A Fog over London

While I am in the midst of scorching summer heat, I can cool my thoughts by reflecting back on a wintry morning in London.  On December 11th I decided to explore London Bridge Borough.  I secured a seat upstairs at the front of the 141 bus from Stoke Newington to London Bridge but all I could see from this excellent vantage point was condensation inside and fog outside!

View from the upstairs front window of the bus on the way to London Bridge.

View from the upstairs front window of the bus on the way to London Bridge.

When I alighted at Monument it occurred to me that London fog wasn’t just a thing of the past.  While not of the order of a Dickensian pea-souper, it was still impressively dense.

On London Bridge on the morning of 11th December.

On London Bridge on the morning of 11th December.

I came across a macabre setting for a bus stop in front of the London Dungeon.

For Whom the Bell Tolls...or...waiting for the bus at London Bridge.

For Whom the Bell Tolls…or…waiting for the bus near London Bridge Station.

I hadn’t heard of the Shard until I went to London in December.  The Shard is one of London’s newest buildings.  It is currently the tallest building in Europe at 309 metres (72 floors).  Renzo Piano is the architect.  (He is also one of the two architects who designed the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.)   The tall ‘shard of glass’ looked quite beautiful on that foggy morning.

The Shard through the mists.

The Shard through the mists.

I strolled by the Thames waiting (and hoping) for the fog to clear.  Very gradually it began to dissipate, revealing mysterious forms of famous bridges.  I wrote down two quotes which I saw underneath Tower Bridge.  “Most people would like to be delivered from temptation (eventually) but would like it to keep in touch.” Robert Orban.  And…

Very slowly Tower Bridge reveals itself.

Very slowly Tower Bridge reveals itself.

…”Those who search the most are the ones who find the most.”  Anon.

...a little more definition - but not much....

…a little more definition – but not much….

A glorious combination of winter sun and dissolving mist.

A glorious combination of winter sun and dissolving mist.

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

Mysterious light conditions make for a rather futuristic scene.

Mysterious light conditions make for a rather futuristic scene on the Thames Path.

I had no intention of going up the Shard.  I had read that it cost £29 to access the viewing levels!  However I suddenly and spontaneously thought “I HAVE to go up there”.  I persuaded myself that 1.  I love views;  2. I may never get another chance;  3.  London through the low cloud was bound to be awesome; and 4. ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’.  So…up I went.

Apocalypse now....or...low cloud over the city.

Apocalypse now….or…low cloud over the city.

It was worth the admission price!  Photos only hint at how fantastic it was to actually be up there.  It was magical, glorious and spellbinding.   It was an explosion for the visual senses!   I stayed up there for a long time taking in as much as I could plus having a nice conversation with one of the attendants.  To compensate for the admission price, I resisted the gaudy souvenirs in the sky-high gift shop.

The clouds drift away towards Grenwich.

The clouds drift away towards Greenwich.

Tower Bridge from the Shard.

Tower Bridge from  72 floors up.

After I descended and was walking away I turned around to look back at the building.  My eyes zoomed in on two window cleaners.  I took two photos; a close-up and a distant shot to try to show how much glass there was to clean.  You will need to click on the second photo (to enlarge it) to pick out the two little black dots who are the cleaners.

Window cleaning The Shard - a job for life.

Window cleaning The Shard – a job for life.

Spot the window cleaners.  You'll have to click on the photo (enlarging it) to see them.

Spot the window cleaners.

What a fantastic area London Bridge Borough is!  A short walk from the Shard and in the shadow of stately Southwark Cathedral is Borough Market.  This market had the most scrumptious food stalls I’d ever seen.  My eyes were popping out of my head at the wonder of it all; sights, smells, sounds and tastes.  Borough Market was all happening right under Victorian railway viaducts with trains constantly rumbling overhead.

Southwark Cathedral reflected in a plate glass window.

Southwark Cathedral reflected in a plate glass window.

The Beadles notice, 1908.

The Beadles’ notice, 1908.

Inside Borough Market the Salvation Army played traditional Christmas carols.  Those familiar tunes were transformed into melancholy hymns in such a setting.  I must admit that I wept while I watched; so overwhelmed was I by a sense of history, heritage and by standing in this beating heart of London.  After my weeping, I gave them a big donation and then walked away.  My cup runneth over…

The Salvation Army band played mournful Christmas carols in Borough Market.

The Salvation Army band played mournful Christmas carols in Borough Market.

ps:  To give you a taste of the atmospheric and historic Borough Market area, below are three photos taken a few days later when I returned with Matthew (husband) and Alicia (middle daughter).

Alicia and Matthew study swiss cheese at Borough Market.

Alicia and Matthew study, sample and buy European cheeses.

Looking towards the market from a cafe across the road.  I was inside drinking hot chocolate.

Looking towards the market from a cafe – where we were warm inside, drinking hot chocolates.

Southwark Cathedral and surrounds at dusk ie about 3 p.m.

Southwark Cathedral and surrounds at dusk.  This road is on one side of the market.

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About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
Image | This entry was posted in photo portraits of cities, photography, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Fog over London

  1. Jody says:

    Hi Julie,
    Great photos! You should read the poem by Wordsworth, “Upon Westminster Bridge”. He wrote it from the bridge early one misty/foggy morning coming home from his mistress. Your photos reminded me of the poem. Jody

  2. Anne mccaughey says:

    Beautifully worded, as ever Julie! Your patience in the process, emphasizing the wait, wait, wait til you get a marvelously elegiac view, like that one of the Tower Bridge with the tiny little corner lit by sun…..just amazing. The world of Monet and Whistler is still around.

    • Good point, Anne. A huge slice of the cake (the cake of photography) is made up of WAITING for the moment(s). Certainly when I was there during those light conditions, I was thinking about those artists you mention – and Turner.

  3. elisaruland says:

    Julie your photographs are absolutely fabulous! I’ve never seen elegant look so elegant and mysterious.

  4. You make me feel very nostalgic! Borough market and Tower Bridge are an easy walk from my daughter’s place, so I often head down there, and never get too much of it. The foggy photos are wonderful – I could see you doing something very nice with the first view from the bus. I passed on going up the Shard, because of the cost, but next time I might do it … you make it sound unmissable. Those misty photos are very beautiful.

    • You know me well, Anna. I HAVE been thinking about doing a drawing from that first bus photo. I may take several months to get around to it, mind you. I most defninitely recommend you go up the Shard next time though, due to the cost, make sure you pick weather conditions where you’ll get the most out of it.

  5. Robyn Varpins says:

    Cloud makes everything special…and delicious
    ps, I couldn’t find the cleaners

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