London Tube updates – accessibility and contactless payment

Here is the newest info on accessibility changes to the Tube system.

Transport for London is continuing to roll out support for contactless bank cards for fare payment. Here’s the link for the latest on this topic. Although the website says that Amex has contactless cards, I rather think these must be issued at high annual fee levels in the USA. American Visa and MasterCard may not have this option so may not work. No problem; I’ll be sticking with my Oyster card.

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London Tube updates – 1-2 November 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. I apologize for skipping last week’s notes; I’m sure no one missed it.

Bakerloo line is not running from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone from Wednesday thru Sunday

Circle line – Gloucester Road to Aldgate via Embankment closed both days

District line will be shut between South Kensington and Aldgate East as well as Turnham Green to Richmond – both days

London Overground has a weekend outage beginning Thursday between Queen’s Park and Wembley Central. Regular weekend shutdowns – Sydenham to West Croydon; Willesden Junction to Richmond.

London Tramlink has no service between Mitcham Junction and Ampere Way until Sunday

Over the next week or so, portions of Oxford St will be closed so Xmas lights can be installed. Wow!

Bus schedule changes described here. Headache areas include Twickenham, Ally Pally, Blackheath as well as Waterloo Bridge (some sort of filming there) and the (annual FREE) Motor Show on Regent St between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly. Meep meep!

Road closures and disruptions listed here. Avoid the roadworks on westbound North Circular Rd from late Friday thru early morning Sunday.

Reminders -

Embankment – Bakerloo and Northern line train service is back.

Covent Garden – Exit only until mid-November 2014. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, westbound trains not stopping.

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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Rotten news in Barcelona – visit and spend soon!

From the NY Times.

Rent control is ending for hundreds of small shops and putting the Barri Gòtic and other neighborhoods in danger of becoming just another cluster of modern chains. The Old Town parts of Barcelona are what make it such a lovely destination, but even if the buildings keep their ancient facades, I’m not looking forward to seeing the same-old same-old retail names above the doors.

If/when you go to Barcelona, seek out these ‘mom & pop’ shops before they’re gone. If they’ve moved to less glamorous surroundings, track them down and provide some custom!

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London Tube updates – 18-19 October 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. NOTE: The Tube strike scheduled for next week has been called off. This was last week!

Bakerloo line is not running from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone on Sunday

Work on the Central line closes stops between White City and Ealing Broadway /  West Ruislip all weekend

District line will be shut between Barking and Upminster as well as Turnham Green to Richmond – both days

Jubilee line – late opening 11am on Sunday from Waterloo to Finchley Road

London Overground has a Saturday outage between Willesden Junction and Richmond. Sunday shutdowns – Camden Rd to Richmond; Queens Park to Watford Junction.

Over the next week or so, portions of Oxford St will be closed so Xmas lights can be installed. Wow! Additional road closure info is here.

A trade union march for pay increase takes place on Saturday between 10 am and 4.30 pm, affecting traffic between Embankment, Trafalgar, Piccadilly and Hyde Park. Rally to follow at Hyde Park.

Road closures and disruptions listed here. Avoid the roadworks on westbound North Circular Rd from late Friday thru early morning Sunday.

Reminders -

Embankment – Bakerloo and Northern line trains not stopping until early Nov 2014.

Covent Garden – Exit only until mid-November 2014. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, westbound trains not stopping.

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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A labor of love in wartime – The Italian Chapel, Orkney

Orkney is known for its Neolithic monuments and settlements, but the islands also have their fair share of WWII history and associated sights.

One of these is the Italian Chapel on the tiny island of Lambholm in the southeast corner of Orkney. Built by Italian prisoners of war during WWII, its shell is a pair of prefab metal Nissen huts (aka Quonset huts in the US). The Baroque style entry masks the hut’s shape but once inside, the half cylinder of the shelter is obvious. The trompe l’oeil painting on the interior surface completely transformed the cold, impersonal shack into a sublime if tiny place of worship. Even standing up close, it’s hard to believe that the walls are painted plaster and not ceramic tiles. Two painted windows imitating stained glass flank the Madonna and Child above the altar, the colors even more vibrant with light streaming through the small windows. The artist, Domenico Chiocchetti, was one of the POWs who got permission to build the chapel rather than help fortify naval barriers, a breach of the Geneva Convention, btw. Other prisoners were skilled in ironwork or did electrical work. The POWs were shipped elsewhere just before the chapel was completed, but Chiocchetti stayed behind to finish the job. In 1964, he presented a set of carved wooden Stations of the Cross to be added to the chapel. He died in 1999.

A new chapter in the story of this hallowed place is that three of the (14) Station wall carvings were stolen this past August, only a couple of weeks before my visit. I’m not aware of any particular value attached to the images taken; I’m assuming they were simply the ones that came off the wall most easily. What I didn’t know until validating facts for this post is that the door had been kicked in a few months before, so the August theft was the second attack on the church in only a few months. The Pope had sent a blessing to the chapel on its 70th anniversary in May; a few days later the door was vandalized. It makes me wonder if the chapel might have been unviolated had it stayed under the radar. No way to know.

The artist’s daughter is working to get replacement plaques – the wood carver who created them is still alive – but unless the thieving perps are found and punished appropriately, I suspect the chapel will need a guard, at least for the near term. It seemed a good reason to put a few extra coins into the donation box.

On the one hand, Orkney seems miles and miles away from the ‘real’ world, with its acres and acres of open farmland rolling down to the water in all directions. On the other, nasty incidents like the theft described above prove that there are jerks even in this apparent paradise. Even so, as with every other place I’ve been, there is more to fill a second visit and I’d love to go back. It feels the perfect place for an artist or writer or photographer to hole up for a few creative weeks. Or perhaps when the archaeological dig at Ness of Brodgar opens again in mid-July they’ll need a tea lady? That I could do.

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London Tube updates – 11-12 October 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures. NOTE: The Tube strike scheduled for next week has been called off.

Bakerloo line won’t be running from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone on Sunday

District line will be shut between Earl’s Court to Ealing Broadway, Kensington (Olympia)
and Richmond – both days

Jubilee line – late opening 11am on Sunday from Waterloo to Finchley Road

Piccadilly line not running between Acton Town and Uxbridge – Sunday only

London Overground weekend outage between Willesden Junction and Richmond. Saturday shutdown – Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction/New Cross/ Crystal   Palace/West Croydon. Sunday shutdowns – Queen’s Park to Watford Junction; Sydenham to Crystal Palace; Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction/New Cross/New Cross Gate. Early shutdown Sunday night at 22.00 between Gospel Oak and Stratford.

A half marathon through and around 4 royal parks on Sunday will mess up a whole raft of bus routes.

Over the next week or so, portions of Oxford St will be closed so Xmas lights can be installed. Wow! Additional road closure info is here.

A march and rally on Saturday afternoon will affect buses between Temple Place/Embankment and Whitehall.

Reminders -

Embankment – Bakerloo and Northern line trains not stopping until early Nov 2014.

Covent Garden – Exit only until mid-November 2014. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, westbound trains not stopping.

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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London Tube updates – 4-5 October 2014

Here’s the link with information on this weekend’s Tube closures.

Latimer Rd station is closed for the weekend

Bakerloo line not running between Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone on Sunday

District line will be shut between Turnham Green and Richmond both days

Jubilee line – late opening 11am on Sunday from Waterloo to Finchley Road

Central line‘s eastern edge is closed for the weekend from Leytonstone to Epping and from Woodford to Hainault via Grange Hill

DLR is not running between Bank/Tower Gateway and Poplar/West India Quay

London Overground has a Saturday outage between Willesden Junction and Richmond. Sunday shutdowns – Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone; Camden Road to Richmond; and Gospel Oak to Barking; late start time (8.15) on Sunday between Wandsworth Road and Clapham Junction northbound.

Click here for road headaches this weekend.

Building works will make the area around Shepherd’s Bush a mess.

A march and rally on Saturday afternoon will affect buses between Temple Place/Embankment and Whitehall.

Reminders -

Embankment – Bakerloo and Northern line trains not stopping until early Nov 2014.

Covent Garden – Exit only until mid-November 2014. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, westbound trains not stopping.

Bond Street - Jubilee line trains will not stop here until early December 2014.

Gloucester Road – Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December 2014

 

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