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Harbour sparkle

Christmas in the northern hemisphere falls in the perfect season.

The long dark nights are brightened by the hundreds of colourful lights that drape over balconies, hang from the streets lamps and decorate the boats in the harbour.

Every year we look forward to this season and once decorated the boats are a feast of colours.

A few of the boats are already decorated and it looks so pretty.

Gorgeous moon tonight

In transit this afternoon I whizzed through St Pancras between trains and stopped to take a pic of this year’s tree.

A pink fondant tree

I’ve been disappointed with the trees the last few years, and still remember the best one ever from some years ago…the Disney tree…floor to ceiling with soft fluffy toys….delightful. best ever.

Perfect synchronicity

My sister sent me this video earlier. It literally gave me goosebumps and left me in tears at the end. What extraordinary talent…just incredible

Absolutely mesmerising

I’m not really a fan of circular walks and prefer to end somewhere I didn’t start. But since I’m walking during my break, I have no choice but to return from whence I started.

Yesterday afternoon could be described as a blue sky day, and since it was my penultimate day in the city I made the most of the good weather and went for a ramble….from Temple to the Millennium Bridge, crossing to Bankside and walking to Tower Bridge, back over the Thames as the sun was setting and ultimately back to Fleet street and Temple.

I saw many of my favourite sights, and covered 7.86 kms in total.

Although I haven’t noticed much change in the volume of traffic along Embankment, the reduction in the city was very noticeable with many streets almost deserted. It was really weird walking past hundreds of shops and pubs….lights off and doors locked, and not manypeopleaboutat all. A bit like it would be after an apocalypse….

Very weird. This is the city of Sundays when everyone is at home and you could meander the streets and lanes and rarely see a soul.

Of course I took lots of photos…I hope you enjoy them

Has the chewing gum man been here?

If you cross Millennium Bridge look down and you’ll see a number of tiny little works of art. These are mostly the work of the ‘chewing gum man’. He creates art out of gum tossed on the streets by neanderthals. Although that’s actually insulting Neanderthals. Ben Wilson (click here for a profile) is famous in London for creating miniature artworks from gum stuck on the streets. His artwork is not limited to Millennium Bridge and if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll find these creative pieces in other corners of the city. I met him once at one of his exhibitions, a very interesting man.

One of my favourite views downstream of the Thames
When you cross Millennium Bridge from north to south, be sure to stop on the south side and look back…brilliant view of St Paul’s Cathedral
Just off the corner of a side street on Bankside you’ll find The Ferrymans Seat – harking back to when you had to pay the ferryman to row you across the river
The Globe Theatre- albeit not the original, Globe theatre is linked to William Shakespeare and pre-covid this is where you would come to experience what theatres were like in the 16th century. Not far from here and behind the first row of buildings you’ll find the remains of the Rose Theatre, where Shakespeare did perform his plays.
In the foreground is the arch of Southwark Bridge. At this point you can see four bridges crossing the Thames: Southwark, Cannon Street, London Bridge and in the distance, Tower Bridge – often mistakenly called ‘London Bridge’.
Beneath the arch of Southwark Bridge are scenes of Frost Fairs on the river from the days when it froze over in winter – specifically Frost Fairs were held in 1683-34, 1716, 1739-40, and 1814. The river is noe narrower and deeper and flows faster; and no longer freezes over.
A mural depicting William Shakespeare on the wall near The Clink Prison. I wonder what he would make of London today.
A fragment the Great Hall and Rose Window of Winchester Palace in Southwark. Once the palace of the Bishops of Winchester. The prostitutes who plied their trade in this area under the auspices of the Bishops were known as the ‘Winchester Geese’
A short walk from here is a piece of ground where they were apparently buried.
Southwark Cathedral circa 1905 – a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years it was originally an Augustinian priory built between 1106 and 1897. In 2017 I walked from the cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Minerva and The Shard. This delightful sculpture can be found on the river side of the cathedral.
The Navigators; one of my favourite sculptures in London located in Hays Galleria
HMS Belfast moored on the Thames since 1971 on Southwark side of the river; the most significant surviving WWII Royal Navy warship. Since her launch over 82 years ago, she fired some of the first shots at the D-Day landings, served in the Arctic Convoys, and in the Korean War.
The magnificent White Tower glows in the light of the setting sun
Toad Hall aka the London Mayor’s Office – many years ago a play; Wind in the Willows, was staged in the open air theater next to the building. It was nicknamed Toad Hall and the name has stuck ever since, and occasionally we have (had) a real larger than life toad working there…
#notLondonBridge – Tower Bridge stands guard over The Pool of London – a bastion between the the lower reaches of the Thames and the City of London
Looking upstream. One of the many many barges that traverse the waterways on a daily basis; one of hundreds of various craft that ply the river ….
The Tower of London viewed from Tower Hill
The Tower of London- 6 years ago the moat was covered with ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of the First World War. I was one of the many lucky people who got to plant a few.
Remnants of the original Roman City walls located at the end of the pedestrian underpass from Tower Hill station
All Hallows by the Tower Church – oldest church in London. In the crypt you can see the crows nest from Shackleton’s ship, Endeavour. Samuel Pepys stood in the platform of the tower and watched London burning in 1666
A poignant memorial located in front of the church
The Monument commemorates the area where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. Nearby is a small plaque on a building showing the original location of the bakers shop where the fire was meant to have started. If you ever decide to climb to the viewing platform…there are a lot of steps!! But you get a certificate for your efforts
Another of my favourite sculptures – The Cordwainer. Located in the ‘Ward of Cordwainer’, which in medieval times was the centre of shoe-making in the City of London. Only the finest leather from Cordoba in Spain was used, which gave rise to the name of the craftsmen and the Ward
The Royal Exchange – London’s first purpose built trading centre. The Royal Exchange in London was founded in the 16th century by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham
A peek at St Paul’s Cathedral
My absolute favourite building in London – St Paul’s Cathedral still stands proud amongst all the new. Designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London razed the original to the ground. A tiny grave in the crypt of the cathedral is the resting place of this famous man. His epitaph: si monumentum requiris, circumspice”—if you are searching for his monument, look around. In all Wren designed 53 of London’s churches as well as other secular buildings. St Paul’s Cathedral featured in the famous film Mary Poppins.
St Brides Church aka the ‘wedding cake’ church. Urban legend has it that a baker was looking out the window of his shop one day looking for inspiration for a wedding cake he was creating…hence the popular design of the layered wedding cake. It’s named for the saint St Bride and is also known as the Journalists Church due to its proximity to Fleet Street, once home to the newspaper trade.
Back whence I started. The spot where I’m standing is actually in the City of Westminster and the City of London Griffin marks the boundary between the two cities. When I step past the sculpture I’m then in the City of London.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip around London and some snippets of history.

By the time my walk ended, the sun was setting below the horizon. Across the river is the OXO Tower and the Sea Containers building. Not sure what the two new towers are, but I wish they weren’t there…downstream you can see The Shard, its highest point lit up in blue.
Looking upstream towards the London Eye from the same location at the same time. You can see a sliver of the moon just to the right of the tall building on the left
My walk 7.86kms via mapmywalk

And finally,  London by night. Taken at 10pm last night.

The Sea Containers building lit up with a rainbow
The Colours of London – still my favourite city in the whole world

The Fist of God

Its been a very long time since I read such a thick book in such a short space of time. Wow, what a storyteller he is. I could feel the heat of the desert, felt as if I was inside those fighters and the pain of the many small tragedies that occurred in order to bring the fight to fruition. Quite a few surprises and a helluva a lot of gasps of shock as my eyes flew across each page….incredible story. Based on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, its a masterful story woven around true life events and people. The deception, duplicity and sheer evil of mankind is dreadful….but what a damn good story..

Early morning London

Truly, what lockdown? Finally after 4 days of being in London there’s a decent sunrise. I could see the light reflecting on the Thames from the lounge window early this morning, so popped down to take a couple of photos.

Thinking I’d quickly dash across the road….no chance. The traffic is as heavy as if there wasn’t a lockdown. Its crazy. And for this I lost what could eventually, if the agency don’t get their act together, amount to 5 weeks of income.

Anyway, here’s a few images of the sun on the river

Looking downstream towards the Shard
Looking upstream towards the London Eye
Slightly further downstream

Of course all the new buildings spoil the view, but there it is….New York on Thames. 🤪🤪

Word nerd

My daughter, who says I’m a word nerd, sent me this quiz today. I love words and toy with them all the time, so my interest was piqued.

If it was a game of scrabble then that word would surely make for some decent points.

I pondered a while and after coming up with no answer I cheated and resorted to Google 🤪🤪🤪

The answer as it turns out was quite startling!!

Do you know what that word is. If you can answer the question without cheating like I did, I’ll be totally impressed.

I also discovered that at present, linguists estimate that there are just under 41,000 words with nine letters in the English language.

Anyone for scrabble?

I’m reading a book, historically factual but written as a story by Frederick Forsyth about the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait.

The Fist of God. Its fascinating but OMG….humans are mad. Evil and mad. The stuff they do.  I can’t believe that if there was a God, that he would want us to continue under the illusion that we were created in his image. He must shudder. I’m sure he’s washed his hands of the human race…

I remember the invasion of Kuwait, my daughter was 10 years old at the time and I used to buy the papers so we could read them. I remember telling her that this was history, we were living in momentous times.

I also remember how the media scared the living daylights out if us and despite being at the very very bottom end of Africa and closer to Antarctica than Iraq, just how terrifying it was. Imagination went as wild as you can imagine!!

I think I still have some of the front pages….I’m weird like that.

But for sure, I never realized just how evil the whole thing was. And still today, we have evil men plotting dastardly events and violence against mankind.

I think we need a meteor to arrive…

Historic Temple

The history always gets me. You can’t fail to be overwhelmed by a place that has seen so much history and events that have shaped this country

Temple Church
Pump Court
The archway of Middle Temple Lane, made famous in the Da Vinci Code
Fleet Street history
Middle Temple Lane at night

History always gets me

A good question…

Working in history

I can’t tell you how many many times I’ve visited and walked through and around Temple, exploring all the nooks and crannies, visiting Temple Church again and again, awed by the history.

I never for one second thought I would find myself working and living in the complex. And yet here I am and its strange.

If I had stopped to think about it, if I’d even imagined people actually lived here, I certainly would have thought it would be amazing to live in such a historical area; an area of myths and legends, of Knights Templar and King John…..he of Magna Carta fame.

You know how sometimes you’ve visited a place and thought “oh how much I’d love to live there!” – usually a cute thatched cottage or a beautiful mansion. But we never really get to know what it is like, because we don’t explore the opportunity of it. Would it even be as magical as what we imagine?

Weirdly it doesn’t feel any different to living anywhere else. There’s nothing special about the flat, its dingy and old with no mystery at all….no feel of the history of the area.

We’re located very close to the archway made famous in The Da Vinci code and yet it holds no mysticism.

Have I been away too long, lost my awe for these places, or is it still there but buried over time? Have I been keeping my eye for too long on other horizons to explore? Been here, done that type of thing.

Or is it that its wet, and cold and grim out and the flat too lifeless and uninviting? I can find nothing to excite me, no feeling of lives past, no ghosts…..

I’ve lived in a 16th century cottage in Montgomery in Wales with more atmospheric feeling and loved it. I’ve worked and lived in a castle in Scotland and stayed a few weeks in a gypsy caravan on the banks of the River Thames on Eel Pie island. I felt the atmosphere, I felt the air of people gone before.

And yet here I am, about to spend my 1st night in one of the most historic areas of London, and its leaving me stone cold. I’d rather be back in the guest house…

I think I’ve lost my sense of home. It’s so long now that I had a place to call home, a place where I returned to after each job. My own bed, my clothes in a cupboard instead of a suitcase in a storage unit.

I seldom even use the word ‘home’ now and if I say it, it’s a slip of the tongue. A habit I’ve yet to lose. I don’t belong anywhere, although I go back to the same area after each job, just different guest houses, none of them are home.

They say that home is where the heart is. That’s not true. I know where my heart is, but it’s not my home.

And so I’ll be sleeping in another strange bed (not a very comfortable one either 😜😜) and I know by morning my hips will be aching and I’ll be stiff and sore from metal springs pressing….

And in the meantime, reading The Salt Path has evoked a longing in me. A longing to just shuck my arms through the straps of my backpack and go.

The reviews of the book make it sound amazing and wonderful and romantic. It’s anything but. It about hardship and pain and hunger, and love…and a strong enduring love that overcomes hardship and pain and hunger, to find freedom and joy in living free.

It’s making me melancholic and pulling me towards doing the same thing. Do you think that once the walking bug enters your soul, it leaves you wanting more, with an uneasy longing to just go? To walk and walk and walk…..to walk despite the pain, the blisters, the hardships and the rain.

Is there a sense of home in having no home?

Meanwhile, besides the loud TV tuned into Midsomer Murders, its quiet and still as if the air is holding its breath, the lights of the city twinkling in the dark, the silhouette of St Paul’s Cathedral dark and foreboding and if I crane my neck out one of the windows I can see the shimmering movement of the Thames as it rushes out to sea…

Have I moved on from London? Or has London left me behind?

I can find none of the enchantment I used to feel coming into the city, and that saddens me.

So tomorrow I’m going to go out during my break and see if I can find the thrill, the excitement and my love of the city….hope it’s not raining, I’ve got 477.7kms to catch up on before 31 December.

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