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