The earlier part of today was taken up with laundry and shopping but in the late afternoon we ventured out. Tigger had heard that there was a tea fair at South Bank, so we went to take a look. Sadly, we never found it. Either it had finished and gone away or we had failed to locate it. We made do, instead, with a stroll around the area. We stopped off for coffee and dessert at a small cafe and were charged a stonking £13 for the privilege! We shall not return there in a hurry…
At this time of year, darkness falls early and by the time we arrived at the South Bank all the lights were on, transforming the place with the magic of coloured illuminations.
There is plenty to do at the South Bank, with concerts and exhibitions at the Royal Festival Hall, the National Film Theatre, cafes and restaurants, so there were a lot of people about.
The London Eye was doing a brisk business, if it’s not too much of a paradox to use the adjective “brisk” with a wheel that turns almost as slowly as the hour hand of a clock. Above you can see Big Ben peering between the spokes. I am always amused by people in the gondolas taking flash photos of the view. I don’t know what they expect to see in the photos apart from the reflection of the flash on the window glass.
This photo perhaps gives a better impression of the size of the London Eye. The whole area is lit up in blue from the blue lights on the wheel. One of the gondolas (at about 10 o’clock in the picture) was illuminated. I don’t know the reason for this but it made it easier to appreciate the speed of movement of the wheel (very slow!).
Here you get a better view of the gondolas, including the illuminated one. Taking this photograph reminded me of the report of a school teacher who tried to take a similar shot and was prevented by the police from doing so. He later received an apology from the Police Commissioner but that didn’t replace the missing photographs. Fortunately, no one interfered with me – at least, not on this occasion.
Looking across to the North Bank with the water prettily lit by reflected lights, you can see the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament) with Big Ben on the right and the Victoria Tower on the left. The slightly hazy air makes visible the beam of the spotlight on Big Ben.
Adjoining the base of the London Eye is one of the pontoons where the Thames Clippers stop to pick up passengers. It is well lit though I am not sure whether the Clippers run after dark.
We discovered that there was a Christmas Market in progress on the South Bank. There is usually something of the sort at this time of year, whether a Frost Fair or Winter Market. I took a photo of the above stall and was intending to take more photos of the market but soon realized that what was on sale was mostly fast food and cheap tat. It was quite boring really and so I gave up.
There was an antique-looking carousel, very pretty and colourful. These are to be seen at most fairs these days and are very popular. I am not sure whether they are really as old as they appear or are modern facsimiles. Either way, I find them very attractive and so do a lot of people, to judge by the numbers taking rides.
These dashing horses are called Alex and Tony, rather ordinary names for such fiery steeds but for a moment – just for a moment – I felt like climbing aboard and taking a ride. Who knows to what exotic realms they might have carried me?
My last photos were of the secondhand booksellers who set up their tables in front of the Royal Festival Hall beside the Thames. The big black wooden boxes for storing books remain where you see them and when the stalls eventually close, all the stock is tided away into them. The fun of riffling through seemingly endless displays of books is a pleasure that the electronic book cannot imitate.