Saturday, 14 September 2013

Trip to London

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Things are pretty quiet around here - working and stuff - all is well. We did get chance to take a day out and go down to our wonderful Capital City for the day.

Nathan had wanted to take his dad down there for a while - and at last he succeeded! His dad hasn't been to London for around 25 years - although he used to work there. He wanted to see the places he used to work and drink beer all those years ago!

We went from Stafford on the train and arrived at Euston around 11am ready for a day of sightseeing and reminiscing.

Charles II - "the king who brought back partying"
We got the tube to Tottenham Court Road and emerged under the shadow of Centrepoint -  N's dad used to have an office nearby and looked out onto this building - one of the first skyscrapers in London. Amazingly - it is now only the 27th tallest building in London.
We had a wander round and saw that brightly coloured apartments had been built where his dad's office actually used to be. We saw St Giles-in-the-Fields Church (not actually in a field anymore) and Soho Square where we came across Charles II.

N and I both started singing the song about him - from Horrible Histories -it always makes us laugh!

Liberty's is well-guarded!
We also visited Carnaby Street - where N's mum and I went into a fabulous shoe shop with the kind of shoes we'd never seen before! One pair had one of the seven dwarves (from Snow White) as their HEELS. We didn't buy anything though :-( I shoed them Choccywoccydoodah though - although they had never seen the Good Food Channel TV show featuring this chocolate shop and its wacky creations. I think they were quite impressed!
I got my photo taken outside Liberty's though :-)

We were feeling a bit hungry so we headed back to the tube and changed at Embankment to get to Blackfriars.

On Blackfriars Bridge
We walked over Blackfriar's Bridge This was the area where St Christopher House used to be - where N's dad spent many happy working years. It turns out that St Christopher House has been demolished to make way for Bankside 123.  Very swish apartments overlooking the Thames and St Pauls on the far side. Prices start at £1.25m up to £6.5m.

I don't know what SCH looked like - but it seems to have been considered an eyesore. There is only a little discussion on the web about it - here.

He was happy to see that the Kirkaldy Testing Works was still there - though now turned into a museum and only open on Sundays.

The local ale - Greenwich Meantime
We walked past Tate Modern and down the embankment to the Founder's Arms - an old watering hole for the workers of SCH, where we stopped for lunch!

It was really nice to sit looking over the Thames - with all its traffic - and eat a delicious lunch. We tried the steak and ale pie (yummy) and the puy lentil and mushroom shepherd's pie and the Tower 42 Burger.

Yes - you are right - the burger was Nathan's choice :-)   

His dad remembered a pub in the neighbourhood called the Black Friar that used to be well-known. We had not seen it on the way here - so he asked the waitress if she knew of it. She didn't - but went off to ask her manager - then returned with directions!

In order to walk all those calories off a little, we ventured over the Millennium Bridge and wandered around the back street near St Paul's. We were looking for this iconic pub and eventually came across it - right outside the tube station we had come out of earlier!

It was full of tourist with so many people outside taking photos of its various signs.

The Bar

It was very ornate and dark inside and I presumed it must be very old - but it was actually built in 1905 on the site of a Dominican Friary.

One of the jolly friars
Outside the Black Friar
It was designed by architect H. Fuller-Clark and artist Henry Poole, both committed to the Arts and Crafts Movement. Jolly friars appear everywhere in the pub in sculptures, mosaics and reliefs. We are lucky to still have it as the pub was saved from demolition by a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman!

We were ready for a sit-down and the bar staff made very nice lattes!
After that we headed of again - now in the rain - to look at Fleet Street and the law courts of the city.

Needless to say it wasn't too long until we saw an interesting-looking pub. This one was right next door to the Royal Courts of Justice and had some very impressive chandeliers. N's mum wasn't sure they'd let us in - but it as just a normal pub. It was called the Old Bank of England  It is a Fullers Ale and Pie House - and was indeed very grand inside.

Again, it was really pleasant just to sit down and rest our weary legs. It wasn't long until we had to get up again and back onto the tube. By now it was rush-hour - so we had to wait for around three trains to come and go before we found one that we could all squeeze into - standing up. It was good to find that people were so nice though - as someone let N's dad have his seat. Even after he said to him - "I know I've got grey hair but I'm only 30 you know!" Hahaha...

Below the impressive chandeliers of the Old Bank of England
We managed to get to Euston in time for our 7pm train home. By now it was raining quite heavily. It had been a really good day though - and in just 2 weeks N and I - with 6 others are off back to London for Eurogamer 2013

Watch this space for much game-related news.

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