The London tales

The hurly burly of London traffic. I took this picture sitting in the front upstairs seat in the bus behind. It's the best way to see the sights if you're sick of walking.

 Looking through the arches in the Courtauld Institute. Not many people seem to go to this museum which is great for art lovers.

They still have the old red telephone box all over London. Convenient as not everyone has a mobile phone. Telstra take note.

 Inside the sculpture gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
 The most incredible free museum of decorative arts with 145 galleries which are simply impossible to see in 1 day. I really wanted to see the Constable drawings which you can make an appointment to look at by yourself in the prints department. My favourites things in the end were the english medieval stained glass which were simple and moving. The tea rooms are superb too.

 Medieval stained glass angel at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The difference between the hype of London and the peacefulness of the countryside is enormous, (except for Hyde Park). I suppose that's why many Londoners pack up and leave on the weekends so they can get a bit of peace.

School kids playing cricket in Hyde Park, London

London is the most full-on city. It's huge. It's gargantuan. The whole world meets there. The amount of cultural activities going on there is mind boggling. My head was spinning like Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist' trying to choose where to go and what to look at and you simply can't see it all so you must choose. Alas. So we didn't see Buckingham Palace and all those royal things. Though their influence is everywhere in the city so we saw it inadvertently anyway while wizzing past in the bus. I must say I felt kind of negative to the english royal family. Why do they still have a role? The english people obviously still want them to.

The atmosphere's buzzing all over London but at Piccadilly Circus it's particularly intense.

There are just dozens and dozens of major theatres in London. Here people are going to see a matinee of 'Legally Blonde' at the Savoy Theatre.

 In Trafalgar Square with Big Ben in the distance and Nelson's column on the right.
Note the lion. There are lions all over London. They're on the English flag too and in the logos for the national soccer team. You gotta love the lion.

 Coming up to St Paul's Cathedral (1708) which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. We joined the service there for a while. St Paul's kind of overwhelms the spirit a bit.

There are pots of flowers around everywhere. Flowers decorate the telephone and light poles too which is a nice touch. 

The city is cram packed with monuments to lost times and won battles.  You walk down a small deserted street and there's a tiny war memorial that someone is still placing flowers upon. It's moving. People take history seriously here. And it's a political stage for the world too. A protest vigil by exiled Zimbabweans outside the Zimbabwean embassy on The Strand has been going on every Saturday for the last 8 years in the hope of getting rid of the Robert Mugabe regime. Songs are sung and petitions are signed. It will happen. Look at what happened in Estonia.

 Fountains in Hyde Park. Still on, unlike in Australia. They should put them on in Australia regardless of the drought I think.
There are pubs around everywhere, most with interesting history and decoration in old english style.

 We went to see the Royal Academy of Art to see the yearly members exhibition. It was quite enjoyable. I always like to see paint on canvas no matter what it is, though Hiie didn't think much of it. It's in Burlington House.

 The London eye overshadowing the tourist ferries and the County Hall. Didn't get to go on it. You need a lot of time to do everything in London. Maybe next time.

Outside the Houses of Parliament (1870) too, (which is a neo gothic masterpiece and has to be seen) there is on the opposite side of the road a group of activists opposed to the British involvement in Afghanistan, camped out in tatty tents with hand made placards as decoration. Good on them I say, war should never be easy for politicians though their welcome is probably ending soon. The detritus that is piling up is causing a bit of contraversy at the moment but the fact that it has been allowed and tolerated for the last few years is an incredible testament to the British belief in allowing everyone to have a voice. Though the government has tried to stop it legally and are still going.

  Demonstration opposite the Houses of Parliament.

 Police guarding the entrance of the Houses of Parliament. The police were very friendly, particularly with people wanting to take photos surprisingly.
 Close up of Houses of Parliament. The fineness and intricacy of the exterior is strikingly beautiful in a gothic kind of way.

The medieval Westminster Abbey where Princess Diana's funeral was held. We didn't go in as it was closed by the time we got there.  We tried to get into the Temple Church later which is in 'The Da Vinci Code' but alas it was closed for a service.

The museums are absolutely mind bogglingly great. And free. That says a lot about the UK though there's talk at the moment about charging fees. Don't do it. The whole world can learn about world culture in these museums and they need to know. People seem to forget easily.


The neo-classical facade of the National Gallery, London
This is the incredible Van Gogh 'Sunflowers' in the National Gallery. One of Hiie's favourite paintings and her favourite artist. Nothing else is as good as Van Gogh according to her.

Yinka Shonibare's 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' (2010) on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar.

Street entertainment in Trafalgar Square.

The British Museum. Not just for all things British but the history of the whole world. Seeing real Ancient Greek sculpture and wall friezes was the highlight for me as the artistry is unsurpassed. You can't really tell from the books but it's like there really is a living body in the marble and stone. The sculptors of the Parthenon werer magicians.

 Centaur and man in battle. From the Parthenon. The Elgin marbles have been on display since 1817.

The Courthalt Institute on The Strand. An incredible gallery brimming with priceless perfect gems of art. Some great impressionist masterpieces. And for the first time I saw some 20th century German expressionists such as Erich Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff and Kirchner that were still wonderfully fresh and still powerful.

Unmistakably Monet in the Courthault Museum.

The National Gallery is absolutely one of the best galleries in the world and unmissable. So many great paintings- Velazquez, Titian, Turner,  no not Tina. Turner's painting 'The Fighting Temeraire' is the British peoples favourite work of art. We followed a plan to see all the major paintings first thing. Doing that is kind of crazy in the end because you're just hurtling through all the galleries trying to see everything as you're only there for one day. We did the same thing in the Louvre. It's hard to find a balance. In the end my favourite things to see in the National Gallery were the two Piero Della Franscesca paintings which were just beautiful and timeless. They're in the stunning new Sainsbury wing of 13th to 15th century paintings. If I went there again I'd just focus on one gallery like the Sainsbury wing. Just that is quite enough. No cameras allowed though unfortunately.

 Inside the portico of the National Gallery looking towards the famous St Martins-in-the-Fields church. It was a bit of a dismal grey day so everything looks a bit dull in this light.

After seeing the galleries you want some light entertainment too so we went shopping a few times as all the sales were on. The clothes are absolutely fantastic in London. So much choice and gorgeous, imaginative clothes, some are quite reasonably priced like at the Topshop which are everywhere. Knightsbridge is really expensive ie. Harrods but great to see. And near Oxford Circus there's heaps of shops to go to for clothes. They love wearing colour in London and it looks great. I noticed you see lots more older women really strikingly dressed around town. But convert your money before you get to London as there are very few cash machines around. They have them but they're really hard to find.

 Umbrella shop and we did need one a couple of times though it was stinking hot.


 The insane crowds in Oxford Circus. The London underground runs really well considering the amount of people that use it. There's a million things to do and the red double decker buses are a great way to see the London sights easily. We got an oyster card for the week and it's better value than if you just buy tickets one at a time.

 After the insane crowds you want some silence with your dog in Hyde Park.

More reading: Time travelling in Oxford. 
The English countryside.
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Comments

  1. Brilliant photos Sue. Just love it. I sure do miss my London days. It's an amazing city to live in. Your photos are stunning xxlove sis

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  2. Thanks Larne I'm glad you enjoyed it. I thought of you while I was riding the tube with the workers.

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