All aboard! Join me on one of the new Routemasters

As we headed to the London Design Centre we hit one of those transport hiccups that you do on Sundays; for an unknown reason none of the tubes from Westminster were going to Wimbledon even though that was supposed to be their destination.  So we changed our plans got on the first tube and then got off at Sloane Square.  Slightly random but I remembered that previously I'd seen shuttles advertised between there and Chelsea Harbour so logic told me it couldn't be that far.

Well once outside the station and checking the maps, we realised it was a little too far to walk so Plan B (or is it C by now?) was to get a bus.  We headed up past the Duke of York Square to the bus stop and waited for our bus to arrive.  When it did we were in for a bit of a surprise - it was one of the new Routemasters - and we were probably just a little bit too excited about this.

Imagine then when we got to the top deck and realised we had it all to ourselves. There was only one thing for it.

Yeap, time to get the camera out!

Top deck all to ourselves
Route 11 to Fulham Broadway

Goodness knows what the magic eye thought of me if it captured me taking pictures.

top deck front seats

The seats had one of those mesmerising patterns on, you know the sort that boggles your eyes. 

front view
pshycodelic seats

And there were two sets of stairs. The more modern ones behind the driver here: 


And the more traditional rear stairs from the platform below: 

rear stairs
new routemaster

And yes, someone was either enjoying the ride or pretending he wasn't with the loony taking pictures! 

seriously unimpressed

Well, I thought it was rude not to capture this, don't you agree? 

A ride on the cable car from North Greenwich

Ahead of competing in the Ride London, MOH needed to register at Excel and collect his rider number for the big day. There was also an exhibition for participants there and wondering what on earth it was all about I decided to tag along. This post isn't about that though, it's my journey over the Thames on the cable car.

So if you've not been on it (or even if you have) please come along for the ride...

The Emirates Air Line operates between North Greenwich and the Royal Victoria DLR station. Cabins arrive every 30 seconds and flights take approximately ten minutes each way. The cabins are easy to board, even I find them easy and this is from the person who stands there swinging her leg trying to get onto a boat (not the sort with gangplanks though, I'm fine with those).

Soon after leaving the terminal building, you'll see a fab piece of art on the left which is larger than it looks.

I'll not lie, it does go quite high - but just look at the design on the supports (not sure if that is the correct name for them) and the mechanics. Amazing hey? 

You get a pretty amazing view of East London.

And of the cabins heading south.  

It's a bit like being on a boat - everyone waves at each other! Ok, maybe not everyone but a lot of people do...

And before long you're heading down towards the Royal Victoria docks, and touching down in East London with its DLR, its beach (with some clever advertising from Nakhon Thai - see below), the cruise liner hotel moored by Excel and no doubt much, much more. 

So there you have it, a journey on London's cable car - what did you think?  Have you been on this already, or will you now?

Sun on Saturday: A cycle to Lesnes Abbey and beyond

Last Sunday we joined our first Skyride and met up with the rest of the group in Manor House Gardens. That's just ten minutes or so from us by bike and despite this it was a park we'd never been in before. 

At one end, near the cafe and meeting point was Manor House with a beautifully blue sky behind it. The gardens - which I failed to take a picture of - reminded me of a country park. The grass was fenced off with metal railings and for me that gave it a Victorian feel.


We set off en masse - there was about fifteen of us and the three ride leaders - and headed for the South Circular. Eek! Actually we only crossed over the A205 so that was ok, but we took some back roads towards the A20, which we did cycle along for a short section. Those poor motorists!

As is usual with South London there were a few hills, both up and down as we weaved our way towards Abbey Wood and Lesnes Abbey. Which you'll not be surprised to know is yet another local place I'd not been to before so I was keen to see what was there.


Yeap, ruins.

The Abbey was founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci the Chief Justiciar to Henry II. And in the short time I was there I learnt that it had an interesting history. It is thought that the Abbey was founded as an act of penance by de Luci who was closely implicated in the murder of Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. When in 1179 the first Abbot was consecrated, Richard de Luci resigned his office as the Chief Justiciar to become a canon of Lesnes.

It was the sort of place that made it easy to look around, with metal signs in each part of the ruins. I didn't have long there and I'd like more time to look around the ruins, and the surrounding woods.

I was captivated by this archway and what lay behind it. Just to the right of here was a larger, more open space and when I learnt that this area was the church, that made sense.

The Abbey closed around 1525 by Henry VIIIs chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, and most of its monastic buildings were pulled down soon after the dissolution. The site was later acquired by Henry Cooke who kept the Abbot's Lodging as a mansion house; later though it came into the possession of Sir John Hippersley (what a great surname!) who dug it over for building materials! The Abbots Lodging though survived intact until it was demolished in 1845.

That's what amazes me about history. A piece of unassuming land in, let's say an often less favourable part of South East London could hold so many secrets. 

There's more building work about to start too, with a new Visitor Centre. The ground had been prepared but building hadn't obviously started yet. Looking at the plans for the news Lesnes Lodge, it'll be a great addition to the site when it opens. I'm not sure when that will be as it seems it is behind the published timetable.

So this is yet another place we'll come back to - and one that's easily within cycling distance - on our next visit I hope to have a better look around, explore what looks to be the gardens in the picture above, find out where I can dig a fossil and check out the wildflower gardens.

Back on the bikes we headed through the maze of Thamesmead and eventually onto the the Thames Path, which is familiar cycling territory for MOH and I. We cycled back up to the Woolwich Ferry and then the ride leaders led us up to Charlton via what can only be described as the steepest hill I've seen so far in this part of town.  Needless to say part of that hill involved some walking and wheeling, even MOH found it hard going.

After clocking up nearly 37km we left the ride in Blackheath and made a dash into the Farmers Market to pick up something for lunch.  It was a lovely day - if not a tad warm - for a cycle and once again we've discovered some local places to visit again and explore further.


My Travel Monkey