This blog was going to be a bit of a rant. I’ve been staring at too many friends’ photos on Instagram showing beautiful Caribbean beaches, and it’s been getting me down. New Year’s Day was one of the darkest I remember, and I don’t know if you were in London on Saturday, but it was utterly grim (we went to see The Theory of Everything, which is a brilliant film, and a very good way of spending time on a foul day). Yes, there’s a reason I like to get away at this time of year. C & I have a big trip later in the year so we’re here this month, going nowhere. I was dreaming of Mexico, just for a start (bring on Barragan, bring on Tulum).
But it’s a New Year, and we don’t want to start on a rant. So I’ll concentrate instead on Friday, London – in the way that only she can in between days of darkness – sparkled. We went for breakfast on Piccadilly and then went for a wander. For a morning, we were tourists in our own town.
Spencer House glowed across Green Park.
Walking down to St. James’s Park we heard the noise of a band turning the corner of Buckingham Palace, which we reckoned was Changing the Guard.
There they go:
St. James’s Palace is piled high with brick turrets and crenelations:
Followed by the calm creamy grandeur of Nash’s Carlton House Terraces:
We crossed over to Horseguards, and to Kent’s sublime essay in early Georgian Palladianism:
The Banqueting House glowed:
I think it was from this window that Charles I stepped on to the scaffold where he was executed:
Down Whitehall, the extraordinary beauty of Lutyens’s cenotaph;
And long, low-slanting shadows even in the middle of the day:
We walked down the river, taking in a startling glimpse of St. Paul’s on the way;
And getting down to watery steps on the Embankment below the Cleopatra’s needle… for a brief second, London felt like Venice, and I thought how little we turn to face our great River Thames.
We found this extraordinary view underneath Waterloo Bridge;
And climbing up the steps onto the bridge, you look left to the stony perfection of Somerset House:
And right to one of my favourite views in the whole of London, looking back up towards Westminster.
London glowed, and all felt good in the world. Happy New Year, Happy Monday, and happy start back to work. It feels strange, but it’s nice to be back.