Well I had a trip down memory lane yesterday. I was brought up in East Ham an area in London that is next to where we are now in Forest Gate. It's like many areas in London, it has a High Street with some chain stores and many small shops plus an underground station. I visited and wrote about it here during the 2016 A-Z challenge. I probably haven't been back since.
However yesterday I needed to go back to sort out some parking permits. We live (as do nearly all residents in our borough) in a residential parking zone. We have to get a permit for our own car and then when visitors come we can give them a time limited permit to park in our street.
This has eased the parking congestion in our area and usually obtaining the permits for visitors is easy. You go online and select which ones you want, pay your money and then they arrive in the post. Or not as the case was recently.
I had ordered a couple of packs and according to my online account the status of my enquiry was "problem solved" Well no it wasn't, it was just starting.
A phone call to the council established that yes I could get replacements but that these would need to be collected in person. From the council's Customer Services Office in East Ham, "next to the Library".
Hmm a bit of a chore but it would be worth it.
I parked in the shoppers car park across from the Town Hall. A lovely old building.
I got this photo from the web and the site states it was taken 37 years ago. I didn't take my own pic as I didn't anticipate writing this post and also currently the building is swathed in scaffolding and sheeting and doesn't look good at all. Research shows it is being renovated - it's a listed building so has to be preserved.
The library used to be to the right of the building and that was where I headed as I knew there was a further council building next to that which I assumed housed Customer Services.
That would be a NO!
I discovered the Library is now further to the left of the Town Hall and is a very new building. Customer Services is on the first floor. It was quite organised. A very pleasant man welcomes you at a central desk and takes details of your reason for being there which are logged into a computer. You then wait for one of the staff, seated at numbered desks around the room to call you up via a screen on the wall. They have very comfy chairs to wait on - just as well as wait times are not short!
But the whole process was quite smooth and I eventually left clutching my replacement permits and headed home.
I took a different route home to see what other changes might have happened. One of the biggest things I noticed is how many pubs have disappeared over the years. 3 large pubs are now a betting shop, a large Hindu temple and the third has been converted into flats and it looks like the ground floor of that will be commercial units.
There are also less well known shops in the High Street but MacDonalds still remain and have obviously done a deal with the council. The public toilets by the car park are currently closed. (I'm an expert on the location of public toilets!) The notice on them states that the nearest community toilets are - yes you've guessed it, at MacDonalds. One way of bringing in business!
It was interesting revisiting an area that was such a big part of my life but I'm unlikely to go back without a specific reason. Hopefully the postman won't lose any more of my permits.