Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tower Bridge and Gloriana

Wednesday 4th June

I had plans for making gingerbread this morning but forgot we had run out of eggs, so it was ginger and walnut flapjack instead.  Dave did another coat of varnish while I took Meg to the park for a good walk and run around, then we set off for more sightseeing.

We walked down to Bethnal Green tube.  This area of London is not picturesque! However the artwork on the walls down the escalators is amazing, so much better than the dreary adverts everywhere else!  It’s brightly coloured, space-themed, with short phrases and sentences about living a positive life.  My camera couldn’t cope with the moving escalator but I include the photo to give an idea of the colourful imagination of the painter(s) – if you look closer you will see the young lady with flaming hair running up the down escalator!  Go girl!

24 bethnal green station

Anyway, we soon arrived at Tower Hill emerging to hear cannon fire from the Tower – it was midday, the time they fire salutes, but I couldn’t find anything to say what it was when I looked on the web later on.  Perhaps it was just midday.  We made our way through the crowds and rain past the Tower to St Katharine Dock, to see if Gloriana (the Queen’s rowbarge made for the Jubilee the other year) was there – which she was, bright in the gloomy weather.  Such a shame we couldn’t get any closer to have a better look.

2 gloriana in st katharine dock 1  3 gloriana 2

It’s a pity there was so much building work going on behind her, and those blue banners were superfluous too, but she is beautiful.  We also saw Telford’s original footbridge across the basin entrance, which used to run on rails so it could be moved as necessary.

4 telfords footbridge st k dock

We had some lunch in the Dickens inn (not particularly good food) then went on to the main attraction – Tower Bridge!  It was my first time on the bridge and here I am admiring the Shard;

7 deb and shard

To our delight, there was a passage of two Thames barges scheduled for 3 pm, giving us enough time to enjoy the exhibition on the upper walkway.  There are great views of the Pool of London and Canary Wharf (unfortunately the day was gloomy and pictures taken through the window).

8 pool of london from tb top walkway    10 canary wharf from top walkway

Along the East walkway there were pictures of other notable bridges of the world, for example le Pont Saint-Bénézet, otherwise known as le Pont d’Avignon – (sorry about the reflections)

9 le pont d'avignon

upon which we danced with friends on our way down for a holiday on the Canal du Midi in 1979.  There were no entrance gates or anything, and as we danced and sang the song (it wasn’t even after lunch!) we were recorded for posterity by a German with a video camera.

The other walkway had a display of people and things from the sixties and this one brought back fond memories for Dave (who was a mod with all the gear)!

12 dave was a mod too

We took in the engine room exhibition too.  We were reminded of Crofton though these are all painted up and presumably are never in steam.   

13 dave and one of the old boilers    14 hydraulics and piston

Just time for a few snaps before getting into position for the bridge opening;

15 dave on tower bridge   16 gherkin and weather on the way

As the sirens sounded three portly suits broke into a run to get off the bridge (most amusing) but most people just strolled on.  We were standing by a member of the tech crew so had a nice chat about the bridge and ship movements.  He knew there were two Thames barges passing through today but didn’t know their names.  They are no longer allowed to travel under sail on the river, which is a pity but understandable.

We were all corralled behind a 6-foot gate so couldn’t get close to the open bit, though we had a good view of the opening;

17 going up   19 open

Then the masts of the first barge, coming upstream with the tide at such a clip I could only get one snap;

20 first barge shooting through

Then the second, which was much slower coming down against the tide;21 andwina took longer going against the tide

After passing through, the Andwina moored at the pontoon awaiting entry to St Katharine dock.

22 andwina waiting for the lock into st k dock

It was time to go back to let Meg out, so with a final snap  we set off.  Sometimes the juxtaposition of old and new works well – though I know they are on opposite sides of the river!

23 old and new tower and shard

I went for a run round the park to check out the moorings along the Hertford Union (not as nice as the one we’ve got) and on the way back discovered a pub on the north side of the park which we walked to for an excellent meal later on.  It is the People's Park Tavern at Queen’s Gate.  (The People’s Park is another name for Victoria Park).  Dog friendly, beer brewed on the premises (Laine’s), great food and friendly staff and customers too – what more could you want – even the mile walk back to ease your digestion is supplied!

27 excellent pub edge of vicky park

The picture was taken in a hurry as it had started to rain – we had a very wet walk back with no waterproofs!

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