Monthly Archives: February 2012

Alternative Tube Maps

It’s a bit old, but just found this fantastic list of alternative tube maps as compiled by the excellent Londonist.

Particular favourites include:

The tube without any stairs

The actual underground parts of the tube.

The tube, with toilets

The tube, to-scale

The Tube from above

Check here for all the official maps.

Yeah, just like every other Tube nerd, I’m a bit obsessed with the map. On a similar note, I noticed today that Paperchase have started doing tube map gift wrap. Presents sorted for forever!

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Epic Forest

or Epping, whatever.

So 3 posts down, and I’ve already left London. Well kind of. It may be the largest open space in London, and managed by the City of London Corp and on the Central line, but it’s pretty much Essex (half London, half Essex if you’re being pedantic). It certainly doesn’t seem like London in any case.

It took us about an hour on the tube from North London,  getting the Central line from Zone 1 all the way to Loughton in Zone 6 (still less than £3 on an Oyster off-peak ticket).  It is also accessible from Chingford Rail station, which has regular trains to Liverpool Street Station. Getting to the Forest was very easy from Loughton station (probably due to the use of a smart phone though, as it wasn’t well signposted). It was less than 10 minutes in a straight line from the station, down the helpfully named ‘Forest Road’.

We went on a pretty miserable Saturday morning and pleasingly saw lots of users of the forest – dog walkers, horse riders, groups of walkers and mountain bikers. Yet still spent the majority of time in peace. Which was good as it struck the right balance between eerily quiet and frustratingly busy.

As a cyclist, I was particularly jealous of the mountain bikers, who looked like they were having an amazing time. Although there were a few signs warning them out of vulnerable areas (this seems to be an area of conflict in the forest) , there are lots of  big wide paths for cycling as well as specially designated trails. Be warned, they did go zoom past quite quickly as there are lots of (amazing looking) steep bits.

It’s a shame it’s seems that if you want to use your bike for these sorts of activities you need a car to do it, as transporting a bike around London is so difficult. (Taking a bike on the tube is extremely restrictive). Nevertheless, there are also cycle hire options in the area.

Nostril tree

We walked from Loughton to Theydon Bois through the forest in a about 2 hours. Following the main paths, it is fairly easy navigate, with maps dotted around at car parks. Obviously it’s a pretty massive place, so I wouldn’t recommend going to far off the beaten track as even though it’s surrounded by roads and paths with people, it wouldn’t be too hard getting lost!

Yes London has many open spaces for walkers – Hampstead Heath, which is also managed the City of London Corp. being the obvious example – but Epping  gives something different, the pure vastness of the place and the gorgeous valleys are definitely worth the visit.

More links

Getting to Epping Forest

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A new 6 part series on the London Underground started this week. To sum it up quickly, I thought it was brilliant. The series focuses on the staff, this week looking at how they dealt with the boozey weekend crowds and engineering works, i.e. the people who have to clear it all up!

Cleaner Codes:

Code 1: Blood

Code 2: Urine/Faeces

Code 3: Vomit

Code 4: Spillage

Code 5: Broken Glass

Code 6: Litter

There were lots of individual stories, with a focus on ‘characters’, I particularly enjoyed the station controller comparing his job to that of strategy game, with him as the overlord commanding the staff to different jobs. Also, the story of professional cyclist turned cleaner story particular stood out as particularly depressing. The programme did seem quite alarmist, focusing mainly on very drunk people, vomit and generally the worst parts of the tube.

Incidentally I was actually in the crowd during one of the big scenes on the platform at Leicester Square, which turned out to be a lady being pushed on the tracks. At the time, I just saw the cameras running and a mass of people, quite scary now knowing what actually happened!

I’m probably not making it sound very pleasant, but it really was very interesting. If like me you wonder what happens to people who fall asleep at the end of the line or where the trains go at the end of the night (yeah these are pretty obvious) then you’ll enjoy this.

I followed the hash tag on Twitter, there was an awful lot of despair and disgust, and non-Londoners promising never to cross the M25 again. To me it showed just how amazing the Underground is, with a lot of staff dedicated to helping the customers. The irony of the family moaning about the disruption of engineering works  (carried out to improve service) as they were led out to a waiting replacement bus, was clearly lost on some people.

But hopefully the next episodes will have little less vomit and bit more nerdy behind the scenes type stuff!

Watch it on BBC iPlayer here or 9pm on BBC 2 every Monday.

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Belmont Children’s Farm, NW7

Despite being a huge fan of city farms and self-proclaimed all-knowing Londoner, it was only last week that I heard of Belmont Children’s Farm, located only a short bus ride away in Mill Hill. It’s an uphill walk from Mill Hill East station on the Northern Line, or located on the 240 bus route.

Unlike, most of the city’s other farms, (my favourite being the glorious Mudchute Farm located on the Isle of Dogs), Belmont charges admission, costing just a fiver for adults and £2.50 for kids, although there are deals for families.

Smiley Alpacca

Perhaps, it’s just me, but I expected a lot more having paid to get in. The size of the farm is fairly misleading as although the site seem very large, the visitor’s part, is set in a relatively small enclosure. There’s emphasis on more ‘exotic’ animals than your usual farmyard fare, but the actual numbers of animals seemed quite low. Instead of lots of pigs, cows and horses there were ferrets, micro pigs, snowy owls and alpacas. Obviously, this is no bad thing. The micro pigs in particular were super friendly and seemed to enjoy being stroked. I also loved the ridiculously velvety soft rabbits and the grumpy giant rabbit, ‘Bugsy’  (yes of course, all animals are lovely).

As I say however, although the animals are great (and importantly well-looked after and living in clean environments), there just isn’t that many of them. We navigated the farm in well under an hour, despite walking around fairly slowly and re-visiting the micro pigs and lambs a second, then a third time!


As the name would suggest, the farm is very much geared towards children and families. Although, the cafe did appear to attract broader clientèle – specialising in waffles, and open to those not visiting the farm. It looked like a nice place to have lunch with a big menu likely to satisfy most.

There are also lots of chances for children to get hands on with the animals (I was pretty jealous, but maybe adults can have a go if they ask nicely), which I haven’t found that common with the other city farms, and definitely gives it an advantage over the others.

Two storks taking a break from all that baby delivering..

From what I’ve read, the farm is facing closure over complications around planning permission. Despite a few niggles, it would definitely be a shame if it were to close – this part of London isn’t the most exciting area in the world, and the farm brings something a little different.  Overall, Belmont Children’s Farm is very pleasant and friendly, with interesting animals and a nice cafe, but don’t expect too much for your money. Although, the farm was open and busy when we visited, I still recommend getting a visit in, in case it does close.

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Hello world! (or no-one..)

Pretty simple really, a London blog about London by a Londoner.

I especially love the Underground, good pubs, green spaces,  and food (as well as politics, music, film and all the others). When it comes to London, I’m a massive nerd and (in my head, anyway) I’m fairly knowledgeable about it, especially when it comes to the NWs.

After wrinkling my nose at a few London blogs I’ve come across, I better at least try and do better myself! I’m very aware that I’m a terrible writer, so this is also my chance to better myself, so please bear with me..

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