London – Oddities and Crudities

Last month we had a short break in London with Emma and Alessio. We went for a bit of luxury, at least for the travel and enjoyed the delights and comfort of first class travel by train. Well worth the extra, now and again. The hotel alas was a bog standard travelodge, near King’s Cross. We had a lovely time, though London is just so busy and crowded. But there is so much to see and do, that a few days cannot do justice to such a grand city. With a young  boy in tow it was impossible to miss some of the usual tourist highlights. Most people will have visited London at least once, so this post contains a mixture of the familiar and the slightly less so.

The river Thames is such an integral part of London that we were by its banks quite a lot and once, on it. During our boat trip we had the good fortune to see the central part of Tower Bridge rising for passing river traffic, as can be seen from the photo below. This is followed by a another view from the boat, this time a slightly unusual glimpse of Big Ben. Finally a view across the river by night to St Paul’s cathedral.

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On one of the evenings we indulged ourselves by a wander around Chinatown and I couldn’t resist taking a photo or two. Close by we came across a delightful cake shop full of irresistible delicacies. Unfortunately I was hurriedly dragged away before I could give in to my innate gluttony.

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We spent part of Saturday morning eyeing the goodies on display at Notting Hill market. It was very busy and thronged with people. So we wandered off a bit and ended up admiring some of the grand and very colourful houses on Elgin Crescent. This lovely pink door caught the attention of all of us.

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London is not all bricks and mortar and has some delightful parks and gardens. The one we chose to visit was Kew, which is a great place for a day out for all the family. We all enjoyed the tree-top walkway and even in October the gardens were full of brightly coloured plants. The tropical greenhouse was incredibly hot, so hot that Emma had to stay outside. We, of a more adventurous nature, endured the heat and were rewarded by some wonderful sights, including this strange and rather frightening plant.

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As part of our holiday, we spent a day visiting Brighton. It was a bit disappointing, though we did come across this amazing and fearless squirrel, who was clearly unfazed by traffic or people.

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Back in London, one of my personal highlights was the V&A museum. In particular I wanted to see as much of their embroidery collection as possible. It is not in one place, so I had to hurry round as many rooms as I could manage, camera in hand. So much wonderful work to see and admire. I end with two of my favourites from the collection. The first is part of avery large fabric from India. Handstiched in silk threads, it features tulips and other flowers in an abundance of exuberance. The final photo shows a close up of a Chinese embroidery, again with silk threads. This is just so finely stitched that it just took my breath away.

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