London Calling . . . . .

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I believe that travelling is not only a narration of the do’s and don’ts regarding a specific place but to take the audience on the journey of the place with me. It is no fun to describe the feelings of the different places that I had visited without building a mood to those places. That is precisely why I want to take you on a journey with me to London . . . . from the beginning. 

Preparations for visiting the place had begun a month earlier than the actual departure date. From hunting down budget hotels and guest houses to stay to having a look at the places which were an absolute visit and their entrance fees, took many nights of prior planning. 

It is often said that the best trips are taken when you let the roads take the better of you; but in some places it is of utmost importance that prior planning is done. London is considered as the business capital of the world. From business  meetings to academic conferences, from movie shootings to touristy trips; everything finds its hotspot in London. It is a city which is very busy and thus, one needs to make sure that there is availability of space to accommodate them in the whirlwind of activity that comprise London. 

After a lot of research and discussion, we planned for a mid-morning train from the Piccadilly to London Euston. We (a group of four) were to stay in two different places. While my parents chose Holiday Inn, my friend and I preferred to live in the YMCA Youth Hostel London. Both the places were at a walking distance from each other.

For touring purposes, we settled for Oyester cards which allowed us to ride on any bus or tubes; and for touring the city we opted for the Hop On /Hop off buses which toured the main attractions of the city.  We had decided not to miss Madame Tussaud’s,  Trafalgar Square , Westminster Abbey, Tower of London and Big Ben at any cost. 

Thus, we set out enthusiastically on a bright Tuesday morning to catch our train to the city of Dreams. The train made three stops before terminating in London -Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke-on-Trent. It was then that I remembered that I had boarded a similar train last year when I had travelled to Macclesfield with my friends. The train stopped at Stockport first. 

Stockport
Stockport

Every time I sit in the train and take out my camera, a thousand thoughts create a whirlpool in my mind. Most of the time the primary thought is of the glasses which reflect the light on the windows and destroy my photographs and how I should try to look for some Reflective Filters in Jessops when I go back. But then, I remember that I hardly have time to do that before the next trip comes along. Stockport is very near to Manchester. It takes around ten minutes by train. In fact regular buses leave for Stockport from the Piccadilly Bus Station. If my memory does not fail me it is the bus 42. 

Stockport
Stockport

It becomes difficult, most of the time , almost impossible to be honest to capture good shots from inside the train. Primarily because the objects move very fast. Further, there is always a huge distance between the object you want to capture and your position. Due to this, I mostly get frames where the sky occupies three -fourths of the frame and the land is almost overshadowed by the amount of sky captured in the frame.  

Passing through Stockport reminded me of my plans to visit this place soon. I remember seeing pictures of the beautiful surroundings of this place on the profile of a friend. Since then I have made a plan to visit this place soon. Only the ‘soon’ never came till date.

Stockport
Macclesfield

Passing through Macclesfield reminded me of the great time I had with my friends here last year. It was a day trip that we embarked upon. Macclesfield, to me would be described as  a small and cosy city.  It almost resembles one of those settlements where the permanent residents knew each other. The best part of the city was the 108 steps to the Macclesfield Church,  which BTW we climbed down to the station. But the view , at night, from those steps was mesmerizing. 

Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent

I had heard about Stoke-on-Trent but never really thought of it as a place in my bucketlist. Although, let me be honest I am not opposed to going there, but it does not feature in my immediate bucketlist. Stoke-on-Trent was like those typical countryside landscape where there were open fields and sheeps grazing all over. 

Stoke- on- Trent
Stoke- on- Trent

The beautiful canopies of trees were interrupted by long stretches of open fields separated by short rows of bushes and plants. It was a pleasing sight to see sheeps grazing under the bright glowing sun and (imagining) the cold wind blowing outside. Sunny days are a rarity in the UK. It is something that I have told in almost all my posts and will repeat it over and over again. Thus, while back in India I used to curse the sun, here I pray for the sun . But on the bright side, London is not as cold as Manchester and thus the temperature was supposed to be pleasant during our stay according to the weather site I had consulted. 

Stoke-on Trent
Stoke-on- Trent

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

At times I felt like those tiny little sheeps grazing in the open fields. In reality, I am nothing but a tiny speck in this entire world. There are so many places to see and visit. So many different cultures to be experienced. So many people to meet. So many photographs to take. The hunger for travel and the thirst for exploring the world is a never-ending one. I realised that no matter how many places – big or small I have been to, as a traveller I remain ever dissatisfied. Is it good or is it bad? This is a question I often ask myself, but have no answer. I did not want to find an answer to this question as well, not while I was on the way to one of the world’s greatest cities. Such philosophical questions can be answered later . 

Fields
Fields

As we were on the outskirts of Stoke-on- Trent, I started listening to some music on my phone, until I saw this (photo above). This must be familiar to many people but it resembled the mustard fields in India. Well, you can debate about sunflower fields too but, sunflowers are taller in height than the height of this field. It reminded me of the famous scene from the Hindi movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol were running amongst such fields expressing their love for each other. 

Industries
Industries

We were not far away from London when I saw this industry outside the city. It was like the business capital of the world was welcoming me through this industry, a global symbol of business. Industries always remind me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As I was not very sure what factory this was, I imagined it to be my Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. 

Entering London Euston Station
Entering London Euston Station

This was taken right outside the Euston Station, London. As we entered the station, I only started calculating the time it would take me to reach my hostel, freshen up, have food and set out exploring the city. Numerous times, images of the London Eye, Tower of London, London Bridge flashed in my mind’s eye and evoked in me a feeling , a curiosity to set my eyes on them as fast as possible. I realised that “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I had no idea that all the traditional imageries of London was to be broken . I was to discover London through my eyes and put in them my emotions. It is said that “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley; and I discovered that this was true. 

A very interesting adventure lay ahead of me. And ahead of you as we embark on a written journey of London in my next posts. . . . . . 

 

80 Replies to “London Calling . . . . .”

  1. In Europe, I normally opt for a train trip and your journey proved it why. The green fields along the way makes it more exciting and interesting. Never been in London and this would be a big help whenever I plan to go here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks like such a pretty train journey! What might help you with the reflections next time is to use a lens hood that you put right up to the glass. If the train shakes too much for this, then try draping a black jacket or something around the glass. Not so easy to hold up, but it’s worth trying. 🙂

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  3. Completely agree with your final paragraph – I love when expectations are proven wrong when traveling to another place. Interesting how the scene changes from natural to industrial so quickly – I felt like I was along there with you 🙂

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  4. Being a Brit, I know all of those places, and my mum used to live and work in Stoke on Trent in the potteries (Royal Doulton). A wonderful post about places in the UK that seldom get any press and some lovely photos too! Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The pictures look really good. Evening the sky takes up most of the space in the photos, it does make a good view. And you’re right about that mustard field similarity. My first thought on seeing that pic was the scene from DDLJ

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  6. The English countryside is famous for its breathtaking beauty and your post takes me on a spectacular train journey through this beautiful landscape. When I was in Switzerland, faced the same dilemma of the glass intruding between a spectacular sight and the lens of my camera.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, isnt it irritating when you have such amazing sights but the glass intrudes ruining them all. However, there are filters which correct such reflections; but at the moment they are beyond my budget. 😛

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  7. You’re from Manchester? I’m from Bolton! And I have taken that train journey so many times!! A really interesting piece and style of writing – I really enjoyed reading about your whole experience. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “The hunger for travel and the thirst for exploring the world is a never-ending one.” I really like this one, and I don’t think that if you have a soul for travel it can end easily! You just have to find the place for you, to settle, and then keep going. But I totally get it; sometimes you just find yourself in front of unheard gems!

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  9. I haven’t been to London, and this is one of the best post I read about it this week. I agree that we should also visit these outside the urban places, and have a quick snapshots of places. We never know if it is still there the next time we visit.

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  10. I really want to go to London, I’ve heard so many good things about this city. I was there when I was 13, but just for a very short stop, so I guess I’ll have to revisit 🙂 It surprises me that you can find so many green areas around this huge city! That’s a big pro for me as I always look for nice escapes from the city rush.

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  11. I love London and have a great time whenever I am there. I have heard a lot about Stoke-On=Trent but it is one of those places I just have never had the time (or maybe never made the time) to get to. I love the images you had with the fields, so peaceful and relaxing.

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    1. Yes, I had heard about Stoke on Tent too. It’s around 1.5 hrs away from London by train. The fields looked very attractive and i wanted to make a mid-way detour; but it wasn’t possible this time.

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  12. I havent ride a train like this and it is part of my dream to have a long train-ride… I am also excited to your London adventures. Have fun and take care!

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  13. You are such an amazing stroryteller, I felt like I was on journey right beside you. Being a Londoner i love reading about my city, even though sometimes it makes me mad, it is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can’t wait to read your next posts. 🙂

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  14. I love this.. To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” How we always judge other countries but when you visit everything is opposite what you thought.

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    1. Exactly. i think we are too quick to form an opinion about a country . but opinions should be best kept aside till we experience the country ourselves and not formed based on other people’s narration.

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  15. I love your quotes so much! All of that green makes my heart feel peace! I feel like when there is still green in the world that you can go to then there is still room to grow and be!

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  16. Taking readers on a traveling journey with you gives them the opportunity to experience something new, specially if they can’t travel or they’ve never been to that specific location. I carry a DSLR camera with a wide lens so that I can zoom far enough to take photos, that helps with the quality for me.

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    1. i have a zoom lens but not wide. i might try it with a zoom lens the next time. but the lens itself is so heavy coupled with the weight of the camera that it is prone to shakes and blurs.

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  17. It is all so true! Travellng opens eyes and makes us understand better what is important in life and what is just trivial. There are so many places to visit and explore.
    London is a very exeptional city! My first trip there was in 1983! After that I have been there several times a year, and in the 80s I lived there for a while. Can’t wait to read more about your experiences of London!

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  18. I took a train trip through Alaska, and it is frustrating to try and take photos! The landscape was so beautiful, but the blur of the movement and glare of the windows resulted in my photos often not doing the place justice. Travel does whet the appetite for more travel! I never seem to see everything I want to, so I want to go back, but there are so many new places to see!

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    1. I totally agree with you. every time i see something, I am like i have not seen enough of it, let’s go back; but then i remember the tons of places I have in my bucketlist. I suppose nine lives would be less to see the whole world.

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  19. Love that quote you started out with! I, too, take awhile to plan trips and I enjoy it tremendously! Looks like a good start to an awesome trip. Can’t wait to read more about your London trip.

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    1. Thanks. I used to believe that let the roads guide me. But its not applicable to every situation. at times planning is required. But even then, what we plan and what actually happens; there is a difference between the two. 🙂

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  20. Yes, you are quite correct in saying that it is very difficult to capture good photos while riding in a moving object, like a train. I have never tried capturing photos from a train, but I have from moving a car, so you get much the same results! However, your photos look very good. You did a fine job of capturing the countryside and city scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot. there are different genres of photos that are captured while a car/train is in motion; but to be honest first, I am an amateur and second, motion photography is not my genre. So, I am working on it. Lots to read and learn 🙂 Thanks for having a look at the post. 🙂

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  21. So well written, I agree sometimes I feel like we are just small sheep in comparison to the grand scale of our earth. I wish it was sunnier here too, I have been sent bikini’s and it is far too cold to shoot them lol!

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  22. Its great you take your readers on your journey with you. I’ve been to London a few times, its a fun place with lots to do! If it’s doable for you, you should try and visit Scotland. The weather isn’t up to much, but we do have some breathtaking scenery 🙂

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    1. I have been to Glasgow for a day . i am planning on another trip to Edinburgh in June/July. If there is anything in particular that you recommend me to see / do please let me know. Thanks. 🙂

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    1. Well, i have been to London only once and i have another trip coming up end of this month. From what i have researched on the place, i found the following places interesting, sherlock holmes Museum, ripley’s Believe it or not, if you are into street art you can try for the street art tours by Alternative London, St. Mary Magdalene church, you can take a walk around Fitzroy Square, or just take a walk around London at nights. I did it with a friend on my trip and it helped me discover London at night. Sometimes , something as simple as a walk helps us to discover a lot about the place.

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  23. We completely agree with you when you say we need to take “the audience on the journey of the place with me” and your pictures are doing justice to these thoughts in a great way. We had been to London only last Dec and have travelled through Euston station, Shopped in Picadilly and used Oyster cards. Reading through your post was like a flashback to us 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thats nice. 🙂 I stayed there for a short time. Can’t reveal much as I will talk about them in my future posts. But London is too big a city and has too many historic places, heritage sites, shopping centres and other attractions. To be honest, I still think that my trip was not enough to completely imbibe the flavour of London.

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  24. Agreed on what you say. A lot of people have a different perspective if what they want to do when visitign a place and can’t always agreed with the author. I enjoyed reading this post.

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