Travels: London: Wednesday 23rd Feb. 2000

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Albert Memorial, Royal Geographical Society, Trocadero, Cittie of York, Tube ticketing

Main purpose: work trip for the UKERNA workshop on Managing [networking] Risks.

I bought a ticket including one-shot Tube travel in Zone 1 for 31 and caught the 08:47 train to Kings Cross, then the Piccadilly Line to Knightsbridge. I walked along Kensington Gore, past the modern army barracks with their high security fences, CCTV etc., to Exhibition Road. In the distance I saw George Gilbert Scott's Albert Memorial in Hyde Park and its now-fading gold coating. English Heritage refurbished it in 1998 after years of neglect.

The Royal Geographical Society still seems very much a Victorian gentleman explorers' club though now with touches of the modern world such as sponsorship from the Discovery Channel. The lecture room still has wooden panelling and a Royal box. The whole building is very ornate, with high ceilings and decorative touches.
[My notes from the workshop.]

Afterwards, about 15:50, I walked about 300m down the road to the Science Museum but there were crowds of children+parents and children+teachers (though it was half-term for many) on the pavement and even more inside.

Instead I went in the adjacent South Kensington Tube station entrance and found it led to a very long tunnel (a quarter of a mile) to the actual station and it was full of kids. Vague memories from the 1960s of the tunnel returned - I must have come this way a few times, presumably on school or parental museum visits. The Natural History Museum (visited a few times) and the V&A (never visited) can also be reached via the tunnel.

Onwards to Piccadilly and in particular to look for the Trocadero IMAX cinema. I walked north-east around the Shaftesbury Avenue theatre area and back southwards around the Trocadero (seeing a 7-screen Virgin cinema) but saw no signs of an IMAX.
[Afterwards I found out that it may not yet be ready and/or it may be on the south-east side of the Troc., which I didn't really see. See also Pepsi Trocadero - part of an excellent tourist travelogue. I had another look on a later trip.]

I went up Wardour Street, seeing the many media/film company premises it's famed for, then across Oxford Street, noticing it's buses and taxis only during the day, and up Newman Street. I was trying to find a classic old pub visited in 1981, when I lunched with a University friend from a division of Logica based there. He took me eastwards through a maze of little alleys to a pub still with its Victorian decor, including a U-shaped central bar, and with lots of wood and brass.

[An aside: in the early 1980s I visited the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street many times, back when it was the only one. However I don't think I visited the large HMV nearby, the pioneering recorded music shop from c1925, now closing in favour of new premises.]

Newman Passage looked promising, being a narrow street, and it led to a passage which narrowed further under an arch through to Rathbone Street. There were several promising-looking pubs around there: one northwards and one eastwards, which I went towards. The Marquis of Granby, however, on glancing inside, looked modernised.

I carried on through to Tottenham Court Road - a road I'd walked along many times in the 1980s. There were still lots of electrical goods shops but now games shops and cybercafes have appeared.

I went along New Oxford St. and down High Holborn - a longer journey than I'd realised. [Cittie of York]
A recommendation on the news group made me try the Cittie of York, one of the many Sam Smiths pubs now in central London and presumably an ancient building. The decor involved lots of wood panelling but this looked as though it was modern wood trying to look ancient. They only had one beer on - the insipid Old Brewery Bitter (97p/half - a good price for London or Cambridge).

Carrying on a little way, 150m further was Chancery Lane Tube station and beyond that I turned north up Hatton Garden and then along Greville Street, seeing lots of jewellers as per the area's reputation.

In Farringdon Station I had to use a 20 note for a 1.50 Zone 1 ticket, making me vow to ensure I have plenty of change on future trips (I'd forgotted to bring some).

I was surprised at the number of JD Wetherspoon pubs I saw while walking around - a further trip enlarges on this.

I arrived at Liverpool St. station at 17:30 and just caught the 17:33 (which actually left a little late). Lots of people were standing, though the 1st class compartment was only two-thirds full. Another reason to use Kings Cross - either less full or the quicker journey means the full-ness is less of a problem. Back at 18:46.

A further point about ticketing

I was used to the older system (as I remember it) of the Out ticket being collected on the Kings Cross platform, the return ticket therefore carrying the Tube "tokens".

Now the "Out" and "Return" tickets bought in Cambridge were each good for one Zone 1 Tube journey and I'd made two by the time I reached Farringdon station. The secret is to get a ticket for unlimited travel in the relevant zones - a London Underground One-Day Travelcard (see Fares), either by itself (3.90 for Zones 1+2) or a Railtrack One-Day Travelcard at Cambridge.

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