Back in London

Since my last visit to London in 1975, the city has changed remarkably in demographics. English is occasionally heard on the streets and the multi-cultural mix is quite vibrant.

The Hackney street carnival.

The Hackney West Indian street carnival.

One of 5 steel drum bands!

One of 5 steel drum bands!

Graffiti "artist" at work.

Graffiti “artist” at work.

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Hip hop artist at work.

At the bus stop with my flowers.

At a bus stop, on my way to deliver  flowers.

We were quite knackered on returning from our road trip, so to Michelle’s great disappointment, we opted for a quiet evening with a bottle of wine on our first night back.

Victoria and Albert museum.

Victoria and Albert museum.

After a good night’s sleep we were ready to go again on Thursday and so, set forth to visit the Victoria and Albert museum in Chelsea around 10am. This is a museum with an amazing collection, which we plan to visit again before we leave. On the way to a lunch date, we passed Harrods, the temple of ostentatious consumerism. The girls wanted to have a sticky beak, but I bolted back onto the pavement when confronted by the special of the week: a $365,000 diamond encrusted ladies watch. I watched a guy doing a sand sculpture on the sidewalk, for $2 in his collection box.

Sand sculptor outside Harrods.

Sand sculptor outside Harrods.

We joined Pedro Roos, a prominent architect in London for a pleasant lunch at the Saatchi gallery in Chelsea. Pedro was a classmate of Annie’s at University. He lives in Surrey and has a weekender in Normandy, France.

Annie, Pedro and Michelle.

Annie, Pedro and Michelle.

Karen our eldest daughter arrived in London after lunch and found her way to our place in Brick Lane by about 3pm. She will be in London for a week to catch up with friends and to do a surgery course at St Thomas’ hospital, across the Thames from parliament. It is great to have the whole family together again in more than a year and a half.

Michelle navigating for us in the tube system.

Annie and Karen with Michelle navigating  the tube system for us.

The girls have stamina, so despite Karen’s long flight from Oz, we hit the tiles to celebrate her arrival. First, it was drinks at a Speakeasy pub in Whitehall, with an excellent trio playing jazz. Then it was dinner at Michelle’s favourite music venue, The Jazz Kitchen, with a six-piece brass outfit playing.

Kaz and Shel together again.

Kaz and Shel together again at the Speakeasy.

Great brass section after dinner.

Great brass section at the Jazz Kitchen.

On Friday while the girls did their own thing, Annie and I set out on our own tour visiting some contemporary buildings, like the Gherkin, in our area. We visited the 36th floor of the “Walkie talkie” building to check out the 360-degree view of London and have a beer on the 35th floor terrace. We walked to the Tower of London and the Tower bridge, before taking the tube to Soho.

The Gherkin.

The Gherkin.

The 35th floor atrium.

The 35th floor atrium terrace.

View across the Thames to the Shard.

View across the Thames to the Shard.

Annie and the Tower bridge.

Annie and the Tower bridge.

At six-thirty, we were in Soho to meet for drinks with Shirin Elahi architect, who studied with us at Pretoria university. Shirin has been living in London since 1980 and has two daughters the same age as ours. By 7pm we were joined by more old school and Uni friends of Annie’s and had a great dinner and evening in Soho. We managed to stumble home by 1 am.

Shirin and Annie.

Shirin and Annie.

Larry, Annie, Dirk, Derek, Dawn and Nushin.

Larry, Annie, Dirk, Derek, Dawn and Nushin.

Dawn, Derek and Annie late night.

Dawn, Derek and Annie late night.

Next instalment: Recovery on Saturday and a visit to Greenwich.

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