London – The highlights reel. Day 72 to 87. Part 1
Ok so I look like a lazy writer here but Josh is busy getting hammered at The Ledbury and I didn’t want to bore you all with my wandering about the often dreary streets of London. So instead I thought I would give you the highlights reel. Sort of like a lotto draw if ever you step into London. I’ll show you what I’ve seen whilst Josh has been at work and spare you the waffle that Josh loves to go into so much.
Located just behind the Strand and along the River Thames is Somerset House. This space was once the location of a Tudor Palace but in the late 18th century was rebuilt to house government offices such as the navy headquarters. Today it is an arts and culture venue and home to many temporary exhibits, educational workshops, weddings and even London Fashion Week. Although the initial building was not designed by William Chambers, he overtook the construction and it is his design that stands today. This building was constructed around a courtyard that throughout the winter is home to one of London’s favourite ice skating rinks, today it has fifty five singular fountains all dancing in unison.
On one of the many free guided tours this house has, we are told that no matter where you go in London, always look up because a lot of construction shows different craftsmanship the higher up the building. It is the same case for Somerset, standing at the bottom of a staircase is the perfect example. When standing at the bottom the settings seem quite modest, then you follow the rail all the way up to the top and you notice it starts as a straight bar then changes to intricate patterns and designs. This is also shown on the exterior and interior walls all the way throughout Somerset House and was designed this way to show hierarchy throughout the building. Those of importance were stationed in rooms on the higher floors and those of less importance had offices on the ground floor or basement levels.
Interesting fact: One of Chambers’ main requirements was the lack of greenery present in the house. He requested no greenery to be placed within the walls of Somerset House and still to this day, there is no grass, trees or even plants inside. A very interesting place to visit, slightly off the beaten path.
Now I know a lot of you won’t be interested in wandering a park but when the sun is shining its kind of the only thing I wanted to do. It’s a Sunday and with my trusty list I see the perfect way to start my morning. Speakers Corner. It starts in the north east corner of the park where there is a gathering of passionate people who like to speak freely among those that will listen. Now I’m normally not one for listening to a preacher but thought it might be fun. When I arrived I was not expecting to see a hundred people crowding the speakers, but I did. Standing tall on their podiums the speakers preach about what’s important to them, one preaching about God and the other preaching of his non existence. Whether you are religious or not it’s great to see the passion these people have and the crowds that they attract.
Hyde Park is filled with tourists, joggers, bike riders, photographers, ducks, dogs, the occasional cat and many falling autumn leaves. It’s beautiful and even if you don’t head to Speakers Corner you must walk through. I decided to walk around the inner edge to take in the sunshine and fresh air then I headed to the lake that consumes the middle, the Serpentine. This area is a great place to people watch and even grab something to eat, the pizza is delicious. Towards the middle of the park there is also a free gallery that showcases local artists and even though the artwork inside didn’t really excite me, the seating on the outside is also designed by artists and is well worth a look.
Victoria and Albert Museum
If you are interested in design, decorative arts and little knick knacks then the V & A museum is a definite for your London list. Entry to the museum is free and there are a number of tours to choose from that showcase the best this museum has to offer. It’s six levels of unique artefacts, textiles, jewellery, ceramics, fashion and metalwork, and the list goes on. There was so much to see that I visited twice! This museum is the perfect way to escape the weather and you can spend as much or as little time as you like.
Now I know that the British Library is not for everybody and I didn’t spend that much time here myself, but it was one my list so I just had to check it out. It’s one of the biggest libraries I have ever seen and not only is it lined with books but it showcases a number of exhibits that are free for you to wander about. People young and old are lining the walls, the smell of fresh books and coffee is in the air and the sound of university students typing can be heard in the distance.
Interesting fact: King George III started a collection of books specifically for the ruler of England. It was later named The George Collection and is housed inside the British Library under the name the kings library. It is a tower centred inside and runs the height of the entire building. Although you cannot gain access to it you can walk around the outer wall, looking at the titles of very old and important books.
To be continued…
Jess and Josh