Friday, 30 April 2010

More faded London and cycle lanes

Life has taken me up to Whitechapel a couple of times in the last week.  There is a cluster of fascinating buildings around the Royal London Hospital, many of which ended up being swallowed up by the hospital over a very long period.  This hospital appears to have had a talent for expanding since very long ago.  The brand new all-in-one building to the east has been conceived to capture it and put it all in the same place and must be due to open shortly.  But I doubt whether the hospital has it in its genes to stay put for any period of time.

This old wall sign is on one of the buildings incorporated into the hospital and I wonder what it said and how long ago it was painted.  My best guess for the text: JUVENILE CLOTHIER, though I can't make out the arched word at the top beyond an H to start with and an S to finish.  As for its age, well...very old.


Down by Limehouse basin there's a very odd cycle lane.  They've dispensed with the normal traffic to the left principle, made it one way and put a contra-flow cycle path on the wrong side of the road.  I'll now have to go back and try to figure out why they've done it like that.  It is confusing - I ended up cycling towards an oncoming cyclist in the same lane.  I was correctly on the wrong side of the road, the oncoming cyclist was incorrectly on the right side.  So I veered over to the left which in nearly all situations would have been correct but it meant going out head first into oncoming one way traffic.

The important thing with such eccentric road layouts is that they are signed very very clearly.  Though how you're supposed to cycle along this path is a bit of a mystery...

Presumably the bins are there for putting broken bikes into

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Old signs, new roads

According to to my mapping program, I've now cycled every road for 146 square miles in the area.  This figure must be wildly, no wildly wrong - it's more like having cycled every street in a medium-sized city. The streets I've cycled are marked as a grey area on this map:

The red radii  mark the next directions which need exploring on future rides, so that the area ridden expands out from where I begin my rides.  The day before yesterday I was wandering around the south-east parts.  I even stopped to photograph the old ''Youngs'' bike shop sign that their successors have obligingly left in place.
(It's a bit of nostalgia for me - I've owned 2 Youngs bikes and cycled to the south coast and back many times on a Youngs frame.  With a young body, of course.)

Today, though I went via Crofton Park, over the bridge into Nunhead, ''did'' the edge of Peckham Rye, and then north to Bermondsey.  I saw one of the Daren Bread signs, but this time it had not been painted onto the wall, it was a, presumably later, affixed sign.  Still hanging on just!  (This is on the corner of Surrey Road and Inverton Road, Camberwell.)
Later I took in Nunhead Lane and as I had a camera on me I took this one (end of Barset Road).

I got distracted by a young lad from the shop just behind the camera - he was wondering, even after I'd explained to him,  why I was taking photos of a street road sign.  Eventually he admitted that he'd never noticed it.  I wonder how many times he's looked out of the shop window at it without seeing it.


As you descend from Nunhead into Peckham, it's very noticeable how the standard of driving deteriorates.  Instead of getting safely and efficiently from A to B, the rules seem to change into an obligation to perform manoeuvres in the wrong place - three point turns at a junction, for example, whilst talking on a mobile phone, or driving onto the roundabout an Asylum Road without slowing or even looking right to see if anyone is already on the roundabout with right of way.  While talking on a mobile phone, obviously.  Never has a pub been better named:

It's a good job I learned about getting around in Peckham with the armour protection of a car around me.  Cycle on the brakes...


A couple of  minor observations about cycling every road.  First, you'd expect that roads were about getting places.  And they are but only in part.  Virtually every newer development follows the dead-end principle.  It's a maze of roads that don't go anywhere - the aim is for quiet, therefore no through traffic, and for somewhere to park the car.  I've done an uncounted number of U-turns.

Even where there was originally a fairly square grid road pattern, council building projects in a place like Peckham have also blocked off hundreds of roads.  Which could be ok for bikes in theory but isn't because the bike gets blocked off too, denied access because the bike counts as traffic.

The rule seems to be: EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE ABLE TO PARK NEXT TO THEIR HOUSE BUT THEY DON'T WANT CARS GOING PAST.  The ultimate aspiration is therefore, logically and in practice, dead-end.

Secondly, people see a bike and automatically think the rider is a local.  So they ask you where number 39 is.  And you have to say, ''I've never been here before.''  Conversely, people think you're lost when they see you pootling up a cul de sac and give you directions.  It's simply too complicated to explain that you don't know this road, in fact that's why you're there!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Bits of faded London and Preachers

It wouldn't be Easter without going out for a little ride, so I wandered off for a turn around Danson Park today.  On the way there, I spotted this on Lee High Road....WITALLS Motor Agents.  I've no recollection of ever seeing it before, but my newly-developed habit of keeping an eye out for them while cycling seems to catch a few of them.  And, as part of my cycle every road routine, I popped up into some of the side roads along there.  It was uphill, and my hill technique can be summarised in this basic principle: keep it slow.  And keeping it slow gives you less to worry about what's up ahead and lots more time to look around for things to stop and take a photo.  But this retake of the omnipresent NO BALL GAMES sign made me smile.
And on the way back I managed to combine ball games and a wall advert.  Yes it's Welling United, a team I never knew existed until this afternoon.
As the ground's sign shows, it's Park View Road, Welling.  The advert isn't actually painted, it's in the plasterwork.  Anyhow, whether you want to get alabastered or plastered, the building is now an Off Licence.

- 0 -

As if we haven't heard enough about the church just recently, a friend told me that someone who played a notorious part in New Cross history, Gilbert Deya, nay, self-declared Archbishop Gilbert Deya, was still going through appeals and has not yet been deported.  You may remember a story about kidnapped babies from a few years ago.  The BBC's article will give the background.  But I prefer to think the reason he's so reluctant to leave this country is because it's a rock....

And, while I'm on the church theme, has there ever been a stranger place for, or a denser combination of ministries, than at the end of Brookmill Road, SE8?  I've-seen-the-light industrial units.

Next to Rhema Chapel (2 units) there is the Grace Christian Centre
And next to the Grace Christian Centre there is Winners House of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.  And verily, they went forth and multiplied.  There's also the Spirit and Live Bible Church and the Victory Life Bible Church just further along.  Looking completely out of place, these last two are separated by DMC Kitchen Installers.  
So that new kitchen must be fulfilling some kind of spiritual need, just like you always suspected.
(logo by SE8 signs)


In case all this seems a little anti-evangelical, here's an article from the Times about the Vienna Boys Choir, penned by what must be one of the most appropriately-named journalists ever.