Sunday, May 10, 2009

London Musings

As I've said before, I'm not really a city person, prefering the countryside instead. I live just across the Leeds outer ring road after all (I must buy a house one day) but rarely go into the city itself.

But that's not to say I mind the occasional visit to a city and I've visited a few in my time.  Even Barrow, where I'm off to tomorrow for a few days of sun, sea and ah......slumbering. Phew !! 

Damn I should've said sightseeing.  Ah well.

Anyway having spent last Thursday and Friday in the daddy of all UK cities, London, I thought I'd make a few observations about it all without adding a load of photos like some sort of tourist. Perish the thought. So if you want photos, look across to the right and the 'Album Of The Month' and you'll see a load of them there.

We (that's me and Daffy) had a grand time in London, a capital time in fact.  Oh hardy har har. The weather was kind as it only rained overnight and for a few hours on Friday morning before we set off for our second day of exploration. Thank you God.

It's great to wander around a large city when you know so much about it's history and landmark buildings.  Sadly this comes at a price as many thousands of other people are doing a similar thing and it's all very crowded with the pushing and the shoving and the out of my way I want to run down the escalator sort of thing. Of course in any city you can find areas of peace and calm but then I'm not much into visiting cemeteries.

So instead we went to Hyde Park and it was very peaceful and calm. The Serpentine was empty, apart from the water of course and the wildlife, oh and a few moored boats and a couple of empty crisp packets and a beer can that drifted along aimlessly just to spoil things.  Well it wouldn't be England without a bit of litter now would it ???  What a difference this was to the teeming madness that was Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and so on. Circus was the right word.  I'm sure the rest of the world was empty.  Had to be.

We went to Southwark Cathedral and it was another peaceful oasis in the middle of the hoards of moving humanity. Stepping inside it's doors, I thought I'd gone deaf. Then I realised Daffy was still outside. No but seriously it was my first time inside and after walking from The Monument and over London Bridge (I'd walked over t'other one at Lake Havasu but that's another story) it was so nice to leave the crowds outside and enjoy the tranquil sanctuary offered freely by the Cathedral.

Then it was back outside and off to The Globe where we joined every schoolkid in the world in wanting to see a play wot Shakespeare wrote in a reconstruction of the theatre where it would have been  Yes I sence he's rolling in his grave at my grammar but quietly enjoying being much more popular now than he ever was when he was alive. Go Willy.  

Not Free Willy though as anything and everything you could possibly stamp his name on was for sale in Ye Olde Globe Ripoff Shoppe - including Romeo & Juliet lollipops for £1.50 which you will see on the photo album to the right if you wait long enough.

So anyway, over the course of the two days we went from Kings Cross Station along Piccadilly to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace (never did meet Queen Liz and Phil The Greek), back up to Hyde Park and to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.  Then we went down Exhibition Road to The Science Museum, down to the South Kensington tube station and on out west to Chiswick where we were spending the night. After dumping our backpacks we headed off to meet up with the lovely Helen for a meal at Zizzi's Italian Restaurant and then on to the Canal Cafe Theatre to see Helen in a comedy review (the whole point of the London trip) and then back to Chiswick after midnight and bed.

Next morning we spent a few hours in The Natural History Museum before heading off to The Monument which had been cleaned up just for us.  Crossing London Bridge I finally got to see The Gherkin, albeit from a distance, and then popped into Southwark Cathedral. Then we walked past The Golden Hinde and into The Globe Theatre and later on crossed the new Millennium Bridge which gave us a stunning walk right up to St. Paul's Cathedral

After a while in the Cathedral, we took the tube to Leicester Square and had a meal at one of the many Angus Steak House locations before working it off by walking through Chinatown and the theatre district to Piccadilly Circus - when thankfully Daffy asked me what time it was and I said.....ah 7:35pm !!  Our train was due to leave from Kings Cross at 8:03pm but we made it with a few minutes to spare.

In ALL that time we only saw one, yes only one, Big Issue seller.  That has to be some sort of record in itself.  You have to fight your way past dozens of them on Albion Street alone in Leeds.

Apart from the crowds, the other thing I always think about when visiting London, is the litter. It's everywhere and having precious few litter bins doesn't help.  As we walked around the tourist thronged streets between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, probably the busiest in London, a few poor old road sweepers were trying their best to keep the pavements clean.  They were lost in the crush of slowly moving humanity and stood no chance.

But before I leave my musings and mutterings about our short visit, I need to join with Daffy in complaining about the business of the ban on all forms of photography inside St. Paul's Cathedral.  Yes I knew to expect it but that doesn't make it any easier to accept.  I mean we'd only come 200 miles and that was far enough to have us take a sneaky photo of two to have as a free souvenir of this wonderful building.  Imagine how you'd feel if you'd come from the far flung reaches of the empire and some red coated religious zealot with a mole the size of a mushy pea on her upper lip told you to turn off your camera JUST IN CASE you were about to take a photo.

Even if I'd not wanted to take a photo before she came up to me, I certainly did afterwards. And I did !

I also took photos of an armed policeman guarding Buckingham Palace, photos of us on the London Underground, occasional photos of public buildings and even a couple of that quintisential London form of transport, the big red double decker bus.

But then I'm not Austrian and no one said a word to me.  Just mole face in St. Pauls.

So we had a grand time, a capital time (ok it's wearing thin now even for me) and I want to thank Daffy for letting me accompany her.  I want to, I really do, but it's hard !!  No I do.  Really I do.

Thank you.

Here is one little photo though to end with.  It's not unique to London of course but although I've often thought about it, I've never bothered to take a photograph.  It's a photo of a pro abortion activist and you see them all over the UK although I've never quite worked out why they protest where there are always lots of kids about.  Maybe that's their point.  There are too many about !! 

Having spent 2 days trying to dodge many thousands of the noisy, rude, litter throwing little johnny foreigners at every tourist site we went to, I'm with her !


Daphne said...

Your photos on the slideshow at the right are great - - shame about that stalker woman in the blue hoodie jumping in front of your camera all the time! But lovely to have all our travels written down like that - - it was truly two Grand Days Out.

L.W. Blog said...

Hi Silverback,

Really enjoyed your Trip to London blog piece. I know you said that you're not a city person, but if you ever swing by the capital again, do check out the London Walks Blog if you can - Come and join us on a walk – maybe one of the more "countrified" rambles such as the Little Venice canal jaunt?

Anyway, all best with the blog - great pics, too

Best wishes

Editor London Walks Blog

Silverback said...

Thank you Adam..wish I'd seen your blog before the trip but maybe for next time.

Daphne, from one hoodie to another, we did have fun, didn't we !

Debby said...

I love the pictures of the dippy ducks!

rhymeswithplague said...

Great photos in the photo album. At least we nowknow what Daphne looks like.

Your travelogue makes me want to fly with the swans, er, geese, er, whatever.

rhymeswithplague said...

After taking the time to look at the entire photo album (130 photos or thereabouts), I felt I was there with the two of you for a wonderful look at London. Ian, you ought to be reimbursed by the London Tourist Board, if there is a London Tourist Board. My favorite shot of all was the hamburger and french fries on a plate (just kidding).

Putz said...

i am rhymes with bob's friend and he pointed me to your blog,,, i have a question...what happened to the wax museum with all the figures of jack the ripper and gen eisenhower and patten?????? your photos are wonderful...mine were slides and i am so ashamed of grand daughter is going in july and so my daughter, her mom asked me to do a "thing" on my travels so i did 10 posts hyde park, i used to get up on a soap box and preach mormonism{latter day saint church} and get heckled...noticed the pic of our church in your photos

jay said...

Sounds like you had a great time - but I thought you were doing all outdoorsy stuff! LOL!

'Romeo and Juliet lollipops for £1.50' - Good grief. And you actually bought some to photograph???

I've often thought that about the 'Stop Children' ladies, myself. Some days I feel like giving them the thumbs-up and saying (in a very American way) 'You go, girl!'

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