Smithfield to Tower Bridge, and a last glimpse of Summer
What next? Well, some lunch of course.
Heading towards the City, Smithfield is not the best prospect for a Saturday pub lunch. There are, indeed, some decent joints around here. The Fullers’ house, the Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver, makes an effort. Similarly the Fox and Anchor, which is most definitely for the upwardly mobile. Yesterday, though, the pubs that were open seemed to be hosting wedding parties.
Smithfield itself, the old meat market, is definitely worth including in any stroll of these parts. The whole site has been a running sore between developers and conservationists for many year. Our City Fathers would like nothing better than to clear the site and shove up yet more anonymous multi-stories of office space. It looks, though, as if the conservationists may have won.
The east end of the site is currently a gaping hole for the construction of Crossrail, so we shall probably have a mega-corporative hive imposed there. Only a total philistine (which adequately defines much of the City of London, and all developers) would fail to see the potential of the Grand Avenue:
The old girl is a bit rough for now — this is still a working building. She’d scrub up well. Think what has happened in Covent Garden (now grossly over-populated with rubber-necking tourists and a few genuine shoppers). Glass in either end of the Grand Avenue. Encourage a cafe-culture to develop. Whoopie-doo! Either side, where the carnivore business is done, would be prime for redevelopment of the retail-therapy kind. Just keep the ironwork. And the iconic clock.
Tower Bridge and the Bridge House
After a quick sidestep to Barbican Station, it’s the Circle Line to Tower Hill. Shufty round the corner into Minories and there’s the RV1 bus waiting at its terminus.
Were there a H2G2 award for simply the most useful conveyance around touristic London, the RV1 should qualify for the play-offs.
Start at the back of the Tower. Over Tower Bridge. Right down Tooley Street, past London Bridge Station. Nipping as close as dammit to the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern. Back of the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall, and a view of the Great Gerbil Wheel. Waterloo Station. Back over the river on Waterloo Bridge. Somerset House. And so to Covent Garden. Or do the whole thing in reverse.
Meanwhile, boarding back at Minories, a moment of pity for the bewildered tourist wondering if this was the bus for the Tour Breej, wheech (gestures to suggest the lifting bascules). Yes, indeed, just two stops. But turn around; walk a couple of dozen yards that way and you’ll see it. We’ll be taking the scenic route via Aldgate, so walking gets you there there quicker.
Having almost missed the bus in explaining that, three stops later, the Lady in his Life and Malcolm are once again at the Bridge House, the usual resort.
Who are all these people?
The sheer number of sightseers on and around the Bridge yesterday was staggering. Perhaps the whole Olymics thing has extended the tourist season. Perhaps it was just the “back-to-school” Indian summer of this weekend. Whatever … the place was heaving.
The Bridge House remains the great undiscovered treasure of these parts.
Let’s not tell people, huh? They don’t deserve it.