Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Steam punk

It turns out it's rather good to have an Oyster card. This morning, I needed to travel to Kew Bridge station from Waterloo, and if I hadn't thought to use the Oyster, would have shelled out £7 on a return fare. No one tells you these things. My assumption was that if I went anywhere from a mainline London train station, I'd need to buy a separate ticket, but they obviously changed the rules at some point! There'll be South Londoners who go to those funny stations which are only accessible from London Bridge screaming at my stupidity!

Anyway, this morning I was lucky enough to visit the Kew Bridge Steam Museum. I went in to talk to them about what could be an astonishing project, which fills me with great excitement.

I'm afraid that I didn't even know the museum existed and had always thought its rather iconic, ornate water tower, which is clearly visible from the M4, was something to do with Kew Gardens.

The museum was once a water pumping station and some of the larger engines in the collection were used as part of the pumping process. They date back to the mid 19th century; huge iron structures which stretch over several floors. They must have seemed astonishingly futuristic in Victorian times - in a way they still do - and it's little wonder that the steam punk movement incorporates such strong elements of science fiction. I felt like an extra in a scene from War of the Worlds!

I was struck by an astonishingly dark energy when we climbed the balcony to look down on one of the machines  and commented on the fact to the lady I was with. I didn't want her to think I was a lunatic, or worse still, one of those conceptual artists who "feels" everything, but felt sure something rather awful must have happened there. It turns out that one of the machinists had fallen to his death from that very spot, crushed by the giant machine below! Extraordinary!

I took the 4.05pmtrain up to Leeds and marvelled at the countryside as I passed through Huntingdonshire. The sun was low in the sky, making the fields and pastures look the most ridiculously vivid shade of lime green. The sky formed blocks of colour from dark black and then brown storm clouds through to the brightest blue. The air looked fresh and clean, but a few minutes later, the sun dipped behind a cloud and everything took on a hazy, dusty purple impressionist quality; and yet the leaves have resolutely remained green, yet a glorious haze of death surely hovers over them.

It's a bit parky in Leeds and I'm a bit disappointed with my hotel room. I requested a bath in the room but when I arrived was told that a bath was considered "a luxury extra" which could only be offered if a room with a bath was available. Apparently the same applies for double rooms. They've given me a family room instead. The telly on the wall is so small that I can't see it from the bed, and there's a single bed in the way! Miserere!

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