It being a nice -ish day when we woke up this morning my hubby and I decided to go up to London for a walk along the South Bank. I've lived in or near the city all of my life having grown up in New Cross and I never tire of wandering around taking photos. Feeling peckish we bought cornish pasties and ate them sitting on a bench in the sun in the small park on the way down from Charing Cross station to the river. It's an oasis of quiet and green and it's amazing that it is so close to the busy bustling station. On the way over one of the Jubilee Bridges we encountered a street entertainer playing drums for passers by - he had such an incredibly infectious smile that it made you happy just looking at him. A stop to photograph the impressive statue of Nelson Mandela outside the Royal Festival Hall and our amble started. Despite growing up in London I was shocked to realise that I had never visited this part of the river - but then the smoke is a big place I suppose.
Managed to resist stopping at the enticing looking second hand book stalls and even the crafty shops at Gabriel's Wharf didn't manage to persuade me to spend any money, but they are great to look around. On past the Oxo building, remembering being told that planners had banned Oxo from putting a large sign on their new building so they got round it by using windows in such a way that it became an even more obvious advertisement! The recreation of the Globe Theatre was next - I had never seen the named paving slabs in its courtyard and was thrilled to find a slab with David Suchet's name on - yes I am a closet Poirot fan. Looking up I spied some wonderful kestrel shaped gargoyles staring out balefully over the city, after reading Charlie Fletcher's marvellous Stone Heart series of books and travelling round London taking photos of all the statues in them I am now continually looking up to the roofs of buildings to find the wonderful carvings that are there. The last remaining walls of Winchester Palace next, which are apparently part of the former great hall.
More photos taken of the Golden Hind previously only seen from a river clipper, it almost seems hemmed in in it's tiny dock. Needing a rest we sat on a bench by the HMS Belfast, I could remember being taken on the ship as a small girl by my dad and pretending to be interested for his sake but I'm sure he guessed my boredom! It is an impressive sight however lying in state just before Tower Bridge. Whenever I listen to my favourite album, War of the Worlds I always imagine Thunder Child looking just like the Belfast.
Feeling refreshed we happened on a shopping area Hay's Galleria with a marvellous sculpture in the shape of a galleon which is apparently called The Navigators by David Kemp.I was most excited to find a Christmas shop at the back of the Galleria but sadly it was closed (I'm sure I heard hubby's wallet heave an audible sigh of relief). A walk over Tower Bridge to the Tower and we were on the home stretch pausing to shiver at Traitor's Gate. By the time we crossed London Bridge to get back to the station things were starting to look a bit stormy but no matter.
My husband has always teased me calling me a 'city kid' and I am a self confessed lover of London, it never ceases to surprise and delight me with the diverse sights around every corner. I enjoy the cosmopolitan blend of languages you hear, love the street entertainers and adore the metropolis no matter the weather. I'm not wearing rose coloured spectacles - if I were the homophobic, racist group of teenagers that got on our train home would soon have given me a rude reminder of the problems London faces - but I don't think we appreciate the beauty of the old buildings and the excitement of the place nearly enough. She may be dirty, she may be ragged in places but I just love the city with a passion and can't wait to go back next weekend and explore more.
Photos of the walk are on my Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/librarianwithattitude/sets/72157615256689245/