London dawns grey and cold – though apparently much warmer than it has been. For a traveller who has been in temperatures of mostly low-twenties, it is certainly cold. Also after the colourful nature of the Hong Kong Christmas, it is definitely rather pallid. I have been walking quite a lot – the inevitable trek to Howarth’s – unsuccessful in clarinet terms, though some really interesting music for performances later this year. I then walked down and through Oxford Street sales and back to Kings Cross. I managed to display some rare self-control and spent only very little on things that I had decided to look for before I came here. It is good though to walk through shops like Selfridges, Gap, Top Shop (yes they have a men’s department), French Connection etc……to get ideas for future purchases! The few Christmas lights that were turned on during the day stood out even in the midday crepuscular greyness that permeates life here in the UK in Winter.
Yesterday (New Year’s Eve) I walked down to the Museum of London. This shows the history of the London area since long before the time that fundamentalists would have us believe possible (England still connected to Europe) until present day London. A free museum, I found it fascinating with images and stories of London and its people through the ages. There are some beautiful models of the buildings (like St Paul’s shown here). Also a collection of flints and stone or bronze implements that impress with their ingenuity but also I wonder how they managed to survive with such tools. Nothing like such a visit to put things into perspective. It makes one realise how tiny our own part of world history is and will be in future. In a cosmic blink of an eyelid we are come and gone.
Photos above: London Wall (a preserved section), Goldsmiths (the BACK door), St Paul’s (rear view).
London is such an interesting place like this. Without even going to the really famous historic places here, it is possible to happily spend the day (as I did) merely wandering along roads with historic and modern side by side. I like the way that the English celebrate their history. They don’t throw away the vestiges of former civilisations/times in the quest for progress, but place them side by side – which makes the contrast even more vivid! After the museum, I walked down to St Paul’s Cathedral, had lunch (“Pret a Manger” now charges extra to “eat in”), crossed over the Millennium Bridge and walked along the Embankment – well as much as one is able to at the moment with quite a large detour to miss “improvement works”. A quick look into the Festival Hall to pick up tickets for a concert and then a wander back across to Charing Cross and back through to Kings Cross. a 6- hour trek, but oh so interesting!
Photos above: St Paul’s, Millennium Bridge, London Bridge from Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern Gallery, Blackfriars Pier – note the lights shining at 2.30pm!
Once back, I saw in the New Year by going down to a local pub for a meal. Not too noisy and behaviour still controlled (early in the evening). After returning to my room – and expecting the night to be really noisy with the paper thin walls and doors here, I was surprised at how quiet things were. Sure the fireworks at midnight were very noisy. I heard from lots of people in the breakfast dining room this morning that many of them were unable to see more than a few flickers. I had thought myself of trying to watch them again, but even by 4.00 in the afternoon the surrounding area was feeling pretty full and I was glad to escape the milling throngs – mothers intent on their two year old babies having the best possible view, couples arguing, some rather loutish behaviour. It all made sense of the comments from this morning by a man who had just decided on the spur of the moment to come to London for the night – because he wanted to and had no reason not to do so. I know this is the sort of time of year that people often reflect upon their life and make all sorts of improbable resolutions, however I am rather more simple than that. I am living as I wish at present. I will be happy to share that, when it feels right. In the meantime I am happy being able to enjoy “wandering in London”.
Happy New Year to anybody still reading this. I hope that 2011 is a positive year for you all!