We had a plan for a day in London but the Metropolitan Tube line was down for maintenance on Saturday. Our minicab driver informed us that Uxbridge (pronounced Ox-bridge) is however part of Greater London. So we have been to London but we didn’t see the Queen. Before leaving us to make an alternative plan the driver explained where to phone the minicab company and what to say so they would know where to pick us up. More about this later in our story.
We were going to go into downtown London to test run our connections for reaching the Eurostar train that will take us through the Chunnel which is the short name often used for the Channel Tunnel. The Chunnel runs from Folkestone in the south of England, to Calais in northern France. Lucky for us, the security person at the Uxbridge station was less than busy due to the closure so he helped us get our “Oyster Card” that uses a touch system for travel fare.
He provided us a practice run on using the card, checked the schedule to help coordinate our times and said he would be starting work at 7:00 am on Monday and would keep an eye out for us in case we had any trouble. Since we neither had a Tube traveling in our director nor a reason to go into downtown London and we were free to spend the day walking the High Street of Uxbridge. But before we go wandering there is one more conversation we must have. Like most people since we have arrived, he asked where we were from which then leads into other people’s experiences with Canada. His story was having his plane turned back on its cross Atlantic flight following a hot place vacation for his honeymoon. The plane had to return due to a medical emergency and landed in a town someplace on east coast of Canada where it was -35 degrees. These are some of the beautiful value-added experiences when arranging every detail of ones travel. We spend a lot of time talking with local people out of necessity. Because of these exchanges my impression of England is one of a warm, helpful, entertaining and engaging population.
Now, would you like to see a few highlights of our Uxbridge stroll?
Warmth and aroma of Italian coffee seem to be at the heart of today’s High Street in Uxbridge England. A historical market for corn and a place of flour mills, Uxbridge has kept a market-like feel and is a pleasant walk-about as bits of time surface and merge between old and new.
There are places where it is still easy to imagine the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the cobble stone as they turn into an entry way.
Though this passage way is more likely to echo the clicking of heels of smokers these days as they seek shelter from the rain.
We were prepared for the more obvious abundance of public cigaret smoking in the United Kingdom and Europe but I had somehow forgot about the leftover evidences of this habit. These folks are sitting on what is obviously used as the public smoking bench. It is nicely positioned right beside the waiting area for London’s Black Cabs.
These are an expensive travel option except for short distances and when necessity of timing makes the parting pounds justifiable. To give you an example, the Black Cab price to our Airbnb from the airport was 40 pounds. The minicab price is 15 pounds. After mistakenly taking the Black Cab on arrival, I now have money on my Skype account to phone the minicab company. The price for city bus from Iver Health for two was 7.50 pounds while the minicab was 5 pounds. And all we needed to do when we were ready to leave Uxbridge was to phone the company from in front of the Uxbridge Station. We were to give our name and say “pick us up at the three phones.”
At first, I was confused because they were three RED telephone booths and they were located in front of the Uxbridge Station. I was sure these clarifying factors must be relevant to finding us. However, apparently most if not all phone booths are red and these are the only three together like this in Uxbridge. So a destination of “the three phones” is enough. The rest is just unnecessary details. But I am getting ahead of myself. We have more to see yet.
Like the perfect pairing of the flower shop and dental surgery.
And The Queens Head public house.
that has been serving real ales since 1544. The Queen’s head is in commemoration of Anne Bolyen who “was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry’s marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation.” (reference: wikipedia)
Right directly across from the public house is of course the St. Margaret’s Church, parts of which date back to the 14th century and the grounds have been used for worship since the 12th century.
A casual explorer must be careful to search out the history of buildings and not to assume that two buildings that look similar are about the same age. Here is a perfect example. I at first thought the church in Iver Heath must be about the same age as this one in Uxbridge as it does look similar.
But no. The St Margaret of Antioch, the Parish Church of Iver Heath in England was built in 1862. The building is a good impression of a 13th century English parish church, with open faced flintwork walls, a tower beside the church, a lychgate at the entrance, and many tilting grave stones in the churchyard (though I am sure this is due to the soft ground and not a design feature.)
Well this concludes our meanderings in Uxbridge and the Minicab driver is taking us on the route out of town that goes between church and pub.
Pedestrians alert. Remember, in Greater London, if the road isn’t wide enough to pass or park, then the sidewalk is a perfect alternative.
I now have an “England” album in my Redbubble Storefront containing a few of my images from these two recent blog posts about our travels.
Tomorrow is a travel day as we make our way to Dijon France.
What is one curious fact you would advise visitors about in your community?
© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
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Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com