Sunday, 17 December 2017

London December '17

Why did the Natural History Museum get evacuated? Why didn't the alarms sound? Why haven't the NHM tweeted about it? I have no idea, but on Friday 8th December everyone walked out of the South Kensington venue. My guess is that a school group were moving on, and that there were so many of them that people thought it was an unannounced evacuation and walked out with them.

Including me. Weird. Shame, really, as the exhibitions were fascinating, and the building itself- huge, Victorian-era sprawling halls large enough to hold whale skeletons and, until recently, a diplodocus cast- are packed with fascinating nature-related finds.

The current temporary exhibition, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, features some of the most stunning depictions of animals from across the globe- beautiful, majestic and occasionally horrifying. The section dedicated to the evils of poaching are enough to upset the most jaded of visitors. It's on until the 28th May. There's a cost for this section, but it's worth it.

Last weekend I dropped into London with the parents to visit my sister and do some sightseeing. I have a list of London activities, so we worked though a few of them, as well as some other plans.

We stayed at Thameside YHA, a clean and tidy hostel. Good stay, with WiFi in reception (but not in the room). Plenty of plug sockets, but no blackout curtains. Fair prices.

Next stop: Food at the Mayflower in Rotherhite, the oldest pub on the Thames river, which was playing some contrastingly-modern trip-hop through the speakers. Cosy establishment with great pub food and plenty of history. A stroll down the Thames led us to King Edward II's Manor House, or the remains of it, The Mayor's Office, Tower Bridge, The Financial District, The Tower of London, HMS Belfast and Haye's Galleria shopping mall.

We gut the tube to bustling, trendy Camden, and wandered around the eclectic and fragrant stalls of food and trinkets. The artwork struck me more than anything: the marrying of unique designs and well-known brand logos make this borough younger-looking and artier than any other I've visited.

Natural History Museum was a few tube stops on from this, and after the aforementioned evacuation, we found ourselves heading towards Kensington Gardens, where the trees were populating with chirping wild parakeets, past the Albert Memorial, the Hyde Park Serpentine, and onto Regent Street and Oxford Street. We past the Scouts headquarters, Baden Powell House, and then had more food in the Plough Way Cafe, a lovely local Italian

The next morning, Saturday, I marshalled at the Southwark Park Run, where my sister is an organiser. Park Run is now an international event taking place in public parks across the world- a 5K dash through a local park, where your time is recorded and stored, meaning you could beat a PB in any Parkrun provided you have your assigned unique barcode. As a volunteer, I stood at a fork in a path, pointed people the right way and shouted encouragements at runners- many of whom were dressed as Santa.

Good fun. More so than running. We then dropped into another pub with the Parkrun team, then said our goodbyes. Before leaving the city, we found another contrast- Surrey Docks Farm, a local petting zoo of sorts, found right at the foot of Canary Wharf. We said hi to the goats, sheep, geese, turkeys, chickens and what I assumed was a ferret. Very therapeutic. There were a few festive stalls to wander around this particular Saturday.

A great few days. I have loads of ideas for sightseeing in London. Will return when it gets warmer!

YHA Thameside

Tower Bridge

Mayor's Office

Tower of London

Hay's Galleria


Camden Lock

Natural History Museum

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition

Baden Powell House, Scouts HQ, Kesington

Royal Albert Hall

Kensington Gardens

Albert Memorial

Parakeets in Kensington Gardens

Hyde Park Serpentine

Dorchester, Mayfair, Hyde Park

Bentley dealership

Southwark Park Run

Canary Wharf

Surrey Docks Farm

Canary Wharf from the farm

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