Following the rain yesterday (the first for ages) today’s forecast was for occasional clouds with showers. First thing, it was hard to imagine the day was going to be anything but perfectly blue.
I headed out for Starbucks and Waitrose wearing my sunnies, a spring in my step and a song in my heart. Mirinda stayed at the flat, feeling a lot better apart from the sore ribs and persistent headache.
I have found the perfect time to go shopping in Canary Wharf. Between 9 and 10 on a bank holiday morning. The place was delightfully deserted. Even at the usually impossible to get a seat at Starbucks, there were only three customers. And I was one of them.
Strolling around Waitrose was almost like being at Farnham first thing in the morning…almost. There were about 20 people in the place but it is the largest Waitrose in the country, so it looked quite empty. I said as much to the woman on the check out. She assured me that the crowds would arrive, just later than usual. It being a bank holiday, I assume they’ll all be sleeping in.
Back at the flat, I had some breakfast and then Mirinda announced she felt well enough to go for a walk. She then added that we wouldn’t be going far in case she was struck down again. So we set off, heading towards Westferry Road in order to ascertain whether there was a supermarket anywhere near any of the river view flats she quite liked.
As it turned out, there wasn’t, however, we did walk passed what was once Millwall Ironworks and Ship Building Company from where was launched the Great Eastern!
Apart from being extremely famous for that, it was also, more importantly, the shipyard that Charles Mare took over after he went bankrupt and after John Scott Russell also went bankrupt because of the Great Eastern. It was awfully exciting to see a building that Charles would have known and entered. Interesting that he didn’t rename it.
From here we ended up in Millwall Park, a big open area surrounded by trees and home to a large number of exercising and excessively beefy looking men. And another boy called Rafi. I’m assuming his name was Raphael that had been shortened to Rafi because there couldn’t possibly be another, genuine Rafi.
The most impressive thing about Millwall Park has to be the viaduct. There was no sign explaining its history or significance but, upon returning home, I discovered that it was once part of a railway branch line that ended at the river. Apparently when it was first opened (1871), there was a lot of opposition from the owners of East and West India Docks because they feared the steam engines would send sparks flying onto their highly flammable cargo and wooden buildings. This was only natural so to combat such a thing happening, the train company had horses pulling a tram car until they reached a safe distance from where a locomotive could take over.
The line was closed down in 1926 and a lot of it was used by the DLR. In fact, the old Millwall Dock station (which has completely disappeared) is where Crossharbour DLR station is today. The viaduct, however, was left in place as a permanent reminder of past glories…and as a rather odd entrance into Canary Wharf College.
There’s a rather interesting history of the line here. Okay, Mirinda, I think it’s interesting…
From the park we headed across to Mudchute Park and Farm, walking back towards the flat. It was then that the rain decided to fall on us. We’d all but missed the occasional clouds that had crept up on us, blackening the sky. We didn’t miss the massive raindrops that drenched with every single fall.
People went scurrying for shelter as the giant rain fell. Everywhere was chaos and mayhem except for this little chap, happily chewing away at something only a squirrel could eat.
Being Australian and not afraid of a few raindrops, we continued walking back to the flat, cocking a snoot at the people shivering beneath the DLR railway bridge.
The rest of the day was spent at the flat (for Mirinda) and shopping for stationery supplies (me).
As for the occasional clouds…well they all disappeared until after the sun had set. Then they must have returned, bringing with them a few close friends, because the rain didn’t stop.