London Diary – Autumn Amble City Hall to Canary Wharf, Fortuitous River Cruise and Decorative Art and Textile Fair at Battersea Park.

Oct 1, 2016

London offers free guided walks throughout the city 3 weekends a year, Winter Wander in January, Spring into Summer in May, and this weekend’s Autumn Amble. There are a number of choices on each of the weekend days, all great opportunity to explore London. Not only new comers but long time Londoners participate as well. We’ve got ourselves on the email list and received invitation to sign up weeks before the walk. This time I choose City Hall to Canary Wharf for Saturday and Highgate to Stoke Newington for Sunday.

City Hall is south of River Thames across from Tower of London and Canary Wharf is further to the east. It is a great route, half of the time we were right by the river, the other half we had to go around buildings that are right on the river.

Both City Hall area and Canary Wharf are highlights of London. In between are many less known but still interesting spots. Among many others are old wharfs that have been converted into flat buildings, St Catherine’s Dock and Marina, St John’s Church, Wapping Wall that is a lucky spot with fantastic views to both The City and Canary Wharf, Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant Narrow near end of Regent Canal, and many pubs along the way, of which, Prospect of Whitby from 1520 is the oldest on the river Thames.

The weather was however not so lovely. It rained on and off. Luckily it didn’t go too hard at us and we were able to carry on with umbrellas, rain coats and jackets.  The sky was as grey as lead but chose to clear up just as the walk was coming to an end.

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We had dim sum at Royal China right at the wharf. It was very good, no wonder that place was fully packed. To return to the city center, we decided to try the ferry boat Thames Clippers instead of tubes or buses. By then, the weather had turned around 360 degrees, and the ferry ride from Canary Wharf to Westminster turned out a fantastic river cruise.

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There was one more program for the day, Decorative Art and Textile Fair at Battersea Park. Antique, design and art fairs and trade shows that take place in London come in great numbers and quality. Imagine the endless opportunity for decorators and shoppers. Impressed by a few others, ADFL, LAPADA and Masterpiece, I wanted to check out this one too. Not to mention I’d been given an invitation that would admit two, more than happy to make good use of it indeed. It was nice, lots beautiful things to see. The fair ran a shuttle bus between the park and Sloane Square, which is close to Knight Bridge and Harrods. We ended the eventful day with a dinner at a pub nearby, Antelope.

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Unfrogettable Ireland : Dublin (Part 1)

Dublin was our last stop on this trip. We arrived at our hotel in Dublin, Butler’s Town House, a few minutes to 9pm on Jun 19, a Friday, and left on Monday the 22th early in the morning.

Dublin is one of the most pleasant cities, attractive and genial. There is plenty to see in Dublin but it is not overwhelming. If you plan it right, it is easy to walk to the many sites. If necessary, parking, bus, taxi and light rails are conveniently available.

Being there on a weekend when there was no blockbuster event going on worked out great for us after all. It was not crowded but contagiously lively. Especially in the evenings, there was music everywhere on Temple Bar, in the cafes or on the street, where I witnessed a few bridal parties, passing by, danced rapturously to the various music from different groups of street performers, creating a parading spectacle.

The most amazing to me, is the treasure kept at Trinity College Library, The Books of Kells and other manuscripts. The books and manuscript are gospels hand written in Latin with illustrative and decorative inserts. The craft of ancient book making from producing vellums to binding books is fascinating and the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of the illustrations are stunning. It too is a miracle that they have survived more than a millennium. It dawned on me, as it was put by one Irish monk: “… I get wisdom day and night. Turning darkness into light”, that the teaching of reading and writing by the monks through the spreading of the message of the life of Christ, was quite essential to human civilization.

Butler’s Town House

Our room

Our room

I loved the décor at Butler’s Townhouse. Sibyl and staff couldn’t be more warm and friendly.

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