Let’s go to London!
Come rain or shine, summer or winter, there is always something going on in London. Living not all that far from the capital means that it is pretty easy for me to pop up to the city for a day out every now and again. And you know what? Each visit offers something new places to go, or experiences to be had. I was therefore excited to be visiting the capital with my friend Laura, who has the eye for the slightly more alternative side of life, in the hope that she would help me discover a ‘different’ London to that of which I am used to.
Laura and I set off early, catching the train into Paddington and hopping aboard the Tube as far as Tower Hill. Our first stop of the day was to see the World War One Commemoration which currently surrounds the majestic Tower of London. Back in July the Tower’s dry moat was filled with its first ceramic poppies, creating a powerful visual tribute to the fallen of WWI. By this coming November it is hoped that there will be almost nine hundred thousand poppies ‘planted’ around the Tower, one for each British and Colonial fatality that took place during the war.
Leaving the Tower behind us, we walked the short distance to St Katherine Docks, a former commercial dock that served London in the past. Nowadays, the docks have been turned into a housing and leisure complex with a variety of shops, bars and restaurants as well as a handful of luxury yachts that are kept in the old marina.
Also docked in the Marina, was the Gloriana, the barge in which the royal family rode in, during the Queen’s Jubilee parade, on the river Thames. Unfortunately the barge was too big to fit in one picture, but I think from what I managed to capture you can get a good idea of the lavish design and detailing.
From St. Katherine Docks we crossed the iconic Tower Bridge to the other side of the Thames, taking a few snaps as we went. We passed by the City Hall and cut through onto Tooley Street, admiring the Shard which towered high above us.
Eventually we reached our destination – Borough Market – and conveniently it was approaching lunchtime. Borough Market is tucked away, under the railway lines serving London Bridge station, but is one of the city’s renowned food markets; offering local as well as international produce. Before we had even climbed down the steps, we were met with delicious aromas and colourful displays of edible goodies..
We spent quite some time wandering around the market, trying to decide which of the tempting stalls we would stop at to get some lunch. Eventually, we decided on a stand which was offering Indian food and were soon tucking into our lunch, sat in the shadows of Southwark cathedral.
Once our stomachs were contented, we set off for Camden via King’s Cross Station. Both Laura and myself are Harry Potter fans, but disappointingly neither of us had previously made the pilgrimage to Platform 9 and 3/4.. it was time to do our old friend proud! Naturally there was a host of other tourists huddled around the ‘platform’, some, like us, merely taking photos of the wall before heading off, but there was also the usual queue of die-hard fans waiting to have their own photos taken sporting windswept Hogwarts scarves.
We made a quick pit stop in the rather cramped gift shop before continuing our trip to Camden. Instead of catching the Tube a few stops, we decided to get some exercise and walk along the canal. The walk took us about half an hour and despite not offering the most picturesque scenery, gave us a chance to breath in some fresh our and experience a less touristy London. At last we made it and left the tow path at Camden Lock and bee-lined for the assortment of market stalls ahead. Clothes, souvenirs, henna, handbags, records, art .. you name it, Camden Lock Market sells it!
We explored the market stalls outside and then ventured into the Stables Market, an area packed out with ‘vintage’ pieces, antique items and unique finds with everything from clothes (yes, more clothes!) to accessories, to furniture.
Tiring from our ‘window shopping’ we decided it was time to make our way back towards the city centre. We set off by foot, and after stopping for a few photos, on spotting some delicious looking houses (almost ice cream like, don’t you think?), continued on our way through Camden Town and on towards Euston station.
It was approaching 4pm, or in other words, tea time and in an attempt to refuel ourselves we stopped for a spot of afternoon tea at Soho Secret Tea Room, located above the Coach & Horses on Greek Street. The tea room offers a cosy, vintage-inspired atmosphere, with very reasonably prices and the soothing sounds of 1940’s jazz records playing in the background.
It’s safe to say we demolished the offerings rather quickly!
After a long day of exploring, delicious food and great fun the time eventually came to return to Paddington. We hopped on the train and fortunately both found seat so we could rest our tired legs and relax on the journey back home.
Have you been to London?
Where do you like to go to escape the bustling crowds or eat delicious food?
Do let me know, I’d love to hear your tips and experiences!