Saturday, 5 November 2016

Doing the Lambeth Walk.

More than six years had passed living in France and I had never, ever visited England. So near and yet so far. Having no idea how long I will stay in France I decided to bite the bullet and just do it while I still lived in Europe. Many of my ancesters were English and Irish as well as French - it was time to explore another of my cultural and DNA influences.

I used airbnb to keep the costs down yet stay in central London for five nights. I'd have loved to have rented an apartment but all I could manage was a room in an apartment in a block of apartments in Lambeth with other renters. It wasn't ideal with only one bathroom and toilet and limited cooking facilities so I decided not to cook. Instead I included pottles of yoghurt and a jar of cereal for my budget breakfasts in my luggage. I bought milk teabags and sugar from a little grocery shop not far away. That's the advantage, for the moment, of the UK being part of Europe - you can just bring anything with you.

I have to say, I loved London. It was so good to speak English everywhere I went. I felt quite safe and wasn't worried about terrorists, even though London has experienced its fair share in the past. In London its easy to walk along the river as far as you want, easier than Paris and the Seine. It's cleaner too and it seemed livelier, more optimistic. Paris is grey and depressed these days with tourist numbers considerably down.

Living where I was, I did A LOT of walking to get around the central city. It was doable. I learnt to catch the bus using my Oyster card kindly given to me by a friend's daughter who's living in London. I often got fed up waiting for the bus, especially at night and would just take off in the direction of my lodgings. It wasn't unusual for me to beat the bus home and it was pretty cool walking along the Thames at any hour, day or night. The Tube station nearest to my accommodation was closed for renovations so walking along Lambeth Road, past the Lambeth Walk became regular.

I got to know the bridges over the Thames very well, especially Lambeth and Westminister bridges. I sometimes caught a bus outside the remains of Lambeth Palace to Victoria Coach station on the North bank for day-tours.

The Houses of Parliament were my daily accompaniment on my walks, past the London Eye and the Art Gallery. My first monument to visit was the Museum of London. It's located near St Paul's Cathedral.
They had a special exhibition on about the Great Fire of 1666 but I didn't have time to visit that. Instead I enjoyed the general exposition on the history of London including very ancient times, invasions by Romans, Vikings, the Black Death, the Great Fire, theatres like the Globe and the Rose, wars (inevitably) costumes and paintings. Many of the museums and art galleries are free in London which is a wonderful way to share culture and history.


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