Thames swans are smart

Learnt that the queues lined up near the London Eye on The Embankment for the ‘lying in state viewing’ were feeding the swans and the swans are now hanging around ready to be bread-bound and bloated long after the queues have gone. We did learn many intetesting pieces of information on our Greenwich River Cruise.

Actually the queues are lining up at Westminster Abbey again (though our tour was cancelled because of the mourning period), and we did a respectful walk around Westminster Park under the watchful eyes of Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and Churchill et al.

The river reminds me of Brisbane’s murky colour, but the busy traffic and many uses of the Thames were entertaining. We even learnt that WHARF is really an acronym for WareHouse At River Front from the early trading days….and saw the huge shift in industry away from the wharf areas to the varied, and often brutalist, architecturally designed apartment blocks around Canary Wharf. COVID and BREXIT have impacted mightily on foreign investment, and many of the larger international banks and companies have moved over to the EU. Lots of the empty apartments are now quite affordable b&bs.

Nestled in amongst these steel, glass and concrete beasts are the historic pubs and houses which cling to the traditions of affordable drinking houses thanks to the efforts, and money, of the likes of Sir Ian McKellan. The luxury homes of Helen Mirren and Judi Dench were surrounded by greenery……and plenty of security. The bridges are fascinating…each has a different story to tell.

And so on to Greenwich. The constant attention to preserving the naval history of London is to be admoured. The Visitor Learning Centre is a fine introduction to the complex. Bearing in mind the daily ritual of the falling of the time clock at the hilltop Royal Observatory, we took on the challenge of the steep gradient up to top and the walk was well worth it. The view is stunning, and we were gifted with the chance to observe the historic painting of the One Tree Hill before its present tourist status in the Queen’s House. (a familiar Toowoomba reference to Meerwah, also known as Table Top back home).

The ship in a bottle is always a fascination and the large example near the Old Naval Museum is certainly a big one. It stands near the Titanic Memorial garden on the walk to the Queen’s House. As well as allowing an insight in to the lives of royalty past, the naval exploits and prominent figures included Prince Phillip.

The Tulip Stair was the bucket list item for this trip….and it didn’t disappoint! No words needed to describe this triumph of engineering and design. My heart was full.

As we happened to be there on a Saturday, the intrepid climbers on the rigging of the restored Cutty Sark were fascinating to watch while we sampled a gf burger and marvelled at the costumes of those entering into the Alice in Wonderland Treasure Hunt…….on mobile phones of course in this digital age. Artisan crafts and global food tastes and smells…..much people watching!

While the day was rain-free, the sneaky breeze on the top deck of the boat meant zipping up the coats, but the Waterloo Sunset over Westminster Bridge made it such a perfect end to the wonderful day.

Waterloo Sunset

Then it was back to Earl’s Court YHA Hostel for their yummy nachos tea.

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