Sunday, September 18, 2005

Exploring more of London

With my family heading out on the road this morning on their UK driving trip after their week in London, Carly and I were still in the mood for exploring a bit more of London's sights.. I'd been seeing development applications at work that dealt with (or were in conflict with) the issue of 'view corridors' and sight lines from certain high points in London towards St Pauls Cathedral in the City, and one of these was from the Parliament Hill site on the southern edge of Hamstead Heath in North London - so we packed some food and drinks, and off we went into the northern suburbs with friends Pete & Sue-Anne for a walk in the park so I could see what the fuss was about.

We travelled by tube up to the adjacent suburb, stopped at an off-licence to load up on some cold beers, and walked into the park and up through the woods to the viewing area, which seemed to be a favourite spot for kite flyers, given its open space and chance of consistent winds. I took the following shots of the amazing view, which stretches across the whole of London to the south, east, and west from this point. It was a very clear day, and you could see all the way to Canary Wharf and the Millenium Dome, the TV towers at Crystal Palace in South London, and the prominant smoke stacks above the Battersey Power Station in South West London.

A panoramic of the London City Skyline

The London skyline - left: Canary Wharf & the City; right: St Pauls Cathedral

After I'd taken my photos we took up a patch of grass, and got stuck into our beers while watching the kites struggle to get airborne with the lack of wind. We also amused ourselves by taking photos of a nearby massive 'chair and table' sculpture. The results are below - maybe you had to be there at the time but it was certainly fun for us..

Pete, and the table and chair sculpture photos

We then headed through the heath towards a pub I'd found on fancyapint, so that we could carry on after we'd run out of beer cans. The forest through this park was amazing - very Robin Hood/Sherwood Forest-like, and it was a shock to suddenly exit the park and find yourself walking onto a suburban street and outside of some amazing houses in the affluent suburb of Hamstead.

The walk through the amazing wooded areas of the Heath towards the pub

The pub, the Ye Old White Bear, was rated as a 5-pinter, so we expected big things - and we weren't dissapointed when we arrived, grabbed a table, some drinks from the bar, and a board game to play. This is where the infamous checkers/draughts war began. We played the longest game in recorded history, not at all helped by how much we'd drunk, and all of me and Pete's carry-on. In the end the game fell apart when Carly made a critical error, causing us to lose almost all of our pieces in one move by the opposition, and with the game all but done I folded the board, and took my bat and ball and went home (so to speak..)

Sitting outside at The Ye Old White Bear at Hamstead

After my tantrum over the loss of the world championship match, we headed back to the tube, and down to the West End for some chinese in Chinatown. Pete and I hit them up for their best hot, chilli-tainted dishes, and with plenty of beers under our belt we finished it all off to the surprise of the waitress.. But we weren't finished there, after dinner we crossed the road and had a few more beverages upstairs at Waxy's Little Sister, until the last drinks bell made it time to go home.

A great 'last-minute' day out exploring an interesting part of North London.



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