HMS Belfast is one of the two ships forming the final sub-class of the Royal Navy's Town-class cruisers, the other being HMS Edinburgh. Belfast is now a museum ship in London.
HMS Belfast served throughout the Second World War, playing a leading part in the destruction of the battle cruiser Scharnhorst, and also the Normandy Landings. In service with the Royal Navy until 1965, she was saved for the nation in 1971 as a unique reminder of Britain’s naval heritage.
In this remarkable sculpture by Salvador Dali, time seems to stand still, almost as if in a time warp. The clock face appears to be melting and is attached to branches, perhaps resembling the tree of life? There is also an angel to the right kneeling by the hands of time. It is located practically next to the London Eye, and is worth stopping for a look. I found it rather interesting. There are several other examples of Dali's work along the South Bank of the Thames.
There are other works inside County Hall by the famous Spanish artist, that I would have liked to see, but I will have to plan on seeing that on my next visit, as, unfortunately, I was limited on time. The web site below will give you greater insight to his many works of art, along with prices for admission, operating hours, etc.
Hays Galleria is a converted wharf located in the Pool of London - the area of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The old wharf was built in the 1850's and was used to take deliveries from ships from around the world, including tea clippers from China & India. The area became known as the 'Larder of London'.
Today the dock has been covered over, and you can stand in the same place that the clippers used to unload their cargo. It is quite a stunning building, with its rounded glass roof letting in the light. The wharf is now home to cafes and coffee shops, clothing chains and gift shops.
Hays Galleria fronts onto the River Thames and this area of the river is the perfect place for a wander as there are so many other attractions nearby - why not pick up a coffee from Hays Galleria and take a walk, or relax by the river at the large pub - Horniman at Hays and enjoy the view.
The Galleria used to see great Tea Clippers unload their far travelled cargo in a bygone age. Now parts of the embankment has been reclaimed from the river it houses colourful stalls & pretty pavement cafes. Both sides are lined with the original warehouse buildings & the modern glass roof contrasts well & adds a certain charm to this lovely place. There is an interesting sculpture in the middle of the Galleria made out of ship parts which have now sailed into history.
I've always liked this tower. It's not hard to guess why it is called the OXO Tower (just look at the windows in the photo). This tower was built in 1928 and its design was to advertise a meat product in a rather stealthy way (I don't know what the advertising laws were like back then). OXO is a well known product (I'm not sure whether it still exists) in the UK. It came in little cubes and was a meat stock for making things like gravy.
These days the Tower has a rather flash restaurant at the top as well a small shopping centre around its base. For more details see http://www.oxotower.co.uk/
If you go up in the London Eye, you can make out this Tower, it is especially good to see at dusk when it is illuminated.
This area of London’s riverside has been a focus for the arts since the 1951 Festival of Britain. The buildings are somewhat brutal in style, reflecting their origins in the immediate post-war period, and in the concrete-loving sixties. The oldest is the Royal Festival Hall, built for the exhibition itself, and this was joined by the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in 1967, and the Hayward Gallery in 1968. The complex is linked by a series of walkways, which can feel rather bleak and windswept, but recent improvements have done much to dispel that image, and in any case what the Centre lacks in beauty it makes up for in facilities and in vibrancy.
There is always something happening here, and it’s particularly buzzy at weekends. In addition to the events in the buildings themselves there is a book market, cafés and restaurants, fountains and statues, and regular free entertainment in the Festival Hall foyer. Outside families picnic in nearby Jubilee Gardens and enjoy walking by the river; teenagers skateboard; buskers and “living statues” entertain the crowds.
Because the centre consists of a mix of venues, the programme is very varied. In the concert halls you might hear classical or world music, rock or pop or jazz, or see ballet and other dance performances. Meanwhile the Hayward focuses on visual arts, mainly modern. One fairly recent and much talked-about exhibition here was last year’s Anthony Gormley retrospective, with his work displayed not only in the gallery itself but on a number of rooftops across the surrounding area (see my travelogue for some images of this show). It’s important to book in advance for popular art exhibitions like this, and for the concerts, but if you simply want to get a sense of what’s on offer and enjoy the buzz, just turn up any Sunday afternoon and see what’s on offer.
There are also lots of places to eat and drink here, from smart restaurants to casual cafes. For a complete list, check out the Food & Drink area of the Centre’s website.
Of all the places in London, Albert Embankment is my most favourite part. I came here already in 1977 to see the whole grandeur of Westminster Palace as a whole and I found myself coming back everytime I was in London. Directly at the end of Westminster Bridge on the Lambeth (or Southwark) part is a tiny garden of St. Thomas Hospital with a nice fountain, which gives wonderful photo opportunities of Big Ben (see my travelogue), but in 2008 it was being reconstructed so I couldn’t take more photos. But a stroll along Thames bank is even better. The street lamps are most wonderful with their cast iron base of sea animals and their globe-like lamps with the crown. They give a fantastic attachment for unusual photos of London Eye and directly at the bottom of the stairs down from Westminster Bridge I made some of my “London Eye plus red bus” photos. It was also here at the embankment that I sat down on one of the benches and realised how beautiful their armrests are: swans. I thought about the artist who made these ages ago and if he would be aware that many people still admire his work today. Unfortunately I didn’t find out who made these armrests. Maybe a kind reader could help please?
However I am sure that the swans here at Thames river are not a “coincidence”, I think that they might stand for the Swan Upping, one of the oldest ceremonies around London. This tradition of counting and registring the mute swans on river Thames dates back to 12th century, when mainly young swans were often served at banquets, thus being a source for food. Mute swans are considered royal birds and traditionally all unmarked swans on Thames belong to the Sovereign. Today of course, this ceremony has nothing to do anymore with catching the swans for these reasons, but to watch the swan population on the river, their health and to make sure that the birds and their little offsprings are well taken care of. This ceremony takes place during one week in July, traditionally when the offsprings are too small to fly away and is held from Sunbury to Abingdon in the west. Since 15th century, it is not only the Sovereign but also the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Liveries, which gained the right to own the swans in 15th century. During the ceremony, the three units (Queen’s, Vintners’, Dyers’) row on the river and catch the swans. Given the information I’ve read on the Royals’ website about Swan Upping, it must be a fantastic ceremony with a great many traditional dresses, boat decoration, commands and celebration. If you are interested in learning more about it, make sure you look at the photos on the Royals’ website and read the 12 pages brochure for download. It also shows and explains the different flags (red for Vintners’, blue for Dyers’ and E II R for The Queen) and the marks on the rings, the swans got in the past. A fascinating tradition and a facinating meaning today!
This thing is a magnificent addition to the Thames side. I am a bit acrophobic (fear of heights) and was very dubious about getting on but had no difficulty or fears. My daughter-in-law has acrophobia worse than I do and had no problems either. It towers some 135 meters and has about 30 glass pods, each of which will accommodate about 25 people. Each revolution takes 30 minutes so you have almost no sensation of movement, but the most spectacular views you can imagine. We have been at night, mid-day and early evening and each is a good time. Just hope for a time when it is not too cloudy. In the high season, it fills up so book a reservation via phone, internet, your hotel or at the office at the base of the Eye. Standard adult fare is 15.50 GBP as of June 2008. Discounts for seniors and youth as well as lots of specail flight with extras. Check their website.
Where do you reckon this beach shot is taken? Well quite surprisingly it is taken on the side of the Thames at low tide, just next to the Tate Modern Gallery. Some parts of the river side are actually quite sandy, and good enough for a child to build sandcastles on. However do remember that the Thames is tidal in the centre of London.
A rather graphic illustration of the tidal nature of the Thames is outside the Tower of London, where traitors and other people that had been sentenced to death (in medieval times!) were chained down to the ground at low tide, and left to drown and for the fish to eat them in the subsequent days/weeks. No doubt a rather graphic deterrent to other miscreants of the day!
If you have seen James Bond, The World is Not Enough, then you will have seen the MI6 Building. It features at the beginning of the film and has a hole blown out the front of it by some exploding money and Jmaes Bond being shot at by Maria Grazia Cucinotta from on the river Thames.
Anyhow this building is on the opposite side of the Thames to the Houses of Parliament (start from Big Ben, walk past the Houses of Parliament and on for a little bit and look across the river.
I like walking along the Thames, from the London Eye past the Globe Theatre to Southwark Cathedral. Once you have managed to get through the crowds waiting their turns for the Eye, you can turn right and just keep walking.
Last summer there were many street performers there, it was fun to watch. A couple of tables full with boxes of used books invited us to browse through them. The further we walked , the less crowded it was and when we reached the pub The Anchor, we were actually able to get a table outside on the terrace, overlooking the Thames.The perfect spot for a break.
If you're interested in Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre shop is a good place. Apart from his plays they had good information about Elizabethan times and customs available, also of course the usual souvenirs with "Shakespeare" written on them.
Transport yourself back to the darkest moments in the capital’s history within the deep depths of the London Dungeon. Live actors, shows, rides and interactive special effects ensure that you face your fears head on in this unique experience. Everything that you see is based on real historical events from Jack the Ripper, to the Great Fire of London, torture and the plague. With two scary rides the London Dungeon provides a thrilling and fun experience.
Just a little further along from the Tate Modern Gallery (towards Gabriels Wharf) is a series of low walls and concrete blocks. When I walked past, there were several guys on BMX type bicycles (with no seats, as no doubt this could cause a rather sudden castration judging by what they were doing!). They were jumping the bikes off the walls (and even back on to them), as well as hopping between the blocks on their back wheels. It was all quite impressive and there was quite a crowd watching.
This picture shows one of the guys mid-hop between two of the concrete blocks, just before he touched down again. Surprisingly there was no blood anywhere to be seen as there looked quite a lot of potential for accidents.
Nelson Mandela is probably one of the few people who needs no introduction wherever he goes in the world. He is also probably unique in that he is almost always regarded positively by people too (it's easy to be well known for being bad after all!).
Just in case you don't know, Nelson Mandela was inprisoned for decades (27 years) in South Africa during the Apartheid years. He was later released and went on to lead the country and then be awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993.
This statue is titled "The Struggle is my life" and is located outside of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank of the Thames.
If you are a fan of Dali s work then you can see some of it here, just by the london eye.
Near by are the London Aquarium( not the best, but good for the kids), just after the london eye walking towards london bridge you can find the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal National Theater,the National Film Theater, and the Hayward gallery.