Sunday, 15 July 2012

2012 - Day Out 10: London

Date: Saturday 19 May 2012

It is time to go to London again, and this will be the last time for a while, we are giving it a miss whilst the Olympics take place when London will be at full capacity. On today's trip we give a warm welcome back to Mr D9, his first trip of 2012 with us so the ARM's are back together at long last.

Its Midday according to Big Ben
It is an early start again and I make my way to Wollaston to catch the first National Express West Midlands Service 276 at 06.36am. The bus pulls up in the bus stop opposite at 06.34am, but the driver decides to get off and go for a walk and finally gets back on the bus and pulls up at the stop at 06.46am, leaving ten minutes late. I send the standard text to Mr UKBuses, who boards the bus at Norton, after taking his seat we stay on the bus passing through Stourbridge Interchange before arriving at Brook Road, our stop where we get off for a short walk to Stourbridge Junction. I have time for a quick "fresh air" break before we make our way to Platform 2 and after a short wait, our Chiltern Train arrives at 07.22am, strangely there are two trains on this service, so Mr UKBuses and myself board the second train behind and take our seats where we await the return of Mr D9, a text has been sent to board the second train behind. We arrive at The Hawthorns where Mr UKBuses decides to stand by the door to show Mr D9 where we are, but despite shouting at him, Mr D9 boards the train in front, at least he is on the train. Between The Hawthorns and Birmingham Snow Hill, contact is made and a quick train change is needed by Mr D9 at Snow Hill, it is my turn to stand by the doors, and Mr D9 makes a mad dash from the front of the train to our carriage on the second train, he looks like he is doing a 100m sprint, someone must have forgot to tell him that the Olympics are not for a couple of months yet!

With the group being back together and Mr D9 getting his breath back, we leave Birmingham Snow Hill and make our way to London Marylebone via Solihull and High Wycombe. Disaster strikes, just after we pass Solihull there is an announcement that we are being held up due to signal problems which eventually turns out to be an half hour wait, we pass the time by looking at old pictures of Stourbridge Bus Station in the 1970's to see if we can find the past reincarnation of Mr UKBuses, fortunately we did not see him, but we did not look at the pictures of "The Vauxhall", as he was more probably to show up on those pictures. We are on the move and we arrive at London Marylebone just under half hour later than scheduled, I make my way off the train and leave Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses for dust as I make my way outside to get some "fresh air" which was long overdue. "Fresh air" break over and with Mr D9 with his London One Day Travelcard and Mr UKBuses and myself with our OysterCards at the ready, we make our way onto the London Underground.

The Blackwall Fire Station used in Londons Burning
First of all we make our way from London Marylebone to Baker Street on the Bakerloo Line, which we could have walked as I found out on a previous trip to London that it is quicker to walk to the next station avoiding the long escalators. Our first journey on the underground is well underway, and we change at Baker Street onto the Jubilee Line and make our way to the second destination of the day (to make up time we miss out our planned London Bridge stop) which is Bermondsey, Mr D9 is pleased as he said that this was the first time that he has actually sat down on a tube train. We arrive at Bermondsey and make our way to ground and turn left down Jamaica Road, where Mr D9 and myself decide to "The Lambeth Walk" as well as singing over some other cockney songs along the way. We arrive at our destination, this being the filming location for The "London's Burning" TV Series, Dockhead Fire Station, which doubles up as Blackwall Fire Station, see picture right, in the TV Series. Pictures taken from the front and back of the station, we make our way to the main road where we luckily catch Stagecoach London Service 47 to Liverpool Street Station, along the way we pass a big crowd of West Ham football supporters, with Mr D9 standing up on the top deck and shouting "Chelsea" out of the window at them, luckily the bus does not stop and we avoid a riot.

Mr D9 and Big Ben
We arrive at Liverpool Street Station, and seemingly we are back on schedule, we catch a London Overground train to Whitechapel where we introduce Mr D9 to our London Regular, "The Blind Beggar", Mr UKBuses reminds me that I am buying the first round, so we make our way out of Whitechapel Tube Station and make our usual turn left to take us to our regular. It seems that Mr D9 won't get to sample our regular as it is not open and as it is just before 11.30am, it doesn't look like it will be opening within the next half-hour, so we make our way back to Whitechapel Tube Station where we have a short wait for a District Line train which takes us to Westminster. We arrive at Westminster Tube Station and make our way to ground where Mr D9 is greeted to Big Ben standing proud in front of him (I'm talking about the clock tower!!!), Mr D9 gets his picture taken in front of Big Ben, see picture left, and after the photograph is taken, Mr D9 gets a few shots of the old telephone boxes in the Westminster area, I didn't realise that they were different types, Mr D9 explains the differences along the way as we walk up Whitehall, passing Downing Street and the Horse Guard Parade along the way before we reach our lunchtime destination, J D Wetherspoons "Lord Moon of The Mall" but as we arrive the place is packed with no seats available, we make our way across the road to "The Silver Cross", a pub that we have visited before with Mr WME, but after looking at the price hike on the menu's we decide to leave and make our way to Victoria. We catch London General's Service 24, which takes us back to where we have just come from, it is not long before we arrive at Victoria and we make our way to the second J D Wetherspoons (and a favourite of ours) of the day "The Willow Walk". Mr UKBuses informs me that it is my round, but despite stating that the first round was at The Blind Beggar (wasn't my fault that it wasn't open), he was still insisting that my round is first. As we walk in, the place is packed and there are no seats available again, but we decide to have a drink, with me buying!!! As we start our drinks we keep our eyes peeled for a table to become free, I spot one and try to keep it safe, but when I look around, Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses have disappeared, they have found another table. We take our seats and look at the menu and food is ordered. Mr D9 opts for a gourmet burger, which arrives on a Wooden chopping board, Mr UKBuses has his BBQ Chicken Melt without the Melt and I opt for a Skinny Chicken Burger but I didn't read the menu properly as it arrives with just salad and no chips. We have one more drink before we leave, with Mr D9 paying for the round.

Sun Hill Police Station
We have a change of plan to get to our next destination, so we enter Victoria Underground Station and board a District Line train to Wimbledon Station, changing at Earl's Court Underground Station along the way, a station which we have never visited before and it does have an old feel to it. We arrive at Wimbledon  Station and it is straight onto the Croyden Tram Link where we alight at Mordon Road to get us to the next filming location of the day. It has been over two years since The Bill has stopped filming, but at the studios, the facade of Sun Hill Police Station still exists, minus the signs, see picture right. After taking photographs, Mr D9 and myself decide to use a footpath nearby where the bushes come in handy for the drinks that we had at The Willow Walk, after our unplanned bladder stop we make our way back to the Mordon Road Tram Stop and catch the Croyden Tramlink back to Wimbledon, where leave the station for an unplanned "fresh air" break. After the break, we make our way back into Wimbledon Station where we catch the District Line train back to Victoria and upon arrival we are in time for the planned "Borismaster", we wait and wait and the "Borismaster" does not show, so we catch a normal Arriva London service 38 to Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, but on our way there we see the "Borismaster" going in the opposite direction, it seems to be eluding us but I am sure that we will get to sample it in the future. We arrive close to Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, but we cannot see it, so instead we have a walk to Holburn Tube Station where we catch a Picadilly Line service to Baker Street, where we change to the Bakerloo Line back to London Marylebone, Mr UKBuses has the right seat though, see picture below.

The priority seat for the elderly.
Upon arrival at the station we notice that we have a bit of time before our planned train, so we visit the public house situated in the station, Mr UKBuses thought that he was going to escape buying a round today, but I bet he wishes that he purchased the first round at The Willow Walk as he ends up paying the most expensive round of the day, costing nearly twice as much as what Mr D9 and myself paid out earlier for our rounds. After supping our drinks, I have a "fresh air" break ahead of our journey and we board the 17.24pm Chiltern Railways service back to Birmingham, luckily we get a table seat right at the back of the train just before loads of Blackpool Football Club supporters board blocking the gangways for the journey ahead, the train does an unexpected stop at Wembley Station to pick up some more. We arrive back at Birmingham and change at Birmingham Moor Street, where after another "fresh air" break and bladder stop, we change platforms and catch the London Midland train back to Stourbridge Junction, as we near The Hawthorns we say goodbye to Mr D9, with Mr UKBuses and myself arriving back at Stourbridge Junction changing platforms to catch the "Stourbridge Dodger" being driven by Bridge Radio DJ Phil Tonks, ensuring a safe journey for the 0.8 miles of track into Stourbridge Interchange. From there we catch Black Diamond's Service 276C back home saying goodbye to Mr UKBuses along the way.

It was a good day out thanks to the good company of Mr UKBuses and Mr D9, and it was all possible thanks to the excellent plan that Mr UKBuses came up with. It's goodbye to London for a while, but I'm sure that we will be back later in 2012.

Andy's Bald Cranium (ABC)

Bald Spot 1 - On the tube

Bald Spot 1: An early shot of the bald spot is captured as we board our tube train towards Bermondsay.

Bald Spot 2 - Opposite Big Ben

Bald Spot 2: The bald spot is captured opposite Big Ben.

Bald Spot 3 - By the Cenotaph.

Bald Spot 3: The bald spot is pictured close to the Cenotaph, this was taken with the kind distraction from Mr UKBuses.

Bald Spot 4 - The Bald Spot meets the Prime Minister.

Bald Spot 4: The bald spot is making an appearance for the Prime Minister at Downing Street.

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