After a week of hectic sight seeing, today was a little more sedate.
Coffee and a muffin in a local cafe among all the converted warehouses for breakfast.
We were off to a good start when a little local girl (Sophie) took out her dad's wallet and gave us 50 GBP.
I was ready to do a runner with it but Susan insisted we give it back - much to the relief of Sophie's father!
It was probably the right thing to do, I mean I could easily have out run this guy, but with Susan being a little unsteady on her feet lately she probably would have been caught.
We crossed the river and had a brief stop in Hays Galleria. The old tall clipper ships used to unload their goods here during the 19th Century. They reckon around 80% of London's imported dry foods came in through Hays Wharf. It was badly bombed during he war and left in ruins until the 1980's when a lot of redevelopment along the South Bank area took place. Now it's a mix of shops, cafes, offices and apartments. A bronze sculpture - The Navigators - stands in the middle as recognition to it's past. It looks like something from a Jules Verne novel to me.
We really wanted to see the roof top gardens in Kensington. Originally created in the 1930's by the owners of department store Derry and Toms on the shops roof. They were grade II listed in the 1970's. The gardens are divided into 3 sections, a Spanish garden with fountains and vine covered walkways, a Tudor garden with wisteria, roses and lavender and an English woodland with a pond that has real ducks and flamingos. The gardens are now owned by Richard Branson. When we got there though the gardens were closed for a private function. Where was the good karma for giving the 50 pounds back???? pfft.
We caught the tube back to Tower Hill and walked over Tower Bridge.
On the south side of the river is St Saviours Wharf. Once a working dock, it is now upmarket apartments, bars and shops and a bit different from how it was in Dickens day when he based a lot of his story of Oliver Twist here. This is where Fagin had his den of thieves and where Bill Sikes falls from the walkway and drowns in the mud below.
We continued to walk along Tower Bridge Rd towards Bermondsey. This is the area where my mother, grandmother and family for generations were born and grew up. My mum always spoke of a shop called Manzes. She and my grandmother went here all the time and my mum worked there when she was a kid before the war. Manzes has been operating from the same shop since 1902 and is still run by the same family. They sell traditional Cockney food, pie 'n' mash and jellied eels. When I was a kid we had pie 'n' mash at least once a week. I convinced Susan we should have some lunch there as it's delicious and it would be nice to go somewhere my family had eaten for generations and be served by the descendants of same people my family were served by. When we arrived it looked as though it hasn't changed at all since it was opened in 1902! I found this fascinating and exciting, by the look on Susan's face, I'm not convinced she felt the same. I ordered two pie mash and liquor (liquor is parsley sauce) By this time Susan really didn't look impressed. I assured her it would be delicious. This is the kind of traditional food that puts hairs on ya chest. That's a good thing for London as it keeps you warm in the winter months, a little electrolysis might be needed when we get back to Australia, but we'll deal with that when we get back! As we tucked in memories of my childhood came flooding back with every mouthful, it was delicious. For some reason Susan left most of hers, said it was the most disgusting thing she's ever tasted - a little harsh I thought, considering she eats Vegemite!!
As we left it started to pour down with rain and we got soaked - finally a good old English summer!
We took the bus to Pimlico to visit the Tate Britain art gallery. They have a whole wing dedicated almost entirely to Turner, so it was heaven.
Our stay in London has reached it's end and now Paris awaits.
For me London is the most magical place in the world. Susan has fallen in love with it too and we have vowed to come back again and stay for longer. Much has been written about London over the years, but I think Samuel Johnson sums it up best during a conversation with James Boswell in 1777 - "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."