On the trains that brought me from Bristol, I managed to find the first class coach, in contrast to the train that took me in. This one seemed like a newer and much better choice in everything: speed, comfort, services.
We arrived in Paddington in bad weather, of course. It was raining cats and dogs and my urge to smoke a cigarette had to be postponed. Again. That was an urge that stayed with me since before getting on the train because I had to leave the hotel late so I got to the train station pretty late. The awful thing this London rain is, really. The unlucky bastards who had to wait near the station in order to catch some train had no other possibility than to get out of the premises of the train station, right outside of the almost open area, into the open area, in order to manifest their vice. There was no shelter in front of the station for us, the nicotine addicts so the people gathered there were practically defying the heavy November rain, trying to get a little bit of incidental coverage while staying stuck to a wall.
When I got out of the Underground in Charring and toped in Trafalgar Square, the damn rain stopped. You could see the ground still wet but it clearly passed around here at least 10 minutes before and I could see the blue of the sky at this point. Faint, through some thick clouds, that blue patch of the sky sparked the dim light of hope inside my person that I could actually have a sunny afternoon. Right after I was able to drop “big troll” who was both my chair (through trains and trains stations) and rock tied to my neck (especially when I had to lift it through the Underground).
With Google Maps turned on in my headphones I squeezed my way, together with that huge troller, through the crowds of people and cabbies, crossing the Strand road just so that I could get on John Adam Street, the place where I could “check in” my luggage for that afternoon so that I could have my traditional stroll around the city centre. I was partially wet – from the rain; partially sweaty – because of the lifting in the subway; partially tired – because of the whole experience so walking around the financial centre of London with a huge troller, while looking like a homeless guy with a dripping wet jacket, wasn’t the experience I take my pride from. But you know how they say it: the ends justify the means. so, in the end, I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve got someone over there to accommodate my luggage while I go have a walk in downtown London.
Of course, I took my first destination Buckingham Palace as I knew it went through St. James Park and I really wanted to see a bit of nature and openness. I was sick and tired of crowds and from this point of view, London doesn’t lack crowds when it comes to travelling.
The Sun came out! What a joy, what a joy. Now, from a thick pack of clouds, blue could be seen on more than 30-35% of the all-sky, which is a performance when we are talking about London. I guess that was my lucky day and also the day I got the least wet.
I guess that the good weather also suited the fauna in St. James Park, especially the birds. Not all of them. Some, in the most English manner possible, were all grumpy and dissatisfied. Like the pigeon above. All his friends were out, stretching their limbs in the Sun, while this guy continued sleeping “inside himself” on the fence. Hard night mate?
The first time I’ve been to London I was amazed by the fact that this park, together with Green Park form a remarkable outdoor zoo. Especially in the aviary section. Moreover, seeing, attracting and touching those squirrels roaming around the green areas and in the centuries-old trees, gives you a boost of good energy. I could only think that in Romania they would most probably shoo away any wild birds nesting in a park because they would get bird shit all over the pavement. The squirrels wouldn’t last a day because of the stray dogs and cats. Poor Dale!
Close to Buckingham, I realised I don’t have the time to mingle with all those people just to try to have a better view of a guy dressed up in the uniform his jobs makes him wear it. So I think that at that precise moment I decided to not even cross to the pavement in front of the Palace. I was really fed up with the crowds for that day so I only took a fugitive couple of shots towards Queen Victoria, on the fountain in front of the Palace. Coincidentally I also think this is one of the most “British” shots I’ve captured during this UK session.
Don’t know if I like London because it is hard to photograph or that’s why I see it as a challenge. I definitely need more time in the centre and have more time to spend so in my mind I’m already planning my next visit. There were some “unspoken frames” and “uncaptured pixels”. Lucky me I ditched the rain only to get in London in time to see Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben and the Parliament totally covered in “reconstruction” clothes. There was nothing to photograph for me over there so coming back from Buckingham was not really photography wise.
I still had some daylight to kill so I crossed Westminster bridge, not before checking out the barricades they have set up between the pavement and the road. Sturdy things, there’s no van coming through those for sure though I’m afraid terrorism will find its way, as it always does, unfortunately.
On the bridge, a Scotsman was playing his bagpipes. Loud enough so it could be heard through all the noise and the fuss of the place, through all the double-deckers and the boats. Surreal experience London, that’s for sure. I know that for the people living in it life has its own understanding and its own dimensions but for an outsider, knowing so much about London, yet so little, the scapes of the city and the social life of the city is a question mark, nonetheless.
I had a speedy visit inside Dreamworks, right next to the London Eye, from where I bought for the kid Shrek’s ears and a pink Puss in Boots t-shirt. Those two characters are a sure win with a 3-4-year-old. I lingered a little around the London Eye, catching my breath and adjusting my camera settings as the Sun was already going down and on top of it, the cloudy sky came back. Meanwhile I realised I am hungry and I need food. The fact that I didn’t eat since the short English breakfast I had in Bristol in the morning hit me like a brick that was already heading for the bottom. So I closed my deals with the small fair next to the London Eye, got on the Golden Jubilee Bridge and went stright back to the Strand in order to look for food and later on, pick up my bag and go home (home of my cousin in London that is).