The day started well with a smile from a little boy on the train up to London. He was just getting bored so his mum sat him on the table in front of her so he could see her face but instead he saw mine, I smiled and he beamed back. He kept doing it for five minutes. We’ll never meet again but we had a little moment
I’d picked a seemingly odd place to meet but those that know me know that that just means there’s a plan and I had a big one. Costa on the corner as you come out of Monument tube station isn’t the sort of place I’d normally select but this day it served my purpose. A short wait and suddenly my companions round the corner and we are a team.
I beat them there and so once they arrived we set off straight away as we had better places to visit. Heading towards the Thames we reached my first goal almost immediately as it’s on the left and just before London Bridge. Time has caught up with the Monument so that now it is almost entirely hidden by the large buildings around it, despite being a significant monument to an important part of Londons history. Built in the sixteen seventies it commemorates the Great Fire of London.
Alt: Wow – a monument at monument! – How cool is that.
We move on to London Bridge where we’re immediately provided with a spectacular view of the Shard, having already seen the The Walkie-Talkie behind us. Looking down the Thames we can see Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. We cross the bridge (noting the new safety features).
Alt: Scooters on London Bridge – How on earth did Paul organise that?
We cross the road and all of a sudden we are in Borough Market, a great place to spend an hour in London despite recent events. My vegetarian friends where faced with rather more meat oriented stalls than they would have liked and the spit roasted pork turned stomachs I’m afraid. But overall the experience was great and they managed to find a nice Veggie Burger for lunch (I opted for large fancy cheese straws (more of that later)).
Alt: Borough Market – what an amazing place all tucked away, distressed by the whole cooking pig thing but loving the vegan cheese burgers
Time to find somewhere quiet to eat our lunch (surprisingly difficult to do, some tables and seating at Borough Market wouldn’t go a miss). Luckily I have that in hand and guide the troops to my secret spot. Before that we take a little detour to take in The Golden Hind II and encounter a couple of buskers one with a flaming trumpet.
Alt: Famous boat on route to ‘chilled out’ eating area (not the cutty sark but actually the golden hind). Highly amused by the man with the flaming trumpet and concerned about the fingers of the guitar bashing busker!!
Just as the rain starts to get a little unpleasant we reach my secret spot and have a nice french style outdoor bench to sit and eat our food with excellent tree cover to take care of the rain. Its zen like nature turns out to be a little more zen than even I thought as our in-house zen master discovers in the undergrowth a Buddha
Alt: Birdy remarking on how cool it was to find chill out eating area and to be sheltered from rain by the trees, Dad going into his Buddhist conditionality thing prior to discovering Buddha himself sitting opposite in the undergrowth – cosmic!!
With the weather clearing a little its time to make a dash for Tate Modern, we make good progress and soon find ourselves at The Wobbly Bridge (The Millennium Bridge). We’re distracted by workers feeding a squirrel before diving into Tate Modern.
Alt: The guy interacting with the squirrel outside the Tate Modern
We’re all a bit short of coffee by now and so decide to do the cafe first and then the gallery.
Alt: Coffee in the Tate Modern
Despite my dodgy friend (you know who you are) advising me the Rothko room didn’t exist anymore I persisted and found that Tate Modern has done a very nice job of updating the Rothko room since I last went. The Rothkos here are old friends of mine and it was nice to see them once again. In the past I have seen them with more light than they are currently allowed and so this encounter was different to my others. The feeling that you are in a church of art still persists though. A free experience in London such as this should always be checked out.
Alt: Rothko – birdy didn’t quite ‘get it’ – Dad did (kind of) and Paul in his element (definitely did get it)
Having left Tate Modern and begun to walk along South Bank towards Embankment I was attacked by two waves, the first was small but managed to get over the wall and spray me, the second much bigger (as tall as a mountain) climbed so high I darted left out of its way (lightning reactions me) but strangely it didn’t manage to get over the wall and so there was no spray. I survived.
Alt: Seeing Paul move like lightning to avoid wave on riverside (one of Birdy’s highlights although she did find the guys on the bike trying to avoid being hit by the flying pigeon and the lad tripped over by the tree pretty amusing as well)
As we were making good progress I decided it would be nice to sit and watch the river for a short while. This afforded a spectacular view of St. Pauls, The Leadenhall Building and The Walkie-Talkie building. Birds amused us as did my remaining posh cheese straws.
Alt: Sharing cheese straws on the bench (with the surprisingly zesty mustard seeds)
The rain began to fall a little heavier so we decided we better make some more progress. Hoping we’d get to The Golden Jubilee bridges we stepped up our pace but by the time we reached The National Theatre it was fast becoming a downpour so it was time to dash inside, grab a coffee and see if the rain would burn out. We let ‘Grandad’ Jas out of our sight for a brief moment and he wandered off on his own with Birdy having to chase him down and bring him back to safety.
Alt: Sheltering from rain in National theatre café (dad wandering off with the drinks in a world of his own)
Helpfully the rain relented and we were able to cross the river and make our way to Trafalgar Square. I had one more surprise left. For those that don’t know, Chris Ofili has a new work on display at The National Gallery. This is free to all visitors and if you have a spare twenty minutes in London I recommend you check it out. Commissioned by the Clothworkers Company Ofili collaborated with the Dovecot Tapestry Studio to have one of his designs handwoven into a spectacular tapestry. The tapestry took five weavers three years to make. Ofili has created a modern masterpiece and you all have the unique opportunity to see it in its original conception before it moves on and I suspect never quite appears so brilliantly as this.
Alt: National Gallery – checking out the tapestry (nice touch from Paul to give us the story behind the painting and the 3 year project) – also really nice gesture from Paul to buy us both a postcard of the painting
Alt: Dad interacting with Yoda – How the hell is Yoda ‘floating on air’
Its a short walk to Covent Garden from Trafalger Square and so we decide to head over whilst regaling our youngest team member with stories from our past visits to Covent Garden.
Alt: Covent Garden – Birdy hearing reminiscences from both Paul and Dad about their Covent Garden experiences.
Alt: Fancy drinks at CG (not sure about the cucumber though) and a whole discussion about Rhubarb
Despite the weather a wonderful day in London with fun all the way along. Our paths were blessed and we saw London as everyone should see it, wonderful and resplendent. Many thanks to my companions for making the day perfect.