Around the World: kc visits London
Since so many of us are stuck at home right now, I'm sharing some pictures of the beautiful and remarkable places I have seen in my travels. Many of these experiences served as research for my novels, including EIGHTY DAYS TO ELSEWHERE, due out this summer.
Today we hit the big city.
I think everyone has a mental image of London -- one of my favourite cities in the world.
Is this one yours?
Last time I visited, the Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben here, was completely shrouded in scaffolding. And yet from every angle, tourists still aimed their cameras at this iconic image. Even awash in scaffolding, there's something magical about these enormous clockfaces, and their melodious interior, magestically marking the hours above Westminster Palace.
But you know, much as I love iconic London, it is secret, weird London that really pulls me back.
For every image of Big Ben, or a red telephone box, or a black cab, my mind sees all the weird and wonderful places I've visited and people I've met just slightly off the beaten track.
Speaking of tracks, take a close look at this Underground passenger...
Maybe the Death Star was in the shop that day. In any case, I'm sure he knows that when you ride the Tube, you ride the oldest underground railway in the world. And these days, I'm sure he'd practice much better social distancing.
Of course, Darth may have just been enroute to the Bloody Tower...
This picture of the Tower of London was taken from Tower Bridge on the Thames side. This place is definitely not off the beaten track, but I have spent a LOT of time here. My third book, SHADES OF RED, was set principally in the Bloody Tower, and let me tell you, after all the research I've done there, me and Anne Boleyn -- or what's left of her -- are just like this:
The Tower is, of course, located in the square mile that makes up the ancient, original Londinium, founded more than two millennia ago by the Romans. These days, the way you tell if you are entering the actual city [as opposed to the City of Westminster or any of the the other Greater London boroughs] is that you are greeted by a dragon.
These dragons perch high above every street that travels into the Square Mile, and show you their tails when you have the bad taste to leave.
Not far from the Square Mile is one of my favourite neighbourhoods -- Covent Garden. It's a brilliant place to walk around, with the market and all the windy twisty alleys and dozens of gorgeous old theatres. It was on one of my walks that I spied Elms Lesters Painting Rooms.
Home to a THREE-storey door, this used to be the site of much of the set painting and construction in the theatre district -- makes sense, now, eh?
These days, the interior has been converted to offices, but the outside is a reminder of a different world.
Every neighbourhood in London has its own distinct personality, whether it be the theatre district, or Notting Hill, home to Portobello Market [first introduced to me by one Senor Paddington Bear] and the dazzling yearly Notting Hill Carnival.
I still have neon paint-stained clothes from getting just a little to close to the festivities on the day I took this picture.
I don't know about you, but I have a hard time picking a favourite spot in this city.
When it comes to markets, I love Portobello, but my mouth waters at the very thought of the Borough Market, south of the Thames. And what about the Camden Street market, filled with every possible variety of tat, and also my favourite place to look for the latest in Doc Martins?
Then there are the museums. The National Portrait Gallery [now temporarily closed] is my regular hang-out, it being just around the corner from Canada House. And it's also just across Trafalgar Square from the much larger National Gallery. But don't forget Museum Row, with the Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert, and not so far away from the Queen of them all -- the grand British Museum?
This is making me want to do a post on favourite museums around the world. And maybe favourite market food. Of course, I might just be hungry. <still makes note to self>
Samuel Johnson believed that if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. But there's no denying that when you visit this city, between the British Library, and the Greenwich Royal Observatory; Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park; Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square and the bookshops of Charing Cross Road, there is a LOT to see.
So let me ask you -- what is your favourite spot in London? Or if you've never been, and are dreaming of getting there one day, what is the part you'd most like to see?
And so, at last, we bid adieu to this marvellous city. Where do you think we will wash up next?
Please don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, the first edition of which is fast approaching. In addition to more international pix, you'll be eligible to win signed copies of Lee Edward Fodi's wonderful Zoone series for middle grade readers. There's a sign-up at the bottom of this page.
Popping back in here to edit in a quick link to my most recent trip to London, just last summer. It was my last international stop on my research trip around the world, and if you'd like to read about it, you can find it posted here.