Shad continues his trip to London

As John and I headed into the City of London after our emotional encounter with the Tower of London poppies, we stopped for some comfort food to warm our cockles.  This culinary delight came in the form of hot-dog and chips from a van that claimed it was selling traditional London food!  Mmm.  I believe that sausages were originally imported from Germany and became popular at baseball games in America, and the relish didn’t feel very British to me.  Nevertheless, it was tasty.  Why it’s called a hot-dog I’ll never know.  I’ve come across a few dogs in my time as regular readers will know and not one of them had any bits that looked like a sausage in a bun.  My own theory is that people used to cook meaty sausages that were stolen by the dog when they were still hot from the oven and hot-dogs were born.  Of course a cat would wait until the sausage had been cut into bite-size chunks and garnished lavishly before running away with a decent helping.

 

London Basin

Anyway, I digress.  After finishing my traditional London dinner and grabbing a quick catnap, John and I picked up the pace so that we could see as much of the City as possible.  We walked briskly past the Royal Exchange, originally built in the 16th century as a centre of commerce, it has twice been destroyed by fire and rebuilt and is currently a plush courtyard with offices, luxury boutiques and restaurants. Another unique building you will see in the photos is the Bank of England which is authorised to issue banknotes in the UK and is the custodian to the official gold reserves.  Apparently the vault beneath the City of London needs keys that are 3 feet long to open and holds around 4600 tonnes of gold.

 

Check out these fabulously dressed ‘Beefeaters’ as they’re affectionately known.  The detachment of the ‘Yeomen of the Guard’ is symbolic of London and has formed the Royal Bodyguard for many centuries.  In case you’re wondering, they apparently derived their nickname from their position in the Royal Bodyguard in the 15th century when they were permitted to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king’s table.  No hot-dogs though!

 

My tough little paws were starting the feel the strain as we sauntered along the Victoria embankment at the boundary of the City of London but a good photographer learns to power through.  From the Waterloo Bridge we took photos of the London Eye, Westminster Tower and the Houses of Parliament. Boy that Big Ben looked huge from the street below and the Gothic architecture was impressive and imposing.  According to the locals, Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster which was cast in April 1858, making him around 156 years old.  He is 96m (or 315 feet) up in the air and the clock weighs about 13 ½ tons, about the same as a small elephant.

 

We headed to Trafalgar Square which was thriving with tourists and smart office workers going about their business.  Here we saw Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery and ended our whistle-stop tour of London on a poignant note in front of the bronze soldier.  The 7.5m high soldier sculpture commemorates the WW1 centenary and is based on the Unknown Soldier.

Shad does the poppies at the Tower of London

Picture this – a sleek black portly cat setting out for London from deepest Bognor Regis with nothing but a polka-dot bag on a stick and a dream. Rumour had it that the streets were paved with gold and this cat from humble beginnings was off to seek his fortune.  When he reached the bustling city he couldn’t believe his eyes, there were horses and cars, great tall buildings and hundreds of people, but nowhere could he see any gold.  This lucky cat with a vivid imagination was indeed on an adventure but didn’t have to worry about being tired or hungry because he was taking a trip with his ‘dad’ and business partner (John) to England’s capital, not to seek treasure but to pursue the passion in his life – photography.

A sea of red

A sea of red

John and I decided to take the train up to Londinium to see the beautiful Tower of London ceramic poppies before they are dismantled later in the month.  Each of the 888,246 poppies represents a tribute to British or Commonwealth service men and women who have been killed in action.  Around 4 million people are expected to have visited so far but it will be dismantled shortly to go on tour across the UK, being displayed around the country and then permanently in the Imperial War Museum.  Some of the poppies will be sold for £25 each and the net proceeds will be shared between the six service charities including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

 

The sea of red poppies is a moving piece of art that reflects the scale of the sacrifice made by the service personnel who have died in the line of duty and the humans that had gathered to look at it were full of admiration for the artist who created them and the meaning behind them.  And that wasn’t the only picturesque scene I witnessed on my jaunt to the Big Smoke.  The view of the city from the bank of the Thames was stirring – the bold structures that silhouetted the grey stormy skyline, the brightly coloured clothing of crowds wandering along the embankment, working barges and busy pleasure-boats bobbing noisily on the churning murky waters of the fast moving river.

 

The  naval vessel in the picture is HMS Severn, a Royal Navy river class patrol ship paying a visit to London for a few days so the crew can attend the Remembrance Service at St Paul’s Church on Armistice Day and help raise money for the London Poppy Appeal.  HMS Severn is moored alongside HMS Belfast, part of the Imperial War Museum’s exhibits that tells the stories of life on board this warship during the Second World War.  Look carefully at the photos and you’ll also spot St Paul’s, the Shard and the Monument – a tall stone column topped with a flaming urn covered in gold that stands as a memorial to the Great Fire of London in 1666.  I hope you enjoy the pics and I’ll tell you more about my London adventure next time.

The City