Now I’m not much of a traveller. Least anything more than an hour on a train and I’m likely to think twice. Blame anxiety. Especially when it’s been a bit rubbish recently.
But I was offered an opportunity at work that I didn’t want my anxieties to rid me of.
I had previously expressed my interest to a colleague who works on some internal communications back in July that I would love to shadow him for a day and find out a bit more about reporting on the front line (ie getting quotes from people and reporting it there and then).
He recently invited me to join him on the opening of the newest John Lewis store in Chelmsford. I’ve been charting the progress of the branch from internal photo’s and could see already before opening that this store looked special and innovative in it’s designs so I eagerly accepted his invite.
This did mean travelling to London during peak morning rush hour (not great for someone who suffers from anxiety) but I knew that if I accomplished this visit I would have some sort of self satisfaction for doing so.
But I did drag the husband along with me for morale support.
So I set off for the 6:54am train up to London Bridge. The train began to get fuller the closer to London it got as you can imagine, but luckily we had secured seats as we got on when the train was still quiet empty.
As the train left East Croydon it zoomed up to London Bridge, and a bit too fast for my liking! See what a complete wuss I am! It’s perfectly normal I told myself as we arrived at London Bridge station as it was quite a gap from East Croydon to London Bridge. I mentioned it to Dan and he went ‘Oh did it go fast? I never noticed’. Too engrossed in a book he didn’t even see. Still he loves Rollercoasters so he would think the train was slow!
We got off at the station and joined the throng of people suited and booted and heading into the financial district. It was now just after 9am and the walk over London Bridge was crammed full of people heading into their respective offices. It also reminded me of a scene of Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason when Bridget is walking over London Bridge (or perhaps Tower Bridge).
It started off rather gloomy when we first set off and was still a bit grey. Still I stopped amongst all the rushing bodies and took some photo’s from London Bridge looking over to Tower Bridge.
What an iconic view. I mentioned to Dan that most of the people bustling by probably took this view for granted, but to me it looked amazing. Such a tourist!
|Focusing hard to get that pic!|
Tower Bridge and the River Thames
I’m not a massive fan of London and neither is Dan to that matter. But he can cope with London Underground, where as I totally 100% can’t. Even as a kid visiting London the whole going underground concept was something I didn’t relished but over time I have come to avoid it as much as humanly possible. I was once on the tube and it stopped prematurely in a tunnel due to an signalling issue. It was probably only for a few minutes, but once it got moving again I got off at the next stop. Headed over ground and got a taxi to my destination. A far calmer experience even if it cost me all the money I had on me!
Anyway as a result I said to Dan I wouldn’t be getting the underground to the next station, but luckily Liverpool Street Station is about a twenty minute or so walk, so we joined the crowds and fought our way through the busy streets to the station.
We passed right through the heart of the financial district of London, taking in the Shard and The Gherkin and many other large and impressive office buildings.
We arrived at Liverpool Street Station, found the time of our train to Chelmsford and headed to the train. We got the train which was powered by over head electricity lines. A bit novel for me as I’m used to the electrical line in the track (sound like a right Trainspotter me!). The train was fairly empty so we found a seat with a table.
The journey to Chelmsford isn’t that long, about half an hour and goes via Westfields Stratford. Was slightly tempting to say sod it to the branch visit and just go shopping!
|Leaving Liverpool Street Station, looking back to the City|
Dan and myself later arrived at Chelmsford station and disembarked. I have never been to Essex before, but to be honest walking through the town centre to the new John Lewis store, it looked like much other town high streets. Not that that is an criticism more an observation.
We found the new Bond Street which looked very nice. Lot’s of new and modern looking high street shops which looked like they have literally just opened.
On the end was an impressive looking John Lewis store. This one is what is called a small full line store, which is not quite as big as say Oxford Street branch, or one in Southampton or Birmingham, but still has a little bit (or as I discovered a lot of some) of everything John Lewis stocks in the larger stores.
As I approached the store I was shocked to see how busy it was. So many people piling through the doors. What a great reaction from the Essex public!
I met up with my colleague and he explained what sort of thing I would be doing during my visit. Dan had headed off to find some bookshops and a café to while away his time in and do some work on his laptop.
|Outside John Lewis Chelmsford|
I spent the day in the branch talking to some of the Partners (when they had a free moment as it was so busy) and asking them about what they thought about the shop and how they were feeling.
Also I got to have a good look around the shop and see all the fantastic mechandising.
I learnt that Marconi, who founded the radio was from Chelmsford and that this heritage is displayed throughout the shop. From the mannaquins holding microphones, to CD’s grouped together as a display, to vinyl records on top of shelves.
It all looked amazing. I also got to take the photo’s that are throughout this post.
|Mannaquins in the menswear section, notice the microphones paying homage to Marconi|
|Amazing display in the Atrium. The birds are to represent birds on a telegraph wire|
|I loved these mannaquins. Fun and eye catching.|
|Another mannequin looking smart|
|I love the use of the CD’s in this display|
All in all the shop, and I’m not saying this biased, is stunning. Everywhere you turn is something new to look at, be it the products or the merchandising. And the Partners (staff) were so friendly and in the words of one Partner who was thrilled ‘to be part of history’.
I finished mid afternoon, bid my colleague farewell and met up with Dan. We weren’t in too much of a hurry to get back, so we took walk through one of the shopping centre’s back to the train station.
After a short wait at the station we got on a train bound for London.
When we arrived back in London, it was peak time again, this time with people finishing work. So we again made our way out onto the busy streets. Dan suggested we take the opportunity to visit Spitalfields Market. He had previously been there and thought I might to take a look as it wasn’t far from the station.
After a short walk we made it to our destination. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Spitalfields Market lived up to my expectations. It’s mostly under a roof with stools set up, with venders selling clothing, jewellery, and other similar items.
Following the market round, on the other side were more stools, but with items such as bric a brac and curiosities. We also saw a number of taxidermy animals.
In the middle of the market are various different restaurants and some high street retailers, such as my fav, Flying Tiger (previously Tiger).
|A stand within Spitalfields Market|
|Never seen a Leon restaurant before but kept seeing these everywhere in London|
|If you are looking for some Halloween goodies, Flying Tiger is worth a visit.|
|More Halloween goodness in Flying Tiger|
|Cute little fellow!|
|A prickly theme in Flying Tiger|
|A shop in Spitalfields Market selling all sorts of home ware pieces 🙂|
|These are so cute!|
And on the perimeter are small shops, such as Jo Malone, MAC and Benefit Cosmetics. I was most constrained with not buying anything!
I then popped into Anthopologie. I love this shop, but what I soon discovered is that I don’t love the prices. Some lovely items, but to me, very over inflated. Still was nice to have a look around.
|I love this shirt from Anthropologie but I don’t love the price. £78!|
|Cool stapler. Prob costs £20! (I didn’t dare look!)|
|No animals were harmed in the taking of this photo|
|I do like this chair. Quirky and fun!|
We then headed back to London Bridge station to find a train back towards Chichester. I knew there wasn’t many trains going direct back to Chichester, but on the way there there was so I was hoping we wouldn’t have to wait too long.
After studying the digital boards we saw their wasn’t a train for at least 50 minutes or more going back directly so I suggested we get a train shortly to Horsham and change there for a connecting train. Great idea in theory but not in practise!
This train ended up calling at every station known to man back to Horsham. Normally this journey on the train we would get would take about an hour. This was going to take well over that. So I suggested we get off at Crawley and make a connection from there.
That worked out as a slightly better idea as we only had to wait 20 minutes for the train back to Chichester and after what felt like ages from setting off we arrived back in Chichester at approaching 9pm.
|View of Tower Bridge later that afternoon|
Tired and hungry we stopped off at the chippie across the road from our flat and then headed home. I promptly donned my pj’s. had my dinner and headed to bed.
Thew, what a long but fun and interesting day. I’m glad I went and for once didn’t let my anxieties stop me from a great opportunity.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my little day out blog! Look out for my September favs post coming soon!
Lot’s of love,
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