I never tire of a few days in London so recently I managed to fit in a short break to the capital. Travelling by train took just under three hours from my home in the north of England enabling me to arrive into the city around lunchtime.
My first stop was at Piccadilly, a short hop on the underground. Piccadilly Circus is the beating heart of London, a vibrant square that’s always crowded and where traffic moves extremely slowly. The iconic Piccadilly Lights advertising screens are currently out of action whilst a new, single screen is installed. The new screen due to be operational in November 2017, will be the largest digital advertising board in Europe, retaining its curved style. Whilst the installation takes place, advertising banners are covering the scaffolding.
After pausing for a quick lunch I continued along Piccadilly to Green Park which is one of the Royal Parks and a pleasant open space in the centre of London. Walking through the park the path leads to The Mall and Buckingham Palace. Returning to Green Park station along yet another path I noticed deckchairs set out on the grass. A few were in use but at £1.60 to relax on one for an hour it wasn’t surprising that many were unoccupied.
Moving on, I took the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf in London’s docklands and on leaving the station I paused a few minutes to watch some Filipino dancers who were helping to promote tourism in the Philippines. I was asked to take part in a free prize draw for a week’s holiday in Palawan so I gladly entered my details, I never win anything but there’s always a first time, one can dream.
My tour of Canary Wharf started at Reuters Plaza, recognisable because of its series of clocks, an art installation entitled Six Public Clocks. Konstantin Grcic’s clocks were the winning design in a 1999 competition and were based on the iconic Swiss railway clock but here each of the twelve faces displays a single and different number.
From Reuters Plaza I walked along to Canada Square to take a look in the delightful Crossrail roof garden, a calm oasis above the yet to be opened Crossrail Station. The roof garden is free to visit and is open daily. It features a self watering roof with the planting reflecting the docklands heritage as a trading centre with plants native to the countries visited by the ships.
I then met up with my son and we ate dinner in the nearby Ledger Building which was constructed in 1803 to the designs of the West India Dock Company. The building was used to house the ledgers from all the various departments of the docks. It remained in use as the Port of London offices until the 1970’s and has since been transformed into a J.D. Wetherspoon public house.
After enjoying steak and chips we caught the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Prince Regent which was then about a 7 minute walk to our hotel the Ibis Styles London Excel. Directly opposite the hotel stands the Custom House DLR station but this is undergoing major renovations and is closed for 11 months necessitating a slightly longer walk.
Check in was quick and the receptionist kindly gave us extra supplies for our tea maker which was very useful. After enjoying cups of tea and Kit Kat we felt tired and it was not long before we were tucked up in our comfortable bed fast asleep.