Day Out: Further up the Thames

This is the second part of my post on our ride up the Thames in a TFL Thames Clipper. [Part 1]

London Bridge

In the distance, you can see London Bridge.  It is a pretty boring, nondescript bridge and many people mistake the magnificent Tower Bridge for London Bridge.

Under London Bridge

London Bridge is simply a road bridge over the Thames.  Thankfully, it is made of concrete these days and is in no danger of burning down.

Southwark Bridge (1921) in front of Cannon Street Rail Station (1866)

I absolutely love all the bridges over the Thames. They are exquisite and they represent so many periods in history.

Millennium Bridge (2000), Blackfriars Railway Bridge (1924) + Blackfriars Bridge (1869) just visible

My favourite bridge in London is the Blackfriars Bridge.  Ignore me if you hear me say that Tower Bridge is my favourite because Blackfriars Bridge is really beautiful. 

Blackfriars Bridge (1869)

Thank you for allowing me to indulge my love of architecture and old bridges! Moving along swiftly now (as, indeed, the clipper was moving)...

The OXO Tower and complex (1929)

Big Ben (1859) and the Houses of Parliament

Our boat ride had taken us all the way from the O2 to the Westminster Millennium Pier. 

Eye in the sky

As you may know, I can’t get enough of the London Eye and I could sit and take photos of it all day.  I was pretty happy to get some new angles!

The London Eye (1999)

We got off the clipper at Bankside Pier which is right by the Globe Theatre.

The International Shakespeare Globe Centre and Globe Theatre

The Real Greek

We had lunch at The Real Greek which should be avoided at all costs.  The service was absolutely awful with the waitress forgetting half our order and neglecting to mention that the other half was not in stock.  Added to that, we got charged for all the items at the end but managed to correct the bill. Shocking, terrible service – I can see now why they weren’t full!

Day out: Taking the Thames Clipper

I’ve wanted to go on a boat cruise up the Thames for the longest time and we finally got a chance on the Bank Holiday Sunday. The weather was glorious, the sky was blue and it was a lovely warm day. So we left the Thames Barrier and we drove up to The O2 and caught the TFL Thames Clipper from the Queen Elizabeth II Pier. Our group was made up of four adults and one teenager. A single trip on the Clipper is a whopping £5 and a return is £10. You can get a roaming ticket for £12 which allows you to get on and off as you please and they gave us a deal and allowed the teenager to go free when we bought four roaming tickets. Score!

The Clipper is so smart inside and it has a bar. I could have sat there the whole day just drinking coke and watching the sights go by.

We soon realised there were seats available outside, on the stern of the boat. I think you call it the stern but it is 23 years since I was a girl guide so I’m not sure.

[Click on the thumbnails for larger photos]

The Clipper goes really, really fast and we guessed that was the reason why we felt no sea sickness. The first stop was Greenwich which is usually so pretty but had ugly yellow cranes on the pier on this occasion! The photos above show the chimneys of the old Greenwich Power Station and the Greenwich Foundation.

The Peter Deilmann Deutschland cruise liner was in town for a couple of days

Canary Wharf pier

We were at the Canary Wharf pier in no time. I love Canary Wharf and I just knew I was going to get my best shot of Canary Wharf ever! I thought the pier looked like it came straight out of the seventies.

The best shot of Canary Wharf ever

I know I’ve taken tons of photos of Tower Bridge and the Mayor’s office before, but never from the middle of the Thames!

Tower Bridge and City Hall

Tower of London and Traitors Gate

If you click on the photo above, you can clearly see Traitors Gate where enemies of the Crown entered the Tower of London. [See my tour of the Tower of London: part 1 ¦ part 2].

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

Across the river from the Tower of London we saw the magnificent HMS Belfast which is permanently moored and can be accessed via Tower Bridge or London Bridge station.

I need to go now so I’ll have to complete this post next week. Ten sleeps to New York!

A Day Out at the Thames Barrier, London

The Thames Barrier London
The Thames Barrier with a closed section visible on the left

For some reason I cannot quite pinpoint, I have long been fascinated with the Thames Barrier in London.  Yet despite living in that area for a year, I only saw it for the first time from the Docklands Light Railway on the way to the airport in March.

Well, we finally made a visit to the Thames Barrier on the Bank Holiday weekend (the day after we went to Canterbury).

The weather was absolutely glorious that day and by 10am in the morning it was already sweltering.  I love London in summer!

Close up of the Thames Barrier London

The Thames Barrier is the second largest moveable flood barrier in the world (the largest is in Maeslantkering in The Netherlands).  It was set up to protect the 125 square kilometres of central London from tidal surges.  Tidal surges are a real threat in the area and in 1953 the North Sea Flood left 307 people dead in the UK and 1,835 people dead in the Netherlands.  A flood in 1928 had left 14 people dead and the scale of these natural disasters prompted the construction of one of London’s most visible landmarks.

A View of the Tate and Lyle factory from the Thames Barrier
The Tate & Lyle plant across the Thames to the south

Only a fool would underestimate the seriousness of tidal surges in the area.  Two South African fools such as Stephen and I for example.  On 9 November 2007, the barrier had to be closed twice following a storm surge in the North Sea that was comparable in scale to the 1953 surge.  Stephen had been in the country a week and we got calls from my father in Liverpool and my uncle in Westerham asking if we could find somewhere else to stay that weekend.  Well, Ste and I hadn’t seen each other in four months and we weren’t about to go through that rigmarole, so we laughed off the threat.

Close up of Thames Barrier London

Thames Barrier London

Thames Barrier 9 London

Thames Barrier and O2 London

In reality, the only thing that saved the area was that the surge did not coincide with high tide.  We were living in Thamesmead which is down-river from the barrier (and therefore not protected by the barrier) and the area would have been submerged had the flood actually happened – we were probably the only idiots who actually stayed in Thamesmead that weekend!!

The O2 from the Thames Barrier 
The O2 (formerly the Millenium Dome) and Canary Wharf across the Thames to the north

The Thames Barrier was a quiet and eerie place but then it was before noon on a Sunday in London!  I noticed long ago how quiet things are up to lunch time around here. I would recommend that people go visit at least once but you may want to combine your visit with a trip to Greenwich or the O2.

There is a lovely park there (The Thames Barrier Park) but unfortunately my guests did not want to visit it.  There is also an information centre which is meant to be open seven days a week but apparently it was not open on the day we went to visit.  I would suggest calling them first on 020 8305 4188 if you want to visit the Information Centre and remember, you can get 2 for 1 tickets if you travel with National Rail.

Close up of Thames Barrier