London in April/May 2013
|a bellicose shot of HMS Belfast (a floating museum) |
and Tower Bridge in all its glory
I have been quiet lately because I spent a week in London and then on my return to Mexico had a monumental cold that kept me under the weather for another week... pathetic. Anyway, I have to say that it was the most marvellous trip and even though it was short it was well worth the long flights. It has been years since I spent a whole week in London.
The last 10 years or so my trips to the UK have been all about being with my mother who used to live in Colchester, although latterly she was up in Yorkshire near my brother, increasingly suffering Alzheimer's and finding herself incapable of many things little by little, a really terrible disease. It was traumatic seeing her like that, really from her 80th birthday onwards until, finally, she died at 89 last December. I miss her enormously, it was a bittersweet trip...
But life goes on, inevitably, and even though there are so many things that make life rather precarious at the moment it was still marvellous being in London seeing my friends. It gave me so much pleasure to enjoy the vibe and the million things going on there and I forgot about climate change and economical chaos, etc.
I always notice certain things when I go home, the first is always the boiling hot water that comes out of the taps in the loos at Heathrow Airport, it always freaks me out and makes me laugh. Of course, boiling hot water!!!! Here in Mexico I don't even light the boiler and always shower in cold water, even in winter.
The second is the diversity of the people and how they dress, with turbans, burkas, etc. and all the other nationalities that now make up part of London's rich cultural mosaic. They say that 50% of London's population are non British, they say that London is now the 5th largest city of French citizens... Waves of tourists in the parks, filling up the tube and the buses, absolutely amazing. Another thing I noticed, and maybe this is something to do with the Olympics, the constant messages you receive as a passenger to tell you where you are, where you've just been, where you are going, what not to leave, what to do and where to go. There is absolutely no chance of getting lost nowadays which makes the challenge of the Tube rather weak these days.
|the view from my friend's back garden, in W2|
I had forgotten the flowering cherry trees of London, completely forgotten. I think it must be years that I have not been there in April, but everywhere I looked there were glorious white and pink flowering cherry trees, just stunning.
|Here's the Shard, |
peeking up between the buildings,
high up in the sky,
you see it everywhere
And The Shard, Europe's highest buiding, I went up The Shard, to see The View, as they call it. It was a fantastic day and the views were stunning, so high up and looking down on to all of London, a good reminder of how the Thames twists and turns so much. I was also struck by the amount of transport systems that London has: trains, tubes, buses, coaches, taxis, everywhere you look another train is pulling out or pulling in to a station, groups of three red buses crossing bridges and taxis whizzing about. You get a sort of a privileged view from way up there. The black cabs all have GPS now and so I wondered if the taxi drivers still have to study the Knowledge and I found my answer when I saw the learner drivers put-putting around on scooters with the clipboard on the front. So yes they do!
And the parks! Magnificent London parks in the sunshine full of flowering trees, birds, squirrels and flower beds. Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent's Park, St. James' Park... I went walking in each of them and it was a privilege to circle the Serpentine, to enjoy the tranquillity, to ooh aah the stunning flower beds.
And my friends, my wonderful friends, I saw everyone I wanted to see except for one who was away, and it was just great to catch up with them, they spoiled me rotten. Parties, lunches, dinners, fabulous food, oh my goodness, I ate so well.
I only spent one day out of London, in Sussex, with another close friend and we went for a wonderful walk on the South Downs, as far as The Chattri Memorial,which conmemorates injured Indian soldiers from the First World War who were hospitalised in Brighton. Since 1921 this memorial has existed, built on the cremation site of the Hindus and Sikhs who died after serving in the war. History, history, and more history...
|The Chattri Memorial|
So.... what a great trip, what a wonderful city London is, so vibrant, so modern, construction everywhere (where's the financial crisis??), people smiling because the sun was shining after such a long time. I was dead lucky with the weather, that's for sure.
I miss my home country but I had to come back to Mexico, my home now, my home ... wherever I make it.