Sunday 13 May 2012

Shoot Story - South East London and Docklands

In this month's issue of Cycling Active I have a ride story about south east London and Docklands (entitled Industrial Revolutions). That was the feel I had about quite a few of the different venues we were in when taking the photos.

It was another of those cold, but sunny days in January. One of the problems when you do photo shoots at that time of year, when the days are short, is getting everything done before dark.

On the day that we did the shoot we rode from Crystal Palace to Blackheath, went around Greenwich and the Thames Path, through the tunnel to Docklands, then onwards to the Excel Centre and Royal Albert area.

Ideally I would have preferred to have done it in the order that I did the reccie and eventual route - an anticlockwise loop starting at Blackheath, over to Greenwich, through the tunnel, on to Docklands and Excel, back to South London via the Woolwich Ferry and then along the Thames Path to reach Greenwich and Blackheath.

Because the Woolwich Ferry was closed on this date, we had to do the former itinerary described above, so in effect we went back on ourselves on both sides of the river and that took more time. By the time we finished, it was getting dark. I didn't have any lights on me so we had to take public transport. Fine, I thought - we can ride along the Cycle Superhighway to Shadwell and pick up the East London Line - Not possible, engineering works. Ok, so we continue along the Superhighway to Tower Hill and pick up the District Line to Victoria. (Bikes are allowed on the District Line on Sundays). Not possible, engineering works. Oh dear - we then ended up riding to Waterloo to get a suburban train to Clapham Junction and get a connection to Crystal Palace. Trains were running as far as Streatham Hill and there was a replacement bus service to stations beyond. Crystal Palace is beyond Streatham Hill, however bikes are not admitted on replacement buses! The plot thickens.

I ended up going to Higg's place and staying over till Monday when I could cycle home in daylight. London Transport is great!

After all our frustrations, the photos turned out well in the final article.

As well as learning how rubbish London Transport can be, I also learned that there are a few places around London that make for unlikely tourist spots.

Naturally there were lots of families out on Blackheath, and loads of tourists in Greenwich. Surprisingly though, we saw alot of people walking along the Thames Path, especially the section by the Thames Barrier. People were intrigued by this construction.

There were still lots of folks who had come to see Docklands and Canary Wharf as well. It's not just finance professionals and management consultants who are attracted to the glassy jungle then!

The theme of our ride story had been to reflect on the industrial age in London - past and present. With that in mind we drew references from the song "Jerusalem". A few of the locations we were at made me think of some of the lines from that song - "England's green and pleasant land", "clouded hills" etc. Some lyrics that particularly struck Higg as I rode past the Canary Wharf complex under cloudy skies were "dark satanic mills". In keeping with that theme, I have included a few photos of experimental shots that Higg put into sepia tones when we were recce'ing the Industrial Revolutions itinerary.

Photos by Higg

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