My local Tube is 125 Years Old

I am intensely fascinated by the Tube, otherwise known as the London Underground – for those that haven’t had the pleasure.

Pleasure may not be quite the right word. Londoners whinge about it all the time. It is true that it can be unpleasant to have your face shoved under someones armpit, crammed in like cattle, whilst clenching every muscle possible to ensure you don’t (god forbid), touch someone else. Peak hour travel can be testing. Especially in summer, as Brits are not always too flash on the showering every day thing, or deodorants… but that’s another story.

I learned yesterday, on a trip to the London Transport Museum (yes I really am that nerdy), that Borough Tube station, my local Tube, had it’s first lift installed in 1890. That makes it 125 years old. And it’s deep – 102 steps down. I actually went there today to take another look, it’s around 5 storeys as far as I can work out.

Borough Tube Stairs

And get this – the original tube lines were dug – get this – BY HAND. Yes, guys down a very deep hole, with shovels. Amazeballs.

The original Tube lines weren’t actually tunnels, but were created by basically digging a ditch, and then covering the top. The first of what would become the Tube was opened in 1863, with the ditch method.  The problem was that they kept hitting too much of London, like pipes, and foundations and all sorts. So they came up with the great idea of putting the tunnels deeper – called deep-level tube lines. Borough is on the Northern Line, which is the oldest part of the deep-level tube.

Train arriving Borough Tube

Borough Platform Today

The original tunnels were updated in 1920, so they are not the exact same tunnels as were originally dug. But they are pretty close – and the station is still basically the same, with updated lifts and trimmings.

Despite it sometimes getting a bad rap from Londoners, the Tube is undeniably an efficient transport system. Yes, yes, I know the Japanese have bullet trains and there are super fast networks in other places – blah blah. But the Tube is somehow cool, in that it has moulded itself into this ancient city.  It is such a part of London life, most people never really stop to think about it. Londoners spend a good part of their time, their lives, travelling underground on the Tube – over the past year 1.34 billion journeys were taken on the network. It kind of astounds me that there is this huge network of tunnels, with trains buzzing around, below us all day every day.

It just seems to me to be an amazing example of human ingenuity and adaptiveness. And somehow, in our modern world we seem to think that amazing things are done with technology. There is no doubt that new technology, in terms of engineering technology taken from the mining industry, was used in building the Tube, even back in the 1800’s. But there is something special, maybe even a little bit magical, in that the bulk of the work was done by people power, and not machines.

It gives me faith in what humans are capable of. Like anything is possible.

If you want an insight into what life might have been like in when the Tube was being built in London, check out The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. Great read.

Walk In Her Shoes: 100kms Done!

100km in six days – Boom! Made it a day ahead of schedule. And feeling great. Today I walked 17.52km which brought me to a total of 105.97km.

Within a few hundred metres of stepping out of my friend’s door in Cowley, near Oxford, I was walking through a charming churchyard.

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On the path towards the river, Robin Redbreast came out to say hello.

Red Robin

I then wandered down along the river, starting near Iffley Lock and heading towards Abingdon.

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It was another beautiful day to be out walking. The migratory birds seem to have started to arrive. There were swans and geese, and ducks in breeding pairs. No ducklings yet, but the first buds of spring were beginning to bloom.

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As I wandered down towards Sandford, there were plenty of fishermen out enjoying the sunshine. I asked one of them if he’d caught anything, and in typical British humour he retorted ‘Just a cold’.

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Although it was a beautiful clear day, it was pretty chilly even with the walking. Most of the people out walking, and there were a few, were well rugged up. It was incredibly peaceful though, and even with quite a few people out walking, it did really feel like the hustle and bustle  was a million miles away.

IMG_0567river sceneI started walking down towards Lower Radley – struggling along a very muddy path, unfortunately in my sneakers not my trusty hiking boots (I didn’t plan for mud), until I was stopped by the path being flooded completely. I was forced to turn back, and decided to walk all the way back to Oxford instead. It was a bit of shame, but still a great walk. Oxford was shining beautifully in the sun.

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I was pretty hungry, and ready for a roast by now. Walked past this house, which has always been a favourite. I always wonder if someone actually lives there – I really must find out one day.

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Then had my roast at The Head of the River.

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Checked my k’s and realised I’d made it to 100kms! Time to head back to London town.

Was a great week of walking. I’m really keen to get out and do lots more of it. I just feel so great being out amongst it.

So – with just a few days left until I turn 43, The Answer is yet to materialise. I do feel that some part of it is about being connected to this amazing world we live in, and appreciating the awesome and amazing beauty that is around us every day, if we just stop to look. Still a couple of days to go though – so if something more profound becomes apparent, I’ll let you know.

Quite a way from my $5000 fundraising goal, but I’d still really love to at least reach $1000 for CARE Australia if I can. It would still be a good chunk of money that would really help. You can donate on my fundraising page here.

Walk In Her Shoes : Day 5

Day 5 was a beautiful walk along Oxford Canal. I walked 19.88kms – and am now up to 88.45 k’s in total – yay!

It was a beautiful afternoon for walking yesterday. I headed off straight from the bus, up the Oxford Canal towards where I used to live. Was a real trip down memory lane, and with the sun out, the canal and it’s community were all smiling.

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The canal was certainly showing of English country living at it’s best…

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It was sooo good to get the lungs filled with some truly fresh air. I didn’t realise how much I had been missing green space and beauty in London. It was just magical walking through these idyllic scenes.

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Had some lovely stops behind the bridges and locks.

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I walked a good long distance, and then decided it was time to head back, as the sun began to set.

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Was a brilliant walk. It has really reminded me how much I love to be out there walking through this beautiful world that we live in. Will be back out there somewhere in a few hours – looks like I might hit the 100km mark today!

If you would like to donate to CARE Australia, my fundraising page is here.

Walk In Her Shoes: Day 4

Well – Day 4 was tougher than I expected! I thought it would be easier to just come home and then go for a wander. But I was tired. Was all worth it in the end, and clocked up a nice 18.82 kms in the end, which brings me to 68.57 kms in total. Getting there!

It was actually a beautiful sunny day here in London yesterday. I got a few ks in walking back from a meeting in the city.

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Met this guy along the way.

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I walked across Blackfriars Bridge, which is the working end of things. I kinda like that.

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After work, I still had some walking to do, so headed towards the Tate Modern, then left along the river down towards Tower Bridge. The city was looking very beautiful, lovely clear night.

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Went past The Globe. Really looking forward to seeing some Shakespeare there in the summer.

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And the Tower and Tower Bridge sitting there being iconic as always.

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Walked across Tower Bridge to get a view of the south side, which is a view I don’t normally look at. Quite cool.

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Then it was time to wander towards home, have a glass of wine and roll into bed.

Today I’m off down to Oxford, to get some countryside walking in. New adventures await!

If you would like to donate to CARE Australia, my fundraising page is here.

CARE do amazing work. I happened across this video this morning about WWII veterans writing to Syrian refugee children, which gives you a taste of some of the great things they do.

Walk In Her Shoes: Day 3

So I’m writing this on morning of Day 4. Last night I clocked up a further 17.93kms, so now at a total of 49.75kms. Very nearly half way!

Before heading out after the trade show last night, I stopped for a quick beer with some work folk. As it turns out, a pint and a half of beer was just what I needed to get me on my way. Had my tunes on, and off I trotted.

Was interested to see that I couldn’t walk through the park after dark – all locked up.

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Was able to walk along the end of the park a bit further along. Was beautiful and serene.

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Amazing that you can walk past this peaceful scene in the middle of London.

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Purposely got myself a bit lost after that to get the k’s up. And was back in the thick of it, with the beauty and the busyness all squashed in together.

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And some majesty.

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And with my tunes keeping me grooving along, finally over the Thames and homeward bound.

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The Deep Heat was definitely out last night. Some more night walking tonight, then looking forward to doing some walking in the countryside over the weekend. Hopefully will have some good clear walking days.

If you could like to donate to CAREAustralia, my fundraising page is here.

 

Walk In Her Shoes : Day 2

Day 2 complete, with a further 16.09 kms under my belt!

I decided to try and get a few km’s in this morning before work. I was rewarded by being swamped with muddy water by a passing truck. I then found myself struggling my way through picketing protesters (I have no idea what they were protesting – rather ineffective effort from what I could tell). Finally I broke free to the peaceful vista of the Thames, and said ‘Hi’ to Ben on the way across.

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I was at a trade show all day today for work. For those who have done this yourself, you know only too well that you spend most of the day on your feet – and it is generally a pretty tiring day. So my tootsies were feeling pretty weary before I event started on the walk home. I had brought some nice warm comfy walking clothes with me though, so I changed into those before heading on the homeward trek.

But the comfy was not to be. For some reason the woolen thermals I was wearing got very VERY itchy. I tried to walk a bit – hoping it would be ok. After half an hour of that – I had to high tail it into a pub and de-thermal. Aah… the relief was sweet.

After that the walking was all good. I walked through Knightsbridge, did a bit of window shopping.

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Was nice to see Lizzy was home, probably having a nice cozy baked beans on toast.

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And I have to say, I was quite glad to see this guy again.

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From here it was a nice stroll across the Thames, with our eye spectacularly watching over us.

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My feet were feeling it when I got home tonight, and the hot shower felt especially awesome. I might even have to break out the Deep Heat tonight.

But all in all, a good walking day. My total for the week after Day 2 is 31.82 kms, and I’ve raised $400 so far. Thanks so much to those who have already made donations – it is going to a really great cause.

If you would like to donate to CARE Australia, my sponsorship page is here.

Walk In Her Shoes: Day 1

Day 1 is complete, and I’ve walked 15.73 kms. Not a bad start! If I can keep that up each day, I will be well ahead of target.

The cool thing about London is, there is so much to see. I had a beautiful walk through Kensington Gardens as dusk was falling. The daffodils were blooming.

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Spring flowers were just peeping through the grass as people wandered, cycled and ran through the park.

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I had never been this close to The Albert Memorial before. It is truly beautiful, especially as the light was catching on the gold and mosaics. And huge – the photo doesn’t do it justice at all.IMG_0439

 

I also walked past the Royal Albert Hall, quite majestic.

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And of course, there were random beautiful things, just because.

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All in all, a pretty good first day. I did stop half way and have a rather delicious Italian meal. I didn’t stop at this pub, but I kind of wish I did. So randomly cool.

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Now for a hot shower and early night, ready for more walking adventures.

If you would like to donate money to sponsor me, all money goes to CARE Australia. My fundraising page is here.