TRISH TAKES FIVE: By award winning blogger Trish Burgess
Ever had a day in London where you try to pack too much in? You choose attractions which are in different locations then spend your whole time negotiating the city’s underground system, popping up to see something before descending back down into Middle Earth via the Piccadilly Line escalators.
You can easily spend a whole weekend on the south bank and never need public transport until it’s time to head home
On a recent trip to the capital we decided to focus on the south side of the river and it proved to be a great success. The main advantage for me is the lack of traffic. I am the world’s worst road-crosser and in London I am a slave to the lights and the Look Left/Right signs painted on the tarmac. On the south bank, along the river, it’s all pedestrianised, making it a real pleasure to just amble. It’s perfect for families too as its much safer and the air probably less polluted.
If you arrive at lunchtime, head for London Bridge, using The Shard as a visual guide, and make your starting point Borough Market, where you can choose from dozens of delicious food outlets. We picked a Malaysian chicken curry which we ate sitting on a wall in the sunshine outside Southwark Cathedral.
Heading west you can visit a reconstruction of Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde II, the Clink Prison Museum or be tempted by a wine-tasting at Vinopolis. If art is your thing, the Tate Modern is always worth a gander.
Passing Blackfriars Bridge you can’t miss the Oxo Tower and nearby, the delightful Gabriel’s Wharf, an area of small independent shops and eateries which look as if they’ve been scooped up, en masse, from some small provincial town: hard to believe this is in the centre of one of the world’s busiest capital cities.
Did you know there is a little beach here too? Only recently named Ernie’s Beach, after a local resident and activist who has spent many years campaigning against the reclamation of the foreshore.
If you start to flag, there are plenty of benches to rest weary legs. Look out across the river and see the cruisers ploughing up and down or admire the Dazzle Ship, Tobias Rehberger’s bold transformation of HMS President, moored on the north bank of the Thames.
There are gardens everywhere, from the Jubilee Gardens near County Hall to the hidden roof garden of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. There’s a massive sand pit for children and probably the oldest skate park in the world under the South Bank Centre. Everywhere you look there are pop-up bars, cafes and street entertainers. It can get busy but never feels crowded.
To rival the offerings in the West End, there’s the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Spend an evening at either of these or make the most of darkness descending by taking an evening trip on the London Eye where the whole glittering, sparkling capital will be laid out before you.
You can easily spend a whole weekend on the south bank and never need public transport until it’s time to head home.
You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com