Stone carving of a dragon on an old building in front of a modern one
Lens-Artists,  London,  Monday walks

A city stroll in London

Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson

Above is the fuller version of the oft-quoted line, ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. It comes from a discussion between Johnson and James Boswell about whether or not Boswell’s affection for London would wear thin should he be living there as Johnson did, rather than enjoying the city on occasional visits.

Take a walk in any part of London today and you will see many Johnsons and many Boswells. That is, the people you encounter will be a mix of locals and tourists. Some of the locals will be working of course, but many will be out enjoying all the delights London has to offer.

Like Johnson, I never tire of my home city. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema, a meal out with friends, an exhibition or simply a walk, there is always something to do here. And of course, my camera often goes with me.

For these outings I usually take my smaller Panasonic Lumix, a TZ70 point and shoot. I can slip it into my handbag, and although not as versatile as my larger FZ200 bridge camera, it copes well with almost all I ask of it. So for Anne’s Lens Artists challenge this week, in which she asks us to share images taken with the same lens, I thought I would use a set taken on my most recent walk around London.

What made this particular outing special was that it was my first chance since I started blogging to meet up with a fellow blogger. I’ve met in person friends made online through Virtual Tourist many times, but until now no one met through blogging. There were a couple of near misses last year. I’d hoped to meet Restless Jo in Faro, but Covid thwarted our plans. And I hoped to meet Margaret at Fountains Abbey, but diaries didn’t align. This third attempt however worked out well, and I met up with Alison for a day out in the City. I guess you could say that I was the Samuel Johnson of our pair, since I live here, while she was, like Boswell, just visiting. Although in truth, as a former Londoner, Alison knows the city nearly as well as I do!

So for Anne’s challenge, and also as a belated Monday Walk for Jo, here are some favourites among the shots I took that day.

Green dome on a stone building

On my way to meet Alison at Barbican Station I passed Smithfield Market. My feature shot shows another detail of this rather fabulous building.

After coffee (and a lot of chat!) in the Barbican Centre we started to walk towards St Paul’s Cathedral. We passed the Ironmongers’ Hall, home to the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, one of the historic guilds of the City of London. It is now an events venue and not open to the public. But I took a few photos of the exterior details.

Detail of flowers and leaves worked in metal and painted
Dome of a cathedral framed by buildings in shadow

Near the cathedral we turned down Watling Street in search of lunch. This is a small stretch of the ancient road that once linked Dover on the south east coast to London, St Albans (Roman Verulamium) and on to Wroxeter in Shropshire (site of the Roman city of Viroconium). There are good views from here back to St Paul’s.

We passed a statue of a cordwainer or shoemaker. The sign on its plinth reads:

You are in the Ward of Cordwainer which in medieval times was the centre of shoe-making in the City of London. The finest leather from Cordoba in Spain was used which gave rise to the name of the craftsmen and the Ward.

Statue of a shoemaker
Head of a metal statue
Modern building reflecting a stone cathedral

After lunch we retraced our steps towards the cathedral, and I caught its reflection in a nearby modern building.

We then turned towards the river down Peter’s Hill. When I was a child in the 1960s St Paul’s was surrounded by tall buildings that obscured the views. Fortunately they have since been pulled down and the vista from the river opened up.

Pale stone building with columns and a dome
Distorted reflection of a cathedral and other buildings

Along this path, with its steps leading you down towards the Millennium Bridge, several pieces of art add to the interest of the walk. There are a couple of large metal globes that create rather bizarre reflections of the cathedral and surrounding area.

Crossing the river we stopped for a selfie (see below) but surprisingly I didn’t take any photos. That’s perhaps because I come here so often, or perhaps because my fingers were getting cold!

Instead we carried on and went into the Tate Modern art gallery on the south bank, where this image caught my eye. I thought at the time that it would work well in black and white. But I took it in colour just in case and converted it later in Silver Efex Pro.

Large gallery with installation hanging from the ceiling and a young man sitting on the floor
Skyline with cranes and a domed cathedral

We went up to the gallery’s sixth floor bar. From here you can get a great view of St Paul’s and the City skyline.

Wall painting of a city with a river and sunset

We finished our walk with a riverside stroll to Blackfriars Bridge, underneath which is this rather lovely bit of street art by James Cochran, known as Jimmy C.

Two women with a river and bridges behind

At Blackfriars we separated; I headed home while Alison returned to her parents’ house where she was staying. But I can’t finish this post without sharing this selfie, a memento of our meet-up. The photo credit goes to Alison as she took this on her phone. And I must apologise to Anne as it breaks the ‘one lens’ rule of her challenge. But I couldn’t leave it out!


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