Today started at 12:30am for me. That was when I went to bed. The dogs then woke me up at 4am with a rather loud bout of poodle yapping. They wanted to go out and hunt down a snark in the garden. As far as I’m aware, they didn’t find one and returned, ready for more sleep. I was then woken by the alarm, set for 6:20 in order to call Mirinda (she had an early meeting).
Normally when the dogs sleep with me (generally on Nicktor Nights) Carmen stays at the bottom of the bed (I assume she’s guarding me). When the alarm went off, I opened my eyes and there was Carmen, sitting on the pillow, staring down at me. Her face seemed to light up when my eyes opened (I thought it strange she didn’t just lick me as that’s what she usually does when she’s sick of my sleeping).
I rolled over, rang Mirinda with a sleepy “It’s 6:20,” then reset the alarm for 7am. I was instantly asleep once more. When I once more woke with my second alarm of the day (third if you count the snark hunting incident), Carmen had once more returned to her usual place. A very odd experience first thing in the morning.
But, at this point, I need to rewind a bit. To yesterday morning at around 8 when I had a frantic phone call from Mirinda. She was standing at Blackfriar’s ferry stop telling me she’d left her beloved and much cherished Bose headphones on the ferry. She cares so much for them that she makes sure they have their own seat on the ferry. Unfortunately, they didn’t leave the ferry when she did.
She discovered the office didn’t open until 9am but would be in a very important round table conference thing then so could I call? Of course I did.
I didn’t manage to connect with a human and, instead, left a short message on their answer phone. For good measure, I sent them an email, letting them know, in great detail, what had happened, where and when. Later in the day when I still hadn’t heard, I tried ringing again. The woman I spoke to said she’d received my email and would let me know the next day, once the boats had returned to base.
As I said, that was all yesterday. Naturally Mirinda was distraught. She was certain the headphones had gone to a place beyond the reach of normal, civilised people. Or possibly on ebay. And then I had an email late this morning, from Charlotte.
The headphones had been found and were waiting at their head office, ready for retrieval. This was a cause for great celebration. However, I was too busy to celebrate very much as I was attempting to hire a car for next week. This proved ridiculously complicated and took far longer than it does when I rent a car at St Malo.
Eventually, the car was rented and I’d told Charlotte I’d pick up the headphones from the mysteriously named Trinity Buoy Wharf at about 5-6pm. I then left the house at 1:30.
This is rather earlier than usual for Date Night but I had another important date to make; this one with the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum. As I may have mentioned last Friday, I was on the hunt for 14 watercolours of Chinese craft in a book by GRG Worcester.
I’d ordered the book and only had to obtain a readers ticket to look at it. This was all rather painless and quick and I was soon engrossed in the excitingly titled Junks and Sampans of the Upper Yangtze. There were no watercolours in the entire book. Lots of lovely drawings by Worcester and one photograph of a crooked stern junk, taken by the Reverend AE Olsen…but not a single watercolour.
While this could be seen as a failure, it’s not really. It means I can discount the spurious fact that they were from the book. It doesn’t mean Worcester didn’t paint them, however, so the provenance is still somewhat allusive.
Still, the experience has taught me a couple of things. Where the Caird Library is and the ease with which I can check on a book (or other materials) in it. And, given my readers ticket is for three years, I may just have cause to use it again.
I was then off to Trinity Buoy Wharf. This meant a bit of line switching on the DLR and heading out to East India, a station (and place) I’ve never been to.
Charlotte had sent me a map, stating that it was only a 10 minute walk to the wharf. And so it was. Though not the prettiest as the footpath spent a bit of time running beside a multilane and very busy, motorway. Mind you, at least there was a footpath, something that’s not always guaranteed.
The problem with the map was that it didn’t show me how to find the ferry office. And one would think, with an address, that this would be simple. Not on a wharf, it isn’t.
Imagine a trading estate, condensed down to the size of a wharf, with all the buildings looking strangely different (one of them, called Container City, has been constructed with ship containers). There’s a directory and map at the end of the wharf but this takes a few goes at deciphering. Mirinda, I’m sure, would have asked someone but, being a man and part explorer, naturally I had to use my raw human wits and cunning. Eventually I found it.
Suffice it to say that the lovely Charlotte handed me the precious cargo and I was free to have a bit of a roam around the wharf, trying to discover its secrets. The secrets weren’t that difficult to discover, as it turns out, because there are a lot of information boards dotted around it, explaining everything…and more.
It used to be one of the places from which Trinity House operated. I mentioned a few weeks ago how I researched Trinity House, discovering they were about to celebrate their 500th birthday and that they looked after the lighthouses, buoys and other maritime safety stuff. What a happy coincidence this was! Had Mirinda not left her headphones on the ferry, I may never have visited this wonderfully obscure little place.
Trinity House moved onto the wharf back in 1803, building workshops and some administrative offices. Essentially the place was where buoys were launched from. Along with the buoys there was also a buoy laying launch. There were also a lot of experiments into making lighthouses more effective and Michael Faraday was a regular experimenter at the wharf. He even has his own shed called the Faraday Effect.
By 1910, the wharf had 150 people working on it, from engineers to chain testers, from platers to office staff. They were responsible for all the buoys, lighthouses and lightships from Dungeness in Kent to Southwold in Suffolk.
All of this came to an abrupt halt in 1988 when the London Docklands Development Corporation made a compulsory purchase on the wharf…then did nothing with it. Finally, in 1996, it was transformed into an arts and crafts area.
There was also a lot of other stuff going on in and around the wharf but I’ll blog about those some other time. Besides, I don’t want to bore you with too much delicious detail.
And so, I bid adieu to Trinity Buoy Wharf, with a little wave to the giant fish on the way out…
…and made my way back to East India. Then, with a couple of changes of train, took the DLR to South Quay and, eventually and finally, the flat.
Of course, Mirinda was overjoyed at the return of her treasured headphones, disbelief clouding her hopes for such a reunion. She silently whooped for joy when I laid them before her on the coffee table. Her silent whoop was due to the fact that she was working, her hard fought acquisition almost in the bag.
Eventually we wandered over to Wagamama for dinner (my choice) and a Starbucks afterwards where we found the Mad Woman of Canary Wharf.
The Mad Woman of Canary Wharf was behind me. She ordered a coffee, like any normal human being and yet, she wasn’t really one of us. I heard her talking about high finance as she stood behind me in the queue. (Actually, the queue was just me and her but I’m not sure how many people constitute an actual queue so, for arguments sake, I’m saying it was a queue.) I assumed she was talking to someone on a phone with a Bluetooth attachment or something similar.
Mirinda said no, she was talking to herself. But, I replied, she’s talking high finance with someone and she’s awfully lucid for someone talking to herself. Nevertheless, said Mirinda, the woman is mad.
Mirinda went on to state that only in Canary Wharf would you find a lunatic, muttering away to an invisible companion as if she was in a high status meeting with her Chief Financial Officer. Perhaps she’d been involved in the utter destruction of Canary Wharf in last night’s movie.
Of particular note were the lunatic’s ripped tights. In fact, they were so ripped, there was more rip than tight.
And so, another Date Night (and, frankly, epic Wednesday) drew to a close and I headed back to the rural splendour that is Farnham.
Whew…and my apologies to Mirinda for the length of this post.
By the way, this is what the sign on Faraday’s shed, says: