Recent outings and activities...
Seven of us went to Waddesdon Manor in July on a cloudy but warm Saturday 13th July. All of us were National Trust members, thank goodness, because the entrance fee is £21 for non-members.
The Manor is a French style chateau once owned by the Rothschild family and built by them in the 1870’s. The timed entry system worked well as we never felt crowded and the sumptuous interior could be enjoyed to the full. It took us more than 90 minutes to get round the house, it being a large property full of Sevres porcelain and furniture reflecting the Rothschilds’ French heritage. We ignored the wine cellar on the assumption that it would just be racks of bottles, although there is a talk there every day. We had a picnic and then went for a walk around the 125 acres of grounds that the National Trust owns.
The aviary is an ornate piece of gilded architecture and the cages were so full of greenery that you wondered how the birds could fly. A Robin-Chat was giving it full voice when we arrived. We walked down to the stables but the buildings retained little trace of their original use, being converted to a gallery and restaurant. Back up to the house to view the impressive parterre and then we walked the three quarters of a mile downhill to our cars, ignoring the efficient bus shuttle service.
Brian U. 15th July 2019
A visit to Ireland
Five of us went to Ireland on a Friday in early June 2019. After a miserable journey – wet and traffic choked – we arrived at Holyhead and next morning took the ferry to Dublin. Paying the heavy tolls around Dublin, we drove on to Enniscrone in County Mayo, picking up Ann from Ireland West airport on the way, where a lovely five bedroom house was ours for the week.
The local towns of Ballina and Sligo were explored, then on Monday we went to Knocknarea for an easy walk, said the brochure. Easy! A difficult climb later we reached Maeve’s Cairn. At least the sun was shining! Then we had to steeply descend back to the car.
Tuesday we visited the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina then on to Enniscoe for a walk around its garden. Wednesday saw a short walk at Ballycroy then a walk on trails and quiet roads at Crosmolina. The guide lied. Walking for more than a mile along the N59 is not quiet.
Thursday was spent in Belleek Woods, a pleasant area alongside a river with a nice hotel for the essential loo stop. Friday we walked the Foxford Loop, which turned out to be a disappointment, badly signposted and entirely on roads. At least the sun was shining.
On Saturday we visited Knock to see the shrine. It is a large and very impressive site and looked quite new. We then walked around Strokestown Gardens before climbing into the cars and going to Dublin for the ferry back to Holyhead.
Brian U., 23rd June 2019
Cody Dock Summer Event
EFOG members have visited Cody Dock a few times since we discovered it a few years ago, and for those that hadn't yet been the big summer event on June 15th was a good opportunity. As can happen, particularly at this time of year, the event clashed with numerous others, including EFOG's annual trip to Ireland, plus an alternative group event in the form of a walk in Epping Forest.The weather also clashed somewhat, with lots of rain during the preceeding week, and showers forecast for the day.
see here), Northern Outfall Sewer this.Thoughts of trekking through Epping Forest with plenty of mud and damp to foot persuaded me to choose the Cody Dock option instead, so - together with Jinan, who I had met at Stratford - we walked through part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park towards the River Lea. Having known the area when it was mostly unknown - and generally called the 'Bow Back Rivers' - I now have some uncertainty about what route leads to where, so - recognising the 'View Tube' (as much by its colour than its distinctive shape) - we made our way to that, not pausing this time to have an excellent breakfast or pleasant tea or coffee. The View Tube is near Pudding Mill Lane DLR station, and is on that stretch of Bazalgette's Northern Outfall Sewer bank, now known as the Greenway, that heads north towards Victoria Park. So - Southern Outfall Sewer the other week (
The Greenway really was green, and lots of other colours too what with all the wild flowers in bloom, and proves that walking above a sewer can be a delight. We left the Greenway to access the Lee Navigation at the point where there used to be a sign explaining that here was the historic boundary of Saxon England and the Danelaw, and proceeded southwards towards the Three Mills complex and Bow Locks. The navigation bankside was also a glory of flowering plants, with numerous water-birds and their relatively new offspring to add pleasure to the walk. What wasn't - and just isn't - a pleasure is constantly having to move aside for bikes to pass, so I can't really recommend canal (or navigation) walking anywhere around here anymore.
Leaving the navigation at Bow Locks, we walked down the river Lea itself, to arrive at Cody Dock just as the fun day was warming up. In fact, the day had been quite warm, but what with showers and that (that being wind) it didn't always feel that way.
There were lots of events during the afternnon, including market stalls, live music, urban bushcraft workshops, natural crafts and activities for children. There was a food-sharing BBQ option, Nadia's cafe, a bar with cider as the main attraction, a free exhibition and - just generally - fun and a good atmosphere! The live music, as we arrived was being performed by a blues singer and harmonica player, at first unaccompanied and later with a band. He and they were excellent. We also enjoyed a rendereing of sea-shanties by a five-person group called the Hog Eye Men, performed aboard the River Princess. It's always nice to meet others associated with the Cody Dock project, and of course the few EFOG members who we also met there.Cody Dock is open every day, there is usually food and refreshments available at the cafe, and always a nice atmosphere. For group-members who haven't yet visited, maybe give it a try sometime?
Paul Ferris, 16th June 2019
About Cody Dock
The Gasworks Dock Partnership was formed as a social enterprise in November 2009 and registered as a charity (no. 1141523) in April, 2011. The community project is working to bring the once derelict and disused Cody Dock dock on the banks of the River Lee in Canning Town back to life - not just as a dock for mooring.
GDP’s aims for Cody Dock include:
- Helping people access to the Lower Lea’s environment and celebrate the area’s industrial heritage
- Developing a community based arts and creative industries quarter on the banks of the River Lea
- Forging links with the wider community and enabling them to access and enjoy the River Lea
- Developing the site as an incubator for creative enterprise
- Nurturing sustainable income that will enable the development to support a wide range of arts, cultural and educational programs
- Providing new pathways into work for local people
- Creating a regeneration vehicle for conservation, environmental and cultural benefit
For all the latest news and in-depth articles about the work, have a look at the Newsletters.
What has been achieved so far, and plans for the future
From 2015 – 2018, GDP opened Cody Dock’s gates to over 50,000 visitors and worked with over 6,000 volunteers on the clean up and restoration of its riverside footpaths. With support from Thames Water, the Veola Environmental Trust, Kew Gardens, the Royal Horticultural Society, Newham Council and the Big Lottery, Cody Dock has established itself as a flagship vehicle for community-led regeneration.
With Phase One complete and the Leaway River Lea Park now kick started, Cody Dock is already home to a number of creative industries, social enterprises and visitor attractions, that include:
- Docklands Community Boat
- Cody Dock Cafe
- Gallery and exhibition space
- Outdoor classroom
- Studio spaces
In April 2018, GDP successfully gained planning permission for the seven year development plan of its 2.5 acre site into a creative industries quarter. This will include:
New visitor centre & café
Social and Industrial heritage archive and pavillion
International artist and respite hosting suites
10 new studios and workshop spaces
10 new live/work moorings
Cody Dock, 11c South Crescent, Canning Town, London E16 4TL
Telephone: 020 74730429
Crossness Pumping Station, and a Thames walk.
Five EFOG members joined Lynne at Cannon Street Station on Sunday 6th May for a visit to Crossness Pumping Station, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Dagenham.
The pumping station is similar in design and purpose to the one at Abbey Mills, near Stratford, which members of the group may be more familiar with, at least from a distance. Abbey Mills Pumping Station has been called “The Cathedral of Sewage”, because of its ornate design – although to me it looks more like a Turkish mosque than a cathedral. Apparently the style is actually Italian Gothic.
These buildings were designed and built as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s plan to deal with the sewage problems in London during Victorian times. The problem with how London’s sewage was disposed of came to a head in July and August 1858 when the smell from the river was so bad that Victoria and Albert had to forego a pleasure trip on the Thames, and Parliamentary business was affected.
Bazlgette was employed to find a solution to the odiferous problem, which affected health as well as the nose and river trips. And government. His solution was a vast network of sewer tunnels, all of which ultimately fed the materials to the two pumping stations, one on each side of the river.
Arriving at Abbey Wood station, the free bus to Crossness was somewhat indeterminate, both as to where it should depart from and in how long, so we opted for two cabs instead. Entering the complex – which is a working sewage treatment station – we were directed towards the Victorian parts of grounds, walking alongside a narrow-gauge railway line apparently being constructed. This led us to a large and well-fitted workshop, in which the Royal Arsenal Narrow Gauge Railway group (RANG) had laid out some model railway layouts for the public to enjoy and to introduce us to their project to run a 700 metre passenger-carrying railway from the site’s gates to the old pumping station. Quite a project for a local railway-enthusiast group! They even have a working steam locomotive - which they have renamed Bazalgette, and a nice open carriage.
We proceeded to the buildings which house the Victorian aspects of the site, one of which had an exhibition of a variety of pumping engines, and then we paid our £8 per person to enter the main building, meeting with other EFOG members who has made their own way there. This main pump-engine building houses four large, originally steam driven, pumps built by James Watt & Co. to Joseph Bazalgette's designs and specification, and were named Victoria, Prince Consort, Albert Edward and Alexandra. Victoria has been renovated, and was “in steam”, an impressive sight, with sounds too, of course. In fact, for demonstration purposes, the engine is now powered by compressed air.
There are other exhibits, too, in the visitor centre. Perhaps particular fun was the collection of toilet bowls and ancillary equipment and devices; after viewing those we (of course) made our way to the cafeteria, where good value simple snacks were on offer.
We discussed the options for our return journey, and decided that as it was a pleasant day – sunny and warm but with a nicely cooling breeze – we would make our way along the Thames riverside path to the Woolwich Ferry. This is a distance of 4 miles, and we arrived at the Woolwich ferry terminal in just the right time to board one of the two brand new ferries – the Ben Woollacott. The other – I think not yet in service – is named Dame Vera Lynn.
It is a quick crossing (and free) and – disembarking – five of the group caught a bus to Stratford, and I caught a another which conveniently terminates almost at the end of my road.
It was a nice – and varied – day, and thanks to Lynne for organising it and to the others for the company.
Paul Ferris, 4th June 2019
Camping weekend in Suffolk
Despite the weather forecast five of us turned up at Newbourne Woodland campsite on a Friday in the middle of May. After erecting the tents, three of us went for a walk around Woodbridge nearby, leaving Ian and Louise to prepare the BBQ. Woodbridge has some interesting architecture and the Tide Mill looks well worth a visit. It was closed at the time of our visit.
The BBQ was a success and we relaxed in a cool, dry evening.
On Saturday we drove to Dunwich Heath, a National Trust site, for a six mile walk. The route went through large tracts of heather where we upset some twitchers as we innocently disturbed a rare bird they were watching by walking past it. We ended at the seashore and only Val was brave enough to put her toes in the sea. A quick stroll around the ruins of Greyfriars Abbey and a visit to Dunwich museum ended the day. A nice meal at The Fox inn, Newbourne was had in the evening.
Breakfast on Sunday saw the Great Picnic Table Disaster of ’19. Brian was sitting at the table when he slowly started falling backwards, followed by the table which ended up on top of him. Ian said he went through a range of emotions, from concern to laughter, in the time it took for Brian to land on the ground, the table’s contents strewn around him.
We went out for a three mile walk in the morning, initially walking through reed beds and then alongside the beach where an oak tree’s roots were admired.
It started raining as we arrived back at the campsite, just in time to soak Brian’s tent as he packed it. As soon as the tent was in his car the rain stopped. That was the only rain of note the entire weekend, very different from the weather forecast. And so back home with suntans on our faces and hands.
Brian U. 20th May 2019
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