Saturday, 11 June 2011

London Train Travel Serendipity

To be honest, I am not a London type "booitjie" - I hate London with it's facades, it's multi-culti homogeneity, it's squalid expensive high rises, it's nasty river and even nastier weather...

But I do like (or maybe respect is a better word) it's underground infrastructure!

It always awes and amazes me to travel on the tubes...Not that I do it often, I am a bit of an Essex red-neck, living in a village about 80 miles from London. But when I do travel there, I always feel like a real Beast; A conqueror and explorer of note...

Of course, I'm just the son of a Fitter & Turner from the East Rand of SA...

But it is respect and awe of the engineering ability and sheer achievement of the underground that somehow my father, as a hands on tradesman, imparted to me as a child, and which I recognise now when I ride on tubes in London, that gobsmacks me...

The efficiency is amazing, although many complain about that. I suppose they need to spend a day or two in downtown Johannesburg to realise how majestic the London Underground achievement really is.

As an engineer and tradesman, my father not only loved milling machines but also the Great Ships of war: U-Boats, Battleships, Destroyers. He knew that milling machines made those ships.

He came to the UK 8 years ago on a visit and of course he did a trip to London. He made sure to visit the HMS Belfast at London Bridge.

Of course he loved it...So much of it is still very real, the iron work, the cannons, even some of the original plastic wiring is remarkably well preserved. And he told me about it when he came back to SA.

Times change, people move on.

I came to the UK 5 years ago and have been to London at least a dozen times (yeah, I'm a red-neck, I told you so) but never went to visit the HMS Belfast...

Except for a business obligation yesterday, I may not have done so for a long time.

So yesterday I found myself right by the London Bridge with this MASSIVE War Ship sitting there in the Thames and what else could I do?

Business obligations lasted a few hours, and then I was all over that ship like a mad thing...This Ship has more nooks and crannies than a loaf of old Swiss cheese. Two hours on Her is like Nothing. She is beautiful. A few weeks is what you need.

I plan to go back there very soon. This time, with my wife and daughter...I only hope that this time I can meet up with John Wills again and shake his hand...Before it's too late.

To get to HMS Belfast, I recommend the following route...From wherever, get into Stratford Station...(Line starts at top of the map, please click for better resolution)...From there, hop onto the Jubilee line which goes straight to London Bridge Station under the Thames...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.