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!
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.
I came across a macabre setting for a bus stop in front of the London Dungeon.
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.
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…
…”Those who search the most are the ones who find the most.” Anon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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).
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