Saturday, August 13, 2011
London is great
There was of course the Ultimate Walk by the Thames, with 50 things to see and do between Westminster and Tower Bridge. Yup, all those sights are still there.
In contrast there were the ways to escape London in London - such as a bike ride from Putney to Kingston and back. And not just by bike: you can kayak (on the Thames or the Wandle) or even sail, stopping over at one of the hundreds, no, thousands of pubs. You can join thousands others rowing up or down the Thames, such as for the Great River Race. In winter you can ice skate at many wonderful open air rinks, including the glorious Somerset House.
And London's been doing this not just for years, decades or even hundreds of years, but thousands of years. Julius Caesar himself forded the river Thames, back in 55 BC. And the river has seen so much history, from the days of the Golden Hinde to the docks to the lightermen. Every corner of London has its historic gems, like Trinity Buoy Wharf in docklands.
London's central place is reinforced by its geocoordinates, home to Greenwich, the zero line of longitude, where the last tea clipper, the wonderful Cutty Sark is being restored.
London was also the home of the great bard, Shakespeare, whose plays were first performed by the banks of the Thames. He was by no means the first or last, with hundreds if not thousands of writers, artists and thinkers who have lived for a time in London, from Monet and Wandsworth to the recently departed Tony Judt.
And what museums and exhibitions there are! From Henry Moores or Gauguin at the Tate to Turner and the Masters and from Anish Kapoor's sky mirrors to Jean Nouvel's Pavilion at the Serpentine, in the heart of London, in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and all the other of London's great parks.
And outdoor sculpture, like more Henry Moores, this time at the stunning Kew Gardens or the Putney Sculpture trail in summer or winter.
But don't forget the music, whatever your taste you will find it in London. Whether Steve Reich's Drumming on the South Bank, Theremin and Global Communication at the British Library, Editors at the Brixton Academy, Didgeridoo with string quartet, poor Amy Winehouse.... the list is endless.
It is the city where you can find Nelson's ship in a giant glass bottle high in Trafalgar Square, have all the fun of a country fair, where through the sky flies Harry Potter, Antony Gormley statues can stand on countless buildings and as a backdrop for those Spooks.
Whether in fog or snow London is a beautiful city, home to wildlife from foxes to eels, and within a year the 2012 Olympics.
London truly is great, and I am proud to call it my home.