It's a long time since I was in Central London. Twenty years perhaps. And equally long since I went there by train. But one picks up the thread. And once I was there it was if my previous visit had been the day before.
London was grey and brown with low cloud truncating The Shard. Do I like London? Not really. Do I love London? Well....
I went to pay a hospital visit. And arrived just in time to assist my son with his discharge. He'd had a minor operation. Once upon time that would have meant weeks of bed rest. Today they have the patient up and doing in 12 hours.
Here's a tip. The café at University College Hospital serves excellent food and is amazingly cheap. £5.00 for a generous serving of roast beef with all the trimmings....
After my son had left for his home I went back to Charing Cross and took a short turn along the river- including a wander through the Victoria Embankment Gardens- with its monuments to famous Brits, including- strikingly and anomalously- Robert Burns. They're all blokes- though Arthur Sullivan has a distraught female weeper beating her head against his pillar.
I like it that the text is by Gilbert. I wonder if Sullivan himself would have approved. I get the impression he rather struggled to free himself from that association- as the halves of famous partnerships so often do.
At the Charing Cross end of the gardens is the Watergate to York House- which is all that remains of the Thameside residence of the Dukes of Buckingham. It serves as a marker of where the Thames shoreline was before Sir Joseph Bazalgette pushed the river back with his embankment. George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham is memorialised in the surrounding streets. There's a George Street, a Villiers Street, a Duke Street, a Buckingham Street and the most insignificant of them all is called Of Alley- but was later renamed York Place by someone without a sense of humour
Of Alley looks like this. The highly decorated building at the end is the Charing Cross Hotel.
My stroll took me past Cleopatra's Needle. Here's one of her sphinxes.