We spent a while in London over the holidays and went for a stroll around the city on Christmas Day. Crossing Tower Bridge is always a thrill, and we were surrounded by enthusiastic tourists caught up in the same feelings of the romance of history.
This view of the Tower of London is one I’ve always treasured, as much as it treasures the Crown Jewels. I’m disappointed to remember that only seven people are known to have died in the Tower, despite its reputation, although that’s probably a good thing. Its also took me ages to realise that the tower in the Princes in the Tower whodunnit from history was actually the Tower of London. I’m assuming those two brothers from the 1480s were part of the seven killed there, but since their bodies were never found, I don’t know.
Until recently, this was one of the few remaining narrow vistas with uninterrupted views of the Tower’s buildings, but then the Walkie Talkie building obliterated any sense of history by looming over the ancient buildings on the north bank. There’s a wonderful Sky Garden on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie, which is free to visit, but you have to book in advance during holiday season. We didn’t.
A similar era-destroying presence is the Shard, which seemed to take an age to build and looms over the South Bank. I love it.
Walking north, there are many glass-clad buildings which destroy the human-scale of the old city, but proved to be financially worthwhile. Looking up, there are still construction cranes building, demolishing and remodelling. Glass, concrete and steel take so much energy to create and yet are treated as disposable here. What are we creating now which will have the life of the Tower of London? What buildings will have myths, legends and Ravens?
As well as looking up, I looked down. I took this photograph of a bollard, which I love. It looked good when it was red light only, much better with red and amber and worse when the reflected colour was green. I had to wait for the right sequence in the nearby traffic lights to get the ideal image.
Finally, we arrived at our destination, the Gherkin, or 30 St Mary Axe, as it’s actually called, and I photographed it with its reflection in a glass-clad building. Can you tell which is the building and which the reflection?
Time to make our way back to our temporary home, taking the route over London Bridge this time, so we can look down the Thames to see Tower Bridge lit up in twilight.
London is a city for the romantic at heart.