For many years over my life I have been visiting London, during my career at sea and during the numerous and lengthy periods that I used to study in the city towards my Master’s Certificate. So over that time I had considered I knew the place well.
Three years ago I was last here in the Basin and though I was very aware that everything had changed on that occasion, I didn’t consider it was that much different from how it had been forty years before. But then of course, even though I was here for a week, I never saw as much of London as I have during this week’s stay. The experience for me has been amazing though I’ve walked for miles.
The distant skyline of London at Primrose Hill behind the two sisters
…and enjoying a balmy Summer’s evening at Paddington Basin
The lights come on at Paddington Basin
Whenever I’ve been in London before I have always been on my own and though I consider myself of an enquiring nature, never have I learned or viewed as much as I have this time in the company of two very investigative New Zealand sisters, one of whom is moving on shortly and may not be here again for some considerable time. Not only did my companions decide they wanted to see and experience every possible aspect of the area while we were here, they decided to do it on foot mostly, just so they didn’t miss anything that wouldn’t have been obvious by any other form of transport.
We’ve seen markets galore, marvelled at architecture on little streets that I’ve never seen before. I’ve learned new history and from numerous blue circular plaques on the walls of houses, have been amazed at the number of people throughout history that have been born, lived and died in London.
A Chinese dog in Chinatown
The Chinese butcher….
My cultural experience has increased too since the last time I wrote, simply because of the girls’ need to see and do everything. We have queued on most days at theatres for ticket returns and have been successful on occasions. During the last week I was moved enormously by the music and presentation of ‘Les Miserables’, a show I have been wanting to see for years. It was wonderful though my eyes were wet for much of the show and I was singing the tunes for the rest of the day.
On another day we went to a lunchtime concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields to see cellists Julian Lloyd-Webber and his wife Jiaxin Cheng playing concertos by Vivaldi and Piazzolla, while tomorrow night at the same church we have tickets for a Mozart and Handel choral concert by candlelight, which will include Mozart’s Requiem.
St Martin-in-the-Fields from the Portrait Gallery
Gymnastic dancing at Leicester Square
We’ve spent a day at The National Gallery and been equally impressed by the gymnastic prowess of a troupe dancing to hip hop music while we ate our picnic lunch on the grass of Leicester Square.
We’ve enjoyed buskers and bean-feasts bountifully and London is thriving. It never stops.
The girls have gone off this morning to the ‘Changing of the Guard’ at Buckingham Palace and plan to return this afternoon to Camden Market, so I’ve decided that this would be a good occasion to bow out in order to get up to date with other priorities.