Posts Tagged ‘Staines’

Black Lives Matter

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Staines, Surrey, UK. 4th June 2020.

I won’t be going to today’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest at London’s US Embassy though I would like to be there, both to show my support and also to take photographs, and it would be an easy journey for me.

The health risks of attending, though not huge, are greater for me than for most or all those who will be there, as if I were to be infected my life would be at greater risk both because of my age and because I have diabetes. I’m fortunate not to have great problems with diabetes, and I think I lived with it for over 30 years before it was diagnosed as a contributory factor to my heart attack in 2003, and now insulin and a careful diet usually keep it well under control, but it does mean my immune system isn’t too great.

The risks would be quite low. According to one of our leading epidemiologists speaking on the radio yesterday, about 1 in 700 people currently has Covid-19 and is infectious, although they may not be showing any symptoms. The proportion who are infectious in the protest crowd is likely to be rather smaller, as those who do have symptoms will almost certainly stay away. The protest will be taking place outside in a very open area, which will cut down the chance of infection.

The chance of being infected depends on various things. You reduce it by physical distance from an infected person – so if people at protests are able to keep that 2m away from people not in their own social group that helps greatly. If people who have the virus are wearing even simple home-made face masks that greatly reduces their spreading of the virus.

Protesters ‘Take the Knee’ at the side of Staines Town Hall.

Being a photographer is slightly more complicated. In the nature of things you have to move around and thus have a greater chance of coming close to one of that very small number of infected persons present. The moving around also cuts down your chance of always keeping that 2m distance. If you are, like me, someone who likes to get close to those you are photographing, you would be advised to change your way of working, moving perhaps to longer focal lengths. And you would certainly be advised to wear an effective mask when working. Moving around does have the advantage of decreasing the time you are close to any individual, which will also reduce the chance of infection.

The main danger to protesters will almost certainly come from policing. The police seem consistently to fail to observe social distancing and fail to wear face masks, so putting the public at risk. But also they often try to herd protesters into smaller areas where social distancing may be impossible, often to try to keep traffic flowing.

A silent die-in for 8 minutes 46 seconds in the Two Rivers shopping park in the centre of Staines, the time Floyd was restrained by a police officer.

It was probably unwise for me to leave home on Friday to cover a Black Lives Matter protest which I could hear from my window in Staines, particularly as I rushed out unprepared, forgetting to pick up my face mask. Of course I tried to keep at a suitable distance but there were moments when this wasn’t practicable. It was a rather smaller protest, with perhaps a couple of hundred people, not all of whom were wearing face masks either. Rather more of my pictures than usual were made with a short telephoto lens, with my wide-angle used largely for wider views in an attempt to preserve social distance.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Slowing Down

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
The Old Town Hall, Staines – given away and now being converted to flats

Tuesday

Two lycra-clad cyclists were chatting nonchalantly as they came up beside me on the road coming into Laleham this morning and I heard them for a few seconds until they swept apparently effortlessly past me. Perhaps I sped up just a little, though I was already going as fast as I could comfortably, and I was just a little discomforted as I saw them take the same route as I was intending to travel, down Ferry Lane and Thames Side, though they were only perhaps 50 yards ahead as I made the right turn behind them.

They weren’t actually going a great deal faster than me, and they were still in sight by the time we reached Chertsey Lock, over a mile and a half after they had passed me, perhaps just 300 yards ahead, but it was their apparent ease that upset me a little, as I was more or less at full stretch.

I lost them then, as they went right and I went left, continuing to push myself on my morning 10 mile exercise ride. It was a warm morning with little wind, ideal for cycling, and as I made my way through Littleton and Charlton, glances at my watch confirmed that I had a good chance of meeting my target time for the ride of 40 minutes. It was after all only 15 miles per hour.

It was when I came to the busy A308 Staines Road West that things really began to go pear-shaped. Rather than ride along the road I decided to take the safer shared foot and cycle path on its north side. It starts along pavements, with a few nuisance side-roads which crazily have right of way and then becomes a fairly narrow path with a surface disrupted by tree roots. I had to slow down, changing down two gears, and even then it was heavy and uncomfortable going. Then came a combination of bumps and a large jolt shook my pannier off its rack and I had to stop to fix it back on.

I stopped and found I was pretty well exhausted. What should have been a simple job of lifting the pannier back on eluded me, it slipping out of my hands. After around a minute of struggling I thought I had it fixed and rode off – but when I got home found I had only got one of the two supports on the rack. I struggled on, but when my target time came still had a little over a mile to ride.

I was deflated and could hardly bring myself to go on. That last mile or so was hard going although I took it at around half my normal pace, finishing the ride in 49 minutes. When I got home I collapsed into an armchair and could do little for the next half hour or so. Twelve hours later I’m still feeling tired from the ride.

I don’t intend to give up the rides but I think I have to become rather more realistic about my capabilities. Back in the day I’d reckon on three minutes per mile, but roads were smoother then and I was younger and fitter and on a lighter and faster bike, with lightweight alloy wheels and tubular tires – and around three stone less of rider to carry. Those two riders who passed me were probably each 50 years younger than me – and probably hadn’t had a heart attack and weren’t insulin dependent.

So tomorrow when I take the bike out for another ten, I’ll be happy to get home in around an hour – perhaps a little longer if I stop off a few times to take pictures – and leave targets to the young and fit.

Wraysbury River

Wednesday

Today it was three or four degrees cooler as I left home around 9am for one of the easier and possibly slightly shorter 10 mile rides on my list of nine routes. I made a point of stopping a number of times to take a few photographs to illustrate this post.

Wraysbury River and M25

This was a largely traffic-free route – a back road to nowhere, a bridleway, a minor road, a wide shared path beside a road, with just a short section at each end close to home through normal suburban traffic. But what really makes it an easy ride is the road surfaces. Non-cyclists just don’t realise what a difference this makes. Our road network was largely built for cyclists and back in my youth we had road-rollers (and even the occasional steam roller among them) which smoothed the road when it was relaid. Whoever decided to do away with these and just chuck on tar and gravel and let the traffic bed it down was certainly not a cyclist. These rough road surfaces just mean a little more road noise for drivers, but need noticeably more effort to cycle on – and along with the extra potholes and road waves tire our wrists and keep our eyes looking down at the road rather than enjoying the view.

Wraysbury River

After yesterday’s ride I took things easy, not pushing things but going at a comfortable rate. On the long roadside shared path down from Stanwell Moor between the reservoirs, now gloriously smooth, I couldn’t resist, changed up a gear and really flew, but otherwise took it easy.

Mill, River Colne, Stanwell Moor

There were just a few drops of rain as I approached home. I’d done my daily exercise and was sweating a bit, but wasn’t exhausted. The ten miles are fairly nominal, and this one may be a little shorter than yesterday, but despite being much more relaxed and making several short stops I’d taken three minutes less.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Another cycling problem

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


On the Moor

Monday, February 3rd, 2020
Staines Aqueduct and water works

It was August Bank Holiday, the last Monday in the month, and I thought vaguely about going up to photograph the carnival in Notting Hill as I’ve done in many previous years. But only rather vaguely; I used to revel in the loud music and the crowds, feeling the ground and my whole body vibrating to the powerful bass, dancing along with the crowds by the sound systems and Mas bands.

River Colne, Staines Bypass from the sluice for the River Ash

But more recently, though I still get a thrill from carnival I also get tired rather quickly, and soon find myself wanting to go home or anywhere to enjoy some peace and quiet. And since I left regular employment to go full time into photography, Bank Holidays have lost the attraction they used to hold. I’m my own boss and can take any day off, and am more likely to be working on them and weekends than on weekdays.

Bank Holidays have often become times for us to go on overlong country walks, taking advantage of the earlier times we can get the lower ‘Super Off-peak Fares’ on our local trains to get to our starting point. But this time both Linda and myself were hobbling a little – I’d been on my feet too long taking photographs over the previous week and she was still suffering from a minor bike accident, and, as she reminded me, there was plenty to do in house and garden.

River Colne and Staines Moor

I can’t quite remember what that plenty was, or how much or probably little I did of it, but by mid-afternoon we were both of us ready to give up and go out for a short local walk. It turned out to be a little further than either of us anticipated, having forgotten quite how long taking the path we did would commit us to, and what we had intended to be a couple of miles turned out to be five, with the last two or three becoming rather painful. But at least it was a fine day.

Staines Moor is an oddly interesting place. Dead flat apart from the ant hills and a man-made lump once part of a rifle range. Continously grazed for at least a thousand years but not ploughed, a SSSI. Part of a number of areas of common land which used to surround Staines, though the part our house backs on to missed out on registration. There were fights and riots when parts here were enclosed, with rancour continuing into the early years of last century over the Lammas. And fights which still continue over gravel raising, which has taken place over much of the area – and gravel companies who own the moor and have worked around its edge certainly still have their eyes on it. It’s a curiously quiet place surrounded by noise from the M25, the Staines Bypass and aircraft climbing or descending to its neighbour Heathrow. A flat area with on two sides the long sheep-grazed flanks of giant reservoirs.

Our walk took us beside or past four of the rivers of Staines – and just briefly close to home by the other two, the Thames and Sweep’s Ditch. The four are all streams of the Colne – the main river, the Ash, Bonehead Ditch and the Wraysbury River. We also twice crossed the Staines Aqueduct built in the early years of the 20th centruy to take water from the Thames at Wraysbury to Staines and Hampton, still present though at least partly replaced by a 2.4m diameter tunnel in 1960-63. It was responsible for considerable flooding in Staines in 2014, overflowing into the Ash.

The moor is still grazed, though rather less intensively than it used to be. We live on the wrong side of Staines to have grazing rights, and in any case came too late to the area to register for ‘farrens’ in 1965. So none of those horses or cows in the pictures are ours.

Too many more pictures at Staines Moor.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.