south bank: my favourite walk in london

My favourite walk in London. 🙂 It is also a long walk—from St. Katharine Docks to Westminster, by the South Bank, meandering over London’s many bridges and through the cathedrals, theatres and pubs that line the edge of the River Thames. The nicest part is that as you walk, the sun starts to set and the lights come on and it is like walking through one huge painting.

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St. Katharine Docks were once the Port of London’s most central docks Continue reading

beautiful wells and mystical glastonbury

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Early Saturday morning and all of London seems asleep. The only sounds I hear are that of my running feet on their way to the tube station. It is a good few hours to Wells and Glastonbury. And when you leaving in a few days, oh well, sleeping in on a Saturday morning is the last priority on one’s list. 😀

England’s smallest cathedral city, Wells, derives its name from the three wells within its walled precincts, which during the Middle Ages were believed to have therapeutic qualities. Its other key attraction, for nearly a millennium, has been its cathedral [Cathedral Church of St. Andrew], and understandably so. Continue reading

blenheim, churchill and me

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” ~
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

There are many advantages to travel—it reveals facets of people, places and our world which are often quite extraordinary.

Blenheim Palace is not in the top “things to do” list, and so tends to get sidelined. Which is a good thing, as it is thus, saved from the crowds and plastic commercialism which invariably smothers the real essence of overtly popular places. But what is Blenheim? It is a home, a very grand home of a man who was a statesman, orator, writer and artist, all rolled into one. It is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill—Britain’s most famous prime minister and Nobel Prize laureate for literature in 1953, who also happened to be the grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

The 300-year-old baroque palace puts Britain’s statesman in a completely different context, amidst ceilings by Nicholas Hawksmoor and stonework by Grinling Gibbons. I had to keep telling myself this was somebody’s “home”! Look at the pictures and you will understand my awe.

The baroque splendour of Winston Churchill’s family home:
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trafalgar square to westminster palace and abbey

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This is my favourite photo. I was walking across Parliament Square towards Big Ben and Winston Churchill’s statue rose in front of me …

I love the way London is segregated in its functionality. It is pure Classicism in its order. There is legal London. Royal London. Financial London. And political London, also more commonly known as Whitehall.

Whitehall is a homogeneous line of government buildings, pierced with landmarks both significant and world-famous such as No. 10 Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, Banqueting House and the Cenotaph. Not many tourists take this road. It is populated by government officials going about the business of running a country. Yet, Trafalgar Square at one end, and Westminster Palace [housing the UK Parliament] and Westminster Abbey at the other end, constitute the most visited tourist spots of London. Continue reading

george III and the kew gardens

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Some places turn out to be such a pleasant surprise! I had put down Kew Palace and the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens for today. I’d been starting to feel a bit jaded—you know the “been there, done that” feeling and I, therefore, wanted to do something inconsequential for a change. Botanical gardens and palaces seemed to fit the bill perfectly. 🙂 Not too demanding was what I told myself. Continue reading

historic york

When I moved to London last year, York topped my “things to do/ see/ experience” list. And then I got busy studying and travelling to nearer places. But I never forgot York. There is something iconic about York—perhaps attributable to its historic value and the fame of its York Minster. 6 am this morning I was, thus, off to catch my train from King’s Cross station, to keep a promise to myself.

The history of York has been said to be the history of Britain. Dating back to 71 AD when it was founded by the Romans, the city first served as the capital of the Roman province “Britannia Inferior”, and thereafter that of subsequent rulers, namely, the Angles and Vikings. It was also in York, in 306 AD, that Constantine the Great was proclaimed emperor by his troops. A Roman column marks the site; the column was once part of 36 similar ones that supported a great hall in the Roman garrison.

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