20.05.2015 - 20.05.2015
We got up early and decided to go for a walk around the area at about 5.45am. We walked up Queensborough Terrace and then up Queensway. We passed a delightful little fenced park with beautiful trees, called Porchester Square. It is closed at night and opened during the day. The weather was quite cool and partly overcast. We bought coffees from “Pret a Manger “– very welcome. We had breakfast at the B & B at 8.00am. It was simple but nice. After this we hit the road. We picked up bikes in Hyde Park and pedalled through the park. I thoroughly enjoyed this - it was fresh and cool and we were in the midst of the beautiful greenery of the park. We then went through Green Park and past Buckingham Palace. There was some occasion in progress (we could hear a band and caught sight of marching soldiers) so some of the roads were blocked which made it more difficult getting to Westminster station, where we are meeting Matthew. We got to the bike drop of point but there were only two spaces, so Bill went to find another (he went to three more before finding a spot for his bike!). Andrew and I went to meet Matthew. We stood across the road from Parliament House and waited for Bill. He had trouble finding us in the crowds. Eventually I heard my mobile ringing and we then spotted Bill across the road – he had been walking around trying to find us. After a bit of vigorous waving he spotted us. This had taken about 45 minutes. We set out on our way firstly walking east on the northern side of the Thames. We walked through a beautiful garden in front of a very stately old building and then across Waterloo Bridge. We then walked east on the south side of the Thames. We hit some blustery wet weather. But after this the weather improved – the day ended up very sunny. We walked through areas of old warehouses which have been wonderfully restored and are now pricey residences. Previously they would have been grimy warehouses located in the midst of slums. What a change! We eventually came to Monmouth Coffee Shop in Southwark. This had been Andrew’s dream – he is now ready to come home! We had coffee and then wandered through Boroughs Market (next to Southwark Cathedral – which is quite famous and quite controversial). This is a most interesting place selling all kinds of food. It looks quite like a normal market but to set up shop in this market is a very difficult – the operators are very choosey. We had an Ethiopian lunch (beef, rice and vegies). It was delicious! Totally enjoyable! We then caught a train at Victoria Cross station and went to Greenwich. Now that is a place worth visiting! We walked through a wonderful park (beautiful trees) up to the Greenwich Hill which overlooks the park, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth 1, the Thames River and also gives a great view of London. London is very flat so even a small hill gives a view. We then came down to the summer residence – there are great buildings in this area – some of the most impressive buildings we have seen. We went into the Painted Hall which is part of the Old Naval College. This is a big room for meetings; the ceiling and walls are covered in the most beautiful paintings. Most impressive! You can hire it for weddings (if you could afford it)!
We came to the pier to catch a ferry back to Westminster. There I was rewarded with seeing the famous replica of the Cutty Sark. The ship is very special to me as Hope bought me a model (one to put together) of the Cutty Sark some 35 years ago. Since then the ship has been very special to me. It represents the glorious end of the era of sail. We caught the ferry and sat on the upper deck. A brisk cold breeze was blowing. Bill was rejoicing in the cold breeze. He only had a shirt on but was extolling the virtues of cooler weather. The river is lined with units/apartments. Many are converted warehouses. They would all be quite outside my league from a financial point of view. We passed the new financial centre of London (Canary Wharf) and also passed the HMS Belfast (a cruiser built in the 1930s which is now part of the War Museum). The ferry took us past Parliament House – the view of this building from the river is superb. The ferry operator informed us that the Lord’s Prayer is engraved all around the building about 3 metres from the ground. I was quite impressed with this.
We disembarked into a crowd of students and then walked to Convent Garden in West End. This was a most enjoyable walk. The area is a square in front of St Pauls Church (the “Actors Church”). We had very welcome refreshments sitting on a balcony overlooking the square and watched two street performances. The sun was now fully shining – so it was a most relaxing time. One performer was a tight rope walker – the next was an escapologist (he was quite a comedian). London is a truly amazing city!!!
We then walked to Matthew’s home in Kennington. This was a half hour of brisk walking. It was very interesting. Matthew has bought a terrace house – the ground floor and the basement and is doing it up. It is very nice. They have two Lhasa Apsos. They are very friendly cute dogs. They live happily in the house on their own during the day (apart from having a walk by a dog walker).
Matthew had booked us for a meal at 7.00pm at The Tommyfield – a pub in Kennington. The booking was for 7 (the two dogs were included and sat with us during the meal)! It was a very nice walk to the pub. We walked through Cleaver Square (Matthew called it millionaire’s row because of the value of the homes). There is a square in the middle and people were out playing a sort of bowling game. They all looked very ordinary. Matthew said they probably bought the homes over 20 years ago when prices would have been quite low. The value of their homes has gone up 20 fold – so they are asset rich but income ordinary. This is quite a contrast, and apparently common in the inner London areas.
We had delicious meals. I had steak pie on mash (really good) and Andrew and Bill had Wild Boar pie on mash. They enjoyed theirs too. Matthew says it is more a breed of pig rather than pigs killed by hunters in the wild. It is quite funny sitting in a restaurant with two dogs – unheard of in Australia!
We left there at 8.30pm – it was still daylight but softening into twilight.
We walked back to Kennington Station and caught the train back to the B & B. We had to change trains twice but never waited more than 2 minutes for the connecting train. We had walked nearly 20 kilometres (Bill did an extra 3 kilometres because of the bike debacle). I was hoping that we could take the lift at Queensway station but there were too many people so we walked up the flight of 123 steps and then went back to the B & B.
A great day!