Well, the trip started with RAIN! After the sunny Sunday a bit of a downer, considering I was going to do A LOT of walking today! Took the District Line to BANK (i.e. Monument) and then switched over to the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) - my old transport from my flat to work!
The DLR map looked quite a bit different to 1998/1999 - they extended the route to City Airport and now even got further than Greenwich! In 1999 they were just BUILDING Island Gardens. :o And new thing: Had to change trains at Westferry, so from Monument there's no direct train to Beckton anymore.
Arrived at Beckton and could for the life of me not find a swipe out machine for the Oyster card. If anyone finds it, please let me know where it is!!! :) At my embarking the train the heavens opened! I quickly dashed over to the ASDA & shopping "mall" where I obtained my "thank you gift" for Sharon & Graeme and a top for myself. Then I walked down Tollgate Road, searching my flat. Doesn't help that I couldn't remember whether it was 116 or 161 or 163 or 165 or 167 (and I am still not 100% sure which of the latter 4 it was ... they are all in the same building! ;) ). It was a LONG way, and I even walked too far but then found the building! Wahey!!! And guess what ... there's a Lidl now on Tollgate Road. See, those German things are following me!! ;)
Before I went out I decided to pop into Galleon's Reach Retail park to see whether that ominous "Cards & Crafts for Christmas - Exclusively for WHSmith" was available...It didn't look too far from the DLR station "Galleon's Reach" and a bus was going straight from Tollgate Road. Before I boarded the bus I had one of those nice "considerate" car drivers making sure that I was HYDRATED enough ... that bloody f*****!!!! By the time the bus arrived I was totally drenched! A more sensible person probably would have gone back home by now, but not me... oh no!! I went on to that DLR station, got off the bus ... and couldn't see the shops. With the bus gone (and me slightly drier again) I decided to walk ... which worked out to be a 20 mins walk in the middle of nowhere ... lots of weird buildings, one of which being the garage/servicing station for DLR trains!! But I managed it and found the shopping mall. ;) The rain got lighter and I could actually see the funny side of things ... the whole story reminded me of our honeymoon in Aviemore where we went on the search for a stone circle for hours ... in the driving rain!! :D It ended up to be in a small grassy area in between 2 rows of houses. :)
Back to my trip of today though ... Went to WHSmith's,who told me that the mag is not even out (well... it was advertised in one of the cardmaking magazines with a release of SEPTEMBER ... note date above!!). I got some small bottles of Original Source (lemon & mint) for our holiday at next door's Superdrug, a Cross Stitch mag at WHS and then took the next bus to Galleon's Reach, where I boarded the next DLR to Canning Town.
While I was travelling around on DLR trains I thought I might as well go to "Pontoon Quay", where the Thames Barrier is located ... I'd never been before (that station didn't exist back then and there was no bus going there either) and wanted to get some photos and actually see them for myself in real life. The rain was down to a drizzle, the barrier was just a stone throw away from the station - where I swiped out and was told "error 36 - seek assistance". How am I supposed to do that if there's nobody around??? So I just ignored it and went to the barrier to take photos - it must be a great sight on a nice day, with the nice garden and a Fountain area (which was of course switched off in the rain ... or maybe put to rest for winter??). Before I headed back to the station I went for a quick cuppa and a muffin at the viewing platform/information centre. ... I am still amazed by the Brit's lax handling of that title ... the only information I could find was for some Theatre in the West End ... nothing about the Thames Barrier.... :o
With no particular gates keeping me away I boarded a DLR train to Poplar where I changed to the Jubilee line (was not there in 1999) and got off at Canary Wharf where I found lots of customer service people as I had expected. They checked my card and told me that there is not enough money on the card... ?????? I had £8.70 on it when I left East Putney!!!! And they couldn't see me swipe out after leaving Putney. Well, I swiped out at Bank (probably didn't take it right), and after checking with Sharon I shouldn't have done that in the first place anyway but should have swiped out in Beckton ... where there was no swiping machine to be found (well, at least not by myself!). Got the details for Customer Service and added another £10 to my card and went on my trip again, this time by foot.
And found myself totally LOST!!! When I worked on "The Isle of Dogs" there was only Canada Tower (that "smaller" building n the middle) ... and now there were TONS of big towers around ... they expanded! I even doubted my memory about the location of my office building!! Walked across the familiar bridge, past South Quay station ... and then... there it was!! My building!! Looked all new and shiny when I started working for WORLDxCHANGE in 1998, but with all the new development around it looked quite drab. :( I actually went into 1 Exchange Tower to read the list of companies and was promptly picked out by 2 security people (yeah... woman with rucksack, baseball cap, bigger camera and totally drenched definitely looks suspicious!! ;) ) and told them that I worked here 8 years ago and gave them the old name of the company and the name of the company who took over, but by then I had already seen that the company wasn't either stationed here anymore or just went bust ... again?! :)
Then onto my favourite part of the trip .... GREENWICH! I took the DLR to Island Gardens as I wanted to do the "walk under the Thames" (much nicer but of course longer than staying on the DLR to "Cutty Sark"). When I came out on the other side in Greenwich, I saw the boarded up Cutty Sark (she was moored left of the Naval College last time I was there) - can only imagine how bad she looks after the fire but then most of the wood was taken for conservation anyway. She's going to be open for visitors again in 2009, or so the information said.
Couldn't resist buying a mug at the Tourist Information (nice one of Greenwich) and a small leaflet about the Foot Tunnel and then made my way to the Observatory. LOADS of Germans about (I figured it must be "Herbstferien" - autumn break - by now). Trundled up the beautiful park with stronger rain ... just to find out that the Observatory closed at 5pm! :( So was 5 mins late. I still took several photos and made my way back, this time to the DLR train station "Cutty Sark", past that funny "Ben & Jerry's with Subway" shop (opposed to "Subway selling Ben & Jerry's"). Have to go and visit the Fan Museum next time I am around ... am sure Sharon would love to join me!
And that was it - trip back to East Putney was uneventful and fairly quick. Have to say, I still quite like the area where I worked/lived and I think Greenwich has some of the most beautiful buildings in London and has probably the most beautiful park in the city!!! :)