ffutures: (Default)
Been a while since I've done one of these, these mostly go back a couple of months - because I've been doing a lot of lens tests recently I haven't done much with my little bridge camera, and I forgot that there were some pictures waiting there.

An unusual circular slide rule - from Scalextric!

images )

Removing the temporary track at the Royal Oak Crossrail portal - August - the next stage is installation of the permanent track and overhead cabling which has already begun.

images )

A runaway squirrel, also from August

image )

Jazz band on the steps of the Albert Memorial, also August

image )
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
It seems a while since I've done a picspam post, here are a few of the photos (and one screen shot) I've taken over the last few months. I've reduced the size a little, but it's behind cuts because there are 10 images and one of them is a BIG (for London) spider!

photos and a screen shot )

And (behind the next cut) a spider I found in my bath this morning:
spider )

One problem arose when I was taking this - I discovered that the flash on my camera isn't opening out properly any more, I think that the spring that's supposed to open it has failed. It probably won't be economic to repair it properly, my first thought on a quick fix is to put a pad of plastic "sponge" cut from a sink scourer under the bit that pops up, it ought to be springy enough to work. Unless someone can point me at a repair service for compact cameras that isn't ludicrously expensive? Bear in mind I got this for £30 second hand!

Later - I've uploaded a full sized copy of the Crossrail picture to Wikimedia Commons
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
[livejournal.com profile] vicarage pointed out to me that on Sunday Crossrail will be running tours of some bits of Brunel's railway (the remains of an engine shed's floor, track beds, etc.) that have been dug up while excavating the old shunting yards at Westbourne Park, just down the road from me, as part of the project. Ought to be interesting, I hope, and it's so close that it's definitely worth taking a look. You have to book tickets in advance, I've booked for 1 PM.

Details of it here:


Book tickets here:

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Since it was a lovely day I went for a long walk west along the canal (e.g. away from the shops, restaurants, etc.) with my camera. Along the way I made an interesting discovery - I've known today that if I press the macro button it's only a moderately close focus, about a foot or so, not ideal for smaller things. But I discovered today that if I press it twice it goes to an "super macro" setting where it'll focus to 1cm. I've evidently done this in the past without noticing, a couple of pictures I took last week were within a few cm, but now that I know this more macro seems likely. It's undoubtedly in the manual, which I got as a download, but needless to say I never seem to have read it.

To save bandwidth I've either cropped or resampled the pictures, whichever seemed to work best. All are behind cuts:

First, some pictures from a few day ago )

Next, today's pictures )

Walked about five miles - not especially fast - and really enjoyed it. Next time I want to try pushing on another mile or two, go past the furthest I've walked so far.
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Thought I'd check on the progress of the tunnelling machines that started out across the road last year. According to the Crossrail site they've made good progress, have gone from here to Paddington, then under Hyde park and into the West End, and are both just coming up to Regent Street.

http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/near-you#.UYYfoEaL7TM then enter the station as Paddington.

This is pretty good going, hope they can keep up this pace and get the stations etc. built on time to meet the planned opening in 2018.
ffutures: (Default)
New bulletin on Crossrail's progress - not much visible from here, but I think the conveyor system is fully operational again.

ffutures: (Default)
Bison to Bedlam was small but fun - they've apparently found animal bones including bison, antelope, and mammoths in the excavation right opposite my house; annoyingly the mammoth skull wasn't on display. Elsewhere they have a forgotten cemetery with a very large number of bodies which all have to be examined forensically (to make sure they are old enough not to be a police problem, and for archaeological studies) then eventually will be re-buried in a working cemetery. They did this when my school's playground (a former cemetery) was dug up, and it took most of a year. One of the skeletons was displayed, with a summary of the findings - someone who was worked hard throughout his life and died young.

later on looking through the brochure more carefully I find that the mammoth was from Canary Wharf, not opposite my house - we just had bison and antelope around here.

Other exhibits include some small bits of amber found in docklands (possibly originating there, though I'd personally bet it came from some sort of burial or trade goods originally), lots of glass, china, etc. from all over the place, including a restoration chamber pot with a rude message in the bowl, bone ice skates, etc. etc.

I hope that they'll update this periodically as the Crossrail excavations continue, it's an interesting cross-section of London's history.

And so on to t'pub where I met up with [livejournal.com profile] vicarage, [livejournal.com profile] coth and other SF fans. Unfortunately I've got a cold so had to make an early night of it.

Coming home I walked along High Holborn, and noticed that the litter bins there now have 30" (approx) video screens embedded in their sides showing news, advertising, etc. Exactly who looks at waste bins for the news (especially in a portrait format only a few words wide) is a bit of a mystery to me. Surprisingly, I only saw one screen out of 20+ with a Windows error message... More Kipple, if proof was ever needed, to show that Dick was right about the way cities are going.
ffutures: (Default)
Spotted by my sister:

Crossrail’s ‘Bison to Bedlam’ archaeology exhibition now open

Crossrail’s archaeology exhibition has opened, offering a glimpse into London’s history. Almost 100 key discoveries including 55 million-year-old amber, a skeleton from Bethlehem Hospital burial ground and part of a pre-historic mammoth jaw are on display.

The exhibition is being held at Crossrail’s Visitor Information Centre at Tottenham Court Road from 2 October to 27 October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 7pm and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. Crossrail’s Tottenham Court Road Visitor Information Centre is located at 16-18 St Giles High Street, WC2H 8LN (behind Centre Point, opposite Denmark Street).

Crossrail’s lead archaeologist Jay Carver will also host an online Twitter Q&A event (#BisontoBedlam) on Tuesday 9 October between 2pm and 9pm to answer questions on Crossrail’s archaeology programme and the finds displayed at the exhibition.

A series of 25 minute seminars will take place on Wednesday evenings from 6:30pm to 7pm. Places will be available on a first come, first served basis.

The seminar topics are as follows:

Wednesday, 3 October
Crossrail's ambitious archaeology programme
Wednesday, 10 October
Uncovering Bedlam under Liverpool Street and London's greatest ironworks at Limmo Peninsula
Wednesday, 17 October
Discovering a Tudor manor house at Stepney Green
Wednesday, 24 October
Paddington's prehistoric animals and the coming of the railway

Exhibition attendees will also have the chance to win an exciting archaeology themed prize donated by Systra.

Visit the Crossrail website for more information about our archaeology programme.

Think I might try to drop by tomorrow, I'm headed that way after work.
ffutures: (Default)
I went along to see if I could get a better picture of the crossrail railhead - when I got to my usual vantage point I found that although there was a train there, the conveyor belts weren't moving, and there seemed to be a lot of people milling around. And then I realised that there appears to have been a bit of an accident; it looks like the structure carrying the conveyor belt, which has only been working for a couple of weeks, has partially collapsed at the far end:


I haven't been able to confirm that's what happened, but it looks very likely.
Now confirmed - it collapsed on Thursday, there were no casualties.

I also took a picture of a light rail system serving the tunnels; the rails have been in place for ages, but it's the first time I've noticed a vehicle using them:


Finally, here's another family of swans on the canal; this time the young are a little smaller that the adults

swans )
ffutures: (Default)
First, this evening's crossrail picture - a rather large mound of earth excavated from the Royal Oak Portal, stored between Royal Oak and Paddington Stations


Incidentally, I've created a gallery in the Crossrail entry, which I think is long overdue. later but someone apparently disagrees and promptly deleted it - really can't be arsed to do it all again.

Next, a rather odd trio - they were acting like a family, I'm no expert but I think the brown bird is not a swan - some sort of goose? Or am I completely mistaken, and it's a very large young swan that hasn't got its final plumage? They were on the canal a few days ago anyway.

mystery bird )

Next, some coots swimming in very clear water - again a few days ago - showing their weird feet very clearly.

coots )

And finally, some rather silly-looking ducks at Paddington basin - saw them on my way to work last week.

ducks )
ffutures: (Default)
The Crossrail excavation railhead is now operational, and a train was being loaded from the conveyor system as I went past today. Couldn't get a decent picture because of the geometry of the site, but I'll go back tomorrow and try to get something.

It's annoying that they've actually opened up a better view of the work by changing a couple of the side panels of the footbridge from sheet steel to steel gridwork, but the grid they used is made of parallel bars about 3mm wide spaced 10mm apart, and it's almost impossible to take a decent photo through it. I'll go back with a different camera that allows manual focusing tomorrow, that may help.
ffutures: marcus (Marcus)
[livejournal.com profile] vicarage has found this page which is an interactive map of the Crossrail construction showing things like the progress of the tunnelling machines. Which turns out to be rather less than I'd thought - Ada has only gone 61 metres and its rear end is only just underground, Phyllis has gone 881M and is passing Paddington Station. Ada is shown as a shorter yellow line on this plan, and I had noticed that there seemed to be a couple of segments left behind near Westbourne Park station when it was moved into position; maybe it isn't working at full capacity yet, or something has gone wrong. But I'm guessing that they want to give Phyllis a good head start before Ada really gets down to business, so that the ground has time to settle before Ada comes through.

You can get a close-up of this area by zooming in on the bit with the tunnelling machines - I'm just South of the end of Ada.

Later: Dohhhhh.... the yellow lines are estimated progress in the next 30 days, not the length of the machines. Ada is shown as just starting to dig and moving a fair distance in that time, which may explain why there is currently a really annoying whistling noise coming from that direction - it's chewing its way in. Hopefully the noise will abate once it's fully underground. Phyllis is just approaching Paddington and will pass it over the next thirty days. After ninety days both will be well past Paddington.

More photos

Sep. 8th, 2012 07:00 pm
ffutures: (Default)
Today's walk was just a leisurely stroll around Portobello Road market, the main point of interest being renewed construction at the Royal Oak Crossrail portal, where they are finally building a railhead to allow the removal of excavated spoil.

The way this all works is now becoming clearer - it's dug out, transferred by belt to a big pile east of Royal Oak station, and eventually will be transferred back west and loaded onto trains for removal. My guess is that they will continue to use this system even after the railhead is complete, so that they can get trains in and out quickly, rather than having them stand for days until they have a full load.

railhead and belt extension )

Apart from that I didn't see much of interest, but found a couple of photos I'd forgotten on the camera, from a few days ago.

First a couple more pictures of the coot nest at Little Venice )

Second, a minor mystery. This covered bridge (or whatever it is) crosses the canal just to the north of Harrow road. There are no windows, and at the west end (left in this picture) there's a blank brick wall, no entrance at all on the other side of it. My guess is that it's carrying pipes or cables or something, except that the wall it ends against isn't that thick, or possibly is obsolescent, used to serve some purpose but has never been demolished. Anyone know?

odd covered bridge )
ffutures: (Default)
Today's walk took me first to Little Venice where I disposed of a few slices of slightly stale bread in the traditional way, by feeding them to the assembled ducks, coots, swans etc. Along the way I managed to fumble one bit of bread so that it was still between my fingers when a swan grabbed it, and I can now truthfully say that I have been bitten by all of the main vertebrate groups including birds, reptiles (lizards, tortoises and snakes), fish, amphibia, and mammals (including primates).

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of this, for fairly obvious reasons, but I did get a couple of nice pictures of some coots that are nesting on the rudder of an old sailing barge at Little Venice:
Coot nest )

It's noticeable that their main nesting material seems to be old plastic bags and other rubbish.

I took a slight diversion because I wanted to visit a shop in Church Street market, and found my way back to the canal at the weird upside-down house - photos tell the story:

Upside-Down House )

After a nice lunch in Camden Town I went on to a pub in Great Portland Street, where the Britain in 2014 Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention) committee made an announcement of epic importance; they'd won the bid (to nobody's great surprise, since there were no other contenders), and Loncon 3 will be held on 14th-18th August 2014, but more importantly the guests of honour will be:
Iain M. Banks
John Clute
Malcolm Edwards
Chris Foss
Jeanne Gomoll
Robin Hobb
Bryan Talbot

Much rejoicing on this from me, and from the assembled gathering.

For much more on this see


After that I went home, stopping to get a few more pictures of the Crossrail works at Royal Oak Station - suddenly realised that you can see them from the bridge by the station where there is a temporary structure over water pipes, raising the ground level by a couple of feet.

Crossrail conveyors )

And so to the computer, and this update.

Tomorrow - the school term begins...

PS - have a small bonus convoy of baby ducks, a photo I took a few days ago.

We have a convoy... )

Later: Forgot to say that there is a livejournal for the Worldcon, [livejournal.com profile] loncon3
ffutures: (Default)
I took a nice walk through the park to South Kensington today, had an adequate Japanese meal in a cheapo restaurant there, then walked back. On the way back I ran into [livejournal.com profile] major_clanger and [livejournal.com profile] darth_hamster who had been visiting the Science Museum, but we were heading in opposite directions so we basically said "hi" and went our separate ways.

Time for some more picture spamming - some from earlier in the month, some today.

First of all, the obligatory Crossrail picture. These are tunnel segments being stored at a yard a couple of miles to the west

segments )

Next, the latest canalside pictures - these are just adorable, a couple of coots with a chick climbing on their back, and a duck swimming through vast quantities of floating weed with ducklings in convoy.

cure coots and ducklings )

A picture I took in the park a month or so ago, a crow eating something - not sure what but it looks bloody, didn't want to get too close and scare it off.

Food glorious food )

Next, a lot of pictures I took in Kensington Gardens today - mostly swans and other water-fowl at the Round Pond, also a rather odd looking conifer and a cute water fountain - which was being used to give a dog a drink when I was there, so I don't recommend it for human use!

ducks, swans, etc. )


Jun. 25th, 2012 10:10 pm
ffutures: (Default)
I walked home along the canal again tonight, got a nice picture of a coot that appeared to be walking on water, but was actually standing on a submerged boom, and I think the same swans and cygnets I've seen before - the cygnets are now bigger than most ducks:

Watch the birdie )

After that I went to see what's happening in the Crossrail portal; the answer appears to be that they're adding a load of conveyor belts, ducts, etc. which have now filled most of the tunnel entry - that's why they could only connect them after the machines set off. Eventually they will need several MILES of this stuff, which is why it's so massive (and why the infrastructure now stretches about half way to Paddington station). The video I linked to a while ago shows more about how it all works.

crossrail portal )

At the moment most of the conveyor belt hasn't been fitted, I have no idea what the time frame for this is, except that they seem to be working pretty fast.
ffutures: (Default)
I walked home via the canal tonight, taking the route that comes out opposite the bridge at the end of my road where I've been taking pictures of the tunnelling machines.

To my surprise Ada, the 2nd Giant Tunnelling Machine of Doom, has already disappeared from view and is presumably tunnelling its way towards east London. This presumably means I've fallen into a parallel world where things work efficiently. As support for this I saw an airship in the distance (OK, one of the Goodyear blimps), which is supposed to be one of the signs you're in a parallel world. Unfortunately it was out of sight by the time I got home and got my camera - so it goes.

Weather was lovely walking home, but has rapidly turned dull and is allegedly going to be crap from now until the weekend, which probably buggers my plan to take pictures of the Trooping the Colours flypast - it was already a bit difficult because I'm supposed to be helping someone do a flat swap, I'll just have to see what happens.
ffutures: (Default)
Ada is now on this side of the footbridge, a little west of my house. No point taking a photo since it would be identical to the ones I took when Phyllis was there earlier this year - like this:

The footbridge is still raised about 10ft higher than usual, unfortunately there appears to be no good vantage point to get a good photo - they've closed off the approaches, and every other viewpoint has too much in the way.
ffutures: (Default)
The second Giant Tunnel Boring Machine of Doom, AKA Ada, is on its way to the Royal Oak portal; they've moved it to a position a little west of the footbridge near at the end of my road, and they will be raising the footbridge several feet tonight so that they can move it underneath and through to the cutting. This will happen at some early hour of the morning so that they don't have trains going underneath while the bridge is moving.

Fortunately they have it parked opposite a block of flats where I could walk up to the first floor and take some pictures across the railway, which I've never been able to do before. I've posted the images to Wikimedia Commons, since they're pretty big I've left this as links

The first is the cutting end:

The second is a wider view of the machine

The third is a panoramic view stitched from several pictures; this is a VERY big picture at maximum size, 3542 x 820 pixels!

Another version of this, a little smaller but a more seamless panorama
ffutures: (Default)
Finally some definite word on what's happening with Crossrail, a bulletin received today:

Temporary closure of Hampden Street footbridge

Hampden Street footbridge (also known as the Westbourne footbridge) that spans the Great Western Railway will be closed again to allow “Ada”, the second tunnel boring machine (TBM), to pass underneath. The first TBM “Phyllis” passed under the bridge on 13/14 March and is currently burrowing underground towards Paddington.

Once Phyllis is completely underground there will be space to move Ada into the portal area at Royal Oak and this will happen on the weekend of 9/10 June 2012.
Ada will be placed on a low-loader and rails, and moved very slowly 400m up to the portal, ready to be launched. The size of the TBM requires the northern section of the Hampden Street footbridge to be raised by 3m, on hydraulic jacks supported by steel trestles, as shown overleaf when Phyllis passed under the footbridge.

The footbridge mentioned is the one where I've taken most of my photos of this project.

The full flyer, which includes a picture I haven't seen before showing Phyllis going under the raised bridge, can be downloaded here:


What's odd is that they still don't seem to have connected up any of the conveyor belts etc. which are presumably needed to keep the TBMs supplied and take the soil away - think it is probably waiting until Ada is also en route and they can get the machinery in without blocking the access to the tunnels.

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