Thursday, 13 December 2007

Going underground

My recent visits to London have coincided with beautiful weather. Today was no exception. A cloudless sky, frost, slippery pavements. Between meetings in Wembley and Bond Street, I took the Tube, changing at Baker Street. This is one of the oldest underground railway station on earth, opening 143 years ago. The Circle and Metropolitan Line platforms were refurbished in the 1980s, restoring their appearance to how they would have looked in 1863, when the first section of the Metropolitan was opened between Paddington and Farringdon. It is here, at Baker Street, that John Betjeman began his televised poetic journey, Metro-Land, one of my all-time favourites.

On my way to Wembley Park underground station, I passed a warehouse, which was once one of the palaces built for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. John Betjeman visited the site too, then used for storing theatrical props, originally used for an exhibition of church art.

Urea window

I had a disappointing flight from Zurich to London City Airport yesterday. I managed to get a window seat, at the back of the plane, an Avro RJ-100, which has shoulder-mounted wings that afford an excellent, uninterrupted view of the ground. The plane's wings were sprayed with de-icer at Zurich. On take-off, the de-icing fluid, synthetic urea, bled off the wings and along the fuselage as soon as the plane started climbing, freezing over as a thin semi-translucent film that blocked any photography. And the views would have been stunning. The approach into London City is quite spectacular. After wheeling around north Kent, the plane makes it turn into finals over the Houses of Parliament and the dives steeply into what was the quay between Royal Albert and King George V docks. And the weather - cloudless sky - and time of day - shortly before sunset - I'd have got some fabulous aerial views of the ground, had it not been for the obscured window!


Aphelion said...

It's nice to see some photos from London for a change, it reminds me of a few very pleasant holidays with my best friend! It's such a shame that you could see nothing because of the urea obscuring the window - Murphy's Law at work again...

scatts said...

Excellent shots of the tube! I know it so well and yet have no pictures of it. I must try when I'm next there. Very evocative.

scatts said...

Oops. I wanted to add that I worked on Baker Street for many years so this particular station is one of the most familiar to me and one of my favourites!

(stick these two together if you can!!)

island1 said...

Urea window! sounds like a five minute break in a busy schedule in which one can take a leak!

Definitely nice shots of the tube though. I know those steps up to the Bakeloo line well

By the way: