GeoGuessr 3 – The Story

As I posted yesterday, I’ve decided to restart the GeoGuessr ‘adventures’ that I was going on, as I really rather enjoyed them. In short, it’s using the GeoGuessr web-site to find a random location in the UK and then going there. The reason is to see what stories can be told about any random place in the UK, as I am a little obsessed with random things. The plan was that I’d generate a new location and then plan how I was going to get there and who with.

Then, something slightly bizarre happened with my first choice. It was located within 0.6 miles away from Paddington railway station, where I needed to go today anyway. I’m taking that as the universe’s message to tell me to get on with these. That’s the uplifting upside, but the downside is that it also means that it’s bloody difficult to tell a story when walking such a short distance, so this is my best effort. Don’t expect War and Peace….

The starting point I decided on was where I needed to be anyway, which is Paddington railway station. The railway station was first opened in 1838 and the present Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed structure was completed in 1854.

The GWR trains, but unfortunately the Great Western Railways branding will soon be going to be replaced apparently with Great British Railways, a name with simply no heritage attached to it at all. It sounds like it’s being rebranded in honour of Michael Portillo and his television series. Anyway, I won’t get distracted with politics.

The not unimpressive station clock. The station is the busiest I’ve seen it in some time, although it was hardly packed with passengers during my visit. Things seem to be slowly returning to some form of normality on the rail network, but there’s still some way to go.

Paddington wouldn’t be Paddington without the bear….. This is apparently in usual times very hard to get a photo as children want to sit by it, as this is the location where the bear was discovered by the Brown family in the Paddington film. I suspect my friend Liam’s eldest child might be a bit too old to want to see this, but the younger two might well be convinced for it to be included as part of a day trip to London (via McDonald’s, the cable car, the Houses of Parliament and wherever else children want to go, or at least, where I think children should go to learn about beer, history and fast food). Anyway, I digress.

The Great Western Railway War Memorial which was unveiled on Armistice Day in 1922 by Viscount Churchill, who later became the longest serving chairman of GWR. There’s a page just about the war memorial on Wikipedia.

It’s possible to leave the railway station from the rear, which gives access to some underground platforms, and also to the Grand Union canal, which I thought I’d meander along for a bit.

I’d never noticed these heritage photos of the railway before.

I like this one in particular, with the planks visible that were helpfully placed to allow residents to get to their front door during the construction of the underground. It doesn’t look ideal and I can think of some friends who would likely fall straight off those planks into the abyss below.

This is the Darcie & May Green, a barge designed by Sir Peter Blake which is used as a restaurant or bistro type arrangement.

This whole area is quite vibrant and I’ve never been to this part of London before, so it’s new to me.

A bridge over the Grand Union Canal, which is 137 miles long (the canal, not the bridge) and stretches from Birmingham to London.

There were two sculptures here by Sean Henry, and I’ve seen one of his works before in Holland Park. The two figures look at each other along a long strip of paving, which looks like it rather gets in the way of the nearby restaurant’s seating. A good talking point though.

There was a lot of bubbling at this point of the canal which seemed odd.

A sign explained what was going on……

Not a “wildlife jacuzzi”, but I like that phrase.

This all felt a little continental, or it would have done if the weather wasn’t quite overcast. There were families having picnics and the more wealthy (or more frivolous families) were dining on board the restaurant boats that are moored up here.

The area is known as Little Venice and as the sign suggests, it’s not clear whether this name was thought up by Robert Browning or Lord Byron. At that point I left the canal and walked a short distance along Westbourne Terrace Road.

This property on Westbourne Terrace Road has a plaque noting that the author Margery Allingham (1904-1966) lived here between 1916 and 1926.

The area around here was all a bit, well, roady, for my liking.

And here we are at the destination already and I slightly risked life and limb to get this photo. It’s the best that I can get under the circumstances, although the underground sign on the right isn’t quite visible. It’s near enough to the spot of the random location that GeoGuessr served up though, so I was content with the state of affairs I had managed to deliver.

The entrance to the Royal Oak underground station and I’m actually not sure I’ve ever got on or off here before, which must be one of the very few underground stations within Zones 1-4 I can write that about. Based on that, this destination was a little bit of a voyage of discovery, albeit quite a small voyage.

The station is located on the Circle Line and also on the Hammersmith & City Line, having first opened on Monday 30 October 1871.

The station was named after the nearby pub the Royal Oak, but a little annoyingly for the rail company, that then changed its name and it’s now known as the Porchester. Today, the station is a two platform affair with a central staircase going to the main station hall. However, when it was first built there were three platforms, something long gone due to a reconfiguration required for the mainline services into Paddington.

Not much of particular note, but this is the underground’s station central platform. This could have become a more important transportation location recently when there were plans to move the coach station from its cramped and inadequate accommodation at Victoria into a larger purpose-built site. The neighbours didn’t seem delighted and it’s also not really that well linked into the city centre, so I’m not sure that it was ever that good an idea.

The closeness of Paddington is evident here, the six railway lines which run into and out of the mainline station.

And so that was that. OK, it rather lacks the depth of excitement that the two previous GeoGuessr expeditions had. I also couldn’t find any nearby pubs that didn’t seem to be gastropubs mainly serving food, so I couldn’t pop into anywhere obvious for a quick drink.

I’m not entirely sure that this mini expedition gave me any new outlooks on life either, but at least it was an easy adventure to organise, even though it wasn’t particularly adventurous. But, it at least gets my little series of GeoGuessr meanders back up and running.

Anyway, the next thing to do was to generate a new location for GeoGuessr 4. And I managed to get a location near Banbridge which is in Northern Ireland. Under the rules we’d set for previous ones, we were rejecting Northern Ireland for the moment (due to the difficulty in getting there in a weekend).

So, this is the second location. I know exactly where this is (not through the image above, but by scrolling about) but I’m fairly sure that no-one else will. As a clue, it’s 2 hours 58 minutes from Norwich by car, or 16 hours by public transport, involving five bus journeys. This could be quite an adventure to get there….. How lovely.