Wednesday, 17 August 2011

2011 - Day Out 19: London

Date: Saturday 13 August 2011

It is halfway through August, and with Mr WME away, Mr UKBuses and myself decide to take a visit to the capital of England, and we are off to London. It is an early start and after waking up at 05:30am, I make my way into Wollaston at 06:30 for the first journey on a Saturday morning of National Express West Midlands Service 276, so upon arrival at the terminus, I board the bus and at 06:36 I am on my way. A quick text is sent to Mr UKBuses to let him know that the bus is on the move and for him to get to the bus stop in Norton on time (This plan does work most of the time). Upon arrival in Norton, Mr UKBuses has received my text and is waiting at the bus stop ready to board. With the WARP's complete for this trip, the WR's are on their way to Stourbridge Junction to get their train. After a quick trip through Stourbridge, we arrive at our stop outside The Labour In Vain in Oldswinford, and we make a quick walk up to the station. Upon arrival we save time when we arrive in London, and get our London Transport One Day Travel Card Zones 1-2 from the ticket office at the station. Tickets bought for our day in London, even though the staff at the junction asked if we were going on the Chiltern!, we make our way to Platform 2, and after a short wait, our Chiltern Railway train arrives and we head to Birmingham Snow Hill.

Mr UKBuses has a nap, and we have only just started the journey.
We arrive in Birmingham, disaster strikes already, we make our way to the ticket barriers at Snow Hill Station, and the barriers do not like our tickets, so we are stuck station side, luckily an attendant is nearby, and lets us through onto the streets of Birmingham. We make our way to The Pallisades and we pass the shops that were looted by yobs in the week, which are boarded up, but with the British spirit, there are signs up saying "Open as Normal". After walking down Corporation Street, we arrive at The Pallisades and we have time for breakfast before our train is due, so we head into McDonalds, where we both have our usual Bacon Rolls to keep us going through the day. Bacon Rolls devoured, we make our way through The Pallisades and into Birmingham New Street station, where upon arrival we check out the departures board and see that our train will be on Platform 2 at 0830. With a little time to spare, I pop outside for a fresh air break, and before we make our way to the platform, we head into WH Smith to purchase liquid refreshments for the journey. We are now on Platform 2, where on time our Virgin Train arrives on time and we board coach B to find our seats, but we head further up the carriage and we find an available table seat. We are off to the Capital, and we make our way to Birmingham International. After leaving Birmingham International, it seems that the carriages seem to be creaking, or that there was a strange noise coming from somewhere. I work out that the noise is coming from Mr UKBuses, and he has decided to have a nap. It is a shame that the other passengers couldn't do the same but they were being kept awake by his snoring - evidence is shown above left. Just before we reach Milton Keynes, Mr UKBuses wakes up and the snoring stops, which means that the passengers can have a short nap before reaching London. We make our way past Wembley Stadium and just before 09:55, we arrive in the Capital and at London Euston Railway Station.

We've arrived at London Euston!
We make our way from Coach B, which is at the back, so we have a way to walk to get out of the station. We are off the platform and we now make our way across the concourse, and outside to the front of the station. It is time for me to light up, whilst we make our way to the bus station which is located at the front of the station where Mr UKBuses starts the photograph taking, getting a head start while I finish my cigarette. We spend a few minutes at the bus station, and then make our way towards Euston Road, and stand at bus stop H, so that we can get our first London bus of the day, and after a few minutes waiting Arriva London's Route 73 turns up and we board. Half hour passes and we arrive at Victoria Bus Station, where we spend a few minutes walking around the station taking photographs. We now make our way down to Victoria Underground Station, where we make our way onto the Victoria Line and catch our first tube of the day. The tube arrives, and it is quite busy, so we cram ourselves in and we haven't got far to travel, well the next station to be precise, and after a journey time of just 2 minutes, we arrive at Green Park Underground Station.

The back yard of The Blackwall Fire Station
We need to get to Bermondsey, to get to a new filming location, so at Green Park, we change from the Victoria Line and onto the Jubilee Line where we go five stations along and the south of the river and arrive at Bermondsey. We are now looking for a fire station, and as we exit Bermondsey Underground Station we turn right and start walking along Jamaica Road for a street called Parker's Row, after a few minutes we cannot find it, and we realise that we are walking in the wrong direction, so we turn around and walk back along Jamaica Road and we pass the underground station and continue walking along. After a few minutes we still haven't found Parker's Row, but with Mr UKBuses checking out his phone we soon find out that we are walking in the right direction, who needs a map allowance! We find Parker's Row, and we turn the corner and we find a fire station - The Dockhead fire station to be exact, otherwise known as Blackwall in the ITV Series London Burning. After taking a few photographs, we have a look around the back, and take a few more photographs, seen above left. I remember the back yard more than the front entrance, but after checking out YouTube, the front entrance was used quite a lot when the fire engines were called into action. After visiting "Blackwall", we make our way back onto Jamaica Road, and await our bus to take us for a dining location, and after 5 minutes, we catch Abellio London's Service 188, and we go for a short hop literally as we get off at the next bus stop, where we walk around the corner into Druid Street and a new Wetherspoons to sample, "The Pommelers Rest", situated virtually on the entrance to Tower Bridge. After getting our drinks, we find a table and peruse the menu. I opt for the usual Beer and Burger offering, and Mr UKBuses now opts for his now standard BBQ Chicken Melt without the melt (Cheese). After ordering the food, I gather the condiments (with no horseradish sauce to be seen), and take a seat. After a few minutes our food arrives and we find out that the chip portions are near the Chester side, but we still appreciate the food and wolf it down us. Food consumed we make it to the bus stop to get to our next destination. So after walking around in circles in Druid Street, we find our bus stop, which is located just outside the Wetherspoons!

Watch out for strange people!
Arriva London's Service 78 arrives and it takes us across Tower Bridge, and through the streets of London, where after about fifteen minutes, we arrive at Aldgate and another photographing location - Aldgate bus station. We hang around the bus station for a while getting as many photographs as we can. Considering that this bus station is in the middle of busy London, this station is a very good location for bus photography, and seriously puts several West Midland's bus stations to shame. As I stated that this bus station is a good location for photographs, be very careful that people don't get in the way, such as this strange character on the photograph seen left. Photographs over, we wait at Stand L in the bus station when our next bus arrives, Arriva London's Service 254. We take our seats and it is a short ride and we arrive at our stop along Whitechapel Road, and we alight outside the underground station and have a short walk to our London regular, The Blind Beggar, pictured below, right. After a quick drink, we make our way back along Whitechapel Road, and down to the Whitechapel Underground Station, and we go onto the District Line to get to our next destination, or so we thought. We happen to catch the wrong train, and we are on the Hammersmith and City Line and arrive at Liverpool Street Underground Station, the maps on Mr UKBuses phone didn't work properly on this little journey. From Liverpool Street we jump on the Central Line which takes us to Bank Underground Station, and then we have to walk to Monument Underground Station, to get back on track and back onto the District Line, where we catch our tube to take us to our next destination (the correct one this time!!).

At our regular, The Blind Beggar!
We arrive at Tower Hill Underground Station, and after going around in circles outside the tube station, we are now waiting for the Heritage Route 15 Routemaster, which is operated by Stagecoach London, we have taken our seats at the back end of the lower deck, and we have a cheery chappy conducting who entertains us all the way to Charing Cross. Upon arrival, we take a couple of photo's of the Routemaster before we walk around the corner past Trafalgar Square, and we catch the Abellio London service 3, which takes us a short ride down to Parliament Square. After having a little walk and a break around the square, we walk past The Houses of Parliament and we are ahead of schedule, nearly two hours, so we go off the plan, and first we catch Go Ahead London General service 87, which takes us to Vauxhall Bus Station. From here we decide to jump back onto the tube, and so we go underground and back onto the Victoria Line and after a bit of time underground, we arrive for the second time of the day at Green Park. We make it to the open air again, and make our way to the bus stops where we decide to catch another Routemaster Heritage Route, Service 9 operated by First London, but we nearly didn't catch it as we are waiting at the bus stop, the bus pulls up a bit away from the stop due to another bus parked up. We make our way up to the bus and it decides to drive off and we see it heading down the road. It doesn't get far, it is stopped by the traffic lights, so we make a quick dash and the conductress kindly lets us on and apologises as we board about driving off from the stop because she had already pressed the bell. It doesn't take us long on the Routemaster before we arrive at Trafalgar Square.

In the tobacconists, sorry The Bear and Staff
Upon arrival we decide where to go next and we have a little walk from Trafalgar Square to another Square, this time Leicester Square. When we arrive at Leicester Square we make a return visit to a public house that we have visited in the past, The Bear and Staff, seen left. At the bar I ask for a Becks Blue, so the barman decides to ask a stupid question "I've never tried this, does it taste like Becks'?" I reply "yes", but I was tempted to say "No, it tastes like Budweiser". Mr UKBuses has already found a seat, and after a while from relaxing his feet, he decides to join in with the barman and asks "This bit must have been a shop?", I point out to him that there is a sign right behind him stating that this bit used to be a tobacconists shop until the '90's when the pub underwent a refurb and the shop became part of the pub, I wander then why there are tobacco pictures on the wall in this part! We have had a rest and it is now time to carry on "off plan", so we decide to visit the tube for the last time today, and we make our way to Leicester Square Underground Station, and we opt for the Piccadilly Line, and make our way to King's Cross. We pass through Covent Garden, Holburn and Russell Square before we arrive at Kings Cross St Pancreas Underground Station. We make our way to the open air, and we come out of the station and start walking, but the map's on Mr UKBuses phone must be playing up again as we decide to walk around the back of St Pancreas Railway Station, it takes us about ten minutes before we make our way around the other side and back onto the main road before eventually catching our last London bus of the day.

A First Class Picture in First Class
We wait in Euston Road, and it is not long to wait before a Stagecoach London Service 205 appears to take us on the short journey to London Euston Railway Station. Before making our way into the station, we grab a few more shots in the bus station outside, and we have a bit of time to kill, so we decide to have a Burger King, which is situated off the main concourse of the station. I have time to pop outside for some "fresh air" before catching our train back, and after that we make our way onto the concourse for the usual "less than five minutes to board" platform announcement, but we look and our train is being prepared and not long after it is announced that our train will be leaving from Platform 1. With the early announcement, we don't have to walk far, as we are in Coach J, the first carriage on the train and "First Class", we board and find our seats, so with about ten minutes before we are due off we take our seats and relax for a bit in our first class seats, seen above right. We are on the move and get even more comfortable as I recline my seat, something that I have never been able to do in standard class. On our journey back we sample the complimentary drinks that are available, and I also opt for the complimentary short breads and crisps. The journey seems quicker in the quiet first class and it doesn't seem that long before we arrive in Coventry, followed by Birmingham International and arrive at our last destination of Birmingham New Street, we alight our first class carriage and we switch across to Platform 4 where a London Midland train takes us to Smethwick Galton Bridge.

We arrive at Smethwick Galton Bridge, and we have a little time before our train arrives, so we visit the front of the station for a quick "break", and we make our way back to the platform where we board our London Midland train which takes us back to Stourbridge Junction. For this time of night, it is virtually standing room only, and we just about get a seat to rest in whilst on our journey. We arrive at the junction and swap over to Platform 1 for our "Dodger" to take us down to Stourbridge Town, we board the train first before everyone else and get a seat and as the passengers from our Smethwick train board the Dodger, it is also standing room only for the three minute journey. We arrive at Stourbridge Town, where we make a dash and there is a Black Diamond Service 276C parked up. We ask the driver if we can board here (most drivers let us on), but this driver seems to be a jobsworth, and makes us walk to Birmingham Street and Stand F. As we make our way he passes us, and even though he knew we and another passenger wanted the bus, he drives straight past the stand and doesn't even have the courtesy to wait for us, so with another half hour we wait and finally board Black Diamond's Service 276A to take us both home after another brilliant day out, "First Class" I would say!

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