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The Brunel Experience, June 2014

Saturday, June 21st was a day planned as a magical Brunel Experience, so 23 of us travelled independently to the Embankment to meet our Guide who was to take us on a gentle boat ride, short walk, a tube ride through the first tunnel under a river and then a descent into Marc Brunel’s Caisson at Rotherhithe.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning but unfortunately, call it what you will, lady luck, the gods, or even the best-laid plans of mice and men, we hit ‘trouble.’The Henley Twyford train was not in service, the east lane of the Hammersmith flyover was closed, there was a large ‘demo’ crossing
London to Parliament Square, the exit from the Embankment underground was confusing, the line from Wapping to Rotherhithe was closed. It took us over 3 hrs to walk the Thames path, cross through the Greenwich pedestrian tunnel then walk past the Cutty Sark and find a 188 bus and clamber on. While waiting at the bus stop we heard that we had left 3 people at the Greenwich lift shaft so they had to hurry to join us. We were told at first that we couldn’t go into the Caisson because a ‘pop up’ opera was practising and finally the trains from Paddington were cancelled so some people had extra trouble and expense on the homeward journey.

However, London from the river was beautiful, we saw Mast Head and the huge chains where the Great Eastern was built and the walk along the Thames path with Greenwich ahead was stunning.

Our guide explaining the view
Finally, in the depths of Brunel's caisson with Mozart's music filling the great space
A traditional London barge in front of Greenwich Palace

Our guide was very knowledgeable, the opera sounded glorious and the Caisson really is one of the Wonders of the Modern World. Eventually we sank with relief into the ‘Mayflower PH’, and one person even went mud larking and found a piece of clay pipe and others even had the energy to go
onto the London Eye.

The best part of the day, however, was the way everybody pulled together, nobody grumbled, and it was a great way to get to know each other and make new friends. It was a good day and definitely one we will remember for a long time.

Thank you all !

Pam Syrett