Photo Diaries: London

I hadn’t spent much time in London as it was only intended as a base for the rest of our travels, so I decided it was high time I went down to explore last week. (When you have a four day weekend…well, what can I say?) I stayed with a friend I know from back in Australia and had a wonderful three days in a city so full of vibrancy and excitement. What I think is most amazing is that with all these old buildings comes all this history and culture and human experience, and yet you’ll find a newer building in the midst of them, and that was built because the older one was bombed.

I spent the first part of day one getting my photography gear in order: I got 8 (!) rolls of film developed, which I can’t wait to showcase on here (but enjoy these others in the meantime); I also FINALLY bought a replacement DSLR (still mirrorless), the Lumix GX80. EEEKS, I’m so excited and happy!!!!!!

I then wandered around Soho and the Seven Dials area, got lost somewhere around Somerset House and King’s College, and then headed towards Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House. I adored that area; I’m a massive My Fair Lady fan, as many of you will know, as much for its evocation of a girl selling flowers as for its linguistic humour. A dream come true. As Eliza Doolittle would say, loverly.

I met up with my friend for lunch, eating burgers and sodas at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, before we headed off to Regent’s Park, where we hired a pedalo and relaxed on the lake (and worked our thighs) for half an hour. Though cloudy, the swans, the leaves, and the absence of tourists and crowds meant we had a great time catching up with each other after having not seen each other in nearly a year. That’s the beauty of true friendship.

We walked around the Parliament area, seeing the Houses, Big Ben covered in scaffolding, and Westminster Abbey, before walking to Waterloo across a bridge on the Thames, of course pausing for photos with the London Eye. We then took the Tube to go up the Shard, where you can watch the sunset from the bar (the toilets are pretty fancy too), before heading home for some pizza and Netflix.

I decided to take out my film camera for the rest of my time in London, so I don’t have any photos ready yet of my second day. But I thoroughly enjoyed that day, and it’s one I won’t easily forget, because I visited the British Museum. Leaving aside the issue of stolen objects (and as a history major I have a vested interest), it was so exciting to see things I’ve heard of but never dreamed of seeing for real, from the Rosetta Stone, to the Flood Tablet, to the portrait of Ahasuerus, to the Parthenon Marbles (I once watched two prominent Australian lawyers moot, or mock court, on whether the marbles should be returned, and it should be fairly obvious whose side I’m on…). I believe I went through almost every room, though very briefly, but I particularly enjoyed the Classical rooms with its sculptures, as well as the newly opened Japanese rooms (everyone trends towards the Egyptian ones, which made me eager to get through that part pretty quickly). Previous posts have shown my newfound love for Classical architecture, but having studied Japanese for 5 years in high school, I was very much drawn to the peace I find whenever I look at anything related to Japanese culture. And staring up at the vastness of the gallery spaces themselves was unforgettable. Not to mention the room on the ground floor which was COVERED in old books and natural history. Can you tell I thoroughly enjoyed it?

After a quick coffee stop at Syrup of Soot, I headed for the National Gallery. I find art easier to look at, probably because I’m more attuned to it, but I really had to rush through the rooms (I’ll be back one day soon), and I certainly didn’t even finish one level (but entry FREE so it’s all good). I found many of my favourite painters, from Ruysch (an incomparable still life painter), to Rembrandt (moody as), to Rubens (his attention to light and emotion and detail is insane), to Monet, Van Gogh and the rest of the great Impressionists (I will never tire of sunflowers or lilies). But one I hadn’t come across before (at least that I can remember) was Canaletto. I have seen many paintings of Venice in my time in art galleries across Europe (everyone loves the Grand Canal), but Canaletto’s rendition of the upper reaches of the Grand Canal caught my eye and is now sitting in postcard form on my room wall.

And then it was time for Moroccan cuisine – my friend took me to Souk Medina, where we booked last minute tickets to see Eugenius! at The Other Palace. We had an amazing time, and being in a pretty small, intimate theatre was unlike any previous experience I’ve had, and the atmosphere was electrifying – I loved the music and the cast the best. Oh, and if you want photos without crowds of tourists, go to Buckingham Palace at night!

My final day was relaxed, going for brunch before I headed to South London to meet up with friends and returning to Coventry. I did catch a cold (and have a lingering cough now), but don’t worry London, I’ll be back again soon!

-nat 💖🌺