06 March 2008

Sandwiches in the Sky

Having wrestled with my map and a nightmarish junction while walking to the station this morning, missing a lunch arrangement as a result, I'm doubly grateful I didn't have to rely on my ropey map last night, instead having been cheerfully chauffered from Chelmsford station to the house. It was a lovely evening, and was great to see my sister and the newest additions to the extended Gargoyle clan.

With my lunch arrangement with an old school friend having been scrapped -- well, rescheduled to instead having drinks in Shepherd's market when he'd finished work -- I popped up to Camden instead where I had a fine lunch and discovered a fine little bookshop before returning to the familiar delights of Zone One.

One thing I'd meant to find out more about this trip was the forty or so ghost stations on the Underground. I'd mentioned this to a friend the other day, an expert in the arcana of rail travel and cathedrals, and asked whether he'd be about.
'Sorry, old man,' he replied. 'Will be there on Easter Monday. If it's disused Underground stations you're after, then check this out. Looks to be a very exciting exhibition. How the devil are you?'
I'm not sure that 'exciting' was really the right word, but the exhibition at the Building Centre on Store Street, entitled 'Underground: London's Hidden Infrastructure', promised to expose London's inner workings and demonstrate that without a successful underground, nothing built on top could function. Suitably intrigued, I strolled over and had a good gander. The mail tunnels alone fascinated me. How had I never heard of them?

I'm afraid the highlight of the Building Centre in general, though, was the enormous scale model of London, tracking the Thames from Battersea Power Station to out beyond the site of the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

I circled it like a fascinated vulture, stopping, hovering, squinting, thinking. Take a look at it here, where you can see Paddington Statin in the fireground, the train lines running into it from the bottom of the shot. I imagine that's the Marylebone Road running up the left-hand side of the shot. It's not hard to pick out the BT Tower, Centrepoint, and the London Eye, all more or less in line with each other, and off beyond them you can see the great mass of buildings springing up round the absurdly nicknamed Gherkin.

Which reminds me. There's a new building planned for Fenchurch Street, a 155 metre high tower due in 2011. So what, you might shrug.

It'll have a roof garden. A publicly accessible one. Imagine -- a park 500 feet up! It seems the plan is that it'll be like any other park, except 37 stories up. It'll be free in, and the kind of place you can go to eat your sandwiches in.

And people wonder why I want to move to London.

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