“ Thou art the journey and the journey’s end.” – Michael Mayne Dean 1986-96, noted in Westminster Abbey, London, England.
Our time in London was spent in a beautiful family-owned modern flat in the Docklands area near North Greenwich – on our first day we found ourselves jumping onto a Thames Clipper boat, a sleek machine that takes one up and down the river. Along the way, there were many sights and bridges to take in while sipping on a creamy English hot chocolate, perfect on a misty winter morning. We got off at Westminster to go on a whirlwind walk through the iconic city on New Year’s Eve day, on the hunt for some craft beer to try – most pubs were closing at 3 pm to get ready for the night’s celebrations, we finally found one, a modern-looking affair called the Bridge Tap before heading back to the flat. It was wonderful to sit for awhile and take it all in! The next day or so were spent on a Big Bus Tour, another Thames Clipper boat jaunt to Westminster to take in some of the New Year’s Day parade and exploring the enchantment that is Convent Garden. It’s hard to believe that on the day we landed at Gatwick airport, we ended up on a lovely drive through the English countryside of Surrey and Kent after a filling homemade traditional English breakfast. The sun came out just for us, revealing winding roads and hidden valleys on our way to a castle by a lake.
At this moment, after a day spent wandering through Westminster Abbey and along the river, I don’t want to think about time winding down, however, the Tower of London and another tasty meal at a pub or restaurant awaits us before we take the train back to Surrey. We have spent time in some unique pubs, some wearing their long histories well and others sporting a more modern look. London is a popular destination for many travellers at this time of year and at most of the pubs we found ourselves in, some menu items could not be had as the establishment had run out of bread or had simply run out of food! The dear staff although weary, “carried on” and left us with some wonderful memories.
Some of those memories are now stitched into my soul – falling asleep with the blind up and window open to watch the tide gently roll in and hear the boats chiming upon each incoming wavelet, their sound a gentle lullaby after a busy day of sight-seeing. One of my favourite memories is a steam-punk moment, looking up above busy London peppered with medieval buildings, I saw quite a few airplanes crossing the sky, some leaving intricate designs in their contrail wakes – one even created a pattern of a cross!
The scent of wood smoke weaved through our senses on the days we spent with family in Surrey and in London, the sweet candy-like scent of caramelised peanuts and almonds infused the cool air on walks through ancient history. Other tangible moments never to be forgotten – the facets and sparkle of the Royal Crown jewels displayed in London Tower, the raucous calls of the Tower Ravens, birds that seemed twice as large as our own West Coast ravens and the graceful dance of a flock of starlings above the waves rolling in from the Channel beside colourful Brighton Pier where we gambled for awhile with 1 pence coins.
London is a city awash in colours of cream, dark brown and matte black with shocks of spring-like green and after a rainfall, it just shimmers. A magical city that burrows under one’s skin, resulting in a recent trek to a downtown candy store in my own city where I bought creamy English chocolate, longing to return.
Our time in London was pre-pandemic, so much has now changed or is changing daily there and all over the world – I hope this note finds you all well, thank you so much for all your support and kind words as I wander safely through our WordPress world!