Does a holiday count if you decide to stay in the same city? To visit the sights and sounds that is normally mundane and routine? Well, we have a much quoted maxim, you never bother to see Madamme Tussaud's unless a visitor is in town. Well, last month I decided to head out into the city, and explore it, just a little. So join me this week, as I take you on a mini-tour of some of London's more fashionable (and quirky) sights.
I admit it. I love London. No, it is not the prettiest city in the world (anywhere else except Colombo could fit that bill) nor is it the biggest or the funkiest city in the world. There is a lot more clas out there to see, but the one thing that London has above the rest of the world its ecelctic nature. First, because there are thirty-three different fiefdoms, sorry, boroughs, each with their own agenda. Secondly, we have a city-wide government which has less powers than the boroughs, but then can also override those boroughs. Confused? Yeah. Add to the mix, the Central Government, English Heritage (which tries to list every building), NIMBY's, my neighbour's cat and the popular press that has their own agenda, plus, the fact that we have such a sense of businesslike savvy, that nothing is actually built by the state and yes, that means London is as varied as a curry - a tasty as one as well. And I like curry ;)
Now let me take a look back at the past week of blogging. As I said at the top of the blog, us Londoners never usually get the chance, well, to be honest, never can be bothered to actually see the city beyond our own front rooms. And so I am glad that I took some time out to actually see London. I have been to all of these places before, numerous times, but it was great to see London through a fresh pair of eyes.
Where shall I look back at London from? Ah, sightlines! There are quite a few hills in London, and the view towards the Centre of town, in particular, towards St Paul's Cathederal are protected by law. Yep, that is correct, the view, from a hill, is enshrined in the UK's planning laws. Wow. Only in London. It is one of the major reasons why there have historically been few high rises in Central London. That has now changed with the obvious need for commercial common sense. But there are still certain parts of London whose views of St Paul's must be unobscured. Shooter's Hill (London's highest point), Richmond Park, Primrose Hill and two that I visited on my mini-break, Hampstead Heath and my personal favourite, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park.
Hampstead Heath is gorgeous. And Parliament Hill Fields, the highest point of the heath is a great place to sit, enjoy the view and wait...yeah, London does look beautiful!
And then there is the view from Greenwich. Two of them. First, you have the view to New London, the gorgeous, the spectacular Canary Wharf. Yeah, a lot of people may not like the area, the redevelopment of Docklands is controversial, but I do like it. And Canary Wharf is iconic.
Here is the view of Classic London. Stunning, beautiful and amazingly still protected. St Paul's is there. And the Gherkin, rising up. There will be more skyscrapers joining the humble few in The City. And you know what, they are still going to look great amongst the backdrop.
Getting there and away:
Hampstead Heath can be reached via Hampstead Station (Northern Line) or Hampstead Heath (London Overground). Bus route 24 gives a long but scenic ride from Central London.
The closest station to Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory is Cutty Sark (Docklands Light Railway). Bus route 188 links Greenwich to Central London, and yes, this is a long ride, not so pretty as riding to Hampstead, but will give you an interesting view of South London.