The Anonymous Widower

Bicycle Helmets

I don’t like them for myself, just as I don’t like wearing a helmet when I ride a horse.

In Halfords on Friday, the manager said that bicycle helmets will soon be compulsory.

I am changing my mind, but not for myself.  I get a bit fed up with kids and some older ones riding on the pavements in and out of the pedestrians.  Most seem not to be wearing helmets.  So perhaps on the spot fines would drive them off the pavements, as it’s not cool to be a nuisance with a helmet on.

The funny thing is that on paths shared by cyclists and walkers, like the Regent’s Canal, there doesn’t seem to be the same problem.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Open House for the Olympics

I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, but I’m now declaring a sort of Open House for the Olympics. With the ticket sales, a lot of friends have said they will be buying tickets, but they have nowhere to stay, if they are outside London.

So on a first-come, first-served basis anybody who has a direct link to me is welcome to stay for a night.  By direct link, I mean, relatives, except the black-sheep, Alfred, ex-Metier and others who I’ve worked with and those who are my e-friends outside London. I am convenient for Stratford and will actually be going today, by taking a bus or train a couple of stops to Hackney Wick and then walking along the Greenway.  To walk all the way takes 90 minutes along the Regent’s Canal and Hertford Canal via Victoria Park.  There will also be a good bus service from just up the road at Dalston Junction during the games.

I suspect it will get chaotic, but we’ll only see one Olympics in London in our lifetime, so why not have a two-week party?

The house is fairly small but I do have a spare double-bedroom and a single one, but then I do have a warm living room with a large carpet, so kids could camp indoors on the floor.  It’ll probably be the only Olympics they see, so a bit of roughing it wouldn’t matter.

I also suspect that there will be a big party in Victoria Park for the Olympics, as they are setting up large screens there.  It might be where the real East Enders hold their Olympic celebration!

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Free Phone Charging

As I walk along the towpath of the Regent’s Canal above the 400kV cables that power the City of London, I just wonder if I could use the magnetic fields from the cables to create enough power to charge my mobile phone.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Walking to Victoria Park

Yesterday, I started to walk to Victoria Park to see the site where my son’s ashes were scattered on the anniversary of his death last week.

It is a pleasant walk along the Regent’s Canal.  A first surprise was this cafe.

Cafe on the Regent's Canal

Yesterday, the canal was busy with walkers and cyclists of all ages and type. So the cafe shouldn’t be too short of punters.

Good luck to them!  I think they’ll be the first of many hostelries on the canal.  After all, the canal will be one of the main walking and cycling routes to the Olympics at Stratford.

I also passed the new bridge that takes the East London Line over the canal, just south of Hoxton station.

The East London Line Crossing the Regents Canal

I use the line probably once a week these days and when they finish off Dalston Junction station, I will use it even more. If the line has a problem, it is that it is too successful and has started to get a bit crowded even in the middle of the day. But any good transport project, whether it is a railway, road or a bus route, should attract new customers and it would appear that the East London line has done this.

The Regent’s Canal forms part of the Jubilee Greenway as this sign shows.

Jubilee Greenway Sign on the Regent's Canal

The Greenway runs all the way from Buckingham Palace to the Olympics and then in a circle around London. With due respect to the Queen’s fitness, I can’t see her walking all the way at her age.  But it would make a wonderful celebration of her Jubilee to traverse the canal part of the route in a proper Royal Canal Boat.

The canal was busy with traffic, despite the fact that all boats need to transfer through the various locks. I took this picture as I walked through industrial Bethnall Green.

Sailing Through Industrial Bethnall Green

The picture wasn’t chosen deliberately, but it does show how the canal is a long green oasis cutting a bold path across London. Is that spring blossom on the trees?

But it wasn’t just expensive boats. I took this picture just after Acton’s Lock.

Kids on the Regent's Canal

The inflatable boat contained a group of kids and an instructor and they were having a great time, especially as they worked the locks.  What better way is there to learn the history of East London, than to experience it from the canal?

There are various works going on to make Jubilee Greenway, one of the ways to get to the Olympics. I particularly liked this well designed entrance ramp and steps to the towpath.

A Well-Designed Ramp and Steps

There is never an excuse for not using the best designs for even the most mundane things.

Note in this picture, you can see the slabs and bricks that cover the high-voltage electricity main, that takes the power to the City from East London. The boat moored at the end of the ramp is a workboat being used by the engineers upgrading this vital power line.

The Regent’s Canal follows Victoria Park for some distance and the park too, is being upgraded.  This picture shows the bridge connecting the Park to Bethnall Green.

Entrance to Victoria Park

My kids used to go to the Gatehouse School nearby and used to walk over this bridge into the Park. At the moment due to the works the park isn’t totally accessible.

Works in Victoria Park

It will all be done for next year, when the park will be used as an Olympic viewing venue with big screens, a new cafe and lots of grass to sit on. Perhaps one of the best ways to go to the Olympics, will be to take a picnic to Victoria Park and then walk to the Olympics Park.

In some ways it is one of my favourite parks, and I can remember wheeling our granddaughter through the park with C many times in her pram.  As it was also one of late son’s favourite spots it was entirely fitting that his ashes were scattered there.

I shall certainly use it as a venue to watch the Olympics, especially, as it is only about a hundred minutes walk from my house.  Or if I feel lazy, it’s just one bus ride away from my local stop.

This sign gives the history of the park.

Victoria Park Sign

I’m certain that Queen Victoria would be very happy about the state of the park she supported and allowed to be named in her honour.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How The City of London Gets Its Electricity

I did mention briefly in an earlier post about this, but today as I walked from home along the busy towpath of the Regent’s Canal I saw this notice.

Notice on The Regent's Canal

Note that it says that it links St. John’s Wood and West Ham.

This closure is due to essential works being carried out by National Grid to refurbish the cable cooling system between our substations at St. John’s Wood and West Ham.

It also links up to the City Road Basin, where there is a major sub-station that actually supplies the City. For more details of the work, there is a press release here. It’s all good engineering combining the best of modern technology with some superb historic infrastructure.

City Road Basin, Regent's Canal

The sub-station is to the left of the Basin in the picture.

Where the cable is is quite obvious, as this picture shows.

Cable Duct in the Regent's Canal Towpath

But it is well-marked.

High Voltage Warning

It could almost make a story for a James Bond film.

Imagine an evil megalomanic, who wanted to do some sort of share coup.  What better way to disable dealing in the City of London, than to cut the power supply, by attacking it along the Canal.  But of course the film would end with an amazing chase through the East End of London, all the way to the Olympic Park.

On the other hand working on high-voltage cables without the proper precautions is not to be recommended, unless you want to end up as little more than a collection of atoms.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Walking to Victoria Park

I picked up my paper and then walked through to the Kingsland Road, where I got on the towpath of the Regent’s Canal and headed east.

Unfortunately, my camera was low on power, so I couldn’t take any pictures. I will later in the year and they will be so much better with the sun.

Next time, I must, as it an interesting walk under the bridges with the last stretch smelling of woodsmoke from the heaters in the barges parked for the winter.

I emerged on Roman Road in Tower Hamlets, before taking a 277 bus back to the stop around the corner.

The last bit brought back memories, as my late son and his family used to live just round the corner. But I wouldn’t dwell on what might have been!

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk To and Around the Kingsland Basin

I walked to the Regent’s Canal this morning and took a quick saunter to and around the Kingsland Basin.

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , | 4 Comments

Along the Regent’s Canal to the Angel

I’m about a five or ten minute walk to the Regent’s Canal and today, I walked along the canal to the Angel as it was starting to get dark.

I can remember some of this area in the 1970s and to say it has improved is one of the biggest understatements, anybody can make. I even saw a Norwich City supporter enthusiastically spinning for pike.

This is the third time, I’ve lived near this canal.

In the 1970s C, myself and our young family lived in St. John’s Wood, just north of the canal and we would cross it by the London Zoo to get into Regent’s Park.  You used to see the occasional narrow-boat or pleasure craft, but I don’t think there was any easy access to the tow-path.  It would probably have been deemed to dangerous anyway to take three small children alongside the water. So when we decry Health and Safety for ruining our pleasure, there must be many more examples like the Regent’s Canal towpath, where different interests coexist together in complete safety.

And then, a few years later when we lived in the Barbican we would often walk up to the Angel to shop walking right past the City Road Basin on the canal. But sadly we never explored.

It is often assumed that canals like this ceased to be commercial arteries, when the railways appeared, but the Regent’s Canal was still busy with freight until the Second World War. It also has another purpose in London’s infrastructure in that under the tow-path for quite a way is one of the city’s main electricity distribution mains.  Believe it or not, but the cables at kept cool, by using water from the canal.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment