Sunday, 23 October 2011

36 hours in London

The Millennium Bridge taken from the Tate Modern
As a teenager, I used to be able to jump on a train and be in London Liverpool Street Station in 30 minutes. Since being married, I think I can count the number of times The Curate and I have been to London together on one hand. One year after getting married,  we joined the crowds to watch the fireworks before the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana. We dashed madly up to London from Portsmouth, by train and missed the last train back (like many others). British Rail laid on a train to get us all out of London. You had to tell the guard which station you needed to get off at!

The next time we ventured up to The City was to see Petula Clark and Honor Blackman in The Sound of Music. We drove up from Portsmouth after work, parked in a side street, enjoyed the show in The Victoria Apollo theatre and drove home! You can't do that now. Then there was a gap of a few years as our boys took up most of our time. When we heard that we were to live in Gibraltar, we decided that the boys ought to see a bit of London before we moved abroad. So we did The Museums - from dinosaurs to Egyptian Mummies to hands on science. We also saw Buckingham Palace and various other tourist attractions.- We 'did' London!

 But The Curate doesn't like London and reckons that we can fly to Malaga from Exeter in the same time and for the same price as going to London. He would rather head south. So, except for attending a few conferences in the past (up and down to London in one day),  I have spent more time in cities abroad than I have London. I find that I come back from city trips buzzing and it takes me a while to slow down to the gentle pace that life in Devon often requires.

The chance to spend  a very short time in London came up last week, when The Curate was invited to discuss opportunities with The Mission to Seafarers. As it was half term we decided that I would join him and reacquaint myself with London. Arriving at 6.30pm on Thursday evening and leaving at 11 am on Saturday meant that I had approximately 36 hours (allowing for some sleep) in the 'big smoke'. We stayed in a very good, inexpensive flat (cheaper than any hotel I could find) near Tower Bridge and I have managed to....

* To see the huge yachts in St Katherine's dock (How do they get there? Do they ever go out?)  We could have been in Marseilles, Malaga or Gibraltar (- except for the Thames barges tied up there too). 

* Have a romantic evening walk across an illuminated Tower bridge and beside the Thames and then back across London Bridge. The evening was so warm for October
* Visit numerous City of London Churches:-
including  St Olaves where Samuel Pepys was buried.                                                                                                                                                 The Church of St Michael Paternoster that Dick Whittington had rebuilt. He is remembered with his cat in the modern stained glass window.                                                                                 and St Paul's Cathedral - to see the Occupy London protest.
* Walk across the Millennium Bridge (shame it doesn't wobble now.)

* Visit The Tate Modern - and confirm I am still confused by much modern art.
* Visit Borough Market - and rate it as the best English market I have seen
      * See Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre - superb fun!.

* See Tower Bridge opening and HMS Sutherland leaving London (reversing out with the help of a tug).
* Walk around the outside of The Tower of London - in brilliant sunshine. (It looks like it's having a modern extension :) !)
* Negotiate the underground without getting lost (nearly lost The Curate several times).

* Get back to Paddington Station in time to catch our train home.
Not bad for 36 hours (allowing for some sleep) in London but I feel as if we have only scratched the surface - there is so much more to see.....not immediately but perhaps it is time to break free from Devon....

If I don't blog for a few days, it is because I will be sleeping and resting my feet!


  1. Snap! We've both been doing city visit posts, Harriet :-)

    You obviously had a great trip and I love your account of it and the photos. You packed a huge amount into just 36 hours.

  2. Hello Perpetua - I have loved reading about Prague. Foreign cities always seem more exciting. - I love planning where to visit so I treated London as I would a foreign city and saw so much. I wondering, 'where next?'

  3. We live in London, well 13 miles from the centre, go in regularly but act as if we are tourists and try to see either unfamiliar attractions or areas that have changed from my childhood.

    It has changed so much, cleaner, transport is better, good caf├ęs, especially in museums and galleries. Time to jump on the train again me thinks.

  4. Hi PixieMum It was so much easier than I expected - I didn't know what an oyster card was(didn't need one). You are right - it is cleaner and so easy to find places to eat for a reasonable price. More choice than down here. Of course - we had perfect weather which makes a difference.

  5. I am truly amazed ... you did ALL that in 36 hours!!!!! You do indeed deserve a rest after your break. That was a wonderful post, and I enjoyed your photos so much.

  6. What an amazingly packed 36 hours.
    We too have hardly done London, and like your husband prefer flying to Europe. Maybe over Christmas!