UK Trip August 2008: London

Continuing where we left off….

Having arrived in London safely, we caught a black cab to our hotel which was situated next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. 

I was impressed! although I was not as impressed with the hotel inspite of its location.  Our itinerary was not really tied to anything, although the company had provided us with a voucher to go on the Thames River cruise as well as an open top bus ride. My itinerary really boiled down to HMS Belfast, Southwark and that was it! But, I had to make allowances for my work colleague, so we hopped a boat to take us down to where we needed to get a boat to bring us back to where we started from.  I was also interested in things that float on the Thames, and there are quite a few apart from HMS Belfast. For starters there was the Queen Mary (no longer in London)

Queen Mary

HMS President

HQS Wellington.

We took a stroll along the embankment too, and I found quite a few interesting memorials along the way, including the RAF and Battle of Britain Monument and the National Submarine War Memorial
We also saw Cleopatra’s Needle which was being refurbished. 
And of course the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
These were places that I had read about when I was young and now they were slap bang in front of me. It was a very strange feeling indeed. In 2013 I revisited most of these sites and saw them in a whole new light. (I have also used the original images in this blogpost rather than 2013 images).
The London Eye was tempting though, and I went to find out how you got a ticket, but there was a queue to get into the queue to buy a ticket so I gave it a miss! 
This part of the touristy thang completed we made our way back to the hotel. The weather so far had been lousy for photography, but it slowly started to improve once we started threading our way back. We walked along the river and crossed each bridge as we encountered them. It added more miles but gave us a great view along the way. 
My end destination was Southwark. I really wanted to see the area where my grandmother had grown up and much to my surprise the street still existed, and the address was still current, although the house was long gone. 
We also detoured past Southwark Cathedral, and I regretted not having a better look at it at the time, I did a blogpost about my 2013 visit to the Cathedral though, and saw what I wanted to. 
And then I was at HMS Belfast, and a ship I was hell bent on seeing! 
I did a complete blogpost on her and there are a lot of images taken on board during this trip and on my 2013 visit. By the time I was finished with her I was finished and I headed back to the hotel via Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
Pausing to have a look at the machinery used to raise the bridge. 
And while the Tower of London was amazing to see from a historical aspect I think I will always remember it from the Blood Swept lands and Seas of Red display that I saw in Nov 2014.
At some point my partner and I also saw a structure that we could not quite identify, but I would solve that in 2013 too.
The next day we hit the open bus tour, although I had already been out before breakfast taking a look at St Katherine’s Dock and the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill.
We bailed out at Trafalgar Square and walked around admiring this very historic place where so much has happened over the years.
and of course finding South Africa House was a nice surprise for my companion who had no idea it existed.  
and we just had to go through Picadilly Circus too
 and bailed out close by and spent some time browsing a music shop.  
Then it was time to return to our hotel and make preparations to get to our next destination which was High Wycombe. 
We bid London a sad farewell and I personally knew that I had to return here one day. In fact there were tentative plans for a return in 2012, but the collapse of our jobs flushed those plans down the loo. Fortunately I spent a month in London in 2013, so was able to experience much more of the capital, but that is another story altogether.
High Wycombe was tiring, I really wanted to get back to South Africa, and we were situated in an industrial area, away from anything worth seeing. The only thing that I did do is photograph my first cemetery in the UK, and even that one was disappointing. 
Then it was time for Spinach for breakfast as we boarded “Tinker Belle” for our flight back to South Africa.  
It actually felt good to be home, I was bushed. 
It had been a fascinating trip, mainly because of the short period in London. As for what I learnt? strangely enough quite a lot, although it was really wasted when the company chose to flush all the knowledge down the toilet. I would return to the UK in 2013, and that is where the majority of the blogposts now originate from.  This was just a very short glimpse at an experience that I never really forgot. Thanks Ryan and Gayle for the opportunity. 
Random Images: London and High Wycombe

DRW © 2008-2021. Images recreated 06/03/2016, Links corrected 15/03/2021

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