03 June 2013

European Vacation 16 - A Sunny Day in London Town?

Inside the Tower of London

When you come to London you expect to get and generally do get its famous fog. It comes with a side order of rain and chilly temperatures. If you are in London for any length of time and such weather is not provided you’ve every right to go to the London Chamber of Commerce and lodge a formal complaint for you have been denied the true London experience. All that being said London is absolutely glorious on a sunny day and we’ve had two in succession.

I have literally not seen the sun come out in London since my first trip here in the Seventies (that’s the 1970s to all you wiseacres out there).

Some people rave about cloudless days. Boring. When the sun is out I think the sight of big puffy clouds in the distance is quite striking. I’ve noticed some gorgeous cloud formations on this trip. Thank you Mother Nature. Clouds have been in evidence these past two days but have stayed out of the sun’s ways. Thanks again Ma Nature.

Sunday we made straight for The Tower of London a must stop for any visitor. There is more history within its walls than in entire countries. You’ve got Henry VIII Lady Jane Grey Queen Elizabeth I Richard III and Rudolph Hess just to name a few historical figures of note who have trod the grounds. It’s a remarkably well preserved site and contains all manner of historical relics. The crown jewels alone are worth a look see. Then there is Sir Walter Raleigh’s study and weapons galore a chopping block and corresponding axe if you are up for a beheading and -- as they say -- more. Much more.

From there the missus and I took a walk along the Thames. This was as pleasant a jaunt as we’ve had on our journey. The river is remarkably clean -- quite in contrast to its status as a veritable flowing cesspool through the mid 19th century. The Thames is crossed by many bridges including the Tower Bridge which is majestic beautiful and fits perfectly with the modern London skyline. Eventually we crossed the Millennium Bridge which affords some magnificent views.

View from the Millennium Bridge
Once across we strolled pass the Globe Theater a re-creation of the setting for many of Shakespeare’s play back in the great bard’s day. We then kicked ourselves for not thinking to book tickets for a play there. Well we couldn’t have done everything imaginable anyway. From there we popped into the Tate Modern. Though I don’t care for some conceptual art there was a lot there to admire particularly -- to me -- the works of Rene Margitte Paul Delvaux and most especially John Heartfield.

There followed a stroll to St. Paul's’ cathedral which is much more restrained and thus to me much more beautiful version of the garish churches of Italy. We capped the evening off with a fish and chips dinner at an eatery that opened in 1871 and is renown for their fare. It was quite good.

Yesterday I returned to the British Library while the wife went to buy goodies at the Nordic Bakery. I paid good coin to see the propaganda exhibit called Power and Persuasion. It was worth every pence and I could take up an entire post writing about it.

The better half and I met at the Library gift shop -- my goodness I’ve been to a lot of gift shops these past three weeks -- and planned our next move. That move was walk to one of London’s top rated bookshops where I found a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s three volume autobiography written as the fictional autobiography of a bloke named George Sherson. Now I’m set for the plane ride home.

Hyde Park
We rode the London Underground to the stop nearest Hyde Park. Whether London Paris or Rome we’ve not had a wait as long as five minutes for a train and most have been around 60 seconds or less. Amazing. Speaking of amazing: Hyde Park. Londoners do not get a lot of sunny days so they take full advantage and Hyde park is an idea place to enjoy clear skies. The park is immaculate filled with trees waterways ducks geese swans tots being pushed by nannies in strollers lovers sunning together flowers and people licking ice cream cones. This made two idyllic walks in two days for us. We then took in the Prince Albert Memorial and Albert Hall followed by Kensington Palace though neither the Duchess of Cambridge nor her hubby the future king of England popped out to say hello.

Our trip was symbolically capped off with an excellent dinner at a little bistro called Savoir Faire where I had a delicious sea bass.

Yummy meal yummy days.

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