Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday 9th- The Great Walking Tour

There were a few places in London that I had on my to do list this trip(we’ve pretty much covered most of the tourist “icons” on previous visits) and Sophie wanted to get a few good photos for some prints so we thought we’d spend the day walking the city. Originally we were going to catch the tube to St Pauls Cathedral but as there were no lifts or escalators at that stop for the pushchair we decided on getting out at Piccadilly Circus but Maddie had other ideas. The Tube was another new experience for her and she did not like it one little bit especially the screeching noise the train made as it curved around the bends. She kept a brave face for awhile and everyone sitting around her tried to keep her attention away from the flashing lights and jerky motion with little success. In the end we decided to get out early at Covent Garden Station. Unfortunately there was a lift up one level but then there were two flights of stairs so it was a bit of a struggle carrying the pushchair and baby up together in amongst the crowd.

By now we were all in need of a drink so we stopped at a pub for a couple of stiff lemonades and a bottle of milk! After feeling refreshed we were off again, we didn’t get far as some lovely smells were coming from a small outside food market at Convent Garden so we decided it was now time for lunch. There were some tasty treats but juggling a baby and eating hot food with a knife and fork was out so we settled on a yummy lamb burger each.

After an exhausting morning and her tummy full Maddie fell asleep so we were off again in the general direction of St Pauls. We headed off down a very busy Fleet Street where towards the end there were a lot of different uniformed people, security personnel, huge TV articulated trucks and vans and other trucks removing barricades. We had just missed the Queen who had attended the memorial service for servicemen killed in the Iraq war. Luckily we were held up as I doubt we would have managed to get close to the Cathedral an hour or so earlier.

Fleet Street and St Pauls Cathedral

Next stop was Postmans Park which is located not far behind the Cathedral. It’s a tiny green oasis in the middle of a bustling city, I had seen it on the movie "Closer" which I had watched a few years ago starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Julia Roberts. Friends on my travel forum have mentioned it in the past and it I’d thought I would visit it on this trip. The park itself is quite a bit elevated above the streets that surround it, this is because it used to be a burial ground when there was a shortage of space in the old city of London. Bodies were laid (and layered over a period of time) on the ground and covered with soil instead of being buried.

In 1890 the former church yard became the location for George Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others and this is what I came to see. Along a sheltered wall are ceramic memorial plagues that make for some interesting and sad reading.

After a short rest stop, snack and nappy change(Maddie, not me) we were off again back behind and around the Cathedral and down to the Thames River and the Millennium Bridge, another “thing” on my list I hadn’t managed to do on the last visits.

Millennium Bridge & St Pauls Cathedral

There were lots of people out and about walking even though it was overcast and cold. We crossed the bridge to the South Bank, had a loo stop at the Tate Modern. No time to stop and peruse the collection of international modern art, which is housed in the former HUGE Bankside Power Station.

The Thames, St Pauls, The "Gherkin" & OXO Tower

  Crossing the Millenium Bridge to the Tate Modern
On we went along the promenade on the South Bank, passing and viewing many familiar sights on both sides of the river until we finally made it to the London Eye and across the river Big Ben and Westminster.

Skateboard and bike area with graffiti under a bridge along the South Bank.

The London Eye & the County Hall

We crossed the bridge and straight back into the chaos of a late Friday afternoon in London. It had now started to rain so rather than sort out which bus to take to get us home we decided to catch a cab. Another new experience for Maddie, we’ll make a London Girl of her yet.

Back home safe and sound, David and I went down to the local pub for an early dinner. Comfort food for me, bangers and mash! Loved every mouthful. English sausages are quite a bit different than ours back home, for a start you don’t see any beef ones, well at least in the supermarket that we frequented. And they don’t have all the wide range of flavours that we have. It’s basically pork, pork and more pork most seasoned with various herbs. They actually taste yummy but I feel they have quite a bit of bread in them.

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