Yesterday I went to Beckton – not this time for a photo session and general nosy at the industrial stuff – but for honest to goodness shopping.

I am currently clearing out unwanted Dr Who video tapes on eBay and needed some jiffy bags to dispatch my first sales. Rather than getting them delivered by Viking, and getting catalogues from them every other day for a year – I decided to wander over to Staples in Beckton instead. Heck, it was a morning out of the flat as well.

Plan A – DLR to Beckton was catapulted into disarray the moment I arrived at the Canary Wharf station, as the DLR was suspended on the spur up to Poplar which I needed. In hindsight, I should have realised that I could have taken the Jubilee Line, but the coffee hadn’t started working yet so I fumbled my way over on their replacement bus service.

I don’t like buses at the best of times as they keep speeding up and slowing down in a jerky fashion which makes me quite ill.

Anyhow – only a short trip and onto the DLR to Gallions Reach. The Staples I wanted is in one of those “out of town” shopping parks, and hence nowhere near the train station. I had scanned the maps the night before, and having a good memory for maps, knew exactly which route to take to get there from the station.

Except, the maps don’t tell you that the road will have a huge sign saying “NO PEDESTRIANS” on it. Oh.

So, I head along other roads which seem like they might head in vaguely the right direction and end up at the Gallions Reach Shopping Park – which is grandly subtitled as “London’s Shopping Park”. Not sure what the rest of London would think of that.

It is a typical shopping area, with fast food joints and large grey steel boxes called shops. Oh, and a mock airport control tower as a homage to the nearby City Airport, which is annoyingly fake and cant be climbed up to get any decent views.

Incidentally, the shopping park has a website – and according to the link in their home page, the next event there is the launch of the new Harry Potter book in July. I wonder if JK Rowling knows she is supposed to be writing another book?

I am still nowhere near the other shopping park I needed, so carried on walking along main roads and came to a main junction. It then seemed that the only way to continue was to leave the road and head along a narrow alleyway which had seem many better days – and lots of kids with arsonist tendencies.

Still – I am headed in roughly the right direction and my feet are not hurting yet. Oh, didn’t I tell you – I am limping after a nasty graze on the back of my right foot the other day, so all this extended walking is not good for me at the moment.

Wandering along, the path crosses the Greenway – which is currently not at all green due to winters grip – and back into the narrow footpath. And then suddenly, peering out between the barren trees lining the path I can see the shopping park. Like some Arthurian Holy Grail, I can at last see the red garish sign of the Staples store, and I clamber Parsifal like through the trees and down a muddy slope to arrive in a sterilized car park surrounded by shops and the ubiquitous fast-food joints.


Into Staples, and almost as if they knew I was coming – the jiffy bags are on a BOGOF deal, so I pick up twice as many as I was going to buy and wander around to see what office supplies I would suddenly realise that I can’t live without.

More Post-it notes? Everyone needs them – although actually I don’t use them at home. A pen tidy – how could I have lived without a pen tidy in my flat. Well, actually I only have one pen and it sits in a draw unused most of the time. No, I don’t need a new wrist rest for my keyboard, although it does look rather fetching. How about some “Fragile” labels for the jiffy bags – now they would look good. Umm, no – not even the incompetence of the Royal Mail could screw up this delivery (I hope).

Avoiding the siren cries of the office stationers, I mange to get out with just what I came in for, and decide to head back via a different route heading towards Beckton station this time.

Along the noisy main roads again – and it is quite obvious that anyone who lives in Beckton is expected to drive everywhere.

Going past the derelict ski slope, I look at it longingly. Thanks to sore foot, I decided not to bring the camera along this time as I knew I would end up climbing the high slope to take photos. That’ll wait for another day, as I also want to take photos of the area anyway and I bet I can get a good panorama from the top of the hill. It is closed off now – but *ahem* it is apparently fairly easy to squeeze through the gaps in the fencing. Like all good Urban Explorers who like getting into places, I won’t ever damage the fences/gates to gain access, just squeeze through gaps I find.

Finally down to the DLR, and a much needed sit down on the train back to civilisation (via the Jubilee Line this time) and a decent coffee in the Canary Wharf shopping centre.

I shall start shipping out the videotapes, securely wrapped in their protective jiffy bags tomorrow.


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  1. steven says:

    i need to get to staples tomorrow. what would you advise me as the best dlr station to exit from, and how long did it take you to get there. having a look on google maps, the location is a nightmare to get to with no bus routes seeming to serve it

    • IanVisits says:

      While I appreciate your confidence in me, it is worth noting that I wrote this blog post 3.5 years ago – and I got lost while I was there.

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