It has been four months since I began working right in the centre of London and I am pleased to say that the thrill has most certainly not worn off. I still take a couple of photo walks each week in the mornings before work and I really enjoy exploring Southbank, Waterloo, Westminster and Embankment. Despite all my exploring, there is only so much you can do in the hour before work and lately I have found myself quite envious of all of the festivities taking place at Southbank this summer. So it was that we went into London today so that I too could play!
The first thing we did when we arrived at Waterloo Station was head straight for the Wonderground at Southbank so that I could have a go on the Starflyer. The ride is really smooth and takes you up really high (60 metres high, in fact!). We could see for miles in every direction and it was lovely to feel the wind in our hair on such an incredibly hot day.
We didn’t really feel the height until right at the end where we were flying almost parallel to the ground and I reminded myself that I’m meant to be scared of heights. Stephen muttered in my ear that he was quite ready for the ride to end at that point and then it did.
I loved it and am secretly planning to go again with my colleagues in the week. The Starflyer costs £7 and there is a very scary looking Cyclone rollercoaster which costs £5. We can hear the people screaming on the Cyclone across the river in our offices so I didn’t need first hand experience of that one to know how scary it is.
After our ride, we shared a quick cider in the Speakeasy of the Wonderground. We managed to find a spot in the shade but I could just tell that this area must really come alive at night.
We could smell pork belly roasting but managed to tear ourselves away just in time as we wanted to go take a look at the Real Food Market at Royal Festival Hall.
We made our way through one of the pieces of installation art on display at Royal Festival Hall. This one is called “Perspectives” by Trey Watkins and Cameron Brown and is part of the Festival of the World taking place this summer. These over-sized children’s letter blocks were installed in answer to the question, “Can Art Change the World?”. The blocks have been changing over the summer and I captured them on Instagram. If you click on the links, you can see that it it initially spelled out Smile and Dream Big and now it spells out Embrace and Change.
I love the variety of the Real Food Market and have been lucky enough to catch it on more than one occasion. Today we wandered around the market twice but sadly it was just too hot and we opted to head for one of the air-conditioned restaurants facing the river instead.
Thankfully the market will be held from 12pm to 8pm every day during the Paralympics (24th August - 9th September) and hopefully I will get another chance to visit before it ends. Who wants to join me one evening after work?
As we made our way to the riverside, we walked through Southbank Centre. Southbank is the area that lies roughly between Westminster Bridge (where Big Ben is) and Waterloo Bridge. It is where you’ll find the London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, BFI and the National Theatre. It is also home to some of the ugliest Brutalist architecture anywhere in the world. So if you’re a fan of concrete, come to Southbank. If you a fan of art, culture and culinary delights, come to Southbank anyway!
This summer, they held an international poetry festival at the Southbank Centre called Poetry Parnassus. Poets came from all over the world but they decided to brighten up the Brutalist walls of the Southbank Centre and feature the works of those artists that could not make it to the festival this year. They have called it Poetry of the World and this was my favourite piece, “From Exile” by Mvula Ya Nangolo of Namibia. Do click on the photo to read the poem, it is really powerful!
We finally made it to the air-conditioned bliss of Yo Sushi on the Southbank. We hadn’t intended to eat at a place like Yo Sushi but the service was fantastic, our food was delicious and the restaurant was blissfully cool on this scorcher of a day.
Of course, our adventure didn’t end there as we walked up to the West End to watch The Bourne Legacy (love Jermey Renner) and then went on a trail of the Olympic mascots but that is the subject of a whole other blog post!
Do you live in the United Kingdom? If so, you must enter my fabulous competition to Win a Fantastic Night for Two plus Dinner at The Tower Hotel, London. The competition closes on Wednesday and is super easy to enter.