192 Pages, Nothing but Tube Stations

I was having a look around Blackwell’s in Tottenham Court Road at lunch on Monday and spotted an impressive Londony book I had never seen before, London Underground Stations by Stephen Durin:

London Underground Stations Book

Just the cover photo grabbed my attention. I also dug the fact that my local Tube station was on the front, but even more I had a moment where I smiled to myself thinking ‘I have a local Tube station now’. Anyways, I ended up not getting it. As soon as I got back to work though I started thinking I should have treated myself to it.

I had a look for it on Amazon but there were no copies available. Likewise on eBay and a few other places. Hmm looks like it may be at least right now a bit on the rare side. There was just the one copy on the shelf at Blackwell’s as well.

Yesterday after work I cracked and made my way to the shop again to purchase it. Of course on my way there I got anxious thinking, oh no what if someone bought it. Luckily that didn’t happen and it’s now in my possession.

It’s brilliantly simple. Each page is a photo of the station exterior. Below it, in London Transport’s Johnson type face, is the station’s name, the year it was built and who built it be it the company name or the specific architect.

London Underground Stations Book

The most text heavy part of the book is the back cover describing the contents within:

London Underground Stations Book

It’s such an impressive tome my arm was a bit sore after holding it up long enough to go through each page. I’m glad I caved and picked it up.

Late to the Cycle Hire Bike Party

Cycle Hire Bikes to Infinity

The Cycle Hire bikes (I just can’t bring myself to call them Boris Bikes, or Barclay’s Cycle Hire bikes) have been around for ages now. You’d think being keen on anything transport and with getting back into biking I would be all over these. Fact of the matter is I just had my first go on a cycle hire bike last Saturday; and it pretty neat. Well, apart from the initial snafu.

I left the London Maze history fair at Guildhall, grabbed something to eat and wanted to head to Covent Garden to have a look at the Museum of London’s pop-up display of Anglo Saxon findings from the area. It was such a nice day I was going to walk. Ambling down Newgate Street I spotted a bike docking area and it hit me – why don’t a get a bike?

The process is a little bit confusing at first, displayed by the group of tourists ahead of me. Put card in, take card out, put card in again, wait what? It’s only £1 for 24 hours? Oh no, wait it’s not. Once I got through all the access granting bit the machine wouldn’t print me out an access code. This being the most important bit as it lets you, you know, actually get a bike out of a docking station. This machine wasn’t having it and I didn’t want to wait indefinitely on hold with the cycle hire help number.  I walked further along to Smithfield and was able to get a bike there. I popped my card in the machine, it saw that I already paid my £1 for 24 hour access and printed me an access code. Success!

First thing, these bikes are really heavy. But it doesn’t make riding them difficult at all. I thought the ride was quite nice and if anything I think it was better than my own bike. Not sure if that’s just because I probably need some new tires and a chain, or if it’s city bike vs. mountain bike. Probably the former.

I was returning my bike when I got to Covent Garden (though the nearest docking station in the area was King William IV Street) I got asked by a couple of young chaps if I could help them get a couple of bikes. This process was a bit odd as well. They went through the steps to pay £2 for 24-hour access to two bikes but printed one access code. I thought maybe the one code worked for two bikes. Nope. Got the kid to put his card back in the machine and got another access code. Blimey. Maybe it’s all easier if you’re not using it on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Still though, I wasn’t really deterred by the, shall we say learning curve. I reckon I should be using these blue brutes more often.

No Tubes

Closed Covent Garden Station

A very closed Covent Garden station due to today’s Tube strike. This one is turning out to be not nearly as bad as last month’s with reportedly 70% of the network still running.

It would have been great to be around King’s Cross or Paddington this morning to get some photos of all the insanely long bus and taxi queues. One shot I saw from Paddington showed the queue for a taxi running the length of the station. Now that is dedication to not walking.

Les Bicyclettes Pack that bus

Cyclists take off and a jam packed bus on my walk from Charing Cross to Leicester Square this morning.