Day Tripper

I’ve had a busy week for a change. It started with a visit to Round Midnight where I enjoyed Rollo Markee’s gig with some tasty harp and vocals. The following day, as Gigi had a few days off, we decided to become tourists to London and visit places I haven’t got a round to seeing in my fifty-odd years of living here. Not that most of them were actually here fifty years ago.

First off, we took a tube to tower Hill and visited the Tower of London poppy display in honour of the first world war troops from all over the commonwealth who died in that war to end all wars. The post war carve-up of land of the Ottoman empire, the Levant and middle east, of course, led to the continuing conflict there to this day. Also the ridiculously severe punishment of defeated Germany led to the rise of Hitler and world war two. Any lessons learned? Look at Ukraine and Russia…as Homer Simpson would say…Doh!

After viewing and photographing the display, we decided to walk along the river, The River Walk has a few small detours but is well laid out with great views of the river, the riverside developments and the bridges. Lots more tourist photography ensued. Finally we reached the Millennium Bridge and walked over it for the first time. I think it might have been interesting if we’d done it before they fixed the wobble, but it was still another tick on the tourist box. We ended the day by visiting the Matisse exhibition at the New Tate Gallery. A satisfactory end to the day.

After all the previous day’s walking, day two of the tour started later than usual with a visit to Rupert Street in Soho, starting with a drink in the Blue Post and the a meal in the nearby Palomar restaurant, a hive of activity. The place is extraordinarily welcoming, the staff enjoy a laugh and whilst the place can seem hectic, it actually is great fun. A member of staff named Tom made us feel immediately at home and most businesses could learn a thing or two about interplay between the staff making the place buzz and extremely encouraging to the customers.

After that we called in at the Ain’t Nothin’ But blues bar for a half hour . It was jam night and the house band were sounding good, but we had overdone it with booze, surprise, surprise, so we made our way home. After all, the next day had already been planned.

Back to the river again for a trip on the Thames Clipper to North Greenwich. Whilst being on the river was nothing new, the fact of using it for transport rather than pleasure had a certain interest. As ever, a river trip always brings some spectacle or other, even though it may only be from the clouds and the weather. Nevertheless, it was pleasurable too. And so to Emirates Airways…the cable car trip over to the other side.

This was one of those occasions when I didn’t have to wait for fifty years before I deigned to investigate. We took our place on the continuously moving car, a bit like getting on a ski lift but much smoother and easier and more comfortable. The crossing was effortless and full of viewing opportunities of the historic dockside part of London’s working river. Time for more touristy photo shoots. Once on the other side at Royal Dock, we did a bit of exploring but ignored the various bars and eating places and settled on a small kiosk selling Chinese food. We were directed to a nearby outdoor table to await our order, expecting it to arrive quickly, but were surprised and pleased that the food was cooked from scratch and so took longer. Another nice little touch of good food and good service.

We then returned via cable car to North Greenwich, though strangely, we ended up in a car which swayed continuously, unlike all the others we passed, then took the river bus back to Embankment. This journey, being in rush hour, was much quicker than the midday trip, with the turnaround at the various wharfs, very slick and impressive. After disembarking, we had the essential visit to a nearby pub, in this case the Ship and Shovel, before the journey home. Ah, the tourist life…and to think it’s carnival time this weekend…