There was a ride scheduled for Boxing Day but as it was starting and ending in Richmond and starting later than I would have liked, I decided to head out for a couple of hours so that I could be closer to where I wanted to be at the end.
I started out quite early and I think I reached Oxford street just before / after 08:00. Much to my amazement there were queues of people in line outside...well every shop you can name. I suspect many had been there for some time and I couldn't help but wonder why?
It also provided an opportunity to test out a new camera and lens combination that I received as a birthday/Christmas present from Mrs Orange and the Orangettes.
London looked pretty grey and rain threatened. The further I cycled east the less people or cars I saw. People were either fast asleep or at the sales. I for one felt happier that I was up and about.
Overlooking the Thames from its exclusive riverside accommodation a pigeon looked as if it had not recovered from a night on the tiles.
Taking a brief look at me to assess the danger I posed, it surmised that there was none and went back to sleep.
As I cycled along I got the feeling that for once I had the place to myself. Normally there are tourists from nearby hotels up early and taking pictures. On this morning it was just me more or less.
Tower Bridge can be quite busy but the only other person I saw was a black taxi coming the other way. When he passed he shouted out 'happy Christmas' to which I responded in kind.
Looking out at HMS Belfast I made a mental note to look back at my photos to see if I have ever visited there and if not to do so at some point.
Tides. This is something I have little understanding of other than low and high. Judging by the amount of mud and sand on display it was definitely low tide. Of course the other sign were the many people with metal detectors walking up and down.
One feature of this neck of the woods are the bascule bridges. These are essentially rolling bridges that used to have a huge counterweight which when engaged allowed the bridge to ride vertically.
They were particularly useful in the past when the docks of London were a hive of activity. Being easy to operate they also allowed vessels of unlimited height to pass through to load and unload.
King Edward Memorial Park is normally a location overlooked by myself on rides where we simply pass through.
The structure in the pictures below is actually a ventilation building for the Rotherhithe Tunnel built between 1904 and 1908. The initials 'LCC' seen on all the of the openings stand for London County Council.
The views from the park are wonderful and I have lost count of the number of times I have stopped to photograph them.
Also still within the park was a bandstand. I could imagine Edwardian ladies and gentlemen promenading along the Thames and perhaps sitting down to listen to popular music of the day.
Watching me was a small black and white cat. It was extremely friendly - possibly sensing I was a cat person - but let me know I was on its territory.
I have written before about how much I like this part of London, especially the industrial past. Even though much of it has gone and every so often you catch sight of little windows into times long gone. One of these are the iron cranes that would swing out to pull loads from carts below straight into the factory via wooden doors set up from the ground.
Arriving at Greenwich I looked across the Thames towards the Naval College, Cutty Sark and the tunnel exit/entrance on the other side of the river.
The tunnel under the Thames at Greenwich is open 365 days and 24 hours. I have been there many times at different times of the day, but this one was very different and followed the general vibe of the day.
I had the lift down to the tunnel to myself and when I got to the tunnel itself I was again the only person there.
Because of this I took advantage of the solitude by taking lots and lots of photographs of an empty Greenwich foot tunnel.
It was quite eerie when doing this as without any other sounds to bounce off the tiled walls I could hear a boat travelling on the river above me. This made me think of the submariners in the excellent television series 'Das Boot' keeping quite when destroyers sailed by.
Out on the other side of the river the Cutty Sark greeted me. Again there was no one else around. Sadly the gates to the Naval College buildings were closed so I couldn't venture in to take some photos.
With one last photo before heading back as I put my camera away, it started to rain lightly - perfect timing. Back in the tunnel to retrace my steps I again had it all to myself.
This was a great little ride and the calories I used up served me well, allowing me to eat that bit more later on. I am certain that I will return quite happily to this route. It is a particular favourite and I seem to spot something new every time I venture that way.
Link to map and ride data