I was down in London for my work this week, and, as I sat on the Heathrow Express, looking out of the window, I saw a few things that made me smile. So, I’d like to take you on virtual journey on the apparently unpromising route from central London to Heathrow and beyond…
(No photos from the journey, I’m afraid, as I didn’t have my camera. The pictures here have been linked from Wikipedia Commons.)
We start at Paddington Station, which is a station I love, with its huge width of train shed, supported by Victorian wrought iron neo-gothic arches. I have been known to stare up at it for ages, marvelling . (Including one embarrassing time, when a passing colleague walked past and asked if I was alright…)
The train journey to the airport has other small delights.
– An octagonal brick tower, with battlements, just next to the railway line. I suspect it was a converted water tower, but who knows?
– A half-timbered Tudor-esque building, looking all the world like an English country pub, but with the Golden Arches above the door.
– Southall railway station, with the station name in what I thought were green Sanskrit letters. (They’re actually Gurmukhi).
Reaching Terminal 5 makes me think of a strange parallel between it and Paddington. Although Paddington predates Terminal 5 by 150 years, they’re both designed as a series of big arches, although Terminal 5 avoids any attempts at neo-gothic, being fiercely modernistic, defiantly showing all its workings.
Boarding the plane, and after a short delay as an engineer looks for some tape to secure a seat, we begin to taxi. The sun has begun to set and in the distance are the silhouettes of cranes, looking like the skeletons of ancient, giant giraffes in the amber light.
Finally we take off and after half an hour, I’m looking down at Humberside from 36,000 feet. Along both sides of the estuary, there is an undulating amalgam of orange pinpoints of light, looking far prettier that I would ever expect.