Poplar to Brentford



Day one starts in the far north east corner of the Isle of Dog's and travelling 22km [13.5m] in a westerly direction right across London to Brentford.

I retired from Newham College on April Fool's day, 1 April 2008. Up to this point, I had been living mostly on Cribbit but once I finished work in East London, the plan was to 'move onto the land' into the cottage Rosemary and I had bought together the previous year, in Oakley . My plan was to spend the first 4 days of my retirement walking home to Oakley, calling in on some familiar places on the way.

This is an account of that walk home and it starts with a photo of me in my office on my last day at work [31 March 2008]. Newham Town Hall just visible from my window.

I was wearing a special Tee shirt with the legend on it, 'Chaos + Panic + Disorder, my work here is done!' Bought from Itiswhatitis

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To my surprise, none of my colleagues noticed that I was wearing a Tshirt, except one who commented: 'Chris this must be the first time I have ever seen you not wearing a suit' when I pointed out the legend and told him that this was my last day, the penny dropped. Clearly it was time I retired.

Next day [1 April 2008] I set off on my walk home and it nearly ended with me still on the dock. Overnight it had rained and the pontoons were wet, but this should of been no trouble in my spanking new walking shoes. Not so! I slipped and was nearly in, still this gave me a warning of their pathology for the rest of the walk.

Leaving Poplar Dock

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Poplar Dock

The first part of the walk was across the Isle of Dogs and then picking up the Thames path.

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The City seen from near Limehouse lock

Entrance to Limehouse lock

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Heading towards familiar landmarks, soon to be seen close up. Tower Bridge and LondonCity Hall

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I had expected to walk in front of the Tower of London but the military were all in a stew as they were about to fire cannons at London City Hall so I was diverted round the back!

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This took me well into Samuel Pepys land. Sam has been a constant companion for most of my time at Newham and continues so today through the website of his diary which I still read every day.

Past the monument to the fire of London, shrouded in scaffolding, and then to my lunchtime goal,Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Entrance to 'Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese'

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A good liquid lunch of Samuel Smith's fine bitter at 'The Cheese'. Met up with a father and daughter from Virginia, you always come across interesting people at 'The Cheese', so much so that it has now become my new london 'local' and venu for our wednesday evening post work meetings, but that I don't work any more!!!

After lunch, continuing along Fleet Street passing the law courts and Old Bailey

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The National Portrait Gallery arriving just in time for a pee.

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Along Green and Hyde Parks and passing the Royal Albert Hall.

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I've been here several times but two times stand out above all the others. The first was when I was still in Solihull and we took a group of apprentices to see a concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's release from prison. This was attended by the man himself, hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah with Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing, the queen was there too.

The other time was when Pat and I went to see Vaughan William's Sea symphony.

Meanwhile, back on my side of the road, the useful Hyde Park toilets proved their worth yet again.

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Past the Commonwealth Institute and Olympia

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and the very pub where Tom and I discovered free beer

The Flower and Hand

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The free beer came about when Tom and I were staffing the Newham College stand at Earls Court. At the end of a long day trying to sell the idea of apprentices to employers, we were invited to an end of day reception for exhibitors.

We were both a bit hoarse from talking all day so a few bottles of Beck's seemed like a good idea, especially as they were provided free by the organisers.

It wasn't long before they had run out of Beck's so we had to switch to Budweiser.

Then the organisers decided it was high time that we all went home and closed the bar and off we all trooped.

On leaving the exhibition, we both remarked that we could do with a real beer to take away the [non] taste of the Budweiser so we went into the Flower and Hand.

We made our point to the Australian bar tender and off he went to draw us two proper pints. He returned with two rather cloudy ones, which even he thought were a bit suspect. No matter, he would put on a new keg and off he went again. After he had gone, we decided that maybe the pints weren't quite as cloudy as we had thought and started to drink them. The bartender came back full of apologies, there was no more beer! So he pumped out what was left and brought us another couple of not quite full pints. When we offered to pay, he wouldn't hear of it, so we continued our day of free beer.

There is one problem with free beer though. It is a long way from Earls Court to Poplar, and even further to Hornchurch so a lot of specialised local knowledge is required to get home in comfort.

Then via Hammersmith Bridge and a short bit of the Thames path again, an area much frequented during my 'west end girls' phase.

The Blue Anchor

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Before picking up the smelly A4 for a boring and grinding walk to Brentford.

Enlivened somewhat by passing these pearly gates

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and anticipating my first pint at their brewery tap in Brentford.

Very pleased to see the chimney of the steam museum in Brentford

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Checked into my hotel and then down to the Brewery Tap for beer and live jazz

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The Brewery Tap is a great pub, much frequented by boaters. It has become a regular watering place whenever we are in the vicinity on Cribbit. There is often live music and lots of boaty conversations to be had.

There are other hostelries to be found in Brentford, as they say as a disclaimer on the BBC! You can see some of them here: Oct 09 trip to Brentford

Continue to Day 2

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