Our first foray into Central London for dinner was very different to pre-lockdown days. There were few tourists and no after work buzz: people weren’t spilling out of pubs onto the pavement or rushing to railway and tube stations. We decided it was the ideal time to take our cameras out for the day and explore a crowd-less city.
Having read about the numbers of home workers, we thought the City of London would be a good place for our day out. For those unfamiliar with London, Wikipedia describes The City as “the historic financial district, home to both the Stock Exchange and Bank of England. Modern corporate skyscrapers tower above the vestiges of medieval alleyways below. Affluent workers frequent its smart restaurants and bars. Tourists visit iconic, 17th-century St. Paul’s Cathedral, trace the city’s history at the Museum of London, and take in performances at the huge Barbican arts centre.”
We started and finished at London Liverpool Street Station, so we could catch the over ground train from Walthamstow and avoid the tube. I opted to navigate the first part of our day along the top edge of the city, with Roy choosing to lead us on a pub trail along the southern edge, finishing with lunch in Leadenhall Market.
On walking along London Wall, the city’s Roman defence mechanism, we were exploring a section of the original wall when we stumbled across “Salters’ Hall”:https://www.salters.co.uk/, one of the twelve City of London livery companies. Salters’ Gardens provided a wonderful green space amongst the concrete and it was easy to picture it on a weekday lunch time in summer pre-lockdown with office workers enjoying their sandwiches. We continued on past the Museum of London, which we agreed to save for another day when the weather wasn’t as good.
The City has a number of green spaces and pocket parks, one of them being Postman’s Park, named because it was used by postal workers at lunchtime. However, the real draw was The “Watt’s Memorial”:http://www.postmanspark.org.uk/ to Heroic Self Sacrifice with plaques detailing feats of heroism. One local to Walthamstow was Henry James Bristow, aged 8, who on 30 December 1890 saved the life of his sister by tearing off her flaming clothes before catching light himself and dying from burns and shock.
We skirted St Paul’s Cathedral only stopping to take photographs of 40 “golden angels”:https://www.dezeen.com/2019/06/17/lunch-break-khbt-london-festival-architecture/ flying from a net high above the pavement.
“Culters’ Hall”:https://www.cutlerslondon.co.uk/, just off High Holborn down Warwick Lane, caught our eye and we went to explore. High up on the outside of the building was a finely carved long terracotta frieze by a Sheffield sculptor depicting cutlers at work. Later back at home, we researched the livery companies and found they’re ranked in order of importance with the cutlers only coming in at number 18.
We nearly missed the Old Bailey as the main entrance is just off High Holborn. Neither of us had ever sat in the visitors’ gallery and again, we added it to our list of things to do whilst travelling is still off limits.
We crossed Holborn Viaduct and headed down steps onto Farringdon Street continuing on to Blackfriars Station where Roy took over as tour guide. The wedge-shaped Blackfriars pub was closed and we had to admire the Art Nouveau Grade II listed building from the outside and so missed the original jolly friar sculptures, mosaics and reliefs around the interior, reflecting the fact that the site was a former Dominican Monastery. We wove eastwards through alleys and narrow passageways that we’d never explored and found wonderfully named pubs like the Ye Olde Watling and the Jamaica Wine House, but sadly all were similarly closed.
Our timing was perfect, arriving at Leadenhall Market just after 12pm when it was very quiet. However, it quickly busied up despite the fact that a number of the outlets were closed.
Walking back to Liverpool Street we passed the London Stock Exchange, Lloyds with its distinctive exterior pipework, the iconic-shaped Gherkin, 42 storey Tower 42 and lots of other tall buildings which provided great photographs with reflections galore.
With our Over-60s oyster providing free travel, our day out had been both entertaining and cheap with the only expense being our lunch in the New Moon Pub. And we also picked up lots more ideas for jaunts up to the City.