Our children gave us the very generous Christmas present of Tea at the Shard. We decided to wait until the summer to ensure good weather and a clear view. When we went last week it was raining and cloudy! The week before, as it happened, I viewed the Shard on the London skyline from the roof of a hotel in Blackfriars.
It was at an interesting and optimistic breakfast meeting organised by the London Borough of Enfield.
On the way to the Shard we went to Trafalgar Square, to see the sculpture of a soldier created to remember the terrible battle of Passchendaele .
It was formed of mud and sand from Passchendaele and it brought home to me how awful it must have been living in the trenches, how tired and despondent the troops must have been. The statue will slowly flow way in the English rain forming a pool of mud and despair.
Introduced in 1912 it enabled people to photograph their loved ones before they left to fight and soldiers to carry one to record their experiences. This latter was against regulations but they were small, 1″ x 2 3/8″ x 4 3/4 “, enough to hide away. My grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps and I have a photo of him sitting on a shell on a goods train but, of course I cannot find it. From the size of the picture it was taken with this camera. He also gave me a Mills Bomb,
(deactivated) telling me that he used to drop them on enemy forces from bi-planes. He was the observer. He also dropped flechettes. Made of steel they look dreadful things.
We then called in at the café in the basement of the National Portrait gallery for a drink before taking the Northern Line to London Bridge Station where we walked a few paces though gusty rain into the Shard and whizzed up 32 floors in a few seconds.
We had a table by the window and the view was breath-taking.
The window’s dirty, how do they clean them, and the glass probably is treated to keep the UV out hence the blue cast to the photo but isn’t the skyline interesting? There is always a crane in London:
I was amazed as to how many leisure craft moving around at the same time and there were two official looking bright orange RHIBs zooming here and there and two tugs towing barges.
The one above, is towing two barges with 28 shipping containers altogether, that is 14 lorries! The other tug was towing just one barge but this still represents 14 lorries. The warship is HMS Belfast , well worth a visit.
Now the Tea. Well the tea, drink, was disappointing little choice and my black tea had little taste but at over 70 I have lost half of my taste buds. The plate of savouries were wonderful – not shown the this photo unfortunately.
Goat cheese quiche, lobster sandwich, black pudding sausage roll and smoked salmon with dill in a small brioche roll. The scones, see picture above, were delicate well flavoured, crisp on the outside, best I have had since my grandmother made them. The sweets were dreadful and all tasted the same except for the chocolate cup which had an interesting chocolate crumble inside.
The mix of people was interesting, all ages, rich, city types, the young, smart, thrusting, people from all over, Valerie and me, and a proud man leading a group of about 15 and his body language shouting ” I am going to pay for this lot!” The staff were super, to use an old fashioned adjective.
Before we left, we went to the loo. Valerie said hers was all mirrors, she lost herself in images and mine was so stunning I quite forgot what I was there for, well almost.
There was even a light showing me where to aim for and. I felt as if I was micturating into an exhibit at the Tate Modern. Looking down I could see the lines running out of London Bridge Station.
I love to see trains, like the concept of people travelling it thrilling and uplifting, mysterious.
We had to leave as the space was turning into a bar. A price list arrived and I winced. When I stopped drinking, beer was 58 pence a pint.
A final look down:
and we were gone.