Only living an hours train ride away from the centre of London I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to have such a fabulous, diverse and beautiful city on my doorstep. Last Saturday I donned my exploring/tourist hat and fully embraced a tiny tiny portion of what London has to offer whilst remembering to gather stunning photo’s.
The morning started off with a bit of a history lesson aboard HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy museum ship moored on the south bank of the river Thames. Bang on opening time with only 10 people ahead of us we boarded and for the next 2 hours it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. Clambering up and down steep ladders, navigating tiny gangways intertwined between huge engines, torpedo shells & snug sleeping quarters I was very glad of my 5’4″ (ok 5’3 1/2″) height.
My absolute favourite parts had to be up on deck and in the captains bridge where on a beautiful sunny autumn day you can truly see and appreciate the contrast between the old and new that is London. From this one spot you have in your eye line the dome from St Pauls, the Monument to the great fire, Tower of London, Shard and the ever spectacular Tower Bridge all within 360 degrees.
Making our way to the top gun turret a spine tingling noise from the shore was heard that is all to familiar to me as one of my most hated sights/sounds that I can think of. The high pitched hollow sound of bells jingling and clattering of wood on wood floated across the waters, no Father Christmas hadn’t arrived early with a broken sleigh it was jeffing Morris Dancers………..Before you ask I have no idea of where this fear/hatred of grown men/women wearing bells on there knee’s, banging wooden sticks together whilst wearing a yodelling plus fore’s and feathers comes from, it’s just there and has no plan on leaving any day soon. As my newly appointed position on board HMS Belfast having sat in the Captains seat and attended a call of nature (not at the same time) I feel that I had the right to instruct the forward crew to start picking off the ‘old enough to know better dancing landlubbers’ one at a time, unfortunately my crew turned out to be 8-10 year old cub scouts who were more interested in cracking each other with the audio tour headsets.
After a most enjoyable 2 hours we had our permission to disembark and like all good sailors headed to the nearest watering hole, a plus point to being up and at ’em early means that you get the best seats anywhere, including the most sort after tables overlooking the Thames in one of many tourist trap pubs around Southwark. A glass of Prosecco and a few pints later it was time to tube it to our next destination Piccadilly Circus.
Just a quick note about the London Underground system if anyone important in TFL is reading this, please can we have all of the tube stations like the Jubilee line or Baker Street, the architecture is immense.
We headed over to Piccadilly Circus in order to attend the main event of the day, the Saturday matinee of The Comedy about the Bank Robbery written by the same folk as The Play That Goes Wrong. Staged in a small beautiful theatre the very well written, fast moving comedy funnily enough about a bank robbery left people chuckling from curtains lift. Sadly for me I think I must have missed the memo that everyone else got in order to belly laugh their way through it, thankfully the cast made up for it with their talent to deliver and entertain.
Our final tour destination was Purl London, in a basement quietly nestled away from the tourist trail of Baker Street this speakeasy themed bar offers you a choice of cocktails to blow your mind and your taste buds. Alongside your standard wines, beers and lemonades be prepared for balloon popping, smoke flavoured whiskey combinations that will send your standard JD & coke to another stratosphere and take your wallet along with it. Only jesting with you, for being in the centre of London, the skill and imagination of the staff it is well priced and defiantly worth a visit but I fear you maybe frowned upon if you ask for a JD & Coke.
Having had the great privilege to visit a handful of different cities scattered across the globe, I have to say that every time I head up to London I am so thankful that I have such an amazingly beautiful place on my door step that I get to call my capital city.
Thank you London
PS I would like to say no Morris Dancers have been harmed nor shouted at in the last 36 years by myself, and I’m sure it is a highly enjoyable past-time to keep you fit and out of trouble.