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: 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.




Met this guy along the way.


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



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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


And some majesty.



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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.

It’s Hot in London

It was 33 degrees on Wednesday. In London terms – that’s Armageddon.

Tube Hot Weather

I am now sitting in a pub, drinking a cold beer. This is the current status.

Sunny 21People are sitting here in shorts (with very white, skinny legs on show), wiping their brow and trying not to faint.

This is somehow even more amusing, because I was recently in Alicante, Spain, where the temperature rarely got below 30 degrees. The average bar was filled with at least as many Brits as this pub currently is, mixed in with few Germans and Russians.

You can tell the Brits a mile off. When the Brits turn up at the beach, they strip off their clothes with reckless abandon, and run towards the brightness. There is no thought to body grooming ahead of this plan. I mean – why bother to cut your toenails? Your feet have been in shoes for 10 months, and never seen the light of day, so I’m sure they look great.

And then they get confused. This sun thing – it’s hot. It burns. It’s all very confusing.

So they lie in the brightness all day, all the time refusing to acknowledge that the sun is very very hot, and burning them. They then stagger to the bar with 3rd degree burns.

Which beggars the question. Why then, as soon as it inches above 20 degrees in London – do they run back to the dark corners of the pub, like cockroaches?

I’ve worked it out. Brits like brightness – not hotness. They are all for sitting in the twilight until 10pm drinking their beer. No worry that it is only 10 degrees outside – that is not the point. Let There Be Light.

Put them in The Tube, with other people very close to them (God forbid), and a temperature where they may need to take their jacket off… well I’m sure you can imagine. It’s not pretty.

But with their stiff upper lip reserve, and their absolute commitment to being strong, and resolute, and showing no emotion whatsoever – I’m sure they’ll see it through.

They’re a tough bunch. They may be confused, disorientated by ‘the heat’ and without their bottle of water – but they will never let on. They will stagger to their pub, where the beer is good and their friends are waiting, engage in witty repartee, and regroup to face the world.

keep calm beer


Walking home through Trafalgar Square

I needed some salty hot chips after work tonight. After indulging I needed to walk home. It was far from a trial.

This evening in London had a blue, cloudless sky. It’s warm. London was sparkling as I wandered through Trafalgar Square.


St Martin in the Fields

Everyone was smiling.


Except for this guy.


The trees are starting to sprout green. I am fascinated by how, every day, the streetscape changes as the trees bloom. It was a gorgeous walk down to the Thames. Big Ben sparkled in the sun this evening.


The Thames was sparkling too.



Arty Shot

It felt like a summer party.

Now sipping my sparkling water, and eating my fruit and yoghurt. The salty hot chips were definitely worth it.






A Walk Along the Thames

So much to do in London – it’s exciting! So much to do – it can be overwhelming. Where to start?

After spending a rainy morning poring over Time Out (I don’t know why Time Out can’t just give you a list of what’s on by date. Really – how hard can it be?) – I was more confused than ever. When the sun came out after lunch (notice I’m getting British already – talking about the weather), I decided to do what is always important to do in a crisis: go and find a book shop and a good coffee.

I wandered down to London Bridge (about 10 mins from home), where I had a vague idea that a book shop might be lurking. Hoorah! Found one, and as fate would have it, right near the door was a copy of Lonely Planet London. Ah – Lonely Planet my old friend, where have I been without you?

Round the corner I wandered into this;


found a nice cafe, and settled down with my Lonely Planet. Just opening it made me excited. After perusing it for a while, I decide that I have a new mission: to see if I can tick off everything listed in the Lonely Planet to do in London. Quite an ask – oh but it will be fun!

With a nice full belly, and the sun now shining in full, a walk along the Thames was in order. This is the view that greeted me as I walked outside:


The modern London. You can guess which one is nick named the Walkie-Talkie, and which one the Gherkin.

From here I crossed the road at London Bridge, went beside Borough Market (to be explored another day), to Southwark Cathedral.


Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London (wow!). I’m guessing that would be because it is on the south side of the river, and escaped The Great Fire (but don’t quote me on this). Archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that. Some believe there was a church here as early as AD 606.

I loved that the courtyard was filled with young people eating food they had bought at the market next door, relaxing with a cigarette (or if they were cool hipsters, an e-cigarette).

I ducked in to check it out. Wow – awesome stuff. I didn’t have any cash on me for the photo permit, so no photos to show you here. I saw Chaucer’s window, dedicated to pilgrims aka Canterbury Tales. William Shakespeare’s brother is buried there as well. There is a lot of wood inside – and it made me wonder if this is what the old St Paul’s might have been like. Oldest wooden effigy of a knight – unknown identity. Was quite moving and beautiful. Truly beautiful place. Will definitely be heading back to explore some more, and maybe check out a choral performance or two.

I followed my feet, and within a few hundred metres found The Golden Hinde. Evidently Sir Francis Drake completed the second-ever circumnavigation of the world between 1577-80 in this galleon ship.


You can do tours – another thing to add to the list. I couldn’t concentrate on the ship because I was distracted by some cool loud music nearby. I had to go and check it out.

Was great music actually. Playing right beside the ruins of Winchester Palace, one of the largest and most important buildings of medieval London.

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Wandered some more…



And finally came out by Southwark Bridge. IMG_0769

I say finally, but this whole walk (slow wander really) took me about an hour. Every inch of this city has a story to tell. I’m not sure if I crossed anything off my list, or just added to it.

What’s next?


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.


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.


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


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:


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…