signs and tollhouses throughout the UK and associated reference photographs that can be viewed as maps in Google Earth or spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel or searched on-line."
Precise locations are visible if you go to osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk, click the Places tab and select Milestones from the menu down the side. This works for anywhere in the country. (n.b. milestones are somewhat outnumbered by boundary markers).
The Metadyne website, lovingly compiled by Mike Horne, includes a comprehensive illustrated list of all the surving milestones in NW and SW London, and I bow down in awe.

Update: Except I've just followed London's best-milestoned road, so the others are just more of the same but less of it, which means this feature is essentially unsustainable.

 Wednesday, August 28, 2019

July

MAY out
JOHNSON in
The whole summer recess to announce whatever he likes, unchallenged by Parliament

August

WE ARE LEAVING THE EU ON 31 OCTOBER
DODIE
(repeat daily)

MORE MONEY FOR
THE NHSTHE POLICESCHOOLSEVERYONE
(honest)

BREXITNO BREXIT
ON 31 OCTAFTER 31 OCT
WITHOUT A DEALWITH A DEAL
Boris will only accept this 
Nigel will only accept thisThe opposition coalition
will only accept this
Many dream of thisFew dream of thisMany dream of this

September/October

GovernmentParliament
NO DEAL! NO DEAL!WE WILL STOP YOU!
OH NO YOU WON'T!OH YES WE WILL!
Ha ha! Prorogation!OH NO YOU DON'T!
OH NO YOU DON'T!Ha ha! Vote you down!
Ha ha! Election!OH NO YOU DON'T!
OH NO YOU DON'T!Ha ha! Legal challenge!
NO DEAL! NO DEAL!WE WILL STOP YOU!
OH NO YOU WON'T!OH YES WE WILL!
OH BUGGER!   or... OH BUGGER!

WHAT WE NEED IS AN ELECTION!THE LAST THING WE NEED IS AN ELECTION!
Opposition's splitNigel's skeweredTotal distractionNot another one!
Corbyn's a liabilityNo parliament for 5 weeksSterling will tankPM could lose his seat
Could easily get a majorityIt'd be totally hung again

Pick a date...
OCT 17OCT 24OCT 31NOVEMBER
Much too quickAlmost too quickBetter hurryNo rush
Same day as EU SummitGets MPs out of the waySymbolic but impotentToo late,
it's all over
Pre-deadline optimismReality
kicking in
Panic buying underwayFull-on shortages
Tory landslide5 more years!Might wing itBlown it
(...but the Fixed-term Parliaments Act says 'No')

November

PerhapsMaybeAlternatively
Sunlit uplandsChaosHere we go again
ControlSubservienceMore of the same
NeoliberalismAusterityEndless uncertainty
FreedomIrrelevanceUntil next time

 Tuesday, August 27, 2019

At 9am yesterday morning, @TfL's twitter account tweeted this.



This seemed odd, given that yesterday was a bank holiday.

So I did some digging, and discovered that Kate Englefield's tweet was originally posted on 3rd October 2018.

What's more Kate tweeted it on a Wednesday, so TfL's comment "Starting the week right!" was doubly misleading.

@TfL also showcased another passenger's tweet at exactly the same time, both on Twitter and on Instagram. Here it is on Instagram.



Aww, well done Trevor, I thought.

And then I did some digging again, and discovered that @imogendragons' tweet was originally from 8th October 2018.

That's one thankyou message posted 322 days late, and another 327 days late.

It looked as if @TfL were storing up tweets that made them look good and posting them several months later.

So I went digging again, and looked back through @TfL's entire tweet output during June, July and August.

It turns out that @TfL always schedule customer praise at 9am on a Monday morning, week in, week out. And normally, just the once.

Customer tweet@TfL tweetDays late
After close to 3 years in London, tried the @SantanderCycles and loved it. Will use it more often now. [@tilak365 21 Apr 2019]Perfect way to start the week! [3 Jun 2019]43
Shoutout to the train driver on the Bakerloo line informing us we were at the last stop by singing End Of The Road by Boyz II Men. [@AEMcKay 22 Apr 2019]The most creative way to reach the end of the line! [10 Jun 2019]49
Shout out to the lovely man working the gate at Charing X this morning. I have all the bags today and he took my card and tapped it for me. Not a big deal but certainly made life easier. Thank you @TfL [@SamuelHaughton 15 Apr 2019]Shout out to the team at Charing Cross! [17 Jun 2019]63
I hope whoever found my pistachio lemon drizzle cake that I left on the jubilee line this morning really enjoyed it. Thank you to the staff at north greenwhich who tried to find it for me [@HermioneMidwife 21 Apr 2019]Hands up... who found the cake? [24 Jun 2019]64
@TfL guard at archway tube station at the weekend was wonderful- really helpful, cheery and a staff member you should be proud of [@lukeslittlelegs 15 Apr 2019]Shout out to the team at Archway Underground! [1 Jul 2019]77
I fainted on a busy tube yesterday and this is to try to say thank you to the man who got help, the man who kindly gave me his bottle of squash, and the lovely @TfL staff at #actontownstation who patiently looked after me until I felt better. #LoveLondon #kindnessofstrangers [@LitAgentCLare 18 Apr 2019][applause emoji ×3] [8 Jul 2019]81
To the lovely @TfL fella at Bethnal Green Overground who says “Morning!” to everyone as they go through the gates....keep it up buddy! What a happy dude! #itsnicetobenice [@MysteryBooth 12 Apr 2019]Starting the week with a smile [15 Jul 2019]94
Thank you to the wonderful staff at Bank Tube station, esp Mo with his stick, who rescued me and my shoe this evening #Cinderella @TfL #HeroesInHighVis [@legallylondon 7 Jun 2019]Have you come across any heroes in high vis lately? We want to hear your stories! [22 Jul 2019]45
Shout out to Roy the cleaner on the jubilee line who made everyone’s morning a little bit better with fist bumps and compliments @jubileeline [@KatieshawEmma 7 Jun 2019]Has anyone made your morning recently? [29 Jul 2019]52
Kudos to the guy at @TfL #TottenhamCourtRoad station playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano just now - got everyone singing, incl. the lovely tube staff! [@JessLHaig 16 Jun 2019]The perfect way to set yourself up for the week ahead [5 Aug 2019]50
@northernline S/O to the cheerful train driver on Northern Line that left Camden Town @15.12pm en route to Edgware. Tanoy announcement praising wonderfully behaved children from a school in Hamsptead and applause made me feel like I was in an American Movie #londonunderground [@qualityinplay 6 Jun 2019]School trips via the London Underground [12 Aug 2019]67
@TfL @EmiratesAirLDN The cable car is fantastic - especially on a sunny day like today! [@Soundrider19 1 Jun 2019]Nothing beats the Emirates Air Line! [19 Aug 2019]79
thank you to the lovey kind member of @TfL staff, Trevor, at Euston Square station for patiently looking after me and helping me get the tube home this morning!!! he’s a gem!! [@imogendragons 8 Oct 2018]You're a gem, Trevor [26 Aug 2019]322
I've only gone and had a commuter's hat-trick this morning: seat on the bus, the Piccadilly line and the Jubilee line #winning @TfL #commutingmiracles #hattrick [@kate_englefield 3 Oct 2018]Starting the week right! [26 Aug 2019]327

I've omitted the emojis. @TfL can't tweet anything these days without including at least one emoji.

Every single one of these @TfL tweets occurred at least six weeks after the original, more generally ten weeks and on one occasion 47 weeks.

There are far worse crimes. But if you thought @TfL were trawling their most recent tweets in search of customer praise, they're definitely not doing that.

Instead some minion in the social media team is sitting down occasionally to file away appropriate tweets, adding a chirpy subtext and autoscheduling them for 9am on Mondays in the far-flung future.

This normally works, because who'd think to check? But then you mess up by scheduling a commuting tweet for a bank holiday morning and people catch you out.

Even Kate who wrote the original tweet noticed, and she wasn't happy.
@TfL this is a bit naughty. No credit and I posted that last year. Not to mention, another reminder that I don’t take that route anymore since I broke up with boyfriend and moved. Cheers for that.
This is what happens when your headline Twitter account becomes a PR sausage machine, a curated stream of pre-selected engagement collateral rather than a communication medium with soul.

It's been the direction of travel for some time.

So if you do get "a commuter's hat-trick this morning", best keep quiet.

 Monday, August 26, 2019

Henry Moore Studios & Gardens
Location: Perry Green, Herts SG10 6EE [map]
Open: 11am - 5pm (closed Mon & Tue, but open Bank Holidays) (closed Nov-Mar)
Admission: £12.70 (Art Pass holders 25% off)
Five word summary: a man and his sculptures
Website: henry-moore.org/visit/henry-moore-studios-gardens
Time to set aside: at least half a day



Who was Henry Moore? A sculptor. Famous for his large works, especially of human figures and lumps with holes. Henry was born in 1898 and fought in WW1. He used his ex-serviceman's grant to go to art school. His drawings of passengers sheltering in the Underground during the Blitz brought him to a global audience. His sculptures and castings became widely sought after and he became exceptionally rich. In his later life he was the UK's highest-contributing taxpayer. He died in 1986.

Where's Perry Green? I couldn't place it either. It's a Hertfordshire hamlet north of Harlow and southwest of Bishop's Stortford. You cannot get a bus there. I walked in from Sawbridgeworth station which took an hour and a half. Almost all visitors arrive by car.



Why Perry Green? In September 1940 Henry's Hampstead street was bombed, so he and his wife went to stay with friends in Hertfordshire, found a farmhouse to rent, bought it, enlarged it, and stayed there for the rest of their lives. Villagers were not best pleased when he bought the village post office and turned it into a studio. Perry Green became a home, a place of work and an outdoor showcase for his larger sculptures.

What's to see?

i) Over 20 large sculptures: These vary each year because some works go travelling to other exhibitions around the country. Several are in Norfolk at the moment. But there are still plenty to see, admire and touch at Perry Green, including such classics as Family Group, Seated Woman and Goslar Warrior. Most of these are on the Sculpture Lawn or in Pear Tree Paddock, but the free map allows you to go orienteering in search of the better hidden. Taking selfies beside one of Henry's pinhole heads is apparently a thing.



ii) His home: The Moores lived in an extended Tudor farmhouse called Hoglands, its contents preserved after Henry's wife died in 1989. It's visitable by guided tour only, which costs extra, but limited to eight people so if you arrive too late in the day there may be no spaces left. Inside is amazing, partly as a time capsule but also as a small house owned by a very rich man. A Picasso hangs in the kitchen beside the sink. A Rodin figurine sits amid the bric-a-brac in the living room. A bottle of 1957 Talisker whisky awaits on the sideboard. A Polynesian fertility god and a couple of Impressionist paintings grace the hallway. Every surface in the lounge is covered with very expensive knick-knacks. A 4th century Persian marble lynx prowls at the end of the sofa. The tour guide brings the place properly to life, explaining backstory after backstory, but what an ostentatiously humble hideaway Hoglands is.

iii) Four studios: Here you can find hundreds of maquettes for Henry's works, most in plaster, a few later ones in polystyrene. He employed a whole coterie of assistants who did the sculpting based on these models, sometimes under supervision and sometimes not. Each studio is laid out authentically as it would have been in the 1980s, always with a transistor radio, plus a variety of unpleasantly sharp tools and in one sad case a figure who never got her arms because Henry was too unwell before his death.



iv) An exhibition hall: Every year this two-storey gallery hosts a different exhibition. This year it's Henry's drawings, showcased chronologically. It's fascinating watching his interest in abstract figures slowly kick in around the end of the 1920s, and to see his return to real life drawing in the 1980s when he was too ill to sculpt any more.

v) His tapestries: In 1980 eight of Henry's drawings were converted into full length tapestries by a crack team at West Dean College, to dramatic effect, and these can be seen inside The Aisled Barn (unless it's been hired for a wedding, so check before you go).

vi) Sheep: When they say the site has 70 acres of gardens, what they don't mention is that the majority of this is three large fields grazed by sheep. Two of these have a single huge sculpture at one end, the middle one doesn't. The setting's impressive, but too much of a hike for some older visitors. One of the reasons those stepping inside Hoglands are asked to wear plastic overshoes is that they might just have been walking through the sheep fields.



How's the food and drink? The on-site cafe does tea and cakes plus light meals. My flapjack was huge. For anything more substantial cross the road to The Hoops, Henry Moore's local, which serves pub grub and local ales.

Is it worth visiting? I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the tour round the house, but with all that sweaty hiking to and from the station I have never got home and slumped into a bath more gratefully.

How much has my Art Pass saved me so far this year? £129.85

 Sunday, August 25, 2019

Yesterday I walked the Seven Sisters for the seventh time.



I do this every couple of years, and traditionally when I get home I'm so knackered all I do is show you a few photos. The danger is they're always the same photos, except with the tiny people in different places.



To add a dash of novelty this year I decided to follow the South Downs Way, which is very nearly my normal route from Exceat to Eastbourne but not quite. At the Eastbourne end it diverts down a narrow chalk path clinging to the almost-top of the escarpment, along which I had to edge past a couple of blackberry harvesters, and at the Exceat end it provides an even better view of my absolute favourite meander which is a geography textbook sprung to life (except it's been cut off from the River Cuckmere's main flow and no longer erodes).



I also broke off mid-journey to sprawl out on the beach at Birling Gap. This is the only place along a five mile stretch of cliff where you can get down to the beach, courtesy of a steel staircase that no longer hugs the coast, so has been co-opted by the National Trust as a gift shop/visitor centre/cafe/car park combo. It was also enormously popular yesterday, both above and below, despite the beach essentially being a bed of chunky pebbles beneath a potential rockfall. Children paddled, boards floated, picnics guzzled, bloated bellies lay back and sunned themselves, and because there's no phone signal down here people made their own entertainment for once.



It's a properly strenuous hike, mainly thanks to the endless rise and fall of the chalk, and quite the bank holiday destination. The clifftop is like a ramblers motorway, busy enough that nobody ever feels the need to nod and say hello, but wide enough that it never gets congested. It attracts allsorts and all ages, from Chinese students to grandparents with walking poles and from babes in papooses to gangs of office friends. My strong suspicion was that the vast majority of those out hiking had a degree, or are still paying one off. Reaching Eastbourne seafront at the end of the walk comes as a bit of a culture shock.



I timed myself on this year's walk because I thought it would be interesting to know how long each section took.
» Exceat → Top of first Seven Sister: 30 minutes  _/
» Top of first Seven Sister → Birling Gap: 1 hour  \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
» Birling Gap → Belle Tout Lighthouse: 15 minutes  /
» Belle Tout Lighthouse → Beachy Head: 45 minutes  \/\/
» Beachy Head → Edge of Eastbourne: 30 minutes  \
» Edge of Eastbourne → Eastbourne Pier: 30 minutes  _
That's about four hours in total, plus breaks. Starting at Seaford, which I only do sometimes, would have added an extra hour and a half. My iPhone tells me I walked 22000 steps and climbed the equivalent of 100 floors (although this total includes walking up the escalator at Victoria station and climbing to the top deck of the 12A bus, so don't take it as gospel). I got the nagging feeling it would have been better to have walked in the opposite direction, that's east to west, because you get to admire the view of the Seven Sisters for a lot longer. I should have put more suncream on my arms. I loved every second. [12 photos]



If you've never been, and you're fit and able, do yourself a favour and enjoy the finest walk in southern England.

 Saturday, August 24, 2019

Local History Month
Bow Streetrunners

August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've circumnavigated my home borough, walked the length of the New River and followed in John Betjeman's steps across Metro-land, to name but a few of my enthralling quests. This year I thought I'd visit an A-Z of roads in my local postcode and explore their past histories, in a series I'm calling Bow Streetrunners.

Bow comprises over 250 different roads, some of them major arteries, others seemingly insignificant. None of you will care about any of them, unless you live close by, which is why this parochial series is ideal for the summer months when my readership is at its lowest. To keep things snappy I intend to zip through my alphabet two at a time, ending with Yeo Street and Zealand Road, but let's start off with a listed stable block, a disused station, a lunatic asylum and the inevitable match factory.

A is for Addington Road



Bow locals will know Addington Road as the invaluable connection that links the police station to Tom Thumb's Arch. It first appeared around 1853, replacing a track across the fields from Bow Road to the delightfully-named (and long-lost) Bearbinder Lane. At its northern end it ducked beneath the new mainline railway, and at its southern end it skirted the even newer London and Blackwall Extension Railway. Fifty typically-Victorian terraced homes grew up along it over the next decade, absolutely none of which remain. It was probably named after Henry Addington, our Prime Minister at the start of the 19th century, who died shortly before it was built. [1853 map] [1895 map]

The police station opens onto Bow Road, so we can ignore that, but not the magnificent stable block behind. It was added in 1938 when Bow became the divisional HQ for the mounted police, and horses still trot out on match days to keep West Ham's fans in check. It was built in Moderne style by Gilbert Mackenzie Trench, Surveyor to the Metropolitan Police, and combined fully functional stabling facilities (on the ground floor) with separate quarters for married officers (on the upper levels). It's very white. It's very concrete. Its chimney once served the blacksmith's forge. I love the two chunky staircases descending from each of the flats, which are numbered 1a and 1b Addington Road.



Across the street on the viaduct you can see what remains of Bow Road station - the railway station not the tube station - which is barely anything at all. The station opened in 1876 on the opposite side of Bow Road, switched to this side in 1892, was served by trains running between Fenchurch Street and Stratford. It closed permanently in 1949, and today the Bow Curve is retained for freight and empty rolling stock movements only. The builders yard on the corner once used to be a garage, and contains within its perimeter an air shaft for the Central line. Anyone bored witless by trains might prefer to look at this 1907 photograph showing A.C. Crowder's Fancy Stationer and Tobacconist corner shop instead. [1949 map]

The remainder of Addington Road was wiped clean by Tower Hamlets council in the late 20th century as part of an extensive housing estate stretching all the way along Malmesbury Road. A warren of maisonette blocks now dominates, the majority of the original street pattern cast aside, with the northern end of the road since renamed Lawrence Close. Car parking spaces are abundant. Pigeons have colonised the intermediate grass verges. The Addington Arms pub is long gone. All the signage and street furniture is one particular shade of dark blue relating a period when the Liberal Democrat administration branded the entire area as Bow Neighbourhood, suggesting almost nothing has been improved since. This chunk of E3 is not gentrifying, but we all walk through it.

B is for Brymay Close



On the face of it the only interesting thing about this stumpy cul-de-sac is its name. All we have here is a broad access road passing a couple of bin stores on its way to the parking spaces outside two facing blocks of flats. To the left is the back of Bow Bus Garage. To the right is the A12. A separate inaccessible row of modern apartments cuts across the rear, squeezed into a thin strip alongside the DLR. But yes, that is the tower of Bow Quarter rising behind, formerly the infamous Bryant and May match factory, and its presence will eventually explain what's been going on here.

200 years ago this was the site of a large mansion called Grove Hall, set in 12 acres of land and used as an academy for boys. After its owner died in 1821 it was leased to Mr Edward Byas who opened a 'pauper farm', a private workhouse for those deemed too mentally ill to work. In 1844 he opened up more of the building as a Licenced House, taking in lunatic patients on behalf of the authorities at a knockdown rate of six shillings a week. By 1879 Grove Hall was the largest Licensed House in London with 443 inmates, most of them ex-servicemen subsidised by the War Department. The asylum finally closed in 1905 at which point some of its grounds became my local park and most of the rest went for housing. But not all.



A strip of land alongside what was now Wrexham Road was retained for recreational use by employees of the adjacent Bryant and May match factory. This sports & social club boasted tennis courts and netball pitches, a large square bowling green, a kickabout space and of course a clubhouse, and was officially opened in July 1912. Unfortunately on the first day of the Blitz it got bombed, and it wasn't until October 1957 that a replacement pavilion was opened. The Brymay Club continued to serve the workforce until the match factory closed in 1979 and its sports facilities were no longer required, after which Brymay Close replaced it. Three stone plaques from the clubhouse were embedded into the brick wall out front, but everything else was swept away.

The even numbered flats in Brymay Close are spread across what used to be the main entrance to London's largest lunatic asylum. The odd numbered flats cover the fountain at the heart of its formal gardens, which later became the site of the Gilbert Bartholomew Memorial sports club. The parking space inbetween used to be the bowling green, while the fence at the far end crosses what were once the tennis courts. As for Bryant & May's war memorial, a slender cross since relocated to Grove Park, this was originally positioned somewhere underneath flat number 13. Even the most undistinguished of sidestreets can sometimes boast a fascinatingly unexpected history.

Update: Except Bow doesn't have any streets beginning with Q, nor any beginning with X, and although I can do all of the other 24 letters of the alphabet it means this feature is essentially unsustainable.

 Friday, August 23, 2019

Local History Month
Bow Locals

August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've followed High Street 2012, walked the length of the River Lea and explored Olympic venues outside the capital, to name but a few of my monthly quests. This year I thought I review the ten pubs closest to my home, in distance order, in a series I'm calling Bow Locals.

I'm fortunate enough to live in the historic heart of Bow, which means 100 years ago I could have visited ten pubs within 200 yards of my front door, but today not one of them remains. The Rose & Crown is a fried chicken takeaway. The Coach and Horses is a McDonalds. The Kings Arms is a B&B. The Bombay Grab is a mosque. The Moulders Arms is a car park. The rest have been replaced by flats. Other corners of the capital have been far more fortunate.

Tracking down my ten nearest pubs is therefore going to take me well beyond staggering distance, including hostelries on Roman Road, Devons Road, Wick Lane and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach. They're an immensely varied selection, from Telegraph-reviewed gastropubs to white van speakeasies, and most of them I've never previously ventured inside. But I intend to take courage, refresh the parts other buildings cannot reach and enjoy probably the best beers in Bow. Starting with a classic...

The Bow Bells  116 Bow Road, E3



You can't miss The Bow Bells, mainly because it's been painted a ferocious shade of bright orange. It's been here on Bow Road since the 1860s and is named after something it really shouldn't be. Traditional Cockneys have to be born within the sound of Bow bells, it's true, but the relevant belfry belongs to St-Mary-le-Bow on Cheapside, not to nearby St Mary's on its E3 traffic island. This hasn't stopped the landlord posting up a full rendering of Oranges and Lemons on a panel outside, in elegant chalk scrawl, the final line concluding with the Great Bell several miles distant.

The pub's frontage scrubs up well, with grape-topped pilasters, ornate copper lanterns and a row of heritage spotlights. The inn sign ticks all the Cockney clichés with a Pearly King raising a pint beside a church spire, and what could be two gold UFOs in the sky but in this context must be a pair of bells. A couple of long bench tables await those brave enough to drink their pints with a dash of carbon monoxide. Last season's Sky Sports licence is almost as prominent in the window as the food hygiene rating is on the door. As for the trapdoor into the cellar you'll spot that only when you enter the tiny porch and step across.



In good news the interior of The Bow Bells resembles a proper boozer, not a poncey bar. The saloon is L-shaped with a bar along two sides, topped and tailed with wooden panelling. The remainder of the space is open, with a cosy corner to the right, a more communal space to the left and a dartboard/pool table combo up the back. Candelabras hang in the corners. Three varieties of barstool are provided at fractionally different heights. The carpet has seen better days, and was once red. Red and gold flock wallpaper completes the Victorian feel, but in fact there's almost nothing of the original fittings left.

The chief Cockney affectation is a sign above the bar which reads Welcome to our Near 'n Far, Get Comfy and Enjoy a Lily the Pink. It's easy to enjoy a drink because the line-up of pumps includes IPA, London Pride, Beavertown lager from N17 and Crate cider barrelled in from Hackney Wick. Dark Star's Hophead golden ale has been on tap for several years. If you insist on drinking fruity Strongbow then that's here too, along with a comprehensive range of gins and whiskies. Ignore the price list above the condiment tray because that's a post-decimalisation facsimile from February 1971 with draught Skol lager at 7p a pint and Triple X at 11½p.



Food is a cornerstone on the modern Bow Bells experience, with the team in the kitchen very much hoping that you like pizzas. They sell a Simple One, a Hot & Spicy One, A Cheesy One, A Veggie One and half a dozen other Ones, all of them comprehensively stone-baked. The clipboard menu does extend to two other sheets, one for Burgers and one for Sides, Wings & More, but they don't look quite so well thumbed. Those keener on bar snacks can rummage in four different coloured boxes of crisps, request the last bag of Scampi Fries or pick from a cascade of Snacking Salami.

The pub's target audience love sport so expect something competitive to be beaming out from the big screen. I got The Ashes, thankfully on silent, but a weekendful of Premier League action kicks off at eight tonight and peaks with Bournemouth versus somebody on Sunday afternoon. The picture of Bobby Moore on the wall looks like a recent affectation, added since West Ham moved into the Olympic Stadium and The Bow Bells transitioned to become a home fans' local. I often walk by on matchdays and see the placed packed out with morose shaven-headed Essex men pulling apart where it all went wrong, which must be great for business but I'd advise anyone else to stay well away.



Those preferring more traditional entertainment can make use of a chessboard, two boxes of Scrabble and one of Trivial Pursuit. The Eggheads card game is kept behind the bar. If unfed with coinage the jukebox churns out an inoffensive stream of pop including Alanis Morissette. The magazine rack contains a copy of The Spectator, the latest London Drinker and yesterday's Evening Standard. Collecting tins on the bar accept small change for the Air Ambulance and St Joseph's Hospice. The bell they ring time with is brass and inscribed on the front with the words 'Bow Bells', because of course it is. The ladies toilet is allegedly haunted, but I didn't check that out.

The afternoon clientele was mixed, from beery builders who'd just down-tooled to contented bar-proppers, plus a young couple (manbun/sunglasses) discussing weekend cocktail plans and missing phone chargers. Things pick up a lot of an evening, the outside benches invariably filled and the big screen football closely scrutinised. The Bow Bells is no Cockney throwback, nor a gentrified embarrassment, but pretty much what you'd hope an East End local might be.

The dg beer review: How better to place all my Bow Local posts on an even footing than to review an identical beer in each establishment? To this end I requested of the barkeeper their finest bottle of Becks, and refused the affectation of a glass. I was immediately struck by the light golden colour of the brew and its full rich head, bubbling delicately beneath the rim. The flavour was very light and dry, with only a slight malty sweetness balanced by a crisp hop bitterness - undoubtedly evidence of a well kept cellar. I should have sniffed the bouquet before consuming. I look forward to seeing how The Little Driver compares.

Update: Except - confession time - even though I asked for a bottle of Becks they didn't have one, so I had to make do with a lesser brand. Indeed most pubs don't seem to sell Becks these days, so my beer reviews won't be consistently comparable, so essentially this feature is unsustainable.

 Thursday, August 22, 2019

I was at Tower Hill station and needed a tube map, so I picked one up...

...except it wasn't a proper tube map, it just looked like one.



It was a Getting around Central London map, dated June 2019 - an official TfL publication printed with the tourist in mind.

Opening it up I found an enlarged tube map with a bright blue stripe across the top and the edges of the capital chopped off. Along the way I passed a brief exhortation to Catch a London bus. And unfolding the sheet fully revealed a Santander Cycles and Walking leisure routes map and a London River Services map.

The tube map is unusual. It purports to be of Central London, but stretches a heck of a lot further east than in other directions. To the west roughly Hammersmith... to the south approximately Stockwell... but to the east all the way to Upminster. It's hard to imagine tourists wanting to go to Newbury Park, Chadwell Heath or Hornchurch, but here they are. Wembley and its stadium, meanwhile, have been deliberately erased.



The tube map is nice and big so is much clearer to use than the usual squinty thing. But if you look more closely along the top edge of the map, following an inch-wide strip running to the north of Camden Town, there is an appalling litany of errors. It may even be the worst attempt at an official tube map TfL have ever produced.

• Kilburn station has no name, and the wheelchair symbol is headless
• Beyond Kilburn, no stations
• The dotted line at West Hampstead fails to connect the two stations
• 'Finchley Road & Frognal' has been written over the top of the orange Overground line
• Belsize Park is named, but has no station
• Gospel Oak is missing
• Upper Holloway links to a station (Archway) that is not named
• Upper Holloway is not on any line because the Goblin is missing
• One of Highbury & Islington's step free blobs is missing, so the East London line does not terminate properly
• Canonbury appears, but only on one branch of the Overground, and is not named
• Seven Sisters appears, but is not named
• Blackhorse Road appears, but is not named
• Walthamstow Queens Road is named, but has no station
• Stratford International's step free blob is misplaced, so the DLR line does not terminate properly
• Wanstead and Gants Hill appear, but are not named
• The 'F' of 'Forest Gate' crashes into the blue TfL Rail line
• Emerson Park is missing
• Upminster Bridge is missing



It's as if the majority of the map has been drawn by a professional but the top 3cm has been redrawn by someone on work experience.

In better news sixteen river piers have been included, each with a special blob on the bank of the Thames, which is something I've not seen on a tube map before. Each pier is labelled so you can check its name in the key, and each is linked via a dotted line to its nearest tube station. The use of boat symbols is inconsistent, however. Canary Wharf has a boat symbol but isn't linked to a pier. Pimlico is linked to a pier but doesn't have a boat symbol. Needs further thought.

Unfolding fully to view the Santander Cycles and Walking leisure routes map, this only covers a letterbox-shaped strip of central London from Kensington Gardens to the Tower. The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is on the map. The British Museum is not.



This particular longitudinal slot has been chosen because the map exists solely to showcase TfL's new cycling Leisure routes in the hope that tourists will stump up £2 to hop on a bike and follow them. The sightseeing route is essentially the Serpentine to Blackfriars via Buckingham Palace and Westminster, divided up into the Hyde Park Loop, the Royal Loop and the Thames Loop. Meanwhile around the periphery are the Park Explorer, Cultural Explorer and Tower Explorer sections - nebulous entities which exist to funnel riders into the main loops.

The cycle and walking map isn't really designed for walking, alas, because routes that are ideal for bikes aren't generally optimal for pedestrians. Any sane tourist would walk through St James's Park, not round it, and follow the actual South Bank rather than the backstreet one block behind. But as a primer for how and where to cycle through central London relatively safely these Leisure routes could be damned useful.

As for the London River Services map, this is nothing unusual but should still be invaluable for the target audience. Fares aren't mentioned, namely the whopping premium you're paying to enjoy a river view, but the summary of what sails where and when is helpfully comprehensive. I was intrigued to see that a new pier called Royal Wharf is 'expected to open summer 2019', just upstream of the Thames Barrier, because it very much hasn't opened yet. I went down yesterday to see how the construction of London's longest pier is getting on, and can report that so far only the first gangway has been completed. The second (longer) arm is absent, the pontoon where boats will moor is currently just two stumps poking out of the water, and bankside access is currently blocked by a building site. So maybe next year.

And yes, the Dangleway gets a prominent mention on the back cover. The big message is to "Book online to receive a 20% discount', even though nobody with an Oyster card or contactless card actually needs to prebook, they can simply turn up and swipe through the barriers. But TfL prefers not to mention this because this way they get your money even if the weather's crap, plus they can also try and upsell you a return ticket and a visit to the Emirates Advertorial Experience.

In summary, the Getting around Central London map is a marketing tool, plugging TfL's paid-for services in the hope that visitors to the capital will use as many of them as possible. A trip on the river, a dangle, a hired bike, a bus ride and a tube journey could tot up to £20, helping to fill Sadiq's budgetary black hole, so it pays to leave this full colour promotional leaflet lying around in ticket halls. As a Londoner you won't need a copy, but it might be fun to grab one anyway so that you can claim to have TfL's worst ever tube map in your collection.


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