All of these posts about the trip are composed using notes about each day’s events and points of interest which were jotted down either at the end of that day or a few days after, so as to have fresh insights about what was intriguing and permit the viewpoint to be kept as close to the original impressions as possible. Often, when visiting a new place, aspects of a location and its uniqueness is lost when thinking back upon it weeks later after returning to the mundanity of one’s normal locale. That which was foreign to one’s experience is now foreign again, so the recollection of its spark of excitement when first seen is lost. Thus, with both time and physicality in close proximity, the making of notes and occasional bits of text putting into words what one thinks and feels is of great aid when composing more complete works of prose about the moment in the past.
I’ve no idea why I didn’t note anything down, but perhaps I was too completely knackered at the end of the day to place words into a document. Also possible is that the intention was to make some notes the next day, but couldn’t recall anything more detailed than ‘went for a walk in The City’; which is precisely what I did.
As a result, most of this will follow the time-honoured style of “here’s a photo, and here’s what it is and what was happening at the time”. Logically, some of the images will be bigger than normal so as to show you things in them. Additionally, if you click them they’ll not take you to a page at Flickr, but instead will open a larger version of the image in front of the post so you can see as much detail as is needed.
Now, are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
The decision was made that this was the day I would wander into The City of London proper, choosing to eschew those lesser places such as Westminster, Covent Garden, and St. John’s Wood. Begone with your talk of the Wonder of Wandsworth, the Charm of Chelsea, or the Beauty of Brixton! ‘Tis London, I say; LONDON!
For those of you thinking ‘but isn’t he already in London?’, it’s important to remember that there is Greater London which encompasses all of the places just mentioned and more besides, and then there’s the specific original City of London which comprises post codes EC1-EC4, and is often merely referred to as ‘The City’, as there is no other city in the world worth the breath of mentioning it. That was the story during the time of The Empire, anyway.
The ultimate goal for the day was to head into the area and see the Sites of Historic Import within that Sacred and Holy City of the New Jerusalem (a.k.a.: ‘London’). Having examined the map of The City in the Lonely Planet Guide to England, it seemed a goodly day’s walking tour would bring one in contact with a plethora of things which one ought to have an idea what they really look like. Choosing to basically start at one end and work to the other, this made St. Paul’s Cathedral [image of dome, above left] the logical ‘start point’ was there, albeit by way of Blackfriar’s Bridge.
Silly me… One cannot simply ‘take a peek’ at something as one heads to the supposed ‘first big thing’ when walking in London. The place is filled with big, important things; to the extent that you’ll probably sit down on one to rest for a minute and not realise it.
For instance, the cattle troughs are still there [see right], testifying to the Borough of Clerkenwell’s origins as a Goods and Warehousing area. This one was put in place in 1886 by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, who may very well be still finding location for the things, for all one knows.
Shortly thereafter one passes what is probably the Smithfield Central Markets (word of its exact nature is still to come from my tame London Expert), which that day were either closed because the place is a death trap — which it looks like [image, above left] — or because it was Monday — which it was that day — and eventually arrive at Blackfriars Bridge, where I once again give directions to people, this time to a nice young German couple who needed to know how to get to the Tate Modern, just the other side of the span. Easy-peasy.
The bridge [image, right] is an impressive thing: wide, flat, and quite easy to drive across without realising the thing’s a bridge, one should think. It was being worked on at the City end that day. It’s possible they were completing a bit someone in 1645 made a note about getting to at the end of the job. One didn’t want to ask as it might be quite embarrassing for the men involved.
After passing a Welsh church trapped on all sides by an underpass and an overpass and a by-way… and the poor people are already suffering so much merely by being Welsh… one next passes by the Royal College of Arms (just sitting there, no fanfares, no big fancy security force, no neon sign), when suddenly — up a pedestrian mall between who buildings — you see St. Paul’s.
I’d spotted it a few times in the past hour as the distance decreased, but hadn’t seen it for the past twenty minutes or so, so to suddenly be one block from it, and to have it a goodly height upwards from my elevation, was to be presented with the full glory of its construction. The height, the design, the incomprehensibility of something that massive not being destroyed in the blitz (how could you not hit the thing, even if you tried to miss it?), it all fell into place. The scale of the undertaking of its construction is incomprehensible when gazing upon its whole. The setting in the landscape is such that you are able to stand at a great enough distance that you appreciate its lines and dimensions.
Let’s stop here for this post, and continue with more of the walking tour of The City tomorrow.
Table of contents for the series “UK-tober-Fest”
- What I’m Doing in a Fortnight’s Time
- One Final Sleep in Our Bed
- Friday, October 10th, 20:15 ~ YVR… still…
- Friday, October 10th, 23:50 ~ somewhere over the NWT probably…
- Saturday, October 11th ~ Arrival & Warwick (Day I)
- Sunday, October 12th ~ Warwick (Day II, part i)
- Sunday, October 12th ~ Warwick (Day II, part ii)
- Monday, October 13th ~ Warwick (Day III)
- Tuesday, October 14th ~ Warwick (Day IV) to London (Day I)
- Wednesday, October 15th ~ Canadian Election Results [an Aside to London (Day II)]
- Wednesday, October 15th ~ London (Day II)
- Thursday, October 16th ~ London (Day III)
- Friday October 17th ~ London (Day IV)
- Saturday October 18th — London (Day V)
- Sunday October 19th — London (Day VI)
- Monday October 20th — London (Day VII, part i)
- Monday October 20th — London (Day VII, part ii)
- Monday October 20th — London (Day VII, part iii)
- Tuesday October 21st — London (Day VIII)
- Wednesday October 22nd — London (Day IX)
- Thursday October 23rd — London (Day X)
- Friday October 24th — London to Vancouver (Day XI-XII)