Sunday, 5 February 2017

Uptown Toprankin'.

We had a big day on Saturday; a trip up to London which didn't involve going to some Hospital.

It's been six months in the making - the problem was that I needed to be well enough to do it and the weather needed to be OK as well. We were sick of waiting for good forecasts and finding that on the day it was raining....or we didn't go because the forecast was bad and the day turned out good.

In the summer when we got married our friends Fiona, Chris, June and Beth had a whip round and bought us a day out as a wedding present.

Now this was the last week we could still use the vouchers and we weren't going to lose them!

It was the perfect point for me too; far enough from Chemo for the symptoms to have come down and near enough for the pain to still be bearable although I can't say I was looking forward to it.

We got up and........of course it was raining!

This was where we were going first;  

And there's me, scared of heights.


That's where we are going - the 72nd floor near the top, just below the 'V';

It's something I would never have done myself - it's an expensive ticket.

But while I'm not a great fan of skyscrapers, this is some really good architecture;

With some very dramatic sights at the rooftop.

Angular and uncompromising.

I have to confess from the start that I'm ambiguous about the whole thing; at one level London Bridge Station and the area around it was worn out, old and not functioning very well. The building of The Shard also brought about the redevelopment of the station into a 21st century building that works (and has lifts for the disabled like me). 

The views are amazing, even in the rain;

I found myself looking down on The Post office Tower - I watched it being built. For my whole life I've been looking up at it, for goodness sake.

Here's a view of the complex of towers at The City of London, including the former 'Natwest' building on the left, which for 30 years was the tallest and only real tower in The City. 'The Gherkin' was revolutionary for a few years at the turn of the millennium and now you can hardly see it.

You can still see 'The Walkie Talkie', which we went up last summer - looking down at it from above this time.

Over the next ten years over 200 skyscrapers are planned which will change the whole appearance of the city - something no one has had a vote about.

Great eddies of wind will blow around the towers, scattering pedestrians. The ecology of the city will change - much hotter in the summer, but darker on ground level and far less friendly too.

Say goodbye to the 'sunny side of the street'.

The Isle of Dogs, as we know it will be completely eradicated, a whole community driven out by the developments of multiple apartment blocks to serve Canary Wharf. These are financed by money stolen from the Russian and Chinese people and laundered through The City of London and the more exclusive estate agents.

Once upon a time, this rather rainy view of St. Pauls Cathedral was the most dramatic sight in town.

You can see Canary Wharf as the river bends and at the bottom of the picture Tower Bridge and City Hall where Robyn and I got engaged this time last year;

Even The Houses of Parliament are getting hidden.

One day even The Shard will disappear behind a wall of towers.

OK, I'm grumbling too much - it was a real joy being up in the clouds, at the same level as the birds and the helicopters and looking down on the city below.

We were so high up you could just make out The Eiffel Tower on the horizon;

Actually that's the radio aerial at Crystal Palace.

And I couldn't get over looking down on these blocks of flats - they are 20 stories high.

Here's The Tower of London, built a thousand years ago to intimidate the defeated population of London.

Not looking so intimidating now, is it? 

We had a great time and after a while I managed to grab a chair and have a sit down, which helped a lot.

The viewing areas are quite small for the numbers of people but it is possible to walk 360 degrees around - amazing views.

And the skies cleared for us eventually!

But our day wasn't over - more to come tomorrow!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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