London is my playground

It must have been well over two years since I last travelled up to London with the camera. In fact, I would have left it even longer had I not been moved by the images of the poppies on display at the Tower of London. Hearing that they would be left in place for a short while longer, I decided to head up there on my day off. My husband would be at home to keep an eye on the animals.

As ever, I planned to do far too much. Getting off the train at Charing Cross, I thought I would be able to spare my legs a bit by taking the tube to Somerset House, my first destination. No joy there as the station was on the wrong line, so I opted to walk anyway. It wasn’t far and the weather was pleasant enough for mid-November and I was there in no time at all. What could have been a problem was finding the little staircase I had visited a few years earlier. At the time I didn’t have a lens wide enough to capture it, but I was determined it would be one of the first things to cross off my list after getting my new Sigma 10-20mm zoom.

I wandered around for a bit and eventually stumbled upon it more by luck than good judgement. The rooms in this part of the building are private, although the staircase must be accessible to the public as I have seen a fair number of photographs taken from the top. It was as I was struggling up the fifth flight of stairs that I realised it had been a good idea to do this at the start of the day, rather than at the end. As it was, the place nearly finished me off and I had to catch my breath for a couple of minutes before taking my camera out of the rucksack. The view through my new lens was amazing, but it was so wide I had to be careful not to photograph the railings where I was standing. It meant leaning out at a near impossible angle, but just at that moment one of the staff used the steps on the floor below. I thought the shot could do with a figure, so I took the photograph and packed up.

It was as I was leaving that I spotted a neon door framed by the glass door, so I took the image below.

Somerset House

I visited the poppies, but they were too precious to photograph. I watched for a while before crossing the river via Tower Bridge. Interestingly it now has a glass walkway along the very top, which could be fascinating for those with a head for heights. Now on the south bank of the Thames, I turned right and started heading back to Charing Cross. It’s a long walk, passing City Hall and the ever-changing landscape. I had spotted a black bean-shaped object on a previous visit, but this globe was much more impressive. I turned away from the strong light over the water and waited for someone interesting to pass by. It didn’t take very long.

South Bank Globe

My next port of call was old Clink Street. Narrow, dark and cobbled, it is best known as the historic location of the notorious Clink Prison, giving rise to the slang phrase “in the clink”, meaning “in prison”. The prison was burned down in riots during 1780 and a small museum and tourist attraction now occupy part of the site. I love the old brickwork around here, only this time I struck lucky because a light show had been installed. Unfortunately the lights were bright magenta, which is why I converted the image below to black and white, giving it a subtle tone in the process.

Clink Street

Further along and I was fascinated by the bright sign in one of the shops.

Dazzle

Finally, nearing my destination and with the light fading fast, I made the discovery that the benches in this area all come with their own personal lighting. It had been a long day and I nearly regretted it the morning after, but once the aches and pains wore off I was very pleased with my collection of photographs. I won’t leave it as long next time.

Bench and Leaves

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