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.

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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.

Crazy Walking Week Starts Today – International Women’s Day

So, I’m about to head off on my crazy walking week. Today is International Women’s Day – what better way to start a week of walking 100km to raise money for CARE Australia.

My plan for the day is somewhat vague… I’ll be starting with turning on Map My Walk as I walk to work, and basically playing it by ear from there. Watch this space for updates.

I still have a long way to go on my fundraising goal. If you’d like to help out here is the link to my fundraising page.

Walking 100km next week… would love your support!

Like many of us, I have been watching the unfolding Syrian Refuges Crisis and thinking: “What can I do to help?”

I’ve decided to walk 100km the Walk in Her Shoes challenge from 8 to 14 March 2016.  I hope to raise AUD$5000.

It’s my 43rd birthday on 15th March 2016. According to Douglas Adams, 42 should be The Answer. It doesn’t seem to have materialised yet. We’ll see what 43 brings.

So from Tuesday, I’ll be aiming to walk a minimum of 15km every day for a week. I’ll be doing this as well as working, so will be a bit tough, but I’m sure will also be rewarding. London is an amazing city to walk around, so although my legs may feel it a bit, it’ll be with it on many levels. And of course, it’s not like I’m walking to collect water for my own survival, which so many people have to do on a daily basis.  I’ll be walking to support Syrian refugees and women and girls who have to walk an average of 6km every day to collect water and food and firewood in developing countries.

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All I ask is for you to donate the cost of a birthday card. And maybe we can all do something real to help.

Almost 11 million people are in need inside Syria and a further three million have been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Women and children make up three-quarters of the refugee population.

Care Australia do great work supporting the Syrian refugees, you can read about all their great work here.

You can donate on my fundraising page here.

 

The Adventure Begins

London is huge. It’s like a country unto itself, mini-cities within a city. Every corner has it’s own story. Like a never ending jewellery box to explore. Tiny pieces of beauty, telling a story.

On my first day, Peter Pan leapt out as I rounded a corner, transforming an otherwise ordinary building into a trip to Neverland.

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The next day, on Oxford Street, this happened:

You never know what you are going to get. The first couple of weeks I was staying in Pimlico. The walk home from Tottenham Court Road had some nice treasures.

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I’m now in Borough, and can walk home in 40 minutes, across the Thames.

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Spring is here, with daffodils, and spring blossoms everywhere.

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Last night, I had a drink at the Royal Festival Hall – just a 15 minute walk from home. The sun was out, a beautiful Spring evening, with joy everywhere…

A whole fresh weekend ahead. More treasures to find, and joy to be had. As it said over a pub door, my first night in London:

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The Next Adventure: London Baby!

In less than two weeks I will be off to London.

The Balcony Garden has been disassembled, and plants distributed to various family gardens. I am surrounded by boxes, and have a very long To Do list. It’s all very exciting.

I have visions of writing about my new adventures here, in this blog. For those of you who know me well, those adventures are likely to involve getting lost, tripping over my own feet and spilling red wine at inappropriate moments. If this sounds like something you are interested in hearing about – you can follow this blog by subscribing to receive email updates, or by following the blog page on Facebook, or me on Twitter.

I will try to squeeze in some hill scaling and exotic weekends away to keep it interesting.

London, here we come…

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