Friday, 23 November 2007

Tunnel under the Thames

Was miserable weather last Sunday but we persevered with our mission to be tourists here every weekend and went down the Thames to Greenwich on a lovely thing called the Thames Clipper. Bargain price with the good old Oystercard and a very comfortable way to travel.

Went under the Thames - as pictured - which, as you descend many metres, is the kind of place where it's best not to think about what would happen if there was a crack somewhere up above you.

Then fought against horizontal rain to go to the National Maritime Museum which I'd been to before and remembered being really good. It wasn't as good this time but it was better than being outside! Not too busy though and an interesting exhibition about Nelson, who I'd always been totally ignorant about. At least I'm vaguely informed now.

Got a train back to London Bridge - about 15 mins from Greenwich - it seems like wherever I go, all roads lead back to London Bridge which is truly flukey and fab.

In the evening we braved the elements once more and went up to Bethnal Green to the cinema, to see Brick Lane, which was okay as a film but not as strong as the book. Really nicely shot though and as always, good fun to play spot-the-places you know. On our way back we made the mistake of getting a tube instead of walking, which ended up taking just as long by the time we changed/walked from one line to the other and then waited ages for the last tube of the evening. But at least it was warm underground!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Sunday Post & Barbican Centre

While wandering round yesterday, ended up on Fleet Street and saw the original DC Thompson building – Sunday Post etc! Also saw Old Bailey - v impressive.

Went to National Portrait Gallery yesterday, some really good stuff in there but not the exhibition we went to see – “Devotional” which was basically a collection of other people’s photos of black female singers, ‘artistically’ grouped with squiggly lines around their names. Not worth it.

Then on to the Barbican Centre for “Seduced – Art & Sex” – pretty much what it says! This one was a bit more absorbing and although some of it was a bit out of context for a civilised Sunday afternoon, it was quite well done, particularly in the latter stages where samples of different artists’ use of sexual images was interesting – honestly!

The Barbican Centre itself was way more interesting than the actual exhibition – a big arts/music/theatre/dance venue set in the middle of a massive housing complex. Built in 1972, it’s actually stood the test of time pretty well and although it’s a lot of concrete, there’s also a lot of greenery in the space – flower boxes, trees, plants and even a big water channel down the middle. Was dark by the time I thought to take a picture unfortunately!

London's Burning

Big fire at Olympics site this morning - this is the view of the smoke pluming across the skyline. Seems to be under control and apparently is an old bus warehouse or something...

Monday, 5 November 2007

Inside the flat

Our living room and kitchen - open plan onto each other

The Gherkin

The Gherkin from our bedroom window - by day and by night

Week 1 - Borough Market & Thames Runs

So we’ve now had our first week in London and it’s been great. Already feel very at home and like I’ve been here for ages!

Work-wise, nothing much has changed – as I’m doing various bits of freelance work, I could just as easily be in Timbuctoo (as long as I had a working internet connection!). So my days don’t feel much different. I’ve got plenty of work at the moment, most of it with a Scottish theme, which is good in some ways (i.e. this expensive London rent needs to be paid!) but slightly strange in others as I find myself deliberately avoiding networking down here at the moment as I know I don’t have the capacity to follow up on any contacts. I’m planning to change that after Christmas once I’ve got various bits of work complete.

Our flat is lovely; although it’s smaller than our place in Edinburgh, it’s designed in a way that makes it feel very spacious. It’s top floor in a converted brewery block (how trendy huh?!) and the absolute best bit about it is the view from our bedroom window over to the “Gherkin” (Norman Foster-designed London landmark for anyone who doesn’t know!). It gives me a little thrill every time I look out.

We’re within a stone’s throw of the Thames and all kinds of famous sites – the Globe Theatre (original site and reconstruction), the Tate Modern, the Golden Hinde reconstructed model, the London Dungeon, the Clink Prison Museum.

I went running three times last week – up and down the Thames Path in various permutations. On Sunday morning, I was out at 9.30am and it was amazing – really clear, bright morning and hardly anyone around. I ran from our flat along the river as far as Canary Wharf (about 4-5 miles), with the Thames gradually getting wider on my left side and block after block of luxury waterfront apartments on my right side. It was beautiful and incredibly peaceful. But waterfront living seems bizarrely soulless – there was no-one around, which I found quite disturbing – all the flats have got gorgeous balconies which I’d have thought were perfect for having Sunday morning coffee & croissants (or whatever!). But no, no-one to be seen – what a waste!

The highlight of our weekend was the Borough Market, which is just round the corner from the flat – London’s biggest food market and a real sensory overload. It’s unrelentingly middle class trendiness personified and probably quite a far cry from its roots, but great to wander round nonetheless.

Plans for this week are all centred around work – we’re both back up in Scotland for meetings – but am already looking forward to next weekend and more exploration!