London is one of the world’s oldest and busiest capital cities in the world. With a history stretching back to Roman times combined with 21st century modernity, this is a city like no other.
Every day its streets and buildings are filled with car, buses, taxis, shoppers, workers and tourists from all over the world. Its daily hustle and bustle turned the wheels of many industries and it always surprised you.
Today this scenario feels more like a dream….
Following the first stage for lifting the lockdown in the UK, we are allowed to travel for exercise, so Madame & Mademoiselle could not resist a trip into the Big City to enjoy the stunning sights during this truly unique time.
London is a beautiful city full of stunning architecture, both old and new and offers many interesting statues and monuments on many of its corners.
Starting in Pall Mall, with its many prestigious private clubs our Sunday morning walk began walking past St. James Park and walking along the most famous red road in the world and the only one in the city. The Mall, it always takes my breath away walking along this road, thinking about all it has seen through time, from joyous jubilations, national sadness, commemorations, celebrations, and all with traditional pomp and ceremony. It is always a special experience.
Today, walking down the middle of the road with a few other walkers, runners and cyclists, towards the jewel at the top of the road, which is of course Buckingham Palace. Standing steadfast as the seat of the British Monarchy, in front of the Palace is the Victoria Memorial shining in the morning sunshine adding to the nation’s glory.
Strolling through St. James’s Park towards Horse Guards Parade, more people were enjoying a limited social get together. As the oldest Royal Park in the city, it is also one of the loveliest, with beautiful blooming flower beds, green grass and a pretty lake home to plenty of birds and wildlife.
The wide expanse of Horse Guard’s Parade, usually seen globally for the annual national parade of all the Queen’s horses and all the Queens men out in all their finery to mark HM The Queen’s Official Birthday. Again, walking across the vast courtyard was a sad reminder that this year’s magnificent parade did not take place.
Under the arch and out onto Whitehall and we were met with the horse mounted guards in their smart red tunics guarding the Household Cavalry Museum; no waiting your turn for photos with them this time!
Turning up into Trafalgar Square, this iconic centre for so many, celebrations, protests and gatherings, was sparsely populated by people and pigeons alike. The 4 corners of Nelson’s Column were still reassuringly guarded by the 4 huge bronze lions sitting quietly with only the odd pigeon for company.
Heading into theatreland, the tempting posters of plays and musicals all had no audience, but we are looking forward to the curtain going up and returning to many exciting and special performances. There is nowhere like London’s West End for a night of unique theatrical entertainment!
Into Leicester Square, lush and green under the shade of the huge tree canopy. Under the watchful eye of English playwright William Shakespeare taking centre stage of the fountain, the square is now home for some new iconic characters chosen to celebrate London's film industry. The beautiful bronze statues of Mr Bean, Bug’s Bunny, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Paddington, Mary Poppins and Gene Kelly ‘dancing in the rain’ complete with lamp post and umbrella dot the square. Glancing upwards, standing protectively high on the roof of the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema, home to UK film premiere’s was a larger than life bronze statue of Batman; who was clearly protecting the square and guarding the fabulous promotion thanking the NHS (National Health Service) displayed on the front of the cinema.
Strolling into London’s China town, it is usually never quiet – it was today. But still swinging brightly overhead in the breeze were hundreds of red lanterns from this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations.
One final stop was into Waterloo Place with its statue of Florence Nightingale and The Guards Crimean War memorial. It is also home to The Athenaeum Club, with its stunning cream and blue columned façade, adorned with a gold statue of Athena. This private members' club was founded in 1824 and welcomes men and women with intellectual interests!
This was a beautiful way to see London, but it was not London as we know it. It was overwhelmingly sad to see every street and business closed, but also an honour to see the true beauty of this grand city and to see things you usually miss amongst the busy noisy streets.
But as always, London will again open its doors and bring people onto its streets and into its many attractions. Afterall, we could still see the sparkle in her eye. This is London.
Stay safe – stay kind and stay positive; we are all still in this together and together we will meet again soon!
I hope quarantine hasn’t been too hard on you all and that you are trying to keep productive! I sure am, trying my best, by watching a lot of Netflix and chilling out, but also keeping up with school work and especially reading a lot of books.
Recently we went to London to take advantage of taking pictures with barely anyone around.
We first walked down The Mall and towards Buckingham Palace. It was nice walking, literally in the middle of the road without worrying about any cars. There were quite a few people on their own bikes but also on the many bikes available to hire in London. Many people were stopping to take pictures of Buckingham Palace, taking the opportunity for a good shot. I have to say it didn’t feel right seeing Buckingham Palace and The Mall so empty and without any tourists.
We then made our way to St.James’s Park next to Buckingham Palace, which was lovely to walk through, with all the summer flowers blooming and adding colour to the scene. You could see people enjoying the sun and doing their daily exercise, trying not to disrupt their routine with this pandemic.
The park led us out onto Horse Guard’s Parade which seemed so vast and open; which I hadn’t realised before as there were always so many people there which made it seem full and small. As we made our way through the arch of the Household Cavalry Museum, we came to the 2 soldiers on horseback, which was lovely to see up close. Even with lockdown our soldiers are still out there doing their duty.
After we admired the horses we made our way to Trafalgar Square, which was something else to see with less people. There was barely anyone on the steps leading to the National Gallery so you could take a great shot of the gallery and take in the true architecture of the building. The famous Trafalgar Square lions were still being king of the city and it was nice to see them with no children climbing on top of them and you could really appreciate these amazing statues.
We then slowly walked towards the west end, which to me was the saddest part of London as I miss going out at night and enjoying the excitement and fun of a west end musical. But now, there was no bustling excitement or music coming from the theatres; it was like we had gone into the future where the whole of London was abandoned and the buildings were like ruins and you could hear a pin drop. That was the atmosphere I felt, especially when walking through theatreland.
We then walked down through Leicester Square and onto Piccadilly Circus, which was even more empty than Trafalgar Square. The huge famous advertising screens were thanking the heroes of our time. When taking in Piccadilly Circus and looking down the roads that went off the circus, it felt so deserted - no busy crowds walking up and down with their new purchases from Regent Street, no one singing their heart out on the corner of the street, no mime artists and no colourful lights in the shops windows. It was a sight for sore eyes.
As we came off Piccadilly Circus, we walked down Regent Street St. James’s towards Waterloo Place. At the end the Atheneum (private club)is located. This was a lovely place to take pictures as the sun was shining and made the gold Athena statue shine.
Our trip felt like we owned London because it felt like you were the only people walking around and we were really able to enjoy the architecture that London has to offer. This concluded our little lockdown sightseeing in London and it was well worth it.
I never thought I would experience a capital city like London so empty and quiet. It was abnormal, because we know a city is supposed to be busy with lots of people, cars and noise but there was none of that. Sure, there were people
walking about and cars and buses on the roads but it was nothing compared to the ordinary life of a Londoner.
Although it wasn’t nice seeing London like this it was definitely an experience, as you noticed things that were always there, but had never seen, amid the buildings and daily commuters.
I just want to finish off by saying thank you to our key workers and our NHS heroes, which we should be praising everyday and not just during this pandemic.
Stay safe and wash those hands of yours!