Blog Post – November 24, 2016
Journal Date: October 8, 2016 Part One
I arrive in London mid-afternoon on October 8th. A few of my Abergavenny students have prepared me with a list of places to go, walks to take and sites to see to make the most of my short stay in London. Thank you, Patricia, for the handwritten notes and guides!
The plan was to check my bags at the train station and wander the streets of London, possibly following the City of London Tree Trail. Due to logistical confusion I opt to take the Underground to Hammersmith and check in at St. Christopher’s Inn. I had booked three nights in a room shared by eight women. The check-in desk is next to the bar in the downstairs pub. The building doesn’t have an elevator and my dorm room is on the fourth floor. Climbing stairs with a backpack and a small suitcase is good for my bone density. I’ve been assigned to an upper bunk.
After stowing my belongings in a small locker and a large cage beneath the bunkbed I return to Hammersmith Station and catch a bus back into the center of London. Through the window I watch the city skyline change and catch glimpses of world history.
Melody Restaurant in St. Paul’s Hotel in Hammersmith
As we drive by, I snap a photo of a gorgeous brick building with striking chimneys, the first of many structures that take my breath away. I discover later that the building is St. Paul’s Hotel. At one time the building was a school, designed by the architect of the National History Museum. It was in this building where Eisenhower, Montgomery and Churchill met to plan the D-Day landings.
Markets along Kensington High Street
I get off the bus near Knightsbridge Station and begin my evening walk through the streets of London, looking to find the trees along the City of London Tree Trail.
Brompton Road and Knightsbridge
The sky casts an eerie light on the buildings, clouds appear to bubble into a rolling boil. The cinematic sky continues throughout the evening and perhaps through the night into dawn. At times I feel as if I’ve stepped into an oil painting.
Harrods of London on the far right
I walk in the direction of the River Thames, grateful for the directions painted on the streets for those of us who drive on the right side of the street rather than the left. It’s not only driving that’s hazardous. When walking, the traffic comes from unexpected directions.
In a short while I find myself at the Victoria Embankment Gardens, a series of gardens on the north side of the River Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge. Within the gardens, among the flowers and shrubs, are numerous memorial statues.
The statue of the young girl is dedicated to the memory of Lady Isabella Henry Somerset, a noted temperance worker who founded the first industrial farm for inebriate women and set up a home for training workhouse children. “The original bronze statue designed in 1897 was stolen in 1971 when it was sawn off at the feet. A copy of the original statue was unveiled in February 1991 by the City Council.” *
I continue along Victoria Embankment toward Blackfriars Bridge.
Pink painted lines and sidewalk geometrics – My kind of Street Art
Blackfriars Bridge and new construction
The contrast between the old and the new is visually shocking. I connect strongly with both. I feel as if I am in a time machine caught between the past and the future.
On the employee’s resumé it stated “Designer of gum and butts litter bin”.
The signage in the United Kingdom amuses me.
… and so do the names of streets. Cheapside is the historic and modern financial centre of London.
Lamp post fish ornamentation
Great linear shapes with shrubbery and a bald head adding organic accents
The bottom half of the cast bronze statue by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. “Taxi”
Winged Dragon along the River Thames
A VERY narrow building
Fabulous sky ornaments
Another great street name … Puddle Dock
… to be continued.
*quoted from a history marker near the statue.