Saturday, February 6

Greenwich peninsula

At last a bit of sunshine and the chance to take advantage of it. Myself and my Raleigh Twenty set out for another pootle yesterday, taking the Thames path east from Deptford to the Thames Barrier in a very leisurely fashion.

Through the grounds of the Trinity School of Music the practice rooms all had their windows open, with random sounds drifting across the grass. We headed down the narrow waterside path, past the Cutty Sark and on to one of my favourite paths, the industrial grit of the Greenwich peninsula. I need to start savouring this route more; it is destined to change dramatically in the coming years and planned development will no doubt bring a sterile glamour to it. This is where I come for a bit of head space, it seems so disconnected from the rest of Greenwich and is somewhere that offers some solitude and peace, normally so difficult to achieve.

After passing the first blocks of the Lovell's Wharf development, a major scheme that will really change the face of this route, I followed the narrow path alongside the old Alcatel and Tunnel Refineries plants, both of which are in the process of being demolished. A few other loners with cameras and/or bikes were also pootling along, as well as a group of teens who looked like they were bunking off school.

I sat on a lonely bench opposite Canary Wharf and enjoyed the sunshine while I ate my sandwich. It was pretty warm and gloriously peaceful.

Round by the Thames Clipper pier I nipped inland to explore the new plaza at the middle of the Greenwich Peninsula development. An enormous twisted stainless steel spire has been erected in the middle of it, provoking me to shudder at the pointlessness of it all (although it is in fact very pointed, as you can see from the picture!).

The big black building will become the new home of Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication, which is relocating from Chislehurst.

But first these poor saps have got to erect the 'rain shield' (er I think that's cladding to you and I) on all sides of it. Luckily the tiles don't seem to have to be put into place one at a time, as I saw them lifting in a piece made up of about ten or twenty all fixed together. But it does seem like a hideous waste of money, not to mention time, just to create a hideous building!

Here's a link to the Foreign Office Architects, the firm which designed it. Just to translate the architect-speak for you: it's a big building with not many windows; we can get away with this because many of the facilities such as film studios don't need natural etc; the cladding design is inspired by Gothic rose windows and flower patterns, but it is applied in a mathematical way (I think this means they had to use a computer and some equations to work out the design of the tiles).

I moved on to the Thames Barrier for some reflection on calmer structures, although perhaps still rather ostentatious.

A final highlight was a new bird ID - saw a few pairs of teal dabbling around on the edges of the river in the company of a few pairs of mallards. Their heads looked totally brown, I could not distinguish the green patch, but the yellow rear and white stripe along the wing was very distinctive. I was glad of the presence of the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Centre so that I could pop in and borrow one of their bird books to make an instant ID and avoid the common problem of forgetting all about it by the time I got home!


pixlkitten said...

I do envy you and the places you get to go when you ride. Thanks for sharing (and causing me to have yet another sin to confess).

Gareth Gardner said...

What a fantastic report of your trip! Those new buildings on the Greenwich Peninsula look rather disturbing. Can't see them standing the test of time...

colleen said...

Was up at the Thames Barrier yesterday on a freezing cold, deeply grey day - but on the other side. Teal there too (I'm not the expert, he is) and masses of gulls on the shoreline at low tide. Couldn't help wondering where those ducks go for a bit of shut-eye.

Catherine said...

I love your boat photo.

I have just bought a matching 4-shaft Dryad table loom! Do you have any advice for a weaving-virgin? :)

knit nurse said...

@colleen I'm not sure about the teal, but I've seen the grebes in Greenland Dock asleep on the water in the lock, although I think they keep one eye half open all the time!

@catherine - great fun awaits you! I will pm you on Ravelry