Cecil had just half a day remaining of his trip to London before heading out to Heathrow this afternoon. Rather than lose that time we went out via tube to Queensway station on the northwest corner of Hyde Park and walked back through the park to the southeast corner via the Italian Gardens and the south side of long water. We then had a coffee and crossed the bridge at the Serpentine Gallery and continued on the north bank of The Serpentine. We exited at Hyde Park Corner and walked back to the hotel through Mayfair, Soho, Shaftesbury Avenue and via the British Museum to the hotel in Russell Square. It was a nice close out to the trip for Cecil and squeezed in a few more sights including a close encounter with the parakeets in the park thanks to a woman who feeds them regularly. It's been great showing Cecil around my home country and I'm happy to say that he's leaving with a good impression of our little island.
Today was the last full day in England for Cecil so we opted for a train ride to another english city. I had considered Birmingham but the weather looked better to the west, so we were up and about early for breakfast and down to Marylebone for the train to Oxford. We didn't really plan the day but enjoyed wandering the grounds at both Christ Church and Trinity colleges as well as the castle, prison and city streets. It was very cold in the wind but still beautifully sunny and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of this world famous university city.
The main image below is Hertford Bridge which joins two parts of Hertford College across New College Lane, often referred to as 'the bridge of sighs' because of its supposed similarity to it's namesake in Venice, it was never meant to be a replica and is in fact much more similar to the Rialto bridge which is also in Venice. Whatever the history and name it is a very striking structure to find in an english city. My title today comes from a famous quote by english novelist E. M. Forster:
Oxford is Oxford: not a mere receptacle for youth, like Cambridge. Perhaps it wants its inmates to love it rather than to love one another.
There's little to add to such a statement other than to say the gallery has no captions today, just images of another one of england's jewels.
Many of the tourists that flock to London never make the trip down river to Greenwich where the Royal Observatory and Greenwich Park offer full views over the city, the sedate 1 hour boat trip down the river from Westminster Bridge makes a nice easy route right to the heart of the area and really shouldn't be missed if you are in London for a few days. The main shot below (click for larger version) shows the wonderful view from the Royal Observatory which spans the horizon from 'The Shard' to the 'Millennium Dome'. In the centre of the frame is the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich which is an excellent museum for those interested in all things nautical. Cecil and I began the day with a tube ride to Hyde Park Corner, we then walked through Wellington Arch and Green Park to Buckingham Palace then on through St James Park to Westminster Bridge where we caught the boat to Greenwich. We had a great time and dodged the showers that chased us all day long. We got back to Westminster Bridge around 5pm so walked across the bridge and around the London Eye for a short time before enjoying a fish and chip supper and returning to the hotel. I'm glad we made the effort to go down there today as it shows a different side to London and does provide one of the very best wide views of the city.
Today saw Cecil and I heading to Camden market where we found a multitude of unique items, dozens of choices for food and drink and, later in the day, just about every human being on earth (that may be an exaggeration but you get the idea). Camden Market is one of those places that's full of people who are there to look at the market itself rather than actually buy anything (I include myself and Cecil in that statement) After the market we went down to Covent Garden where Cecil met members of 'The London Pearly Kings & Queens Society'. We then moved on to Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Chinatown and Soho before a final flurry in Carnaby Street and dinner close to our hotel in Bloomsbury. It was another great day and the weather continued to be kind to us though that may change tomorrow.
Tower Bridge is a magnificent sight at any time of day or night, so with Cecil keen to learn more about night photography (even after walking the white cliffs of dover in the morning) we set out by cab from our hotel an hour before sunset to shoot the bridge at night. On arrival there was a little left of the sunset so we shot that first before messing around with long exposures on and around the bridge. In the main shot below the blue light running along the bridge is an ambulance that passed through during the long exposure. The shots in the gallery are not captioned as they are pretty self explanatory, the long streaks of light are from traffic on the bridge, with the red lights high up in the shots being buses which we waited for until our hands were numb with cold. After a few hours of photography we walked a little way and flagged down a cab for the ride back to the hotel satisfied with our late night excursion.
Just a one hour train ride from St Pancras Station saw Cecil and I arriving at Dover bright and early yesterday to walk the cliff path from St Margarets Bay to Dover. We took a cab from Dover train station to St Margarets Bay just 5 miles east of the station. On arrival we explored the bay area a little and then had a cuppa and cake at 'The Pines' tea room before starting out along the well marked pathway. It was a really enjoyable hike in fantastic conditions and enabled Cecil to tick off another English jewel. We considered visiting the Castle but decided on a walk through the town and a welcome bite to eat and coffee. We returned to London on the express service to St Pancras, ready for our next adventure.
We had plans to explore the coast at Dover today but the weather worked against us so instead we walked the antique market on Portobello Road from north to south. We then crossed Notting Hill Gate into Holland Park to see the Kyoto japanese garden there and some of the formal gardens too. After this we walked up to Kensington High Street for lunch before taking the tube to Brixton. From the tube station we walked Electric Avenue and the street market there. We then walked through the formal market and up to St Matthew's Church and windrush square. We loaded up on jerk chicken before taking the tube back to Oxford Circus where we walked a circuit on both sides of the street. Finally we walked through Marylebone in a north east direction for a couple of miles back to the hotel, it was another pretty good day in the city.
With Cecil landing safely in London at 05:05am on wednesday we stuck to the city for the day and made some lovely shots over ground I've previously covered. At 8pm we decided to call it a day and head for York the next morning. I booked tickets for the 8:00am train from Kings Cross using the internet and we were up at 06:30 for breakfast before making the short walk to the station to collect them. The train was on time leaving us a fantastic 6 hours wandering the city walls and streets of York. Cecil found plenty to love in Englands medieval jewel with blossoms of all kinds scattered around the city adding to the beauty of the historic surroundings. We did the 'usual' tour with the city walls, museum gardens, river, minster, market square, the shambles, and cliffords tower all making an impression. We left York at 16:00 and enjoyed dinner in an indian restaurant close to our hotel before calling it a night.
You can spend a small fortune to go to the viewing platform in 'The Shard' and to be honest your photos will show tiny specks of the surrounding buildings because you're so far above them all, but, if you're prepared to put in a bit of effort you can get a lovely view of St Pauls, The Shard, Tower Bridge and others for just a fiver. That's right five quid, just make your way to the Great Fire of London Monument and walk the 311 steps of the spiral staircase to the top of this fantastic 340 year old structure. Though I haven't included shots that don't show the safety mesh in the gallery below, it is easy to make images that don't include it. I also walked by Leadenhall Market again today so I took the opportunity to make a panoramic shot showing a better view of this beautiful Victorian setting. I made my way through Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields Market, Chinatown, Soho and Hyde Park too so have included a few captioned shots in the gallery. I'm resting my tired feet for the rest of the day before meeting Cecil in the morning and setting into a week of wandering and photography so you can expect regular updates on the blog.
Last night I made a small circuit along the Thames from Westminster Bridge to the pedestrian bridge just half a mile downstream at Charing Cross. Even though there's some work underway on the parliament building it still looks pretty impressive at night. The London Eye is an obvious target for night photography as it can be viewed from all sides with and without a reflection in the river. Though the walk is only about a mile and half it does take quite a while to manoeuvre in the area with a tripod and get the shots you want without blocking the perpetual stream of tourists passing by but it is an easy walk even with a heavy rucksack of camera gear and tripod. Starting at Westminster Tube Station I crossed the bridge and grabbed a few shots along the way, then went down to the south bank just in front of St Thomas' Hospital where the main shot was made after waiting for a couple of buses to bring light to the bridge. I then walked past the London Eye to Jubilee Gardens making images along the way. Then I followed Queens Walk to the Charing Cross footbridge where I crossed over and walked the north bank back to Westminster Tube.
We arrived in Calgary, Canada on 29th December 2011 to continue our journey. This blog is intended to keep our family and friends informed whilst we explore Canada.You can use the RSS feed below to stay updated.
The Shaman, West Texas