This March-in-review blog post is brought to us all by Sue Hillman of It’s Your London touring company. Providing custom tours of London tailored to your personal interests, It’s Your London will help you make the most of your time in this phenonemonal city
Your London Relocation review of March 2010 is back to normal if there is such a thing! A full month in here to tell you about with a short trip to Durham in the north of England thrown in.
The usual weather update to start with. It’s not been the best March on record with more rain than we’d have liked but we’ve not let that slow us down too much.
It is always surprising here and I have a couple of outings to tell you about to illustrate this. At the Wetland Centre, just a short bus ride out of the centre, you can spend a day on a photography course surrounded by an amazing array of birds and plants. Founded in 1946 by Sir Peter Scott, a famous naturalist, it is a dedication conservation area for all things that depend on wetlands for survival. You really feel you are in the middle of nowhere and yet can look up and see the buildings of London not so far away. For the bird lovers I gather the big draw is a bittern but just the everyday swans and ducks looked great to me! I’ve attached a few photos to give you the idea and although we went on a quiet day, it was still busy with families enjoying the many activities laid on for them.
Another surprising outing was the Thames Deep Clean. It was the lowest tide for 5 years so the call went out for volunteers to help clean up the exposed river bank in the couple of hours of very low tide. So off I went and filled up about 6 rubbish bags of mostly old cloth but a few plastic and metal items as well, before the river covered it all over again. There were about 60 of us and it felt good to do ones bit if a little chilly standing in wellingtons in the cold mud! The Thames is quite tidal and at some parts at low tide you get sandy shores even in the centre of the city and street artists jump down to make elaborate sand sculptures. Here’s a photo of us brave river cleaners.
On the theme of volunteering, I joined the world’s longest toilet queue outside Parliament to protest about the millions of people who still do not have access to clean water or safe toilets. We stood with our Gordon Brown masks on to appeal for action on behalf of Water Aid and it made the news – probably thanks to the masks! The record attempt was aimed at joining the queues taking places all over the world and I think they are still checking that out.
London is always full of music and for me it was classical concert month as we went to see a friend sing in Verdi’s Requiem which was magnificent especially as it is one of the biggest choirs you can see performing so the volume of sound is stunning. The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank is a great venue and you can see photos of the performers bow and the outside of the hall as dusk was falling.
A second concert was at St Martins-in-the-Field and was a selection of Vivaldi concertos. I only found this by chance as I was given a flyer when visiting the National Gallery but was very pleased to have been. The church is a spectacular venue inside and out as you can see.
Restaurants and bars have been frequented of course! One interesting one is called The Dock and is a converted warehouse on the Grand Union Canal in Notting Hill. There are canals that run right through the middle of town and used to be the major transport links out to the industrial areas of the mid and north of England. Now they are more for pleasure with great walkways and boats for hire. This warehouse does speciality evenings and we went for Iraqi night and were served a wonderful set meal in this beautiful building – we’ll be back to try out another unusual cuisine very soon I hope. Beforehand we had drinks at ‘Paradise by way of Kensal Green’ which is a great gastropub and gets its unlikely name from a GK Chesterton poem which goes ‘For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green’. I think this is the same one where he tells of the ‘rolling English drunkard’ making the ‘rolling English road’ as an explanation of our somewhat wandering roads compared with the wonderfully straight ones the Romans left us!
No time to tell you about the trip to Cambridge and the great photo exhibitions and the wonderful Kenyan author reading from his latest book. Next time…