Posted in London on Saturday 13th November 2004 at 11:12pm
Woke early to a freezing but clear morning. Out on the 0640 with pet power car 43130 'Sulis Minerva' behind us. Sun came up somewhere along the way, and it seemed like a dry and bright day was in store. Perfect weather for the planned events!
Directly onto a delayed Circle Line and to Blackfriars for coffee. Watched the City getting ready for showtime for a while, then headed to Paternoster Square to see Temple Bar, newly restored to London after 130 years in Theobald's Park. Got some pictures before things became too busy.
The restored Temple Bar, Paternoster Square
The completed development at Paternoster Square is an improvement on previous efforts in the area. The large public space also contains a pillar representing one designed by Inigo Jones for Old St. Pauls which is in fact a ventilation shaft for the New Stock Exchange underground parking.
Assumed my spot on Ludgate Hill for the Show. Very chilly. I attempted to help some Spanish tourists to understand what was happening, and they stayed to see the whole procession - even the 'Gibraltar British Anniversary' float which they accepted with some discomfort but good grace! As ever, a strange mix of military bands, financiers on rollerskates, many Mini Coopers, community project floats and pageantry of ancient significance.
Gog and Magog lead the procession
I enjoyed events a great deal - certainly more than last year when I wasn't feeling up to par, and was concious of others' disappointment for much of the time. Even a family more intent on sharing out their extensive picnic despite fingers too cold to open the packages couldn't dampen my enthusiasm. Highlights as ever were the Livery Companies and the passing of the new Lord Mayor himself on the way to swear an oath at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The New Mayor, Rt Hon Michael Savory passes by
After the show had passed, had a cold and rather forlorn lunch break in Abchurch Yard before heading south to visit the George Inn - a fine old galleried inn which remains a pub today. The inn was beloved of William Kent who wrote a small pamphlet on its history. Amazing to find such a strange anachronism a step off the unrelentingly busy Borough High Street. One to visit again soon.
Back over London Bridge to briefly visit St. Stephen Walbrook and watch the tail end of the returning parade arriving at Mansion House. Then over to 1 Poultry to join a City of London walk organised by the Corporation. Very popular, with large groups setting off every few minutes. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable, if a little overawed at such a large group. We made a quick sweep through the city via the fine Adam houses in Frederick's Place, the Guildhall, Cheapside, St. Paul's, Old Bailey and Blackfriars. Thoroughly enjoyed the walk, which touched on many things I'd discovered myself. It's always good to have things confirmed and to hear a new perspective on the City.
From Blackfriars, got more much needed hot coffee and headed onto Victoria Embankment. Soon after the Lord Mayor's car sped by, and the incredible firework display was underway. Fifteen minutes of the most impressive pyrotechnics I've seen in a long time. Huge crowds too. Decided to head north to avoid the departing audience, via Smithfield to Farringdon and thence Paddington.
Since the restaurant I'd hoped to visit was busy, searched for an alternative and found frankly very little. Settled for a small Indian place which led to perhaps the oddest culinary experience of my life! I have to say the food was fine, sensible portions of tasty food at (by London standards) reasonable prices. The bathroom however was in a flooded basement, which by all accounts had been underwater for some time. On paying I was told that the credit card machine was "out of use". Having no cash I was invited to accompany the waiter to a nearby ATM. I paid him in the street with much handshaking and apologising for the inconvenience. Very odd evening.
Steadied my nerves with a pint of Adnams Broadside in the Dickens Tavern. Noted with some dismay a bunch of American tourists who'd been in for food and beer taking pictures of the pub. I can only hope it was for a "this is where we ate" conversation and not because they thought that Charles Dickens had anything to do with a place he patently didn't. Sleepily returned to Paddington for a quiet journey home in First Class.