Harrods, Hyde Park and Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace

Today is the day we are returning home. But for some godforsaken reason, we end up walking 13.5 kilometres through Hyde Park, Kensington, Notting Hill and Bayswater before finally picking up our bags and heading for the airport.

Hyde Park and Harrods

We began our walk of the day in Hyde Park from Speaker’s Corner to Hyde Park corner, enjoying the morning life as runners passed us by. Some place mid-way we sat down on a park bench to enjoy our breakfast pastry and porridge.

Hyde Park
Hyde Park

There is something unique about Hyde Park. If you like me have read your share of historical novels from the Regency Period then you will know that Hyde Park was where the English gentlemen and ladies came to walk, be chaperoned or show off their equestrian skills.

Hyde Park was created as a private hunting ground for Henry VIII in 1536. It was Charles I who opened the park to the public in 1637. Almost 30 years later in 1665 it became a camp ground for Londoners attempting to escape the Great Plaque.

The park has gone through two major periods of change which has made it what it is today. In the 18th century, it was Queen Caroline, wife of George II, who formed Kensington Gardens and The Serpentine, which are central features of the park today.

In the 1820s, on commission by George IV, Decimus Burton created a new and glorious entrance at Hyde Park Corner, comprising the present-day Triumphal Screen and the Wellington Arch, which at the time upheld a massive horse statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, soldier and Prime Minister. However, the statue was removed after his death as it had generated controversy and ridicule.

Historically, the park is probably best known for housing the Great Exhibition in 1851, celebrating modern industrial technology and design.

Harrods alter to Lady Diana and Dodi Fayed
Harrods alter to Lady Diana and Dodi Fayed

Exiting the park we headed towards the infamous Harrods as we had promised my boyfriend’s mother to check out if they still had golden customer toilets. Though checking out two different floors, we never found anything in gold, but instead managed to get lost at the rather odious Egyptian staircase. As a compensation for the non-existing golden toilets, we ended up buying her a handbag, with Harrods written in front.

Returning to Hyde Park we followed the Serpentine to Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace

Having had our share of pub food for the last couple of days, I decided it was time to introduce my boyfriend to that most quintessential of English customs, Afternoon Tea. While tea drinking reached England with the reign of Charles II and his Portuguese and tea-loving wife, Infanta Catherine de Braganza, the idea of afternoon tea is much younger.

It is thanks to Anna Maria Stanhope, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria that we can enjoy drinking Darjeeling while nipping at little cucumber sandwiches and petite cakes, waving around our pinkie finger. According to most sources, it was she, who in the late 1830s introduced the practice of afternoon tea after feeling peckish around 4 o’clock. There are earlier sources from both France and England mentioning Afternoon Tea, amongst these apparently an unfinished Jane Austen work from 1804. Nonetheless, the Dutchess of Bedford might very likely have institutionalised it and made it more fashionable as a formal social occasion.

The Orangery
The Orangery

But what is Afternoon Tea? It is not as some might claim High Tea, which though it sounds rather posh, is in fact an evening meal consisting of meat and potatoes and enjoyed by all social classes. Rather afternoon tea is Low tea, because it is enjoyed in low seating surroundings – in the sitting rooms or the drawing rooms. When it is called Royale Tea a class of champagne or sherry is enjoyed at the beginning.

Afternoon Tea has various names depending on what is served with the tea, and different places will tell you different things, but from Afternoon to Remember and About Food I could gather that Cream Tea is a simple tea with scones, jam or lemon curd and clotted cream

Interior of the Orangery
Interior of the Orangery

Light Tea is concentrated on the sweets and as such is not really considered a meal. With a Light Tea you will as always get scones, but these will be accompanied by other sweet treats such as sponge cakes, cupcakes, madeleines and trifles.

Full Tea is the variant which you are normally treated with when stopping in for Afternoon Tea. Full Tea consists of scones and other sweets as wth a Light Tea, but in addition you are served little sandwiches or other savouries. It is often served on a three-tiered tray with the savouries at the bottom, scones on the middle tray and other sweets and deserts on the top.

Today at Kensington Palace Orangery was no different:

English Orangery Afternoon Tea

Egg mayonnaise and cress bridge roll; Coronation chicken wrap;

smoked salmon and cream cheese mini bagel; and cucumber and fresh mint sandwiches

Orange-scented and currant scones served with Cornish clotted cream and English strawberry jam

and an assortment of afternoon tea pastries

Served with a range of loose teas, tisanes or coffee

Full Tea serving
Full Tea serving

While the Full Tea we enjoyed was not in any way extraordinary, it was definitely worth every penny due to the beautiful surroundings. The Kensington Palace Orangery is a beautiful 18th-century greenhouse and place of entertainment, which was commissioned by Queen Anne in 1704. It is not difficult to imagine that the beautiful rooms full of natural light have been a place of royal entertainment and enjoyment.

Notting Hill Gate
Notting Hill Gate

After enjoying our Afternoon Tea, we headed into Notting Hill and though I had been ardent about avoiding Portobello Road, we nonetheless ended up walking it from one end to the other before turning off into Bayswater and walking back to Paddington Station and our hotel.

Old sports
Old sports
Alley from Portobello Road
Alley from Portobello Road
Rocking horse
Rocking horse
Shopping on Portobello Road
Shopping on Portobello Road

I am not certain how we survived the final stage of our walk, only that our strides became shorter and shorter. After four days of walking around London, I was however pleased to notice that my boyfriend was finally showing signs of fatigue.

Walking through London
Walking through London
Walking through London
Walking through London
Walking through London
Walking through London

Our long weekend in London seems more like a compact week in regards to all the things we have seen and experienced. I am happy to say that my general impression of London has changed and I am bringing home a long list of wonderful memories and favourite places.

Zofka

Sunday UpMarket, BrickLane Market and Spitalfields Market

Sunday is market day and we are heading to the East End beginning the day with a full Sunday breakfast at The English Restaurant next to Old Spitalfields Market.

You can find them here: The English Restaurant.

The English Restaurant
The English Restaurant

While my boyfriend enjoyed a complete English Breakfast, I had cut into a wonderful and tasty Eggs Benedict. Though the origin is shady with four different versions of men and women claiming to have invented it, it is certain that while the breakfast dish fits perfectly with the heavy English Breakfast style, its popularity derives from North America.

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict

Egg Benedict can be traced back to Isabella Beeton’s Household Management from 1861 which excludes most of the famous tales of how the recipe came about. In Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking she describes the origin of Egg Benedict as French, claiming that it comes from a traditional French dish named œufs bénédictine, consisting of brandade (a puree of refreshed salt cod and potatoes), spread on triangles of fried bread. A poached egg is then set on top and napped with hollandaise (taken from History and Women). Seeing as how the French love their eggs on everything from Crêpes to Croque Madame, I have decided to go with the French origin.

Hats for Sherlock
Hats for Sherlock

No matter what, I love it and would wish that it was as popular back home as it is in the English speaking part of the world.

After breakfast we strolled through the Old Spitalfields Market. The Sunday Market is a bit of a mix of everything and full of young and upcoming designers though much of it is too homey and colourfully organic for my taste. But the place is beautiful and pleasant to walk through.

Brick Lane
Brick Lane

Brick Lane and the Sunday UpMarket

After walking our way towards Brick Lane, we ended up in what can only be described as an inter-cultural food heaven. The Sunday UpMarket is a must for anyone with taste buds. Stalls with street food from all places of the world are gathering crowds. Here you’ll find Bangladeshi, Ethiopian, Canadian, Ghanese, Chilenian, Korean and even a stand selling Lithuanian – which I avoided like the plague.

Malay Curry and Kung Pao Chicken
Malay Curry and Kung Pao Chicken

Five months in Lithuania has settled my fascination for potato dishes for years to come. It is so overwhelming that it is impossible to figure out where to begin, but since we just had a full English breakfast and Eggs Benedict we decided to cut through the crowds and return when we were hungry again.

Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un

Brick Lane is a charming alternative street full of vintage clothes shops and flea markets. There was so much to see that I wonder why we didn’t buy anything. We were so very close to buying a couple of grain sacks just for the heck of it. It is definitely a place I will return to and next time I might have a better overview of the place as it quickly becomes chaotic.

Brick Lane shopping
Brick Lane shopping

Where Brick Lane runs into Bethnal Green Road we had an afternoon cocktail at Casa Blue before returning to the Sunday UpMarket picking each our dish off the street food stalls.

Popcorn Chicken
Popcorn Chicken

While I began with some strange Korean sweets and topped it off with some Gnocchi Gorgonzola, my boyfriend decided to use all his money on Wendy’s cake shop – not that I complained.

Ariel and the maniac mannequin
Ariel and the maniac mannequin

We ended up taking bus 23 from Liverpool Street Station through the City of London, cutting in between Soho and Mayfair, before reaching Marble Arch and Speaker’s Corner and taking Edgware Road to our hotel on Praed Street.

Travel ready
Travel ready

It is one of those great bus routes for sightseeing, passing large parts of inner London, allowing great views of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus as well as Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner.

Zofka

Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Soho and Chinatown

We began Saturday with breakfast at the cute little Fleet River Bakery at Lincoln’s Inn Fields near Holborn Station.

A very pleasant little spot with friendly waitresses who were kind enough to tell me the difference between a flat white and other variants of the milky coffee branch. As one of those not so rare persons who enjoy coffee with my milk rather than milk with my coffee, I will continue to enjoy my Café au Lait, Café Latte and Cappuccino, staying clear of the much more potent and coffee rich Flat White.

Muffins at Fleet River Bakery at Lincoln's Inn Fields
Muffins at Fleet River Bakery at Lincoln’s Inn Fields

After a marvellous breakfast we walked through Bloomsbury to Russell Square and up behind the British Museum before heading back again by Bloomsbury Street. On our walk through Bloomsbury, we ran across a lot of places named Bedford and I haven’t stopped thinking about that name. Probably because I mix it up with Stepford and imagine mechanical wives dotting the majestic homes of the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, I did a bit of background checking about the history of Bloomsbury and its relation to the name Bedford.

Bloomsbury Square Garden
Bloomsbury Square Garden
Earls and Dukes and a plea to the king

The area is recorded as Bloomsbury the first time in 1201 when it is bought by William de Blemond, a Norman landowner. Some argue that it derives from Blemondisberi, meaning the manor of Blemond. After two centuries under the Carthusian Monks of the London Charterhouse, Henry VIII granted it to Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton.

The pleasant Bloomsbury Square Garden which we enjoyed for a little while is one of the eldest parks in London and the first to bear the name Square. It was laid down in the 1660s by the 4th Earl of Southampton and as part of the early development of Bloomsbury. At the time it was understandably named Southampton Square.

However, as the 4th Earl of Southampton had no sons his estate at Bloomsbury ultimately went to the 2nd Duke of Bedford through his daughter Lady Russell. It is she who is known for attempting to save her husband Lord William Russell from execution by Charles II after his involvement in the Rye Plot. According to history she even threw herself at the Kings feet, pleading for clemency for her husband. However her pleas were to no avail and Lord William was executed at Lincoln Inn Field’s 332 years before I learned the difference between a Flat White and Cappuccino in the same place.

Yet, the marriage between Lady Russell and Lord William instigated the change of Bloomsbury from belonging to the now extinct Earldom of Southampton to the Dukes of Bedford. When Lady Russell died in 1723, Southampton Square was renamed Bloomsbury Square. Later Dukes of Bedford developed the area and particularly Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford’s demolition of Bedford House and development of Bedford Palace and Russell Square shaped the area that we know today.

Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson
Onto Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly

After crossing Oxford Street we landed ourselves at Seven Dials where we managed to steal a bench from French couple just as they were about to sit down. I know, I know, but she was just too slow and my feet were killing me, so while she was angrily looking my way I managed to change into more comfortable shoes while my boyfriend got to soak up the sunshine.

Wall of souvenirs
Wall of souvenirs

We quickly skimmed through the Covent Garden market square, which is too polished and touristy for my taste before heading off towards Trafalgar Square and Lord Nelson.

business break
business break

As we reached the grand square, the rain started and for the following hour we browsed the shelves of Waterstone Books. I ended up buying The Establishment by Owen Jones, while spending a lot of time figuring out which history book on London, would be the better choice ending up with the conclusion that they were all too big for carry-on luggage.

Brasserie Zedel
Brasserie Zedel

As the sun broke through, we headed off to Piccadilly Circus and a coffee and cake at Brasserie Zedel with a bit of shopping at the luxury of Fortnum and Mason for desert. Finding our way through Regent Street we made our way to the infamous Carnaby Street settling in for a late lunch at The Clachan in Kingly Street.

The Clachan
The Clachan

After lunch we headed on to Oxford Circus, joining the crowds at Oxford Street before ending up at another bench at Soho Square. With aching feet we made it the last part down across Shaftesbury Avenue to China Town and Leicester Square from where I took the tube home to the hotel, while my boyfriend continued his explorations a few hours more.

Lucky cats
Lucky cats

In the evening we returned to Piccadilly and a bite to eat before enjoying the Swedes beating Russia in the final at Eurovision 2015.

Zofka

Westminster, the Mall and Prince Albert

Nearing London Eye by boat, there is a real and possible chance of falling overboard as it is the tourist’s natural instinct to lean forward in order to catch all of the 443ft Ferris wheel at the banks of the Thames.

Second part of my-feet-will-bleed-at-the-end-half-marathon-sightseeing tour. The first has gotten the suspiciously long title: The City of London, Vikings, Heroic Self-Sacrifices and Shad Thames

Nearing London Eye by boat, there is a real and possible chance of falling overboard as it is the tourist’s natural instinct to lean forward in order to catch all of the 443ft Ferris wheel at the banks of the Thames. Though it is nearly impossible to even capture all of the massive spinning wheel in one picture frame, the tourist has to try nonetheless.

London Eye
London Eye

It is a wonder that no serious accidents have taken place as boats make anchor at the stop below the Millennium Wheel and across from Parliament and Big Ben. Too many must-see attractions are in the vicinity for the tourist not to follows its instinct and cutting off all reason and throwing any safety tips aside.

While accidents have been avoided, the area is still full of smaller encounters between tourists bumping into one another as they miss a step or do not look where they walk.

Fortunately strong arms keep me at bay from any bumping, toe shredding or more serious incidents as I make my way from the boat after it docks at London Eye and Westminster. But that doesn’t mean that I am not furious that all the other tourists have taken all the good spots at the river banks, snapping pictures of the iconic parliament as it mirrors in the Thames water. Elbowing and pushing will ensue.

Churchill
Churchill
Westminster and feet that hurt

We have reached Westminster on what is supposed to be our first day in London, but which to my feet feels like day seven. I am more than pleased that my boyfriend is such a laid back type of guy who finds immense enjoyment in just sitting on a bench, soaking it all up. Personally, I hate sitting quietly without something to do, but thanks too my camera and a few cookies from Subway at Greenwich Pier I manage to enjoy the fact that I got a bench and the other tourists did not.

I am mean, I know, but so far we walked 9.68 kilometres and my feet are telling me its okay to rejoice in the small miracle that is this bench. This time around I do not complain that my boyfriend needs another five minutes of relaxing in the afternoon sun.

Big Ben
Big Ben

Too soon in fact we are off to find that perfect shot of Parliament from straight across the river just to the right of Westminster Bridge. Afterwards we slowly cross the bridge, pass Big Ben, and turn to walk on the front side of Parliament before heading in to the pretty little streets next to College Garden and Westminster Abbey. No other tourists follow us this way, all of them staying at the trafficked road running along the Parliament. After reaching Westminster Abbey we cross Parliament Square to Whitehall, once again joining the tourist crowds and getting a kick out of the guards standing at attention at Downing Street. We end up at The Silver Cross near Trafalgar Square, sharing a refreshment before taking the long and not very winding road to Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

The Mall is long and tiring, and I don’t understand why people wish to walk up to a large building inhabited by an old woman and have their pictures taken in front of her golden gates. But when we reach those gates I get in line for photographs of the place. In spite of those who decided to built the long and harrowing Mall I walked those final yards up to the surprisingly not very pretty building, and to myself I inwardly sing a revolutionary tune just to feel a little rebellious. Yeah, I’m really not much for monarchies. I do not like the idea that some people are better than others just because their forefathers were more brutal with a sword.

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria

But there is one queen who I have decided to honour this evening and that is jolly old Victoria. We walk through Green Park to the tube and take it to Lancaster Gate from where we head towards The Victoria for a late night dinner. The Victoria is an absolute beauty of a pub full of people, having a pint and speaking an English I can’t even pretend to understand. Thankfully there are enough young Aussies behind the bar for us to order something to eat as well as a long dreamed off pint. The bar is the only place left for us to enjoy our food, and I love it. I love sitting there nodding to some guy who tries to crack a joke at me without me having the faintest idea of what he is saying. The food is great and even better after we have walked 16 kilometres. I can only recommend anyone finding themselves on the North side of Hyde Park to drop by this gorgeous place, where there are plenty of paintings of queen Victoria and her beloved Albert.

On Draft
On Draft

After dinner we make the final short walk home to our not so very comfy beds. Tomorrow we’ll be enjoying Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Soho and China Town. Hopefully my feet will be ready by then.

Zofka

Gallery: Sailing on the Thames

A photo gallery showing our trip up the Thames from the O2 Arena to the Eye of London

O2 from the Thames
O2 from the Thames
Coldharbour
Coldharbour
Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich
Coldharbour
Coldharbour
Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs
Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf
Residential housing near Canary Wharf and Limehouse
Residential housing near Canary Wharf and Limehouse
Residential housing near Canary Wharf and Limehouse
Residential housing near Canary Wharf and Limehouse
Housing next to King Edward Memorial Park
Housing next to King Edward Memorial Park
St John's Wharf
St John’s Wharf
The Thames Police
The Thames Police
Oliver's Wharf
Oliver’s Wharf
Hermitage Community Moorings
Hermitage Community Moorings
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Financial District
Financial District
The Shard
The Shard
London Bridge and Financial District
London Bridge and Financial District
City of London and St. Paul's Cathedral
City of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral
Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral
Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge
Reaching Westminister
Reaching Westminister
Parliament
Parliament

The City of London, Vikings, Heroic Self-Sacrifices and Shad Thames

Since our plan was to do the my-feet-will-bleed-at-the-end-half-marathon-sightseeing tour on Friday, we went to bed early on our first night, attempting to fall asleep in the hard uncomfortable twin beds of our small and noisy hotel room.

I have been to London twice before. Once as a young girl with my mum during the traditional Autumn Holiday, and once after a crazy New Years Eve in Portugal celebrating the arrival of 2006.

I don’t remember much apart from China Town from my first visit and my disappointment of Portobello Road from my second. Thus, I must admit I was not exactly over enthusiastic when my boyfriend dreamt of us visiting London. However, last year for his birthday I gave him a plane ticket to London, and finally we found the time to fit in a long weekend trip.

But seeing as it is a long time since any of us visited London, we wanted to make the most of it. Most of all I have been looking forward to the pubs. Ever since my trip to Ireland and Dublin, I have longed for that special pub feeling. Moreover, we wanted to go sightsee. We wanted to spend a day on the top ten picks for London. And thirdly, I wanted to experience the Brick Lane Market and Sunday UpMarket while my boyfriend was dreaming up plans to eat a full English breakfast. Looking back, I can proudly say that we managed it all plus a little more.

Eating in Little Lebanon on Edgware Road
Eating in Little Lebanon on Edgware Road

We arrived Thursday evening at our hotel near Paddington Station and headed down to Little Lebanon on Edgware Road where we found a charming and very local Lebanese restaurant. The area is full of Lebanese restaurants and coffee shops and quite a pleasant and interesting street to walk down.

Since our plan was to do the my-feet-will-bleed-at-the-end-half-marathon-sightseeing tour on Friday, we went to bed early on our first night, attempting to fall asleep in the hard uncomfortable twin beds of our small and noisy hotel room.

City of London

Friday began at Temple Subway Station and our first spontaneous addition to our tour was the near-by church St. Clement Danes. I must admit it was the name that drew us near, and after our visit I did a bit of quick research on the name, the origin of the church and the Danish Vikings. While the present church which is neatly situated on The Strand was build by the design of Sir Christopher Wren between 1680 and 1682 and the interior was rebuilt after it blazed out during the London blitz on May 10th 1941, it is believed that the original church on the spot was build by Danes settling around The Strand during the reign of Danish Viking kings.

St. Clement Danes
St. Clement Danes
Canute the – what’d you say?

England was overrun by Viking conquests in the 9th century AD and in 865 a large army of Danish Vikings – amongst these the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, whom most know from the HBO series Vikings – invaded England. Ten years into the campaign the Danes controlled East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia, leaving out only Wessex. These conquests resulted in many Danish warriors settling down in northern and eastern England, marrying local women and intermingling with the Anglo-Saxon population. While the Vikings ruled England until 954 AD their influence lasted for centuries, and surveys have shown that the English have quite a bit of raging Viking blood running through their blood.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

In 1003, the Vikings returned to the English throne in the guise of Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn was King of Denmark between circa 960 and 1014 and is mostly known for his weird nickname and the fact that his father Harald, with the even weirder nickname Bluetooth, converted Denmark to Christianity. Some however have also named him the last Viking King of Denmark. As atrue Viking he planned and executed a number of invasions and conquests along the English coast in the first decade of the 1th century. The cause for these invasions was revenge after the English King Æthelred had massacred a large number of Danish settlers in England in 1002 , also known as the St. Brice’s Day Massacre. Some even argue that his sister Gunhilde and her family were amongst the victims of the massacre. After a series of invasions and demands of Danegeld, which pretty much means tribute to Danes, he and his son Knud reconquered England in 1013. He was crowned the King of England in December 1013 and remained such for the remaining two months of his life.

Candy Store on the Strand
Candy Store on the Strand

Three years after his death and after the sudden death of King Æthelred’s son Edmund Ironside, his second eldest son Knud gained the throne of England, which he held until his death in 1035. At the time of his death Knud ruled over Denmark, Norway, England, parts of Scotland, parts of Sweden and areas on the Eastern side of the Baltic Sea – awarding him the nickname the Great. England remained under the rule of the Knytlinga kings until 1042.

The Viking conquests of England and the later rule of the Knytlinga kings established a large Danish settlement in England, even establishing areas under Danelaw – Danish Law, which was referred to for centuries later. A large group of settlers lived at the present day The Strand, and St. Clement Danes is a reminder of their part in English history and heritage.

The church is named after Saint Clement of Rome who is the patron saint of mariners and many churches in Scandinavia have been named after him, including Aarhus Cathedral. Danes have after all always been seafarers.

After it was hit during the London blitz in 1941, the church was restored and re-consecrated in October 1958 by funds from the Royal Air Force. Since then it has been the Central Church of the Royal Air Force.

St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Pauls or Pub lunch?

After enjoying the peace of the beautiful St Clement the Danes, we headed up the Strand as it turned into Bond Street. I loved this walk, feeling as if I was smack in the middle of a Jane Austen book, and in stead of London buses, horse drawn carriages would scurry down the road.

We ended up as all tourists ultimately do with the choice of whether to pay the outrages £18 for access to St. Paul’s Cathedral or not. We decided against it opting for a peaceful rest in the charming green park behind the church before heading up St. Martin Le Grands.

Football and lunch at Lord Raglan
Football and lunch at Lord Raglan

As lunch time was approaching we decided to join the crowds at Lord Raglan, a charming pub filled to the brim with lunch hour guests from the surrounding financial headquarters. I was rather pleased that my boyfriend had convinced me to do our heavy sightseeing through the City of London on Friday rather than during the weekend, as I imagine the area and pubs would have been dead empty outside office hours.

Time for pie at Lord Raglan
Time for pie at Lord Raglan

After lunch we crossed the road to the pleasant Postman’s Park and the iconic Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. There is something so humble and beautiful about this memorial, reading the names of real people, who sacrificed themselves in an attempt to safe others. Whispers in the wind of long lost lives, heroes of everyday life whose only reward was their own untimely death.

Alice Ayres
Daughter of a bricklayer’s labourer
Who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street Borough at the cost of her own young life
April 24, 1885

Ellen Donovan
of Lincoln Court
Great Wild Street
Rushed into a burning house to save a neighbours children and perished in the flames
July 28, 1873

Edmund Emery of 272 King’s Road Chelsea
Passenger
Leapt from a Thames steamboat to rescue a child and was drowned
July 31, 1874

After walking through the streets of London, passing the Roman walls of ancient Londinium, walking down Gracechurch Street and passing The Monument, we finally found our way to the Thames, strolling down towards the Tower of London and London Bridge.

Postman Park
Postman Park
Shad Thames

On the other side of the Thames we discovered the hidden gem of Shad Thames with its beautiful cobbled streets and iron bridges. Shad Thames is a street which runs through Butler’s Wharf from London Bridge to Saviours Dock. The area of Butler’s Wharf and Saviour’s Dock has been a warehouse district and part of the Upper Pool of London for centuries, and was central in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist from 1837-9, as the place where Bill Sikes den is located and where he dies by falling off a roof. At the time the area was described by Dickens as the filthiest and strangest localities hidden in London and a Venice of Drains, but with the trade expansions of the Victorian era the district grew into its hay days with many of the present day warehouses on Shad Thames dating from the last decades of the 19th century.

Shad Thames
Shad Thames

Up until the post WW2 era the district was central to London with the warehouses on Shad Thames housing huge quantities of tea, coffee, spices and other goods, which were unloaded and loaded onto river boats. Yet, after the Pool of London lost its shipping to coastal deep-water container ports further east the area was abandoned and the last warehouse closed in 1972. After a decade of abandonment and derelict, the area of Butler’s Wharf and Saviour’s Dock was restored and renovated as the warehouses were converted into expensive flats and a fashionable residential area. Today, many of the warehouses are named for the commodities previously stored in them. Thus, today the old warehouses are named Coriander Court or Saffron Wharf, Tea Trade Court or Vanilla and Sesame Court.

After walking from Shad Thames and the long way down Jamaica Road to Bermondsey Station, we took the tube East to North Greenwich from where we took the Thames Clippers from North Greenwich Pier to London Eye and Westminister. The 45 minutes were a wonderful chance of relaxing our tired feet, but as you are probably well aware, if you’ve read my blogs before, I can’t sit still when there are opportunities to photograph, and sailing on the Thames I couldn’t help standing on the tip of my toes most of the way, camera in hand and leaving me deadbeat tired when we finally reached the London Eye, and the second part of my-feet-will-bleed-at-the-end-half-marathon-sightseeing tour.

Read about Westminster in my next blog

Zofka