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London for the visitor, for free

Covent GardenCovent Garden, Central London, on a hot August afternoon. London is teeming with visitors, and considering that I was working in the Soho section of the West End, and staying (literally) in the shadow of the London Eye on the South Bank, I shouldn't have been surprised at the crowds. This first picture is Covent Garden, the old fruit and vegetable market which is now a great indoor / outdoor venue during the day for performers, music, eating and drinking and souvenir stalls.


Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch - just across from Trafalgar Square - guards the entrance to the Mall - the driveway up to the Queen's home at Buckingham Palace. In the early evening, tired civil servants from their offices in Whitehall (I was one once!) make their way across to Charing Cross and Waterloo stations for the commute home.

Waterloo Station
London's Waterloo Railway Station is the busiest in the country, with over 88 million journeys starting or ending there last year. The great sweep of the concourse, dating from the 1920s when a series of other stationlets on the site was swept away, is impressive - spoiled only by the white elephant of the Eurostar terminal, now abandoned in favour of St Pancras.

Golden Jubilee Bridge
The Golden Jubilee Bridges. As a child, I used to cross Hunderford Bridge on this site - a narrow walkway attached to the railway viaduct that shook in a most comforting way when a train went across; I guess that the separate jubillee bridges, built to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubillee, are necessary for modern crowds but somehow I hanker after old times. In this picture, a visitor takes in the sights and sound of the river Thames, and the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Embankment Gardens
Embankment Gardens. Running alongside the Thames in this area are the Embankment Gardens - and indeed London has a suprising amount of green. At the end of the day, those commuters who are not in a rush to get home mingle with the tourists and vagrants, and some steal an illicit walk hand in hand with their office girlfriends before heading off home to the wife.

South Bank
Ands where better to catch up on office gossip than the Cafe outside the Festival Hall? The sun is lovely, the company less formal than it was at the office desk an hour or two back, and the trains to Sevenoaks and Guildford, to Chessington and Dartford, will be much more comfortable at 7:30 than at 5:30!

Off Northumberland AvenueAnd yet, even amongst this hussle and bussle there are quiet places and lovely architecture to admires - in this case a Georgian Crescent who's name I don't know just off Northumberland avenue. A hundred yards to the left is the river Thames. A hundred yard to the right is Trafalgar Square. Behind me is Charing Cross and the Stand and in front of me, Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament - and let there is this little sea of quiet. And London has a lot of spots like that!


Buckingham Palace from St James Park
Let me finish with a view in St. James Park, along the lake and up to Buckingham Palace. Again, the crowds are absent; in this case an early morning picture taken as I walked up from my hotel, past parliament and looped around Horseguard's parade before heading through the park, up the Duke of York steps to Lower Regent Street, Regent Street, and Oxford Circus.

And what did it cost me to take in these sights and scenes? Nothing - the parks and bridges and roads are all public and toll free. Truely, I wouldn't want to live in London but I love to spend an hour or two in the City from time to time.
(written 2008-08-09)

 
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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