Backwards and Forwards across the Thames

One of the Christmas presents off our girls were tickets to see Sunny Afternoon, the hit musical based on the story of The Kinks at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. Not ones wanting to waste an opportunity to go to London, we decided to make a day of it. Train tickets booked. The man of the house had made an itinerary, he has been known by some friends as ‘Itinerary Man’ for quite some time. Living not too far out of London, and having been there a good few times in the past he decided he wanted us to see and do things new to us as well as the old favourites.
Off we went. Parking at our local train station proved to be the most stressful part of the day. No spaces on the very badly parked car park. The spaces are so narrow that they are just big enough to house a car, with no room for door opening. This results in poor parking which then means about half a dozen spaces are inaccessible. Once parked we then had the stressful scenario of trying to pay for parking with the mobile. The computer at the other end not understanding our reg and having to repeat things over and over again.
 On the platform with only a few minutes to spare and we’re off.  Countryside whizzes past and before you know it we are getting off in the hustle and bustle of Waterloo. The station is fast paced almost readying you for the speed at which life moves at once you are out onto the city streets. Suited and booted business men talking into mobile phones scurrying around checking the screens for departures and arrivals. Tired children grizzling in prams and old friends and family meeting and happily chatting away.  Down to the underground we took the Jubilee line across towards the O2. At this point the only part of the day that I knew about was the theatre in the evening.  Mr Itinerary had the day in hand and I was about to embark on a magical mystery tour.

We got off the train at the O2, a cosmopolitan area alive with restaurants, cafes and bars. Walking away from the O2 I was surprised to see a cable car slowly climbing into the skies.  Emirates Greenwich Peninsula, £4.50 for a one way ticket across the Thames with the most breathtaking views of the city.  You board the cable car just as you would if you were going skiing in the Alps, each car holds 10 people.  We were lucky that it was quiet and we got a car to ourselves.  Built in 2012, it can reach a maximum speed of 6 m/s.  We ambled along at a more leisurely pace.   It runs for 1.103 km and reaches 295ft at its highest point.  Well worth the £4.50 each.  Just a little disappointed that we weren’t greeted with a mountain top and snow at the end of the ride.

A short walk and back on a train bound for the Cutty  Sark, a British tea clipper from the 1800s.  Having been damaged by fire twice in recent years now restored to an excellent standard.  You can visit the Royal Museums in Greenwich to discover what life was like on board the great ship.  With quite a timetable ahead of us we were satisfied with just viewing from the outside for free.  We were treated to watching some men climbing the rigging.  Made me giggle as an old Sex Pistols song came to mind.  A very impressive looking ship.  In need of refreshment we ventured into the Gypsy Moth which stands in the shadow of the Cutty Sark.  An old and very welcoming pub which supplied a comfy seat and a well needed cappuccino.

A few yards from the ship towards the Thames is the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.  Opened in 1902 it crosses beneath the Thames linking Greenwich with the Isle of Dogs.  Built to enable workers to get to the docks without the need of expensive ferry crossings.  Well maintained and very clean it was yet another different yet interesting way of crossing the Thames.

Next stop, another hop on a train and a short walk down towards St Paul’s Cathedral.  Another way of crossing the Thames this time.   The Millennium Bridge on the Thames Embankment.  A suspension footbridge opened in 2015, nicknamed The Wobbly Bridge after it was famously felt to sway on its opening day.  After a slow stroll across the water, our next focal point came into view, the world famous Globe. A truly amazing building steeped in history nestled amongst buildings of a more modern design.

A short train ride and we are back in the centre of the hustle and bustle of the city centre.  Just in time to see the sun go down over the Tower of London.  The Tower of London has played a huge part in English history was during the 16th and 17th centuries used as a prison for characters who proved a threat to the monarchy.  Only 7 people were ever executed within the Tower before the First World War, but the walls will have some horrific stories of torture.  Executions from that time were normally carried out on Tower Hill.  During the two world wars the Tower was used, once again, as a prison and saw more executions, this time mainly for spying.  Nowadays the Tower is one on England’s main tourist attractions.

Dinner was at a beautiful 18th century inn on St Katherine’s Docks.  Timber framed and located near Tower Bridge on the River Thames is beautifully lit up on the approach in the early evening. It has a pizzeria, a grill and serves bar snacks in its Tavern Bar. We chose to eat in the bar, fish and chips. Delicious, probably one of the best bits was waiting for our meal to have the staff bring complimentary drinks across as they felt we had waited a little too long for our food.  We didn’t even think the wait was anything out of the ordinary, but, received the drinks graciously, as you would.

Bill paid and out into the cold winters night.  There is something enchantingly beautiful about London at night time.  Walking through the streets we even got a sneaky peak at the forthcoming Lumiere London event as they tested out some of the lights for the 4 day light festival.

Now for our Christmas present.  We headed across to The Harold Pinter Theatre.  A beautiful little theatre in the West End. A very intimate theatre that only seats 764 people so that there isn’t actually a bad seat in the house.  We were here to watch the hit musical based on the music of the Kinks, Sunny Afternoon.  The story of The Kinks rise to fame told through acting and music.  An absolutely amazing production with a superb cast, well worth seeing if they tour and visit a theatre near you, which they are during the latter part of 2016.

All good things must come to an end.  After an amazing but tiring day it was time to head to the station to catch our train home.  Time to fall into our train seats and watch the world whizz past as we headed for our beds.

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