London times

I’ve been visiting friends in west London for a long weekend, hence these scenes of a fast-flowing river as we walked on the South Bank first to Tower Bridge, then back to the Tate Modern.

Tower of London

Traitor’s Gate at the Tower

After a weekend of high winds and driving rain (and a visit to the Blake in Sussex exhibition at Petworth House) the sun finally shone. Next day I returned and indulged in a dérive, walking from Westminster tube station to Trafalgar Square – hence the obligatory picture of the lion guarding Nelson’s column.




LionTower Bridge








In the National Gallery I limited myself to just a couple of rooms: Impressionists mainly. The nice guard said it was ok to take non-flash pictures, and patiently assured an anxious Italian visitor that yes, the paintings were all originals.

Then north to Soho Square, with a helpful plaque showing a plan of its earlier layout, and a brief history: it was from the late 17th century a fashionable location, with various aristocratic residents and a notorious brothel. William Beckford, author of Vathek,  was born there, and the naturalist Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage to Australasia, was a resident; his house became a sort of salon for scientists. There’s a Catholic church on one side, which was built to cater for the local Irish and Italian communities, and a French Protestant church on the north side, originally serving the Huguenot exiles.







Soho SquareSoho Square









Back to St James’s Park tube station and the ride back to Chiswick, but en route I saw the colourful displays in Chinatown to celebrate the New Year.






Then a book haul at Turnham Green Oxfam shop, which has an extensive Classics section. This will be my first Schulz; Edith Wharton I’ve posted about a few times:The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth and The Children

Book haul Feb 18





10 thoughts on “London times

  1. What a lovely post, Simon. There are so many facets to London, and every visit is unique. So much fun to get a wonderful description of your winter 2018 weekend visit.

    Only have visited once (in 1991, right around this time of year) but would love to return again someday. I don’t intend this at all in any light sense, given the VERY real fear that gripped London at the time over some of the IRA attacks, but it was odd to find myself (with my name, a cash plane ticket from Boston, brand new passport, and no friends or real purpose to the visit, except to wander about, as you just did) questioned at length at the airport both coming and going as to what, exactly, I was “doing” in London, who my “associates” were, who I would be meeting, etc. When I mentioned I was working on a writing project to follow in the path of Samuel Johnson and Boswell (honest answer) I was met with stony stares from the three people sitting across from me in the interview room.

    Another scary event was at a local museum, we were evacuated when a paper bag was found left unattended. Turned out to be someone’s lunch. Recall at time this felt very odd, this was pre-9-11 and not something we had ever experienced, yet, in “Fortress America.”

    Cheers! If you have any more pix from trip, would love to see them as well.

    • Sorry to hear of your chilly reception in 91. I have to say the Immigration people (or whatever they’re called at US airports)have been pretty hostile whenever I’ve travelled there. Must be a malaise that goes with the job – they suspect everybody! I did take some pics of some paintings in the N Gallery, but felt the post was too full of them already. Maybe I’ll do a short supplement soon. Sadly these security scares happen quite often here now, too. Trains tend to be delayed more often, bizarrely, by ‘cow on the line’…

  2. *humming* Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner…
    Well I was, as a little girl, and my mother’s photo album had a photo of me feeding the pigeons at Nelson’s Column so it was lovely for me to retrace my steps (as it were) on my first trip back in 2001 (a week after 9/11, and people couldn’t have been lovelier, so pleased to see harmless tourists because most people were too afraid to travel.) The Spouse, who is a real fifth-generation Aussie, not an import like me, loves London too, so almost every trip we’ve made to Europe has started in London and we always stay at the Montague round the corner from the British Museum.
    I’ve got a book of museums in London, and although we’ve ‘done’ about half of them, there’s another dozen or so to go, so I’m sure we’ll be back again in due course.
    Thanks for the photos, they’re a pleasure:)

  3. As a French Protestant I particularly enjoyed your picture of the church ! I felt strangely moved.
    It’s 28 years since I last went to London ! How’s that even possible ? Where have all those years gone ? When I lived in Wendover in 1984-1985 I used to spend most week-ends in Liverpool, but when I didn’t, I took a day trip to London and the National Gallery was one of my favourite destinations. I’m not sure I would like London as much as did back then though…

    • Izzy: I’m delighted the picture of the church pleased you and brought back memories. London certainly has changed since the 80s, not always improvements, but it’s still an exciting, vibrant city. If I can find time while I prepare lectures on Victorian poetry I’ll post some of my shots of some lovely pictures in the NG.

  4. What a lovely post. I like to pop to the Charing Cross Road when back in London. I’m actually going this week but for a flying visit to go to a presentation about a project I worked on last year.

    • Next time I’ll try to visit the BL; I did some research in its old home at the Museum, but have never been to the Euston Rd site. Ran out of energy on this last trip. Enjoy your presentation

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