Exploring A Bit Of London On A (Very) Rainy Day
Rain, Rain, Go Away…
Everyone remembers that rhyme from their childhood. Well, it couldn’t have been more fitting to this day.
I opened the drapes of my hotel window to find this:
It was to be a very rainy day in London town today, and not just a delicate little drizzle, either – it POURED, non-stop the entire day. Oh well, I’m here for only one more day, time to get out and make the best of it (or get on with it as the English say)!
I’ve been in London many times but have never stayed in this area – Southwark, which is just south of the river Thames near the Blackfriars Bridge. Southwark has been massively redeveloped over the years and is now kind of hipster with its cafes, clubs, coffee houses and trendy shops.
After breakfast at the hotel, my first task of the day is to find the nearest Underground station which, strangely enough, is called Southwark:
Anyone who’s ridden the London Underground will tell you that the stations are extremely old (London, after all, was the first city in the world to have an underground system for moving people). Most of the Underground stations are over a century old, but the Southwark station is very new. It’s indicative of how the area has been rebuilt:
Down into the Underground we go:
You can tell this is a very new station as it has the glass barriers that only open when the train pulls in. There are only a few of the newer, and retro-fitted, Underground stations that have these barriers as a suicide deterrent:
…AND… you know that you can only be on the London Underground when you get down to track level and hear this:
My destination this afternoon is St. Pancras International railway station. St. Pancras Station was opened in 1868 and is one of the wonders of Victorian engineering. It is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic Architecture and one of the most elegant stations in the world. It’s been refurbished to accommodate international train services and has a very long history of decay, restoration and spectacular rebirth. I marvelled at the architecture of this station:
Unfortunately my few shots cannot remotely do any justice to the beauty of this amazing structure; it has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
My destination within St. Pancras: Fortnum & Mason, the world-famous tea manufacturer and emporium. Miss J., this one is just for you:
After my tea run I returned to admire more of St. Pancras International. I found this absolutely striking – and HUGE – sculpture. It must be fairly new; I don’t recall seeing it there on previous visits.
I couldn’t find any plaque that provided information about the sculpture but as I found out later, it is called The Meeting Place. It is 9-metres (30 ft.) high, weighs 20 tonnes, was designed by British artist Paul Day and revealed in 2007. According to Wikipedia, the sculpture is intended to evoke the romance of travel through the depiction of a couple locked in an amorous embrace. The statue is reported to have cost £1 million and was installed as the centrepiece of the refurbished St. Pancras station. The work is modelled on the sculptor and his wife.
I was fascinated by this sculpture so I took several shots of the smaller figures than ring the base of this massive piece. The intricacy of the artwork is amazing:
I moved on to admire another marvellous piece in the station:
Sir John Betjeman was a poet and the person responsible for saving St. Pancras Station from demolition in the 1960’s. This is a tribute to him: an eight-and-a-half foot sculpture by Martin Jennings, which celebrates the man and his poetry.
It’s difficult to see in my shot, but John Betjeman’s name and dates encircle his feet along with the words: Who saved this glorious station. Around the circular edge of the base runs some words from Sir John’s poem Cornish Cliffs:
And in the shadowless unclouded glare
Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where
A misty sea-line meets the wash of air.
The lines aptly describe the arching roof of St Pancras station.
It was getting late in the afternoon and I was getting pretty hungry, so from St. Pancras I took a little walk to my absolute favourite neighbourhood in the whole city of London: Bloomsbury. This part of London is home to the favourite hotel of Vince and myself, the wonderful Euro Hotel on Cartwright Gardens:
… our favourite restaurant, the Balfour, which sadly has changed hands and name since we were in London two years ago:
… and of course, Burger & Shake: burgers, shakes and fries to die for. Guess where I had lunch today?
It was getting late at this point and my feet were aching. The rain continued to pour down so I decided to return to my hotel to rest and catch up on this blog.
Going back on the Underground I grabbed the last shot of the day as we pulled into Covent Garden station:
And that’s it for my Saturday in London, rain and all.
One more day in London, then home on Monday (waaaahhhhhhhh!!!).
Over and out from London for Saturday.