My youngest had given Maxine and I a Christmas present of an evening out at a comedy club. Not quite our thing, and I was delighted to discover that we could swap it for something else. A small cash adjustment got us a visit for two to the Shard – and it was then a matter of finding a free day with good weather. And Friday was perfect – not a cloud in the sky.
The river has changed a lot from my pre-university days, when I was checking for empty buildings and zero water rate for the then Metropolitan Water Board. The Thames is still wonderful around London Bridge and Tower Bridge, but it is rather gentrified. Great views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast, and it was just possible to see the Thames Barrier downstream, between two buildings in Docklands, and in the very far distance the towers of the QE2 Dartford bridge crossing.
The Post Office tower, the Wembley arch, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (under repair), various London parks and the like were easy spots. As were the Crystal Palace TV towers and central Croydon. We spent some time looking southwest, as below, over our old Walworth and Kennington haunts. We picked out Aylesbury Estate (home to Maxine for a number of years), St Marks where we were married, Kings College Hospital where all three of our children entered the world, and a lot of other local roads.
But I must admit I enjoyed the railway views. Here we have the lines looking southeast from London Bridge. In the distance the old SECR lines down to my childhood haunts of Bromley and the like go straight on, whilst the old LBSCR lines to Norwood, Croydon, and our present home of Redhill turn to the right. Mind you, the SECR also got to Redhill….
The new London Bridge station viewed from the 72nd floor…
The Thames, and the lines to Cannon Street, Blackfriars (Thameslink) and Charing Cross.
How many stations can you see from the Shard? I make it 8:
- London Bridge
- Cannon Street
- Charing Cross
- Waterloo East (linked but separate)
- Fenchurch Street
- Spa Road (closed in LBSCR days, but still visible as a bump in the tracks just down the line from London Bridge)
I tried to find Victoria and Liverpool Street, but though I could identify nearby buildings, these two major stations were tucked behind other buildings.
We were going to get back on the train up to Charing Cross, and then head for Chinatown and a late lunch, but it occurred to me that Borough Market was much closer (underneath the Cannon Street triangle in the photos above), and I hadn’t been there for years. So we browsed around the stalls, and ended up with some large flat rice noodles (my favourite) and chicken, prawn and hot chilli, chicken laksa and rice, goats milk ice cream, and a cortado coffee for me.
Lots of fun browsing the food stalls and then making a final choice. But the railway and the Shard were never far away.
OK, so it’s a cliché – but six buses on the bridge?
And how do you advertise burgers on your stall opposite the vegan one?
We finished the day with a look at the Golden Hind replica, and dropped into Southwark Cathedral, all a stones throw from the station. (Mind you, you could throw a stone a long way from the top of the Shard.)
All in all, a grand day out!