Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 28 February 2014

Where My Heart Is - London (Part 1)

The warm layers of my heart glow as soon as my feet hit the platform of Kings Cross Station and I am at home again.  I physically sigh with contentment as I am jostled along the platform to the exit and then into the busy and unassuming air of the city I love with all my mind and soul.  The journey I had taken last week was with my daughter and her friend - a journey of discovery, a journey to show off my spiritual home.  A journey with two young girls that loved the vibrant and ever changing city.  Yes, I was going to love today.

This was a trip that would take in the typical tourist trail, and it really was!  The girls were wanting to see as much as they could and I wasn't going to disappoint.  A boat trip on the Thames, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, Downing Street, The Mall, Buckingham Palace, Green Park and then Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station.  We did them all! 

So, oh yes you've guessed it, I am going to take you along too!  However this will have to be on separate posts as I need to protect your feet and London posts always take me a bit longer as I daydream and drool over the photos while I plan my next trip.  OK, cup of tea? Cadburys chocolate to savour and feet up?  Ready?  Hello Ben!!

Can you see the writing at the bottom of the clock face? Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Priman - Latin for O Lord, keep save our Queen Victoria the First.  Such perfection on every square inch of each clock face on Elizabeth Tower and a perfect introduction to the City for the girls, especially as Big Ben struck the hours while we were visiting.  However we were going to start the tourist trail by river and air... a Thames Cruise followed by the London Eye...
Luckily the day was dry with perfect fluffy white clouds and the sun's warmth followed us, so a trip on one of the river boats was going to be well worth the ride.  We sat on the top deck with camera ready and the banter of an entertaining captain giving his own little anecdotes of life on the Thames, but in the back of my mind was the comforting voice of my Grandad saying what was in each building.  So, say hello to Old Father Thames...Here he is on Temple Stairs Arch on the Victoria Embankment (some say it is Neptune, but I see him as the man himself).
Cleopatra's Needle which is over 3,500 years old!  The sphinx's either side are Victorian additions and should have been placed facing away from the Needle to protect it as Sphinx do!!
Our heads turned from left to right as we took in the views and our cameras were working overtime just capturing every moment.  Going under all the bridges, including London Bridge.  Now a very plain bridge in comparison to the over populated one it replaced.  The old London Bridge was a mini town in itself with shops and fortresses and surrounded itself with the heads of those beheaded at the Tower of London just up river, including those of William Wallace and Thomas Cromwell.
My second favourite bridge was coming up, accompanied by the wonderful St Paul's Cathedral.  The Millenium Bridge.  If you are ever in London, you must walk across this from St Paul's to the Tate Modern.  The views are wonderful.
Further on, an iconic landmark came closer, the Tower of London.  The entrance for those poor souls about to be tried would have been by river through Traitors Gate, now blocked to protect its history.
Can you imagine the thoughts that were going through Ann Boleyn's mind as she approached this formidable place along the river.  To the left of the shot are the 'gherkin' and the new building on the extreme left has already received the nickname of the 'walkie talkie'!  The old constraints of historical life meets the modern constraints of materialistic life.
We slowly meandered down the Thames with sights both new and old, but the one that was going to take the girls breath away was coming up...we were going to sail underneath Tower Bridge...
This beautiful bridge is magnificent in every way.  The engineering, colours and building are simply breathtaking.
Every detail is beautiful including the familiar City of London Crest that adorns the top, middle of the bridge.
Again, the new meets the old.  The shard to the left and the 'cheese grater' to the right.
The Shard is not my favourite building and, according to the captain, definitely not his either!
This building rises up from the London skyline, drowning everything around it.  Yes, it is beautiful with the clouds reflecting on its windows, but it just doesn't fit in with the beauty of the City that surrounds it.  A shame, but that's progress I suppose.
However, we were now on our way back to the London Eye, and I began pointing out things to the girls that were in between the buildings, such as The Monument, built as a memorial to the Great Fire of London.  When my daughter was very small she wanted to go to Pudding Lane where the Fire started and then decided to climb the stairs to the top of the Monument.  Oh, the pain!  If you decide to visit, make sure you are fit!  The good thing about this never ending winding staircase were the 'handles' on the hand rail all the way up.  I think they may have been decoration, but I can remember pulling myself up every agonising step after 150 and that was less than half way!!  You get a certificate when you achieve this and a view across London from the new platform.  A once only event!!
We were soon back to our place of departure and ready to join the queue for our next excursion... The London Eye!
I hope you have enjoyed your trip down Old Father Thames as much as we did.  Are you ready for the London Eye?  This time with my proper camera as promised in my post a couple of weeks ago.  Give me a couple of days to reflect on the photos and dream again.

In the meantime, have a great weekend and take care.

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  1. Chel, I finished my after dinner cup of Earl Grey while reading your post and found it very interesting. I love London town and enjoyed the trip along the Thames. So many new things among the very old that have changed the landscape and skyline but I would love to visit again and see it all. I might even be brave enough to try the London Eye and will look forward to seeing your photos from it. Thank you!! Have a lovely weekend. Hugs. Pamela

  2. Yup me to finished my cuppa tea as I was reading this fantastic post drooling over the amazing photos of the London I once visited so many years ago . I also love the English countryside with all the little villages and cottages they are my fave ! Thanks for taking us along . Have a good weekend !

  3. Perfectly stunning photographs, as usual, Chel. i really must work overtime to get more London places on A Bit About Britain! Glad you like the post on Southwark Cathedral. Still drooling over the photos you took on your pilgrimage!

  4. Lovely photos of your trip. I've only visited London on business trips apart from a school visit way back when! Mike & I do talk from time to time about spending a weekend there with the boy.

  5. Wonderful. What fantastic photos of this most beautiful of cities. I was just reading Harry Potter to my little people last night, the bit where Harry first goes on to Platform 9 and 3/4 and I was wondering what is actually there and if people go and stare at it. So glad that they do, I know we would. Glad you had such an amazing trip, I hope you have a good weekend. CJ xx

  6. An impressive set of photos. You have found new angles from which to photograph well-known landmarks - not an easy thing to do. Have a pleasant weekend.

  7. Wonderful photos, Chel. Thanks for sharing them. :o)

  8. Thank you for taking me to London, Chel! Your fresh perspectives / new angles in the photos are enchanting, together with your descriptions! What a lovely dsy you've had together ... Your daughter and her friend will cherish these moments and look back to then later on ... I still remember the first visits to our capital with my mom :)

  9. What an utterly gorgeous and beautifully illustrated post Chel, I've totally loved coming along for the journey. I've only been to London a couple of times but think this was one of my most enjoyable tours with the firsthand history. Cant wait for your next post.

  10. Lovely photos but I have to admit that I'm not really a city girl.

  11. Your pictures brought back so many memories. It's like I was there with you and I followed each of your step!

  12. Thanks for taking me back to London. I lived there for almost a year when I was 16, and am more fond of it than any other city.
    I'm looking forward to further posts!

  13. Thank you for taking me to London with your lovely pictures! I do feel a draw towards that City every now and again, I was born in North London and lived there until my twenties. I think it must be in my blood!! I always feel calmer after a trip to the Capital. My husband thinks I am barmy, but then we live just 2 miles from where he was born!!!

  14. Oh, wow. Just wonderful! I am so glad you're able to get back to a place that holds your heart. I can't wait to go there someday myself.

  15. Hi Chel, thanks so much for that tour down the Thames River! I enjoyed it with you explaining things and it remained me of the summer when we went there! I love the photos you took too. I know you all had a great time. I can't wait until you take us on our next tour. Thanks and enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a nice week. :0)

  16. I really enjoyed your boat trip - such wonderful photos:)

  17. What?!?! You were in London without me?? :)
    You describe London with the same love and passion that I feel about it.
    I can't wait to share this love with my own children and help them to see and understand my love.
    We will have to meet up in the summer!
    Much love,
    Tammy x

  18. Chel, I love that river trip - did it last just after the Millennium celebration but may, just may, have a chance to do it again soon! The Thames has to be one of the most fascinating, history-filled rivers in the world - and you really were so fortunate to have such a clear, sunny day with those beautiful skies as a background to your excellent photos.

    Looking forward to flying high with you on the London Eye…….it's always such a fun ride!

    Thanks for your sweet comment yesterday.
    Hugs - Mary

  19. This brings back such wonderful memories of our trip there, especially your shot of crossing the bridge towards St. Paul's I have almost the same shot.

  20. I love all your photos...brought back memories of my trip to London - such a wonderful, magical place. Can't wait to see more!

  21. Fantastic shot of Big Ben. My you did a lot in one day!

  22. Loved seeing London via the Thames and through your eyes. Thanks for sharing your visit as I will probably never get there.

  23. Definitely enjoyed this tour with you! I cheated and read your post on the Eye first...looking forward to #3!

  24. I just love your views of London and it makes me want to return there for a visit which I am planning in the spring. I try to return to my home country once a year when I can manage it. That first shot of Big Ben is wonderful!
    I've popped over from Jacquie's at Bunny Mummy!


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